This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...
Yeah, I didn’t do too well…
George Will’s 2017 Opening Day Quiz Baseball numbers aren’t difficult. But be precise: As players say after a close play, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” And don’t be discouraged if some questions stump you. As Phillies manager Danny Ozark said in 1976, “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.” And as Brewers manager Harvey Kuenn said after losing the 1982 World Series to the Cardinals, “We’re going to hang our heads high.” Now, name the player or players who…
This older article recently came to my attention. Good stuff…
Is it always wise, prudent, restrained, responsible?
Or is it always risky, edgy, out-there, half-crazed?
That’s a tough one, isn’t it?
For the record, I don’t believe there’s an easy way, five step, bullet proof way to resolve the tension between faith and foolishness…
Here are two questions I’ve started asking myself to help when things aren’t clear:
1. Is ‘wisdom’ killing my trust in God?
2. Does my ‘trust’ in God disregard all wisdom?
Church Life: Keep It Two Chevrons Apart –Stephen McAlpine The mantra among many evangelicals is often “Couldn’t we be doing more?” And the answer is “Yes”, it’s always “Yes”. Of course you could be doing more, but the question is should you be doing more? …
…Granted some people have more capacity than others, and can juggle much more, but I see no good reason to fill in all of the white space just because it is there. No reason to drive bumper to bumper. For a start it gives you very little reflective time spiritually, and that always, always means there’s a bit of wiggle room for the Accuser to get hold of you. Unthinking fast paced living can be a real danger spiritually and morally.
I wish I had been better at this…
Parents, Be Quick to Listen –Michael Kelley There is a certain humility you must embrace if you are truly going to listen first rather than speak. It’s the humility that acknowledges your own limitations – that you might not know all the information; you might not be privy to all the details; you might not understand all the dynamics. And this is especially hard for us, as parents, because we would like to know that we do indeed know all the dynamics. If we assume a posture of listening, we are admitting that perhaps we don’t know everything our kids are feeling or thinking or believing.
But if we do embrace this humble posture; if we do ask genuine questions of our children; if we do fight assumption and instead try to understand, then we will set the table for communication that follows. And I for one want my children to know that their father is certainly not perfect, but he will always hear them.
“The hour is coming when we shall be astonished to think what mere trifles were once capable of discouraging us.’ -John Newton
In fact, I’ve been checking the mail the past few days for my 2017 baseball tickets.
I wasn’t a baseball fan at all until 2008. I blame Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Philips. Until that season I thought baseball was boring, but these guys made the games exciting and fun. I didn’t realize that was possible. I got sucked in. The Reds were still having losing seasons, but they made you feel like success was within reach.
Then came 2010. They went 91-71 that season. On September 28, Bruce hit a bottom-of-the-ninth, first-pitch, walk-off home run to clinch the NL Central title. It was the team’s first trip to the postseason since 1995. When Bruce crossed home plate it felt like a World Series win! It was happening!
They lost the division series to the Phillies. Disappointing, but it still felt like a good season. They were on track for a great 2011. Or so we thought.
So, we started being regulars at the ball park in 2011. They didn’t do so well that year.
But 2012 saw another winning season with the Reds going 97-65. But again, they lost the division series. This time to the Giants.
In 2013 they went 90-72 and lost the wild card game to the Pirates.
They haven’t reached the post season since.
It’s been hard being a Reds fan the past few years. 2014, 2015 and 2016 have all been losing seasons.
They key is to keep your expectations low. Just plan on enjoying the atmosphere of the ballpark, the company of good friends, Friday night fireworks, and a Lemon Chill. A win would just be a bonus.
That was my plan for 2016.
Then they swept the Phillies in the opening series. Next thing you know, after 6 games they were 5-1. Wait a minute. Maybe they’ve got something after all. Stranger things have happened. Expectations got out of control.
Then the wheels fell off.
In the middle of April.
Against the Cubs.
The rest of the season was an exercise in frustration.
Not this year. My expectations are set on low. I plan to keep them that way. I just plan on enjoying the atmosphere of the ballpark, the company of good friends, Friday night fireworks, and a Lemon Chill.
This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...
The Crack Begins at the Bottom –Tim Challies
Great ruptures in the church often begin with just one member gossiping about another or just two quarreling members who have no desire to pursue reconciliation. Great division often begins with a clique that refuses to integrate with the rest of the congregation or with a small group of people who make a disputable matter into a matter of spiritual life and death. Sometimes it’s one person who asks questions meant to cause others to doubt the good intentions of the pastors…
But if that is true, so is the opposite. You have the ability to promote and maintain unity in your church. And your task as a member of a church is not only to avoid disunity, but to actively pursue unity…
This thought actually crossed my mind last night as I listened to the fans at Wrigley Field sing…
Unashamed to Sing: Lesson from a Cubs Fan
–Matthew Westerholm …imagine someone after a Cub’s victory turning to his neighbor and saying, “This song is corny and old-fashioned. It’s not my style.” A thoughtful neighbor would respond, “You’re missing the point. Our team just won!”
