Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sliding Into Home

I remember when I was young my mother signed me up for little league baseball. Before this, I had never played baseball before in my life—not even in the streets with my friends. So to be honest, I knew almost nothing about how the sport was played. However, I think there are two rules about baseball that every red-blooded American male knows by instinct:

1. Hit the ball with the bat as hard as you can, and;

2. Always slide into home base, because it looks cool!

It’s as if it’s in our DNA. It’s as if it were in my DNA. Because the first thing I could think about was re-enacting the scenes from those old Ty Cobb baseball cards where he’s sliding into home with his cleats barreling straight toward the catcher. I remember psyching myself up for my first day of practice. I wanted to impress my coach by being the next Ty Cobb. I was going to crush the ball allowing me to cruise past first, zip around second, and plow straight through the third baseman on my way to sliding into home.

Well, that was the plan anyway.

In truth, the day of my first practice I ignored my mother’s calls to come inside and get changed for practice until it was too late, so I had to go wearing the swimming trunks I wore swimming earlier in the afternoon with friends. However, I didn’t let this deter my plans. I stepped up nice and tight to the plate. I checked my grip on the bat. I watched the pitcher. I waited for the release, and then… THE HIT! I took off running past first, rounded second, touched third, and as I locked onto home base I realized my gut had just sank into the bottom of my ill-fitting cleats. The catcher was already standing in my preferred lane of travel, and he seemed to be waiting on little ole me.

I needed a change of plans.

So I tried to run around the catcher, which led to the me being chased by the catcher around the pitcher’s mound like two squirrel's chasing each other for an acorn before the umpire called me out. Yet, the truth be told, I chickened out of my slide into home. Seeing him stand in the way, I got worried I'd get scraped up, scratched up or possibly hurting another player. It was then that I realized that that’s exactly why Ty Cobb slid with his cleats facing up! To knock the ball out of the catcher’s glove, thereby giving him a chance to be called safe!

That night after the game, our coach made us practice sliding into home base with hopes of vanquishing those fears. But let me say unequivocally that I was 100% right to be afraid of those slides! That night I went home scraped up, scratched, and bloodied from not wearing my baseball uniform. But one thing was for sure, and that was that I had done it! And not only had I done it then, but I became very proficient in doing so! I could slide into any base—whether stolen, open, or blocked!

When I think about that day, I can’t help but think about my relationship with God. I started out knowing nothing about Him aside from what felt like was engrained into me. And just like I had a drive to impress my coaches with my ability to slide, I had an even bigger desire to impress my Heavenly Father by my desire to give him 100%.

On a much larger scale, the world is filled with people who are content to live their whole lives just walking around the bases, not caring if they get tagged out or not. They’ll continue to walk the bases anyway because what God wants them to do will continue to not matter to them. They won’t show up scraped up, scratched up, and bloodied. They won’t show up to practice with the team, because they’re the takers in life, and not the givers.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on strolling slowly up to the Pearly Gates to stand before God with my hands in my pockets looking tanned, rested, and untested. I plan on sliding up to my Heavenly Father with all my scrapes, scratches, and bleeding injuries—the proof that I lived God’s gift of life to it’s fullest. And those those scrapes and bruises? They may represent the painful parts, but they’re still a part of this amazing journey. They're still proof I lived life to its fullest. So, while I'm still gasping for oxygen, wearing a giant smile on my face, I would want to tell God He did a fantastic job creating this thing called “life,” and would want to thank Him for sending us Jesus that we were able to “have life and have it more abundantly!” (John 10:10)

So how will you approach your Master?

Scraped up, full of scratches, and lots of dirts on your face—yet with a huge grin shining through?


Tanned, rested, and untested?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fraudulent Faith

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was sold for scrap not once, but twice? However, in both deals the seller was a con man who wasn't an authorized agent for the City of Paris. He was able to convince the buyers that he was who he wasn't by putting on a good show. He rented limos, drove them around Paris, the works. He was only able to pull it off twice in one month because the first buyer was so embarrassed, that he refused to say anything!

But before we laugh too hard, consider the fact that the average person is conned an average number of 8-12 times a day. Considering how hard we work to keep our daily guard, this number is shocking. But I wonder how much that number would increase if it were to include the number of times we fooled ourselves?

How many people have conned themselves into believing they are handling their stress when they're actually not? How many people have tricked themselves into believing the facade of being 'held together' when they're falling apart? How many people have convinced themselves they don't need anyone else's help? God expects us to be honest with one another, but before we can do that, we must first learn to be honest with ourselves. A man who is dishonest with himself cannot be honest with others.

So let me ask you which is worse, believing someone else is something they're not, or fooling yourself into believing you're someone you aren't?

"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all. A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished."-Proverbs 22:1-3

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What My One Year Old Taught Me About God

Today I spent my day off doing what I usually do on my days off, and that was to get a little work done in my yard. Like clockwork, autumn has finally arrived and along with the cooler weather, the trees have begun to shed their leaves. So, I spent the late afternoon piling the leaves and dead limbs up in order to burn them. However, this year my one and a half year old son, Conner, decided he wanted to help out.

