Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Battle, pt 3: The enemy of our soul

Hi again, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. As 2010 rapidly approaches I'm sure that many of you have been thinking, as I have, about what the New Year might bring. Certainly 2009 was a trying time for many people in our nation. We will face tremendous challenges in the upcoming year but I want to encourage you that none of what happens to us is news to God. He is still on the throne and He still works in the lives of every believer. Praise Him for His unfailing love towards us!

Our subject then, is especially appropriate to start off the New Year. Understanding how our enemy, Satan works, is essential to overcoming his strategies to destroy our lives. I purposely covered our other two opponents first (the world and our flesh), because too often Christians want to use Satan as the excuse for all their sin. Most of you are too young to remember, but there was a popular comedian in the 60's and 70's named Flip Wilson. In his act, he had the famous tag line for everything he did wrong, " the devil made me do it." Very funny, but not accurate. If you follow that example, you will not deal with the other types of temptation correctly and thus be doomed to fail. It is very important to understand how each type of temptation works in order to be successful in defeating it. However, we must look at who Satan is, what power he actually holds and how he uses that power to try to destroy our lives, which is his primary goal. Read 1 Peter 5:8. We need to have a proper perspective on the enemy of our soul.

Now some of you, especially if you are new to this, may be wondering about this Satan stuff. Many people who say they are Christians even believe that there is no Devil or Satan or even a Hell for that matter. As I have said before, some people pick and choose what they want to believe in the bible. The bible clearly teaches that Satan is real, from the book of Genesis through the book of Revelation. The name Satan is used 53 times, the devil 32 times (NIV). He is also referred to many times as the enemy. He is also mentioned by many other names such as: the serpent, the murderer, the tempter, the liar, the wicked one, the prince of: this world, of demons and the power of the air. Had enough yet? There is more. The adversary, the accuser of the brethren, Beelzebub, Belial, the angel of the bottomless pit and more. Do you get the idea that God wants us to know something about Satan? Who or what is Satan, what does he do and how does he work? Well, you can learn a lot just by studying those names. I will attempt to give you some help in understanding his influence the world and us as individuals.

We do know that Satan was an angel, originally named Lucifer. Isaiah 14 tells us that he fell from heaven because of his pride. He went so far as to say he would be like the Most High God. When he was expelled from heaven, he made it his goal, using the earth as his kingdom, to lead mankind into rebellion from God. As mentioned in an earlier post, Jesus did not argue with him when he offered the kingdoms of this world. He has power in this world. One of our first glimpses into his devices is found in the book of Job, the oldest book in the bible. In the first chapter, Satan comes with the angels before God (which tell us that he still has access to God). God asks him where he has come from and Satan answers, "from roaming the earth to and fro". By the way, God already knows, but I think he is reminding Satan how he has fallen. Satan then lays out a plan to destroy Job, who is a righteous man. Reading this story will tell you a lot about how Satan works. Satan wants to destroy every person's trust in God, including yours! If you do not recognize this, his job becomes much easier.

In Revelation 12:7-9 we see that at some point in history Satan was cast down to earth along with his angels. (Those angels that followed him, generally acknowledged as one third of all the angels. Rev 12:4) These fallen angels are called demons. During His ministry on earth, Jesus confronted demons many times. They are real. They are still led by Satan himself. They have power albeit limited by God. There are several instances in the bible where they actually posses human beings, causing them to do things that they would not ordinarily do.

In today's western civilization, the idea of Satan and demons is often ridiculed as superstition. We have been taught that there is no existence outside of the natural; therefore there can be no supernatural beings. Interesting that many people believe that have no trouble believing in UFO's and aliens. Just a thought. In many other countries throughout the world though, they recognize the work of demonic power because they see it more in action. Talk to missionaries that work in third world countries and you will find that they often deal with it. I believe that we see it less in America because Satan works in a more subtle way rather than head on attack. Our pride in being wise, educated people leaves us much more vulnerable to sneak attack. If we don't believe an enemy exists, we won't prepare for war. Just like before 9/11, we are in a war but we don't know it. One of Satan's greatest strategies was promoting the idea that he isn't real! It has worked well in our society, allowing him free access to promote evil ideas and practices. His influence began back in the garden, when he put doubt into Eve's mind by questioning God's trustworthiness. He has continued that strategy ever since.

I hope you now have a better idea of what we are up against as we follow Jesus Christ. We are in a war, whether we recognize it or not. There is good news, however. We are on the winning side! 1 John 4:4 says "greater is He that is you, than he who is in the world". (KJV) Now that we know something about the enemy, in the next post we will look at how we fight the battle.


Using a concordance, look up the verses that use the names of Satan that were mentioned. See what you can learn about his weapons of warfare in these verses.

Read Genesis 2:18 – 3(all)

In your prayer time, ask God to show you what you need to know to be effective in fighting the battles ahead.


Until next time, may God bless you in your study of His word and your desire to draw closer to Him,






Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Message: Peace does not come in a sound bite!

