Monday, May 30, 2016

Devotion 6.7.16

The baseball world has strange customs built by tradition over time, some recorded in the codes (lengthy) and some unwritten, not recorded or perhaps not spoken, just known.  Former Commissioner Bud Selig decided, about 10 years ago, to not go the path of Fay Vincent, the commissioner before him. Vincent, as you will recall, lost the job when he decided to "re-align" baseball, moving teams in what owners viewed as an arbitrary decision.  His re-alignment stood, but he did not. So, Selig decided the easiest way to make the leagues align evenly (15 teams in each) was to wait for the next sale of a team (the newest owner is the weakest in baseball).  Make the decision a part of the sale.  The Texas Rangers just missed that decision by a hair because the managing partner of the group had been George Bush (president at the time) and the new managing partner was about to be baseball legend Nolan Ryan.  Next up for sale, the Houston Astros, with a computer software magnate about to buy the team (who had bid on the Rangers until Ryan's group was willing to pay off Alex Rodriguez' salary as part of the sale).

Putting the Astros in the American League made little sense because the Milwaukee Brewers had been an American League team until Vincent's re-alignment (Selig was the owner by the way), but the baseball executives had their way.  And it changed the entire discussion about baseball in Texas when it happened.  Before then, you rooted for both teams, symbols of Texas.  The Rangers, the law of the west, and the Astros, the name from "astronaut," the newest pioneer.  We loved both the legends on the Rangers, Nolan Ryan, as well as the Astros, such as Craig Biggio.  But put them in the same league, and same division no less, and you had to choose. In baseball's unwritten rules, you don't root for two teams in the same league.  It dramatically changed the nature of the discussion of baseball in the state.

So, too, the book of Revelation.  We are as a universal faith, the Christian faith, separate on a host of issues, but when the book of Revelation gets inserted  into the discussion, the conversation changes and degrees of separation widen.  In essence, the conversation changes.  What is John saying, symbolically, in this book of mystery?  What does it all mean?  Different denominations (and non-denominations) assign different weight behind the meaning of all the symbolic language and imagery.  Unfortunately, some faiths put a great deal of weight on the last book of the bible rather than remember that it fits into the scope of the 66-book scripture. 

Here are some simple guidelines to follow:

1. Satan lurks on earth.  Peter writes: "Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.  Resist him, be firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." (1 Peter 5:3)
2. No one knows the hour or the day of Christ's return, so don't listen to someone who says they know the hour and the day of Christ's return.  "But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." (Matthew 24:42)
3. We should act like Christ's return could be right now. "And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." 
4. Our job is clear as disciples of Christ: We are to make disciples.  The disciples in the book of Acts felt as though the end was very close, and they went about their work feverishly making disciples in order to fulfill Christ's command to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
5. Regardless of suffering or persecution, we continue in our work, knowing that he is with us.  "And behold, I am with you always." (Matthew 28:20)
6. If we cannot come to an answer by using scripture, we shouldn't create one.  "There are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do with other scripture." (2 Peter 3:16)
7. Because of Christ's suffering and death and resurrection, we are saved by faith.  "He who believes and is baptized will be saved." Mark 16:16
8.  Spoiler alert:  There is nothing to fear because of our salvation, and in the end, God is victorious, as He always has been, is and will be.  "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning in the end." (Revelation 22:12)

Pray we focus on our lives as Christ's disciples, devoting ourselves to his Word and prayer and worship as we seek to make new disciples through his Spirit.  Pray we understand the suffering that can come with being his follower, but that Christ send his Spirit to us through his Word, through prayer, through our baptism, and through communion - the fellowship of believers, to be strengthened. 

Hope Men's Ministry

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