Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Strive for Perfection

Mock...Ing...Bird.  If you haven't visited the website http://www.mbird.com/ then do it.  There are so many articles that are fascinating reads.  There are many contributors for the articles written, with most of them sticking to their topic of interest.  One of the regulars who write about the gospel and sports is Ethan Richardson, a recent graduate of UVA (Religious Studies and English) and former teacher in the inner city part of New Orleans.  He wrote a post on mockingbird titled The Dishonest Simplicity of Perfection.  He included a passage from a book about a former college baseball player's slippery slope (which I will include in this post at the end). 
All athletes struggle with failure in their selected sport but none experience it regularly like a baseball player does.  We have all heard the challenge of being a successful hitter in the game.  If you get a hit THREE OUT OF EVERY TEN at bats, then you are dang good.  That means you are failing to get a hit SEVEN of those at bats.  It's true that some of your outs could be the result of an unselfish plate appearance.  In these a hitter will maybe successfully make contact on a "Hit and Run" play.  Another example would be with a runner on second, the batters job as a team player would be to get a pitch he can hit "behind" the runner so that his teammate can advance to third base.  A simple ground ball to second, for an out, would suffice.  Either way, those are outs and usually not hard hit balls you typically WANT to hit in one of your few plate appearances for the night. 
This reach of the pursuit of perfection doesn't miss pitchers, catchers, or fielders either.  A pitcher can wind himself so tight trying NOT to miss his spot that it results in too good of a pitch that gets hammered into the gap or over the wall.  Catchers always want to call a good game, meaning they want to be on the same page as the pitcher to keep him in as good as a groove as he can.  When he messes this up, it messes with his head.  Defensively, infielders and outfielders alike, hate "booting" balls.  These errors not only are mistakes then and there but many times it lasts the whole game and affects their approach at the plate the rest of the game. 
With all of this said, I think we can agree that baseball is the hunt for perfection at any position or responsibility.  It can be ingrained in you as you work as a youngster and grow as a ballplayer.  I think it is a competitors natural instinct to STRIVE for perfection because we know we do not and cannot fulfill it.  There is a need in each of us in some way to "get better or try harder".  By no means am I suggesting this is a call for players to quit practicing so much or start taking it less seriously.  It is the opposite and it is in the approach and REACTION to failures.  As coaches we should set our players up in a way that allows them to quickly learn from a mistake but take pride in how they approach their next attempt.  A good coach doesn't "dog" a player for a physical error, he works on what caused the problem and reminds the player that he will get another chance to be successfulThis lifts the burden of performance and creates an air of grace and relaxation in a ballplayer.  This type of feeling is where you see players make unreal defensive plays, take the extra base as base runners, and make the perfect pitch in a stressful situation in the game.  Baseball is a game of "feel" and to be relaxed and confident is your best weapon.
If we as Christians and ballplayers approach life/games expecting to live up to that need of perfection we will be crushed by the failure.  We will lose the JOY a sport is designed for and, as Christians, we will lose the joy we are designed to have in Christ.  So what do we do?  I think the key is a growing realization that you will make mistakes.  When they come, as a baseball player, you have to learn from them but have a short memory as I mentioned earlier.  You cannot let it carry over to the next ground ball, the next pitch, or the next at bat.  As Christians, we are blessed that God does not see our errors anymore.  Those are gone:  past, present, and future.  They were taken care of on the cross by Jesus Christ alone.  God didn't need your help for that.  He sent Jesus (the Righteous) to do what we (the unrighteous) couldn't do.  God does not dwell on sin/errors so why do we?  Why does our sense of worth or satisfaction come from our performance, good or bad?  We MUST rest in Christ's righteousness because there is NONE without it. 
Thank God we can REST in HIS perfection for us.  We can find joy not in our love for God but His love for us that endures forever (Psalm 136)This is what grace does.  It creates the only chance for constant growth in our lives.  If we are bogged down by striving for perfection or striving to please the Holy One, then we are going to throw up our hands and walk off the field (as the excerpt shows at the bottom of this post).  Legalism creates Licentiousness, Grace creates thankfulness.  This goes for all relationships:  father/son, mother/daughter, husband/wife, brothers, sisters, coaches/ballplayers, and friends.  Relationships grow where grace is present.  When you think of others in your life, take some time away from searching for their sin or mistakes and GIVE THEM GRACEI have to preach this to myself everyday.  Not only does it help with my stress level but it produces bountiful relationshipsIt most importantly though, gives me the constant gospel reminder of the grace God has given in Jesus Christ.