Hello friends. I wanted to take a break from our series, 'The Battle' to bring a short Christmas message. Since we began, we have looked at how we get true peace in our lives. I hope you have been following regularly. If you have, you might recall that I mentioned that we would hear a lot about the subject of peace during this season. That is appropriate because we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. It is a wonderful time to reflect on what that really means. Unfortunately, a lot of what you may hear or see this Christmas season falls far short of bringing the real message about "Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men". There are lots of neat little messages on cards and gift wrapping paper. Even on television, you might see a similar phrase or hear an announcer say something like "May you be filled with peace during this holiday season". This time just naturally brings about thoughts about peace. It is important, though, to realize this truth. Peace does not come in a sound bite. Why do I bother saying this? Well, stick with me here and I think you'll see.

It seems in our society, people are always looking for the quick answer to life's situations. We want to order up solutions in life as we do our food at Taco Bell or McDonalds. We can tend to run our whole lives like this. If we don't get what we want quickly, we give up and try something else. Have you heard the commercial telling you that they can teach you how turn your child's bad behavior around in one minute with their program? How about the diet where you lose 20 lbs in one week? Even our news programs try to give you all the information in a 10 second sound bite. The commercials change their images in less than one second because our attentions spans are so short. Everything has to happen in a hurry.

If you think that your spiritual life works this way, you are bound to be disappointed. It is true that the Lord will bring special moments of peace into your life when you need it. However, a life that is filled with peace and joy is the result of spending a great deal of time getting to know Him. It does not and cannot happen quickly. As in any relationship, it takes time to get to know God. It takes time to build trust. It takes time to study and understand God's word. Without understanding God's written word you cannot expect to know God. His word is the primary way that He reveals Himself to us. One of the traps we fall into is thinking that one event or one message can bring about spiritual maturity. Don't think that everything is going to hinge on one experience. Instead, we need to look at each day as a chance to draw a little bit closer to our Lord.

I pray that during this Christmas season, you will take time to get to know Him better. Spend time reading His word and talking to Him in prayer. Think about the meaning of the child that was born, Emmanuel-God with us. He is the one, who brings peace to us as individuals and one day will bring peace to the whole world. At His name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ, the baby born in a manger, the Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the dead, that He Is Lord! Amen and Amen

May God bless you as you celebrate the Savior's birth,


PS: Next week, The Battle Pt 3. You won't want to miss this one!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Welcome back to Coach's Corner. I hope you have had a chance to follow through on last week's game plan. As we continue our study about the battles we face, we will look at the next opponent, the world. Remember that in order to defeat an opponent, we must understand how that opponent works. That will be our goal today, to get a better understanding of the world that we live in, how it operates and why we consider it an opponent.

You may think it strange to consider the world as an opponent, but the bible shows us clearly that it is. First, we need to look at what the term, " world", means in a biblical sense. The Greek word, used over 150 times in the New Testament, is kosmos. According to Vines New Testament Dictionary, this word does not speak so much of the created world as it does the order or arrangement. In the passages that speak of the temptations of the world, it is really speaking of the world system. This system, as we will see, is diametrically opposed to the desire of a Christian to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. That is why it is our opponent. You might be thinking, "wait a minute, if God created the world and said it is good, how can it be opposed to Him"? Good question. Let's take a look at some scripture that will help us understand.

In Genesis 1 we see that God gave mankind, through Adam and Eve, dominion over the earth and all that was created. God would provide for all of man's needs. All they had to do was be obedient to God. But when Adam and Eve sinned, man's control of the earth ended. We were now under the curse. Read Gen 3:14-19. Who then gained control? The very one who deceived Eve, Satan. How do we know this? Look at Matthew 4:8-10. When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, he offered him all the kingdoms of this world (world system). Notice that when Jesus answered Satan, he did not argue about who had control of these kingdoms! Satan does have the control of power in this world. He is even called the Prince of this world. (John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11) That is why Jesus speaks so much about coming into the
world (kosmos) to save us. In Chapter 5 of Revelation John weeps because no human could open a scroll. This scroll represents the Title Deed to the earth. No man could open it because man forfeited his right to it because of sin. Only Jesus could open the scroll and the seals of judgment contained in it.

This is why there are so many scriptures that speak of the opposition of the world to the Christian. (Get a concordance and look up the phrase, the world, and you can find them) Jesus said the world would hate His disciples because it first hated Him. In reality, Satan uses the world system to oppose Jesus and thus oppose us as believers. Jesus came to reconcile the world to God and those who accept Him are reconciled. Those who do not are still under the power and influence of a world ruled by Satan. The sad part is that they do not realize this fact. That is why they fall into line with whatever the latest world standards are.

OK, I hope you are convinced that you are in a battle with the world system. What does this look like in a practical sense? How does the world try to undermine Christians and Christianity? Well let's look at some of the philosophies that the world embraces and ridicules those that don't buy in. These philosophies attempt to lead people away from God.

EVOLUTION: Man's attempt to explain origins and existence with the presupposition that there is no creator or God. This has spawned the atheist movement and led to the following philosophy.

