Dr. James Naismith: Did God Invent Basketball?


Without God’s hand on a young man’s life, we may have never had basketball. Think of the game and the terms we use like March Madness or the NBA Finals. God placed his hand on a Theologian and invented a game that reconciled Dr. James Naismith’s love of sports with his Christian integrity.

To understand how God used a man to invent the game of basketball, we need to see the back story about the man, athlete, academic, and coach James Naismith.

Good stories are rarely told today. We get caught up in the negative news cycle. We are reminded daily of the problem with athletes, politicians, police, and even pastors. But a story how a theologian who was studying to be a minister could invent a game that millions of people would play and love, that’s quite a story.

James Naismith was the eldest son of Scottish Immigrants. He was born in Ontario, Canada. He grew up playing a game called “duck on a rock.” A simple game where you placed a smaller rock (the duck) on top of a bigger rock and tried to knock the duck off with another rock. If you missed you had to chase after your rock.

The players learned to lob the rock toward the duck. This simple shot would later be instrumental in shooting.

Naismith wasn’t really a good student. He dropped out of high school and went to work in the lumber camp to help support his younger siblings. When he was a boy, both his parents died of typhoid fever within three weeks of each other.

But God intervened one night in a bar. James walked in and ordered a whiskey. Someone asked him if he was Margret’s son. James said, “Yes.” The man replied that his mother would roll over in her grave seeing him with whiskey.

James quit. He decided right then and there to make something of his life, and he knew that education was the way to succeed. God put a teacher by the name Thomas B. Caswell in his life. James graduated at 20.

College offered education and sports, and James was good at both. He played football and rugby. He was also studying to be a minister. However, in the late 1800’s, sports was viewed in a vulgar light by good church people.

Naismith didn’t see things that way. When he heard a lecture comparing sports and Christianity, he realized that it took the same qualities to become a good athlete that it did to become a good Christian. It all made sense to him.

He completed his divinity degree in 1890 and moved to the United States. He got a job as a PE instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts.

During the fall and spring, the young men had plenty to do with outside athletics. So seminarian Dr. James Naismith was charged with inventing a new game because during the long winter months in New England the students were bored.

He took a little bit of everything:

passing—from American rugby
the jump ball—from English rugby
the use of the goal—from lacrosse
the size and shape of the ball—from soccer
and the “shooting” of the ball from his childhood game—duck on a rock

Naismith then asked the janitor if he could find two eighteen inch square boxes to use as goals. But all he could find were two peach baskets.

The minister in Naismith had to keep the game clean. No brawling or rough play. Rules were developed and most importantly the “foul.” After all, The YMCA stood for Christian ethics, and basketball became a clean, fun sport.

There is no way Dr. Naismith could have envisioned how popular basketball would become. But if you ever get to Springfield, Massachusetts, stop by the Basketball Hall of Fame and see how it began.

God’s man, used God’s way, to invent a game of fair play and teamwork.

Pastor Rodney

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God Has Done It!

He has done it

Psalm 22:30-31, “
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
 He has done it!”

Last year, when I post a photo of my youngest granddaughter, Alexandra Nancy, on Facebook, I receive, among many beautiful and touching comments, this one from high school friend, Robb:  “Love the smile . . . Our future . . .”

He has done it
He has done it!

It moves me to tears.

Alexandra is so vulnerable, knowing nothing but surrounding arms of love, basking in the awakening to life as she grows and develops with each passing day.  Her story is one the Lord already knows, and will be one for all of us who love her to discover in time.

Our hearts are filled with promise.

Promise for the future.

But . . . 

In these difficult, trying days, when it seems the world has turned against those who first seek the Lord, the promise can become hard to hold on to.  No matter where we look, despair, depravity, and hopelessness prevail.

As Pastor Wallace warns us in a sermon:  “The world has taken over the church; the church has not taken over the world.”

A powerful admonition.

One we need to take to heart.

Because future generations must be told about the Lord and His saving grace; announced with grandeur and celebration, that they would remember.

After all, He has done it for those yet unborn.

And for His children abiding.

Our future? Believing in God’s promises.

Believing in the smile . . .

