Unity between Christians (or at least a cease fire)

I have been involved in Christian service since I was in high school (almost 40 years now). One of the ugliest attitudes I have witnessed, and even participated in, is jealousy between groups of Christians.

It is part of our fallen, sinful human nature to be proud of who we are and critical of others. In our effort to be true to Christ, we often become critical of others who do not follow Him the way we do.

The first 12 disciples displayed this same tendency to become a closed group. They challenged the ‘credentials’ of an outsider. But Jesus rebuked their attempt to be exclusive.

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.(Mark 9:38-40).

John was jealous for the exclusiveness, the honor, and the uniqueness of the apostolic circle to which he belonged. How dare anyone who was not of their circle use the name of Jesus to exorcise demons?

This outsider was apparently successful at what he was doing. Earlier in this chapter (9:17-18), the disciples were unable to cast out a demon. But they worked against someone who in the name of Jesus was victorious over the demonic world.

Perhaps John hoped to earn a word of praise from Jesus for his strict standards. Twice he said, ‘he followeth not us.’ John did not say, ‘We stopped him because he does not follow You.’ He said, ‘We stopped him because he does not follow us.’

The “we” vs. “them” attitude is a common fault among Christians. Labels are attached to denominations, theological differences, and ministerial styles that put people outside the circle of true faith. I’m not talking about issues that are clearly explained in the Bible. We are definitely to separate from those who teach contrary to the Scriptures. But on issues where believers differ, it is easy for each of us to believe we are always in the right and are responsible to suppress others.

Jesus’ counsel is interesting. His simple words are ‘Forbid him not.’ The Lord’s word is that we should leave all such people to Him. This does not mean that we are to join them or that we are to encourage them to join us. This is not a call to ecumenicism. This is a call to allow others to follow Christ and do His work without any interference from us. In the words of Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen, “Let it go!”

We follow the same Christ.

John admits that the miracles done were performed ‘in thy name.’ Whoever these followers were, they recognized the power of Jesus and used His name for good. Though many differences may have existed between the two groups, the name of Jesus was common.

Having the same Lord covers a multitude of differences. ‘Because you belong to Christ’ is the cord that should bind all true believers together. These words would deliver us from party spirit, petty bickering and jealousy in Christian service.

We are on the same Team.

Jesus said, ‘He who is not against us is for us.’ By saying this, Jesus rebuked John’s exclusive spirit.

Today, Jesus has many ‘on his team’ that may not be part of your group. Some have different styles of worship, follow different preferences, and use different methods. But they focus on telling people that God’s kingdom has come in Jesus Christ.

We must not confuse loyalty to Christ with loyalty to our approach and method. We must not be jealous of others whose methods prove more effective. Our common goal to share the gospel and serve others should lift us above rivalry, jealousy, petty loyalties, and bickering.

Enjoy and appreciate the variety of people who follow the Lord – our brothers and sisters in faith. Encourage someone from another church or ministry.

You can read some of my other articles about church life: The Kind of Church Jesus Likes, Texting and Other Ways to Annoy Your Pastor, 6 Reasons You Need a Church Family, Why Go To Church?

The Marine and the Grenade – Lesson on Sacrifice

One of the young men in our church, Eric Taepke, left earlier this week for Marine Boot Camp. Please pray for him over the next several weeks. Also, pray for all our other service men and women who are willing to sacrifice their safety for us. If you see one in uniform, pray for them and thank them for their service.

This reminded me of a great story I heard Tony Campolo share in a book I read recently. It’s simply called ‘The Grenade’….

A new recruit went into training at Paris Island, hoping to become a marine. He was one of those young men who seemed to be a bit out of step with the norm, and he easily became the subject of ridicule for those who enjoy picking on off beat people.

In the particular barracks to which this young marine was assigned, there was an extremely high level of meanness. The other young men did everything they could to make a joke of the new recruit and to humiliate him. One day, someone came up with the bright idea that they could scare the daylights out of this young marine by dropping a disarmed hand grenade onto the floor and pretending it was about to go off. Everyone else knew about this and they were all ready to get a big laugh.

The hand grenade was thrown into the middle of the floor, and the warning was yelled, “It’s a live grenade, it’s a live grenade! It’s about to explode!’

