BURNSIE BITES

Faith, Family, Country, Sports

JesusWOD

apart or a part

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

As a basketball coach, it’s not difficult to tell which players are about the team and which ones are about themselves. Do they want to play defense as much as they want the ball on the offensive end? Will they hustle, dive for the loose ball … do the dirty work? Does their body language affect the team in a positive or negative manner?

In John 15:5, Jesus basically said if you’re on My team, you “can do all things through” Me. Jesus is the lifeline. He is the life-giver. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

On God’s team, you are a segment, a piece of His divine plan that serves a special and specific purpose. “The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ…Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.” (I Corinthians 12:12, 27)

As Christ is “the vine”, we serve as an extension of Him to the world. Our every breath and heartbeat comes not from our greatness, but the simple fact we are attached to Jesus. 

Break a branch off from its main source and certain death will come. For non-Christians, being “…apart from” God doesn’t mean a successful life cannot be had, for it certainly can. The difference is when those individuals die, and we all will, they “can do nothing” to be a part of God’s team. Time has run out. The game is over. An eternity apart from the Father has been sealed.

JesusWOD:

God has a place for you on His team. Have you asked Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior? 

If you’ve already accepted Jesus, is He asking you to be a part of something “special and specific”? 

 

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JesusWOD

Team First

“…then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:2-4

Teams come in various shapes and sizes. An entire football team could have 80 plus players on the sidelines while a basketball team might have 15 or so. Relay teams in track and swimming consists of four while two can make a team in tennis, beach volleyball, golf (best ball), figure skating and even professional wrestling (The Minnesota Wrecking Crew – those from the 80s will know).

As these teammates strive to improve personally, they must also work in coordination with each other to attain maximum success (whatever that might ultimately be – usually getting the most out of their potential).

Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden was an expert on team success. He guided the Bruins to 10 NCAA basketball national championships from 1964-1975. Of the many great insights on “team,” this might be his best:

“A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group for the good of the group, that’s teamwork.”

In 1978-79, the Los Angeles Lakers won 47 games and finished third in the NBA’s Pacific Division. Enter Ervin “Magic” Johnson, the NBA’s number one draft pick from Michigan State University. 

During his rookie season, the celebrated Johnson wasn’t the team’s leading scorer (3rd) nor its top assist man (2nd). He was, though, the ultimate team player and the contagious excitement from the 6’9” ball handling wizard immediately made everyone around him better. 

As a team, the Lakers improved in points per game, assists, team rebounds and field goal percentage. Individually, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Norm Nixon and Jamaal Wilkes saw their scoring averages go up. Even the attendance at the “Fabulous Forum” rose from 482,611 to 582,882. A team was solidified and “Showtime” was born.

More importantly, Los Angeles netted 60 victories, 13 more than the prior season, and won the 1980 NBA Championship. Why? Because the missing link chose not to make himself the most important one. 

The greatest team player in all of history is Jesus Christ! He was the first to wear a t-shirt with “TEAM” in large capital letters and “me” in the smallest of font sizes. 

Paul captured Christ’s essence when he wrote:  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

The “Great I Am” had every reason to make it all about Him since He created it all in the first place. 

He didn’t.

After turning water into wine, Jesus didn’t pull a Sharpie from his robe and sign the miracle holding basin. He didn’t take a selfie with the blind man He gave sight to or go on Instagram live when raising Lazarus from the dead. After three days in the grave, Jesus didn’t Tweet, “I’m back!”

It wasn’t about Him; He is about us.

Knowing the coming carnage Calvary would offer, Jesus courageously put team in front of self. He spent His time in the garden praying to his Father “…that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:22). For that to happen, Jesus had to “…continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:26).

So, Jesus “valued” us more … than Himself. 

He took the humiliation, the sharp crown of thorns, the brutal whipping and the nails – each with our names on them.  He took our sin. He took our death so we might live. 

Team. First.

JesusWOD:

Each of us are members of one or many teams that include family, spouses, friends, school or the workplace. Are we willing to humble ourselves, put aside our wants for the good of others and the glory of Christ?

Jesus WOD (Workout of the Day) – apart or a part

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”  –  John 15:5

As a basketball coach, it’s not difficult to tell what players are about the team and which ones are about themselves. Do they want to play defense as much as they want the ball on the offensive end? Will they hustle, dive for the loose ball … do the dirty work? Does their body language affect the team in a positive or negative manner?

