The Pittsburgh Pirates won a baseball game last night. One game out of a 162 game schedule this year. They currently have a record of 81- 57, not perfect, but then again no one team is or ever has been perfect in Baseball!
The Pirates though have been far from perfect for over 20 years, in which they lost more than 81 games per year. Less than lovable losers for 20 straight years! Last night that all changed!
Baseball = Life……… Every analogy has it’s downfall, but these Pirates have struck a nerve. They are a microcosm of my life in a way. Perhaps for all our lives. Even the church can take a lesson from this season the Pirates are having.
Today I’ll focus on the lesson the Pirates have shown me that correspond with my own faith journey.
For me, 21 years ago this October, I was in my patrol car listening to the final game, of the last Pirates’ winning season. It was a loss at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. I remember Stan Belinda serving up a game, series, season, winning, ending hit. Sid BREAM scored for the Braves and the patrol car I was driving almost wrecked into the light standard at the intersection of Otter St. and 13th St., next to McDonalds in Franklin, PA. The Pirates were totalled, not to have another winning season for the rest of my career as a State Trooper! 20 years!
Over that 20 years I’ve seen people I investigated go to prison for life, and as a Pirates fan I was beginning to wonder if I was in a sort of fan prison for life! Never to experience a winning Pirates season again.
That cold spell kind of mirrored my cold spell as a Christian. At the age of 14, I accepted Christ as my savior, but from that moment (though I’d become a winner) I played like a loser with my faith. I was complacent almost from the start, not realizing what was needed to be successful, to grow as a winner (follower of Christ). I didn’t recognize how bad off I was… I WAS Lukewarm! Not palatable, just like the bumbling Buccos of yore.
“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”
Finally at the age of 32 after neglecting the basics of a relationship with Christ , I began to take the steps towards winning as a believer.
1.) Addressing the fundamentals.
2.) Surrounding myself with winners.
3.) Making the right, hard choice.
The Pirates attacked their losing by changing their core philosophy in September of 2007, when they installed a new management team.
This is the 6th year of their rebuilding program. Which has actually worked, despite all the grumbling and nay sayers that surrounded them. They grew the organization from the inside out. Focusing one on fundamentals and solid organizational practices.
As a Christian I failed for 20 yrs. in the fundamentals, in short, time spent getting to know Jesus!
13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime,……… . 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires
English Standard Version (ESV)
Amazingly when you seek a relationship with the one perfect God, He reveals Himself, and begins transforming you to be more like Him.
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
….. Well maybe not all that amazing… After all He did promise it.
Next the Pirates began to fill their organization with winners, young players with a desire to succeed and grow into winners. They’ve been rubbing off on each other, encouraging each other for 6 yrs., now and although you couldn’t always see it, the practice is paying dividends this year, in the heat of a Pennant race.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
My faith has been firmed, strengthened, and encouraged by fellow followers of Christ in my small group at our old church and the groups I am involved with at our new church. We help each other through tough times and share wisdom we have acquired in our relationship with Christ. We steady our fellow travelers to stay the course. Strengthening our resolve to fight off the fiery arrows of the enemy!
The old regime of the Pirates didn’t do well in making the tough decisions. Often choosing quick fixes instead of quality fixes. The new team has resisted that all too often encouraged action. And stuck to making decisions that fit with their overall vision. Many times it looked bleak, like they were making the wrong moves and that they would never win again…… But this year the tree has blossomed with fruit in the right season!
“13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!”
English Standard Version (ESV)
My wife and I have been doing things differently these past few years, and to some who watched from the outside our decisions didn’t make sense, but it fit our vision, of a closer walk with our God. The dividends have paid of with greater faith and a healthier family life.
The proof is in the pudding. Keeping our eyes on that goal has made all the difference even during struggles. And there are always going to be struggles, so remain focused!
What happened when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus? ….. He sunk!
My walk with Christ has been bumpy. To say the least….. 20 years in the desert is more of a train wreck than a bump! Really!
But like the Pittsburgh Pirates, the organizational changes I have made led to fundamental changes, which have produced a strong, growing, exciting winning relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A loser no longer!
What’s cool is the Pirates aren’t perfect, and I’m not perfect, but winning is so much better than losing and once you start winning….. THE BEST IS YET TO COME!
Thought to ponder during these long dog days of summer; what organizational changes need to be made in your personal life to start winning on your walk with Christ?