Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 2015 - Handling Traps

I have written often over the years about being wise and avoiding “traps.” Typically I am talking about one’s “court-vision” and the ability to see potential problems and go another direction. Yet to be honest that is not always possible…
This past weekend I got the opportunity to sit still for long enough to watch a couple games. Both involved players I love to see play…

The first was a college game that included my favorite player Tyler Lewis. I have written about T many times in devotions because he has such an incredible awareness of what is going on during a game. This kid not only sees the traps coming up but he also seems to be able to see how the play will unfold after each pass. I joked, as far back as when he was in middle school, that he knew what the opponent was going to do before the opponent knew. As a result it makes T very, very hard to lure into a trap; yet that doesn’t mean he always avoids them. In Saturday’s game the opponent went into a frenetic press in an attempt to come back on Tyler’s team. Tyler caught the ball on the inbounds play in a rough position and in an effort to dribble out of the trap was called for an offensive foul. It is very rare for him to commit a turnover, especially in that type of circumstance. (Tyler’s team did end up winning in overtime… it was an exciting game.)

The second game I watched was an NBA game featuring some great players. Oklahoma City ended up losing in overtime to Golden State and the tipping point was a trap that led to a score… In spite of a brilliant game Kevin Durant took an inbounds pass on the base line in the corner and the strange thing is he got the pass in the same exact trap zone that Tyler received his in the college game… But instead of trying to dribble out of the trap and charging, Kevin picked up his dribble allowing the trap to sink in further and in turn threw a horrible pass to half court that was intercepted. That pass led to a foul on a Golden State shooter with less than a second to go; and the free throws tied the game sending it to overtime where Golden State went on to victory…

In either circumstance the guys could have called a timeout to simply remove themselves from the trap; and if their teams were out of timeouts they could have just held the ball… yes, that would lead to a turnover but it would allow your team to set its defense instead of getting scored on easily.

The point this week is about how we handle life’s traps when we find ourselves stuck…

First is the promise that prayer (Time Outs) will help. Whatever you are “trapped in”, if you don’t see a clear path out then call “Time Out”! Get into the huddle with God and seek His truth to set up a new plan…  The reality is that “traps” can cause us to not think clearly, to panic; as a result we are admonished that part of “walking circumspectly” (Eph 5:15), or seeing the court, involves making sure you “understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph 5: 17) How can you make a smart play? Get time away from the action, with the Coach, to get instructions…

Second, don’t act without clear vision. Making “bad passes” usually ends up “bad”! Do not blindly make decisions. One of the things I try to teach my kids and try to live by is “when in doubt don’t!” Traps are there to try to make you mess up commit turnovers.) Daily I try to spend time in the Proverbs and over and over again it admonishes us to make wise choices, avoid foolish choices (and people), listen to instruction, etc.

Bottom line this week is that I daily deal with people that have found themselves in bad situations, made rash decisions, and now are facing the consequences! In life you will face “traps”; find and make right choices (Biblical God-choices.) Remember “bad choices usually end in bad results!”

Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22, 2015 - Spiritual Vision 20/16 (Devotion and Opportunity)

What is your vision? Is it 20/20? Or maybe it is 20/40… 20/100… 20/200…? Do you know what those numbers mean? In its simplest form 20/20 means you can see at 20 feet what someone with normal (perfect) vision would see at 20 feet… and thus if your vision is 20/40 you see at 20 feet what normal vision sees at 40 feet… and so on. And the adverse is true that a person with 20/15 vision can see as good at 20 feet as normal vision sees at 15 feet… thus better than normal.

For me I often talk about “court vision” and how good players can see what everyone around them is doing; and how great players can even see how things will unfold in the future…. and put their teammates in position for success. (Those are players you can trust and want to be on your team!) And this carries over to life… are you able to assess situations… see outcomes… put those around you in position for success? In essence a “great player” sees the game better than the normal player does.

What about “spiritual vision”? Are you aware of what is going around you? Do you see the things God wants you to see? Are you able to see God’s plan unfolding for the future? Do you have “teammates” that have great “spiritual vision” and do you trust them? Do you and/or your teammates see better than the normal person… beyond what is right in front of you?

In 1st Chronicles 28 King David has great vision for the temple God wants built (and even the direction of who should build it – his son Solomon.) As he explains this to Solomon he tells Solomon to “be strong and of good courage, and do it!” (Vs 20)

I saw a post on Facebook today that said, “God never gives you a dream that matches your budget. He’s not checking your bank account, He’s checking your faith!”

