Monday, March 23, 2015

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Official GMD autographed
 baseball- 1997
I've spent the last couple of day at Spring Training baseball games. Saturday, my wife and our friend Lisa headed to Clearwater to see the Phillies and the Blue Jays. Yesterday I joined the Todd Willis family in Lakeland to watch the Tigers and the Nationals. It was a great way to combine two of my passions, baseball and my love for all the students who passed through my youth ministries over the years.. Today, with a little help from my old friends Geoff Moore & the Distance, I'd like to think a little about both...

In the great song Home Run, Geoff (and co-writer Steven Curtis Chapman) use the imagery and passion of baseball to remind us of a very different story-  one that is extremely relevant today. There are many differences between the people who call themselves Christians. We can read the same words in scripture and come away with very different interpretations. But we do claim to follow the same Jesus. The words of the song remind us that "we're on the same team though we're not all the same, that's why we have to learn to play together." The bridge lays out some steps we need to take to do just that.  

You gotta keep your eye on the ball, swing straight
 and true and follow though
Don't be afraid what ever the call
Because we're never alone, 
our Coach is there to cheer us on...

And therein lie two of our biggest problems. We have stopped listening to the Coach- Jesus! We are trying to save the world under own own power. And we are afraid- so afraid that we have lost trust in the overwhelming power of the Creator of the Universe. It is so much easier to argue about sin than it is to love a sinful world, and so we are afraid we cannot do it. In doing those things, we have forgotten our primary purpose in God's plan. We are called to be the carriers of the disease known as The Good News. It is our job to spread God's love to the world. And so many of us want so much to be a part of that effort.  As the song says, "I didn't join this team to sit on the bench, I'm going deep and swinging for the fence- I've got some friends on base I've to get home!"  

My youth group in Kissimmee in the mid 1990s loved this song. We talked about the meaning a lot, and we focused on the references to the biblical Great Cloud of Witnesses. The lyrics say, "We are not the first to pass this way or stand over this plate. We are surrounded by a legacy..." Wanting to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission was one of the reasons we invited Geoff and the band to do a concert for our community at the Tupperware Convention Center in the summer of 1997. We were trying to hit a home run. We risked a great deal and lost a lot of money, but people came to Jesus that night. "You gotta pray and swing, then watch it as it's going,'s GONE!" But we had to work together to make it happen. We could not focus on the things we do not agree on. We had to focus on the ONE we do. And we had to share his love to with the community. The ENTIRE community!

We got to hear this song performed live that night, just like you will hear it here in a video I posted to YouTube (it's got over 4000 hits, which is  lo for one of my videos!) back in 2012. For our FUMC-K family, it turned into a sing-along as we celebrated being the family of God- a true team. My prayer is that in the days to come the Christian community will set aside the things that divide us and focus on the mission we have been given- sharing the love of God whose name is Jesus with our world. If we will do that, we can make the Coach proud. He is indeed cheering us on, saying- "GO! GO! All the way!" Enjoy the video, filled with lots of great baseball images and a few select shots of my youth families. Now get out there and Play Ball!

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