Our Prayer Coach

I love football! 

The plays that the quarterback calls in the huddle are very creative. It may sound something like this: “soultrain alert 13 trap on 1.” Then after the team breaks the huddle with the play that they just know will be successful, the quarterback may look over the other team’s defense and callout something like, “check” or “sally” or “Omaha.” This is called an “audible” and it’s communicating to the team how they are now going to modify the play that they just called. The quarterback calls this audible because it appears to him that the defense may know what sort of play they were planning to run. 

The teams that can adjust better on-the-fly—or call audibles—usually win the game. 

None of this happens without lots of practice! Practice builds good habits. Practice helps teams learn from their mistakes and develop even better habits. All of this practicing also requires a good coach overseeing the process, and individual team members who are willing to submit to the coach’s direction and correction. 

Have you noticed that there are some Christians who “audible” well? Unexpected things pop up that seem to throw many people off their game plan, but these Christians seem to adapt so easily. Why is that? It’s definitely not because they are wired that way, or have a higher spiritual IQ, or they can think faster. It’s because they’ve practiced good habits, they’ve learned from past experiences which have developed better “audibling” habits, all under the guidance of a perfect Coach. 

Jesus told us about the amazing prayers that we would be able to pray, and how the Holy Spirit can be our perfect Coach in this process (John 14:12-17, 26; 16:13-15). 

There are some incredible things that happen when we pray consistently, when we pray boldly, and when we pray in the character of Jesus. 

John Piper asks, “Why do God’s children so often fail to have consistent habits of happy, fruitful prayer?” He answers his own question like this: “Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the reasons is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.” 

Successful football teams don’t simply show up on game day and compete successfully. They plan to be successful. They practice and study the coach’s game plan so that they can be ready to audible when necessary. So too for Christians—we can’t just show up for spiritual battle and expect to be successful. We must also practice, and study the game plan laid out in the Bible, and listen to the Holy Spirit as He coaches us. That’s the only way we can successfully handle all that life and even the devil throws at us. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some hindrances that I see that can derail our practice of prayer. In the meantime, I want to challenge you—as I’ve challenged myself personally—to think on three questions:

  1. Do I really want to pray effectively? 
  2. Am I willing to put in the energy necessary to pray this way?
  3. Am I willing to let the Holy Spirit coach and discipline me in my prayer practice? 

If you can, please join me at Calvary Assembly of God on Sunday as we continue our series called Prayer Plan. 

12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid (YouVersion reading plan review)

Tim Elmore has fantastic insights for those who work with today’s youth. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a youth pastor, or a coach, you are always guaranteed some great content when you study what Dr. Elmore presents. 

YouVersion has a reading plan based on Tim Elmore’s book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid. The reading plan has three advantages over the book—(1) Daily Scripture readings which augment the material covered each day; (2) A video message from Dr. Elmore explaining how we can avoid these mistakes; and (3) A place to have an honest dialogue with another parent/coach/teacher, if you are doing this reading plan as a shared plan. 

There is also one huge advantage the book has over the reading plan—lots more content, including warning signs, and ideas for recovering from past mistakes. 

So the real winning combination is not either-or, but both-and. You should both read the book (you can check out my review by clicking here) and do the YouVersion reading plan along with another adult or two (or three or four…). 

Don’t get blindsided by these 12 mistakes. After all, they are all avoidable and correctable! 

(You can also check out some quotes I shared from the book by clicking here.)

9 More Quotes From “Marching Off The Map”

Dr. Tim Elmore has given parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone else who works with students some excellent insights in his book Marching Off The Map. Here are a few more quotes from Dr. Elmore.

“The Latin root word for ‘educate’ is ‘ducere’ which means to ‘push out.’ … We should not put students in a passive mode as we teach. We must be inspirers of learning. We must help pull ambition out of them, not push information into them.”

“According to Dr. Michael Leahy, ‘Today’s typical high school student endures the same anxiety levels as a psychiatric patient did in the early 1950s.’ In any given year, about one in five will experience an anxiety attack. Why? Their world is overwhelming, cluttered with information coming at them at the rate of a thousand messages a day.”

“Thousands of Baby Boomers retire each day in America. They will leave leadership positions needing to be filled. Even if everyone in Generation X were a brilliant leader, there would not be enough of them to fill the vacancies left by the Boomers. The young adults among the Millennial Generation will be needed for leadership, ready or not.”