As always, I must admit that I have no right to tell people where to give... that is the Holy Spirit’s job! Yet as a teacher of the Word I do have a right to tell you “you should be a giver… somewhere”! I’ve shared a vision for InBounds but the devotion is intended to get you to get a vision for 2016 to Go MAD! (Make A Difference!)

End of Devotion and Beginning of Opportunity....................................

Now let me shift gears to a specific opportunity you have with InBounds Ministries… Many of you regularly read our internet devotionals or sit under our teaching in some way. Many talk about how much they appreciate what InBounds Ministries is doing for the cause of the Gospel. Many of you say you believe in our ministry. My question is, “do you trust my ‘spiritual vision’”? Are you willing to “team up” with InBounds in a step of faith? Are you willing to sacrifice for the good of the “game”?

I have a clear picture of the next step InBounds Ministries needs to take in our outreach. It will increase our local emphasis and in turn also provide more revenue-producing opportunities to help cover our budget. Yet it involves the need for finances up front in order to not have to pull from the general fund.

We are looking at local facilities for lease in order to establish a more “permanent” location for our ministry outreach, that will include space to provide our Total Player Academy athletic training as well… (which by the way includes intense one-on-one discipleship!)

I am looking for people with 20/16 Spiritual Vision! Vision beyond the normal immediate needs to the incredible possibilities of a dream…

Here in 2016 we have the opportunity to be more aggressive in Making A Difference! 20/16 Spiritual Vision is the call for 20 people to commit $100 per month for the rest of 2016. There are 10 months left in the year so that is a $1000 sacrifice. I am asking for this as earmarked funds for the facility; separate from giving to the general fund that goes toward specific outreach. That would allow us to fully operate a brand new facility that will greatly increase our outreach without sacrificing other ministry endeavors!

I have asked our board to pray about making this sacrifice and that includes me and Lisa. We are committed to be 2 of the 20! On top of that, all training I offer through 2016 will be with 100% of the revenue it produces going back into the facility! (No trainer’s cut…)
So again I ask, “Do you trust my 20/16 Spiritual Vision?” Will you join in on that vision and sacrifice for 10 months? Will you see beyond what we are doing to what the Lord is leading us to do?

(Side note: I have already had a commitment from someone I have never met to donate a couple of basketball goals for the facility. The landlord of the facility has expressed the desire to work with us. There is already a list started of families wanting to have their kids trained at the facility. There is already a group of believers meeting every Sunday night that will meet there… and I believe increase in numbers. And I could go on and on..)

Bottom line is that I am ready to “be strong and of good courage”; I’m ready to just “do it!”

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15, 2016 - Looking back over the season... am I better than I started?

I’ve written/talked a lot as of late about the 5/6 grade girls that Jon and I were privileged to coach this season; it was a group that had some experienced players as well as some that had never played before… That also means the skill sets for the girls were very different as well. As I have mentioned in recent weeks, the girls went undefeated through the season and there were a lot of folks celebrating the outcomes on the scoreboard. Don’t get me wrong, I was too (I like winning); but other things excited me more as a coach…

This week I want to specifically talk about the girls that had no experience coming in. These girls joined the team and some could not even shoot the basketball up to the rim, catch passes, or dribble. They joined our team with no pre-requisites on skill sets or understanding of the game. In the final week of practice a mom from one of the older teams commented about their improvement as she saw the girls making lay-ups (even left-hand lay-ups), dribbling, passing/catching, etc. During the final weekend (conference tourney) I was thrilled when I asked a girl that came in with no understanding of the game about a defensive assignment and she pointed out on my white board that she should be in the lane in “help defense” because she was “weak side in the zone.” I saw girls running lanes and keeping proper spacing. The season was a blast for us as coaches, and for the parents/fans, as we saw continued improvement and understanding! I saw every single player on our team get better daily!

Throughout the season I would ask the girls, “Do you want to get better?”; “Is it ok for me to coach you?”; “Are you better today than you were yesterday?” And with each question the answer was “yes”!

But what if the story were different? What if the girls answered “no”? That could be an indicator that either the girls simply didn’t care about improving or that we were not good coaches…

What if one of the girls just rested in the fact that she was on the team… and at the end of the season just celebrated the fact that she was on the winning team… but still had no understanding of the game, no improved skill set, etc.?

