Monday, September 28, 2015

Devotion 9.28.15

Did you know...? 

A study was done in the 1990s in which the researchers interviewed Harvard graduates.  The question as they were still in cap and gown?  "What causes the phases of the moon?" A high percentage stated that the phases of the moon are the result of what caused last night's much anticipated and watched lunar eclipse.  Each graduate would say, "The earth coming between the sun and moon," as his or her answer to the question, which is incorrect.  What causes such a high percentage of people to be wrong?  The answer is someone somewhere in their education got it wrong.  Educators are taught this to stress the importance of being correct conceptually and factually in what we teach because it takes considerable effort to re-teach a concept or fact learned incorrectly.  Which was why the Harvard answers were used to stress that point.

As Christians, where do we "get it wrong?"  We have the Word of God in front of us, yet we still act as though God's Word is news to us.  Take the example of the disciples in Matthew, who only heard Christ tell them of his suffering, death, and resurrection three times, and each time Christ told them of this, you could sense the loss of the magnitude of his words on them.  In one case, we hear the disciples begin to ask who, then, would be first in his kingdom and sit at his right and left, as though they understood he would die, so who would take his place? (Matthew 20)

When are we most like this?  We have read and heard the message, but we just don't get it?  Pray that we seek God's Will in our lives and that we learn to apply the answers God provides from his Word correctly, in heart and mind.

Hope Men's Ministry

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Devotion 9.25.15

The pope has come to America and people seem genuinely enamored by his presence.  While perhaps some people may come to faith as a result of his visit, we do realize the vast differences that genuinely separate our faiths.

Christ says, "I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well." (John 14:6)

Faith is our only justification and is a gift from God. "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

The Spirit intercedes in our prayers. "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26)

Our works are in response to the love of Christ and Christ alone, and not for justification or any other "good" in the eyes of people or God. "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

We pray that those who listen to the pope, or anyone representing themselves as people of faith, hear the truth, and we pray that God's truth come to us through the Spirit.  We pray that we are on guard, all of us, to speak the truth in love from God's Word and not our own understanding of God's Word.

We pray that good may come from the pope's widely covered visit, and that people are moved to the truth of God's grace through his Son Jesus Christ and Christ alone.  We pray they hear and understand the miracle of justification provided from God's gift of his Son through his suffering, death, and resurrection, and that our only means of grace is from Christ and the gift of faith from the Spirit.

Hope Men's Ministry


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Devotion 9.23.15

Lawrence "Yogi" Berra was born in 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri.  He lived on "The Hill," which my father-in-law (also from St. Louis and born three years later) called "Dago Hill," a slang (and derogatory, I realize, but it adds to the flavor of St. Louis and the era) term for Italians.  Like all the kids of their time, cork ball in the streets of the city was how baseball was learned. 

Berra was known for scrappy play as catcher for the NY Yankees from 1946 - 1963, and he was an active part of a team that went to the World Series 14 times while he played winning 10 times.  Berra is a Hall of Fame player who moved baseball from the radio and ballpark era to the television era, noted in David Halberstam's "Summer of '49."  Berra was aggressive behind the plate and was a hitter as well.  When being teased by his teammates for his ugly facial features, Berra noted, "You don't hit with your face."

Berra had a serious side to him, having served in the Navy in World War II participating in the invasion of Normandy.

We know him best for his "yogi-isms," and they are many.  When asked for directions to his house, he knew that the driver would come to a fork in the road, which he also knew either choice would get you there.  We know it as the "when you come a fork in the road, take it" comment.  As a lifetime learner of the sport, he noted once that with baseball, "You can observe a lot just by watching."  And of course, his observations were keen having been a catcher turned manager.  When discussing his team, he once stated astutely, "We made too many wrong mistakes."

Berra is the end of an era for us.  He was the last of a period in which baseball was unrivaled and the last of a dynasty in the NY Yankees.  Baseball is much more statistical these days with its sophisticated "metric" system.  Casey Stengel, a fellow Missourian who managed the Yankees while Berra was the catcher, chose to ignore stats and followed his instincts.  Angry with a heavily hung-over Mickey Mantel early in Mantle's career, Stengel finally pulled him off the bench just to make him suffer and at least go bat.  Mantle begged off, but Stengel made him bat.  The story is that Mantle went out and promptly hit a home run, jogged the bases, and returned to the bench.  Stengel's point languished in Mantle's success.

