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 (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!”