“Uniquity”

Trevor Dunaway

Photo Credit: Trevor Dunaway via CC Flickr

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

 For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.  If they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations,various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healing, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
And I show you a still more excellent way.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27


As the HS chapel leader years ago at Norfolk Christian, I started off
the chapel season one year creating this “sniglet” (a combination of
two words with a meaning utilizing both words) to create the word
“uniquity”. I always liked making up sniglets (and still do) when a
normal word just doesn’t make it like “slibble” – a slip/dribble – the
process of stepping on a soccer ball while dribbling but wiping out
and falling on your back!). As you can guess, uniquity is a combination of being unique and unity. This was my hope for the HSstudent body that year. My desire (as was all the HS teaching staff) was to see each student continue to be the uniquely created individual
that God made them to be; and to see them utilize those gifts and
talents in the HS community to strengthen the body and do their part
to make it stronger, function better AND be, of course, unified as a
child of God AND loving and accepting of each other’s differences.

This word could be used for all Christians whether referring to their relationship with the body of believers, their function in the church or even in their own family. In this chapter,
Paul says that, just like the different parts of the human body,
whether the brain, heart, eye or the seemingly most insignificant
part, ALL the parts are important to the proper function of the body.

This illustration is symbolic of body of Christ. All members are
important, bring a special gift to the group, AND should appreciate,
acknowledge, accept and encourage those gifts, talents, personality
traits  and skills those in the body bring!

These verses were always part of the first devotions I would have
with my soccer teams at our preseason tournaments leading into our
first games: “So that there should be no division in the body, but
that it’s parts should have equal concern for one another. If one part
suffers, every part suffers with it,  if one part is honored, every
part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ and each of you
is a part of it.” I Cor. 12: 25-27.

Know what your “part” is in the body of Christ, do all you can to
utilize it to build up the body, and appreciate and encourage what
each member of the body of Christ contributes!!

Pushing Through

Ricardo Camacho

Photo Credit: Ricardo Camacho via CC Flickr

“But I trust in Your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in Your deliverance. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13:6

Psalm 13 shows us what to do when we find ourselves asking tough questions like this:

* How long will You forget me? (v1)

* How long will You hide from me? (v1)

* How long must I wrestle with my thoughts? (v2)

* How long must my heart sorrow? (v2)

* How long will my enemies triumph over me? (v2)

All these questions make me think that maybe Psalm 13 was written by an athlete or coach going through a tough season, rough injury, personal performance slump, real loneliness, broken relationship, or a long losing streak. And it’s written to an audience that will likely feel the very same way.

BUT Psalm 13 ends with a great 3-Point Play. Let’s take a look at what’s declared to help us push through:

* LOOK BACK AT WINS. One of the best ways to get through a tough stretch in life is to take a good look back. Note a salvation seen in the past, a deliverance experienced, a victory won. Resurrect the win to trust that it will happen again. He has been good. (v5)

* LOOK UP FOR POWER. Make sure there is a strong, real object to your faith and hope – the LORD. Only empowered ones truly push through. In His unfailing love, God delivers. (v6)

* SING OUT IN PRAISE. A last great way to push through is to find a good praise song and start singing it. Sing out about who’s been good to you. Sing in praise. Let the praise build the expectancy to push through again. (v6)

Pushing through,

Coach Mo

The Way God Wins

Gabriel Rosa

Photo Credit: Gabriel Rosa via CC Flickr

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses…., God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in (Jesus).” Colossians 2:13–15 ESV

When God wins, He wins big time! We’re not talking an overtime, squeak-it-out victory. And we’re not talking about a soccer game where there’s a shootout win because one ball dribbles in, but otherwise it would have been a tie. God doesn’t operate like that. When He wins a battle, His victory is decisive.

As God was pouring out His wrath on His Son, we were there in His mind. From each painful step to Calvary, to His last breath on the cross, Jesus was taking on the ultimate battle—“the rulers and authorities” who were waving “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”

Satan had an open-and-shut case against us. Left to ourselves, we were toast. But Colossians 2:15 declares that when Jesus won the victory on the cross, “He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (NKJV). When it came to settling our eternal destiny, God wasn’t offering an obligatory “good game.” He was triumphing over the principalities and powers, including the enemy himself: “You lost! Just like I told you!” That’s the way God wins.