Yet for those of us who saw Berra as a manager (and some may have seen him play), that era is gone, and Berra's passing tells us that.  The generation that defined the United States in the 20th century is slipping away from us.

So, we are left to wonder if Berra's observation will hold true.  "You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours."  One observation we note that holds no truth is this, "It ain't over 'til it's over."  Yogi, as believers, it's never over.  Our lives may slip away from grip of our earthly existence, but the promise of Christ's resurrection is there for us all.  So, we will meet one day and see if God is enjoying your presence as much as we did, complete with an interpreter.

We are saddened by his passing, and saddened further that the generation that served us so well in so many ways leaves us, but we rejoice in the resurrection and everlasting life provided for us.  It won't be the same without Yogi. As he once said, "The future, it ain't what it used to be."

Hope Men's Ministry

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Devotion 9.21.15

It's never too late.  Working on a Ph.D. in astrophysics in 1974, the man had a conflict with a job, so he chose to put off the dissertation to pursue the career opportunity.  Finally, in 2007, he completed his Ph.D. and worked on the project that is bringing us images from Pluto.

So, still being part of the career path he chose, he now enjoys the best of both worlds.  What was his career that delayed his work on studying light bouncing off dust in space?  Rock music.  His name is Brian May, and he plays guitar for a band named Queen which brought a host of hits in the 1970s and 80s.  Brian learned it's never too late.

Now, you can go tell me that the university gave some leeway to Dr. May because he was Brian May, but I somehow think that's not true, given my interaction in programs as rigorous and prestigious as Astrophysics. Having met professors who believe their job is to maintain purity in the program, Dr. May probably had his work cut out for him, but he learned it's never too late.  He made a difference once he completed his work and became Dr. May in fact.

That's true in faith as well.  It's never too late.  Christ teaches us that in the "Parable of the Vineyard."  (Matthew 20:1 - 16)  Essentially, men hired at the beginning of the day were paid the same wage as people hired at the end of the day.  Of course, like with all of us, that created some dissention.  The owner of the vineyard answers, "I am not being unfair to you, friend.  Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.  I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?  Or are you envious because I am generous?  So, the last will be first and the first will be last." (13 - 16)

Note the direct answer from Christ.  "I am not being unfair.  Take your pay and go. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?"  Translation: My forgiveness at anytime is not unfair no matter the sin, and the man who comes to me and receives faith gets the same grace you do, because it is I who provide faith and forgiveness and mercy.

We will rejoice in heaven regardless of when a person came to faith or who that person is.  We pray for those around us that the Spirit move them to faith and that they receive that forgiveness, love, mercy and grace that awaits them.  It's never too late.

Hope Men's Ministry

For more on Brian May and the Pluto project, click here for a brief article from The Smithsonian.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Devotion 9.17.15

There was a group who did business with our education entity in the early 2000s, a software company, and they would come to Lubbock periodically to review how business was going.  We would then adjourn our business for the day and go out to eat at night.  During a discussion of the state of education in Texas, public education to be specific, one man I worked with used the phrase "carpe diem" or "seize the day."  Further along in the discussion, one man from the company looked at us and said, "I think it is as you say.  We have to seize the void!"  One of his colleagues said, "I think you mean day Bill."  Oh, was all he said.

Point made.  Fill the void and seize the day because if you don't, someone or something else will.  While educators are by and large ignorant politically, hence they take ritual beatings from politicians, the profession of education is a fine profession (minus a few bad actors as with any profession or job).  Yet sometimes the opportunity is right there, and educators don't seize it.

Unfortunately, that is true for everyone reading this at this point.  Opportunities missed.  Some opportunities missed are significant enough in God's eyes to be sin.  Specifically they are called "sins of omission."  "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:17)  Christ says it this way, "For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink.  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." (Matthew 25:42, 43)  You know the rest.  The crowd asks when did that happen?  To which Christ answers, "...as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me." (45) 

Strong words.  To not act in the moment when something presents itself is a sin.  Yes, we wrestle with this daily.  What about the ... ? is the usual question that is about the man who stands on the corner daily asking for money or says he will work for food or other questions along those line.  The only thing I can say is, "Yes, we have to wrestle with that and pray we make the right decision."  Those in need may be right under your roof and circle their way into other circles of influence you may have. They may be strangers.  They may be people in other people's areas of influence, not yours.

