Perfect Ref/Perfect Sub/Perfect Win

Daveynin

Photo Credit: Daveynin via CC Flickr

“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.” 2 Thessalonians 1:5

Referees are paid to call only what they see and to call it right. They can’t guess. They can’t assume. And they can’t be mistaken or fooled. They must cover ground faithfully to take in all that’s there. They must take great pride in seeing the game properly, getting the most accurate feel for the game and it’s people. Finally, they must know the rule book well and apply it fairly, judiciously, uncompromisingly. The best referees do all this at breakneck speed.

Players must honor and adjust their play or get in foul trouble. Playing the game of life too often means inevitable foul trouble and need of a substitute. In order to guarantee victory a change has to be made.

God is Ultimate Referee, Remarkable Substitute, Eternal Reward. He loves the game and it’s people. He sees all, knows all. Nothing escapes His attention. He knows the rule book perfectly and applies it with both unflinching truth and prodigal (extravagant) grace. His play on our behalf insures our triumph and His glory.

Let’s see all this play out in 2 Thessalonians 1:5. Here’s what God wants us to clear about:

  1. God’s judgment is right. Deal with it. He doesn’t miss a call. He examines both our blamelessness (righteousness) and our blame (sin). He wants to see righteousness win and grieves when it doesn’t.
  2. God offers hope that we can stay out of foul trouble, that we can be ‘counted worthy of the Kingdom of God’. This hope is found through His Son. The Son becomes blame-bearer and sin-substitute. Our sins (serious foul trouble) get pinned to Him.
  3. For those counted worthy, suffering is temporary but triumph inevitable. The most perfect wins often push through the greatest pain. Hang in there!

The bottom line of the Gospel simply becomes this:

Holy God in love became

Perfect Man to bear my blame.

On the cross He took my sin.

By His death I live again.

May you live loving the game, the ref, the substitute, the journey…and live again!

Love you, too!

Coach Mo

Kingdom Reach

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10

In about 1000B.C., the Chinese of the Chou empire period named their country ‘Zhongguo’, meaning ‘Middle Kingdom’. Unaware of other high civilizations to the West, they believed their empire occupied the middle of the earth, surrounded by barbarians. The nickname they gave themselves stuck for many centuries but eventually thwarted their ability to grow and progress. In the end, the empire was overthrown, decayed from within.

We too can think of ourselves as center of the universe. I see it in lots of players, teams, schools, businesses. When we do this, when we set the definitions for everything – right, wrong, good, purpose, control – we leave no room for any outside forces to define, inform or shape anything about us. We live in a secret vacuum as if in our own Middle Kingdom.

That’s why the core prayer that Jesus gives us in His lesson, ‘This Is How You Pray’, starts out with straightforward worship of God and then invitation of another kingdom, God’s Kingdom, to come, rule and reign and set the definitions in us day by day. He doesn’t want to see us get stuck in our own little middle kingdoms. Another kingdom needs to invade ours. Otherwise we’re doomed.

So let’s worship God each day and allow His Kingdom’s rule and reign to reach into ours. Let’s long to see the domain of the sovereignty of God in Christ extend everywhere, in heaven, on earth, in me. And let’s play a vital role in this beautiful movement.

How far does God’s Kingdom reach get into you and through you?

LORD, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

Wanting His reach extended in me and through me,
Coach Mo

Pushing Through

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“But I trust in Your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in Your deliverance. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13:6

Psalm 13 shows us what to do when we find ourselves asking tough questions like this:

* How long will You forget me? (v1)

* How long will You hide from me? (v1)

* How long must I wrestle with my thoughts? (v2)

* How long must my heart sorrow? (v2)

* How long will my enemies triumph over me? (v2)

All these questions make me think that maybe Psalm 13 was written by an athlete or coach going through a tough season, rough injury, personal performance slump, real loneliness, broken relationship, or a long losing streak. And it’s written to an audience that will likely feel the very same way.