Remembering always,

God has done it!

Martha Orlando

Visit Martha @marthaorlando.blogspot.com

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Each Season Has Its Purpose

What do you seek in this season of your life? Does it glorify God?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…”— Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NIV).

Summer has given up its hold. The early days of autumn with crispness in the air appeal to the five senses more than any other season.

I remember how blessed I am when I see the trees as they begin their annual dance. The burnished gold, dusty red, muted orange and bright yellow leaves float gracefully through the air and cover the earth. While it means more yard work, I welcome it.

What child hasn’t hidden in a pile of raked leaves and then tossed them in the air just to watch them drift softly to the ground again. Yes, even yard work can be fun.

I savor the sights, the sounds, the smells and tastes associated with this season: the crackling of dry leaves underfoot; the rustling of deer, rabbits, squirrels and raccoons in the dry foliage; leaves burning when there’s no fire ban; chainsaws growling as they prepare wood for winter’s warmth.

When I think of this season, my taste buds recall early fall evenings when we roasted hot dogs and toasted marshmallows to make s’mores. The thought of a square of chocolate sandwiched between graham crackers and a gooey marshmallow increases the anticipation of my favorite part of the year.

Hiking in the woods when the leaves have left the trees bare, I find time for reflection. Quiet beckons. I re-evaluate. I put one step in front of the other and try not to look back at the past when I thought things were greener.

As I watch the scenery change from blues and greens to reds and golds, from browns and grays and back again, I am reminded of the cycles we experience in our own seasons of life. We watch a loved one die. We welcome the birth of a child or grandchild. We see our dreams shattered when someone disappoints us.

When the landscape changes colors, it is a reminder that nothing stays the same. As the seasons change, so must we. If we are to be a God-centered person, we must find the purpose in each season of our life.

To ignore the changes means we are unable to move forward to what God has planned for us. Like the leaves that drift to the ground, we are asked by our Creator to let go and trust Him as He prepares us for each season.

Associated with the transition from warm to cold weather, autumn is the season of primary harvest. Just as mature crops yield their bounty, God wants us to continue growing through a relationship with Him and mature into the person whom He created us to be.

Regardless of the season we are in, we should see each change as an opportunity to celebrate the good and have hope that we might encounter the fullness of God.

Twilight comes early these days. It is a peaceful time. It serves a purpose.

Carol Round

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Rejoicing in the Rain

Do you find it difficult to rejoice in the rain?

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

(Psalm 118:24)


What if you wake up tomorrow with your mind already made up to rejoice in the day and be glad in it? How will your attitude tomorrow differ from your attitude today?  I have jumped out of bed with a determination to rejoice ‘no matter what’ before, and I have done a commendable job…right up until the first difficult situation arose.

To choose to rejoice in the day no matter what happens is a significant decision, because we all know that every day brings both joy and trials. Sometimes joys outweigh trials. However, sometimes the scales are tipped in the opposite direction, and we are faced with multiple moments in which our resolve to rejoice is tested.

When something good happens, we find it easy to rejoice! A dictionary definition of the word “rejoice” is: to feel or show that you are very happy about something. Saying, “Thank You” to God directly for people, protection, and positives He blesses us with is a wonderful example of how to rejoice.

On the flip side, when we come up against a problem, rejoicing is not usually our first instinct.  However, once we have made a decision to rejoice in this day whether the sun shines or not, there are genuine reasons to rejoice in the rain.

First, we can rejoice because we get to see God work! We get to see Him bring beauty from ashes. When we have a problem that needs solving, being thankful that we worship the Ultimate Problem Solver is something to rejoice in!

Also, we can rejoice that we have an opportunity to display God’s grace to others while we face difficult situations.  Arguably, this should be number one on the list of reasons to rejoice when trials come! When we handle difficulties with a joyful spirit, stemming from the fact that we know we have a faithful God who is going to take care of us…even in the midst of a storm, we give others hope. We give them a glimpse of Who Jesus is in our life, and Who He can be in their life!

One more reason to “rejoice in the rain” is that after we have gone through a trial, we may be able to help someone that is facing a similar trial. We can offer them empathy and encouragement. We can offer them concern and comfort.