They fully expected that the young man would get hysterical and perhaps jump out a window. Instead, the young marine fell on the grenade, hugged it to his stomach, and yelled to the other men in the barracks, “Run for your lives! Run for your lives! You’ll be killed if you don’t!”

The other marines froze in stillness and shame. They realized that the one they had scorned was the one ready to lay down his life for them.

And so it was with Jesus. He was scorned by those He came to save. He laid down His life for His enemies.

You can read some of the other stories I’ve collected from Tony Compolo: It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming, The Impact of a Teacher – Teddy Stallard story, God Doesn’t Need Superstars – A story about Billy.

A Word of Contentment from the Cross

“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” This was the last thing Jesus said or did Jesus before He died. It was a word of contentment, faith, confidence and love.

I want to share a few thoughts I picked up about those this statement from Arthur W. Pink’s book, ‘The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross.’ They are worth your time to contemplate Jesus’ final statement from the cross.

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)

1. The Savior is back in communion with the Father.

Jesus spoke of His Father often. His first recorded words indicated He was to be about ‘His Father’s business.’ His first recorded sermon (the Sermon on the Mount) mentions ‘father’ 17 times. His last sermon (John 14-16) mentions ‘father’ 45 times. His first words from the cross were ‘Father, forgive them…’ But for six hours He was separated from His Father on the cross. He became sin and took the punishment for sin, crying, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.’ But now, He is back in communion with ‘His Father.’

2. The contrast between the hands of men and the hands of the Father.

For 12 hours Jesus was in the hands of men (Matthew 17:22,23; 26:45; Luke 24:6,7). He voluntarily delivered Himself into their hands. Now, He voluntarily delivered Himself into His Father’s hands.

3. Christ’s perfectly yielded to His Father.

Jesus committed His spirit into His Father’s hands in death because it had been yielded in the Father’s hands all through His life. As He lived, so He died. To die content in the Father’s hands you must live your life content in the Father’s hands.

4. The absolute uniqueness of Jesus’ death.

Jesus died, as He lived, like no other. His life was not taken from Him. He gave it. Three terms are used of this event: yielded up (Matthew 27:50), commend (Luke 23:46, ‘gave up’ (John 19:30. Jesus dismissed His spirit as a king dismisses His subject.

He died by an act of His own will. In man it would be considered suicide. But in Jesus it was proof of His perfection and uniqueness.

5. The place of eternal security is in the Father’s hands.

On the cross Jesus hung as the representative of all who would believe on Him. When Christ presented His spirit, He also presented our spirit into His Father’s hands. The place of eternal security is in the Father’s hands. Christ has committed His people into His Father’s hands and ‘no man is able to pluck them out of (my) Father’s hand.’ (John 10:29)

6. The blessed communion with God anytime anywhere.

Communion with God may be enjoyed independently of place or circumstance. Jesus was dying on a cross surrounded by enemies and yet found contentment in His communion with God. Communion with God is by faith and faith is not affected by things of the senses. There is blessed communion with God even in the hour of death (Psalm 23:4).

7. The heart’s true home is in the Father’s hands.

Our main concern at death is to see our spirits secured in Heaven. It is not the care of our body but the care of our soul and spirit. At death, our spirit finds its eternal home in the hands of God.

Is your spirit safe in the hands of the Father? Have you committed your spirit into His hands? Are you prepared to die and meet God Almighty?

Read other articles about Jesus’ Last Words from the Cross…

How to be a ‘Great’ Person

Muhammad Ali was famous for crying out “I AM THE GREATEST!”

The remarkable thing about each of us is that we would all like to be known, or at least remembered, as a great person. That means different things to each of us, but underneath the surface we all have an image of what greatness is for us and are trying desperately to move toward that goal.

Greatness for us is a combination of our values, our hopes, our expectations, and our deepest longings. It’s a blend of what success and fulfillment are for us, shaped by the people whom we would call great persons.

Greatness, Jesus style, is available to all of us. We don’t need to wait on other people to recognize it. As a matter of fact, in becoming great in His eyes, we may not achieve the world’s description of greatness. But that will matter little when we get to heaven; we’ll be with Him!

