Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017 - What Would Your Nickname Be?

Last week I mentioned people with “alligator mouths”; this week the news will be full of stories about two guys with two of the biggest mouths around… They both are so loud and brash that the fight they are scheduled to have is more villain vs. villain than good vs. bad.

If you pay attention to the sports world at all you know I am talking about the upcoming fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and Conor “The Notorious” McGregor. McGregor, the brash Irishman, is fighting in his first professional boxing match (although he has fought professionally in MMA very successfully. Mayweather is 49-0-0 in his illustrious boxing career but does have some age on him… but this guy hasn’t even had many close fights because he is so good. Most boxing experts give McGregor almost zero chance of winning; I even heard one state that he didn’t think he would land one clean shot on Mayweather. The thinking is that McGregor’s only shot is that his power and awkward style may allow him to land that one lucky shot that will bring “Money” down…

So what about Mayweather, why do people want to see him go down so badly that they will pay ridiculous prices for what appears will be a very lopsided boxing contest? The reason is that in spite of how brash McGregor is, Mayweather’s career has been built on being the villain. This guy wasn’t even a main draw for much of his career; nut until he fought a “good guy” in Oscar De La Hoya back in 2007. Since then it has been about money and fame. In fact, in one fight he knocked a guy out when the guy was apologizing to him with his hands down… it was truly a despicable display of sportsmanship, but within the rules since the round was live. (But when talking ethically it was cheating!) Mayweather has truly built his fortune on having a bad name…

Proverbs 22:1 has something to say about names: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

Proverbs 21:6 states: “Getting treasures by a lying tongue (unethically) is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.” Or check out the way that The Message states it: “Make it to the top by lying and cheating; get paid with smoke and promotion----to death!”

Bottom line is that Mayweather has made, and continues to make, an enormous amount of money in the boxing/entertainment world; yet what will all of that mean when he can no longer go in the ring and is seeking peace and contentment?

What about you? When people hear your name, is it a “good” one? What would your nickname be? Is your life characterized by selfishness or by integrity? (The prioritizing or pursuit of riches in one’s life is a sure sign of selfishness.)

Make a good name your priority! Maybe a nickname like “The Giver” or “The Servant” would be a good one…

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017 - Alligator Mouth Mosquito Butt

Tonight, I was at a rehearsal for a new worship team we have called ROAR (Rely On And Rejoice.) As I shared a devotion with them we discussed the idea of being heard… (our school mascot is the Lions and a lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles away.) And I got to sharing about the idea of what bragging should sound like as a believer…

 In the sports world I spend so much time in, it is common to hear players roar about themselves; and to be honest I probably did my share when I thought I was good… And I am not offended by someone that is proud of the work he has put in; I just want the guy talking to be able to back it up. (In reality, often the talkers have alligator mouths but mosquito butts… they can’t back up the bragging.)

Anyway, back to what I shared tonight with ROAR: It is not wrong for a believer to be a bit braggadocios. Some of you may be already checking out on me, saying that is pride. Yes, it is pride and not all pride is wrong. What matters is what you are proud of, or more importantly who you are bragging about.

Our lives should be characterized by praising our great God! He is worthy of our praise! He is worth bragging about! My victories are a result of His goodness working in and through me!

To quote the philosopher Katy Perry, “You’re gonna hear me roar!”

And God always lives up to the hype!

I love reading the Psalms as God gets bragged about!

I love reading Paul’s words to the Galatians: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (6:14)

What if we bragged as much (or more) about God as we do ourselves? Or our favorite players? Or our favorite musicians? Actors? Etc…

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)

“Men shall speak of the might of your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness.” (Psalm 145:6)

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017 - Just Do It! (Be careful)


Saturday my daughter Faith was playing in an AAU basketball tourney and their team was on a fast break… she looked ahead and made a pass to her teammate running the lane. The pass made it through and it looked great; it was a high risk play that brought a lot of cheers. Right after that they found themselves in a very similar situation and this time Faith went for the same exact pass; yet this time the defense was ready and stole it. This was a case where the old phrase (“went to the well once too often”) comes into play… it is a situation where the passer got greedy for more.

 

I’m sure in Faith’s mind she thought it went well the first time, so why not try again. I’m sure she enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, so why not try again. And to be honest, my view when I was coaching was to encourage “going for it until they stop it.” Sounds a lot like Nike saying, “Just do it!”

 

In life we tend to get “greedy” as well. Obviously we have greed when it comes to material things; my pastor refers to things where one should be enough and we say we just want “one… more.” Yet this spirit of greed is also a problem in leading us down paths of sin…

 

Think about how sin takes control. We make a decision to just give something a try, even though we know it is wrong. Then if we don’t see the immediate negative consequence we “go to the well again.” And eventually, we find we went to the well once too often as sin wreaks its havoc in our lives.  I love the old phrase “sin will take you farther than you planned go, keep you longer than you planned to stay, and cost you more than you planned to spend.”

