Michael vs LeBron

Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11It finally happened; the Miami Heat run of 27 straight wins came to an end with a loss to the Chicago Bulls last week.  I from Miami and am a Heat fan, so I was disappointed. But, at the same time glad I got to be a witness to the streak. I’ve seen every game of the streak on TV and I went to the Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat game on March 24th.  I enjoyed the whole thing.

The great pro-basketball player, Michael Jordan, owns the Bobcat franchise. I don’t know if he was at the game or not. He’s been extremely negative about the Heat player, LeBron James. James is clearly the most talented player in the NBA right now.  I’ve even seen a spate of recent articles saying that James is better than Jordan was.  I kind of get the sense that Jordan is jealous of Lebron and wants to guard his legacy as the greatest basketball player ever.

Jordan recently said that if he were to chose a team with the best current players, he’d choose Kobe Bryant first because he has 5 NBA Championships to LeBron’s one. Of course Kobe has been in the league a whole lot longer, but that didn’t seem to matter.  It was meant to be a slap at James.  I don’t know why he had to do that.  Clearly Jordan was a great player. Most retired athletes are gracious when others come up and do better than they did or break one of their records.  I don’t get that feel from Michael Jordan at all. He seems more bitter or spiteful.  I’m sure he celebrated a little extra when his old team, the Chicago Bull’s, beat LeBron’s Miami Heat team.

But, I loved LeBron James’ response to Jordan’s comment, “It doesn’t matter to me. If you take Kobe one and I go second, it doesn’t matter. I don’t get too involved in what guys say about me or if you take Kobe or if you take LeBron. As long as I’m on the floor and I make plays for my teammates, I don’t do what I do for other people’s approval.” (My italicization)   Here’s the Article.

I think LeBron’s attitude is right. He says he’s not concerned with Michael Jordan.  He plays for his teammates. If I were in his shoes, I’m not sure I would have said the same thing. I would have been devastated by Jordan’s comments.

Criticism is difficult for me. I want people on my side. I want people to like me. Unfortunately, many times I do want their approval. But, for a Christ-follower that should never be our motivation.  Paul said, in Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. In all we do, it should be for the audience of one, God.  That is the only being I need to please. Oh Lord, help me remember that!

So, here’s my question, who are you trying to please?

Stuck!

I speImagent 22 years in the U.S. Army. Probably my favorite time was being a leader in a cannon battery.  We had 6 cannons and I was in charge of them. We were out doing maneuvers in Fort Campbell, Kentucky in the springtime. We were moving all the cannons to a new place to fire from and went through an area full of mud. We had 4 or 5 vehicles stuck in the mud.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been stuck in life?  Not much is happening. Everything is pretty much staying like it has been. Not much new. I certainly have.

It’s time to get a new wind blowing in your life. Song of Songs 4:16 Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad.

Ask God for a new breath of his Spirit.  Ask him for a new wind to blow in your life, so that what he does in you may spread around to others.

Oh, we did get the cannons out of the mud. We were able to carry on the mission. With God’s work in your life, you too will get unstuck.

Son of a…

I certainly don’t remember being three years old. At the time my father was serving in the U.S. Army in Oklahoma. I’m told we attended church regularly and that my dad was a Sunday school teacher. Well one evening my parents invited the pastor of the church over for dinner.  My dad went to pick him up and bring him to the house.  He took me with him.  Now this was before seat belts and I was standing between my father and the pastor in the front seat. All of a sudden, a car jumped out from a side street and almost hit us. My father swerved to miss him.  I yelled out, “Son of a B_____.”

Now obviously I didn’t know what that meant at 3 years of age. But, yes I had heard it before. It was actually one of my dad’s favorite curse words.  I remember hearing it later as I grew up.  Well, needless to say, my dad was embarrassed. I’m not sure what the pastor thought.

Parents be careful what you say.  You may not think you’re being listened to, but you are. Make sure it’s something you wouldn’t mind having repeated.  Parents be careful what you do because your children are watching you. Check out this video (here) on the subject by Veracity Project.

Philippians 3:17 (NIV)  Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Let’s make sure that pattern is a good and godly one.

Some Choices are Permanent

Rueben Foster recently committed to play football next year at the University of Alabama. He has an interesting history. He grew up a fan of the Crimson Tide. In fact, he committed to play at Alabama before his senior year in high school. But a little over a year ago, moved to Auburn, Alabama for his senior year. Auburn is the in state arch-rival of Alabama. After moving to Auburn, he changed his commitment from Alabama to Auburn. In order to show his allegiance to his new school, he had the Auburn logo tattooed on his forearm.