So what does true greatness look like? Jesus described it in the Gospel of Mark. The disciples were disputing who was the greatest among them. So, Jesus sat them down for a little lesson on greatness…

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37)

So, what is a great person?

1. A great person is one who is willing to be last because Jesus is first.

When the United States of America began the Apollo project to put a man on the moon, our motivations were not entirely scientific. Our bid to put a man on the moon was nothing more than a response to a string of second place finishes to the Soviet space program! So it was with great pride that the American people watched and listened on July 20, 1969 as Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon and spoke those famous words, “That’s one small step for man… One giant leap for mankind.” We were first!

Even in Christianity, we see this craving for first place. But Jesus gives honor to those who choose to be last so others can be first. Putting Jesus first and others first is a mark of true greatness.

3. A great person is one who is a servant because Jesus is his Master.

Jesus described greatness from a new perspective. Instead of using people, we are to serve them. Jesus’ mission was to serve others and to give His life away. A great person has a servant’s heart. They don’t approach life expecting high positions, honors, and special privileges. They instead for ways to help others.

Every Christian is to be a minister (servant). Some Christians resist the idea of ministry, not because it’s too awesome a designation. But because they see what some ‘professional’ ministers have to do and they’re not sure they want to pay the price. Your schedule is not your own; you can’t reject the call of human need; your home life is often interrupted by people’s problems; your life is not your own. Frankly, some don’t want any part of that kind of demanding life. The point, if we’re honest, is that no one, clergy or church member, wants to be a servant of people. Yet that’s where greatness is revealed.

3. A great person is one who loves the insignificant because Jesus is significant.

The child of Jesus’ example is symbolic of all the little people of life who need us and from whom we can receive nothing but the assurance that whatever we do for them, we have done for Him. Not a bad promise!

If we welcome people who are important (great) to Jesus, we are actually welcoming Him. What emerges is a new principle for greatness. A person is not great because of what he or she has achieved or accumulated or invented. It is established by the greatness God sets on the person.

We are to receive God’s people as we do children, with no thought of their accomplishments, their influence, their fame, or their abilities, but simply because they are His children. This rules out seeking the powerful or influential for what they can do for us. This is a warning about neglecting the simple, the humble, and the ordinary.

Are you working on being a great person? Do it Jesus-style!

You can also read some of my similar articles: Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians, Served or Be Served, Serve One Another in Love.

Is it wrong to ‘live together’? 3 Dangers of Cohabitation

It seems to be common practice for couples to live together before they are married. This ‘trial marriage’ is entered into in the hopes that it will let them know if their relationship will withstand the pressures of a ‘legal’ marriage.

I don’t want to be a judge. But after being married to the same woman for over 30 years and pre-marital counseling with over 100 couples during my ministry, let me share three dangers of ‘living together’ (cohabitation) before marriage you may not have considered.

1. Cohabiting couples have a higher divorce rate.

Most couples who live together are considering marriage. At least one person in 90% of the couples wants to marry. Some are already engaged. But please consider the facts.

40% of all couples who live together will break up before marriage. Many suffer what has been termed ‘premarital divorce.’ So, of 100 couples who begin a ‘trial marriage’, 40 don’t marry. Of the 60 couples who do wed, there are 45 divorces after 10 years. That’s an 85% failure rate.

Marriages that are preceded by living together have a 50% higher disruption rate (divorce or separation) than marriages without premarital cohabitation according to the National Survey of Families and Households. Statistics show that living together hurts your chances of a happy marriage.

2. Cohabitation destroys the foundation of marriage.

Most engaged couples think that the road to a happy marriage is compatibility. So, living together puts the couple into a ‘mock’ marriage situation to discover how compatible they are. But marriage is not based on compatibility. A long, loving marriage is based on commitment. Compatibility may bring you together, but commitment will keep you together.

Marriage is like a jigsaw puzzle. When you first open the puzzle box, you find all the pieces that look like each other, have the same color, or are part of the edge. Most of what attracts us to another person is what we have in common (movies, sports, pizza toppings, etc). But like jigsaw puzzle pieces, what keeps a couple together is the areas that are different. These interlocking pieces will commit us to one another. Two are better than one, not because they are alike, but because they complement one another.

