Prepare Today. Win Tomorrow.

flame preperation2

I was just about to fall asleep around midnight when my wife Annette said, “Hey, I hear the bathroom fan downstairs. I think somebody is down there.” I replied, “One of the kids probably left it on.” Long pause. Silence. Basically, she was communicating to me that she would not be satisfied until I got up and checked it out. “Okay, okay. I will check it out,” I said. I peeled myself out of bed and peeked into the kid’s room. Our ten year-old daughter Savannah was sound asleep but our seven year-old son Ashton was…missing. Uh-oh. I hurried downstairs and found him…in the shower. Here’s how the following conversation went down:

Me: “Dude, what are you doing?!”
Ashton: “I’m getting ready for school.”
Me: “Uh, it’s after midnight.”
Ashton: “I know. Mom thinks I’m taking a shower in the morning. I’m getting all ready now so I can watch TV and then I’m going to go to bed and sleep in my school clothes. I need you to fix my hair. Don’t tell Mom. It’s a surprise.”
Me: I literally laughed out loud and then said, “Uh, No! Put your pajamas on and get in bed. You can still surprise her in the morning.”

I certainly can’t condemn my little boy for having a logical thought process. After all, he was just preparing himself for school. He wanted to be ready when he woke up.

preparation [prep-uh-rey-shuh n] :: any proceeding, experience, or the like considered as a mode of preparing for the future.

3 Important Facts About Preparation

1. Preparation Precedes Confidence.

Because I’m the lead pastor of a church that has three weekend services I preach three times just about every single weekend (minus scheduled weekends off). A lot of preparation goes into every sermon and service. I have a specific routine that I follow like clockwork but sometimes that routine gets interrupted. The days I show up to church a little freaked out (and our staff would say the interpretation of freaked out is really intense) are the days I am not as prepared as I should be. If I’m not prepared, I’m not confident. If I’m not confident it usually spills over into the delivery of my message. And when that happens it’s on me. Thank God for His grace in moments like this.

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” ~Benjamin Franklin
In the world of athletics, teams that aren’t prepared are teams that lose. This means practice is important.

Yes, practice matters. [Unless you’re Allen Iverson. This video is worth watching before continuing.]

1 Samuel 17 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible as it lays out David’s epic victory over Goliath. It’s imperative to point out that David was prepared to fight Goliath. David’s previous battles with a lion and bear gave him confidence for his future victory over the giant. [Note: Preparation gave him confidence. God gave him the victory.]

But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” ~1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NLT)

2. Preparation Unlocks Opportunity.

Because David was a shepherd it’s safe to guess that nobody was watching when David fought the lion and bear. Everybody was watching when he fought Goliath. Two confrontations in private paved the way for his epic battle in front of an entire army. Goliath had challenged Israel for forty days. Enter David on day forty-one. Because David had experience with a sling-shot, when his moment of opportunity presented itself, he was ready. Not only did he defeat the giant, but ultimately David delivered victory to entire nation. #Boom

“I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Jesus prepared Himself for ministry by fasting and praying for forty days. It was during this time of preparation that the devil tried stop stop Him but Jesus spoke the Word and sent him running. On day forty-on Jesus launched His epic ministry. #PreparationMatters

3. Preparation Protects You.

People learn self-defense so they know how to protect themselves, if God-forbid, they are ever attacked. Skydivers go through several hours of preparation before ever jumping from a plane. Every soldier in our military endures months of intense training to keep them alive in the future.

My good friend and fellow pastor Chris Papazis knows this first-hand from experience.

“On January 15th, 1987 on a mild winter day in Ft. Benning Georgia I began my Army career. The fun began with a group of Drill Sergeants yelling and screaming all kinds of things at me and my fellow recruits that are not suitable to be printed here. What my then 17 year-old self didn’t realize was that they were beginning the time-proven process of tearing down recruits so they could build us into what Uncle Sam said we needed to become – U.S. Army fighting men. One saying that the Drill Sergeants began ‘drilling’ into us was ‘Stay Alert – Stay Alive.’ They would make us yell it at the top of our lungs. ‘Stay Alert – Stay Alive, Drill Sergeant! Stay Alert – Stay Alive!’ Just thinking about it causes a flashback that fills me with both nostalgia and nausea. Seriously though, almost 30 years of perspective has given me an appreciation for those words. They were telling us that paying attention just might save our lives. Looking back I can say, both on the battlefield and in life, this advice (when taken) has served me well.”

Apostle Paul offers us some help so we are prepared for a very real enemy who’s main agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. ~Ephesians 6:13-18 (MSG)

Put on your armor.
Wear it.
Use it.
Don’t take it off.
You’re going to need it…throughout your life.

“Every place you are is preparation for where God is sending you.”
What has God called you to do?
Are you prepared for an open door?
Are you ready for your big chance?
Are you willing and able to seize your moment of opportunity?
Prepare today. Win tomorrow.

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