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 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.