Sunday, May 3, 2009

New Song

There is a new song (well, new to me) out there written by Kristian Stanfill. It's called "Lord of All" and it's awesome! Reverent, glorifying, and ultimately a great song to sing praises to the Lord of all! Enjoy!

My Jerusalem...

Coming off our Disciple Now weekend, themed Impacting My Space With God, I made a new discovery about what my “space” really is. There is a banner on our Youth room wall that displays Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my (Christ’s) witnesses is Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We have been trying to embrace this as a major goal in each of our lives, as well as a unified group, thus creating the idea for this past D-Now weekend. When we consider being a witness for Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth, we must dial in exactly what and where those places are and how we (personally) can make an impact. Through talking with many of the Youth who attended D-Now God has brought me to the conclusion that everywhere we go is our Jerusalem. Let me break this down, and I’m going to start with the world-view.
“The end of the earth” is pretty self-explanatory, in that it lets us know, as Christ-followers, that we have a duty to spreading the Word of God for the sake of His kingdom. The Youth program at Quinault is heading to Haiti during late July and early August to make sure we’re meeting this call. Haiti, for us North-westerners, is considered to be part of this world-wide vision that Christ describes in the passage. We feel it is important to answer the call to take the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth, and Haiti is one way we are doing that.
“Samaria” would include a viewpoint that isn’t quite so broad as “to the end of the earth,” but it certainly does imply a rather large physical territory for us to reach. It describes a land mass (and people group) that is part of the United States and/or even North America. Another group of students (and adults) at Quinault is heading to Salt Lake City, Utah on July 3rd, 2009 for a mission trip organized by World Changers (WC). This trip may sound familiar to you as many of the Quinault Youth went of the same mission trip last summer. We are going down there to repair/build homes for the less fortunate. We felt very strongly the hand of God being present last summer, and we are excited to be getting back there to serve in this manner.
“Judea” would be an area consisting of the Northwest and its surroundings. Places like Seattle, Bozeman, Spokane, Portland, Boise, northern California, and even parts of Western Canada would be considered part of this geographical area. Certainly it is part of the world, and part of North America, but it has a much more localized focus. If you don’t already know, the Pacific Northwest, in conjunction with the North-eastern United States (which is a recent development), has the least evangelized communities and the least number of Christ-followers per capita than anywhere else in the nation. These are a couple of very tough eggs to crack as people become more and more secluded from human contact. People in these areas are truly becoming introverted with a few very close friends and very little human contact. The Youth of Quinault have been working on ways we can reach out to the people in our current day Judea.
Jerusalem for Jesus’ disciples was their immediate surroundings of the city they lived in. This would translate, for us, as the Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin area. I would put a 50-75 mile radius on this one to keep us pretty close. Specifically, this would include Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Benton City, Finley, Burbank, and other “very close” communities.
What impacted me the most during our D-Now weekend was this:
~Wherever we are physically located at any given time, we are in Jerusalem. What I mean is, whether I’m in Kennewick, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Haiti, or China, my immediate surroundings are the “Jerusalem” that I am charged by Christ to witness to. This is huge! This means that no matter where I am in the world Jesus wants me, since I have received the Holy Spirit, to be His witness... right there... Not just when I get back to Kennewick; not just when I get to church on Sunday; not just when I’m with my friends. He wants me to be His witness no matter where I am! The impact I have on my immediate surroundings are what Jesus wants me to be concerned with! “My space” is right where I am whenever I’m there.
Whether I’m walking along a dirt trail in China, or a sidewalk in Richland, whoever I come into contact with is someone I can be a witness to... someone I can show the light and the love of God to with my words, attitude, and actions. God has sent the Holy Spirit to empower us, and keep us from fear, while we are telling His story. Shine the light that God has given you, and don’t be afraid to share His story, His love, and even your story to people you encounter in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world!

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's that time again!

Well, it's that time again. The time of the year where the weather starts to warm up, and I find some excuse to make my way onto a baseball field. In case you're wondering, it's spring! Spring has finally made it's way to the Tri-Cities! I say this because, over the past 3-4 years I've noticed that the warm weather is actually coming slower every year. Some say "global warming" and others (like me) say it's the natural cycle of the earth. Which is accurate is irrelevant. What's important is the warm(er) season has been hitting SE Washington later over the past few years.
When warmer weather hits I am naturally drawn to the great outdoors, namely the baseball field. As many of you know I have been a baseball player longer than anything else I've been (other than a homosapien of the male gender). Seriously though, I've played since I was 4 years old. One of the saddest, yet best, things to happen to me was for God to show me that baseball was not what I was going to do for the rest of my life. This can be truly devastating to someone who has worked so stinkin' hard at something since they were 4 years old. After college I played in a local men's league for a few years, but I haven't for the past two years. Heartbreaking...
Why is this so hard for me? Why can't I just let it go? Well, I see it like this:

