Thursday, October 24, 2013

The World Series

The 2013 World Series is underway in a match that pits the Boston Red Sox against the St. Louis Cardinals. You might be thinking, “Who cares?”

I don’t mean that as a jab at baseball. I say that because that is what a Fox News poll indicated. The question posed was “Who will win?” Here is how people voted in the poll:

A.     Boston (28%)
B.     St. Louis (30%)
C.     I don’t care (42%)

This poll does not mean that Americans hate baseball. It is, after all, America’s pastime. The numbers might mean that people who happened to vote on Fox’s poll don’t like baseball; the numbers might have been much different on ESPN’s website. The numbers could also reflect that people “don’t care” because their team didn’t make it to the World Series (like my Rays).

But still, put yourself in the cleats of the ones playing on baseball’s largest stage. This is the event that these guys spent their childhood years dreaming of: stepping to the plate with a chance to bat your team to victory; standing on the mound trying to strike out the competition; diving for a ball in the gap and jumping up in time to throw the runner out. This is as big as it gets. And the majority of the people voted that they “don’t care.”

Whether or not this poll is really reflective of what Americans think of the Fall Classic, it still illustrates the point that some things in life aren’t as big of a deal as they seem at the time. Not that these things are wrong, sometimes our priorities get out of order. Here is how Solomon concluded his thoughts on life:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13

Some of those things that seem so important can really just be a distraction. Make sure that at the end of the day you are serving God and keeping His commands.

By the way, the Red Sox won Game 1 by a score of 8-1. Not that you care. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

College Football Playoff Selection Committee

This week the names were released of the 13 members who will make up the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. If you’re not familiar with college football, they have never had playoffs for “major” universities, just the smaller schools.

In the NFL the process is much easier: the top four teams from each division make up the 16-team playoff. College football has had a tricky time arriving at this point. Bowl games are major money makers (as in billions of dollars), and for years the Associated Press would vote on their National Champion. The Coaches’ Poll also voted on a National Champion. They usually elected the same team, but other years there were Co-Champions.

Then there was the BCS era. The Bowl Championship Series used human polls, computer rankings, strength of schedule, margin of victory, a little pixie dust, and a gallon of unleaded gas to crown its champ.

And now enters the playoff era. The problem is that only 4 teams will make the playoffs, so like with the BCS, teams will be left out and feel cheated. So the criticism has been that 13 people should not get to decide the fate of football’s highest honor.

I’ve heard similar complaints from people who don’t want God to be their Judge. “Is it all up to Him whether I go to heaven or hell?” Remember what Abraham said of the Lord in Genesis 18:25:

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Of course He will. He is good and fair. We don’t need to worry about God doing His part; we just need to make sure that we are ready for our judgment day. God’s selection process is much simpler than college football. Make Jesus your Lord and you are in. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Get Me Off Of It!"

“Daddy! A Spider! Get me off of it!”

My four-year-old daughter was panicking as she ran towards me, desperate for me to get her off of the spider. I couldn’t help but laugh at her mix up of words, especially because the spider was really a piece of thread on her arm.

Even though my daughter’s request was poorly worded, there was no confusion on my part as to what she actually wanted. If I were to take her literally, I would have concluded that she was standing on a spider and that I needed to pick her up. Fortunately I am able to interpret toddler language.

Sometimes we might go to God with poorly worded prayers, or perhaps we even ask Him for the wrong thing. There have been times in my life when I prayed for what I wanted, but what I wanted was not what I needed.

I believe that God looks down on us like we look at our toddlers; He knows we are limited in our knowledge and understanding, and therefore we pray for the wrong things. Our intentions are right, but our request comes across like “Get me off of it.”

Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit to help us. Look at Romans 8:26-27:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

In our human confusion we have a tendency to pray according to our will because we think our will makes perfect sense. In those moments the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf, praying for us according to God’s will.

God might answer our prayers in a way that confuses us at the time, but like a toddler, we have to trust that He knows best. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Newly Planted

One of the requirements that Paul gave Timothy is that a pastor should not be “a novice (1 Timothy 3:6).” Does that mean that a pastor cannot be a rookie? If so, then how much experience is required in order for someone to be a pastor? After all, everyone has to start somewhere.

The word that Paul used for novice means “newly planted.” Anyone who has ever done any gardening or landscaping understands that something newly planted cannot be left alone to fend for itself. It requires extra attention and care. You have to watch it to see if it needs water, more sunlight, shade from sunlight, fertilizer, or protection from the cold. You might need to stake it up, pull some weeds, or spray some bugs.

As the plant matures it will not require as much attention; it will be able to survive more on its own.

That is the goal of any believer; new converts are new plants, or novices. They need to be looked after and cared for until they mature. New converts are not yet ready to be pastors.

Who are you investing in? What new plant are you caring for as they mature into what God wants them to be? That young Christian could be the next pastor, missionary, or great worker for the kingdom. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The World's First Elevator

In Acts 9 we see Saul’s life on two extremes. When the chapter opens he is a terrorist who was “breathing out threats and murders” against the church, and by the chapter’s end he is being hunted down for being a believer.

As you may know, the difference was made when Saul saw the light. His encounter with Jesus left him a dramatically changed man, and it should do the same for us.

Near the end of the chapter the new-and-improved Saul is a marked man, being hunted by the Jews who “watched the gates day and night to kill him.” This is when Saul’s new family of faith steps in and invents the world’s first elevator.

Putting Saul in a basket, the believers lower him down from the backside of the wall, where he is able to escape and return to his home in Tarsus.

Saul was dependent upon his new brothers and sisters in Christ. You might find yourself in a similar boat (or basket) as Saul; don’t be too proud or afraid to ask for help.

Or maybe you are like the church members in Acts 9, and you have the means to help someone who is in need. Look for any way to help. Be creative. Invent an elevator.

If someone is depending on you for help, don’t let them down. Unless they are in a basket.