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 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 (; 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.