Friday, December 30, 2016

The Things That Matter

James McCosh said, “The barometer has not been yet constructed which will measure the weight of a poet’s or philosopher’s thought; nor has there yet been invented a thermometer which will measure the intensity of a mother’s love for her infant son.” Bill Gaither taught us to sing, “The things that matter the most in this world, they can never be held in our hands.” I trust that we all agree, in theory, with those statements. But do we agree in practice?

When it is time for an election, what matters most to us, the spiritual and moral truths that cannot be measured, or the economic ‘issues’ that can be reduced to statistics? When we are making choices about our children’s education what matters most? Should schooling be mostly about earning a living or mostly about instilling the principles that make life worth living? Where do the ‘things that matter most’ really rank in our day-to-day activities?

Several years ago I was advised that, if I did not allow my son to play sports on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, he would never win a college scholarship. I thought this advice might be right; but I still did not let him play (and he never asked, by the way). As it turned out, he had plenty of scholarship offers; but even if he had not received offers, it was the right decision. The things that matter the most cannot be measured economically.

The path to instilling a right sense of priorities in our children may be difficult to walk but it is not difficult to discern. Spiritual things come first, material things do not and pleasures certainly do not.

There was a time when that was understood in our land, and then it was (relatively speaking) easier to put first things first. Today, everyone around us puts everything tangible ahead of the spiritual things that matter most.

Buck the trend. Put worship ahead of treasure and pleasure. In time you will find that worship will become the greatest of pleasures and that it will lead you to the only lasting treasure.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Multi-faceted Mission

Luke tells us that Jesus came to both "do" and "teach" (Acts 1:1). Jesus came proclaiming the gospel (Mk 1:14), but he came not only to preach the gospel but to do what must be done so that there would be a gospel to preach. In preaching he called us to repentance. He also came to give his life a ransom (Mt 20:28) so that repentance would be worthwhile.

There are many aspects to sin, but the Lord came to deal with all of them. Sin involves guilt, and so the death of Christ was a sacrifice to cover our guilt (Eph 5:2). Sin invites the righteous wrath of God, so the death of Christ was a propitiation to appease the wrath (Rom 3:25). Sin alienates us from God, but in the death of Christ we have reconciliation (Rom 5:11). Sin enslaves, but Christ redeems us from the slavery in which we have placed ourselves (Titus 2:14).

Jesus had a multi-faceted mission. Our mission is to carry on his mission. It is through the church that his work is brought to fullness (Eph 1:22-23). He came to both do and teach, so must we. The church that only teaches is not following the example of Jesus. The church that is busy doing but does not proclaim the gospel is not following the pattern set by Jesus.

We will not all be equally involved in every aspect of the work, but we all ought to be involved in some way in both doing and teaching. Some may never teach a class, but they can be ready to explain the gospel in simple terms to those who ask (1 Pet 3:15). Some may not be able to move about freely to visit in homes, but they can show their concern for others by supporting our benevolent ministries or perhaps by means of cards, letters or phone calls.

Jesus had a multi-faceted mission. So should we.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Facing the Wind

I walked west from the house Tuesday morning. I did not notice the wind. There did not seem to be a wind at all. If I had thought about it, I might have noticed a gentle breeze on my back. But once I reached the point where my walk turned north, I began to notice. Once I turned back to the east on my homeward journey, I really noticed the wind. The wind in my face was cold. I wished that I had dressed more warmly.

When we are drifting along with the wind, the wind is hardly noticed. It is only when we set our course against the wind that we realize how powerful of a force it is.

I was reminded of the words of Samuel Rutherford, “God hath called you to Christ’s side, and the wind is now in Christ’s face in this land; and seeing ye are with him, ye cannot expect the lee-side or the sunny side of the brae.”

Are we with Christ? Are we facing the wind with him? Or are we among the irresolute, faithless ones being carried along by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14)?

Most often, those who are drifting with the wind do not realize it. They think that they are pursuing a steady course, although they are often being gently but surely led away from the Lord. Faith in the word of God is the anchor that will prevent drift (Heb 6:13-18). But the word provides this stability only to those who both know the word and intentionally order their lives thereby.

