Baseball and Christianity

Baseball and Christianity may be a strange comparison, yet there are some similarities. Most people watch the game from a safe distance. They are observing and examining to see if it piques their curiosity more. They tend to see if the participants are committed or casual players, whether a pick-up game or an organized game. If the latter, what are the expectations? How much is required? Those are basic observations.

In organized baseball, many begin with Little League, where you learn the basics. First, you develop elementary skills, then, you decide what position interest you. Lastly, you determine where you are the best fit. Do you like the coach? Is he a good coach for you?

Hopefully, as you participate, you learn not just the fundamental skills, but how to interact with your teammates. Then, as your skills improve, you must decide if baseball is for you or should you move on to another area of life. 

For those who go on, their commitment level deepens, and preparatory skills develop further. Not everybody has the deep-down desire to advance their skills. That is the leveling-off point of development.

These basic thoughts resemble believers. Some watch from a distance. Others show up in the Lord’s house occasionally. Others become committed spectators attending their place of worship faithfully. Some become deeply involved in serving in their range of interest. Then, others are growing in areas where they never imagined. The pool of growing committed Christians becomes smaller and smaller as time goes by. Over the years of dedication, the fires may flicker and cool off.

Busyness in serving is never a substitute for a daily time in God’s word. Seldom do people go an entire day without physical nourishment, but many believers will do it spiritually. Bible reading is a plate of spiritual food for nourishing your spiritual skills, which allows you to strengthen your church.

If your fire for serving is flickering, reexamine your time in scripture and prayer. Usually, there is a correlation.

May the Lord keep your spiritual fire burning brightly for him.

Lesson From A Four-Year-Old

While watching my four-year-old grandson, I remembered a lesson I learned long ago. As I observed him run and play, I wished I had that energy. My legs do not run like a four-year-old now. But, they do still work. They work for my morning walks and the steps I climb.

Our four-year-old takes for granted that his legs can run and jump. They never consider how blessed they are to have legs that move with ease. So, when he trips and falls, he can get up and run again. Many a grandparent envies their ability to respond quickly.

The art of getting up and continuing with life is not the thought of a four-year-old. For older folks; however, getting up after a fall is a slow process.

Somewhere between youth and older adulthood, getting up seems more challenging. That is true physically, emotionally as well as spiritually.

We’re kicked and tripped throughout our lives. But, it seems that those who keep going are the ones who make a difference in someone’s life.

When life is cruel, or the body does not work as well as it did in your younger days, you can still go forward. However, you might need help to stand again. Your legs may be wobbly, but stand you must if you want to keep going. The pace can be slower, but the effect can be powerful.

Whether you’re young or old, don’t let the circumstances of life keep you down. Do not give in to the cruel intentions of others. Instead, stand with all your might. Stand determined to do what God intended for you to do. Never quit. Even if you move slowly, the God we serve said he would never leave us nor forsake us even when we are old.

Stand. Pick yourself up if you are down. Go forward while you stand and praise the Lord. He can keep us moving for him. 

Get up like a four-year-old and keep going. You have permission to cry a little. Wipe away the tears and keep going.

Who Is In Your Boat?

Why are you so fearful? Mark 4:40 NKJV

Did our Lord get tired of serving? You bet he did, at least physically. But not spiritually.

The day Jesus got in the back of the boat and went to sleep reminds me of the Lord’s humanity. This event happened after a long day of serving others. He had dispensed the crowd (Mark 4:36). Jesus needed to recuperate physically. So, he and the 12 were going to the other side of the lake for some rest. Once they set sail, the Lord settled down for a rejuvenating nap that turned into a deep sleep. 

Suddenly, a storm swept down from the surrounding hills. The wind was so fierce that it stirred up huge waves that tossed the boat. So much so, the experienced disciples, some of whom were ex-fishermen, were terrified of sinking. So, they did the only thing they could do. They went to the Lord.

When the storms of life are raging about you, don’t forget the Lord. Trying to bail yourself out of any situation may not be the answer. Praying and waiting for the Lord is the better solution. It’s not always easy to do because his timetable may not match yours. Nevertheless, he always knows what and when is best.

It’s hard to see the hand of God working and doing what you asked. You may have even asked yourself, “What is he doing?”

Only trust and experience will settle your heart. In time, all things, yes, all things, will turn out for the best. All things work out for good, only if you wait and trust the Lord.

Your situation may be an opportunity for self-examination regarding your love for God, a love that loves in all circumstances. Pay attention to who is in your boat. It is the Lord, not the water, to which you give your attention. Disregard the waves. Go to the Lord. He is with you. Storms are still subject to his command regardless of the amount of water in your boat.

Scripture Still Wins

The Lord will always lead you. Isaiah 58:11 NCV

How is your memory? Great, poor, or so-so? The answer depends upon the individual. Can you return to places you visited in the past? Maybe.

What about standing at the fork in the road. Which way is the right way? Do you ponder because you don’t remember the instructions? Sound familiar?

