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Sunday, 9 September 2012


PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, September 9th, 2012:
Rev. Brian Wilkie

by Rev. Brian Wilkie      
Pastor of St. Andrew's United Church,                       Rockland, Ontario

Broadcast Notes:
‘Getting in the Game

Today, as this program is being aired, summer vacations are over, so as many are starting fall activities and programs, our theme is “Getting in the Game

Our Reading from the word of God is taken from the first of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. Let me just put this into context for a moment: Paul is apologizing to the Corinthians for a change in plans the kept him from visiting Corinth as they had expected. He is clearly concerned that some of his detractors will insinuate that Paul cannot be trusted to keep his word. In this passage he reveals that he has tried to be reliable in every way, as a servant of a faithful and trustworthy Lord.

1 Corinthians 9:19-27 - (NIV)

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free(A) and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone,(B) to win as many as possible.(C) 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.(D) To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law),(E) so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law(F) (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law),(G) so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.(H) I have become all things to all people(I) so that by all possible means I might save some.(J) 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
The Need for Self-Discipline
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?(K) Run(L) in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown(M) that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.(N) 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly;(O) I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.(P) 27 No, I strike a blow to my body(Q) and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.(R)

Cross references:
I.       1 Corinthians 9:22 : 1Co 10:33
Message Introduction

Much of the past summer has been focused on games: the Olympic Games. In our Scriptures Paul compares our pursuit of God’s Kingdom to the preparation and participation in an athletic contest, and it’s easy to see why. Every game takes time, effort and practice. Games often have prizes, even if it is only the satisfaction of having played well. People playing games often devote themselves to their tasks. Throughout the ages people have been praised or criticized for the games they play and the rewards they seek through them. For the most part, our history is replete with heroes of sporting games, and mentally demanding games like chess. Today we find more and more people giving more and more time to video games, role playing games, and online games. One can still make a comparison, following Paul’s example, between the games we play in life, and life itself.

Some philosophers and sociologists make much of the similarities between game playing and life itself. They borrow ideas from the world of games and use them to analyse human interactions. They look at the rules by which we live, the regular practices of our lives,  the rewards we treasure and the reasons we persist, and find many similarities. Of course these games almost always simulate life to one degree or another, from the medieval battlefield of chess to the simplified country life of Farmville. When we look at our relationship to Jesus Christ and the ministry he has given us, can you answer the question, “Are you in the game?


There is no doubt that the Apostle Paul has “gotten in the game” he’s followed Jesus with all his strength and at great cost. Paul can speak of the things he has suffered and lost, all that he has set aside. He speaks of letting go of many things he once counted as important, and persevering through great opposition. He has been committed to Jesus despite beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, insult and more. He has served God’s people freely, not for profit but for the sake of Christ his Lord. Paul is in the game.

The first question is “are you in the game?” meaning, “Have you decided to run this race?” Jesus calls people to follow him, and in the bible his call is followed by a decision: Peter and company left the fishing game to follow Jesus, Matthew left the collections game to follow Jesus. Today it is not my intent to show all the reasons for their confidence in Jesus: I address those of you who already understand who Jesus is, and know that he has called all people to follow him, and ask you, “Are you in the Game?”

Let me try a little parable from soccer. Suppose you receive a flyer in the mail concerning a local soccer “house” league. You’re interested... phone number, email, webpage. Dates for tryouts, first game. Imagine the person who wants to play but doesn’t call to register. He’s a good player, and surmises that anyone would want him on their team. He’s spoken to a few friends and they all know he wants to play. On game day he gets over to the park, and walks onto the field and – is promptly ejected from the game.  – it’s like the Jesus spoke about the wedding feast, where all are invited but one man shows up unannounced and unprepared. He’s not dressed for the wedding: he does not have the uniform, because he is not really part of the team.  We need to register for soccer, and we need to talk to Jesus Christ to be received onto his team.

My First computer game: Space Invaders  “a” key and the arrow keys. Man could we hit those keys.... Mr. Popkey our computer science teacher. (What a name!) Now my point? I can tap like mad on the “a” key and press the left and right arrow keys to my heart’s content, but if I’m not in the game, all I get is gibberish on my computer screen.  Scripture makes it clear that our works of righteousness are like this: Outside of a Relationship with God, our best efforts are of no account.  We need to get in the game!