Yet we know that if we don't seize that moment, someone or something else will, and it may not be a Christ-filled message.

The first we can do is pray for those situations and those people specifically.  The second thing we can do is be familiar with services that might assist those in need to direct people in need.  Maybe we can get directly involved if the opportunity unfolds.

Pray we seize those moments so that Christ's light can shine through us to others.

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Devotion 9.16.15


I write this Tuesday morning well before Tuesday evening and even further ahead of tomorrow morning.  My anxiety level is high.  My blood pressure is stable.  I haven't eaten less, nor am I losing any sleep.  Yet my Astros are taking me to the edge.  Since some are fond of using "edge" as a name for a ministry, I would name this ministry "Ballpark's Edge."

I realize that here in Lubbock there is little sympathy since Lubbock uses "we" when speaking of the Texas Rangers, who are pushing the Astros to the brink in the "Ballpark's Edge."  Maybe even some glee when they use the "we."  Yet the Astros were forced to wander for 40 years in the desert of baseball for sins of a generation (probably abandoning a perfectly good ballpark called the Astrodome) and as the Astros fell into disrepair, the Rangers began to win (probably because they abandoned a perfectly bad ballpark and built the beautiful Ballpark at Arlington, renamed Globe Life Ball Park).  With that, baseball is my angst, albatross, the anchor around my neck, yet it is also my joy, the one game that takes my passion for sport.

Now I'm writing blind of the fact of a win or a loss, and to watch the game is to place my nerves on the scale that measures the strength of a tornado around F8 or F9 (see, that's funny to some who study these things knowing it only goes to F5).  These are the joys of sports but baseball, afterall, is primarily about suffering.

What do they sit on the edge of in Uganda and wait in anticipation?  Soccer is certainly a sport they enjoy.  My son brought back a jersey from Uganda's soccer team for me when he went in 2011, but I didn't have the conversation in an exchange you might have in a cultural exchange.  What are their passions?  What are those things they talk about on the street corners and in places where people gather?

The church has a definite role in Ugandan culture.  One person speaking at our church recently talked about the absence of men within the parenting age, which is probably a result of AIDS which is rampant in Africa. This has left many women of childbearing age, older men and women, and young children fatherless, husbandless, and without support as people age.  The church attempts to fill that void with food, clothing, education and other social supports.  The church also works with the Holy Spirit to bring faith to those in need of hearing God's Word which hopefully transforms people.  We are a part of that support and learn from the church in Uganda as we work within our own community here.

The Ugandan culture has placed faith and its role in our lives in context.  There are other joys in life, but the church speaking the message of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection gives hope.  That hope that only Christ can give.  We can learn from that in our own community.

We pray for that ministry within our own church, and we pray that all of our ministries, our school, Lubbock Impact, Uganda, Men's Ministry, Lutheran Women's Missionary League, youth, worship and Bible study, and the others all have an impact of spreading God's Word to a world in need.

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, September 14, 2015

Devotion 9.15.15

Thriving organizations - private, public, non-profit - are organizations that understand their mission and act on that mission daily.  We know there are characteristics that separate a thriving organization above others that are merely good, satisfactory, or maybe even better than good.  Thriving organizations seek a sense of societal well-being as part of their fabric of who they are.  Consequently, thriving organizations give back to the community in significant ways, and you can think of many examples of companies and organizations big and small that leave a positive footprint on the landscape through their donations, their matching fund drives, and their giving of employee time and effort to a cause.

With that, a church would be a logical body that would do just those things, wouldn't it?  Believe it or not, the biggest chasm I've witnessed within churches personally is a divide over the purpose of the church.  Are we here for members, or are we here for non-members?  Great churches, like great organizations, realize the church is here to be a part of the community while conducting the tenets of faith (teaching, preaching, sacraments) for the purpose of preparing members to go out into the mission fields.  It really isn't either/or.  It actually is "all of the above."

Solomon reminds us in Proverbs, "Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered."  (21:13)  Throughout that Proverb, Solomon strikes the theme of doing "God's will."  "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.  To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." (21:1 - 3)  We may argue, at times, about the role of the church in our lives and others, but God's Will will be done.

