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!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 13, 2017 - INVESTED!

Here we are in the midst of March Madness and, as I state yearly, I love this time of year! This past week as I watched numerous conference tourney games I found myself noticing the excitement of the players on the bench for the winning teams…

These were guys that never shed their warm-ups yet were acting as excited as the guys that had just busted their tails to win the game. In fact, some of these guys have probably only played a few minutes all year long… or possibly not at all. Why?

These guys are fully invested due to playing their roles in practices and thus feel like they are fully a part of winning the championship… they are part of the team!

Each year I use March MADness as a time to remind folks to commit to Go MAD (Make A Difference) with their lives. This is simply a call to play our roles on the team…

For some that may mean “getting off the bench and into the game” to actually serve at home, nationally, and/or internationally.

For some it means realizing that even if we are “on the bench” for a particular service opportunity or trip, we can still have a major impact via prayer support and financial support. Ministries need help; and we should be praying about where the Lord would have us plug in as support…

I truly want to see believers “jumping off the bench” in excitement when our ministry, or any Bible-believing  / clear Gospel-teaching, is winning souls!

Paul said it this way to the Philippians, “not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” (Phil 4:17)

Paul is bragging on the Philippians in the context of verses 14 (where he mentions that the “shared” or are invested…) through the promise of God’s provision in verse 19. The point is that Paul shows them to be a part of things through their investment…

Yes, our ministry has some definite needs that we are praying get met; yet so does my dear friend Freddie at Grace Farm… or my dear friend Hank with Royal Servants… or…. you get the picture. Pray about where you are “investing!”

When William Carey agreed to go to India as a missionary it is said that they were challenged to go into a pit of depravity… and one man that was interviewed said it was as if Carey answered, “I will go down into the pit… if you will hold the ropes.” It always takes teamwork and investment!

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6, 2017 - Facing Adversity In The Game

With the arrival of March Madness, college basketball games have taken on some more intensity; over and over I heard commentators this past weekend commenting on the games being like they were already in the tourney…

One of the games I watched included a coach that always appears to be intense. On Saturday his team was winning but you would never have known it from watching the coach; he looked like a crazy man on the sidelines. Any little thing that didn’t go the way he wanted and he was screaming and huffing and puffing and snorting… you get the picture.

My problem with this is that a coach should be the one to keep players focused on the game plan, make adjustments, and show confidence in the process… He shouldn’t look out of control if he is wanting his players to play with control.

Yes, his team was winning Saturday and playing with some intensity, which some would say was modeling their coach. Yet I don’t believe they can win the tournament because of how the coach, and thus the players, respond when adversity hits.

As a believer, our goal should be maturity, Christ-likeness; which includes how we respond to adversity. The secret to this is found in trusting the process… trusting the Coach.

If you want a blessing this week read Psalm 107!

Over and over the “commentator” states, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017 - Ready, Willing, and Able To Get After It!

As a coach I loved walking into the gym for a practice and seeing players already getting after it… I loved looking out on the floor during games and seeing players being active… and I loved looking down my bench during games to see players focused in on the game! I wanted players that were ready to go!

I remember having to talk with my daughter about her bench-demeanor. She was out of a game and when I looked over she was laughing it up with her friend and didn’t have a clue about what was going on in the game… and then she wondered why she didn’t go back in…

Our talk quickly turned to the fact that a coach looks down the bench to see who is ready, willing, and able to go in and help the team.

Super tired tonight so I am going to get to the bottom line: I want to appear “ready, willing, and able” when God looks down the bench…

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

And if God decides to return to “the gym” I want Him to see me “getting after it!”

2 Peter 3:14 Therefore, (because the Lord’s return is imminent), beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless - (Italics added by me based upon context)

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017 - When the Defender Stands Up... Blow By!

This past week I was writing our ministry newsletter and assuring folks that even with the physical trials I personally have been facing, InBounds is still committed to faithfully evangelize, disciple, and serve! I again got to share this assurance with ministry partners at a missions conference. Yet whenever I ended up in conversations at the conference, it seemed my thoughts went mostly toward giving evangelism pointers… (I love sharing Good News!)

I often have written about evangelism and compared it to scoring in hoops; being that it is the ultimate goal of the “offense” and that we should always get to the goal as soon as we see an opening. And therein lies the issue… I have been around a long time and seen Christians that either avoid evangelism or push so much that they commit a lot of “offensive fouls / charges.”

They avoid and justify it by promoting the idea of “lifestyle evangelism” which emphasizes how we live over the idea of actually sharing the Gospel. I have written about this before in that evangelism requires sharing the Gospel, Good News. It is a definite message of the finished work of Christ on our behalf that must be either spoken or written. (Faith comes by hearing…) I am not discounting the importance of how we live but to claim that is all that matters is the equivalent of telling one’s team to just keep making a bunch of passes but not to worry about going to the basket… it is a stalling offense that just kills time.

