Preseason training for a professional athlete can be strenuous. The first day back, the shock to the body that has been rested and “pampered,” and let go is a real wake up call. Oxygen seems to be in small demand you think, as you have muscles begin to tremble, heavy breathing, and the thought of one more run can send you into the realm of thinking, “I’m going to die! ” It seems the coaches and trainers had one “sadistic” goal in mind, to push you to the end, and take great delight as they ask you to do one more run, one more set of weights, one more “one on “one attacking or defending!”

The quivering of the muscles, the strain on the body, the mental barriers, the thoughts of wanting to quit, take a short cut by holding back a bit in runs, the desire to preserve yourself, cheat on a run, not run the whole distance, all battles of the mind that had to be won because to follow that way of thinking in the end would never achieve the goal, to be as physically conditioned as best as possible to play at a high level. Indeed to follow that plan of thought would be exposed when playing against other players who were highly fit and mentally sharp and whose skills were clinical. Indeed, to not be in such peak condition, you would be found out not only by your opposition but also by your team mates, when you failed to get on to the end of a well timed pass into a space in front of you because you were not physically conditioned because you had made choices in the past to not give all in those pre-season sessions. There were consequences either way. There was a trust issue. Trust the trainers who were specialized in their field or to chose to trust your own mind where the body says, “enough, take it easy. ” The thoughts that come to mind when you are in the midst of such sessions have to be won. The battle over feelings versus faith in the expertize of the coaches, trainers. whose goal was to  you in order to function as a highly prepared  professional athlete and to benefit the players around you and the club as a whole. People spent hard earned money to watch a game and though you don’t think it at the time, you have a responsibility to them. All those are easy to speak about from a bar stool, or the comfort of a seat be it at a game or on front of a tv, but the doing of the pre-season training cannot be undertaken by someone else for you. – It is a personal responsibility we had to take. There was a goal, an aim in the process of getting fit.

I remember in my own case those mornings literally trying to fall gently from my bed to the floor, lie there a while and then check where I hurt, hamstrings? check! Groins? Check? calves? Check? Stomach? Check! Any strains? Check, then literally pull myself up and start to move ever so slowly to the door, and to repeat this whole scenario again to seek to get my body and mind in the position where it would compete at a professional level. The pain was painful! There was purpose in the trainers daily regiment of stretching, strenuous exercise, repetitive drills. They had a goal in mind,my fitness, the teams fitness levels.To be in physical condition to play at a high standard, to be able to last not just for the ninety minutes of a game “surviving somehow, bent over after seven minutes with hands on thighs, gasping for air.” Their carefully thought out strategy, had an end in view. that end was to be  physically fit, mentally prepared, skills honed , so when the first game of the season kicked off, we were in a place that could benefit the team, help each other to the goal, of competing, battling, withstanding intense pressures in defense and the ability to quickly change into formations of attack in the pursuit of winning games.

The ability to do what you did well, to be able to consistently do that after thirty five, seventy five minutes. This goal would not be achieved by talking bout it. Some of the “best players” I ever met, were those who sat on a high bar stool watching games or talking about games, but had not been in that place. It is easy to talk, criticize, get excited over a game, but the players did not get there by “wishing to” but by specific design!

“God’s Gymnasium” as it were is all with specific design to mature us spiritually, to conform us into the image of His Son, in our thinking, doings, motivations for living this gift of life He has entrusted us with. of There are several means He uses to train us, to bring us into alignment with His plan. At times it is not easy,as we have enemies.


Know the opposition. Be familiar with them.

A. – satan;  There  is the enemy that is satan, whose goal is “to kill, destroy,” he is a cruel foe. he entices, he lies, he accuses, slanders, put downs, enslaves. he uses deception, offers “peace, happiness, fulfillment, access,”though he cannot deliver rest for the heart.  Where the Lord Jesus goal is He came to give life and life abundant. Spiritual life. Restoring our relationship with Him, declaring us right with Him through the Lord Jesus. We stand in grace- fully accepted before God, because of Him alone. We do not stand condemned before Him as guilty. For  Jesus bore our condemnation and our guilt and broke the shackles Hope for the hurting. Peace with God. he accuses and for the believer his hatred is intense, vile, wicked, devoid of love for God and humanity…. he seeks to torment  the mind through slandering God to us… he injects wicked thoughts such as “God is not faithful, He cannot be trusted. He may care for others as they are more deserving, but look at you, how could God care for you? You are a failure. Your sin is too great. You are “always” sinning. “How can you be a Christian? God doesn’t mean what He says surely not.” This last one He used in the garden of Eden. He suggested God was not good, He was holding out, why could they not take from this one tree and eat the fruit. He maximized this one restriction but He did not point to all they had, intimacy with God and all of the rest to enjoy. No, he pointed to the one restriction and blew it up to suggest God was not good, he was holding out and if they would take the fruit they would be “like God.” They chose to believe a lie, slander of God and embraced the lie and chose to disobey and they suffered the consequences. They were banished from the garden, the fellowship they had once enjoyed with God.

