We Must Obey His Law

Psalm 119:165

165 Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

While there are times in out lived where we thing we know everything God has clear and precise instruction for us. He knows we will not keep that 100% of the time, but that is no excuse not to try. There are certain instruction it is simply easier not to follow, but the bottom-line is God’s instruction is God’s instruction. We do not get to chose what part of of his instruction we want to follow. During the 90’s baseball was struggling to retain its place in the American people’s hearts. It appeared baseball could be losing its prominence. However, a shift in how the game was played occurred. Players were throwing harder, running faster, and most alluring to the fans hitting the ball farther. Home run totals which were once only achieved by the true sluggers were being obtained by regular joe type hitter and those with big power were hitting marks not even Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron could reach. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engage in one of the most epic baseball events in the history of the sport. The home run chase became national news in the quest to pass Roger Maris. The ball was flying off their bats. During the 1998 season both players exceed 65 home runs, and McGwire set the single season record. It was the chase that saved baseball, and tainted the game forever.

While the chase was fun to watch it was not done fairly. It was later revealed the players were on steroids marking one of the darkest time in baseball history. All the good that came from the time was washed away only a couple short years later. The men had accomplished so much, and their contribution to the game is why baseball is still popular today. However, like Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmero, and Barry Bonds players who are great on paper are being left out from baseball’s biggest honor the Hall of Fame. While the home runs wowed the fans it all had a cost, and the players who cheated are not paying the price they did not want to pay. When we sin or break God’s rules we disappoint him. Luckily enough God is more forgiving than the Hall of Fame voters and we will one day get to where we are going. However, its not without a price, God will punish us, but he is just. We must ask for his forgiveness, and cleanse ourselves before out God. We can’t be perfect, but we can be clean and that’s what matters. While Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, and Clemens may never make it into the Hall of Fame because of their lapse of judgement, we know our God is a loving God and while it may come at a cost we will one day be with Him in his kingdow.

I Can Do

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I absolutely love this verse because it gives anyone needing motivation the ability to move on if they truly believe. In 1988, the Los Angeles Dodgers squared off against the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. The year prior Kirby Puckett hit his iconic walk off home run to lead the Minnesota Twins to victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. In the American League Championship Series, the Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers, who featured impending free agent Kirk Gibson. As the story goes Gibson would leave Detroit and head to warmer climates and sign with the Dodgers. During the regular season Gibson was on a terror hitting .290 hits, 25 home runs with 76 RBI’s leading his Dodgers to a Division Championship. Gibson would go on to win the NL MVP, but he was not alone, the Dodgers were a stacked team featuring Mike Marshall, John Shelby, Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Orel Hershiser, and Fernando Valenzuela. The Dodgers would win 94 games that season. Orel Hershiser would have a 59 scoreless inning streak on his way to winning the Cy Young Award. However, as great as these accomplishments would be these are not the things people remember about the 88′ Dodgers and Kirk Gibson.

As strong as a line-up the Dodgers had they entered the playoffs as underdogs. Their big free agent signing was injured. Both his legs were wounded. Gibson injured both legs during the NLCS, and would not start Game 1. In the early going the Dodgers would take the lead only to see it slip away following a Jose Canseco grand slam. The Dodgers would draw closer cutting the Oakland lead to one. Gibson remained in the clubhouse watching the game.

For the majority of the game, it was believed Gibson would be unavailable to players. In fact, legendary broadcaster, then dug out commentator Vin Scully is working for NBC during the World Series, mentioned Gibson was no where to be found. Upon hearing this Gibson would inform his manager Tommy Lasorda he was available to pinch hit. Gibson still injured began to take batting practice and the one run lead held into the 9th. Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley came in to slam the door shut. Eckersley coming off a 45 save season seem like he would get the win for Dave Stewart. Eckersley would make easy work of the first two Dodgers hitters. Mike Davis comes to the plate, but Lasorda hid his cards and sent Dave Anderson to the on-deck circle to continue to conceal the availability of Gibson. Eckersley pitched around Mike Davis, assuming Anderson would come to the plate. Anderson would be pulled back and Kirk Gibson would come to the plate with his two injured legs.

Gibson likely would only make to to first base if he were to put the ball in play. He was not able to let anything out. Gibson had his power and his wits. The count went full and Gibson instinctively believed Eckersley would throw his backdoor slider, and he did. Gibson hit the pitch to the right and out of the park. It was far from a home run as Gibson walked around the bases and pumped his fist as his teammates stormed the field. The Dodgers won the game, 5–4. Gibson did not have another plate appearance in the World Series. However, his impact was nonetheless the catalyst which sparked the Dodgers to win.

