Big Difference

Photo Credit: Dean Hochman via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Dean Hochman via CC Flickr

“Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.” Genesis 3:23

There’s a big difference between ‘going’ and ‘being sent’.

* Going suggests movement. Sent suggests an authority is launching that movement.

* Going is optional, involving choice. Sent means compelled, leaving no choice.

* Going means directed travel. Sent means mission, a deeper direction.

That’s why it feels so much better to be sent into battle instead of going into battle.

God sends. It’s His way. He launches men on missions. He compels our hearts and moves us deeply to move with Him, move for Him, move for others. Maybe that’s why the word ‘sent’ is mentioned 700 or so times in scripture. He wants us on mission with Him. Today’s verse is just the first recorded mention of the word.

Pushbacks

1. What do your movements look like? Do you just go, whether calculated or carefree,…or are you sent, driven by God to do or say something?

2. Do you ask God to come along and help you…or do you ask God if you can go with Him, for Him?

3. To be ‘on a mission’ means more than just going somewhere or doing a specific something. It means something else beyond yourself is driving you. How missional is your living? In what area(s) of your life do you feel called, sent?

LORD, send me. Don’t let me go anywhere, do anything without a sense of being sent.* The difference this makes is too big to do otherwise.

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

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

No Foolin’

Photo Credit: David Goehring via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: David Goehring via CC Flickr

“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way…” 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Deception is a key part of sports. Misdirection plays add much to game strategy and play effectiveness. Fooling your opponent creates advantage. Good teams and good players won’t fool easily. They see, recognize, and stay fundamental.

Deception is also foundation to producing counterfeit money. The only way not to get exploited is to know the ‘truth’, the real thing, so well that you cannot be deceived.

Be aware that there are counterfeit gospels as well. They are meant to deceive. Scripture says that there will be many such ‘gospels’ pushed out there. (2 John 1:7) And when they come before us, we simply can’t afford to play that game. The Bible repeatedly warns us to be sincerely vigilant and not to be deceived. (Matthew 24:4–24) We simply can’t let ourselves get taken.

Here’s how we get deceived:
1. THROUGH PRIDE. We allow ourselves to believe that we will not reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7) or are above being ‘taken’ by others (Jeremiah 49:16, Obadiah 1:3). Without humility before God, we go unprotected through life, from without (others) and from within (self).
2. THROUGH IGNORANCE. We do not really know the Word very well. We believe what others, especially very ‘spiritual’ people say, without personally testing their messages against what God’s Word truly says. We do not ‘test the spirits’ like we should. (1 John 4:1)
3. THROUGH CARELESSNESS. We do not read God’s Word carefully enough. (v5,10b) We fail to read scripture in context and make hasty conclusions to fit what we want to see, hear or have. In this way we deceive ourselves. (example: 1 John 1:8) Avoid fast, easy, law-based or lawless answers.
4. THROUGH BLINDNESS. We fail to open our eyes and see the wolves out there. When vigilance is not practiced, the enemies of our souls get in, get to us, corrupt, and leave us spiritually bankrupt of truth. (Matthew 7:15, 21–23)

So watch out. Don’t be deceived. Stay sound and fundamental. Live a life of victory over deception.

Loving you enough to speak the truth… No foolin’!

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

Tough Enough?

Photo Credit: Bycfotografem via Pixabay

Photo Credit: Bycfotografem via Pixabay

“And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” Mark 9:47

When it comes to one’s matters of personal conduct, preparation and performance, here’s a plateful of probing, beneficial questions…
• Are you tough enough on yourself?
• Tough enough to say ‘No’ to yourself?
• Tough enough to say to self, “No, not acceptable. Do it again, right, better.”
• Tough enough not to wait for someone else’s discipline and apply it to yourself?
• Finding the right balance in what’s enough and what’s too far?
• Tough enough to call personal sin ‘sin’ and then do something about it?
• As you enter a new day, are you prepared to fight as hard as necessary so that future wins will be guaranteed?
Good discipline produces great freedom. Freedom in the future hinges on discipline now.

In Mark 9:42-48, Jesus challenges us to be tough on ourselves, for our own good. He wants us entering God’s kingdom for sure, but He wants us going in (not down) swinging, striving as victors, fighting like victors, disciplined and tough now, not just established as victors in the end. He wants both. He says it’s better that way. He’d rather we learn to be tough on ourselves than for Him to apply all the toughness. What kind of man would only allow another man to apply the heat? Isn’t toughness also applied by self a better way to live?

That’s why Jesus said it’s better to pluck out your own eye if it’s causing you to sin than leave it unaddressed and let another apply the discipline, doing the removal. So take sin seriously. Apply some heat, some urgency, and get tough. It’s a much better way to live.

