Monday, April 16, 2018

April 16, 2018 - Stay Hungry My Friends!

Peinao: Greek

1.       to hunger, be hungry

a.       to suffer want

b.       to be needy

2.       metaph. to crave ardently, to seek with eager desire

We have just gone through March Madness and now the NBA Finals are upon us… over and over the word “hungry” is used. It is used to describe players and teams that are playing with a sense of urgency; those that show great determination… Obviously everyone wants to win, but there comes a time when circumstances create an added desire or drive.

When we see athletes with this mindset we acknowledge their “hunger” and may even state that they have “the eye of the tiger” … ready to pounce!

And the reality is, the greats in any sport are the guys that never seem to lose that hunger…

“I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.” – Larry Bird

“Talent is never enough. With few exceptions the best players are the hardest workers.” – Magic Johnson

(Yes, I went old school with these old champions… but there is a reason they had such a great rivalry… their mutual “hunger.”)

So, bottom line tonight is this… what are you hungry for? I mean truly hungry for… not just what you want or would like… but instead what you are going after with the eye of the tiger…

Jesus said this in Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

The word “satisfied” is the Greek, Chortazo. It means to fill or satisfy the desire…

I want you to be satisfied in life… and for the believer that happens through our seeking righteousness.

Proverbs 16:26 states: A worker’s appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on.

Stay hungry my friends!

Monday, April 9, 2018

April 9, 2018 - Fly Fishing Guide

So last week we keyed on Christ “putting in the work” on our behalf for salvation… and then it only becomes reasonable for us to “do work” ---- or as my basketball team chanted to break huddles. “Do Worth Work!” (Honor the Lord in all we do…)

I said at the end of last week’s devotion that I would share from the teaching the pastor did at the Eater service we attended... he encouraged us in what happens after we are “on the team.” He made a strong point about the fact that saved through faith and changed through surrender. (I would define surrender as “walking by or in faith… or walking in the Spirit.” Basically he reminded us that the resurrection power of Easter purchased salvation and empowers sanctification (being set apart in our daily lives.)

But what does it actually mean to “walk in the Spirit” or to “walk by faith”?

He told a story of when he was a boy and his dad took him fly fishing. His dad hired a guide for their journey so they could get the most out of it… Basically they let the guide drive the vehicle, take them to the spots they would fish, show them how to fish, and even pick the flies that he knew would simulate what was hatching at the time…

What they didn’t do was hire the guide and tell him to sit in the back seat. They didn’t just turn to him in emergency situations or times when they were lost. They didn’t hear his instruction and then tell him what they thought would be best. I think you get the picture…

The reality for believers, those that have been saved by grace through faith, is that we then received a “guide” and a “guide book.” I preached this weekend about Jesus and His Word being the “light” (the truth we need for life.) The Bible says, “walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” (Ephesians 5:16) It also says that “the just or righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Bottom line is that each of us need to take more heed of the Word and allow the Spirit to guide our lives… to have say so on where we go, what we do, and even direct in what we “fish” with.

Surrender simply means walking in faith… which means walking in trust that what God says is the right way every time. Maybe we need to sing “Jesus take the wheel” and little more….

Monday, April 2, 2018

April 2, 2018 - Christ Put In The Work!

Yesterday as we sat through our Easter service I heard not only a great, clear message of hope in the finished work of Christ in getting “on the team”, but also some great teaching on what we do with that hope once we are “suited up.”

The message was spot on in reminding us that the work for “getting on the team” was done in full by Jesus! What a great time of year as we celebrate the work of the cross and the work of the resurrection! I truly hope that every believer reading this is rejoicing in the assurance that “by grace through faith” we have been saved!!! (And if you ae reading this and not a believer, please know that the work was done for you! Jesus loves you! You can “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved!”)

