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.

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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

The Great Blondin

The Great Blondin
I don’t know the author.

In the late 1800’s there was a great performer named Jean Francois Gravelot. He was known as “The Great Blondin.” He was a “daredevil” of sorts; a tightrope walker specifically.

One of his greatest stunts, involved walking a tightrope high above the world famous Niagara Falls. Blondin performed this death-defying feat more than once, adding elements of difficulty each time. Once he even carried his manager on his back!

Blondin was quite the showman, he had a knack for engaging the crowd, stirring the suspense and excitement. Upon completing one attempt, he asked the crowd if they believed a second attempt would be a successful one. The crowd unanimously agreed it would. Always looking to better his last great feat, Blondin now asked the crowd if they believed he could cross the falls on the tightrope while pushing a wheelbarrow. Having seen his previous stunt, and how seemingly easy it was for him, the crowd had no doubt he could pull off this new, more difficult one. Again, the response was unanimous, the crowd had no doubt “The Great Blondin” could do it!

Blondin was ready to attempt this amazing feat that only he could do, but before he set out on the rope, he had one last question for the crowd: “Which of you will ride in the wheelbarrow?” The crowd was frozen, still, silent. Not a single man or woman responded to his challenge…

All of those people witnessed Blondin cross the falls on the rope. They gained first-hand knowledge of his abilities. They had a well founded belief that he could perform the more difficult stunt. Yet, when it came time to act on those beliefs, they were silent…still. They did not trust him.

Many of us have seen what God can do, and we believe (faith)… when He calls us to “ride” with him (trust), will we sit silent? Will we stand still?…

4th Sunday of advent asked to teach

I have been asked to lead a discussion on the 4th Sunday in advent. Which in reality should be an easy assignment. After all, almost everyone I will be speaking to will be familiar with the advent wreath and candles and the significance of the evergreen and candles.

Yet as I was given the materials I would need to conduct my class, I was taken back by the complexities people have assigned to advent.

For example, when I was a boy, the candles represented hope, peace, joy and love. The attributes Christ displayed during his life and ministry. But now, I have seen these symbols distorted. Yes, I believe we should remember the prophesies, a promise made to God’s people. Yes, I believe we should consider the long wait as the world anticipated the Messiah ‘ s arrival, the joy that night expressed in Heaven and on Earth as Jesus entered this world. But as I continue to prepare my for Sunday. I am noticing more and more focus being put on Elizabeth, Mary, the town Bethlehem, wise men, angels, shepherds. Entire lessons and focus being given to what amounts to minor players. I have great admiration for Mary and a ton of respect for Joseph. I love account of Angels proclaiming the good news to the lowliest of people. That picture, in my mind gives me chills. Still the focus of advent is and should always be on God and his love for us and what we learned about God through the life of Christ. I think it is critical to remember and reflect on the attributes of the Father demonstrated by the Son. Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Focus on the other things during epiphany, right now is a time to focus all attention on the Father and his only begotten Son.

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

The Way It Was…The Way It Should Be

The Epistle to Diognetus is a text written recounting the lives of the Christians as they are beheld by others in the early communities. Parts of this are written from a first-hand perspective and accounting of the new Christian religion, parts of it are written as the perceptions of the outsider. And there is a remarkable passage that occurs in this anonymous epistle, describing the Christians as if from the outside. Those who have the text available—and it is certainly easy to find in printed volumes or on the Internet—will find this as Chapter Five of The Epistle to Diognetus:
The Christians are distinguished from other men, neither by country nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor do they employ a particular form of speech, nor yet lead a way of life marked out by any singular worldly attribute. But inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the local customs with the respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking manner of life. They dwell in their own countries but simply as sojourners. As citizens they share in all things with others yet they endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country and every land of their birth a land of strangers. They are in the flesh but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men though they are persecuted by all. They are unknown yet condemned. They are put to death yet they are restored to life. They are poor yet they make many rich. They lack and are in want of all things yet they abound in all. They are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor they are glorified.