Category: Dallas Mavericks (Page 3 of 6)

The Holy Spirit to Those Who Ask

One last thing about the DeAndre Jordan situation: it has made Mark Cuban a sympathetic figure. Crazy, huh? You know that Jordan has done an under-handed, diabolical, evil thing when it causes me to actually feel sorry for Cuban.

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FriendPrayers2

Now, back to our look at Jesus’ parable in Luke 11 and, today, what I find the most interesting about the story. Our Lord concludes his comments regarding the story with this often-overlooked line: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Wait a second! Holy Spirit? I thought we were talking about bread! I thought this story was about our basic needs, the fundamental necessities.

We’ve seen in this story that God promises to give us everything we need and he promises to answer our prayers when we ask for what we need. Now Jesus closes it out by telling us that what we really need is the Holy Spirit. So ask for it! This is what you pray for: the Spirit. And when you do, God says, “Yes!”

This is not an open-ended teaching here. It’s not a blank check. It’s never been about asking for anything you want. God never promises to give us everything we want; but he always guarantees to give us every single thing we need. And what we need is God’s Spirit. So pray for it.

FriendPrayers3This is hard for us. We don’t really know how to do this. We know how to pray for sick people. We know how to get our names on the prayer list and how to pray for my relatives and friends of my relatives and for the second cousin of my insurance guy’s mother. Who lives in Kentucky. Yeah, we’re very good at praying for healing. We know how to pray for what we want.

Give me this new job, Lord. Help her fall in love with me, God. Father, get me out of this traffic. We pray for what we want.

Lord, keep my children safe. God, help our church to grow. Father, help our candidate win the election. Lord, help our Wednesday nights to be successful. We know how to pray for what we want.

Jesus tells us to pray for what we need. And what we need, he says, is the Holy Spirit.

What would it look like to pray for the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit convicts hearts of sin, right? Can you pray that? “Father, please convict me of the sin in my life. Please shine a bright light on the sins in my heart, God. Convict me of my sin. Expose it, Lord. And deal with it.” That’s not necessarily what I want. But it’s certainly what I need.

What would it look like to pray for what we need instead of what we want? The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, right? Can you pray that? “Father, maybe I need to go through some suffering. Maybe I need a season of washing and purifying. I know your Spirit will help me, Lord. You know what I really need, God. Maybe I need to be weak for a while.” Not what I want; maybe what I need.

What would it look like? Jesus calls the Spirit the “Spirit of Truth.” Can you pray that? “Lord, give me your Spirit of Truth. Show me what’s really true in my life, the things I can’t see, the things I ignore, the things I neglect. Show me the truth about myself. And force me to deal with it, God.” Not what I want, but what I need.

What if you went this whole weekend, from this moment through Sunday night, and only prayed for what you really need and did not pray at all for what you merely want? What if you took our Lord Jesus completely at his word? What if you really trusted him with what he says about prayer: that God provides everything we need, that God will answer us when we pray for what we really need, and that what we really need is his Holy Spirit?FriendPrayers4

What would it look like?

Maybe you’ll need help. Maybe flipping to the “fruit of the Spirit” passage in Galatians 5 could be a good starting place for you. Pray for more of that Holy Spirit character in your own life.

Pray for joy. Not joy because you sold your house or you got the raise. Joy because even though you’re going through a very difficult time, God is mercifully sustaining you. Or joy because the blood of Jesus is washing you.

Pray for patience. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard your whole life not to ever pray for patience. Jesus says pray for what you need, not what you want. It’s the Spirit. Pray for patience.

Pray for kindness. You know that person you’re not nice to. Be specific. Ask the Holy Spirit to break your heart for that person.

Pray for self-control. Part of your life is probably out of control. Part of your life is led by your impulses, your urges and desires, not by God’s Spirit. The way you eat, the way you experience sex, the hours you work, the hobby you pursue — pray for the Holy Spirit to bring those things under his control.

What would it look like?

Peace,

Allan

NOOOOOOOOO!!!

DeandreJordanFT

I can’t say anything more clever or more accurate than what Bob Sturm has already said: “I want him fouled every minute of their first game here. Six hour game. 148 free throws. We will set records.”