Spiritually speaking I call this the “’Just as I am’ Syndrome.” I run into so many believers that want to celebrate the fact that they are saved by grace apart from works… that they got “on the team” not based upon being good enough but because Jesus is good enough… that it was not based upon a particular skill set or understanding of the game…

Please don’t get me wrong… I don’t know of anyone that trumpets the (come as you are), (just as I am), grace Gospel than me! Salvation is God’s commitment to us / payment for us! Yet once on the team I believe we should daily seek to grow! I believe our prayer should be “Jesus thank you that I come as I am, help me to go as You are!”

Ephesians 4:1 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,” (Note: this follows 3 chapters of celebrating “Just as I am - Jesus paid it all”!)

Ephesians 4:17, 20-24 “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind… but you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in  the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Do you want to get better?

Are you better today than you were yesterday?

Are you regularly in the “Playbook” renewing your mind (learning the game of life)?

Are you sitting under solid teaching to help you grow as a “player”?

Monday, February 8, 2016

February 8, 2015 - For God's Sake... Compete!

As a coach there is always one thing I expect of my players… I expect them to compete! Effort & Attitude are the cornerstones to my coaching philosophy. If we get beat I always want the other team to know, even if they win big on the scoreboard, that they had to earn it. At the end of games scoreboards have been turned off and each individual player has to look at himself in the mirror and be satisfied that he is a competitor, or dissatisfied in that he rolled over… (Of course this is only true if the player cares about the game.)

This past week I laid my mom to rest and got to preach her funeral. It may sound a bit morbid but I love preaching funerals because everyone is faced with thoughts about the “end of the game”; each is faced with the reality that people die. I get to talk about the hope we have as believers that is founded not in how good we are but instead in how good God is… and the sufficiency of Christ to be our Savior and provide our hope through His death and resurrection. (“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…”)
In the grand scheme of things God has chosen to leave His children “in the game” with a “game plan” to reach others with the glorious Gospel. My question to you is, “Do you care about the game?” Or let’s ask it another way, “Are you competing? Does the opponent even know you are in the game?”

People are dying all around us! Does your Effort & Attitude need an adjustment? Are you sticking to the “game plan” that commissions us to share the good news?

This is a time I find it appropriate to use the phrase “For God’s sake…”

For God’s sake compete! Fight for the souls of the unsaved! Do your job in sharing the Gospel!
Ephesians 6:19 ...and or me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016 - Steal Space

One word of explanation can make a huge difference as a coach in getting across a concept… With my 5/6 grade girls I coached this year (who by the way won their conference tourney Saturday to finish off an undefeated season) I regularly reminded them to be “greedy girls” that wanted every loose ball and rebound. Yet if not careful the choice of those words can create poor play in other areas…

Because my team knew I wanted them to aggressively go after the ball, and due to being very amped up in the championship, the girls started trying to get the ball when the other team was dribbling. You may be wondering why that is a bad thing… well let the coach tell you.

On defense you can often hear coaches yelling for their players to stop reaching or for them to move their feet. Aggressive players tend to come along side opponents and reach in which most often results in fouls being called. And that actually started happening in our tourney Saturday and a couple of our better players got in foul trouble.

So I started being very deliberate with my words. I told my girls that we “don’t play shoulder defense” but instead “it’s all about taking one more step than the offense and beating them to the spot they want.” I told them instead of running shoulder-to-shoulder they should “get in front and be able to read her numbers.” Instead of just yelling for them to stop reaching I told them to “stop trying to steal the ball and instead steal space”(meaning they should beat them to the spot they want on the floor.) Players that are playing “shoulder defense” and trying to steal the ball are giving effort but not playing smart; It is all about positioning and effort!

Now let’s apply this principle to our Christian walks. Can I urge us all to “stop reaching and instead be able to read their numbers”? Again you may wonder what in the world I am talking about…

As the church we are very good at “reaching”; we reach our hands to our wallets and to put money in offering plates… we may reach our hand out our car window and give some money to someone in need…

Yet I want us to get in people’s space and be able to read their numbers (actually look in people’s eyes.) We need to put ourselves into people’s stories… feel their pain… Today We LIVE (Love Intentionally Value Everyone)! We cannot do that unless we pay attention to being intentional!

Here is my Biblical support… and it all revolves around one word in a command from Jesus… He intentionally used the word “into”… Check it out:

Matthew 9:36-38
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them (are you moved with compassion for people), because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers INTO His harvest.”

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t reach into our pockets or out our windows to help; to the contrary the Scripture does call us to reach in that way (and ministries like InBounds that are support-based appreciate that.) Yet that is not to be in place of the actual call that “laborers” are those that actually go “INTO His harvest.

Today We LIVE!
Don’t just go alongside someone, actually get INTO people’s lives!