“Offensive fouls”? The second issue I have witnessed is those try to share the Gospel but do so rudely… forcing it into conversation… and making the recipient feel “attacked” verbally. I can remember being on visitations with older pastors and listening to them “run over” folks that were “set” in hurts, hang-ups, and habits; missing the idea that we “go to the hole when we see an opening.”

So how do you create an opening when going one on one? When coaching players I would show them that when a defender was intently guarding them that something as simple as raising up one’s chin as though standing up and simply watching for the defender to follow by relaxing and starting to stand up taller… then when the defender’s knees straighten out of a defensive stance… EXPLODE by to the basket…

In evangelism we will be much more successful if we are not pushing off or running over people but instead love them enough that they are relaxed around us… then it becomes very easy to share good news! (Even when talking to a stranger it is amazing how much a smile and kindness can relax the situation… removing a defensive posture.)

Proverbs 3:3 (NASB) Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Avoid “charging” through those you are trying to reach and instead be kind and it will set the table to share truth!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 13, 2017 - Heart and Character of the Coach

I have written about this week’s devotion in past CoachBurden.com posts; (yet with approx. 800 of these weekly devos, I have repeated myself on many topics.) Yet this week the topic is fresh on my mind…

Tonight I had the opportunity to share with a group of young men that were playing hoops at a local church that we helped start a MAD Hoops outreach. It was great to get to share a little bit of my story with them. I shared that it has been very hard physically yet I still believe that God is good…

The logical question to ask was how I could believe God is good when I am going through something bad?

I told them about players I have had that at times I was very hard on. In fact, I even have some pictures of me screaming at them in the huddle… Yet these guys still will contact me and even tell me they love me; (I just put wedding invitations for 2 of them up on my desk this week.) So, I went to the logical question of why these young men would care about me in spite of going through some times that were hard? The conclusion… they know my heart and trust my character… they trusted that everything I did or allowed was for their good… or as I have written in the past, they believe I am on their side.

Bottom line is that I believe God is good because I know His character! I believe God is good because I believe He is on my side! Check out these verses from the book of Romans…

5:3 And not only that but we also glory in tribulations knowing that tribulation produces perseverance 4 and perseverance character and character hope.

5:8 But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose.

God is good! He is trustworthy! He is on our side, even when things are hard… working on our behalf!

Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017 - How We Play When Losing...

Saturday was a long day as my daughter Faith’s basketball team was in their conference tourney that was all played in one day. They ended up playing 3 games that day, which also means there was the down time in between. It was an exciting day as they won 2 out of 3 and took 3rd place (and – a little daddy bragging – Faith was selected All-Tourney.)

Some would not think that 3rd place is worth writing about… yet this is a team that started the year 0-5. But these young gals and their coaches refused to be defined by scoreboards and records and just kept working/playing hard, turning their season around to finish 7-6. They learned that attitude and effort are more important than points and records.

Where this was very evident was the game they lost in the tourney. They were facing a team that simply put was much better than them. The opposing team was more athletic and more skilled. On the scoreboard it got ugly quick! This was a game that after the first quarter it would have been easy to just give up; yet our girls busted their tails, played hard for 4 quarters, and were able to walk off the floor with heads held high!

I bring this up because I am concerned in today’s culture that even as believers we are consumed with the “scoreboards” of life. It seems that everything is geared toward an almost “heaven on earth mentality” that focuses on victorious circumstances or making everyone feel good by telling them they are beautiful… (our value is not found in being beautiful in a mirror, unless it is the mirror of God’s Word and our value found in Him!)

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble but a major part of growth in the Christian life involves how we handle it when we “lose.” Are we going to stay faithful even when the “scoreboard” is not in our favor? News alert: Life is very hard at times!

I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego… we always hear about their incredible faithfulness and trust in God, and that is an awesome truth. Yet there is a verse in Daniel 3 that shows they were committed to faithfulness not because they were focused on victory but they were focused on God!

Daniel 3:18 (Stated after proclaiming that God would deliver them from the hand of the king)
But if not (if we “lose on the scoreboard”), let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Set your heart and mind to be faithful to the Lord, even when circumstances are tough; remembering that God is good all the time! I love a quote from author Philip Yancey who stated, “God and life are not synonyms.”

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017 - How Good Could I Have Been?

We live in a culture that loves the phrase “no regrets”; yet with much of culture it is an excuse to do things that unfortunately they may end up regretting when older… Yet I do think it is important to live life with a proper “no regrets” attitude.

As a washed up old athlete I have many. As I look back to my younger days I wish I would have worked harder and smarter on my basketball game. I had a decent amount of success going on natural ability (motor skills and athleticism) and simply playing a ton of pick-up ball… but a very small window of my development was committed to serious skills and physical training. It makes me still question how good I could have been? It makes me realize I wasn’t near as committed as I thought I was at the time… I look back and realize I blew it… I was a stupid, arrogant kid! (Does that sound harsh?)

