Friday, November 26, 2021

"Because He Bends Down To Listen . . . "

This is one of my favorite pictures depicting Jesus Christ. There are so many details that I love about this picture, for instance, Jesus's smile. It frames his face as approachable, friendly, open, transparent, attentive, and loyal. Then you have his closeness, his desire to be with us, to listen to us, to support us, to help us, to comfort us, to teach us, to provide us whatever strength and peace we need at that moment. And I also appreciate the action portrayed in this picture, the feeling of motion, of moving with us, not pulling us back, but accompanying us into the future, Jesus alongside us, together facing whatever challenge that lies ahead. Finally, this picture always reminds me of Psalm 116:2, "Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" (NLT) 

I recognize the difficulty in appreciating this verse but I urge you to read it again, slowly. To let it sink in that God, Creator God, All-Powerful and All-Knowing God, leans down to hear us when we pray to Him is a truth that the enemy and this world desperately work to hide from our minds and hearts. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who was so interested in you that they leaned in, eyes focused, giving you their undivided attention, totally immersed in the moment?

That is what this verse is proclaiming, that Jesus awaits our overture, longing for us to desire the intimacy with Him that He died to achieve. God never rejects a sincere, humble heart that is seeking Him with all their resources. And yes, that is also a truth from scripture. (James 4:8) 

So rest in the assurance that you are loved, that God is so interested in you that He will drop everything at the sound of your voice. That your prayers, your concerns, your joys, and your struggles are all equally welcomed by Jesus Christ. 

I pray that this picture tugs at your heart and draws you closer to God. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Manager of the Year

He began as a minor-league player. He became a minor-league manager. He worked for Bobby Cox and Fredi Gonzalez as a third-base coach. If you’ve followed the Atlanta Braves, you’ve become familiar with Brian Gerald Snitker, manager of the 2021 World Champion team.

Before this week, the list of managers to take the Atlanta-era Braves to the Fall Classic numbered one. (Bobby Cox) But now this unassuming, baseball lifer just achieved what seemed impossible less than 30 days ago.

Which is the reason for this discussion regarding the announcement of  the 2021 MLB awards this week, awards such as Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, etc. No Atlanta Brave player or manager won or was even in serious consideration for in any of the awards given out this year despite the team winning the World Series. Which begs the question, why did Brian Snitker not warrant more consideration for NL Manager of the Year?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

39 Days Until Christmas!

 39 Days Until Christmas! 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Atlanta Braves Memories - Part II

Here are some of my favorite Atlanta Braves players, in no particular order: 

Phil Niekro, Andruw Jones, Eddie Matthew, Warren Spahn, David Justice, Javy Lopez, Ron Gant, Rafael, Furcal, Rico Carty, Ryan Klesko, Mike Stanton, Max Fried, Al Hrabosky, Darrell Evans, Johnny Sain, Glen Hubbard, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Greg Maddux, Jeff Blauser, Mark Lemke, Sid Bream, Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Ralph Garr, Bob Horner, Terry Pendleton, Joe Torre, John Rocker, Brian Hunter, Eddie Rosario, Rafael Belliard, Dan Uggla, Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers, Alejandro Pena, Otis Nixon, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, Orlando Cepeda, Charlie Leibrandt, Greg Olsen, Ronald Acuna, Fred McGriff, Chipper Jones, Freddie Freeman, Jorge Soler, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Deion Sanders, Marvin Freeman, Brian Snitker. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Atlanta Braves Memories - Part I

I can't recall a time in my life when I didn't follow the Atlanta Braves baseball team. This affiliation continued despite the fact that in the first twenty years of my life, they finished first in their division only once, and then promptly lost in the National League championship to the 69' New York "Miracle" Mets. 

In other words, I wasn't a bandwagon fan because there was not wagon available. But their success on the field was never the only reason I followed the Braves. I think the greatest reason was that my family were fans of the Braves and we made the drive from Chattanooga to Atlanta a few times during my childhood to watch the Braves play in Fulton County Stadium. I remember that it wasn't difficult to get a ticket and the stands were never close to capacity during those years despite having legendary players like Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Dale Murphy on the roster. I also remember watching greats like Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Ron Santo and more! 

But I digress . . . 

Fast forward to the year 1982 and the Braves playoff drought continued. My dad would always remind me that some fans lived their whole life without their team even getting to the World Series, forget about winning it all. So as I entered my thirties, I had resigned myself to the fact that the Brave's glory days were long gone and hope of a championship season entered the realm of fantasy. 

Then came 1991. 

Friday, November 05, 2021

Acutely Desperate

Ferociously desperate.

Do you remember a time in your life when all of your emotions, intellect, strength, everything you possessed, was laser focussed on the perilous situation consuming your every thought?

During these times of suffering, you may find yourself gravitating toward any help that could rescue you from your situation. Let me give you an personal example:

During a particularly deep valley experience, I picked up a book by an author who had found himself in a similar environment in his life. The more I read an emotional bond was formed and by the time I had finished the book it had become an overwhelming dependence. I promptly googled his website and composed an email, pouring out my heart in a way that I had never done with any of my closest friends and family, and then I pressed send. 

I never received a reply.  

But I did learn something about myself, I am a lot more fragile than I thought I was. My emotional, physical, and spiritual strengths are deceptive, because no one can endure extended seasons of despair and suffering without breaking. The tedious threads that hold us together are just that, threads of dubious strength and resilience. When I am being swept away by the waves of my storm, I am tempted to grasp at anything that looks like a form of rescue. It is during such times that it is imperative that we guard our hearts, minds, and souls from influences that are not God inspired.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Braves Win the World Series!

Dansby Swanson fielded the final out of the 2021 World Series, a chopper from Yuli Gurriel, and briefly glared at Atlanta Braves teammate Ozzie Albies. Seconds earlier, Albies had assured Swanson that he would be standing on second base to record Tuesday's 27th out. When he wasn't, Swanson had to pivot to complete the most important throw of his life -- and maybe that was fitting.

Swanson grew up 20 miles from Atlanta and was raised to love the local baseball team. Before he graduated high school, Freddie Freeman ascended to the major leagues and began to establish himself as one of the sport's greatest first basemen. They became teammates, helped lead the Braves into another resurgence and grew close through the process.

On this night, in Game 6 of the World Series, they connected on the final out that cemented a 7-0 victory over the Houston Astros and capped the Braves' improbable ascendance.

Monday, November 01, 2021

World Series - Game 5 in Atlanta

 Join the "Daily Woo" as he travels to Atlanta for Game 5 of the 2021 World Series.