When I'm on a baseball field I come alive. I feel at home. I know baseball better than I know myself. Baseball is always there, is always the same, and all I have to do is go out there and have fun doing what I do best. I know this sounds silly, but I haven't played for two years and I can still go out there and throw strikes from the pitcher's mound, field ground balls and make the throw from short-stop with ease, and I can still crush the ball with a baseball bat. It's like my body was created to play baseball. It's heartbreaking to have worked so hard, and for so long (22 years), only to have it taken away. This is an issue I deal with every spring, and I wrestle with God... STILL... over the fact that baseball is not what He wants me doing.
I played competitive ball through college, though God began showing me He wanted something different for my life than baseball. It really began when I became a believer in Christ back when I was a teenager. I use the term "believer" because that's about all it was until just a few years ago. During my high school years I began to really excel and stand above the crowd of baseball players in the TC's. At 16 I made the "Dusters" baseball team, which was (at the time) the best of the best. From there my desire to play baseball past high school (and even college) began to take root. It was nose to the grindstone time. I began to take TONS of batting practice, show up early, stay late, take more swings than anyone, and I also began to work on my pitching ability even more. I developed 4 solid pitches, and I gained control enough over them that I could throw them anywhere I wanted within an inch. This may sound far-fetched for those of you who don't know baseball, but this is what it takes to be really good as a pitcher... especially one who didn't throw super hard like me. The following to years I really began to enjoy my success in baseball, and my growing talent(s).
Looking back I can see when it all started to unravel, and God began to do His work in my life. I, of course, had no idea what was going on and kept fighting to keep baseball at the front of my life (a pseudo God, if you will). My freshman though junior years of baseball had been played at a local public school, and the competition was pretty stiff. I played baseball for the public school, but attended a local private school because the education was better at the private school. I enjoyed 3 basketball seasons at the private school, but they never had a baseball program. That is, of course, until my senior year. In order for me to continue to play at the higher level of competition of the public school, I would have to transfer for my final semester back to the public school. This made for a rather difficult decision for me; do I choose to further my education and stay/graduate with all my friends, or do I choose baseball over those things? Well, I chose to stay with my friends because I felt they were more important than baseball. This proved to be my first step away from baseball, though I didn't yet know it.
Playing for my private high school proved fun because it was with my friends, but going from a 3-4A level of play to a B league is awful. Oh sure, I hit almost .700, was able to play shortstop, and did really well on the mound, but it was so easy! The difference in the leagues, in case you don't know, is like going from playing Major League baseball back to a no-name community college... It's still the game, but the difference in the level of play is night and day. I was still able to play Legion ball that summer to stay competitive, but I was very frustrated the entire season and didn't enjoy the same success that I had previously.
After high school I was talking to three colleges about playing baseball: Univ. Southern Utah, Northwest Nazarene, and Western Baptist College. The University of Southern Utah's coach called and was working out a letter of intent for me, and we had several phone conversations. Everything was looking good for me to head down there to play, but I called after not hearing anything for a couple weeks and found out the coach had been fired. I was never able to get hold of the new coach, thus making this path fall through. Northwest Nazarene offered me a nearly full-ride scholarship to play for them, but my best friend and I visited the college and just got a weird feeling while we were there so I chose not to got there. So I called Western Baptist College's (now Corban College) coach about playing there, and he offered me a small scholarship to play my first year. I decided that WBC would be a good fit for me, so I went there.
Now, I've always been a better fielder and hitter than I was a pitcher, but for some reason pitching was the only thing the coach down there wanted me to do! This is something I will probably never understand, unless all I need to understand is that God was taking baseball out of my life and pulling me to Himself.
To wrap of this little novel, God did slowly, yet painfully for me still, pull baseball out of my life... at least competitive baseball. As I said before I played a couple years in an adult men's league here in the TC's after college, but it really wasn't good baseball. It was fun, but it wasn't competitive.
So here I am once again at the start of the baseball season, my beloved Minnesota Twins have started their season with a 2-2 record (.500), and I am sitting here wondering why I'm not playing for them. To tell you the complete story of my baseball career, and how God gently began taking it out of my life, I would truly need to write a small book. I don't even know if anyone reads this blog, but it's been good for me to be able to write stuff out. But if anyone does actually read this blog and would like to know more about this story, I'd love to chat with you about it.
Throughout my entire baseball career I was never appreciated by my coaches, nor given a chance to show how good I really was, and I still have some frustration there. But I have reached a point, finally, that I am ok with where I am. I realize now that God is enough, that I don't need baseball to have worth, and that all my worth is found in my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He has saved me from pursuing something that would never have fullfilled me the way He can, and I am forever thankful for that. Do I miss baseball? Yes... Absolutely. Is God big enough to fill that void? Yes... Absolutely. Do I feel like I have a different outlook on life now that baseball is not priority 1, or 2, or 3, or even 4? Yes... and it's truly wonderful to find that freedom! God has granted me freedom from baseball, and now, when I do get the chance to play, it's just fun!! I'm not letting my baseball knowledge go to waste though. You know that private Christian high school I attended? Well, I'm in my first year of tying my best to impart my knowledge and passion for baseball into the current attendees at LCS. But first and foremost, I'm letting them know that God is priority 1, and that He never fails, abandons, lets go, leaves, or disappoints you.
God is good... All the time...