Good Pitching, Boring Game

Just a few days ago a group of friends and I went “out to the ballgame.” It was a beautiful night for baseball, 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

As we found our way to our seats my expectations were not very high. You see, I am still dealing with the fact that my favorite team is no longer the better team in the city. Our fan base once had 108 years’ worth of trash talk for the other team…and all that came crashing down just a few years ago. But I try not to be petty.

Instead, I look to the future. The team has fully embraced the concept of a “re-build” as they have traded away stars in order to acquire young prospects. They have told us, the fan base, “we are going to be bad now so that we can be good in the future.” It sounds weird, but I’m on board. After all, this approach did work out well for our Northside frenemies.

Anyway, back to the game. My expectations were low, but I was looking forward to seeing a few of those new young prospects in action, particularly the one who was on the mound.

The starting pitcher for the home team has been absolutely incredible of late, and he has been the talk of many local sports radio talk shows. So, even though my expectations were tempered I was excited.

The game began, and one inning slipped to the next inning routinely and mercilessly uneventful. The pitching was very good, particularly from our new young pitcher who finished 8 innings with a big fat zero earned runs and only gave up 4 hits.

But, aside from the stellar pitching and a pair of exciting doubles from our offense, the game was one of the most boring games I have ever been to.

We were entering the 9th inning still tied at 0-0. My wife and others in our group had gotten to the point of cheering for any batter, home or away, for no other reason but to end the misery of a scoreless game. No one wanted to prolong the boredom.

And that’s when I realized. Good pitching produces boring games. The average fan doesn’t sit there and analyze the pitcher’s performance. Casual viewers do not appreciate the beauty and skill that is involved in the pitcher just simply doing his job well. Instead; flashy catches, line drives, wild pitches, and close calls are what is preferred.

Good pitching can easily be undervalued and yawned at.

And you know what? Unfortunately, we can also be guilty of having that same attitude in life as well. A life well-lived, free from scandal or offensiveness, can easily be undervalued and seen as boring by many.

Following Jesus is NOT boring at all, I promise you. However, there are times where a certain, steady faithfulness is required.

Steady faithfulness when you can’t hear God speak.

Steady faithfulness when the mountains don’t move.

Steady faithfulness when church seems routine.

Steady faithfulness when all you see are plateaus.

Steady faithfulness when doing what is right is hard.

Steady faithfulness when doing what is wrong is easy.

Steady faithfulness when life is boring and dull.

Steady faithfulness when you don’t receive recognition for your hard work.

Steady faithfulness when life “over there” seems so much more exciting.

Colossians 2:6 encourages us who have received Jesus to, “walk in Him,” and to be, “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” And Colossians 1:23 describes those who continue in the faith as “stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel.”

The Christian life is not a boring one, I can assure you of that. But there are times when being stable and steadfast and unshifting in the faith may seem like a boring way to live. The reality, however, is that the things that our culture calls “exciting” are often the things that lead to the most frustration and destruction.

I am committed to following Jesus, if the people around me call that “boring” then so-what, my mind is made up and my game plan is set.

By the way, there was only a single run that was scored in that game I went to. It was a walk-off solo home run that sent the entire crowd into roaring celebration. That celebration was only made possible because of the good pitching that kept the other team’s score at zero.

There is a celebration in store for those who follow Jesus, and that party will be anything but boring.

 

 

Overwhelmed

Have you ever used a word to describe something; a situation, person, or event, but then later you question if you were using the word correctly?

Recently, my wife and I went and experienced the full and incredible force of Niagara Falls. There we were, in the famed Maid of the Mist boat in the very center of the Horseshoe Falls and one word kept coming to my mind. Overwhelmed. I even tried to shout it out loud to my wife, “this is so overwhelming!” But she couldn’t even hear me over the roar of the waters.

Later that day, because I’m a nerd, I looked up the definition of overwhelm just to be sure I was using it as accurately as possible. Here is what I found…

o·ver·whelm

verb

  1. bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

Yep. I would say that fits.

If you have never been to Niagara Falls I would highly recommend that you put it on your to-do list. It is such an incredible sight to take in. The sheer power of the water literally does overwhelm every single one of your senses.

I have said it before, but I just have to say it again, we have an incredibly creative creator.

The Falls were so spectacularly impressive, but they don’t even come close to the wonder and splendor and majesty of The Almighty God. And here is the crazy thing, you don’t need the rushing roar of the world’s most famous waterfall in order to experience the full power of our creator. (Fun fact, although Niagara is not technically the largest waterfall in the world, it is the waterfall with the largest volume of water passing through it. So, there ya go.)

Anyway, back on topic. The really awesome thing about God is that you can understand and know the full force of God’s power anywhere and everywhere. It can be in the middle of the roar of the horseshoe of Niagara. It can be in the stillness of the morning where the only sounds are chirping birds. Your physical location does not matter. Your spiritual location? That is what really matters.

I have talked with a bunch of people over the years who end up saying something like, “I’m just not feeling it” or, “I really would like God to make Himself more known to me.”

But here is the problem with that thinking, we are humans that change on a regular basis. God is eternal and does not change. Ever. (Hebrews 13:8)

So, if the discussion is, who needs to move or give more to the relationship, us or God, the answer is always going to be, us. That is why the Bible tells us to, “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8) not the other way around. And once again, that nearness is not a physical location, it is a condition of our heart.

With all that said, I am very thankful that I was blessed to go see the incredible sight of, what the Native Americans called, “The End of The World.” Because, in seeing it, I was both reminded and challenged.

