Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 + 10

As Martin Luther and many others through the years have pointed out, life is a series of exchanges. We exchange one thing for something else we deem of greater importance or value.

Daily we exchange money for food, housing, entertainment, etc. We exchange time in order to make money.

Increasingly we also trade money in order to have time. We pay for conveniences so that we have more time to do other things. In recent years many have understood time to be life’s most important resource and often we are more careful with how and why we exchange time for other things (though television viewing habits remain a glaring exception).

That brings me to God. In what ways do you exchange time for God?

If you give up an hour on Sunday morning for worship or on a weeknight for your small group, but do not have significant connection with God in that hour that is an inefficient or even poor exchange. I’m not recommending that you stop the exchange but rather that you make sure it is a good exchange by not coasting through the hour spent in worship or community.

As you’re determining how to spend your Summer time I encourage you to never miss the opportunity to worship, seldom miss the experience of community and always connect with God every day.

One simple yet powerful exchange is to spend 10 minutes reading the Bible and 10 minutes in prayer every day. 10 + 10 equals considerably more than 20 minutes when it is exchanged for meaningful connection with God.

God bless you as you make timely and timeless exchanges.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Savoring the Summer

Do you eat a meal quickly or slowly?

We all have those occasions where we don’t have much time and we have to “slam” a meal down quickly.

But, when you’re not hurried, do you still eat quickly? Sherrie and I have a little fun going on around my meal habits. If we’re eating a meal that I really enjoy then I’ll eat very slowly so that I can savor all of the flavors. I literally think about my taste buds while I’m chewing as I attempt to taste every bit of seasoning or sweetness or tartness. Sherrie will catch me doing this and comment, “Savoring again, huh?”

As we approach summer I want to encourage you, even challenge you to savor your summer.

Whether you’re hiking or biking, cooking on the grill or driving on a road trip, open up the “taste buds” of your eyes, ears and heart and take it all in.

We live in a part of the world that especially displays the grandeur of God’s creative expression.

What’s more, when spending time with family or friends, step outside of yourself and look at the time you have together. Notice all the vocal and facial expressions. Enjoy the trust and freedom of sharing. Fully receive love and connection that comes with a touch, a hug or a kiss.

To paraphrase the Scriptures:

“This is the summer that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Friday, June 04, 2010

Armando Galarraga, Jim Joyce & Christian Virtues

Pitching a perfect game in professional baseball is rare having happened only 20 times. The feat amounts to a pitcher facing 27 batters (3 per inning over 9 innings) and getting each of them out with none of them getting a hit.

Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers apparently pitched a perfect game last Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians. He had successfully faced 26 batters. The 27th batter, Jason Donald slapped a shot to the infield. Galarraga raced to cover first base, caught the throw to first, tagged the bag before Donald got to first. Should be game over and let the celebration begin.

However at that point umpire Jim Joyce remarkably called Donald safe. The call is irreversible, the perfect game no longer possible and Galarraga returned to the pitcher’s mound and got an out on the 28th batter so that the Tigers won 3-0.

If you don’t care about baseball hang with me for two more minutes because what transpired afterward is a tremendous picture of grace and Christian virtue. Let me hasten to admit that I don’t know if Galarraga and Joyce are Christians. Perhaps we’ll find out soon.

Here’s what happened. Joyce later saw a television replay of his call and how he was mistaken. With genuine remorse and regret Joyce went public with an admission of his error and even sought out Galarraga to make a personal apology for costing him a perfect game.

Galarraga not only forgave Joyce but humbly commented that mistakes happen. The next day the two teams were playing again and Joyce was set to umpire the game. When Joyce walked into the baseball stadium the Detroit fans cheered and applauded for Joyce. Joyce stood in the field with a stiff professional stance, but a close up revealed tears streaming down his face at the magnanimity of the Tiger’s fans. When Joyce and Galarraga passed by each other on the field each gave a pat on the back to the other.

In an unexpected place and circumstance the virtues of confession, accepting responsibility, forgiveness and reconciliation were all in play along with the lesser matter of a game.

In a day when we wish for these virtues in a BP exec or the oil industry or even the President we find it on a ball field in a beleaguered city.

God help us to become men and women of such grace.