Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 27, 2016 - Highly Sought After Free Agent

Well now that the NBA season is over the focus has become the free agent market. IN just a few days teams will be able to pursue the players who are no longer bound by a contract… and of course that means the better players are being talked about… a lot!

Guys like Kevin Durant are going to be wooed by many teams and players to convince them why they should sign with their team. One article I saw today was talking about “potential steals” of the market… detailing free agents that were underrated.
This is the way the world works… we look for the best person to meet a need or fill a job; we recognize and reward high achievers. (Even in the youth ranks where they pretend to avoid this by not keeping score or giving everyone a trophy, I guarantee you people know who wins games and who the best players are!) We live in a performance-based world…

And that carries over to the thing called religion where people try to be good enough; yet Christianity is the exact opposite of the world’s way. In the Scriptures we are given the grim news that no one is good enough… (Just read Romans 3.) Yet we are also told that “whosoever” can be “saved…” Notice that God didn’t just seek the qualified, He included “whoever.” (Romans 10:13)

Therefore our evangelistic outreach needs to stop “profiling” those we think would make good church people and instead faithfully share with “whosoever” will listen…

And then beyond someone getting on God’s team, God goes and breaks all the norms and then chooses to use people that are not “qualified.” Think about the guys throughout Scripture that He called out to use… not typically the world’s idea of the “cream of the crop.” Jesus chose a bunch of guys for His inner circle that were not great “free agents” and yet that group of guys turned the world upside down..

I love the phrase that “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

If you are on God’s team, it is because of your faith that Christ was good enough in the perfect life He lived to be the perfect Substitute (Sacrifice) for you… not because you were qualified.

If you are on God’s team He longs (and has planned) to use you, not because you are qualified but because He qualifies you. It is time to let Him use you…

You were set free by Christ to be an agent (Ambassador) for Him; you are a Highly sought after Free Agent!

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016 - My "DADDY" Can Whip Your "Daddy"

Well last night a lot of folks were surprised as the Cleveland Cavaliers did the unthinkable and became the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the series; and on top of that they accomplished by winning two of the games on the home court of the Golden State Warriors that had broken the all-time single season win total during the regular season. Many did not give the Cavs a chance before the series began; yet almost all gave them no chance once they feel down 3-1…

And let’s face it, beyond the talk of the teams was even more talk about LeBron James and Steph Curry (as though you have to say one is bad to proclaim the other is good… just for the record… both are really, really good!) But LeBron tends to be the most polarizing player in the NBA; people either love him or hate him, proclaim him as King James or Queen James. (All LeBron did was respond to the haters by leading the series [both teams] in points, assists, rebounds, blocks, and steals. I’ve heard of some say a player had his “fingerprints on a series”… I guess you could say LeBron “palmed the series” with leading 5 major statistical categories.)

The debate basically became “my MVP can beat your MVP!” It reminded me with Father’s Day being yesterday of little boys claiming “my daddy can beat your daddy!” Coach Jon admitted last night that as a kid he heard a kid mention his dad’s new four-wheel-drive truck, and Jon not wanting to be outdone proclaimed his dad had a “six-wheel-drive”… We love to one-up others.

Last night I opened up to 1 Kings 18 which is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. This one involved the prophet Elijah came out of hiding to confront King Ahab who had orders out to kill Elijah. When Elijah gets face to face with Ahab, Ahab ask him “is that you, O troubler of Israel?” (vs 17) Ahab was blaming the messenger…

Elijah responds in vs 18 that it is not he that troubled Israel but instead Abab and his “father’s house” because they had “forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals.” Elijah goes on to get the debate started by claiming that his God (Jehovah) can beat Ahab’s god (Baal), and challenges all the prophets of Baal and Asherah. It is a well-known story (if you haven’t read it then give it a look) where the prophets of Baal spend all day trying to get their god to answer with fire to burn a sacrifice… and Elijah spends the time mocking them and questioning their allegiance to a god that is apparently “sleeping.” (vs 27) Then Elijah calls on Jehovah and fire comes down from heaven to burn up the altar built to Him.

This week’s devotion is a simple question/statement made by Elijah before the challenge began: “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” (vs. 21)

“… He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world!” (1 John 4:4)

Sing with me…
“Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other!
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?” (Chris Tomlin)

If you believe this to be true then live accordingly… what if our lives truly celebrated God’s greatness?

1 Kings 18:39 “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’”

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016 - Don't Settle! Don't Force!

One thing I hate to see as a coach or a fan is a player that “settles” or a player that “forces.”

