Sunday, December 31, 2017

January 1, 2018 - Don't Play Just To Survive

Have you ever seen, or been a part of, one of those games where your team had a lead but started tightening up… watching the lead slowly slip away? I’ve been a part of it personally and I witness it on a regular basis.

What happens is a team gets a little bit of a lead and starts trying to milk the clock… but in turn the team goes flat and starts coming up short on shots, being a little less crisp on passes, is a little slower on cuts, etc. They find themselves playing to “survive” to the buzzer…

In the basketball world we talk about it all the time; we implore our teams, “Stop playing not to lose, and start playing to win!”

Life kind of follows the same type of mentality. Being that we are at the start of a new year, I want to use a bit of my story and personal philosophy to encourage you this week… and for the year…

2017 brought a lot of crazy twists and turns for us on Team Burden; not only could we have given up we were down (numerous times close to death in the cancer battle), but we also could have just sat back in safe-mode once we started to get back ahead a little bit…

But that is not the way we decided to roll! It is not what we will plan to do in 2018! I refuse to be seen as one that is just a “survivor”, but instead want to be seen as one that has decided to LIVE!

When I lace up the shoes for each new game (day or year), I put them on to play… to compete… to “bust it to the buzzer.” In boxing terms, I will go down swinging!

Hebrew 3:3 reminds us to “exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’…” In other words, keep playing the game the right way! Throughout the Scriptures we are encouraged with having an active faith!

Over the next few weeks, I plan to expand on this idea a bit more but for now let me implore you to make one clear resolUtion for the year… it comes from the motto of our missional group… it states:

Today we LIVE! (Love Intentional Value Everyone)

Don’t play it safe! Take the risk of loving and serving others this year!

Stop playing life not to lose, and instead play to win!

Monday, December 25, 2017

December 25, 2017 - Entering The Game...

With it being CHRISTmas day, I must stick to our InBounds roots and celebrate the Substitute!

I still find that my favorite songs of the year are the ones that talk about how Jesus came into the world… with no fanfare… no crowd cheering… etc. (I’ll share the lyrics of one of my new favorites at the end of the devotion.)

Think about it from a game perspective; if your team were behind, and up to the scorer’s table walks a substitute that simply doesn’t pass the sight-test… doesn’t appear to measure up… abilities unknown. Simply put, the crowd would not be getting too pumped up.

Yet we know the rest of the story, that the Substitute we are celebrating proceeded to play a perfect game and then ultimately took our place in paying our death penalty.

There are so many things I could be writing about… so many lessons of CHRISTmas; but let me remind us that even though I do hope you have a Merry CHRISTmas (a day of happiness), I more hope and pray you find joy and peace (the promises of why He came.)

So here’s to some Merriment on CHRISTmas…
…and a Joyful Jesus-mas! …as we celebrate the introduction of CHRIST into the game of life!

New Favorite JESUSmas Song (as I think about Him being introduced to a largely empty gymnasium…)

Chris Tomlin Lyrics
"Winter Snow"
Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

But You came like a winter snow, yes, You did
You were quiet, You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Ooh no, Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Falling, oh yeah, to the earth below
You came falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Monday, December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017 - At The End You Should Be Spent

I’ve been on the road again… and now am sitting in the warmth of southern Florida and ready for some rest! The past couple of weeks have been beyond busy… as I have maintained my teaching schedule, spoken in a couple of chapel services, preached in 2 youth rallies, preached in church services in Alabama and Florida, and oh yeah… there is this thing called CHRISTmas coming up.

Yesterday, as I shared with a church in Daytona Beach, I confessed that I was excited to be there and sharing… but also excited for it to be over as I then would have a couple weeks free. It is not at all that I dislike getting to preach; in fact, I love preaching! Yet, when preaching I tend to pour my all into it, thus being worn out afterwards.