Here is the words from the mockingbird article that I referred to a couple of times.  It is a great picture of a broken ballplayer who didn't live up to his unrealistic expectations.  It isn't until he washes ashore that he finally finds rest (ex. Jonah's prayer in Jonah 2:1-10).

          We here find all-star, pro-bound shortstop Henry Skrimshander at rope’s end. With the promise of a record-breaking professional career slipping through his fingers, all big-dollar offers disappearing, the on-the-field errors just continue to mount for Henry, who can’t seem to get a grip on what’s happening to his omega-narrative of baseball glory. What does it mean when your efforts can’t stop the bleeding and, in fact, are making things worse?
The final straw comes on none other than Henry Skrimshander Day, by way of a crucial routine groundball that Henry fields, but then freezes. He cannot throw. He simply freezes, hands the ball off to his pitcher, and walks off the field, to a horrified audience; he disappears. After the game ends, and his friends begin to worry about his whereabouts, Harbach brings the story back to uniformed Henry, treading water in Lake Michigan, all alone in the night sky. Here, alone, all dreams dashed by the last crushing error–he can finally see himself and the erred logic that got him there. Sure enough, it is only in the middle of the sea, in the chaos of one’s wasted perfections, that one finally washes ashore and finds rest.

           He turned around to face the campus, those few little lights pricking the distance. He let his bladder go, peed into the water. It calmed his whole body, if only for a moment.  All he’d ever wanted was for nothing to ever change. Or for things to change only in the right ways, improving little by little, day by day, forever. It sounded crazy when you said it like that, but that was what baseball had promised him, what Westish College had promised him, what Schwartzy had promised him. The dream of every day the same. Every day was like the day before but a little better. You ran the stadium a little faster. You bench-pressed a little more. You hit the ball a little harder in the cage; you watched the tape with Schwartzy afterward and gained a little insight into your swing. Your swing grew a little simpler. Everything grew simpler, little by little. You ate the food, woke up at the same time, wore the same clothes. Hitches, bad habits, useless thoughts–whatever you didn’t need slowly fell away. Whatever was simple and useful remained. You improved little by little till the day it all became perfect and stayed that way. Forever.
He knew it sounded crazy when you put it like that. To want to be perfect. To want everything to be perfect. But now it felt like that was all he’d ever craved since he’d been born. Maybe it wasn’t even baseball that he loved but only this idea of perfection, a perfectly simple life in which every move had meaning, and baseball was just the medium through which he could make that happen. Could have made that happen. It sounded crazy, sure. But what did it mean if your deepest hope, the premise on which you’d based your whole life, sounded crazy as soon as you put it in words? It meant you were crazy.
When the season ended, his teammates, even Schwartzy, gorged themselves on whatever was handy–cigarettes, beer, coffee, sleep, porn, video games, girls, dessert, books. It didn’t matter what they gorged on as long as they were gorging. Gorging didn’t make them feel good, you’d see them wandering around, dazed and bleary, but they were free to gorge and that was what mattered.
Henry knew better than to want freedom. The only life worth living was the unfree life, the life Schwartz had taught him, the life in which you were chained to  your one true wish, the wish to be simple and perfect. Then the days were sky-blue spaces you moved through with ease. You made sacrifices and the sacrifices made sense. You ate till you were full and then you drank SuperBoost, because every ounce of muscle meant something. You stoked the furnace, fed the machine. No matter how hard you worked, you could never feel harried or hurried, because you were doing what you wanted and so one moment simply produced the next. He’d never understood how his teammates could show up late for practice, or close enough to late that they had to hurry to change clothes. In three years at Westish he’d never changed clothes in a hurry.
He treaded water for a long, long while, feeling and endless spontaneous power unspooling from his limbs. It seemed he could do it forever. Finally he turned toward shore and let his limbs swim him in, aided by the waves that lapped at his back. When he reached the shore he knelt on all fours and slurped the funky algal water like an animal. He couldn’t see the lighthouse, and he wasn’t sure whether it lay to the north or the south. His body gave out all at once. His teeth were chattering, really clacking away. His shoulders convulsed, his lungs heaved. He had his whole life ahead of him; it wasn’t a comforting thought. He peeled off his wet clothes, nestled into the sand as deeply as he could, and fell asleep.

