Sunday, February 27, 2011

TIME - Get up, you're wasting your life. - Robert E. Mitchell

TIME - “Get up, you’re wasting your life.” - Robert E. Mitchell

My dad has said that quote to me and my siblings numerous times.  When we heard it, usually we would either laugh at the way he said it or roll back over and tell him to leave our bedroom because we wanted to sleep some more.  For me, it was mostly laughing at the way he said it.  I still remember the tone of his voice when he said it and imitate it to this day.  “Get up!,  yer wastin’ yo life!”  Back then I would laugh it off, but as I’ve grown and matured I see how right he was.  Whether we were sleeping in when chores needed done or sitting inside playing “silly games” like Nintendo, we could have been doing something a lot more constructive.  Not to say we were lazy most of the time because we weren’t.  We spent countless hours outside behind our home in the woods (jungles of Vietnam at times).  We also played thousands upon thousands of innings of Tennis ball baseball in the front yard and neighboring yards.  Our parents also made sure we did our homework and kept up with most of our chores, but that didn’t keep Daddy from keeping us in check during our bouts with laziness.
Moving forward in my life and walk with Christ, I have seen this quote to mean a great deal more to me.  I have had times of wasting my life in a lot more ways the older I’ve gotten.  Now that I manage my time on my own with no parents really around to schedule out the day.  My two biggest time wasters now are sitting in front of the boob tube watching empty reality shows and surfing the internet for nothing in particular.  We all find things to do to pass the time.  I’m sure everyone who reads this will also agree that they spend too much time in front of the computer and/or the T.V.  The point of this post is even deeper than that.
The offseason of 2009 I had a lot of alone time while I was in the Dominican.  In a foreign country the T.V. channel selections leave a lot to be desired.  I am thankful that God used a lot of my down time to work in me.  I spent more time reading His Word then and on bus trips that winter than ever before.  He taught me more about Him, I grew in a deeper knowledge of who He was and how He can live through me.  Those good habits have continued through 2010, with me digging into the Word more frequently with more of an understanding of what I have read.  
This led me to another book I stumbled on this summer, Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.  The point of this book is to show believers what God wants out of us to further His kingdom.  The book starts off by painting a picture of an older couple just retiring.  They say bye to friends and family and head to Florida for “retirement”.  Piper argues that this kind of retirement is the biggest life waster of all.  It’s not too late for younger folks, but someone in their mid 60s to just spend the rest of their life on earth “collecting seashells” and not impacting others lives is tragic.  Piper also asks, Doesn’t God want more out of us than just the American Dream?  We can learn from this as Christians.  Are we wasting our life and calling from God by keeping to ourselves.  I know I do.  I waste way too much of mine by not thinking of others needs enough or not talking to a stranger when the opportunity might come and go.  We are to live life to the fullest by letting Jesus live through us.  The only way to do this is to “take up our cross and follow him” daily.  This means not doing what we WANT to do all the time.  It means being led by the Spirit and not by our Flesh.  This is another reason I started this blog, to pass on what God is teaching me.  So Lord willing, He will continue to put me in situations to impact others.  I pray He keeps giving me chances to impact other lives for Him even though I’ve “quenched the Spirit” by not doing it so many times.  My prayer in this is that anyone who reads this will be convicted like I am and will spend their time more wisely.  Not on themselves and close family all the time, but spending it for others.  Mainly, by telling others about the joys in Christ through the Gospel.  This is a great way God gets the glory because it is only Him, through you, that can do any good anyway.  Seeing and Loving Him for what He is will give you the only Joy that will cause you to want to do this.  Working to try to do it yourself will not work.  So spend time with Him, in His Word, and let him tell you to...
 “Get up! Your wastin’ yo life!”  It’s great that my earthly father and my Heavenly Father have told me this!  I’m thankful.

Friday, February 25, 2011

How about that?