The evil one is the same today seeking to blind and bind people with solicitations to evil, to think God is not good. The lie of ,”True happiness is found in disobeying Him…that people can be “like God.” All powerful! Lies, lies , lies. They all began with a suggestion that God was not good, maximize what you don’t have and minimize all God has given you. Sound familiar? his goal is to “kill, steal destroy. { John 10} Paul said, ” we are not ignorant concerning his schemes.” Indeed part of his temptations is to seek the believer to hold records of wrongs, bitterness, unkindness, pride, seek to elevate self rather than preferring others. God’s goal in sending His Son is that in him we might have “life and life abundant.”- {John 10}… that we know Him, rest in His love for us, understand our position in Christ and choose to prefer others. “Do nothing out of selfishness or vain glory but with humility of mind, do not merely look out for your own interests but also the interests of others.” {Phil 2:3-5}

 B. – THE WORLD SYSTEM;  the enemy  of the world’s system that promotes life without  dependence, trust accountability to God. The pursuit of “happiness” that cannot bring heart contentment that is impossible without a personal relationship with God. Peace with God is through the  cross of the LORD Jesus, personal peace is a gift, for Christ himself is our peace. Peace is not a movement but Peace is a Person {Ephesians 2:14} The world’s system seeks to live as though God does not exist, promotes its goals, views of “success” and tries to convince us this is what true living looks like.

C – THE FLESH; Then their is also another enemy. The “traitor within.” One time while  driving with  my youngest son, I was trying to teach him what the Bible said sin was… what it was, not just the manifestations of it. I wasn’t sure if I was making sense to his young heart. He went quiet for a while and broke the silence with what I think was profound for such a young tender heart, The Holy Spirit gave him understanding, He said to me, “It;s an inside job!” He was right that’s what sin is . An inside job. We have the three enemies, the evil one , the world’s system where the Scripture says that in the last days men will be ,” lovers of self…lovers of pleasures… lovers of money… rather than lovers of God.!”{1 Timothy 3 } Sin is an “Inside job!” It is me. I am sin! Sins are what I think, do, but they are all produced from deep within me. My heart is the heart of the problem in regards sin. As followers of Christ, we have to rest in His finished work in making us right with God, yet we have to fight against the desires that are opposed to love. The difference now, is we have the power to do right and “precious and magnificent promises” to strengthen, warn, encourage us in each and every temptation and to live “Godly”{2 Peter 1:3-4} The battle now is often for the mind, live by “feelings” or living by faith in the faithful One {Romans 4:19-21}. The cross, appropriating it in my choices will continually liberate me to walk in newness of life that is already mine and yours “In Christ.” {Phil 2:12-13 }


God gifted us repentance towards Him, faith in His Son to save us from the wrath of God, save us from the penalty of sin and impart to us newness of life New desires, new goals, new hunger for righteousness, new loves, that align with Him. He works in us these new things. He makes old things pass away and all things new as He makes us new  creations in Christ. We have full salvation. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ {Eph 1:3}} Now we need to grow in our understanding of Him and who we are “In Christ.”  Noah and his family were “safe and secure” from the judgment of God while in the ark, we are safe and secure in Christ. Not from troubles in this life, but our souls are “kept, guarded” by the power of God{1 Peter 1:5} We are now gifted the right to be children of God. “But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name. {John 1:12 }


WE have everything we need to contest this life. A New position, new power, new standing with God and through His Son, By his Spirit we can be changed and are as we trust Him, obey Him, motivated by His love for us {Romans 5:8;2 Cor 3:18; Gal 2:20 } Our position, standing before God is assured, now He is in the process of making us live in light of our new position in our practice. What means does He use to aid us in bringing about the process of changing us. Remember our position in Christ before God is full acceptance. Our sanctification is not for acceptance with God but as those who are accepted by God based on the finished work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf, sanctification is God working in us to progressively change us? Though our standing with God is instantaneous, Our process in being changed in this life is a life long work , making us more and more like Him in our view of life, and the way we think, act and what motivates us to live. He is working IN US and THROUGH us.

Lets’ consider what I call, “GOD’S GYMNASIUM” to help us CONTINUALLY CHANGE.

