Pass The Ball

A few days ago, the sports world was rocked with the awful news that 9 people had died in a helicopter crash. The victims were girls’ basketball coaches, mothers, fathers, a pilot, and teenage girls. Among them was soon-to-be Basketball Hall of Famer- Kobe Bryant.

As I reflected on these tragic events, I was reminded of something I wrote back in 2018 that I have found eerily relevant for today. Feel free to check it out here: Life and Basketball.

Kobe played in the NBA for 20 years and through those 2 decades, I can remember cheering both for and against him. His incredible skill matched with his relentless work ethic helped form him into one of the best to ever play.

But Kobe was not perfect. Off the court, he had legal issues that put a strain on his family. While, on the court, he often would feud with teammates and, especially in the first half of his career, was known for being incredibly arrogant. However, despite those imperfections, Kobe worked hard to mature as a person and a basketball player. He worked to repair the damage done to his family and now is remembered as a loving husband and father who championed the efforts of female athletes. In the basketball world, he became a mentor to many young players and worked to repair broken relationships with old teammates. He went from a “punk kid” straight out of high school who made many mistakes, to an elder statesman of basketball and a good role model to many.

His journey to maturity is inspiring and should be seen as a wonderful example.

While reflecting on the recent tragic events I found myself, like many, watching videos of Kobe highlights. I found myself watching portions of his final NBA game where he scored an incredible 60 points. It was the most “Kobe” game I could think of. He took 50 shots, rarely passed the ball, (in fairness because others simply wanted to see him score) and was the hero in crunch time sinking 2 free throws to put the game out of reach and secure the win.

But the thing that struck me the most from his whole performance wasn’t the shooting or the slick moves. It was his final stat recorded as an NBA player.

An assist.

Kobe Bryant’s final act as an NBA player was to pass the ball.

Wow. Incredible. First, that’s incredible because he was not necessarily known for sharing the ball. Secondly, and more importantly, it was symbolic.

In the final seconds of the game Number 24 collected a rebound and then made a beautiful near-full court pass to a young player second-year player who then threw down a flashy dunk.

Kobe had passed the torch.

In life, torch-passing is an essential need. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to teach, mentor, and pour into those that are younger than us.

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we are teaching, training, listening to, supporting, and championing younger generations.

There are numerous examples of this found in the Bible. Moses trained Joshua. Elijah taught Elisha. Paul mentored and supported Timothy. In each of these cases are excellent examples of experienced followers of God pouring into younger believers for the good of God’s people.

The Bible also commands parents to raise their kids to know and love God and His Word. (Proverbs 22:6) As well as to share with children all of the wonderful things that God has done. (Joshua 4:6-7)

The church of Jesus Christ needs to invest in younger people. You need to invest in younger people. I need to invest in younger people.

I have talked about the issues of being “Too Young For Church” as well as “Too Old For Church” in the past. Feel free to give those a read.

But the point is, if we are going to reach more people with the Good life-giving news of Jesus, both now and in the future, then we need to be including people younger than ourselves.

It’s all for the glory of our God and the good of our team.

If Kobe could pass the ball, so can you.

Pain: An Excuse To Sin?

Recently I was asked a question that I suspect many people have wondered about at one time or another in one way or another.

Is my pain an excuse for me to sin?

What about if life is extra-hard?

What if I have been “dealt a really bad hand” in life?

God understands right?

Let me begin by saying that if you are experiencing some sort of pain or turmoil right now as you read this, I am right now praying for you.

I don’t know who you are other than the fact that you probably have experienced some sort of frustrating pain. So, I pray that in the midst of whatever circumstance you are going through that you would keep your eyes on Jesus. I also pray that God would draw you closer to Himself during this time.

Concerning pain, there are several different types; physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual. The Bible is clear that God cares about us humans in every aspect of who we are. Jesus, when He was on earth, healed the sick and healed people who were out of their minds (taking care of physical and mental pain.) Psalm 34:18 says that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted (addressing emotional pain.) And certainly, Jesus came to address our greatest need which is spiritual when He died on the cross. In doing so He made it possible for us to be free from the pain and ensnarement of sin.

It seems that human beings ever since The Fall have experienced pain of one sort or another in a variety of degrees.

Pain is so much a part of our existence on this earth that God has to go out of His way to declare in Revelation 21 that in the New Heaven and the New Earth there shall be no more pain of any kind! “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Additionally, Romans 8:18 gives a promise to those who have trusted in Jesus. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Wow! God has some really incredible and pain-free things in store for those who have faith in Jesus!

If you are going through some sort of pain at this moment I would encourage you to read the whole chapter of John 9, it really is an awesome and easy read! At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus and His disciples run across a man who had been born blind. When they see the man the disciples ask Jesus who had sinned, the man or his parents? Jesus’ response? Neither. The disciples couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that this poor man had been dealt such a “bad hand.” They were looking for a reason for his pain. Maybe his parent’s sin had caused him to be blind. Perhaps his own?

Instead, Jesus goes around all their expectations and says that the man was born in blindness so that God could be glorified! Jesus goes on to miraculously heal the man. At the end of the chapter, the man can now see both physically and spiritually!

So, to answer the initial question, no.

Pain is never an excuse to sin.