That is my pitch for the day!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


We all know the verses where Jesus is asked what the greatest commandments are don't we? It comes from Matthew 22:35-39. Jesus tells the Pharisees who are testing him that the great and first commandement is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. The second, is to love your neighbor as yourself. If we all examine ourself honestly, none can say they have ever loved God this way and for sure haven't loved other people this way. It may be easy to feel like we love our parents or spouse or children like this, but no one could even trick themself into thinking they fulfill this command when it comes to neighbors or strangers. We just don't have that much love in our heart, it is too tainted with sin. I will use this post for a confession. I do not invest into my literal "neighbors", where we live, in this way at all. Considering proximity, our closest neighbor is a sixty year old Puerto Rican man from New York. I regularly see him doing yardwork on his property and give him a encouraging wave or "hey, how are ya?", but rarely do I take the time to walk over and have good conversation. What keeps me from doing this even though I do at times feel led to invest my life into his more?  Part of the reason would be that you would expect that an early 30s, semi-country boy born and raised in Georgia, couldn't find common ground for conversation with a older gentleman of his background. So the first hindrance to a relationship would be that there is the thought that we have nothing in common. That isn't totally true though. The times we have spent chatting I found out that he is a Vietnam veteran that served around the same time as my dad did. That is very cool. He is also an avid baseball fan, particularly the New York Mets. Since I have my background in baseball and have had good friends that have played for the Mets, we had that in common to talk about. Also, he has battled cancer and is a professed Catholic. He loves the same God I do. Since we are both Christians in need of daily grace, we have that in common too. My point in this is that we, in our sin, put up walls to keep from meaningful relationships that may hinder our comfort in life. We expect things out of relationships with our neighbors that may not be the case or even what God would want out of your life for them. As I grow in grace, I see the need to let that spill out to the community and for my neighbors. Yesterday, as I rushed out of the house to run some errands with the family, I saw my neighbor and his wife outside working in the yard again. I felt like God was telling me then that the gospel frees me to take time out of my life, and what I want to do, and spend it on others like my neighbor Julio. I've heard it said that Grace "makes Outsiders Insiders" and redefines community. It puts us all, Christians and non-Christians, in the same boat. We are all sinners in need of God's sovereign, saving grace. We always have that in common. Ephesians 1:3-9 talks about this lavish grace. This grace creates joyful living and freedom because of what Christ has done for us. It eventually will pour out to others in your community. In no way am I saying that I need to do more for and with my neighbors so that I can please God more, or be a "better" Christian. My point is that when the gospel of grace grasps your heart more and more this type of life will be the outcome.  God's grace is the fuel for a life centered on the gospel.  The gospel gives us the freedom to live this life because it, with no strings attached, gives us everything we need. So what have we been given by this Grace? Here is a short list of what we are and have because of God's past grace and future grace through Christ:


When we realize that we have "earned nothing, but received everything", as I've heard Pastor Tullian say, we can freely rest in Christ's righteousness and the freedom that comes from it. This freedom will allow us to live like Romans 15 states:

"Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me."...Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God...May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope...In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me."

That is my pitch for the day! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Liberate is the new ministry of Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. The message is pretty simple. The Gospel is a about freedom and liberation for those who believe. Jesus came to set the captives free, the Righteous for the unrighteous. The truths in scripture tell us many things that break the bondage of sin and give us hope and joy in our life now. Remembering the finished work of Christ in every situation does this. The days of trying to be good enough to earn God's favor are over. The days of resting in Christ Crucified and Risen are now. This reformation is exploding to God's glory and Jesus' namesake. Liberate is a big part of this. I was fortunate enough to make a trip down to Fort Lauderdale this February for Liberate 2012. The speakers were amazing, the worship time through music was incredible. There are DVDs available from this year's conference. There is really no way I would miss the one planned for next year titled "Grace in Practice". My constant prayer is that God's grace hits me in every aspect of my life. I pray I believe it better and through the Spirit it takes over more than I can imagine. I need it applied more and that comes from growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him. "Grace in Practice" is the perfect topic to move to from last year's "Grace Unmeasured". Realizing the scandalous grace God freely gives and believing it better, produces better grace in practice. The video below was just posted a couple days ago, so I figured I would share it and write about it. Check it out and visit the site some. It is a very rich resource that glorifies God. That is my pitch for the day!