We can give them a reminder of the overwhelming faithfulness of our Father. Coming alongside someone and encouraging them to draw closer to God is a blessing that is well-worth rejoicing over!

Trials, difficulties, hardships, and rain – all can help us grow, to bring consolation to others, and to rely fully on God. All rain can give us cause to rejoice.

I clearly remember one gloomy day as a preschool assistant, lamenting to the children that it was raining – forcing our playtime to be inside instead of on the playground. A sweet student looked at me and wisely declared, “Rain is good! It makes the crops grow.” Yes…rain is good. And rain does in fact make the crops grow. Five-year-olds just get it sometimes.

This is the day the Lord has made: Let us rejoice, really rejoice, and be glad in it. Rain or shine.

Gwen Thielges

You can read more from Gwen @writewhereheleads.wordpress.com

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What did you do with Jesus?

cross of Jesus

Luke 23:39-43

You find crosses in all sorts of places. One September morning in 2001, Frank Silecchia, a construction worker by trade, showed up as a volunteer to dig through the rubble of the World Trade Center with the hope of finding a live body.

He didn’t.

However, he stumbled across a twenty feet tall steel-beam cross. In the death, Frank found the cross. It was plainly seen by everyone. The Cross was right in the middle of one of the greatest heartaches in America.

In all 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark Luke and John, when the women reach the Tomb on Easter morning, the body is missing. All four Gospels record that, and in John’s Gospel he quotes what Mary Magdalene says, “we do not know where He is.” (John 20:2)

It’s almost as if they are asking this question: “What did you do with Jesus?”

That’s the question everyone has to answer. It’s a personal question that has a public response. It’s the only question we will stand before God and answer.

What did you do with Jesus?

In our text, Jesus is crucified between two criminals. The word means “one who uses violence to rob openly.” They were not ashamed of their sin. And yet Jesus, the Bible says 750 years before it happened, was “numbered with the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

A criminal who didn’t commit a crime or break any law but fulfilled God’s Law to the letter. The Christ crucified, the Messiah murdered, the Savior stained with sin—our sin.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani had the cross at the World Trade Center put on a pedestal.

Brian Jordan, a Roman Catholic priest, called the cross at Ground Zero “a symbol of hope.” The cross had a significant effect on the families that came to Ground Zero.

One minister said this about this cross, “When the family of a man who died there saw the cross, it was as if the cross took in the grief and loss. I never felt Jesus more.”

September 11, 2001, is a day most of us will never forget. Like me, many of you can remember exactly where you were. I’ll never forget visiting the hospital seeing, a new baby born into the church family I was the pastor of. A new life born on a day of so much sorrow.


That’s what the Cross is all about. Jesus’ death bought all of us new life. That’s what the cross at Ground Zero symbolized.

The thing that blows me away is that this crossed was made by building one falling on building six. It was two beams from two different buildings. It shouldn’t have been that way, but it was.

The cross of Christ is where God’s justice for sin was met by God’s mercy. Have you been to the cross?

What did you do with Jesus?

Pastor Rodney

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2 Ways to be Thankful Everyday

Be thankful

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

How can we take each day and be thankful for it? When bills have to be paid, errands have to be run, kids need our attention, and life is constantly wearing us down—how can we be thankful?

I propose it’s by doing two simple steps. A spirit of thanksgiving is born out of what we do daily. These two steps determine how great our lives will be. Here is the first one:

1. Do the “Little” Things:

Because of erosion, the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was in peril of washing into the Atlantic Ocean. So Congress appropriated $12 million for the National Park service to move it 2,900 feet to safety.

With a combination of care, expertise, patience, and raw power, The Expert House Movers of Sharptown, Maryland moved the 208 foot tall, 9.7 million pound structure to its current home.

The option of moving the lighthouse was first proposed in April of 1982, but the light wasn’t lit at its new location until November 13, 1999. Seventeen years of study and twenty-three days of moving later.

Why did it take so long? Small things can be moved quickly, but big things take time.

Most people tend to overestimate what they can do in a week and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime. We tend to want to make the biggest splash rather than just doing the right thing.