But perhaps you’ve noticed that sometimes a person can be “in the game” in one respect, but not fully in the game. My first soccer experience: more interested in the bugs, and plant life than the soccer ball. My head wasn’t in the game. Jesus speaks about two sons: Their father told one to do a chore, but he refused. The second readily agree to do the task. However when the time came, the first son changed his mind, and did what he had been asked to do. The other one,. Who had said yes at first never actually did what he has agreed to do. “Which one,” Jesus asked, “did the will of his father?” Jesus concluded that many who outwardly looked like obedient children of God were actually disobedient, while many who had rebelled against God had believed in God, changed their lives, and are entering the kingdom of God ahead of the others.  Do you need to get in the game?

Practice, commitment: WOW, Farmville, thousands of hours.
If you are a sports fan, you’ve seen what happens when your favourite team is playing, but they don’t really have their heart in it. Sometimes they might as well have stayed home, for all the effort they put in. But how does it stand with you? Are you that athlete “running aimlessly”, the boxer “flailing the air” are you the bench warmer, hardly bothering even to suit up?

There is an alternative. God actually has a place for you in his service, a useful role. He provides the training the equipment, through his Word and Spirit.

I got a little discouraged as a child- the little boy who’s looking at ants and flowers and beetles on the soccer field is not the first person picked for every team! But God’s team is different. This summer, as I had the privilege of directing one week of family Camp at Golden Lake Church Camp, the Campers were preparing for the annual volleyball battle against the Summer Staff. I was just wandering by, when some of the players cheerfully called out “Brian, are you in the game?” This same invitation is going out to you, as God calls you not only to be in his family, but to join in his glorious work. Are you in the game?

Closing prayer:

"Loving God, We’re so thankful that you have chosen us for your ‘team’, and that you have equipped us with your Holy Spirit; and that you will continue to train us as we go into your Word. We just pray that you would use us to be a blessing to others; that the prize for us would be to see other lives helped and encouraged and changed by your great love.

We pray, Almighty God, that you would be with every person listening to this program, that each one of us would be inspired to follow you more.

Open our eyes to see what we can do for your Kingdom and how we can draw near to you each day. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who has shown your love to us, and has opened the way to your Kingdom in His name. Amen."

Rev. Brian Wilkie
To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:


  1. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Compete4Christ - (‏@Compete4Christ on Twitter)
    "As you compete remember you are always a member of God's team. You rep Christ in all you say and do. #Ambassador 2 Cor 5:20"

    [2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV)
    20 Therefore, (A)we are ambassadors for Christ, (B)God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

    Cross references:
    2 Corinthians 5:20 : Eph. 6:20; [Mal. 2:7; Gal. 4:14]
    2 Corinthians 5:20 : ch. 6:1]

  2. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Charlie Capozzoli ‏- (@CCapozzoli on Twitter)
    "Who's on God's team? Those who want to protect the innocent and unborn, or those who say a woman has every right to abort a precious baby?"

  3. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    joseph evans ‏- (@Jospitta on Twitter)
    "There's only two teams, God's Team and the Devil's team and we are all free Agents"

  4. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Team God ‏- (@Team_God on Twitter)
    "The more we are aware of Christ in our lives, the more victory we will experience. #Team_God #rtifyouloveGod"

  5. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    J. Ottie Thomas ‏- (@All_The_Glory on Twitter)
    "Faint not. Fear not. Fret not. He gives supernatural strength to finish the race." – Charles Stanley

  6. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Kristen B Marble - (‏@KristenMarble on Twitter)
    "Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander." Holocaust Museum #MLDR550

  7. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Nicky Gumbel ‏- (@nickygumbel on Twitter)
    "What comes easily in life, won't always last. And what will last, won't always come easily."

  8. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Kristen B Marble ‏- (@KristenMarble on Twitter)
    "Jesus came that we may have life abundantly, but that abundance is to be shared not hoarded." @lensweet #mldr550

  9. Originally Posted on Twitter:
    Michael Minot - (@MichaelMinot on Twitter)
    "God wants us to be like a river where His blessings flow into us and then flow out again to others."