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2010-2011 Upward Basketball FBC Alpharetta, GA Mark Snowden
Advantages for using these suggested halftime devotions: 1. Stay Fresh: Avoid repetition of Scripture verses and the same illustrations 2. Teamwork: Reinforce the devotions that players have during their practices 3. Enlistment: Make it easier to recruit first-timers by providing a starting point 4. Scope: By reviewing these devotions, you’ll know where we’re headed and why 5. Catalytic: Sometimes a suggested illustration can jog a personal story of your own Caution! Do not mix portions of these devotions during your assigned halftime. Somebody will follow you next week. We all want each week to be fresh and relevant to the parents. Feel free to substitute a relevant personal story instead. Helpful tips: Time: 3-minute devotional during halftime while players are out of the gym. Audience: Adults are the intended audience – mostly parents, but some grandparents, too. It has been estimated that about 20% of your audience is unsaved. Only about 10-20% of Upward Basketball parents are active at FBC Alpharetta. The rest may be affiliated with some other church in the area. Practicing: It helps to practice your devotion in front of people rather than alone. Smiling and personal warmth goes a long way—even in a big gym. What to expect: Prior to your assigned halftime, check in with the staff at the scorer’s table. At the half, make sure that cheerleaders are not performing first and then switch on the microphone given to you. Speak with enthusiasm, but clearly. When you have a mike in one hand and a Bible in the other, make sure you can open it quickly without fumbling or dropping one of them. If you’re relaxed and confident, then your audience will be, too. And when you’re finished thank everyone for listening and give the mike back. Purpose: It’s not about you. It’s about the message that God would have you deliver at a “divine appointment” when parents are very receptive to God. Crafting a devotion: Feel free to use this collection of suggested devotions to be used of the Lord to spark your own ideas. Just stick to that week’s theme and don’t “borrow” from other devotions. It helps to know where the whole halftime devotion ministry is going. Sporting events are one place parents attend “religiously.” So, these are designed to build one upon another. You have three minutes, so think in terms of three thoughts. Minute One: People love stories, so why not start with a fun or personal story? Minute Two: Tie in a relevant story from God’s Word that relates to the theme. Minute Three: Drive home an idea that reinforces the theme for that halftime. Avoid preaching, but don’t shy away about making a spiritual point.
Game 1 December 4, 2009
What does God Want? Kindness
Week’s Memory Verse: And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8b RSV)
Mystery word: kindness
This week: Everyone is expected to do their best. Satan is unfair. Some players were told to do jumping jacks while others just watched. This unfair scenario set the stage for talking about being kind to each other. Suggested Halftime Devotion: Hello, my name is ____________________ and welcome to another season of Upward Basketball! If this is your child’s first season with us or this is their last season, each coach is EXPECTING your children to do their best in practice as well as games.
Now, we all know that doing our best IS possible. However, they sometimes fall short. The way I heard it, one time out here during a game, one of the new players ran out on the court and played hard. But after a while he stopped playing and just stood over by the bleachers. The other players yelled for him to get back in the game. The ref yelled for him to get back in the game. Even some cheerleaders yelled for him to get back in the game. Finally, the coach called timeout and asked him why he was standing on the sidelines. The little player said, “I got hot, so I wanted to stand over here by the FANS.” One day Satan arrived at the gates of heaven and challenged St. Peter to a basketball game. Peter looked around and said, “Okay, we’ll play you. We have some of the best basketball players who ever played the sport. What makes you think you can win?” Satan winked and said, “We have all the refs.” Now, I think you’ll agree with me that the devil plays unfair. However, God does play fair with each of us, despite the fact that we often do not act our best. One time God decided to send an email to everyone on earth who consistently showed kindness toward others. Do you know what the message of God’s email said? (Pause) Oh, you didn’t get it either, I see! Seriously, we CAN know what God wants and we don’t have to wait on emails from anybody. The Bible tells us what God wants. This week your players were given a sentence from the Bible to memorize. We call it a memory verse. (Note: Memorize the verse and recite it!) And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8b RSV)
We can know God and He invites us to have a personal relationship with Him. God wants us to show kindness. God wants us to do our best and part of doing our best is treating others – and God – with kindness. Thank you for listening! (Keep this devotion fun and SHORT. Parents will get used to these devotions as pithy thoughts that challenge them and will like that they are not lengthy sermons.)