Part of the reason I started this blog was to find Gospel truths in some of my favorite country songs. (even if it wasn't the songwriters' intentions)  Well, after some researching today it seems that there is another blog that does precisely this.  I have been a "fan" of Moore to the Point blog after reading a great article a few months ago.  He is a pastor named Russell D. Moore and after becoming a fan then, I hadn't gone back to the blog since.  Come to find out, he also has a podcast called The Cross and the Jukebox where he relates religion and music.  Going back through his archives I see he has applied this concept on a few classic country songs.  I still plan on trying to do this some, but I will stay away from songs he has already done.  He doesn't really write about it, he talks about it in audio links.  He does have a very good blog if anyone is interested.  Here is the link to his latest Cross and the Jukebox link and post.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tombstone - Revenge and the Reckoning

Revenge and the Reckoning

My favorite movie of all time is Tombstone.  I have always been drawn to shoot ‘em up movies, especially westerns with a great storyline.  Tombstone has it all.  The deeper I take a look at the movies on my top ten list, the more I see that most of them have a similar underlying subject.  Braveheart, The Patriot, Man on Fire, Legends of the Fall, The Count of Monte Cristo, etc.  They are all stories on the reckoning of a situation or in a sense, revenge!  Why am I so drawn to this subject?  Why does it make me feel so good to see the bad guy get what he deserves?
There are so many verses in the Bible where God shows us that we don’t need to repay evil with evil (Romans 12:17).  Revenge is not what God wants us to pursue when wrong has been done to us or a friend or family member.  For most men this just seems impossible to do.  My sinful flesh almost always wants to take it into my own hands in these situations.  Most of my fights in my adolescent years were me taking up for someone or trying to reckon a situation.  Is it fueled by Pride or fueled out of love for the one you are defending?  Either way, biblically it seems that revenge is never what would should strive for.   We are called to love our enemies (Luke 6:27).  We know God is merciful, why can’t we be merciful to others.  God showed His grace and mercy on me in my salvation and continues to show it through the truth in the Gospel daily.  The truth is it is still a hard sin to battle in a man, but we should resolve to battle it daily.  In the Old Testament, Jonah gets an order from God to go to Nineveh and tell the people that God sees their evil and it has come up against him (Jonah 1:2).  What does Jonah do?  He flees.  Why does he run?  Most people would love the chance to point out evil they see, to be God’s messenger.  Truth be told, Jonah wanted these evildoers in Nineveh to get what they deserved.  So, what was the problem?  Jonah knew two of God’s many great attributes.  He knew the truth of God’s grace and mercy!  Jonah knew that God was going to show mercy to the Ninevites.  He didn’t want this, he wanted God to take revenge on their sins against Him.  He wanted to see the fullness of God’s wrath on all the sinners there.  (Side note:  This deeper look at the story of Jonah is told perfectly in the book Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian, get it.  It’s awesome.)  So, if God shows this kind of mercy to people (including you and me) who sin against him why can’t we strive to trust Christ for the justice in personal instances.  Romans 9:15 says, “For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  All of that Truth being said, I will still struggle with this issue and probably always will during my time here on earth.
So back to Tombstone.  A “peak moment” in the movie is when Wyatt has just shot and killed about four men while he was being fired upon with zero cover while he was in the middle of the creek.  After this scene, Doc, Texas Jack, and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson (love the names by the way) are talking about what happened.  Texas Jack asks where Wyatt is and Doc says, “…down by the creek, walking on water.”  This is followed by Turkey Creek saying,” well if it were my brothers I’d want revenge too.”  Doc then goes on to say the kicker, “make no mistake, it’s not revenge he’s after, it’s the reckoning.”  I’ve always loved that line.  It pumps me up every time.  They see Wyatt’s chase of the Cowboys as revenge for his brothers, but it was truly Wyatt wanting the reckoning.  The reckoning is better than revenge, it’s the final decision.  The ending of the situation.  Wyatt was gonna get this reckoning of everything by seeing a red sash and killing the man wearing it!  Bringing an end to the terror the Cowboys have caused, not only to his family, but the whole town.  A true story of revenge and reckoning that I love to see over and over.
Now what does the Gospel say about our reckoning and our justice.  If we are all being honest, we are sinners against God and don’t deserve eternity with Him.  He is perfect and blameless, Jesus lived His life this way battling against the same temptations and human urges.  He is victorious over Sin.  The Bible says the wages of Sin are death.  Our sin deserves the punishment of Hell as our reckoning for these wrongs.  The Gospel tells a different story.  Through our freely given Grace and Salvation by Faith in Jesus, we are not going to feel God’s wrath.  Not because of any good works we have done, as a whole our sins are what killed God’s son.  What would you do if someone killed your son?  Honestly, I would be looking for revenge.  Here is what God’s grace through the Gospel does for us:
Romans again says in Chapter 4:5-8, “to the one that does not work, but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is RECKONED as RIGHTEOUS.  So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God RECKONS RIGHTEOUS apart from works.  Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered;  blessed is the man against whom God will not RECKON his sin.”
*A daily reminder of the Truth in the Gospel will help in our fits of wanting revenge instead of putting our trust in God’s sovereign justice.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thoughts on classic country hit, The Grand Tour by George Jones