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

My plan is to share next week some of the teachings we heard concerning what happens after we have placed our faith in Christ… and a hint is that it involves fly fishing and a guide…)

In honor of Easter I want to simply share one of my favorite choruses:

He paid a debt He did not owe

I owed a debt I could not pay

I needed someone to wash my sins away

And now I sing a brand-new song

Amazing grace the whole day long

Christ Jesus paid a debt

That I could never pay

Monday, March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018 - A Club Mentality

I love the story of what Michael Jordan did when he was still with the Bulls; he started a thing called the Breakfast Club. I’ve made references to this “club” in years past, and even used the name on many of our ministry trips for our morning workout routines…

What is the Breakfast Club? It is a group of guys (like-minded teammates) that started meeting with Michael in the mornings for working out throughout the season. According to one of MJ’s business partners, “Most guys dreaded their two-hour practice from 11 to 1. But a small group of guys, who really wanted to push themselves, formed this Breakfast Club thing. They'd work out a few times a week before practice. Then, when they were done working out, some time between 9 and 9:15, Michael's chef cooked them breakfast. That's how it really became the Breakfast Club. Those guys sat down to eat breakfast together, and then they'd go the Berto Center for practice.”

Basically, Michael had developed a reputation of not just being an incredibly skilled basketball player, but also an incredibly fit player. In fact, he not only got stronger through his workout plans, he also became more durable. I remember the amazing stories of how quickly he would get in game shape to start seasons and how quickly he would recover from any wear and tear on his body. And other players wanted to experience the same benefits. And some credit these workouts to giving endurance on the careers of some other than MJ…

All of that to share something I noticed in the Scriptures as I was preparing for a speaking engagement this morning… the importance of a “club” mentality. I was actually speaking about “fasting” and encouraging students at our school to fast on Wednesday; I mentioned the obvious of considering fasting from food that day for the purpose of prayer… but then went on to mention that it might be something other than, or in addition to, food… and encouraged a phone fast that day…

As I studied the chronology of Holy Week, I found something I had never noticed before. We can read many things that took place each day from Jesus’ triumphal entry to the cross to the resurrection; yet on Wednesday of that week, it doesn’t appear that anything is said about what Jesus did. In other words, it seems that He took a day to get away… maybe to prepare for (get stronger for) what Thursday would bring. I don’t know that He fasted from food that day, but He obviously fasted from His social networking…

So here is where the “club” mentality comes in… we also don’t read about what Peter did that day… or Matthew… or John… etc. Apparently, they followed the pattern that Jesus set… all except Judas. He is talked about on that day as he breaks away from the “club” of “like-minded teammates.” And we see how vulnerable he becomes to temptation when he is not focused on Christ and outside of the strength and accountability of the “club.” Wednesday appears to be the day that Judas loses confidence in following Jesus and makes the agreement to betray Jesus…

Are you surrounded by like-minded teammates that will help you get stronger, and stay strong in the midst of temptations? Do those around you help you stay focused on Christ? I hope this weekly devotion helps you with that some…

Monday, March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018 - All In To The End!

I love watching March Madness and seeing the passion that goes into the games… I cant help but think of the old Wide World of Sports… “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It is truly a magical time where “miracles” happen…

I know I am not discussing miracles of Biblical proportions, but I am using the word loosely… “miracles” such as a number 16 seed beating a number 1 for the first time in 136 tries… (which completely busted my bracket, as I had Virginia going all the way.)

Yep, I admit I haven’t done a good job in predicting this year’s tourney; yet most haven’t as it has had many of the upsets… But the Virginia loss was especially difficult to see because I respect so much how hard they play and how well they are coached. This is a team that only lost twice all year going into the tourney, while playing in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. It is a team that was fully committed to defense… holding all of the opponents to under 70 points on the year… that is until the University of Maryland Baltimore County stepped on the floor with them.. and proceeded to do something that Duke or UNC or anyone in the ACC could not do… dropping 74 points and holding VA to 54… not just winning the game, but winning it going away…

I bring this game up because it continued to make love VA basketball. Sure, they lost a game, but they didn’t lose who they are. They played the game out to the buzzer… their coach didn’t give up on them but instead stuck with them through the end, using it as a learning tool for life.

