This morning in my reading my Bible, I was captivated by a verse (yet again) that I have read so many times throughout the years.
Judges 16:22, “But before long, his hair began to grow back.”
A little verse that stands out, like the whisper of a dear friend. You will miss if you do not pay attention to it. Let me explain…
Samson was a man that God had chosen to be a leader of the nation of Israel in Biblical Times. Before he was even born, God spoke to his mother to tell her that he was going to be a man that was dedicated to God and that he would rescue all of Israel. Samson was going quite the man, quite the leader, quite the emotional mess – almost ruining the plan of God for his own life.
Samson was quite the strong man, he once killed 1,000 men that had ganged up on him, with nothing more than the jawbone of a donkey carcass. He once snapped the ropes that were tied around his arms, like burnt rope. Once, his hair was woven into a loom, as he was attacked – he pulled his hair from the loom – without losing his hair. This dude was STRONG!
If you read his story in the Bible (Judges 13 – 16), you will find that the source of his strength was rooted (pun intended) in his hair. Now, I don’t understand why. Perhaps Samson was the original Patriarch of the Duck Dynasty Family, don’t know… But this is the way God intended it to be. This begs the idea that we think of why we possess certain gifts and abilities, and maybe people are looking at you and I and asking the question, “Why do they have the ability or gifts for that?” The only answer is that God placed them down deep in us. We move on…
Well once Samson’s enemies found out the source of his strength was his hair, they captured him and shaved his head. They did more to him, but you will have to read that for yourself (Judges 16:17-31). He found himself imprisoned, blind, humbled, and weak.
Then we hit this verse. Judges 16:22, “But before long, his hair began to grow back.” As his hair began to grow back, his strength began to come back. Today, I wonder if your “hair” has been cut off. I wonder if you find yourself in a place where you are imprisoned, blind, humbled, and weak. Your gifts and abilities seem like they have wasted away. You are a shell of the man or woman that you were once.
Guess what, “LET YOUR HAIR GROW BACK!” Samson was an emotional mess. I have been there, have you? You start on a trajectory that is right, it from the Lord, it is something that you know God spoke in your heart. Then somewhere along the way, you seem to start messing it all up. Maybe, someone else starts messing it up. Bottom line, it begins to get messed up. Look at this verse, “…his hair began to grow back.”
It is never to late to get back on right track. Listen to what the Lord has spoken to you. Never forget what he said! Remember, your hair will grow back!
You will make it if you listen to what God says about you…and you let your hair grow back!
Your strength will come back if you rest in the knowledge of who God called you to be, not what you feel others are saying about you!
Your gifts and abilities will once again make room for you, if you use them not for your achievement, your purpose, your plan, or your success – but His!
You will be again what you always dreamed of being!
You will be what God placed in your heart and soul to be!
If you know me at all, then you know that I love team sports. It is obviously not because I am good at any of them, even though at 44 I am still trying to cut into the “Bigs” – LOL!!!!!
One of the things that I love about team sports is the concept of the team! A group of people going out to accomplish a goal – WIN! Everybody functioning in the same direction and doing their part to win the game.
Within team sports is a philosophy called “play your roll.” The main idea here is that each person on the team has a primary job––a responsibility––a function. Everyone is a spoke in the wheel that helps keep the wheel moving. I think you get the idea.
You know, within relationships (whether family, church, business, etc.) the idea of “play your roll” is super important. No matter the goal, the pairing, or the objective, we all have to do our part. However, as a Christ follower, there is something a little more focused than just doing a “job” or achieving a common goal.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received (from God) to serve others (not yourself) as faithful stewards of God’s grace (Jesus, forgiveness, and life) in its various forms!”
Did you catch that?
Playing your roll is not for you, it’s for others! We are to use whatever we have been given from God to point others to Jesus and what He did on the cross! No matter who you are, no matter what your gift is––as a Christ follower, your role is to point people to Jesus!
I grew up in a military family. I was surrounded by men and women who have served and protected our country. For the better part of the my first 25 years of life, I learned words like honor, code, respect, and valor.
In being around those men and women, one thing I saw everyday was the ability to follow orders that radically changed life’s trajectory. I said goodbye to friends, watches families leave safety and security and learned to deal with good-byes (which aren’t very fun today). I had to learn to trust in the silence of not always knowing or hearing the answer or understanding it.
