Jesus amazed his listeners in explaining deep spiritual truths by using common life situation and things around Him to illustrate a point: sheep, goats, coins, candles, salt, cities, sand, grain, wine, water, bread, family relationships, farming, fishing, storms, birth, death and a multitude of other metaphors. Life Lessons from Chess is an attempt to follow His model.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Keeping On Track

Key Bible Verses: I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:5-6)

In 1972 Bobby Fischer represented the United States by becoming the first American World Champion. It could be said that he did more to inspire people to play the game of chess than anyone in United States history. I personally watched several of those championship games live on television. Unfortunately, being an unofficial ambassador for the United States changed over the years. It seemed to reach an all time low during his interview on September 11 with Radio Bombo in Baguio City, right after the terrorist attack on the United States. Mr. Fischer said: "This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all.” "I was happy and could not believe what was happening.” He had gone from being an unofficial ambassador to an anti-American. He lost his loyalty.

Remaining loyal to our faith in Christ is a key ingredient to our future. The Bible is clear that “assurance does not mean that our salvation is guaranteed to us against our free will. This is consistent with our understanding of the grace of God, who always leaves us open to respond freely to him. Freedom to live by grace includes freedom to turn away.” (The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine, Salvation Books, London England, c. 2010, page 180)

Jesus said in John 15:4, “remain in me, and I will remain in you.”  (Other verses to consider:  1 Cor. 15:1-2; 1 John 2:24-25; Hebrews 6:1-8; 2 Peter 3:17; Hebrews 10:19-29; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Galatians 4:8-9; Rev. 2:4-5; 1 Tim. 4:1). Breaking this relationship can take many forms. It can occur through: a deliberate rejection of Christ; or knowing what God wants us to do, yet continuously choosing to do the opposite (Hebrews 10:19-39); or out and out neglecting our spiritual life (Hebrews 2:1-3).

My response: Lord, my desire is to remain loyal to you. Help me in this quest.

Thought to Apply: I will remind myself today that continuance in my relationship with Christ depends upon my continued obedient faith in him.

Just for Fun: In this diagram it is White’s move. Can you see a checkmate? This one takes two moves. I will give you hint. White first needs to move his bishop.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I've Got It!

Key Bible Verse: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (Romans 8:16)

After staring at the board for 20 minutes, Josh could not figure out his next move. He sensed there were possibilities, but, what were they? He thought, “I can’t see it. I can’t see it.” In the distance his teacher whispered to himself (as if Josh could read his mind), “don’t move until you see it. Don’t move until you see it.” His teacher knew exactly what the next six moves should be; however, he was not the one playing the game. Finally it clicked. Josh said to himself, “I’ve got it!” He knew what to do. Six moves later his opponent turned his king over. (From the movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer)

Those “ah ha” moments are wonderful to experience. I suspect the greatest realization moment is when an individual receives assurance that he/she is a child of God. When they recognized they have been justified (put in right standing) as a result of God’s “grace” (unmerited favor). There was nothing to be done to earn this grace. All that was required was to have “faith” (confident belief) that this was a reality (Ephesians: 2:8-9). Assurance is not based on our changing moods, but, on the word of God. For some that moment comes during an intense experience; for others it is slowly given. John Wesley wrote in his journal of his struggle to know if he was saved. Here is the way the Spirit finally testified to his spirit: “But, this I know, I have peace with God.” (The Journal of John Wesley, published by Moody Press, Chicago, page 65.) What a wonderful moment to be able to say with confidence “I’ve got it!”

My response: Lord, thank you for the realization that I am a child of yours.

Thought to Apply: I will remind myself today that I have been justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and I have received assurance that this is true for my life.

Just for Fun: In this diagram it is White’s move. Can you see a checkmate?

Monday, November 8, 2010

35. The Process

Key Bible Verses: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, NIV)

Generally speaking the process in the game of chess is made up of three sections: the opening, middle, and endgame.
  1. The opening sets up the structure for the rest of the game. The Oxford Companion to Chess lists 1,327 named openings and variants.
  2. Ruben Fine suggests three factors of the middle game. They include: king safety; force (amount of material); and mobility (wide scope of action and targets to focus on). All three need to be developed.
  3. The endgame is when there are only a few pieces left on the board. Each becomes very important in bringing down the opposing king to win the game.

For me to be victorious and receive everlasting fellowship with God (eternal life), I need to be involved in a process with the Trinity.
  1. The first step is “repentance” toward God the Father. This includes the “confession” (acknowledgement) and sorrow for my “sins” (willful disobedience) against God; and seeking his forgiveness.
  2. The second is having “faith” (believing) that God the Son provided a payment of sacrifice for my sins. (see lesson 34. Who Pays?)
  3. And finally there is “regeneration” by God the Holy Spirit. A change takes place. It is a purification of unrighteousness (I John 1:9). The Holy Spirit brings to life new desires for inward purity and love for others.

My response: Lord, thank you for your plan and your work in me. Show me any sins in my life I need to take care of today.

Thought to Apply: I will remind myself today that repentance toward God the Father, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary for me to be unconditionally accepted by God and promised a new way of life through him.

Just for Fun: In this diagram it is White’s move. Can you see a checkmate?