Monday, November 27, 2017

November 27, 2017 - Trust the Process!

Today I had a little powwow with my middle school girls’ basketball team. A couple of weeks ago we had our first regular season game and we have quite a few inexperienced gals… and we were playing on less than 2 weeks of practice; basically, I’m saying we played but I knew going in we weren’t necessarily ready.

The game plan going into that game was simply to go through the things we were learning in practices and not be dictated by the other team, or even the scoreboard of the game. Therefore, in that game I evaluated and observed in order to prepare for the season ahead. (We don’t play again until Dec 15.) There was a method and plan going in… even down to our exact substitution patterns for the game.

Today we returned to practice from our Thanksgiving break and I started implementing some more things that will form our identity as a team. I am specifically building a defense that fits our strengths… our offense will start to build on our strengths… etc.

The powwow was at the end of the practice and I simply told the girls to “trust the process!” Those are words coaches use often when building a program… it requires those involved to exercise patience… to stick with the plan… I told the girls that in spite of losing on the scoreboard a couple of weeks ago, I could see that we are going to be a really good team! (I even started painting a picture in their minds of who I envisioned them being on the defensive end… telling them that opposing teams will go to bed at night and start screaming when they close their eyes thinking our girls were coming at them!)

I have a plan!

To give credit where credit is due, tonight’s devotion was first spurred in my mind by a gentleman I heard speaking to some of our juniors and seniors at the school this morning. He was from Liberty University’s aviation program… I don’t remember his first name but can’t forget his last… it is Wing.

Mr. Wing shared some incredible truths about his time on the mission field, and shared a simple reminder from the Scriptures. He told the students that he was thankful for something he couldn’t see yet… he told them he trusts the plan and process of God… he told them that he was “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

All of this build up for a reminder of a very basic truth: God is alive and well! God is at work! God’s plan is not dependent upon the “scoreboard” of life! God’s plan will prevail and we need to trust the process!

Monday, November 20, 2017

November 20, 2017 - I Was A Scorer That Passed... Not A Playmaker!

When I was a younger player (teen years) I was definitely more of a scorer than a passer… (old friends are screaming, “Amen!”, right now.) I’ll be honest, I prided myself on being able to get the ball in the hole; yet I also knew the game well enough to know that I was the size of a point guard…

…and a point guard is normally known for his passing abilities, not his scoring. That takes me to a tryout I had at a college in FL. During the scrimmage I made it a point to distribute the ball and show I could play the point; following the scrimmage the coach explained that he thought I was a good player but that he was looking for more of a scorer than a playmaker. My heart was crushed… I wanted to have him call my friends, so they could explain that I normally was not that generous with the ball.

That brings me to this week’s point… yesterday our pastor was preaching about how to “be rich”; note: not how to get rich but instead how to be rich. In comparison to most of the world, we each have an abundance of riches and the Scripture gives instruction and warning to those that are “rich.”

1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty,… 18 Let them do good works, ready to give, willing to share,

The reason I shared the story of my tryout is this; just because I spent one scrimmage trying to be a passing playmaker, it didn’t mean that is what I was… I was simply a scorer that passed. Pastor Matt brought the point out yesterday that if your answer to if you are generous is, “Yeah, one time I…”, then you are not a generous person, you are simply a normally selfish person that gave. (Italics are my words, Matt was more tactful than that.)

We are called to not just give, but to be generous!

Here is an excerpt from one of the daily student devotions I write for our school:

2 Corinthians 9: 11 …while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

God has given liberally to us! We are blessed to have food, shelter, clothing, heat/air, clean water, transportation, etc. I know that even here at the school we are very diverse economically; (I don’t have a big house and a boat… but I am super thankful I have friends that do.) But in the global scheme of things, we are all filthy rich and not quite so diverse…

Notice that the verse in 2 Corinthians says we are “enriched… for all liberality.

Now hear it from The Message paraphrase: He gives you something you can then give away,

Application: What does a thankful man look like? He looks like a generous man!

Check out how Psalm 112:9a describes a good man (which is quoted in 2 Corinthians 9):

He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor…

Here is that thought in The Message:

He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon.

The last part of 2 Corinthians 9:11 states that when we are liberal in giving it “causes thanksgiving in us to God.” To me that means we actually experience thanksgiving, not just celebrate it!

Happy Thanksgiving stems from Happy Giving!

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13, 2017 - Use It or Lose It!

Have you ever felt like quitting? When the game is not going right, our default mode is to take your ball and go home…

Life tends to bring us to points of decision… where we must determine if we are going to stay the course or if we are going to pack it in… if we are going to stick with the game plan or give up.

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. (Proverbs 24:10)

The past couple of weeks I have been reminding students at our school that we are called to rejoice and be thankful in all things. In fact, today I showed them in 1 Thessalonians 5 where it is the will of God that we do that… (it is great to show seniors in high school that they can know God’s will clearly!)

I came across an incredible passage today… it is Psalm 137. The Psalmist is writing from captivity in Babylon. The writer admits that their joy had left them… admits that they no longer had a “song.” (Check out verse 2 where he states, “We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.” They stopped playing their music.)

In verse 4 the question becomes, “How?” He asks, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

How do we rejoice? How do we show thanksgiving if the world seems to be falling apart around us?

Verses 5 and 6 give a warning and an answer… if “we forget… Jerusalem (the good) we could lose our skill and our ability to praise. (A use it or lose it scenario.)

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth – if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. (Proverbs 137:5-6)

So the positive answer is to remember the good… or in the words of the great old hymn… to “count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings see what God has done..”

Don’t quit… don’t take your ball and go home… persevere by remembering the good!

Monday, November 6, 2017

November 6, 2017 - Basketball Consumed Me

It has been another long day where I felt like had the “pedal to the metal” throughout… so many things to accomplish and so little time to do them; and just got home a short time ago from a night out with our worship team at a revival service. It was a great night of worship and I definitely needed to stop and focus on “how great is our God!”

I thought back to when I was young and how I would handle stressful days and nights… it was not always by focusing on God, but most often by finding a hoop to shoot around on. I remember many nights after midnight shooting on the outdoor courts at Washington School… well technically not the courts but the one goal that had just enough light coming from the security light on the corner of the cafeteria. I remember the one goal with light that was behind Harrison High School. I just had an out in my mind when I went on the court to shoot around. I loved basketball!

Even when I wasn’t stressed, I spent many afternoons and evenings on courts outside or in… being in Indiana we had the obvious places like a YMCA or renting the court at the YWCA… or renting the little gyms that many of the Catholic churches had… etc. I loved basketball!

When you love something, you want to spend time with it… you think about it all the time… you make it a priority… IT CONSUMES YOU… it becomes your life!

As I was preaching yesterday I was talking about the idea of worship. We looked at Jesus’ description in John 4 where He stated that true worship is in “spirit and truth.” I then went to Colossians 3:23… a very common verse I use and shared that truly worshipping involves more than a praise service on Sunday morning… that verse tells us that “whatever” we do… (“whatever” is a huge word; it encompasses everything in life)… we should do it “heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

It’s the word “heartily” that really caught my attention, In the Greek it carries an idea of: breath… the vital force that animates the body and shows itself in breathing; the seat of feelings… Do you see that? This has the idea of something that CONSUMES YOU!

Believer, does the thought of God consume you? Is He truly your life or just part of it? I made the following statement while I was preaching: “Don’t schedule God into your life; instead schedule your life into God!”

Everything we do should be to bring Him glory! (By the way, I still love basketball, it just doesn’t consume me anymore.)