Who knew that DeAndre Jordan converts a higher percentage of his free throws than his free agency signings?

This gutless about-face will go down in Mavs history with the Roy Tarpley flame-out and the Sean Bradley signing. This sucker-punch sinks the Mavs for the foreseeable future, maybe for a decade, maybe longer. Dirk doesn’t survive this. Neither does Carlisle. Compare it to Jackie Smith’s drop or Nelson Cruz’s bobble. The franchise may never recover.

If this is the kind of integrity Jordan has, no wonder he gags at the stripe. He clearly doesn’t have the nerve to be a number one guy anywhere. No stomach for it. It’s sickening.

Allan

Be Assured of Salvation

The Mavericks played the absolutely best game they possibly could have Saturday night and still lost to the Thunder in OKC. Durant and his boys are going to take it in five games. Last night Derek Holland looked overmatched, Josh Hamilton pulled something in his back, Ron Washington got tossed out of the game on his 60th birthday, and the Rangers lost their first series since last fall. And the Cowboys used their top draft pick on a guy who just set the record for the lowest score on the Wonderlic intelligence exam in NFL draft history. Tough weekend.

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Let’s resume our chapter-by-chapter look at Leroy Garrett’s “What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved?” The book is a compilation of suggestions Garrett makes for us if the Church of Christ is to have a redemptive role and an effective ministry in our rapidly changing world. We reach the halfway point of the book today with suggestion number ten:

Have an assurance of our own salvation.

Garrett claims that our members “do not know we are saved; we hope we are.” I know what he’s talking about. I hear it all the time. My own brothers and sisters in Christ talk about their eternal salvation in hesitant, halting, uncertain terms. “I hope I am.” “I pray that I am.” “If God will just give me a tiny back corner in the basement of heaven, I’ll be happy.” “I’m trying as hard as I can.”

The by-product of such uncertainty is a lack of joy. One thing Church of Christ people aren’t, in spite of many noble qualities, is a joyous people. We have little joy because we have little assurance. We don’t talk like people who are assured of their salvation. We don’t sing that way. We don’t pray that way. That is why our singing is unexciting, our prayers dull, and our services generally boring. Take a look at our Sunday morning service at most any of our churches. Is it a funeral? Where is the spontaneity? Where is the joyous excitement of being a Christian? Who would seek solace from a troubled world among folk who go at their religion with a yawn and a sigh?

Garrett says Church of Christ people are scared to live and afraid to die. We have no joy because we’re not really one hundred percent sure we’re good with God. Despite the clear teachings of Holy Scripture, our people have doubts and fears about their standing with God. They’re uncertain. They wonder if they’re doing enough. They wonder if they’re good enough. They wonder if they’ve loved enough or served enough or worked enough. (By the way, the answer to those questions is “No, no, no, no, and no.”)

Garrett’s dead-on analysis is that we really don’t believe in the grace of God. We would never say it, but the reality is that, for the most part, Church of Christ folks actually believe in salvation by works. We’re taught this at an early age. We think and talk this way. We practice this way. It’s been unambiguously modeled for us and by us for decades. Seriously.

We are saved by being baptized in exactly the correct way for exactly the right reasons. We stay saved by taking communion on exactly the correct day — and only on that correct day — in exactly the correct way. We keep ourselves saved and we save others by studying our Bibles and reaching the exact same correct conclusions about all the exact same doctrines. This is what makes us unique. This is what makes us distinctive. This is what sets us apart from all the others. We’ve got it down right. And since we know so much about God’s plan and God’s will, we’d better be about doing it exactly right.

No wonder we’re so uncertain and nervous! Who could possibly measure up to all that? If I’ve misunderstood a part of that doctrine or I’ve misinterpreted part of God’s will or I’ve done something in a worship service that’s not entirely in the proper order, then my salvation must be in jeopardy. I’d better figure things out and get right with God.