RELATIVISM: The belief that there is no absolute truth, what is true for you may not be true for me. This belief cannot exist if there is a God to whom you must be accountable. This also gives way to the world view that "all religions lead to God"

HUMANISM: The belief that man is evolving and with enough education can bring the world to perfection. No belief in anything supernatural.


These are beliefs that dominate much of the western world today. They certainly dominate the educational system in America today and any dissent is not tolerated. Maybe you haven't really thought about how much these world views affect your own thinking. But these philosophies deny the existence or relevance of God. How could they possibly fit into a Christian world view? They cannot and must not! You might be thinking that some really smart people you know believe in these philosophies, so how can I say that I know better. Well, remember that people that are not born again of the Spirit cannot see spiritual truth. They are easy prey for Satan to puff up with intellectualism. 1st Cor 1:20-21 says "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." In verse 19 Paul says that God will destroy the wisdom of the wise paraphrasing Isaiah 29:14. Don't allow the world to dictate your thinking rather than God. Even though you will be mocked, remember who is behind it all. It is a battle because no one wants to be made to seem foolish. The reality is though that it's the wisdom of the world that is really foolish and it leads to everlasting destruction. Not only that, it has led to plenty of problems in our world today. Western society has eroded tremendously since the rise of secular humanism. The breakdown of the family, moral absolutes and accountability for our actions has led to rising crime, divorce, sexual deviance, drug addiction, child abuse and spiritual poverty. Even with all the knowledge and technological advances we have made, we still have not made a dent in solving poverty in the world.

John summed it up this way "Do not love the world (world system) or anything in it…The world and it's sinful desires will pass away but the man who does the will of God will live forever".

OK, we have scouted out this opponent. Now we need a Game Plan on how we will defeat this opponent!

Game Plan:

  1. List some ways that you can see that the world may have influenced your thinking. Remember to ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
  2. If you have been afraid to stand up for what you believe because of the fear of being mocked, confess that to the Lord and receive His forgiveness. Ask for boldness.
  3. Get into an in depth study of God's Word. The more you know, the more confidence you will gain when you are in a discussion with someone about world views.
  4. Pray for at least one non believer who you know is caught up in the wisdom of this world.

May God bless you as you get in the game this week,

















Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Today we will begin a series focusing on some of the battles we face and how to use what we have learned to be victorious in these battles. Why would I use the term battles? Simple, the Bible often describes our lives in this way. I often hear people ask the question "why does it seem so difficult to live the Christian life successfully? It is such a battle." If you are a Christian and have a real desire to live a Godly life, you know it's a battle. The question is why? Why does the Christian life have to be such a battle? If you are hoping to hear that at some point it the battle stops raging, well, sorry. I can't help you there. I know that I have often hoped that as well. The truth is that we will be in the battle until the Lord comes or takes us home. But, let not your heart be troubled. We can win!

OK, how do we win the battles? First, you must understand the opponent. Who is the opponent, what strategies and techniques does the opponent use? This is why coaches spend so much time "scouting" their opponents. When I was coaching football, I could predict what the other team would do based on their tendencies from the past games. Then I would develop the strategies to counter what they would most likely do in a given situation. So then, who is our opponent in our walk with Christ? I know what you're thinking. That's easy, the opponent is Satan. Well, that is true, but there is more than one opponent in this battle. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that our struggle is against principalities and powers, not flesh and blood. This is a reference to Satan and the demonic realm and we will get to this, but I want us to look at another important verse. 1st John 2:16 says, " For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful
man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world."

If you look at the highlighted words, you will see that one of our biggest opponents is….. (Drum roll please) US! It is self. Look at what the verse tells us about self. We have sinful cravings, we lust, and we are prideful. Ouch, that hurts. But wait a minute, didn't I read something about having a new nature after I received Jesus as my Savior? Yes you did and you do. The problem is that you still have your old sin nature as well. Sound confusing? Hopefully we can clear it up.

The Bible teaches that because of the fall of Adam, we are all born with a sin nature. That nature is bent on fulfilling our personal desires or cravings. From the time we are born, we are most concerned with what we want. A baby doesn't cry because it is concerned with mommy's problems. It cries because it wants to be fed! Are we really much different as adults? James says in Ch 4, the desires that battle within you even cause fights and quarrels, because you want something and don't get it. He is writing to Christians when he says this! We all fight this battle. In America, we are obsessed with self. Advertisers know this and feed that obsession to sell products with phrases like, "you deserve this" or "you have earned the right to have this".

For many years in education, we promoted this obsession with self by the positive self esteem philosophy. We spent most of our efforts trying to build self esteem in our students. It carried into many other areas as well. We even have a magazine called "SELF". Many well intentioned people believed that this was the answer to all social problems. If we could just make everyone feel good about themselves, it would eliminate bad behavior. The evidence shows, however, that this did not work. In fact, the more we told kids how great they were, no matter what they did, the more their achievement levels went down. Recently, I read an article that surveyed employers. The employers were amazed at how younger workers wanted to be praised constantly, even when they were doing routine tasks. I have noticed the same thing with many of my students. They seem to want constant praise for how good they are doing for basic, required tasks. Now don't get me wrong. There is a lot to be said for being positive with people, especially kids. The Bible says that we should encourage one another to good works. However, thinking that our real problem is that we just need to love ourselves more in order to promote good behavior, is a fallacy. The Bible assumes that we love ourselves already. Otherwise, why would the Scriptures tell us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves?

