Friday, January 22, 2010

Put Me in Coach, Pt 2: There’s No “I” in Team

Ok, for those of you that have never been involved in sports, you now have heard one of the phrases used by every coach, at every level in any team sport. It has become such a cliché' that often times players even smirk when they hear it, but guess what? If a team is to be successful, the individuals on that team really do have to give up some individuality. On a good team, everyone has a role to play. If each individual fulfills that role well, the team will perform well. The saying also means that a group of people, working together, can accomplish much more than one individual. Isn't it nice to know that all these coaches, whether they know it or not, use biblical principles to build successful teams? What do I mean by that? I'm glad you asked.

If you desire to serve the Lord, you are not going to do it alone. You will be a part of a team called the body of Christ. This concept is so important that Paul wrote extensively about it. Let's look at the scriptures concerning this subject so that we can understand our particular role on this great team. Look first at 1Cor 12:12-26. This will help you to understand that every part of the body is just as important as the next. What is really vital to understand here, is that whatever role God gives you to do in the body, is necessary for the body to function properly. We tend to think of certain roles, such as pastors or elders, as being way more important than others. This is not true. On a football team, the quarterback is viewed in this same way, but imagine if the quarterback has no offensive line to block for him. He cannot possibly be successful without those guys in front of him. In the same way pastors and elders cannot properly lead their churches without others in the church doing their part.

In 1Cor 12:27, Paul says "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a
part of it. This is where we begin. If you are a born again Christian (there actually is no other kind), you are a part of the body, period. You cannot be a "Lone Ranger" Christian. Read the verse again. The first you refers to all Christians. Paul says you are a part of that body. You became part of it when you accepted Christ. Now, the next question has to be, "what role do I play" in that body. This is where many people have difficulty, usually because they don't feel confident about their knowledge or abilities. Well, it is ok to feel that way, but don't leave it that way. If you're not confident about your knowledge, that is easy to fix. START STUDYING! Get into a good, in depth study of the Word. Study on your own. Go to church services that emphasize teaching of the Bible. Listen to sound Bible teachers on the radio or internet. There are so many resources available to help you in understanding the Bible that there is NO excuse for not learning God's Word.

The second part is not always as simple. Finding out what abilities God has given us can sometimes seem more difficult, but we need to determine this, so we can fill the role that God has specifically called us to. Good news, God has given us a way to help determine how best to fit in to the body. He does this by giving us "spiritual gifts". Paul talks about these spiritual gifts in two different sections of scripture. The first section is found in 1Cor 12:4-11and 27-30. Paul gives another list of spiritual gifts in Ro 12:6-8. Some people like to break these down into the categories of "natural or "supernatural" gifts. Either way you see them, they are given to you by God's grace (Ro 12:6). God has also given each of us talents that may not fit into these categories but can still help us determine what we can do to serve in the body of Christ. When we can determine what spiritual gifts we have and recognize what other talents God has gifted us with, then we can be successful in doing our part in the body. When we try doing things outside of our particular calling, we are usually not too successful and can often get discouraged. It can be painful to watch someone who is eager to serve the Lord, but tries to do it in a role that they are not gifted in. It is like trying to watch a player, who wants to play a position that they are not physically able to play successfully. Let me give you an example. I once had a young man on my football team who always wanted to play fullback. Unfortunately, he was not fast enough, nor agile enough to be successful at that position. I approached him with the opportunity to play on the offensive line, where I knew he could really help our team. Well, he wasn't real thrilled with being moved to the line, so I asked him "would you rather be a third string fullback or a
first string lineman"? His answer surprised me. He said that he preferred to stay at the fullback position, even if it meant that he was a third stringer rather than a starter. How sad. He hurt himself and the team by sitting on the bench, rather than being in the game. That is why you can't have an "I" in team. You need to be at your best position so you can be in the game and not sitting on the bench watching.

To be effective in the body of Christ means that you may not be in the role you thought you would be in, but ask yourself one question. Who knows better than God, where you fit in and where you will contribute most to the "team"? Follow His leading and His gifting and you will find that it brings great joy and fulfillment.