BUT Psalm 13 ends with a great 3-Point Play. Let’s take a look at what’s declared to help us push through:

* LOOK BACK AT WINS. One of the best ways to get through a tough stretch in life is to take a good look back. Note a salvation seen in the past, a deliverance experienced, a victory won. Resurrect the win to trust that it will happen again. He has been good. (v5)

* LOOK UP FOR POWER. Make sure there is a strong, real object to your faith and hope – the LORD. Only empowered ones truly push through. In His unfailing love, God delivers. (v6)

* SING OUT IN PRAISE. A last great way to push through is to find a good praise song and start singing it. Sing out about who’s been good to you. Sing in praise. Let the praise build the expectancy to push through again. (v6)

Pushing through,

Coach Mo

‘Paris’ World

Photo Credit: Harish Rao via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Harish Rao via CC Flickr

“Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:17-20

I suppose you’re aware of what happened November 13th in Paris. Tough news. That’s the way it is sometimes. Scripture has a few things to say about a world like this. Let’s take a look…

1. BE ON GUARD. Brace yourself. Let vigilance, awareness, mindfulness mark my life. Evil always lurks and seeks to raise its ugly head. Lay a good defensive foundation. Our ‘Paris’ world always needs protection.

2. ‘ON MY ACCOUNT’. Operate as an uncompromised, unashamed witness. God’s got my back. What happens to me is His business too. I trust Him, come what may. I am not alone.

3. GIVEN WORDS. God supplies clutch play at crucial times. His Spirit gives people perfect thoughts, ideas, words.  That’s because His Name is at stake. So don’t worry. Just live like a mouthpiece.

Pushbacks

* How’s your defensive package? Your alertness and vigilance to evil always powered on? Known for your protection?

* Operating with quiet trust that your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3-4), that you’re on His tab, that your future is secure, that God’s gotcha?

* Experiencing clutch play at crucial times, especially when repping the Lord? Counting on Him to come through and defend His name in a ‘Paris’ world?

LORD, help my vigilance on Your behalf to be strong. The world needs guardians for good. Thrill me again and again with joy and confidence in knowing I operate as Your agent, on Your account. Thank you by faith for the ongoing flow of words I’ll need at crucial times.

Be strong.

Stand for truth.

Live for eternity.

Coach Mo

Big Difference

Photo Credit: Dean Hochman via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Dean Hochman via CC Flickr

“Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.” Genesis 3:23

There’s a big difference between ‘going’ and ‘being sent’.

* Going suggests movement. Sent suggests an authority is launching that movement.

* Going is optional, involving choice. Sent means compelled, leaving no choice.

* Going means directed travel. Sent means mission, a deeper direction.

That’s why it feels so much better to be sent into battle instead of going into battle.

God sends. It’s His way. He launches men on missions. He compels our hearts and moves us deeply to move with Him, move for Him, move for others. Maybe that’s why the word ‘sent’ is mentioned 700 or so times in scripture. He wants us on mission with Him. Today’s verse is just the first recorded mention of the word.

Pushbacks

1. What do your movements look like? Do you just go, whether calculated or carefree,…or are you sent, driven by God to do or say something?

2. Do you ask God to come along and help you…or do you ask God if you can go with Him, for Him?

3. To be ‘on a mission’ means more than just going somewhere or doing a specific something. It means something else beyond yourself is driving you. How missional is your living? In what area(s) of your life do you feel called, sent?

LORD, send me. Don’t let me go anywhere, do anything without a sense of being sent.* The difference this makes is too big to do otherwise.

Be strong.

Stand for truth.

Live for eternity.

Coach Mo

Getting In and Out of Trouble

Photo Credit: Erik Drost via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Erik Drost via CC Flickr

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

The 2015 NBA Finals are playing out dramatically. The Golden State Warriors got themselves into trouble early in the series…and now it looks like they’re getting themselves out too. A few key adjustments were made. We’ll see how the last games play out.

