Tag Archives: baseball

Stepping Up to the Plate

Read Mark 8:34-38


“Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

PlateWhen I was younger I was interested in various sports. Two of earlier sports I played were soccer and baseball. I wanted to be like all of the other kids and be good a playing sports. In fact, if I were to psychoanalyze myself, I would have to say that I was seeking recognition and validation from my peers, and people who were good at sports seemed to get plenty of that.

Baseball seemed like a good sport to play. It was considered an American pastime and they had all of those Baseball trading cards filled with sticks of bubble gum to lure kids into wanting to become a MLB star. So, naturally, I wanted to become a baseball player. I had heard stories of my uncle who had quite an arm and even pitched at the college level. My cousins played baseball and were quite good at it. So why not me?

I will never forget my first time at bat, when the ball came whizzing by me. It seemed so fast and so frightening. That thing was not soft, what if it hit me? I remember being filled with fear of being hit by that ball. I remember swinging half-heartedly because I was too terror-stricken that I might get hit.

Boy, did that turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I remember when that hard baseball came flying into my leg. Thwack!!! It stung something terribly. I remember the tears wanting to come out and my forcing them back in…after all, we’re told that big boys don’t cry…right? While I did finish out the season, as that was the rule my parents set before me anytime I signed up for something, that was my last season of baseball.

What would have happened had I sucked up the pain, pushed aside the fear, and gave baseball my all? Who really can tell. But I let the pain of the ball hitting me, and the fear that it would happen again, to keep me from giving it my all. I let fear and a little pain keep me from ever truly stepping up to the plate. Sure, I “stepped up to the plate”, but not really. The reality is that I always did it hesitatingly, and therefore, I never really stepped up to the plate at all.

While I am speaking in terms of baseball, I find that many people do this in there spiritual lives too. Many people simply do not step up to the plate because of one reason or the next. perhaps they have been burned before or they anticipate being burned. Perhaps they feel they’ve done their share and don’t need to step up any longer, or perhaps they always learned that ministry was “someone else’s call” and not theirs.

Whatever the reason, God is calling us to reevaluate ourselves and our committment to ministry. Are you stepping up to the plate, or is something holding you back. How far are you willing to go for your faith? How good is the news that you claim to believe in? Today’s challenge, and perhaps the challenge for this new year as a whole, is to step up to the plate, to rise up to the challenge, to answer YES to God’s call to be disciples (and even apostles) of the Good News…of God’s hope, healing, and wholeness. The new year is here, what is your response?


“Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” – Charles Stanley


Lord, I seek to renew and build upon my faith. Help me to see past my fears and doubts so that I may boldly step up to the plate and witness to your Good News of hope, healing and wholeness in all that I do. Amen.

Grace Period

Read Matthew 18:21-22


“All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:15)

images_softball_fieldThis year, both my daughters signed up to be on the recreational softball league for the first time.  This has been a good experience for them so far and they are really surprising me at how quickly they can pick up the rules of the sport and learn to play the game.  While it has been trying on my wife and I as we try to get the girls to their practices and games (which sometimes conflict with each other), it has also been rewarding for us as we get into the games and root for our girls and their teammates.

My daughters both have learned very quickly that you cannot swing vicariously when a ball is pitched to you.  They have also learned that you can’t just stand there, poised and ready, without attempting to swing at some of the pitches either.  After all, it only takes three strikes and your out!

Of course, we all know that. “Three strikes and your out.” We can all hear the umpire screaming: “Yeeee-ooo-uuu–rrrrr Ooo-uuu-ttt!!!” Those are the rules of the game and, we all know those rules carry on off the field to. We have all heard irritated parents tell their children, “Three strikes and your out.” I know I have been guilty of saying that to my children and I know I am not alone. “That’s strike one! Two more and you’re grounded!”

What we have been taught and, in turn, what we have taught our children, is that there is a limit to our grace. We even call that limited length of time a “grace period.” There is only so much room for error, there is only so much room for grace, before someone has gone beyond the point of no return. While this works in the context of a game, is this how God wants us to operate in our everyday lives?

Peter once approached Jesus of Nazareth to ask that very same question. Is there a limit to grace, is there a grace period followed by the point of no return. “Lord, how many times should I forgive someone? Seven times,” asked Peter?  Jesus responded by saying, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Seventy times seven? If we do the math that equals four hundred ninety times! There’s no way any one of us could forgive that many times without losing count!

And that is the point that Jesus is trying to make. In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a “grace period.” In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as “three strikes and your out!”  God is not asking us to show grace until the point of no return is reached…for grace can only be found far beyond the point of no return.  Once you experience God’s grace, there’s no turning back for God’s grace transforms us and compels us to bear that grace toward others.

While God is not asking that we be pin cushions, or that we needlessly take abuse from people, God is asking that we always show the same grace to others that we ourselves have received.  We can remove ourselves from bad situation without removing grace from ourselves. If we do that, if we would just take the time to treat others the way God has treated us, then we would realize that there is no grace period for grace is eternal and timeless. Let the grace of God work in you so that you may bear that grace to others.


Give grace the same way you received it: with joy and thanksgiving.


Lord, I thank you for the grace you have poured out on me. I open myself to that grace so that I may show it to others. Amen.