There Will Be Baseball

So this showed up in my Instagram feed this morning and, I gotta say, I think it had the desired effect. It definitely lifted my spirits.


After this past Bengals season I’m ready for a change. This was the season that the Bengals were going to turn the corner. They had the best regular season record (12-4) they’ve had in years. Andy Dalton was awesome! The receivers were for real! Even the sports announcers were changing their tone when they talked about the Bengals. After the truly depressing 2015 Reds baseball season (64-98) this was like a breath of fresh air! The atmosphere of the whole city just felt a little more positive.

Then Andy got hurt.

But, guess what! AJ McCarron proved he was ready! There was still hope!

Then came the post season. One and out. The usual.

But it wasn’t just that we lost. I could take that…if I had to.

But it was the disappointing WAY we lost. Disappointment in the lack of sportsmanship in the game by both teams. Disappointment in the inconsistent officiating. Disappointment in the lack of class displayed by our own players during and after the game. And, the cherry on top: it was a loss to, of all teams, the Steelers.

So, for me, football season is over. Maybe for a few years. (Except, go Peyton!)

But then I see this reminder that baseball season is coming…again!

Just looks wrong.

Sure the Reds are going to be a different team. I can’t imagine seeing Todd Frazier in a White Sox uniform. I suppose the good news is we’ll never play against him.

We won’t have Aroldis Chapman, Sam LeCure or Brayan Pena – all players that I really liked.

However, it’s not all bad. We’ll still have Devin Mesoraco, Eugenio Suarez and Billy Hamilton. I love those guys! (I hope Billy is learning to hit during the off-season.) Zack Cozart will be back. And it looks like we’ll still have Joey & Brandon on 1st and 2nd. We’ll have Rasiel Iglesias (who really impressed me last year), Anthony DeSclafani and I’m guessing Homer Bailey all as part of our pitching rotation.

So, yeah…I think there is reason for hope.

There will be baseball.

Of course, I do tend to be a cock-eyed optimist.


PS – If all else fails, there’ll still be Lemon Chills.

My Picks for Tuesday 1-26-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

I’ve been trying to get a balanced view of what’s really happening with the Texas indictment of the makers of the undercover sting videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the selling of human body parts. It’s hard because the sources are usually publications that are actively campaigning one way or another. I suppose that’s unavoidable on an issue like this. I have no doubt that Joe Carter has strong opinions opposing abortion (as do I) but I found his FAQ post about the charges, as well as some general info on the workings of a grand jury, very informative…

The FAQs: Grand Jury Indicts Filmmakers Who Secretly Recorded Planned ParenthoodJoe Carter

While we’re on the subject, here’s an excellent article from Frederica Mathewes-Green explaining why she moved from supporting abortion to opposing it…

When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense
Frederica Mathewes-Green“There I was, anti-war, anti–capital punishment, even vegetarian, and a firm believer that social justice cannot be won at the cost of violence. Well, this sure looked like violence. How had I agreed to make this hideous act the centerpiece of my feminism? How could I think it was wrong to execute homicidal criminals, wrong to shoot enemies in wartime, but all right to kill our own sons and daughters?”

Don’t miss this excellent and creative post from Carey Nieuwhof…

10 Quotes from The Eagles That Will Challenge Every Leader –Carey Nieuwhof
eagles“The lyrics below are Ecclesiastes-like observations on life that make me think…again and again.

With poignant honesty, the lyrics reflect the reality of life, ambition, relationships, success and disappointment.

Here are 10 Eagles lyrics that challenge me as a person and leader every time I hear them…”

All my best posts are the posts I haven’t writtenSeth Godin
“Sometimes I’ll get a great idea for a post while out walking or showering or generally not in front of a keyboard. Not just great ideas, but fabulous ones.

And then, after rehearsing the keywords over and over so I don’t forget before I write it down, I forget.

And that post, the post I didn’t write, the post that never saw the light of day–that’s the best post ever.

I think most dreams work this way.

The thing is, an unwritten post is no post at all. It’s merely a little bit of gossamer on wings of hope. Doesn’t count.

The only good posts are the ones I’ve written.

I think most dreams work this way, too.”

Kathie and I were watching The Man in the High Castle last night and chuckling over the fact that one of the characters has the title of “Obergruppenführer,” so this seemed timely…

Source: Off the Mark


Exodus 6:28-7:13

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Exodus 6:28-7:13
28 On the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 the Lord said to Moses, “I am the Lord; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.” 30 But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?”