I never would have reached home Tuesday morning if I had refused to face the wind. We never will reach our heavenly home if we are not willing to face the spiritual winds that are steadily pushing us the other way.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Skipping the Hard Stuff

One of the things wrong with our country is that too many people have chosen to skip the hard stuff.

Most of us no longer grow any of our own food. We leave the hard work of planting, harvesting, and preparing our food to others. In fact, I am told that nearly half of all meals are now eaten in restaurants. Some people cannot be bothered to do the work involved in procuring and preparing food. Some hardly even want to chew it.

When most moms do not cook (unless you call warming something in the microwave “cooking”) and most dads insists that they must have a riding mower for the 1/8 acre yard, is it any wonder that the kids refuse to study any subject that they find difficult?

But I digress. My real purpose is not to critique our society but to point out how this “everything must be easy” approach has infiltrated our spiritual lives. How hard do we work at Bible study? How much effort do we put into our prayer life? Is it not the case that most of those who want any religion at all want an extremely easy brand?

The saying “no pain, no gain” is as true in the spiritual realm as in any other aspect of life. Yes, the New Testament teaches salvation by grace, not by works (Eph 2:1-8). But it does not teach spiritual growth without effort (Eph 2:10). It teaches that there is struggle involved (Col 1:29; 2:1; 4:12; Heb 10:32; 12:4).

We cannot skip the hard tasks and expect progress. There are certain spiritual ‘disciplines’ that are essential to a close walk with the Lord – worship, prayer, Bible study, Christian service…. If we are not regularly involved in these we will not make spiritual progress (in fact it is likely that we will regress).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A "Post-truth" World

More than seventy years ago Screwtape advised Wormwood that it was foolish to attack Christianity using logic.

“It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the enemy’s clutches. That might have been true if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. … Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. … Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the church.” (C.S Lewis. The Screwtape Letters, pp. 7-8)

Jargon is even more influential today than it was in was in the early 1940s, when Screwtape’s letters were first published. Oxford Dictionaries have declared “post-truth” the word of the year. People no longer care what is true. With many people, emotions trump facts. It does not matter what is true; all that matters is how we feel about it.

We live in a post-Christian era mainly because we live in a post-truth era. The newspapers devote more space to how people feel about matters than they devote to the facts of the matters. Many schools spend little time teaching facts and devote their time to inflaming passions.

It is tempting to say that the church will have to change its approach; that we will have to shift away from our focus on facts. But we dare not do so. The Bible created the focus on facts because it so strongly urged the truth claim that Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried, that he arose the third day. If those claims are fact, then Christianity is true, it matters, and we must respond. If those claims are not true, then Christians are of all people most to be pitied (1 Cor 15:3-4, 17-19).

Yes, it is appropriate to respond to the facts emotionally as well as intellectually. But the claims of Christ are truth claims, not emotional claims. We either stick with the facts or we have denied our Lord.

Friday, October 14, 2016

David Ortiz, A Winner or a Loser?

David Ortiz ended his baseball career Monday night. It was not a storybook ending. Of course, everyone dreams of ending on a high note, ending as a winner.

Ortiz, and his team, the Red Sox, had a great season. They won the eastern division championship. But they lost the last two games of the regular season and were swept three games to none in the first round of the playoffs. These things happen in sports and in life.

Years ago I had a teacher who used to say, “I never saw a winner that wasn’t winning.” If that were true, then David Ortiz is a loser. But that is completely silly. Sure, he lost a lot of games, he struck out hundreds (maybe thousands) of times. But his fifteen year career was marked by a lot of success as well. Calling him a loser because the last five games were all losses would indicate a terrible lack perspective.

And my point?

I know too many Christians who are quick to pronounce themselves, or the church, a failure. As soon as things go wrong, personally or congregationally, panic or depression sets in.

Was Peter a failure? He did some foolish and faithless things; but Peter, the arrogant and ignorant fisherman, became a great preacher.

Was Paul a failure? He did some incredibly harmful things. He ended life in a Roman jail. But his writings have lived on after him. His words still instruct and inspire disciples today.

