Terrific Surgery

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them. I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19

Life sure tries to beat us up. Agree?

Can you recall a time when you faced significant surgery as a result? Did a good doctor bring you great repair? Did you get a much-needed win?

God performs surgery too. His specialty is the heart. And He does it well. Today’s scripture makes this clear. These are His aims:

  1. UNDIVIDED HEART GRANTING. God wants to eliminate our wayward, loose living. He wants our hearts no longer wandering from Him. And so He tightens things up between us and Him. (That’s where Jesus comes in.) A dual life robs us and kills Him. He wants us satisfied in Him alone. One is better than two. 
  1. NEW SPIRIT GIVING. All of us carry a spirit of rebellion inside us. It often gets us in trouble. God gives us a new, better one. His! His Spirit installed gets us running right. 
  1. STONE REMOVAL. When unconfessed sin and unrepentant living builds up in our lives, our hearts grow rock-hard, calloused, indifferent. That’s no way for a man to operate. God knows how to find stones and remove them. Let Him. 
  1. FLESH RESTORATION. Our hearts were designed to be soft and supple towards Him, not hard-hearted. God is committed to restore the heart-tenderness we need to live long and well. What a needed operation and fantastic restoration!

This Doctor sure has skills. May He operate well on us. May we let Him have our hearts. 

Taking you to the operating table for a moment more, may I ask:

  • Is your heart divided just now? If so, what or who is getting in the way? What surrender struggle might you be having?
  • Have you asked the Lord lately to remove any stones, any unnecessary rough build up in your life, your heart? What confession and repentance needs to go on?
  • Is God’s Spirit infusing and filling you with freshness? Pause and ask Him for renewal and restoration. He’s great at operating in these moments. 

O LORD, thank You for your amazing promise and commitment to care for my heart. Operate there. Bring your terrific surgery. Get me healthy. Keep me healthy. I don’t want my heart divided from You, no stony indifference or rocky rebellion building up there. Replace stone with flesh. 

May my spirit rejoice in the newness Yours always brings and may my heart be ever-tender towards You, just like Jesus. Amen

Towards a healthy heart, 

Coach Mo

Provoking Jealousy

“The Spirit lifted me up…and took me to Jerusalem, to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes jealousy stood.” Ezekiel 8:3

Have you ever been provoked to jealousy? Have you ever had someone’s wonderful attention, strong devotion, and great loyalty only to watch it threatened, compromised, weakened, and walking away? Did someone choose another team or another mate after being with you? Did your jealousy burn? Did you hurt badly?

If so, you understand the heart of God. Our idols provoke His jealousy. He waxes hot for our love and devotion. So anything else that moves in on Him and His turf gets Him incensed. 

An idol is anything that subtly rivals or clearly usurps God’s rightful place of first and foremost in our lives. It moves in on God’s territory in human hearts and makes us believe that having Him is simply not enough. Most of the time an idol has something to do with power,  approval, comfort or control. These four come in all different forms and snakebite people all the time. They constantly offer us things they are powerless to fully deliver. They get us bowing down and Him burning up. 

Like Ezekiel, God exposes idols in our world, in our lives. He does it because He’s beautifully jealous. God reveals our spiritual adultery and pursues us still. Building something super special in us and through us remains His aim. His Spirit sees to it. 

So may I ask…

  • Does God’s jealousy for you move you deeply? Does your jealousy for God stand alone, unrivaled?
  • What competing idols might you be entertaining right now?
  • Are any of the following possibly personal idols or symptoms of ones: winning, work, sex, popularity, fame, money, title/entitlement, independence, specific possessions, certain relationships, coveted positions?

Spirit of Christ, lift me up so I can see what provokes my Father’s jealousy. It’s everything else I put on a pedestal with You or whatever I build altars to besides You. Help me eliminate the idols of my heart and believe that to have You is to have enough.  

Forgive me, Father, for chasing worthless things. There is always stuff that needs toppling in me. May Jesus live unrivaled in my heart, chaste and pure, full and whole. 

Thank you for loving me so jealously, relentlessly, passionately, perfectly. You alone are best! Amen

Be strong. 

Stand for truth. 

Live for eternity. 

Coach Mo

Bonus coverage: Check out Psalm 119:33-40; Isaiah 44:6-11; Acts 14:8-18

Divine Intersection

“…the hand of the sovereign LORD came upon me there. “ Ezekiel 8:1

Have you ever felt like life was more than random, that something or someone was bursting on your scene, beyond your arranging? What comes to mind?