  1. Look up the verses which describe the spiritual gifts. You might even want to check out some books on the subject
  2. Think and pray about what other talents and abilities God has given you. This may mean abilities in athletics, music, drama, art etc. Think about ways that you might use these abilities for the glory of God
  3. Pray for God to show you in what capacity of ministry He can use your particular gifts.
  4. Give things a try. You might surprise yourself, but if you realize that something you try is not really for you, don't get discouraged. It's just one more way of finding out what you are called to do. 1Cor 14:12 tells us to try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
  5. Give thanks to God for the gifts he has given to you!

Until next time, may God bless, as you search out the place of service to the body that God has prepared just for you,





Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Put Me in Coach, I’m Ready to Play: Changes

OK, in this new series, we are going to get into some of the issues we face when we have decided to fully live our life for our Savior, Jesus Christ. One thing I can guarantee you is, that if you make Jesus the Lord of your life, your life will change. Now, I may not be an expert in very many things, but if there is one subject I know something about, it is change. Why? Well, I think I have gone through about as much change as anyone possibly could. Want proof? Once, while having a conversation with someone about our lives growing up, I mentioned that I lived in quite a few places. When asked how many, I had to take quite a while to count them. It added up to 18. Yes, I moved 18 times by the time I graduated from high school. With all those moves came new schools to negotiate and new friends. I also had to deal with my parents divorcing at an early age and then a new step dad. Wow, that is a lot of change! As an adult, it hasn't been that different. In my career as a teacher and coach, I have worked at nine different schools and lived in eight different cities. Convinced yet? You're probably asking why so many changes? That is a good question. Probably because nobody could put with me too long! Hopefully not. Each move had a good reason behind it. Maybe I just like change, I am not sure. For whatever reason, I have gone through a lot of change in my life. Maybe you can relate, maybe not, but if you decide to follow Jesus, you need to be prepared for change.

So what kind of changes should we expect when we dedicate our lives to serving the Lord? Probably, the biggest change is learning to die to ourselves, put Jesus first and then put others needs above our own. This is huge for most of us. We learn growing up that we need to take care of ourselves first. Helping others might be a nice thing to do, but not at a real cost to us. Jesus has a totally different take on this subject. First he tells us that we need to deny ourselves (Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23) In Mk 10:43-44, Jesus says "whoever wants to become great among you must be
your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all."Paul says this in Phil 2:3-4 "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." That really sums it up! This is the antithesis of what the world teaches us and can be a tough thing to change. Even when we make a concerted effort to change our behavior in this area, our hearts may not be in it. How many times have we done a good deed for someone, but done it grudgingly? What, you mean it's only me that does that? In God's economy, that does not cut it. He wants the change to be in our heart. If we want to be used by God, this principle is essential.

Another big change you should prepare for is how others may react to you when they see the difference in you. When you make Jesus the Lord of your life, you open yourself up for negative responses from some people, even family and friends. You may be ridiculed, mocked, even persecuted for your commitment to Christ. During one of my stints as a head football coach, I spent many Saturdays doing sidewalk counseling at an abortion clinic. Our church had a marvelous ministry there, giving young women options to an abortion, offering forgiveness and redemption through Christ for those who had gone through with an abortion and leading some to salvation. When a prominent person in the community, whose son played on our team, found this out, he wanted me fired immediately. This is only one example of many times I have gone through some opposition for my conduct in serving Jesus. You may not go through anything that serious, but you may go through much worse. Jesus said that the world will hate His followers because it hated him first ( Jn 15:18-19 ). If you think that is tough, look at how we are to respond to persecution. We are to respond the same way that Jesus did. Read Lk 6:28 and Ro 12:14. Bless those who persecute us? You're kidding, right? For me, this is much more difficult that the persecution itself. Again, how we respond shows where our heart is really at. If we truly have the heart of Jesus, our main concern is not how other people treat us, but how can we lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Did I mention that we need to be prepared for change?