By “settles” I am referring to a player that doesn’t use the gifts/talents he is blessed with… maybe settling for a jumper when he should be driving to the hole; or settling for making a pass and not looking for his shot. By “forcing” I am talking about the player that continues to shoot ignoring his teammates and their strengths; or over-dribbles again not allowing for the flow of his team. The common denominator is poor decision making; not making the proper reads on the floor.

Life is full of “making reads” that require us to take action or possibly to avoid things… this is called wisdom and discretion. I daily try to spend time in the Proverbs and obviously they are written with the idea of listening to instruction, making good choices, avoiding laziness, etc.

I don’t like seeing believers that are “settling” and not using their gifts! I also don’t like seeing believers “forcing” the issue and not hearing from the Spirit on direction (which is often a result of not seeking Godly counsel.)

A few great verses from my last few days reading on “making good reads”:

Making good choices: Proverbs 11:22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman that lacks discretion.

Listening to clear instruction: Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

Not forcing it on our own: Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.

Let’s Go MAD (Make A Difference) together!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Newsletter: Update Summer 2016

So far the first half of the year has been very difficult and beyond busy, yet through it all God is still good… all the time! InBounds Ministries, Statesville Christian School, and the Team Burden has kept me busy beyond any other time in my life. It has been tiring and hard, but rewarding at the same time! I’ll give a brief update on family and the school and then a little more detail on InBounds…

2016 has proven to be an emotional year for our family. Things such as my mom passing away in January (and subsequently my dad fighting depression/psychosis) led to many trip to Indiana… and I got the honor of preaching my mom’s funeral and seeing multiple professions of faith in Christ! That was mixed in with our family vehicle blowing its transmission, only to then have the engine blow 2 weeks after we fixed the transmission. The vehicle problems through Elisha behind on getting his license, and once we got it fixed Elisha broke his arm and was again put out of driving… (he just got his license this week.) Caleb graduated high school and within a few days was off to a summer job in West Virginia and will leave straight from that job to a year-long internship in Alabama. Christa will be in high school in the fall and Faith will be in middle school… This past week alone Lisa drove me to the airport in Raleigh, drove Caleb to his job in WV, drove to pick up Christa from a friend’s house in SC, drove back to Raleigh to get me at the airport, and then drove to Alabama where the girls are helping with a VBS. (God’s hand of protection has been on her in the travels… she even got run off the road into the median at over 70MPH and was able to drive through the grass and back onto the hwy. to keep on trucking.) This is only an overview of how busy it has been for Team Burden this year…

Being back at the school serving as the Director of Discipleship (campus pastor) has allowed for a lot of incredible ministry opportunities and to supplement our income in a way that has helped us make it through a lot of the unforeseen expenses (i.e. car troubles, medical expenses, trips to IN) The school allows me opportunities to teach the Word; counsel students, families, staff; plan and implement missions on the local and international front; plan chapels (which includes getting great teachers and missionaries in, such as Freddie Coile from Focus Evangelistic Ministries and Quinton Williams from LifePoint Church [AL]);  etc. And it brought me back around some dear friends that have proved incredibly valuable to help me through a rough start to the year. In the last few weeks alone I have chaperoned a group of 8th graders in Gettysburg, Philly, Baltimore, and D.C.; I also just spent 6 days in the Dominican Republic with the graduates of 2016 serving in sports outreach, VBS, and also preaching in churches. (This week I am running a bit slower than my normal pace…)

Now on to InBounds… I thank God for the opportunities InBounds provides via the athletic platform. I continue to be amazed at all God is doing through our MAD Hoops outreach here in NC. We are seeing incredible growth spiritually in guys that have plugged into this. The leadership of guys like Jon, Stew, David, Caleb, Mitch, Time, Colby, etc. keeps everything rolling and is spawning even more outreach. We have been blessed on the local front to not only see the basketball platform grow, but also (thanks to an incredible donation we received while in Alabama) we are getting a lot of individual time with youth through our Vertimax training. And on top of it all Jon and I got to coach a middle school girls’ team and pour into those gals. I have also continued to travel to speak at various churches (and am currently booking singing/speaking gigs for the fall)

One of the most exciting local outreaches is now our Sunday evening fellowship, The Arena: Today We LIVE! (Love Intentionally Value Everyone) This group is such a blessing as I get to pastor them and we have truly developed a missional group that is committed to one another and to making a difference in our world!

This most recent trip to the DR was in conjunction with the school but I was able to build on some things for our InBounds outreach there. I picked up a few partnering pastors that have asked me to come back to preach/train. I also met an American church planter that has moved there and he is right on doctrinally and practically in building sustained ministry. We are also maintaining our connection in Pedernales Dominican Republic with our dear pastor/friend Eliezer Caraballo. We have partnered specifically with him in trying to help get the medical needs met of a little girl named Carolina. There have been some obstacles but progress is being made.