Check out what Coach Bennett had to say following the shocking defeat: “You’ll remember this. It will sting. Maybe a 1 seed will get beat again, maybe not. Maybe we’ll be the only No. 1 seed to ever lose. It’s life. It goes on. We’ll have to get past that. For some reason this is what we’ve got to deal with, and my job now will be to say hey, how do we bounce back, our players and all that. But a life lesson is sitting there about defining yourself by maybe not what the world says, but there’s other things that matter and then you get back to it.

If you have not ever paid attention to Coach Bennett and his interviews, I encourage you to do so. He is a Christ-centered man that understands the big picture. He understands what matters in the long run…

All of that to say that it reminded me of another that stuck it out to the end…

John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

I love this passage in John… and as we approach Easter I want to make sure we are reflecting on a Savior that loves us to the end. This wasn’t just a promise to the disciples but also to us… reminding us that He is fully devoted to us! He loves us to the end! Make sure you spend time this season reflecting on His goodness… reflecting on the true Gospel message that centers on His commitment to us! He is all in to the end!

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 12, 2018 - STRIKE or BE STRUCK!

Last week I shared about the need to “play with a clear head.” I stated that “a player that is ‘hurried’ will make bad passes, take bad shots, and commit silly fouls…” In the practical portion of the devotion I shared some things that Louie Giglio shared about facing worry and fear… that we should replace them with worship and faith…

This week I want to share a very simple challenge with you… one that encourages you to focus in on worship!

In my sharing at the school I have recently written about some days on the soccer field in high school. We had a couple goalies that could really boot the ball. As a freshman I remember going out for practice and deciding to try to head the punts… and our keeper (Jeff Darnell) would kick it really high and really long; meaning the ball would come in with a lot of velocity… and could tend to hurt really bad! (Wondering how many times I should have gone into concussion protocol?)

Seriously, what I had to learn to do (and learn quickly) was to attack the ball; in other words, I had to generate some velocity on my end to impact the ball… not be impacted by the ball! I loved the feeling of striking the ball and sending it back to Jeff with force!

Life will come at us with a lot of velocity… you have to determine if you will be impacted by it or if you will create the impact… the impact of intentional worship or praise! STRIKE or BE STRUCK!

Set yourself up this week for listening to more praise music… sharing more praises… focusing on the goodness of God throughout your days… reading more Psalms… etc. In just a couple of weeks at the school I will be hosting a “worship week” at the school… let it start with us here… (READ PSALM 150)

…it can be our very own form of March MADness!

Side note: periodically I would misjudge my headers… taking my eye off the ball… on those punts that Jeff sent downfield… resulting in mishitting the ball… which could result in some pain when heading off the bridge of the nose. To remedy that I would put my hands up in the air to guide the ball in. Not sure if you are a “hand-raiser” in worship but there is some value in pointing your focus upward! Here’s a fun link for you to take a look at:

Monday, March 5, 2018

March 5, 2018 - Playing With A Clear Head

The past couple of weeks I have been able to see two completely different approaches to the game of life and their ensuing results…

First let me start with a quote from the great John Wooden (which I am sure I have quoted, probably many times, over the years of doing these weekly devotions.) Coach Wooden said, “be quick, but don’t hurry!” He knew that a hurried mind would result in silly mistakes and ultimately a meltdown in the game… I don’t have a clue of how many times over the years of coaching I have yelled out onto the court for my players to calm down… or to a free throw shooter to take a dep breath… etc. A player that is “hurried” will make bad passes, take bad shots, and commit silly fouls…