Was Jesus a failure? He often had nowhere to lay his head. His enemies successfully conspired against him. His friends deserted him. He died alone. Yet he was no loser. The ultimate victory remains his.

And we, though we will often fail, are not failures. Jesus shares that ultimate victory with us.

Personally, I have often seen losers who were temporarily winning. I have also seen winners who were losing. The ultimate victory is not a matter of the moment but of eternity. Someday we will see many (apparent) winners who turned out to be losers, and a one time (apparent) loser ruling over all.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Two Blind Men

There are two blind men mentioned in Mark chapter ten, but we normally do not think of the first of them as blind. We think of him as rich. We call him the “rich, young, ruler.” But in reality he was the more seriously blind of the two blind men. He was also the poorer of the two men. The other blind man was a beggar named Bartimaeus.

Come to think of it, I am wrong. There were more than two blind men mentioned in this chapter. James and John were also quite blind. They requested the places to the right and left of Jesus (37). These places were already reserved (although they did not yet know it) for a couple of thieves. James, John, and the wealthy young man were spiritually blind. Bartimaeus only suffered from physical blindness -- a serious handicap, no doubt, but not nearly as serious as the spiritual blindness.

Jesus, as you know, was starting a journey when the rich young man asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him to abandon what he had and follow on the journey. The young man was not willing to leave what he had. He refused the invitation (22).

Bartimaeus, on the other hand, did not mind leaving behind his begging cup. He gladly followed. Jesus had not even told him to do so. Jesus had said, “Go your way.” But Bartimaeus decided that whatever way Jesus was heading was the way for him (52).

Let’s close this brief consideration of Mark 10 with a question found in John 9:40, “Are we also blind?”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Do Not Believe the Rumor

Somehow a rumor has been started that the good news of the gospel means that we can do whatever we wish and never suffer the consequences. The rumor has it that, as long as we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, nothing we have done will ever come back to haunt us. Our task will be easy. Our rewards will be great. The Christian life will be a life of ease and enjoyment.

It is true that Jesus once said, “my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11:30). Yes, he said that, and the statement does contain the words “easy” and “light.” It also happens to contain the words “yoke” and “burden.”

A yoke is a contraption that helps oxen pull a load. There are poorly made yokes that make the task more difficult than it needs to be, and better yokes that make the task as painless as possible. But any yoke implies that there is work to be done. A light burden is not a heavy burden, but it is a burden.

There is something to be done. The Christian life is great; it is enjoyable; it is a blessing; but it is not effortless. Jesus also said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt 7:14).

The afflictions of the Christian life are “light” and “momentary” in comparison to the “eternal weight of glory” to which they lead (2 Cor 4:17). But they are afflictions, not picnics.

Believe the scriptures, not the rumor.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Overlooking What Matters Most

The 71st floor of the Chrysler building in New York is now occupied by a private company. But in the past the 71st floor was an observation deck. For 50 cents the public could take a stroll around the floor and get a magnificent view of New York. They could also observe something else, although most people did not bother.

Also on the 71st floor was a display case containing a rustic set of tools. The tools had belonged to a young mechanic with the Union Pacific Railroad. He made the tools himself at the Union Pacific shop in Ellis, Kansas while still in his teens.

Most people who visited the observation deck spent their time looking at the sights outside the windows. It never occurred to them to look at the homely tool chest at the center of the room. It never occurred to them that the 71st floor, and all of the other floors of the Chrysler building, would never have existed if it had not been for the hard work of a young unschooled railroad mechanic named Walter Chrysler.

We look at the sights, but sometimes at the wrong sights. We see the finished product – like the large building and the larger business that Walter Chrysler built. But we forget the humble beginnings and the hard work that went before.
But God does not forget. He sees what is done in secret (Mt 6:2-6); and he honors work well done (Col 3:23-24). Let us be diligent in our tasks, whatever those tasks may be.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Lifelong Learning

I have seen it in slightly different forms; I do not know who first said it; but it is certainly a true statement, “There is no shame in not knowing, only in refusal to learn.”

Of course we cannot learn everything. It would be foolish and wrong to even try. But in regard to the things that really matter the refusal to learn is inexcusable.