Do something like help our neighbor. Bake a friend a cake. Bring flowers home to your wife (not a special occasion). Help a coworker, or meet a need for a family at church.

If we don’t do those things then daily erosion sets in. Attitudes become cynical and critical of what “others” should be doing.

2. Focus on Today:

Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The best basketball coach ever, in my opinion, was John Wooden of the UCLA Bruins. He coached basketball for over forty years and only had one losing season his first. He led UCLA to four undefeated seasons and a record ten NCAA championships including seven in a row. No one has done that since.

Listen to what Coach Wooden writes, “When I was teaching basketball, I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece. Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece.”

We can’t change the past. Yesterday is gone. We also can’t do a thing about tomorrow other than plan. We live in today. Make today matter.

Who can I be kind to today? Every person I talk to needs my attention. Does watching the same news over and over really make my day count?

Spend your morning in prayer. Read your Bible. Read a good blog post (hopefully this one). Live in the moment.

To quote William Wallace in Braveheart, “All men die few men really live.”

A daily thankful heart will create a life that God will bless.

Be thankful today and everyday. Remember the best is yet to come.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Why Does God Allow Bad?

God allows bad?

Things are never as bad as they seem, and they are never as good as they seem.

When we go through difficulty, it is always designed in the life of a Christian to make us better on the other side.

We are even promised in God’s Word, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

We may never know why all the bad things happen.

Acts 8 gives a major transition in the life of the first church. Stephen the deacon is dead after he preached one message. Another deacon, Philip, begins his ministry in Samaria.

A man by the name of Saul, a Pharisee’s Pharisee, trained in the best Jewish theological education system, approved of Stephen’s death.

Saul launches a crusade against the church to kill this rebellious uprising. Great persecution begins against this first church, and they are forced to scatter everywhere.

Deacon Philip chose Samaria, the place Jesus went in John 4. Jesus had compassion on a woman at the well who was an outcast because she had been married five times and was living with a man.

But bad turned to good when she met the Messiah. The city was saved through her testimony about Him.

The first church had already seen persecution from outside the church and a test of unity inside the church. But now the persecution would greatly intensify.

The church was in disarray. Saul had permission from the 70 member Jewish council to wreak havoc. The Sanhedrin gave him authority to go into homes and drag fathers, mothers, children, any Christian, and throw them into prison.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The bad was the church scattered, the good is—so did the Gospel.

The Word was scattered. Logos in the Greek. It is the same word used for Jesus as described in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

It’s the Gospel, the good news, the truth about Jesus Christ. These non-apostles went everywhere spreading the good news that the Son of God came and shed His precious blood on Calvary’s tree for you and for me.

This fulfills what Jesus said in Acts 1:8 They would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. That is our mission in spreading His message.

This life will get more difficult. Being a Christian isn’t cool. When bad things happen, people are watching how we respond. But the tribulation we face is only temporary. Victory is certain.

For the sake of the Gospel let’s remember—when God allows bad, it is for our ultimate good.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day

Pastor Rodney

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How is God in the Details?

details of life

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31

Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press was probably the single biggest invention ever. The first book printed was a copy of God’s Word. The tragedy is Gutenberg never bothered to get to know the God of His Word.

But it is a greater tragedy if we Christians don’t live knowing that God is in the details by finding them in His Word. How well do we know the God of the Bible?

Within the first 40 days of Jesus’ life on earth, he had to meet a priest. The law required it. Every detail of Jesus’ life was planned out, significant and essential for Him, but more importantly for us.

A priest named Simeon had asked God that he wouldn’t die until he saw the salvation of Israel. He knew that Jesus was the promised one, anointed one, the Messiah of Israel.

What is it you need Jesus to do for you today? Is there a detail of finances that need fixing? A mess in your marriage that needs mending. Maybe you are too old, too young, too hurt, too big or maybe you just blame yourself for the fix you’re in.

Simeon acted on faith to see the salvation of his nation. Wouldn’t that be great?

But that revival has to start somewhere—why not right in your heart?

Are you bitter today? Angry? Hurt? Holding a grudge?