Game 2 December 11, 2009
Who is the Holy Spirit of God? Counselor
Week’s Memory Verse: The Helper, the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things.” (John 14:26a)
Mystery word: Helper
This week: Players learned about the Holy Spirit of God. Their coach is like the Holy Spirit, when he helps players do the right thing, protect them from danger, help them feel better, and help them when they have a problem. Understanding the Holy Spirit helps us understand that God cares for each of us. Here is list given to the players: Suggested Halftime Devotion: Merry Christmas! My name is ____________________ . Like many of you, I watch a little too much television. However, I wondered if you have caught the CBS reality TV show, “Undercover Boss.” It’s where a CEO of a company goes into the business wearing a disguise. I recently heard about a show where the CEO of Chiquita that produces fruits and vegetables went into the assembly plants and became exhausted boxing bags of lettuce and worked in the warehouse trying to drive a forklift. Here’s a guy with a college degree, participates annually on a Harvard education panel, earns hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, has racked up several leadership awards, leads more than 20,000 employees… I could keep going. Yet, this CEO was out working among the laborers doing the most menial things in order to connect with them.
Jesus was the ultimate Undercover Boss. As God’s Son, Jesus entered earth as fully God and fully man. We should celebrate Jesus’ birth every Christmas. He came to live among us as one of us, yet the Bible says He never sinned. Jesus taught us about the Holy Spirit of God. This week your players learned about the Holy Spirit. Their sentence from the Bible to memorize this week are words that Jesus taught us about the Holy Spirit. (Note: Memorize and recite the Bible verse!) The Helper, the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things.” (John 14:26a) Your child’s Upward Basketball coach is like the Holy Spirit, because he helps players do the right thing, helps protect them from danger, helps them feel better, and helps them when they have a problem. Just as Jesus said, the Holy Spirit is The Helper that God gave to us after Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven Understanding that the Holy Spirit is a Helper helps us understand that God cares for each of us. He not only walked among us as one of us, but the Holy Spirit remains with us each day to teach us as followers of Jesus. The Bible says He will teach us ALL things.
On the SECOND day of school, a little first grader was awakened by her mommy who said as sweetly as she could, “Get up Amber, it’s time to go to school.” The little girl was startled and sat up wide-eyed. “What! I thought I did that yesterday!” She thought one day was all it took and she had been there, DONE that. Are you DONE learning? Now the big question is, who are you learning from? Is the Holy Spirit of God teaching you? He stands ready as your Helper. Thank you for listening!
Game 3 December 18, 2008
How does God see me? Sheep
Week’s Memory Verse: I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. (John 10:14 NIV) This week: Players said their names or made up names as they walked behind a volunteer. Do we really know each other? God knows and cares. Older children were to tell something good about the person on their right, but make it be the same letter as their name – Speedy Sam, Courageous Charles, etc. How would Jesus describe you? He watches over you and knows you by name. He’s our Good Shepherd! Suggested Halftime Devotion: Merry Christmas! My name is ____________________. Have you been buying Christmas gifts? I have! The secret to Christmas gifts is how well you really know somebody. The more I know someone, the easier it gets to make the suggestion.
Let me help you know what NOT to buy. Here’s the 2010 List of Worst Christmas Gifts. #5. Gravity Ball – anything advertised for ages 12 years and older means it’s fragile and breaks easily—or can easily break other things. Just give them a lump of coal instead. #4. Replica guns that are realistic, especially a shotgun that comes complete with smoke. Just go ahead and drive yourself and your child to the police station now and get it over with. #3. Robots with loud sound effects that move and can grab things. However, if you own a battery manufacturing plant – rechargeable or not—then you might be able to afford one. #2. Anything with buttons. For instance, a play cellphone or cash register looks great until you actually play with it and do crazy things like simply push the buttons. They instantly disappear through the little holes never to be seen again. And #1. Anything that requires pulling a string to make it work. Strings are made to work exactly ten times and then instantly fail by winding up inside the toy or snapping off. Now, there are some great gifts out this year. Several gifts this year including Christmas cards have the ability to record the voice of the persons giving the gift. Children can record their voices and send it to grandparents miles away. That means they can customize the gift just for the person they love and care about. There’s something special about hearing a loved one’s voice, isn’t there? When I was growing up, I would play outside until my mother called me inside for dinner. I could be
really far away, but when I heard her voice, I immediately recognized it and knew I had a choice. I could disobey or I could sprint for home. I knew her voice. This week your players learned that Jesus is like a shepherd. We are like sheep that need to listen to His voice. Here’s the Memory Verse. (Note: Recite the Bible Verse from memory.) I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. (John 10:14 NIV) God loved the world so much that He sent is only Son, Jesus. And whoever believes in Him will never die, but live with Him forever and ever. Jesus is calling. Are you listening? God gave Jesus to us as the perfect gift. God loved us enough to give us exactly the right gift. He did it because He knows us. He knows us VERY well. God sent Jesus because He loved each one of us. Do you know Him? Ask God to be very real to you this Christmas. Thank you for listening. And Merry Christmas!
