Friday, September 28, 2007

Backing into Success

The Chicago Cubs have lost three games in a row to one of the worst teams in the National League and are still closer to postseason play than they were on Sunday because the only team standing between them in the playoffs also keeps losing. Yesterday the Milwaukee Brewers committed five error, giving up four unearned runs in their loss to the Padres.

Chicago Tribune sportswriters are having a grand ol' time bring up the over used cursed stories about the Cubs. It must be difficult to bring a fresh perspective to sports stories because these guys rarely do. The fact of the matter is that the Cubs don't need to win another game the rest of the week because the Brewers (who have been worse than most teams since June 1) will not take two of the next three from San Diego. The Cubs will be playing in October.

It works that way in life sometimes. You can succeed despite your failings. In 2000 the New York Yankees won the World Series even though they lost their last seven games and 13 of their last 15. Last year's Cardinals barely won more games than they lost, but still became the World Champions.

It works that way in our relationship with God who forgives our failings and our short comings. Everyday we back into a clean slate. We are cleansed children of God. But how we respond to that grace is our choice. The Cubs may get into the playoffs backwards, but they will not win it all unless they turn it around in October. We are given God's grace as a free gift. But it will not makes a difference in the lives we live today if we don't live our our faith our God in in his grace.

Thankfully, though we fail, we are still loved. The same can be said about the "Lovable Losers." They may fail in 2007 or they may become World Series Champs, but either way they still are loved. But it will be much more fun be for the Cubs if they actually win... and for Christians if they actually live faithfully.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

24/7 Choices

I'm looking at Amos 8 this week. Amos sure was a frustrated prophet. I would be too, if the people you were trying to warn didn't listen to you. People like Amos and Jeremiah always mixed their faith with frustration.

Amos 8 reveals a frustration with people who aren't as much interested in praying, celebrating the Lord, or worshiping God, as they are in getting that stuff over with ASP so they can get back to work on what really matters: making money, doing business, ripping people off. He writes, "Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring ruin to the poor of the land, saying, 'When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale?...' The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds." (Amos 8:4-5a, 7)

We live in a 24/7 world. There are no laws that require business to stop on Sunday. In fact many businesses are even open on Christmas and Easter in 21st century America. Christians today don't need to long for the sabbath to be over so their kids can play soccer, or for Easter can pass so they can sell their cheap Chinese goods at the Dollar Store. It's a free country. They can go ahead and play soccer and sell trinkets any time they want.

Some say the government should make laws that require business to stop on holy days. I'm not one of them however. There were plenty of laws in Amos' day, which is the reason the scoundrels moaned and longed for Sabbaths to end and festivals to pass. Their hearts were not with God and no law could put their hearts with God. "Surely [God] will never forget any of their deeds."

In a 24/7 culture we are presented with a challenge as Christians. Do we place our faith in God as priority number one in our lives or do we give in to the pressures of our society that tell you to enroll your kids in activities that take them away from worship on Sunday? Do you worship God with all your heart or do you look ahead to the lunch a child of God will serve you on Sunday and the stuff another child of God will sell you?

Freedom is a tremendous blessing. You can go where you want. You can shop any time you want. You can conduct business any time you want. But at the end of the day, ask yourself in prayer: "have I made my faith in Christ my first priority today?"