Perhaps that disconnect between the victory and its celebration is at the heart of some of the squabbles over preferences in our worship services.
3 Truths You Should Remember, No Matter What You Do in the Voting Booth –Trevin Wax I’ve heard some Christians claim that this election matters because America is the last great hope for Christianity. That’s silly. Surely it’s the other way around. It’s Christianity that is the last great hope for America. Christians believe that Jesus is King—His Court is higher than any Supreme Court and He will hold the world to account.
We are most certainly political. But we cannot put party over principle or partisanship over the proclamation of the gospel. Christians believe God is sovereign over all human powers and authorities. We answer to Him, not the party bosses, not the “establishment,” not the political pundits, not the populace, and certainly not the president.
That’s why, at our best, Christians ought to be those who can easily cross political dividing lines. For 2000 years, church leaders have gained a reputation for being the champions of the poor, for lifting up the marginalized, and for speaking on behalf of those with no voice. This year alone, we’ve seen evangelical Christians on the front lines in settling refugees, ministering to immigrants, and protesting the ongoing violence of abortion.
Right, left, middle, wherever—political parties always tend to turn away from people who are “inconvenient,” to ask “Who is my neighbor?” as a way of shirking our duty to others. Christians, however, are called to see the image of God in every human being, and to call all people everywhere to bow the knee to our King.
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.
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.
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.
This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...
Dr. Moore comments on an important ruling from the Supreme Court regarding religious liberty. Go to the link for his elaboration of the points…
Four Lessons from the Little Sisters of the Poor Case
–Russell Moore “The United States Supreme Court today handed down a unanimous ruling, remanding the case of Little Sisters of the Poor and other petitioners, back to the lower courts to pursue an accommodation. What this means is that the government cannot fine and penalize these groups for objecting to the Administration’s demand that they authorize contraceptive coverage for their ministry’s employees. This is an encouraging development, but it also tells us how much work there is to do in rebuilding a culture of religious freedom in this country. Here are four lessons we can learn from this case.
1. Religious Liberty Is Alive and Well
2. Religious Liberty, Even in Victory, Is Imperiled
3. Religious Liberty Requires an Explanation of Religion Itself
4. Religious Liberty Means Standing Up for Others’ Rights of Conscience
Advocacy for religious liberty is not about special pleading for one’s own religion. Religious liberty means that even if one were to work out a “deal” with one’s government protecting one’s own beliefs and practices, that’s not enough. Religious liberty is not a government favor but a right granted by God. That’s why Christians should be the ones standing up for our Jewish neighbors’ right to circumcise their sons or our Muslim neighbors’ right to construct their houses of worship or our Sikh neighbors’ right to wear their religiously-mandated beards and head-coverings. This isn’t moral or theological relativism but the reverse. We believe that these spiritual disagreements we have with one another must be resolved by spiritual means (that is, through the gospel’s open proclamation of the truth), not by the coercive power of the government.”
Good stuff for worship leaders here. Go to the link for his explanations of the 5 mistakes…
And the longer you lead, the more your church grows, the more you’ll need to pivot and change. What worked 10 years ago may not work today. Matter of fact, what worked last year may not be the best idea today…
…consider this post less of a brash, unfriendly rebuke and more of a reminder – a reminder to be proactive about avoiding ruts.
1. Overemphasizing Excellence
2. One on Ones
3. Going Deep
4. Being Shallow
5. Connecting to Your Local Church
It’s easy for a church to default inwardly…
Grow Your Church or Impact Your Community? –Dan Reiland “Growing a church and impacting a community are not mutually exclusive. In fact, these two complex endeavors are highly interrelated. However, a strategy to grow your church may or may not have an impact on your community. In contrast, an intentional plan to impact your community will highly likely help your church grow.
The first goal of community impact is not church growth. Church growth is a natural by-product of serving the community and giving yourselves away.
It was probably ten years ago, or more, that I read this question for the first time. I don’t know who first posed it, but it’s powerful. “Would your community miss you if your church no longer existed?” That has stuck with me ever since.
Are we as Christian leaders doing things that matter? Do our actions and investments make an eternal impact outside the walls and halls of our churches? That’s a significant question we all should have the courage to answer.
Here are some observations to consider as you reflect on where your church stands in light of this idea.”
