"...and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!"

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Thanks for Everything!"

The picture you see is one for the history books. That is Mariano Rivera, the famous Yankee’s closer, leaving the Red Sox a personal note in his last visit to Fenway Park. Rivera, the most successful closer in baseball history, is no stranger to Fenway. In his illustrious 19 year career, Rivera has played dozens, if not hundreds of games in Boston. From playoffs to pennants, Rivera has represented the pinstripes to the best of his ability. He will be retiring at the end of the 2013 season, but before he left Fenway for the final time, he wanted to leave one final note on the walls of the Pitcher’s Bullpen—“Thanks for everything!”

There’s arguably no greater rivalry in all of sports than the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. This feud has been scratching its baseball claws since the days of the Homerun King, Babe Ruth. Police in Boston and New York both consider it extremely dangerous to ride a subway following a game in the visiting team’s jersey.  In all of the angry yells, thrown beer cans, and even death threats (yes, it’s true), Rivera believes the Red Sox made him a better player; to sharpen his competitive edge; to block out unneeded criticism; and most of all, to focus on the game.


 As God’s people, we can learn a lesson from Rivera’s attitude. Our challengers, critics, and even our enemies, can teach us lessons; to be more competitive for Christ; to block out the unneeded criticism that dampens our spirit; and most of all, to focus on the cross.


During the battle of rivalry, it may not be pleasant. It can certainly be stressful. But one day, when we look back at how far we’ve come, we will say, “Thanks for everything!”

Big D Gets A+

Last week, my beloved hometown of Dallas, Texas won a unique competition. Dallas was rated the happiest city in the United States. That’s right—the citizens of Dallas have the biggest smiles and the strongest hugs from sea to shining sea.

 What criteria awarded Dallas the title? I found it to be eye-opening and surprising, especially when we consider the current ethical and moral trends of America. Dallas received this award because 75% of its citizens have spiritual beliefs, 67% believe that their voices are heard, and 59% rarely worry about their health. Therefore, they’re “happier” than the rest of us.

I don’t exactly buy that—the chorus of honking horns and the waving of fingers (finger) on Dallas highways don’t exactly emulate harmonious happiness. People seem to be a lot happier in Kerrville than they do in the Metroplex. Nevertheless, Dallas received the winning nod.

 Regardless of the city or town in which we live, it strokes our memory as God’s people. When we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we have spirituality. God listens to our concerns. And because of the grace of God and the blood of Jesus, we’re “healthy”.

We may not live in Dallas, but we still fit the bill. As Christians, we should be the happiest people around. Are we?

Announcements from the TSA

If you’re a frequent flyer, great news has surfaced for your schedule. Last week, the Washington Post provided an announcement from the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees all security checkpoints and stations in United States Airports. In the next few weeks, in at least 40 airports across the country, travelers will be able to keep their shoes and belt on as they walk through metal detectors and computerized screenings. Travelers must be pre-approved through hurdles of paperwork and regulations; but, if you become “approved”, you can keep your stinky socks and saggy pants to yourself.
 Since 9/11, airport travel has become difficult and tedious. This change will certainly expedite clearing security and airport maneuvering. Realistically, TSA is “catching up” to one of the most poignant passages of scripture. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that we are armed with many pieces of spiritual armor. Two of the most important pieces are the “shoes” and the “belt”—the shoes make our feet ready to carry the gospel, the belt shows us how to carry it with the undeniable, unchanging precepts of God.

I’m glad to know that next time I’m in the airport, I might be able to clear security without untying my shoes and loosening my belt; but, then again, spiritually speaking, why would I ever take them off? You see, I walk with a lighter step and stronger confidence, knowing that I’m armored for life. Don’t you?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Send it Back!

One afternoon a preacher went to visit a family in his congregation. As soon as he entered the home, the mother volunteered a tour of the humble abode. She showed the preacher her antiques, furniture, and even the family’s large Bible on the bookshelf. Hoping that her minister would view her as a devout Christian, she kept talking about “God’s book”, and how important it was to her family. Her seven year old son listened carefully, but then interrupted the conversation and said, “Well, if that’s God’s book, we better send it back. We never read it.”
Are you using God’s book that’s on loan to you? If your GPS gets used more than your Bible, your sense of direction is severely misguided. If your recipe book is more worn than the pages of your text, you aren’t gaining the nourishment you need. If your check book ledger is closer to your heart than the pages of scripture, you’re storing up treasures in the wrong place.
God’s book, for your hands. God’s book, for your life. Are you using it, or should you send it back?

The Hallmark Trademark

How often do you visit your local Hallmark? If you enjoy greeting cards, unique gifts, and over-priced chocolate, Hallmark is the place for you. There’s always something special to find.

I read a humorous article  that listed some phrases you will never find on Hallmark’s greeting cards. Here are a few of them:

“Look backing over the years we’ve spent together, I can’t help but wonder…what was I thinking?”

“I always wanted someone to hold and someone to love…after I met you, I changed my mind.”

“When we were together you said you would die for me…now that we’ve broken up, you should keep your promise.”

“I’m so miserable without you…it’s almost like you’re here.”

“If we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket left, I’d miss you tons and think of you often.”

These little “snippets” would make terrible greeting cards, wouldn’t they? Unfortunately, they often enter casual, Christian conversations. We may not say them word for word, but the affect is the same. We may think we’re offering compliments, but our words may not be complimentary. We may not define our comments as insulting, but others might be insulted. Yes, we might even think we’re providing hope, but we might be creating hopelessness.
You see, Hallmark understands the concept of Christian communication, even if they don’t always communicate Christian messages. Through our words, we must send our very best. And if our words don’t reach that standard, they’re not worth sending.