DOES PASSION TAKE TIME OFF?

ruettAt a recent Green Bay Packers game I came across the following sign in the concourse:

PASSION DOES NOT TAKE A TIME OUT

I understand the sign was intended to keep the fans passionate for the Packers during the season. But I could not help asking myself if I have allowed the passion in my life to take a time out.

Often when talking with younger people who are searching for direction, I ask, “What are you passionate about?” Most people need some time to think about it. They have prepared for a job or career that will make them a good living. But my challenge to those just starting their journey is to examine themselves and discern where their passions lie.

So many men and women are stuck in jobs or careers that provide an income but no personal fulfillment, or as my friend Jerry Price says, “nothing to make their socks curl up and down every day.”
Why is this important? Because when the going gets tough the passionate keep going!

PERSPECTIVE

Perspective:

fall door

A few weeks ago, while working on my laptop at a coffee shop, I met Wayne. I was doing some writing when he wobbled into the sitting area. He was a nice looking man, a little older than me, but looked a little too thin.

As we began to talk he coughed roughly a number of times and in the middle of the conversation I learned he has lung cancer. My heart went out to him. He talked of losing his wife a few years ago and shared some of the details of living with lung cancer.

This is a man who just a few years ago was enjoying a good job and a good life. He now battles for breath. Wayne told me he knew Jesus and we prayed together. Eventually he left the coffee shop but he has not left my heart. I think of him often, remembering that each day of life is a gift!

EVERY DAY IS A GIFT!

Psalm 118:24 – This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Is Competition wrong?

Competition

It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud. Proverbs 16:19
HANDSHAKE
To me there is nothing like the tension of a 3-2 pitch late in an MLB baseball contest or a 4th and long play at the end of an NFL football game. Competitive juices flow as these world class athletes reach deep to win games. The competitive spirit and the desire to win is part of the DNA of an athlete.

Unfortunately, that same sense of competition often overflows into our personal lives. I am not saying competition is wrong. There are many situations where competitiveness can be healthy and productive, such as in athletics and business. It can push us toward excellence in our work. But for those who are followers of Jesus, the competitive spirit needs to be turned down in relationships.

What I am talking about is being competitive with others for self-interest or self-promotion. It might show up as slandering someone to make ourselves look better or manipulating others to gain a better position. Jesus is pretty clear on how his followers are to interact with others. He set the example by taking on the profile of meekness, that of a servant.

Check out this definition of meekness: strength under control. A few Synonyms for ‘meek’ are patient, yielding, unassuming, peaceful, calm, soft.

It may be time for us to examine our competitive spirits and see if they have affected our relationships in an ungodly way. Do we reflect the attitude of Jesus while we are at work, in our marriages, or in our spiritual journey?

Here are a few verses to meditate on:

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. 1 Peter 5:5

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2:3-4

Who is in control of your life?

My steps are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23)
plays bb
The date was Oct. 31, 1968. The Milwaukee Bucks had won their first ever NBA game after 5 tries. They were an expansion team that year and finished last in their division. But that night they beat the Detroit Pistons 134-118. Their #1 draft pick, Charlie Paulk, only had 5 points. But former Boston Celtic Wayne Embree led the team with 30, followed by Dave Gambee with 23 and 22 by Jon McGlocklin. Pistons perennial All-star Dave Bing led his team with 29.

So why bring this up now? It seems so insignificant. Who really cares some 45 years later? I do 
Let’s back track a little. I was young and had signed a pro baseball contract. With some of the cash from the signing bonus I enrolled at the Career Academy of Broadcasting. I needed further education and was not interested in going to college at the time. My hope was to someday work in radio.

In those days you did not just show up at a station and audition. There were three levels of tests you needed to pass for the license to be able to pursue a job in radio. Eventually I did receive the license, but during the course work I was picked as the winner of the sports casting award. The prize was being able to do the ‘play by play’ announcing for a Bucks game on the FM station in Milwaukee. It was quite an experience, to say the least.