 

“Just once” quickly turns to “just one more time” when we allow sin to have a foot in the door of our lives. Sin makes us greedy for more. Early on the enemy whispers, “Just do it!” in our ears and we are lured in…

 

This week’s devo is a long way around to encouraging, or better yet, pleading that you “do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on… Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.” (Provers 4:14-15, 26-27)

 

 

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017 - Greatest and Worst Trade Ever


There is much talk in the sports world right now about “trades.” With the deadline for Major League Baseball trades, and also the talk that Kyrie Erving wants traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers, it is dominating the news… Bottom line is that every article is gauging the value of trades / which team got the better deal / are the pieces on each side of the trade worth it; case in point: the top headline when I just pulled up ESPN.com is “Trade deadline winners and losers…”

 

And when it comes to the trade demand from Kyrie the news is not just about finding a good swap on value but also why he wants to be traded from a team that has gone to 3 straight NBA Finals…

 

All of it brings me to a very basic weekly devotion to just remind us of the greatest, yet worst value, trade in history…

 

2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For He (God the Father) made Him (Christ) knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

 

How awesome!!! We receive the righteousness of Christ to our account, allowing us eternal life with a place on God’s team… He gets our sin and its death penalty… The Great Trade!!!

 

Yet when we look at it from a value standpoint The Greatest Of All Time took the fall for the worst of all time, as He died for the sin of the world… The Worst Trade (but thank God, full of mercy and grace!)

 

Simply put, from a value standpoint it was not a fair trade; yet that is how much God wanted us on the team… how much He loves each of us… and “demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We were not worth the trade… “But God…” (READ Ephesians 2:4-9)

 

This is time to celebrate our trade that we accepted by faith! And if you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, can I give you an honest appraisal?

 

Basically, the word is that Kyrie wants traded from Cleveland because he doesn’t like being second-fiddle to LeBron James; he believes it would be better to play somewhere that he is the centerpiece of the team. One article (TheUndefeated.com; Stephen A. Smith) even says “Kyrie got tired of being ‘son’ to LeBron.” This sounds a lot like a player’s pride taking priority over being on a championship team…

 

According to God’s Playbook there is only one championship team in the end, and it is Team Jesus. None of us are good enough to be on the team, but that “trade” was made that allows us to be. A person that rejects the trade typically does so because he has a false sense that he doesn’t need a Substitute/Savior, and will make it on his own laurels… this is choosing religion (man’s attempt to earn God’s favor…) this is a false pride that ends in “falling short.” (See Romans 3:23) And of course some will simply try to convince themselves there is no God, therefore no need for the “trade,” and thus no true meaning to life as we all simply live and die; again, just pride as we believe we are the apex of it all…

 

Please consider the incredible, loving, sacrificial “trade” the Father made… for you! He loves you and wants you on the Team… for eternity!

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017 - Sure Way To Ruin Team Chemistry


This past week I read an autobiography by Tamika Catchings. That gal is not only a great basketball player, but also has had an incredibly interesting life. The book shares a lot about her victories, but also about her struggles/defeats… and how they have strengthened her.

 

One story that stood out to me took place her first practice of her freshman year at the University of Tennessee; she was playing for legendary coach Pat Summitt. Tamika talks about a defensive drill in which she started out doing it her “usual way.” Coach Summitt blew here whistle and let her know how defense was played at UT; and apparently this happened a few times in the course of the drill… each time with Coach getting a bit more perturbed; at one point yelling, “Catch! How many times do I have t tell you?”

 

One telling paragraph says this… “I was getting frustrated. What I was doing was giving me a good chance of stealing the ball. I was being aggressive on defense, doing what I knew to be successful for years in high school. Pat was forcing me to do it another way I thought was not going to be nearly successful.”

 

Eventually Catchings mouthed off to Coach Summitt and realized she had crossed the line. Coach even asked her if she was going to be coachable? Summitt said, “You need to stop being stubborn and start thinking about the team.”

 

(Quotes taken from “Catch A Star” by Tamika Catchings; pages 104-106)

 

So why am I sharing so much of this story? Because the cool ending is that Tamika Catchings has been a 5-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and attributes it to what she learned from Coach Summitt; and there is an incredible life lesson here…

 

As a coach, a teacher, a pastor, and a dad I spend a lot of time sharing advice, and at times giving direction. What I have found is that the greatest danger to a team, a church, or a family is found in how we respond to leadership, ultimately how we respond to God’s Word.

 

Judges 17:6 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

 

I have often written about my favorite two words in Scripture (“But God…”) and the hope they bring…. Now for my least favorite two words to hear in life (especially from my kids), “But I…” Those two words destroy the chemistry of the team! Those two words remove the authority of the coach! Those two words are the most selfish, destructive words on the planet!