Friday, July 13, 2012

God Is For Us!

Reading a daily devotional, I came across a great section today.  Charles Spurgeon writes about how God is for us. His sovereign grace sent Jesus for us and it rushes down on us still, as daily unconditional love.  I liken the thought that He is "for us" to the star baseball player in a league.  I remember the days in Dixie Youth after the pre-season draft when you would want to know which team the star players were on.  You would ask, "Who does he play for?".  Sometimes you would wish he played for your team so that your chances of the team having a great season would improve. 

I think sometimes we forget or overlook the fact that God, the Creator, is in control and leads our team. He lead us to seek him and promises that everything will work for our good and His glory.  Our sinfulness still wants control and dares to question His work in our lives, but that sin is covered by His grace too.  The Holy Spirit's job is to convict us of these thoughts or actions and lead us to true repentance.  A repentance that makes us run to Jesus, the keeper of the Law for us.  I love this quote:  "Praise God, He is the Lawgiver on the Throne and the Lawkeeper in my heart.  He who gave the Law, Himself keeps it!" -Watchman Nee
To know that the Sovereign Lord is "for us" gives great comfort and peace. Here is the excerpt from Spurgeon's devotional.  Enjoy!:

It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, “God is for me.” He was “for us” before the worlds were made; he was “for us,” or he would not have given his well-beloved son; he was “for us” when he smote the Only-begotten, and laid the full weight of his wrath upon him—he was “for us,” though he was against him; he was “for us,” when we were ruined in the fall—he loved us notwithstanding all; he was “for us,” when we were rebels against him, and with a high hand were bidding him defiance; he was “for us,” or he would not have brought us humbly to seek his face. He has been “for us” in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within—how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if he had not been “for us”? He is “for us,” with all the infinity of his being; with all the omnipotence of his love; with all the infallibility of his wisdom; arrayed in all his divine attributes, he is “for us,”—eternally and immutably “for us”; “for us” when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; “for us” throughout eternity. And because he is “for us,” the voice of prayer will always ensure his help. “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies be turned back.” This is no uncertain hope, but a well grounded assurance—“this I know.” I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come, and that mine enemies shall be defeated, “for God is for me.” O believer, how happy art thou with the King of kings on thy side! How safe with such a Protector! How sure thy cause pleaded by such an Advocate! If God be for thee, who can be against thee?
That is my pitch for the day!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pitching the "Bait" of Grace

This is part of a post I made on another blog page, but I thought I would share it here as well.  It is my pitch for the day!

My reason for this post is to look at the verses and gospel truths in the Bible where Jesus uses fishermen and talks about being “fishers of men”.  In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus calls his first disciples.  This comes at the start of His ministry.  He walks beside the Sea of Galilee and goes to Simon Peter and Andrew, both fishermen.  Jesus calls them to drop their net and follow Him and he will make them “fishers of men”.  He then went on to call James and John, also fishermen. 

We have all heard this story growing up and may have looked at it in our maturity, but I have never heard this story with a grace-alone mindset.  Jesus didn’t make these disciples fishers of men by giving them a to-do list or five-step program to catching Christians for the Kingdom.  He worked on these born fishermen by changing their hearts and minds by grace.  He showed them how all of Scripture points to Him.  He healed broken people before their eyes.  He preached the gospel unashamedly in the synagogues.  He gave them Grace!  By Jesus being able to live the gospel out amidst Peter, Andrew, James, and John he changed their hearts and opened their eyes to Him.  Jesus made them fall in love with Him.  They constantly saw His mercy, forgiveness, devotion to the Father’s Will, and grace in practice. 