I won’t spend more time on the athletic picture… I think we all understand where I am coming from; and now I want to relate this truth to the game of life. We live in a society where many, no most, are “hurried”! The advance of technology has not led us to an easier pace of life, but instead to a more hectic one. I really believe the enemy is luring us into his full court trap by making us think we have a clear path…

Think about it, we are stuck always expecting things to happen right away… we literally live our days out in stress… and as a result I counsel people daily that are wrecked with anxiety and depression. I even heard on the radio a couple days ago that pediatricians are suggesting that parents regularly screen their children for depression…

I could write for a long time on this subject but let me encourage you to hop onto YouTube and look up Louie Giglio When Darkness Falls; it is an honest look at what he went through a few years ago and the things the Lord showed him to bring him out of it. (It is a great message for any of us to watch as it gives practical approaches to dealing with life’s full court press…

I will tell you that this week alone I counseled a family where a man literally went from “flight mode” to “fight mode” in a split second and made choices that have wrecked his and his family’s world. And I could go on and on with negative examples… but let me jump to the positive…

Giglio shares in his message about the importance of worship, and how worship cripples fear and worry. He encourages us to let the God “Who gives songs in the night.” (Job 35:10) I love that passage, in it Elihu is rebuking the older guys for having no answer to Job’s stress… and he reminds us to turn to God, Who will give us a song in the midst of our night. (Night here refers to anguish and pain we suffer…)

I watched this in action a couple weeks back as Lisa and I traveled on a worship tour with a group of students. I challenged them before the trip to unplug from the craziness of the social media and from music that doesn’t build up; and instead to plug into talk that encourages, music that lifts, etc. In other words to focus on worship in all aspects of life. The results… amazing, to the point of unbelievable. Lisa even commented about half way through the trip that the kids’ countenance had even changed. We saw joy and peace that surpasses understanding… one student writing that he felt freer than he has ever been. Intentional worship led to a great week and it has carried over to us witnessing culture change here at home…

Louie mentions in his message that worship and worry can’t occupy the same place; and that some then state, “as soon as I stop worshipping the worry returns… to which Giglio responds, “don’t stop then!”

Life is fast paced… slow your minds down with intentional worship… your quality of life depends on it!

Monday, February 26, 2018

February 26, 2018 - Anticipation of Making the Play!

I had a very long week of travel and ministry that included over 40 hours in the van and almost 3000 miles… yet, despite being physically wiped out, had a week of incredible worship and spiritual rest! I was traveling with a team of high school worship leaders… this group of students committed to a 10-day journey of worship… on stage and off stage. I daily was greeted by the sounds of this group doing devotions together and singing praises. In fact, I was ministered to more by what took place off the stage than what they did in the concerts… I found myself looking forward to seeing and hearing their sounds of worship! – anticipating seeing and hearing from God!

There was a sports-related moment that drove this picture home… it happened one of the nights while playing a fun pick-up game of basketball with the kids and the illustration was brought to mind this morning when I was in the Scriptures…

While playing hoops, the students commented on my ability to stay calm and wait to make the pass… which is something I always prided myself on. I love the times I can simply let the play develop and trust that my teammates will make the cuts for me to deliver the pass… when I have the basketball in my hands I feel confident and love the feeling of anticipation of making the play!

That is the picture, the one of anticipation of making the play… here is what I typed this morning for our students at the school:

“This is not just religious church talk! When we are intentional in this, things change! King David was facing some obstacles in life and he stated:

I waited patiently for the Lord… (Psalm 40:1)

The English word “waited” does not give a full picture of what David is saying; the Hebrew word (Qavah) more literally would read: I waited eagerly… or looked for and hoped expectantly. David knew that if he trusted God, God would show up in a big way!

