Well, it's been a very long time since number one, so I guess this is overdue.
While looking for some games on YouTube for coaching, I came across a very interesting game from 1920. (you can find the game here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJe88cgb4BU) In it white offers it's queen by placing it on an unprotected square for the black queen to take. just giving up your queen is not normally a good idea, and if you just play chess by the numbers you would never do such a thing. However, in this case, if black takes the queen, black looses to a forced checkmate. In fact white is able to offer it's queen two more times with the same result, if taken. However, if white makes a fourth offer of it's queen, in a move that fits the pattern of the past three, it's white that looses. Then, a few moves later, white again offers it's queen. this time it's win for white regardless of whether black takes or not. the key to this game is knowing when to do the unusual and when not. It's about looking outside the box, looking for something new.
In Isaiah 43:19 God says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." In this I see, as in the above chess game, the need to look outside the box. So many of us do church by the numbers, and in doing so we miss the win. We miss the 'new thing' that God has for us that will lead to a spiritual victory in our lives. the other thing is to know when to stop. Just as in the chess game offering the queen one to many times lead to a loss, we can get to caught up in the excitement of the new thing and miss when God is calling us back to the norm, this to can lead to us missing out on God's real blessing.
In both, chess and following God, we need to know the basics. The rules that govern the normal passage of play. Without the basics we fail before we begin. However, having mastered, or as we continue mastering, the basics, we must be aware of when it's time for a 'new thing'.