Living together is the enemy of commitment. Though a verbal commitment of “I’ll love you forever” may be made, the actions speak the opposite. If a person is willing to be physically intimate with someone they are not married to before marriage, there is little assurance they will not be physically intimate with someone they are not married to after marriage. I encourage all engaged couples to make this commitment to the one you want to spend the rest of your life with: “I will not have sexual relationship with anyone I am not married to, including you.” Proof before marriage will build trust after marriage.

3. Cohabitation may damage your friendship.

You may be thinking, ‘Our friendship won’t suffer by moving in together.’ That’s what you think. Your friendship may soon become tense and uncomfortable. You went from dating to “no man’s land.” You’re not married, but you’re not really dating either. It’s “friends with benefits….minus the unconditional, legal commitment.” There is always the fear of being kicked to the curb if you don’t measure up. No security. No deep peace. Hence, you end up with a strained relationship that is fraught with worry. Not exactly the ingredients of a healthy friendship.

Physical intimacy often gives couples the illusion of intimacy. But in reality it prevents them from really understanding one another. Intimacy is more than a sexual relationship. The problem for many couples is that they are swept away by romantic love and never take time to develop the skills required to make a relationship work. People tend to seek romance, somehow believing that a lasting relationship will be part of the package. But it seldom delivers.

God loves us and doesn’t want us to be heartbroken. So, He has instructed us to, “flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthans 6:18). He is clear: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, but God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4).

So, what should a person do if he or she has blown it in this area. I encourage you to seek forgiveness, repent, and begin to live a godly and moral life. I encourage unmarried couples to commit to one another that from this day forward to save sexual intimacy until their first night as husband and wife. This will not only make the wedding night more exciting and memorable but it will also provide the best ‘Marriage Insurance’ a couple could ever obtain.

I’ve written some other articles about this issue you can read: The Best Advice I Ever Got On Marriage, Miley Cyrus – Sexuality and Modesty.

My 5 Favorite Things To Do In Hawaii

Judy and I took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii, thank to the generosity of Faith Baptist Church. Several have asked what we did. So, I thought I would share with you my favorites. Before we went, we read what others liked. It helped us choose what to do. Though there are several islands, we chose to visit 3: Hawaii (Big Island), Oahu, and Maui. These are my five favorite activities.

1. Road to Hana.

This was a crazy drive. 65 miles with sheer cliffs of 100+ foot drops, 617 hairpin curves, 59 one-lane bridges, 25 mph speed limit, several miles with no guard rails. We had a Mustang convertible. If you go, take some snacks, and plan to spend the whole day. This was ‘my’ favorite. I think we said ‘Wow!’ and ‘This is crazy’ hundreds of times. We saw many waterfalls, a church made of corral, black sand beach, and had a great pineapple smoothie.

2. Polynesian Cultural Center.

Run by Mormons, this is a simulated journey to 7 different islands: Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Marquesas, and Aotearoa (New Zealand). We saw fire dancers, a guy climbing a coconut tree, a Tahitian wedding, and a colorful canoe parade down the main canal. We enjoyed a luau and watched a musical play called ‘Breath of Life.’ It was fantastic!

3. Pearl Harbor.

Though the USS Arizona & Memorial was closed due to repairs, we were able to experience much of what is at Pearl Harbor Memorial. We toured a submarine and walked through a visual of many of the events that surrounded December 7, 1941. It left me with a greater appreciation for our military.

4. The Beach.

We spent some time on famed and crowded Waikiki Beach. We stopped at a Black Sand Beach and saw a sea turtle. But our favorite was the beach on Maui. We were there 4 days. The sunsets were beautiful. We were fortunate to watch the first “Oceanfest”, a lifeguard-style ocean events competition.

5. Shaved Ice & Other Food.

We tried shaved ice once. It was good! Tried it the second time with macadamia ice cream. It was great! We had it twice more! Shaved ice is not a snow cone. It’s so smooth! We had such good food while in Hawaii. Our first meal was at “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” I had swordfish for the first time (twice in one day). And the Kona coffee is fantastic!

Well, those are a few of the fun things we did in Hawaii. We also visited a volcano, saw several waterfalls, stopped by the Dole Plantation, and listened and watched a lot of hula dancers (No, we didn’t try it).