We entered this past week with a daily expectation for God to show up… and He did in a major way. I can truly say that we experienced what David states in verse 1 and 3 of Psalm 40…

1 And He inclined to me (He listened) and heard my cry… 3 He has put a new song in my mouth…

I am not going to lie, I was tired driving home last night! With over 3000 miles logged, this old man was feeling it; yet, in the midst of all of it my heart was full, and a new song was on my lips. One of the songs we did on tour had these lyrics that kept flooding my mind on the drive home…

I’d be lost, I’d be lost, I’d be lost without You

But now I’m found, singing your praise! (Scandal of Grace– Hillsong United)

Intentionally focus on God today and He will put a new song in your mouth…”

Monday, February 19, 2018

February 19, 2018 - Fellowship Shoot-Arounds

I write often from the perspective of my competitive edge when playing sports… I talk about the drive it takes to succeed, the commitment to preparation, the pursuit of excellence, etc. I often will make statements like, “when I lace up the shoes, I intend to win.”

Today I was reminded of a different perspective in my hoops playing days… I thought about the times in my backyard alone just shooting baskets and thinking/praying; or times when I had great conversations with friends while shooting around. In fact, when I reflect on those times I cherish them just as much as the memories of intense competition. I often played to relax or fellowship…

The thing that prompted this reflection were talks I had with my daughter and one of my students. We are on tour with our worship team and they had spent time together yesterday having a devotion on the front porch of our host home. My daughter told me how much the time meant to her and how much they were bonding; the other young lady, who is one of our leaders, said she was surprised how well ti was received because it was a very basic devotion and not very “deep.”

During that second conversation my mind started going into metaphor-mode. I thought about how often I encourage “diving deep” -or- deep study… I talk of word studies and digging into the context… etc. But in the talk yesterday I simply responded that a “swim” can be amazingly refreshing even when we just stay at the “surface.” We don’t always have to “free dive.”

I am all for the “I’m diving in, I’m going deep” approach. (Thanks Stephen Curtis Chapman for the word picture.) But I am also all for the “Be still and know that I am God” approach. (Thanks to Psalm 46:10 for that word picture.)

There’s something refreshing and relaxing when we are “floating on the surface”…

I miss my fellowship shoot-arounds… and my individual shoot-arounds… they calmed me and energized me.

Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

February 12, 2018 - The Confidence of Preparation

One of the things I love about my dear friend Jason Otter’s training in basketball (which is the best on  the planet, by the way) is his attention to efficiency of movement… he teaches players to not waste motion and to get the job done! That is not what this week’s devotion is about, but it is why I am writing it the way I am; it is my attempt to work smarter… not harder. It is me not wasting time to rehash what I have already said. It is me trying to be efficient…

On most weekdays our school schedule allows for a short time for the students and staff to have a devotion that typically I write. Today was no exception, and it was one that had some good thoughts from the athletic perspective.

Right before I share the devotion from today, let me give “The Parable of the Meme Coach”

Once upon a time a coach called a timeout because his team was facing a full court press. In the huddle the coach shared many catchy phrases to let the team know how talented they are; he told them that they were ‘press-breakers’ and that would be a ‘back-breaker’ to the other team; he truly fired up the team…

The team went back on the floor with a renewed confidence in themselves and their abilities; they took the ball out and immediately turned it over again against the pressure… and the next time they took it out they turned it over again… and so on… (to be continued)

From my Statesville Christian devo

“Perspective: Yesterday I sat through a church service that was exciting and fired everyone up; that place was rocking! The music was sensational, and the message was motivational… yet something didn’t sit right with me…

The preacher made a lot of great remarks… a lot of them… in fact if one was taking notes there would be a great deal of material to create some memes… that is what didn’t sit right with me… and my wife pointed it out by calling it a ‘great meme message.’

So what is a meme? According to one site I found it is ‘an idea, like a gene, that can replicate and evolve. A unit of cultural information that represents a basic idea that can be transferred from one individual to another, and subjected to mutation, crossover, and adaptation…’

This modern meme-culture was eating up that message yesterday… the preacher was speaking the language of the day! But I think we need to be very cautious here… Motivation - Preparation = Humiliation! In other words, we can go in talking a big game and fully convinced we can compete, but if the work hasn’t been done, we are simply going to be loud losers. No matter how excited you are… how motivated you are… how passionate you are… there must be discipline, commitment, work ethic to back all of that up. Preparation is the fuel of passion!

