Regretfully, sometimes a wild pitch is intentional!
When a batter is hit by a pitch the batter gets to advance to first base automatically. Never mind the nasty bruise the batter will sport for several days. Last year, an Atlanta Braves player was on the disabled list with a broken jaw by a pitch that went astray. We may assume that the pitch just did go astray and of course is flying with tremendous speed. However, I heard John Smoltz, once an ace Atlanta Braves pitcher and now announcer, admit that there were a few times when the stray pitch was intentional. Ouch!
Our words can be like those pitches. Most of the time, they are thoughtless but hurtful words. There are times when hurtful words are also insidious. In fact, there are times when words fly with barbs that are masked in joking. Words of truth filtered through joking can also bring serious and long lasting injury. The Apostle Paul admonished the believers in Colosse to “let your speech be with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Salt seasons to something tasteful. Just this week I mentioned to my grandson that he should always taste something before adding salt. That way he would not over salt it and make it difficult to swallow. Maybe we should do the same. Try the words silently on the tongue before we fling them out to others. As I read on a poster once, “Engage brain before loosing tongue.”
Please never be guilty of hitting the batter. You may well become the loser for doing so. That free base may become a run scored to your account. Words spoken thoughtlessly are impossible to retrieve.
It takes so little to make a difference!
There are more than leaves swirling around us these days. The news is so full of ugly stuff: scandals, political chaos, sports figure failures, muckraking, can all make our heads spin and our hearts ache.
There used to be a little bi-weekly newspaper called the Grit that published only good news. It features stories that gave us the “warm fuzzy” feeling. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like that good, warm feeling of sitting down with a cup of hot chocolate and something crunchy to eat. Foodies call them “comfort foods.”
I have made a personal challenge to myself (who else can I made a personal challenge to?) that I will say or do something positive everyday that will give another person that warm, pleasant feeling. For now, that challenge is just for a week. It may go longer.
Just perhaps as lights in this world of darkness a warm, pleasant, fuzzy feeling will melt some despondent heart and turn then toward Jesus, the Light of the World.
Anyone else game?
I like the game of baseball. Since my days of playing softball in the Chain O’Lakes country school yard, to neighborhood games, to following the Atlanta Braves since my youth, I enjoy baseball.
It is that time of year. From the time of spring training forward professional baseball players always have their eyes on October. This weekend I watched the grit and determination of the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles. Repeatedly I saw the camera pull a close up of the baseball in the pitcher’s hand. The ball is behind the pitcher’s back, and he rolls is around and around, feeling for the seams. Often the baseball is a new ball, yet the baseball is a familiar object in his skillful hand. When the pitcher and the catcher agree on the next pitch, the ball is brought forward, tucked into the pitcher’s glove, grasped exactly where he wants it, and quickly the pitcher goes into his stretch, and lets it go with speed and accuracy.
Some pitchers are known as groundball pitchers. They effectively pitch the ball in such a way as to cause a groundball rather than a potential homerun. Many skillful batters study hours of pregame tapes of the pitcher they are facing. They learn to read the pitcher’s stance, so that they will not be surprised when that ball comes at them at 90+ miles per hour. Then the batter spends countless hours in a batting cage and with a batting coach. Sometimes just moving a hand position a half inch makes a difference in the swing and hitting ability.
The ability of the pitcher, batter, and the fielding ability of all the positions put together makes up a successful team. It takes all of them. No one player should have to carry the weight of the whole game. Sometimes a manager will keep a player in position because of his fielding ability while his batting average will look dismal. A fielding error can cause a loss. Well-rounded players are sought with many numbers on the contract.
Now, back to the baseball itself and not the game. The pitcher knows how to grasp that baseball in a special technique that will create the best pitch possible for a particular situation. They know the baseball. Last night as I watched two ace pitchers and the ball deftly circling in their hands, it occurred to me that I need to know God even as that pitcher knows the baseball. I have known God, in His three persons, for a long time. I came to know Christ as my Savior in 1960. In those 54 years since, I have never turned my back on Him. What’s really important is that He has never turned His back on me. Struggles have come and gone and will come again, yet, I know Him, and He knows me. He knows my every thought and better, He can control my thoughts if I trust Him for that.
