If you haven’t figured it out by now I’m a 49er fan. I remember watching John Brodie, Ken Willard and Gene Washington back in the 60’s. In the 70’s I loved watching Paul Hofer, Freddie Solomon and so many others. In 1979 Bill Walsh became head coach, Steve DeBerg was the starting quarterback and we had a rookie backup quarterback… what was his name? Joe… (he he he) Joe Montana! That first year with Bill Walsh and Joe Montana the 49ers went 2-14.

What’s my point? Every great coach and every great player takes responsibility for losses. They don’t make excuses, they don’t point fingers, and they don’t blame the environment (society). They look deep inside and take personal responsibility for their actions that may have contributed to the loss. Good parents should, no, must do the same. King David did. When the prophet, Nathan, exposed David’s sin he immediately confessed his sin, and took full responsibility. Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 2 Samuel 12:13 (NIV) Take a close look at this verse; David immediately confessed his sin and God immediately forgave him!

One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children is the wonderful forgiveness of God. God is rich in mercy and His love overflows with grace. As a father I want my life to reflect that kind of mercy, love, and grace so my children and grandchildren can experience God’s forgiveness when they make bad choices and wrong decisions. I want them to be able to come to me about whatever they are going through. I want them to know they can come to God for healing and forgiveness. I love the verse Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (NIV)

Joe Montana started his football career as a backup quarterback to a 2-14 losing team, but ended his career with 4 Super Bowl rings and the reputation as being one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. Your children may never have the fame and fortune the world offers, but they can be more than conquerors through Christ who loves them. THAT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY SUPER BOWL RING! Those who stay faithful to Christ don’t get a ring, they get crown. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)

PEACE

It was January 10, 1982. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was scheduled to be at a special music rehearsal at Lindsay First Baptist Church (we lived in Lindsay at the time) but the NFC championship game wasn’t over. There was 58 seconds left in the game, the 49ers had the ball on the 6-yard line when Joe Montana threw that famous pass to Dwight Clark known as “The Catch.” I celebrated and celebrated! In fact I’m still celebrating!!

What does that have to do with coaching strategies for your family? It’s the importance of the celebration. Every family needs to celebrate the victories of life. Romans 12:15 When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. (NLT) Every child needs the joy that celebrations bring when they have had successes in life.

Celebrate when your children make progress at school. Celebrate with your wife when a credit card gets paid off (then burn the card!). Celebrate the success stories at work with your family. Celebrate the miracles of God in your home and at your church.

Don’t get me wrong, make sure it really is something deserving of celebration. But if we are honest with ourselves we seem to spend a lot more time with the things that go wrong than the things that go right. It’s time to turn it around! Celebrate the little victories, the little gains. What is the West Coast offense? It’s a ball control offensive system that uses the timed, short passing game. Just remember even a short completion can turn into a 90 yard touchdown!

In Matthew chapter 25 Jesus told the parable of the three servants that illustrates my heart concerning times of celebration, Matthew 25:21 (NLT) “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Let me paraphrase; “The parents were full of praise. “Well done my good and faithful son/daughter. You have been faithful in handling the things I ask you to do (homework, chores, etc.) Now that you are growing you are ready for more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”

It just may be time for a party, invite your family!

PEACE

In 2011 a man that was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame that never played or coached in the NFL. But he had such a profound impact on the game that he dramatically changed the sport into what we know and enjoy year after year. He didn’t use a football or a clipboard. He used a camera. His name is Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films. NFL Films produces everything from commercials to highlight films for coaches.

Team films help coaches prepare their players during pre-season and are an invaluable tool week after week as the season progresses. What’s my point? Well two points come to mind: 1) training and teaching your family team is an ongoing process. My daughters are grown and have families of their own, but I will always be their father and I will always teach, train, and invest in their lives and families. 2) We have a training tool that is far greater than NFL Films; we have the Bible as our training manual, playbook, and rulebook for life.