Application: Someone that truly desires to grow and succeed, will put in the time of preparation. And this is true spiritually as well… check out this verse in 2 Timothy chapter 2…

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

A diligent worker! This is someone that puts in time of preparation! Someone that is not just listening to the “memes” of this world… in fact check out the verse right before (14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers); and then the verse after (16) has something to say about shallow motivation… it tells us to avoid idle babblings… in other words, avoid words that are easily spoken without diligent work going on… words are cheap, easy to say!

Today spend a few minutes looking at your schedule… do you have time set aside for the things that matter? Is there time to talk with God? Is there time to hear from God? Is God truly a priority in your life? That is evidenced by the work you put in, not by the memes you spit out…”

Back to our Parable of the Meme Coach; he was great at getting the team fired up, but he didn’t take time in his huddle to diagram a press-breaker… he didn’t equip the team for success.

If you are in the role of a teacher/preacher in life, make sure you are equipping, not just motivating. For all of us, make sure we are sitting under some equipping teaching in our lives… so we are not facing the world just with the excitement of motivation, but with the confidence of preparation!

Monday, February 5, 2018

February 5, 2012 - Let The Bigs Dribble

Recently, following one of my middle school girls’ basketball games, I overheard one of the dads telling his daughter that she should never dribble again…

I know that sounds mean, bit please understand first that he was joking around with her, as each of us (including the player) know that dribbling the basketball is not her forte. I was actually able to brag about how the girl is improving in practices in this area; but the reality is that she is around a 5’11” 7th grader that is not going to dribble low through traffic… She needs to get the ball to the guards and go down the post to use her height. But sometimes, I let the “bigs” dribble…

My mind immediately went to the Scriptural mandate to each of us as believers, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly…” (Romans 12:3) In this passage it is simply reminding us that we all have a part to play on Team Christ and each role is just as important as the next. The key there is to figure out our roles and be active in them… We are not to be haughty in our roles, but instead “in honor giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:10)

I didn’t mind the girl dribbling down the court… even though it is not our best option for advancing the ball, I appreciated her effort; and even if she turned it over, it would be an effort-mistake. (I like those a lot better that no-effort-mistakes… those may not show up as a negative mark on a stat sheet, but they kill a team.)

So this week I simply reiterate a common charge from these weekly devotions: BE ACTIVE! DO YOUR PART… EVEN IF YOU MESS UP SOMETIMES!!!

Romans 12: 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Monday, January 29, 2018

January 29, 2018 - Pursuit of Excellence/Success

I write and share a daily devotion for our upper school students and the staff at Statesville Christian School... today I wrote one that had an athletic theme, so therefore I am taking it a bit easy tonight in just sharing that...

Daily Devotions: January 29, 2018

Theme: Success

Perspective: This week I decided to go back to a very familiar passage of Scripture and try to encourage us in our pursuit of excellence… or pursuit of success in our Christian walks.

I’ll start with a simple question; do you want to honor the Lord with your life? And now the harder question, if yes, are you being successful in that pursuit? Often times we sincerely want something but fail to get it… why?

I am going to share a quote I saw this week from JJ Watt: “If you won’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want will become the sacrifice.”

Hebrew 12:1 Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…

A few things jump out at me when reading these verses and thinking about success… one major word is the word “easy” that is used to describe the “sin that ensnares us.” The Scriptures are telling us that it is easy for any of us to mess up and not be successful.

