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Old 04-21-2014, 08:37 AM   #2041
Big Daddy
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Default 4.21.14

Speed Bumps
By Addison McCaleb
April 18, 2014

Ready:
“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Set:
As athletes, it’s easy for us to find ourselves in situations that we never played out in our minds. Down by 10 in the fourth quarter against a team that didn’t stand a chance against us. Gripping our knee after tearing an ACL right before our senior season started. Left off the roster of the team we thought we deserved to be on. The list goes on and on. But it's how we handle these “speed bumps” of life that set us apart as Christians.

Recently, I was faced with an unexpected speed bump myself as I found myself working on my second round of rehab from knee surgery. (My knee had decided it didn't want to comply to the demands of my coach and the sport I loved.) But having Christ at the center of my life was key in this situation.

Now, if you’re anything like I am, you thrive on competition, and the bench is not where you want to be. And, like many athletes, I’ve had to overcome countless injuries during my career. Through these struggles and unexpected “game-changing” moments, the Lord has revealed Himself to me in new ways.

Scripture tells us that when we do something, we should do it for the Lord, not for ourselves. In my time as an athlete, I’ve often found myself trying to get better for me, for my team, or to impress my coach. Until recently, it’s wasn't often that I would go back into the game with the purpose of bringing glory to God, let alone thanking Him for having to sit the bench.

But what I’ve learned is that, in times like these, verses like those in 1 Thessalonians 5 give us great perspective. Regardless of our circumstance, regardless of the outcome, regardless of whether or not we planned those speed bumps, we are supposed to thank the Lord and rejoice. It may be difficult, but because of the hope and love we have in Him, we can trust in His plan, rely on Him and keep praying about all things knowing He is in control.


Go:
1. How do you view the unexpected “speed bumps” of life? How would total faith in God’s perfect plan change that view?
2. Do you thank God in every situation?
3. How would thankfulness change in the way you compete?


Workout:
Psalm 9:10
Psalm 28:7
Proverbs 3:5-6
Ecclesiastes 3:1
Jeremiah 29:11
Colossians 3:23
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:27 AM   #2042
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Default 4.22.14

Surprising Strength
By Jean Driscoll
April 21, 2014

Ready:
"I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you. I am filled with encouragement; I am overcome with joy in all our afflictions."
-2 Corinthians 7:4

Set:
Have you ever been nervous before a big game? Have you ever felt like quitting an event before you even got started? The first time I competed in the Boston Marathon, I didn’t think I belonged in the race. As I sat on the starting line, in my mind I was yelling at my coach, I don’t belong in this race! I’m not strong enough!

However, one of the most amazing things happened to me that day. Although on the starting line I doubted my ability to even finish the famous Boston Marathon, 26 miles later I had won the race and broken the world record by almost seven minutes! I was stronger than I thought I was!

When the Israelites were preparing to enter the land of Canaan, they were most likely also a bit nervous. Moses had died and they were now under the leadership of Joshua. However, God told them to be strong and courageous, for He was about to give the land that He had promised to them. He said to Joshua:

I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great Euphrates River—all the land of the Hittites—and west to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you (Joshua 1:3-5).

Being nervous before an event is normal. It tells us that what we’re about to do is important. But God encourages us in the Bible to be brave and to take courage by performing for Him, the audience of One.

Don’t allow those anxious feelings to keep you from challenging yourself. The outcome could surprise you!

Go:
1.Can you describe a time when you were anxious before a competition? Where was your focus? Were you able to overcome your anxiety?
2.What situations in competition typically make you anxious? If your approach to that situation was not anxious but courageous, on what would you be focusing?
3.What truths of the Bible can you use to remind yourself of all that God gives you a son or daughter of the King?
4.Out of competition, do you seek the Lord’s strength to help you overcome little worries that plague your day?

