Jan 26, 2017

Whose Team Are You On?

When I play hockey, one of my weekly tasks is packing up my hockey bag with my skates, clothing, and protective gear all that have been washed and dried from the previous game. Along with sharpening of skates or re-taping a hockey stick, it is a part of the ritual hockey players go through to get ready. 

If you play in an organized hockey league on which you will play different teams each game, one of the standard items that all team members receive is a jersey with the team’s name or logo or sponsor on the front.

Unlike the “participation award” that youth programs give away to ALL who play, the jersey actually has meaning because it lets everyone who cares to know that YOU are a member of a team.

If you play in any type of pick-up game where sticks are placed at center ice to pick teams, you will pack both a dark and a light jersey because you will not know which one you will wear until the group is divided up into two teams…that is unless you like to wear a “pinny” that has been sitting in a hockey bag reeking with sweat because it was never been washed since the last game!

Pinnies, which some people say/spell "pennies," are the loose mesh sleeveless jerseys every player gets on the first day of practice or when they show up to camp. They usually come in reversible colors- one side dark and one side light. They are used for everything- splitting up offense and defense, warming up before games, and playing scrimmages in the off-season to keep the game jerseys clean.

My dark and light jerseys that I bring are from teams in the USA and other countries and are rotated each game because I have a lot of jerseys!

If you love professional hockey, chances are you own a jersey from the team that you like. The jersey tells everyone which is your favorite team. It is worn with great pride while at the games or at home when watching on TV.

And wearing it allows a person to make believe that they too play on the team. Looking in my closet at all the jerseys that I have, you would probably say that I, too, live in a make-believe world!

I like every jersey that I have been given or purchased; but I treasure more the ones that I received when I played on a team.

Hockey player and coach Herb Brooks said in 1980: “When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates. And the name on the front is … a lot more important than the one on the back! Get that through your head!”

I like that statement because the name on the front of the jersey reminds the wearer of the jersey:

1.) That he or she is a part of a bigger team; usually with the same goal (pun intended). Together they can accomplish so much more as each person does their individual assignment. In sports and in life there are no lone rangers.

2.) That when they wear the jersey off the ice, they represent everyone else on the team. Where I used to work, we used to say; “One ‘ah-shucks’ can wipe out ten ‘at-a-boy’s”. In other words, what I do represents everyone else on the team. How I act or conduct myself reflects the rest of the team.

3.) That the wearer of the jersey also is a representative of the sponsor or owner of the team. Like it or not, they may be the only billboard that the community sees.

As a Christian, I realize how true this is supposed to be among the different Churches as well as among Christ’s followers. It is His team that we joined. It is His Name that is metaphorically on the front of our jerseys. He is the owner (or LORD) and the Head Coach; He calls the plays.

After all, to be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ or Christ bearer. We were signed up by Him in a team that is made up of so many people from all around the world.

It is a team that is in a variety of different church buildings on an average Sunday morning. Each one is a representative of Jesus and is unique in how the service goes, how baptism is done, what version of the Bible is read or whether we vote as democrats or as republicans.

2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are God’s ambassadors as though God were pleading through us. In other words, He is doing the work; not us.

That tells us that as Christians we represent God. It also reminds us that we might have the jersey, but it is the Name on the front that is so much more important than the name on the back.

So often Christians have forgotten that our lives not only are a representation of Christ but of His follows as well…

Brennan Manning said; "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

How many times have we as Christians misrepresented other churches or denominations or other Christians by not thinking about how we act or what we say?

How many times have we done things in the Name of Jesus that never really were in His Name?

How many countless souls have been pushed away in their hour of need simply because we are so proud of our name being on our metaphorical jersey that we have forgotten to realize that when you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates.

God is calling for the body of Christ to represent Him to this lost and dying world. Instead, the world sees the divisions in the Church.

The Apostle Paul wrote; “…that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26 NKJV)

Fellow Christians, I exhort you; we are on the same team! The name on the front is … a lot more important than the one on the back!

Jesus said; “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35 MSG)

Jan 19, 2017

“It Would Help if You Turn the Key the Right Way!”

An ice storm came through this past week and left our two vehicles encased in what appeared to be solid lead crystal. Which, although it looked beautiful, would stop Cathy and I from being able to use the vehicles to drive to work. 

Since I was aware that the storm was coming, I arose early to allow enough time (and elbow grease) to remove the results of freezing rain. When I went outside, I discovered that one to two inches of snow had fallen on top of the vehicles already encased in ice.

It took me about 30 minutes to remove all the snow and scrape off everything.

My next task was to open the doors so that I could gain entrance to be able to start the vehicles and warm them up prior to departure.

Our car opened immediately when I used the remote control to open the door locks. I was happy and proceeded on to our pickup truck.

The key unlocked the doors immediately on the first attempt; or at least I thought that they had opened…because when I went to lift the door handle I had no success in opening the truck door.

‘No big deal’, I thought, I would simply pound on each of the doors and coax it them open; which I did and then tried the door handles again…with no success.

‘No big deal’, I thought, I would simply pound once again on the door and coax it to open; which I did and then tried the door handles again…again with no success.

