Posted in Scripture, Grace, life, Family, thankful, loving others, priorities, friends

“We Over Me”

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

Ok…let’s be honest.  I am not a huge fan of sports.  It all started on the playground when I was always, and I do mean always, the last kid picked.  I discovered I had zero kickball skills.  Later, about 4th grade, my Momma (and I guess Daddy) signed me up for little league baseball.  It was there and then I discovered that the problem wasn’t just kickball, it was anything to doing with a ball…or anything else that might be called a sport.  Fortunately, for me my junior high and high schools were massive so unlike some schools where if you didn’t play sports everyone noticed…for me I just blended in with the masses. There was the yearbook thing but who reads that anyway?

When my kids came along God was merciful and gave me three daughters…and while one cheered and one played a little basketball that was the extent of our involvement with sports.   If they had been boys and more sports minded, well, I’m not sure what I could have taught them. I do enjoy watching sports…especially college football.  I am a fan of Notre Dame which is kinda odd given the fact that I am a Baptist preacher, and they are a Catholic School.  But I love the tradition and I love it when they win which this year, well, they are struggling a little.

I wrote all of that to say this—today I went to my third baseball game in like five days.  There are a couple of reasons—the first one  is a no brainer—my oldest grandson is a sports player and he loves baseball.  He was playing so I made it a point to go.  The second one is similar but different.  Our Middle School team was finishing up their season and today they played their first playoff game.  Nine of these young players are tied to our church and I went as their pastor and friend.  Today they won 16 to 1.  That probably tells you something.

These young men have been playing together for years.  Starting in their elementary years through now they grew together—as friends—as a team.  A chunk of the team are eighth graders and frankly—this is their year.  So here is the impossibly incredible part.  As of today, they are 24 and 0.  That’s right, they have won twenty-four straight games and all you have to do is watch them to see that is not an accident.  It is a product of relationship, skills, and team mentality.  Let me tell you a little more.

When I got to the game today, I noticed that on the back of their jerseys it said, WE ME.  So, imagine in large letters the word WE and beneath that is a line and then under the line is the word ME.  Well, not being the sharpest tack in the pack, I asked someone what it meant.  They said, now wait for it, it’s gonna be good, “You know we is more important than me.  We comes before me.”  Well, let me just tell you that was a wow moment for me.  I don’t know who came up with that but they should get some kind of award.  WE over ME.  Love it.

Like I said there is a reason why these guys are where they are, but a piece of the puzzle is that team comes before the individual…you come before me.  It isn’t about one person…it is about every person.  Someone said that there is no “I” in “team” and that is so true.  Now, imagine if the “we before me” thing was applied to our part of our world.  Marriage? Family? Church? Job? Club? If your mind is whirling with the possibilities—you got it.

Paul, the one in the Bible, had a version of this too.  He wrote in Philippians 2:3, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Boom…there you go.  We over me just works every time.  Of course, we Jesus people could also, should also say, “HE over ME” with Jesus being the “He.”  Yup that works too.

Well, I am very proud of our Middle School baseball team.  Way to go guys.  They have a few more playoff games coming but hey, I’m thinking State.  Regardless…they are all winners, and I am thankful for them and the men who coach and lead them. I’m not sure if God picks sides in sports but He might and He would say, “Don’t worry…I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials

He Was Right

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

How many of you remember the name Copernicus?  No, he’s not a guy we met at the golf course or at a conference we attended. Copernicus made an earth-shattering announcement in 1543 that changed our lives forever.  Do you know what it was?  He announced that our earth was not the center of the universe.

 You see, up until that time people thought the whole universe revolved around the earth–we were the center of it all. That big old fiery ball we call the sun woke up every day to circle the earth and all those stars and planets existed to move around us. The problem–it just wasn’t so.  Copernicus made the announcement and upset the apple cart.  His words were not well received in fact they got him into BIG trouble.  Trouble or not, it didn’t change the truth.

I still remember the time when I traveled to Africa for the first time.  I was surprised that virtually no one spoke English and when I went into a shop to get a cup of coffee and they didn’t know what a dollar was—I was flabbergasted.  Not speak English. Not recognize an America dollar.  It was just about then that I started to realize that the world does not revolve around me or us for that matter.

The latest wakeup call came during the COVID mess.  I watched as slowly but surely a “me mentality” seized our culture, our communities, our churches and yup, me.  What I wanted became more important that what you wanted. In a culture outside of God that kind of is the way it works.  But in God’s economy and culture…uh, it doesn’t.  Jesus made a big deal of it being about others. And somehow, at some way, we dropped the ball.  Fumbled. Threw an interception.

As I stood around observing this phenomenon, and my participation in it, God began speaking to me. At first it was a whisper, but I do believe He is speaking a bit louder these days.  In fact, and if you don’t mind me saying so, I believe shouting would be a better label. The message seems to be, “Hey this isn’t about you, or Joe or Doug or Ryan or Betty, well, you get the picture.  You see our culture tells us (or is it shouting too?) that it is about us—our way, our priorities, our rights—our everything.  You know, “have it your way” –“you deserve a break today” and that mentality has shifted right smack dab into the Christian community.  Somewhere, somehow, we have begun to believe the lie that all that matters is–me.  It may work for the world, but it doesn’t work, or shouldn’t work, for Jesus’ followers, at least not in God’s eyes.  Do you want to know why most churches are struggling to get people to come?  It’s because we have become consumer driven instead of “others” driven.  We are leaning toward being country clubs instead of hospitals. It is because we believe it is about us.

Paul, the guy who wrote more than half of the Bible’s New Testament said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”  Wow.  In other words, the center of the universe is not me, not the earth but the God who created it all.  And what matters to Him needs to matter to us. What is that you say?  Others–not me but them–the ones who have never received and, to a large extent in other places in the world, never even heard of Jesus. We are supposed to be Gospel lighthouses or Gospel GPS’s pointing people to Him. If there has ever been a time when our world needs some Good News it is now.

Sometimes people say they’ve heard from God, and you give them a quizzical look like, “Sure.”  I reckon folks gave Copernicus that same quizzical look, but it didn’t change the facts.  It’s amazing to think that even though it was really about Jesus He never promoted it that way.  He acted as if it wasn’t.  He washed feet, touched people who were untouchable and oh, He died on a criminal’s cross.  How about that? Maybe it is time we take down the “Me Flag” and just love God and love people.  It is the most Jesus’ thing we can do.  Does that sound a little overwhelming?  I know what you mean, but you know what He says, “I’ve got this.”   Bro. Dewayne