And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Pharaoh isn’t going to listen. (v4)
So, why do you think I’m sending them on a hopeless mission?
What was gained by doing it this way?
There may be a hint in v5. Remember it. We’ll came back to it later.

My Picks for Monday 1-25-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

9 Things That Worked in the Church A Decade Ago
That Don’t Today
Carey Nieuwhof
shutterstock_281195741“You saw your ministry grow, people come to faith and the mission advance.

But times change.

And—these days especially—culture is changing faster than ever before.

As a result, the shelf life of ideas, assumptions and approaches is shorter than it has ever been.

What used to work, doesn’t. Not anymore.

What got you here won’t get you there.

Here are 9 things that used to work in ministry a decade ago that aren’t nearly as effective as they used to be…”

Scruffy Hospitality Creates Space for FriendshipJack King
eating“Unwritten Southern rules of offering hospitality with excellence have affected how often we invite people in our home. ‘We should have the __________s over sometime.’ And then we delay or postpone the invitation. Why? Because the to-do list is always there, the gap between our day-to-day home and the presentable, acceptable-for-hospitality version of our home.

But over the past several months, Emily and I are learning to lay those conventions aside. Why? Because inviting friends into our lives when we are only ‘excellent’ isn’t friendship…Friendship is about preparing a space for authentic conversation. And sometimes authenticity happens when everything is a bit scruffy.”

Below is a sermon by Andy Stanley that is a challenging message that we 21st century American Christians need to hear. I’d like to thank Marty Duren for bringing it to my attention. The video is North Point’s whole Sunday service. The sermon starts at about 29:00 and is about 40 minutes long. It is truly worth your time.

“Uncertainty is for certain. Fearfulness is optional.”

And then, considering all that it has cost so many through the generations: “Is our version of Christianity worth that?”

Seriously, you should set aside the time for this…

Click the image for a link to the service and advance to 29:00 for the beginning of the sermon.
Source: Bizarro

Exodus 5:22-6:12

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Exodus 5:22-6:12
22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”

6:1 But the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty,[a] but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’” Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

10 So the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.” 12 But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you think I made a good decision when I chose Moses? Why?
In terms of leadership, what can you learn from Moses?
Also, this reminder: I am God. I will take you to be my people. I will bring you to the place I promised. I didn’t say it would be easy.

What a Friend

I had a friend; I don’t think that we’re friends any more. I’m not sure what happened. I missed a few of our appointed meetings. I felt sure he’d understand.

A couple of times when we were talking, I saw some others approach and gave them my full attention, forgetting my friend. I felt sure that he’d understand.

I didn’t see him for a couple of weeks, but then when I did see him, I was careful to be enthusiastic and pretend we’d seen each other more often.

He moved away. I wrote regularly for awhile, but then . . . well, you know how it is. I’m sure he knew how busy I was. I felt sure he knew I thought of him often.

I sent him a birthday card. It was a week late, but it was a funny one, and I was sure he would understand.

I heard recently that he’d had some bad luck. I really felt very sorry. I’d like to send him a note, just to let him know that I care, for we were really very close, you see.

As it happens, however, I can’t find his address.

Last night I went to a church service, and during it we sang the old hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” I felt strangely embarrassed.


Number six in God Is No Fool by Lois Cheney

(I’ve always loved this little book since I first discovered it while I was in college. Click the image for purchase info.)

Exodus 5:1-21

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Exodus 5:1-21
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many,[a] and you make them rest from their burdens!” The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

10 So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” 12 So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” 14 And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”

15 Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? 16 No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” 17 But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.” 19 The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” 20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Remember how comforted they were yesterday?
Remember how they worshiped?
How do your circumstances affect your worship?
Was I working on their behalf?
Am I working on yours?

Tough Month for Immortality

Man, January has been a tough month for 60-something celebrities!

On the 10th there was David Bowie, age 69. (On a slightly related, but nonetheless important side-note: did you realize that thousands of David Bowie fans have formally petitioned Kanye West to NOT record a Bowie tribute album? A worthwhile cause if there ever was one!)

On the 14th we lost Alan Rickman, also age 69, and René Angélil (Celine Dion’s husband and manager), age 73. I realize 73 isn’t truly 60-something, but when you’re 60-something it’s close enough.

Then on the 15th it was Dan Haggerty, age 74. Again, not really 60-something but he had to be included because of his beard…which I strove to imitate in the late ‘70s.

When the 18th rolled around we lost Glenn Frey, age 67.


These are just the ones I know about! (Wikipedia has this morbid entry to help fill in some gaps.)