Then I read this 3 verse passage and realize that all of those lessons learned aren’t just a military family’s mindset, but a set of values learned by ones that truly set out to accomplish the will of God! The desire to set a person helped, a family saved, and city radically impacted through the Gospel of Christ!
“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.”
Hebrews 11:8-10 NLT
Abraham desired a city that was set upon the foundations of God! Wow! Abraham was a form of God’s Special Forces…going to a foreign place, setting up a value that was unknown before he arrived, then putting into motion a new way of living.
I desire that! I live in a place that was established as a town in 1764. Before modern conveniences, before modern military practices, before the realization that our world was going to have to go through several revolutions before God would send His Son Jesus back for a His people. So my calling, my passion, and my life’s work is to establish that eternal city right here in Winchendon, Ma.
That means I have to train, study, build trust, pray, serve, obey – I get to live my life in a way that tells everyone I have been placed here for a purpose that far surpasses our ability to understand the natural causes of order and man’s cumbersome path to God. I get to set the peace and love and grace and forgiveness of Christ right in my own town. I get to be a standard bearer for righteousness and for salvation in my little town. Values that go hand and hand with values I learned in the military family of honor, code, respect, and valor.
Would you join me to saluting the Savior of the World Jesus, by longing for the city of eternal foundations, by living your life worthy of the call of our – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Jesus!
I’m all in, are you?
P.S. To the men and women of our US Armed Services – Thank You for putting your life on the line for our freedom! You truly are the best! I pray for you, I remember you, I Honor you, and I am GRATEFUL for you and your families!
My family starts our journey to our new home back in MA today. It has been a year long journey with many more upsides than downsides. So many people have come alongside our family and have helped set up these stones with us to remember what God has done!
As we start “our” new, our desire is to remember where we have come from and not forget that God is the one that got us this far! The dreams and victories, along with the valleys and hard times are all part of what God has for all of us. The journey was sweet and hard, great and vigorous, blessed and challenging, but worth it all! We are so grateful to God!
Today we think of the the twelve stones that Joshua set up in the river, he said something really amazing…
“Let these stones be a reminder to the next generation of when God…”
Our prayer for us and for you today…
“God let our lives be stones of remembrance for all people to see and remember that God Can and He Will because we remember when He did!”
As a little boy, I remember so vividly a book that sat in the living room of my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was the story of a leprechaun and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I now know that that is not a true story, and the rainbow is not a sign of a pot of gold or even a short stubby Irish man, but of a promise from God never flood the earth again. A promise that remains true to this day.
Well, tonight as I was driving to church to drop Isaiah off for REVO and Shelter: Merge Night… Low and behold – a magnificent rainbow! So beautiful it seemed almost touchable. Isaiah and I saw it come out of the trees and traced it all the way down the road. It was a sight to behold!
As we are driving, Isaiah said something so profound…
“Dad, sometimes I look at the rainbow and I see and hear all the other things that a rainbow is supposed to mean. It is sad that people do not know what it is really means. God said He would never destroy the earth by flood. Something so beautiful is a reminder from God, a reminder of a covenant!”
Well said my son!
Tonight as I write this, I am watching people walk through the doors, they are marveling at a pretty rainbow, but going about their business. My mind flashes to a passage of scripture that is found in Matthew and Luke of the Gospels…
Matthew 24:37-39New Living Translation (NLT)
37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat.39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
My heart aches for people as they just do what comes natural. The things that simply are no different than any other day. Seeing the signs in the sky, yet the signs have changed their meaning. I have begun to ask the Lord to give me a word, a prayer, a sign for people as they are living their life, people I know and people that I just happen to “run into”. I sense that they feel they have a seemingly unimportant life. That they have struggles they face – with victories that seem few and far between. I seem to sense they feel as though the defeats are daily… Oh, that they would know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior! Oh, that i would keep the passion to help them know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior! That they would see in my lifestyle, my words, my desires, my driving, my attitude, the simple way that I live my life. I want people to see Jesus in me!
I so wish that people knew how much God loves them…
John 3:16, “For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would believe in Him, will not perish but have eternal life!”
Isaiah 43:4, “…I Love You!” – God
He loves us so much! We are so busy looking for a pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow, life, job, relationship, etc… We fail to realize that we are the “pot of gold” that Jesus paid for with His life! We are His Bride, His Prize, the Apple of His Eye, and the Object of His Affection! Oh How He Loves Us!
