Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25, 2016 - How To Know What You're Made Of...

I was sharing with my kids this week about the year I was coaching after our school had won the national championship. It was a great year… unless you were judging by the scoreboard. The year of the national championship we had some really good tight high scoring games… and some high scoring games where we blew the other teams out. The year following, we had some really good tight games… and some high scoring games where the other teams blew us out…

The difference was that the championship team had a lot of seniors that went on to play college ball and a lot of size (which is one thing you can’t teach.) The year where we were on the short-end of the scoreboard at times, we had a couple guys that went on to college ball (one was still in middle school and one just a sophomore) and we had virtually no size when it comes to hoops. (I think our tallest guy was only 6’1” or 6’2”.)

Some of our fans actually came to me and stated that we should play a softer schedule so we don’t get beat so bad. I asked my kids this week when I was sharing this story if they thought I should have lightened up the schedule. You may be wondering why I said “it was a great year”?

My motto as a coach and player was that I/our teams couldn’t truly know what we were made of unless we faced the biggest challenges. I didn’t take pride in beating easy opponents. I loved the times that year the young guys competed hard against bigger opponents. I loved it when we would stay with a vastly superior team for a game, or a half, or even a quarter. I can’t remember the score of any game that year; yet I can remember plays where our guys rose up against adversity.

I was telling my kids about those years as I was leading up to talking to them about some adversity heading our way as a family… The reality is that at times this thing called life is hard! Some Bible teachers even try to present the Christian life as a way for everything in life to be rosy… this simply isn’t true. In fact, if that were true why would God say this about Himself:

·         Psalm 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a REFUGE for us. Selah (means pause and think about it…)

·         Psalm 32:7 You are my HIDING PLACE; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah (The Hebrew word for “preserve” means to “watch over”… do you get that? God is watching over us in the midst of the trouble!)

·         Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you: Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I could go on and on with just verses about running to God in our times of troubles, but I think you get the picture. Charles Stanley said, “Often times God demonstrates His faithfulness in adversity by providing for us what we need to survive. He does not change our painful circumstances. He sustains us through them.”

Psalm 50:15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.

Life is hard and I plan to face it head on. I told my kids that it is not that big of a deal when we walk by faith in the easy times… not that big of a deal when we praise His name in the good times… that is easy to do. But in the hard times will we stand (and by stand I mean “trust” Him)?

Proverbs 24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

I am currently facing some serious adversity. (I’ll share more about this in the coming days.) I am willing to face the giants! I want to be faithful in the “day of trouble”! And in the meantime this is what I am going to do: I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:14

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 18, 2016 - Direct Correlation of Injury and Fatigue

Last week I wrote about and celebrated the fundamentals of Tim Duncan as he retired from 19 yrs. in the NBA… Very few last that long in “The League” with an average of just 4.8 years NBA-life. Part of the secret to longevity is the fact that Tim based his game on fundamentals, which will serve a player even with the athleticism is fading. (Coach Burden: “Fundamentals are the anchor that will hold in the storm.”) But I believe there is another reason that Tim had such a successful and long tenure… proper rest!

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was quoted as saying, “the number one correlation between play and injuries is fatigue.” In an ESPN article I was reading it noted that Duncan was not in the top 25 of minutes played since the 2002-2003 season; and that “the Spurs monitored his playing time obsessively, even incurring $250,000 fines if it meant giving their franchise player the rest he needed.” (Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN Staff Writer)

I am coming off of a couple weeks of Sabbatical, and a summer that has not been as ministry-heavy as in the past on travel. To be honest there have been some of those days that I have felt very antsy, like I needed to “get back on the court” and be busy. Yet I know that longevity requires being wise with “minutes played.” I know that rest will help me avoid the “injuries” of poor decision making and burnout.
In just a few weeks I will turn 50, will begin my 30th year of ministry, and have begun my 10th year full-time with InBounds Ministries… and Lord-willing there is a lot more to come. (We just hope the “fans” [supporters] understand the times we have to “sit out a game.”)

Make sure you are taking time to rest with a weekly sabbatical and also some planned breaks from “the game.”

