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Old 04-06-2015, 10:30 AM   #2191
Big Daddy
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Default 4.06.15

Stick to the Plan
Leo Sayles

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"Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be clear-headed and disciplined for prayer.”
-1 Peter 4:7

Set
I love March Madness! I grew up playing basketball, continued through high school, and then cheered for my older brother throughout his college career. I coached the game for a number of years, as well. To me, nothing beats the passion, desire and determination that these collegiate men and women display during the "Big Dance." I love watching teams overcome large deficits in order to advance to the next round. Unfailingly, the commentators state again and again how poised these teams are, and I must agree. The teams that prevail are clear-headed and focused, and they stick to their coach's plan.

In the midst of battle, winners are clear-headed. They remember the basics and stick to the fundamentals. They remember who they are and where they come from. The teams who make it to the Final Four understand one thing: that they have one chance. It’s win or go home. I would bet that their coaches encourage them to trust each other, stay under control and stick to the game plan, knowing if they do that, they will prevail in the end.

In his epistles, Peter writes with passion and urgency, and he presents a game plan of his own to ensure victory. In 1 Peter 4:7 (KJV) he says, "The end of all things is at hand." As he wrote, Peter must have pictured that last night before the crucifixion with Jesus. That night, Christ's entire focus was on finishing the work God had ordained for Him. Jesus' final task before He was betrayed was to prepare the disciples for their ministry. In 1 Peter 4: 8-11, Peter echoed what Jesus told the disciples that night and gave instruction on how the disciples should live "in light of the end." Yet, I believe it is important that Peter opened this passage with the phrase; "therefore, be clear-headed and disciplined for prayer."

We live in the last days and do not know when Christ will return. Let's be clear-headed and disciplined for prayer. Let's remember who we are and whose we are, and let's get on the battlefield. The game plan is sure, the victory is secure. We will prevail!

Go
No questions this time, just a challenge. In light of the recent Easter event, take your Bible and find a spot to sit alone for an hour. Open to John 13-17 and imagine yourself with the disciples. Read the entire passage without a break. Listen. Really listen to Jesus' words to you.

Workout
John 13-17
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Old 04-07-2015, 12:30 PM   #2192
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Truly Productive
Jill Ewert Lee

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“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
-Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

Set
Solitude is a topic that has been on my heart for a long time. It seems like solitude and silence in the presence of God has become optional for us in today’s productivity-driven society. Because we aren’t tangibly achieving anything we can physically see, we don’t think there’s use in it. Or, that if we do take time out to sit silently before the Lord, it’s a waste of time since we’re not getting better at anything or furthering any sort of progress.

Deep down, though, I think we’re all a little desperate for solitude and stillness. And that’s a good thing! We should be desperate for it because we were designed by God to desire it! It’s just that our world is so outcome-driven that we don’t think we are allowed to take a moment’s rest. What we need is for someone to tell us that it’s okay to get away and unplug—for someone to give us permission to stop “doing” all the time and just rest in God’s presence.

Let me be clear: You have that permission. God has given it to you. Not only is the practice of solitude Scriptural, it was actually clearly modeled by Jesus. He knew that He needed time alone with His Father if He was going to complete any of the work that He had been given. Now, that kind of thinking is completely counter to what our culture facilitates today. Our world tells us to keep “doing doing doing” and only take breaks if you’re done getting ahead. (Which, let’s be honest, never happens.)

We live in a busy, frantic, chaotic world, and athletics can be one of the most driven parts of it. There’s always something more to do—a way we can work on our game, a new workout to try, another tournament to play in, another race to run. But we can’t forget that our primary role here is not to “achieve” athletically or otherwise; it’s to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30). But how can we possibly do that if we never spend time alone with Him?

Today, let’s really evaluate our mindset regarding true progress and the value of solitude. And, if you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to take a break, wait no more. You already have permission, and it’s straight from God Himself. And that is all you need. Don’t let the world drown out the voice of the Lord. Take His Word above theirs and rest in His peace.