Every workman bears a responsibility to learn his craft. A truck driver is not expected to know the rules of Rugby; nor is a Rugby player expected to know the laws governing trucks. But to refuse to learn things related to one’s task is wrong. In Rugby it will get one penalized. In truck driving it will get one ticketed (and the officer will not accept “I didn’t know” as an excuse).

Having been placed here that we might glorify God (Isa 43:21; Mt 5:16; Phil 1:10-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11), it is wrong of us to refuse to learn how we might best do so. And we ought to continue to learn throughout our lives.

One of the best teachers I ever had was Ian Fair. Dr. Fair had earned a master’s in biblical studies from A.C.U. and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Natal in South Africa. But he was still learning. Every semester he taught the four or five courses assigned to him and often attended a class one of the other professors taught. That’s right; a professor would sit in the classroom as a student. He did this for years. He was still learning.

Do not pass by opportunities to learn about the things that really matter. Do not neglect opportunities to improve your ability to praise the Lord. There is no shame in not knowing, we all started out ignorant. But there is great shame in refusing opportunities to learn and improve.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Work Heartily

“Idleness is worst. Idleness alone is without hope: work earnestly at anything, you will by degrees learn to work at almost all things.” -- Thomas Carlisle –

Many people treat work as an evil, as something to be avoided. Leisure and entertainment seem to be the goals of modern life. We work only enough to fund our leisure, instead of relaxing enough to return to our work refreshed.

God wants us to have leisure. The idea of a day off came from God (Dt. 5:12-15), not from the labor unions. But God also expects us to work. He set the example by working six out of the first seven days. Then he planted a garden (Gen. 2:8). He placed Adam in the garden and gave him a task to do there (Gen. 2:15).

It is work, not leisure, that gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction – or at least could give us a sense of satisfaction if we would be diligent at our tasks.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV). David Murray commented on this, "…we work as if He was our employer, our manager, our boss. We wash dishes as if He was going to eat from them. We unblock drains as if it was His home. We don’t work primarily for money (that’s a job), for promotions (that’s a career), or for a way to fill the time (that’s an occupation), but for the Lord (that’s a vocation)."

Are you dissatisfied with life? Could it be that you are failing to take up your daily tasks with a sense of serving the Lord in them? Whatever our task, let us work at it heartily, let us do it to his glory.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By Water and Blood

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood (1 John 5:6, ESV).

This verse is known as one of the most difficult in the New Testament. Profound scholars have struggled with it and failed to come to a satisfactory conclusion. But, despite its admitted difficulties, there is comfort in it for us.

Evidently, gnostic false teachers were troubling the church. They seem to have claimed that an ordinary human being named “Jesus" had been possessed by the Spirit of God at his baptism. They went on to claim that the Spirit left Jesus before he died on the cross. According to their teaching, the Jesus who lived 30 years at Nazareth and who died on the cross was just an ordinary man. The Jesus who gave the teachings and performed signs was supernatural, but that was not exactly the Jesus who died, according to them.

John disagrees. John taught that Jesus Christ, from his baptism in water to the shedding of his blood, was one person, one Lord, one Savior. He might also mean something additional (John likes double entendre). He might also mean that Jesus Christ comes to us at our baptism and continues to come to us as we remember him in the Lord’s Supper. John’s teaching is the teaching we can rely upon.

Our sins are great, but our Savior is greater. Satan, our accuser, is great, but our Advocate is greater. The One who died for us was not a mere man. He was fully God as well as fully man. He is therefore able to save to the uttermost (Heb 7:25). Let us trust fully in him.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
(Romans 8:31-32,ESV)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fundamentals of Rock Climbing

I do not know anything about rock climbing, but I am told that Louis Zamperini did. And he once said, “I’ve met so-called trained climbers who almost kill themselves through lack of basic knowledge.” When I saw that statement it resonated with me right away.

I do not know anything about rock climbing, but I know that if you change “trained climbers” to “Christians” and take out the word “almost” you have a true statement, too true.

There are certain fundamentals of the Christian life that many Christians seem to have forgotten (if they ever knew them). These are simple, basic truths that we never grow past.

