Today’s featured song comes from a group that began in Brainerd, Minnesota. Silverline is one of those Christian rock bands that have been overshadowed and replaced with soft rock that Christian radio stations prefer to play. I initially discovered Silverline while searching for new music online. However, their lyrics on ballads like Too Far Gone from Silverline’s Lights Out album have moved me to listen more.
A wise man’s heart turns him toward his right hand, but a fool’s heart toward his left, Ecclesiastes 10:2.
Back when Chip Kelly became the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he intergraded music into drills and practices. This inspired me to create 4 different mixes which I played at baseball practices. Get It Right was one of the first songs on mix number one. Instead of getting it right spiritually, I spent time in between drills to instill proper techniques. If you want to get your life back on track, Get It Right is a good place to start.
Since I wasn’t a good student early on in high school, I poured my heart and soul into sports. Whether I was running cross country, swimming, playing baseball or golf, I developed a fervor for greatness. I may have not been the most athletic and physically gifted individual, but I wanted to win more than most of my peers. While I didn’t have much of a social life, I didn’t care as long as I improved daily.
But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live [f]by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him, Hebrews 10:38.
This is the type of passion the Bible refers to in the passage above. Faith provides a similar adrenaline rush that I experienced as an athlete. However, this conviction comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than seek to become a winner in a competition, faith is a driving force to deepen my personal relationship with Jesus. When God becomes who you seek to delight, holy fervor is conceived.
A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers. 24 God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality), John 4:23-24.
During a conversation with a Samaritan woman, Jesus reveals how a desire for truth can give birth to holy fervor. Despite the flaws in this recently divorced woman’s life, a fire began to burn deep within her heart as Jesus spoke. This is the same sensation I experienced as a freshman in college when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to make Jesus the Lord of my life. Regardless of what happens this holiday season, make room for Jesus so that you may embrace holy fervor.
The first organized sport that I played after moving to Delaware was basketball. Unlike baseball which is more of an individual sport when you’re batting, I learned that you needed all five players on the court to be on the same page. If someone forgot their position and role, the play our coach called didn’t work. During a timeout, I can remember one of the coaches asking, “are you able to do this?”
And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, 5 But for [a]Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed, Genesis 4:4-5.
According to Moses, Able was the second child born on earth to Adam and Eve. While his older brother Cain followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer, Able decided to become a shepherd. Perhaps Cain was pressured by dad to carry on the family business. Whatever the reason, Abel seemed to delight in his new trade. This contentment inside of Able made Cain envious and jealous.
[Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking, Hebrews 11:4.
This internal struggle forced God to intervene in Genesis 4:5-7. Apparently, God approached Cain and spoke to him about what was going on. Commenting about his depressed appearance, God asks an open-ended question. “Are you able to master the sinful thoughts crouching at the front door of your soul?” This question is repeated every time human beings are confronted by a tempting situation today. The next time you find yourself in a similar state as Cain, are you able to overcome sinful desires?
Mark Reynolds struck out 223 times during the 2009 Major League Baseball Season. This record in futility was nearly broken by Adam Dunn, Chris Davis, and Yoan Moncada in the last decade. Perhaps, some of these players requested to be benched late in the season to avoid replacing Reynolds for the most strike outs by a hitter in a season. Over the course of a season, batters can strike out on a caught fouled tip, go down looking or with a swing and a miss.
But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness. 17 And their teaching [will devour; it] will eat its way like cancer or spread like gangrene. So it is with Hymenaeus and Philetus, 2 Timothy 2:16-17.
In a letter to a teenage pastor, the apostle Paul uses an analogy that is similar to a swing and a miss. Since baseball wasn’t invented until 1839 by Abner Doubleday, Paul uses an archery expression. According to a Creation Today article, the term sin in the Bible comes from archery. To miss the mark in Greek literally means to sin. Therefore, whenever you fail to do what God wants you to, this miss has eternal consequences.
Who have missed the mark and swerved from the truth by arguing that the resurrection has already taken place. They are undermining the faith of some, 2 Timothy 2:18.
When Christian leaders missed the mark in the first century, Paul wasn’t afraid to call these individuals out. Hymenaeus and Philetus were called out by name for undermining the faith of others. What were these two men guilty of? They did not keep to the Scriptures of truth, but deviated from them by using justification to rationalize their behavior. Since everyone misses the mark and swings and misses, Romans 3:9-12, confess your sins as soon as possible so that healing and reconciliation can begin.
