Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16, 2017 - BRING IT!


I must admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is a slow-poke! Whether it be as a coach, as a dad, as a teacher… whatever… in all areas where I carry some authority, I get pushed over the edge with slow responses. In fact, as a dad I have often told my kids, (and I think I have written about in these weekly devotions), that “delayed obedience is disobedience!”



This came to mind for a couple of reasons… first it is close to hoops season and I again will coach a middle school girls team. One thing that I demand as a coach is that the players “get after it!” One major key to winning basketball is winning loose balls, which means being the first to get there. So it seems as though the fastest wins; true, and not true… the fastest thinkers (seeing the need and jumping on it), not the fastest of feet win! Races in basketball are short bursts… and if a player is the first one moving she has a really good chance of winning the race!



The other reason I was thinking about it, steps out of my sports world into one of the other hats I wear, as director of a worship team. This group will be on stage this coming weekend at a church in Virginia and we are using the weekend as a training time. One of the main areas I will be addressing is the idea of “Move with a Purpose!” I will talk about how they move on stage and what that tells the audience; i.e. if they get off their stools lazily, (it will cause the audience to not believe they are serious about what they are singing.)



All of that to encourage us, (and picture me encouraging in my coach voice), to move with a purpose when we see a need. Good intentions are fine and dandy but mean nothing until our “feet” are moving. Last week I mentioned the idea of “beautiful feet” being those that “bring good news” (Is 5:7)… and the easy thing to key on is the good news portion of that verse. But a different word jumps out in this week’s challenge… it is not enough to just know the good news… it is not enough to be willing to share the good news (good intentions)… but one must “BRING” the good news…



BEAUTIFUL FEET ARE MOVING FEET!



I love these verses in Acts 1…



10 And while they looked steadfastly toward Heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.”



This weekend I will work with a worship team that will be singing praises about our God! We will “steadfastly” look to Heaven; yet I want to be that voice in the ear that reminds them, and you, to not spend so much time looking up that you forget part of worship is stepping out!

A typical phrase used in the sports arena when someone is talking about his intentions... "BRING IT!" Let's see if we can "BRING IT" this week...



BEAUTIFUL FEET ARE MOVING FEET… THAT BRING THE GOOD NEWS!


Monday, October 9, 2017

October 9, 2017 - Lose the Shoes (Footprints)


After a game we can look at a box score to get an idea of how players did in statistical categories, yet it doesn’t always tell the whole story about players that made differences in non-statistical ways. These are the players that set the screens to free up a scorer; the players that boxed out so their teammates could get a rebound; the linemen that opened up the holes for the star running backs or created a wall to protect the star quarterback; etc. I think you get the picture… there is a lot involved in the team being successful.



One of the ways we do get to through game film… (which I have admitted in past devotions that I hated… my pride didn’t like that fact that the film often showed I wasn’t as good as I thought.) But if one would watch it to re-trace his steps, he could see if he was in the right places at the right times…



In life, we don’t have the benefit of game film… but what if we could retrace our steps? What if we could see our footprints left behind? Where would these “footprints” show we have been… both literally in the places we visited, and figuratively of the places we went to in our minds?



I’ve recently been working on ideas with our ministry’s Lose the Shoes outreach. In this ministry we typically key on the act of giving shoes for those in need; our logo shows footprints where the back foot is the tread of a shoe and the front print is of a bare foot… a progression… a change…



As I contemplated the logo this weekend I thought about the idea of footprints and looked at the following: In Exodus 3:5 God tells Moses to go barefoot… pointing out the privilege and honor Moses had of being on holy ground. Moses lost his shoes in reverence of God! We also see in Scripture that feet are beautiful when they carry good news (see Isaiah 5:7.)



Because of what Christ has done, we have constant access to holy ground… the throne of grace. I believe maturity is when we live our daily lives in recognition of being in the presence of God.



In a nutshell, I want to ask each of you to examine what your “footprints” show about your day…. And here is the hope I wrote down this weekend:



Footprints: The prints left behind can give vital evidence… They show where you have been and give an indication of where you are going… when others look at the evidence of your footprints I hope they will say, “As he walked into the presence of God, God directed his path to those in need!”



I’m reminded of a song from years ago by Steve Green. He sang, “may the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe…”



Lose the shoes! Walk/live in God’s presence! Meet the needs of others!

Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2, 2017 - Get In The Gym!

I remind us all to start this week that our salvation is entirely based upon us believing in the commitment Christ made unto us... He was all-in to purchase our salvation! The Gospel is only good news when if highlights the work of Christ being the gift for and to us! By grace we are saved through faith… not of works… (Ephesians 2:8-9.)



Yet once we are saved by grace we are exhorted to work… to walk in good works… to be always abounding… etc. This sounds like a spiritual-athlete!