1. We need each other. Jesus did not die for us as individuals. He died for the church (Acts 20:28).
2. We need daily prayer, daily exposure to God’s word and frequent fellowship with other Christians. Acts 2:42 is a text we all ought to know and live by.
3. We are in danger. Satan is out to get us. We must not be toying with sin (1 Peter 5:8). We must not imagine that we can fellowship with the world and remain unstained. Evil companions corrupt (1 Cor 15:33). If you sleep with the dogs you will end up with fleas.
4. We are incapable of saving ourselves; we must continually cling to Christ (Eph 2:1-10; Jos 22:5).

It does not matter how long we have been Christians, these (and other) fundamentals remain true. Let us never forget them. Let us live by them.

Forgetting the fundamentals of rock climbing will kill only the body. Forgetting the fundamentals of Christian living will really hurt you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Past and Present

In 1843 Thomas Carlyle published Past and Present. The goal of the book was to show that basic ethical principles are unchanging, that what made a man admirable in the 12th century would make a man admirable in the 19th century. We are now in the 21st century, but the point Carlyle was making is still valid.

Carlyle believed in God, but was not well read in the scriptures or in theology. He made his argument in a different way. One of the main characters in the book was an old abbot who was ordered by King Richard (Coeur-de-Lion) to hand over a child of whom the abbot was guardian. According to Carlyle, Abbot Samson replied that the king had the power to seize the child by force. The abbot could not resist, but neither would he hand the child over willingly. He would endure what was forced upon him, but he would not become a party to wrongdoing by surrendering the child.

That principle is older than Carlyle, it is older than Abbot Samson, it is the stand for which the first readers of Hebrews were commended, “…you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb 10:34, ESV). It is the principle Paul expresses when he says that we must not “take part in the sins of others” (1 Tim 5:22).

In many ways, evil rules us today, and the upcoming election is unlikely to change that. Things may be taken from us by force, but let us make sure that it is by force. Let us never become willing participants in the evils with which this country abounds. Our goods and our money may be seized and used for wrongdoing; but let us be sure that it is not willingly given. Let us be sure that we never become participants in or supporters of evil. In voting this Fall, let us remember that he who gives consent to what he knows to be evil is often more guilty in God’s sight than the one who carries out the evil deed (Rom 1:32). There are many evils we may not be able to stop; but let us be sure we do not become participants in evil.

Friday, July 29, 2016

THE PATH THAT JESUS CHOOSES FOR US

Mark 6:45 (ESV) Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.
In the world of our imagination, if Jesus leads us, if he causes us to go by a certain path, that path is sure to lead to success. We expect happiness, peace, and satisfaction when we are following our Lord.

But what did the disciples experience when the Lord “made” them get into the boat and proceed toward Bethsaida? The wind was against them and they made headway “painfully” (Mk 6:48).

Our Lord loves us with an everlasting love (Ps 103:17; Jer 31:3). His love is not focused on our short-term happiness but on our long-term holiness. He is not a soft leader who strives to make everything easy, safe, and fun for his disciples. He may at times lead us through fire and water (Ps 66:11-12). These trials are not pleasant at the time, “but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:11).

Are we disciples of Jesus? If so, let us remember that those who follow a leader end up where that leader ended. In the case of Jesus, that means the right hand of God eventually, but first there will be a cross to carry and a hill called Golgotha to climb.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Am I In Love?



Through the years I have heard of several little self-tests that young people might use to see if they are truly “in love” with a person to whom they feel attracted. One of them goes like this.

·    “Do you want to introduce your family and friends to this person?” This is an important question. If you are hesitant to introduce your friends to person “x”, the odds are the relationship will not be a healthy one for you.
·    “Do you want this person around, and miss them when you cannot be with them?” If we enjoy being around a person sometimes, but get along just fine when we are not with them, that person might make a good friend, but not a life-long mate. A marriage partner should be someone we want to be with all the time.
·    “Do you put this person first?” Do you feel that whatever makes him (or her) happy will make you happy?
·    “Are you deeply hurt and offended if you hear someone belittle this person?” If your commitment to a friend is not deep enough to cause anger when others speak ill of your friend, then your commitment is not deep enough to be thinking of marriage.