“Although our young adults are rich in potential—we don’t really expect them to perform responsible acts until a full decade later that we expected a century ago. I believe it’s detrimental both for our kids and our society. In many states, we give them the rights to adulthood at 18 or 21, like smoking, drinking or voting. We don’t, however, expect the responsibilities that accompanied those rights. It’s unhealthy. The rights and responsibilities should always go together.”

“Remember that children (in general) cannot comprehend an addictive behavior. Adults must lead them into healthy moderation, where they both understand and enjoy technology, but utilize it as a ‘servant.’ 

“Remember that children will choose ice cream over lima beans—and screens over the healthy alternatives for play. While there are some exceptions, adults must be the ones to lead them in their emotional development, and introduce behaviors and habits that produce maturity.

“Remember that children are drawn to entertainment, whether or not they learn something from it. … Adults must leverage what they’re magnetically drawn to and make it beneficial.”

“Wise leaders utilize vision that can see both backward and forward. They look back and learn from the past. They glean from past mistakes in order to avoid repeating them. Additionally, they seek what was helpful and timeless so they can carry those elements forward. They swing backward so they can swing forward well.”

“A culture that offers the young information and autonomy without requiring equal parts accountability and responsibility produces ‘unready’ adults.”

“Students are incentivized if they know why a topic is relevant before they learn. Students bond with an experience more than a lecture. Students comprehend information when it’s connected to a narrative. Students remember data when an image is utilized in their learning.”

“Effective teachers don’t say as much as possible. They actually say as little as needed—allowing students to get on with their learning.”

You can also check out my review of Marching Off The Map by clicking here. The first set of quotes (and an infographic) I shared from the book are here, and a set of quotes that Dr. Elmore shared in his book are here.

7 Quotes + 1 Infographic From “Marching Off The Map”

Once again, Tim Elmore has given us invaluable insight into the emerging youth culture. If you have kids or work with kids, you must read Marching Off The Map. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. Below is the first set of quotes I want to share with you, but there will be plenty more coming in the future, so stay tuned!

“Thanks to technology, information streams into their lives 24/7 and often has no filter on it, even for young children. When we determined not to censor content in the media, we had no idea (understandably) how it would affect our kids. We’re removing the opportunity for them to experience innocence and wonder. However, because they’re still maturing emotionally, socially, cognitively and biologically in their first 25 years, we have now begun to witness a strange paradox in our young: the extinction of childlikeness and the extension of childishness. …

“Since they are exposed to so much adult information, so early in their lives, they can prematurely lose (1) their sense of innocence, (2) their sense of wonder and (3) their sense of trust …

“Biologically, the graduate is an adult. Emotionally, the graduate may be unprepared for the adult world.” 

“If you think our kids are pitifully impulsive on social media—just look at the adult population. … If you think teens are addicted to Facebook, just study the hours their mothers spend on it. If you think young athletes on the Little League baseball field act childish, just look at their dads. The behavior of adults and children has become more and more similar. Society has baptized ‘youthfulness.’ We want to look young, feel young, dress young, talk young and act young. We argue with our children’s teachers. We push our kid’s coaches to get them special treatment. We are not good at delaying gratification, and we frequently don’t keep commitments we make … very much like children. The result? Adulthood has lost much of its aura and authority.”

“As you stand in front of your classroom or your own children—you are, in a sense, Galileo. You are Magellan. You are Christopher Columbus. You are Lewis and Clark. You are Neil Armstrong. Ready or not, they need you to play this role.

“Our world is both expanding and shrinking. Our past maps and methods are antiquated. Like it or not, we’re moving into unfamiliar territory and many think it’s too difficult to explore. We have fallen in love with our old maps. … 

“For educators, our role must change as we teach a generation of students who don’t need adults to get information.

“For parents, our role must change as we raise kids in a time of terrorism, economic recession, racial unrest, underemployment and ubiquitous technology.

“For coaches, our role must change as we train young athletes who have eight-second attention spans, and may arrive at practice with little resilience or grit.

“For youth workers, our role must change as we mentor students who have few life skills or values because adults either over-functioned or were absent.

“For employers, our role must change as we onboard young employees who may have never had a real job before, and may ask when ‘spring break’ will be.”

“Adults must enable the students to leverage what is new, yet at the same time, hold on to what is ancient, yet valuable. We must be both timeless and timely. So, our job as we serve the next generation is two-fold:

  • To adopt or adapt. We must seize what is new and help kids leverage it well.
  • To explain and equip. We must relate to them the timeless ideals every generation needs.”

