Baseball might be a business for Bob Castellini, but not for me

Big league baseball is big business. I get that. I hear people begrudge the players making so much money all the time. I do not. People will compare the salary of a Major League baseball player with that of a 7th grade school teacher and declare that our values as a society are all screwed up. I’m not saying that our values as a society are NOT all screwed up, but I don’t think this is evidence of it. I mean, if millions of people were buying tickets to class, and businesses were paying for advertising time in the classroom, then I would say we should pay teachers the same as baseball players. But they’re not.

Please understand me: when it comes to pay, and just general respect from the public, teachers are hugely undervalued in my opinion. It’s just that baseball is different.

You really can’t compare the two.

Major League Baseball brought in 8.39 billion dollars in 2015. Somebody will get that money. Shouldn’t a lot of it go to the players? I mean, I like a Lemon Chill at the ballpark as much than the next guy (maybe more), but without baseball players there wouldn’t be much point. I could just get my Lemon Chill at the grocery store and eat it while I study language arts.

But I digress.

Baseball is not a business to me.

Over time I feel like I build a relationship with these guys. Even If I get frustrated with them at times. The management understands this and intentionally builds on the feeling of relationship with the community. I honestly don’t know this for sure, but I would be very much surprised if a certain amount of community relationship work isn’t written into the players’ contracts.

So, I feel like I get to know them. I recognize who is at bat because of his specific stance and the individual idiosyncrasies he seems addicted to between pitches. I recognize the pitcher as he jogs in from the bullpen. Well, except for this year when there is someone new almost every game.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2466833.1450212380!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_1200/dodgers-reds-baseball.jpg
The 1976 Reds “Great Eight” at Great American Ballpark on Friday, June 24, 2016. (Click image for a larger view.)

I was thinking about this last week when Pete Rose was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame. On Friday night they had reunited the 1976 Reds, arguably the best baseball team ever. It was cool to see them. There is still a bond between this collection of players and the city that runs very deep. Yes, they were winners. That never hurts.

But there was a feeling that these were our guys. And we loved them. Sometimes we hated them, but we still loved them.

https://mlblogsamericansoldier.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/197620reds20-20starting20820fielders202829dec08291.jpg?w=432&h=343
In 1976
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B0pOqWRIQAArYAB.jpg
In 2016 – 40 years later

That night one of the speakers said something along the lines of, “this team was ten years in the making.” When I heard that, it dawned on me that this wasn’t just some stroke of amazing good luck that Cincinnati had such a collection of talent. There was business off the field involved.

But I don’t want to know about that.

I’ve been reading and hearing rumors of possible trades involving some of the best players we have right now. This kind of talk breaks my heart. I hated it when they traded Todd Frazier last year, and now the rumors are flying about Jay Bruce and Zach Cozart. I can’t imagine the Reds without either one of them. I just can’t seem to get my mind around the kind of thinking that considers trading away a player who is at the top of his game.

On the other hand, there are some new guys that I really enjoy. Eugenio Suarez comes to mind. He has been a fantastic addition to the team. Not to mention the fact that it’s so much fun to yell his name. (Ay-you-ay-knee-oh! – or something like that.)

So, I guess I’m glad there is someone like Reds owner Bob Castellini who is responsible for making the business decisions, because I certainly couldn’t do it. This way I have someone to whine and complain to when I hate that one of our best players is traded away for a few unknowns (to me, at least).

Maybe we are beginning the process of building a new Big Red Machine. I hope so. But in the meantime, I want to love our team without the trades ripping my heart out.

Is that too much to ask?

Lloyd

 

 

My Picks for Thursday 6-30-2016

Picks Thursday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

“The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom.”

Russia’s Proposed Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church
Kate Shellnutt
If passed, the anti-evangelism law carries fines up to US $780 for an individual and $15,500 for an organization. Foreign visitors who violate the law face deportation.

Russia has already moved to contain foreign missionaries. The “foreign agent” law, adopted in 2012, requires groups from abroad to file detailed paperwork and be subject to government audits and raids. Since then, the NGO sector has shrunk by a third, according to government statistics…

…While Russia’s evangelicals pray that the proposed regulations are amended or vetoed, they have gone underground before, and they’ll be willing to do it again, Rakhuba said.

“They say, ‘If it will come to it, it’s not going to stop us from worshiping and sharing our faith,’” he wrote. “The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom.”


Now, about evangelism in the U.S…

Issues in the Future of EvangelicalismEd Stetzer
Issues in the Future of EvangelicalismChristendom is over and no amount of wishing will make it return.

The Great Nostalgia is not the Great Commission.

The answer does not lie at some outlying extreme of either constant adaptation or constant constancy. Instead, our churches must continue the hard work of contextualizing the message of Jesus Christ to all tongues, tribes, and nations, whether in the Congo or in California.

