Monday, October 30, 2017

October 30, 2017 - Get It and Get Better!

I am thinking this week’s devo will be short… (of course I start out writing sometimes with that thought and it seems to stretch...) But just a very basic thought for us to remember…

Before I get to the point I will share how it relates in my wide world of sports I live in. If I rewind the clock about 10 years I find myself on the sidelines coaching varsity high school basketball; and I had a sweet little run of getting to coach for and against some great talent. Yet the Lord opened doors for our ministry to start utilizing basketball as a platform for outreach and I found myself doing camps, clinics, Blacktop Clubs, etc.; I literally went from coaching some great college-bound athletes to our first clinic at a church which had as young as 5 yr olds on the court…

And now I start another season on the sidelines coaching middle school girls, I am reminded of what a joy it is to coach at any level… but the extra satisfaction that comes from teaching and developing young talent. At this level there is a wide span of athletic ability, motor skills, and game IQ. And the satisfaction comes not from what happens on the scoreboard but more in what happens in development. I love watching as kids “get it” in their individual and team understanding.

This came to mind as I was going through some notes I had taken when listening to Dr David Jeremiah teach. He was talking about what “Salvation” entails. He brought out the fact that there is positional, practical, and permanent salvation: or the fact that we are saved unto eternal life at the point of faith; then daily living out that salvation via the growth in our lives; and ultimately saved in being made in the likeness of Christ…

We are currently, if believers, in the practical stage; this being where God is working/developing us in life. I love the promise of Philippians 1: 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

I am so thankful that I am secure in Christ! I will be with Him one day! But until that day comes, I long to be developed as a “player!” I just told my basketball team that they should each have a goal of never leaving a practice without being better… and what if they just improved 1% each day? They could be 100% better in just 100 practices… What if we decided to “get better” each day spiritually? What if we could continually “get it” just a bit more?

John Wooden said it this way: “Make each day your masterpiece.”

Here is a cool way in which Dr. Jeremiah shared this truth: “God finds us messy, muddy, and singing out of tune… Let God be the choir director.”

Monday, October 23, 2017

October 23, 2017 - Why Do You Do What You Do?

Last week I began a series of devotions for our staff/students at Statesville Christian School about PRIDE… Our mascot is the Lions and I was hoping to get the point across that we need to be in unity by taking PRIDE… a Personal Responsibility In Daily Environment.

Yet the word pride can obviously be a dangerous thing as well… when one is seeking self-gain or the spotlight on himself, he can easily lose sight of “team” and ruin unity!

Last week JR Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers admitted that he was best suited for playing on the 2nd unit of the Cavs… that the 2nd unit allowed him to more fully use his skill set to help the team. But he was angry that he wasn’t in the starting line-up… In other words, he seems more concerned with hearing his name in the introductions and looking up to see his face on the jumbotron than in doing what is best for his team.

In sport it is very common to strive to be a standout… yet I often write about how sport is simply a microcosm of life; and the truth is that even “the American dream” is a pursuit of getting noticed… but I don’t think the American dream is the Biblical dream.

Here is how I finished the school devotion… I think it is appropriate for all of us:

For the believer I think it goes even deeper… the pursuit of excellence to put the spotlight on God is a good thing; the pursuit of excellence to put the spotlight on oneself is a bad thing…

I have spent the last few days challenging each of you to step up and BE THE CHANGE in our culture… to be a DIFFERENCE-MAKER… Yet with a challenge there is also a caution… BE CAREFUL WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO! If you are doing things for the wrong reasons, you will easily get frustrated and angry when the spotlight doesn’t shine on what you are doing.

Matthew 23 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat…  5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues... 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Here’s the way Eugene Peterson put it in The Message paraphrase:

Matthew 23 11-12 “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Matthew 6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly

From the Message: Matthew 6 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. 2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘play actors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.


Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16, 2017 - BRING IT!

I must admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is a slow-poke! Whether it be as a coach, as a dad, as a teacher… whatever… in all areas where I carry some authority, I get pushed over the edge with slow responses. In fact, as a dad I have often told my kids, (and I think I have written about in these weekly devotions), that “delayed obedience is disobedience!”

This came to mind for a couple of reasons… first it is close to hoops season and I again will coach a middle school girls team. One thing that I demand as a coach is that the players “get after it!” One major key to winning basketball is winning loose balls, which means being the first to get there. So it seems as though the fastest wins; true, and not true… the fastest thinkers (seeing the need and jumping on it), not the fastest of feet win! Races in basketball are short bursts… and if a player is the first one moving she has a really good chance of winning the race!

