A Few Good Men

Kat

Photo Credit: Kat via CC Flickr

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

One man committed to a cause is greater than 10,000 merely interested spectators. A few good men is better. That’s how the greatest armies, greatest teams are built.

God is looking for such men. His missions are crucial. High stakes define them but they grow great through everyday faithfulness. His team is built on abandon, selfless, brave volunteers who say ‘Yes!’ and take on His noble missions with fearless honor.

Pushbacks:
* Heard the Lord talk like this to you? Recognize a true call and holy cause? Need to turn the volume down on other things?
* Feeling yourself moved by high calling? What could this be? Attaching any strings or fully surrendered?
* Willing to step up, step out, and offer full commitment to a cause greater than yourself, the greatest cause ever? Employed by God and engaged in mission?

LORD, let me feel Your heavenly surge and upward, outward cause. Don’t let me contract the disease of me and die in the dumps of disservice. May I take rank with You in holy mission.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Bring honor to Christ.
Coach Mo

Perfect Ref/Perfect Sub/Perfect Win

Daveynin

Photo Credit: Daveynin via CC Flickr

“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.” 2 Thessalonians 1:5

Referees are paid to call only what they see and to call it right. They can’t guess. They can’t assume. And they can’t be mistaken or fooled. They must cover ground faithfully to take in all that’s there. They must take great pride in seeing the game properly, getting the most accurate feel for the game and it’s people. Finally, they must know the rule book well and apply it fairly, judiciously, uncompromisingly. The best referees do all this at breakneck speed.

Players must honor and adjust their play or get in foul trouble. Playing the game of life too often means inevitable foul trouble and need of a substitute. In order to guarantee victory a change has to be made.

God is Ultimate Referee, Remarkable Substitute, Eternal Reward. He loves the game and it’s people. He sees all, knows all. Nothing escapes His attention. He knows the rule book perfectly and applies it with both unflinching truth and prodigal (extravagant) grace. His play on our behalf insures our triumph and His glory.

Let’s see all this play out in 2 Thessalonians 1:5. Here’s what God wants us to clear about:

  1. God’s judgment is right. Deal with it. He doesn’t miss a call. He examines both our blamelessness (righteousness) and our blame (sin). He wants to see righteousness win and grieves when it doesn’t.
  2. God offers hope that we can stay out of foul trouble, that we can be ‘counted worthy of the Kingdom of God’. This hope is found through His Son. The Son becomes blame-bearer and sin-substitute. Our sins (serious foul trouble) get pinned to Him.
  3. For those counted worthy, suffering is temporary but triumph inevitable. The most perfect wins often push through the greatest pain. Hang in there!

The bottom line of the Gospel simply becomes this:

Holy God in love became

Perfect Man to bear my blame.

On the cross He took my sin.

By His death I live again.

May you live loving the game, the ref, the substitute, the journey…and live again!

Love you, too!

Coach Mo

Kingdom Reach

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10

In about 1000B.C., the Chinese of the Chou empire period named their country ‘Zhongguo’, meaning ‘Middle Kingdom’. Unaware of other high civilizations to the West, they believed their empire occupied the middle of the earth, surrounded by barbarians. The nickname they gave themselves stuck for many centuries but eventually thwarted their ability to grow and progress. In the end, the empire was overthrown, decayed from within.

We too can think of ourselves as center of the universe. I see it in lots of players, teams, schools, businesses. When we do this, when we set the definitions for everything – right, wrong, good, purpose, control – we leave no room for any outside forces to define, inform or shape anything about us. We live in a secret vacuum as if in our own Middle Kingdom.

That’s why the core prayer that Jesus gives us in His lesson, ‘This Is How You Pray’, starts out with straightforward worship of God and then invitation of another kingdom, God’s Kingdom, to come, rule and reign and set the definitions in us day by day. He doesn’t want to see us get stuck in our own little middle kingdoms. Another kingdom needs to invade ours. Otherwise we’re doomed.

So let’s worship God each day and allow His Kingdom’s rule and reign to reach into ours. Let’s long to see the domain of the sovereignty of God in Christ extend everywhere, in heaven, on earth, in me. And let’s play a vital role in this beautiful movement.

How far does God’s Kingdom reach get into you and through you?

