It just ain’t fair

Writing is indeed therapeutic for me. The problem I have is that I often wait entirely to long to sit and vent the feelings and emotions that build up over time.

For a very long time I have been troubled by what seems like a insurmmountable obstacle. No matter what I do, I can never get any traction. I seemed to be locked in a holding pattern, waiting, and waiting, aaaaaannndd wating some more. Please don’t get me wrong, I do not want to confuse waiting with idleness. I work very hard and spend endless amounts of time and energy out in the community trying to compete in a very egocentric industry. Everyday I am surrounded by people who are recognized by the community as good people, that do a good job. But in dealing with these people I get to peer around the curtain and see the true inner workings of their business and how they are (and were) able to succeed where so many others fail. Like many of my associates that work in other industries with different competitors and different challenges, they too are often frustrated with the powers in place. People who are directly or indirectly responsible for anothers prosperity. Persons that inadequately trained to manage a team or resources, but are very good at the art of manipulation. This type of dribble I am sure you  have heard before, and probably hear it often. No matter, where you are, things just ain’t fair.

So that brings me to this to dilemma. If God is all powerful, what gives? I know God Loves Me, I know that He is with me and I know that He is for me. Shouldn’t that be enough. Honestly it should. It should be all I never need, but somewhere in the deep recesses of my greedy littl soul I want more, I feel like I deserve more. I am entitled to justice, fair play, an equal playing field where everyone gets the same opportunity. God, is that to much to ask? What’s wrong with swinging your gavel of justice swiftly empowering the good and destroying those that lie, steal and cheat.

Here is the reply I have to accept. Remember those words I LOVE YOU. I loved you so much that I gave part of myself to walk amoung you, to teach you, to be mocked, tortured and murdered. I understand. That wasn’t fair, but it happened. I AM WITH YOU. Part of me indwells in you. The very best part of you is where you will find me. People hear my voice in your laugh, when you try to sing, when you smile at child and embrace and love your children. In those special moments I AM WITH YOU. In those moments of despair, when you feel like you do now, angry, disappointed, judgemental, frustrated, hurt, depresseed or scared, I understand that as well. I have been where you are, I understand, but I AM WITH YOU. Finally I AM FOR YOU. Everyone of my children is loved equally. God doesn’t play favorites. HE is your biggest fan and cheerleader. Your vision is limited, you see today, you see the past, you’re upset with both. But you cant see what HE sees, you do NOT know what tomorrow will hold. I have no doubt that God is sad when his children fail to see the person we actually are. If we could only see ourselves through his eyes, would we believe the view. Probably not. If you’re still fighting a battle that’s taken years, think how much you have accomplished, just surviving. That’s not someone pitiful or weak, that’s a warrior. If the best Warrior’s get weary. When you feel so lost, alone and without direction yet you continue to trudge along, That’s someone with incredible fight, because you have not quit. Even when circumstances tell you it’s hopeless. Faith is marching along with confidence into a world of uncertainty  When you see others who have wealth, or status, but have come by these things fraudulently, don’t be bitter or jealous. GOD is for you, he is fighting for you, he believes in you and he has good plans for you. Comparing ourselves to others is the easiest way to destroy God’s plan, because the image you are trying to achieve is someone elses reflection. Be yourself, Be the person God created YOU to be and Make sure you give thanks for everything you have been given. Even if you think it’s not enough. Chances are there ate plenty of people who are praying for the very things we take for granted.

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A LETTER TO MYSELF

Although I am tempted to believe that I am anything but significant. I know better. For the Lord my God is with me wherever I am at all times and through every adversity. Temptation is life, feeling hopeless or lost is not God’s way, it is opposite of his Plan’s for me. I am tempted to flee back into the world where I was once immersed, drowning in doubt and hopelessness, yet given enough time that world seems normal. REMEMBER THAT WORLD IN WHICH YOU ONCE EXISTED IS A LIE. You are better, stronger, smarter, and have all that you need to do what God has planned for you. Persistence, Perseverance and Faith. Fight for the truth that God has promised to you. It is OK to be yourself, you were created to serve a purpose, so fulfill God’s wishes and do what your heart commands.

