Every Sunday I help to lead Basketball and Fellowship in West Oakland. We gather at center court and Coach Shawn goes over the rules and I do a short message and lead a prayer. Then we run games for an hour and a half full court, and at the end come together and say a prayer at the end. The few old guys play with the young guys and we mentor them; they’re good guys with various issues like anyone; some have christian background, many not. We are bringing an experience of prayer, and try to build teamwork, and the goal is to help each other become better men. I think of a simple message they can remember and say a prayer.
This week I said, ‘The buck stops here’. In a spiritual way this means instead of putting our anger out on others, we learn to take our issue to God. This is a huge spiritual skill and takes time. It’s a great life skill to be able to compete hard, develop skills and to care about each other. As everyone gets to know each other you perceive each others strength and weaknesses and learn how to compliment each other in games. Of course the guys also get mad, talk trash and try to one up each other. The ‘buck stops here’ when they can see demeaning each other does no good, and their anger extends from personal issues and hopefully we see we are truly empowered by taking these to God. There is peace in this seeing that we have the ability make these painful issues between us and God, and in time this gives us the perspective to help others.
In the Bible the resurrected Jesus teaches the disciples a lesson about competition. Jesus had been talking to them about how they will die, and indicated that John would not die by persecution but die naturally.

“Peter, seeing him (John), said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me’”. – John 21:21

Jesus teaches his disciples here and other places not to compare their lives and destiny with others, or to try to out do others. Our inner life is between us and Him, and this is where we are most empowered to solve our problems. Jesus has the best possible plan for us, and it all fits in with others, but it is not for us to know the others internal plan between them and Jesus. The gifts He has given us are sufficient, and the best possible treasure for our lives.
When the disciples vie to be ‘the first’, He says that ‘those who are last shall become first’. Jesus teaches them that the one who serves others with wisdom and love, who in heart seek to serve a good use to others and to thier country, putting themself aside in that they care about the others person growth and soul as much or more than their own, becomes ‘first’.

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