Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Playing The Game

It was a cold October evening, I was ten years old, and little did I know that this would be the last time I would see my beloved Brewers in a World Series. There were two outs, no one on, and the Brew Crew down 6 to 3. The powerful Gorman Thomas was at the plate but the crafty Bruce Sutter and his revolutionary split-finger fastball was on the mound for the Cards. Then I saw an image that would be burned in my brain the rest of my life. Stormin' Gorman swinging wildly at strike three and Sutter jumping up and down in triumph: winning game seven of the 1982 World Series for St. Louis over Milwaukee.

Bruce Sutter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame a couple weeks ago. It's an honor he deserves. But I'm sure now that when he looks back at 1982 his memories are not all that different than mine. Little did he know at the time that it would be his last appearance on the biggest stage in sports: the World Series.

Every day God is providing us with doorways and opportunities but all too often we allow busyness, comfort, and sometimes even fear to prevent us from seizing those chances or even seeing them in the first place. With courage Sutter took the ball from Whitey Herzog in that final game in the eighth inning: his team only up only one run. He got in the game even though he could have been a goat for the ages. He got in the game and came out a champion.

All too often, though, we don't come out champions. Just ask Gorman Thomas or any Milwaukee Brewer for that matter. But we shouldn't let that stop us from getting into the game. Don't fear failure, learn from it, and who knows today may be the day God presents you with one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. Will you recognize it? Will you take a chance?

Get in the game. Live your faith daily. Behold the hand of God in your life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Learn from the Witness of Martyrs

I attended a commemoration service for Martin Luther King Jr. last night in East Cleveland. Earlier that same day I read a headline on Yahoo News that said "Blacks more likely to remember MLK Day - Poll." I think it is sad that in 2006 the remembrance of Martin Luther King is for the most part limited to those who are African American. I would estimate that the assembly at last night's service was 90% African American: this for an event sponsored by a Lutheran synod that is 95% white.

When it says in Hebrews that "since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us," Martin Luther King is one of those witnesses. His witness of Christ and action among God's children during his life is an inspiration for us who continue to proclaim Christ today. His proclamation of the Gospel resulted in him being killed. He is a martyr for the faith and we can learn greatly through his witness.

As I journey on in faith, I am thankful for the great cloud of witnesses who surround me and teach me. Though he died four years before I was born Martin Luther King teaches me that Christ's cross is for all children of all races. He teaches me how to be a disciple with courage and perseverance even when others hate you. He teaches me that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. He teaches me that all people are capable of great things if they allow God to lead.

I'm sure Martin Luther King often prayed the words of Psalm 121 as his own. "I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth." May I be courageous enough to pray these words with you Martin.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Here I Am

What does it mean to be called? When someone calls you on a telephone they want to talk you. You either answer the phone or you let it ring.

God might not use a telephone, but he does call people. In the Old Testament the boy Samuel was called by God. He answered the call even though he didn't know who was on the other line. He thinks its the priest Eli, his caretaker, calling him. "Here I am!" Samuel diligently responds. He does'nt know it is God.

It took the maturity of Eli to understand who was calling Samuel. Through Eli's guidance Samuel proclaims to the Lord "Speak, for your servant is listening." But it took the innocence and naivete of Samuel to blindly answer God's call.

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus instructs his disciples to allow little children to come to him. "Let the little children come to me, do not stop them, for it is to such as these that God's kingdom belongs." We can learn from the faith of Samuel and other children who blindly accept God as Father and Jesus as Lord. Eli understands it is God calling, but he does not understand how to live faith. Samuel, on the other hand, simply responds "Here I am."

Some days I'm like Eli. But I pray for the simple faith of Samuel which allows God to lead and me to follow.

Here I am.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

On Easter of 2005 I presented to my congregation a guide for living faith in Christ every day based on priorities God calls us to make in the Scriptures. With a new year, and through the moving of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I have made some small changes.

Because we are so blessed by God through the grace and love given to us through The Lamb, our Savior Jesus, we are called to respond in this way:


PRAY... so that your heart is centered on Christ in repentance, thankfulness, and praise. (look up 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

STUDY... so that the Word of God is alive in your heart giving you direction and joy. (Psalm 119:105)

WORSHIP... so that in weekly fellowship your faith in fed with God's Word and Sacrament and the witness of your brothers and sisters who believe as you do. (Romans 10:17)

INVITE... so others might have the same faith in Christ you have. (Matthew 28:18-20)

LOVE... so you can encourage and support others... even those who offer you no love in return. (1 John 3:18)

GIVE... because everything you have is first a gift from God. (Luke 6:38)

SERVE... so that you can put into action your faith in Christ and love of others. (Mark 8:43-45)