“…Rickey had never planned for one black man to deal with all the problems [of integrating the game] alone; he had meant to announce the simultaneous signing of several others.”
Baseball historian John Thorn has written a fascinating article on a forgotten piece of baseball history—Branch Rickey’s master plan to integrate Major League Baseball.
Of course, we know the integration of MLB through the collaborative efforts of Rickey and Jackie Robinson was an unqualified success, but it didn’t go the way Rickey originally intended:
You can read the rest of Thorn’s article here.
I had written a fairly lengthy post on the subject of failure and faithfulness, but then I deleted it because it didn’t accomplish my goal—I found it to be more discouraging than encouraging.
Here was the overall point of that post: I fail. A lot. With my family, in my personal life, and in my ministry—especially in my ministry (it was in my attempt to list some of those failures that the post quickly became discouraging!).
But while failures can be incredibly disappointing and can sometimes even paralyze us into inaction, ultimately, they aren’t that big of a deal.
I ran across a quotation a year or so ago that I really liked:
“God doesn’t call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful.”
I don’t remember where I came across it originally, and a quick Google search didn’t reveal the author. Nevertheless, I think it’s a good message: over and over again in Scripture, God calls for faithfulness from His followers, but He doesn’t demand success.
For a Christian, husband, father, and minister who seems to spend a lot of his time failing, that’s a comforting thought—God cares more about my unrelenting, dogged pursuit of Him than my triumphs (or lack thereof) on earth.
I can live with that.
I spent last week at Green Valley Bible Camp in Rogers, Arkansas, where I worked as a counselor and had a great week spending time with 120 young people from across several states.
The theme of our camp session this year was Stars in the Universe, and during the week we focused on the idea that Christians are called to be a distinctive people who stand out from those who surround them. As Paul says in Philippians 2.14-15:
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…”
Unfortunately, Christians (of all ages, not just teenagers) are often more influenced by the “crooked and depraved generation” in which they live than they are influencers of it. Christians easily conform to the world’s standards and practices on modesty, sexual purity, gossip, integrity, and a host of other issues.
This is tragic, because if Christians don’t shine their lights and stand out from the world around them, then the world will remain in darkness. As Christians, we cannot benefit the world if we are just the same as everyone else.
Green Valley is a pretty bright place—with so many Christians all around you, letting your light shine isn’t as difficult. My prayer for our campers (and myself) is that, as we return to our normal lives in a culture that largely repudiates Christian values, we continue to shine like stars in the universe.
Here’s a link to the 2012 Green Valley Slideshow. My buddy Jake Greer did a great job putting it together.
At some point in my Facebook life, I decided that as a matter of principle, I would not unfriend (or is it defriend?) anyone. This is a decision that I regret.
|Dr. Jack Lewis (fittingly) in the midst of research|
Dr. Jack Lewis is one of the great scholars in the fellowship of Churches of Christ, and really, is a pioneer as well. At a time when none of our Christian colleges offered post-graduate education (and a time when a lot of churches viewed such education suspiciously anyway), Lewis went on to receive a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Hebrew Union.
Either degree on its own would be impressive—together, it’s almost unbelievable.
Lewis went on to teach Bible courses at Harding University and the Harding University Graduate School of Religion (now Harding School of Theology) for over 50 years, and also served on the editorial boards of multiple scholarly journals and wrote more than a dozen books.
Dr. Lewis is highly respected, not just within Churches of Christ, but within the field of biblical studies as a whole.
To be as clear as possible, I will never even approach his level of scholarship.
So it was pretty cool that yesterday I got to meet Dr. Lewis (He still hangs out at the library at Harding School of Theology, and despite his advanced age, continues to spend his time doing research). I introduced myself to him after lunch and we exchanged a few pleasantries, and then, I had the privilege of getting to talk to him some more at Bible study last night.
The fellow grad student I was with asked Dr. Lewis (who had Ph.D.’s in fields which required extensive study of Greek and Hebrew) if language study came easily to him. Dr. Lewis smiled and said, “No, not at all,” and then proceeded to describe how, when he first took Greek, it was so stressful for him that he developed shingles!
Furthermore, he informed us that he had to take Elementary Hebrew three different times. Apparently, he originally had taken a Hebrew class in college, and then when he got to graduate school he was asked by a teacher which level of Hebrew class he thought he should be placed in. Dr. Lewis wasn’t sure, so the teacher gave him a Hebrew text to read to test his ability. When Dr. Lewis didn’t understand any of what he looked at, he tried to turn the book upside down so that it would make more sense. At that point, the professor said, “It looks like Elementary Hebrew is the class for you!”
For someone who is struggling through language study, it was comforting to hear that such a world-class scholar had similar difficulties.
As an Associate Minister, preaching is part of what I do. Normally, I preach once a month, which generally means that I spend about three weeks being consumed by other duties and responsibilities, and then I focus in on preaching for a week or so before my turn in the pulpit comes.
Recently though, I have had preaching on the mind for several reasons:
- In about two months’ time (late April through late June), I will have preached nine times. Two of the sermons were for weddings (which are different than regular sermons but present their own challenges), three will have been at Farmington, one at a youth retreat, one at our summer church camp, one for a grad school class, and one for another local congregation. Because of the specific circumstances surrounding many of these engagements, most of these sermons cannot be recycled. For a guy who usually prepares one sermon a month, that’s a lot of preaching.
- As I alluded to above, I am currently in a preaching class as part of my grad school program (in fact, I’m actually in Memphis all week for class, which explains my lack of activity here on the ol’ blog). As a part of this class, I have learned a ton about the theory and theology behind preaching, and it has left me incredibly convicted about the importance of it all. And I’ve experienced the joy (sarcasm alert) of preaching in front of my classmates and having my sermon examined and evaluated for strengths and weaknesses.
- Related to the class I am taking, I’ve read four books on preaching over the last six weeks or so which have taught me much about sermon form and composition that I never even suspected before.
- Last month it was announced that our preacher, who has been my coworker for several years and is a good friend of mine will be moving before the end of the year and will begin another ministry with another congregation. The process of searching for and hiring a preacher has been in my thoughts, both on his behalf, and on behalf of the church family at Farmington.
Maybe later I’ll have more to say about all I’ve learned in my preaching class, but at this point, it’s too early for me to clearly reflect on all of these preaching-related thoughts and happenings.
However, one thing has been firmly impressed on my mind: God entrusted the proclamation of the gospel and thus, the belief and salvation of others, through the medium of preaching (Mark 16.15-16; 1 Corinthians 1.21). That means it’s not something to be taken lightly, but should be undertaken prayerfully and studiously.
Today marks the 68th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied Armies’ invasion of Europe in World War II.
Giving the order to the troops on June 6, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said,
“You will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely. The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, your devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
Today, I am thankful to all those who did not shrink from the difficult task that lay before them.
- ► 2013 (70)
- ▼ June (7)
- ► 2011 (35)
- ► 2010 (34)
- ► 2009 (67)
- ► 2008 (100)
- ► 2007 (102)
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