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Summary: The games are on every day. Basketball now takes center stage. March Madness and the game it features teaches us kingdom principles that can help us win in the game of life!

March Madness

Pt 4. Playing on the Road


We have discussed playing with fouls, the triple threat of giving, praying and fasting, and the need to take timeouts and to end timeouts. This morning I want to talk to you about a subject that every coach and player knows is generally the difference between a mediocre season and a great season. That is the ability to play well on the road.

Playing at home is supposed to be easy. You are supposed to guard your home court and not allow anyone to come in and beat you on your home court. You have all the advantages at home. You are familiar with the gym. That is why sportscasters call it the friendly confines. You are familiar with every dead spot on the floor, the action of the ball on the backboard, etc. You also have the advantage because you don’t have to get up early or travel long hours on the bus, van, or plane to get to the gym. You get to sleep in your own bed and follow your familiar routine. You also have the advantage because of the atmosphere of the home gym. Your fans will be there. They will be loud. They will be for you instead of against you. They will be vocal. Playing at home is usually much easier than playing on the road. Did you know that:

The road winning percentage in major men’s college basketball is .340 -- meaning the road team wins roughly one out of every three games.

Somewhere on Earth there may be a sport in which this figure is lower. But it isn’t the NBA, NHL, American or Australian football, English or Argentine soccer, Major League Baseball, Japanese baseball, Dominican winter baseball, or any of two dozen other sports leagues.

There is nothing tougher in team sports than what 42 schools in NCAA’s Division I try, mostly in vain, to do: Put a dozen skinny kids into an opponent’s gym and beat them at basketball.

They’ll have to do it in front of fans spinning pinwheels, wearing gorilla suits, dancing around in Speedos and displaying unflattering photographs of their family members. "It’s always been this way and it always will be," says Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "Only the top, top teams in the country can win on the road."

Being able to take the game to the road and still win is what separates the men from the boys. Being able to deal with unfamiliar surroundings, a different routine, long hours on the bus, and the fans. Now you are booed. Now you aren’t celebrated your harassed. Expect to be heckled! Cheers become jeers. It is life on the road.

The reality is that you can’t always play at home. You have to be able to take your game on the road. You are expected to win at home.

Jesus realized this in the life of his disciples and followers. In Matthew 10:5-9, 13 and in Luke 10:1-3, 5, 9, 17-20, Jesus is speaking to his original 12 disciples and then later to seventy others that he has gathered and he gives them traveling orders. It is the road trip pep talk. In this passage, Jesus tells us how to play on the road.

Matthew 10:5-10; 13

5-8Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: "Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

9-10"Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light. 13And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

Luke 10:1-3, 5, 9

1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also,and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. (Just a thought here – we want him to go before us, but are we willing to go before Him?) 2 Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. 5 But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.

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