Adjustments are crucial indeed. Being careful to not step on anyone else’s toes is one of them…but it can get us into trouble more than we think. Whenever we allow ourselves to become too self-conscious, snares are bound to follow. Concern for what others think of us is not nearly as important as what God thinks. That’s what today’s scripture is all about.

We get out of trouble and are kept safe when we drop a fear of man and add trust in the LORD. When we become more completely careless of our standing before men, we avoid coming snares. And when ‘trusting the LORD’ gets put into our starting lineup, it’s safe to say we’re headed for a life-win. (Thanks, Andre Iguodola, for showing us a fresh, rich illustration!)

How much does ‘fear of man’ factor into your lineup decisions and daily interactions? Is Self-Consciousness getting too much playing time in your life? Is Trust-in-the-LORD getting enough? Those who trust in Him are kept safe, from without and from within.

LORD, free us from fear of man and the burden of self-consciousness and hesitation it produces. Let us find safety and victory through trusting You. Transform and renew our minds (Romans 12:2). We know how to get into trouble. Thank You for showing us how to get out. For our joy and Your great glory. Amen.

Trust God. Period.
Coach Mo

A Few Good Men

Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel via CC Flickr

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

One man committed to a cause is greater than 10,000 merely interested spectators. A few good men is better. That’s how the greatest armies, greatest teams are built.

God is looking for such men. His missions are crucial. High stakes define them but they grow great through everyday faithfulness. His team is built on abandon, selfless, brave volunteers who say ‘Yes!’ and take on His noble missions with fearless honor.

Pushbacks:
* Heard the Lord talk like this to you? Recognize a true call and holy cause? Need to turn the volume down on other things?
* Feeling yourself moved by high calling? What could this be? Attaching any strings or fully surrendered?
* Willing to step up, step out, and offer full commitment to a cause greater than yourself, the greatest cause ever? Employed by God and engaged in mission?

LORD, let me feel Your heavenly surge and upward, outward cause. Don’t let me contract the disease of me and die in the dumps of disservice. May I take rank with You in holy mission.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Bring honor to Christ.
Coach Mo

Speak

Photo Credit: Norm4nNorm4

Photo Credit: Norm4nNorm4

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…” Proverbs 31:8

There’s a lot of noise in our world. Televisions run 24/7 and radios pump incessantly. Pandora and Spotify play supporting cast. Earbuds are worn like permanent jewelry and headphones crown our numbed heads. Still, there is too much silence, too many folks living lives of quiet desperation. The cries of the silent are not being heard.

When I was in college, during a big injury low point, a teammate of mine, unbeknownst to me, spoke on my behalf. What he said, I learned later, valued and defended me powerfully to powerful others and ended up making a huge difference in my future. I’m eternally grateful for Tim White.

Today’s Word invites us to speak meaningfully, to add volume to others and let our voices be strategically heard. I’m so glad God champions such dialogue. Following are a few ideas to prime your pump in speaking up today:

1. Defend the defenseless. Find someone who needs defending and stand up for him.
2. Practice justice. Speak up for what’s right and who’s wrong.
3. Help the voices of the abused, the children, the widow, the powerless, the disadvantaged to be heard. Find one paralyzed by fear and become their mouthpiece.
4. Listen so well to the weak that you cannot be silent. Open your ears to open your mouth.
5. Turn a cellphone into a megaphone! Engage in conversations that champion and cheer on others. 😉

LORD, help us to raise the volume on what needs to said and to speak up for others who need support. Don’t let us leave them voiceless. Thank you for Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25) May we follow His example well and do the same for others.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Glory to God!
Coach Mo

Approach is Everything!

Photo Credit: Mohammed Shamma via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Mohammed Shamma via CC Flickr

“Let the children come. Don’t stop them. The kingdom of God belongs to people who come like this.” Matthew 19:14

The approach we take as we start a shot, a swing, a game, a contest, a meeting, an assignment, an interview, a season, even each new day, is important. Approach really affects outcome. Approach is perhaps everything.