Hebrews 4:9-10 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

Mark 2:27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

Psalm 127:2 …For so He gives His beloved sleep.
                       …Don’t you know He enjoys giving rest to those He loves? (The Message)

This week’s devotion has a twofold purpose: 1. To encourage each of you to rest… 2. To ease the false-guilt I feel when I take a break…

Monday, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016 - The Big Fundamental

The game of basketball has definitely changed a lot over the years and it makes it very difficult when comparing the great players. The problem is that most are known for attributes that are based upon the style of the game in the era in which they play(ed.) Yet there at times are players that transcend eras and styles… players that simply succeed based upon sticking to the fundamentals of the game….

This week I have to give a shout-out to Tim “The Big Fundamental” Duncan as he retires from one of the most (if not the most) consistent careers professional basketball has ever seen. For 19 years Tim simply played the game the way it should be played, relying not on overwhelming athleticism but instead on solid fundamentals. I love reading all the accolades as his peers state that he quietly just got the job done!

I can’t write about Tim without recalling a practice where one of my players informed me that he didn’t like the bank-shot drill we were doing. When I asked him why he told me his older brother had told him that “bank-shots are ugly”; so he decided he only wanted to try swish-shots… I told him that “Tim Duncan is an ugly millionaire then!”

Great career, Tim Duncan! You are truly one of the greats to ever lace them up.

So how is this a weekly devotion? The obvious question is to ask, what will people say of us when we are finished? Will we, like the Apostle Paul, be able to state that we have “fought the good fight …finished the race …kept the faith”? (2 Timothy 4:7)

This is accomplished via a commitment to the fundamentals! It requires being taught the basics that will help us stand in this world. The Apostle Paul, in his second letter the Thessalonians, said it very simply:

2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”

The “therefore” is there because Paul was letting them know that this world (the game) is changing and they need to be “big fundamentals”!

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4. 2016 - Free Agents Have Choices

Last week I wrote about being a “free agent”… with being free it means there are choices to be made. Today Kevin Durant announced that he is going to change teams and sign to play with the Golden State Warriors; because he is a free agent he has that opportunity and that right. (It is funny how many people criticize pro ball players for making choices… no one else gets criticized for going to what they perceive to be a better job.)

The argument against Durant is that he made a choice to join the team that beat him instead of manning up to beat them… He has been called “weak” and said to have “jumped on the band wagon” of the Warriors. The claim is that he automatically now will win championships instead of earning them the hard way. The problem with this line of thinking is that it makes some assumptions and it fails to understand culture.

First is the assumption that this guarantees multiple championships. Yes the Warriors look scary on paper; but they will have to learn to play together and the dynamic of the team is changing due to the players the Warriors had to let go. One of their strengths had been the ability to play multiple styles… going small or going big. They now have lessened some of that flexibility. Yes they will be scary good, but definitely no guarantees.

Second is failing to understand that these guys grew up in an AAU culture that is built upon putting together the strongest team possible to obliterate the competition. Their entire lives have been about being part of the strongest team… that is both on the AAU circuit and by going to private schools (i.e. Oak Hill Academy.)

Bottom line is that Durant had the freedom to choose and did what was logical in his way of thinking!

Today as we celebrate freedom, I want to say thank you to the many that have given me the right to even write these devotions and post them. I know there is a lot of turmoil surrounding our political and social climates but bottom line is that I still the freedom to share about my Savior and His Word openly! Thankful to be an American! (Happy Birthday, USA!)

And of course I am thankful to Christ for purchasing my eternal freedom. I have heard some say that “Christ is a crutch for the weak.” I will have to disagree… I (and you) are not just weak, we are powerless (Rom 5:6) and we need more than a crutch… we need a stretcher. I will admit I made the logical choice of joining a guaranteed winner in Christ! I realized that any other team I joined was destined to lose in the end and I jumped on Christ’s “bandwagon.”

Durant and the other Warriors still have to perform well, avoid injuries, etc. in order to win; on the spiritual front Christ has already defeated death and we already know how things end…

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Freedom means choices…

Make sure you join the winning team!

Make sure you use the opportunity on the new team to Go MAD (Make A Difference) in the lives of others.

Today we L.I.V.E.! (Love Intentionally Value Everyone)