Further, after what looked like a devastating defeat by the enemy, came the ultimate triumph: “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6). Neither death nor the grave nor Satan’s plans stood a chance against the risen Savior!

Today, Jesus lives to further His victory through the lives of His followers. In fact, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). In Christ, we aren’t just conquerors, we’re super conquerors—because God doesn’t just win, He crushes the enemy (Romans 16:20). That’s why we don’t want to take on this battle ourselves. It is the reason the transaction at the cross was entirely out of our hands.

Jesus took on our debt, our sin, our (broken) condition, and defeated the condemning, eternal hold these things can have on us. Because of His death and resurrection, all who trust in Him for salvation are granted a place in the conquering band that will rejoice in His victory forever!
(All the above from James McDonald)

Pushbacks:
* Consider your personal battles in light of this truth.
* Express your heart to the Lord, pouring out your adoration, for an ultimate reason to celebrate.

LORD, when You win, You win big-time! That’s what makes this Friday so good and me so richly blessed. Thank you for becoming my complete sin-bearer, my only righteousness, my matchless defender, my true victor and coming King. You are the best, worthy of my lifetime devotion.

GOOD Friday to you!!!
Coach Mo

Campfires

Jonathan Hoeglund

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hoeglund via CC Flickr

Do you love campfires? …and fires in fire bowls, fire pits and fire
places? I think we all do: roasting marshmallows, having “smores”,
hanging out with friends or family and watching the flames provide a
brilliant light in a dark area. But for most of us, it’s the warmth
that the fire gives that we love the most! When you’re close to the
fire, the warmth on a cool evening surrounds you and is a wonderful
feeling. But having the seat two rows back from the campfire or
walking away from the fire and you are back in the coldness. Our walk
with God is similar. HE is like the campfire and when close to him, we
feel that warmth.

However often times we feel extremely cold – away from the fire. We
also know that if we’re too close to the fire, it’s possible We could
catch on fire!! This is not a good thing in reality, but in the
spiritual realm, I would suggest that’s how it should be! We, then
become mini-campfires ourselves. Some of you reading this may have
never experienced what being close to the campfire (God) feels like.
Maybe you don’t know him and have never had that feeling. If not, the
solution is as simple as lighting the wood with a match! First, admit
that there IS a God who created you, secondly understand that their
are no perfect people (Romans 3:10, “There are none righteous, no not
one.”) and that you too are a sinner. Then ask Jesus into and to take
control of your life (Rev 3: 20, Behold I stand at the door and knock,
if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into
him”…) and then allow Him and trust him to direct your life, have
fellowship with him and start your journey on the path of he intended
for you with your personal campfire now lit. Then feed and stoke that
campfire to grow by: reading the Bible and a good applicable
devotional, hanging out with other believers, praying regularly
(prayer lists or journals are helpful) and serve God and others in
your church and community.

If you have accepted Christ but you feel cold and away from the “fire”
and your personal campfire is barely smoldering, then James 4: 8 has
an answer for you: “Come close to God and he will come close to you.”
Nothing really profound there. God has not moved. He is waiting for
you to reach out to HIM. Take the steps mentioned before on how to
stoke the fire and feel that warmth again in having that CLOSE
relationship to HIM. Like improving in anything in life, it takes
consistent work and practice to become good at it. Don’t let Satan
discourage you if you have failed before. You will fail at times again
but each time you do, pursue Christ with more vigor and your efforts
will make you stronger and closer to Him on a more consistent basis!

Pray each day that you will stay close to God and make that
relationship to Him a priority so that your OWN campfire can grow,
spread and provide a light in this dark world.

Only Two Things Deliver

John Christian Fjellestad

Photo Credit: John Christian Fjellestad via CC Flickr

“Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4

What things do you always carry with you? My stock answer has always been: my Bible, my ball, and my best playing shoes. 😉 Today’s text introduces two more ‘must adds’. They’re so simple but crucial. They’re small but they don’t always fit so easily. In fact, some think they won’t fit, don’t fit, can’t fit, so they often stay left behind. But without them God says it’s about impossible to experience what we really hope for in life.

God says that there are just two things that bring the big things we all look for: wealth, honor and life. Only one pair can deliver this trifecta. Nothing else can…for very long.