 

My fear today is that even in the church we are living as if we have no king. It is time to take inventory of our lives to see if we are allowing for the absolute authority of Scripture… this will then spill over to submission to earthly authority… resulting in us being coachable… resulting in us not always looking out for our own desires but looking to others (see Philippians 2:3.)

 

Simply put: if we let the King be King, our lives will experience great team-chemistry!

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17, 2017 - Efficiency

Sometimes when watching a game, a player may not be what he seems… In other words, a player that seems to be very ordinary may in fact be the most talented and gifted player on the court. The reason for this is that the best players understand they are much better off to get the job done as efficiently as possible… thus not putting on a skills exhibition every time they get the ball. Great players stick to the goal… thus no need for 10 dribbles when one will suffice in getting to the basket!

As a player and as a coach I had a motto when playing defense against a “show-off” trying to impress everyone with his skills… the motto: “Let him dance!” There is not a need to try to steal the ball from a guy that is going nowhere… wait for him to actually make a move toward the basket…

We spend way too much time in useless arguments (and social media postings.) We don’t have to answer or post a response to everything that comes before us. We need to limit what we engage in and use less words. We will find this helps us stick to the goal (the mission) and that are words will be more powerful and taken more seriously. (Makes me think of another great motto: Don’t shoot rabbits with an elephant gun!)

This is the mark of a “great player” or a wise person...

Proverbs 17:27 He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

In The Message (paraphrase): The one who knows much says little; an understanding person remains calm.

Translation: Stop getting so jacked up by everything you hear or read… stick to the goal!

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017 - Purpose of Butt-Whoopins

Circumstances… the things that cause us to question… especially question leadership that got us into or allowed us into said circumstances…

Years ago, I served as not only a HS coach but also as an athletic director. The year before I had been an associate coach for a team with immense talent and size. We had played against some major competition that often included multiple future D1 players on the floor at any given time. (In fact we were suiting up multiple players that would go D1.) Yet the year that I was the AD we didn’t have that talent or size on our squad… we had gone from 5 guys over 6’4” to no one over 6’2”… from 6 seniors that went on to play college ball to no upperclassmen that would make that transition… I think you see the change, as did our parents/fans.

Yet as the AD I had to still make a decision on who I would schedule as our opponents and what level of tournaments we would play in… we obviously were not equipped to compete at the same level as the team from the previous year. Yet I chose to maintain a very strong schedule (and we were in a conference that was stacked with size and talent.) I planned to play some teams that I knew were going to give us an old-fashioned beat-down. I allowed for us to remain in a conference that I knew would give us some old-fashioned beat-downs. (And to my guys’ credit, they competed at times at levels that surprised us all.)

The reason I bring it up is because I remember one particular conversation with a parent. She approached me and explained to me that she though I needed to start lightning the schedule so we didn’t lose as badly… (and there were some really lopsided scoreboards that year.) To our parents/fans the idea of success centered around a bunch of electronic lights that would turn on an off in the blink of an eye… the scoreboard. Yet to me the scoreboard is such a false indicator of success, as it does not record improvement, effort, opponents’ abilities, etc. It only records current circumstances. I responded to that parent by reminding her that the year before I remember her cheering us on as we beat some other teams badly… and I even asked her why it was ok for other peoples’ kids to get beaten badly but not ours???
 
I regularly tried to remind my guys that our goals were long-term… that we were more concerned with developing work ethic and character than winning a game. Don’t get me wrong, I love winning games but that is merely circumstances and is short-term; (the scoreboard turns off after every game.)

In life we often find ourselves in the midst of difficult circumstances and tend to ask why God would plan or allow for such circumstances. We are consumed by looking for the cause (the why) behind our circumstances. (And a side note: sometimes we are in bad circumstances because we “played poorly” and didn’t do what the “Coach” said.) Yet we can’t deny that in Scripture we see God planning for or allowing for life’s schedule to seem to be stacked against us.

Can I encourage you this week that no matter what circumstances you are facing to trust that God has a long-term vision for you? He knows the plans He has for your future… (see Jeremiah 29:11.) He has promised that trials will strengthen you… (see James 1:2-5.)

That passage in James mentions the idea of being perfected (vs 4), which is another way of saying that you are maturing. Here is how I believe a mature believer responds to difficult circumstances:

1.       He doesn’t have to ask “why” or find a “cause” because he fully trusts in God’s promises for the long-term…
2.       He drops the “ca” off of “cause” and focuses on the “use”… in other words instead of asking why me, he asks how can I be used in this? It is a focus of how God can use us in the midst of trials to reach/help others!