“I believe we must cultivate one significant skill set in ourselves: we must be able to either adapt to the new world that’s emerging, or we must explain why a timeless virtue or value is still relevant in our 21st century world.”

“A third of young Americans say they don’t belong to any religion. I’ve found, however, they’ve traded in one God for many gods. They want to ‘feel’ spiritual, so they’ve created a buffet—seeking something to satisfy their soul. I often hear students say, ‘I don’t believe in religion, but I want to be a spiritual person.’ Today—pluralism is expanding across the landscape. It’s easier to say ‘no’ to one and enjoy a mixture of many.”

“A third of young Americans say they don’t belong to any religion. I’ve found, however, they’ve traded in one God for many gods. They want to ‘feel’ spiritual, so they’ve created a buffet—seeking something to satisfy their soul. I often hear students say, ‘I don’t believe in religion, but I want to be a spiritual person.’ Today—pluralism is expanding across the landscape. It’s easier to say ‘no’ to one and enjoy a mixture of many.”

“The Latin root word for ‘educate’ is ‘ducere’ which means to ‘push out.’ … We should not put students in a passive mode as we teach. We must be inspirers of learning. We must help pull ambition out of them, not push information into them.”

I’ll be posting some more quotes from Marching Off The Map next week.

The Legacy Of Amos Alonzo Stagg

This is an excerpt from Mark Batterson’s powerful book Chase The Lion

chase-the-lion“When I hear the word legacy, I think of Amos Alonzo Stagg. You can’t walk very far on the University of Chicago campus without bumping into his legacy. As the coach of the original Monsters of the Midway, Coach Stagg led the university to two national titles in 1905 and 1913.

“His football legacy includes the huddle, the Statue of Liberty play, the onside kick, the T-formation, the end-around, and the forward pass. In other words, he practically invented the game of football as we know it. But that isn’t his most enduring or most endearing legacy.

“When Coach Stagg accepted the invitation to coach, he gave the university president a speech of sorts: ‘After much thought and prayer, I decided that my life can best be used for my Master’s service in the position you have offered.’ Amos Alonzo Stagg coached until the age of ninety-eight. But he did more than coaches players; he discipled them. He was a priest-coach. After one of his most successful seasons, a well-intentioned reporter congratulated Stagg on a job well done. Coach Stagg courteously cut him short. ‘I won’t know how good a job I did for twenty years,’ Coach Stagg said. ‘That’s when I’ll see how my boys turned out.’”

Useful Maxims (book review)

Useful MaximsKing Solomon had his maxims—Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Benjamin Franklin had his maxims—A stitch in time saves nine. And now Brian Ridolfi gives us a book of fresh Useful Maxims.

Maxims are short, catchy, and very memorable; a brief, succinct statement that captures profound wisdom in a way that’s easy to recall at the appropriate time. Parents, teachers, pastors, and coaches have all sought ways to get their message across to their young charges, and have those messages come back to the forefront of their mind at crucial moments. This is where an appropriate maxim can be so helpful.

Useful Maxims is organized in broad chapter headings, and then the individual maxims are grouped together in various sub-headings throughout each chapter. Most of them are short—He who exalts himself halts himself—but occasionally Brian shares a short parable along with its memorable meaning.

If you are involved with instructing others, and want to find a way to have your point “stick” in their memory, Useful Maxims will become an invaluable, go-to tool for your lesson plans.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“You have heard many men’s dying words, and these are mine: A life spent in communion with God is the pleasantest life in the world.” —Matthew Henry, to a friend when near his death

“By the serpent’s seed, we are to understand the devil and all his children, who are permitted by God to tempt and sift His children. But, blessed be God, he can reach no further than our heel.” —George Whitefield

Anyone working with youth should keep close tabs on what Dr. Tim Elmore has to say, as he is very tuned-in to the youth culture. Parents / coaches / teachers / youth pastors, check out 7 Shifts As Generation Y Becomes Generation Z.

3 reasons why heterosexual married sex is better is a good read. But I would add a fourth reason: Because this is the way God intended it to be, so it carries His blessing!

Pastor and church leaders, here is a helpful article from Richard Hammer, lead counsel for the Assemblies of God, following the Supreme Court’s wrongheaded decision on the issue of homosexual “marriage.”

Trip Lee talks about help for people battling a struggle with pornography. Trip discusses this in more depth in his outstanding book Rise. Check this out—

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