Christ says it this way, "But when you give to the needy, do not let you  left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that you giving may be in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:3 - 4)  Christ also reminds us in Matthew 7, "Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (12)

Charity, mission, outreach are a part of who we are as Christians, and it must be done in balance within our faith lives.  Our mission field workers returned safely from Uganda, learning from the Lutheran Christians in Uganda and supporting their efforts with work in infrastructure and financial support (buildings for schools, seminary, church, wells, etc.).  We don't do so to gain favor in God's eyes, but we do so as an extension of ourselves. Like thriving organizations, we hope to do so to see beyond our walls of our church and give to our community locally and throughout the world.

Pray for our mission in Uganda and pray that our efforts spread God's Word.  Pray we learn from the Ugandans as they also teach us about faith and its application in our daily lives.

Hope Men's Ministry

Devotion 9.14.15

It occurred sometime in the late 1800s according to my historical research.  See, the bands of local universities would play every Saturday in the fall at that time, and one day, Fennius Worchblach at Brethren State University out in the territories, asked the band director if his football team might play before and after the band performs against the newly formed Ag Tech.  The band director thought it might be a great way to bring a bigger crowd to the performance, and so he conceded to Fennius.

Today the tradition continues.  Thousands gather to watch the band surrounded by two halves of football.  Actually, I grow disheartened at halftime when thousands actually poor out of the stadium when the band comes on the field because I love a good halftime show (and personally speaking the Goin' Band from Raiderland is a great halftime show).  Even television has dumped halftime shows in favor of Larry, Curly, and Moe talking ad nauseum about a game whose stats are really not all that interesting (comparatively speaking - baseball being the statistical sport of this nation).  What has caused this phenomenon?  Supposedly the fantasy football movement.  Fans are now obsessed with hearing analyses because we are selecting teams ourselves, and in some cases spending a great deal of money to do so.  Consequently, we get some ex-players to toss on a pair of glasses and use words that have more than one syllable, and we deem them worthy of analysis.

It does seem, however, that the fan base grows in sports as fans become more engaged in the game via activities like fantasy football, baseball, basketball, golf.... and others I'm sure.

How are we in terms of engagement in our faith?  What is it that we seek in terms of being involved in something we deem to be central to who we are?  A friend of mine (elderly gentleman named Juergan) was fond of saying, "Christianity is a full contact sport!  Are you in the game or on the sideline?"  Well, are we in the game?

One aspect of engagement is prayer.  Christ demonstrated the importance of prayer throughout his ministry, teaching us how to pray and being deeply in prayer on the night of his arrest.  In Matthew 6, he starts by warning, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them...."  (v 1) Engagement in faith is not a "thing" to be put on display.  He continues in verse 5 by stating that when we pray, we "must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, that they may be seen by others.... But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father in private."

We pray to our Lord for various things.  We confess our sins, give thanks for our blessings, and ask for things we believe we need.  But I don't know what to say, some will answer.  "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray as we ought ,but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26)

We pray to God in earnest as part of our faith He has given us.  Sometimes we don't know how to ask or what to say, but God's Spirit will intercede for us as our words fail us.  Pray for that engagement in faith in Christ Jesus.

Hope Men's Ministry

Friday, September 11, 2015

9.11.15

We would be remiss to not pause at some point in the day to remember this day.  In our sin-filled world, there have been other days.  General Robert E. Lee said during a battle in the bloodiest war our country has fought, "It is good that war is so horrible, or we should grow to like it," yet they continue.  Yet for many of us, this day marked a turning point in our world-view, and maybe that even shaped how we view the world through our faith.  Christ's command to love our enemy (Matthew 5:44) became even more difficult to comprehend for us, and if you are like me, I see that passage and say, "Yes, but I still want to make them pay."

Yet even those issues we faced in our history, like the Civil War, still haunt us today.  We are sinful in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  It is na├»ve, in many ways, to assume these actions, battles, and wars will ever cease, but it is wrong to also not have hope.  Paul, himself a terrorist to the Christians at one time, writes this:  "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has ben pour out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:1 - 5)

So on today, we pray for those who lost loved ones that day or in the following years as we fight to counter terrorism in hopes of stopping it.  We lift a prayer of thanks for those who put their lives on the line daily for us in far away places as well as close to home.  We ask that God forgive us for our sins, and we ask that God forgive those who sin against us, as we, too, forgive others not so easy to forgive.

"Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:2 - 5

Go in peace, serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Hope Men's Ministry

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Devotion 9.10.15

What do you want history to say about you?  What do you want people to think of you when you are no longer here?  That's the question I think we all mill around in our head during our lifetime.  Some leadership thinkers refer to it as "legacy."  What kind of legacy do you want to leave?  We ask it as employees, parents, citizens in a republic engaged in civic duties from civic organizations to political involvement, and we ask it as church.  We want to make that difference, and we want it to be lasting. 

Yet is that the truth?

Hopefully legacy at graveside will be truthful, the complete and total truth.  Hopefully, the pastor will tell the people at the funeral (for my wife I'm guessing, I will be dead and won't care) the truth.

"My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26)  Those two things failed me during the prime of my life and at the end of my life, and my only hope in this life was a legacy of being in Christ, the "strength of my heart and my portion forever."  We are mere men, and we are fallible men at best, sinful at worst.  "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1)

The only legacy at my funeral should be the truth, that Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection made this day possible for this frail and highly fallible human, and that same promise is here for others.  That day should be a day of rejoicing about the promise that even a sinner such as myself can receive that gift of grace in Christ Jesus.

Not that I've been given news to consider this moment in life, but as we sit here each day and reflect about who we are and what we desire out of life, hopefully the biggest and strongest desire is to be with Christ.  That desire will not be met by our actions. We can leave a legacy for a brief period but the lasting legacy will be that of Christ and Him crucified and risen.

Pray that we pray for strength for heart and flesh and thanks that Christ gives us that strength necessary now and in eternity.

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Devotion 9.9.15

While working at the store, I stocked an aisle that was the same aisle that held the energy drinks.  They are in abundance in a variety of shapes, sizes, and names.  The names have words in them like monster or bull or cobra.  I've never really associated words like that with energy, but then again I'm not in the age group that they target.

They clearly are a big business because the representatives themselves come and stock them rather than the store clerks.  It was interesting to begin the day on that aisle around 7 a.m. because people who bought the product were coming in at that time.  They wore clothing that represented the spectrum when it comes to jobs: work clothes like construction, farm and ranch; professional work like suits; or scrubs from the medical industry or related fields.

I've often wondered why there isn't an energy drink that uses the eagle.  The eagle, a powerful symbol of strength and independence (not just associated with it as a national symbol mind you).  Look at Isaiah 40:  "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. The will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  (30, 31)

Our Lord will give us the strength in our lives.  His promise is fulfilled through his Son.  Christ is our strength.  Christ is the one who lifts us up as on the wings of an eagle.  As Christ says, "Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)

Pray that the Spirit renew us daily through prayer, being in the Word, and in worship and sacraments.

Hope Men's Ministry

Monday, September 7, 2015

Devotion 9.8.15

You have either heard about it or seen it by now. If not, you are in for a treat.  It seems that two high school football players in Texas targeted an official for calls that cost their team two players earlier.  So, it seems as though, according to the video and subsequent ejections, that these two decided to take matters into their own hands.

Watch here if you haven't seen it on the ESPN website

My good friend back in Galena Park was the head football coach of the 6A North Shore Mustangs.  After losing an area playoff game two years ago (they won state in 2005 I believe), a dad decided he didn't care for David's play calling, specifically that his son wasn't played as much as he thought he should be, so he caught the coach and punched him several times before being stopped, cuffed, and charged with assault.

Sports, designed to teach the student athlete lessons about life, seems to not always do that.  What will come of these two players?  I don't know, but I'm not out of administration that far, and have been around these kinds of events, to know that they will have a hearing (very soon) while the district decides what to do on its end.  If charges are filed for assault, then the district will decide if the players are to be suspended while the legal system deals with them on its end.  The players have rights, and the district has to handle this in a manner fitting of those rights.  The official has rights as well, and he may exercise civil litigation against the two players and their families.  While I doubt it happens, it is possible they play again this year if the legal system rules it wasn't assault or while they wait for a finding of guilt or innocence (much like the young man here on the South Plains who played football and basketball while awaiting his verdict in a murder case).

Interestingly enough, observers talk about the players and their future in the game.  Future in the game?  Excuse me?  They just assaulted an official (allegedly), and you are worried about their future in football?