God wants us to have faith in Him no matter what our current situation.

He calls us to follow and obey Him no matter what the circumstance.

We may not always understand His reasons or ways, but we still ought to honor Him with our actions. Because He is good no matter what.

Don’t Forget To Remember

Recently, I was on a plane with not much to do so I decided that I was going to pass my time remembering. I allowed my mind to travel back to a specific date and location. I sat there as I remembered the people who were around me, what I was feeling, and what my outlook on life was at that specific point. Some of my memories were sweet and left me feeling warm while others made me cringe from embarrassment. Either way, I enjoyed remembering.

It is a good thing to remember the past.

I have been to many different places in my life and they all have one thing in common. No matter if I am in a big city, small town, or even a middle-of-nowhere wilderness I can always find some sort of memorial. A small sign, plaque, statue, monument, stones, engraving-all these can be found. And they all have one of three messages… “Don’t forget this person.” Or “Don’t forget this thing that happened.” Or “Don’t forget this person that did this thing.”

So why is remembering so important? Because most of the time forgetting can have tragic results.

Now, I’m not simply talking about misplacing your keys (although that can be a bit of a bummer.) I am more so talking about forgetting the people, events, and truths that have shaped you into who you are today.

Deuteronomy 8:11-14 says,

“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

See, God completely understands our human tendencies. We are forgetful and prideful people. God tells the people of Israel to remember the person-God, the event-God bringing them out from slavery, and the truth-God did it and it was not by their own power.

And then in verse 19, God gives them the tragic results of not remembering, “if you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them…you will surely be destroyed.”

Remembering is serious business. It can literally be the difference between life and death.

There are so many tragedies in history that we need to remember.

The Original Fall of Mankind, The Holocaust, soldiers who bravely gave their lives protecting the oppressed, 9/11, The Sandy Hook Massacre, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, multiple Genocides, and sadly I have only named a few. But all of these need to be remembered.

But also, triumphs should be remembered as well.

Jesus Rising from the dead, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, walking on the Moon, cures for terrible diseases, The Emancipation Proclamation, Israel becoming a nation again, and the Bears winning the Super Bowl in 2020. (That last one hasn’t happened yet, but I am hoping that one day I will be able to remember it.)

In the same way that we should remember history-defining events, we should also remember our own life-changing events.

I remember when I was trapped and chained by sin. But, Praise God, I also remember when I put my trust in Jesus.

I remember those countless times where I had fears and doubts. But Praise God, I also remember those countless times where God firmly yet gently pulled me through.

I remember when I was unfaithful to the God who loves me. But, Praise God, I remember when He continued to be faithful in spite of myself.

Don’t forget the important stuff in life.

Write things down in a journal. Take pictures. Create something to put in your house.

But whatever you do, remember.

While I Was Reading

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books, The Lord Of The Rings. Although it was broken up into, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Tolkien himself always intended for it to be a single book. If you have never read this literary masterpiece I highly recommend it!

Anyway, while I have been reading I have, again, realized just how quotable Tolkien is and how deeply relatable his characters are. As I read for fun I don’t want to read to just simply escape reality. (Read my thoughts on that topic here.) Instead, I want to read everything, even fiction, with purpose. I want my stories to teach me something and remind me of my own reality. (The good stories will always do just that.) Today, I wanted to share a couple of quotes with you that recently impacted me.

The first quote is the ever-wise Gandalf in response to Frodo’s questioning why he was chosen for such a great task.

“‘Why was I chosen?’ ‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must, therefore, use such strength and heart and wits as you have.’”

These words greatly remind me of God’s interaction with Abraham in Genesis 12-17. God chose Abraham, not because he was a great man of great strength with great faith or great stature. God just simply chose him. After God chose Abraham He blessed him and, in turn, used him to bless the entire world. Similarly, God chose and used Moses, imperfections and all, to lead His people out of captivity and right up to the doorstep of the Promised Land.

In the New Testament, in Romans 8:30 and Ephesians 2:8-9 we find that God is consistent. People are not saved because of personal merit or works, but rather by the grace of God alone. And Ephesians 2:10 encourages those that have been chosen and saved by grace to produce “good works” as a result.

Frodo was very weak; however, he was still “chosen” for a great purpose -to destroy the evil ring. We are very weak; however, we have still been chosen for a great purpose -to glorify God and to tell the world about Jesus and His love.

The second quote I want to bring up is spoken by Aragorn when he is trying to ignite courage in the face of almost certain doom.

“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”

As I read this I can’t help but ask myself the question, “Do I do what I do to get recognition and pats on the back? Or do I do it because God has called me to faithfully serve Him?”

Galatians 1:10 makes it clear that if our intentions are to please people then we cannot truly be servants of Christ. And Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

We need to do the right thing even if no one is watching and waiting to sing our praises.

The reality is that God is always watching, and His opinion of us is all that really matters anyway. Everything that we think, say, and do should be for God’s glory even when its not popular and especially when we do not receive recognition for it.

The purpose of sharing these quotes is to first, show how they remind me of great truth found in God’s Word. The second reason is to remind all of us how we can take everyday life and situations and think of them with a biblical mindset. That’s why I created this blog in the first place. Everyday life from a biblical perspective.

What is something that you have read, or seen, or heard lately that reminds you of our awesome God?