Gibson never for a moment thought he couldn’t hit in that game and made himself available hitting one of the most iconic home runs in baseball history. Even when the reports are saying we are out God can get us through it. We may be down and hurt, but God can get us through it. He can get us through the pain, loss, doubt, and more. God can get us through all. We need to walk each day believing this, we need to know God will get us through.

Is the Lord In Our Homes?

Joshua 24:15
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

 This is such a powerful verse because not only does it show commitment to the Lord, but it also shows the free will he gives us. In this situation no one was forcing anyone to believe, but Joshua is giving a precautionary to the Israelis that you are free to believe what you want, but he and his family serve the Lord. At the time Joshua is warning Israel of their lack of faith in God. Joshua through much of this book warns the Israelis that their rebellion against God is preventing them from receiving his full favor. If we chose to serve God we will receive the fullness of his favor. Does this mean life will be perfect if we do, no, but God gives us transgressions to build our lives, and to make us better. 

Today we must ask ourselves is our house serving the Lord? Are we showing undying commitment to the Lord, or are we needing of some revived faith? God is waiting for us, and he wants our commitment, which is a portion of what he requires from us. While we may not be able to be the voice of all our family, we can set the tone. We can set an expectation. We as Christians need to set the example. Even if those around us may not be on board right now, we must live the life Christ wants us to live. If we can set the table and say “I will serve the Lord today!” Then they may follow, and if your home is on board and follows God, we should be asking how can we serve him better. Listen as he speaks to you, and humble yourself before him in pray.

A bit of an interesting tale to this would be a recent change in my life. Its a great example of how we can be the example for our families. Recently, my father was baptized, and it was not without a struggle, but finally he made his way to church. Through my life he was a believer, but never took his faith to the next level. Through roughly two decades of prayer from my mother and our pastors my dad made it to church. As I mentioned months ago I am preparing to go to seminary, and it is inspiring to see how one’s life can change even later is life. Its a great message of perseverance. While your loved ones may not believe, we can only set the example. We can’t push, but we can pray, and we can seek support. However, if you are not setting the example it may never come. 

Prayer:
Father, thank you for your wondrous gifts
We pray for those around us who may not have the faith in you we know you deserve
Lord, may they come to you, and may they feel your presence.
Father, let us be shepherds to them when they seek to join our flock. 
Allow those seeking the transformation of loved ones allow them the patience and power to transform their lives.
Allow us to be great ambassadors for you Lord, and continue to give us the tools to serve you.
Continue to be with us, and remind us when we are getting off course.
Thank you for all you do for us.
In Jesus Name, Amen!    

He Hears us Cry

Psalms 116:1-2
I love the Lord. He heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
What a powerful message here. God will always listen, I always recall as a child hearing God will give you what you ask for, but sometimes the answer may be wait, and sometimes we don’t understand his answer. I remember at a young age I lost my Grandmother, and by nature one ask for their dying loved ones to live. In life we will go through pain, and death is something we have to all encounter, but at the end of the day God has a plan for us all. The reason I state this is one of the reasons many people question the Lord is this precise issue. We mourn because its natural, but the reality of it all is life is not over at death, just our stay on Earth. Many people will pray for their dying loved ones to live, but sometimes God has bigger plans for them so what many people will see as a no, is not. Their life will go on, but unfortunately we do not get to see these individuals again on Earth. Death is something that is never easy to take. It takes time to overcome, if you ever overcome it fully. We by nature are designed to love, and we love those around us.
We will cry, we will hurt, but we loved these individuals. One of my favorite quotes is by Washington Irving who states “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.” However, at the end of the day he has our backs when we are in need. God calls us to love, love him, love yourself, love your neighbor, love your colleagues, love the annoying, love the friendly, love all creeds, colors, faiths, and genders. God wants us to love. God loves us more than you can believe. Think about the ones you love and how you feel about them, then multiply that and that’s God’s love. Even when we sin he loves us, even when we may go down an unholy course he still loves us. He as that we love him, and he will give us eternal life.  He will always be there. Our God is great, he will listen when we triumphs, and as the verse states when we cry. His love never fails, it never lets us down, God is there always. His love for us unspeakable.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we know you love us with all your heart
Lord while times may be tough let us always know you are listening
While we may not get the answer we may be seeking let us always know you care
Father, you are great, thank you for always listening
Thank You, for always having our best interest in mind. 
Let us always follow you
In Jesus Name, Amen!

