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

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

The Bookends

Canned Muffins

Photo Credit: Canned Muffins via CC Flickr

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 3:18

Let’s talk about winning streaks! When you or your team get on a roll and establish a great winning streak, the first and last wins become the big bookends, usually the most memorable and notable in the string. Can you think of a great personal winning streak…and those bookend games that housed and defined the streak?

Uniquely, The Bible points to 2 words that open 13 straight of its books and 16 of the last 21. Those streaking words are ‘grace’ and ‘peace’. And equally harmonic and powerful, for each of those last 21 books of the Bible, either ‘grace’ or ‘peace’ also becomes the last word or thought mentioned 17 of 21 times (including 14 books in a row). Thus, the Bible bookends so much of its powerful messages around these two words.

The sheer weight of these opening and closing repetitions should command our attention too. Perhaps this is the way we should open and close our conversations also, so that no matter what else is said in between, grace and peace will consistently enter our conversations and close them too.

Do you talk like this? Do you approach others, depositing these kinds of messages, making people feel God’s grace and peace with you? Of all the things you wish for others, is this the pair you package and deliver? Get on a good winning streak of grace and peace in your life…and get others on that streak with you.

LORD, of all the things I talk about each day, help me to speak grace and peace. Help me to experience your grace and peace and then bring it to others. Let me get on a roll and help others to win because they stand tall and confident, bookended by Your grace and peace, too.

Grace and peace to you!!
Coach Mo

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.”

The Heart of A Champion

US Department of Agriculture

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture via CC Flickr

In 1990, the Colorado Buffaloes football team was on the road to the national championship. Before half the season was over the Buffaloes had already defeated ranked teams Texas, Oklahoma, Washington, and tied #6 Tennessee. They also faced the toughest schedule in the nation. But even throughout all this success, Colorado coach Bill McCartney still had a huge RED problem. You see, his next game was against the highly ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. To make matters worse, going into the game Colorado had lost 23 straight times to Nebraska when playing at Nebraska’s home field in Lincoln. What could he do to motivate his players?

McCartney knew that teams always play best when they have a sense of team, that selfless attitude that takes his players out of the mind set of playing for themselves and into the mind set of playing for the team. With this attitude, when the team gets glory. the player gets glory. Outstanding individual performance means little if the team does not perform well as a whole. Bill McCartney is also an outspoken Christian and he always sought to demonstrate the principles of Christianity to his team even while motivating them. So with that in mind he came up with a plan to motivate his players. In the last meeting before leaving for Lincoln, he called his players together and said this.

“At the end of the game each one of you is going to receive a $70 game ball with the score printed on the football. Before we leave tomorrow I want you to call up somebody close to you and tell them to watch you play. I want you to play your heart out, and play each and every down for that person. Tell them that you are dedicating your game to THEM.”

Well, the plan worked. On a soggy, cold, rain swept Nebraska field, Colorado overcame a 12 point 4th quarter deficit to defeat the Cornhuskers 28-12. Coach McCartney to this day attributes the win to the selfless play of his team even when they were losing. It allowed them to muster up every bit of strength and courage to come back and win. Their strength came from an attitude of selflessness.

Being a Christian is all about being a team player and submitting to one another out of love. The attitude is, “Give the other person the glory,” and “Let the other person go first.” So today, your game plan is to pick someone else on the field and play each and every down for them. Play selflessly. Play without trash talk. Play with humility. Play with dignity. Play with class.

At the end of the game you’ll want to be able to say, “I played a great game for You today, and I played with the heart of a champion.”

~ Author: Nathan Naversen

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

Pushing Through

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“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

‘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

A Few Good Men

Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel 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