In John 15:5, Jesus basically said if you’re on My team, you “can do all things through” Me. Jesus is the lifeline. He is the life giver. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

On God’s team, you are a segment, a piece of His divine plan that serves a special and specific purpose. “The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ…Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.” (I Corinthians 12:12, 27)

As Christ is “the vine”, we serve as an extension of Him to the world. Our every breath and heartbeat comes not from our greatness, but the simple fact we are attached to Jesus.

Break a branch off from its main source and certain death will come. For non-Christians, being “…apart from” God doesn’t mean a successful life cannot be had, for it certainly can. The difference is when those individuals die, and we all will, they “can do nothing” to be a part of God’s team. Time has run out. The game is over. An eternity apart from the Father has been sealed.

JesusWod:

  • God has a place for you on His team. Have you asked Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior?
  • If you’ve already accepted Jesus, is He asking you to be a part of something “special and specific”? Are you following His calling?

The Cost of Memorial Day

Not all memories on Memorial Day bring a smile.

For many, they are reminders of the ones left behind.

Memorial Day in Arlington National Cemetery 2015

Friends and buddies.

Sisters and brothers.

Daughters and sons.

Aunts and uncles.

Wives and husbands.

Moms and dads.

For them, today does not mark the official beginning of summer.

It is not a “regular” holiday.

It is a day of past pain that still lives in the present.

It is a gut wrenching reminder of what freedom really costs.

May we never forget it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Yorker is Chicken

The vaunted, highly esteemed, socially left leaning New Yorker magazine is … chicken.

The fearful arrival of southern fowl into the Big Apple is not at the heart of Dan Piepenbring’s recent article entitled, Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.

Like most places in America, “The city that never sleeps” has a pallet for poultry and the many ways this feathered delicacy can be presented.  Pipenbring’s piece, though, is more of a pluck job on Christianity.

He states: “And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. (The same Judeo-Christian values America was built upon – my emphasis) Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays.”

He does mention the long lines waiting to enter Chick-fil-A’s newest, and fourth restaurant, in New York city, but Piepenbring apparently cannot digest this “infiltration” is welcomed by thousands of his fellow citizens.

Piepenbring-Chik-fil-A

He has trouble swallowing “The company has since reaffirmed its intention to ‘treat every person with honor, dignity and respect,’ but it has quietly continued to donate to anti-L.G.B.T. groups.” Please do not forget, Mr. Pipenbring, Chick-fil-A is a privately owned company and can parcel out its funds as it wishes.

It appears The New Yorker, published by Conde’ Nast and owned by Advanced Publications, writes about anything is chooses.

I have first-hand knowledge of Chick-fil-A’s intentions having worked at an establishment in Macon, Georgia. From the initial day of training, it is stressed that every customer is the same. Every customer is equal. Every customer is valuable. The goal is for them to walk out feeling as such.

Chick-fil-A employees  are not trained to decipher, decode, decrypt, or descramble a customer’s religion or sexual ethnicity. Customers are not quizzed before ordering and no exit polls are taken following their delicious meal. Evangelism does not take place. Salvation tracts are not included with the sauce (Polynesian, Chick-fil-A, Honey Mustard, etc…) of your choice. Bibles do not adorn each table nor are they found on the bathroom sink.

But, without the name of Jesus being uttered, customers know there is a different aura, atmosphere, and feeling here.  Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Paul wrote in Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Pipenbring sees it as “distasteful” that Chick-fil-A would “portray itself as better than other fast food.” This is simply called competition. To survive, you must compete. Since 1925, The New Yorker has been doing the same thing.

Honoring its customers is what truly separates Chick-fil-A from other fast food competitors. Simply, it is genuine, professional, courteous service, something rarely seen these days, guided by Biblical principles.

For The New Yorker, there’s no reason to fear this infiltration of light in the darkness. It’s just chicken.

 

The Obstinate Ones

“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets.” Zechariah 7:11-12

How often do we choose to not pay attention to GOD’s calling? Whether it be large or small, it does not matter. This act of disobedience happens daily.

The word that stands out in this passage is “stubbornly.” The Israelites were not passively ignoring GOD, they were doing it with all they had. They were dogged, inflexible, relentless and tenacious in their desire to want it their way.  All their energy was put forth into opposing GOD and HIS best interests for them.

pull-donkey

The more we walk away from GOD, relishing in our season of sin (and those last longer than others), our heart hardens. The passage equates it to a flint rock. These are durable, and tough, fashioned into tools and weapons.

More times we choose to run from GOD, like Jonah did, our heart becomes a weapon we use against ourselves. This is exactly what satan desires. For then, he knows we are traveling the path to destruction. If you are a Christian, it can destroy your witness for JESUS; for the unbeliever, it can secure your place in hell beside the prince of darkness.