Along with these, you will see a change in your priorities. Things that used to seem so important to you before you committed your life to Christ will begin to dull in comparison to the "things of the Spirit". In my life, this seemed to have occurred in a very natural way, because it was a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Early in my coaching career, my goal was to become a high school head football coach. I even had thoughts of eventually becoming a college coach. Winning was essential to that goal and I wanted to win. Don't get me wrong, I cared a great deal for my players because I was already a Christian, but becoming a highly successful coach was more important to me than leading others to Christ. As I grew in the Lord, I realized that my priorities were changing. I still wanted to win every game and be a successful coach, but my motivation was different. My main goal was to be a good representative of my Lord and have a platform to share His message. What really happens is that His priorities become your priorities. This should not be something you have to strive for. When you are spending time with the Lord in worship, prayer, and study of His word, the Holy Spirit does the work in you. You will desire to do those things He wants you to do rather than what your flesh wants to do.

There are other changes that you will go through as you get in the game and I'm sure that we will discuss them in later posts. The question is, are you ready for the changes? If you are a person that has always feared or disliked change, this may be difficult for you, but remember these changes are all positive. God's plan for you is one of good, not evil ( Jer 29:11 ). One thing that helped me when I was going through all the changes I mentioned as child, was to look at each change as an adventure. I am not sure why I was able to take this approach at such an early age, but it really helped. When I surrendered my life completely to the Lord, I took the same approach. The life of a disciple of Jesus truly is an adventure. I pray that you can embrace the adventure and enjoy the ride!

Game Plan:

1 .Try to spend just 10 minutes more per day in your personal prayer time this week

2. Ask God to show you what priorities in your life might need some adjusting

3. Look up all the verses about discipleship in the four Gospel accounts

4. Ask God to help you prepare for the changes He will make in your life

God Bless You as you follow Him this week,



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Battle, pt4: The Weapons of our Warfare

Welcome back to Coach's Corner. Thank you for joining us. I hope you have been following regularly, but if this is your first time, I highly recommend that you scroll on down to the beginning and catch up. These entries are on a progressive track, designed to help you in your walk with Jesus Christ.

This is the fourth part of a series about spiritual warfare. It is a subject that every believer in Christ needs to understand in order to experience the abundant Christian Life. So far, we have determined who our opponents are in this battle; the world system, our own flesh (worldly desires) and Satanic influence. These are powerful forces that can lead us into sin, especially when we don't understand how to recognize and deal with them. In today's lesson, I hope to help you do just that.

Learning to recognize where spiritual attack is coming from is very important in defeating it. There are different responses needed when you are being tempted by the world or your flesh, than there is when you are being directly attacked Satan. It is also important to know that not every negative thing that happens in your life is spiritual warfare. Some people seem to think that everything that happens is a direct attack from the enemy. I have some news for you. You and I are not important enough in the big scheme of things to merit that much effort on Satan's part! We mess up enough on our own. He doesn't need to spend that much time on us. We need to be careful that we don't credit him with more authority than he really has. A lot of what we go through is a result of our own actions and/or just living in a world that is under the curse of sin. We need to able to distinguish the difference. That being said, let's look at some examples of how Satan does attack so that we can recognize it.

In the last entry, part of the game plan was to read the Genesis account of mankind's fall into sin. In that account, you see an example of direct attack by Satan. He speaks to Eve through the serpent. Now, how did the serpent actually speak to Eve? Was the voice audible or did he just put the words in her mind? We don't know for sure but it is interesting that the Hebrew word for serpent means to hiss or whisper a spell according to Strong's concordance. We do know that in Eve's mind, Satan accused God of lying. She and Adam then disobeyed God's command. This is the attack he uses the most. He continually tries to get people to question God's honesty and motives. Once you start down that road, sin becomes almost inevitable. When you sense that something is causing you to doubt God's loving plan for you or that He doesn't want what is best for you, you can be pretty certain that you are under spiritual attack.