Game 4 January 8, 2009
Why did God send Jesus? To show the way
Week’s Memory Verse: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) This week: The best presents are those that we want. Well, we all want to go to someplace nice and use a compass, GPS, or map to get there. People in a place called Babel wanted to build a tower to heaven so they could be like God. But God punished them by confusing them and giving them different languages. We can only get to heaven by turning from our sins and toward Jesus in belief. He promised us that He is the only way. Suggested Halftime Devotion: Hello, my name is ____________________ and I hope you have found the New Year going well or at least better than a preacher I heard about.
A new preacher was asked to lead the funeral of a homeless man who died without any friends. He got lost finding the cemetery, but finally found it—or at least thought he did. All he knew was that it was a new cemetery and this was their first burial. The only people there were two men eating lunch by a backhoe. The hearse was gone and the he saw what he thought was a vault already lowered in the grave. The preacher went ahead and said a few words. He preached from Genesis to Revelation. And the men said, “Amen.” He wept. And the men dabbed their eyes. He shouted, “Hallelujah.”. And the men shouted, too. He prayed while the men bowed their heads in respect. When he finished, the preacher turned to leave. As he opened his car door, he heard one of the workers say, “I never saw anything like that before and I’ve been digging in septic tanks for twenty years.” Over the holidays, a lot of guys go hunting. I heard about one very unfortunate hunter who got lost in the wilds. He was exhausted and finally stumbled on the camp of another hunter. He said, “Am I glad to see you! I’ve been lost for three days.” The other hunter looked up and said, “Don’t get too excited, friend. I’ve been lost for three weeks.” A lot of us stumble through life and run across people that are just as lost as we are. God knew we needed to know the way to Him and that is why He sent Jesus to Earth. Your players learned a very important Bible verse this week. (Memorize and recite it.) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6) There are many different religions that claim to be the only way, to have the only truth, and the only way to eternal life. However, none of them guarantee that God the Father
can be reached through Jesus the Son. Only through Jesus can we know the Way to eternal life. A helicopter pilot flying in downtown Seattle once had an electrical malfunction knocking out his navigation and communications. He looked around and found a piece of paper and scrawled a message on it. He flew close to a business tower and held up the sign which said, “WHERE AM I?” The people in the office building saw the note and quickly wrote a message of their own and put it against the glass. It said, “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.” Life sometimes gives us messages that might be totally accurate, but totally meaningless. You can trust Jesus to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Just ask Him to forgive you of your sins and believe on Him as the Lord of your life. If you want to talk about it, just meet me over at the Scorer’s Table. Let’s talk about Jesus. Thank you for listening! Go over by the Scorer’s Table. Turn in your microphone and just “make yourself visible” for about five to ten minutes at least. It would help if you had a Bible handy. Be prepared to explain the plan of salvation in your own words and to share a three minute testimony of how you came to faith in Christ.
Game 5 January 15, 2009
How do I have a relationship with God? Believe!
Week’s Memory Verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This week: Students were presented the plan of salvation via their Star bracelet. Suggested Halftime Devotion: This week: Players were given a bracelet with multiple colors. The colors match the colors unique to Upward Basketball’s stars. The stars are represented in the colors. See devotion below for explanation of these colors. From last year: Hello, my name is ____________________. I hope that you liked the bracelet that your kids got this week in practice! I want to talk about each one just like the coach talked with your players in practice this week.
(Present the colors and what they mean in your own words. If you need to have notes, put the following explanation on an index card. Keep track of the time.) Blue: effort Gold: sportsmanship Gold Gray: offense Gray Red: defense Red White: Christlikeness giving our best in every game, but in life we often fail – this is sin by God’s grace we have a perfect model of sportsmanship in Jesus who died on the cross for our sins the best offensive move in life is asking Jesus in our heart we turn away from our sins and live for God living like Jesus when we allow Him to live through us
My halftime devotion teammates have been encouraging everyone to have a personal relationship with God. We have talked about the character of God and how God is one God in three persons – The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like a coach who helps us. Jesus is like the TV show, “The Undercover Boss” because He walked among us even though He was God. We learned that Jesus is the only way to God. He is the way, the truth, and the life. A few years ago, a pastor in China was met at the front door of his church by a young lady. The lady was smiling and said, “I am now a Christian!” The pastor was very wise and asked the girl, “What makes you think that you are now a Christian?” The lady
pointed to her clothes and said, “I am wearing Levi blue jeans. And this is a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. I am now a Christian!” The pastor explained that loving Jesus is not the same thing as dressing like an American. He explained much the same that I have explained to you that we all have sinned. God sent Jesus to die for our sins. The only way to become a Christian is to ask God to forgive us of our sins and believe on Him as our God and our Savior. When we follow Him, we receive the Holy Spirit and He lives through us. I never heard what decision that Chinese young lady made. However, I do know the decision that I have made to follow Jesus all of my life. I encourage you to follow Him starting today. If you’ll meet me at the Scorer’s Table, we can talk about what it means to accept Jesus as your Savior. Thank you for listening.
