My Heavenly Coach

A standard practice among coaches is to view a film of the previous game with the players. During that viewing the staff points out each player’s mistakes and good plays. A dedicated player will accept the criticisms and resolve to improve. Such an athlete feels gratitude for the compliments and determines to repeat that behavior the next game.

Their won-lost record at the end of the season hinges largely on the success of such sessions.

If I am serious about playing well for my Heavenly Coach I will eagerly take part in the periodic reviews He makes of my life. At times I will sense Him saying “Bob, you missed an opportunity to be a witness there” or “Bob, that was cruel” or “Bob, that was a selfish attitude.”

Then my reaction should be “You’re right, Lord. I’m sorry. I see now that it was sinful. I confess each of these to you and I will try my best not to repeat them. Please help me. Thank you for forgiving me.”

At other times Coach will say “Bob, you controlled your temper pretty well back there” or “You were extra kind and thoughtful with your family today” or “Your attitude of gratitude was strong last week.”

And my reaction should be “Thank you, Lord. All that is the work of your Spirit. I’m going to work harder to make sure I keep developing the fruit of your Spirit.”

Bits, Pieces, Odds, Ends – 13

Quiet me, Lord,that I may experience you and worship you.
Embolden me, Lord, that I may serve you and testify of you.
Guide me, Lord, to appropriate times, places and methods of both.

Jesus is my only current and eternal security.

As a child of God I should strive to be informed about Jesus so I can be transformed by Jesus.

Ultimate wisdom is complete oneness with God.

The degree to which I can behave like Jesus depends on the degree to which I am like Jesus.

Jesus, the healer of body and spirit, allows us to visit him whenever and as often as we please. No appointments are necessary and walk-ins are welcome.

Jesus spent more time teaching than healing. He placed spiritual growth above physical health. Do my priorities match his?

When strangers visit my church, do they meet people who want to help them and love them or people who want to only count them?

The Greatest Prayer

Which is the greatest prayer in the Bible?

The answer to this question is usually based on which prayer had the largest, most impressive result. Elijah's prayer in I Kings 17:20-22 brought life to the body of a young boy. Joshua's prayer in Joshua 10:12-13 resulted in altered movement of the sun and an Israelite victory. Moses' prayer in Exodus 32:11-14 caused God to "repent" of His idea to "consume" the Hebrew people. Each of these, in some way, worked for the benefit of the person praying.

I maintain, however, that the greatest prayer of all was offered by Jesus in Matthew 26:39 when He said "...not as I will, but as you will." Simple and short, from a totally submitted heart, this prayer was answered by Jehovah God and ended in Jesus' torture and death. They both knew that death was imminent and both accepted it. The result was the offering of salvation to untold numbers of people throughout the world. And it serves as the type of prayer that Christians should be offering every day.

The greatest prayer resulted in the greatest sacrifice and the greatest resurrection the world has ever known.

Desert Experiences

Are you in a desert right now? Are you living in a harsh environment, surrounded by unpleasant people and unfair expectations? If so, don't despair! God has often used such situations to prepare his people for great acts of service.

He used the desert to prepare Moses to lead the Hebrew nation out of slavery. He sent Jesus into the desert after the first public proclamation of his divine mission. Paul spent time in the desert after discovering his life goals were completely wrong.

God dictated a completely unique agenda for each of these journeys. They were not a time for vacation or amusement. Jehovah confronted these men with themselves and with Himself. Each had to wrestle with God's view of his own past and future. Each was forced to acknowledge the Creator's rightful place as provider, ruler and commander. Yet each emerged with an understanding of God's will for his life and a dedication to follow that, wherever it led.

Are we willing to emotionally and spiritually go into the deserts He provides and spend time one-on-one? Are we willing to allow Him to show us our mistakes and weaknesses so that we can be changed? Are we ready to accept our total nothingness and acknowledge His complete power and wisdom in all parts of our lives?