This is just good missionary work.

The strategy needed is a counter-cultural return to biblical mission. What we need to do is advance back to the scriptural blueprint for the church on mission. What the church in the West desperately needs is a missional renaissance.

How might the church address the issues of the world? In other words, how might the church undergo this missional renaissance to embody the gospel in the post-Christendom West?

Three primary steps are needed…


If you only read one of today’s links, read this one. This is informative and challenging. You can also download a podcast or listen to his address online. It will require some time and an open heart…

Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement?
Mika Edmondson
Black Lives Matter does not mean “black lives matter only.” It means “black lives matter too.” It’s a contextualized statement, like saying “children’s lives matter.” That doesn’t mean adult lives don’t matter. But in a culture that demeans and disparages them, we understand we have to say forthrightly and particularly that children’s lives matter. In the face of a historic and contemporary context that has uniquely disparaged black life as not worth valuing or protecting in the same way as others, they are saying black lives matter just as much as every other life. Ironically, saying “Black Lives Matter” is really a contextualized way of saying, “All Lives Matter.”…

…When I hear about unarmed black people being killed, is my kneejerk reaction that they somehow deserved whatever terrible thing happened to them? Am I cold and hardened to black suffering? Why am I not as torn up over this as non-Christians are? Why is Black Lives Matter more torn up over black people dying than we are? … They have more moral sense than we do! …

…When you bring up racial sin, people will say, “Why should I care about that? You are just playing the race card.” This is just a modern way of saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We have a natural tendency to actively resist dealing with racial sin.


Yes it’s satire…sort of…

I Honestly Can Not Believe I’m Still Getting Away With This
Benny Hinn
When I started this racket, so many years ago, I imagined getting a solid five or six years out of it before reality hit and I was shut down. I figured it was worth a try, and worth the risk. But here I am now, all these years later, and wow—still flying around the world, multiplying my net worth on the backs of a new generation of desperate people.

Honestly. I can not believe I’m still getting away with this.


Source: Bizarro

Psalm 24

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,[a]
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob.[b]      Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory!      Selah

From this passage I hear God asking me:
I know you’re singing that Don Moen song. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Now, who shall ascend my hill? You?
Who shall stand in the holy place? You?
Who has clean hands and a pure heart? You?
Who doesn’t lift his soul to what is false? You?
It’s me. I’m the King of Glory. I’ll take care of it.
Lift up your heads!

Music Part 8 – Steve Taylor

The (Christian) Music that Shaped Me – Part 8

(In this series I’ve been sharing music that has been influential to me, personally. My hope is twofold: First, that some of my younger friends will be able to appreciate “from whence we’ve come” and to be encouraged to continue to seek fresh ways to communicate their faith through music. Second, that those of my generation will enjoy looking back a bit, but more than that, I pray that we will continue to recognize and encourage the creativity of today’s Christian musicians. Here’s where you can find the Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.)


Christian rock music was really taking off in the 1980s. I was a youth minister then, and the sounds of Petra and Whiteheart filled our stereos and Walkmen. While I enjoyed these bands immensely, and even took the youth group to concerts when possible, I can’t honestly say their music was transformative. It was very good pop/rock with clever lyrics and a great hook, but it was safe, if you know what I mean. Even though the language and word pictures used in their songs was more modern and “edgy,” the actual content was really not all that different than more traditional gospel music. The themes of hope, commitment, grace and worship were prominent.

Then there was Steve Taylor.

Steve’s music was different than anything I had heard before or since.

First of all, there was his style. When he released his first solo project, I Want to Be a Clone, he described his style as “Christian punk.” Not being a fan of “punk rock” it’s a little hard for me to use that description myself, but since he did, I guess I should go with it. I can tell you that I played his music over the sound system at a HS week of camp one year at meal times, and was told by the dean to change it because some found it offensive and not very Christian. I suppose that means something…

Secondly, there was his lyrics. He had an ability to cut to the core of contemporary cultural issues with biting sarcasm and creative satire, things not normally found in Christian music. I suppose that Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill paved the way for this, but Steve took it to a whole new level. His was a perfect example of how lyrics and music should match. Even Francis Schaeffer thought so. He wrote this in a letter to Steve after his visit to L’Abri:

“The combination of music and lyrics really works on a very high level, and the message, therefore, comes across with real clarity… In the light of the gifts that the Lord has so obviously given you, and which you obviously developed with care and hard work, I do urge you with all my heart to press on. You are really doing something marvelously worthwhile. I must say the words really cut a wide swath in the need in the church today.” [1]

His music was not only fun to listen to, it made you think deeply about uncomfortable things.