I really believe that this constant obsession with self is, ironically, very self destructive. I have counseled and prayed with many a person who is suffering through depression and I can't think of one who was not continually thinking about themselves. For that person, it seems that every situation ends up somehow contributing to their woeful situation. They just can't seem to get their focus off of their feelings. I can guarantee you that if you spend all your time thinking about how everything affects you, how things in your life are just not what you wanted, how it never seems to change, how people don't understand or care about you, you will get depressed. If we are honest with our self, we know our shortcomings really don't have to do other people or situations. The real issue is that we cannot improve our flesh. In our own power, we cannot live up to the expectations we place on our self. We are still sinful people.

So, what is the answer to this dilemma? Let me preface this by saying that if you are in true depression, you should consult a doctor. Sometimes chemical imbalances in the brain cause you to think and feel certain ways that you wouldn't otherwise. Certainly that needs to be addressed properly. What we are talking about here, are situations where that is not the case. First, you must recognize that even though you are saved, you still have a sin nature that wants to be gratified. Galatians 5:17 says "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." Ok then, what should we do? Read verse 16 in the same chapter, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." "That's it? Live by the Spirit, that's all you can give me?" Well, yes. That is the only answer I can give you because that is only way to defeat the sin nature. Put the sinful nature to death and live by the Spirit!

It is a simple answer but not so easy to do. Living by the Spirit means continual surrender of our will to the will of Christ. Giving up control of our life is a difficult thing to do, especially; it seems, for most men. Hey, be honest, we can't even give up control of our TV remote! You must be willing to give up that control or the Spirit will not lead you. God does not intrude on your free will. The awesome thing though, is that when we do live by the Spirit, our focus begins to change. We want to serve others rather than focusing on our self. When we do that it brings joy into our life. It seems to me that the more we serve others, the more joy we have. I think that's what Jesus was telling us when he said that, to be His disciple we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him. He wasn't just saying "don't do this or don't do that". He was saying to live for others, just the way He did. Paul tells us that we should die to our old nature (look it up), meaning the nature that just wants to live for self. We can only do that by surrendering daily to God and asking to be led by His Holy Spirit. He promises that He will answer that prayer with an emphatic yes!

Game Plan:

  1. Read Galatians 5:16-26 several times this week
  2. Every morning for one week, ask God to help you surrender your will to His and be led by the Holy Spirit that day
  3. Look for an opportunity to serve one person each day this week


    May God Bless you as you seek His face this week,










Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Discipline, it’s really not a bad word!

Welcome back. I hope you have been enjoying the studies as much as I am enjoying writing them. If this is your first time, I strongly suggest that you take some time to read the previous blog entries. We have been laying out a foundation for having a victorious life in Christ. I have submitted to you, the readers, that having a proper understanding of the basic fundamentals of Christian doctrine is essential to that purpose. We have looked at God's grace in salvation, which precludes us from earning our standing with Him. We have also been studying how His grace plays a role in our lives here on earth and how we appropriate that grace by the work of the Holy Spirit. I trust you have done your part in looking up the scriptures I suggested. A huge part of my goal in writing to you is to look into the Word of God and evaluate what I write based on what you see in the scriptures. There is no substitute for your own study of the Bible. Maybe you can already see where we are going today.

Now before we really get going, I need to make one very important point. When you study the Bible, you must come at it from a particular point of view or you will never be satisfied. That is, that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God that it claims to be. Read 2nd Timothy 3:16 before you continue. The Bible is no doubt at times hard to understand, that is why it must be studied, not just read. But it can be understood by people who have been born again by the Spirit of God, who choose to believe it. (Read 1st Cor 2:10-16) Many people want to pick and choose which parts of the Bible they will believe and which parts they won't. This will never bring you the peace that we have spoken about earlier because you will never know which passages are true and which ones are not. I know this by personal experience. When I was a young believer, I tried to make the Bible say what I wanted it to say. That way I didn't have to deal with the difficulties. I didn't have to change anything I was doing. I could just ignore any verse that might convict me of my actions. What a miserable fool I was. This is how many "Christians" approach God's word today. Jesus said that He was the TRUTH and that the truth would set us free. Either God's Word is all true or it is just another book written by humans that might have a few good things to say. The problem with that logic is, that if it claims to be God breathed and is not all true, then it is a lie. If it is a lie, then what do we have to gain by reading it? The Bible does not give us that option. Either it is God's true Word or it isn't. If you want to live a victorious Christian life, you must accept it as truth and do your best to understand it and live according to it. There is no other choice. When I finally came to that conclusion, the Lord began to take me on the greatest adventure you can imagine. That is when I began to experience the "peace that passes all understanding". That is when he began to totally change my life. Thank you Lord Jesus! I promise that He will do same for you.