Beside Christmas morning, my favorite day of the year as a child was Opening Day of Little League Baseball. The smell of freshly cut grass, dressing up in a brand new uniform and hearing my name called during the opening ceremonies inspired me to play baseball. When I finally reached the majors as a twelve year old, I was the lead off hitter and starting pitcher. After nearly homering on the first pitch of the season, I was left stranded at second base. After this hit, it was all down hill as I never made it out of the first inning. If ESPN was covering this 31-19 loss, the analyst’s would describe my pitching performance as “getting lite up and rocked.”
And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:9.
This shocking result haunted me for a couple of years. Instead of fighting through adversity, I often took myself out of the game, losing confidence in my ability to pitch. The harder I threw, the further the ball flew, putting my head down on numerous occasions after giving up home runs to opposing batters. I went from standing tall on the mound to losing my love for this game. No one likes to lose and the more I did as a pitcher, I doubted that I would ever taste success again. Just prior to my only season of high school baseball, my 8th grade coach believed in me. Although the rest of our staff threw harder and were more talented, I had a better command of the strike zone. Thus, when I was named the opening day starting pitcher, I longed for redemption. This time I struck out the side in the first and pitched a complete game, earning the victory.
So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:10.
After watching episode 12 from Season 2 of Joan of Arcadia, I was inspired to write this blog. Joan was fighting her own battle with confidence. Following an embarrassing encounter with her guidance counselor, Joan was told she had no future at a four year college. This news caused Joan to lower her expectations, deciding to attend a trade school rather than apply to colleges. After meeting a tutor, receiving encouragement from her mother and support from a friend, Joan realized that she took herself out of the game of life. Discouragement kept Joan on the bench, afraid of another embarrassing setback. Using an uncanny gift for Rock, Paper, Scissors, Joan challenges two of the smartest students in school to this game. After easily defeating the first boy, Joan faces her brother Luke in a best of three duel. Despite losing in overtime, Joan realizes that it’s time to get back in the game. If you’re afraid of defeat, may this blog inspire you to face your fear of failure by getting back into the game of life.
As an adult, there will be many memorable moments in your life. When things are going good, you may be having such a great time that you forget your responsibility as a parent. While coaching and teaching at Red Lion, I neglected my family, spending countless hours each week grading papers, preparing lesson plans and overseeing my golf team. In my free time, I played on a church softball team every Friday night. About 10 years ago, I was so consumed with my own life that I had become an absent father.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.
One night I was able to watch James play in a Little League baseball game. His team lost 2-1, but James hit an inside the park home run. The only other time James got up he doubled, but go stranded on base as the game ended. I was surprised to see James batting 10th. Sure, every parent believes that their child is better they actually are, but batting at the bottom of the lineup didn’t make sense. After a conversation with a neighbor, I discovered James used the coaches son’s bat without asking. Thus, James was punished by his coach. This petty act led me to make a conscious decision to become more involved in the lives of my children. The following year I became one of James’ coach, the first of 7 straight years coaching or managing a team for Greater Newark Baseball.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.
Like I have mentioned in previous blogs, I do everything to the extreme. I’m either all in or mentally unattached. This conscious decision has made me spend most of my free time in the last decade attending activities, competitions and sporting events. Although I don’t have the friendships that I once did outside my home, I am seizing every moment left that I have with Daniel and Lydia before they graduate high school. I definitely don’t have the energy that I once did, but I am doing my best to be an active and supportive father. Looking back, maybe I could have done things differently, but I don’t regret my conscious decision to make my children and family a major priority.
Watching a sporting event can be like a television drama with unexpected twists and turns. As this presentation enfolds, it won’t take long to determine who is playing up to their potential and who is having a rough night. Baseball and golf events are prime examples as a hall of fame pitcher will have a night or two where it looks like there are throwing batting practice in a homerun derby. Meanwhile, David Duval, a former British Open champion started his opening round of the 2019 British Open one under par through six holes. Twelve holes and 20 over par later, a professional golfer shot 90 for 18 holes.
For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity, Proverbs 24:16.
You don’t have to play a sport to experience this strange phenomena. As a former teacher, some days I was on a roll, coming up with amazing examples to highlight my lesson plan. Then, out of the blue, I went through periods where I struggled to get my point across as students looked dazed and confused. Although preparation is necessary for any type of teaching, more time spent planning doesn’t always translate into success. While there isn’t a Bible verse that contains a direct link, all I can say to explain these occurrences is that “some days you have it and some days you don’t.”
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever, Psalm 73:26.
Solomon and the Psalmist provide advice for individuals who experience failure on days where they don’t have it. King Solomon states that the righteous keep getting back up no matter how many times they fail. Meanwhile, the Psalmist points to trusting in God to help you overcome disappointment and failure. King Solomon also encourages believers to learn from mistakes so that you don’t repeat epic failures from your past. No one likes to fail, but when you do lean on the hope in relief of God’s mercy, Lamentations 3:21-23.