We are all the obstinate ones. Will it be to follow GOD’s plan for our life or not? The choice is ours.

 

 

 

 

“Sweet Lou”

2 Corinthians 12:9 – “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

This past weekend, I saw this verse in action.

Lou StrongAlong with my good friend, Jonas Endreson, we visited our dear college buddy, “Sweet” Lou Caruso.

Like Paul, who wrote the passage above, Lou also has a “thorn”. He is battling brain cancer.

Since late last year, so many have been praying, pleading with the LORD, “to take” this thorn away. That has yet to happen, and the disease continues its slow march.

At the same time, GOD’s grace is overflowing.  It always does.

Though Lou is losing sight in one eye, his trademark smile still fills the room.

His short term memory is becoming more consistent, but his laughter is ever-present.

GOD’s “power…made perfect in weakness”.

Lou’s wife, Kim, lovingly “stands in the gap”, meeting this daily battle with dogged determination, and relentless praise for what the LORD has done and is doing.

Watching his father struggle, Lou’s son displays a patience and understanding far beyond his mid-teen years.

The Caruso’s are surrounded by an abundance of love and support. Their neighbors have helped supply meals for months. Friends drive hours to visit. Family members began a #LouStrong t-shirt campaign supported by many.

GOD’s “grace is sufficient.”

Currently, it is evident Lou cannot rely on his own power. Those human abilities have been diminished and continue to be attacked daily. The sting of the “thorn” is felt. It inhibit’s and slows the pace of life down. It makes the doable, difficult.

Yet, it hasn’t stopped Lou or his family!  It hasn’t crushed their spirit or resolve. It hasn’t destroyed their hope.  It hasn’t halted life.

GOD’s “grace” and “power” is sharper than any thorn. It allows us to “soar on wings like eagles”. It helps us to “run and not grow weary”. It makes us “walk and not faint.”

Make no mistake about it, at his weakest point, “Sweet” Lou is very “strong”.

Please keep my good friend in your prayers.

 

 

 

Strength

In less than 48 hours, Jesus will kneel in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Overwhelmed with sorrow” and the knowledge of what is to come, He will make a plea to heaven.

“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:42-43)

I’ve always focused on verse 42. Jesus shows his humanity. Just like us, He would rather not endure the forthcoming pain. There must be a better means to the end. Still, He was committed to His Father’s will being “done.”

In “anguish”, with “sweat…like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44), God heard Jesus’s prayer, but He didn’t take the “cup”. Instead, He filled it with exactly what was needed at that moment…strength.

Just like us, Jesus was in the valley (though we can’t fathom the depth of His), and God prepared Him for the brutal journey to come. He is the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end. He has already been where He is leading us.

As He did with Jesus, God will always provide us with the strength to complete His plan.

Refuge – Anywhere

Psalm 23 is the famous passage where GOD leads us beside “quiet” or “still” waters. It’s the type of refuge we all desire.

The soothing sounds of a brook as it meanders over rocks and between crevasses. Maybe it’s the ocean breeze that makes the palm trees sing their coastal tune or the stillness of a mountain range. In any case, our response renders a deep sigh, smile or the fleeting “feeling” of total relaxation. In our finite eyes, and minds, the desired refuge is another place. Another time.

As stated in verse 2, GOD “makes me lie down in green pastures.” It doesn’t say our refuge will be found in greener pastures. That’s what we often think, though. My situation will be better if, if, if … I can get over there. Why? Because “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” That’s where calm resides and the new beginning begins. If I can just get there, it will be…

But the “Great I AM”, HE is a different cat and even tells us such in Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) – “For MY thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. And MY ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

Who in their right mind would ever consider the cruel cross as a place to take refuge? As GOD’s love knows no bounds, neither do the places HE offers refuge. HE makes right out of wrong, good out of bad and beauty out of ashes.

Ask the thief that hung on the cross beside JESUS. On that day, he found “goodness and love” (v. 6), “right paths” (v. 5), and “comfort” (v. 4). He found…refuge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refuge

Refuge. We all need it. That place to go in times of, as Webster’s dictionary puts it, “danger or distress.” It’s where we refuel, recharge, and reexamine what is happening in our world.  The results and answers sought after are often only as good as the chosen refuge.

Personally, my first choices would be working out, watching sports, or a few days at the beach. None of those are bad, but they only serve as a temporary band aid to lingering issues. The refuge that offers truth and peace comes from JESUS and HIS Word.

James 1:22-25 states:

“Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

Going to the refuge, that is GOD, is the only way to experience the peace HE offers from the craziness of this life.  I must be more consistent in not just knowing it’s there, but taking root in that place.

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