For reflection:
• How good are you at saying no to yourself?
• Known enviably well for your personal toughness (or just your toughness on others)?
• Taking all personal sin seriously enough?
• Got some urgency in your toughness?
• Relying on Christ to help you with your toughness? (His example is amazing and His Spirit so powerful.)

O LORD, thank You for showing me what real toughness looks like in Christ. May I, by your Spirit, be the same.  Help me deal tough with matters of personal sin. Fix whatever eyes I have on You and this better way to live!

Be tough. Fight sin.
Press on. Eyes on Him.

Titus 2:11–15
Hebrews 12:1–12

Feel Like Giving Up?

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

“And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”  2 Thessalonians 3:13

Why do people give up? Here are some of the most common reasons:
• No hope (no perceived chance for victory or real reward) 
• Not enough patience to keep going
• Fading interest (no sense of personal fulfillment)
• Poor fit (not enough talent or skill)
• Poor relationships kill the drive to press on
• Discouragement (criticism or lack of results has gotten to you)
Any of these hit home?

Still, there’s one more reason for giving up that should never make our list: fear of hard work. A great work ethic must mark the life of the believer, a true Christ-follower. That’s what Paul argues throughout 1 & 2 Thessalonians. As he closes his letter here, Paul challenges his ‘team’ once more, calling them to toughness, especially in regard to doing what’s right. In fact, he says that if a Christian is not known for his hard work and doing what’s right, living life of physical laziness and moral sloppiness instead, Paul argues that you should keep your distance from him. You can’t let such a one make your ‘team’ and your Lord look bad. (3:6,14)

So never fear hard work. Instead, embrace it. Let your life be defined by it. Be known for your great work ethic and toughness in doing what’s right no matter what. It supports the Gospel so well and focuses and fulfills you.

LORD, may I never fear hard work but rather be defined by it. May I advance Your Kingdom and enhance the gospel by being tireless in supporting what’s right and inspired by the perseverance of Christ. 

Be tough. 
Nothing detrimental. 
Bring honor to Christ.
Coach Mo

Freedom and Captivity

Photo Credit: Lynn Willis via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Lynn Willis via CC Flickr

“An evil man is snared his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad.” Proverbs 29:6

The presence and absence of sin in one’s life makes all the difference in the world. When sin abounds within me, it’s like I’m casting a net around my own feet. Sooner or later I will stumble, fall, and get bound up in the entanglement it inevitably causes. When righteousness prevails within me, I stay on the high road, snare-free, making me smile and sing to my heart’s content. I’m lifted and there’s nothing really to hold me back. What a way to live!

Is sin a snare to you? Feeling its entanglements (yet)? Walk free. Head towards righteousness and the Righteous One. Like playing a bad game in the past leaves the heart of a true champion, let His righteousness help you put sin in the past. Then sing a song of freedom and victory. You can’t beat the feeling of being clean.

LORD, help us see how critical it is to our future to deal with sin now. Don’t let us wait and get stuck. May your Son and Spirit coach us out of captivity and into forgiveness and freedom. Keep us on the high ground and put a lifting song in our hearts.

Singing towards my freedom,

Coach Mo

Standing in the End

Photo Credit: Kalyan Chakravarthy via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Kalyan Chakravarthy via CC Flickr

“A faithful man will be richly blessed…” Proverbs 28:20

In a world where things seem to be moving faster and faster, there’s one other move we must make: slowing down and dropping anchor around faithfulness. Faithfulness holds relationships together and allows teams to really mesh and products to perfect. Faithfulness keeps so much together when Circumstances try to pull everything apart. Faithfulness demands devotion. Faithfulness lifts, holds, endures. Coupled with love, it forms an unbeatable duo. It’s what leaves a man standing in the end.

Faithfulness has its reward too. While promotion often seems to run faster in other directions, faithfulness wins far more in the end. God says so. Longevity and fidelity to both cause and people is the hidden, high virtue. Rich blessings follow the faithful man. He’s the one left standing in the end.

Faithful men:
• play out every possession, on both sides of the ball.
• hang in there.
• love unconditionally and forgive well.
• live by commitment, never feelings or circumstance.
• never run from responsibility or duck duty.
• sacrifice much and don’t cash in early.
• expect the greater reward, God’s reward.

How are you sizing up to this faithfulness profile? Running short or richly blessed? Left standing or left behind.

LORD, help us to place high premium on faithfulness and hang in there. We know the Marines do; help us to place more. Let us be known for our faithfulness to You, to others, to our mission and purpose. Don’t let us run from commitment. Like your Son, let us be found faithful, standing with Him in the end. Richly bless our faithfulness journey, just as You promise. Through Christ the Faithful One. Amen.

Semper Fidelis (‘always faithful’),
Coach Mo