That wasn’t really a problem until February 6th when he change his commitment once again back to Alabama. Now, he’s going to go to the University of Alabama sporting a HUGE Auburn tattoo. That’s going to be really weird next year when he’s playing for the Tide against the Tigers. Some decisions are permanent. Be careful with your choices.

One of my biblical heroes is John the Baptist. What a tough dude. He was bold. He actually confronted King Herod because the king had taken his brother’s wife to be his own (gross—but that’s another blog post). Well the king put him in jail. On the king’s birthday, his wife’s daughter danced for Herod and a bunch of his friends that were there to cut a cake. Herod enjoyed it so much that he offered the girl whatever she wanted, up to half his kingdom. She asked for John’s head on a platter. The deal is the Bible says he wanted to kill John but he feared the people because they saw John as a prophet. So, he’d decided he’d not do it. But, since he said it in front of all his friends, he had no choice.

Be careful what you say (especially in this internet age) because once it’s out you can’t change it. Be careful what you do. Once you’ve done something, you may not be able to change it. Be careful with your choices.

Resist Your Tendencies!

If you know me, you know that I’m a BIG Alabama Crimson Tide fan.  I graduated from the University. I bleed crimson.  Needless to say, I’ve been pretty excited since the 42-14 victory over Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship played here in Miami on January 7th.  I’ve been reading just about everything out there about the game.

I reaImaged the January 14, 2013 Sports Illustrated article, BCS Championship Heir Force.  It was a good recap of the game and the season.  One thing struck me though from a quote of one of Alabama offensive line players, Anthony Steen.  He said, “We knew from film study that if we shifted a certain way, Notre Dame was probably going to shirt a certain way that would give us some blocking angles. And they did. Every time.”  Rather they looked at what Notre Dame’s tendencies were and exploited them.

I believe in the spiritual realm our enemy, the Devil, does the same things. Peter warned in 1 Peter 5:8 (HCSB) Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.   The Devil is going around looking for your tendencies that he can exploit, so he can defeat you.

So, let’s say you are a solid Christ-follower, but like all of us there are areas in your life where you struggle with temptation. Maybe you’re a guy who every so often has the tendency to linger too long looking at a low cut blouse or at a girl in a bikini on some internet site you’re on. The Devil is going to look at your tendency and try to exploit it.  Or let’s say you’re a gal, who although you don’t like it, sometimes you get in the comparison game with other women. You see how they are dressed and immediately you become critical. Then when you’re on the phone talking to one of your girlfriends, her name comes up and your tendency is to gossip.  The Devil is going to look at your tendency and try to exploit it.

The solution is “Be on the alert.”  Recognize your tendencies and try to correct them so you won’t be devoured and defeated.  1 Peter 5:9a (HCSB) Resist him, firm in the faith.  He’s after your tendencies to temptation —RESIST!

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Shipwrecked!

I was reading Acts 27 this morning in my daily devotions. It talks about Paul’s shipwreck on Malta. I seemed to remember that the ship’s four anchors mentioned in the chapter had been found. I did a Google search and found a great video on Paul’s shipwreck.

This is extra-biblical proof Paul that weathered the storm with God’s helping hand. The anchors are a testimony of God’s gracious hand working in Paul’s life. You too may be weathering a storm. Look for God’s helping hand in your life. He will get you through the storm.  After he does, find a way to remember what he did.   Maybe write it down in a journal or tell your story to someone else.  That way when you go through the next storm you’ll remember that God carried you through the previous one and he’ll carry you through this one.

Take a minute now and pray for Malta.

There’s an app for that

Yesterday morning while it was still dark I went outside. I looked up and was blown away by the beauty of the night sky! I remembered seeing that there was an astronomy app for my iphone. I quickly downloaded the app and started using it. I just pointed the phone at a star, it told me the name of the star and showed me a picture of the constellation it is part of. Incredible.

Job said, “He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.” Job 9:9.  God made the stars, he formed the constellations.  We look up and marvel at what his hand has made.  I get to enjoy what the creator created.

We pray “hallowed be your name.”  Hallowed means to honor as holy. In other words to praise God’s holiness, his greatness.  Take a minute and look up at the stars and you’ll quickly be able to praise God for his creation.  There is an app for praising God, the stars & sky he created.