KEEP YOURSELF AT 17 INCHES

“Keep Yourself at 17 Inches”

Nations_Park_Home_plate

I recently came across a fantastic story written by Coach Sperry, that a couple of friends of mine sent to me via Face Book. I thought that it was something that should certainly be shared with everyone and worth the read…especially parents and coaches.

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

Speak to my heart

Speak To My Heart
© Ashley Plaisted
Published on December 2010

So Silent… So still
Listening for God’s Will
Hoping I can hear Him
Speak to my heart.

Wishing I was flawless, perfect and pure
Wondering what life trials I’m destined to endure.
Eager to seek Him, eager to grow,
What’s really inside me only He and I know.

Constant Hunger and constant thirst,
Constantly striving to put the Lord first.
Feeling unsettled like something’s not right
It’s a spiritual war and I’m ready to fight.

Help me, Lord. Make my heart your reflection!
Calm my spirit Lord, point me in the right direction.

With everything I am I want to serve You,
Hold me in your hands Lord, so to you I stay true.

My life is yours God, this I reaffirm today,
In everything I do Lord, You have the final say.

My heart is heavy like I lost a loved one,
My soul is crying for comfort from His Son.
Lord Jesus, Come! Be everything that I am!
Help me to see and live Your master plan.

To you Lord God I give all the glory,
Be alive in me father while I tell the world my story.
I lost my life for you the night of December eighth,
I thank you every day Lord, for making my path straight.

I am always falling down Lord, remaining on my knees,
It’s a constant reminder only you can meet my every need.

So I look to you in prayer and I ask with a sincere heart,
Cleanse me, hold me, lead me, away from the death of dark.

How do you describe light to someone that knows only darknes. In any language, words fail. There is no way to use vocabulary to describe the lights power. Even a little has a profound affect. In order to truly understand it, to recognize and appreciate it, someone has to encounter it. They must see it.
In the same way as we go about our lives. Can anyone describe Jesus Christ? For those of us fortunate to have weathered  life’s storms, describing God’s strength during those moments is as hard to explain as the light in the previous example. It exists whether you see it or not. It’s power never changes only moving from a stagnate view can someone appreciate its magnificence. So how does one change their view. They have to be shown the way. They have to see something unique in a “Christian”, something special they don’t understand. If you say I believe in Christ, yet live as a stranger to him, how are you defining Christianity to those whose view is distorted. Are you showing them the way or are you an obstruction? I hope as culture continues to define the status quo that we don’t loose our focus and we are leading people out of darkness into an illuminated understanding of Jesus Christ and the desire he has to help us.

EJG

The Bird Cage

THE BIRD CAGE

February 3, 2003

There once was a man named George Thomas, a pastor in a small New England town. One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Several eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak.

“I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright.”

I stopped the lad and asked, “What you got there, son?”

“Just some old birds,” came the reply.

“What are you gonna do with them?” I asked.

“Take ’em home and have fun with ’em,” he answered. “I’m gonna tease ’em and pull out their feathers to make ’em fight. I’m gonna have a real good time.”

“But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?”

“Oh, I got some cats,” said the little boy. “They like birds. I’ll take ’em to them.”

The pastor was silent for a moment. “How much do you want for those birds, son?”

“Huh??!!! Why, you don’t want them birds, mister. They’re just plain old field birds. They don’t sing- they ain’t even pretty!”

“How much?” the pastor asked again.

The boy sized up the pastor, as if he were crazy, and said, “$10?”

The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone.

The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free.

Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story.

One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting.

“Yes, sir, I just caught the world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait, I knew they couldn’t resist. Got ’em all!”

“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked.

Satan replied, “Oh, I’m gonna have fun! I’m gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I’m gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really gonna have fun!”

“And what will you do when you get done with them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, I’ll kill ’em,” Satan glared proudly.

“How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, you don’t want those people. They ain’t no good. Why, you’ll take them and they’ll just hate you. They’ll spit on you, curse you and kill you!! You don’t want those people!!”

“How much?” He asked again.

Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, “All your tears, and all your blood.”

Jesus said, “DONE!”

Then He paid the price.

The pastor picked up the cage, he opened the door and he walked from the pulpit.
— Author Unknown — Sent in by Ruth Mack — South Dakota

It ain’t over yet

Quiet time! Focus time!