What I love is that God will (and plans to) use us, even when we have “played poorly” to get ourselves in bad circumstances… why, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Just as I hoped my players would not only trust my coaching, I hoped they would trust my scheduling. When they realized the schedule was hard, not because of the scoreboard but because of their long-term good, we even had fun when getting our butts kicked…

Trust God’s plan!

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 3, 2017 - Losing Velocity

You matter! As a part of the team you have a role to play… a position to fill; and every part is impotant! You directly influence the impact of your local church (and ministries like InBounds Ministries.)

I know this is typical sports-talk and typical church-talk… as in each venue we are reminded that we are a “body.” I love how basic the Scriptures show this: READ 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and Romans 12:4

I was talking today with a pastor and youth pastor from a local church in Alabama. We were discussing their church’s sports ministries and the importance of discipleship through the outreach… that involves teaching to fill roles.

One verse that stands out to me is in the Corinthians passage: Verse 26 says that if “one part suffers, every part suffers with it.”

A body illustration came up in that discussion today that takes this “sports-talk” beyond being psycho-mumbo-jumbo to reality… When I was 13 yrs old I was in Clinton, IN (near Terre Haute) for the Babe Ruth All-Stars. I remember it well as it was the day before I was scheduled to take the mound for the finals; we were horse-playing in the hotel pool and I got injured…

It ended up causing me to not be able to pitch, but I was able to play 1st base that day. So what happened? You probably are assuming I hurt my throwing arm but that wasn’t the case… I broke my little toe. When I tried to take the mound, I realized I could not push off the rubber and get any velocity. Yes, I technically could have pitched but would have been ineffective without the use of that small little toe…

I realize how important my little toe is now! Much that we attempt in ministry/service is affected negatively by not having all the parts of the body functioning…

Do you realize how important you are to what is done in ministry? We need each other! I recognize it from the local church to the ministry I direct… EVERYONE MATTERS! I can do the work of ministry, but not with the same “velocity” as if all the parts are functioning.

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017 - Get Back Up!


“If you are not making mistakes, then you are not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” John Wooden

 
When I am training/coaching I hate hearing the answer “I can’t” when I give a new skill to work on; usually it involves doing something with the weak hand or in a way that is new… To which I typically respond, “And that’s why we are working on it! Try saying. ‘I will!’” But the reality is that no matter how much work we put in, as long as we are active we will at times falter.

Today I read a friend’s post on Facebook that stated that a hypocrite is someone who tries to appear to be something he is not, not someone who believes something and fails to live up to it. (Thanks Donna Evans)

Believer, not sure where you are at in your walk, but the secret is to keep on keeping on… Proverbs 24:16 states, “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.”

You’re “positional (legal)” standing of righteousness is found 100% in Christ and the great exchange that took place at your salvation where He took your sin and gave you His righteousness… now the Judge is appeased! (2 Corinthians 5:21)

You’re “practical” standing of righteousness is founded in your willingness to “get back up” when you fall! It is found in “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart…” (Psalm 51:17)

How does this go back to the player that says, “I can’t.” The problem for the player is one of pride! The player doesn’t want to be seen failing… Yet when a player is willing to throw away pride and simply keep “getting back up” in his attempt, he will see great progress.

So let’s revisit Psalm 51:16-17 in a paraphrase from The Message Bible: “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I Learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”

This week let me encourage you to not stay in a feeling of defeat, uselessness, or despair… or even in a feeling of hypocrisy… instead push forward living in Christ’s victory! And if you fall… GET BACK UP!

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017 - Lottery Pick Friends

The news this week on ESPN is centering heavily around the upcoming NBA draft; talking about what teams are doing to either compete with Cleveland in the East, or how Cleveland can possibly compete with Golden State from the West…

The talking heads all have their opinions, yet I like to listen to the former players that understand what makes teams great. When listening to those guys, you hear more about how players will mesh with one another – or how they complement one another.

Ultimately great teams require players that understand their roles and fill them!

Recently, while sharing with a group of recent high school grads on our mission trip, I encouraged the group to “find their lanes” (purpose and passion) and “swim in those lanes.” I encourage each of you to do the same… what are you passionate about? What is your purpose? How are you gifted?

Yet this week I want to also ask you if you have considered if you have the right “personnel” around you? Have you surrounded yourself with encouragers? Are the people around “dream-makers” or “dream-breakers”?

Proverbs 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully…”

If the NBA executives are taking time to choose basketball players carefully, how much more should we emphasize choosing friends carefully? It has been said that “you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.”

“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” Booker T Washington

1 Corinthians 15:33 Bo not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Go to the "draft board" and get you some “lottery pick” friends that will help this next season of your life be stronger!

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12, 2017 - Let's Get Better!

I regularly have seen players over the years that fell way short of their potential… some due to lack of discipline in training… yet more due to lack of willingness to humble themselves and listen to instruction. Great players are greatly coachable!
 
