Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016 - Playing Like A Little Kid

As I sat and watched all I could stomach of the presidential debate tonight I had another one of my sports-devotion-writer moments where my mind goes back to the sports world…

What I was much more impressed with tonight was seeing the tribute to the Florida Marlins pitcher (Jose Fernandez) that passed away in a boating accident yesterday. As his teammates all donned jerseys with his name and number it was clear it would be an emotional evening; yet when Dee Gordon took a pitch in Jose’s honor and then proceeded to go yard on the 3rd pitch with his first homerun of the season it was epic. To see that young man circle the bases and enter the dugout with tears filling his eyes was an awesome picture of being part of a team!

That followed me watching yesterday as social media was flooded with responses of his peers around the league paying their respects; and my favorite was a video of Marlins manager Don Mattingly as he fought tears while describing Fernandez… Mattingly talked about how much Jose Fernandez loved the game of baseball. He talked about how Jose was like a little kid in his excitement for the game. In the midst of a professional sports world where athletes are so often criticized, it is great to hear of one that was playing for the love of the game. Add in Fernandez’s story of how he escaped Cuba to become a US citizen and we see a beautiful picture of how a fee man plays, appreciates his teammates, and enjoys the game!

All of that (and believe me I could go on and on with the parallels) to simply say that when I “leave the game” I hope to be remembered like Jose Fernandez as a guy that played free; had the respect of those on “my team” and around the “league”; and simply loved the game.

The Scriptures are full of reminders that we should be known by our love for one another. Just watching the Marlins highlights today I wish I were on their team…

The Scriptures even remind us that when those not on our team see how we “play the game” they should glorify God in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Let’s LIVE with a genuine love for God and others… like little kids playing the game!

LIVE (Love Intentionally Value Everyone)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 19, 2016 - It's The Max I Could Do

Simple truth tonight about us as athletes, students, employees, etc. (And of course true of us in our walks with Christ)… When it all comes down to it, how good we are at things is directly linked to how committed we are to it.

When running camps I often have competitions that require the “losers” to do push-ups. Then I will whisper in the ear of somebody on the winning team that the “losers” are getting stronger while the “winners” are standing their gloating… And it doesn’t take long for the winners to start dropping and doing “want-to” push-ups, as opposed to “have-to” push-ups. I always loved the players that wanted to max out their potential…

Bottom line is that most of us are programmed to ask what is the minimum requirement for us to accomplish… we want to get by with as little as possible. But champions are those that give as much as possible toward their goals.

I won’t belabor the point… instead getting straight to the application as believers. I believe we spend far too much of our time focusing on what is our minimum requirements before the Lord (how much to give, how long to read, how often to attend church, etc.); and we are not focusing on what the Lord has for us each moment of each day in reaching others!

This popped in my mind again as a result of listening to my pastor in Alabama preaching on the importance of being a good neighbor… (I encourage each of you to go to to watch the messages in this series.) He brought up when Christ was being asked about the greatest commandments and He gave the classic “Love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor…” response; to which the question came “who is my neighbor?”

In other words, “Ok Coach, tell me exactly what is the minimum requirement.” It is almost as if the questioner wanted Jesus to tell him exactly how far one has to go to be reaching “neighbors.” And Jesus responded with the story of the “good Samaritan”… the one who saw someone else in need and showed mercy. So a “neighbor” in Jesus’ definition was anyone we come across that we can minister to!

I encourage you this week to intentionally look for opportunities to show mercy. Help meet people’s needs, even though it cost you time and maybe even money. (Read the story in Luke 10:25-37 and see that the Samaritan sacrificed to meet the need.)

Let’s stop thinking in terms of our minimum requirements but instead in being used to the max by the Lord! We should not live by “it’s the least I could do” but instead “it’s the max I could do!”

The motto of our missional group (The Arena) is “Today we L.I.V.E.!)
We strive to Love Intentionally and Value Everyone…

Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016 - Team Atmosphere

The last couple of weeks I have been talking about “talking.” I believe great teams always have teammates that communicate… that watch each other’s back… that let each other know they are in it together no matter the obstacles that will be faced…
In the same vein of thought tonight I can’t help but think about another crucial element of talking… encouragement! This is due to some of the classes I have taught over the past week where I had my students write “Barnabas Letters” of encouragement to friends, faculty, family, etc. I loved watching them get excited about actually doing what God told us to do as the body of Christ…
Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…”
Or how it appears in the Message: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out…”
There’s an intentionality to encouragement! My mind immediately went to the baseball field after a swing and a miss when a coach or teammate would yell out, “That’s alright Big Boy, it only takes one!” Or maybe after a strikeout… “Get him next time, Slugger!” Those types of words created a team-atmosphere where when I would mess up I was quick to tell the next guy to “pick me up.” When I had success I loved to hear, “That a boy!”
Stay after it! We are in this together! I’ve got your back! To be honest there is even more reason for this to be fresh on my mind… With my current health situation I have been so blessed with all the encouragement I have been receiving literally from all over the world. (I’m on a big team!) I even was the recipient of some of the “Barnabas Letters” I assigned. As a result I will share another great verse from Proverbs 12. This is a chapter ripe with reminders about the power of our words…
Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.”
I have every reason for anxiety but honestly keep getting told how amazing it is that I am handling things well… it is not amazing, it is God’s promise! I have received so many “good words” all I can be is glad! It is not me, it is amazing friends, colleagues, former players, etc.
So here is what I want you to do after you read this devotion… Make a plan to be an “Intentional Encourager!” (And follow through with it!) Today you can change someone’s outlook! Today you can be a blessing! Today you pick someone up! (And while you are at it I will take some more of those prayers as I enter the “fight phase” of recovery.)

Monday, September 5, 2016

September 5, 2016 - I'm With You All The Way

Last week I encouraged us to make sure we are part of a team… a team that talks… a team that has each other’s back… And I repeat what I wrote last week that I am so thankful for the “teammates” God has blessed me with; ones that “play alongside me”; ones that help keep me accountable… So I start this week reminding each of us to be intentional in reaching out to others. You will be amazed at how much “ministry” involves simply being there for someone.

This week, thanks again to the series my pastor Matt Brooks is teaching, I will stay in the same vein of thought. Matt took things deeper in talking about those special “teammates” that are not only there for the normal ups and downs of the “game” but also are willing to go alongside when things seem impossible.

(Writing this tonight is a result of a text I received a few minutes before from a friend that stated: “With you all the way bro” – that line will make more sense as we see the awesome scripture that Pastor Matt shared yesterday.)

In 1st Samuel 13 we see that Saul, Jonathan his son, and their army were facing impossible odds; they didn’t even have true weapons to fight the Philistines with (only Saul and Jonathan even having swords.) Basically there was no human reason to engage in battle but in chapter 14 we see that Jonathan feels led by the Lord to go on the offensive against these “impossible” odds, reminding us that with God all things are possible…

Basically Jonathan tells his armor-bearer that they are going to go into the enemy’s camp and trust the Lord to bring them victory… I could write a lot about the battle but you can read how cool of a victory it is (and even go to and watch yesterday’s sermon if you want.)

I’ll simply highlight the verse that Matt pointed out when it comes to truly living as “teammates”, living in community. After Jonathan has shared his plan, verse 7 records the response: (The Message) His armor bearer said, “Go ahead. Do what you think best. I’m with you all the way.”

Do you have anyone willing to go to battle with you? Are you the type of “teammate” that will go to battle with a friend? Are you willing to go beyond the norm?