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.