So, I want to break down a few basics in light of these verses (and the quote from JJ.) First is the fact that it is not just sin that slows us down… the verse mentions the “weight” and the “sin”…

Application: The idea of sacrifice, is that of laying something on the alter… getting rid of some things. The quote I shared indicates that in order to obtain success we need to consciously “sacrifice” some things…

In the sports world of JJ Watt, I am sure that he gave up many things that other people his age were doing in order to spend more time in the gym or on the practice field… and as a result turned into one of the elite football players to ever put on the pads.

In our pursuit of honoring God, maybe we need to consider what things that are slowing us down and keeping us from success. I often hear excuses that people don’t have time to read the Word, or to pray, or to have a quiet time; but do they have time for social networking or television shows or… and the list could go on… Could they go to bed 30 minutes earlier, so they could get up earlier for a quiet time? Could they evaluate friendships and make sure they are surrounding themselves with encouragers in the faith?

Today I encourage you to take an inventory of your life and see what things are slowing you down. I am not keying here on “bad” things but instead the idea of “weights.” (A runner does not set out for a race with weights hanging around his neck.) I am encouraging you to consider sacrificing some things in order to make time for the things that will helpful in your pursuit.

(This is true for spiritual matters and any area of life that you long to be successful in.)

Monday, January 22, 2018

January 22, 2018 - Heading To The Right Goal

The past few weeks have brought a few instances on the basketball court that brought confusion… All were in sincere excitement or effort but nonetheless confusion…

First was when our high school boys team was playing in a holiday tourney in Florida. They were in the championship game, and at the time sporting an undefeated record. I pulled up the internet sites that had updates and streaming of the game; with great anticipation of seeing how they were doing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the live stream to work, so I went to looking at comments to try to keep up. When I first checked in we were down and obviously not putting the ball in the hole. As I checked back in we had closed the gap tremendously and made a game of it. When I finally got an update, I read what I had been longing to see, that the Lions had won! (I even bragged to the people I was with.) Then came the realization that I was confused… as I read the comments about our boys’ good effort and that the other team was also called the Lions. SAME NAME BUT DIFFERENT TEAMS…

The other times of confusion as of late, were not on my part but instead on the part of some eager players on our middle school teams. it happened twice, once in a boys’ game and once in a girls’. The players were trying so hard and so excited to get an opportunity to score that they took off dribbling to the wrong goal… RIGHT MOTIVES AND RIGHT EFFORT BUT WRONG DIRECTION…

These came to mind during my drive today as I was thinking about the confusion that takes place so often in the sharing of the Gospel. I don’t think it will come as a shock to anyone reading this that not everyone who uses the name of Christian is on the same team… often times, that name is attributed to a works-based, man-made religion. Yet my big fear is that we often fall victim to sincerely trying to share our faith but getting caught up in common phrases, clich├ęs, and church-speak that points us in the wrong direction and leads to the wrong goal…

This is nothing new… in fact, Paul confronted Peter about adding things that distorted the Gospel and pointed to the “wrong goal.” Galatians 2 records that some false teachers had come in, (verse 4 stating they “came in by stealth…”), but that he (Paul) and his brethren stood firm in the true Gospel. Later in the chapter Paul admits that Peter and others were playing the hypocrite and needed to be reminded firmly of the clarity of the Gospel.

I love verse 16 as it points us back to the “right goal”, JESUS!, and what He has done. It states, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

So we need to be sure that every Gospel message is completely focused on the work of Christ… what He has done for us… not what we do or promise to do for Him!

I write about this often… reminding us of basic truths that it is not our commitment to Him that saves, but His commitment to us. And lately I have been thinking through another time that Peter was “heading to the wrong goal.”

In John 13 is one of my favorite stories of Christ… but we can learn a lot from Peter as well. Peter is sincere and motivated to do the right thing… and as Jesus prepares to wash Peter’s feet, Peter boldly proclaims, “You shall never wash my feet!” (See verse 8) Peter is recognizing Christ lordship and making it clear that Jesus is the leader and he the follower, yet that is not what Christ called for at the time… Christ instead tells Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (And on top of all of this Jesus already knew that Peter would mess up some of the following promises.)

