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

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

MANUP!

Coach AllenMOTIVATION (Part 1 of a 5 part series) – Coach Allen in Action

“To go from where you are to where you want to be; you have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it.” – Jim Valvano

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways wise! It has no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-11

As a former high school basketball coach with 20 years experience, one of the most important jobs I had was to motivate my players. When it came to building a competitive program at Norfolk Christian, it all started with the foundation of developing buy in, responsibility, teamwork and accountability among our players. As most coaches will attest, the “off-season” is one of the most important times to develop as a player. Therefore, it was my job to find ways to get my players motivated to get in the gym to develop their skills.

During the basketball off-season, which is considered the summer months, the work and development done during this time would play a major part in our success during the actual season, which is during the winter. If our guys were to turn the corner and become competitive within our local conference and then ultimately across the state, our off-season expectations and standards would need to be raised; and that’s exactly what we did.

“The key (of success) is not the ‘will to win’…everybody has that. It is the ‘will to prepare to win’ that is important.” – Bob Knight

We took a three step approach. First, we provided summer skills open gym workouts twice a week. They were given a minimal amount that they were required to attend (say 10 out of 15 days). Secondly, they were required to attend Team Camp together – no questions asked as they had to attend. This was important to getting away as a team and bonding as a family. Lastly, we also gave minimal requirements or milestones to achieve during our open gyms. (ie: Shoot a certain amount of shots, perform specific ball handling drills, footwork drills, etc.) Through the years of building our program into one that was respected not only across Virginia but across the country, there is no question the majority of our success was attributed to this off-season program and raising the bar on our standards. For our commitment, we were blessed to win back-to-back state championships and four consecutive conference titles. This was not by luck or talent alone – we prepared during the off-season when many people were not watching.

However, inevitably, every year we would have at least one or two guys who stated they wanted to be a part of our program, but would not meet our expectations and would end up either being cut or being dropped to our JV program for further development. This was mainly because of their laziness or lack of commitment in the off-season. They would seldom attend our workouts or if they did decide to attend, they would go half speed in our fundamental work and rarely made progress in developing their skills. This was all due to their lack of motivation. They wanted to shine before many during the season and have the glitz and notoriety that went along with that however they were unwilling to put in the required work when no one else was looking.

“Everyone wants to do what the great ones do: but very few are willing to do what they did to become great.” – Jon Gordon

As stated in our scripture above from Proverbs, “we should look at the ant and consider its ways wise!” The ant does not have someone lording over it making it go out and look for food to bring back to store for the winter months. It just falls in line with the others and does what is required. They know if they do not prepare ahead of time, they will not eat. Well as I related this to our players, if they are not “storing up” on their skill work in the off-season (summer) to where things will become natural and second nature to revert back to during the season (harvest time), they will not eat. And by eating I meant make the team, play as much as they would like to or win as much as they would like to. It all went back to “what you reap is what you sow.”

So in conclusion, whether in your athletic endeavors, your academics, your marriage or your vocation, you must be motivated to work for everything that you desire as nothing is going to handed to you. Thankfully we have a savior who does not give up on us and guides us in the way we need to go. Just like a coach would guide his players and give them a plan on how to improve, God gave us a plan through Jesus Christ on how we should be living and it is therefore up to us to be motivated to follow that plan – His plan.

MANUP!

Coach Allen

A Second Chance at Life

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Have you ever thought to yourself how “good” your life REALLY is? What if the direction of your life suddenly changed and you found yourself in a situation that you had never thought that you would be in? One minute you think your life is great, you are healthy and everything is “smooth sailing?” then you find out that something in your body or mind wasn’t as good as you thought and that you were “very close” to experiencing a life-changing event?

Such was the case with me…

I have always enjoyed my life: talking with other people, spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the taste of delicious food, taking in the pleasures of seeing the beautiful things in the world, generally speaking, loving the life that I have been given.

But a little over a week ago, my life drastically took an unexpected turn. What was supposed to be a simple two hour screening procedure turned into a four day stay in the hospital.

It was during those four days that I discovered that my heart had been beating at an outstanding rate (150 beats per minute) and because of that high tempo, my heart had weakened to a dangerous level. Unbeknownst to me, I had had this condition for the past couple of years!

After leaving the hospital and meeting with the doctor the next day, I was told that the doctor was surprised that I hadn’t had either a stroke or a heart attack. YIKES!! What a shocking, wake up piece of news. I had NEVER KNOWN that my heart was 1) beating at such a high rate, and 2) that my heart had weakened to such a bad state.

