Happy Birthday Mr. Robinson

Today would have been Jackie Robinson’s 93rd birthday.

Happy Birthday Jackie!

We are still have much to learn from you.

Columnist George Will wrote an article about Jackie:

“Like many New Yorkers leaving home for work on April 15, 1947, he wore a suit, tie and camel-hair overcoat as he headed for the subway. To his wife he said, ‘Just in case you have trouble picking me out, I’ll be wearing number 42.’

No one had trouble spotting the black man in the Dodgers’ white home uniform when he trotted out to play first base at Ebbets Field. Suddenly, only 399, not 400, major league players were white. Which is why 42 is the only number permanently retired by every team.”

Prejudice comes in many ways. We most often think of prejudice in terms of race. The story of Jackie Robinson is one of moving past prejudice, but it started with the prejudice created by what we see. Jackie told part of this story in his autobiography in 1972:

I know you’re a good ballplayer, he (Branch Rickey) barked. “What I don’t know is whether you have the guts.”

Before I could react to what he had said, he leaned forward in his chair and explained.

I wasn’t just another athlete being hired by a ball club. We were playing for big stakes. This was the reason Branch Rickey’s search had been so exhaustive. The search had spanned the globe and narrowed down to a few candidates, then finally to me. When it looked as though I might be the number-one choice, the investigation of my life, my habits, my reputation, and my character had become an intensified study.

“I’ve investigated you thoroughly, Robinson,” Mr. Rickey said. “we can’t fight our way though this, Robinson. We’ve got no army. There’s virtually nobody on our side. NO owners, no umpires, very newspapermen. And I’m afraid that many fans will be hostile. We’ll be in a tough position. We can only win if we can convince the world that I’m doing this because you’re a great ballplayer and a fine gentleman.”

He had me transfixed as he spoke. I could feel his sincerity, and I began to get a sense of how much this major step meant to him. Because of his nature and his passion for justice, he had to do what he was doing. He continued. The rumbling voice, the theatrical gestures, were gone he was speaking from a deep, quiet strength.

“SO there’s more than just playing.” He said. “I wish it meant only hits, runs, and errors – only the things they put in the box score. Because you know – yes, you would know, Robinson, that a baseball box score is a democratic thing. It doesn’t tell how big you are, what church you attend, what color you are, or how your father voted in the last election. It just tells what kind of baseball player you were on that particular day.”

I interrupted. “But it’s the box score that really counts – that and that alone, isn’t it?”

“It’s all that ought to count,” he replied. “But it isn’t. Maybe one of these days it will be all that counts. That is one of the reasons I’ve got you here.”
(from I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson, 1972 page 40-41)

Jackie Robinson was an ordinary man with a talent for baseball.

He is remembered for being extraordinary not only in what the box score revealed but for the man he was before and after the game.

What if our lives we were judged by our box score?

We are better, but we still have a long way to go . . .

In His Steps … sleeping in Galilee


57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”   Luke 9:57-58


We didn’t walk to Galilee tonight, but we thought about it.  Thirty minutes from our destination by the shore of the Sea of Galilee we ran into completely stopped traffic.  An accident had stopped all traffic.  We waited in traffic … going no where.  Darkness setting in all around us interrupted only by the red brake lights.  We are worn out by 24 hours of travel and a jump ahead in time of seven hours.  We know that a nice bed and a warm meal is waiting for us at the hotel – we need only be patient.

Following Jesus is much easier when the comforts of the world await you at the end of the day.  I think Jesus wanted his Disciples to be prepared for those moments when comfort and pleasure were not available.

Our comforts and needs are taken care of … even in a traffic jam … the timeless truths of Jesus will be on display in the place aptly called the Fifth Gospel – the Holy Land.

May we discover the call to follow Jesus is no different today as it was then …

Tomorrow a morning boat ride on the Sea and multiple sights around the area of Galilee … but until then … the comforts of a pillow and warm bed are calling  …






In His Steps … waiting

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”                                                                                                                  Acts 1:4 NIV

The disciples and a group of over a hundred wanted to know what they should do.  Jesus had returned from the tomb, spent time with them, and then gave them strange instructions — wait.  I have often wondered what that must have been like — waiting in the Upper Room.  Waiting in anticipation of that which they knew nothing about.

What did they do? What did they talk about?  Did they have any idea what they were waiting for? Were they anxious? nervous?

So, here we sit waiting to board a plane to go to Jerusalem.

Waiting. Wondering. Anxious.
We talk nervously. We eat lunch.
We wonder about all that we see and all that we will do.
We make small talk.

Perhaps we are not that different from the disciples of old.

I can’t wait to share with you all that we will see and experience.

But that will have to wait … we wont arrive in Israel until tomorrow evening.

So until then we are once again … waiting … anticipating.

So pull up a chair … and wait with us.

In His Steps … getting ready

You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. 
He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps.   I Peter 2:21 CEB

I have a trophy of sorts that sits in my office.  I received it in 1983 at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camp.  Scribed on the trophy base are the words “in His steps” and the scripture reference – I Peter 2:21.  On top of the base is a nice wooden cross.  I received the award for ‘best’ exemplifying the theme during that week of camp.  It still seems a bit strange to get a trophy for being like Jesus.

That trophy and the words “in His steps” have begun to take on a new meaning for me. And I am not sure what that new meaning will be.