Seriously, who doesn’t love Chip & Joanna Gaines of HGTV fame? I recently discovered Joanna’s blog. I enjoyed this little reflection…
Grass Stains and a Grateful Heart –Joanna Gaines “…baseball is a way of life for our family, that much I know for sure. But I have one very simple question: why are the pants white?
My boys are at an age where they slide into bases just because they finally know how. If you have kids in little league, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They could knock that ball clear outta the park and still slide into first, second, third and home plate. Just for the fun of it.
What does that leave mom with? Grass stains and red dirt all over these white pants. And there’s a good chance that they have another game the next night. Which means those pants need a stain remover soak and a good washing, tonight.
I’ll admit this to you—there have been years I’ve wondered if we could get away with skipping just one season. This sport is a commitment. 1-2 practices and 2 games a week—per kiddo. It’s a lot when you have two playing. Did I also mention it takes an army just to get all 6 of us out of the house with every little bat and glove?
This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...
Why don’t we “freak out” about the important stuff?…
The Great Parental Freak Out –Kevin DeYoung “But if we are going to work hard, let’s make sure we are working hard at the right things. The average Christian parent in the West is probably more involved in the day to day demands of parenting than almost any other parents in the history of the world. And yet, these same parents are likely more worried about being terrible parents than were their parents or grandparents, let alone their great- or great-great-great-grandparents.
We are all about to freak out. And it may not be over any of the right things…Here are four things parents should stop freaking out about…
…So does that mean parenting is a laissez-faire experiment in letting children do whatever they want? Of course, not. There are things every Christian parent should work hard to have in place. They just don’t have to do with how much ice cream the kids eat and whether you can breastfeed on roller skates. Work hard for the things that matter…”
The right kind of ‘code’ for men to live by –Barnabas Piper “As a man, this story infuriates me. The cheating infuriates me. The treatment of women infuriates me. But accelerant on the fire is the collective acceptance and concealing of both under the guise of friendship and the “bro code.”
This incident reveals the twistedness of society’s standards and the lengths people will go to hide sin. We have created codes to protect our right to hurt others, to cheat, to lie. Breaking the code is the new sin.
A real man—a brother, not a “bro”—wouldn’t air someone else’s dirty laundry, especially not through the tabloids. But a friend would say, “Tell her, or I will.” A friend would risk the friendship for the sake of what is right and out of respect to the woman. A friend would be willing to go face the uncomfortable and push for things to be made right, to uphold the real code to which all men should hold themselves.”
I gotta admit, this one convicted me a little bit…
5 Ways To Wound Immature Believers –Mike Leake “Yes, it’s frustrating that some believers feel the need to like and share a photo of an American looking Jesus in order to show their devotion. Yes, when compared to the believers being slaughtered for their faith it seems like a pretty paltry form of devotion. But what if it truly is a mark of grace that somebody who once would have never identified with Christ found the courage to hit that “like” button and identify themselves with Jesus—even if a crude representation of the Son of God?
Christopher Love had a great word for what wells up in my heart in these moments—oversuperliciousness. That isn’t a fancy word for holiness. It’s a fancy word for being filled with abominable pride and strutting around like a foolish peacock. It isn’t a mark of holiness to mock the weak.”
Why Porn Kills Sex –Russell Moore “God designed human sexuality not to isolate but to connect. Sexuality is intended to bond a wife and a husband and, where conditions are met, to result in newness of life, thus connecting generations. Pornography disrupts this connection, turning what is meant for intimacy and incarnational love into masturbatory aloneness. Pornography offers the psychic thrill and biological release meant for communion in the context of freedom from connection with another. It cannot keep that promise.”
Depth of Field –Seth Godin “The focus that comes automatically, our instinctual or cultural choice, that focus isn’t the only one that’s available. Of course it’s difficult to change it, which is why so few people manage to do so. But there’s no work that pays off better in the long run.”
It’s Opening Day in Cincinnati, the best day of the year! So I’ve decided that all of today’s picks will be devoted to baseball. Some are old, some are new, but I love them all for one reason or another. I hope you can find some time to enjoy them as well…
This one is fairly short and to the point, but right on target…
Baseball: The Only Sport That Reflects Real Life
–Tom Egelhoff “Every spring the “Boys of Summer” celebrate the “Great American Pastime.” As I watched the Padres and Dodgers duke it out today, I was struck by the similarity between baseball and the way our society works. Perhaps that’s why, as other sports gain in popularity, baseball still retains its popularity and historic significance after 100 plus years. It reflects each of us and how we live our lives…”
I shared this when he wrote it a couple years ago, but it’s definitely worth re-reading….