Isaiah looked at me in the car and said, “You know Dad, God is going to eventually allow the Earth to be destroyed.” Yes Isaiah, but He is going to create a new Heaven and a new Earth! What a sight that NEW will be! I can’t wait to see it! I hope you can’t wait to see it either!
Everybody that knows me, knows that I am a HUGE baseball fan! I love to watch it, read about it, play it, and I passionately love to coach it! Especially when either one of my sons are involved! It’s America’s game…I’m an American…well you get the picture!
Well something happened to me in March of 2011. My family had just moved to Cape Cod. My son wanted to continue playing baseball, and I desperately wanted to keep coaching. I submitted an “application”, then took some classes, and was given the greenlight to start coaching.
The BYB League (Bourne Youth Baseball) figured that since I am a Pastor, it is only fair that they give me the ‘Padres’ as the first team to coach. (Do you see what they did there? LOL!!!!) My second team was the Angels – enough already.
For my 3rd team, I wanted to coach the Yankees, no way that was happening in Boston. So they gave me the Mets… Geesh!
The Padres had the nucleus of “My BYB Team” that I would go onto coach for 4 summers. After the regular season, I got to coach the All Stars. We all came from different teams, but we all were purple. Before the summer of 2011 – I would never wear the color purple. But that was the uniform, so we wore purple. This team was the greatest group of kids ever. I will never coach a team as special as them, there will never be a group of players that move me like they do. I truly loved them, I still truly love them! We added to that team over the 4 years, but the nucleus of the team stayed together. One of their dads said, “They will never play on such a team as this again.” How fortunate they are to have their own “Sandlot” in real life!
Before I let you in on my little team, I need to thank some coaches…
Ed M., Scott R., Tim B., Bob P., and Tony V. – I Love You guys like brothers! You guys were teachers, mentors, and coaches to not just the team – but to me! Most of all, you are great friends! I owe you 5 so much! I think of you guys often, longing for the days we stood in the dugouts together. I miss you! Thanks for it all! TACO!!!!!!
If I was to write a letter to my team, here is what it would say…
To My All Stars,
When you each marched into my world, all I wanted to do was help you be better men and a woman. I wanted you to make a difference in whatever corner of the world you would eventually find yourself in. I wanted to win a few ball games. I wanted to coach my son. I wanted to build a team. I wanted have a blast doing it. I got so much more than that. I got a family that still moves my heart today! We don’t talk often, but I spy on you. I hear and listen as you get older and climb the ladder of life. What I ended up getting, was so much more than I could ever hope for or even dream of. I got each of you!
Now I am going to write you a letter, and each of you get your own paragraph. But know this, everyone of you – even though each paragraph is to one player – they all have truths for each of you. Remember, we are a team. We win together. We lose together. We are Bourne!
Em #7 – Your heart is as big as Texas! Your will is larger! You have will and determination. You set the bar so often, and you will go places that will absolutely astonish you. Never forget that the inspiration behind you are 2 parents that call you a MIRACLE! Take your life and soar to places that you never dreamed of! Don’t let the world tell you it cannot be done. Do it! Be it! Track down that fly ball, pitch that strike, and hit that line drive – you can do anything!
“Murph” #12 – Your attitude is absolutely incredible! Never a foul word or foul emotion that slipped through the cracks, never a grimace at playing time or position; you are always in 100%. I love that about you! Remember teams are built by leaders, they are built around people like you. Stable. Positive. All in. Murph, never lose that quality! Always step to the plate with humility and grace. That hit is coming. Proud of you kid. Glad you are on the team.
“Camo” #3 – You were always a man among boys! You are so naturally talented. You are so stinking capable of everything you put your hands to. Don’t forget to work hard and be all that you can be. Remember to let people see you are human and that you are not just an athlete, but a person that loves and hurts alike! Never put a lid on the success that you will have. But always remember where you have come from! Don’t forget to smile…Let me see those teeth!
“Moose” #9 – You are a thinker! You never quit trying to out think everything. I love that about you, and I couldn’t stand that about you. It is a gift and a strength that you have. As you get older in life you will be able to do better and better at it for sure! Your heart and your head will come together and it will make sense in times of chaos. Wisdom will come from you and will be so amazing. Your smile is infectious. You are a likeable young man. Your parents have given you a strong foundation, always be the fighter when life comes to knock you down. You are and always be Moose!
“Swifty” #19 – Your heart is so soft. Don’t let anyone tell you that is wrong or bad. It is not! It is a sign of strength. Just do not let your emotions lie to you. Always make decisions based on truth, not feelings! Remember you are not failure if you keep on trying. Don’t stop trying! Go to places that you heart takes you to, and love with that same heart!
