Monday, September 21, 2015

A Word From Pastor Mike - Coach 'Em Up

This was a sermon Mike gave a couple of weeks ago...

"Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you and do them that you may live... " Deuteronomy 4:1

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might."  Ephesians 6:10

"All those evil things come from within and they defile a person." Mark 7:23

Moses, Paul and Jesus are coaching. At least, that's one way of looking at it. A coach wants the one, or the team, to succeed, to be victorious.  I think that was the case with Moses, Paul and Jesus.

I grew up in a small town in Montana. The only sport to do in the winter was to play basketball.

(Mike didn't show these photos when he gave this sermon.  It's my blog, though, so I can do what I want, right?  Just so you know, Mike is #30.)

I played basketball from 5th grade through my senior year in high school and I basically had one coach through out that time, Clayton Hornung.

I looked on the internet to see if I could find a picture of him. I did!

Then, I looked to see if there were any stories about him, and there was!  Well, he was inducted into the Montana Coaches Hall of Fame in 2014. He was quoted as saying, "Its a tremendous honor to be recognized by your peers and its a humbling experience.  It is not necessarily something I worked for but it is deeply appreciated."  I was excited to read, "I would also like to thank Mike Struck for making me the coach I am today."  I may have made up that last part.

Clayton Hornung coached 7 years in Turner.  One of his gigs was coaching the first year of Turner's girls' basketball team.  Their photo in the annual that year said, "We almost won one!"

(I am number 15, probably the worst player on the team.  Seriously, that first year I didn't even know the rules or any of the basics.  Still, I had fun! I won't name all the others in case they wish to remain anonymous, but I know a few readers may recognize themselves.  
Feel free to identify yourselves in the comments!)

Coach Hornung was so despondent that he said he would never coach women's basketball again.  (That may or may not be true.)

Clayton Hornung ended up going to Baker, MT and there he coached girls' basketball.  They won 3 state championships, took 2 seconds, 2 thirds and 1 fourth place. Three times he was Coach of the Year. He was also nominated for coach of the year 8 other times.  Additionally, he was a nominee for the National Coach of the Year Award.

I had no idea I would have such a great influence on him.  (groan...) He was also elected mayor of Baker, MT.

Coach Hornung loved to coach and he was a good teacher. However, whenever there was a practical joke played, he always blamed me.  It was only me SOME of the time.

I still have his playbook somewhere.  He was influenced by John Wooden, the great basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins.  My classmates and me still remember his teachings all these years later, "Don't televise your passes."  "Take the initiative!"  "Don't be lackadaisical!"  And here's another thing, something he probably couldn't do today, he prayed before we went out for the basketball game.

As I said earlier, we can see Moses, Paul and Jesus as coaches.  First, let's start with Moses.  In the book of Deuteronomy Moses is trying to get the people out of their wilderness wandering and into the promised land.  Deuteronomy is the Farewell Address of Moses.  It was through his last chance to "coach 'em up" before he died and they crossed the Jordan River to the Promised Land.

What was Moses saying in our reading today?

  • Keep statutes, rules, commandments.
  • What to DO, in order to live and take possession of the land.
  • Don't add or subtract from these laws.
  • Take care to keep these commandments, lest you forget or depart from them.
  • Teach your children and grandchildren.

Moses could coach 'em up today, make an application for our life. I think he would tell us:

  • Obey God and God's Word.
  • Don't forget or change the commandments.
  • Teach them... pass on the faith.

Do you have a Christian goal?  Is there some reason you are here today?  Is it to get to heaven?  Is it to become a disciple or work on discipleship?  Is it to promise something to God or to thank God?

Where are we going?  Where is this team going?  How are we doing?  A coach wants to know.

Let's move on to Paul.  We know about him. He coached for the other team for awhile. He was a Jewish Pharisee.  He wanted his people to follow the law and not be lead down the wrong road by a cultish group called Christians.

Well, Paul switched teams and he became the coach for many Christian Congregations.  Usually, the end of his letters were full of all kinds of coaching.  That's the way it is in Chapter 6 of Ephesians. Here's a summary of his coaching:

  • Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.
  • Put on the whole armor or God.
  • We are standing against/wrestling with the devil, rulers, authorities, cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil.
  • The Whole Armor of God is Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness, Shoes - Gospel of Peace, Shield of Faith, Helmet of Salvation, Sword of the Spirit - God's Word.
  • Pray! ... at all times, for the saints, for Paul to be bold in his proclamation of the Gospel.
What's the application for today? We are battling evil forces; We are in a spiritual battle. We must be strong in God's power and use God's weapons.  We are to pray.

Battles and contests can be overwhelming at times, but we have the greatest power in the universe on our side.  We need to lean on HIM, not on our own understanding.

Finally, Jesus does some coaching.  The scribe or Pharisees were complaining that his disciples were eating with unwashed hands, thus making them defiled.  Jesus does some coaching on the floor, then he takes his disciples into the locker room and does some more coaching. Here are his points.

  • Nothing outside, going in, defiles us before God.
  • He declared all foods clean, freeing Christians from Jewish dietary laws.
  • From within the human heart, that central place of who we are, comes evil thoughts, etc.
What does this reading mean to us today? Is there something to learn? Yes, evil thoughts and actions defile us before God. Beware of your sinful human nature!

So, each week you come to church.  Sometimes you need to be "coached up". Sometimes the coach can be hard on you. Sometimes you need to hear:
  • I am a sinner. I need to change.
  • I've got to quit going through the motion of being a Christian.
  • Quit complaining. Quit judging people.
  • Say, "I'm sorry." "I forgive you."
  • Let go of the past. Don't be a victim.
  • Sometimes our failures, our stress, our difficulties, are times of growth for us. We can become bitter or better.
And sometimes you need to hear encouragement:
  • God loves me. I'm one of God's children.
  • Thanks for years of faithfulness and service.
  • I'm not perfect but I'm moving forward in faith.
  • Jesus' death on the cross brings me life, peace and salvation.
  • God knows what I'm going through and God cares about my life. God wants me to have an abundant life. God wants to fill my life with favor and blessing.

I want you to know you have the most powerful coach ever - God.  He wants you to win, to have an abundant life, to be happy and blessed.

This is my coaching advice to you.  Let God "coach you up" and it will go well for you.

Featured Post

My Life as a Travel Agent

On a recent morning I was at work and as one of my patients was waiting for his death, I thought again about an idea that keeps popping int...