I am probably better than 98% of the college football coaches that currently are in the game. I suspect that I am a better coach than 95% of the NFL coaches past and present. My knowledge and skills of the game make me a better decision maker for 4th down calls. I know when the onside kick will catch the other team off guard and when it is worth the risk to fake a punt.
When you get right down to it, there are very few people alive who can coach football better than me. That fact is uncontested, at least in my own mind for I will really never put it to the test by putting it into practice.
For if I were to put my assertions into practice I might find that I really need a whole lot of practice just to be an average coach. There is safety in being a critic. There is safety in being an armchair quarterback or armchair coach. There is safety in not having to put your money where your mouth is.
For the Christian, there is no greater rule than to “play it safe.” Surely that has to be written in red letters in the Bible somewhere.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” That doesn’t sound anything like, “You had better sit this one out so you don’t get roughed up.”
Jesus prayed to his Father not that he would take his disciples out of the world but that he would protect them as he sent them into the world—into a world that would persecute them. It was a world that would kill most of them in the same barbaric manner than Jesus would be killed.
But Jesus sent them into the world. Jesus gave them a mission. Jesus gave them a commission, that is, he gave them the requisite authority to accomplish their mission.
And Jesus calls us out of this world to send us back into this same world as his disciples, not as his fan club. We are to take the good news to the world, not like his Facebook page. We are to put his words into action.
The kids love the song, Saw, Saw, Saw. Why wouldn’t they? It has simple words, simple melody, and is short enough for everyone to remember.
SAW SAW SAW
POUND POUND POUND
BUILD A HOUSE OF JESUS
THAT WON’T FALL DOWN
What a simple song that everyone loves. I just wish it had a little more biblical meat to it. But maybe it does.
Just how would we build a house of Jesus?
Jesus would say that we do this by putting his words into practice. Jesus said that if we put his words into practice we are wise. We are like the builder than anchored his house into a rock foundation. Neither storm nor wind nor flood was going to make this house fall down.
The builder than took shortcuts and just slapped some boards together may have finished sooner and painted his house brighter colors, but when trouble came he was just out of luck.
Consider the wording of The Message for these thoughts.
“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.
“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”
Just how do we put the words of our Master into our life? How do we build a house of Jesus that won’t fall down? What does this translate to in 2013?
I offer 3 areas that we all should be able to relate to: love, service, and sacrifice.
That love would be on this list should be no surprise. Christians and John Lennon have been singing, All you need is love in unison for years, but neither caught on to the type of love Jesus called us to live. Jesus called us to love each other as he loved us—with his whole life, even to the death.
It is a love that puts others ahead of ourselves. It is a love that values others more than we value ourselves. It is to care for our neighbors even more than we care for ourselves.
Love calls us to sit down at lunch with the unlovable people, not as God’s gift to them, but as God’s gift to us. Christ died for all. Who are we to judge? We are called to love.
Love is the floor and the walls and the roof and the entryway and windows of our house built on solid rock. Love wraps all around this house of Jesus.
What good is it if we see someone who is hungry or without clothing but don’t do anything about it. If we have the means to help and don’t help, what good is it to know God’s word. What good is it to say that Jesus is our Master? What does doing nothing say about us being a disciple?
To walk by the same house every day and know that the 90 year old lady has to spend twenty minutes walking to the curb to get her newspaper and for us not toss it up on her porch or better yet, lean it against her door, is to throw away our building permit.
To have the means or the gifts and not to serve others is not to build upon the gift of grace. To realize that our salvation is not dependent upon our good works but to extend ourselves in a life of good works for the glory of God places strong uprights and crossbeams on our foundation.
When we give to God, he gives back to us. When we try to give more, he returns more. God doesn’t play fair at the giving game. He will continue to out give us. But sometimes he lets us enjoy a time of sacrifice. No sacrifice can compare to the one made by Jesus. No sacrifice can add to it. No other sacrifice is needed for our salvation. But when we give or give up something that goes a little beyond our comfort zone, that sacrifice increases our trust in God.
That sacrifice ties directly into the foundation.
There are other materials that we could use to build a house of Jesus.
· Making joyful sounds unto the Lord
· Memorizing scripture
· Studying the Bible
· Doing everything out of faith
· Fearing only God and fearing nothing in this world
· Being the God seasoning of the world
· Being God’s light in this world
Building a house of Jesus is sort of like going on a life-long shopping trip to Lowe’s and Home Depot picking out what we need to make our house, but it all comes back to the foundation. The foundation is Jesus Christ. He is the solid rock. He is the cornerstone. He is the capstone. Following this teachings—living them—are the materials that we build upon this rock solid foundation.
We know this because not only do we sing Saw, Saw, Saw, but we sing On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
Jesus is the sine qua non. That’s a fancy word that means without which, nothing. Without Jesus as our foundation, we can build nothing that will stand.
Imagine having an NFL staff made up of the best coaches from the highest scoring teams put together an offensive playbook for your high school team. Now those would be some plays. Now imagine taking those plays and framing them and putting them up in the locker-room or making some plays into decals to put on the back window of your truck. Imagine doing all sorts of cool things with them except running them in practice or on Friday nights.
That would be unimaginable.
But many Christians do just that with the words of Jesus. They don’t put them into practice. Many can whip out a Bible verse to judge you with, but wouldn’t stick their neck out to live as a disciple.
But we can’t be too concerned with the speck in everyone else’s eye. We need to take the plank of wood in our own. We need to put the words of Jesus into practice, and just like in football or basketball practice, we may not get it right the first time. We may not get it right the second or third or thirty-third time. But we don’t give up. We are disciples of Jesus and we continue to follow him.
Now here is the thing about practice—answer this question. Does practice make perfect?
No, only perfect practice makes perfect.
If I practice a terrible golf swing, I only solidify a terrible golf swing.
So if putting the words of Jesus into practice is hard the first time, we don’t go back to our old ways because we know how to do that. We review the playbook—his words—and keep on practicing his way. We don’t go back to the sidelines and critique others who are trying to put his words into practice. We have stern counsel concerning these judgmental attitudes.
It has been over 100 years since Theodore Roosevelt offered these words in a speech he gave in Paris, France, but clearly Mr. Roosevelt understood putting words into practice.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
What will we do with the words of Jesus?
Will we take the words of Jesus and like them when we see them on Facebook? “Dude. Love one another got a million likes today.”
Will we buy some cool shirts with some Jesus quotes on them?
Will we go around wearing a wristband that says, “Love one another?”
There is nothing wrong with any of these things and in fact they are good things, but they are not the things that build a house of Jesus. Loving each other as Christ loved us, serving each other by meeting real needs, and giving of ourselves beyond what we are comfortable with at this point—those things build a house of Jesus that won’t fall down.
SAW SAW SAW
POUND POUND POUND
BUILD A HOUSE OF JESUS
THAT WON’T FALL DOWN
Let’s build a house of Jesus that won’t fall down.
Let us put his words into practice.
Let us practice what he preached.