Go
1. What is your mindset regarding stillness and silence before the Lord? Do you see value in it?

2. Do you find yourself constantly trying to get ahead and achieve or produce? Why?

3. What do you believe is the purpose of life? How does your schedule reflect that?

4. Are you willing to set aside a personal agenda to spend time with the Lord developing a relationship with Him?

Workout
Psalm 23
Isaiah 30:15
Matthew 14:23
Luke 5:15-16
Hebrews 5:13-6:3
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Old 04-08-2015, 02:54 PM   #2193
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Fear and Confidence
Roger Lipe


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Though an army deploy against me, my heart is not afraid; though war break out against me, still I am confident.
— Psalm 27:3

Set
It appears that our hearts are the repositories for both confidence and fear. When we feel overmatched by a seemingly superior opponent, it’s our heart that keeps us from fearing him. When it seems like everything is going badly, when all the momentum has swung to the other team’s bench, it’s our heart that brims with confidence in spite of it all. A coach’s heart is the key that enables his or her team to compete strongly.

As we prepare to coach today, let’s give our heart an infusion of confidence through prayer. A coach can keep his or her heart in tune by confessing weaknesses to his most trusted associates. Strength must be found through reading the holy Scriptures. Let’s unify our heart with our players’ through committed relationships and a singular focus on our team’s goals.

Go
1. Where does confidence come from?
2. Where does fear make its home?
3. Are these attributes of your body, of your mind, or are they residents of your heart?

Workout
Extra Reading:
Psalm 71:1–13
Matthew 14:22–33


Overtime
Father, fuel my heart with confidence in my relationship with You, with my coaching associates, and with my players. Though we face seemingly staggering odds and superior opponents, fill my heart with courage and dispel the fear that would limit my team and me. Amen.
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:55 AM   #2194
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Need to be Known
Carissa Dahik

Ready
“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.”
- Habakkuk 3:2 (NIV)

Set
I recently was told a story about a promising young man who left high school and sports to pursue a singing career. As I heard of his actions, I felt a questioning look cross my face. The person sharing the story said, "Well, he wants to be famous." I cringed—not because the young man didn’t have musical gifts, but because he desired more to be known than to be great.

As believers we understand that promotion, favor and opportunity come from the Lord. Psalm 84:11 says, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity.” It’s tempting to get caught up in the cheer of a crowd, the receipt of a medal or seeing our names in headlines. None of us are immune to the emotional high of self-glorification. It may be even more difficult for those who are constantly in the spotlight.

An idol is anything we put before God. I believe that at times God allows us small victories and times of favor to see how we handle ourselves. Do we keep Him first? Do we acknowledge that He deserves all the credit? As athletes and coaches the challenge for us is to keep God first regardless of the outcome. We need to cultivate grateful attitudes, stay grounded in His Word, use our blessings to bless others and always give God the glory.

Hebrews 13:15 reminds us: "Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name." May it be said of us that we used our sports and positions to lead people closer to God. Few of us will become famous, but all of us can become great.

Go
1. When was the last time you thanked God for all the ways He has blessed you?
2. When you receive recognition do you take the credit or do you acknowledge the Lord?
3. Take the time to write down or recall some recent works of God and give Him thanks.

Workout
• 2 Corinthians 11:30
• Philippians 2:3-11
• 1 Peter 5:6

Overtime
“God, please forgive me for all the times I have overlooked Your generosity, not thanked You for blessings and missed the opportunity to give You the credit. I pray that next time will I notice Your hand and immediately glorify You. Thank You for Your love, mercy and patience. To you be all the glory, honor and praise. Amen.”
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:40 AM   #2195
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Up the Hill
Jodi Ridge

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“… Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus…” - Hebrews 12:1-2

Set
I love to run. It allows me an extra opportunity to connect with my Creator. It’s more than just seeing His beauty in nature, so much more! The longer I run, the more I hear His voice. Is it the physical exertion? Can it be the steady cadence? I think it’s more about just being quiet.