Things like racism at Bob Jones University in We Don’t Need No Color Code:

Down in Carolina Way
Lived a man name o’ Big BJ
BJ went and got a school
Founded on Caucasian rule
Bumper sticker on his Ford
Says, ‘Honkies if you love the Lord’

We don’t need no color code
We don’t need no color code
Take your rules and hit the road
We don’t need no color code
Judgment Day is goin’ down
Better burn your cap and gown

Like teaching “values clarification” in public schools in Lifeboat:

Throw over grandpa ’cause he’s getting pretty old
Throw out the baby or we’ll all be catching it’s cold
Throw over fatty and we’ll see if she can float
Throw out the retard and they won’t be rockin’ the boat

Like battling temptation in Sin for a Season:

Seven months after his little indiscretion
He sits with his wife at a therapy session
For a little advice

If the healing happens as the time goes by
Tell me why I still can’t look her in the eye

God I’m only human, got no other reason
Sin for a season

Like religion and politics in It’s a Personal Thing

I’m devout, I’m sincere and I’m proud to say
That it’s had exactly no effect on who I am today
I believe for the benefit for all mankind
In the total separation of church and mind

Then there’s the powerful and haunting Baby Doe which is his commentary on a case in 1982 that drew a lot of attention and controversy:

I bear the blame…
it’s over and done, the presses have run
some call the parents brave
behind your disguise your rhetoric lies
you watched a baby starve

I heard Steve in concert on three different occasions. The first was when I took some kids from my youth group to see him at Taft Auditorium in Cincinnati. I have to say, this is still one of my favorite Christian concerts ever. His energy on stage and his flair for drama was like nothing I had ever seen. I think it was also the loudest! My ears were still ringing the next morning!

It’s really hard for me to select a single song to highlight how much Steve’s music means to me because every single one is meaningful in some way. The one I ultimately settled on isn’t really all that representative of most of his music, but it’s one that means a lot to me. It’s called I Just Wanna Know, and I think it articulates what drives Steve in his life and art, and it’s a focus I want to keep in my own life as well:

I just wanna know, am I pulling people closer?
I just wanna be pulling them to you.
I just wanna stay angry at the evil.
I just wanna be hungry for the truth.

Lloyd

I Just Wanna Know
Steve Taylor, 1985

Life’s too short for small talk,
So don’t be talking trivia now.
Excess baggage fills this plane,
There’s more than we should ever allow.

There’s engines stalling, and good men falling,
But I ain’t crawling away.

I just wanna know, am I pulling people closer?
I just wanna be pulling them to you.
I just wanna stay angry at the evil.
I just wanna be hungry for the truth.

Folks play follow the leader,
But who’s the leader gonna obey?
Will his head get big when the toes get tapping?
I just wanna know, are they catching what I say?

I’m a little too young to introspect,
And I surely haven’t paid all my dues,
But there’s bear traps lying in those woods,
Most of ’em already been used.

I just wanna know, am I pulling people closer?
I just wanna be pulling them to you.
I just wanna stay angry at the evil.
I just wanna be hungry for the truth.

Search me, father and know my heart,
Try me and know my mind.
And if there be any wicked way in me,
Pull me to the rock that is higher than I.

I just wanna know, am I pulling people closer?
I just wanna be pulling them to you.
I just wanna stay angry at the evil.
I just wanna be hungry for the truth.


Here are a few more of my favorites:

Meltdown (At Madame Tussaud’s)


Drive, He Said


Hero

My Picks for Tuesday 6-28-2016

Picks Tuesday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I always appreciate Joe Carter’s clear explanations of SCOTUS cases and decisions…

The FAQs: Supreme Court Rules on Texas Abortion Case
Joe Carter
In one of the most significant rulings on abortion in decades, the Supreme Court ruled on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in a 5-3 decision to overturn state laws designed to regulate abortion clinics in a way that would protect women’s health.


This is important…

What the Hook-up Culture Has Done to Women
Anne Maloney
Alone-Sad-GirlThe world we have created for these young people is a world which welcomes every sort of sexual behavior except chastity. Anal sex? Okay! Threesomes? Yep. Sex upon the first meeting? Sure! Virginity until marriage? What the hell is wrong with you? I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the reason so many college-aged women binge-drink is so that they can bear their own closeted sorrow about what they are doing…

…An entire generation of women is wounded yet unable to find the source of the bleeding. There is, indeed, an “unconscious despair” behind their “games and amusements.” They “hook up,” feel awful and have no idea why. It’s hard to heal when you don’t know you’ve been damaged.


In 30 years as a worship leader, I recall very few patriotic holidays when I didn’t receive criticism about the Sunday service. It was either not patriotic enough (usually), or it was too patriotic (we may have done one thing to acknowledge the occasion). This short piece by Mark Taylor summarizes why we should keep patriotism out of Sunday morning worship…

Where Patriotism BelongsMark Taylor
June28_MT_JN
Red, white, and blue blowouts belong in stadiums and parks, not Sunday-morning worship.