So, imagine my thoughts today, when the doctor told me that despite the condition of my heart, everything would be ok. The doctors found out what was causing my elevated heart rate, the proper medicine to take to control my heart rate, and that my condition was totally correctable and curable!

The doctor simply said, “look at it this way…you have a second chance at life.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic for a couple of reasons…1) I feel great. I feel like I did 10-20 years ago, 2) I feel excited that now that I know that the doctors diagnosed the problem, everything will be OK, and 3) I have a new lease on life and I am going to take full advantage of it and take care of myself and love life even more than I did before.

Just thinking of “what could have happened” has left me feeling very humble and aware of my mortality more than it ever was. And it has taught me a lesson. It has taught me to live my life to its fullest. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail because, many times, it is when we fail that we grow and learn lessons that will benefit us in our lives.

It has made me value and love my friends, loved ones and family more so now than ever. I has allowed me to REALLY appreciate the things around me that I have taken for granted every day. But more importantly, it has strengthened my faith and assurance that my Lord and God never once abandoned or left me. He has always been there by my side throughout my life when things were going well and He was guiding the doctors and comforting me during my stay in the hospital.

You see, that’s the beauty of true FAITH. Faith is that knowledge of believing in someone or something when you cannot see it but you KNOW it is there. When you sit on a chair, do you bend down and test it first to make sure that it will hold you? Or do you simply just sit on the chair without closely inspecting its durability and strength?  Having faith in the Lord is exactly the same thing. I KNOW that He will take care of me and I KNOW that He is there to hold me up and to strengthen me. I don’t have to question or test anything that He does for me..My life is in His hands and if my time on earth is done, He will hold me close to himself and take me home. I have total peace and total fulfillment in my life knowing that He is always there with me.

So, how has your life treated you? How much do you appreciate the ways that you have been blessed? How well do you REALLY love and appreciate your loved ones? How strong is your faith? How secure are you if things were to suddenly go in a negative direction in your life?

Take the time everyday to truly be thankful for the good things in life. Find the moments in your daily routine to be grateful for your family and friends and show them how you feel. Discover the paths that you can follow and explore to give yourself a second chance in life.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  ~ Colossians 3:17

~ Coach Muller

Standing in the End

Photo Credit: Aatlas via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Aatlas via Pixabay

“A faithful man will be richly blessed…” Proverbs 28:20

In a world where things seem to be moving faster and faster, there’s one other move we must make: slowing down and dropping anchor around faithfulness. Faithfulness holds relationships together and allows teams to really mesh and products to perfect. Faithfulness keeps so much together when Circumstances try to pull everything apart. Faithfulness demands devotion. Faithfulness lifts, holds, endures. Coupled with love, it forms an unbeatable duo. It’s what leaves a man standing in the end.

Faithfulness has its reward too. While promotion often seems to run faster in other directions, faithfulness wins far more in the end. God says so. Longevity and fidelity to both cause and people is the hidden, high virtue. Rich blessings follow the faithful man. He’s the one left standing in the end.

Faithful men:
• play out every possession, on both sides of the ball.
• hang in there.
• love unconditionally and forgive well.
• live by commitment, never feelings or circumstance.
• never run from responsibility or duck duty.
• sacrifice much and don’t cash in early.
• expect the greater reward, God’s reward.

How are you sizing up to this faithfulness profile? Running short or richly blessed? Left standing or left behind.

LORD, help us to place high premium on faithfulness and hang in there. We know the Marines do; help us to place more. Let us be known for our faithfulness to You, to others, to our mission and purpose. Don’t let us run from commitment. Like your Son, let us be found faithful, standing with Him in the end. Richly bless our faithfulness journey, just as You promise. Through Christ the Faithful One. Amen.

Semper Fidelis (‘always faithful’),
Coach Mo

The Love of the Father

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. ~ Romans 8:39

There are times throughout our lives when things or circumstances can get so difficult…that our dreams or goals seems totally unreachable. But, the difference between an extraordinary person and an ordinary person…is that little EXTRA!

There are also times that we need that one special person to help us “pull through” the tough situation that we may be experiencing and encourage us to “fight on” and overcome our diversity.

This video shows us the amazing and powerful love of a father helping his son while his experiences a heartbreaking and agonizing situation . It should remind us that when the hardships and painful times of our lives come our way, we can be assured that God, our Father, will be there to lift us us and give us the power and strength that we need and to continue on…until the task is done

It is my hope, that this incredible video will touch your heart, soul, and mind and encourage you to stay strong when you feel your weakest…and remember…your God and Father…will always be there to help His children!

Coach Muller