HOLY LOCKER ROOM SPEECHES-CHOOSE!
January 7, 2018
The inspirational locker room speech delivered pre-, post- or even mid-game is a sports tradition. It’s commonplace in locker rooms in most sports at any level.
Our own JMU’s Mike Houston has proven to be quite a master at getting his players fired up to contend on the gridiron. When I listen to him, it’s motivation enough to make me want to go out and tackle a tree in the back yard!
And yet, I believe the ultimate locker room speeches are to be found within the pages of the Bible, with God-inspired authors inspiring us to contend on the gridiron of life. Over these upcoming weeks we are going to hear a few of these holy locker room speeches. Today, let’s prepare to get ourselves divinely compelled…
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God….
14 “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
A TIME TO CONTEMPLATE
Yes, it is time for the people of Israel to contemplate. They have been on a roll. They have defeated their enemies and claimed the Promise Land. Each of the tribes has received their inheritance of property. They can now settle down and live high on the hog…fat, happy and lazy.
But these are also dangerous times for the people of Israel. They are falling prey to complacency. They are developing a spiritual amnesia, forgetting the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who had brought them through tough times. They are abandoning their identity and adopting the pagan religious practices of the Canaanite culture surrounding them.
They find it quite easy to worship these lesser undemanding man-made idols based on superstition and sensuality.
Human nature hasn’t changed a whole lot in 3,000 years. It seems most every day I have folks proclaim to me that they are atheists, that they are so proud to be devoid of any belief in divinity. And yet, it’s been my experience that everyone has a god or gods that he or she worships. It may not be the God of our Christian heritage. But nonetheless, everyone has a god.
There was a high-rolling, Yuppyish kind of dude who managed to crash his Masarati doing 185 in the desert outside of Palm Springs. A California Highway Patrol office came upon the scene, surveying the mangled wreckage, and then the young man wandering around in circles in a daze muttering to himself, “My Masarati, my Masarati!!!”
The officer saw the young man’s bloodied, armless shirt and said, “Son, I wouldn’t be too worried about your car—you’ve lost your arm in this accident!”
To which the young man began screaming, “My Rolex! My Rolex!”
Now that was a bit extreme, but certainly we all have stuff that we worship. Whatever has our attention has us, and that is a god.
And whatever captivates us can capture us as well.
It’s both fascinating and disturbing to pore over the list addictions outlined in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV – the reference guide that counselors use to diagnose issues in patients. They range from substance addictions such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco to behavioral addictions such as eating, pornography, video gaming and gambling. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
My friend Jeff, a deputy with the Augusta County Sheriff’s Department, says they are seeing a disturbing and growing trend in the number of opioid arrests. Just last week he accompanied a team of child protective services workers to a local motel to pick up a 5-year-old child whose mother had abandoned him in search of heroin. She was totally controlled and strung out by the drug.
Yes, whatever has our attention has us, and whatever captivates us can capture us as well. Joshua is preaching to the Israelites, and to you and me! We need to contemplate what he’s saying!
And this is also…
A TIME TO CONSECRATE
Joshua is calling the Israelites and us to practice proaction rather than wallow in reaction to attraction. Yes, he is demanding that we make a choice: Will we surround ourselves with lesser gods that ultimately degrade and destroy our identity? Or will we look upward and outward in devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…the God who eventually chooses to grab us with grace with the arms of his only Son Jesus Christ? That is the decision before each of us in the locker room of life.
The famed French theologian, inventor and mathematician of the 16th century, Blaise Pascal, once commented, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God.”
Has that empty recess in your life been filled with God’s presence and peace? Have you staked your unequivocal, underlying trust that God, not you, is the center of the universe?
Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul was hinting at when he wrote to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who now lives in me!”
A life centered on the Holy is the only one true path to freedom and wholeness. We will never truly live, we will only exist, until we surrender our will to God and seek to follow his way.
Yes, Joshua’s words reverberate across the canyons of the Promised Land and thru the concrete walls of our locker room:
“Choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!”
Make up your mind! Contemplate! Then consecrate!
And let’s add a footnote: As a sign of this covenant between God and his people, Joshua sets a huge stone in place there at Shechem to serve as a reminder of what they have resolved to be and do.
Today we also share in a sign of the new covenant made between God and us through his Son Jesus Christ…the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Table is our Shechem, our place of grace, where we meet our God and resolve to be his people and do his will.
As we come forward at the beginning of this new year, may we turn over a new leaf of commitment. May we choose this day whom we will serve!