I hit the road taking my usual route. I crave the familiar. I run it many times each week and know it well. Halfway through, I prepare for my least favorite part: a sizable hill with a nasty bend. I’m tired and, yet, I’m far from done. In order to tackle this ascent, I need the Lord to carry me. I submit my inadequacies to Him and ask Him for help. His Word comes back to me and Scripture fills my head: “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phillipians 4:13).

Some days, I picture Jesus slouching low with the wooden cross on His back struggling to take an extra step. I am reminded of where He was headed, and I am strengthened. I persist up that hill. In the end, I am often amazed at how easy it seemed. I am overjoyed. I made it! I ran with endurance the race marked out for me. He carried me, and I am on a spiritual high. Then comes the crash. Every time.

My next mile is just plain ugly. I seem to have forgotten Scripture. No image of Christ remains in my head. I think that the run should be easy, now. Instead, it becomes more difficult. I expect to coast (Don’t I deserve it?) and fail to prepare for its slight incline. I no longer rely on Him, and, instead, rely on my own strength. But in the end, I pray that on the next run, with God’s grace, I will do it His way. I will keep my eyes on Jesus.

And I pray that today, no matter what challenge you face, you will do the same.

Go
1. Are your eyes fixed on Jesus?
2. Are taking any matter into your own hands and not arming yourself with His mighty power?
3. Do you stop communicating with Him because you believe you have gotten over the hard part of your life and feel entitled to coast?
4. What can you do to remain focused on Him?

Workout
Matthew 6:33
Phillipians 4:13
Ephesians 6:11
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:19 AM   #2196
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Dedication
Leo Sayles


Ready
"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer."
-2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV)

Set
Years ago, when I ran track in college, I had the privilege of doing workouts with several elite athletes who trained at the same facility in California. One of the athletes in my workout group was a promising college freshman named Mark Crear. Three years later, I watched his career take off after he finished third at the NCAA finals in 1990. Over the the next 14 years, Mark emerged as one of the top hurdlers in the world. An Olympian with two Olympic medals, he held the No. 1 or 2 ranking in the world several times during that span. He is remembered most for taking the silver medal in the 1996 Olympics with a cast on his broken arm.

Years later, I reconnected with Mark when he came to the Midwest to speak at a youth rally and local FCA event. One day after speaking to our FCA Huddle, Mark informed me that he was going to do a workout. I showed him the indoor hallway where the team I coached ran in the winter months (it was mid-February) and let him get dressed in the locker room while I prepped for the team's workout. I didn't see him for about 40 minutes, so I went to check on him. I found him outside in the cold, driving, 38-degree rain.

When I asked him why he was out in the cold working out, he said, "If you are going to run at the world-class level, you have to realize that the guy just behind you is outside working out to catch you. The guy ahead of you is outside somewhere working out, because he knows you are working hard to catch him."
Mark endured many hardships throughout his career, dedicating himself to the excellence that was necessary in achieving world-class status. As a Christian athlete, he demonstrated the kind of great dedication that set him apart from many others.

In his final letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged his protege to dedicate himself to God. Paul said, "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs." In 1 Peter 4:19, Peter echoed Paul's thought. He encouraged the suffering saints of Asia and Asia minor to endure persecution: "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."

As athletes and coaches, we each understand dedication. We have set apart a portion of our days and lives for our particular sports. We endure the pain of workouts, three-a-days and conditioning for the glory of victory. Let's apply that same dedication to Christ. Whether we are suffering for doing God's will or simply trying to live day-to-day, we should dedicate our thoughts, words and deeds to the Lord.

Go
1.In your opinion, who is the greatest example of dedication to their sport?
2.What sets that person apart from others?
3.What principles does that person demonstrate that would help you spiritually?

Workout
•Psalm 4:3
•1 Peter 2:9
•1 Peter 4:19
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