This summer and fall: All of our local outreach is continuing; on top of that I will attempt to get a few more bookings for speaking/singing; the travel schedule will again include Alabama (where Lisa currently is and where Caleb is moving in August – to include more plans for our outdoors outreach); Georgia (where Lisa will be working at Camp Grace); Indiana as we will do out typical trips there (including a fall engagement to teach at the Youth Evangelism Association national conference); Florida (to see Clay and Sarah and look at some future plans for our outdoors outreach); and we would like to at least send a couple guys over to Pedernales DR to check in on Carolina (yet need the finances to roll in for that.) On top of that I need to head back to the DR for the preaching/training opportunities that were presented last week. I will also host coaches retreats and our first ever InBoundsOut adventure weekends…
My international travel is not going to be as much as typical in a summer due to a couple reasons.

1.       Simply the finances… Right now InBounds is simply making it through month to month yet outreach is increasing. Please, please pray for God to touch the hearts of the “senders” to see the need to help us Go MAD!

2.       I am tired physically and needing to work in some rest time for not only recovery but also to key on more writing. This August will mark the beginning of my 30th year of ministry (and also I will celebrate 50 years of life…)

We need help! Our ministry van has right at 300000 miles on it and we just dropped over $800 more into it. We are in great need of storage for InBounds equipment, preferably that can double as a location for some of our local outreach (and have even considered just setting up more area at our house.) Caleb is working his tail off to get funds for his internship, yet could use a lot of help on that end. (He is living in another state with no vehicle to get around; and once he arrives at the internship will have opportunity for foreign outreach in Lebanon and Madagascar.) We are completely out of devotional books and tracts that need to be printed. We have ideas for selling some ministry t-shirts to help supplement the ministry but need inventory and/or equipment to print. And the list could go on and on…

Bottom line is this: Rest assured that InBounds in Going MAD locally, nationally, and internationally! We are not slowing down and will continue in ministry even if the financial well runs dry. But you have an opportunity to Go MAD by being a sender… by helping to fund the outreaches. I guarantee that every penny is properly accounted for and we take our stewardship seriously! With finances we can:

·         go more places and share a clear Gospel message

·         go more places and teach how to study the Word of God

·         go more places and train pastors/missionaries/leaders/coaches

·         print more materials that clearly teach the Word

I would take time to write a better newsletter… but as I stated before I am tired this week! Please pray for us; and pray for the Chapman family… my dear friend and colleague Stephanie Chapman went home to be with the Lord last night and left behind her husband and 2 girls (1 in college and 1 a rising senior.) Friday will be the funeral and there are a lot of current and former students and their families affected by this!

Monday, June 6, 2016

June 6, 2016 - The Flow of the Game

When I was young I spent a lot of days and nights on the basketball court. I played in my back yard, at the school lot, if friends’ back yards, at parks, in rented church gymnasiums, at the Y, in college rec centers, etc. And it was awesome when I got to team up with someone that was likeminded…

Certain guys just seemed to click with me on the court. If I went on the court with my buddy JJ we simply knew where each other was going and when we would get there; this being a result of being on the court together hundreds of times… we simply knew each other’s game. Then there were guys like BR (big on initials tonight) that from the first time we stepped on the floor together it was like we were Siamese twins connected at the brain; we simply knew… even without the benefit of hundreds of times together on the court… the game just flowed!

Now that I am decades into the ministry life I am reminded of the importance of being “on the court” with kindred spirits. It makes ministry exciting, encouraging, and more effective. I love Sunday nights as I get to meet with my team/family at The Arena… (this is a group I get to go “on the court” with often); I loved it last week in the Dominican Republic as I met a young missionary church planter and immediately found a like-minded partner in ministry (clear on the Gospel and with a great understanding of missions.)

This is important for my own encouragement and also for when I am gone to know that my teammates are trustworthy in ministry.

The Apostle Paul had that in Timothy. In Philippians 2:19-24 Paul tells the Philippians that many are self-centered and not good teammates in ministry (vs 20) but that Timothy is like-minded and of great character (vs 22.) Timothy and Paul had been “on the court” together in the sharing of the Gospel and Paul had complete confidence in him.

I love reading of Paul’s excitement and eagerness to send Timothy. I relate to it with the teammates I have been blessed with. How about you? Do you have teammates like that? Most ask the question if you go to church… but I think we are called to a team that is Going MAD (Making A Difference) in our community and beyond.  Make sure you have a Paul or Timothy in your life… and the “game” will just “flow”!