Monday, August 29, 2016

August 29, 2016 - Be Careful Of The Steal From Behind

A verse I have often alluded to in these weekly devotions is found in Ephesians 5 verse 15: See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.

This has often been used to talk about us being aware of our surroundings like great point guards in the game of life… seeing the traps and obstacles that lie ahead. Yet most of the time that I see a point guard get stripped it is because someone snuck in from behind…

As a coach, when that happens, I am screaming at the ball handler’s teammates for not communicating. I expect teammates to warn about an attack coming from the rear…

Heard a great message yesterday from our pastor in Alabama (we watch live on the internet) as he talked about “blind spots” and how we all have them. He likened unto driving a car and realizing that even with the mirrors there are some things we just can’t see… and how nice it is when he has a passenger that can take a look at the blind spots for him…

Well obviously this devo is asking if you have “teammates” that are helping watch your back… Is there someone in your life willing to point out things you can’t see? (Be it a sneak attack from the enemy or a habit or character trait in your life that is not conducive to your path.)

Pastor Matt took us to Galatians 6 which states in verses 1 and 2: Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Do you see it? The “law of Christ” demands that we need one another! Maybe that is a long term friend or your life group from church… wherever it is, we are not intended to be lone rangers.

I am so thankful for our “missional group” here in NC (The Arena) as I have dear friends that are headed in the same direction as me… and have my back! I am blessed with dear friends developed throughout years of ministry that have my back! I am blessed with some friends from my youth that still have my back! I am a blessed man!

Be careful to make sure you are aware of things in your blind spots

Monday, August 22, 2016

August 22, 2016 - Shout for Victory

Have you ever been in a position where you didn’t understand what the coach (or your boss, or teacher, or parents) told you to do? I can think of numerous occasions I was in that position either as the player or as the coach. Yet it is more fresh in my mind as a coach or trainer when players look at me funny trying to figure out why in the world I have them doing what they are doing…

This happens often when I am conducting clinics and I begin with the plan for how the InBounds Total Player Academy teaches hoops. We have a set way in which we build the house of fundamentals to help each kid have some success. I typically make it a point to remind the kids at the clinics that I have been playing the game for 45+ years and know a bit more than them; I will often even share some of my successes as a player and coach. I don’t do this to brag but because I want them to realize they can trust me even if they don’t understand why I am doing something. If they are not sold out to the idea that they can trust me, they will not follow through with all I ask of them…

The same is true in our walk with God. If we do not realize that He is on our side and that we can trust Him, we are going to question whatever we don’t understand. Today in a classroom I reminded my students that “in the beginning God created…” (Genesis 1:1) He was not created in the beginning… He did the creating… He is beyond time and we can trust He knows what is best.

I thought about the sons of Israel as they were at the Battle of Jericho. (Found in Joshua chapter 6): this has to be one of the craziest things in the history of battles. The people of Jericho are shut up within their city walls and the Israelites are told to march around the city for 7 days and then to “shout” and the walls will fall down. Do you think they were questioning anything about their marching orders from Joshua (and ultimately from God)? Yet we know that they followed the instructions and gained victory as the walls fell down…

What “walls” are you facing? Are you trusting God at His Word? (Of course that demands time in the Word.) I love not only the follow-through of the sons of Israel but also the confidence in which they did it…

20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

Shouted with a great shout”: I love this wording in the Hebrew… the first “shouted” [ruwa’] being the word for (a shout of triumph) and the second “shout” [t@ruw’ah] with this word meaning a (battle-cry shouted with joy)! They didn’t just make noise at the walls of Jericho; they joyfully trusted God for victory!

Shout your praises and your trust in the Lord today! There is truly victory in Jesus! Trust Him! Trust His Word!

Monday, August 15, 2016

August 15, 2016 - He's Got This!