The Grand Tour by George Jones

This great song starts off with and ends with, "Step right up, come on in."  Those six words give the listener an instant invitation into the heart of the singer.  The tour he takes us on shows the emptiness literally in his home and figuratively in his heart.  When I first heard this song, back in my younger years, I assumed he was telling the story of a man who had a wife who lost her life after years of marriage.  This is not the case, though the song leads you to believe this until the last line which is "Oh she left me without mercy, Taking nothing but our baby and my heart."  This woman left this man in an urgent way.  She bolted, taking only her baby.  She left her expensive jewelry, most of her wardrobe, and at least some baby items.  This leads you to believe her life was in danger.  You have to assume this story has a history of domestic abuse of some kind (at least mentally).  So the listener goes from feeling sorry for this old man who has lost his wife in her golden years to a shocking revelation that she didn't die, she quickly got out of dodge and took their child with her.  It reminds me of the movie Enough with Jennifer Lopez.  In the movie she was being beaten by her husband and the child was becoming dangerously close to being struck too.  Before this could happen, JLo's character took the kid and left town.  So in The Grand Tour I am assuming a similar situation.  After the story concludes the song ends with those six words again, "Step right up, come on in."  Almost letting us know there is more to the story.  It leaves us interested in what happened the days or years before he invited us in for the Tour.  So titling my blog after this country hit is not a way for me to announce a similarity to this song and my life.  Let me make it clear, I would never lay a hand on a woman or child in anger.  Though I do relate this blog to the "Step right up, come on in" line.  I want to use this blog to let folks into my life and thoughts of current events and interesting topics.  Therefore, this IS a Grand Tour by Mitch and who knows, there might be a twist at the end that is unexpected.  So in the honor of Southern Hospitality, step right up and come on in to take my online Grand Tour.  

Gospel thoughts from the song and situation:
There is a basic and simple relation in this song.  The beginning of this post mentions an emptiness in his home and heart stemming from the loss of his companion.  It almost seems like his whole worth comes from having this security and person in his life.  I'm sure he had trouble showing his love to her seeing how she went AWOL on him.  Nonetheless, he definitely feels a void in his heart with her and the baby now gone.  It is apparent that he needs more in his life, a since of purpose, a true joy rooted in something that never fails.  The Gospel and only the gospel does this.  We are all broken, imperfect people and the only way we can have true joy as we are designed is for us to take what God did through Jesus in the gospel and allow God to make that our identity.  Nothing else can give us the true satisfaction in our life, the Gospel is permanent.  So the man in this song needs to hear and apply the words from one of my favorite authors and preachers Tullian Tchividjian.  He tweeted recently, "When you understand God’s grace, pain leads to freedom because deep suffering leads to deep surrender!"  Maybe a situation like his in this song will finally reveal his sin and need for a savior found only in Jesus Christ.  What does God offer to us through His Son?  The answer:  An entrance into His Kingdom, "Step right up, come on in."

Welcome to the Grand Tour by Mitch

I'm excited.  Welcome to my new blog, The Grand Tour by Mitch.  My goal in this will be to give you a tour of my life, my opinions, my thoughts on issues of the day.  These issues will be on Christian Theology, my family life, political issues, sports, and music (mainly country).  I want to use this blog to relate the most important thing in my life, The Gospel of Jesus, to the issues and subjects I am most interested in.  This will not only be an entertaining read for those interested, but will also be beneficial in my Walk.  Expect a lot of posts about my wonderful wife and kids.  They are the center of my life on earth and the biggest part of my everyday life.  My career in baseball should also take a front and center look on this blog.  After spending ten years in the Orioles organization, I have a lot of experience and insight to throw into subjects in Major League Baseball.  I am a conservative when dealing with Government and Politics, so expect some strong opinions on heated discussion in our country today.  I expect a number of posts to get my creative juices going.  These will be trying to relate the Gospel to current and classic country music hits.  I reckon I better start off with George Jones' The Grand Tour since I borrowed the title for this blog.  Coming soon...