What brings real wealth, honor, and life is humility and the fear of the LORD. Humility keeps our powerful urges for control, approval and comfort from taking over and messing things up. Humility helps us trust the process, trust God. Then ‘Fear of the LORD’ brings us to where our needs for control, approval and comfort are best met. Without humility and the fear of the Lord our pursuit of wealth, honor and life can never bring us the control, approval and comfort we really long for. Only two things, humility and the fear of the Lord can.

LORD, make it very clear to us that the only real, sustainable way to wealth, honor and life is found through humility and the fear of the Lord. Don’t let us look for it any other way. Only two things deliver.

Be strong.
Stand for truth.
Live for eternity.
Coach Mo

Bonus Coverage: 5 extending footnotes
that define this verse’s 5 terms:
WEALTH brings power and control. Thats why we want it. That’s the endgame. True wealth brings freedom from control and freedom to control. True wealth never brings slavery. Wealth = Control
HONOR signals approval, recognition, the feeling of accomplishment we get when others believe we’re great, have value or make a real difference. Audience matters. ‘Audience of One’ matters more. Honor = Approval
LIFE seeks satisfaction, a sense of contentment and fulfillment that a life well lived brings. Life = Satisfaction
HUMILITY brings a correct view of self. It’s not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. Gotta have this to live on well. Humility = Seeing Self Straight
FEAR OF THE LORD’ simply means a proper view of God, seeing God for who He really is. Fear of the LORD = Seeing God Straight

New Body Parts

Coach Rose

An X-Ray of Coach Rose’s Knee!!

As some of you know, I recently had a hip and double knee replacement surgery. These were the first surgery’s I have had since my appendix was removed in 5th grade! These 3 joints had become more and more a source of pain and anguish to me. They were inhibiting movement to the point where all the activities of my life (vocation, family time, exercise, house projects and simple daily chores) revolved around what my injured joints would  and would not allow me to do. These new joints (the hip is perfect but the knees are still coming along) I am hoping will increase the activity I can do and take away the pain these injured body parts were causing.
However, there are other parts of my body that often inhibit me and affect my relationship to others and to God that surgery (unfortunately) cannot repair or replace. There have been many times in my life I needed eye, tongue, ear, heart, feet and even partial brain (my thoughts) replacement surgery…

My eyes: watching things on TV or movies or the internet that cause impure thoughts
My tongue: which forms my words, certainly has shown it is damaged many times with mean, angry or sarcastic comments  “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” – James 3:8.
My ears have certainly shown they need replacing as well when I have allowed myself to listen to inappropriate stories of friends, gossip or movies, music or whatever that were not “for the use of edifying”
My heart which has often failed God or given its loyalties to other things (idols of sorts)
My feet: which have taken me to wrong and inappropriate places or NOT taken me to places where I should have gone.
My brain (thoughts) which far too many times have been not been spirit controlled. I could go on and on. I suppose some of these body parts could be replaced too.
Jesus was pretty clear about misused or sinful body parts in Matthew 18: 8+9. FORTUNATELY, Christ’s death on the cross took care of our sin and our imperfect body parts! Yes, science has “fixed” 3 of my joints but it is Christ’s propitiation for my sin that really heals these imperfections in my body and he forgives my sin with my imperfect humanness as far as the East is from the West! May we all trust his faithfulness to us and have peace and comfort by it.

Colossians 3:23, “Do everything heartily as unto The Lord, not as unto men.”

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

Praying the Alphabet

Photo Credit: Plaisanter via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Plaisanter via CC Flickr

I recently came across the following little article, written by Rick Hamilton from Guideposts publications, which I thought would be an interesting and helpful thing to share with you. I have actually done this quite often in the past, often with great success, especially if I was fighting with anxiety or couldn’t sleep.

Ever have one of those nights where you can’t sleep? You toss and turn, pull up the covers, push them down, fluff up your pillow, pound it, turn the light on, turn the light off, open the window, close it, and you’re still staring at the ceiling, avoiding the clock on your bedside table for fear of its shaming glow that says, “You’re not asleep yet? You headed for bed HOURS ago.”

Sometimes it’ll be a passel of worries that keep me up, and I attempt to do what my wife does at Lent when she gives up worry. “I turn the worries into prayer,” she says. A worthy strategy.

But oftentimes there seems no rhyme or reason for it. I’m just awake and the rest of the world seems to be sleeping. Peacefully, quietly. Restorative sleep.