There are indeed moments in life when events cannot just be random. And they can’t just be chalked up to the triplets Luck, Chance, and Fate at work. These three have no power. They have no game. They are way more imaginary than we think. They exist for those too timid to believe in God, too arrogant to give Him credit, or too indifferent to sense His care.

Something more powerful and personal is at work. Face facts. It’s God Himself.

Yes, God invades the affairs of men. His hand comes upon them. His Spirit rests on them. He shows up at special times, unique places, cool moments…often in striking, powerful ways. It’s His way. (In fact, He did it again for me, just now, as I am writing this…Amazing! Just ask my friend Jonathan Irby)

The hand of the LORD came upon Ezekiel in Israel as seen in Ezekiel 8:1. Altogether, scripture records 156 instances when God’s hand came upon or His word came to someone at a specific time and place. Divine intersections abounded then. And they abound now. God’s Spirit sees to it. (Ezekiel 36:27 & 37:14))

Have you experienced a divine intersection lately? Has God arranged something to command your attention, up your awareness, invite your new commitment, generate your fresh worship or greater devotion? Has the hand of the sovereign LORD come upon you?

May I also ask as follow up?

What divine intersection is coming to mind for you right now?

Why? For what purpose does/did He do this? How much weight should this carry with you?

If this hasn’t happened lately, have you been too busy, too noisy to notice his hand, his voice, his intersection?

LORD and Father, thank you for every moment you have invaded time and space and intersected me. Rest your hand here. Make me ridiculously confident that You are here and that I am not alone. Don’t let me go too fast, be too busy, or move so proudly as to miss your touch, ignore your intersection, or reduce you to being one of the ‘triplets’.

Do the same for so many others I know and love too. Come upon them by your Spirit. Keep creating divine intersections for us all. For Jesus sake and our joy in You. Amen

Touched, intersected, grateful,

Coach Mo

Facing Finality

“Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says…The end! The end has come…The end is now upon you… Then you will know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 7:2-4

What’s something you wish would have never ended? A moment, event, game, season, career, relationship coming to mind? Was it truly beautiful, sweet, powerful, almost divine? Did it hurt to see it end? Conversely, have you ever wished for an end to a tough journey? Has it happened?

The Bible is really good at properly helping us remember the past, deal with the present, and face the future. It helps us see our story rightly. Throughout the book of Ezekiel we see this kind of coaching consistently playing out. Here’s what emerges in chapter 7. Take these words to heart.

EVERYTHING HAS AN END. No matter how good (or bad) a story might be, the two last two words are always ‘The End’. And as much as we wish we could play, hoop, run, or make a moment last forever, the scoreboard turns off. Same goes for an embarrassing loss or crushing defeat. Every alpha in this world has an omega. Settle into this truth. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

DESTINATION MATTERS. As much as process and journey matter in life, destination matters too. It shapes our story. It defines and refines the process. We were made for eternity. Let’s keep living in light of this.^

THINK ABOUT LIFE AS CHAPTERS AND STORY. Chapters have drama. Stories have ends. Chapters offer no final judgement. Story does. Both offer redemption. Both offer future hope. Both bear reward. View this well.

THE WISE PREPARE. They get their house in order. They prepare for final judgment and expect that ultimate wins await. Fools don’t. They are blind to consequences, unsteady, only living in the moment. So, walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 John 2:28)

ENDS HELP US SEE THE LORD. They help us see beyond sight. They help us see more. When we come to the end of ourselves, we often see the LORD. So embrace this strong spiritual dividend that finality brings. (Joshua 24:7)

That’s a lot to chew on!

Perhaps these questions will help you and me make application…

Am I facing well the finality of life, inevitable judgment, and the subject of eternity? If so, what makes me think so? If not, why not? -What fear of finality might I be carrying? (Hebrews 9:27; Proverbs 28:1)

Is ‘living with the end in mind’ getting enough playing time in me? Is it shaping my use of time, talents, and treasures? If so, how? What’s the evidence?

How confident am I of my redemption in Christ and eternal reward from Him? (Romans 8:31-39; Philippians 1:6)

O Father in Heaven help me keep ‘things above’ in mind and face well the finality of life…just like Jesus. Let this govern at least one move I make today. Don’t let me get stuck in the past, present, or future. I want to be properly prepared for final judgment. The end is always nearer than I think. Thank You for writing a great story in me and through me by your Spirit, through your Son. Keep going. I’m Yours! Amen

Nothing matters more.