“Hollywood” #3 – There was never a young man with such swag as you Hollywood! I love to watch you, you always look good! Then I noticed that you didn’t just look good, you were a great competitor! I know you hate to loose, but remember that defeat isn’t defeat until you can’t make the come back! Always charge hard, but always love much. Don’t put the game before the people in the game! When life tries to knock you out, remember that it tried to knock your mom and dad out. Guess what it didn’t! And it won’t to you, just keep your heart, mind, and body right! Nobody better than you right now!
“Ocho” #8 – You’re playing football now! I love it! I know if brings you joy. Ben, always laugh and smile. Do things that bring your heart and smile to laugh. You have so much passion, more than most. Harness it to accomplish things that bring you to the place where you are content and in your wheel house! My favorite off the field memories are with you in it…pulling lobster pots, horseshoes in your backyard, fireworks on 4th of July…on and on. Thanks for keeping me on my toes and for making me laugh Coach Rowe!
“Juice Box” #10 – You came out of nowhere, at least that is how if felt, but it was like you were always there. You are a game changer. A team builder. Things happen when you show up to play. Your love and dedication to things you put your heart into amazes me. JB, remember there is nothing that you can not accomplish. Stay with the things that are in your heart. In other words, spend 80% of your time working on the things that you are good at, become great at them! Your parents are amazing servants, never lose their imprint on your life. Proud of you!
“Sticks” #11 – You were with the Padres, and we were together all the way through until the last year. I never felt like we were in trouble when your were on the field. I know you hated the outfield, but you made it your own and never quit on the team. Remember the old line, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog!” You are a fighter, never quit! Remember that your sisters’ eyes are watching you, don’t forget that you are leader when you feel like no one is watching, at least she is! You’re the best, there is nobody better! Keep climbing Sticks, no height is to tall for you!
“Sleeves” #4 – Man oh man! The only player that I have ever coached that caught 2 full games in 85+ degree – with 100% humidity weather. And you did it in long sleeves – twice! You are an animal! I love having you on the team. I love the attitude, the heart, the “I’m not going to quit Coach”! Your smile is contagious, and I will always see it when I think of you! Sleeves, you go on to accomplish some feats that you think are impossible. Go places you think are out of reach. Do things that people tell you cannot do. Be who you are deep down inside, and forget whatever people may say or think about you! I can’t wait to see you on the Master’s someday!
“Joseph” #6 – Most improved and most incredible emotionally charged young man! When you are up – you are all up, when you are down – your are sunk. Hey Joe, there is nobody else I would want in the #4 spot, bases loaded, 2 outs. I would put you in that spot 100 out of 100 times, regardless of the outcome in “The Game”. Just do you a favor, when you “fail” in “The Game”, be ready the next game – because you will succeed. Why, because you are a winner! You are the man! Be the leader that your mom and dad taught you to be. Remember that your emotions lie to you. Things are not a bad as they could be, and there is always someone that has it worse off than you. So be ready – you’re my clean up batter – the other team is scared of you! You are not little Joe, you are the man they call Joseph!
“Lion” #21 – I will never forget the play that made me pick you up. Pitcher pitched a fastball and your catchers mitt came right off. You flipped your mask, found the ball and threw the runner back to 2nd! You were 2 years younger, 20 pounds smaller, and a heart triple the size of any player in the league. I had to have you! You play with passion and intensity that sometimes get tangled in with angst and ferocity. Your strength, becomes your greatest weakness. The thing I love about you so much. Keep the passion and intensity, play with abandonment, lose the angst – it’s a game. You will not always be able to play games in life, but while you can, have fun, become great, and let your soul go free! You’re Lion, go free, run wild, but always remember that baseball and life are the only two places that you are always running to come back to HOME!
C.S. #1 – Day one you stole you heart! I wanted you on my team, but I had to play by the rules! I was hard on you because I knew there was greatest down in there. I ran you because you could be faster. I didn’t pitch you because you were an incredible infielder and I needed that. I love you because you needed to know what love is from a man that was 100% on your side! Your innocence and your love of laughter is a must, but never let people steal it because they are jealous or just mean. People don’t understand where joy and peace come from…you do…don’t forget! You are like son to me – never forget that!