He knows when we need to be removed from the daily rush and pressure of our schedules. After He has our attention He can show us who He is, who we are, what He wants to become within us and what we can become for Him. Such insights are often seen more clearly in the school room of the desert.

Until we fully and gratefully accept our dependence on Him we will not be ready to serve Him. When He puts us into the empty, harsh places we must accept his way of doing things and learn from the Master Teacher.

Don’t Look Back

The disciples literally and figuratively ran for cover Thursday night after Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. But by Sunday they were back together, perhaps in the same room where they had eaten the Passover meal with Jesus less than seventy-two hours earlier.

When Jesus came to them He did not speak even one word of condemnation or blame. He returned to them, not in a spirit of disappointment or criticism, but in a spirit of love. He did not remind them of the past with words of “Why didn’t you…?” Instead, He directed them toward the future with thoughts of “From now on you must…”

Jesus knew only a little time would pass between the resurrection and the ascension. There was too much teaching that needed to be done for him to spend time rehashing their mistakes. He wanted to concentrate his time on preparations for spreading the gospel.

Gethsemane was a defeat in the past. They had to move beyond it.

The resurrection was a victory in the present. They could celebrate it, but not linger there.

Pentecost was a gift in the future. They needed to be prepared for it.

We are Christ’s disciples, and the Holy Spirit comes to us with much the same message. Our mistakes and sins of the past have been forgiven and forgotten by a merciful God. Yes, Satan defeated us in some of the old spiritual battles, but we must forget them.

God has accepted us into his family and established a permanent, personal love relationship with each of us. That is a glorious victory. We can celebrate it every morning and remember it every evening with amazement and gratitude. But we must not remain immobile and inactive in the warm comfort zone of his love.

We are called to leave the victory celebration and tell people  in the alleys and streets that God loves them. Each of us is to have our own personal Pentecost where the Holy Spirit fills us and activates us to tell the Good News.

When Jesus returned to heaven the angel said to the disciples “Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky?” (Acts 1:11 CEV) They were being told to move on in their walk of loyalty and devotion to Jesus.

We are called to do the same. We cannot look back in guilt and doubt to the mistakes of the past. Nor must we spend too much time looking in joy and gratitude to the mountain-top experiences of days gone by.

We are to look forward to the Holy Spirit’s leadership as we “go, and teach all nations.” (Matthew 18:19)

The guilt of our sins is in the past. It is forgiven.

Our salvation is in the present. We can celebrate it.

Our service is in the future. What will we do for Jesus?

Limiting God

A man decided he wanted to live in a new house. He met with a contractor and after they discussed every aspect of the project they shook hands on the deal. Since the site was at the end of a narrow, rutted road it was decided the construction would not begin until all the material had been delivered.

Three weeks later the carpenter and his crew started moving dirt and pouring concrete. A week after that the owner showed up one morning with a can of red spray paint. He walked around the stacks of material and started marking some of it with the paint. The builder was confused. He asked “What are you doing?”  The land owner replied “Do not use any of the material that has red paint on it. Do the best you can with the rest of the stuff.” He ignored all other questions, got into his pickup and drove off. It was the last time he visited the scene until the house was completed.

The carpenter continued to work to fulfill his part of the agreement. He did the best he could with the limited material and soon completed the project. When the owner came for his last inspection he was dissatisfied. He could not understand why the work was not up to the standard of the construction crew’s usual work.

Do we behave this way with God? We accept the blood of Jesus as payment for our sins. We become God’s children. Then we begin the process of discipleship, trying to become like Christ. But when the Holy Spirit comes to guide and help us, we withhold parts of ourselves. We say “Help me. Mold me. Shape me, but don’t change my attitudes, preferences or habits. You are not allowed to alter my likes and dislikes. My favorite forms of recreation and pleasure are off limits.”

Then we wonder why our lives are not producing the joy, peace, power and contentment we feel God has promised. We don’t understand (or accept) that God needs us to commitment all of who we are in order for us to become all of what He wants us to be.