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,



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