As a believer, I want to live without regrets as well. I know there are times when I slack on my quiet time or prayer time… or maybe miss (or even skip) an opportunity to serve someone. Those things lead to regret!

Proverbs 30 shares about another who had regrets, Agur the son of Jakeh. He had apparently realized as he got older that he had ignored the things of the Lord that were being taught to him. And in verse 2 he claims, “Surely I am more stupid than any many, and do not have the understanding of a man.” (Does that sound harsh?) He goes on to share that he was starting to get a grasp of how incredible God is, but he definitely had regrets.

All of this to challenge us this week to make sure we are getting to know the Lord more (gaining wisdom) and looking for opportunities to serve Him more by serving others. It is time to truly look at our commitment levels! Are we difference-makers? Let’s not be stupid…

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017 - Looking Up!

Watching a 5th and 6th grade girls’ basketball game is exciting (especially when you have a girl on the team!) The reason I say it is exciting is because from a coach/parent perspective it is great to see the improvement from game to game and the absolute joy of playing on their faces… (and I must admit I love watching my 6th grader get after it! She has a lot of work to do on her skill sets but no one could ever fault her effort in getting after the ball… a true difference maker!)

In tonight’s game our girls won primarily because of a discipline Coach Jon is instilling in them… looking up! Learning to get one’s eyes off of one’s own feet and the immediate surroundings and look ahead to see one’s teammates. It was amazing how many of our points/opportunities came out of this discipline. And it may sound like an obvious thing but if you have watched very much kids’ hoops you would know that most dribble looking down at the ball and seldom see in front of themselves.

Our Christian walk should be the same way… we need to get our eyes off of ourselves and look for our teammates to give them an assist! I know I write about this often but it is truly the core of Christian living… intentional serving… looking up!

Paul was so  serious about it that in 1 Corinthians 13 he devotes time to describe those that can seemingly do great Christian things but explains that if they don’t have love/charity they are NOTHING!

Take time to read the love chapter today!
Take time to intentionally serve someone today… get after it… be a difference maker!

Looking Up!
Go MAD!

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017 - I Love My Team!

Whenever I am reading Paul’s epistles I can’t help but notice how connected he was to the church; he absolutely adored them and seems to find himself constantly longing to see them and minister to them. I know for me it has been coming out while facing this sickness and finding myself having days that I don’t even feel the strength to go outside…

I’m missing my students… missing our Arena family… missing my “greedy girls” basketball teams… etc. To be honest I am going stir crazy and desperately could use more prayer for strength to get back in the saddle teaching.

Bottom line is, are you truly a part of something bigger than yourself? (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20) We are shown throughout Scripture that we are called to part of a team… be a member of a family… part of a body… on mission with others.

 I love my team and can’t wait to get back into the mix! Do you love your team? If you are missing out on the bonds of community found in the church, it is time to prioritize…

 

 

Monday, January 9, 2017

January 9, 2017 - Coachable.... Simple

As I spent some time in Proverbs 9 today something jumped out at me like it never has before… the attitude of a coachable player. Proverbs 9 deals with the value and importance of gaining wisdom and her call.

In sports I have encountered players at times that thought they knew it all… and came to practice without a coachable attitude. In fact, I even had a player at one point tell me he didn’t want to do what I was asking as a coach because he didn’t think it would help… Can you imagine a high school player with the kind of hutzpah?

What God ask of is to realize that compared to Him (wisdom) we are simple… we need to hear from Him on a regular basis. Some of you do not spend daily time with God (and to be honest I am not as faithful as I should be.) But we are a simple peole that needs regular “coaching” in order to grow as players in the game of life. A coachable mind is a simple mind…

“Whoever is simple let him turn in here.!... Forsake foolishness and live.” Proverbs 9:4a and 6

Monday, January 2, 2017

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Enjoying some football this evening and again realized, like last week, that my days are all messed up… it helps to know it is Monday when one writes weekly Monday devotions. (But I’m just saying a day full of college football doesn’t feel like football,)

Part of the process of staying on task in the midst of hectic times is to not forget the basics (fundamentals.) I write often about the importance of fundamentals (“the anchor that holds in the midst of the storm.”)

Right now I get to watch a lot of early-season basketball and the earlier parts of the games can be quite fun to watch, at least until someone finds a little success; then as the season goes on the teams that can maintain fundamental discipline begin rising to the top of the standings.

So simple devotional resolution for you this week… get back to the basics (reading the Word and obeying it, prayer, serving others, etc.)

Proverbs 2:1-11 reminds one to “incline your ear to wisdom”; “seek (understanding) as silver”; “apply you heart to understanding”; etc.

Yet from vs 12 on it also mingles the truths of those that find a little “success” and start forgetting the basic truths of life.

Stay wise my friends!