‘No big deal’, I thought, I would simply go into my shop, get a rubber mallet and use it to pound on the door and coax it to open; which I did and then tried the door handles again…with no success.

‘No big deal’, I thought, I would simply go into my shop, get a small flat pry bar and use it to gently pry on the door and coax it to open; which I did (along with using the rubber mallet) and then tried the door handles again…with no success. 

‘No big deal’, I thought, I would simply continue to gently pry on the door and coax it to open; which I did (along with using the rubber mallet) and then tried the door handles again…with no success.

Each time I would alternate between the driver side and the passenger side repeating the attempts to get inside.

As I was using the pry bar I noticed through the passenger window that the lock button was down, not up; indicating that this door was locked.

I took my key, inserted it into the lockset, turned it, and the button popped up. I immediately lifted the door handle, and the door opened!

I quickly went to the driver’s side and did the same procedure and that door opened as well!

As I pondered what had just taken place I concluded that, although we normally lock our vehicles, they were instead NOT LOCKED when I first went to get inside.

My attempts were stopped not because they were frozen, but because I had LOCKED the doors rather than unlocking them as I had assumed.

And it would help to turn the key the right way!

Those who read my blog know that somehow through this mistake I will still draw a spiritual truth to post for the readers’ consideration. So here I go…

Salvation is a free gift for anyone who will call upon the Name of the LORD. BUT you can’t get in without turning the key the right way.

No, it is not a formula of using the antiquated words or an old form of English.

No, you don’t have to wonder whether your hands should be folded with fingers up or whether they should be interlocked making sure that your hands are in some carefully formatted position. 

No, you don’t have to be at special location or be in a special position to receive the gift of salvation from Jesus.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV).

He is the ONLY way to come to salvation. He alone paid the price with His death, burial, and resurrection. In other words; it does help to turn the key the right way!

We humans will always try to formulate and script our own methods to into heaven; as though it was up to us to decide how things are to be done. Even if we can formulate the perfect plan (have the right key), it still helps if you turn the key the right way!

The Bible says; “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV) and “There’s a way that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell.” (Proverbs 16:25 MSG)

All our own efforts will always leave us banging on a door that will not open even though we have a key in our hands.

No, the door will only open when it is the same door at which Jesus stands knocking. Then and only then will we be able to enter in.

Jesus said; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV)

NKJV Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Jan 12, 2017


by Jonny Diaz

Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life
Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel You say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Third cup of joe just to get me through the day
Wanna make the most of time but I feel it slip away
I wonder if there’s something more to this crazy life
I’m busy, busy, busy, and it’s no surprise to see
That I only have time for me, me, me
There’s gotta be something more to this crazy life
I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear You say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in fill your lungs
The Peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
Let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe

Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe
Just breathe

© 2015 Centricity Music Publishing (ASCAP) / So Essential Tunes & Not Just Another Song (SESAC) / Wordspring Music, LLC & Tony Wood Songs (SESAC)

Jan 5, 2017

Tres Amigos

 “I have got to get younger friends”...

I said to a group who were playing games on a cold wintery night with Cathy and me. Three couples had gathered to eat a meal together and then talk as we spent time indoors watching the anticipated blizzard start to pile up the snow.
Based upon the conversation we were having on health issues and aches and pains, I realized that either I’m officially old or I need new friends, because all of my friends are old (sort of…because some of my friends are younger and we LOVE hanging with them as well).
After exclaiming again my need for younger friends, I looked at Cathy and said; “We have officially become one of those older couples that we have observed over the years at church…one of those couples who do everything together as often as they can.”
And I realized that this was actually a very good thing that was to be treasured and highly valued; something which I had envied in the older couples I had seen it in at church.
C.S. Lewis said; “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”
In our case, all of us have similar likes and dislikes. All of us like spontaneously getting together for a meal or to watch a play.
Both couples spend time with Cathy and I and our families up at our cabin on the Fourth of July. All three couples (“Tres parejas”) spend every Super Bowl Sunday together watching the game and eating way too much food. All six of us attend a weekly Bible Study together in our home.
The women in the group (“Tres Mujeres”) LOVE to go out and eat and make crafts and talk and spend time together doing whatever else comes to mind. And BOTH of the women are a good sounding board for my wife and BOTH are women I trust also have Cathy’s and my best interest in mind.
The men in the group, (“Tres Amigos”), enjoy each other’s company as well. All of us like great coffee and superb food.
All three of us share our struggles and pray for each other and encourage each other.
Both men I see as trusted comrades with whom I can share my weaknesses and discouragements. Both men are on ‘speed-dial’ on my phone so that I can send a text for a prayer request or to share some areas of accountability.
Both will tell me what I need to hear; not flattery. This is helpful because then when they say something to me that is encouraging, I know that they are telling me the truth.
Both have encouraged me as an artist, husband, father, teacher, pastor, and friend to keep doing what I was called and created to do.
Proverbs 20:6 “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?”
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 "A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triples-braided cord is not easily broken."

I am truly grateful to be a member of the Tres Amigos.

All Scripture is from New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.