Dad, as head coach you are responsible for teaching and training your team. Get personally involved in the everyday teaching and training of your children. Don’t leave all the training to your assistant coach! If you don’t know where to start, start with the good things you learned from your own parents. Psalms 78:2-4 (GW) …I will explain… things that we have heard and known about, things that our parents have told us. We will not hide them from our children. We will tell the next generation about the LORD’S power and great deeds and the miraculous things he has done. Also, teach what you have learned from your spiritual father; your pastor, a mentor, teacher, etc. (See 1 Corinthians 4:15-17)

Remember, teaching is not just fixing what is wrong; it’s building on what is right. Coach Bill Walsh put it this way, “Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise, and nothing is more lame than a cookie-cutter compliment.” When your children get it right praise them, build them up, and instill in them a winner’s attitude. I purposely used the term “winner’s attitude” instead of a “winning attitude” because with life comes loss, but a loss cannot stop a winner from facing the next challenge of life with hope and faith. What does a winner’s attitude look like? It looks like this; Philippians 4:12-13 (TLB) I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want; for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.

You are a winner if you are in Christ!

PEACE

Coaching Strategies for Your Family Part 2

Posted: September 21, 2012 in Family

When Bill Walsh took over a team with a 2-14 record he knew the key to transforming the losing mentality of the 49ers was to implement a totally different culture; one that was top-notch instead of toxic. He created a totally different way of thinking and acting that was based on high standards, hard work, and a commitment to being first-class in everything they did. I can’t think of any place more important to change the culture from discouragement to victory than in our own families.

Head Coach, (that’s you Dad) in order to change the culture of your home you need to value and invest in your assistant coach. My wife, Michelle, has been a great assistant coach and I value her more than words could express. I also have taken time to invest in her spiritual and emotional growth, giving her my attention, care and love. You will never change the atmosphere of your home if the coaches are not in unity.

Unity is crucial in every family so make sure you discuss your game plan with your assistant coach. Proverbs 15:22 Without good advice everything goes wrong— it takes careful planning for things to go right. (CEV) Your wife is your assistant—keep her informed. Honor her! Acknowledge Her! BUT REMEMBER, SHE’S NOT THE HEAD COACH, YOU ARE DAD! As husbands, we are vital in creating a winning attitude in our wives. Give her the support she needs to be a successful wife and mother. She will become the woman God intended her to be when she is connected to God’s love and knows she is loved by her man! Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… Ephesians 5:25

Make sure the game plan for your family follows the rules. Get your game plan from the Bible. I had wonderful parents and I had a great childhood, but when it came to raising my two girls, I put my parents game plan aside and went to the Bible to develop a winning strategy for my family. Some well meaning people criticized my plan but that didn’t stop me. I knew this was God’s will for us. Did it work? My daughters love me, my wife is crazy about me, and I have five wonderful grandchildren that adore their Papa! (YES! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!)

Bill Walsh had a great staff of assistant coaches that went on to be successful head coaches, George Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, Ray Rhodes, and Dennis Green, Sam Wyche and others. As you develop a winning culture you will develop a winning team that will go on to have winning families of their own.

More to come, PEACE

Coaching Strategies for Your Family

Posted: September 14, 2012 in Family

I love NFL football. I love the action, the high quality play, and I love the drama (when my team wins of course). But what really intrigues me is the art of coaching. My favorite coach is the late Bill Walsh. He took the struggling 49ers and turned them into a dynasty. By the way, this IS NOT about football, it’s about family.

Dads, we are the head coaches for our families and we need a winning strategy in place if we want a successful season. Here’s where our stagey begins; Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and teaching of the Lord. (NCV)

In order for me to properly coach my team (my wife is the assistant coach, my children and grandchildren are the team) I have to have a godly game plan. We need a well thought through plan for our families! Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. (AMP) That game plan includes letting your child play their best position! Let your child learn who they are in Christ and let them discover that they are wonderfully made by God. Not every boy is going to play in the NFL and not every girl will be a cheerleader. But every child is wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).

Training begins before the season starts. Could you imagine what would happen if a team decided to skip preseason and wait for the week of the first game to start practicing? Not a good idea. Men, don’t wait for the first signs of trouble to get involved with your children. Get involved with them NOW! Talk to them about their day, play with them, and share the Word of God with them. How about this… sit down with them and help them with their homework! Dads, if you have a daughter, take her out on a date. If you have a son, treat his mom with love and honor. But, most of all, stay committed to your team, which is your family, until the last game of the season. For me, that’s when the Owner, God Almighty, calls me home.

More to come, PEACE

SPIRITUAL REALITY CHECK

Posted: August 5, 2012 in Personal Thoughts

I’ve been having some reality checks come into my life lately. You know, the kind that expose a fault or weakness that you have that you don’t want anybody else knows about. Shocking isn’t it? David has faults! Pastor D has weaknesses and dare I admit, even sins? Don’t you judge me! (Romans 3:23-24)

How about you, having any reality checks lately?

