Monday, October 25, 2010

Redemption and Josh Hamilton

Way to go, Rangers! Yes, Texas, of all teams, is this year's American League champion and is headed to the World Series for the first time in the franchise's 49-year history.

The Rangers are truly the feel good story of baseball and the postseason this year. Their best player, Josh Hamilton, nearly ruined his life and his career by substance abuse and addiction. Their manger, Ron Washington, nearly lost his job after testing positive for cocaine last year. He, like Hamilton, gratefully got a second chance.

Now, back to Josh Hamilton. He truly is an amazing story of God’s power to redeem and change a life.

And Josh's life and commitment are having an influence on his teammates.
Back at the end of the regular season a few weeks ago, like most teams, the Rangers celebrated their winning season and playoff berth with a champagne locker room celebration, but one person was missing, Josh Hamilton. The reason of course was because Josh happens to be a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. So in order to avoid any temptations, he left the celebration when the alcohol came out. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Hamilton was offered that way of escape and took it, but in doing so missed the celebration with teammates. However after the Rangers won the American League Divisional Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the team recognized his faithful commitment and honored him with a ginger ale celebration instead.

Check out the video below which tells some about Josh Hamilton’s rise and fall and rising again feel good story of how God turned his life around.

“15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Loving Relationship

The most important command, above all others, is to “love the Lord you God with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Jesus says that all the commands and doctrines of Scripture can be summarized by this one concept. (Matthew 22:40)

The old saying goes, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Sometimes we get lost in all the details of the Scripture that we miss the big picture. We can become so overly consumed with all the commands and doctrines of God’s Word that we miss the real point. Too often we mistakenly think that right doctrine is the destination of our faith. It is not! The real destination is relationship with God. Sometimes detailed doctrine causes us to lose sight of the real goal of our faith—falling in love with God.

That is not to say that doctrine and precise obedient are not essential. After all, you can’t even have a forest if there are no trees. The trees make up the forest. Likewise, individual doctrines are, as one writer so eloquently put it: “the small pixels that combine together to paint the beautiful portrait of true relationship with God.” John put it best when he wrote, “…but whosoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.” (1 John 2:5) Being motivated by His intense love for God, Jesus was compelled to “do exactly as the Father commanded me.’ (John 14:31 NASB) His motivation was not command-keeping that resulted in love for God. It was His love for God that produced a loving, and exact obedience.

When Jesus says that the most important command is to love God with all that we are, He seems to be describing a life that has completely fallen in love with God. Well, what does it look like to be completely in love with God? To understand this question maybe we should reflect upon the times that we have experienced the overwhelming emotion of falling in love with someone.

Usually, the first thing that happens when you fall in love with someone is that your mind is completely consumed with that person. Constantly distracted, you cannot seem to focus your mind on other things. Your mind is filled with thoughts of the object of your love.

Dallas Willard describes what being in love with God is really about. In his book “The Great Omission” he writes, “The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object.” If you are in love with someone, you don’t have to remind yourself to think about them. Being in love means that you naturally can’t get the one you love off your mind. The face of your loved one is ever before your mind. That is what it means to really be in love with God.

The French monk Brother Lawrence called attention to the fact that one must “practice the presence of God.” In other to “fall in love with God” he suggested that one must discipline himself/herself to constantly have an awareness of God’s presence. Similar to the lyrics of the favorite Christian hymn, “Be with Me Lord”, we must strive for a “constant sense of thy abiding presence.”

This is the very principle that God, a man after God’s own heart, had come to realize. He wrote in Psalm 16:8, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” David is essentially saying that he had learned to make it a constant practice in his life to “set the LORD” before his mind. David’s mind was consumed with a constant sense of God’s presence. He had fallen in love with his God. Have you?


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Discover a church that's all about you! is a funny but sadly truer than than we'd like to admit spoof spoof off Progressive Insurance Company.

This is, of course, a bit on the extreme side. But churches have gotten into the habit of pretending like sin doesn't exist and instead preaching the "feel good" sermons. There's a lot of sad truth in that video.