Go over by the Scorer’s Table. Turn in your microphone and just “make yourself visible” for about five to ten minutes at least. It would help if you had a Bible handy. Be prepared to explain the plan of salvation in your own words and to share a three minute testimony of how you came to faith in Christ.
Game 6 January 22, 2009
How do I Build a Relationship with God? Seek
Week’s Memory Verse: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). This week: Players were encouraged to talk to God directly through prayer. There were some knock knock jokes that ended in this one: 1Knock-knock. (Who’s there?) God. (God who?) God is there and he answers prayer! 2 Suggested Halftime Devotion: Hello, my name is ____________________. I once heard a story about a missionary to West Africa who spoke in a church. He told how he had pedaled a bike from one village to another that was a good distance away. On his journey, it became dark and he pulled his bike off the road and slept under an old tree. In the morning, he was refreshed, and continued on his way until he reached the distant village. When he arrived, one of the local militia leaders came up to the missionary and asked where the 26 men were that had guarded him all night. The missionary said that he had traveled alone. The man said, “No, I counted the 26 men in the moonlight who formed a ring around your camp. I saw them!” At this point in the story, one of the men in the church stood up. He asked the exact date that this happened and the missionary told him. The man who was standing said, “On that day, I was just finishing playing a round of golf, when the Lord prompted me to call a prayer meeting for you. I tried putting out, but I was prevented. I walked off the course and called a group of men to gather at the church and we prayed several hours for you!” The missionary then asked those present, “If you were one of the men asked to pray, would you stand?” One by one the men stood to their feet all across the congregation. The missionary counted 26 men standing! They had formed a wall of protection around the missionary through prayer.
Do you talk to God? Do you listen to God? Do you pray for others, such as the missionary in the story? I do pray. As I child of God, I know my Father in heaven loves me and wants to hear from me. Your players learned an important Bible verse this week. Jesus was speaking to His disciples. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). You can use the A.S.K. acronym. Ask. Seek. Knock. The Lord wants to hear from those who love Him and who are called to do His good will. If you are a follower of Jesus, you can ask Him anything and we can listen to him, too. He may not speak in a voice that we can hear, but we can understand in our heart. A couple was having problems in their marriage. One day at work, the man blurted out his concern to a co-worker who was a Christian. The Christian asked the man if he had
ever poured out his heart to God in prayer? The married man looked stunned and said, “I have been taught that God is too busy to worry about me. He’s got war and famine and lost children to look out for. He’s just too busy.” The Christian co-worker smiled and said, “My God is a BIG God. He’s not too busy for you or anyone else.” This week, let me encourage you to Ask. Seek. Knock. God is waiting to hear from you. (If you sense the Lord’s leading, close in prayer simply thanking God for hearing our prayers no matter how small they may seem to us.)
Game 7 January 29, 2009
How do I become a better person? New in Christ
Week’s Memory Verse: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) This week: Players learned about becoming followers of Jesus. There is a transformation that happens by obeying God. Just as a butterfly is no longer a caterpillar, Christians are becoming Christ-like. It’s like the TV show, Extreme Makeover, where the house gets demolished and a new one is built for a family to live in. We put away our old selves and become new people! Suggested Halftime Devotion: Hello, my name is ____________________. Have you ever seen those TV reality shows about “extreme makeovers?” At first it was beauty tips and then they started tearing down people’s houses and building brand new ones. Now there are extreme makeovers for your cars and pickups. We are attracted to incredible stories about life changing events. A cop gives a waitress a million bucks for a tip because he won the lottery. Or maybe you want to be like the family that gets a knock on your door during the Superbowl. Surprise you just won a gazillion dollars for mailing in a gaudy envelope!