That was Gutenberg’s problem. All of the credit for the printing press in his day didn’t go to him.

Oh, he invented it. He did all the work, but he didn’t have the money to produce it. It was an enormously expensive project and he borrowed the money from a man named Johann Fust.

As Gutenberg was mass producing Bibles, Fust took him to court and won. Gutenberg died a bitter man because he didn’t see the salvation of the one who was in the Bible he copied.

God knows where you are and what you’re doing. Maybe like the priest, Simeon, you need a sign to keep going or a miracle today to repair a relationship.

There’s only one who can do it—Jesus.

I don’t understand why Jesus does this or that, but I know He has a plan. I know He knows the details.

God knows what He’s doing. Is He up to something in your life? Gutenberg died holding a grudge and took it out on everyone around him. But God had a plan.

You don’t hear of the Fust Bible do you? Of course not—it’s the Gutenberg Bible.

Here’s what happened:

Years after Gutenberg died, Fust couldn’t live with himself. His conscience was eating his life so he came clean in front of the whole world. Just so his life could be at peace.

Ask him if God’s in the details.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Come Into The Ark

Come Into The Ark

“Come into the ark, you and all your household,

because I have seen that you are righteous

before Me in this generation.”

(Gen. 7:1 NKJV)

I have always loved this verse. I find it very comforting. Let’s look deeper into it.

Come. . .the Hebrew word means come or go and is also translated as bring, going down, bring to pass, lead, carry, gather, went, etc.

In Noah’s case, the word is used again in Genesis 7:7, “So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood.” (NKJV) The word and the verse are reiterated in verse 13, “On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark.” (NKJV)

After all the years of obeying God’s commands for building the ark, Noah hears God say, “Come.” As though God is waiting within the ark to welcome him and his family. It is as if He says, Come join Me. The Noah family enter the ark, and “Then the Lord God closed the door and shut them in.” (Gen. 7:16 TLB)

Though some versions translate verse 1 as “go into the ark,” I love that some say “come.” Knowing the Lord awaits my coming into His presence touches my heart with peace and contentment.

After Jesus has entered a heart as His ark, His vessel, He awaits that intimate companionship and He whispers, Come. Come join Me and I’ll shut the door.

We come before Him because we are righteous in his sight. We join Him by entering into His presence, as David said, with thanksgiving and praise, meeting Him with blessing, singing, and joy. (Ps. 100:4, 95:2, 100:2)

The Lord sits and waits for us to worship Him in the beauty of holiness, to give Him the glory due His name, to bring Him an offering, a sacrifice of praise, and to give thanks to His name. (1 Chron. 16:29, Heb. 13:15)

This is where He joins us, where He dwells, where He inhabits and abides with His loved ones, setting His throne upon the praises of His people. (Ps. 22:3)

If you have taken the name of Jesus upon your heart, that Name is inscribed there, in blood. Your heart is the home of the Lord and He says, “I will come to you.” (John 14:18 TLB) And “In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you.” (Ex. 20:24 NKJV)

The Lord comes to us. And shuts the door, eternally. He never abandons us, never leaves us alone.

And blessings await.

Come into the ark. Come join Me, He whispers. “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” (Ps. 27:8 NLT)

I join Him. And I am comforted. And I am blessed.

Do you heed His whispers? Do you join Him?

Lynn Mosher

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Are You a Just Man?

Just Man

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”  Matthew 1:19

The Bible calls the earthly father of Jesus a “just man.” The word means a man of character. What is interesting about Joseph is when you look him up in a Bible dictionary it says, “The husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.”

More emphasis is put on Mary than Joseph.

Doesn’t that describe what being a man of character really is? I mean the character of a man is equated to how much he thinks of others. His family, his friends, his church, his community, all reveal the character of a man.

We rarely notice this man. He does for others and never gets a plaque or an award for being a man we can’t do without. Really we might not even recognize the man until he’s gone.

That’s when you see this man. Attend a funeral service of a “just man” and the place will be packed. The family will hear of all the people this man helped, served, and stood by, when the chips were down.

That was Joseph. He was the man God counted on to raise His Son. Can you imagine?

Lord, make us men you can count on.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney