WHAT FIRES YOU UP?

“David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!” – 1 Samuel 17: 45- 46.

What gets you going? In other words, what motivates you? What captures your interest or stirs a passion in you? What inspires you to cook if you are a chef or spend hours designing a building if you are an architect? What gives you the inspiration, energy, and motivation to do what God has called you to do in this life?   

Passion is what energizes life. Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to do something with my life today.” Without passion, life becomes routine, even dull. We all need passion in our lives. The question is what are we passionate about? And secondly, is what we are passionate about going to leave a legacy?

Romans 12:11 (NIV) says, ”Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Notice the word “keep.” It is not automatic, it is a choice.  It has nothing to do with either your personality or your age. It is about having an intense desire to serve others and to serve God.

Of all the wonderful stories in the Bible, the story of David and Goliath is one of the most popular. Just imagining David — a young boy — loading a small stone into a sling and stepping onto a battlefield. By earthly standards, David was woefully unprepared to engage Goliath. The Bible says Goliath was over nine feet tall and covered in more than 100 pounds of armor. Not exactly shaping up to be a fair fight.

What motivated David to risk his life? Goliath told Israel that if any of them would fight him and win, the Philistines would become Israel’s slaves (1 Samuel 15: 9). It sounds like a pretty good deal, fight and win, and Israel will have slaves for years to come. But if Goliath won, the future liberty of his people was at stake.  But there was something more, something greater that moved David from the sidelines to the frontline.  In 1 Samuel 17: 31, we read that the king called David to hear his story because David said that Goliath was mocking Israel, which means he was mocking God. Goliath was taunting and shaming the one true living God. The honor of God was at stake, and that could not be ignored.

Enthusiasm or passion isn’t passive. Being passionate about something means you’re going to do something about it. Passion results in action. As you develop a closer relationship with God, your passion will grow, and as it does, making changes in your life will naturally follow.

So, how are your enthusiasm and passion? Are you filled with excitement and purpose? If not, today’s the day to begin pursuing an increase in passion. God is filled with so much passion for us that He deserves nothing less than whole-hearted passion from us.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When and why did you first fall in love with Jesus? In what ways has your original love for Christ faded? How can you rekindle that flame?
  2. What activity or idea may be replacing your enthusiasm for the Lord?
  3. What can you do to deepen your enthusiasm for Christ this week?

A Passion For Righteousness

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.. . . . The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” —  Proverbs 10:7, 11 (ESV)

With each beatitude that makes up the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus continues to prove that He is concerned with the position of our hearts. The fourth beatitude, says, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.”

If we want to understand the Fourth Beatitude, we need to know what Jesus means by the term righteousness. Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are those whose goal is righteousness, for they shall attain their goal.” Nor did He say, “Blessed are those who have a desire for righteousness, for they will have their heart’s desire.” Rather, He spoke in everyday terms regarding intense hunger. We are not simply to seek righteousness or have righteousness as a goal; we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He pronounced a blessing on the ones who are hungry for it. Blessed are those whose thirst for righteousness is a consuming passion.

Sometimes athletes that have signed huge contracts lose some of their passion and are content to rest on their laurels. When pundits see this happening they usually comment by saying, “they’re not hungry like they were before they were established.” As always Jesus is the example in which to follow. The New Testament talks a great deal about how the zeal for His Father’s house consumed Him: “Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (John 2:17). This language means that Jesus’ passion for the affairs of His heavenly Father consumed Him.   

Jesus promises in this beatitude that if we strive for righteousness, we will be filled and satisfied. This is the distinguishing factor between Christianity and so many other religions. Jesus wants to know us, and He wants us to draw near to Him and seek His presence. Jesus tells us that if we truly desire a right relationship with Him, then that is exactly what we will have.

In the final analysis, we want the approval of God—but the applause of men can be deafening, and it can cause us to turn our attention toward achieving everything else apart from what Christ set as the priority for His people: to be righteous. Being righteous is not all that complicated; it means having a passion to do what is right.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define righteousness?  
  2. What are some advantages of righteousness? 

Blessed Are Those Who Hunger And Thirst

“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” –  Matthew 5:6.

The word “blessed” is tossed around on a regular basis. Often the word “blessed” is associated with earthly prosperity and happiness. But what does it biblically mean to be blessed?

Many think that if they had abundant wealth, an absence of regret and suffering, excellent health, good employment, unending gratification of their desires, and kind treatment of everyone, this would mean they are blessed. But in the Beatitudes, Jesus turns this kind of thinking upside down. In this passage (Matthew 5:3-12), Jesus sets forth characteristics of the ideal person of His kingdom: being poor, mourning, humility, hunger, thirst, rejection, and persecution, all qualities that were present in the life and character of the Man who spoke them. Through these experiences, Jesus says that the disciple would be blessed. To be blessed means that we receive God’s favor. We receive His endorsement and approval.

In verse 6, Jesus speaks these words, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” Hunger and thirst represent the deepest desires we have. What is your deepest desire? What do you hunger and thirst for? Is it control? Maybe it’s comfort? But here’s the thing, none of these things bring blessings to our lives. We are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness.

But have we ever had a hunger and a thirst for God? The answer is yes when we face a health crisis when nothing else mattered but experiencing His peace. There are other times that I’ve clearly needed the Lord in huge ways and hungered for His presence.  But how often have I really hungered and really thirsted for righteousness?

The hunger and thirst described by Jesus in this beatitude are not some kind of hunger that could be satisfied with a mid-morning snack or a cup of coffee. This is the hunger and thirst of one who is desperate, one who will risk everything to be satisfied. How much do you hunger after God? Do you want it as much as a starving man wants food and as much as a man dying of thirst wants water?” In the 63rd Psalm, David expressed his desire for God: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

When we’re thirsty, we crave water. Our daily need for water acts as our reminder to drink deeply of Jesus every day. He doesn’t have what we need. He is what we need. Knowing this, we can also rejoice in the fact that Jesus doesn’t just give us a drink to satisfy us at the moment, but He gives us an eternal fountain of living water. We will never run out of His grace, His love, and His freedom.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you felt distant from God because of something you did (sin, busyness, etc.)? How did it impact your relationship with God? 
  2. What can we do this week to thirst after God?  

Living In Light Of Eternity

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14:

Paul was clearly looking ahead rather than dwelling on the past. But that doesn’t mean that Paul has suddenly developed amnesia. He clearly understood his past and had not forgotten the man he once was, but he did not let his past discourage him or defeat him. He was determined to press on and to keep running the race. Paul was focused on eternity and what awaited him at the end of his life.

We are accustomed to viewing our lives in the order of “past, present, future.” The Bible suggests we should view time as flowing from the future into the present and then into the past. The believer should be future-oriented, “forgetting the past.”

Henry Ford once said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” Do we realize just how mired down in the here and now we have become? Sometimes it’s dark and scary and you’re fumbling around because you feel like you have lost control allowing all kinds of noise and potholes in your lives. Things like broken relationships, money problems, illnesses, and so on. None of those things will matter in eternity. What will matter is whether we lived lives that were pleasing to God.

Paul’s was completely focused on the future. He uses the image of a race to describe the Christian life. In verse 12 Paul says, “I press on.” In verse 14 he says, “I press on to reach the end of the race…” The idea of the word press is to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after. The goal is to reach a certain distance at a certain time, or if you are in a race, to overtake another runner. Basically, you are running, not just for the exercise, but with a specific goal and purpose in mind. A runner who keeps his or her “eyes on the prize” will stay on track.  

You may have started the race a few days or a few weeks ago. Or maybe you started the race a long time ago, but somewhere along the way, you stopped running. Perhaps you lost your joy or passion. Perhaps you stumbled and fell, or maybe you just got tired and decided to take a break. If you’re temporarily sitting on the sidelines, I encourage you to get back in the race. There’s a Savior to serve and a prize of an eternity with Him to be won.

Discussion questions:
1. How can we start thinking future, present, and past rather than the current order of past, present, and future?

2. In Philippians 3:13 Paul said “… forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, …” What do you think he meant, and how does it relate to our “pressing on toward the goal …”

Serve With Passion

“learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” – Isaiah 1:17.

The church was once the workshop for the greatest art the world has ever known. Wander through an ancient cathedral. Rest in front of a Renaissance painting. Listen to a 19th century hymn. All of these are amazing feats of art inspired from a passion to lead creation toward its Creator. Nothing great is ever accomplished in life without passion. Nothing great is ever sustained in life without passion.

Passion is what energizes life. Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to do something with my life today.” Without passion life becomes routine, even dull. We all need passion in our lives. The question is what are we passionate about? And secondly, is what we are passionate about going to leave a legacy?

In Matthew 22: 35, a lawyer poses a question to Jesus. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” We have talked about the great commandment many times. Jesus said in verse 37 (MSG): “Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’” God is saying I want you to put some muscle into it, put some energy, put some emotion into your relationship with Me. Don’t be half-hearted. If we’re going to follow Jesus, we want you to live passionately.”

Romans 12:1 says, ”Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” Notice the word “keep.” It is not automatic, it is a choice.  It has nothing to do with either your personality or your age. There are people who have been Christians a very long time that are passionate and there are new Christians equally as passionate. What most passionate Christians have in common is an intense desire to serve others and to serve God. 

It is one thing to talk about serving others and it is another thing to take action. Passion equates into action. This year let me encourage you to define your goals for the year. Because goals convert vision into energy. The first thing to do is be specific. Rather than say that you want to serve, say you want to serve in the Kids programs on the Friday Easter services.   

There is a quote that goes something like this: We are dying when we have nothing worth living for. And we don’t really start living until we find something worth dying for.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is one need that you are personally passionate about meeting in people?
  2. What are some of the common passions that we share in helping the community around us?
  3. What are your abilities and gifts that could help make a difference in the lives of people around you?
  4. Where do you have experience in helping to make a difference in people’s lives?

Serve the Purpose

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11. 

Our volunteers are heroes. They are truly the force behind everything that takes place at Northstar. While we individually have gifts, it is when those gifts are combined with others that amazing things can happen. It is easy to look at the size of Northstar and wonder how big a difference can I make. One person among thousands cannot make that significant a difference, can they? I wish you could see what I see. I wish you could see behind the curtain. You would see just how big a difference that one person who has a heart to serve and use their gifts can make. Our vision for this church is to “help the whole world follow Jesus” and in doing that connect, renew, and grow all people in Christ. We cannot fulfill that vision without people willing to serve in our ministries. It just can’t be done. 

God has used Northstar to transform thousands of lives. Every volunteer had a part in that life transformation process. Yes, you can make a difference. 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT) tell us, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”  Even in the first century church, people were needed to serve. In Acts 6:1-7, we read about finding people to serve tables.

The question I get most often about serving is “where do I fit?” Or, “where should I serve?” I encourage you to take a look around and identify where you might fit best, based on your strengths and personality. Let me give you one example. 

One of our most important ministries is Northstar KiDs. It is made up of programs for babies through kids in 5th grade. We believe that all children are special and valuable to God and that He wants them to understand how much He loves them and wants to develop a relationship with Him. We have built everything we do around those principles. Northstar KiDs is where you will hear a lot of laughter and see a lot of love in action. Our goal is to teach our children about Jesus and help them grow in their relationship with Him. We teach our children in ways that are fun, exciting, and relational. We want to enter into their world so we can then speak to them about the world Jesus wants for them. Anything goes as long as it is fun, safe, speaks the truth from the Bible, and helps us build loving relationships with the kids. If you have a heart and a passion for kids, we can use you. 

Let me leave you with one last thing to consider: Sometimes the need for a servant is greater than my need to use a specific gift. It is easy to look at changing diapers, holding doors open, serving up coffee or parking cars and be unsure whether this is your gifting. The next logical thought is “maybe I should find something that uses my talents and abilities better.” It is easy to have the mentality of considering that some things in church are more important than others. 

The fact is, however, we are not serving for our own self-fulfillment. We are serving for the the church body. This doesn’t mean my gifts aren’t important. What it means is that sometimes the need for a servant is greater than my need to use a specific gift. My point is we have areas of need that you can fill, even if you may not have a gift or passion for that area.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to serve God? Is it a position, a role, or a mindset?
  2. Read Ephesians 6:7. What does this verse mean to you?
  3. Sometimes the need for a servant is greater than my need to use a specific gift. Agree or disagree? 
  4. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7–8: What is our responsibility to know and serve one another persistently?
  5. What are some things that keep us from serving even when we want or need to?

Everybody Matters To God

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15:4-7.

I think Dr. Seuss was right when he wrote, “a person’s a person no matter how small.” Every person matters to God regardless of size, shape, color, age, sex, or creed. John 3:16 (NLT) tells us that: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” 

In a culture that idolizes the rich and famous, God has a different perspective. The Bible tells us that even the one who wanders away is important. In fact, the wandering one is so important that the shepherd leaves the other sheep in search of the one that is lost. And when the shepherd finds the one missing sheep, he kicks up his heels and celebrates.   

If that is how God thinks and operates, that is exactly how we should think and operate. If everyone matters to God, everyone should matter to us.  If God cares for every person, even the one who has lost his or her way and is far from the heart of God, then we should as well. Jesus had a passion for the lost. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) Shouldn’t we imitate Jesus and have that same passion? 

The answer is yes. We do want to capture Christ’s passion for the spiritually lost. God’s heart beats for people who are living without a personal relationship with the risen Savior. God so wants people restored to a right relationship with him that He gave his one and only Son to die just so that relationship could be possible. 

While he lived on earth some 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ modeled for us a passion to seek and save the lost. He kept nothing back, and He gave everything up to see to it that he is able to complete His mission.

You and I are also called by God to imitate His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us imitate Him by passionately seeking those who are far from the heart of God. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are you most passionate about in 2016?
  2. Read Romans 9:1-4: What is Paul’s passion in this scripture passage?
  3. Have you ever felt like your life wasn’t important? What made you feel this way?
  4. Determine one concrete step you can take this week to develop more empathy and passion for the lost.

Real Intimacy Does Not Result From a Physical Act

“Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still.”  Robert Sternberg

I said in the message on Sunday that sex is more than just a physical act. And real intimacy is more than sex even though many people equate intimacy with sex.  The two have become somewhat synonymous in our culture. This is what results from people believing that sex is proof of love and intimacy. Many of us men require sex as proof of love and too many women have consented to sex in the hopes of love. And too many people view and use sex as a means of reducing our loneliness.  We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment. But the physical act of sex is not intimacy because the emotional and spiritual connection we seek with the other person will not be there. 

Real intimacy is not found through just a physical act. Jesus said, “and the two shall become one. . . ” and I believe He meant more than just the physical.  A married couple can share their bodies, but do they share their heart? Sex is a God created vehicle for physical expression between a husband and wife, but is not the source of intimacy. No matter how hard you try, no matter how often you try, if real emotional and spiritual intimacy does not exist before sex, it will not magically appear after sex.

Real intimacy can seem like the Abominable Snowman, you see the tracks, or the indications of its existence, but never the thing itself. That is because real intimacy is hard to achieve but it is worth the effort. Real intimacy makes us feel alive and connected like someone finally took the time to peer into the depths of our soul and really see us there. Real intimacy means we look outward without any expectations, or needs or wants. Because we can miss out on true intimacy when we predetermine what we think we should see when we examine our life, heart, personality and walk with God. If we focus on what he or she is not, we could easily miss what he or she is. When that happens, intimacy is undermined because intimacy flows out of feeling wholly accepted just the way we are.

Perhaps you are looking at your life and wondering how you can improve the intimacy in your marriage or in other relationships. This is necessary because I believe real intimacy also requires that we know ourselves.  Our spouse cannot see our fears, dreams, hopes and desires unless we let them in. I know that giving our spouse that type of access is not easy. It can be a risk, not to mention being uncomfortable exposing the deepest parts of ourselves. My advice is to do it slowly as you build trust with your spouse. 

And while you are on this journey don’t forget the importance of intimacy with God. God made us, He intimately knows us better than anyone can. With God, we can experience intimacy in an indescribable way. Intimacy with God through His Son Jesus has been the most rewarding and life-changing thing I have ever experienced.

My hope and prayer through this series on the Song of Solomon is that you will first experience the joy that comes from having an intimate relationship with God and that out of that love you have experienced with Him, that you will find intimacy with a special someone that you can share this journey of life. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you define intimacy? Do you see intimacy as a physical act?
  2. In your mind, have you achieved real intimacy?
  3. What steps can you take this week to improve intimacy with your spouse?
  4. What steps can you take this week to improve intimacy with God?
  5. Pray and ask God to heighten your intimacy with Him and with your spouse.

You Asked For It

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” – C.S. Lewis

  • What does it mean to be in Christ?
  • What is the Christian life supposed to be like?
  • How can we recognize the voice of God?
  • What is Christian discipleship?
  • How can I know when God is telling me to do something?
  • How can I overcome sin in my Christian life?
  • What is true worship? How can I worship the Lord in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24)?
  • How can believers be in the world, but not of the world?
  • What is spiritual growth?
  • Why does God allow us to go through trials and tribulations?
  • How are we to submit to God?
  • How do I get a passion for Jesus and keep that passion burning?
  • How can I experience joy in my Christian life?

I believe C.S Lewis is exactly right. If you want to be comfortable, then Christianity may not be your thing. Once you have asked all your questions, weighed all the evidence, and tested all the arguments, and accepted Jesus as your personal savior, you have embarked on a journey of living as a child of God. This will involve a growing in maturity, sometimes slowly, as we grow in our love, knowledge and service of God. Having said this, there is also the reality of living in our broken world, with the bombardments of that world coming at us from every angle. We will have additional questions. Nearly everyone does–believers and unbelievers alike. Have you ever wished for a concise, understandable response that will satisfy both the mind and the heart?

It is amazing how many times people ask questions that they think no one else has asked and certainly no one has ever answered. During the month of July we will look at some of the questions you have based on a survey we did. The series, You Asked For It, started this week with the question – “how can I know God’s will for my life?”  I will address the question of knowing God’s will over the next few days, but in this devotional I want to give you my thoughts on some very basic questions.

