The Trinity as a Baseball Scrimmage

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As I sat in the meeting room with Pastor John and Jess, we entered into prayer. I don’t know about you, but whenever I get deep into prayer, after a certain amount of time goes by and my heart is in the right place (that is, a humble one), I seem to empathize with Apostle John when he says, “Immediately I was in the Spirit” (Revelation 4:2, HCSB).

I began getting a vision about a baseball game being played. The Lord brought the word “Trinity” to mind and it seems that my mind naturally put the two together through the Holy Spirit’s aid. Now, no analogy is perfect concerning the Trinity, but when used together, many of them help us come to an understanding of how God works and who He is.

For sake of the analogy, all of the players are on the same team, “God’s Kingdom”. They are playing a scrimmage, so they are all supportive of one another’s work and skills on the team. Without all of the players, the game couldn’t happen.

God the Father: The pitcher

Jesus, the Son of God: The catcher

The Holy Spirit: The outfielders

People: The ball hitters and runners

The baseball: Works

The game starts out and The Pitcher throws the pitch. He starts out throwing hard pitches, striking everyone out. The ball is just too hard to hit, it’s going too fast to keep up with. Nevertheless, the Catcher gets every ball that is thrown, not missing a single one.

After the players have a respect for the Pitcher and his skills, they are thankful. After all, he’s going to be pitching for them for the rest of the season! How good it feels for the team to have a solid Pitcher. Also, the Catcher is catching the fastest and curviest of baseballs thrown at him. What a Guy!

The Pitcher then backs off a bit on the pitches. The Outfielders get to work in catching the hits from the ball hitters. Soon, though, the ball hitters realize that the Outfielders can get them out every time before they get to first base. So the Outfielders let them run around, and the ball hitters realize, “Golly gee whiz, I’ve got a great team behind me!”

How does this story illustrate the Trinity? I hope you’ll try and make sense of it through The Lord before looking at my explanation so take a Selah (likely means “pause” in the Psalms) and think about it first.

In the Old Testament, the Father started serving up some “pitches” or “works” to us. Really, these works were obvious because they were and are in His Word. Same with baseball, you just hit the ball, right? Actually, hitting them is a whole other ball game, especially when the pitcher is a real pro. In a similar way, being obedient to The Lord and all His commands isn’t exactly easy either.

But thanks be to God that there’s a Catcher, Jesus, who came to fulfill the Law: the requirements to be made right with God. He was born to catch the balls from the Pitcher.

The balls that we couldn’t hit, see the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, Jesus fulfilled every second of His life. Even the very first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me” is a ball we can miss hitting every day. When I wake up and give into going into my daily routine before Scripture or prayer, in a sense, I’m making that thing more important than God, thus making it a god that is before God! What I’m doing in that moment is serving the god of my to do list.

Because Jesus was able to “catch” the fast balls and curve balls thrown to us at first, The Father has given us the opportunity to play the ball game. Great, take me out to the ball game!

But how does The Father let us play the ball game? Through the guidance of the Outfielders, that is, the Holy Spirit at work through us and other believers. See, now, for we who have received Christ, God dwells in us. We can only play the game through the power of God in our lives: the Holy Spirit Himself.

Titus 3:3-7: “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient,deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Here’s the scene: the Father serves up a nice ball to hit: sharing the Gospel. Since we are now heirs through Christ’s ultimate catch, we hit the ball in the conversation with a friend about Jesus and His saving power.

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will have us stop at first base in that conversation and simply share the Gospel. That person may not reach saving faith in Christ in that moment. Thus, the Holy Spirit will use someone else to then talk with them about Christ or answer questions, letting the runner reach second or third base. Then, He may let another person run all the way to home plate and bring them, through the Lord’s help, to saving faith in Christ!

Ultimately, the Outfielders, the Holy Spirit, is the One who guides us into the steps we need to take. Sometimes, we can ignore His guidance and try to run to home plate when we may miss the opportunity altogether. In some situations, we are only meant to reach first base, but this can only be achieved through being aware of where the ball is hit and strategically going a base at a time with whatever “work” the Lord has given us.

For example, think about Paul’s journey. He was prevented by the Holy Spirit by going certain ways in order to go to others. In Acts 16:

“6 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

The ball we hit could be many different opportunities the Lord has for us: being a housewife who serves her family as to the Lord, being a child who obeys his parents, helping a friend in a time of need, giving food to the poor through a means to share the gospel, giving flowers to a loved one. The list goes on in God’s Word.

The key is that as we read through Scripture, we learn about all the baseballs we get to hit. All of these things are opportunities to serve on Christ’s team!

Let’s not get too carried away though, it’s not solely up to us, nor was it ever. The Holy Spirit is the One who ultimately brings regeneration.

As Paul said through God’s Spirit: What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:5-9, NASB).

Note verse 8: “each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” It is important to note that the works that The Father pitches to us, if we hit them, and how far we choose to run, will affect how we are rewarded in the Christian judgment, not of condemnation but of reward (Read further on in 1 Corinthians 3:10-14).

