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 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.”