First, why am I a Christian? Ultimately, because Jesus Christ showed and persuaded me that what He did on the cross perfectly met my need before God as a sinner. Jesus showed me that His resurrection from the dead meant that he could supply me with all the power I’d need to be his follower. And that means through thick and thin, through the trials and joys of this life. Jesus showed me that I could trust his promise that, in spite of all that’s wrong in my heart and life, He would keep loving and forgiving me and bring me safely through this life.

Second, why am I still a Christian? As you heard me say many times, a life with Jesus is so much better than a life without Him. He helped me to grow. I’m not what I ought to be – but I know that I’m not what I was. I know that there’s nobody else like Jesus. Why would I not want to be a Christian? Where else would I go, either now for a relationship with the living God, or in eternity?
We are continually faced with questions that challenge our belief systems. This isn’t a bad thing, and much of Jesus’s ministry revolved around asking questions. In the end, thoughtfully examining our faith promotes a spirituality that is healthy, honest, genuine, and mature.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have questions? Where do you go for the answers? Did you get your questions answered?
  2. How would you answer the question, “why am I a Christian?”
  3. How would you answer the question “why am I still a Christian?”

Hitting For The Cycle

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40: 29-3.

Here is some baseball trivia. Who was the last player to hit for the natural cycle? The answer: Texas Rangers outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. on September 13, 2006. Matthews started with a single in the first, added a double in the second and a triple in the fourth, and then finished it off with a home run in the sixth.

If you are not a baseball fan, hitting for the cycle is the accomplishment of one batter hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game. Collecting the hits in that order is known as a “natural cycle”. Only 14 players have ever hit for a natural cycle in a major league game. Statistics indicate the probability of natural cycle is once every 52,600 games.

God is asking us to hit for a natural cycle. In other words, start at home by connecting with God. Hit a single and get to first base, which is our character. Hit a double to get to second base which is community. Then a triple which is competence. And finally hit a home run life by circling the bases in our next bat. Easy? No, it is not. But it is the pattern that God established and the path to a Home Run Life.

Staying with the baseball theme, let me add a few thoughts to summarize the Home Run Life series. First, we are on a team, so we need to be a team player. A baseball team can only be successful when they work together. We are not running the Home Run Life by ourselves. We are in this thing together, so it doesn’t matter whether you are the pitcher, the catcher, first baseman, second, third, fielder or whatever. It doesn’t make any difference whether you are the pastor, an elder, KiD’s teacher, park cars, or serve coffee. Romans 15:1-2 says, ”We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” In other words, let’s do things that help, bless, build, and encourage one another in the areas of character, community and careers.

Second, living a Home Run Life is a lot easier when we listen, learn and obey the manager or coach. It seems pretty basic and  self-evident to listen to the Lord of Lords, the Son of God.  Yet we do not always play the game according to His rules. Luke 6: 46 says “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” We need to listen to the coach if we want to live a Home Run Life.

The third thing is you may get hurt, but that should not stop us from trying to improve our character, connect with community and place the creator ahead of our career. Lou Gehrig is called the “iron man of baseball” for a very good reason. For 15 years in the 1920’s and 30’s he played first base for the New York Yankees. He played 2,130 consecutive games. And after he retired they took X-rays of both of his hands and found that every finger had been broken at least one time, yet he never missed a game. That says something about his character and his commitment to baseball.

Every Christian will experience hurt and pain in some form or another and for one reason or another. The apostle Paul lived the Home Run Life, yet he endured a lot of hardship most of us will never face. “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13) Yes, we may get hurt, but I encourage you to continue to run the bases, trusting in God.

My prayer is that you will not be content in just being a spectator, someone who doesn’t care if they are playing on the team. Someone who just wants to be there. That is enough for some. Some people would much rather sit back and just watch anyway, content just to be at the game. Like the Christian who loves being at church, but doesn’t really want to make a commitment to Christ. They would rather just sit and watch. Just being at church is enough for them.

My prayer for this series is that we will have a renewed passion and love for being on the team and living a Home Run Life. That we will do whatever it takes to become a better baseball player. That we will set our sights on the Hall of Fame.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is my connection with God where it needs to be? What do I need to do differently?
  2. Is my character reflective of my Christianity? What do I need to do differently?
  3. Am I an active member of the community?
  4. Is my priority my creator or my career? Am I waiting until the later innings before I start running the bases?
  5. Do I tend to be a spectator or benchwarmer rather than an active participant in the Home Run Life? Is just being at church enough for me?