I could go on and on about this topic, and you may already be tired of reading, so I will wrap up with reminding us that the Gospel needs to “point at the right goal”… directly at Jesus. Always ask if you are telling a person to serve or be served… it is good to serve but that is not what Jesus says is first… we must always tell that it starts with allowing Him to serve us… and celebrate His death and resurrection on our behalf!

Monday, January 15, 2018


For the past couple of weeks, I have been writing about the importance of playing with a purpose... about “lacing up our shoes” with intention of competing hard…

In yesterday’s message, our pastor made a couple points that flow well with our theme. He brought up how frequently fans use the term “we” when talking about their favorite teams. The pastor is in Alabama and proved his point by quoting how Crimson Tide fans tend to talk; he used the national championship game from last Monday as an example… i.e. “we need to get Jalen Hurts out of the game” – “we need to get Tua into the game” – “we need to block better” – “we need to… (fill in the blank)” – “we won!” I think you get the picture…

He then reminded us that the “we” is stated by people that never put on pads, lay down a block, run the ball, catch the ball, etc. The “we” is mostly coming from spectators, not participators…

I have no problem with excited fans; yet in the church we have a lot of “we” talk that is accompanied by complaining or even celebrating by folks that follow the mentality that being a spectator makes one a part of the success of the team.

As believers, we need to be reminded that we are all called to participate! (Not for salvation… that is due entirely to Christ’s participation on our behalf!) But once we are saved, we are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” (Eph. 2:10)


I don’t know what your resolUtions were this year, but today’s should be to Make A Difference by being an active participant in God’s work in the world!

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, ALWAYS abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Monday, January 8, 2018

January 8, 2018 - Lace Up Your Shoes With A Purpose!

Last week’s devotion keyed on playing to win… not just to survive. I also said I would expand on that thought a little bit… and as I prepared to type tonight, a Facebook memory popped up reminding me that exactly 1 year ago I was being rushed to a hospital and things didn’t look good. But here we are a year later, and I get told often about what a miracle it is! Obviously, I am incredibly thankful to be a survivor! I am overwhelmed to even look back and read all the prayer requests went out for me and the family! I will celebrate the past, but I refuse to live in it… I won’t play to survive, but instead, survive to play… I love “the game”!

I was just having a talk today with my daughter Faith about her middle school basketball team. Last week we had a couple of bad practices; one was so bad that I told a bunch of middle school girls that it they didn’t want to play they shouldn’t be there. There was no joy in the gym… no excitement to get to play the game. Then we had a game Friday afternoon and things changed. The girls openly expressed how much fun they were having… how they liked the new game plan I put in… and it showed on the floor. Then Saturday came and we had another game… only to find ourselves with many of the girls looking, and playing, like they couldn’t wait for the game to be over.

So, what was the difference? (Faith and I discussed this very question.) This is a middle school… it is not made up of players that love the game… they like it… they enjoy it (at times)… they don’t love it. There was one glaring difference on Friday, we were much better than our opponent and finding a lot of success on the court; Saturday, not so much so. It’s not that Saturday’s opponent was glaringly better, but they were very aggressive and took us out of our game. And when adversity hit during the game, our like for the game disappeared… there was no joy on the court. (I do have to say this was not true of all our girls. We have a few that love to get after it and play the game!)

I told my daughter that I have never laced up my basketball shoes without playing hard and intending to win… and shared the Vince Lombardi idea that I never lost, I just ran out of time.

If you want to see if someone really loves the game, watch him when adversity hits! Does he crumble, or does he keep playing hard? When he gets a lead, does he play it safe, or does he keep playing?

Lace up your shoes with a purpose!

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

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:5-6

I still love to step out on a basketball court… I love to step out into the court of life… I love that God has given me more days… days to live… days to make a difference!

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11