Archive for January, 2015

Team Work

I love to play basketball! It was my favorite activity in school sports. In 8th grade I had the opportunity to try out for the Kathleen Junior High Basketball Team. I made the team but learned very quickly that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, and that my prowess in a pickup game in the schoolyard would not grant me an automatic start on the varsity squad. I had to unlearn all that I thought was good basketball and relearn team technique, ball control, assisting, rebounding, and lots of running, LOTS of RUNNING. Turns out, basketball, like most things in life, requires hard work and sacrifice.Duke v North Carolina

We had one particular drill that Coach Adams loved to make us do at the end of each practice.  He called it the 1:05 drill, but most of us called it the “vomit in a minute” drill.  Quite simply, the drill starts with everyone lined up on the baseline.  When the whistle blows you have 1:05 to complete this task; run to the foul line and back, run to the top of the key and back, run half court and back, run to the opposite top of key and back, run to opposite foul line and back, run to opposite baseline and back, TWICE! Everyone had to complete this routine or else all had to do it again. Those who succeeded were punished to run it again for those who didn’t. I was usually the one that made everyone else do it again.  I can still hear my teammates yelling at me, “Fuller, you better make this!”  It was the worst thing to fail because others were so desperate for you not to fail.  I hated my coach for putting me through that! Not only was it physically painful and mentally wrenching, but failure to complete the drill meant that I would not play as well.  I was not that fast of course but my physical presence plus my rebounding and layup skills were needed as my coach and other  teammates would remind me. So with the prodding of my teammates, on the last practice before our first game, I succeeded in making the time, saving them from running it again and allowing me to play in the game.  The best part was making that time! All the eleven other players on our team jumped on me and carried me out of the gym to the locker room.  I never received anything in sports like it before or after. Teamwork is very gratifying, and when you can hold up your end of the bargain, it is euphoric!

I didn’t care for the 1:05 drill or coach Adams back then, but the truth is, it made me and the other eleven guys into team players.  When one succeeded, we all succeeded. If one failed, we all suffered the consequences. As Christians this discipline is even more valid.  Gal 5:25-26  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  (26)  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.   It is sometimes second nature to rely on our talents, knowledge, or gifts we have, and forget our fellow teammate, our brothers in Christ.  We can be consumed with our daily affairs and/or our comfort zones and grow callous to our brothers’ struggles.  For many Christians, running that drill is not that big of a deal.  We may be able to easily come to services or   understand the teaching or principles of certain scripture.  However, for some, the drill can be extremely difficult, and at times humiliating because of failure.

As with the Galatians, Paul is prodding us to be teammates with one another and with Christ and the Holy Spirit.  If our desire is to be a part of Christ and His church, we’re encouraged to keep up, or stay “in step” with the Spirit.”  We have an obligation to perform our duties for the sake of our soul and the souls of those around us. If we stumble or grow weary, it will have an effect on our brothers and sisters.  Likewise, if our brother is stumbling or failing to complete the drill, we’ve got to get in there and help them, encourage them, maybe even prod them to succeed. Our growth and spiritual well being is irrevocably linked to theirs.

The goal of participating in a team  is to empty yourself and fill your teammate.  I remember clearly the day I made the 1:05 drill, because I wasn’t the last one trying to make it! All my teammates were there running beside me or behind me, pushing me, encouraging me.  It wasn’t so much that I succeeded as it was they had unselfishly quit trying to make it, in order to help me make it.  Again, Paul to the Philippian brethren said, So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  (2)  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  (3)  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  (4)  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Php 2:1-4  

As Peter said, sometimes Paul is difficult to understand, but the gist of it goes something like this; If you want the perks of being in Christ, don’t be selfish, be a team player and think of the other teammates first.

The other benefit that I got from the 1:05 drill was running.  I hated to run, but if you’re going to play basketball, you must run.   RUN! RUN! RUN!  An average basketball player will run approximately 4 to 5 miles during the course of a game, mostly sprinting.  The average wide receiver or running back in football will only run about 2 miles per game.   Teams that are successful at winning, run longer, run faster, run together.

We are exhorted to run the race. Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  (2)  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  The most marvelous thing about the above verses is that the race is obtainable.  We can do this! Christ won the race, all we have to do is run it.  I often wondered why the drill was 1:05 and not say 1:04 or 1:06.  A few years after I had already gone to college, I saw Coach Adams at a game one night and asked him why the drill was set to 1:05.  He laughed and told me that’s what his coach had set it at because that was the bar or line.  He explained that every year someone on the team was going to struggle to make it, but with practice and prodding would make it.  1:05 seemed to be the point at which most could make it.   I just happened to be that guy that year. So in essence I had run the race that someone else had authored. We can all run this race. All we have to do is remember that Christ has won the race. We don’t have to set the new bar or line, we just have to run the race.  Yes, running is required, but it will never be more than we can endure 1 Cor.10:13.

The audience is in the field-house ready to observe our teamwork and endurance.  Let’s show them how great a team we can be.