Christ can catch any baseball we can’t hit and He caught the ultimate one: fulfilling the Old Testament Law perfectly. It was only through this ultimate catch that we can have the opportunity to serve Christ and to enter into eternal life!

Here is 1 Corinthians 3:10-14 (NASB):

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

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People as Cars

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60-55-50-40-30-20-10-0. My poor Subaru came to a dead halt on Jess and my 2nd anniversary date. People as cars? But people are not cars! I can see how they are after this past week.

Just as my car went down from 60-0mph in a minute, so God has had to do with me at various times throughout the week. I’ll be going 60mph down my “life as a highway” mindset and be trying to get done as much as possible, when God slowly takes me down to 0mph.

Why would a gracious, loving God do this you ask? Well, out of gracious love! He knows the truth of His Word, that we must live out “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). Jesus did this often, withdrawing to pray to the Father despite all the hectic-ness of life being a professional healer and having people constantly following Him (Mark 1:35). He knew the importance of taking time out of His busy schedule for His Heavenly Father.

Unfortunately, most of us get going on our 60mph highway and don’t take time to acknowledge The Lord and be reminded, through prayer and The Word, of who He is and what His attributes are, such as the Creator of everything!

As I came across in our (Jess and my) Proverbs reading yesterday, Solomon speaks through inspiration of the Spirit as such: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”(Proverbs 3:6, NASB)

Now the Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is יָדָע (yadah) and means “know Him”. It includes mental awareness of who God is and the consequential submission to His lordship. So to know Him is to obey Him. Think about it, if you really know the Lord, who He is, what He is like, and acknowledge those truths about Him in all you do, then you will want to be submissive to His ways!

Sadly, at various points in my week, I don’t “know Him” in all I do. If I knew Him in everything I did, then I would always acknowledge His θελεματος (Thelematos: will, desire, and pleasure) for my life above my own selfish one that I think will work out better.

So I took my car into the shop. “Your Subaru will be fixed in a couple hours. It just needs a complete re-learning program installed for how to shift gears.” Strange, I thought it was just transmission fluid. Next thing I know, they called me saying, “That didn’t entirely fix it, but we found a corroded part on the ignition, however, the parts department is closed, so we’ll do it on Tuesday and you’ll be good to go.” Corroded ignition? Sure enough, that didn’t fix it either, though it sure was a good thing to get fixed!

Next up they said, “Well, we washed it and drove it around a bit more, and now it’s doing the same thing as before. It might be something electrical, so we’ll get back to you at the end of the day and maybe have it done by tomorrow, go ahead and keep your spare car for another day.” Wow, they sure are fixing a lot of stuff wrong with my car; but they sure wouldn’t have known about them if they knew the solution by the beginning!

So how are we like cars? Just like my Subaru, the Holy Spirit guides me into a truth of my imperfection and I bring it to the Lord. Not only does He forgive me, He does much more than I expect. It’s like how I went to the ‘Subaru fixers’ and said, “My transmission is going bad!” and they guided me into the truth that it was something entirely different that was having an effect on the transmission. They guided me, and are continuing to, into the truth of the matter and have fixed a lot of other things along the way. They’ve let me know what it was that was wrong, but fixed it for me without charging me any extra.

Really, it’s similar to going to God, in that Jesus cleanses us spiritually through the forgiveness He offers through His death and resurrection. All we need to do is say, “Jesus, I’m a sinner, I’ve messed up. Please heal me and help me to walk in Your ways.” This is another way to say Psalm 139:24, “see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (NASB).

Then, through prayer and His Word, He guides us into what our imperfections are and personally works through our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit to heal us.The Spirit starts a work of bringing God’s Word to our remembrance (John 14:26) and ministers to us in the steps He wants us to take to live for Him as revealed in His glorious Word.

In a way, just as I gave my Subaru over to the ‘Subaru fixers’, we give our lives over to Christ as the first step. Then, we are led into truths (John 16:13) of how to maintain our spiritual lives: Revering God and keeping His commandments. “For this is man’s all.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Keeping God in reverence in our lives, that is, through The Fear of the Lord, which is a gift from the Spirit of God (Isaiah 11:2), is how we will acknowledge Him, and He will in turn, make our paths straight.

Soon, my Subaru’s gadgets will be made straight because I humbly gave it over to the people who knew how to fix it instead of trying to do it on my own. Give your life over to Christ, who knows how to fix you spiritually, He’s the only One who can and the only One who will. Remember the truth of James 4:6: “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

One way God works through the Super Bowl

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If you asked a team’s fans who has never won the super bowl what would be the most fulfilling thing, what would they likely say? “For my team to win the super bowl!”

Well, we believers in Jesus, and we whose team has won a super bowl know that it does not bring a sense of fulfillment upon us after the initial high of winning and seeing them with the trophy. Life goes on, the same as it was before. You aren’t a better person because your team won, you’re the same, maybe worse because you realize you put your heart and soul into screaming your lungs out for a team who didn’t do a single thing for you.

I’m sure most of my audience is Broncos fans, so it would probably hurt to hear this, but I really believe God works through games to glorify Himself. I think of the same experience King Solomon went through in Ecclesiastes 2 when he realized nothing would fulfill him from this earth:

“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ecc 2:11 ESV)

For many of us, only when we get to the end of our pursuit of fulfillment will we realize that it is striving after wind and that we won’t be fulfilled by it because fulfillment only comes in the pursuit of things.