Overheard at My Own Funeral

God has a purpose for me to fulfill here on earth. I want to end well so that when I get home to be with our Savior I’ll hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

Hammer365: 107/258 Fly on Wall

I’m a pastor and part of the territory is doing funerals. To be honest some are a joy to do. When a person knew Christ as their Lord and Savior the funeral services are always upbeat. Of course there still is sorrow because family members have lost a love one, but there is this sense of faith hope that knows this person lives now with Jesus and will be seen again. In contrast, funerals of those without Christ are funerals without hope. Oh, sure the family members can rejoice in a life well lived, maybe, but there is no future hope.

If I could be a fly on the wall at my own funeral I hope I’d hear and sense (if a fly can feel emotionally) people rejoicing in a life well lived. I wouldn’t want to hear, “Has anyone got a fly swatter?” I would hope there would be a feeling of quiet contentment that I am continuing life with my Savior. I would want people to say things like, “he lived his life in obedience to God,” “He listened to God and he walked with God,” “He fulfilled God’s purpose for him while he lived here on earth.” “He loved people.”

I’d also want to hear them say, “he loved his wife and was devoted to her all the years of his life.” I’d want to hear, “He loved his children and invested his life in them. They are all walking with God partly because of the legacy he left them.” Of course, I’d love to hear the same thing said about my grandchildren. My hope and prayer is that my grandchildren and their children will walk with the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. I’d want to hear, “he left a legacy of godly decedents.”

Acts 13:36 (NIV) “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.”

I think some of those things could be said right now, if I were to die today. But, some of those things are not completely a reality and I’ve got a lot of work to do. So, I’m going to hit the ground running to do all that God has for me to do here. I’m going to live each day to the fullest. I hope you do the same.

Of course, the thing I really want to hear and can’t wait to hear is “well done good and faithful servant” when I meet Jesus face to face.

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Be ready

I read an article about an American Airline flight attendant, Patricia Sund. She, along with two physicians, helped deliver a baby during a fight from Haiti to Ft Lauderdale. It was a baby boy. Sund said, “Watching that baby being born and having him placed in my arms 30 seconds after he was born was an incredibly raw and emotional moment for me. It will remain one of the highlights of my flight service career.”

I wonder what she was thinking when the woman went into labor. My first reaction might have been, “Now wait a minute, women this pregnant aren’t supposed to be on a plane.” Rather I would have at least internally complained to myself. To be honest, it would have been because I wouldn’t have wanted the hassle of having to deal with this woman’s need. You see I’m basically selfish. I don’t want discomfort.

Paul wrote to Titus to tell the church he was pastoring, Titus 3:1 (NIV) Remind the people….to be ready to do whatever is good. As Christ-followers we always have to be ready to do good and that usually involves discomfort. We must always be ready to serve. It’s not about us. It’s about serving people in the name of Jesus Christ, even when we don’t want to. Jesus was worn out when he fed the 5,000, but he always put others needs first. I’ve got to be the same way. It’s not about me.

Did you catch the last thing that Sund said? It will remain a highlight of her career. When we serve and are used by God to meet the needs of others, we will be blessed. It will be a highlight of your life. Be ready for every opportunity you get to serve.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” St. Francis of Assisi

Ask the right question.

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.” John 5:19.

Most of Christ-followers spend their entire life asking God, “What is your will for my life?” God what is it I’m suppose to do for You? What ministry do I want to serve You in? Those are natural and good questions to have come up as you consider the concept.

But they’re the wrong questions to be asking if you want to learn to see God at work. Why? Because it puts the focus on you rather than God. Sometimes we assume that every question is the right question. Seminary professor Dr. Gaines Dobbins often told his students, “If you ask the wrong question, you are going to get the wrong answer.” Remember if we keep coming up with the wrong answer you need to check the question.

So what is the right question? The one Jesus continually asked God. “God what is your will?” Don’t ask, “God what can I do?” But ask, “What is God purposefully doing where I am?” Now the focus has moved from my life to God. That is where you find your answers.

In the Scripture above, Jesus was saying once I know what God is doing, then I know what I need to be doing.  He was saying He was powerless to accomplish anything of lasting value without the Father.

Want your life to count?  Do you want to accomplish things of lasting value?  Don’t rely on your abilities, but look to see what God is doing around you and join Him.  That will make all the difference in what you do with your life.