These are good tests to apply to the question of marriage.

Let me also suggest that you apply each of these tests to your relationship with the Lord. Have you introduced your family and friends to him? Do you long to be with him? Do you put his will first, and find joy in striving to please him? Are you deeply offended if you hear anyone belittle him?

It is easy to say, or even to sing, “O How I Love Jesus.” But the proof (or disproof) of that love is found in our daily lives. Do we really love him?

Friday, July 15, 2016

NOBLE THINGS ARE DIFFICULT



Oswald Chambers said that “all noble things are difficult.” I am not sure that I would go quite that far, but it certainly is true that anything worth doing will have its difficulties. 

Jesus said,  “… the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV). 

But he also reminded us, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21, ESV)

In context, his point is that the disciples will be sorry that he is leaving them, but will later experience joy and forget their sorrow. But the same principle is applicable to many things in life. 

Noble tasks will have their difficulties and frustrations. There will be pain. But in the end the pain will be forgotten in the joy of accomplishment. On the other hand, taking the “path of least resistance” is easy, but it leads to disappointment and disillusionment.

Choose the noble. It will be more difficult at times, but in the end it will be far more satisfying.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

THE LAST DAYS



Am I the only one bothered by the excessive interest people seem to show in the timing of our Lord’s final return? I cannot count the number of times I have been asked, “Do you think we are living in the last days?” How can biblically literate people keep asking that question?

Paul expected that Timothy would experience some of the trials of the last days in his lifetime (1 Tim 4). John told his readers that the last hour had arrived nearly 2000 years ago (1 John 2:18). Jesus said, regarding his final coming, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt 24:36, ESV). 

With plain statements like those in the scriptures, why would anyone seek my opinion on the subject?

Of course we are in the last days. We have been since Peter declared the gospel at Pentecost. The final era of history is well underway. The final era has arrived. This is it. There will be no revised plan, no new means of reconciliation with God. We either submit to the plan he instituted through Christ Jesus, or we die in our sins and are eternally lost (John 8:24; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 2 Thess 1:5-10).

The faith has been “once for all” delivered to the saints (Jude 3). There is and will be no alternate plan. That is why we must keep ourselves ready (Matt 24:44) and why we must strive to snatch others from the fire (Jude 22-23).

Friday, June 17, 2016

"Because He Can"



To announce a sporting event well, one must have a good view. That is why the announcers at baseball games are put in a “press box” above the field and directly behind home plate. This location gives them a great view, but also puts them in some danger. Foul balls, traveling at 80 miles per hour are often hit in that direction. Most announcers have learned to duck quickly when that happens. But one announcer, Chris Singleton of the White Sox, is famous for calmly catching the foul balls while continuing to announce the game.

A few years ago, during an Indians/White Sox game, as I was listening to the Indians broadcast, this happened. A foul ball entered the White Sox booth, and Chris Singleton calmly caught the ball. The Indians’ announcers were stunned. One of them asked, “Why did he do that?” To which his partner replied, “Because he can.”

Chris Singleton does not duck, because he does not need to; he can still catch the ball. Give him a few more years and, I suspect, Mr. Singleton will be ducking also. Once his reactions slow down and his vision blurs with age, he will have no choice but to duck.

What has that to do with me and you? Just this ….

In the physical realm our reactions and our vision worsen with age. We must recognize this and make appropriate adjustments. But in the spiritual realm, if we are allowing the Spirit to lead us, if we are feeding on the word, if we are practicing godly living, our capabilities will be increasing rather than diminishing. I cannot play ball as I once did, and (at my age) I will not be getting better at it in the future. But if my preaching, and overall Christian living, is no better today than it was in the past … well then, shame on me. 

Age limits our mobility (especially at night). I understand that, and the Lord understands that. But age does not limit our ability to pray, to meditate on God’s word, or to share the word with others (provided they can get close enough to hear our weakening voices). Until the time comes when our physical limitations really start to shut us down, we ought to be growing and doing more, not sitting on the sidelines merely observing.

Most announcers duck, but Chris Singleton catches baseballs. He does it because he can. Are we doing what we can? Are we growing in our relationship with God and in what we can do to honor him?