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In his book Today Matters, John Maxwell talks about asking legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who had won 10 national championships while at UCLA, what he missed most about coaching.
Wooden’s response? “Practice,” he said. “What you do in practice determines your level of success. I used to tell my players, ‘You have to give 100% everyday. Whatever you don’t give, you can’t make up for tomorrow. If you give only 75% today, you can’t give 125% tomorrow to make up for it.'”
Much of what we’ll do today could be labeled ‘practice,’ though we’re more likely to call it preparation: preparing for the next meeting, the next message, the next ministry event. It’s amazing how much life consists of getting ready. Wooden’s words remind us that we don’t have the luxury of coasting through these “non-game days.”
Even our practice days deserve 100%.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…(Colossians 3:23)
While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight;
while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight — I’ll fight to the very end! — William Booth
Death alone will put a stop to my effort! — David Livingstone.
Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness. — Napoleon Hill
Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness: great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy. — Jim Rohn
Do you know what it’s like to be thirsty?
I remember when I played football in school. Actually, it’s a stretch to say I played football. I spent most of the season watching from the sidelines. But that didn’t get me out of practice.
Each season began in early August with rugged two-a-days in the brutal Oklahoma sun. I don’t know if coaches are more enlightened these days, but back then they wouldn’t let players have water during the workout; they considered it a sign of weakness.
When practice was finally finished, players would crowd around the bench, waiting for the chance plunge a paper cup into an oversized cooler filled with half melted ice. After a grueling workout, that ice cold water was the most satisfying drink I’d ever had.
No doubt you’ve been that thirsty before. Do you remember what the first taste of water was like? Incredible, wasn’t it?
This is how the Bible describes the life that God promises his people.
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (John 7:37-38)
You can be religious and still be thirsty. Religion has a way of leaving us stressed and uncertain and unfulfilled. Living your life connected to Jesus, on the other hand, is like plunging yourself in the clear, cool water.
Do you want your soul to be satisfied? Make today about Jesus.
Q. What did the snail say when he was sitting on the turtle’s back?
Life is all about perspective.
Let’s talk about forgiveness.
“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” (C.S. Lewis)
It’s true that forgiveness is much easier in theory than in practice, but the failure to practice hurts all involved, including ourselves.
An unhealthy lifestyle
Some years ago a study was performed at Hope College in which volunteers were asked to remember wrongs they had experienced. In each case, the person’s blood pressure and heart rate increased, and muscle tension was shown to be higher.
Lack of forgiveness also leads to emotional strain. Physician Don Colbert says, “One of the secret causes of stress plaguing millions of people is unforgiveness.”
That’s why Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
The challenge for leaders
The Biblical directive is as simple as it is challenging: Forgive one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
To be effective in what we do, to maintain balance in our personal lives, leaders must learn to forgive. We’ll certainly get plenty of opportunities. When they come our way, we need to be prepared to forgive fast, forgive first, and forgive often.
What forgiveness can do
Frederick Beuchner summed up forgiveness with these words.
“When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience.
“When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride.
“For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skin and to be glad in each other’s presence.”
A lovely idea, isn’t it?
Let’s take this lovely idea to the next level. Challenge yourself today to do the hard work of putting a past offense forever behind you, just as Christ has done for you.
“I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.” — Calvin Coolidge
We’re all familiar with the law of the harvest. You reap what you sow. We know that verse well; we can say it forwards and backwards.
And sometimes that’s the problem.
Sometimes we want to say it — and live it — backwards. We want permission to sow after we reap, not before. It’s revealed in our words and attitudes:
• I’ll get serious about generosity when I have more money.
• I’ll give 100% to my job when I have a job worth 100% of my effort.
• I’ll change when my spouse changes.
• I’ll start showing gratitude when my life gets better.
There’s no trick to side-stepping the process. The order never changes: you reap what you sow, after you sow.
Not too late to reap a different harvest.
If the harvest you’re experiencing today isn’t what you had in mind for your life, it’s not too late to change.
Paul was talking about money in today’s verse, but it applies to every area of our lives…
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Corinthians 9:16)
What if you decided today to sow generously everywhere you go?
What if you chose to pour yourself into your job, even now, while you consider yourself underpaid?
What if you chose to sow forgiveness for others, even if you’re pretty sure that you’re right and they’re wrong?
What if you chose to sow obedience, even before blessings come your way?
Can you imagine what might happen next?
“I don’t want my idea of God. I want God.” —C. S. Lewis