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David Burchett Christian Blog and Commentary

David Burchett

David Burchett's weblog

Image result for opening day bunting globe life park

Monday, April 4th will be my thirty-fourth opening day as the television director for Texas Rangers broadcasts. Someone asked me at church if I ever get tired of opening day. The answer is a resounding no! When I do it will be time to move to a rocking chair at the old director's home. I feel like I am just behind Lou Gehrig as the "luckiest man on the face of the earth" to be able to do this year after year.

In my mind there is no more special day in sports than Opening Day in baseball. It is an annual rite of Spring to post this article on the magic of Opening Day. The smell of freshly cut emerald green grass delights the senses. The base lines painstakingly and perfectly defined by a grounds crew that is committed to perfection on this day. Red, white, and blue bunting give the ball park a festive World Series look. The players bounce around like little boys. They seem a little extra grateful that they are paid to play a kid’s game.

The hot dogs taste like gourmet food. Humphrey Bogard wisely said that "a hot dog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz". Souvenirs a young fan begs for become treasures to be kept until adulthood. And then a challenge to explain to your wife why a twenty-five-year old bobble head needs to be in the china cabinet.

Children skip school and parents do not care because memories are being made for both of them. There is no shot that I love more as the Ranger director than the one of a Dad or Mom pointing to the field and explaining this wonderful game to their child.

The atmosphere is truly magic. It is Opening Day and every team has hope. Every team is undefeated. Who will be this year's team that surprises and surpasses all expectations? Each fan has dreams and they are hopefully, or perhaps hopelessly, optimistic. This is a new day and a new season. Old mistakes are forgotten. Past errors are no longer important. Today is the annual renewal of the incredible marathon that is big league baseball. It is a clean slate. The team has a new identity.

I once longed for such a defining moment in my walk with Jesus. It took me a long time to understand that God’s Word tells us that every day is like Opening Day (Dave’s paraphrase). I do have a clean slate because of Christ. There is hope. Yesterday’s sins are forgotten if you have accepted the gift of Jesus on the Cross. Every morning that I awake and see the magic of a new sunrise I know that I am renewed, redeemed and ready to face the day whatever pitches are thrown my way. I don’t have to wait a year to have a chance for renewal. Paul writes that every day holds the spiritual magic of renewal and victory in Christ.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. (I Corinthians 5:17-18, NLT)

I am grateful that in my spiritual journey God that has given me a chance for “Opening Day” renewal every day of my life. I have had some really bad seasons during my career as a follower of Jesus. But I am learning that every day is a gift. I hope I have a few more Opening Days as a director. Then I long for many more as a fan with my precious grandchildren. Dan Patrick once quipped about an injured player. "He is listed as day to day. But then again, aren't we all?"

The fragile nature of our lives makes the bigger questions so much more important even as I enjoy the hope of Opening Day. Every day of my journey with Jesus can be like this special day in baseball. I can be transformed and new. Past losses (sins) can be redeemed and forgiven. There can be an exhilarating freshness in the journey. I can realize that I am a child of God and I can be grateful that I get to call Him Father. I can believe that my hope for the future is real. I can understand that I can be a better teammate to others that I encounter and not expect my team to be perfect. The magic of a fresh start happens once a year in baseball. It can happen every day for a follower of Jesus when we focus on His amazing Grace.

Author Dave Burchett's latest book is Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. You can follow him on Twitter @directordb

As Easter approaches I remembered an article in USA Today titled We are Easter People. I think it is worth a second look and here is a portion of the piece written by Diane Cameron.

One of the lowest points in my life occurred years ago when I was living in Washington, D.C., at Easter time. My older sister had recently died and both of my brothers were seriously ill; my best friend was leaving town, and on top of that I was questioning my work. In my journal that April I wrote, “Am I depressed?” When I read those pages now I laugh and shake my head. “Depressed?” That I even had to ask. In that long year I thought I’d never laugh again, just as I thought I’d never again feel love, the joy of easy friendship, or the satisfaction of good work.

I went to church that Easter out of both habit and desperation. I had grown up in a church-going family. It was what we did. And so to honor the family that I was losing I went. Easter after all, is the centerpiece for Christians, honoring and recalling Christ’s triumph over death.

I chose a big downtown church for Easter services — one with hundreds in the congregation — not daring to visit a smaller church where I might have to speak to people or be embarrassed by my own tears. I wanted the paradoxical safety and anonymity of being in a crowd.

The minister that Easter Sunday said many things that I don’t remember, but one sentence has stayed with me all these years. He said, “We live in a Good Friday world.”

That I understood. A Good Friday world is a world full of suffering, questioning, unfairness, trouble, mistakes, hurts, losses and grief. Good Friday in the Christian faith is the day Christians commemorate Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. So that certainly made sense to me at that difficult time in my life.

“But,” he continued, “We are Easter people.” Those words stopped me cold. I was stunned to be reminded that painful morning that there was something other than what I was feeling.

Wow. What an amazing message as we head toward Easter. We do live in a Good Friday world. How easy it is to stop right there,  just short of healing,  not realizing the hope of resurrection. The story of Easter week did not stop on Friday. The hope of this season is all about Sunday. Tony Campolo writes about a life changing sermon he heard in his book It’s Friday but Sunday’s Comin’. (Note to spiritual cyber hall monitors…I know Mr.Campolo is controversial. Just enjoy this illustration, take a deep breath, and move away from the keyboard). Campolo writes about hearing a wise African-American pastor preach about the events of Easter week.