When TBS repeatedly put that close up shot of the baseball in the pitcher’s hand, I developed a stronger desire yet, to know, to love, to handle effectively the Word of Life. The life I live is not mine alone. I do not live just unto myself. I am on a team. You are on a team. We do not live for October as the baseball players do, we live in light of eternity.
“Between Heaven and Ground Zero”
Author: Leslie Haskin
Bethany House Publishers, 2008
Haskin’s book has a long subtitle: One Woman’s Struggle for Survival and Faith in the Ashes of 9/11. It was published early in 2008 by Bethany House Publishers, and is 204 pages long.
Haskins owns a winsome and grammatically correct writing ability. She worked as an insurance executive on the 36th floor of Tower One and was at her desk when the hijacked plane hit the tower at 8:46 that Tuesday morning 2001, September 11. The book took some time in deliberation because seven years passed between the initial event and the decision to go ahead and publish her bare heart presentation.
The book is divided into two sections; the first section is a vivid recall of her escape from the 36th floor. She writes with graphic detail first describing the original building in all of its glory. Then, Haskins proceeds to the horrific terrorist attack and her route to safety. Section two of the book reveals a heart that battled with the aftermath of such an ordeal. She holds nothing back. Her faith, once weak, became a stronghold of God’s mercy and grace. The path that led her to fullness of life in Christ is a journey the reader feels along with her.
Today Haskins is involved in a ministry of giving others hope in their own struggling lives whether in poverty, battered, or in the depths of sinking depression.
So, why did I pick up a copy in the first place? I do not want to forget the day. When I found a book that embraced faith in the aftermath of such survival circumstances, I knew the book would be a worthwhile read. Haskins had what she had dreamed. Then, poof, it was gone. She lost personal friends and co-workers that day. Many of them were crushed between the falling floors of Tower One. In total, she counts 22 in the number of friends who lost their lives. That alone gave me reason to keep reading.
She has spoken at some Women of Faith conferences and that gave me confidence that I would not have to weed out theological irregularities. When she comes to covering forgiveness, her pathway is correct and shows the courage it takes to forgive those who tried to destroy you when they never even knew you.
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely.
I am using this story with my Bible study group at the retirement centers I go to this week. You may enjoy the blessing of the truth of this story, or might want to use it for an illustration of this lovely verse in your teaching this week. The author is “unknown” and as far as I know, it is not copyrighted. Like the story I put on this weblog last week, it is from my story file I purchased for $2 forty-five years ago!
In the city of Chicago, one cold, dark night, a blizzard was setting in. A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner, the people were in and out of the cold. The little boy was so cold that he wasn’t trying to sell many papers. He walked up to a policeman and said, “Mister, you wouldn’t happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it’s awful cold in there, at night. Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay.”
The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, “You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come out the door you just say “John 3:16″ and they will let you in.”
So he did, he walked up the steps to the door, and knocked on the door and a lady answered. He looked up and said, “John 3:16.”
The lady said “Come on in, Son.”
She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a great big old fireplace and she went off. He sat there for a while, and thought to himself “John 3:16…. I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm.”
Later she came back and asked him “Are you hungry?”
He said, “Well, just a little. I haven’t eaten in a couple of days and I guess I could stand a little bit of food.”
The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn’t eat any more.
Then he thought to himself “John 3:16… Boy, I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a hungry boy full.”
She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub filled with warm water and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself, “John 3:16… I sure don’t understand it, but it sure makes a dirty boy clean. You know, I’ve not had a bath, a real bath, in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big, old fire hydrant as they flushed it out.”
The lady came in and got him, and took him to a room and tucked him into a big old feather bed and pulled the covers up around his neck and kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he laid in the darkness and looked out of the window at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself, “John 3:16… I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a tired boy rested.”
The next morning she came back up and took him down again to that same big table full of food. After he ate she took him back to that same big old split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and she took a big, old Bible and sat down in front of him and she looked up at him and she asked, “Do you understand John 3:16?”
He said, “No, Ma’am, I don’t. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it.”
She opened the Bible to John 3:16 , and she began to explain to him about Jesus. Right there in front of that big old fireplace he gave his heart and life to Jesus. He sat there and thought, “John 3:16. I don’t understand it, but it but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.”
You know, I have to confess, I don’t understand it either… how God would be willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don’t understand it either… but it sure does make life worth living.