OK, on to our new topic. Does the word discipline scare you? I know that some of you, if you are honest, would say yes. Maybe for some it means being yelled at or even being abused. That, my friends is not discipline. Hopefully, we can see what discipline really means. In all my years of coaching, I never saw a really good team that did not have discipline. Along with sound fundamentals, it is a key to success. "Have you ever heard something similar to this? " Oh, I don't need to prepare, I just trust God ". How about this one. "I don't plan anything, I just let the Holy Spirit lead" .Though it is true that you can trust God and that the Spirit leads, it is not an excuse for being lazy. It amazes me that so many Christians seem to think that discipline is unnecessary for the believer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In 1st Corinthians 9, Paul describes what a runner does in a race. Read verses 24-27. He likens this to our Christian life. He talks about going into strict training. This takes discipline. Strong's defines the Greek word for discipline in its different forms as self control or with sound mind. As we know, self control is one of the fruits of the Spirit working in our lives (Galatians 5). The word is also related to the word disciple. The Greek word for disciple speaks of being a learner. Look at what Jesus says in Luke 14:26-27. You can see that being a disciple involves doing something. So if we put this all together, we can see that discipline is very important in our walk with the Lord. So, what does this mean in a practical sense? What does it look like in our lives?

Discipline really has to do with our choices. We choose many times a day what we do with our time, our talents, our finances, etc. In order to make good choices we have to decide what our priorities and our goals are. When I was coaching, I used to set three goals for every team that I coached. First, to be the best team we could possibly be. How good that was depended on how much talent we had, coupled with how hard we worked and how much we were willing to sacrifice other things to reach our goals. Next, we wanted to improve every day. In order to do that, we had to focus on one day at a time. Lastly, I wanted each individual to become a better person through the experience they had as a player. That takes a willingness to sacrifice some individuality for the good of the team and learning to follow instructions from the coach. I always felt that reaching these goals would help prepare my players to be successful in their future endeavors. Notice I did not mention winning. I always believed that winning was the byproduct of reaching the three goals. Accomplishing these goals takes dedication. You must be disciplined to make the choices that will lead to reaching your goals.

It really isn't much different in our Christian life. The difference is in the goals you are reaching for. Paul tells us in Php 3:14 that our goal is to press on to win the prize of the high calling of Jesus. What is really awesome is that he tells us to forget what lies behind. This means that you let go of what has kept you from that goal in the past. If you have not made good choices in the past, you start making better ones now. If you have lacked the discipline in the past to pray and study God's word, start now. If you have been out of fellowship with other Christians, get back in the ballgame. The great thing is you don't have to do it alone. If you will just ask God to help you make those choices, He will do it! But, you have to ask. He will not do that for you, it is a choice of your free will. I used to ask my teams one question right before we took the field. "ARE YOU READY?" Now I am asking you, ARE YOU READY?

Game Plan:

  1. Pray for God to help you set some specific goals regarding time for prayer, study and fellowship. Don't just decide, listen for His leading.
  2. Set a plan for study. A one year bible is a great way to do it, but there are many plans available.
  3. Ask the Lord for an opportunity to share His love and grace with one person this week. When the opportunity arises, you will know it. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to follow through.


May God bless you in your desire to follow Him,


Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life of a Christian

Alright, it is time to get ready for the next game! One of truly challenging aspects of coaching football is, that immediately after a game, you begin preparing for the next game. After a loss, it is a blessing because you are ready to move on. After a win, it is much harder because you really want to take time to enjoy the victory. Unfortunately, there is no time to do that because the next opponent is looming. Getting a team ready to play is always a battle against time. After many years of walking with the Lord, I began to realize how similar the experience of winning and losing football games was to the challenges in my life as a Christian. When I had any type of victory in Christ, I wanted to take some time to enjoy it and rest in that victory. However, the next test would be right around the corner. Got to get prepared, right? Well, how do we get prepared for the spiritual challenges we face. What can we do to get ready for "the next game"?

I'm glad you asked that question. Oh wait, that was me who asked. As a reminder, last time we talked about surrendering our will to Christ completely. I hope you have taken that step. You need to realize that this is something we must do on a continual basis. We all have a tendency to want to take back control of our lives. Romans 12 tells us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This needs to be a daily prayer. We must be willing to give God the opportunity to use us. Then we must be empowered for use by God's grace. This is where the differences lie between worldly preparation and spiritual preparation. In coaching, the empowerment to be successful comes from talent, matched with hard work and good strategy. God uses these things in our spiritual lives too. Just read the book of Acts and you will see that Paul used his gifts (talent), strategy and worked really hard at the ministry entrusted to Him. But, there is one more ingredient for victory in the spiritual realm. That is the power of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

Now, some of you may know a lot about the Holy Spirit and some may not. Some may even have seen or heard of the"gifts of the Spirit" being used and it seems strange to you. You may be somewhat skeptical. Even worse, you may have seen people who claim to be "in the Spirit" when they are certainly not. As troublesome as that is, it is not a valid reason to dismiss the proper role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is vital for a Christian to understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit, in order to have spiritual victory. In fact, anything that we do that has eternal value will be that which is done by the Holy Spirit working through us. This is a subject that cannot be covered in a short blog. Many books have been written just about the work of the Holy Spirit. I do, however want to point out some things that will help you in your understanding of His role in our lives. Remember, we are still building on the fundamentals.