Coach Mo

“Aim at Heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” –  C.S. Lewis

Give This Playing Time

Ever struggled with who and what deserves more playing time in your life? I have. Still feel the strain.

Here’s a great clarifying verse and explanation to help. Give it playing time (even memorize it) and let it produce good results for you, in you!

Be strong. 

Stand for truth. 

Live for eternity. 

And get some wins today!

Me and We

“Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.“ Proverbs 14:34

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We affects me. Our environment indeed shapes our thinking, choices, and behaviors. Family, church, team, community, culture, and nation all contribute. It really sets strong definitions and shapes us. 

But God’s Word also teaches that me affects we more powerfully than we think. How you and I live actually impacts our environment. It even reaches the national level. Today’s scripture makes this clear. 

To be specific, God wants us to understand two bold things:

* That individual affects corporate (not just the other way around). 

* That individual morality matters greatly. (national exaltation or reproach pivots here)

Yes, our commitment to live righteously before God and others amazingly exalts a nation. And conversely, our personal sin perniciously affects others unimaginably more than we could suspect. 

So if you want to affect good change in any culture you swim in, pursue personal righteousness. And if you want bury a family, team, church, community, culture or nation, practice unbridled sin. 

May I ask:

* Do you actually believe that your pursuit of righteousness or sin powerfully affects others, that moral me affects moral we?

* What fresh pursuit of righteousness needs your attention right now?

Father God, have mercy on me. Too often I foolishly think my sin only affects me (and You), not others. Destroy this independent thinking and raise my dependence on You. My me affects we. 

Help me exalt my family, church, team, community, and nation by pursuing personal righteousness as You prescribe. O may my life bring honor, not reproach, to your worthy Name and to all others, especially those who bear Your name too. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. 

Maximum effort. 

Heart for others. ️

Happy Independence Day! 🇺🇸

Happy Dependence Days! 

Coach Mo

Seen and Heard

“… I saw visions of God.…When I saw, I fell face down, and I heard the voice of one speaking.“ Ezekiel 1:1, 28

Have you ever played for a coach who was too absent, silent, or both? If so, I bet neither you nor your team got very far. It’s impossible to receive beneficial coaching from someone seldom seen or hardly heard from.

But a truly great coach always shows up and has valuable things to say – motivationally, technically, and strategically. So is it with God. He repeatedly wants us all to see and hear from Him. 

Yes, God is committed to being seen, heard, known. As many as 26 times in the book of Ezekiel alone the phrase “Then you will know that I am the LORD” appears.

This begs the question, ‘How is God best seen and heard?’ How best can we know Him? Here’s the answer:

  • through His written word, the BIBLE. God is seen and heard best in the best way He seeks us: scripture. To know the Word is to know God. (Matthew 4:4)
  • through His incarnate word, JESUS. He is the exact representation of the living God. This is how we know what God is really like. (Hebrews 1:1&3)
  • through His spoken word, his SPIRIT. The Spirit is counselor and guide, the one who meets us in prayer. (John 14:26 and 16:13)
  • whenever we come to Him with EXPECTANCY, earnestly seeking Him. Those who expect the best often find it. (Hebrews 11:6) [Note: this may include fasting. Ezra 8:23]
  • whenever we ‘TASTE Him’, whenever we take a bite and experience Him for ourselves. We find out so much about God in each active, obedient step we take in trusting Him. (Psalm 34:8)
  • whenever we REP Him well to a watching world. Then the world gets a distinct idea of who He is. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Like no other god, our God is uber-committed to being known. And the commitment response He longs to see in us is this: our looking and listening, our tasting and trusting Him. Only rebellion and unbelief can kill this super connection.

Pushing back, may I ask…

  • How is your spiritual seeing and hearing (your Bible-reading, Jesus-imitating, Spirit-listening/praying) going?
  • When you attend church, read the Bible, begin praying, do you come with great expectancy?
  • Think you already know enough about God? Seen and heard from Him enough for now?
  • Where can you ‘taste’ (trust) and ‘rep’ God in a new way today?

LORD, thank You for making yourself known to me in many, faithful, even stunning ways. I really need this. 

Help me to want more than I already have. Forgive my passivity and pride that makes me settle for minimums. I’ll keep looking and listening for You, humble and hungry, tasting and trusting, with joy and expectancy. Amen

Maximum effort. 

Heart for others. 

Glory to God. 

Coach Mo

It Has Come to My Attention

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“The word of the LORD came to me…” Ezekiel 7:1

A thousand things come to my attention in a day… Or is it a million? 🙂 Do you feel the same way, at least sometimes?