He Who Overcomes

Revelation 3:21

21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Perseverance is a major challenge for athletes today. There are times where they will be faced with a number of physical, mental, and emotional challenges. As a member of the military and a former I personally can relate. This is where the concept of the heart comes in. While everyone has potential and everyone is talented what separate other great players from great players is here and there will. It’s what separates heroes and legends and as we know “Heroes gets remembered, but legends never die.” Which is what making Jesus’s sacrifice so important, the greatest legend of them all. He preserved and overcame many obstacles. He endured one of the most brutal deaths known to humanity and overcame death to live again. While there is no other comparison, it takes a great deal of strength and perseverance to overcome a rough upbringing, or a painful injury. Josh Hamilton is a baseball player whose talent is unquestioned, but his off-field problems are often more highlighted than his actual talent. Hamilton the first overall for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was considered a shoe in talent. He was supposed to be the next five tool talent. Hamilton had power, speed, and a drug addiction. Unfortunately for Hamilton the drug addiction took over his life for the majority of his early career. Josh Hamilton fell off the radar until 2007.

In 2007, the Chicago Cubs picked for the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft they selected Josh Hamilton. Hamilton due to the nature of the rule 5 played the entire season for the Reds. Hamilton finally made his debut and he did not disappoint. However, in the off-season the Reds saw a need for pitching and dealt him to Texas for Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera, the Rangers would win the trade by a long shot. Since then the rest has been history. Hamilton would go on to win the 2010 MVP award as well as the ALCS MVP. He is a 5 time All-Star, 2010 Batting Champ, and a 3 time silver slugger award winner. Hamilton’s career got off on the wrong foot, but once he overcame his addiction, he was truly something amazing to watch. He currently has 198 home runs, 697 RBI’s, and a 27.6 career wins above replacement. Recently, Hamilton relapsed, but once again he persevered. He was able to use his faith to overcome his addiction, and get back to baseball. While addiction is a powerful thing to overcome, Hamilton has done it multiple times. It has cost him many things in his life, including a prosperous career. The game may never know how great Hamilton could have been, but in the mean time Hamilton is the image of a player who has gone face to face with addiction and overcame it, relapsed multiple times, and then persevered again. While many of you may wonder why I chose Hamilton, it’s actually quite simple. We will not sin only once in our life so time and time again like Hamilton we will have to overcome our problems. We will be tempted day in and day out, but those who can move past and persevere can be with him one day.

Through Him We Shall Not Be Shaken

Psalms 16:8
I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken. 

While many of you know the story its nonetheless a powerful one to motivate us to great things. Cut from his high school basketball team, a young Michael Jeffrey Jordan was devastated, it was a huge blow to his dream. However, Michael never quit, he kept his goal in mind. Michael played and played and eventually began to stand out. Michael would eventually attend the University of North Carolina taking his Tar Heels to the 1982 National Championship. Soon after , Michael would be drafted by the Chicago Bulls and the rest would become history. His career resume would go on to look something like this:

  • 6 time NBA Champion
  • 6 time Finals MVP
  • 5 time NBA MVP
  • 14 time All Star
  • 3 time All Star Game MVP
  • 10 time All NBA First Team
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • 9 time NBA All Defensive First Team
  • NBA Rookie of the Year
  • 2 time Slam Dunk Contest Champ
  • 3 time Steals Champion
  • 10 time NBA Scoring Champion
  • Chicago Bulls All Time Scoring Leader
  • 23 Retired by Chicago Bulls and North Carolina
  • 3 time AP Athlete of the Year
  • 2 time USA Basketball Athlete of the Year
  • 50th Anniversary All-Time Team

When talking about Michael Jordan there is no questioning his talent. In fact, Michael is the near consensus best player to ever play the game. His undying motivation would lead him to new levels. He continued to strive for great things. He would not let a simple detour, keep him off the road he needed to follow to become a legend. Michael Jordan’s skills spoke for themselves, but what set him apart was his heart and love for the game. It seemed to provide him focus, and a leg above the competition. Michael’s determination is something we can learn from. We should put ourselves in a position to strive for great things in the name of the Lord. With our God by our side, we can become great. Our God is Great and he is a big, mighty, and powerful one. With God on our side set backs in life should not shake us. We need to make our set backs motivation, and that motivation will fuel us to greater things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Had Michael let the set back early in his life stop him the game of basketball would have never been the same. We may have never seen the greatest player to play the game to date. We must shake off the set back and keep on our path because with God all things are possible. While we may never become the best basketball player of all-time, we can do great things in the name of the Lord.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for all you do for us
We know that with you by our sides anything is possible
Allow us to remain on the course you have outline for our lives
When adversity sets in allow us to remain strong and not shaken
With you on our side Lord we can remain strong
Allow us to see the plans you have for us and keep us strong when it seems there is no hope
Let us always keep our faith in you
In Jesus Name, Amen!