Paul lists “sleepless nights” as one of the trials he undergoes and maybe by that he meant watchfulness or insomnia, but Jesus was so relaxed that when the disciples were fishing on storm-tossed waters, he slept through the whole turmoil and seems irritated to be wakened. Why didn’t they trust that he would look out for them, even asleep? Why indeed?

Instead of tossing and turning, I’ve found the best use of time during a sleepless passage is something I remember learning from Norman Vincent Peale from an article he wrote back in the early 80s. The message: Pray for others.

I go through the alphabet, starting with A, taking my time. After all, I’ve got all night. “Addie, Allen, Abigail, Barry, Bruce, Beverly, Becca, Catherine, Cordelia…”

Then I’ll find my mind swerving to concerns or diseases that fit those same letters: “Addiction, alcoholism, breast cancer, cervical cancer, cancer period…” which leads me to another roster of people.

I start picturing them whole, untroubled, safe, prospering, cared for, loved. And I’m always amazed how many people come to mind, people I haven’t thought of in years, people I’ve never known personally.

I like to think my prayers are making a difference in their lives, however far they are from me, even if I’ll never know what caused me to think of them. There’s a calming of the agitated wavelength and a community gathering in the nighttime.

“Maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” I think. It’s better than lying there aimlessly. It gives me a sense of purpose and some measure of peace.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep,” the Psalmist said, “for thou alone, O Lord, makest me dwell in safety” (4:8).

The truth of the matter is, there’s usually a big chunk of the alphabet I don’t get to, anything that begins with U, V, W, X, Y, Z. They might have made an appearance earlier in the meanderings of my brain, but by the time I get that deep into the alphabet, I am headed to sleep.

Of course, you can count sheep if you wish. But if you’re up–and I too might be up with you–let’s pray.

The Bright Side of the Moon

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Photostream via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Photostream via CC Flickr

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” – Proverbs 14:30

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

I have always found it interesting that in most things in life, there is a bright, positive side and there is the polar opposite, the dark, sometimes unknowing side. I like to think of the moon as an example…when you look at it at night, you always see the bright side. You can see the light (do you see a rabbit or a face?), you can see the craters of the moon and with a telescope, you can see the true beauty of our solar friend. Throughout the years, the bright side of the moon has been studied, explored and landed on but most of the dark side of the moon is undiscovered and unknown.

This is a good example of our lives. Most people see the “bright side of our lives…our smiles, sense of humor, our families, jobs, popularity, etc…but very few people ever see the dark corners of our lives. – Coach Muller

The most important thing that we need to remember each day, is how we VIEW LIFE. Do we look at it in negative, unenthusiastic, and harmful ways or do we perceive our life with a positive, confident, and healthy fashion outlook?

Generally speaking, I am an optimist. I enjoy my life and all of the great things that come along with it. It is important to view the things and circumstances in our lives in a healthy and upbeat approach…it adds years to your life, gives you a better sense of well-being, and a better outlook of yourself and the people around you. When people look at a optimist, they see happiness, joy, and a “brighter” person.

A person that is a pessimist is just the opposite… miserable, depressing, and gloomy. Individuals with these kinds of attributes usually don’t live a long, have all kinds of health related illnesses, and are just miserable to be around. They are equivalent to things that live in darkness and shadows.

The following are two short illustrations of the differences between an optimist and a pessimist. It is my hope that you are an individual that chooses to live and enjoy your life…on the “bright side of the moon.”

——————–

There is a story of two boys who were twins, one an incurable optimist, the other, a pessimist. The parents were worried about the extremes of behavior and attitude and finally took the boys in to see a psychologist. The psychologist observed them a while and then said that they could be easily helped.

He said that they had a room filled with all the toys a boy could want. They would put the pessimist in that room and allow him to enjoy life. They also had another room that they filled with horse manure. They put the optimist in that room. They observed both boys through one way mirrors. The pessimist continued to be a pessimist, stating that he had no one to play with. They went to look in on the optimist, and were astounded to find him digging through the manure. The psychologist ran into the room and asked what on earth the boy was doing. He replied that with all that manure, he was sure there had to be a pony in the room somewhere.

—————-

I read about a schoolboy who brought home his report card. It was heavy with poor grades. “What have you to say about this?” asked his father. “One thing for sure,” the boy replied, “Dad, you can be proud. You know I haven’t been cheating!”

Morning Glory, August 12, 1993.