Eight teen years ago today, my wife and I welcomed our second child Daniel into this world. As time passed, it became clear that our oldest James would be the student and that Daniel would become the athlete. While James has been blessed with more God given talent, Daniel is more passionate about sports. Whether it was baseball, golf or ultimate frisbee, Daniel always stood out, eventually becoming the best. With one year left of high school, only God knows the chapters left to be written.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, Jeremiah 29:11.
However, as Paul Harvey shared on the radio for years, the rest of the story reveals what could have been. At the height of his popularity, Daniel’s world came to a halt, almost losing his life to diabetes the summer before his freshman year of high school. There were subtle signs looking back, but I ignored these as needing to hydrate during a hot humid summer. The news of this diagnosis was shocking, especially for a young teenager. As a parent, there is a helpless feeling, unable to undo these events or heal my son to ease his pain. Despite the doctor’s visits, expensive treatments and uncertainty, I am thankful Daniel is alive and well today.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.
Unless you are diabetic, you can’t relate to the daily shots of insulin needed to stay alive. As technology advances, perhaps someone will create a new device to help ease this burden. Nonetheless, you can’t dwell on what could have been. Rather, for now God is teaching me to focus on what has come to be, a man who is seeking to pursue higher education. Exactly where is still a question mark, but if things proceed as planned, hopefully golf is part of God’s plan. You see, Daniel’s middle name is Payne, in honor of my favorite golfer Payne Stewart. Like a wise king once wrote, “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose previals.”
During the first century, thousands of people followed Jesus. Like a grass roots movement, many were eager to become a disciple. Unfortunately, Jesus already chose 12 men to become his disciples and another 72 to serve as a ministry team to prepare towns for upcoming visits. Thus, when a man healed by Jesus in the passages below wanted to get involved, Jesus sends him to the next logical place, his home town.
Jesus did not let him [come], but [instead] He said to him, “Go home to your family and tell them all the great things that the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you,” Mark 5:19.
In my first decade as a parent, I was too consumed by other interest outside of my home. During these initial years, I played in a competitive men’s softball league, coached high school golf and spent a majority of my free time grading papers. One night I was able to watch my son play baseball. In his first at bat, James hit a homerun. During his second at bat, he doubled, but was left on base. His team lost 2-1. When I saw he was batting 10th, I asked a neighbor who knew James’ coach. I found out that James was punished for using an expensive bat without asking. This event inspired me to finally get involved, spending the next 5 years coaching youth baseball.
So he [obeyed and] went away and began to publicly proclaim in Decapolis [the region of the ten Hellenistic cities] all the great things that Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished, Mark 5:20.
One of the things I have learned over the years is that you need to become great in your home before you can have an impact on your community. As I have heard several pastors proclaim, “happy wife, happy life,” getting involved starts in your home. When your family begins to notice a transformation within your own life, you can move outside into your community. This is easier for a demon possessed man who is now is his right mind. Yet, as the Holy Spirit begins to move within your heart, mind and soul, God can use you if you’re willing to get involved.
Winston Churchill once defined success as going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm. I wish I was familiar with this quote during my final two seasons as a youth baseball coach. I can’t remember how many games my team lost as defeat became of way of life. Since these 2 teams only won 4 games, just one in my final season, celebrations were few and far between. This likely explains Churchill’s emphasis on enthusiasm, learning from each failed attempt to ensure the same mistakes of the past aren’t repeated in future battles.
For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory, Deuteronomy 20:4.
In my first and only season as a head basketball coach, my players never experienced defeat, going 13-0. The only time this team trailed at the half was in the city championship game, down by 10 points. Clawing back in the second half, these players fought hard to send the game into overtime. On the final play in overtime, my sixth man collected a weak side rebound, tipping the ball in at the buzzer. When perfection is achieved, enthusiasm comes naturally. Yet, as a coach, sometimes failure serves as a wake up call. If a team despises losing, the fear of defeat motivates players to do everything in their power to ensure victory.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.
Last Friday I received news that Hollywood rejected my latest screen play. While this news should have been devastating, my soul was comforted by a Winston Churchill quote I heard on the radio. C.S. Lewis defined success as the process of arriving in Mere Christianity. A century earlier, Thomas Edison discovered 2000 ways how not to produce electricity before finally inventing the incandescent lightbulb. If you can learn one thing from history it is that failure is a necessary evil to spur souls on to reach their ultimate goal. As for me, I’m not sure if I will ever write a successful movie that is bought or produced by Hollywood. Nonetheless, if I turn to Christ who strengthens me, my enthusiasm for writing will return so that my dream of writing one screen play per year in retirement may soon become a reality. This is how I plan to bounce back from defeat.