You see, I leave tomorrow for a trip to walk in the land of Jesus.  I will be traveling with a group of Methodists from Indiana including our Bishop.  I am serving as a host on the trip for a group from my Church as well.
We will travel first in the region of Galilee and then to Jerusalem.  We will walk walk and travel the land that Jesus walked.  We will be on the Sea of Galilee.  We will see the little strip of water called the Jordan River.  We will walk the narrow streets of Jerusalem.
I still remember visiting Gettysburg for the first time and standing on the ground of Picket’s Charge.  I never thought of the Civil War the same – history became real!

A lot has changed in 2000 years.  Buildings built … ground eroded … actual locations lost to time … but to see the land … to no longer imagine the Sea of Galilee … to no longer rely on someone’s description … to walk in His steps.

to walk in His steps … I thought I knew what that meant … but now I am not sure.
What they will mean as the dust is stirred up and stories become reality?

I invite you to follow along.

I will share pictures, stories, and experiences as I walk the land that Jesus walked.

On the way to Sunday …

Check out this Video (Click on the word video)
Unfortunately this video depicts the all too normal activity played out in churches all over our country.

The common business practice – “fake it until you make it or Act like you know what you are doing until you do” – has also been accepted as normal in our lives of faith.

Craig Groeschel in his book Weird writes: If you have just enough Christ to satisfy you, but not to change you . . . then something is wrong.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either one or the other!
Revelation 3:15 NIV
Have we reached a point where we have filled our churches with people that go through the motions of looking like they know God. They don’t openly reject Christ, but they don’t live lives of faith either.

A recent comprehensive Pew Forum Survey demonstrated some surprising statistics:

** Absolutely Certain Belief in God: Mainline Protestants – 73 percent.
** Many religions can lead to Eternal life: Mainline Protestants – 83 percent.
** Belief in Heaven: Mainline Protestants – 77 percent.

How did we get here?  How did we lose certainty in the pews?

Certainly this is not what we set out to teach people.

How have we drifted this far?

What can we do to get back to living lives that are changed?

Social Media NEEDS Some Guidelines

I am appreciative of social media as an outlet, but I am also concerned by the disregard by which it can be used. I am grateful that our Indiana UMC Conference leadership has chosen to develop a policy for the use of social media based on the teaching of John Wesley and his 3 rules for holy living.

One of the benefits of social media is that it provides the opportunity to share views, thoughts, joys and concerns about all areas of life. Our social media contributions can be very effective tools for ministry if we are careful to apply caution before we post.

We will be careful that our posts are not “doing harm” by insulting or damaging the reputation of others. We will make sure our posts are respectful and in good taste. And we remember: Everything we post – status updates, comments, tweets, blogs – becomes public immediately after we click ”send” (even if we’re using a limited access setting). We can’t take it back once it’s out there, so we will use discernment with everything we post.

Rule #1 Do no Harm

Is the post “doing harm” to the reputation of the church, Christ or another person or organization? Can the post be interpreted as harmful, offensive, rude or distasteful? If using the post as an outlet to vent, is there a more productive, less public way to do so?

Social media is one of the most effective methods of church networking and communicating today. When used properly, it can have a significant encouraging influence on our readers and become a powerful tool for delivering the Gospel message to a large audience that extends beyond our contact list. It is a great tool for networking and providing the world with news about our church and ministry. It also is a very useful tool for obtaining feedback and ideas from our audience and can be used to gain insight for sermons, Bible study topics, worship times, needs of the community, etc. The “good” and positive uses of social media are endless.

Rule #2 Do Good

Can the post be described as “good”? Will it help the Kingdom and fellow believers? How will it be perceived by non-believers? How will the post be received by people with different cultural or faith backgrounds? Are we communicating effectively by asking questions in addition to providing information?

Rule #3 Stay in Love with God

Social media is a great way to find meaningful devotional materials, thought provoking blogs, inspiring worship videos and media resources, and current articles and tools for our ministry. Users have reported that their social media usage helps keep them informed and enthusiastic about their ministry on a daily basis. While it
can definitely help us “stay in love with God,” it also can be very distracting. We will make sure our use of social media does not occupy so much of our time that we are no longer participating in meaningful Bible study, devotional times, worship and conversations with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Social media can serve
as a tool to aid, promote and conduct discussions, studies and devotional times, but should not be our primary source of interaction with the world.

How is/can social media helping me to stay in love with God? How is it hindering me? How am I helping others stay in love with God by my social media contributions?

You can access the full document here.

On the way to Sunday …

1 If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. 3 If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever. 
4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 
8 Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. 9 We know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. 12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. 

I Corinthians 13 CEB

By most accounts this passage written by Paul is considered the greatest definition of love ever written. It is common, or normal, practice to have this passage read during a wedding.

How do so many couples go from this at their wedding to divorce court?

When did divorce become the norm?

For that matter when did love and sex become synonymous?

We have perverted love in so many ways that there are way too many to count! (Sorry Shakespeare)

Based on the current stats from the Journal of Psychology and Christianity 65% of husbands and 55% of wives will commit adultery by age forty.

When did that become the norm?

The greater problem is that Christians aren’t any different. We mirror nearly every societal norm as it relates to divorce, adultery, and pornography.

When did that become the norm in the church?

How is that we hold up the definition of love in I Corinthians as THE definition and then allow it to be come the exception?

When will we learn to love in this weird way?

See you Sunday …