I was reminded of this truth throughout this week as I am in the Dominican Republic with a group of 17 graduates (plus a couple other leaders.) I have been thrilled with the incredible hard work these young adults have done; I have been thrilled with the lack of complaining/whining they have done; I have been thrilled with seeing them love on the kids in this community; I have been thrilled as they have shared their testimonies at rallies; I have been thrilled…
 
Ye the thing that gives me the most encouragement for their futures is the coachability I have seen. I have been able to pull individuals to the side and point out different ways to do things or different ways to view things and each individual has responded with a desire to “get better”!
 
Do you desire to “get better”? is there a coach/mentor/leader in your life that you receive instruction from? Let me encourage you to be coachable if you want to grow… otherwise you are… well we will let the Proverbs tell us:
 
Proverbs 12:15 The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.
(Another great verse in Proverbs 12 that says it directly [like a coach would] is 12:1)
 
Let’s get better!!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5, 2017 - Face Up To The Goal!


For time’s sake this week I am going to give you some verses to look up and hopefully you will take the time to do so before you read on, as they will help you make more sense out of the short devo…
 
The “I Have/I Have Not/I Can/I Cannot ” Verses (as mentioned in Max Lucado’s book Glory Days (p. 67)
1 Corinthians 6:20
2 Timothy 1:7
Romans 8:35
Hebrews 4:16
Philippians 4:13
 
Read those verses to see what you have in Christ when you are on His team…
 
Often as I am teaching ball handling to young kids I show them a very protected stance that helps them keep the ball from getting stolen. The common term is called “Triple Threat” position, as you begin in a place where you can dribble, pass, or shoot. Yet even when teaching “Triple Threat” a player should progress to a more open, and much more offensive positioning; trusting one’s ball handling instead of just shielding away a defender…
 
I thought about this as I pictured young players (and at times older but non-confident players) not only shielding away defenders, but at times, in order to protect the ball, actually playing with their backs to the basket. That is not a good position to be in when an opening arises to the goal…
 
In Lucado’s book (p. 67-68) he talks of the fact that the Hebrews in the Book of Joshua were instructed to remember what God has done for them and to remember to whom they belong… Take a moment to inventory how incredible God has been to you! Think about how He has equipped you for this life!
 
Lucado goes on to remind us to look at the right goal in the battle… we are in a spiritual battle and it matters where we set our eyes! In the words of Max: ”Don’t face Satan by facing Satan. Face Satan by facing God.”

Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29, 2017 - God, Call My Number!

Well here we are in the 16th year of doing these weekly devotions and I am sure I have often talked about Memorial Day… especially since I do these on Mondays… but we should never tire of honoring and remembering those that were “all-in” to the point of giving their lives. These soldiers believed in something bigger than themselves… (and it kind of makes me feel a bit embarrassed to know how often we apply the term “all-in” to sports teams.)
 
Nevertheless we do apply that term to many areas of life; and we simply are saying that there is commitment to not only the ideology of the area but also to the actual carrying out of the mission.
 
Well today has even more meaning to me this year as I have one of my sons scheduled to enlist this week, and I just wrote a recommendation letter for another young man, that I love like a son, for his enlistment. I want “my boys” to not just be adults, but to be men; to be all-in on God’s plan for their lives and to Go MAD (Make A Difference) in this course they have charted…
 
From a spiritual standpoint isn’t that the goal… to be all-in? Obviously Jesus was all-in to purchase our salvation… shouldn’t we be looking to fulfill the mission He left for us?
 
Last week I quoted from a book I am reading, Kingdom Man by Dr Tony Evans. I am making my way through its pages with highlighter in hand to find encouragement and, if need be, rebuke in my own life… and of course will share that freely in the weekly devos!
 
The book is dealing largely with the fact that God has chosen mankind to manage the earth… to have dominion or rule. Evans reminds us that “most of the time God wanted to do something on Earth, as recorded in Scripture, He found a person through whom to do it. …. He created an Adam, found a Noah, located an Abraham, sought out a Moses, raised up a judge, identified a prophet, chose a king, and when stuff got really bad, He became a man.” (p.100)
 
Evans encourages us to “memorize 2 Corinthians 9:8. (saying) The truth will blow your mind: ‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.’” (p.93) In other words, you and I have all the stuff we need to be difference makers!
 
God has called us to be on mission… all-in! We have no excuses for inactivity! God is calling your number!
 
Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; BUT I FOUND NO ONE.”
 
I pray that those words would not be said of us! I pray that when God looks for a man to do His bidding that He find me… calls my number! And yours! All-in!!!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017 - Look who's checking into the game...