The verse above made me realize that in God’s economy he does not allow events in our lives simply to take up our time. He has a rhythm and plan for our lives. Little did I know that years later I would use that training and background in radio all over the world with UPI doing interviews and working with athletes.

What experiences and training do you have in your past that God might want you to use for his kingdom?

The Lord will guide me continually. (Isaiah 58:11)

How far can you reach?

Many years ago, a speaker at a Missions Conference challenged the audience with reaching the world for Christ. As noble as that challenge was, the scope seemed too large, too unattainable. But in the midst of those services I was struck with the thought, “Reach your world.”

Globe

That got my attention. The challenge seemed personal and attainable. I had no excuse to remain quiet about Jesus. It was no longer enough to attend bible studies and do good things for my friends and family. The challenge was to reach out to others in my world, and my world was baseball. My world included coaches, baseball players, media personnel, umpires and the families of those involved in the game.

Missionaries who go to foreign countries have the challenge of learning another language and culture. I already knew the language and culture of baseball.

Although the challenge seemed more attainable, it was still huge. I knew myself, and the selfish side of me loved the comfort of the familiar. But the process of replacing the past life with a new purpose and perspective had begun. Very soon it became apparent I was going to need help. The task was too big for me. That is right where Jesus wanted me. HE could do it. He could equip and send. He needed me to be willing but to humbly depend on HIM.

I attempted to ‘shorten the playing field’ to those individuals with whom I had relationship. That sphere increased over time. Although I haven’t always done things correctly and have not always been the best ambassador of Jesus, God has given me the privilege to know HIM and attempt to be HIM in my world. Often I ask myself, Why me?

My challenge today is the same one I sensed over 30 years ago—reach YOUR world. What is your world? Who is in your people group? What language and culture do you understand? Over the next few weeks, let’s ask God to open our eyes to the world around each of us, and watch for how He answers.
Holy Spirit, lead me in the way I should go.

“You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” John 4:35

Cell phones

Cell Phones

Something really crazy happened the other day. I ran into a person that used their cell phone… as only a phone. Can you believe that?!
cell
It is crazy how times have changed. We now hold in our hands mini computers, video cameras and social media devices. Some of us remember when a phone was used to make calls.  In fact, I remember when all we had was a ‘party line’ — a number of families sharing the same phone line!

Culture and technology changes. Our lives are much different now than they were even five years ago. Is there anything that remains constant? I have good news…The Bible. The Creator knew we needed a reminder of what is most important. Life is not really about apps, tweets or band width. It is about the wonderful story of how God loves us and demonstrated that for us.

A challenge this week: use the Bible for its intended purpose. Read it. If you are just beginning, I suggest you start in the book of John. Read and marvel at how we can find hope, purpose and direction in a constantly changing world.

I plan to do so, right after I take a picture of my bible, send it to a friend on email and post verses on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! 

Ducks in a row…

Having your ‘ducks in a row’ is a challenge we might hear in a leadership meeting, from a parent or in an office setting. The reality is that it also has great value in our spiritual walk with Jesus. To get ducks in a row, you have to have ducks!

ducks on a row

Before we consider what our “ducks” are, it is always good to consider who is telling us what ducks look like. Most of our guidelines for life come from institutions or other individuals. Too often the world’s system defines for us what is important and what needs to be lined up and saluted. I would suggest that for the followers of Jesus those “ducks” need to be what HE considers important.

With that as our backdrop, here are a few areas that need to be understood at the deepest levels and lined up to have confidence and encouragement in our spiritual journey with Jesus. *

1. Jesus is God: John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

2. Jesus created the world: John 1:3-5. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

3. Jesus’ Humanity: John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

4. Jesus’ command to love: John 15: 12-13 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

5. Jesus’ Sacrifice was sufficient: 1 John 2:2 and Hebrews 9:12 2. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 12. He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

6. Jesus rose from the dead. John 20:19-20, 29 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

7. We who follow HIM are in process. Phil. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

• thoughts gleaned from Baseball chapel handout July 6, 2014