In chapter 4 of Matthew, Jesus calls them.  Then in chapter 5 he gives His Sermon on the Mount.  This preaching was not to be a self-help manual.  It was to break any self-righteousness the people might have been holding on to.  This sermon was meant to make these folks run to Jesus, for His righteousness.  When seen the right way, the Sermon on the Mount is about freeing the captives of sin.  If you may have slipped through by not understanding parts of the Sermon, thinking you are doing ok, the end should be the wall you crash into.  Jesus says therefore “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect”.  As humans, in total depravity, we can’t do that.  Thank God for Jesus fulfilling the Law and satisfying the things seen in the Sermon on the Mount for us!  When we grasp the gospel more and more we then feel free to obey God and be “Christ-like” out of a joyous, thankful heart.  There is no freedom in works-righteousness, trying to please God by obeying the Law. 

The topic at hand is being “fishers of men”.  Our role in others’ salvation is just to tell them about God’s grace found in the life-death-resurrection of Jesus.  As these “fishermen”, we are to make folks wish the gospel was true and then show them that it is.  We can’t live out the gospel, even a little like we need to, to be like Jesus.  What we can do is tell of His grace and mercy as faithful believers changed by the Good News.  This is the “bait” that will change hearts through the Holy Spirit. 

My prayer is that we can believe this better.  The truth of the gospel needs to be believed in all aspects of our life.  My hope is that the Spirit will work in me where I bring this from my home to the bank and from the bank to my baseball lessons.  Everyone needs grace and the life-giving freedom that it brings.  As I deal with my wife, kids, customers, friends, young ballplayers, parents, and family members, these gospel truths should be the center of my thoughts and actions.  So to be fishers of men is to give people the truth of the gospel:  that our sin is big, but God’s grace is bigger.  You can’t outrun His love for His children.  Bring this to wherever God has you right now.  That is your mission field, given by His sovereignty.  We are empowered and freed, as Christians, to live our life as "sent" people within our culture (John 17:17-19).  That is living in light of the gospel.  There are people around you, including yourself, that need it everyday!  Amen.
That is my pitch for the day.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My All-Time Roster

1927 New York Yankees (110-44)

On Pitching the Gospel most posts are gospel-centered.  Some have had baseball themes but most have been based on topics of scripture and grace in our life.  This one will be different.  Nolan and I have recently been looking at legends of the game, as I stated in a previous post.  That led me to tie in this vintage baseball to God's unchanging, "vintage" gospel. 
Today's post will be about my official All-Time Major League Baseball Roster.  The picture above is the team photo of the '27 Yankees, widely thought of as the greatest team that ever played.  They dominated the whole season, finishing 19 games ahead of the second place team.  Of course they went on to win the World Series by sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates that year.  The roster included 7 future Hall of Famers, if you include manager Miller Huggins.  Highlighted in this lineup were Yankee greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  Since they are the only two that made my starting lineup and played on the same team during their careers, I figured I'd give a shout out to that great ball club of the past. 
I will start off by listing my Starting Lineup.  Although, there shouldn't be too much debate on some of these selections, I know that a couple will be questioned.  I will offer some reasoning on my picks in the summary below.  Also included will be a few subs and the rest of my pitching rotation.

Mitch's All-Time MLB Roster:

1.     Ty Cobb              LF                   Reserves:
2.     Honus Wagner     SS                   Rogers Hornsby     IF
3.     Willie Mays          CF                  Albert Pujols          1B
4.     Babe Ruth            RF                  Stan Musial            OF
5.     Ted Williams        DH                  Hank Aaron          OF
6.     Lou Gehrig           1B                   Ivan Rodriguez       C
7.     Chipper Jones      3B
8.     Johnny Bench       C                    Remaining Rotation:
9.     Eddie Collins        2B                  Christy Mathewson, Greg Maddux,
--     Walter Johnson     P                    Cy Young, Nolan Ryan
CL   Mariano Rivera     P

Playing Left Field and leading off for my starting lineup is Ty Cobb.  I think it is debatable, but he could be the best all-around baseball player of all-time.  Over 4,000 hits and showed some power in the Dead Ball era, he was no doubt one of the best hitters of all time.  Also, his base running and love for the game was unmatched in history.  He is the perfect lead off man for my squad.  It also helps that he is from Georgia!