LORD, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

Wanting His reach extended in me and through me,
Coach Mo

‘Paris’ World

Photo Credit: Harish Rao via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Harish Rao via CC Flickr

“Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:17-20

I suppose you’re aware of what happened November 13th in Paris. Tough news. That’s the way it is sometimes. Scripture has a few things to say about a world like this. Let’s take a look…

1. BE ON GUARD. Brace yourself. Let vigilance, awareness, mindfulness mark my life. Evil always lurks and seeks to raise its ugly head. Lay a good defensive foundation. Our ‘Paris’ world always needs protection.

2. ‘ON MY ACCOUNT’. Operate as an uncompromised, unashamed witness. God’s got my back. What happens to me is His business too. I trust Him, come what may. I am not alone.

3. GIVEN WORDS. God supplies clutch play at crucial times. His Spirit gives people perfect thoughts, ideas, words.  That’s because His Name is at stake. So don’t worry. Just live like a mouthpiece.

Pushbacks

* How’s your defensive package? Your alertness and vigilance to evil always powered on? Known for your protection?

* Operating with quiet trust that your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3-4), that you’re on His tab, that your future is secure, that God’s gotcha?

* Experiencing clutch play at crucial times, especially when repping the Lord? Counting on Him to come through and defend His name in a ‘Paris’ world?

LORD, help my vigilance on Your behalf to be strong. The world needs guardians for good. Thrill me again and again with joy and confidence in knowing I operate as Your agent, on Your account. Thank you by faith for the ongoing flow of words I’ll need at crucial times.

Be strong.

Stand for truth.

Live for eternity.

Coach Mo

Getting In and Out of Trouble

Photo Credit: Erik Drost via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Erik Drost via CC Flickr

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

The 2015 NBA Finals are playing out dramatically. The Golden State Warriors got themselves into trouble early in the series…and now it looks like they’re getting themselves out too. A few key adjustments were made. We’ll see how the last games play out.

Adjustments are crucial indeed. Being careful to not step on anyone else’s toes is one of them…but it can get us into trouble more than we think. Whenever we allow ourselves to become too self-conscious, snares are bound to follow. Concern for what others think of us is not nearly as important as what God thinks. That’s what today’s scripture is all about.

We get out of trouble and are kept safe when we drop a fear of man and add trust in the LORD. When we become more completely careless of our standing before men, we avoid coming snares. And when ‘trusting the LORD’ gets put into our starting lineup, it’s safe to say we’re headed for a life-win. (Thanks, Andre Iguodola, for showing us a fresh, rich illustration!)

How much does ‘fear of man’ factor into your lineup decisions and daily interactions? Is Self-Consciousness getting too much playing time in your life? Is Trust-in-the-LORD getting enough? Those who trust in Him are kept safe, from without and from within.

LORD, free us from fear of man and the burden of self-consciousness and hesitation it produces. Let us find safety and victory through trusting You. Transform and renew our minds (Romans 12:2). We know how to get into trouble. Thank You for showing us how to get out. For our joy and Your great glory. Amen.

Trust God. Period.
Coach Mo

Taming the Foolish Child

Photo Credit: Tim Oiler via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Tim Oiler via CC Flickr

A little while ago, I came across a great story told by Rudy Ruettiger, a renowned player for the Notre Dame football that inspired his squad for years with his determination and work ethic. Hollywood eventually made a motion picture about his exploits and help to inspire thousands of people around the world.

In the following story, Rudy tells a touching story of him and his father and how a certain situation turned his life around…forever.

Coach Muller

———

Notre Dame is a legendary place. A spot on the team means a chance at great fame. Rudy Ruettiger is a legend himself. He made the Notre Dame class. He then went on to become the heart of the Fighting Irish. His dad, Daniel Ruettiger, was a war hero and legendary dad. 14 kids. Married a world-class mom. Worked three jobs. Yet he always found time to attend his kids’ games.

“Bullied, badgered and mad, I became a rebel in school. Sophomore year it came to ahead. I befriended a rough kid who well could have spelled my end. A big fight was planned for that Friday night. My friend said, ‘Rudy, we’re tough. Let’s go.’

I foolishly agreed. I had a big head. It was a chance to show off. I’d smear those kids who had made me so mad.

I waited until the family was fast asleep. Quietly, I slid out of bed, pulled on my clothes, and tiptoed to the back door. I was careful not to make a sound.

Dad knew something was up. He cut me off at the door. With his hand on my shoulder, he insisted we talk.