In 1 Timothy 4, Paul urges Timothy to “get in the gym!” No, not literally, but he does exhort him to take consideration of his spiritual fitness…



In verses 7 he tells Timothy to “reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise… toward godliness.” He goes on to talk about the temporal profit of working out physically vs. the long-standing profit of exercising spiritually.



The Greek word for “exercise” is “Gumnazo” which is a root for gymnasium (told you he was telling Timothy to “get in the gym!”)



Basically, I am trying to remind us of the importance of being faithful and focused on spiritual growth! I love the way these few verse are stated in the paraphrase The Message:



Beginning in verse 7: “Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.”



There are no short-cuts to getting in shape! It is a daily commitment… discipline… later in the chapter The Message says it this way: “This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally.” (vs 15)



Do you get it?



Salvation = Christ all-in for us!

Discipleship = Us all-in for Christ!

Monday, September 25, 2017

September 25, 2017 - Stop Getting Beat Up


As a coach, it is really easy to get in the habit of being negative… the job demands giving direction and correction… and when it comes game time, most of one’s time in huddles is pointing out the wrong. And to be honest, it is really easy when I am preaching to go into “correction mode.”



Recently I was hanging out with my dear friend and he was telling about advice he was given early on in his ministry; he said that his pastor reminded him that the people in the church had been working all week, were often tired, and that they DIDN’T NEED TO BE BEAT UP ON!



Now for some of you reading this you are already going into that mode of thinking today’s culture is soft and that preaching is weak and that it is ok to do a little beating up… Don’t get me wrong, I taught today that the purpose of Scripture includes correction and that conviction is a good thing, in fact I said it is a necessity for growth!



But there also needs to be some balance of allowing the Scriptures to perform another part of its purpose and comfort…



I can remember going into one of our basketball practices years ago and telling my team that we were playing wiffle ball that day… or another day I brought in a boom box and had the boys dance to lighten things up (and honestly to try to get them a little bit of rhythm to their game… Bottom line: I wanted them to relax… to not feel uptight… to find the joy of the game.



With all of that said, I have struggled even looking at ESPN.com the last couple of days as the news is so depressing; I feel beat up just reading through the headlines. And I find myself, as a coach / minister, tempted to pull out the correction-gun (and really feel I could unload the ammo on each side of the issues taking place!)



But realize tonight that I need to relax, and probably most of you readers do. We need to be comforted. We need to get out our “dancing shoes” and find some joy… This week focus on God’s goodness to us and avoid trying to correct everything. Read some Psalms of praise… commit to listening to some positive praise music… get uplifted!



I’m getting pumped as I get to preach in an elementary chapel tomorrow morning; going to celebrate what a “good, good Father” we have and that we are “loved by” Him!

Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18, 2017 - Getting On The Right Team

Today’s world of travel ball has created a new mentality for players; they realize that it matters who they surround themselves with for teammates… The basic idea of travel ball involves putting together the strongest team possible. Players no longer just play for their local club team (or even their local high school) but instead will travel to be a part of the most stacked team they can…

I do see a great lesson in this mentality (although not sure I agree with it for sports.) Yesterday at a church service the pastor was speaking on relationships and talking about the 12/3/1 principle. He talked about how Jesus intentionally surrounded Himself with 12 guys; had 3 that were more of His inner circle; and 1 of them was His best friend…

It was not that Jesus avoided the crowds or ministering to others, but that He showed us that we should choose good teammates! And, at times, get away from the negative ones…

The pastor gave a good example of this: Matthew 9:24b states, “And they ridiculed Him.” In other words, the crowd was full of naysayers, of “haters.” Do you every find yourself surrounded by negativity? There will be “haters” that don’t get your vision… or are jealous of your success… or simply are angry at life. These are people that tear you down instead of building you up.

Good “teammates” are those that encourage and build up… those that are headed in the same direction and get your vision in life. I regularly try to encourage us to be intentional in our outreach… to Go MAD (Make A Difference)! Yet in the midst of it, we need to make sure that we have a good team around us…

When it came time to get the job done, Matthew records that Jesus got busy “when the crowd was put outside…” (Matthew 9:25a)

Make sure you are on a solid team! Choose your close friends wisely! (And maybe use some wisdom and realize that some need to be “put outside.”

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11, 2017 - Run Through A Brick Wall

Yesterday I preached at a church in Lanexa, VA. It was my first time at this church and therefore the folks there did not know me at all. I gave my typical introductions about my family, InBounds Ministries, Statesville Christian School, etc. Yet the main thing I shared in the intro was about me…

I was talking about the importance of perspective… how some would see me as kind and caring… while others would maybe see me as very straight forward (abrasive.) How I had to remember that not everyone took to my bluntness (or the looks I call my “Coach-Face”.)