Every American patriot can feel a swell of pride and gratitude as we celebrate Independence Day this weekend. We have so many good reasons to love our homeland.

And every American Christian can pray, “God bless America” with fervor and fear. We have so many valid concerns about our country to bring before God in prayer. Let’s be glad when those prayers echo from our pulpits this weekend.

But let’s remember that in God’s eyes, America is only one in a host of nations whose people he loves and wants to save. We may love our country. But our worship is reserved for God alone.


Voting is like the movies…
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Source: Pearls Before Swine

My Picks for Monday 6-27-2016

Picks Monday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I believe this column is getting at something important…

The Bad Faith of the White Working ClassJ. D. Vance
The sometimes tough love of the Christian faith of my childhood demanded a certain amount of self-reflection and, occasionally, self-criticism. While faith need not be monolithic — it can motivate both voting behavior and character development — focus matters. A Christianity constantly looking for political answers to moral and spiritual problems gives believers an excuse to blame other people when they should be looking in the mirror.


As if in response to the above…

The Counterintuitive Appeal of Christian Morality in a 21st Century WorldTrevin Wax
rightwrongsignWhile it’s true that Christian morality may be a barrier to some people, for others, our moral vision will be a beacon of light. Paradoxically, the very doctrines we expect will make us pariahs in 21st century North America may also be some of our most attractive teachings…

…Social conservatives must … make a positive case, not just a negative one. Rather than decrying the collapse of moral order, we must draw people’s eyes and hearts to the alternative: to the vast and beautiful ‘yes’ for the sake of which an occasional narrow but insistent ‘no’ is required.

How do we do this? It will take more than making a case for the truthfulness of Christian teaching. It will take the Church showing the beauty and goodness of Christian truth…


Looks like this will be the trend for the foreseeable future…

California’s Religious Liberty Moment—Coming to a State Near YouEd Stetzer
California's Religious Liberty Moment—Coming to a State Near You
Stated very simply, SB 1146 would severely restrict the free and full exercise of religious freedom granted by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. This bill would limit freedom of religious faith and practice to programs, courses and activities directly and narrowly intended to train pastors and similar vocational church leaders…

This is no minor thing.

There is a commonly held—and erroneous—belief that Christian colleges and universities are backward scientifically, repressive sexually, and inept socially. That such institutions are academically weak, Bible-thumping, 17th century good-old-boys clubs full of bigots and legalists. For those who hold such views, cutting off state or federal aid to these institutions, or to force them to shed some of their strongly-held Christian convictions, would be no great loss.

Many faith-based universities hold to the traditional Christian view that sex and gender are distinct and united. If SB 1146 is passed without amendment, the state of California would drastically limit the religious freedom of such institutions to believe and live according to these traditional beliefs. In other words, the “free exercise of religion” becomes meaningless or restricted to only those schools that train pastors for ministry.


The past can be an idol…

The Golden Calf of the Golden YearsJamie Brown
1…we know what we used to do was working, and we know how to do that, so let’s get busy building what we know, and then stand back and watch our deliverance. Big mistake. Because, in fact, our God is at work in ways we can’t see, leading us forward through the desert to a new day.

The person who rolls his or her eyes at the faithful trusting in a God who leads his people forward into new lands is a person who has made a golden calf out of the golden years. But the person who waits, expectedly and faithfully and longingly, for God’s sovereign provision and perfect timing, has placed his trust in the right place.

So look back on the “golden years” and remember. Remember God’s faithfulness and goodness.

But don’t idolize those golden years, and attempt to take matters into your own hands, and recreate those years.


Targeted marketing…
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/bz-panel-06-23-16.jpg
Source: Bizarro

Psalm 23

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord
    forever.[g]

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Seriously? That’s how you’re going to read this Psalm?
Read it again slowly as if you’ve never heard it.
Don’t recite it like a poem for English class, read it to me.
Consider the meaning of each phrase.
Did you find anything you had previously missed?
Do you trust me? In green pastures? By still waters? In death? In the presence of your enemies?

Psalm 22

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.

The book of Psalms is commonly thought of as a collection of the worship music of the Israelites. They were meant to be sung. These are worship songs that God appreciated enough to make sure they were preserved for us. Let’s see if we can find out why…

Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
    you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
    and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet[b]
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued[c] me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted[d] shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Are you ever this honest with me in your worship?
If not, why not?
I’m sure you recognize v. 1 as the words Jesus uttered while he was hanging on the cross in Matthew 27:46.
Consider the fact that this Psalm was written by David around 1,000 years before Jesus’ crucifixion.
Now read the Psalm again slowly, with that fact in mind.
What kind of a God do you think I am?