Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016 - Concerned with the State of the Game

This weekend we had a significant snowfall which allowed for us to hunker down at the house and relax a little bit… one thing that Faith (my 10 yr old) and I did was make it a point to watch The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend. It is a movie about Pete Maravich in his 8th grade year, and in spite of their admission to taking a lot of creative license in the content, is a great motivational tool… at least for me. (I am not sure it increased Faith’s desire to be working out but I was ready to shovel the drive and get to work.)
One of the highlights of the movie to me is when Pete’s dad is talking about the future of basketball and discussing the beauty of merging the styles of the then all-white programs with the styles of the all-black programs. (And I am old enough to remember the debates over said styles.) Yet a careful observance of what was stated in the movie will give a key to what makes great basketball…
While talking about the strengths of Cleveland High (the all-black school) Pete’s dad didn’t just talk about their athleticism and energy, he mentioned that they had great fundamentals! When all the stuff gets boiled down, great players and great teams have great fundamentals!
That in my opinion is what made MJ so great… what made Larry Bird so great… it is what made the UCLA players that had Coach Wooden as a teacher so successful as they entered the pros… it is what makes teams like the San Antonio Spurs so fun to watch. Greatness is directly correlated with a solid fundamental foundation!
I write about this for the devotion not to just highlight great players, but because I am concerned with the current state of the game… and I don’t mean the game of basketball (even though I do think that AAU ball tends to mess that up as well.) Christians all around me are being lured to lifestyles that are geared toward the pursuit of happiness and temporal satisfaction. I even hear leaders encouraging the pursuit of happiness…
Don’t get me wrong, I like being happy; yet I realize that is a state of mind that is based upon circumstances and is at best fleeting… ignoring the reality that life has other plans. Happiness is much like the weather in southern Indiana… if you don’t like it wait 5 minutes; if you do like it… wait 5 minutes!
I am constantly counseling and praying for folks that are making life-changing decisions based upon “5 minutes” of unhappiness… forgetting that God has called us to contentment and the pursuit of purpose in Christ. It seems that I deal daily with folks that are seeking purpose in their mate instead of Christ… seeking purpose/happiness in their mate instead of giving purpose to their mate by pointing him or her to Christ. (And being back working with high schoolers I find the same issues in dating relationships.) I see people depressed over jobs instead of seeing their jobs as opportunities to live out their purpose in Christ.
I could go and on about these things but I need to bring it to a bottom line. The Apostle Paul is the prime example of turning circumstances into opportunities for purpose… He is the guy that when chained to a prison guard didn’t complain about his confinement but instead rejoiced in his opportunity (“this is another guy I can point toward Christ!”) This is a guy that didn’t consider himself a captive when in prison but continued to consider himself as a child of purpose and viewed his fellow-prisoners as the captive audience! This is a guy that told us to “rejoice… pray with thanksgiving… to think on things that are true…” This is the guy that said we can face anything that life deals us “through Christ!” (READ PHILIPPIANS 4:4-13)
Bottom line takeaway: If your decision to pursue happiness or “greener pastures” is in direct opposition to God’s fundamental truths in Scripture you are making the wrong decision! God is more concerned with you being right than happy; because He knows that leads to long-term contentment and purpose, not short-term pleasure. The “game” is meant to be played with solid fundamentals! I am tired of the enemy deceiving God’s people; especially when I consistently hear him doing it through supposed teachers/ministers that are neglecting the fundamentals!!!
My hope and trust will be directed to the fundamentals! Like King David in Psalm 71:5: “For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.”
Pursue Truth!
Pursue Purpose!

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18, 2016 - Find Your Man!

As a coach this year of 5th and 6th grade girls, I am finding I have to be very deliberate with my teaching/instructions. When it comes to defense there are certain principles that have to be fully explained on positioning, readiness, and effort. For time sake, and for this week’s devotion’s sake, I want to point out a couple key elements…

First of all I have found that at that age I have to be very deliberate in telling them who/where they are supposed to be guarding. With an older team if need be I can just scream out, “Find somebody!”, and they will pick up someone to guard. With these younger players I have to yell out specific numbers to each individual girl (and keep yelling it out for each possession.) And when it is a zone defense I find myself often have to remind girls what area they should be in, as some tend to chase the ball like a dog after a squirrel.

The second element is a simple rule of defense, “Stop the ball!” One thing that is always true is that the only person in the gym that can score is the person with the ball; and thus even if that person is not who you are supposed to be guarding you still have to stop ball if it is heading toward the basket… This may not have been part of the designed plan but it is absolutely necessary to be ready to play “Help D.”