We must understand that the Holy Spirit is God. Not a god, but God. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the one God. I will not try to explain this as; it has been tried down through the ages. No explanation will suffice. I can only say with great assurance that this is what the Bible teaches. The Bible describes the Holy Spirit in several different terms. Counselor, comforter, helper are some examples The Spirit testifies of Jesus (John 14:26). When Jesus was about to leave his disciples, he promised them that the Holy Spirit would come. In fact, He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and endue them with power before they went out to evangelize the world. This happened on the day of Pentecost, written about in Acts, chapter 2. This is when the lives of the disciples really changed. They went from being defeated men, who had even denied knowing Jesus, to men who turned the world upside down for Christ. It seems logical to me that we would need the same power to accomplish anything of spiritual value. It is clearly taught in the rest of the New Testament that this is the case. This is how God's grace is appropriated in our lives to do His will. When we are doing His will, we cannot be defeated!

GAME PLAN: There are 42 references to the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts alone. There are another 12 using the term "the Spirit" (S capitalized). Make it your goal this week to read each one of them. After that, start looking up references in the other books of the New Testament. Learn as much as you can about the wonderful third person in the Trinity. Make it a part of your daily prayers to ask Him to work in your life. It is a promise from God that He will!

In the next few posts, we will begin to examine how this works out very practically in our daily lives. It's time to start putting the fundamentals into action!

See you soon and may God bless you as you walk in His grace,


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Walking in Grace

Hi again and welcome back. Last time I gave you some work to do. Did you look up your verses? If not, you owe me twenty pushups right now! Sorry, old habits are hard to break. I do hope you read several of the verses on grace. The purpose of that exercise was for you to see in how many different types of context, the word grace is used. We have discussed it's significance in salvation. It is by God's grace you have been saved, through faith in His only begotten son, Jesus. Why am I saying it again? Well, if I learned one thing in thirty some years of coaching, it is that you can never repeat the basics too much. Learning is based on repetition.

Some people seem to think that since our salvation is all about God's grace then we aren't required to do anything. Well that is not really accurate. Jesus said in Lk 5:32 that He came to call the sinners to repentance. In Acts 20:21 Paul said that he had declared to Jews and Greeks (representing all non Jews), that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. The word repentance in Greek comes from the word metanoia. It really means a reversal of thinking or decision. In order to receive grace leading to salvation we must turn from our worldly way of thinking and acting, to God's way. This is the decision you make when you receive Christ as your savior. There is no true salvation without repentance. This is not contrary at all to the idea of grace. Repentance means surrendering your will to God. Faith is believing in God's ability to forgive and save you, accepting His grace.

There is another misconception about God's grace that we must clear up before we go on. This one is particularly distressing because I believe that it keeps so many people from experiencing real victory in their Christian life. Even worse, it may even give them a false sense of peace and security of their salvation, which may never have taken place. It is sometimes referred to as "cheap grace". Let me explain. Have you ever heard people say " I don't have to worry about committing sin, it's all covered by grace". Some people seem to think that grace means that they are allowed to do or say anything they please, live any way they want to and God is obligated to forgive them because they said "the sinners prayer". My friends, this is a very dangerous position to take. Paul addressed this in Romans 6. He says in verses 1and 2 "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!" He says if we are truly saved we have died to sin. Now don't get me wrong. This does not mean we won't sin at all after we are saved, but there is a big difference between missing the mark (the definition of sin) and an attitude of using God's grace as license to sin. A person who has surrendered their will to God will have a desire to live in a Godly way. Remember, repentance means that you have chosen to turn from your will and your way to His will and His way! If that is you then you are ready to walk in His grace. If not, why not turn now and surrender your will completely to Him. I promise you, your life will change and you will never regret it.

Now let's begin to explore what it means to walk in His grace. As I mentioned, the Bible uses this term in many different contexts. In Ephesians 4:7, Paul says, "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." This shows us that Christ gives us different amounts or measures of grace and in this context it not only means unmerited favor but also power and equipment for ministry. You might be thinking, well, no wonder I can't do the kinds of things I see others Christians do. God has given them more grace. Nice try but that is not what Paul means. What it means is that when we make ourselves available to the Lord, He provides the grace we need for the particular time or situation we are in. Paul relied on that as He traveled about teaching and preaching about His Lord Jesus Christ. That same grace is available to us. Remember when God called Moses to lead the Hebrew nation out of Egypt. He tried to get out of it by claiming that he did not speak well enough to do the mob, but God told Moses that He would speak through him. This is God grace in action. It is just as available to you and I when we follow His leading. Appropriating that grace is what leads us to accomplishing God's will in our lives. That, dear friends, is what victory in Christ is all about. That is what brings peace to our souls.