The other reason I was thinking about it, steps out of my sports world into one of the other hats I wear, as director of a worship team. This group will be on stage this coming weekend at a church in Virginia and we are using the weekend as a training time. One of the main areas I will be addressing is the idea of “Move with a Purpose!” I will talk about how they move on stage and what that tells the audience; i.e. if they get off their stools lazily, (it will cause the audience to not believe they are serious about what they are singing.)

All of that to encourage us, (and picture me encouraging in my coach voice), to move with a purpose when we see a need. Good intentions are fine and dandy but mean nothing until our “feet” are moving. Last week I mentioned the idea of “beautiful feet” being those that “bring good news” (Is 5:7)… and the easy thing to key on is the good news portion of that verse. But a different word jumps out in this week’s challenge… it is not enough to just know the good news… it is not enough to be willing to share the good news (good intentions)… but one must “BRING” the good news…


I love these verses in Acts 1…

10 And while they looked steadfastly toward Heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.”

This weekend I will work with a worship team that will be singing praises about our God! We will “steadfastly” look to Heaven; yet I want to be that voice in the ear that reminds them, and you, to not spend so much time looking up that you forget part of worship is stepping out!

A typical phrase used in the sports arena when someone is talking about his intentions... "BRING IT!" Let's see if we can "BRING IT" this week...


Monday, October 9, 2017

October 9, 2017 - Lose the Shoes (Footprints)

After a game we can look at a box score to get an idea of how players did in statistical categories, yet it doesn’t always tell the whole story about players that made differences in non-statistical ways. These are the players that set the screens to free up a scorer; the players that boxed out so their teammates could get a rebound; the linemen that opened up the holes for the star running backs or created a wall to protect the star quarterback; etc. I think you get the picture… there is a lot involved in the team being successful.

One of the ways we do get to through game film… (which I have admitted in past devotions that I hated… my pride didn’t like that fact that the film often showed I wasn’t as good as I thought.) But if one would watch it to re-trace his steps, he could see if he was in the right places at the right times…

In life, we don’t have the benefit of game film… but what if we could retrace our steps? What if we could see our footprints left behind? Where would these “footprints” show we have been… both literally in the places we visited, and figuratively of the places we went to in our minds?

I’ve recently been working on ideas with our ministry’s Lose the Shoes outreach. In this ministry we typically key on the act of giving shoes for those in need; our logo shows footprints where the back foot is the tread of a shoe and the front print is of a bare foot… a progression… a change…

As I contemplated the logo this weekend I thought about the idea of footprints and looked at the following: In Exodus 3:5 God tells Moses to go barefoot… pointing out the privilege and honor Moses had of being on holy ground. Moses lost his shoes in reverence of God! We also see in Scripture that feet are beautiful when they carry good news (see Isaiah 5:7.)

Because of what Christ has done, we have constant access to holy ground… the throne of grace. I believe maturity is when we live our daily lives in recognition of being in the presence of God.

In a nutshell, I want to ask each of you to examine what your “footprints” show about your day…. And here is the hope I wrote down this weekend:

Footprints: The prints left behind can give vital evidence… They show where you have been and give an indication of where you are going… when others look at the evidence of your footprints I hope they will say, “As he walked into the presence of God, God directed his path to those in need!”

I’m reminded of a song from years ago by Steve Green. He sang, “may the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe…”

Lose the shoes! Walk/live in God’s presence! Meet the needs of others!

Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2, 2017 - Get In The Gym!

I remind us all to start this week that our salvation is entirely based upon us believing in the commitment Christ made unto us... He was all-in to purchase our salvation! The Gospel is only good news when if highlights the work of Christ being the gift for and to us! By grace we are saved through faith… not of works… (Ephesians 2:8-9.)

Yet once we are saved by grace we are exhorted to work… to walk in good works… to be always abounding… etc. This sounds like a spiritual-athlete!

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul urges Timothy to “get in the gym!” No, not literally, but he does exhort him to take consideration of his spiritual fitness…

In verses 7 he tells Timothy to “reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise… toward godliness.” He goes on to talk about the temporal profit of working out physically vs. the long-standing profit of exercising spiritually.

The Greek word for “exercise” is “Gumnazo” which is a root for gymnasium (told you he was telling Timothy to “get in the gym!”)

Basically, I am trying to remind us of the importance of being faithful and focused on spiritual growth! I love the way these few verse are stated in the paraphrase The Message:

Beginning in verse 7: “Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.”

There are no short-cuts to getting in shape! It is a daily commitment… discipline… later in the chapter The Message says it this way: “This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally.” (vs 15)

Do you get it?

Salvation = Christ all-in for us!

Discipleship = Us all-in for Christ!