Friday, May 28, 2021

The Armor of God

In these chaotic days, I have found myself longing for simpler times, when things made sense and truth and integrity were not in short supply. But truthfully, I'm really looking forward to the age to come, when justice resides in perfection and Jesus Christ will reign forever. In times like these I like to revisit one of my favorite verses to breathe hope into my day. I hope you find it of value to your life as well.  

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:10-17)

I have many days where my weakness seems to overwhelm every aspect of my life. It impacts my perspective, and worse, my relationships, including my relationship with God. If my perspective is tilted toward hopelessness, which has been my experience after seasons of weakness, the promises of God, a God who is supposedly for me, seem to grow more distant by the day. 

None of this, of course, surprises our Father who created us. To guard against this becoming our normal mindset He gave us His Word which can unlock His power in our lives. You see, if I am dependent only upon my strength than I am going to fail. No question. But what if there exists a way that I can tap into the power and strength of the One who created me?

The short version of this answer is that there is! To discover how let's examine the example that God gave us in the verses above. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Tennessee Baseball Wins SEC East!

For the first time since 1997, Tennessee baseball is the SEC Eastern Division baseball champion.

The fourth-ranked Vols entered Saturday — the final day of the regular season — needing a win at 15th-ranked South Carolina and a loss from second-ranked Vanderbilt to unranked Kentucky in Nashville. They got both of those things.

Coach Tony Vitello’s Vols held on late for a 5-4 win in Columbia early Saturday afternoon, but they still needed Kentucky to score at upset win in Nashville later in the day. The Wildcats entered the ninth inning with a 4-2 deficit but rallied for five runs in the top of the inning and held the Commodores to one run in the bottom of the frame to secure the East for rival Tennessee.

Kentucky scored all five of its ninth-inning runs — a three-run homer from catcher Coltyn Kessler and a two-run homer from designated hitter Jacob Plastiak — with two outs, doing most of the damage against Dores closer Nick Maldonado.

That Kentucky win in Nashville made Tennessee’s 5-4 win at South Carolina even more significant. The Vols trailed 1-0 after after center fielder Brady Allen’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the first, but they came back and took a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth, courtesy of a three-run homer from sophomore catcher Connor Pavolony.

South Carolina rallied to score three runs and narrow the gap to 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth, and third baseman Jeff Heinrich brought Founders Park to its feet with a leadoff double against Tennessee senior closer Sean Hunley in the bottom of the ninth. The unflappable Hunley bounced back in a big way, though, striking out the next three batters he faced to nail down a series win that ultimately proved to be the difference in the SEC East.

Top-ranked Arkansas — which edged Tennessee in a series of nothing but close games last weekend in Knoxville — won the SEC Western Division and the overall regular season championship, and the Razorbacks will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in Birmingham-area Hoover, Ala.

Tennessee will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament, meaning the Vols will open the tournament play at approximately 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Tennessee will play the winner of a Tuesday game between No. 7 seed South Carolina and No. 10 seed Alabama.

If the Vols win that Wednesday game, they’ll play again at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. If they lose to either the Gamecocks or the Crimson Tide, they’ll play an elimination game Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Power of Correct Thinking

| renew | (verb)

to make like new
to restore to freshness, vigor, perfection
to make new spiritually
to begin again
to restore to existence
to make extensive changes
to be born again

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12: 1-2)

Do you know what is in short supply in today's world? Thinking. Or to be more specific, correct thinking.

When was the last time that you just thought about your life, the reality of whatever situation you find yourself, and the options available to you in this moment? If you are like the majority of people today that answer is probably not anytime recently. It takes a jumpstart to sometimes reveal our choices and God wants to help us achieve that today. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Talk To God

It was recently announced that for the second year in a row the annual Burning Man event would be canceled. This was due in part to the worldwide popularity of the event and the fears of bringing upwards of 70,000 people together with unknown mixtures of vaccinated, infected, sick and healthy, and the consequences of all those people sharing close quarters. It is a fact that the locals are breathing a sigh of relief.

I consider myself a creative person and I have often day dreamed of a place where everyone had the resources to create at will, using their God-given talents to inspire others. I believe that Heaven will incorporate these same opportunities. And in fact, I find this is one of the more interesting aspects of the Burning Man event. Another part of the event that I find interesting about this event is the manifestation that two of mankind's deepest longings become apparent, the desire for community and spirituality. For instance one of the more popular exhibits each year is a booth labeled "Talk To God". Simple in its attraction, it is a phone booth where you can pick-up a phone and pretend that the person on the other end is God. Despite its fantasy nature, it is, unsurprisingly, an emotional experience for many. But it is not an experience that comes cheap . . . 

Sunday, May 09, 2021

The New Jerusalem

Anybody else blown away with the similarities of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21 to the Holy of Holies described in Exodus 26? Both are described as perfect cubes, the first Tabernacle measuring around 10x10x10, and the New Jerusalem city measuring 1,380 miles high, wide, and deep. 

A cube, with all its three dimensions equal, is considered geometric perfection in classical mathematics and is a fitting tribute to the triune God who is ONE in all aspects of thought and purpose. A cube has six sides, six being the number of man in Bible code. Thus we see man in total unity with God, in the city of the New Jerusalem, even as we see that Jesus is both God and perfect man in one; God in the flesh. 

Friday, May 07, 2021

The Perfect Game

This week in baseball we almost witnessed an historic event. Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Means pitched a no-hitter on Wednesday, May 5th. This feat, while impressive, was almost historic because he was one technicality away from a perfect game. 

per·fec·tion - the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

A perfect game in Major League Baseball is a victory by a pitcher (or combination of pitchers) that lasts a minimum of nine innings with no batter reaching first base. To achieve a perfect game, a team must not allow any opposing player to reach base by any means: no hits, walks, hit batsmen, uncaught third strikes, catcher's or fielder's interference, or fielding errors; in short, "27 up, 27 down" (for a nine-inning game). Over the 150 years of Major League Baseball history, and over 218,500 games, there have only been 23 official perfect games. 

For one game, everything works (at least for the winning team) the way it should, starting with the supreme confidence and control of the pitcher, and his catcher who calls a perfect game, and his teammates who defend their territory without blemish, through nine innings of baseball. 27 outs. Perfection, flawless execution by everyone who was part of that winning effort. An experience that most people can only dream about. Where every decision is correct, there is no second-guessing, no mistakes in the execution, where the universe and humanity align to create a rare moment in time, perfection.

But what happens when you are one mistake from perfection?