In my morning time of reading the Bible I came across an interesting story about King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, after he became king. With all the wisdom Solomon had it seems his boy didn’t have a clue. When the young man finally got his act together and became strong he, and all Israel with him, abandoned the law of the Lord. Not a smart move! The prophet of God came to him with a reality check, “This is what the LORD says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you…'” (2 Chronicles 12:5b)

OUCH! That’s gotta hurt! But these guys did something that most people today very seldom do… They admitted they messed up. Rehoboam and the leaders were sorry for what they had done and admitted, “The LORD is right. We have deserted him.” 2 Chronicles 12:6 (CEV)

I feel that most people today are more interested in finding fault and blame than admitting our struggles. I know one thing; it sure seems easier to find fault in others than to see faults in ourselves (maybe its that log in my eye that’s blocking my vision). Okay, back to the Bible story…

When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves and admitted their sin God gave them grace. But He also taught them a valuable lesson we all need to learn, 2 Chronicles 12:7-8 (TEV) …”Because they admit their sin, I will not destroy them. But when Shishak attacks, they will barely survive. Jerusalem will not feel the full force of my anger, but Shishak will conquer them, and they will learn the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers.”

Have you ever thought that serving God was too hard? I’ve seen too much in my 30+ years of ministry to ever think that. Not serving God and serving the world is much harder. Me and “PAIN” don’t get along, but me and “GRACE” are tight! Serving God at first may seem difficult while doing your own thing will start out easy, the end result is where you see the difference. Let me paraphrase the Apostle Paul, if you keep doing what you want apart from God it will kill you. But if you let the Spirit of God lead your life you get blessings and glory. That’s why I welcome the spiritual realty checks in my life because the end result will be life to the fullest!

PEACE

When Michelle and I first got married we lived in a small apartment at 620 N. College Ave. just north of Belmont Ave. in Fresno. We paid $97.50 a month; today you can rent the same apartment for $600 a month. If you’re not sure where that is, it’s in the hood! We were very young and not yet serving the Lord so let’s just say things that happened at 620 N. College STAYED at 620 N. College.

One thing I would enjoy doing on a Saturday afternoon was to sit outside of our apartment, crank up my 8-track stereo and listen to Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. One of my favorite songs was “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” a soulful ballad sung by Teddy Pendergrass. You need to understand that we were in love, but we really didn’t know each other.

The same was true about my Heavenly Father. I loved God from the moment He saved me April 15, 1980 but I didn’t know Him. That’s one of the wonderful things about the glory of God and the words of Jesus; we can get to know our Father in heaven.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:25-26 (NIV)

God will manifest His glory so we can know Him personally, not just to know about Him. That happens through His glory coming down and His Word going in our hearts. Jesus came to earth to reveal the Father to this desperate world and He continues to make known the Father to all.

There is so much to know and so much to learn that every time I think I got it, something new and wonderful (or new and corrective) comes from God’s presence and His Word right into my life. The cool thing is God wants us to benefit from knowing Him personally. His glory is so much more than just knowing about God, its experiencing God every day. The Apostle Peter put it this way, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. (MSG) …he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us!” (TLB) 2 Peter 1:3 There is a catch to His glory though, it’s not only for our benefit or pleasure, it’s to equip us to please Him. I’ve made some dumb mistakes and violated scripture in my life (that’s fancy talk for “I sinned”) and I’m sure I have more dumb things to do, but the best thing I did after I got saved was to commit my life to pleasing God. And because of that commitment He has blessed me immensely and I know I don’t deserve the life I have, but I’m extremely grateful to God for His glory expressed to me over the years. Oh yes, one more thing… I love Michelle more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow!

PEACE

There is an old chorus we used to sing that I love called “See His Glory”. Its one of those melodies with simple lyrics that can warm the heart. But because of my immaturity as a believer at that time in my life I was always under the assumption that we would see some type of outward manifestation of the glory of God that would transform our church. We had, and still do have some powerful experiences with God’s glory, but now that I’m older I have a deeper insight to the purpose for God’s glory.

God, the Father wants His glory to be seen by the world around us and the best way for that to happen is for the glory of God to be seen in us by everyone we come in contact with. Let me put it this way; when people look into our lives it should be like looking into a mirror and the reflection they see is the glory of God in us. 2 Corinthians 3:18 As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (GW) As we allow the Holy Spirit to do His life-changing work in us we reflect the glory of God. And if we are following God wholeheartedly people will see an ever-increasing glory from the Spirit of God!