You want life changing events? Wouldn’t it awesome if some guy with a TV camera crew showed up at your front door with an incredible offer? Congratulations Joe! You just won an Extreme Makeover. If you’ll give us your tired, worn-out, saggy body, we’ll put you in the state of the art body guaranteed never to break down, wear out, or catch any disease! You’ll be able to play in this year’s Superbowl! You’ll be able to run the Boston Marathon! You’ll be able to eat all the cold stuff you want and not get a brain freeze! Ever! So, how ‘bout it? Are you interested? Sounds too good to be true? Let me tell you how to have the ultimate extreme makeover! This week your players learned a very important verse from the Bible: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) Wow! When we are IN CHRIST, then that person becomes a new creature. The old baggage we’ve been carrying around is outta here. Everything is new! “In Christ,” means that we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. We are walking in His ways. We have stopped doing things that disappoint Him. We are literally transformed at the deepest level of our being. Most people want extreme makeovers on the outside, leaving their inside alone. When we are made new IN Christ, we are made new from the inside-out.
I once heard about a guy that loved going on weekend hunting trips. But there was a problem. When he came back home, his wife said he stunk so bad she wouldn’t kiss him as usual. So he got a brilliant idea. Before he left his house, he vacuum-sealed a clean shirt and a pair of pants in an air-tight bag. When he was ready to go home, he peeled off his smelly, muddy clothes, and put on the fresh clean clothes over his dirty body. So, he was filthy from head to toe, but he was wearing clean clothes! When he announced that he was home, his wife saw the clean clothes and ran to give him a hug and a kiss. But when she got near him, she could see the dirt on his hands and face and smell him as she got near. He might have looked clean, but underneath, he was just as dirty and stinky as ever. The Bible says to be IN CHRIST. It’s more than an outward change. It’s not superficial. Some people may try to act like a Christian, but if the inside isn’t changed, then it won’t last. We know how to be IN CHRIST when we have a spiritual transformation of our mind and our heart. We will want to spend time with Him in prayer and know what He has to say by reading the Bible. God changes us from inside out, not the outside-in. If you are a new creation IN Christ, then congratulations. If you still want to be a new creation IN Christ, meet me over at the Scorer’s Table and we’ll talk about it some more. Thank you for listening. Go over by the Scorer’s Table. Turn in your microphone and just “make yourself visible” for about five to ten minutes at least. It would help if you had a Bible handy. Be prepared to explain the plan of salvation in your own words and to share a three minute testimony of how you came to faith in Christ.
Game 8 February 3, 2009
God Wants Me to be a Friend to Others
Week’s Memory Verse: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) This week: Players learned about the Good Samaritan being a neighbor. They explored ways they could be a better friend to others. They were encouraged to get to know other people better so that they could be better friends. (Get to know them, be accepting, show kindness, compassion, forgiveness, honesty, be a good listener, and so on.) Suggested Halftime Devotion: Hello, my name is ____________________. Three years ago (Oct.27, 2007), several American soldiers were on patrol in Afghanistan. They were ambushed by a wellcoordinated attack from the Taliban. One of the U.S. Army soldiers was wounded and was captured by the enemy. As they were dragging him away, one American soldier jumped to his feet and attacked the two enemy soldiers who were carrying the wounded American soldier. The brave American soldier who rescued his buddy was Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta. (Pronounced sal-vah-TORE-ay JUNE-tah.)
When we hear stories of great heroism, it makes us grateful for men and women who risk their lives in battle. They become role models for our children and for us. This week, your players learned an important Bible verse. This verse tells us how God wants us to live: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Do you know who said those words? Jesus did. It was one of the last commands that Jesus gave to His disciples before He went to the cross at Calvary and gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins. There is no need for another human sacrifice for sins. However, Jesus wants us to put others first. God wants us to be a friend to others. [Explain how being a Christian makes a difference in your life. Explain how you put others first. It might be caring for your children, helping someone in need, or putting yourself at risk on a mission trip. Keep your story to one to two minutes max.] Last fall (November 16, 2010), President Barack Obama presented Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta with the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest honor. He risked his own life even though the wounded soldier he rescued eventually died. How deep is your love for others? Do you love others as Jesus loved us? Would you lay down your life for your friends? One day we will all stand before God in heaven. Will He know us? Will He say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:21) What would God say to you?
As you know, this is our last game. On behalf of First Baptist Alpharetta, I want to thank you for paying attention during these halftime talks. You are precious to God. I hope that these have inspired you to live for Him. Thank you for listening!
END OF SUGGESTED HALFTIME DEVOTIONS 2010-2011 SEASON
Upward Basketball First Baptist Church Alpharetta, GA November 2010
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