I’m sitting in my recliner tonight reminiscing a bit… looking back to days with I was in my athletic prime; a time when I laced up the sneakers and was a force to be reckoned with on the court. I know, I know it is “boring stories of… glory days” (thanks Bruce Springsteen for the reminder.) I know, I know we are way better in our memories than we were in reality… legends in our own minds. But let an old man reminisce…

I do remember a time when I walked into gyms and players on the opposite team knew they were in trouble (at least I thought they did.) It was a time where when I laced them up I did a lot of scoring, blocked a lot of shots, won a lot of games… My typical performance was enough to garner the attention of the “enemy.”

Seriously, this is spurred on by a real challenge for us this week from Dr. Tony Evans. In his book Kingdom Man, Dr. Evans begins chapter 1 with the following statement (it is quite a tip-off to the book): “A kingdom man is the kind of man that when his feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, ‘Oh crap, he’s up!” (p.7)

What about you? Does the enemy take notice when you are up each morning? Are you a difference maker “on the court” of life? Dr. Evans went on to ask this, “…when God searches for a man to advance His kingdom, does He call your name?” (p.19)

We can serve Him in full confidence that the victory has already been one in Christ! “But thanks be to  God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

Make it a point to “get off the bench and check into the game” to the point that the enemy says, “Oh crap, he’s up!”

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017 - Unexpected Contributions

I am sitting tonight watching an NBA playoff game (which lately I have not been able to do very often.) As the game unfolds I am seeing the star players make some great plays… but that is to be expected… stars are supposed to shine. Yet what I love is seeing other guys step up and make a difference.

I love it when I see a player come in off the bench and start lighting up the scoreboard or making defensive stops. Often the subs are just expected to sustain by filling their roles. Yet all of these guys in the NBA have incredible skill sets and, when given the opportunity, can be a difference maker… (or in our ministry terms a MAD-man!)

This week I want to encourage each of you to not only be faithful in playing your role, but to also step out of the norm to make a difference. I often am told by believers that they do not feel adequate or qualified to step up their game. They feel unworthy or unequipped.

Well I have a different view. We are all “unworthy” but as believers are found worthy in Christ!!! He makes us worthy because when we trusted in His finished work we received His righteousness. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21)

I also believe that you, yes you, as a believer are fully equipped…

2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given… that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Colossians 2:10 “and you are complete in Him…”

If you are “on the bench” do the unexpected and get “in the game.”

If you are typically silent about your faith, do the unexpected and share your faith!

You have the stuff to make a difference! Be a MAD-man or a MAD-woman this week!

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017 - Don't Settle for Mediocre

Last week was very tiring but I loved being able to share a bit about the legacy my dad left behind; in the weekly devo we discussed his legacy of “hard work and sharing.” Today’s culture doesn’t seem to value hard work near as much as they value just the end results… trying to get what they want for as little as they have to spend…

As a trainer, I have to remind athletes that there are no short-cuts to getting stronger, faster, better, etc. I have to remind parents of the same thing; literally had one parent a few years back that asked me to help her kid on a particular skill set… then openly exclaimed that she hoped to see that improvement in the game the next day. In this “microwave (get it fast even if you sacrifice quality) / Burger King (Have it your way)” culture we need to be careful to not consider mediocre good, or consider good as great…

I have mentioned in past devotions how I hate that kids can spend $15 or $20 on a pair of socks that are “Elite” socks. You don’t buy “elite”!

I saw another example this past week as my son Caleb put on a pair of my dad’s old work jeans. The jeans had some holes over the knees and someone jokingly said that he looked cool… think about it… one of the major fashions of our day involves people paying for jeans that look like they were worn by a hard worker. Everything seems to be geared around short-cuts…

Short-cuts are a short-sighted approach to short-lived success!

This is true both in our physical and spiritual growth. Isaiah 26:3-4 states, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

Our spiritual growth is a long-term approach to long-term success. Commit to the long-haul!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May 1, 2017 - Feed the Bigs


Going to be a short devotion this week, as I am already a couple days late… but the reason I am late is inspiration for the content of the devo…

 

On Monday, my father passed away of a massive heart attack. He was 76 years old and seemed to be doing just fine prior to the attack. In fact, over the weekend I had told him how good he sounded on the phone, and on Monday we had talked for quite some time. Yet his death was the clear reminder that even 76 years of living doesn’t alter the abruptness of physical death; all of those years and it ends in a gasp… with the thought then of where things are for eternity. So first off this week I urge you to consider your own life… the fact that it truly is, as James says, a vapor… where do you stand? I am so grateful for the talk I had with my dad last year where he confirmed with me that his hope for eternity was his belief in the finished work of Christ on his behalf!

 

I am also thankful for the legacy my father left of hard work and giving to others. I have never met anyone that was a harder worker than him; often as a kid seeing that he worked multiple double shifts per week. Years ago I penned the following words about my dad in a song: “Alarm clock screams, he crawls out of bed… Seems he just got there, got a pounding in his head… Little Debbie snack cakes, sinus meds, an RC below the sink… and he’s out to the car by the time he takes a drink.” My dad showed the importance of hard work!