Batting second is my shortstop Honus Wagner.  He is best known for having the most valuable baseball trading card because of its rarity and age.  He was a very versatile player and was always the best defensive player on the field.  He didn't look athletic, but could run well and play any position.  He led the league in hitting EIGHT times and even Ty Cobb himself said he thought Wagner was maybe "the greatest star to ever take the diamond".

My third hitter is Willie Mays.  This 24 time all-star had it all.  Speed (330 SBs), Power (660 HRs and 1900 RBI) and Average (.302 for his career), and Great Defense (12 gold glove awards).  I'd be pretty happy having him roaming center field for me.

Babe Ruth needs no explanation.  He is THE best power hitter of all time and possibly the best hitter.  He was doing things during his career that no one had ever seen.  He is my clean up hitter and right fielder.

If I get a DH, and I do because this is my team, it is Ted Williams.  A pure hitter with average and power.  He was one of the toughest outs in major league history so I have to put him in my lineup.  His defense is said to be sub-par, so we will just let him bat fifth and watch Cobb, Mays, and Ruth play defense out there.

First baseman Lou Gehrig had maybe the most impressive career of all.  His RBI totals were amazing and had he not had a shortened career due to illness, he may be a career leader in most categories.  I don't think there is any debate that he is the greatest first baseman of all-time.

Batting seventh and playing third base, from YOUR Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones!  One of my favorite players ever deserves this spot.  His career has been amazing, even including his high number of injuries.  No one can take away that '95 World Series ring either.  Most people would argue that Mike Schmidt deserves this spot, but I just can't agree with that being a given.  Chipper has a career batting average of over .300 and Schmidt's is a lousy .267.  Yes, Schmidt was a little more solid defensively and had more Power than Chipper, but Jones is probably the second or third best switch hitter of all-time.  I want him in my lineup, so he is.

Johnny Bench was the leader of one of the greatest teams of all time, The Big Red Machine.  He was also a great defensive catcher.  Bench was one of the best power hitters during his career as well.  Easy choice behind the dish for me. 

Second base is where I had to do the most research.  The first names that came to mind were Rogers Hornsby, Joe Morgan, and maybe Pete Rose (who played some 2B) but further digging gave me Eddie Collins.  This man was a defensive gem waiting to happen and his career fielding percentage was an outstanding 97%.  He was a part of over 1,200 double plays.  Collins was also a terrific hitter with a career average of .333.  He holds the career record for sacrifice hits, which is important to any team.  He had 512 of them during his career.  To add to all of this great performance, he stole 741 bases and scored over 1800 runs in his career.  We are talking about a ballplayer who was a part of 4 World Series Championship teams.  He wins the spot as my starting second baseman.

My number one starting pitcher had to be Walter "Big Train" Johnson.  He threw sidearm, so I have a little bias to that.  He also played his entire career with the Washington Senators.  He piled up over 400 Wins, 530 complete game, and also a record 110 of those were shutouts.  His career 2.14 ERA is remarkable.  He won over 30 games twice along with two MVP awards.  As you'll see with the rest of my rotation, I like workhorses on the mound.  Walter Johnson may have been the best workhorse ever. 

The closer for this team has to be Mariano Rivera.  Of course his regular season stats are tremendous but nobody comes close to what he did in the post-season.  A champion on and off the field.
The rest of my starting staff is Christy Mathewson (.67 Win%), Greg Maddux (4 CyYoungs & 18 GoldGloves), Cy Young (511 Wins and 749 CGs, both records), and Nolan Ryan (7 No-hitters and over 5,000 career strikeouts).  Like I said they are all workhorses that wanted to throw complete games every time they took the mound.  They all racked up outs, innings, and Wins with very little damage.
My reserves are as follows:  Rogers Hornsby as my utility infielder because of his versatility and great hitting ability (almost a .360 career hitter with over 300 homers!).  My outfield subs are two of the best hitters of all-time and I couldn't leave them off the team, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.  I had to add one more current star and that is my back-up first baseman Albert Pujols.  The man has hit over .300 with over 30 HRs and 100 RBI in every single season he has played.  He is on his way to being a legend in the game.  Lastly, my back-up catcher is Pudge Rodriguez.  Arguably baseball's best defensive catcher ever.  Plus, he hit over .300 for his career.

