Championship Football Teams Begin In August!: Putting in the Work

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Romans 12:11-14 — Great college football teams don’t become great by just showing up on Saturdays. Great football teams do all the hard work during the week. The coaches put together a game plan. The players work hard in the weight room, they study film with the coaches, they practice the game plan over and over and over again. The results are based on how well the players prepare. It is the same for us as Christ followers.

We must put in the hard work. We must renew our minds. We must first prepare ourselves by changing our mindset. We must begin with the weightlifting of the Christian life. We must stay in God’s Word. How can we begin changing our thought patterns if we do not read the Bible daily. We must do more than read the words. We must read them and think about them. We must meditate on what we read. We must pray about what we have read. We must let what we have read occupy our mind. Without God’s Word, we are sitting ducks for the evil desires of heart to take center stage. Like a championship team member who daily lifts weights to give him greater strength and greater endurance, we must be in the Word daily to give us a different mindset. Great championship teams do all the hard work that makes them champions when no one is looking. Champions are made during the week. They don’t just show up on Saturday. Similarly, we Christians become mature and have greater resistance to giving into our evil desires not just by showing up at worship services on Sundays. We are less likely to give into the amazing pull of evil in our lives by doing the hard work during the week. We must study God’s Word and meditate on it and apply it to our lives. Just as a football player is less likely to get pushed around on the field if he puts in his daily time in the weight room, so a Christian must lift his “biblical weights” daily to help prevent being pushed towards evil desires.

We must avoid evil whenever we can. A recovering drug addict or alcoholic must avoid situations where he will be tempted to take drugs or a drink again. They are told to change their playgrounds and their playmates. Of course drugs and alcohol are prevalent in our world today and those who are recovering cannot avoid these temptations altogether. However, the recovering addict just doesn’t tempt themselves beforehand by going to a bar or go to the same old hangouts where drugs or alcohol are available. A recovering alcoholic cannot go to restaurant and order a beer and think it won’t lead him right back to where he was. A drug addict can’t sniff a line of cocaine and think it won’t have him destroyed again. The same is true of any particularly high weakness area that we have in life. We cannot get close to the flame without expecting to get burned as the old saying goes. We cannot allow sins to fester in our minds and we certainly cannot put ourselves in positions where we can act out those sins that we have been playing with in our minds. We cannot create the conditions in the real world that would allow us to execute our sinful desires.

We must seek out someone who will hold us accountable. In recent years, you have seen leaders of large non-denominational churches get taken down by some sin they have allowed to fester whether it be pride, arrogance, lust, adultery, you name it. In each case, there was no accountability for the top guy. Even great leaders must have someone in their life that tells them the truth about what they are doing. We must institutionalize ways to hold ourselves accountable. For non-denominational mega-church senior pastors, it is often having a board of trustees, or an advisory council that they place the purse strings of their job in. It may be a circle of other megachurch pastors that they meet with regularly. For you and me as everyday Christians, we need the same thing. We need a mentor and we need an accountability partner. We need mentors, those whose Christian walks are more mature than ours (even if it is only slightly more mature). They can show us how it is done. They can show us where their pitfalls were. We need a partner too. One who is equal to us in maturity. We need that one true friend that will have no fear in telling us that we are full of crap. This way we make ourselves accountable. These are the people that can notice subtle changes in us that are signs that we are indulging sins in our minds. These are the people that know or sin weaknesses and will slap us into reality when they tell us not to put ourselves in positions that will allow us to execute our pet sins.

Being a part of a championship football team takes dedication and hard work. It requires do a lot of hard work that people don’t see during the week. They do all this hard work when no one is looking so that they can win the prize. Those college teams that stand on the stage in January with the trophy won their championship starting back in August in the sweaty steamy days of summer. They did the two-a-days. They lifted weights. They ran til their legs felt like logs. They lifted weights til their arms and legs were aching. They won games because they prepared harder and longer. They studied film. They studied their playbooks. Champions just work harder. Any coach will tell you that you can have the most talented team in the world but if they don’t put in the hard work, they will never be champions. The same is true for us as Christians. Being Christian is hard work. We have sin nature. We must work hard every day to keep ourselves from allowing our sinful desires to take full rein our lives. Sin is always out there lurking. We must put on the armor of preparation daily and create an environment in our lives that we help us stay away from our weaknesses. It does not always work. Sometimes, we allow our minds to be deceived by our desires. That is why this is a daily battle for which we must be prepared. Like players who just show up for the football game and are not prepared, they will lose the game. We must put in the hard work daily to renew our minds. We can’t just be at church for an hour and fifteen minutes on Sunday and think that’s enough. We must put in the hard work, the work that no one sees. Daily submission to Jesus. Bible study. Avoid our sin playgrounds. Accountability partners and mentors. Man, its tough work. But, let’s keep an eye on our prize. The heavenly championship!

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