 Darryl Fuller

 

Hard to Compare

Every year around my birthday, I go on a little quest to find a star, visible to the naked eye. This star’s light is as old as I am. This year I chose 104 Tauri, a yellow star in the constellation Taurus, the Bull.  It hovers, apparently alone, halfway down the left horn of Taurus, and is clearly visible this time of year. It is fairly close to the constellation, Orion. heic0515c

The star is approximately 52 light years from earth (OK, now you know my age), which means the light you see from this star began its wave ride across the cosmos at about the time I was born, 1963.  It’s kind of cool and albeit somewhat nerdy,  but a physical, tangible, radioactive particle of light started its journey at the same time I started my journey. The other night we kinda caught up to one another. It’s probably safe to say that in my lifetime I’ve traveled (planes, train and automobiles), a little less than  1,000,000 miles.  Whew! A lot of miles, and I believe this to be a fair but conservative estimate. The light from 104 Tauri, has made an incredible   305,000,000,000,000 mile journey! In other words it’s traveled 305 billion times more than I traveled, and I’m still within 600 miles from whence I started.  Compared to this light, that is as old as I am, I’ve done nothing but travel in circles, meandered here or there, walked a little, rode a lot, slept a lot, goofed off a lot.  While that light traveled 186,000 miles per second, I tried to figure what word to type next. In the time it will take for me to compose this article, that light will have covered another 2,000,000,000 miles.

As we get older, most of us tend to do this insane self-deprecating inventory of “Who am I”, and “What have I done”, with my life.  Why do we compare ourselves with what we perceive are extraordinary people, places or events?  We look at the rich and famous and try to evaluate our lives against those and it doesn’t seem to compare.  All along we are trying to compare apples to a whole grove of oranges, my journeys to that of a celestial object 50 light years away, my house to someone’s mansion, my car to a Ferrari, my accomplishments to Condoleezza Rice, etc.

In essence we are judging what others have done or accomplished and then comparing our lives to that judgment.  Instead,  we should first humble ourselves before God. Jas 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Secondly, we need to understand that we’re not here to accomplish worldly fame or achievements. We’re only here for a short time and during that time we are to do His will. Jas 4:13-17  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– (14)  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  (15)  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 

                Lastly, if we’re going to compare our lives to someone, let’s compare them to Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Let’s try to measure up to His expectations, which is to believe in Him and do His will. By my recollection, He probably traveled less than 5,000 miles, on foot! Yet within those miles He did more than any man and provided us the means of traveling further than the light from the farthest star, forever.

Darryl Fuller

Walk the Talk

walk_the_talkI like to hear Gwyenth Paltrow sing. She’s really good at singing! Unfortunately, she can’t keep her big mouth shut when she’s not singing. Recently, in an interview with Marie Claire, she regurgitated her views about her divorce from Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin. She stated, “We’re very, very close, and it’s so nice… I feel like it’s, in a way, the relationship we were meant to have.” Sadly, people in the music and entertainment industry have been excusing themselves for their lack of moral fortitude since the beginning of time.  I’m not really aghast at their behavior (even though it is appalling) but rather am shocked at their continual lies and self-absorbed beliefs, that they have mastered sinfulness, and are quite happy in it! I’ve not once talked to or seen up close those who have been in a divorce come out of the experience feeling like everything was just hunky-dory. To the contrary, divorce is irreversibly damaging and for some who have put away their spouse for reasons other than what God described, eternally condemnable. (Matt.19:8-9; 1 Cor.7; Mal.2:16)

Perhaps the more reprehensible aspect of this statement is that Ms. Paltrow has now put herself forth as an authority on the moral relativism of divorce. Her words carry no weight for me mind you, but to millions of followers and/or admirers, her blanket endorsement of how great and wonderful divorce is will give license for them to follow suit.   Gwyneth Paltrow is leading and others are following her lead. She’s not the only one of course, but like her many in the entertainment realm have openly endorsed wrong behavior (fornication for example), and publically condemned good behavior.

The question then becomes, how do we, as Christians, fight this unseemly and unfathomable wave of the “New Moral High ground”?  The answer is quite simple. We must live and lead with God’s eternal righteousness. Paul, I believe, said it best in the Roman letter, Rom 2:13  For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. The point is, rather than spouting off moral code (as does Ms. Paltrow), shouldn’t we be living morally?  Behavior is contagious.  We see this with the example of the way we dress and present ourselves before others.  If one man decides it’s fashionable to wear a beard, soon many will follow.  If we, who claim to be morally upright, live morally so others will see, soon others will follow.  However, for every day we hide our Glorious Father, we are susceptible to follow the lead of those we shouldn’t.  We must not be followers of the ungodly, but leaders of righteousness.  If we are leaders, then we best lead by being doers of His righteousness.
 1Pe 2:12  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Ms. Paltrow is unequivocally wrong about divorce. It’s not nice, nor is it the way marriage was meant to be.

If we expect to make a difference in the lives of others, we must preach the true moral high ground, then live it!  When they see us living it, they may want to live it, too.

Darryl Fuller