I hope this encourages you to make yourselves available to be used by the Lord and experience the joy of His grace in your life. We will continue the subject of walking in grace in the next post.

Game plan: Spend time with the Lord in prayer this week, asking Him to reveal any area of your life that you have not surrendered to Him. Then, ask Him for the grace to release it to Him and watch what He does. Then ask Him to use you in a special way. Remember, you don't see victory unless you are willing to risk defeat. May God bless you in this endeavor.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Grace that Leads to Peace Pt 2

OK team, it’s time for a pre-practice review. We have been talking about having true peace in our lives which demonstrates that we are having victory in Christ. I believe that it is impossible to gain that peace until we can truly understand God’s amazing grace. Grace and peace are divinely linked together. The apostle Paul understood that, which is why he so often started his letters with the greeting” Grace and Peace to You”. The order is not by accident. Grace leads to peace. Without grace you cannot have true peace. So, let’s get started in our study of this great doctrine and then see how this plays out in our daily lives.

When you hear the word grace, what is your first thought? I imagine for most believers, the immediate connection would be to our salvation. Though there are many more applications of grace in our lives, it is absolutely imperative to grasp the fullness of God’s grace in our salvation. “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”(Eph 2:8) The word used for grace here is charis in Greek. It has several uses in the new testament (as we will examine later). It is described in this verse as a” gift”. Webster’s dictionary defines the English word as “divine unmerited favor leading to regeneration” Wow, what a perfect description! So right now you might be saying, “I already know this. It is basic Christianity”. Well, right you are. But do we live our lives in a way that demonstrates that we really believe and understand the magnitude of this grace? If not, why not?

Growing up, I loved playing sports and had a slightly competitive nature. OK, a pretty competitive nature. Alright already, I was extremely competitive! I hated to lose. I know, hard to believe, huh? (You are welcome to psychoanalyze me at this point if you want. Let me know if you figure it out) The drive to be the best I could be at each sport, made me want to work hard at them. Then as I got older and competed at higher levels, the coaches pushed that drive even further. I learned that the only way to succeed at what I wanted to do was to earn that success with hard work. This philosophy carried over into the other areas of my life. I am sure most of you can relate to this. In our democratic, capitalistic country, the principle of working hard to be successful is very important. We rightly encourage people to work hard to earn a diploma, earn a living, earn a good reputation. It is ingrained in us to earn what we get. All of a sudden we are told that salvation, our redemption from sin and our standing with the God of the Universe is a free gift? How can this be? If something is worth having, shouldn't I have to earn it like everything else. Why would God offer this as a gift instead of making us earn it? This can be difficult to accept. We tend to feel better about earning what we get. We want there to be something in us that says,” there must be something I can do that would make God want to save me”. Hit a nerve yet?

For me, this was a very difficult concept to accept as a young Christian. Even after I accepted Christ, I was continually trying to do something that would make me more acceptable to Him. This desire to earn brownie points with God makes it very hard to have peace. Do something wrong, maybe God is mad at me. Do something good, it is probably not good enough. Ever feel like that? I know many people have lived their whole lives this way and are still trying to earn their way to God. They may even go to a church that teaches a doctrine of earning salvation through good works. The problem is that it goes against the entire point of the Gospel . The Gospel (meaning Good News) is clear. There is nothing we can possibly do to earn salvation. We do not have the ability to save ourselves. Our sinful nature prevents us from reconciling ourselves to God. This is the realization that we all must come to in order to have God’s peace. Once we finally acknowledge our complete inability to make God love us any more than He already does, we can begin to experience the” peace that passes all understanding”. We have only one part to play in this relationship. We must accept God’s free gift of grace. Romans 3:24 says we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. Amen! If you sense that you have never really received this gift of grace and have been trying to earn God's favor, just take a few moments to pray and ask God's help in bringing you to that place of full surrender to Him. Thank Him for His love and grace. Ask Him show you how to live in the fullness of His never failing love. Then watch what He does in your life!

Game Plan: There are 123 references to grace in the New Testament. Before the next post, look up at least 20 of them. I promise this will help you as we begin to discuss the practical ways we appropriate God’s grace in our daily life.

Until next time, may you be filled with the joy of the Lord

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Grace that leads to Peace

Peace. What does it mean, where does it come from, what does it look like in our lives? It’s a big concept, isn’t it? As the Christmas season approaches you will see and hear this word a lot. “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward men” is a favorite phrase from the Bible. Non believers especially like this one because it gives them some sense of hope. Unfortunately it is a false sense of hope because the Bible teaches that there will not be a true peace on this earth until our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ returns. So then, what kind of peace are we talking about? I want us to explore this issue in a deeper way than maybe you ever have before.