God knew that we would only be fulfilled in the pursuit of something so He sent His Son to be that fulfillment. We have the blessing of not having to search anymore for things to fulfill us other than God alone: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

He’s the one we were wired to pursue, and now there are more distractions to pursue than there ever was before; endless supplies of Fiction books, TV shows, and video games to give us something to pursue instead of the One who is fulfillment Himself.

It’s so sad. I long for the day when our pursuits of pointlessness will end and people will see Jesus Christ descend upon the earth and realize: no other pursuit matters other than knowing God and making Him known among this broken world.

Therefore, be exceedingly glad that Seahawk fans came to that realization yesterday-one more unfulfilling thing to check off the ‘bucket list’.

Pray with me that these fans would turn to Christ, realizing and experiencing that only He can bring the fulfillment we need.

How does God Work Through us More?

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1. Holding back

I went on a run the other day for the first time since Fall. I realized something: my heart could keep going, but my legs were holding me back. Sadly, I had to run back much sooner than I thought. I realized I’d have to work on building my muscles up so that they don’t hold me back.

The same thing happens in our lives with Jesus. He wants to work through us, but we hinder his ability to work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We do this by eating unhealthily, not exercising, over/undersleeping, and making excuses that we need something worldly to fill us up rather than having faith that Christ alone can do this (Matt 4:4, John 4:14, John 4:31-34).

This can also be done by giving God an agenda for our lives; ie “I’ll follow you, but only if I can still get this car/house/wife/kid/grandkid/etc” He wants to work through us, but we limit His work through us by not giving it all up to Him and grasping hold of our worldly desires as if we live off of them.

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2. Why should He?

Why should He bless your food to your body if you haven’t taken up your cross and chosen something healthy? Why should He bless your job if you are doing nothing for Him through it? Why should He bless your friendships if they are drawing you away from God and/or you are making that person an idol? (Matthew 4:8-10) Why should He bless your marriage if you haven’t put Him at the center of it? (Matthew 6:33)

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3. Be of good cheer!

But this shouldn’t discourage us at all; rather, it should encourage us to become even greater vessels for God to work in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)! It should become addicting as we see God work through us more and more the more we give up to Him in our lives.

So be of good courage, Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33) and blessed those who accept Him as Lord of their life and their Savior with the Holy Spirit to work through us to become more like Him each day (John 3:30). The best way for Him to work through us is to give up more to Him in repentance and not limit what God wants to do for His kingdom through us. This desire to know God more, pray to Him, and get into His Word and follow His plan can only can be given from God alone (John 6:44). We must therefore pray for the desire to know Him more.

For more about this aspect in regards to nutrition: https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/god-and-nutrition/

Verses:

Matthew 4:4: “…Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:10 “…Him only you shall serve.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Cheating Heaven

God says yes and no to our prayers. When He answers yes, it isn’t always the yes that we want.

Think about your stomach hurting, you say “God please heal me.” Immediately, your friend comes in the door and says you have to get your appendix out. “No!” you say.

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1. It’s gonna hurt

God always has the best for us in mind, but He never says it’s not going to hurt sometimes. When is the best time that you grew closer to God? Chances are, it’s probably when you realized you were a sinner and allowed God to fill up your life (through prayer, praise, fellowship, and God’s Word) rather than turning to what we as a culture usually use to make us happy (TV, food, shopping, etc)

Many of us think that if it hurts, then it must not be God’s will, but what about all the disciples? Most of them got killed in the name of Jesus, and they were devout followers of Him. Additionally, I think about the consequences of not following God’s will, like with Jonah. He was told to go one way to preach but went the complete opposite way. The consequence? Eaten by a whale. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be eaten by a whale.

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2. The eternal perspective

We are limiting God’s plan for our lives if we force God to work in an environment that keeps us safe and without pain. Jesus even tells us we will go through pain as disciples of Him(John 16:33). We who are in Christ Jesus are not of this world, but we can’t try and cheat heaven while we’re on earth (John 17:14). We are to bring heaven to earth, not pretend that we’re in heaven on earth (Matthew 6:10). We are to work for Jesus Christ up until death; and if we really believe we’ll be in paradise for eternity, why wouldn’t we do so? (Romans 12:1-2)

I have learned to appreciate moments of pain and sorrow, finding my joy heavenward, in Jesus, and knowing that after this life, I will never experience those feelings again for the rest of eternity; also knowing that God is using these moments to bring me closer to Him. (James 1:2-3)(Hebrews 12:6-11)

This is not to say we can’t have joy in this life. We can! It’s in doing God’s will and growing closer to Him, not longing for the past, because we are growing closer to Jesus more and more each day becoming even greater vessels for His Spirit to work through us. (For more on this aspect, see https://connordefehr.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/god-and-nutrition/ )

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3. Scriptural reference

John 16:33: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 17:14: 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Romans 12:1-2: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

James 1:2-3: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Hebrews 12:6-11: For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.” Ifyou endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.