 

In basketball it is very common to tell players to remember to “feed the ‘bigs’” when they run the floor. In other words, if those guys are going to work hard, they should be rewarded. (And the transverse of that is, if they don’t work hard then who cares if they get the ball!)

 

The Bible says this about us: “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

 

Not only did dad show me to work hard, he also showed me to share/care… I remember him looking at one of my friends one day and saying (in his gruff, tired tone), “Boy, there’s the fridge, if you go hungry it is your fault!” I guess that was a country-boy from Kentucky saying, “Mi casa, su casa!”, or “make yourself at home.” Apparently my friends, and my brothers friends, got it... as many have sent there condolences this week and in the process called my dad “Dad.”

 

This week is a reminder to: Work Hard and Share Greatly! (Thanks, Dad!)

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017 - Stupid


A key ingredient to winning is the ability to “play smart.” When it is game time it is important to make the right decisions on both the offensive and the defensive end of the court…

 

Yesterday as I watched an NBA playoff game I was reminded of this truth. Houston was playing Oklahoma City, and even though Houston ended up winning, they did give OKC some chances to steal the game due to poor clock management and ill-advised shots. In fact at one point I saw James Harden smack himself upside the head and mutter the word “stupid.”

 

The point is that we need to make right choices. I saw a sign the other day with a quote attributed to John Wayne. (I later would see at snopes.com that there is no record of him saying the quote; which is a bummer because I love picturing him saying it…) But it went like this:

 

“Life is tough. Life is tougher if you’re stupid!”

 

As a believer I want to make God-honoring choices in my life. As a believer I hope to be like King David in Psalm 26. He stated to God in verse 2: “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.”

 

Are you comfortable with God taking a close look at your heart? Can you state before God, as David did in 3, that “I have walked in Your truth.” Or can you proclaim, as David did in 11, “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity…”

 

We need to pursue excellence in life by “playing smart” and following God’s game plan!

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017 - Dependability

Lately when counseling I am seeing a trend… a problem that is epidemic. It seems that “anxiety” has gripped our culture and unfortunately it is gripping even our youth. Over and over I hear stories of fear and uneasiness over uncertain outcomes; (and even deal with anxiety disorders where it can crop up for no logical reasons.)
 
This week I want to give some encouragement to those that are struggling; yet for some I fully understand that you wish it were as simple as hearing truth… but I do think the starting point for all is found in establishing truth!

If I were a player on the Cleveland Cavaliers right now I would be feeling really good about getting out of the first round of the NBA playoffs, and not just because they went up 2-0 in the series tonight. I would have been confident before the series began because of the “dependability” of LeBron James. I realize not everyone reading this is a LeBron fan, but the truth is that he has never lost a first round series, even in his early years when he didn’t have a strong supporting cast. He has proven himself! He makes the “uncertain outcome” seem a bit more certain.

What does this have to do with anxiety in our lives? Simply put, I want to establish truth in this devotion that with God on our side we do not have to fear! Throughout the Scriptures we see promises of His dependability…

One of my favorite ways we are reminded of this is found in Psalm 124…

Verse 1 is classic:
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,” let Israel now say----

The chapter goes on to remind Israel that, if not for the Lord, they would have fallen! Israel had seen God rescue and protect them over and over and over again…

Christian, remember that the Lord is on your side! Even when things seem uncertain He is dependable!

This is a short devotion this week where I want the Scriptures to counsel us all…

Verse 8:
Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made Heaven and earth.

Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017 - The Franchise Player

This is the time of year that a lot of talk centers around both the upcoming NFL and NBA drafts. Teams are hoping to land the immediate impact players; and for those picking players early, they are hoping for that player that will carry their team… be the “franchise player.”

“In professional sports, a franchise player is an athlete who is not simply the best player on their team, but a player that the team can build their "franchise" (team) around for the foreseeable future.” (Wikipedia)

As we have entered into “passion week” to celebrate what Christ did for us, I want to direct our attention to when Christ entered into Jerusalem. John 12 records the entrance and how the crowd responded to the news that their “franchise player” was on His way… Yes, that is how they initially viewed Him, as the one that would fix their problems!

Verse 13 tells us that they cried out the word “Hosanna” which means “to save or bring victory now.” These folks were cheering and quite taken back when Christ appeared on a “young donkey” (vs 14) signifying that He was riding into Jerusalem in peace… not to immediately take the earthly throne. (I think this explains why they could turn so quickly to cry out “crucify Him!”)