There was a message on the radio today that spoke of dicipline. The man on the radio was speaking of instances when we don’t want to give God our attention or time. It’s not that we don’t think of that time as important, it’s more about our ability to rationalize our way out of it. Taking the time out of each day to give to God requires a commitment to dicipline. An unchanging mindset that puts these moments at the pinnacle of our priorities.

I have for many nights now, used this time to read about God’s will. The point of view and writing in this book has changed me and I am grateful for the author and the person who recommended him to me. However, tonight I left my book in the car and didn’t want to trudge outside in the cold to go and get it. So instead of continuing my reading I just layer down and prayed. I thought of recent days, the memories, the craziness, the driving but I eventually focused on the season. Is it over? I see porches and yards, that lit the night skies a week ago, now dark.  I couldn’t help but miss the beautiful scene that has once again disappeared from our windows. But as I lay here I still feel the Spirit of Christmas for it never goes away. There was an unfathomable joy the day Christ came into this world. It is a joy we have been commissioned to share, not just at Christmas and not just with friends.

When we accept Christ as our savior 2 promises are made. One by Christ. The other by the sinner who becomes an apostle. We promised through a confession of faith to be the messengers of what has happened in Bethlehem. It is our responsibility not only to keep the Joy of that wondrous night, but to pass it along. Whether in speech or action, we must testify to what we have experienced. What we know to be true. I sometimes wonder what a glorious sound the Heavenly Hosts made that evening. I believe they are still singing with the Joy of that blessed night and sometimes when it’s really quiet and I am in prayer, focused on all that God has done, is doing and will do, I get to feel just a little bit of that Joy he has promised to all who call him Master.

I hope those reading this will help keep me accountable to my own words.

I am never alone

Jesus said”I am with you, even unto the end of the world”. As a Christian these words are well known, yet as a seeker of Christ, I feel alone. It happens enough that I would call it “ordinary”. I can easily understand why some touched by the Holy Spirit can find it very difficult to stay the course. Honestly it does feel like, that at our weakest and most frightening moments. there is a feeling of isolation. I never suppose or assume to know God’s mind or will, but from what I do know, God actually wants the opposite for us. He desires to be such a meaningful part of our lives that we become utterly dependent on him for everything. Not just the big things, but in all things. So if I believe that is what God wants, then our seperation has to be related to my free will and choices I have made. Surely God’s grace is more than capable of restoring our relationship to an intimate level he so desperately desires. The only problem is finding the first step back to him. After sincere repentance and prayer, still there is a feeling of loneliness, despair and frustration. “What am I doing wrong”!!!! Leaps through my head and heart as I continue to seek him and the peace, joy and love he promises to all whom follow him. Thus. I am left with a feeling, I know is a lie. I know I am not alone, even if it feels that way. I know vigilant pursuit will merit the rewards I seek. In His time, always in His time. Some time, a week, a month, a year, maybe longer. I truly hope I can go back to this post and share it with the Love of my life, my best friend and savior. Until then, I will wait and pursue this quest despite the darkness tempting me to quit. If the Bible has taught me anything it is that I am one of his most prized creations, His love is unconditional and ready to be received. I know He is as anxious as I am to finally come together as Father and son.

When I say I am a Christian

When I say I am a Christian — by Maya Angelou

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin’.”
I’m whispering “I was lost,
Now I’m found and forgiven.”

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak of this with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not holier than thou,
I’m just a simple sinner
Who received God’s good grace, somehow
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/glurge/christian.asp#cLxb1d2V4G0cjP9M.99

What I Learned in School

I learned the following song in school. I wonder how many of you recall it as well?

“The Lord’s been good to me!
And, so I thank the Lord!
For giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain, and the apple trees.
Yes! The Lord’s  been good to me”!

What’s wrong with this simple message?
I am sometimes amazed at the influence these type of stories had on my development as a child. I learned about graciousness, humility and faith. Someone decided these shouldn’t be part of child’s education. As a result there influence is being erased from our culture.
I am not one who thinks the “Good Ol’ Days” were all that great. There were a whole lot of folks suffering because of their race or gender. Still, there is much to be said about teaching the simple principles found in the Bible. Being thankful, counting blessings, instead of burdens, and fully appreciating who it is that has provided them.

“Thank you Lord for the things I Need”…..You have been so good to me.