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Mission Freedom

Freedom from Debt. Freedom through Christ

Why We Play the Game?

Wiffle ball

Remember being a kid in elementary school on Career Day? Kids would dress up as firemen, policemen, astronauts, and doctors. Career Day for me meant I could wear my baseball uniform to school.

Baseball was a part of my family. My grandfather played in the old textile leagues in the south, my dad played, my older brother’s games, and of course the Cheddar Youth Center.Cheddar Youth Center

It did not matter where we were, somehow we would find a way to play baseball. We were obsessed? No, we were kids!

We simply wanted to play. Give us a cup, and before long it was wadded up in the shape of a ball, and a cup ball game was about to break out. Tin foil works well too, but hurts more than a paper cup. Behind the concession stand at the American Legion field or anywhere else where we could make a “field”. At home, with a Wiffleball and plastic bat, the door to the crawl-space was turned into a strike-zone and a ball hit past the clothes line in the air was a homerun. If it was dark the flood light came on for night games and thousands of games took place. No grass could grow on the pitchers mound or the batters box. Not because it wouldn’t grow, but because we played. Wicked curveballs, screwballs, dropballs, and risers were thrown. If you could hit these pitches, you could hit any pitches.

When no one was available to play with you, the game still had to be played. The door to the crawl-space and a tennis ball would work. Nine innings and the same crawl-space door was pounded by thousands of pitches. All nine innings and I never lost!

No one to hit the ball to you? No problem! All that was needed was an outside wall and a tennis ball. Diving catches to save the game in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on third. Again, I never lost.

No one available to pitch? So! A cutoff broomstick, Pa Haynie’s gravel and a fence across the street is all that was necessary. (Making sure no cars are coming when you hit the rock is a good idea. Not that we ever hit a car.)

Baseball could be played almost anywhere!

That was thirty years ago. Fast forward to today. What happened?

Drive by your local ballparks. Most of the fields are empty unless there is an organized practice going on. Nine year old baseball teams are having tryouts, and 10 year old year olds are playing 80 games. I know a few coaches that have cut 8 year olds. Parents are shelling out thousands of dollars so their son can play at the “elite” academy, and fifteen year olds are traveling all over the country to play in “showcase” tournaments because college coaches can see them play. Really?

Kids play baseball because someone introduced it to them and they continue to play because it is fun. When baseball is fun, they grow to love the game. That’s why we played cup ball. That’s why we played Wiffleball! We didn’t need adults to organize our teams. There was no adult to yell at us because we missed a groundball or struck out. Dad wasn’t sitting behind home plate telling us what to do on every pitch. We just played! Why?

We LOVE the game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tears

Yesterday, June 27, 2016, I went to lunch after having a conversation with a frustrating conversation with a client. I pulled through the drive-thru at Subway with the intension of grabbing a sandwich, and parking in the shade of the parking lot at Target that sits just east of the Subway. A little time alone, a sandwich, and music from the band Building 429 when I noticed someone holding a sign and asking for help at the other end of the parking lot. From a distance I could tell she was a young lady, and I watched people drive by as if she wasn’t there while I ate my sandwich. After about 15 minutes, I drove over to her and noticed that she had a 5 gallon gas can and written on the sign was family with 2 children needing money for gas. I rolled down my window and asked for the gas can, and she simply handed it to me, said thank you and God bless. From there, I drove to Quik Trip filled the tank and grabbed a bottle of water for her since it was well over 90 degrees. When I returned, she wasn’t standing at the corner of the parking lot, rather she was sitting under a tree. I pulled into a parking spot next to the tree because I wanted to know a little more of her story. She told me that the police had made her stop asking for help or risk being arrested. Turns out she and her family were simply trying to get home. She and her husband have a 2 year old and another daughter that is 7. As I was leaving I handed what cash I had in my wallet, this young mom says thank you and God bless and made a reference to Christ. As I was pulling away, I took one more look to see her wiping a tears from her eyes.

Contrast that scene with the conversation that I had with my client just minutes before seeing her in the parking lot at Target. This man has over 1.3 million dollars available to him and is worried about being able to make it through retirement. Need I say more? No, I will let scripture say the rest.

The Parable of the Rich Fool, Matthew 12:13-21

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Faith and Deeds, James 2:14-17

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 

Lesson from Pa Haynie

Pa Haynie

James 4:15

 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

My grandfather, better known to us as Pa Haynie, was one my heroes! He, along with my dad, taught me to love the game of baseball. To this day when I’m calling pitches, I can hear him say, “Mick, the best pitch in baseball is a high and tight fastball.” That being said, Pa Haynie, was also one the most Godly men that I have ever known. There was so much wisdom in his words and actions.

One saying that he used often was, “Lord willing.” As a kid, when I would leave him to go home I would say something like this, “By Pa, see you tomorrow”, and his response was always “Lord willing.” Those words seem so simple, and I never put much thought into them until now at age 44 and they are powerful!

I’m going to share with you some sayings that sound good, but they are missing something.

This one is attributed to Oprah Winfrey, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” 

Here is another one, not sure who it’s from, “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”

Mark Victor Hansen, “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.”

Norman Vincent Peale, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

Lyndon Johnson, “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

This list could go on and on, but I will stop with one last quote from Napolean Hill, “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

These are nice sounding quotes, and there is some truth to them, but why are they wrong? First none of them start with “Lord Willing”.  The beginning of this writing starts with James 4:15, but let’s add context to it:

James 4:13-17

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Is this saying that we should not plan or have goals? Absolutely not! Ultimately, we have no control of many things that may happen to us, so to say we are 100% in control of our own destiny is not only a lie, it is dangerous! Where is my faith? In me? or in God? In everything we do and plan to do, we should always preface it with “Lord Willing.” If you want to lose weight, “Lord willing, I will lose 80 pounds in the next year.” If I want to be somewhere financially start it with “Lord Willing” I will accomplish whatever that goal is. Things could happen such as a car accident, the stock market crashes, my business fails and leaves me with $200k in debt, or I’m stricken with cancer. If your faith is in you, then what?

In one day Job lost his family. He lost his wealth, and a few days later he lost his health! His friends had all kinds of advice for him, yet they were all wrong. Never once did Job curse God. He knew God was in control of ALL things, and Job was powerless to do anything about it. Job was tested beyond anything most of us can imagine, and in the end God restored him because of his faithfulness. Job 1, Job 42

Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We like to quote that verse when we are trying to accomplish a goal. What isn’t often quoted are the verses that come before where he said he had learned “the secret to being content”. Whether he was in need or in plenty, well fed or hungry, Paul knew that he could endure and be content because his faith was not in his situation, his stuff, or anything worldly. His faith was in Christ! Philippians 4:10-13

Have big goals! Have great plans! But always start with “Lord Willing” because the creator of everything may have different plans for you and me, and placing our faith in HIM will allow us to say, I’ve learned the secret to being content, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Tomorrow, I leave for Powdersville, SC to share a concept that can change the lives of millions, and Lord Willing it will!