You are the Light of the World

You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)

Jesus gives the Christian both an enormous compliment and a tremendous responsibility when Christ pronounces the believer to be the light of the world,  In consideration of the fact that Jesus claimed to be the light of the world (John 8:12) as He walked this earth, the awesome reality that we have been chosen for His team should leave us awe-struck. The words of Jesus convey that the believer is not simply ‘a” light, but “the” light. Your life has the God-given potential to shine His Gospel for His Kingdom and for His glory. Never underestimate your value in the eyes of your Heavenly Father or the integral role in growing His Kingdom!

Don’t complain about how others are not letting their light shine.  This is a distraction from the enemy.  Focus on your light alone and rejoice in the opportunity to use your gifts to bring glory to God.

It’s important to understand the light people perceive in in our lives does not actually come from us.  Consider the sun and moon.  There is no light coming from the moon allowing us to witness it’s shape in the sky.  The moon merely reflects the light of the sun, and thus, shines. By the same token, Jesus is the source of all light. As disciples, we reflect the light of Christ to a world living in darkness. Comprehending this dynamic is important.  There is a direct relationship between our unbroken communion with Christ and the light people witness in our lives. The Bible says, “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,  (Isaiah 42:6)  Stay near to Jesus. Hold hands with the God whose has called you into righteousness.

As you commune with Him in quiet places, He will present you as a light in public places.

The Recruiting Offer of a Lifetime

I PLAY FOR HIM. While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). At once they left their nets and followed him. Little did these men know that the words Jesus spoke that day would be the most important recruiting offer they would ever hear. No prior experience could prepare them for the power that was about to unfold.

In the span of just a few short years, they would witness Him multiply food, (Luke 9:16) transform water to wine, (John 2:1-11) and walk across Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 4:18) They marveled as He commanded a storm to cease (Mark 4:39-41) and watched in awe as He summoned a paralytic to pick up his mat and walk (Mark 2:11). But before they witnessed any of those miraculous events, a two-word recruiting offer had been extended.

“Follow Me.”

He didn’t promise them a life free from hardship. Nor did he offer them fame in exchange for their allegiance. His charge to this group is a sobering reminder to us all that in order to be on His team, we must be willing to push every chip to the middle and declare, “I’m all in.”

When all is said and done, it’s His team and His game. But don’t miss this point, Jesus isn’t just asking you and me to join His team, he’s recruiting us to play for Him.

Play your butt Off!

If God has gifted you to run, then run. If God has equipped you with the ability to jump, then jump. Assuming God knows what He is doing, we must also assume that your athletic gifts have been given with a Godly purpose in mind.

We would never doubt that God knows what He’s doing, so why do we question the gifting He places inside people? Why do we say certain gifts are “of God” and others are not? How can we be so quick to lay judgment on the idea that a guitar can be used for God but a football cannot? Have you not seen a guitar used to defy God and witnessed a football used to exalt God? And have you not seen a guitar glorify God and a football defy Him? In the end, its not about the the gifting, its about the glory. Either we try to selfishly hoard our gifts and their rewards for ourselves, or we freely offer them to God.

“Use these gifts to show others your love,” should be the cry of our heart.

As we commune with Christ, thinking this way will become quite natural. The Bible says, As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. (1 Peter 4:10) It would be foolish to think that your athletic gifting should be placed on the shelf and declared unusable.

So run, jump, and compete. “Play your butt off”, as many coaches would say. But when you do, don’t play for yourself, play for Him.

Destined to be a World Changer

Your true identity in this life is not as an athlete. An athlete is what you do, a follower of Christ is who you are. You are first and foremost a child of the living God.(Galatians 3:26) You are an annointed saint destined to be a world changer.

The Bible says, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1 John 2:27)

He has gifted you to be an ambassador for the cause of the gospel. A representative of Jesus. A person who brings to light the sacrifice of the cross and the hope it offers. Teaching the world that His resurrection from the grave not only brought Him to life, but will spiritually bring them to life as well.

So when you lace up your shoes, put on your cleats, pull on your swim cap, or dawn your uniform don’t be misled. The name on your jersey is the visual sign of the sports team you “play on”. But the name on your heart, is the consecrated evidence of the Savior you “play for”.

#iplayforHim

There is No Greater Strength than this . . . .

Where is your heart today? Are you consumed with the activity around you and missing the Savior above you? Have you forgotten His Spirit has taken residence within you? Is the busyness of life trumping the truth that God has secured your life for eternity? Has the weight of the world become greater than the God who formed it? Are you feeling defeated by the magnitude of everything around you?

The apostle Paul not only knows how you feel, but offers advice amidst the chaos of frustrations and anxiety. The Bible says, … “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7)

Paul is not coaching you to “suck it up”. He’s not yelling at you to “get with the program”. No where does he ever suggest that handling the challenges of life are about your ability to find strength within yourself. In fact, he is saying the exact opposite. When the things of this world are holding you down and applying unbearable pressure, your strength will not be found in rising up, but in kneeling down.