Yet Christ was here to fulfill the promise that was made at His birth as the angels proclaimed there would be “peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)

This week focus on who Christ is; He is truly our “franchise player” in that He is the only One that was capable of saving Team Humanity! Let’s be more passionate (during Passion Week) about Him than we will be about who our favorite sports team will draft… and how about doing something really crazy and talking about Him to people?

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017 - Team Identity

I love to see teams that have an identity! In other words, teams that when you hear their name you can immediately picture how they play. I think back a few decades to the Nolan Richardson coached Arkansas Razorbacks; they were known for the frenetic defensive full court pressing they did… for the whole game! In fact, it was nicknamed “40 minutes of Hell.” Or last year when I coached a group of 5th and 6th grade girls and labeled them the “Greedy Girls” because of the intensity that they went after the ball; they wanted the basketball! Bottom line is these are examples of cultures that are built in teams…

One of the things we do in our outreaches is emphasize the plan to “Go MAD!” (to Go Make A Difference!) In fact one of our coaches (David Wilson) has taken to the level of teaching that we need to create “MAD Culture!” Coach David is right on with this plan!

I was preparing a devotion this morning for our students and used the following verses:

·         1 Peter 2:12 “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak evil against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
·         Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Do you see the theme here? Our lives should glorify God and cause others to do the same… Examine your life and ask the following:

·         What do others see when they look at my life?
·         Is my life characterized by putting the spotlight on myself or putting it on God?

Would your culture be characterized as being MAD? Let’s make sure our “team” has an identity!

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27, 2017 - It Is Bigger Than Me

What do you think of when you hear the word Team? I always think of the acronym (Together Everyone Achieves More.) But that is not just because more points can be scored…

A great team is one that works in harmony with one another. A great team works with common purpose / direction… a common mission. A great team has developed a culture within their group that is committed and focused.

I read a story about the South Carolina men’s team that has made it to the Final Four. Coach Martin talked about how the guys have come together over the last few years. His seniors began with losing records their first two years (so some would say they weren’t a successful team), yet what was happening was guys buying into a mission… developing a culture that now has led them to the program’s first ever Final Four. Coach Martin even wrote about how the older players are mentoring newer players; training them how to live in this new culture…

I bring it up because I have been teaching some of my classes from the Letter to the Philippians and Paul urges the believers at Philippi to be a team! Chapter 2 verse 2 says, “Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” (NLT)

Are you part of a team? Do you truly feel “on mission” with your church? Are you part of a small group (life group) that has vision and purpose? (We call our “team” a “missional group” as we want a culture committed to a mission!)

Be a part of something bigger than yourself!

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017 - Beyond the Stat Sheet

When putting teams together it is important to piece together all the needs… these needs involve the obvious idea of skill sets, athleticism, size, etc. But there are also other intangibles that are of great importance. In fact, some of the greatest contributions to a team, often do not show up in a box score.

Over the years it has been no secret that I love writing about Tyler Lewis (point guard at Butler U.) And now he is nearing the end of his collegiate career (in the NCAA Sweet 16) and I am so proud of him. Even when he was a young player I referred to him as an “orchestra conductor”; by that meaning he has an incredible ability to set the tempo of a game to where his teammates are in rhythm and thee opponents are out of sync. When it boils down to it, you can have great talent in the orchestra but it will be a train wreck if they are not playing together. If you think about it, no one ever mentions the talent of the conductor, in spite of the fact that he is the glue that holds it all together…

Check out what WinningMetrics.com (Advanced Plus Minus stats) said about T when ranking the best APM’s in college hoops: “Number 1: Tyler Lewis, #1 ***APM 11.70!!!!!! Don’t let the size fool you. This guy holds Butler together.”

So if I were discussing the Butler Bulldogs I would talk about different skill sets the guys possess, but when I got to Tyler I would emphasize his understanding of what is needed for his team, as well as his understanding of the opponent and what they want to do… (and by the way, could mention his skill set at well; this can be shown through his efficiency ratings and his assist-to-turnover numbers.)

The Scriptures are full of reminders to us (the body of Christ) that we need to work as a team… each playing his part. In 1 Chronicles 12 we read of those that made up David’s army. The majority of the warriors that are discussed are mentioned because of a specific skill set they brought to the battle. But verse 32 mentions “the sons of Issachar” and doesn’t even mention a skill set; just that they “understood their times, and what they should do.” These guys were the “orchestra conductors” of the army… the true point guards of the group.

We need to take time to understand what is needed to reach the people we encounter… Learn your gifting and play your part! Work on your skill set! Surround yourself with complimentary teammates!

And a super cool side note: It is important to have a skill set too. As a coach I am always training players and encouraging them to be “total players” that develop proper skills… including the ability to use either hand. Check out verse 2 of 1 Chronicles 12 and you will see a group that was included (recognized) for their ability to use “both the right hand and the left to sling stones and shoot arrows from the bow.” I love it… Ambidextrous Warriors!