I loved the scene in the movie Hoosiers where the team from the little small town goes into Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time to get ready for the state championship game; the guys literally stood in awe and wonder (and a bit of fear) as they looked around… (I can remember playing there my freshman year of high school and drinking in that same awe and wonder of Indiana hoops in that building; it was awesome being on that floor. And now a young man I used to coach is calling that his home court… Go Bulldogs!)

In the movie it was the team from Hickory (but truly was a team from the little town of Milan) and that fieldhouse was huge in their eyes. I’m sure they felt like those stands looked like mountains… not to mention how the difference in depth perception changes how even the baskets look. And then on top of that, they were the tiny school facing the large powerhouse school from Indianapolis (in real life Muncie Central) in the championship.

They were afraid and obviously wondering how they could climb the mountains in front of them when the coach does something ingenious; he pulls out a tape measure and checks the length of the free throw line… 15 ft. just like in Hickory’s gym…. the height of the basket 10 ft. just like in Hickory’s gym… and they began to be comforted by what the coach had shown them. Before they walk out of the gym one of the boys yells out, “Hickory”, and listens for the echo coming back from those “mountains” of bleachers.

This week I am reading a book (A Bend in the Road) by Dr. David Jeremiah dealing with when he was facing a bend in the road or a mountain to climb. He shared in one of the chapters about Psalm 121 which is a song of ascent that was believed to be a song the Israelites used as they got ready for their journey to the holy city. It was a journey that was long and hard, involving going through and over some mountains…

Early in the journey they would look ahead at the difficulty of the mountains and the potential dangers and be a bit in awe and fear. This song of ascent (Psalm 121) begins with “I will lift my eyes to the hills-“ We know there is some trepidation because of the question that follows: “From whence comes my help?

I don’t know what you are facing as you read this devotion… I do know what I am facing with the cancer and the Psalmist reminds us that “My help comes from the Lord…” We are reminded of why we can trust Him in this Psalm. We are even reminded that we can rest easy tonight knowing that the Lord “shall neither sleep nor slumber.

No matter what lies ahead of us remember He’s got this!

Monday, August 8, 2016

August 8, 2016 - Play Hard to the Zeroes!

A couple of weeks ago I posted about standing strong in the midst of adversity; as the days have passed since there has been a lot of waiting and praying in the midst of the adversity we are currently facing. (And we are still awaiting some answers.)

Toward the end of that devotion I shared Proverbs 24:10 - If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

I wrote about having success and also some failures. Over the years I have gone into some games that it was pretty clear we had no chance on the scoreboard. I know to some people that sounds like a losers statement; well if that is the case I will confess I at times have accepted being a loser on the scoreboard… BUT I HAVE NEVER ACCEPTED BEING A LOSER IN EFFORT!

I have told many teams that the goal is to make sure the opponent has to earn their victory. Even when “facing the giants” to make sure we didn’t roll over and give up. My demand was that we “play hard to the zeroes!” (When the time clock reads :00)

(In the words of country music philosopher Jason Aldean: “They’re sure gonna know we were here!”)

I was that way as a player as well. In high school we didn’t have a great team. We were not big nor overly athletic. We had one team in our conference (Temple Christian out of Princeton IN) that simply spanked us each time we played them. They had more size and talent than us and they ran a great press! But as a player I wanted to make sure I made some noise! My junior year they beat us really bad at our place in spite of me having some great success in the game. (37 pts / 19 boards) When we faced them in their gym it was awesome as the crowd booed when I made a shot or cheered when I missed… It was great to know that in spite of lopsided scoreboards, the opposition respected me!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are well known for their willingness to face adversity. In Daniel chapter 3 we read of them standing strong against adversity. We know the story… they refused to bow and worship the gold image of King Nebuchadnezzar and as a result were thrown into the fiery furnace. They didn’t burn up and instead were seen walking around with a 4th man that appeared to be the Son of God…

They faced an adversary they could not defeat apart from the miraculous hand of God and stood firm in their faith… but wait just a minute. I do not think their faith was rooted in the outcome of the circumstances but instead in just simply letting God be God…

The King is furious with the boys and reminds them of what they are about to face, asking who the God is that will deliver them… Verse 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.

