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YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY BASEBALL THIS SUMMER
Joshua 14:12, James 2:26
A little boy named Jimmy was about 13 years old. He grew up with his brother in a very poor family not too far from downtown. Their dad was very sick and could not work. They had food to eat every morning and evening, but he and his brother wore jeans with holes in their knees. Both boys had paper routes so that they could have some lunch money at school.
One day in early spring, Jimmy’s dad called him into his room. “Son,” he said, “your mother and I have been saving up money all year so that you can play on a baseball team. I just wanted you to know that you’re going to play baseball this summer.”
Jimmy jumped to his feet and hugged his dad. He could hardly believe it. But, he knew that playing baseball cost a lot of money. He needed baseball shoes and a glove. He knew that his dad couldn’t afford all of that. He couldn’t believe that his dad had the money for the signup fee. But he knew his dad said that he would get to play baseball this summer. It was all too wonderful.
Jimmy immediately ran to the neighbors to see if he could cut their lawns and sweep their driveways. It didn’t take too long for him to have enough money to buy some cleats. So he went to the store and came home with a brand new pair of baseball cleats. He tried them on to show his dad. He was so excited.
Next, he saw a baseball glove at the corner drug store and began to work and save his money for that. It wasn’t long until he had it. Now he could begin practicing.
Every day after school, he threw an old tennis ball he had found against the side of the garage so he could practice being a baseball player. He thought he could be a pitcher so he drew a square on the garage wall out of chalk and began throwing the tennis ball at the square.
Soon he could put the ball in the square every time. Finally, the day came for signups. He and his dad walked down to the park and waited in line. The boy looked at all the coaches and wondered who would pick him to be on their team. He was the happiest boy at the sign ups. He loved his dad.
That was the last time Jimmy’s dad would take him to the park. Right after signups, he got extremely ill. He would lie in bed and wait for Jimmy to get home after every game so he could hear all about it. Right after baseball season ended that summer, Jimmy’s dad died. He never got to see him play in one game. But Jimmy never forgot about the day his dad told him, “This summer you’re going to play baseball.”
Because his dad told him that, Jimmy believed it. He trusted his dad. Then he worked hard toward what his dad had told him. Finally, he received what was promised.
Jimmy played baseball that summer. Later on, he played in high school and college.
Faith and works. James 2:26 in action.
AUGUSTINE AND THE FOUR STATES OF MAN
In the 5th century AD, St. Augustine wrote about the "4 States of Man":
* The first state of man (the haec sunt prima) is "living according to the flesh -- with reason making no resistance." This can be seen in so many ancient cultures and religions (and unfortunately more than a few in our own time) with their human sacrifices, their idols, their pagan ceremonies, and even cannibalism. Human life -- without power -- was lightly regarded. Animals, especially domesticated animals, were often valued more highly than human life. Reason often vanishes when weighed against lust and self-gratification. Even today, this seems to be coming full circle.
* The second state of man is "recognition of sin through the Law . . . but sinning knowingly." It was so important for Satan to remove the Ten Commandments from our classrooms and courtrooms. It was critical for him to "separate church and state." So long as people knew the Law, it would not be so easy to ignore the Law. Without the reminders of the Law, we easily return to the first state of man. Does any of this sound familiar?
* The third state of man is "faith in the help of God -- but he perseveres in seeking to please God." Man has begun to be moved by the Spirit of God. We are already standing with one foot in the hell which we have created, but in the "third state", man knows it. So he still struggles against his own sinful nature because he has not yet been fully healed.
* The fourth state of man is "the full and perfect peace in God." This we find in harmony with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the person of Jesus Christ, we see how far we have departed from God.
Augustine adds, "The will of man is always free, even and particularly when it can no longer will to do evil." But Adam and Eve were not gods, "and their 'free will' would not have sufficed, even in paradise, to merit immortality. Divine assistance was needed. Their immortality could only continue by their continued relationship with the Divine. So how much more do we need God's help since our fall?"
Augustine continues, "Even the good merits and qualities which people may display toward one another are gifts from God. Every good quality comes from His grace. God's mercy is the ground of salvation. Therefore, let no man boast. Out of faith spring hope and love. We hope only in God -- not in men and not in ourselves." ("The History of Doctrines", Reinhold Seeberg, p. 366)
Dorothy Sayers wrote, "If men will not understand the meaning of judgment, they will never come to understand the meaning of grace."
There’s a verse of a hymn with this line: ’The Lord hath yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word.’ (George Rawson). They are based on the words of Pastor John Robinson as the Pilgrim Fathers set sail from Plymouth in 1620, leaving their homeland for an unknown future. Like them, we too, are called upon to take risks of faith whenever God calls us to accept change, even if it means leaving precious things behind, safety, homeland, or another comfort zone. There’s always more to learn in our Christian pilgrimage, the Lord stirring us to find risk-taking faith to change and grow in obedience to Christ. We say we are open to God, but whose agenda do we accept? Is it God’s or our own?
In the forefeet of pigs is a very small hole, which may be seen when the hair has been carefully removed. The tradition is that the legion of devils entered by these apertures.
There are also around it some six rings, the whole together not larger than a small spangle. They look as if they are burnt or branded into the skin, and the tradition is that they are the marks of the devil’s claws when he entered the swine.
W Pat Cunningham
The primary objective, indeed the only end of the liberation from slavery, is worship, "which can only take place according to God’s measure and therefore eludes the rules of the game of political compromise" suggested by Pharaoh. "Israel departs, not in order to be a people like all the others; it departs in order to serve God" as God wants to be served.
Source: Pope Benedict XVI
THE GENTLEMAN CAT
Two men sought to prove to their king whether a man had to be "born a gentleman" or could become one by "discipline and training." The one told the other that he would prove his point regarding "training" by showing the king his cat, which he had trained to stand on its back feet and dance around in a funny hat with its nose in the air.
This gave the other an idea but he did not tell the other about it. When they came before the king the one set his cat to dancing to "prove" to the king that being a gentleman is just about training and discipline. The other pulled out a box he had brought with him, opened it, and let loose about a dozen mice. The cat quickly reverted to its primary nature and took off after the running rodents.
Some pretty good dancing cats show up in this building and put on a pretty good show, but sin will still show itself given the right opportunity.
In this text God told them to put tassels on their robes and to tie a cord around each one to help them remember their part of the covenant, in much the same way that you and I would tie a string around our finger to help us remember something important.