We must start believing in the Gospel of the grace of God, the basis of which is that salvation is his free gift to us. There is no work that we can perform to attain it. There is no way for us to buy it. We can’t be good enough to deserve it. There is no power that can wrest it. It is a gift, a free gift, that is ours only because of God’s philanthropy. In short, we must come to see what has been in holy Scripture all along: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

“[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” ~2 Timothy 1:9

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” ~2 Timothy 1:12

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” ~Titus 3:5

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!” ~Jude 24

Look, I don’t believe in “once saved, always saved;” but I sure don’t believe either in “once saved, barely saved.” We are saved by God’s grace. We are redeemed by his mercy. It’s a free gift from our Father. And if we can ever all get our brains and our hearts and our souls around that, we’ll be freed from our own hangups to live and praise and worship and serve with great gladness and joy. Finally, we’ll be able to forgive people we haven’t been able to forgive before because we’ll be drawing on God’s goodness instead of our own. Finally, we’ll be able to accept those we’ve never been able to accept before because we’ll be depending on Jesus’ righteousness and not our own. We’ll be able to love every man, woman, and child on this planet in ways we’ve never been able to love before because we’ll be experiencing God’s unconditional love in our lives and not applying our own very conditional love to others.

It’ll be a huge shift for us. Huge. Radical. Dramatic. It’ll change us. It’ll mature us and grow us up. And it will have an eternal impact on those around us who just might see Christ in the Church of Christ for the very first time.

Peace,

Allan

Get These Out Of Here!

“Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” ~John 2:16

If Jesus were to walk into your church building tonight would he praise God for what is happening there or would he start flipping over pews? If Jesus walked into my church building on Sunday would he see empty ritual and dead tradition or would he recognize a living and vibrant people being transformed by a genuine relationship with God? What if he wandered into your elders’ meeting? What if he showed up to watch you prepare a sermon? Would Jesus be pleased to go through all the church policies in the secretary’s file cabinet? Or would that cause him to wince in pain?

When Jesus disturbs things in the Jerusalem temple, he is acting out his prophetic message. It’s not the power of the whip that makes his message succeed. It is his moral power, the power of the truth, that strikes the hearts of the people and so captures Christian readers today. Those who confront Jesus after the episode appear to know that Jesus is right and that the temple has become something other than what God had always intended. The purpose of the holy temple has been compromised. Maybe they sense something of God’s divine and righteous anger at work in Jesus.

Jesus is pointing out the problems with the institution of the temple. He is confronting its misdirection and its brokenness. In the process, he points out very clearly that the real activity of God, the real temple, is Christ Jesus himself. In other words, the focal point of the people’s religion has to be replaced by something — no, someone! — new.

The local church — my local church, your local church — is a fallen institution. It’s filled with sinners, filled with people just like you and me. Yes, the church aspires to goodness. But, admittedly, sometimes we succomb to programs and agendas that have very little to do with the Kingdom of God. Sometimes life in our churches can be driven by petty financial interests or social comforts and desires. We sometimes play religious politics, church leaders acting as representatives of their particular constituents, when deciding church policy. We may give in to pressures to be more modern and contemporary. We may bow to petitions to defend empty traditions and dead habits.

If Jesus walked in for a visit would he be outraged over the things we argue about? Would he be appalled at the ways we sing? Or don’t sing? Would he question some of the lines we draw or challenge some of the rules we keep? Honestly, we have plenty of religious customs and practices — even doctrines — that have everything to do with tradition and habit but may have little to do with our risen Lord. We must be willing to allow Jesus to step into our church worlds and openly critique the things we do and the ways we do them. Could the things we cherish and defend stand up to Jesus’ prophetic viewpoint?

I truly believe that everything we do in our churches and in our individual lives as disciples of Christ must have as its foundation the very Gospel we preach and teach. The root of our words and deeds must be connected to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Our traditions and rituals must be born out of and give expression to the Lord who welcomes and forgives and loves and sacrifices. The One who invites all to his wedding feast, the One who gives in abundance the riches of heaven must be the informing and driving force behind every single thing that happens in church.

