Monty Williams is the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. His team won the first two games of this year’s NBA Finals, though the Milwaukee Bucks won Game 3 last night. If the Suns win two more games, they will achieve their first championship in franchise history.
When Williams received the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award from the National Basketball Coaches Association this season, he said, “God knocks the ball out of the park and I get to run the bases. It is a blessing and a privilege to be able to coach this team, alongside this staff, for this organization—it is a ‘get to,’ not a ‘got to.’”
But it is one thing to praise God when we succeed—it is another to trust him when we suffer.
Williams learned about saving faith in Christ from Ingrid, the woman who became his wife. Through her example and prayers, he came to trust in Christ personally. As he entered the NBA, the two married and started a family.
In 2016, Ingrid was killed when a driver under the influence of methamphetamines hit her car. At her funeral, Williams testified, “In my house, we have a sign that says, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15). We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness.”
He added, “Everybody is praying for me and my family, which is right. But let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well. And we have no ill will toward that family.”
Sir Richard Branson flies into space
Sir Richard Branson made headlines yesterday when his Virgin Galactic space plane flew to an altitude of more than fifty miles before returning to earth.
However, our planet’s atmosphere extends 6,214 miles into space. Our moon is 238,900 miles from us; our sun is 94,499,000 miles away. The next nearest star is 24,984,092,897,479 miles from our planet. The edge of our Milky Way galaxy is estimated to be 25,000 light-years away. The edge of our universe is thought to be 46,500,000,000 light-years away.
I don’t mean to depreciate Sir Richard’s achievement, just to put it in context: the God whom Coach Monty Williams trusts and serves is worthy of our trust and service.
When we face the inevitable crises of life, we can turn to ourselves, our capacities, and our achievements, or we can turn to the One who created us, endowed us with our capacities, and enabled our achievements. We can trust creatures or their Creator. We can trust our wisdom or his word.
“The only correct map of the human heart”
I make this point because truth and biblical truth are under assault in our culture as never before. A recent study reported that only 42 percent of Americans (and only 31 percent of adults under the age of thirty) believe God is the basis of truth. According to Gallup, only 24 percent of Americans consider the Bible to be the literal word of God. This is the lowest percentage in Gallup’s forty-year trend on this issue.
By contrast, in Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers, historian Daniel L. Driesbach demonstrates that many of America’s leaders across our history had a profound belief in objective biblical truth. For example, Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible, “It is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be portrayed in it.”
John Adams stated, “The Bible contains the most profound philosophy, the most perfect morality, and the most refined policy, that ever was conceived upon earth.” Benjamin Rush, another of the founding fathers, called the Bible “the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published.”
Then he added, “All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it must perish, and how consoling the thought—it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself.”
“The aim of the spiritual saint”
Christians in every generation have faced their battles. For followers of Jesus today, our conflict begins with the existence of objective truth and the trustworthiness of biblical truth. I plan to say more about this battle tomorrow, but for today, let’s close with this fact: the foundational way we can persuade skeptics that the Bible is truth is to experience and manifest that truth in our lives.
If we meet Jesus today in his word and worship, others will see Jesus in our words and lives. If we truly experience him this morning, we will manifest him this day. If we seek to know Jesus in everything we do, we will make him known in everything we do.
Paul, after listing his astounding personal achievements (Philippians 3:4–6), said of Jesus, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ” (vv. 8–9).
Oswald Chambers observed, “Self-realization leads to the enthronement of work; whereas the saint enthrones Jesus Christ in his work. Whether it be eating or drinking or washing disciples’ feet, whatever it is, we have to take the initiative of realizing Jesus Christ is in it. Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized his relationship to the Father even in the most menial work.”
Chambers added, “The aim of the spiritual saint is ‘that I may know him.’ Do I know him where I am today? If not, I am failing him. I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus. In Christian work the initiative is too often the realization that something has to be done and I must do it. That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint, his aim is to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in” (my emphasis).
What is your “aim” today?