The Hope of Opening Day

The following article is written by Stewart McKenzie, a member at the Bridgewood church.  Stewart is active in serving the Lord at Bridgewood, works as a producer and is an avid baseball fan.  We hope you enjoy his devotional thought.

As I was looking on my refrigerator last night, I counted 8 Texas Ranger schedule magnets dating back to January 2006. The magnets are given away on baseball’s Opening Day or the Rangers Home Opener.

baseballHas it really been 8 Opening Days that I’ve attended since moving back to DFW? Yes it has. Time can certainly fly, especially when baseball is involved and my favorite team has been to the World Series twice.

I’m surprised that my schedule has allowed me to be off, or I’ve had enough vacation days to enjoy the experience of 8 Opening Days. So, why has this one day in late March or early April turned into an unofficial holiday for me?

One simple word. Hope.

A baseball season is a journey. It’s not played 16 weekends a year. It is double the number of games compared to both basketball and hockey.

Baseball is a 162 game adventure that is played nearly every day, or night, for six months.

And on that Opening Day there is hope. The slate is clean. You see it in the eyes of the players and what they say in the interviews with the media. Maybe this is the year that my team wins the division title. Maybe this is the year that my team actually makes it to the playoffs and beyond.

Hope is a powerful thing. It is the foundation for our dreams. It’s what drives us to succeed. To try harder. To believe.

The journey is long. There will be frustrating times. There will be experiences of glorious achievement and a witness to improbabe success. And there will be moments that can only be described as “blah”, when endurance feels like an impossible task.

But, baseball is a game. It’s played by grown men with amazing talent. And they get paid ridiculous amounts of money to hit and catch a ball that is about 3 inches in diameter.

However, the same qualities found in the game of baseball can translate into our lives. I’m confident Jesus was more concerned about our souls instead of the characteristics of a game in Romans 5.

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” according to Romans 5:2-4.

That’s how my hope is shaped and molded. Enjoy the good times. Acknowledge the tough times, endure, learn, grow and celebrate. That builds character and defines who I strive to be on a daily basis.

Every year I hope the Rangers win the World Series. They came within one out, twice, in 2011. Yet, they are back with a re-tooled lineup and an energized fan base of more than 3 million people. And for that one opening game, at least, that hope is big and bright. And the 162 game journey is off and running.

However, my real hope is built on something more solid than a game. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, ” Romans 5:8. I thank God for His grace and pray for endurance to complete the journey that is set out in front of me.

Just Another Weed?

Growing season is just around the corner.  That also means, of course, the unwanted plants will also start sprouting (in fact, they already have).  One of the chief culprits is that bothersome dandelion!  Lawns get infested, flowerbeds invaded, and we wage an on-going war with that pesky little weed!

dandel08-lHowever, there is a lot more to the dandelion than meets the eye.  In gardening circles it is known as Lion’s Tooth (also Irish Daisy, Priest’s Crown, etc.).  The name is a corruption of the original French word, dent de lion, or “teeth of a lion,” so named because its notched leaves bear a resemblance to the teeth of a lion (have to use your imagination!).

Originally from Asia and Europe, it was first brought to North America (yes, someone brought it here!) because of its beautiful flower, and up till the early 20th century folks were actually buying packets of dandelion seeds for their gardens.  But, it is more than just looks are involved; this humble little “pest” also has many medical uses.  According to “Creation Moments,” up till 1957, more than 100,000 pounds of dandelion roots were imported annually to the U.S. for pharmaceutical use.  In spring, the dandelion contains mannitol, used medically in the treatment of hypertension and coronary problems; plus it also has various industrial applications.  Furthermore, it is edible, and tastes good – so I’m told – both cooked and raw.  There is also dandelion wine and dandelion jam, and when roasted and ground up, can be used as a coffee.  Who knew!

I don’t expect this will produce a change of heart when it comes time to pull weeds, but it does show that “weed” is a matter of perspective.  Tastes change: At one time dandelions were deliberately planted, now they are just as deliberately removed!

More important than man’s changing tastes, however, is our Creator’s design.  God gave man, “every green plant for food” and when He saw “all that He had made” it was declared “very good” (Gen.1:30-31).  Therefore, regardless of our ability to comprehend it or not, we know all of God’s creation has purpose.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”  (Rev 4:11)

Summer Series – David Thurman (Video)

David Thurman, of the Free Town Road Church of Christ in Grand Prairie, delivers a powerful message on the Gospel in the real world.  Titled “God, Bible, Heaven: What Does It Mean In The Real World?”, this lesson has quickly become the most requested lesson of all time at Bridgewood.  Check it out for yourself by clicking on the video link above.

Called To Serve Audio Series

If you missed Ed’s series of lessons entitled “Called To Serve” you should really take time to listen to them.  This 4-part series contains excellent encouragement and exhortation for every Christian in the work that we should be doing.

Part 1 – “The Challenge of Service” – February 12, 2012
Part 2 – “Evidence of Conversion” – February 19, 2012
Part 3 – “The Rewards of Service” – February 26, 2012
Part 4 – “God’s Special Servants” – March 4, 2012