Why, you may ask is this so important? Well, if you recall from last time, we were examining victory in Christ and what that really means. I believe that one of the best ways to determine whether or not you are experiencing victory is whether or not you have a true peace in your life. Did you know that the word peace is found in the bible about 250 times? Wow, it must be important. Over and over I have heard Christians say that they experienced a peace in their heart when they accepted the Lord but don’t seem to have that on a regular basis. Again, this contributes to their having a sense of failure or defeat in their life. Sometimes this even leads to one’s doubting of their salvation and walking away from the Lord completely. After all,” what good is this Christianity stuff if I still have turmoil in my life”. Sound familiar? You may even have felt this way yourself at one time or another. Let’s look, then, at what the bible has to say about this subject and then I hope to give you some real practical ideas about how this works. Remember that this is a blog, not a book, so we will take a little at a time. Just like my football teams, we can’t run the play well until we have the individual techniques and assignments down!

John 14:27 says, “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. He said this to his disciples shortly before he was to be crucified. Paul started most of his letters with the phrase” Grace and Peace” to the people he was addressing. (How many? I’m not going to tell you, you have to look it up) What does this word actually mean?
Here are a couple of definitions from Webster’s dictionary:
1 : freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
2 : harmony in personal relations
Interestingly, the greek word used often in the new testament (eirene) speaks of harmonious relationships between men and between men and God. It also refers to quietness in the churches. The corresponding word in Hebrew would be shalom. It can also mean a sense of rest and contentment.
The definitions sound very similar with one big exception, a harmonious relationship between man and God. This, I believe is what Jesus meant in his statement to his disciples. It spoke of a peace that cannot be found without His sacrifice on the cross. No one else can bring this type of peace. He gave His life so that we could have a harmonious relationship with God. This relationship is God’s gift to us. That brings us finally to the doctrine that I believe one must understand in order to experience this kind of peace. The doctrine of grace. In our next time together we will begin to take a real close look at what grace is all about and what it is not about. As promised we will also look at practical ways that the “grace that leads to peace” works in our lives.
Until then may you be filled with the joy of the Lord. God bless and keep you.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Victory In Christ, Is It Really Possible?

Well, what else would a coach write about in his first blog? After coaching for over thirty years, I have learned a little about winning. I have learned much more about defeat. I definitely like winning better! One thing that always breaks my heart when I am counseling and praying with people, is how often they feel defeated in their life, even though they are Christians. I hope that I might be able to share some things in the next few posts that will be of value to you in this area.

The first principle we need to understand is this: Sound Fundamentals lead to Success. John Wooden was arguably the best college basketball coach of all time. The first day of practice, he would teach his players how to put their socks on and tie their shoes properly. Now that's starting with the basics! This may seem silly but he knew that if done incorrectly, it could lead to blisters, which in turn might lead to missed practice, which in turn leads to lack of preparation, which in turn could lead to defeat. Do you get the picture?

How does this translate to our relationship with the Lord? In order to experience victory in our Christian life, we need a solid foundation, good fundamentals. This means sound doctrine, which includes such things as having a proper concept of God, truly understanding the meaning of grace, which leads to peace, the Trinity and the role of each person of the Godhead. Without understanding these fundamental doctrines, you will not be equipped to meet the challenges we face in this life. Victory will elude you and worst of all lead you to doubt your relationship with Jesus.

This may seem overwhelming to you but remember, you are not in a 100 meter dash here. It is a marathon. You must be willing to start at the beginning and learn a little each day. I have been walking with the Lord for over 40 years and I can say along with the apostle Paul, "not that I have attained it or already been made perfect,but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me".

In the next few times we share together I want to help you in going through these fundamental doctrines of the faith so that you can have the fundamentals you need to
live in the victory we have in Christ. I will warn you ahead of time, that victory in Christ does not at all look like what the world sees as victory. I can guarantee you that. I also promise you that it is far superior to the victory that this world has to offer.

Next Post: The Grace that leads to true peace. I hope and pray you will join me.

God bless and keep you, your brother in Christ, Kris

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are You Kidding?

No, it's true. The old coach is actually going to blog. This may seem unbelievable to those who know how much I hate to type, but who knows maybe someday I will just be able to dictate. To your great relief, I'm sure, this will not really be a personal blog. I will leave that to you facebookers. Instead, I hope to use this as place to share my thoughts about life in today's world in light of God's Word and filtered through my personal experience.

I know, I know. Why would anybody care what I think. Well, probably no one does, but just in case, I will give it a try. Seriously, what I hope, is that I can share some things that will encourage you to seek a closer walk with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe it is celebrating my very close to but not quite 60th birthday (I figure that being old should be good for something), that finally led me to do this. My hope is that it will be a place people can come to when they need a little lift, a dose of reality and desire to learn what the Bible has to say on certain issues. (Not that I claim to be a scholar, you will just have to check out anything I say to see if it is correct. Pretty sneaky way to encourage you to read your Bible, huh?)

1st Peter 5:2 says to the elders"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care..." I believe that all of us who have walked with the Lord for many years have an obligation to share some of the lessons we have learned in order to help younger believers grow. This is the desire of my heart and the real reason for this blog. We will see where God takes us. I hope to update at least twice a week. I hope you will join me on this journey. With the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The Coach