There you have it, my All-Time Roster.  Feel free to debate it through the comments.  It was fun to come up with this and I'm sure if I kept looking I'd have the urge to add to or edit possibly.

That is my pitch for the day.  Thanks.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Independence Day

Yesterday was July 4th, 2012.  Our Nation is now officially 236 years old after declaring Independence.  Looking through some posts yesterday I came across a quote from John Quincy Adams that provoked some more thought about Independence, but even more Dependence.  Here it is:

"Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [July 4th]? . . . Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity. . ?"  -John Quincy Adams

These are some great questions he brought up.  One of the main reasons for declaring Independence was for religious freedom.  So in short, they were declaring Independence from a government and big church structure, so that they could proclaim Dependence on the "Savior of the World".  God designed humans to be free.  This spiritually speaking as well.  Jesus came to set the captives free.  We, as Americans, can understand the impact of this.  Over time our Freedoms as citizens has been lost slowly but surely, but also our Freedom in Christ have been forgotten or overlooked in religion.  We need reform in many ways right now.  Very important is the reform we need in Washington back to how our Founding Fathers designed this government through the Constitution.  But most importantly, we need a reformation to continue to grow individually and in the churches in the U.S.A.  We must get back to the Five Solas from Scripture that pushed on the Protestants of old and started the Reformation in the past.  We need a New Reformation.  Those five things are summarized in one sentence:  In Scripture Alone, we see that we are saved by Grace Alone through Faith Alone in the finished work of Christ Alone to the glory of God Alone!  Enjoy your freedom because of Jesus' blood shed for it.  He accomplished what we couldn't.  As Christians, we can rest under the banner that reads "It is Finished".  As Americans we hope to rest free from Tyranny or an oppressive, intrusive Government.

I wrote a letter to an unnamed soldier that I would like to share.  It relates God's plan and work through Jesus to what our American Soldiers do, and have done, for us and our country.  I hope you enjoy it.

             Dear Brave American Soldier:

I write you from the security blanket you help provide here back home in the United States.  I am a Christian and this letter will reflect how I feel about your work for our country in that context.  I can’t send a generic thank you letter; it has to come from the heart. 
            You are part of a force for Good in this world.  Freedom is not free.  The life of a U.S. soldier demonstrates the highest Christian virtues.  Your selflessness and grace for the citizens of our great nation is much appreciated.  With the current problems our nation faces at home and the constant bickering and even some negative voices towards our military, the citizens and leaders don’t deserve this kind of sacrifice you give.  But you do it anyway.  You do it out of a love for us and the greatest country God gave the world. 
            My dad served in this way in the Vietnam War.  He is a great reason for my support of the military apart from what our government’s motives are.  I am so thankful for the Patriots like you and my dad that God raised up to sacrifice their life and limbs.  Feel certain that I will pray for you as an unnamed soldier.  I will leave you with the encouragement that only can come from a merciful, loving God shown in Jesus Christ.
            Jesus can be your source of Power, Courage, and Hope needed.  He knows War; He left the impenetrable stronghold of heaven to face a million enemies who hated Him.  The odds were against Him, but He won.  He conquered.  He died and rose again.  His death ultimately undid the world’s brokenness and provided a way to mend the brokenness of our hearts.  We don’t see War and Death done away with yet, but we will!  Jesus resurrected after His crucifixion and ascended back to heaven.  We now await His return to ultimately do away with this broken world and officially usher in a Peaceful everlasting Kingdom. 
            I see this paragraph’s thoughts are what you, as a soldier, do for us.  It’s Grace.  It’s laying down your life to fix and protect something you love.  Too many times we hear about what we need to do to get right with God or what we need to do to impress God or earn His love.  It’s not the truth.  His love and salvation is by Grace alone.  We can’t earn it.  It’s the same with you.  I haven’t earned what you are doing for me and my family.  You do it out of Love for our country and I sincerely thank you and love you for it.  Know this for now, God is more near than we know.  He is making all things new and using you and your fellow soldiers to do this.  Tell them thank you for me.  It goes for everyone doing this great work for our country.
From the Heart-

That is my pitch for the day.  Go in Peace and Freedom!  Amen.