16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
This interpretive reading is from my story file and has been there for more than forty years. It has no copyright, and you are more than welcome to print it and use it yourself is you happen to be teaching on compassion, it makes a wonderful illustration.
“Who Kissed Me” by Eva Booth
Eva Booth, an earnest Christian service worker in Great Britain, remind us the little effort it sometimes takes to touch what we might believe to be a heart of stone. But let her tell you about it.
One morning I stood outside the large iron gate of a local police court and temporary prison. There were people waiting there with me. Some of them were waiting out of curiosity and others were waiting because they had relatives inside the forbidding walls.
I waited that morning expectantly, hoping for an opportunity to reach some hungry soul with the Gospel. Suddenly I caught the sound of the shuffling of heavy feet. It came closer and closer, and then I distinguished the noise of loud voices mingling with the shuffling. One voice stood out above the others. It became louder and louder, shriller, and shriller. It was the voice of a woman.
The gates opened, and then it was that I witnessed a sight which only eternity can wash from my mind, for time never can.
There came through those gates a woman. Two policemen walked in front of her and two walked behind her. One stalwart man held firmly to the woman’s right arm while another held her left arm. The prisoner’s hair was uncombed, matted and disheveled. Her right temple was blackened with bruises; clots of dried blood stood upon her left temple. Her clothes were torn and bloodstained as she came forward she tried to wrench her arms from the grasp of the police. The very atmosphere of the morning was laden with her curses and her oaths. She tossed her head wildly as the six policemen dragged her down the passageway and through the gates.
I felt that I must do something—something to help this poor soul, and quickly. The moment was golden and soon my opportunity would be gone. What could I do? My mind worked hastily. Could I offer a prayer? No, there was not time. Could I sing? That would be absurd. Could I give her money? She could not take it. Could I quote a verse of Scripture? She would not heed it.
It seemed an angel whispered to me telling me what I should do, and I did not stop to question the wisdom. The impulse of a burning desire took possession of me. As the bedraggled woman passed, quickly I stepped forward and kissed her cheek.
Whether the police were taken off their guard by my extraordinary action and relaxed their grasp, I do not know, but with one wrench the woman freed her arms, and clasping her hands, as the wind caught up her matted and disheveled hair, she looked toward the gray skies and said, “My God, Who Kissed Me? My God, who kissed me? Nobody has ever kissed me since my mother died.”
She lifted her tattered apron, buried her hands, and like a little lamb was led to the vehicle which was to take her to the Crown Prison.
A few days later I went to the prison for a visit in hopes of seeing the woman I had seen so recently being taken through its portals. As the door I met the warden. “I would like to see the lady who was brought here from the city prison a few mornings back” I said, and then tried to describe her as best I could.
“I believe I know who you mean” the warden slowly began. “I’m sorry, but we think her mind is gone. She does nothing but pace up and down her cell, asking me every time I go in if I know who kissed her.”
“Would you let me go in and speak to her?” I asked. “I am her best and only friend. Would you let me go right inside her cell?”
“Why yes,” was the puzzling reply. The warden then opened the door and I went in.
The now quiet woman looked up at me as I came in. Her hair was smoothly combed, and eagerly she beset me with a question.
“Do you know who kissed me? The other morning when the policemen were bringing me in here someone in the crowd stepped up and put a kiss on my face.”
She did not wait for an answer, but went right on talking.
“When I was a girl, seven years of age, my widowed mother died; she died very poor, although she was of gentle birth. She died in a back basement in the dark. When she was dying they called me to her, and taking my little face in both her hands, she kissed it and said, “My poor little girl, my defenseless little girl. O God. have pity of my little girl, and when I am gone, protect and take care of my little girl.” From that day until the day the stranger kissed me, nobody ever put a kiss upon my face. Tell me, who kissed me?”
And then it was I said, “It was I who kissed you. I kissed you in the name of Jesus, the Savior. Jesus loves you with a love so much more tender than mine could ever be. It was He who went to the Cross for you.”