Conner’s entered into a new stage of growth where he really enjoys doing whatever it is that I’m doing. If I’m wearing my favorite ball cap, he wants to wear it, too. If I just took off my boots, he wants to put them on. If I’m gathering sticks into a pile, he wants to help gather sticks and put them into that same pile. Today it became a game and he was running all over the yard looking for sticks! Understanding all too well that this eagerness to help out and please his Mommy and Daddy would not last forever (am I right, parents of teenagers?!), I made the mental note to soak it in and enjoy it while it lasted.

However, there was one place in the back yard we couldn’t allow Conner to go, and that was near the burn pile. Conner didn’t like the fact that his mother and I were keeping him away from it. He kicked, he screamed, he cried, and he even pulled against her, fighting tooth-and-nail for the chance to do what he wanted to do—play near the fire. So while Conner thought we were being mean and restrictive parents with our arbitrary and over-burdensome rules, his mother and I knew what was best for him. And even though he didn’t understand why he couldn’t have his way, the important part was that we understood that we were truly protecting him from what he doesn’t yet understand. And this got me to thinking: 

"How many of us are like my one and a half year old son in that we kick, scream, fight, and pull against God simply because we want to play too close to the fires of life?"

Surely if Conner could speak he would’ve told us that he didn’t see any harm in what he wanted to do. And many people use this same excuse to justify the things we partake in. So this begs the question: Was I right by stopping my son from playing in the fire where he could get severely burned or possibly killed? 

No logically thinking person would say that if I truly loved him I should’ve just let him do whatever he wanted to do. Yet there are those who claim to be the children of God who say that they can play in the fires of sin because God loves them too much to let them burn. They usually say something along the lines of, "The love of God is greater than any sin!" or, "An all-loving God wouldn't send someone to hell!" But the truth is that God gave us rules to avoid certain activities to make this life easier—not harder—on us! I’ve never met an alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, or anyone else who is helplessly addicted to the sins of this life for that matter, who would tell you they love being slaves to whatever it is that has them shackled. And more importantly, consider also that He gave us laws in order to keep us from getting burned in the first place!

So had I let Conner play in that fire I would’ve been a negligent parent and the same would be true of God. It’s irrational to think of an Earthly parent rationalizing such dangerous behavior by saying they let their child do so because they loved them, and yet we are to believe a greater, wiser being such as God would be guilty of this?

Today, Conner gave me a great reminder about the Heavenly Father, the rules He’s given us, and His reasoning behind them. They’re there to keep us from getting burned. And regardless of how much we kick, scream, whine, pout, and argue with Him regarding why we feel we should be allowed to do whatever it is we want to do, we have to remember that sometimes the best way to help our Heavenly Father is to trust Him enough to stay away from the places where we can get burn in the first place. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Benevolent King

Most kings become king through a royal inheritance,
...But mine shares his inheritance with me.
Some men fight for their king,
...But my king died for me.
Some men pay taxes to their king,
...But my king paid the price for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Churches

The United States Supreme Court has ruled today that The Government has no authority over a church or other religious organization in regards to their hiring or firing practices. It's amazing to me that the Supreme Court of The United States had to make such a ruling in regards to an issue that was settled long ago by the First Amendment!

Does anyone else find it absurd how those who scream for a "separation of church and state" are also those who demand the government have final ruling over the churches' practices? It's a simple equation: Why would you want to preach or teach for a religious body in which you don't identify with? I'm a Christian, therefore, I do not apply to work at a Muslim Mosque!

Note: The following Washington Times article was republished with permission.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When Tolerance Becomes Intolerance

Do you remember when Alice, in the in the story Alice In Wonderland, turns to her cat and says, "If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?"

I love Alice's last statement in this quote. Never mind the fact that what she just said is utter nonsense (as she intended it to be), but she asks her cat if it understands! What I don't love, however, is how some people have turned this great nation into Alice's dream world. Let me be more blunt: I despise the fact that there are those who call themselves “free thinkers” and the liberal left who work with all their might in order to shut down other's freedom of religion and speech. And they've do this all in the name of “tolerance”. But is this tolerance? Since when did the definition of tolerance change from a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own;” to “vehemently ridicule, shut down, and stamp out any and all beliefs, speech, or practices that may offend any member of a society”?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is It Time For "Plan B"?

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."-Jeremiah 29:11

It wasn’t the most prestigious job in the world, but it was enough for him. It supplied his family needs, and had great working hours. The benefits package was great. As a shepherd for his father-in-law’s flocks, neither he nor his wife would ever starve to death. He was given plenty of family time and could even take time off whenever he needed. By all accounts this man was settled in his lifestyle.

The only thing stopping this man from living out this cushy life was God’s plan for him.