Such is life at times. What to do or when to do it? What time is the appointment? These are questions you may ask yourself. The answer is always a prayer away. 

I met with the publisher about a book I wrote three years ago. They were interested in publishing it. But I didn’t know what to do. During my devotion time, the answer came, or should I say it hopped off the page. The verse begins, “It is not yet time,” and several lines later, “Wait for it” (Habakkuk 2:3 NCV). The last three words resounded in my ears. The Lord said, “wait.” That is what I’m doing. How long is the wait? I have no idea. One thing I have observed over the years is not to get ahead of the Lord. King Saul did, and it cost him his throne. 

Impatience is one of man’s weaknesses, and I definitely have a big dose of it. So, when God says wait, there’s a reason. However, it usually tries our patience. But those who wait on the Lord always realize things work out for good in his timing. 

If you think the Old Testament example doesn’t apply to us today, think again. Trusting the Lord is always the right thing to do. Whenever, wherever he chooses, it’s always the right place and the right time. “Trust the Lord with all your heart and don’t depend on your understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NCV). This verse is still true today, just as it was thousands of years ago.

When It’s Time

Time is in the Lord’s hands. The steps of a believer “Are ordered by the Lord”(Psalms 37:23 NKJV). “The day is at hand” (Romans 13:12).

God’s plan belongs to him, but his plan usually involves an actual person. Sometimes the individual is ready and willing. Then, there are other times when a person is reluctant to obey the Lord. We’ve all been there and experienced those dubious times. It seems like we set our eyes on different priorities. We are in trouble. Situations happen in a way to get our attention. Some may be severe. 

The following adverse events are God’s hints for us to obey his leadings.

God told Jonah to go to a specific location and share the gospel. The Bible uses the word “now” four times in the book of Jonah. Why is it important for the word “now” to appear?

The first “now” (Jonah 1:1) was a directive to go to Nineveh. The city was heavily populated (approximately 120,000, Jonah 4:11) and most did not know the Lord. The Lord wanted them to hear about salvation. 

The bottom line, Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. So, he went in the opposite direction. But, on his way, the Lord once again got his attention. Then, God caused a storm to erupt on the sea. So, the sailors threw him overboard. Now, God intervened again; a giant fish swallowed Jonah, and he spent three days surrounded by partially digested food before he decided to pray.

God caused the fish to vomit Jonah on dry ground. Onshore, God now told Jonah to go to Nineveh, again. So, Jonah preceded to the great city. Upon his arrival, this reluctant servant started witnessing. The metropolis believed his message and sought the Lord resulting in a tremendous spiritual harvest.

But there’s still a fourth “now.” Jonah was angry about the results. This blessed servant wanted to die. Our Lord tried to comfort his anger, but to no avail. Jonah didn’t care about God using him or converting the city. 

Sadly, the scriptures are silent about the rest of Jonah’s life.

The point of this blog is simple. Are you ready to let God use you? Are you happy that the Lord is using you? Are you willing to be available for God to use you, again, when it’s time?

Jewels of Humility

Humility is hard to define. Many times, it is impossible to recognize. Those possessing strong personalities consider others as weak individuals. Yet, there is something special about the one who has such a simple trait. Words cannot identify or describe such a person. They can be famous or nobody. Maybe they serve in places of honor or obscurity. Their deeds may be seen or never known. Those honored by others are famous to the crowds, but the platitudes are frivolous words inside their hearts.

Moses was unmatched in spirituality. God describes, “Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3 NIV). Likewise, John the Baptist did not toot his kinship to Jesus but said, “I am not worthy to carry his sandals” ( Matthew 3:11). The Messiah later described John as the greatest born of women (Matthew 11:11).

These examples demonstrate humility is lived, not taught. Observed but not bragged about. So many grateful recipients of grace shared what they have, even to their detriment. Lottie Moon, an American missionary to China, was a remarkable example. Reportedly, she starved herself to death by giving her food away during the famine in north China. Humility comes from the heart, not from recognition.

Humility and generosity may come with a price, at least here on earth. Most practitioners are unknown or never recognized by churches, neighbors, or society as someone special. But to the Lord, they are his shining jewels of humility. They serve with a pure heart. They are secure within themselves, totally relying on God, not looking for fame or fortune, but service opportunities. They are quietly praying, doing the Lord’s bidding, desiring to remain unnoticed.

May our churches have more of these humble Saints for heaven’s glory.

How’s Your Heart

The Lord searches every heart and understands the intentions of every thought. I . Chronicles 28:9 HCSB

When you hear the word heart, what do you think about first? The physical one in your chest or the spiritual one that God knows inside and out?

When I go to the doctor, part of his routine is to listen to my heart. It tells him something about my life. If there is a problem with how my heart sounds, he refers me on to another doctor. He, too, listens very carefully. Both doctors are concerned about my physical heart. They know without it beating, there is no life. And no more office visits for me. It also means no more money to them from me. 