The scene is the Garden of Gethsemane. The main character, Jesus Christ. The supporting cast of Peter, James, and John are of little help. Sleep has overtaken their bodies as Jesus falls to His knees in anguish. “My soul is sorrowful” (Matthew 26:38), he utters. A third character perhaps, Satan, stalks the surroundings tempting Jesus to quit. Luring him to give in. Playing upon the notion that Jesus isn’t strong enough to handle what’s about to happen. (Sound familiar?) As the sweat of Jesus turns to blood, He whispers to heaven, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Engulfed in despair, Jesus goes to the only source that can truly help, His Father.

Is there is an area of your life where victory seems improbable? Are you drowning in despair? If so, it may be time to go to your Gethsemane and take the greatest posture of strength that exists. Kneeling at the foot your Father.

When you are knocked down physically, get up. When you are cut down emotionally, get up. When you are tired spiritually, get up. Never doubt your effort to persevere is in vain if you are performing for God’s glory.

Keep Getting Up

The greatest thing about going to the tomb of Jesus was that it was found empty. Knocked down to the point of death, Jesus hung on a cross that screamed of defeat. But staying down wasn’t an option. Drenched in sweat, bloodied in battle, the miracle was set in motion. And then three days later…..he got up.

“And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
(Luke 24:2-3)

Ironically, there is tremendous opportunity and blessing in these moments when it appears we have lost. Who we become in life is heavily influenced by our learned ability to
handle adversity. Few would argue we learn more about who we are
during those moments in life when we stare defeat in the face. In tough times, three players of life surface.

The first is the quitter. Those who stay down when they face adversity.
They give up easily, care little of results, and often can’t wait to get
the game over with. When they get knocked down, they stay down.

The second type of person is neutral. When knocked down, this person
doesn’t stay down, but never fully gets up either. They often sit on the
fence, waiting for someone else to lift them up. When things are going
great, they are great. But when things are going bad, they fold.

The third is the winner. They’ve been knocked down harder than anyone
else because they’ve probably put in more time than anyone else. They’ve
also learned to understand a very powerful principle. Staying down is not
an option. I didn’t say winning, I said staying down. This is the person
who is prepared to be drenched in sweat, bloodied in battle, and
completely exhausted from giving literally every ounce of effort. When
the competition is over, no matter the score, this person has won, because
they’ve learned success is not about winning and losing. It comes to the
person who just keeps getting up.

When you are knocked down physically, get up. When you are cut down
emotionally, get up. When you are tired spiritually, get up. Never doubt your effort to persevere is in vain if you are performing for God’s glory.

The Most Misquoted Sports Verse in History

There would be little argument within the Christian sports culture that one particular piece of scripture has become the “go to” verse for Christian athletes. It’s plastered on t-shirts, posters, pictures, banners and even the walls of weight rooms.  If you put your mind to it, I’ll bet you more than likely come up with the verse below.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Most have been conditioned to conclude “I can do all things” indicates Jesus’ power assisting in their success of scoring touchdowns, hitting home runs and winning championships.

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what the writer of Philippians had in mind.  Paul wasn’t saying “I can achieve all things,” but rather “I can endure all things”.  He was sharing that he’d learned to be content no matter what his circumstances — rich or poor, hungry or well fed, in prison or out.

In the end, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is not about Jesus propelling you to to achieve, but rather Jesus fortifying you to endure, ultimately discovering peace and satisfaction within every circumstance.

This shift in perspective makes all the difference for you as an athlete.  It reveals that Christ will sustain you during the highs and lows of competition.   That in good seasons and bad, victory or defeat, you will endure with Christ by your side.  He is enough.

In a world and sports culture where situations change so rapidly, it is assuring to have a relationship with a Savior who does not change.  The Bible says, “Jesus is the same yesterday, and today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)  If Christ could endure the hardship of the cross, His strength is certainly sufficient to sustain us through the hardships of competition.

It is a Kingdom mindset to take refuge in the certainty that when the game is over, you still have Christ.

Court-side seats in heaven were purchased at the foot of the cross and can be attained from a Savior who not only died on a hill, but walked out of a grave three days later.

Court Side Seats in Heaven

The work we do on behalf of Jesus does not open the door to heaven. It is His work on the cross which opens the door to heaven.

His work. His sacrifice. His death. His resurrection.

Our faith life derails the minute our eyes become fixated more upon our work for Jesus rather than His work for us. He is salvation. He is forgiveness from sin. He, Jesus Christ is the one who died for the sins of many.

By accepting this gift of God, His spirit resides in you! And with His Spirit, God begins to reshape your heart and ultimately transform your life .  Consider what is written in Ezekiel 36: 26-27. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Nothing in this life offers anything close to what His death and resurrection does. Court-side seats in heaven were purchased at the foot of the cross and can be attained from a Savior who not only died on a hill, but walked out of a grave three days later.