Month: March 2014 (page 2 of 2)

Hope and the Banjo Song

I have a confession. When I like a song, I will listen to it again and again. Something happens when you make a connection with a songwriter’s lyrics coupled with the sound of the instruments. This happens as I listen to the “The Banjo Song (Hope)” by Pompton Lakes. 

Two lines of the chorus say, “And I remember all Your hope, And I remember we are not yet home…” Perspective allows us to see hope in the realm with the past and the future. In this journey of following Christ, we can become entangled in the mess we call life. A song like this reminds us the simple truths; we are not home and we have not arrived. Where we are today is not where we will be tomorrow or even where we were yesterday.

Our journey of following Christ opens us to see the little graces of today. Hope at times can seem out of reach. We see hope emerge each day the sun rises. Winter turning to spring testifies to seasons of growth. A song like this captures the reality of hope in Christ. This is not the end, but this is where we begin. 

I hope you have your own “Banjo Song.” What songs do you place on repeat because their significance in your life?1899890_706871152668891_1967705568_n

Photo credit Olya Myers.

Psychology of the Hot Hand – A Lesson on Success

Watch a professional or pickup basketball game. Notice when a player hits a shot and then see if they shoot during the next possession. The “hot hand” is the belief that a shooter can heat up to consistently make a series of baskets. Over the weekend, MIT hosted the Sloan Sports Analytic Conference and discussed the hot hand.The photo above took place during my high school basketball career. If I made a shot, I would immediately want the ball back to take the next shot. Many shooters feel this unction, because they view made shots as magic in the bottle. Meaning, they want hit shots in bunches and as quick as possible. This experience of success tends to lead to taking greater risks; longer shots and/or more contested shots.

Previous studies saw the hot hand as a fallacy , because the statistics proved that players would miss the next shot they took. The paper presented, The Hot Hand: A New Approach to an Old Fallacyat MIT made a few updates to the study. Andrew Bocskocsky, John Ezekowitz, and Carolyn Stein not only charted made or missed shots, but they took into consideration the difficulty of the shots. Did the shooter take a longer shot? Was the defender playing closer?

Players made a slightly higher percentage of difficult shots and more often defenders played hot handed shooters closer. The making of shots gave players confidence or in some cases over confidence to take the next shot.

Let’s go back to Peter Englert in high school. Instead of anticipating a shot the next possession, I should have been looking to play within the offense and find an open shot. The confidence in making a series of shots would have increased the ability to make shots with less difficulty. Perhaps, taking shots in rhythm would have prolonged the hot hand further during the game and even extending to the next game.

What does this teach about success? Success can come as a detriment of attempting things outside of ability and being impaired by tunnel vision. The shooter sought their own shots, rather than confidently waiting for a better shot in the game.What if success provided confidence to make incremental steps of growth? Wisdom develops over time. Rash, short term, hot handed confidence may not see the big picture. Confidence forming with incremental steps of growth provides the opportunity see the big picture. See the whole floor and the open teammates.

We can often live on spectrum of unbelievable highs and lows. Patience, the ability to have the long range in view while making significant steps in rhythm. Remaining faithful does not mean passing on opportunities to shoot, rather sees opportunities which can come in stride. Most coaches would say, “Play within your game.”

What lessons have you learned from observing shooters with the “hot hand?”

I had the opportunity to read Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster this week. The practice of Christian simplicity involves recapturing life the way God intended humanity to live. Christ calls us to reevaluate our rhythms, pace, and priorities.1437837_51316860

Foster lays the foundation for Christian simplicity from the Old Testament, New Testament and historical Christian figures. He then transitions to the section of practice in our daily lives. One of the recurring themes throughout the text is “Christ at the Center.” The follow section, I have read repeatedly:

I hope you understand what I mean when I speak of living out of the Center. I am of course referring to God, but I do not mean God in an abstract theoretical sense, nor even God in the sense of One to be feared and revered. Nor do I mean God only in the sense of One to be loved and obeyed. For years I have loved him and sought to obey him, but he remained in on the periphery of my life. God and Christ were extremely important to me but certainly not the Center. After all, I had many tasks and aspirations that did not relate to God in the least. What, for heaven’s sake, did swimming and gardening have to do with God? I was deeply committed, but I was not integrated or unified. I thought that serving God was another duty to be added onto an already busy schedule.

But slowly I came to see that God desired to be not on the outskirts, but at the heart of my experience. Gardening was no longer an experience outside my relationship with God – I discovered God in the gardening. Swimming was no longer just good exercise – it became an opportunity for communion with God. God in Christ had become the Center. (pg. 80)

How many times do we experience life with Christ at the periphery? Foster’s words remind us of God’s communion with and in us. Let us begin the day shifting our perspective to see Christ at the Center of our lives and experiences.

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