I hope this helps some who are planning a visit to Hawaii. If you’ve ever been, let me know what you did and liked.

Why We Call Jesus ‘Savior’

Many call Jesus ‘Savior.’ The definition of ‘savior’ is: A person who saves someone or something from danger, harm, or failure; used by Christians to refer to Jesus Christ. Why do Christians call Jesus ‘Savior’? Because He saved their soul by dying on the cross.

Jesus predicted several times that He would die.

For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. (Mark 9:31).

As astounding as it is, there are three things that make the death of Jesus even more amazing…

1. Jesus would surrender to evil.

No power on earth could overcome Jesus. Demons and even the Devil himself could not withstand His omnipotent strength. Jesus could have avoided Jerusalem. He could have stayed in Galilee where His ministry was flourishing. He could have stayed in Gentile territory where a revival broke out. But He traveled to the center of hostility and allowed His friends to betray Him, His enemies to arrest Him, and gave no physical or verbal defense.

Why? Why could Jesus surrender to evil? Because He was already surrendered to His Father. Jesus allowed His Father to make the decisions and He just accepted what His Father placed in His path. The path to peace and blessing is surrender and obedience.

2. Jesus would be tortured on a cross.

Jesus just didn’t die… He died on a cross. The cross was a means of humiliation, torture, and execution of severe criminals. He suffered pain through the nails in His hands and feet. But His greatest pain was when His Father turned His back on Him. Jesus cried, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Jesus not only took on the sin of every person who has ever lived, He became sin and suffered the penalty of sin. On the cross there was an eternity separation of the Father and the Son. For a moment of time there was a break in the eternal intimacy between the Father and the Son. Jesus experienced Hell on the cross so we could experience Heaven forever.

3. Jesus would rise from the dead.

You can’t keep a good man down. Jesus promised that His betrayal, and suffering, and death, would not be the end of His story. He would rise from the dead.

There’s a beautiful description in Hebrew 12:1,2: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus endured the cross and its shame because He knew the joy of having you for ever in Heaven. Jesus would rather die than not have you in Heaven.

Will you surrender your life to the One who loves you most? He proved His love by dying for you?

You can read some of my articles about the death of Christ: A Word of Suffering from the Cross, A Word of Victory from the Cross.

Power Failure – 3 Ways To Get Spiritual Power

‘Power Failures’ never come at a convenient time. They usually come in the middle of a good movie that you’ve been waiting to watch or you’ve really gotten into. A power failure could mean no lights, no TV, no cable, no internet, no water, no shower, no toilets, no refrigerator, no freezer, no sub pump, no air conditioner, no heater, no garage door opener. If it’s a community ‘power failure’ it could mean no radio, no gasoline, no cell phones, no traffic lights, no restaurants, no grocery stores.

The August 14, 2003 ‘power outage’ (blackout) affected 45 million Americans. It was the 2nd largest blackout in world history (1999 Brazil) It was caused by overheated lines sagging into overgrown trees in northern Ohio. Normally this would trip an alarm. But the alarm system failed. As other lines tried to carry the load, they broke down and cascaded into failures throughout southern Canada and 8 states (including Michigan). It cost an estimated $6 billion.

What about a spiritual power failure? While Jesus was on a mountain, revealing His glory to 3 of His disciples, the other 9 were struggling with their power to exorcise a demon from a boy. They just didn’t have the power. When Jesus arrived, He talked with the boy’s father and the disciples. This conversation reveals what we can do in a power failure…

Jesus said unto him [the father], If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:23-29)

3 Lessons:

1. There is power in prayer.

Jesus is not divulging a secret method of power. Notice He didn’t even pray in this situation. Jesus did not treat prayer as a technique or tool. It was a way of life. Prayer is not a way of getting God to do what we want. It is a way of getting us to become who God wants us to be. Jesus spent time with God on the mountain. This gave Him the power in the valley.

This doesn’t mean that we automatically get anything we want if we just believe and pray. Jesus meant that anything is possible if we believe because nothing is too difficult for God. We can’t have everything for which we pray, but with faith we can have everything God wants to give us. We are free to ask whatever we want as long as we realize God will answer according to His will. When we will what He wills, then we truly will have the mind of Christ and can ask anything.