 1.   He Sanctifies us by His Spirit 2 Thess 2:13; “We should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”

2.  He sanctifies us through His Word- John 17:17;  “Sanctify them according to Thy Word, Thy Word is Truth”; “…when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, THE WORD OF GOD, which also PERFORMS IN YOU WHO BELIEVE.”- 1 Thess 2:13. You don’t just read, meditate, apply His Word for your sake, but also the benefit of others as Ezra did in Ezra 7:10 and then in Nehemiah when they found the Scriptures they needed someone to explain them and Ezra was called up. His giving Himself to the WORD earlier to know,obey and teach concerning God was now circumstanced by God to teach others His Word and ways. Colossians 3:16 also shows us this truth, “ Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”. Hide His Word in your heart to know Him, Obey Him and share what you presently know of Him!-“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth.”- {2 Timothy 2;15}

3.  He sanctifies us through Prayer-Col 4:12; “Epaphras,…always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand MATURE and fully assured in ALL the will of God.”

4.  He Sanctifies us through Trials- James 1;3-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing, that the testing of YOUR faith produces endurance. AND LET endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be MATURE and complete…”

5.   He sanctifies us through Suffering 1 Peter 5:10 “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of ALL Grace who called you to His eternal Glory in Christ WILL HIMSELF, MATURE, confirm, establish and strengthen you.”

 6.  He sanctifies us through Gifted leaders- Eph 4:7-15 “And He GAVE some as… evangelists, pastor teachers, FOR the equipping of the saints…to the building up of the body…until we all attain…to a MATURE man…. We are to GROW up in all aspects into Him…even Christ”

GODS GOAL IS WE BECOME more and more like Him, living to please the Father and be about the Father’s business [John 4:34; 2 Cor 5:9]; To become Eternal minded [Col 3:1-3]; To become an Example to be followed [1 Tim 4:12; Phil 4:9]; To become like Jesus Christ, which will be manifested in a submissive servant [Eph 5:21; Phil 2:5-9]

 God’s Goal is to make us like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ in attitude, thought, word and deed, which as Christ’s follower, He is at work in us [Phil 1:6; Phil 2:12-13] to conform His followers to the image of His Son. Like preseason sometimes it is not easy battling the three enemies of the evil one, the enticement to be seduced by the world’s system that offers “fleeting happiness” as opposed to God who offers contentment, satisfied in any and all circumstances through the power of the Lord Jesus who empowers such {Phil 4:11-13}. Then the enemy “the traitor within,” the self life, that seeks to prefer self over God’s will for us to Love Him and love others primarily! The cross, no to self yes to God is His enabler by His Spirit. This life can “feel” like a pre-season. Trust Him who has an end and aim in it. His goal is to make us like His dear Son, in our motivations, thoughts, words, deeds. He has provided us all we need in Him to work out the reality of spiritual maturity into who we are positionally through gifting us means to develop our practice. He has an end in sight, your good  to become conformed to the image of His dear Son {Romans 8:28-29}


  • Enjoy God.
  • Serve others for Jesus sake.
  • Know the enemy, but do not focus on the three,”satan, the world, self,” rather focus on JESUS CHRIST and know we are changed by beholding Him {2 Corinthians 3:16}. Some people fall into the trap of becoming “demon conscious,” and the enemy has them taken up with other than the LORD Jesus. Others are taken up with putting up so many “barriers” to try and keep worldliness away that we have erected “standards” that may not be bad in themselves, but what is bad, indeed sinful, is when we hold those standards up and say this is “Christianity.”

Indeed it may be morality but Christianity is Christ. We are called to walk with the Savior, not a standard to please God. {Read 1 Cor 1:9; Col 2:6}. We slip back into a “works mentality salvation!” Jesus saved me but now I must work to keep my salvation, or work for Him to accept me.

When Scripture says you “STAND in GRACE”- {Romans 5:2;}

  • you are “THE BELOVED OF GOD”-{Romans 1:7}
  • you are “ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED”- {Eph 1:6}
  • you are “COMPLETE IN HIM.” {Col 2:8-13} The Word, “Complete ” means “the state of no deficiency.” There is No deficiency in Jesus Christ, His salvation or your standing with Him. You have complete salvation, forgiveness, through His victory { Read Col 2:8-14} Now we need to grow in our understanding  of who we are  “In Him,” to Him be the glory-  {2 Peter 3:18}


  • Know the three enemies
  • Know YOUR Position in Christ
  • Know God’s PROCESS to bring about Godly change

Pre- season is preparation to enable us to a specific end. God’s gymnasium as I call it, is enabling to help change us in becoming more like Jesus Christ, in our thinking, doings, motivations  for His glory. God is working…