In Him, this poor woman found light and joy and comfort, and healing and love and salvation. Before she was released from the prison the wardens testified not only to the change in her life, but to its beauty. Through God she was made the means of salvation to numbers of others who were down as low as she herself had been—all because on that bleak morning, before the prison gates, in my great desire to reach a lost soul for God, I kissed her
A phrase from Psalm 106 struck me recently. Verse 25 is a continuance of the Hebrew families after they crossed the Red Sea on their way back to the homeland they had never seen. Moses was born in Egypt and had not seen the homeland either, but he had a vision of what it would be like to be free and independent in the land that God had faithfully promised to the forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Once these followers from his own bloodline, the Jewish nation, hit the other side of the Red Sea they complained, moaned, groaned, and were not “happy campers” at all. The phrase that caught my eyes is this: “. . . but murmured in their tents. . .” It sounds to me as if they had “roast Moses” around their dinner table. So, the malady that afflicts families on Sunday afternoons started way back there in the Sinai Peninsula. Well, who would have thought it was that old of a problem?
Thinking and speaking positively of the Sunday sermon and music could have a good influence. Speaking negatively will have an adverse reaction. Satan likes to hear us complain and it spreads like a virus at his deft hand. My dad had the philosophy that if one cannot speak well of a person then it is best to not speak at all. George Washington’s code of conduct has a rule also along that very line: “Speak not of the absent.”
So what happened to those who murmured in their tents? They died in the wilderness and never entered into the Promised Land. If we cannot be thankful for what we have and trust God for daily benefits, then we will also perish without seeing the best that God intended for us. The Apostle Paul admonished the Thessalonians: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
This is just a little nugget of truth. The Bible has so much to say about a thankful attitude. Go find it if you are in need.
This is part of an ongoiong counselor’s session on forgiving. The author is a friend of mine. This question is one often asked and discussed and worth the reading time, approx five minutes only.
Originally posted on Study God's Word:
Do I have to tell the person who hurt me that I have forgiven him? I don’t ever want to see or talk to that person again. He’s scary, and although I’ve forgiven him, I want nothing more to do with him.
This is a “that depends” kind of question, and there is more than one answer.
Sometimes, the person we need to forgive is already dead. Perhaps it was an abusive or extremely critical parent that you have finally been able to forgive; however, that person is already gone, so there is no need to confront.
In some cases, your process of forgiving someone else is just between you and God. If you are convinced that telling a person you have forgiven him will do nothing but bring more pain down on you, then no, I don’t think you need to face that person. Forgiveness, you’ll remember, is simply…
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This past Sunday my pastor wrapped up a series he has presented from the life of Joseph. These have been stirring sermons. They have dealt with the nitty-gritty of life. This last message was no different.
I noticed an outline I jotted down sometime in the past at the end of chapter 50 of Genesis. The notation gives credit to an identity of “From the Pit to the Palace” but no credit as to a name of the presenter.
1. React positively in a negative situation.
2. Do your best in every circumstance. “Bloom where you are planted.”
3. View every life circumstance as training for the future.
4. Try to be a blessing to everyone around you.
5. Understand that faith will stand trials.
That is useful, positive teaching. Here is the outline from my pastor’s message. I was listening; I was not merely perusing old notes.
Genesis 49:33 and Genesis 50:19-21 is the Bible passage and he coupled New Testament teachings with each point. The theme was forgiveness because it is at this point, after the death of Jacob that Joseph’s siblings now felt that Joseph may take revenge for their wrong, evil doings, against Joseph. He said this: 1) I will not play God. (verse 19) It was not Joseph’s place to take vengeance. 2) Joseph saw God in everything. His brothers meant to harm him and it was evil. No doubt about that, but God turned it to good. Humanly speaking, this was not easy for Joseph to do. 3) I will nourish you. He repaid evil for good and 4) I will speak kindly to you. It was the closing remarks that brought tears to my eyes. Pastor Felber said: “God does not forget; He is God; He cannot forget. God chooses to not remember.” It is a choice. We do not need to be bosom buddies with those who wronged us and even meant to hurt us—purposely injure our spirits but, we can choose to not remember. Joseph set the example; Jesus chooses not to remember our sins when we seek His forgiveness.
I have been hurt and moved on because there is no future for those who drag the past behind them. Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the person who hurt you dies. I know that. It was so freeing to me to hear those words, “. . . choose to not remember.”
While there are those in America who are deliberately snatching religious freedom from us, I feel sorry for them. Their intentions are selfish and, yes, evil. They do not truly understand freedom. While we need to fight for our freedom, more than that, we need to pray for those who despitefully use us. I see so much anger and wonder how that can prove anything. A steadfast attitude of holding to faith in God is a good starting point.