An Acceptable Performance

November 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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There came a point in the Apostle Paul’s ministry (and, who knows? it may have been there from the time he met Christ and received the forgiveness of sins) when his fear of death was overshadowed – or at least challenged and deeply ameliorated – by his longing to leave this world behind and go to be with his Lord.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

Philippians 1:22–23

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:6-9

It would not be unreasonable to say that, even as Paul cherished his opportunities to minister in the name of Jesus in this world, his heart was still occupied with Heavenly thoughts more than earthly thoughts. In II Corinthians 5:9 he did not attempt to hide the fact that what he was doing was “labor” – the type of physical work that could be easily observed by other human beings. However, even as he labored before, and among, men, he seemed only to be conscious of the eyes of His Master upon him.

I spent my childhood in an environment where baseball was a form of religion. From the earliest levels of little league almost everyone in my home town was cognizant of which kids performed well on the diamond, and which ones didn’t. And, while it seems likely to me all these years later that us boys had an inflated sense of the importance of winning or losing, striking out or getting a base hit, blocking a grounder with our chest (or chin!) or letting it go through our legs, I can also tell you that many a dad was evicted from the park for yelling at, or fighting with, umpires, coaches, and other dads. Plenty of boys who had escaped corporal discipline for bad grades, ditching school, stealing, and vandalizing would find themselves on the business end of a belt or an open-hand whack to the head out behind the concession stand after an 0 for 4 evening or a couple of inexcusable errors. Some of us played the game for fun, and some of us played it for survival.

not impressed by your performance

The result of this kind of pressure to perform is a laser-sharp focus. Despite whatever flaws were instilled into us concerning sportsmanship and fair play, we did learn the sort of concentration that allows you to block out everything else in your surroundings and zero in on the spin of the ball, the tendency of the runner leaning off first as if he might try for second, and where you would throw the ball if it happened to carom off a bat and head in your direction on any given pitch. The roar of the crowd after a good play – or the boos and jeers after an overthrow – became something to tune out and ignore. For several of us, the approval of the crowd did not matter one iota, but the approval of our fathers did. They were who we wanted to please, and there is no doubt we played harder because of our desire for their praise, and because of a fear of their disappointment.

The Apostle Paul did not play baseball, and his Heavenly Father was interested in far greater glories than a small-town sporting event. And, of course, God’s interest in Paul’s performance was not motivated by a petty desire to live vicariously through his exploits. However, Paul wanted very badly for his efforts to be “accepted” by the Lord, and you and I would probably do well to adopt this same motivation today.

Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.

Oswald Chambers, March 17 devotion on II Corinthians 5:9 from My Utmost for His Highest

I’m Just Sayin’ 4

April 30, 2009 at 11:29 am | Posted in I'm Just Sayin' | 9 Comments
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I coached girls’ little league tee-ball and softball for about 12 years, because I have three daughters. I was not the greatest coach ever, but, I’m just sayin’, in those 12 years, I did gain some experience. I learned a few things.

One of the most important things I learned was that, although softball/baseball has a special jargon, as a coach, you can not assume that young girls understand all, or even any, of it.

tee ball

The last year that I coached I did not get to be a head coach. I was an assistant coach. The head coach of our team was a nice guy, but I’m just sayin’, when it came to communicating with the girls on the team, he did not have a clue.

We can argue about whether 9 and 10 year old girls should know what “play deep” or “choke up on it” means, but, whether or not they should know, the fact is, most of them do not know.

Girls that age need to be told where to stand, where to look, where to run, where to throw, and when to get a bat, a helmet, or a glove. They need to be told that they can’t take their Nintendo onto the field. I’m just sayin’.

When the coach will not realize or accept this principle, the results range from frustrating to disastrous.

Coach: (Jumping up and down yelling, as the ball is thrown into the infield, and the base runner is halfway from second base to third) “Get on the bag! Get on the bag!”

He means for the player to hurry up and get her feet on third base. But she does not know that “bag” means base, so she thinks he is saying, “Get on back! Get on back!” She turns and heads back to second base, and is tagged out.

Coach: “Go two! Go two!” The coach’s team is on defense, so he means that when a ground ball is hit to the infield they should throw it to second base for the force-out.

But the girls hear, “Go two!” and think, “What? I just went to the bathroom and did ‘number one’ before the game. I don’t have to ‘go two.'”

Coach: “Full count!” This happens when he is telling the batter there are three balls and two strikes. But the batter is now looking around wildly for a European nobleman who had too much to eat. Maybe he’s skulking around the concession stand with a cape and a rapier. Meanwhile, strike three goes sailing by.

Coach: “Good eye! Good eye!” This is yelled down to the batter after she wisely decided not to swing at a bad pitch. (I played organized baseball from age 4 to age 18, and no one ever yelled “Good eye!” to me.) The batter is now wondering if her mother was right in saying that she’s too young to wear mascara.

The confusion is endless. As a coach it is exhausting having to explain things like, “When that girl who has the bat hits the ball to you, be sure and bend down and pick it up FIRST, and then run – as fast as you can – like when you are chasing your little brother out of your room – and step on this base here – WHILE YOU’RE STILL HOLDING the ball.” Very un-baseball-lingo sounding, I know. But very necessary if you want to get an out, end the inning, and get home in time for homework, bath, and bed. I’m just sayin’.


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