Sounds like they are fully convinced of physical deliverance but I believe they were convinced of deliverance that was not based upon the circumstances…
18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Would they not have been delivered from the king even if they had burned? The Apostle Paul had the same view when he said, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
All of that to say, “Let’s play hard to the zeroes!” Don’t pay so much attention to the scoreboard (circumstances), but pay more attention to going MAD (Making A Difference) while we have the chance!

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1, 2016 - Coach vs Cancer: Playing by Faith

When I am in coaching mode I have a couple key objectives: first, is to properly prepare my team for competition; second is to do it in such a way that when it is game time they have faith in what I tell them. Basically I want my team to “play by faith.”

This past week I announced that I have been diagnosed with cancer and since that time have heard many remarks about “walking by faith” and needing to “trust in God’s promises.” Just to make it clear that is fully my goal in all of this; I want to be a man of faith! Yet what does that really mean?

Back to the coaching analogy… remember that first as a coach I realize the need to “prepare my team for competition.” I know they are getting ready to face obstacles and trials and I need to make sure they have the skill set, endurance, and understanding of the game to meet those challenges. Then when it is game time and I give them instructions, they are equipped to follow through. Even if the game starts going poorly, I want them to come to huddles and trust the instruction I give them… I want them to rely on their training throughout the game. And sometimes, when facing a lesser opponent, I even have to pull them back to their training to keep bad habits from developing… In a nut shell, faith in me as a coach is rooted in what I have trained and prepared them to do beforehand; not just in if they like me.

So what does faith in God look like in these types of situations? One view is that I simply need to trust God to heal me and not rely on anything else; another that God has given man the knowledge of medicine and that route is appropriate. And, again to make sure I am clear, I believe that God can and may totally heal my cancer with His spoken Word; I could show up at my PET scan and show totally clear. (And there are thousands of prayers that have been lifted asking for such… I know because I have lifted many of them.) Yet we also see within Scripture that at times God allows His children to face the trials and promises to be their “hiding place” in the midst. (See Psalm 119:114) We see physical difficulties in guys like Paul with bad eyes (which may be his “thorn in the flesh” that he prayed to be removed and God didn’t. We see Timothy with a stomach problem and treating it medicinally with wine. Yet of course we see other times of complete and instantaneous healings…

Bottom line: If I want to walk by faith I must trust not only the power of God but also the process of God. Many of God’s promises are predicated on His principles, the process…

I’ll use my cancer as an example. I do not know what the root cause of the cancer is, yet we know it is a result of living in a fallen world that has problems. But we do know that certain things can be triggers of getting cancer. The only things that seem to be logical triggers in my life are diet and stress… each of which the “Coach” has warned to keep watch over…

1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit…”
Romans 12:1 tells us, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Therefore if I am trusting God, walking by faith, I will take care of the temple… which is reasonable to do. Yet I have stayed overweight and eating poorly. Thus, the adverse is that in that area of life I have been walking not by faith, but instead in disobedience.

So one response for me to walk by faith in this situation is to be obedient to the Word, the training that preceded this part of the “game” that I am in. That is me trusting the Coach! As a result, I have dramatically changed and improved my diet in the hope of healing, but more so in the conviction of what it means to walk by faith.
At the point of writing this I do not know the extent or even exact locations of the cancer that is in me; but I am sure of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that is in me and I want to honor Him!

So here it is again… the bottom line: If I want to walk by faith I must trust not only the power of God but also the process of God. Many of God’s promises are predicated on His principles, the process…

Study the Word and live accordingly!
And in studying you will see at times that God chooses to show up through the living out of His process and other times in an instantaneous and miraculous way.

We do appreciate all the prayers that have come our family’s way!