For an hour and a half he preached one line over and over again…”It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!” He started his sermon real softly by saying, “It was Friday; it was Friday and my Jesus was dead on the tree. But that was Friday, and Sunday’s comin’!” One of the Deacons yelled, “Preach, brother, Preach!” It was all the encouragement he needed.

He came on louder as he said, “It was Friday and Mary was cryin’ her eyes out. The disciples were runnin’ in every direction, like sheep without a shepherd, but that was Friday, and Sunday’s comin!”

The preacher kept going. He picked up the volume still more and shouted, “It was Friday. The cynics were lookin’ at the world and sayin’ `As things have been so shall they be. You can’t change anything in this world; you can’t change anything. But those cynics don’t know that it was only Friday. Sunday’s comin’! It was Friday, and on Friday those forces that oppress the poor and make the poor to suffer were in control. But that was Friday! Sunday’s comin’!

It was Friday, and on Friday Pilate thought he had washed his hands of a lot of trouble. The Pharisees were struttin’ around, laughin’ and pokin’ each other in the ribs. They thought they were back in charge of things. But they didn’t know it was only Friday! Sunday’s comin’!

Campolo continues, “He kept on working that one phrase for a half hour, then an hour, then an hour and a quarter, then an hour and a half. Over and over he came at us, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin!” By the time he had come to the end of the message…He had me and everybody else so worked up that I don’t think any of us could have stood it much longer. At the end of his message he just yelled at the top of his lungs, `It’s FRIDAY!’ and all 500 of us in that church yelled back with one accord, `SUNDAY’S COMIN’!”

A lot of people who stumble across this site might be in the middle of what seems to be an interminable Friday. It is hard to accept suffering and illness. Relationships that hurt us make Friday seem like it will never end. The trials of living on a fallen planet will make this seem like a Friday world at times during the journey. Ten years ago Joni’s diagnosis of cancer put us into a Friday state of mind. But we trusted that Sunday’s comin’! As we told our wonderful sons, if your faith doesn’t work at times like this it is of little value for the rest of the time. And it does work. We have been blessed with healing for now but we have the greater hope of the resurrection of Jesus as we continue. We trust in a God that has been faithful to strengthen us for the battle, work through us for His glory and teach us to be dependent on Him.

I believe the message of this week. Sunday’s comin’. And I believe that with all of my heart and soul. Paul wrote in Romans…

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”   (Romans 1,  NIV)

I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I fact I am excited about the Gospel. Even though I may be living in a Good Friday world today I am convinced that Sunday’s comin’!

Author Dave Burchett's latest book is Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. You can follow him on Twitter @directordb

Recently the movie Bull Durham turned up on a cable channel. Hard to believe it has been over 25 years since it was released. 

Closeup of a baseball being pitched.

In this article I am going to draw some spiritual applications from an R-rated movie. Gasp. In my early church experience real Christians didn’t watch any movie and most assuredly not an R-rated one. The really godly people did not drink or dance. The really, really godly people did not have televisions. They were a laugh a minute. If any of those folks were to read today’s post they would no doubt remove me from their fellowship that I used to call “The First Church Of Misery Loves Company But We Probably Won’t Love You”.

Despite that risk of censure I press on. No baseball movie that I have seen comes closer to capturing the unique culture of baseball like Bull Durham. It has some rough language and sexual content so you should proceed with caution. The main characters are a young pitching phenom (Nook LaLoosh) and a nearly washed up but knowledgeable catcher (Crash Davis) who is brought in to mentor the prize prospect. One of my favorite scenes is when Crash teaches the young pitcher how to handle interviews with the press.

Crash Davis: “It's time to work on your interviews.”
Nuke LaLoosh: “My interviews? What do I gotta do?”
Crash Davis: “You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: "We gotta play it one day at a time."
Nuke LaLoosh: “Got to play... it's pretty boring.”
Crash Davis: “Course it's boring, that's the point. Write it down.”

I have learned that the journey with Jesus is simply living it one day at a time. That may sound boring. Write it down. You can’t live in regret of the past. It is forgiven. You can’t live in fear of the future. It is in God’s Hands. You live in the moment, one day at a time, trusting Him for that day. That’s the point. Play it one day at a time.

My friend John Weber is in heaven. He had a saying that I love.

“God didn’t call me to be spectacular. He called me to be faithful.”

Write it down.

Another quote from the movie Bull Durham had spiritual application for me.

"This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."

In many ways Christianity is a very simple faith that we have made incredibly legalistic and difficult. To paraphrase the line above. “You love the Lord your God. You love your neighbor. Sometimes it is easy. sometimes it is hard. Sometimes life rains on you.”

Why do I want to make it so maddeningly complex? Jesus said that two things are the most important.

One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"
Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."

Today I sit here and wonder why I ever tried to make it anything else? The scholar who heard the words of Jesus “got it”.

The religion scholar said, "A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that's better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!" (Mark 12, The Message)

I wonder how the body of Christ would look differently if we concentrated on those two simple commands? Would we worry so much about the worship music style and the vestibule carpet color? Why do we get so exorcised about what other Christians are doing and other people are saying? Why do we care so much about being treated fairly and getting what we deserve? If we concentrated on those two commands we would be so much happier and effective for Christ. We would experience and give grace.

But do I get it? Or do I still get sidetracked by life and pride and worries? It is really very simple. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart. Read the Word daily. Love others as you love yourself. That is what Jesus told me to do. Nothing about programs or positions or curriculum or strategies.

Love God. Love others.

Write it down.

Author Dave Burchett's latest book is Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. You can follow him on Twitter @directordb