It’s OK to review and evaluate our habits. It’s allright to challenge our traditions. If they stand up to Christ’s critique, then affirm them. Teach them and practice them in all holiness and sincerity. But by all means be able to explain to your people and your community the hows and whys. If they can’t meet the Gospel standard, then discard them. Destroy them and abolish them in faith and trust in God. And be able to explain the hows and whys based on a true understanding of what Jesus came to this earth to do. And what he came to this earth to change.

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You’ve got to watch this 90-second video they’re showing at American Airlines Center to pump up the Mavs fans during these NBA Finals. The video features the most accomplished athletes in the history of DFW talking to Mavericks fans about what it means to win it all. An intense Emmitt Smith. A relaxed Daryl Johnston sitting in front of a couple of Super Bowl trophies. A no-nonsense Troy Aikman. An overly-animated Tony Dorsett with his Heisman Trophy. A blank-stare, monotone, can-we-just-get-this-over-with Nolan Ryan with the A.L. Championship hardware. Mike Modano. Gary Patterson with TCU’s Rose Bowl trophy. Roger Staubach in front of a portrait of downtown Dallas. And Ron Washington from the Rangers dugout in Arlington.

You must watch the video all the way through, all the way to the end.

Classic.

Peace,

Allan

The Joy of One

The apostle Paul changed his travel plans in order to spare the Corinthian Christians a great deal of pain. “For if I grieve you,” he writes, “who is left to make me glad?” Paul says he didn’t want to be distressed by the very people who are supposed to make him rejoice (2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4).

Paul really loved these people.

Despite their problems and spiritual immaturity, Paul really had a deep affection for this group. And he didn’t want to hurt them. Not only that, he wanted to do everything he could to please them. He was willing and eager to inconvenience himself for their sake.

He longed to “work with them for their joy” because his own joy was so tightly wound up in theirs. Paul understood that, in the Body of Christ, the joy of one is the joy of the other. Their happiness made Paul happy. Their gladness led directly to Paul’s rejoicing. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

When we were planning a bi-lingual worship assembly a couple of years ago, I was confronted by a well-meaning brother who couldn’t comprehend how singing songs in Spanish would be an encouragement to us Anglos. If our worship time is to be a time of edification, he reasoned, how is singing some of our songs in Spanish going to edify the English speakers? How does that lift me up? My response went this way: Do you think that hearing 900 white brothers and sisters in Christ sing a song of praise and encouragement in their native language will give a lift to the 40 or so Spanish-speakers in our assembly that day? Will it make them feel good? Will it make them feel valued and appreciated? Will they experience acceptance in our efforts to sing in their language? Will they feel joy?

If the answer is ‘yes’ — and it is — then doesn’t that give you great joy, too? Doesn’t it make your heart happy to know that a group of your brothers and sisters is encouraged and gladened by something you did? Does that not edify you at all? Of course it does. In the Body of Christ, the joy of one is the joy of the other.

Yes, we are called to sacrifice for others. Yes, we are commanded to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Absolutely, we are directed by Scripture and the way of our Lord to serve our brothers and sisters. But that never means one of the things we have to sacrifice is our own happiness. Our joy is never compromised just because we’re taking care of somebody else. In Christ, our mature understanding is that our happiness results from making others happy. Our greatest needs are truly met, more deeply met, when we work to meet the needs of others.

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Peja and Terry got their looks in Game One. Dirk got the ball on the blocks. And J. J. penetrated the lane as always. It’s just that the shots didn’t fall. The threes were too strong off the back of the rim. Dirk seemed like he was rushing things. And Barea’s little running teardrops didn’t…well…drop. I hate to think that it was unfamiliarity with the Eastern Conference arena they only visit once a year. I hate to imagine it was a matter of not being comfortable with the Heat’s gym. That just sounds weak.

But that’s really the only hope we have, right?

Hopefully it’s just as simple as the Mavs’ shots didn’t fall. It was an off shooting night. Everybody regains their touch tonight. It has to be that way. Because if it’s something more than that — LeBron’s defense, Chandler’s shaky confidence, Jet choking in another big series, Dirk’s finger, a soft Mavs’ interior, Miami’s fresher and faster legs — Big D is in big trouble.

Peace,

Allan

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