Reminded that if the things that God created can be overwhelming, then God Himself is completely overwhelming.

And challenged to be overwhelmed by God each and every day, no matter what my situation or location.

God is so big, so beyond anything that we can comprehend, He is eternal, holy, perfect, and wonderful…and yet so personal, loving, approachable, caring, and knowable.

So, let us draw closer to Him and be overwhelmed by Him, by His love, by His mercy, by His glory, and by His grace.

“There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.” Jeremiah 10:6

The Lion, The T-Rex, and The Movie Theater

There I was eyes wide, fingers buttery, with popcorn spilt across my chest, oohing and awing like a little kid…but let me give you some context.

My wife and I just recently saw the latest dinosaur movie, I forget its name, something like Jurassic Park: Return of the T-Rex Strikes Back. Honestly, I’m not sure how many of these movies there are, but I do know they will keep making them as long as the money keeps pouring in.

But I digress…the movie itself was very enjoyable. But it was one 2-second scene towards the end that captivated my attention. This particularly brief shot did not add much to the movie’s plot itself, but it did, however, send shivers down my spine and cause me to think about it hours after I had left the theater.

So, let me set it up for you, the dinosaurs have just broken free (spoilers, sorry…but the trailer kind of already gave that away) and the no-longer-extinct creatures are now running around places they don’t belong. Then suddenly the camera pans to the T-Rex’s feet which break down a sturdy metal fence as though it were made of toothpicks. There is a pan out and we see the entire T-Rex and all of its terror. He lets out an eardrum-rattling roar and then we see the full, wide angled shot. The T-Rex’s roar is met with an equally loud, but different and recognizable roar. We see a lion, standing defiantly on top of a cliff, face-to-face with the dinosaur king.

This is the shot that raised the hairs on the back on my neck. The King of the Jungle fearlessly facing off against a seemingly unstoppable foe.

As I sat and thought about this picture I couldn’t help but think about the day to day frustrations and problems that we face. When they come one at a time the problems may not seem too big. But problems, frustrations, and stresses all add up, and before you know it, we have a dino-sized weight dragging us down.

My favorite thing about imagery is that it helps us to wrap our minds around bigger and deeper truths. The Bible uses a lot of imagery as well. One picture that it paints is of God, specifically Jesus, as being the Lion of Judah. (Genesis 49, Isaiah 31, Revelation 4-5)

Pictured as the Lion, Jesus is unequaled in power, royalty, majesty, and triumph. He easily destroys His enemies and fervently protects His own. He is to be respected and feared, honored and worshiped.

C.S. Lewis chose a lion as the main character in his allegorical epic, The Chronicles of Narnia. And I believe that Lewis really gets to the point of it all when one of his characters, when speaking of the wonderful lion Aslan, says, “Safe?… Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Our God is not safe, but He is good. He is the king, I tell you!

We can be sure of this, if we belong to Him, the Lion will fight for us.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our most terrible and overwhelming struggles are spiritual, not physical. And Romans 8 gives us wonderful news, “If God is for us, who can be against us?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No matter how big or scary the dinosaurs in our lives look and no matter how loud they roar, we must be confident that our Lion is still unquestionably the King.

 

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. -Proverbs 18:10

Priceless

How much is a single human life worth?

How much is the life of a stranger worth? How much is a life of a “bad guy” worth? How about the life of a celebrity? What about the life of someone from that country or region? How much are their lives worth? How much is your life worth?

They all have the same answer.

Priceless.

I’m sure we all have read many history books that describe the “dark days” of civilization. Back when human life was viewed as cheap, and atrocities were commonplace. Unfortunately, for millions of people worldwide, those dark days are not just history, but a present reality. The human race isn’t as sophisticated as many would like to think.

Today, many of us will be waking up, drinking our coffee, checking social media on our pocket screens, and going about our normal everyday lives.

At the same time…

Today, many others will be waking up in slavery. Today, many others will not be waking up at all. Today, many others will decide that their lives are worthless and will choose to end them. Today, many babies will die and never be allowed to see the light of day.

It is incredibly hard to think of these things. The rush of emotions is a combination of heartbreak, sorrow, bitterness, anger, numbness, despair, and outrage.

But then there is hope.

There is a God who listens when the oppressed cry out and He rescues them when they call upon His name. (Psalm 107:6)

There is a God who created each and every one of us in His image. A priceless work of art. (Gen. 1:26)

There is a God who left heaven in order to save the helpless and hopeless. (Romans 5:6)

There is a God who offers unrestricted hope. (1 Peter 1:3-6)

There is a God who offers life. (John 14:6)

So many people in our world have proclaimed with their words and actions that life is cheap, meaningless, and in many cases just plain worthless.

We must be louder. Our message that life is precious must be uncompromised and unrelenting. Because that is God’s message. Life is so precious to Him that Jesus laid His own life down in order to ensure that others could have it.

So, what do we do? What do we do with the fact that tens of millions of people are being trafficked every day? What do we do with the fact that over 20 million babies have been killed since January? What do we do with the fact that suicide seems to be such a normal thing that there are now T.V. shows that glorify it? What can we do?

We can love our neighbors. (Matthew 19:19, Luke 10:25-37)

We can speak up against injustices. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

We can be a reflection of our Savior. (Romans 12:2, Matthew 5:13-16)

We can pray. (1 John 5:14-15, Matthew 5:44, Philippians 4:6)

We can remind people that God has made them and sees them as priceless.

 

If you need help, or if anyone you know who needs help, please check out these websites below.

https://needhim.org/

http://pricelessmovement.com/

http://anthemofhope.org/