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Gimme the ball, gimme the ball, gimme the ball..

As I watched the Golden State Warriors (pro basketball) this season, I tried to describe concisely what is so different about them. many things can be said, but during game 1 of the Finals, it struck me. Every player wants the ball–and every player wants to pass the ball to someone who has a better shot.

Gimme the ball so I can shoot. Gimme the ball so I can pass.

The number of assists on this team of superstars is astounding. When most teams are built around one or two superstars, what makes the GSW great is their truly team approach. What makes them dangerous is that even if you clamp down on one player, they have six more who can still beat you. Shut down 3-point shooter Klay Thompson in Game 1, and you still have to deal with NBA MVPs Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Clamp down on Durant, and Draymond Green, known for his non-point stats (rebounds, steals, assists, etc), will open Game 2 with a three-pointer. And when the depth of the bench can fill in to allow the first six to cycle in and out of the game without much loss of progress, a team becomes unbeatable.

Every player wants to make the play. Every player wants to give the assist. And every player hustles from start to finish. Even if the talent of the other team exceeds that of the Warriors, the Warriors will outlast them almost every time. Go ahead and start fast–they’ll out pace you in the end. Their conditioning, their work, and their hustle is unmatched.

Imagine if we approached our life of faith the same way. When God calls, we want the ball and we will make the play. When God calls someone else, we will take the assist and get them what they need to make the play. We cheer from the bench, and we high-five on the floor. We hustle in practice. We work. And in any situation, we might be beat down temporarily, but we will never be out-worked. In the life of faith, working means trusting, working means pushing when God calls us to push, and working means hitting our knees in prayer as often as we hit the floor in action.

We are given armor, for the life of faith is a battle. Maybe that’s why I enjoy sports–because there is an opponent, you have a team, and the work you put in behind the scenes comes on display in the battle. Let’s aspire to be so on point in our walk with Jesus that we will confidently make the play just as confidently as we pass the ball to our bother or sister in faith for their play.

Let’s be playmakers.

Gimme the ball, gimme the ball, gimme the ball.

10 years…

A decade. A lifetime of journals, but a decade ago, I put the words top ring and started distributing them. Groundswell began as a church women’s newsletter of short articles to encourage, empower, and equip the people of God to pursue and achieve the life God has planned for each of us.

Ten years. There are ups, there are interesting moments when your ideas are taken by another trying to present them as their own. I have struggled with how to write, what to write, where to write, where to publish, what to share here, what to keep for a future book. Who to let in my circle, who to let remain a measure removed.

The insecurities, the cruel words of the enemy roaring, trying to distract–sometimes temporarily succeeding, sometimes the taunts being laughed out of the room.

If you look at the long road of ministry, the road of using your gifting for the purpose God has provided, just start walking. If you stand nervous, walk it out. If you keep looking up, looking down, looking to the side, walk it out. If you trip in a hole, get up, brush off, and walk that out as well. Because, in wisdom from my father to my mother when she wanted grad school, “in ten years, do you want to have that degree or do you want to still be wishing you had it.” Walk it out. Keep swinging. That is what I share with you–just start walking. And in ten years, you’ll look back and be amazed at all that happened in the meantime.

–image credit: unknown

Make a declaration…

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“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may about more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” –Philippians 1:2-11, ESV

Make a declaration. With your life, with your love. With your peace, bring calm. With your fire, bring a flame.

Make a declaration. Choose a scripture, a verse or a chapter or a testament. Write it on your heart. Proclaim it in your soul, in your home, from the hilltops.

Make a declaration.

“…choose this day whom you will serve…” –Joshua 24:15, ESV

As Joshua declared to the people, declare to your very soul.

Make a declaration.

“…I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God…” –Deuteronomy 30:19-20, ESV

God called the people to choose. He declared two sides: blessing or cursing. And He declared that they should choose life.

Receive Jesus’ very declaration:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” –John 15:16-17, ESV

Make a declaration. Make a choice. Because you have already been chosen.

Why remember…

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A cousin doing some cleaning, sending old family photos. From junior high makeovers circa early 90s to the “line up” shown above, we laughed through different family eras.

And something else happened when the photo hit Facebook. Reminiscing extended beyond the traditional “how were we ever that small?!”

One of the age gaps in our nearly-30-cousins generation showed its presence, as the middle group of cousins remembered a particular game played in the back yard with the uncles. The older group hadn’t heard of the game. Remembering isn’t always about sharing the same memory–many times it is about sharing different experiences from the same time.

We wondered, guessing, on where the cousins were who had to have been in the world, but maybe were infants at the time. Remembering isn’t always about who was there–sometimes it is also about who was to come.

An employee of my older brother commented, enjoying seeing him at such a young age. Remembering publicly draws others in–those who weren’t in the picture 30 years ago get to live vicariously through our family memories.

One subset of cousins remembers putting on plays in the basement while another remembers tap dancing on a wood cutting board so grandma could see the results of dance classes. Another builds on the memory, reminiscing that her father had the new video camera running 24/7–there must be video of the tap dancing somewhere. Another chimes in that he has witnessed said video, and it is in his mom’s basement. Remembering often branches–one memory stirs another. And another family member draws out more evidence.

In all the differences and branches and gaps and the joining of others in the remembering, we all remember the yard, the house, and the grandparents who lived there.

It strikes me how often God instructs us to remember. Throughout the Old Testament, He tells His people to build an altar so that they can remember for generations to come. The New Testament brings communion–and the command that whenever the family partakes, they remember.

Remembering God’s work is about more than remembering His deeds. The family reminiscing above included declarations of a need for a reunion. Remembering brings the family of God together. Remembering both bridges the age gaps while sharing and learning from the different experiences of each group. It is remembering the One Who always was and Who also is to come. It is about drawing others into our memories, into our remembrances of God. And it is about bringing out branches of memories–from one story to evidence of the story.

Remembering God’s hand, His actions, His love does so much  more than remind us of His faithfulness. It just may be that in remembering, He is drawing us closer together as family.

Don’t hate the guy healing you…

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New Year’s day broke clear and bright two years ago. With a pantry of groceries and plans for new recipes, I started dicing a raw yam. Not too long later, I sat in urgent care, keeping my thumbnail on with a clean rag and pressure.

The doctor would need to look at the laceration. His poking, prodding, and pulling came before he numbed me. My tolerance for pain is high, but even I needed deep breaths as he explored the wound. I declined his repeated offer to look at it for myself. As I declined, he commented how fascinating it was. I appreciated his fascination, and his obvious enjoyment in his job, but I had to remind myself: don’t hate the guy healing you.

After the first nerve blocker injection, he massaged my thumb to get the blocker moving. Don’t hate the guy healing you.

My body, traditionally stubborn toward numbing agents, didn’t spread the nerve blocker to the wound, and neither did the second. As someone who doesn’t like seeing skin pierced (it really should remain intact), it was a mistake for me to watch the the third injection. “Who knew needles were so bendy,” I thought as he moved the needle in and around the joint to find the right place for the injection. Don’t hate the guy healing you.

Soon the appointment was over, and I walked away with a rather large pressure bandage and progressive instructions for care.

Life is like that. We mess up and consequences come. We seek out healing, but the healing process itself can be painful. But for those in the household of faith, we can trust the Great Physician that each and every poke, prod, and injection is necessary for healing. And though it may take several weeks before the bandages come off, and the lingering tinge where the cut touched a nerve may last years, the Guy healing you did, in fact, heal you.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” –1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, ESV