2. There is power in doubt.

Jesus did not expect the father to overcome his doubt before a miracle could happen. But he confessed both his faith and his weakness. And Jesus used this opportunity to strengthen his faith. It is not the strength of our faith that makes the greatest difference, but the strength of Him in whom our faith rests.

This man represented the deepest trust of a human. To continue to trust Jesus when we still have doubts. This prayer needs to be prayed by more Christians.

3. There is power in Jesus.

When you cannot deal with the situation, bring it to Jesus. Our effectiveness is measured by the way we respond to crisis. Contrary to the fears of some, failure in crisis is not always failure, but can provide a means for growth and change.

The lesson is simple but profound. We can be called and gifted and successful as followers of Jesus, but if we do not remain in constant contact with the source of our power (Jesus), we will fail.

The greatest need for each of us is to pray. One of the greatest gifts Jesus can give us is to pull the rug of security out from under us…. to allow us to get out on a limb where only He can help us. It doesn’t matter, then, how much we’ve learned or accomplished. We believe, but our faith is stretched. Faith that is stretched is strengthened.

If you feel powerless in any situation, try prayer!

You can read some of my other articles about prayer: God, Prayer & My Stolen iPhone, 9 Facts You Should Know About Prayer, Prayer – Talking with Someone You Can’t See.

Should Pete Rose be in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

It’s All-Star Game 2015 in Cincinnati. My beloved Reds will be hosting the game this year. One of the more controversial issues has surrounded Pete Rose and his ban from baseball. Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?

Here’s the ‘short’ version. Pete Rose was a switch-hitting Major League baseball (1963-86) and has more hits than any other player ever (4,256). He played in 17 All-Star games at 5 different positions (nobody has done that either). You can read more of his story in wikipedia, but in 1989, under allegations that he gambled on baseball games (possibly as a manager of his own team), he agreed to a permanent ineligibility from baseball. In 1991, the Baseball Hall of Fame voted not to allow anyone with a permanent ban in the Hall of Fame. Now, 25 years after his ban, the question is should he be allowed in the Hall of Fame.

I say, “Let Pete In!” Here’s three of my reasons…

1. The Hall of Fame contains the best players in baseball.

The Hall of Fame is filled with people of less than noble character (womanizers, drug abusers, drunks, and racists). Some are in the Hall of Fame with help from performance enhancing drugs. Pete Rose’s gambling did not affect his performance or his record.

If the Hall of Fame is going to be a list of the best players, you have to have Pete Rose. He owns, and has for over 30 years, the foundational record of baseball – Hits. Home runs are exciting and no-hitters are sensational. But baseball is about getting a hit. And Pete Rose had more than any other player. The closest recent player was 800 behind him (Derek Jeter – 3,465; Current player Alex Rodriguez has 3,020)

2. A ‘Rose’ in the Hall of Fame will be good for baseball.

Baseball’s cardinal sin is gambling (due to the World Series scandal in 1919). Every player knows not to gamble, it’s posted in every clubhouse. Pete should not have done it.

But it has been 25 years. It’s been talked about too long. All star games and Hall of Fame voting has been overshadowed by the controversy of Pete Rose. We shouldn’t even be talking about him now, other than how great a player he was. I think to have Pete in the Hall of Fame would finally communicate a forgiveness of the past and recognition of a great accomplishment.

3. He played baseball the way it’s supposed to be played.

Pete’s nickname was ‘Charlie Hustle.’ He got this from pitcher, Whitey Ford, for sprinting down to first base after a walk. He leaped in the outfield for a Mickey Mantle home run that was clearly over his head. His infamous head first slide was both dangerous and exciting. He barreled over catcher, Ray Fosse, to score the winning run in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star game (played in Cincinnati).

Pete Rose was a scrapper. He found ways to get on base. He played any position that was needed. That’s the way you play baseball. And if he ever gets in the Hall of Fame, it’s because he hustled all the way, in spite of the obstacles (many of them his own making).

If you agree or disagree, let me know. It really doesn’t matter what we think, but it gives us something to discuss.