Our National Pastime –Kevin DeYoung “I know the many knocks on baseball: The games are too slow. The season is too long. The contracts are too big. I know about steroids and strike-shortened seasons. I know the players chew and spit and adjust themselves too much. I know every pitcher except for Mark Buerhle takes too much time in between pitches. I know that purists hate the DH rule and almost everyone hates the Yankees. I understand if baseball is not your thing. You don’t have to like our national pastime. But you should…”
You should probably get another cup of coffee and settle in for this one. You’ll need time to soak it in, and it’s worth it. You’ve got to love it when a Greek Orthodox theologian writes and subtitles his piece “The Metaphysical Meaning of Baseball.” You also might want to open an online dictionary in another tab, just in case…
A Perfect Game –David Bentley Hart“I know there are those who will accuse me of exaggeration when I say this, but, until baseball appeared, humans were a sad and benighted lot, lost in the labyrinth of matter, dimly and achingly aware of something incandescently beautiful and unattainable, something infinitely desirable shining up above in the empyrean of the ideas; but, throughout most of the history of the race, no culture was able to produce more than a shadowy sketch of whatever glorious mystery prompted those nameless longings.”
I think Joe Boyd may be on to something here…
Is Baseball Really Dead? –Joe Boyd “Here’s the truth. Nobody watches baseball anymore because they are too busy watching baseball. Let me try saying that another way. Baseball isn’t the national pastime anymore. It’s the local pastime. Baseball isn’t built to compete with the National Football League, mixed martial arts, the National Basketball Association, or the Olympics. It’s built to compete with Jeopardy and another boring summer night on the couch.
The culture is telling us something through our great American sport. Not everything that is “working” is national or global. People want something rooted in their own community—something stable, something with 81 opportunities to go to the park each year, something they know will be on TV 162 nights each season. Something social, nostalgic, and community-based. Man cannot live on the NFL alone. We need something slower, more reliable, and less in-your-face to find a pace within.
This, I believe, is a warning shot across the bow of the local church, and more directly, her leaders. Odds are, your church is never going to be the focus of national attention. (And if it is, that may not be good.) Ministers and elders, you’re called, like baseball, to grow a church that is there every day and every night, providing a space for people to live life in your community.”
Casey At the Bat –Ernest Lawrence Thayer The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.
And, of course, no baseball collection would be complete without Abbott and Costello…
There’s something special about Opening Day in Cincinnati. It is unlike any day of the year in any other city. Here, in no particular order, are 10 reasons why I think Opening Day in Cincinnati is the best day of the year:
1. Baseball is back.
2. First Lemon Chill of the season is the best.
3. It’s a chance to learn the names of the new half of the team.
4. Seeing the returning players on the field is like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. You’re hoping he has retained all the qualities you love about him, but you’re hoping he’s grown in the areas that annoy you.
5. Downtown is a party.
6. Employers realize it’s not an “official” holiday so you have to go to work, but they don’t necessarily expect any actual work to get done.
7. The weather is cold enough that a Lemon Chill can last up to 3-4 innings.
8. The pageantry of the pregame program is a unique combination of cheesiness, patriotism and nostalgia that satisfies the soul, and the goosebumps aren’t just from the cold.
9. On Opening Day, anything is possible. One of our rookies could become the next Tony Perez and we could say we saw his first at bat. Regardless of how miserable last season was, it’s in the past. Hope lives on Opening Day.
On this primary election day the tension is palpable. My newsfeed is filled with fiery political rhetoric. Pick a side! The middle is no longer an option. Only the extremes matter. Only the extremes get the coverage.
On this day when friends are turning against friends, brothers against sisters, and husbands against wives, it’s time to turn our thoughts to the one thing that has the potential to put the “united” back into the United States…
Opening Day is April 4. The first game we’ll be attending is April 8. Twenty-four days away!
After the Reds’ disappointing season of 2015, I’m excited to see what the newly assembled group of players can do. I can’t really say I have high expectations.
I mean, the off-season has been rough. When they traded the Todd Father it broke my heart. And as news of more trades developed I became sort of numb. I kept hearing about new players whose names I didn’t recognize.
I think that is one reason I could never be a baseball executive. I become emotionally invested in some players and just can’t switch from a fan’s perspective into a business frame of mind.
But as the 2016 season draws nigh, the numbness is wearing off and my emotions are starting to return. I feel some hope because of the players that I know who will be returning.
This season the Reds will still have…
I love all these guys!
And if the new kids on the field develop and show potential, we could have an exciting season!
I may not have high expectations…but I have hope.
After all, a bad day at the ballpark is still better than politics.
But I will definitely miss hearing Frank Sinatra sing Fly Me to the Moon every ninth batter.
between here and there, between now and then, between today and forever