Life is like playing tournament basketball or volleyball. Other than rest/sleep, it‘s game on way more than we think. Constant awareness is demanded and decisions are being made all the time. It’s practically non-stop action. We have to make the right reads and spring into action. If we don’t, we’ll get beat. Life will find ways to run us over. Our joy will be stolen and our vitality sidelined. Room must be made for patience but not for indecision. Our execution needs help. 

Here it is…

GOD’S WORDS. Of all the things that vie for our daily, any-given-moment attention, let it be this: hearing from the LORD. Getting His mind on matters is crucial, not just our own or others. Bible-reading and prayer is the path. (Proverbs 3:5–6 really is foundational and works! Acknowledge Him. Lean not on your own understanding.)

SPACE AND TIME. And of all the things we must decide in any given day, let it be this: creating space and making time for Him to serve up fresh, strong, wise, personal words for us. He always has things to say by His Word, through His Spirit. Let’s be ready to receive His passes, His good counsel however and whenever they come. The first step in trusting God is making daily time and space for Him, for this. 

Perhaps Psalm 46:10 says it best: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.“ May that especially include me as I am still, waiting on the LORD. 

May I ask…

  • Are you finding any of your joy stolen or vitality sidelined just now? (Heads up here: There may be spiritual/idolatry issues going on.)
  • How’s your decision-making going? Do you get God’s mind on matters? If so, how?
  • What time and space adjustments need to be made in your life today?
  • Where do you need God’s mind on your matters today?

LORD, come to me like you did Ezekiel. Don’t stop. I need your good words, your good counsel. Help me maintain committed, regular time and space for You by your Spirit. I especially need your mind regarding this matter today…(________) Fill me up and get me moving for your glory and my joy in Christ. Amen. 

Be strong. 

Stand for truth. 

Live for eternity.

Coach Mo

P.S. Bonus thought: Not everything that gets your attention deserves your attention. Focus on what matters most, on the wise thing to do

Peace and Presence

Here’s a power thought for today…

Peace is not the absence of trouble. It’s the presence of God. 

“But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.’” Isaiah 43:1-2

Bottom line… 

Choose relationship over circumstance. 

Who you belong to makes all the difference in the world.

Keep looking UP. 

Grace and peace. 

Two-Way Player

“Therefore, dear friends since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17-18

The best players in sport are those that effectively play both sides of the ball, defense and offense. They guard well and get buckets. So much of their greatness is defined by being a two-way player. They’re the ones who’ve really got game. Are you one?

As 2 Peter closes, the apostle Peter challenges us to become two-way players spiritually. Let’s take a closer look at what this means. 

GUARDING. Be spiritual ‘rim protectors’. Defend the truth of the gospel. ‘Lawless men’ (false teachers, spiritual hustlers, counterfeit religions) spiritually prey on those ignorant of the Word. They downsize Jesus, minimize scripture, marginalize truth, doubt His return, cheapen His grace, push prosperity, sell special knowledge, and proclaim a freedom that eventually enslaves. They carry people away. 

Let’s not let these kinds of guys score on us or our teammates. Let’s not let our confidence in Christ, in who God says we are in Him, be shaken. Commit to defense. Be immune to coercion. Know the scriptures really well. Get in front of sound doctrine and good teaching faithfully. Rightly divide the word of truth. Guard the house. 

GROWING. Peter also says to grow our offensive game. He highlights two moves in particular. First, become a grace guy. Receive it. Give it. All the time. Score this ball. God’s grace is so irresistible, unstoppable. It’s the best move to make. Let it wow you and then wow others through you. Learn grace. Score with grace. Grace wins. 

Second, expand Jesus’s scoring range in you by growing your knowledge and understanding of him on two crucial fronts: Savior and Lord. Savior means he’s the only one who makes us righteous, so stop trying to self-justify. Lord means I bow the knee to him as King and #FollowTheLeader for life. Whatever He says goes. He’s that worthy. 

God’s Word indeed challenges us to become two-way players. Guarding the truth is imperative. And growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are the two scores we gotta get every day. 

May I ask…

  • How’s your spiritual defense? Is the enemy of your soul scoring on you? Where do you need to tighten up the D? What truth do you need to defend or apply?
  • Relentlessly committed to growing in grace and following an amazing, undefeated, worthy Savior-Lord?

LORD, I wanna be a two-way player for You. I wanna guard the truth and get spiritual buckets, not just physical ones. Help me in my journey. To You be glory both now and forever! Amen. 

Buckets and blessings as you guard and grow!

Coach Mo