I explained that as a coach, my players needed to know that they could trust that I was on their side… wanted them to win… and then they would be willing to listen even when I was “barking” at them a little bit… (even those times when I felt like going “Bobby Knight” and throwing a chair across the floor…) In fact, some became not only willing, but desired to follow whatever I said… This is how I would describe a player like that: He will run through a brick wall for me!

Then there were some players that simply never took to my coaching style as they felt they knew more than me – or – that I wasn’t on their side.

I’ve written about this many times, and I remind us all again this week, that God is on our side! He is for us not against us! A right perspective of who He is will lead us to a willingness and desire to honor Him. I shared the following statement with the church yesterday:

“When we see God for who He is in relation to who we are, we cannot help but love Him because He first loved us… and if we love Him we will obey Him… obeying Him means serving Him…. serving Him is done through serving others… therefore how well we love God is evidenced in how well we love others!”

Yet along with our perspective of who He is, it is important to evaluate ourselves… Do you love Him? Are you obedient to His Word? Are you serving Him by serving others? Are you willing to “run through a brick wall” for Him?

If not, I think it comes down to your pride and/or a lack of truly understanding who God is…

Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.

Monday, September 4, 2017

September 4, 2017 - What Does Passion Look Like?

I’m gonna quote my dear friend Jason Otter (basketball trainer extraordinaire), “I can’t stand quitters!” Jason then follows up with the statement that he has never quit anything in his life, and I believe him. He is a man that has obtained excellence and reached maximum potential in what he has set his mind to. (I would highly encourage basketball players to check into training with Otter Basketball.)

Basically I am seeing our culture continue to settle for less, while wanting to look like they are more… I have written about it many times… this is the culture that will buy jeans with holes already in them in and call it fashion; when it is really just trying to look like hard workers without the work!

This mentality is running rampant through all of our culture, including the church. There is a lot of stage lights, fog machines, and excitement that has the appearance of success… yet not necessarily a lot of depth and commitment underneath. We have many that love to ride the wave until things get rough… and then we see people quit.

What I mean by that is that commitment seems to be lacking when it comes to the basic truths of Scripture and how we, as believers in Christ, should live. We have a lot of dunk shows but little emphasis on fundamentals.

Where is our passion for truth? Where is our passion for honoring God in all we do?

How do I define passion? It is not just by asking do you love God… but instead are you fully “in”? When the lights go down and the fog settles, are you committed to God’s ways being your ways? People that are passionate are people that can’t quit! Their passion won’t let them…

Solid, mature believers are those that won’t quit on their churches…
Solid, mature believers are those that won’t quit on their spouses…
Solid, mature believers are those that won’t quit on their ethics in business, etc…

Circumstances should not dictate one’s actions… God’s truth… God’s way… should rule supreme! Passion is evidenced in obedience!

I love the way The Message paraphrase states this in Psalm 119:4 You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it.

Evaluate your life not based upon circumstances but instead in light of God’s Word and its directions on how we should be living! Are you passionate (Can’t quit)? Are you obedient (Won’t waver from the truth)?

NOTE: Your passion for and obedience to Christ is not what saves you! It was His passion for us and His obedience to the Father that saved us… He was all in… couldn’t quit… in His journey to the cross! Thank goodness my salvation is a gift I received by faith in the finished work of Christ!

Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Monday, August 28, 2017

August 28, 2017 - Today's Training Tip...


Doing a short devo this week as I have been as busy as I've ever been in my life... And as tired; and aa a result didn't even bring my computer home from my office... Forgetting it's Monday. (And thus typing on my phone.)
So simply, do you want to be great at what you do? At anything you do? I have the formula...
Obviously I spend much time in the athletic world and it is common to find athletes that claim they want to be great. I also deal with the academic world... The work world... The social world... Etc.
Everything literally comes down to the same question... Why do you pursue excellence? What is your motivation? If it is motivated by a comparison to others then once you find you are better than those around you, you will let up; or once you discover those around you are better you will give up.
I submit that the proper way for us to "train" is with our eye on pursuing excellence, which is about me being my best, not centered on being the best. It is not about comparing to others but instead a daily motivation of my betterment...
Why? Because as a believer our whole lives, word and deed, are supposed to be directed at Excellence. Notice I capitalized Excellence that time around... Because I'm talking about being directed toward God deserving our best!
I don't want a good spiritual life and a good athletic life; instead a good spiritual life demands that if I pursue athletics as an act of worship unto God... Pursue academics or work or my social life or... I think you get the picture... Everything word or deed unto God! (Read Colossians 2:17, 23)
The motivation to honor God... to give Him my best... to pursue Him, the Excellent one, is a motivation that never runs out.
How much different would our lives be if everything ran through the filter of honoring God in how we do it.. In working as unto Him? It would drastically change the way we "train."
Today's Training Tip: Pursue Excellence in order to obtain excellence!

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!