And it’s still only January 22nd!

I’m telling you, it’s enough to get this 60-something to reconsider his assumed immortality!

I mean, only a few weeks ago (2,080 weeks to be exact), if you would tell me of someone’s death I would generally ask, “How old was he?” If you answered with a number above 60 I would probably say something trite like, “That’s so young” but inwardly I would shrug and think, “Well, he had good long life.”

It’s amazing how your perspective changes.

Life starts looking very different when you approach this end of the bridge.

I used to sort of take it for granted, but these days I thank God every day for my health. I mean it. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I’m healthy and blessed just because I’ve made good life choices. I mean, I have made a lot of good life choices, but I also think I’ve just been randomly lucky enough to avoid some of the worst consequences of my bad choices. I’m hesitant to say that God has blessed me in this regard because I simply have no explanation for why that same “blessing” doesn’t occur in everyone else’s lives. If I’m “blessed” by God with health, does that mean others are “cursed” by God with sickness? Of course not. I would never claim to be a theological scholar, but I’m pretty sure the blessing God gives is way better and more lasting than physical health.

But I digress.

These days, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, reminds me of the brevity of life. Not just the news of celebrity deaths. But the pine tree in the front yard, planted when we bought this house in 1992. Mowing the yard every single week during the summer. Looking forward to the end of the winter cold. My kids. My grandkids. The college kids at our church whose parents hadn’t even met when I began my ministry there. The 15 year old contestants on American Idol who were born the year of the show’s first season…and are only 6 years older than my granddaughter. And that 6 years? Not nearly as much time as it used to be! Honestly, the years of the 1960s and ‘70s were longer. I’m sure of it.

It’s not that I fear death, exactly. I’m not afraid. But I can’t say the thought fills me with excitement! Even though Jesus has conquered it, death is the enemy, after all.

It’s just that I love life. I love MY life. I love living today. And part of the joy of living today is the anticipation of what tomorrow might bring.

Which is problematic.

Because today becomes yesterday before I’m even done looking forward to tomorrow.

Man, it goes by fast!

May your 2016 be good…

…and slow.


My Weekend Picks for 1-22-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

On this day 43 years ago the killing of our most innocent and helpless became legal in this country due to the decision in Row v. Wade. I offer these two articles for your consideration on this occasion…

Today Is an AnniversaryGreg Morse
Today Is an Anniversary
Today is an anniversary — a time for toasting and feasting.

Never mind that every other black baby is put down before they see life — two conceived, one born. Never mind that blacks are the only minority whose population is in decline. Never mind that in some states more black babies are killed than kept — no, we cannot mind that.

For today is an anniversary.”

What Shall We Call the UnbornKevin DeYoung
“What shall we call the unborn in the womb?

If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life? If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being? Isn’t it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one?

So when does a human being have a right to life?

Shall we say size matters? Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection? Are big people more valuable than little people?”

4 Cultural Characteristics That Make Discipleship an Uphill BattleMichael Kelley
21583937511_b3465ba9c5_o“…there are certain characteristics of our culture that make this walk seem like it’s going uphill. These are attributes that are so infectiously true of the environment we live in that they inevitably work their way into our own lives just because we are humans at this given place and at this given time. Unfortunately, though, these cultural characteristics are also obstacles to discipleship, this long walk in the same direction with Jesus. It’s important, then, for us, the people of the walk on the way to recognize some of the factors that make this walk so arduous sometimes.”

  1. The craving for immediacy.

  2. The avoidance of adversity.

  3. The crowding of messages.

  4. The complicating of process.

You Are Not a NumberRyan Higginbottom
Jamie (2009), Creative Commons License
“Enjoy this freedom: you are not a number.

You are not your salary. You are not the balance in your retirement account. You are not your credit card balance or your credit score. You are not your net worth.

You are not your IQ, your standardized test score, your GPA, or your class rank. You are not the number of degrees you’ve earned.

You are not the number of people that attended your most recent meeting, event, or party.

You are not the number of points on your driver’s license. You are not the number of felonies you’ve committed or warrants out for your arrest. You are not your number of parking or speeding tickets…”

This is Your Brain on Piano

I saw this graphic in my FB newsfeed and decided to look for the full size version. It’s really good, even if it did leave out the biggest one of all: the simple pure joy of making music.

Click on the image for a full size and more readable version…

Piano Lessons are Good for You and Your Brain
Source: Musicologie

We built this city on Rock and Roll…
Click image for a larger version.  Source: Wrong Hands