Workout:
Joshua 1:9; 2 Samuel 22:33; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:13

Overtime:
God, help me to be calm and courageous during competition. Help me to focus on You, my audience of One
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:05 PM   #2043
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Default 4.23.14

Slumps
By Jim Augenstein
April 23, 2014

Ready:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
- James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Set:
The Major League Baseball season is in full swing. Already, some ballplayers have started off with extremely high batting averages, and others have started off rather slowly. Only time will tell whether those hot hitters will taper off or if the slow starters will elevate their averages as the season progresses, but either way, it is likely that at some point during the season, they all will experience a slump.

The long baseball season will culminate deep in the fall with the World Series. It will be full of highs and lows and ups and downs--much like our lives. We all will experience highs and lows, but what will happen when we do? In the New Testament, James wrote that we should “consider it pure joy… WHENever you face trials.” He did not say IF we face trials, he said WHEN. He knew that trials would be inevitable for us all.

The lesson we can take from this passage is that when God gives a trial to face, He does it to help us improve our walk with Him. Just as hitters go into slumps, Christians can go into spiritual slumps, as well. Slumping hitters often go into the cage with a coach and play “soft toss” and hit off the tee. Christians can go into the Word and spend time in prayer with their heavenly Coach to work things out. Either way, both are seeking counsel and getting back to the fundamentals and basics of what made them successful in the first place.

As Christians, we need to spend time in prayer, spend time reading the divine Word of God, seeking godly counsel, and (probably the most overlooked element of getting back on track) being still and waiting for God’s leadership and direction. Just as players listen to their coaches, we need to listen to God’s instruction for our lives.

Today, if you find yourself in a spiritual slump, seek God’s instruction to get back in the game.


Go:
1. What are some warning signs of a spiritual slump?
2. Are you in one right now? If not, when was the last time you were?
3. Along with getting in touch with God through prayer and the Word, do you also have wise, godly counsel you can turn to for advice?

Workout:
Matthew 6:25-34
James 1:5
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:08 PM   #2044
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Default 4.24.14

Wrestling with Worship
By Zack Engles
April 24, 2014

Ready:
“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord—you serve the Lord Christ.”
- Colossians 3:23-24


Set:
This past winter I was having the best wrestling season of my life. I was physically and mentally strong, and I was able to fight hard. In my excitement about wrestling, I started watching tons of wrestling videos and quite dramatically stopped reading my Bible and doing devotions every morning before school. My life flipped completely from God being No. 1 to wrestling being the only thing I cared about.

Over a period of 2.5 months, I wrestled every day, not missing any practice. Then, God started trying to wake me up to see what I was doing. I got really sick, and then I permanently hurt my back. Still, I wouldn't listen to God; I kept right on ignoring Him.

Not long after that, I got kneed in my face during practice and completely broke my nose, but I was still being stubborn—focusing only on wrestling.

Later that season, I was beating a kid 11-1 after the first round. Then, right at the beginning of the second round, the kid threw me, and I broke my collar bone. That night as I lay in bed at the hospital, I felt like my whole life had just come to an end. I felt extremely lonely, and I was a wreck. Finally, at 3:00 a.m. the next morning, I read my first devotional in two months and prayed for the first time in a long time.

It wasn't until a couple months later that I realized just how my sickness and the injuries actually were good things in my life. In my misplaced focus, I had basically told God that wrestling was far more important than He was to me. After I realized what I had done, I thought, “How could I do that to the One who created the world; the One who gives everlasting life; the only One who could and did die for my sins?” I had betrayed the most important person ever in my life: Jesus.

Thankfully, I learned from my mistake. I hope I never again tell God, “Hey, You are cool, but this is way better," because nothing is better than God, and all worldly things will eventually fail me.

As athletes and coaches, I think we all get to the point of misplacing our priorities at some point and value our sport over God. So, today, I ask you to do a legitimate reality-check of where you are in your heart. Ask yourself, “Whom do I worship?” If the answer isn’t God first, it’s time to make a change.

Go:
1. Answer the question at the end of the devotion. Do you worship God or do you worship your sport?
2. What about other things? Do you worship friends, family, status, reputation or material possessions above God?
3. What does life look like for you when God is your top priority?
4. What do you need to change in order to make (and keep) Him as the center of your life and your top priority?

Workout:
Deuteronomy 5:8-10
Matthew 6:33
Luke 4:8
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