Swing That Bat!

2 Timothy 1_7_Swing that Bat

His childhood story was very relatable!  As Al shared his experience in Little League baseball, my mind went back to my own.  I was decent at most sports – but baseball and I never got along too well.  The reason?  I was bad at it.  Besides, Little League pitchers are wild and baseballs hurt when they hit you!  In fact, my team’s “best” pitcher was known as “Beanie” Henry because he hit so many batters!

But I digress.  Back to Al’s story.  He too wasn’t a future All-Star and he frequently struck out at the plate.  So frequent were his swings and misses, he figured his only shot at reaching base was to either be walked or hit by a pitch.  So he determined never again to lift the bat from his shoulder.  For the rest of his first and only season, he never took another swing!  In his words:

When a man swings and misses, he knows failure and humiliation. Incompetence is exposed and shame is the by-product.  Even if he swings and hits, he feels the pressure of expectations.  After all, if you hit once, you should be able to hit again.  It is easier to rest the bat on your shoulder and wait for the occasional walk.

Sadly, that’s a picture of many of our lives – standing still, afraid to budge.  Wanting to move but holding back because of a prior and greater commitment to safety.  It’s always safety first – in jobs, relationships, or living out our faith.

Yet to be fully alive, the bat must be lifted from the shoulder and frequently swung!  Sometimes we’ll make contact, sometimes we won’t.  But God created us to take the swing.  He doesn’t want us simply holding the bat in fear.  Today, ask the Lord to help you exercise the spirit of boldness He’s given you, then swing that bat! –Dave

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

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Accidental Reminder

Exodus 13_8_9_Accidental Reminder

It had been a whirlwind holiday season.  In addition to the usual Christmas festivities, our family celebrated my parents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary the following weekend.  “Busy” doesn’t begin to describe the week!

However once the New Year had passed, I pulled the memory card from my camera and viewed the scenes I’d captured (but couldn’t remember taking) on my laptop.  And there it was – a video that I hadn’t intended to take!  At some point while unwrapping gifts Christmas morning with just my immediate family (wife and two daughters), I had apparently hit “Record” on my camera and set it down under the tree. Lol.

For the next 8 minutes and 57 seconds, the video showed nothing but the underneath side of our tree.  But the audio captured 9 minutes of non-stop running commentary!  There were multiple conversations, numerous inside jokes, and a TON of laughter.  I belly-laughed again while listening to the audio.

Why share this with you today?  Because I think we all need these simple reminders of God’s goodness to us.  As I was rushing through the Christmas season, about all I could see were the endless activities.  But in His goodness, God gave me an “accidental reminder” of the joy He’s provided to me through my family.  It was a sweet kiss on the cheek from heaven.

When times get busy or difficult, we tend to forget God’s goodness to us.  That’s why He encourages us to remember.  What reminders of God’s goodness can you point to today? –Dave

On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. (Exodus 13:8-9)

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Numbered Days, Wise Hearts

Sunday_Psalm 90_12_Numbered Days

Lord, make us aware of the brevity of life, that we might use our time wisely.

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From Themselves

Habakkuk 1_7_From Themselves

During their reign of power, the Babylonians were feared throughout the world.  At one point, God used Babylon to humble His chosen people, Israel.  Recently when I read a portion of that story, I found something I’d overlooked previously.  About the Babylonians, God said:

They are fierce and terrifying; their views of justice and sovereignty stem from themselves…their strength is their god.  (Habakkuk 1:7,11, HCSB)

It’s fascinating (and chilling) to see the link the Lord makes between people being terrifying and the fact that such people derive their views of justice and power solely from themselves.  When man sees himself as the highest power, watch out!  He’s his own god and whatever he says goes.  Such people believe they’re accountable to no one.  The result?  Fierce and powerful people who do terrifying things to those who are weaker.

My hope today is not that we will end the reigns of terror brought by others, but that as followers of Christ we will continuously surrender to the Sovereign One.  That we will look to the Lord as our source of strength and allow Him to define right and wrong.  If we don’t, we’re just as likely to become little terrors to those around us.

The passage warrants the question:  Who truly calls the shots in your life?  Is it God, or is it you?  –Dave

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Loved, Love, Lovable

1 Thess 4_9_Loved, Love, Lovable

Benjamin Franklin once stated, “If you would be loved, love; and be lovable.”  I’m no expert in the field, but I would guess that to be loved is among man’s greatest needs.  Simply put, we all long to be loved.

Ultimately, that deep need can be met only through a personal relationship with Christ.  However, Franklin’s words include a lot of wisdom for our human relationships as well.  If you want to be given love, give love.  If you want to receive love, be easy to love.

This is not intended to set up a conditional system for giving and receiving love (although human nature will try to make it into one).  As followers of Christ, we’re to give love regardless of how loving or lovable the other person is.  However, when it comes to receiving love – why not make it as easy on the other person as possible?

Lord, as the God who is love, help us give our love freely, and to make it easy for others to love us as well. –Dave

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. (1 Thessalonians 4:9)

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The Rising

Amos 6_8_The Rising

The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself—the Lord God Almighty declares: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.”  (Amos 6:8)

God left absolutely no question regarding what He meant – He hates man’s pride.  Other translations use equally-harsh verbs regarding God’s stance against pride, including “despise, loathe, hate, and detest.”  But what precisely is it that draws such ire from the Lord?

Most commonly, English translations use the word “pride” or “arrogance.”  The original word Amos used was derived from a Hebrew word meaning “to rise up.”  It was used to describe rivers that rose during a flood, or plants that grew up over time.  It was also used to describe the praise and exaltation men gave to their leaders.

Knowing this background helps us understand what God so staunchly stands against – the “rising up” or “exaltation” that men give themselves!  It’s that part of each person’s being that rises up and says, “Notice ME!  Celebrate ME!  Applaud and praise ME!”

It’s also that part of us that says ME is first and ME is enough.  We will make our own decisions; we will provide for ourselves; we will not submit or be dependent upon anyone – including God.

Here’s the reality – such “rising up” exists within each of us – and it needs to be “put down” because God hates it.  Should we not want to rid ourselves of the parts which displease God so?

In the quietness of this moment, ask God to reveal and remove any pride He finds within you. –Dave

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Infectious Christianity

1 Peter 2_12_Infectious Christianity

In his book, The Christian Man, Patrick Morley writes, “When you seek your identity in Jesus Christ and his gospel, you will find a deep, lasting satisfaction so infectious that others will want it too.”

Morley’s comment doesn’t come out of left field.  Peter made a similar claim when he instructed believers who were being falsely accused to silence their accusers with “good deeds.”  These actions weren’t simply morally good, they were the type of good that inspires others to join in.  It’s a life so beautifully lived it’s winsome and appealing. The Christian life attracts others – not to YOU, but to your Savior.  Or at least it should.

Give it some serious thought as you start this New Year and new decade.  Is your pursuit of Christ so infectious that others are drawn to Him through you?  If not, what might need to change in 2020?

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)

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