May I just “yell” out to the “court” of your life and give you a Biblical admonition? “Find somebody!” By that I mean be intentional about finding people to serve; and if you are struggling to find somebody just let us know as we are more than happy to call out someone in need’s “number” for you!

And secondly be ready for the unexpected opportunities that present themselves for service; stay aware of those that come across your path in need.

Proverbs 29:7 states that “the righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor…” (NASB)
Proverbs 31:20 states that a virtuous wife “extends her hand to poor; Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” (NKJV)

Do you see the intentionality of “finding a man”?

And the adverse is stated in Proverbs 29:7 in that “the wicked does not understand such concern.” (NASB)

Are you concerned with those in need? Are you going MAD (Making A Difference) with your life? Do you have an intentional plan to serve (someone’s number in your sites)?


Monday, January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016 - Greedy for the Basketball

Being back on the sidelines as a coach has been a lot of fun… I love teaching the skills of the game… I love teaching the mental part of the game… I expect young players to need to learn these things and I hope to make the game come easier to them physically and mentally.

The same is true in my role as a missionary, campus pastor, teacher, etc… I love teaching the Word and when possible showing by example how to live it out. And when a believer is young I really love helping lay the fundamental foundations.

For time sake this week though I want to tell you the thing I don’t understand as a coach or minister; I don’t get it when I have to try to motivate players/believers to put forth effort… I love the game and I love the Lord.

When I lace up the shoes to play I get after it! I want the basketball! I recently saved a picture that a friend posted on Facebook and it had a list of things that don’t require talent… things like effort, energy, attitude, passion. The reality is that a lot of games are decided by who gets the most rebounds… who dives to the floor to win the loose balls… who takes the extra steps on defense to actually get turn an opponent instead of being content to just run beside… I love the players that are ready to be all in. My plea with my teams as of late is to be “greedy” for the basketball… wanting every rebound and every loose ball!

From a spiritual perspective I love to see “players” that are motivated to make a difference in others’ lives. I love to see the “players” that are sold out to honoring Jesus by sharing the Great Commission packaged in the Great Commandment.

I recently finished a book that keyed on the concept that David didn’t just go to the battle against Goliath; the Scriptures record in 1 Samuel 17:48 that David “ran quickly toward the battle to meet him.” David was fully of energy, passion, and an attitude of total trust and surrender to the Lord. He didn’t hesitate. No one could accuse him of “playing passively.”

The book (Facing Goliath by JP Jones) it is stated that “there are only three options for a man: (1) Live a passive, wimpy life; (2) live proactively, but seek to fulfill some purpose other than God’s plan for your life; (3) live with a sense of mission and purpose, seeking God’s will in every area of your life.” (p. 180)

I love to teach and demonstrate… but when it comes to motivating, an individual must decide who he or she is going to be. I’ve always said it is easier to dial back a high strung player than to dial up a passive one… yet the bottom line is that you will be passionate about what you value most!

Is serving Christ through serving others your passion? If you truly value Him it will be!

Monday, January 4, 2016

January 4, 2016 - Making Good Reads

Today at basketball practice Coach Jon and I spent a lot of time emphasizing repetition in shooting, boxing out, cuts to get open, etc. In the process I stopped the action often to point out “reads” the girls should’ve made in order to find a clear path to the basket…

Sometimes these “reads” were as simple as seeing the defender overcommitting and knowing when to make a “backdoor cut” to the basket; other times it was recognizing who was on defense to know if the offensive player should post up low or try to get the ball out high; sometimes it was as basic as knowing when the defender loses sight of who she is guarding and the offensive player then diving to the basket. The simple goal is “making reads” to finding the clearest, most direct paths to the goal!

The girls really got after it today as I urged them to be aggressive in their pursuit of the ball. The girls today where coachable; they allowed me to point out faults and they immediately worked on doing things differently. The girls today were truly listening and when I pointed out a better path to the goal they used it. The girls today were committed to progress in their skills and understanding of the game… knowing that would in return make the games go better. (It was a joyful time of teaching today!)

Welcome to 2016 where you will have a choice of where you get your advice. Will you seek the Coach and hear His Word on a regular basis in order to find clear paths in your life? Will you sit under the teaching of clear Bible teaching that helps not only in understanding those clear paths but also in seeing your own faults? (Imagine if we were as interested in finding our own faults as much as in finding fault in others…)

This week’s devotion begins the 15th year of weekly trying to share the truths of Scripture packaged in sports lesson. But bottom line in all (730 or so) weeks of doing this is that the Scriptures are our Playbook! Make sure your daily “reads” include this Playbook (which is more important than everywhere else you can find advice!)

Proverbs 4:20-21, 25-27 (The Message)
Dear friend, listen well to my words;
    tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.