I admitted where I was headed. The kids we would fight had belittled us. It was our turn to teach em’ some stuff.

That’s when Dad rescued my future, and maybe my life. He replied, ‘You are no man when a meaningless fight is your way. You become a man by knowing when to walk away. Learn it now and remember.’

I’m blessed that Dad stayed up to catch me that night. Bad news came the next day. Several were badly hurt in the fray. With a blow to the head, my friend was now dead.

It could have been me, or I might have been cuffed and taken away. Either way, that would have spelled the end of my dream – no Notre Dame.

Dad, you were the best: You taught me to stop the big talk; to get in life’s game, then go out and fight to make the big plays. You taught me to know when to walk away.”

By: Rudy Ruettiger

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” ~  Proverbs 1:8

Speak

Photo Credit: Norm4nNorm4

Photo Credit: Norm4nNorm4

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…” Proverbs 31:8

There’s a lot of noise in our world. Televisions run 24/7 and radios pump incessantly. Pandora and Spotify play supporting cast. Earbuds are worn like permanent jewelry and headphones crown our numbed heads. Still, there is too much silence, too many folks living lives of quiet desperation. The cries of the silent are not being heard.

When I was in college, during a big injury low point, a teammate of mine, unbeknownst to me, spoke on my behalf. What he said, I learned later, valued and defended me powerfully to powerful others and ended up making a huge difference in my future. I’m eternally grateful for Tim White.

Today’s Word invites us to speak meaningfully, to add volume to others and let our voices be strategically heard. I’m so glad God champions such dialogue. Following are a few ideas to prime your pump in speaking up today:

1. Defend the defenseless. Find someone who needs defending and stand up for him.
2. Practice justice. Speak up for what’s right and who’s wrong.
3. Help the voices of the abused, the children, the widow, the powerless, the disadvantaged to be heard. Find one paralyzed by fear and become their mouthpiece.
4. Listen so well to the weak that you cannot be silent. Open your ears to open your mouth.
5. Turn a cellphone into a megaphone! Engage in conversations that champion and cheer on others. 😉

LORD, help us to raise the volume on what needs to said and to speak up for others who need support. Don’t let us leave them voiceless. Thank you for Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25) May we follow His example well and do the same for others.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Glory to God!
Coach Mo

Approach is Everything!

Photo Credit: Mohammed Shamma via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Mohammed Shamma via CC Flickr

“Let the children come. Don’t stop them. The kingdom of God belongs to people who come like this.” Matthew 19:14

The approach we take as we start a shot, a swing, a game, a contest, a meeting, an assignment, an interview, a season, even each new day, is important. Approach really affects outcome. Approach is perhaps everything.

Let’s not forget this when it comes to God and matters of His Kingdom. Here’s what I mean:
• The best way to come to God is as a child would, bringing perpetual wonder, abiding trust, and pure faith. Any other approach diminishes the outcome.
• The older one gets the more one must be intentionally youthful, working to keep their childlikeness before God. Keep the child in the relationship.
• Ultimate reality shines clearest and best to those who behold it like children, looking for a King and his Kingdom and a storyline that offers real hope to ‘live happily ever after’.
• Like developing athletic movements, don’t overcomplicate the Gospel and the Kingdom. It’s message is profound because of its simplicity, not its complexity.
• Don’t stop the flow. Encourage the flow of kids to God. Encourage the kid in you to come too.

How’s your approach? How well are you looking at life, at God? Like a child? Filled with wonder? Coming in good faith, filled with pure intentions and simple trust? No better approach than this!

LORD, don’t let us overcomplicate You, Your Kingdom, the gospel, life. Let us see You, come to You, experience You, delight in you as children do their Daddy. And help us bring other kids to You as well.

Approach is everything.

Maximum effort.
Heart for others.
Glory to God!
Coach Mo

The Destructive Effects of Unforgiveness

Photo Credit: Cliff via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Cliff via CC Flickr

On July 2, 1881, the 20th president of the United States, President James Garfield, was in a railroad station getting ready to board a train for the New Jersey shore, when he was suddenly shot twice by a madman, Charles Guiteau.

President Garfield was shot twice at close range…one shot glanced off of his arm while the second bullet found its way into his abdomen. He was taken immediately to Washington DC to be cared for and treated.

