Sunday, October 20, 2013

We're Moving

This blog has been moved to All old posts will still be available here (as long as it's free), but no new content will be posted here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Christmas and Baseball: A Tale of Two Seasons

If you've listened to me on the air for more than about 10 minutes anytime in the past 30 years or so then you're probably familiar with my philosophy on the seasons. Forget everything you learned in grade school about there being four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.  There are only two seasons that actually matter, Baseball and Christmas.

Christmas is the promise of hope and life as it could be.


Christmas Equals Life As It Could Be

Christmas represents life as it was meant to be.  The mystery of the Creator becoming the created, the One given for all, He who was wronged making the ultimate sacrifice to be reunited in fellowship with those who have wronged Him are all a part of Christmas.  The hope and joy inspired by the season, the generosity and goodwill expressed by so many is but a foretaste of what is to come for those who recognize the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas embodies the hope, peace and love that can only be found through a relationship with the baby born that first Christmas.  Promised through and to Abraham when he said, "God will provide the lamb."   Born for the purpose of dying in place of all us, paying the debt that we owed to him.

For those of us who know Him, Christmas presents a tremendous opportunity.  The message of the Gospel is plainly stated in the lyrics of many of the songs of the season, songs that are sung not only in churches but also on the radio and through the sound systems at malls and department stores all across the world.  And people, even those who make no claim to faith or who would never attend a church service, have memorized these words and sing them every year at this time.

Christmas is a season to celebrate and give thanks and to share what life can and will be like if we but embrace the message.

Baseball, with its grueling 162-game season is life as it is.


Baseball Equals Life As It Is

Baseball is life itself, or at least the most accurate metaphor we have for life.  The grueling 162 game season must be played out until its end, day after day.  It begins in the spring, with every team, every player, full of potential and hope.  The grind of each game, each inning, continues through July and August, wearing down those ill prepared for the long distance nature of life, sapping the energy of those who have stuck around one year too long, and cutting short others' promising careers with unforeseen injuries.

By September, many teams have been eliminated from a chance at the post-season, but the games must still be played, though they seem meaningless to those with no hope of continuing into October.  But even on those teams there is opportunity for individuals to excel.  Baseball, like life, is a game where success is rare.  If a hitter fails to reach base safely 70% of the time he is considered a star.  For a team to win a few more games than it loses is reason for celebration.

There is more to success in baseball than numbers or even victories, at least for those who know what to look for.  The batter who gives himself up to move a runner into scoring position, a shortstop who cheats a little toward to the middle of the infield against a hitter who tends to go that way, the hitter who takes an extra pitch or two in hopes of wearing out a tiring starting pitcher in the late innings and a team that plays to win even after they've been mathematically eliminated from contention are all admired by teammates and opponents alike.  And, as in life itself, it is often these small moments of striving that give us the courage to face another day.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Reflections On Purpose

That week between Christmas and New Year can be a reflective time, for me at least. Full of memories of Christmases gone by, taking stock of the year that’s about to slip away and looking forward to a calendar full of fresh empty pages.

I like working during that week. It’s usually pretty quiet, many of my co-workers have taken time off and it’s a great opportunity to get things done that for too long have lingered on the to-do list. It was one day during that week in 2012 that I left my office to take a walk around the building before going on the air. As I headed for the door, I stopped and looked at a plaque that’s been on the wall since August of 2011.

I appropriated this plaque in August 2011.

Before coming to my office, it had hung over Sheila Richard’s desk. Sheila died in August of 2011. “Second Christmas without Sheila,” I thought as I pushed through the door. The mind can be a funny thing. In my reflective mood that one thought led to memories of other loved ones who have gone on before and the precious few Christmases we had together. And from that to a quick calculation of how very few Christmases I had left with other, aging loved ones, family members and friends and the realization that we all of us are aging.

“What can we do, Lord,” I said (I often speak out loud to the Lord as I ponder the imponderables) “but make the most of the short time You give us here with each other.” And then as I turned the corner of the building I saw perhaps one of the saddest sights any lover of Christmas can see in the waning days of December.

So close.
What had only days before been a Christmas tree lot, full of the hope and potential joy of the season was now abandoned, a dozen or so trees left unceremoniously lying on the ground. So close to fulfilling their purpose, but now never to realize it. Strange, maybe, to think of a tree as having a purpose. But these trees did, once. They’d been raised, cultivated, nurtured for one ultimate purpose. To help some family celebrate the birth of the Savior. And while I’m sure that they may have served some secondary purposes, providing a home for some birds and pumping oxygen into our air, they fell short of what they had been intended to do. Maybe through no fault of their own, but short they fell, nonetheless.

“Lord, please don’t let me wind up like those trees,” I said. And while I’m not very big on the whole New Year’s resolution thing, I think I’ll make it a point to remember those forsaken trees through 2013 as I strive to more fully serve the purpose that’s been appointed to me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God Is In Control...

In the weeks leading up to the election and the hours since President Obama was named the winner I've seen quite a few posts on Facebook expressing the sentiment "No Matter Who Wins, God Is Still In Control," or "Whoever Is President, Jesus Is King."

Four more years

 And while I agree with the explicit truth that God is always in control, I think that, as expressed, these slogans are dangerously close to over simplification. They seem to imply a "Don't Worry, Be Happy," state of mind. Yes, God is in control, but that does not absolve the people of God from our responsibility. To use another one of those oft-quoted slogans, "Remember, with great power comes great responsibility."

I think what concerns me about this whole thing is that it belies an "Oh, well, what can you do?" kind of attitude. Or, maybe worse, it implies that everything's going to be dandy. Yes, we know that ultimately it will be better than dandy as we spend eternity in the presence of God. But between now and then a whole lot of un-dandy can happen.

While I'm pulling out the slogans, here's another, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." God has always been in control, but that didn't keep the ancient Israelites from captivity, it didn't stop Rome from falling, didn't keep Hitler from coming to power or the World Trade Center towers from falling.

Yes, God is now, has ever been and will always be in control. And yet at the same time He has blessed us with the double-edged sword of free will. On top of that we've been charged with the responsibility to bind (or forbid) and loose (or allow) things here on earth (see Matthew 16:19 and 18:18). Now whether it's from a reluctance of being perceived as judgmental or politically incorrect I'm not sure, but the influence of the people of God on the American culture sure seems to have waned since the latter part of the last century.

Please don't misunderstand, I believe America is still a great country, one of the freest on earth, though not nearly as free now as we once were. And I think we still have the capacity to bounce back, for the economy to improve and the divisiveness to be healed. But it won't come easy and it's not guaranteed.

No matter your political leanings, who you voted for or whether you voted at all, if you're a citizen of the Kingdom of God there is work to do. Pray. Pray for our president and other government officials and our nation. Get involved. Let your voice be heard. Hey, run for office if you're so inclined. Complain. Yeah, complain. If you voted you earned that right. But do it in a constructive manner. Write letters or emails to your elected officials when you're concerned about an issue. It's more than our civic duty, it's our spiritual responsibility to help shape the culture so that others may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.