That is something I try as a coach to get across to players, that at the end you should be spent. In other words, if you have truly given your all in a game or practice you should be exhausted when the final buzzer/whistle goes off. I regularly tell them that sweet sleep is found in laying down at night knowing that one did all one could to be one’s best that day! Or as Coach Wooded used to say it, when one “makes each day a masterpiece.”

I am ready this week for some sweet sleep… how about you? That is a question for us daily as we evaluate what we have done for the Lord. Just last night I was talking with a dear friend that is a pastor; we both agreed that through the craziness of life it really only matters what one does for the Lord.. there is just too much uncertainty in everything else.

My prayer for each of us is that we would be able to say what the Apostle Paul stated at the end of his “season” of ministry. In his 2nd letter to Timothy he tells Timothy, “6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Get some sweet sleep this week… that will happen when you know you have given your all for the Lord in serving others. After all, this is the time of year we celebrate His giving His all to us!

Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11, 2017 - Don't Be Tardy On The Pass!

This week's devo won't take long... I have been incredibly busy as of late but did get an opportunity between speaking engagements this weekend to watch a little bit of college hoops. I was enjoying it for the most part but must admit that I did get a bit frustrated at times...

My frustrations came during one of the D1 college games I was watching... as one of the teams was showing a lot of movement; guys were making hard cuts to the basket leading to some good open looks. But as personnel changed on the court some things broke down. Some of the guys that were suiting up for a high level D1 program simply weren't in the flow of the game...

Players were still making some hard cuts to the basket but all of the sudden the passes weren't there to lead to easy scores. The problem was that the guards that were handling the ball were simply tardy... they were late in their decision making. You could see that they saw their teammates cutting but simply lacked the rhythm of the game... they were willing but lacked the initiative to act as they saw the play developing.

During this CHRISTmas season, I believe we have a lot of folks that are out of rhythm... they will see needs and contemplate meeting them, only to miss the opportunity by waiting until it's too late. There will be many opportunities as we wind down this year and beyond. Will you be tardy and miss the chance to get an "assist"? Or will you follow the commands of Scripture and "make the pass" when you see the need?

Proverbs 21:26 ...But the righteous gives and does not spare.

Merry CHRISTmas! Take the initiative to be a giver this year... as you see the play developing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

December 4, 2017 - Win the Moment; Win the Decision!

Who is the most valuable player on a team? Is it the leader in scoring? Rebounding? Steals? Assists? Or what about the player that sets the most screens? Dives for the most loose balls?

Today in practice for my middle school girls team we were playing a good old-fashioned game of “Backyard 21”; a game where tall players have an advantage… a game where fast players can find some openings… a game where intensity is a must. I got into the game in order to show ways to create space to get through traps… or to carve out some room to get off one’s shot… etc.

One of our youngest girls, (that also happens to be one of our shortest players… that also is not near being our fastest player), decided she was going to show me that even though she was lacking some of the attributes to win the game of “21” she was not lacking intensity!

That girl started learning to really box out for rebounds. Remember I said I had got into the game, and she decided it was me that she would keep off the boards… and that she did. No, she didn’t get rebounds, but neither did I.

I loved being able to point out that it was not about her filling up the stat sheet with rebounds, but instead the fact that as an opponent I didn’t, and in a game setting her teammates would have a better shot at getting the boards.

The lesson for today is that being the most valuable is based upon the moment and the job at hand! It is about doing the right thing because it is the right thing! It is not about spotlights or awards or even being noticed. (And not doing the right thing when we know it is right is sin! James 4:17)

Bill Hybels wrote in his book Who You Are When No One Is Looking: We all do our best when others are watching. But what about when no one is looking? That's where character comes in, giving us consistency when it's just between God and us. Courage, discipline, vision, endurance, compassion, self-sacrifice, the qualities covered in this Bible study guide provide a foundation for character. With this foundation and God's guidance, we can maintain character even when we face temptations and troubles.

Today: Win each moment by winning each decision… decide to do right! Box out, even if you are not the one that will get the rebound!