How did we get to this point in society?  In truth, we've always been this way, and it is hard for us to handle cold hard truth, especially when it is close to home.  Truth is relative in a sin-filled world, and even though we may say it is clearly black and white, the truth is we treat it as such when it involves us or a loved one.

Christ's own disciples struggled with truth.  In John 6, Christ talks about being the living bread (flesh) and wine (blood) who provides eternal life.  "Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (v 54)  Some disciples respond by saying, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (v 60), and we later learn, "After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.  So, Jesus said to the Twelve, 'Do you want to go away as well?' Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'" (v 66 and 67)

We struggle with the truth spoken in Matthew 7, "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (v 14)

Pray that Christ helps us to see the truth and to speak that truth in love to others.  Pray that others see that truth and are moved by the Spirit to be in the grace and mercy that comes through faith given by God through his Spirit from his Son Jesus Christ.

Hope Men's Ministry

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Devotion 9.3.15

Currently, I'm in the middle of taking my father-in-law to the hospital for tests.  At 86, soon to be 87, he's been extremely fortunate health wise all of his life.  He still lives on his own and works two days a week, but the fact that he's facing some issues is still disconcerting, especially at his age.

We wove our way through the Baylor Hospital in Plano to get him to his tests ahead of schedule, and he had written down all the information they have provided him.  He also had already filled out the information and paperwork and brought that along as well.

Made me think of Christ's message in Matthew 11, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Easier said than done because our society doesn't give you an opportunity to pause and reflect on that passage with all the paperwork and pre-test assignments you have to go through.

Yet we know Christ means just that. We are to take our concerns to him, our worries, our fears. Pray that we follow this simple yet powerful message from Christ to bring our burdens to him when we are weary.

Hope Men's Ministry

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Devotion 9.2.15

My junior and senior year in high school, I worked at the Astrodome in the concession warehouse.  One day, I was asked to work in the souvenir warehouse because the kid who worked there was out looking at colleges, so I went down to work with George, the long time manager down in the basement warehouse where souvenirs were located. As we worked game prep, a guy walked in and said, "Hey George!"  George looked up and said, "Hey Terry..." and the conversation began.  "Terry," George finally said, "This is David.  He's helping us out today.  Can you take him to meet the other umpires?"

Umpires?  Really?  Turns out Terry was Terry Tada and Terry took me to meet Paul Pryor, Ed Vargo, and Satch Davidson in the umpire locker room nearby (I remember the names because they autographed a ball).  Two of them were rubbing baseballs in the dirt used for prep for game baseballs.  "What are you doing?" I asked.  "Getting these ready for the game,"  was the response and still is today.  See, in baseball, the umpires control the game balls.

So we come to Tom Brady and "Deflategate."  Seems as though he's accused of tampering with game balls.  Seems as though the officiating crew gets them ready (rubbed and inflated) and then gives them back to the team who can then adjust them accordingly, within boundaries.  Of course, makes sense.  Put the game ball back in the hands of teams before a game.  The NFL has, what quality experts would cite, is a control issue.  Rich beyond all imagination, it somehow cannot arrive at a process that ensures the integrity of the game ball which MAY require hiring one or two more additional officials. 

The book Freakonomics cites, with a great deal of logic and supporting fact, the nature of people to cheat.  Yes, we will, and we do.  The degree isn't the point (take a little off the golf score, talk about our past a little more glowingly than reality, shave a little on taxes, perhaps take a few small things from the company like pens and pencils... all the way up to millions via embezzlement and worse?).  The point is we can't help ourselves.  It is who we are as sinful human beings.  Deflategate, while some may sanctimoniously decry the situation via complaints against Brady as a "cheater," was enabled by a league that seems to not understand the very nature of people.  "Oh, you can play minus two games," became a year's suspension once the video of the left hook to the girlfriend's jaw went public.  Why should it shock us that giving the ball back to the team before the game causes this problem? 

Christ's talk in Mark 6 about the "heart of a man" is exactly true.  What's my temptation?  What's yours?  It is there.  David, after being caught in a web of lies and deceit that resulted in a child and a dead general thanks to David's action, gave us Psalm 51 - "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me."

That should be our daily prayer.  "Create in me a pure heart, O God, through your Son Jesus Christ."

Hope Men's Ministry

Ball is on display in the Baldner Baseball Shrine on the 5th floor.