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. 

Book Reviews From 2017

Know Who You Are (book review)

Tim Tebow continues to astound me! Few people have used their celebrity status to promote other people like he has. In his latest book—Know Who You Are—he turns his sights on something near and dear to his heart: homeschool students and parents.

A key component of any student’s education is learning to articulate their thoughts in writing. At the beginning of his book Tim shares about some research on this topic:

“An esteemed professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin studied the impact of journaling. Through a handful of studies, this expert found that expressive writing in a personal and meaningful way positively impacts health, well-being, and self-development. It can put us in a better mood. It can help us process tough situations. It can challenge us to make good changes. It can pave the way for a more impactful future.”

Know Who You Are helps students journal their thoughts by giving them some positive things to ponder. Tim shares his personal stories, many of which involve mistakes he’s made or things which have caused him to second-guess himself, and then talks about the life lessons he learned from those experiences. He then gives students an opportunity to apply those same lessons to their own life. Each week’s lesson wraps up with a couple of writing prompts for the student’s journaling exercises.

This book is designed to take a student through their entire school year, but will help students to think better about themselves and their circumstances for a lifetime. Know who you are—Live like it matters is an excellent resource!

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

P.S. If you would like to check out other Tim Tebow books, my review for Through My Eyes is here, and my review for Shaken is here.

Brady Vs. Manning (book review)

brady-vs-manningTom Brady and Peyton Manning are two quarterbacks who have raised the standard for how NFL quarterbacks are to be measured. Any football fan has undoubtedly seen them play, but Gary Myers shares what went into making these men the phenomenal players they are. Brady vs. Manning—The untold story of the rivalry that transformed the NFL is a fascinating read!

Everyone loves to cheer for their home team’s quarterback, but even “homers” will admit (sometimes reluctantly) that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning stand apart from the crowd. Their accomplishments on the field are well-known, but it’s what took place behind the scenes and out of sight from the cameras that contributed to making these two fierce rivals the extraordinary players they are.

A debate often rages whether a leader in a particular field was born to greatness, or whether he made himself great. The answer is not either-or but both-and. As Gary Myers digs into Brady and Manning’s past we see several factors converging: genes, family environment, talent, a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of hard work and perseverance.

Many times Myers’ story shows how the lives of Brady and Manning intersected—sometimes they knew it, and sometimes they didn’t. But many of the chapters zoom in on the individual quarterbacks in various aspects of their development. We get to see the support from their families, the impact of their decision on where to go to college, how the NFL draft could have played out differently for both of them, the advantages and disadvantages of various coaches and teammates, and (of course) their fierce head-to-head rivalry.

One of the cool things for me was the respect and friendship these two highly competitive athletes have for each other. There were also several other moments that made me realize how special these two men have been for the NFL, and what a privilege it’s been for me to watch them compete on such a high level. After reading this book, I have even great respect for these two premier quarterbacks.

Any sports fan will thoroughly enjoy Brady vs. Manning!

I am a Three Rivers Press book reviewer.

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.’”

Book Reviews From 2016

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Only the mediocre are always at their best. If your standards are low, it is easy to meet those standards every single day, every single year. But if your standard is to be the best, there will be days when you fall short of that goal. It is okay to not win every game. The only problem would be if you allow a loss or a failure to change your standards. Keep your standards intact, keep the bar set high, and continue to try your very best every day to meet those standards. If you do that, you can always be proud of the work that you do.” —Mike Krzyzewski

“Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” —Roger Staubach

“Christians who serve in ‘secular’ vocations are the ones who do most of the ministry and kingdom-expansion work that happens in the world. It’s the job of vocational ministers [pastors] to equip these folks so they can do their various ministries effectively.” Read more from Jon Bloom in his post Christian, Your Job Is A Ministry Job.

“One of the most important decisions we make is almost always made without thought, without discussion: ‘How big do you want this to be?’ It’s a question that always gets in the way of, ‘How good do you want this to be?’” —Seth Godin

Scientism keeps trying to find evidence to fit their theories (like this latest one to explain the absence of global warming), but few seldom recognize the genius of Our Creator. Sad…

Dr. Tim Elmore always has amazing insights into the youth mindset. Check out this article: Does A Loaded Childhood Delay Healthy Adulthood? (If you haven’t read any of Dr. Elmore’s books, please type his name in the search box, and check out the book reviews I have posted.)

[VIDEO] Check out Frank Turek’s answer to the question, “Will God send me to hell for not believing in Jesus?”—

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