Let’s not forget this when it comes to God and matters of His Kingdom. Here’s what I mean:
• The best way to come to God is as a child would, bringing perpetual wonder, abiding trust, and pure faith. Any other approach diminishes the outcome.
• The older one gets the more one must be intentionally youthful, working to keep their childlikeness before God. Keep the child in the relationship.
• Ultimate reality shines clearest and best to those who behold it like children, looking for a King and his Kingdom and a storyline that offers real hope to ‘live happily ever after’.
• Like developing athletic movements, don’t overcomplicate the Gospel and the Kingdom. It’s message is profound because of its simplicity, not its complexity.
• Don’t stop the flow. Encourage the flow of kids to God. Encourage the kid in you to come too.

How’s your approach? How well are you looking at life, at God? Like a child? Filled with wonder? Coming in good faith, filled with pure intentions and simple trust? No better approach than this!

LORD, don’t let us overcomplicate You, Your Kingdom, the gospel, life. Let us see You, come to You, experience You, delight in you as children do their Daddy. And help us bring other kids to You as well.

Approach is everything.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Glory to God!
Coach Mo

Things That Make Great Leaders….

Photo Credit: Tumisu via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Tumisu via Pixabay

This article was posted by Quinn McDowell, founder of Arete Hoops. Quinn played basketball at Archbishop Moeller High School (Cincinnati, OH), 4 years at the College of William and Mary, 1 season in the NBA D-League, and 2 years as a professional in Australia. Arete Hoops is dedicated to helping people of various ages, backgrounds, skill levels, and athletic goals pursue excellence in and through the game of Basketball

Great Leaders…

  1. Make a Difference

Take Tim Duncan for example. He is a dynamic package of killer efficiency that has adapted his game to his teammates instead of forcing his teammates to adapt to his style. Duncan’s value never resided in gaudy stats or eye-popping numbers; rather his greatness was always about something bigger than himself. The real value of his game always resided in his mind numbing consistency and determination to raise the level of his team in whatever capacity he could. In this refusal to elevate his personal desires above the mission of the team he has elevated himself to one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. Tim Duncan never set out to be the greatest player of his generation, all he wanted to do was just “make a difference”, and that is the true value of greatness.

 

  1. Embrace Servant Leadership

Does your leader make a difference by serving others? Do they chose to use their abilities to illuminate the talents of those around them? Have they adopted a flexible leadership style that allows them to adapt to changing circumstances and the needs of their team. The bedrock of this leadership style has always been founded on a simple question: what can I do to make those around me better? One of the great marks of a servant leader is that they are remembered as great because of their leadership, commitment to excellence, and care for others.

 

  1. Draw Teammates to Themselves

By definition, a leader is someone whom other people are willing to follow. Great leadership at its most foundational level has the ability to attract a group of talented individuals to accomplish a shared goal. A leader has an attraction about them that players are drawn to. They entice other talented players to join them in working towards a common goal. They have an inviting personality and team-first attitude that encourages everyone to work for the good of the team.

 

  1. Accentuate the Talents of Others

Leaders accentuate the talents of their teammates by helping them come closer to reaching the limits of their abilities. One of the most telling signs of effective leadership is always measured by the growth of people around them. Great leaders help turn average players into good players, good players into great players, and great players into game-changing players. One of the primary goals of great leaders is to invest in the people around them and help raise their level of performance.


  1. Create a Community of Trust

Great leaders earn the respect and trust of their followers by submitting themselves to the same standards they enforce on others. Double standards, favoritism, and hypocrisy cripple healthy team dynamics and glorify the individual instead of the group. Great leaders foster an environment of where people are free to speak their minds in a spirit of collaboration and teamwork. They create a safe place for their teammates that is marked by the characteristics of trust, mutual accountability, and honesty.