However, the Great Physician watches over my spiritual heart. The Lord knows how it’s beating for him. If my spiritual pulse is shallow, that says I’m barely living for God. I’m breathing, but my spiritual output is next to nothing. My mouth and actions reflect minimal effort for him. Usually, the low heart rate says my prayers, if any, are not getting above the ceiling. When my Bible reading is nil, I’m not learning about God and how he wants me to live.

Then, there is my mouth. When we are silent about spiritual things, we are not saying anything about the Lord to anyone. That’s a shame because Christians are to be witnesses for him. We should be sharing what we know about him with others. If we don’t share, the Holy Spirit cannot bless his Word, the Bible, to others. Without Christians sharing God’s Word, others will never understand their spiritual destination. 

Our open mouth or shut mouth is a display of our heart.

What does your heart say about your relationship and dedication to God?

What’s A Breath?

We take for granted the simple things of life because they are so common. We tend to forget everything good is from God.

Every day we wake up is a gift because God allows us to breathe. Each breath is God’s investment in our life. The body cannot live without air. For air to fill our lungs, we must breathe.

Let’s do some math. If you breathe 13 times per minute, your lungs expand 18,720 per day, which equals 6,832,800 in one year.  

Each one of those breaths is a gift from the Almighty. I have experienced over 1/2 billion breaths in my life, which doesn’t include the extra ones from physical exertion. If God charged me one penny for each breath, I would owe him over $5 million now. That’s a debt I cannot pay.

But I don’t owe God one cent because he forgave my sins. However, if I do nothing for Jesus, how will I look when I stand before him? 

Can I say thanks for life, but I wanted to live my way, not yours? Would we have the nerve to say that to our Savior? The question that arises in my mind is, what have I done for Jesus today? What does your mind say to you? Are we happy with our answer? Probably not. What are you and I going to do about it? Will our decision last longer than a week? Usually not. That’s the way we are. Making promises and breaking promises, we’re good at it, but we won’t admit it.

Maybe it’s about time we get serious about doing something for God.

We know man does not purchase salvation. So, we can’t buy our salvation. It was paid for long ago by Jesus. 

Each breath we inhale is a privilege to serve Him out of gratitude. 

I guess the real question is, “Will we?”

He’s My Everything

When do you think about God, what comes to mind? An Almighty judge or him standing at the pearly gate waiting to welcome you? Do you visualize God sitting on his throne looking down on his subjects?

Consider this thought for a moment. Our God is full of compassion. What makes me think like that? 

Jesus said, “I am a Father of one” (John 10:30).

Jesus is the “same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

When Jesus saw Lazarus’ burial place, he wept. As Jesus approached Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he cried. Our Lord saw a people without a Savior. He saw a religious generation without faith. Jesus hung on a cross for the sins of the world. His Father couldn’t even look at him with our sins on him.

Only a compassionate Savior would be willing to die for someone with sin all over him. Compassion drove our Lord to Calvary. Compassion brought him to the Upper Room after Golgotha to show his resurrected body. He even offered Thomas to see his scars of compassion. 

His ascension is the certification of his word. Therefore, I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:3). 

Compassion is still at work in our Lord’s heart. He sits beside his heavenly Father making intercession for each one of his children. He loves his children–yes, that is what we are–his children. That is how Jesus sees us. Immature in spirituality, needing his divine leadership and his protecting hand.

I’m so glad I belong to him; he’s my everything. He works for my best interest and reassures me of his companionship and love.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving me yesterday, today, and forever.

What You Choose

How long will you waver between two opinions? I Kings 18:21 CSB

Life is all about choices. 

When you get up and when you stay in bed. What to wear versus what not to wear or what to eat or not to eat starts your day. To be on time for your destination or be late. It’s still a choice.

Everything you do or don’t do revolves around a decision. Your decisions reflect your values, what’s important to you, or what you value less. Indecision is even a choice. You may want to delay your decision, but it’s still a choice.

Jesus also gives you a choice. Believe him or refuse to believe, that’s an eternal decision. That has far-reaching consequences both here on earth and where you will spend eternity. If you decide to accept Jesus as your Savior, you have made the most critical decision of your life. Heaven will be your home.

But there is more to decide–will you serve him here or will you serve yourself? It’s another fork in your journey of life. The pleasures of the world are enticing. The satisfaction of asking Jesus for guidance is also satisfying. One decision can give immediate satisfaction and pleasure. The other decision can bring inner joy both now and forever; it’s still your choice. 

Every day you are allowed to breathe one breath after another. That’s a choice by God to let you live. Our Lord gives you opportunities every day to do something for him. It may be small or large in the world’s eyes, but significant however, in the heart of God. Why? Because you chose God, not self. You decided for righteousness, not complacency—obedience —over ignoring the subtle leadership of the Lord.

Life is all about choices. One big choice is deciding to wait for God or hastily charge into the day. Speed is not always best. Moses chose to stand before the Red Sea. He waited for God to say it was ready to walk through. Getting ahead of God can be dangerous. It’s all about what you choose.

Joshua’s words are still valid today. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 NKJV).