Over the course of the next 80 days, sixteen doctors tried their skill and techniques to try to save the life of the president. The stuck a metal probe into him to search for the bullet as well as their dirty fingers and filthy instruments.

Because of the heat and humidity it was decided that he would be moved to a cottage at the Jersey shore. Shortly thereafter, President Garfield’s temperature began to rise, so the decision was made to reopen him up and try to dislodge the bullet and again, they failed. What started out as a shallow, 3 inch wound became a huge 20 inch long, pus infected wound that leaked infection and fluids…from his ribs to his groin.

His robust weight of 210 pounds dropped to an anemic 130 pounds. Then, on September 19, 1881, President Garfield yelled out, “This pain, this pain!” He was suffering from a massive heart attack and died a little while later.

———————-

You may be asking yourself what this story has to do with forgiveness and unforgiveness. Well, this story illustrates the harmful power unforgiveness. Sometimes when a person is wronged, whether it be verbal, physical, or mentally, it can be a very difficult thing to forgive the transgressor.

In a group setting, the effects of unforgiveness can have an even greater effect on a person…and here is why. When a person (or a group of people) cannot forgive an individual…what sometimes happens is that the wronged person might begin to get teased, ridiculed, laughed at, or sometimes, sadly, even harmed by the stubborn person (or people) or cannot forgive.

The result? What could have ended a problem, a situation, or a wrong-doing in a quick, simple fashion, festered into something ugly and sometimes, repulsive. Just like the doctors who “treated” President Garfield with dirty hands and implements….harmful words and actions y others can “infect” and “contaminate” a person’s soul, which can destroy an individual’s life.

It is important to remember this…it wasn’t the bullet that lead to President Garfield’s death…it was the constant prodding, poking, and bad practices that caused him to die. Such it is when people cannot forgive..it can lead to the destruction of others.

So, remember, the next time you have the ability and opportunity to forgive someone who has confessed to you a wrong, even though it might be a hard thing to do, have the courage and conviction to do what is right…and help heal a wounded soul today!

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” _ Matthew 6: 14-15

GOD STILL HEALS AND RESTORES!!

Coach Muller

Some very interesting additional information about this story from a reader of this blog: You really struck on an important point in the history of our country for your good illustration! With very great interest, I read “Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President,” by the very talented author, Candice Millard. You are quite correct that Garfield’s physicians killed him via unsanitary treatment ~ completely unacceptable because Dr. Lister in France had already discovered the necessity in providing medical care in a completely sanitized environment; however, did you know that Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, sent his own father’s physician, Dr. Willard Bliss, to Washington to help in the treatment of Garfield? And also that one Dr. Susan Edson, one of the first female doctors in the country, was also present? Also, very interesting, a young Alexander Graham Bell attempted inventing an instrument capable of precisely locating the bullet w/o invasive procedure? (The fully successful completion of this would, unfortunately, come later but still…)  “noblethemes”

Searching For Patience

Photo Credit: Unknown

Photo Credit: Unknown

I have been dealing with a lack of patience, of late, in one area of my life. I was searching and found a devotional by Rick Warren, and just had to share it. These simple words were a great reminder that God’s timing is not my timing; a reminder that sometimes a delay in answers to prayer is the answer; a reminder that I serve a mighty God and I need to stop and rest in that fact. Thank you Jesus for your patience with me! So, from Rick Warren:
“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Habakkuk 2:3 LB)

Even as you make a decision to follow the dream God places in your heart, you can expect a delay. God will not fulfill your dream immediately, because this is another step toward building your faith.

In Habakkuk 2, God says, “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled” (Habakkuk 2:3 LB).

When delay comes to your dreams, you’ll most likely start asking the question, “When, Lord? When are you going to answer my prayer?”

And we hate to wait. We don’t like to wait in a doctor’s office, in traffic jams, at restaurants, for Christmas presents, or for anything else. But what we hate worst of all is waiting on God.

We all have to go through these waiting periods. Even Jesus waited for 30 years in the carpenter’s shop before setting out on his public ministry.

Why do we wait? It teaches us to trust in God. We learn that his timing is perfect.

One of the facts we have to learn is this: God’s delay never destroys his purpose.
A delay is not a denial. Children must learn the difference between “no” and “not yet,” and so must we.

Many times we think God is saying, “No,” but he is really saying, “Not yet.”

Coach Nancy Rook