“Hoppy” #5 – You are perhaps the hardest to write too! Even as I type this, tears are streaming down my cheeks at Starbucks! You’re a leader! It is not taught, studied, or even a mimicked presentation! You are a natural born leader! When you speak, people listen! When you leave or show up – everyone notices! When you hurt, people hurt with you, and when you laugh, others can’t help but find themselves laughing! I never had you on the team for your skills, your speed, or your power! I had you there, because you taught me to be better! You inspired me to never quit, even when all the odds were stacked against us, you believed we could win! You have a killer instinct, and I was made better for it! Hoppy, thanks for coaching the coach! Thanks for being the un-noted Captain of the All-Stars! Thanks for taking things on your shoulders that no other player wanted to shoulder! I cannot wait to see what you do with your life! I know this, you will be greater than you can ever imagine! You have my heart, and you will until it doesn’t beat! I am grateful for you Morgan! I am better because of you! P.S. Ask your mom about the exclamation marks!
“Champ/Big2na” #2 – My Son! The cheerleader! Captain Positive! You love like few people do. You have a heart for people that you don’t even know. You move me to greatness because of your greatness! You are a positive force to be reckoned with! I don’t deserve to call you son, and humbled that I get to! I am so honored that you and I get to live this life journey together! I know that the dream was to play baseball, but as you get closer to dreams becoming a reality – you are called to be and do greater things than this! Because you have honored God in the game of baseball, He is going to honor you in the game of life! You too have my heart son, you had it first! You get to call me dad, or better ‘POPS’! That is one of the 4 greatest joys to my ears! Remember don’t trip on the chalk. Stay on the fence cheering your team. Always play up not down. Always be you! Keep on swinging and never give up! I LOVE YOU SON! You are and always be my CHAMP!
Always remember that in batting practice – we swing the bats!
Listen to me, let me think, you just go play the game!
If you ask me to play there, what happens…you won’t!
Game ball goes to…
Let’s get it perfect around the horn, it’s easy – Throw, Catch, Turn Glove Side, Repeat!
I got nothing for you, just hit the ball!
Keep on swinging – Never Give Up!
Hey kid…Just you and me…There is nobody better than you right now!
Hey now, all these things, are lessons to you, to each other, to me and they are gift from each other! Days will be longer apart as to the times we get to together. Remember these things, remember the times we had. Also remember that there is a Coach that loves you all and you mean the world to! There is a “Head Coach” in in the sky that loves you even more than I do! He loves you so much that He gave His life for you! Life will take unexpected turns and twists, remember to live by this creed I wrote as a “Tip of the Cap” to you. I use the term “RIP IT“. Live your life with Righteousness, Integrity, Passion, Intensity, and Teamwork. This will serve you well!
And finally, as Jesus said in John 15:13 (The Message), “…Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.”
Thanks for teaching me to love the color purple! Nearly every time I see it – I think of each of you. I Love You Guys and Girl! You are my team and I miss you! You were my Sandlot! I am truly the luckiest man in baseball!
This verse struck me this morning. God has simply told Abram that he is to leave everything and everyone he knows and to go to a place that God would show him. He takes his nephew Lot along for the trip, and Lot ends up taking the “best” land and but then Abram has to rescue him from being a “POW”. Abram ends up in the presence of the King of Salem who blesses him, along the same lines of what God inentionally spoke to Abram. Then in Gen. 15 God begins the intense elevation of His promise to Abram!
Abram is concerned about the future of his family name, the inheritance, his place in Israelite history – but God looks at him and speaks that He has it all under control for Abram’s best interest.
If we read into Gen. 16, we see that Abram and his wife try to take all the details under control and it ends up hurting some people close to them. Ultimately our world today sees the consequence of their decision. (Another blog about this later!) But God continues on with the promise The He gave Abram.
I want to key in on this powerful declaration in Gen. 15:6, “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him a righteous because of his FAITH!”
It was Who and what Abram believed in that won the declaration of righteousness in Abram. It wasn’t his ability to do or be, it was The Who of his life. We clearly see that even in Abram’s faith – he made some not so good decisions. But all that was trumped because of Who he believed in!
Before all the details of his journey were revealed, Abram believed God would see him through! FAITH!
What are you believing God for today! Not your dreams, desires, and wishes, but what God has already given you, promised you, whatever the details are or are not – is your FAITH in He who gave you the dream or yourself as you try and figure out the details on your own?
FAITH – “The substance if things hope for (our dreams and His promise!, the evidence of things not yet seen (The Details)! Heb. 11:1