Sometimes Satan attacks in the physical realm. We already talked about Job, but we can also see that Satan even tried this tactic with Jesus. After Jesus had fasted for forty days, He was hungry. Yes, Jesus hungered just as you and I would. Can you imagine how hungry you would be after fasting this long? I don't know about you but I would probably agree to almost anything in order to get some food! Satan played on Jesus' physical need to try and get Jesus to follow his command. You can read this account in Matthew 4. What we can learn from this is, to be careful when you have a serious physical need. Satan can use this to plant harmful ideas in your mind. An example of this might be the increasing number of people who are choosing "assisted suicide". In great physical stress, Satan plants the idea, whether directly or indirectly through the wisdom of the world, that ending your life is better than facing the pain. Either way, it is spiritual attack.

Another ploy Satan will use to keep us from following God's will is tempting us with power and wealth. He told Jesus that he would give Him the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow to him and worship him. If Satan could accomplish this, God's plan of salvation would be totally thwarted. Remember, that is Satan's priority. He wants to be elevated above God. If you are struggling with putting your trust in wealth and power above your relationship with God, that is spiritual attack. You must learn how to fight against it.

One more way Satan attacked Jesus was trying to get Him to put God to the test; He even quoted scripture to Jesus. Yes, even scripture can be used against us in spiritual attacks, when twisted or used out of proper context. That is why we must be diligent in our study. We need to be able to recognize when scripture is being misused. Unfortunately, the name of Jesus has been put to shame at times by people who have used scripture to justify evil. The Spanish Inquisition, the murder of protestant believers, even the holocaust was due in part evil people misusing scripture to justify evil behavior.

If all this seems overwhelming to you, hold on. There is good news! We do have weapons to fight this battle and remember that we are on the winning side. Boy, how excited would I have been, if before each football game, I knew that we would win? Well, we might not win every battle, but thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ, we do win this war. OK, let's look at what the weapons of our warfare are. Check out Ephesians 6 starting in verse 10. It teaches us that we are to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the devil's schemes. The key word here is stand; these weapons enable us to stand against spiritual attack. Let's look at what this armor consists of.

  1. The belt of truth: The belt was the first thing a Roman soldier would put on. It held the rest of his garments together. In the same way, we must have the truth of scripture, rightly divided, to hold our spiritual armor together.
  2. The breastplate of righteousness: We are made righteous by our trust in Christ but we are then commanded to practice righteousness in our daily life. This means that we make God's priorities our priorities in Life. Note that a breastplate is a defensive weapon that protects the heart and lungs. Right living helps protect our vital spiritual organs from attacks of the enemy.
  3. Feet fitted (your boots) with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace: This refers to our standing on the truth of the gospel, which brings us great peace. If our feet are wounded, we cannot stand. Again the better we know the truth, the more easily we recognize a counterfeit of the truth
  4. The shield of faith: Another defensive piece of armor. Faith is our ability to trust God. A Roman shield was covered with linen and leather which would extinguish a flaming arrow. The picture here is that our trust in God can completely disable Satan's attacks on us.
  5. The helmet of salvation: The helmet and sword are the last two pieces the soldier would pick up. Since most any blow to the head would cause severe damage or death, the helmet would be critical when in battle. The picture here is that our salvation is the ultimate protection. Even if the body would be mortally wounded, our salvation is secure. Jesus said not to fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul (Matt10:28)
  6. The sword of the spirit: This is the only offensive weapon mentioned. This refers to the Word of God, taught to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Heb 4:12 the Word is said to be sharper than any two edged sword. It can pierce the most hardened heart. Satanic influence is no match for God's word spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Note that at the end of this passage, we are told to pray in the Spirit and to be alert. Words of wisdom to help us in our fight against spiritual attack whether it comes from the world, the flesh or the devil.

Game plan:

Review all the Scriptures mentioned in this entry. Ask God to help you in your understanding of spiritual warfare.

If you are going through a difficult time, pray for wisdom in recognition what might be causing this.

Practice putting on your spiritual armor. Look at each piece and see whether or not you are being prepared to stand against the wiles of the enemy


Let's get prepared to take on whatever the enemy might throw at us. God bless you,