But let me leave you with a greater thought…

Aren’t you glad you don’t have a group of ‘all stars’ voting on whether you should get into heaven or not? Could you imagine all the stuff they would bring up that we’ve done that might ban us? The only One who decides is Jesus.

No matter what you’ve done, no matter how much you have hurt your life or the life of someone else, you do not have to accept a permanent ban from Heaven (which is greater than the Hall of Fame). Because Jesus died on the cross for everything you ever did wrong, you can receive His forgiveness if you repent and surrender to Jesus.

One of the problems Pete Rose has is his reluctance to accept his wrong doing. His pride has hurt him more than his gambling. Maybe if he would have admitted what he did and all he did, he might be in the Hall of Fame today. Don’t make the same eternal mistake.

You can read some of my other articles about Baseball & Faith: The Most Exciting Play in Baseball, Baseball & Christianity – 5 Similarities, Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie & Faith, Beyond Baseball – Jackie Robinson Day.

What Voice Do You Listen To In Temptation? Part 2

We’ve all been tempted. But have you ever talked yourself into doing something wrong? I think we all have. It reminds me of the kid’s cartoon of the devil whispering in the ear. But it’s really not the devil – it’s me. I’m trying to talk myself into doing something wrong.

I wrote an earlier article and shared a few of the rationalizations we tell ourselves to do wrong. You can read this article here: What voice do you listen to in temptation?  I’d like to continue with three other rationalizations we use to convince ourselves that it’s okay to do wrong?

1. Nobody will find out.

For me, one of the deterrents to doing wrong is getting caught. When I was a kid I didn’t want my parents to find out. As a student, I didn’t want my teacher to find out. As an employee I didn’t want my boss to find out. And now, I don’t want my wife or children or church or the news media to find out. So, it’s a lot easier not to do it – this ensures I won’t  get found out.

But if we think we might get away with it, the voice of temptation gets louder. That’s one of the dangers of the internet. Nobody will find out, we think. That’s one of the reasons people start stealing from their company. They think nobody will find out.

But the Bible reminds us that ‘your sin will find you out.’ Sin will eventually find its way into the public eye. It is a straight-up lie to think that we can get away with our sin. It will be found. And the longer it stays hidden, the more destructive it will be when it is revealed. So, it is better to reveal it now, no matter how painful you may think it will be.

2. It’s only once.

Any bad decision is a bad decision – even one. But I guess it’s better to do something bad only once than repeat it. So sometimes we convince ourselves that’s it’s okay to do wrong once. Maybe it’s something we’ve never done before and we’re just curious what it’s like. So, let’s just try it once.

The one problem in this thinking is that a habit of sin always starts with the first time. One leads to two, and this could lead to a lifetime of wrong behavior. Once you do it once, it’s a lot easier to do it the second time. Remember the anxiety you felt when you were trying to get the courage to do wrong? And once you did it, you may have felt real bad or maybe you felt pretty good. Regardless, after a while, the temptation came back, but your anxiety wasn’t near as strong. It’s easier to do wrong the second time than it was the first time.

But if you never take the first drink, you’ll never be a drunk. If you never flirt with the guy that’s not your husband, you’ll never have the affair. If you never steal the first item, you’ll never be a thief. Don’t sin the first time.

3. It’s going to be ‘so’ good.

Sin is enjoyable, and exciting, and fun. Let’s not lie about this. It is. There’s something about doing wrong that excites us. I know people who stole things from a store, but had the money to pay for it in their pocket. They stole just for the thrill of it. Doing wrong has an evil appeal in each of us.

We may not be tempted with the same thing as someone else. We all have different likes and dislikes. So while one may be tempted with sex another may be tempted with gossip. But every temptation makes us feel happy or content or fulfilled.

The fun of sin is of a short duration. It won’t last. Often, we need more or more often to get the same thrill as the first time. And eventually it’s going to be worse than we ever thought it could be. I think God is going to make sure that the punishment for the sin we commit is worse than the fun we had doing it. Maybe the next time we think of doing it, we’ll think better.

Please turn a deaf ear to the voices that tempt you to do the wrong thing, even if it’s your own inner voice.

You can read my earlier post: What voice do yo listen to in temptation?