Jesus prayed that this would be our reality in John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Jesus prayed two things that are our responsibility if we desire to reflect God’s glory 1) Jesus wants us to be with Him. He wants us in His presence. That takes a deliberate decision by us to “enter in”, to open our hearts to the super-natural presence of God. 2) Jesus wants us to be where He is. That implies movement. God is moving in powerful ways today, we must again make a deliberate decision to move with Him. I think the best way to move with Jesus is found in John 12:26, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” Those who have committed their lives to serving Christ will be in a better position to see the glory of God. And those who understand that serving Christ means serving others with no strings attached and no expectations of receiving from the ones we serve, they will reflect an ever-increasing glory. The greatest manifestations of God’s glory in my life have come when I serve others in the power of the Spirit! May we all see His glory as we serve Him.

PEACE

I have a friend that has a very good habit, whenever something positive happens he will enthusiastically say, “Glory!” giving God praise for that particular moment. But my limited mind has trouble at times grasping this very important reality; the glory of God in our lives.

Before you jump to any wrong conclusions, I’ve experienced the glory of God and truly believe in the power of God’s glory but I think most people don’t really understand the purpose for God’s glory in our lives. Here are a couple of definitions for us to consider…

GLORY: visible sign of God’s greatness. Dignity, honor, praise, worship…

When God appeared to people, his glory was often seen as a bright light or as fire and smoke. Jesus’ glory was seen when he performed miracles, when he was lifted up on the cross, and when he was raised from death.—Contemporary English Version Dictionary

In John’s Gospel Jesus speaks (actually prays) about the purpose of God’s glory in our lives. The prayer is progressive; He begins praying for Himself, then for the disciples, and concludes by praying for people who would believe in Him through the message of the disciples (that’s some of us). Jesus prays that, as believers, we are to be in complete unity.

In John 17:21 He makes a remarkable statement, “…that all of them may be one,”. In this verse He gives us the possibility that ALL of the Church can be one. But then He gives us the standard, “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…” WOW! Jesus prayed that we would have the same oneness as the Father and the Son! That’s a pretty tall order but, realize this, it is possible or Jesus would have never prayed that way.

Looking at the state of the Church throughout the world we are far from being united. Unity in the Church based on the unity of the Spirit must be a priority. It is crucial to the plans of God for the salvation of the world. “…May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” As we become one with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and with every believer, the world will see the beauty and splendor of the glory of God. More to come…

PEACE

I love the stories in the Bible. But I’m constantly reminding myself that they are more than nice stories; they are history, the true accounts of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit impacting lives for thousands of years.

In 2 Kings 13:20-21 is one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read. But what really trips me out… (oops, I slipped back into the ‘70s for a moment) But what I think is really amazing is the casual way this miracle is stated. The writer of 2 Kings uses two short verses to tell the story then moves on, as if this was no big deal. Maybe to God its not a big deal, after all; all things are possible for God. Here’s the story as I see it:

Elisha dies and is buried, not in a coffin, the body was completely wrapped in grave clothes. The clothes were probably similar to what he usually wore, tightly wrapped, and the head was wrapped separately then placed in a tomb. Another guy dies (his name is not mentioned) and at his funeral his friends saw some bad guys (Moabite raiders… I feel a joke coming on). They got so scared that they threw the man into Elisha’s tomb and took off running! When the dead man lands on Elisha’s bones he immediately comes back to life and stands up. WOW! There was resurrection power still in Elisha. Did you notice that the man landed on his BONES? Can you say decomposed?  One scholar says Elisha was dead for a full year!

What does that means to us?

First, this shows that Elisha did not perform his miracles by any powers of his own, but by the power of God! Second, it should challenge us to believe for the power of God to work through us. I think we do ourselves and others a disservice when we focus on the power of God FOR us instead of asking for the power of God to work THROUGH us. Third, the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Bible also says that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us who believe. (Eph. 1:18-20) Never limit the power of God, even to raise the dead. Why not? Jesus said even greater things we will do because He was going back to the Father. Are you ready for the resurrection power of God to flow through your life? I am, or least I want to be ready.

One last thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the things we did for God were so pleasing to Him and so filled with His power that He would anoint those things to change lives even after we have left this earth?

I pray that He does.

PEACE