Posted tagged ‘promises’

World Series Spiritual Revival

November 6, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           November 5, 2016


Pastor Fred was shocked when he walked into the sanctuary of his church, the Northside Free Temple, and witnessed an overflow crowd. His congregation, which usually ran about 45 to 50 in attendance on any given Sunday except Easter, was jam packed with close to 200!

What was going on? His first thought was that it was November 6 and Daylight Savings Time had ended early that morning. In the past, however, any time people had a chance to move their clocks back an hour did not translate into more people in the pews on that Sunday. Now people were packed in like sardines! So many new faces he had never seen, and many that he hadn’t seen in church in ages.

Perhaps someone was having a family reunion in town and the whole family came to church as part of the festivities. Probably not, however, since he could see a handful of ethnic groups represented.

And there was his butcher, Clyde, who was number one in cutting up a side of beef but about as crass and crude as they come…and that was around Pastor Fred!

In the back he could see his long-time barber, Phil. Was this the Bears’ bye week or something? Phil was usually either in Soldier’s Field on football Sundays or planted in front of his TV. He even had a haircut named “Ditkut”, named after Mike Ditka!

Then he noticed a red-haired middle-aged lady sitting halfway back with a Chicago Cubs baseball jersey on, and it hit him! Were a lot of these people here because of what had happened last Wednesday night in Cleveland?

Edith Pride rushed up to him before he could get to the pulpit. “Pastor, isn’t it marvelous? I’ve been praying for a spiritual revival for our church for years and God has answered my prayers! Look at all these people seeking spiritual understanding and guidance! I’ll be praying that God will inspire you with his words that need to be said this morning.” Edith usually was of the opinion that Pastor Fred was uninspiring. In fact, a couple of years ago she had tried to gain a following to have him removed as the pastor. Any problem, any time someone left the church or stopped attending for a while, she blamed Pastor Fred. In her opinion “scapegoat” was part of his job description.

“Pastor, there are souls here today that are hungry to be brought into the Kingdom!”

“Lord,” thought the pastor, “save me from Edith!”

A family with four young children had been funneled into the third pew on the left. The young ones had matching t-shirts, all with a Cub on the front. The mom decorated her neck with a thin scarf that also sported the name of their city on it. The dad modeled a polo shirt with the Cubs logo over his heart.

“Could these people be here because of the Cubs winning the World Series?” It was starting to sink in.

The service started and Pastor Fred read the Call to Worship from Romans 5. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into out hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Amen.”

A hundred “amens’ echoed through the sanctuary, mostly from the new faces present. Gladys Watson came to lead the gathered saints in a hymn, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.”

The singing was loud and sung with heartfelt emotion. The pastor thought he heard someone in the second row complete the phrase “My hope is built on nothing less” with “Rizzo’s bat and Lester’s arm!” 

      After the last verse Pastor Fred invited people to greet some people around them. He walked down to the family in Row 3.

“It’s good to have you with us this morning.”

“Thank you, Pastor! We had to live up to our promise.”

“What was that?”

“The wife and I both prayed to the Lord on Wednesday that if the Cubs won Game 7 we’d go to church on Sunday.”

“Oh, really?”

The wife resumed the explanation. “We figured that if we believed in God enough to pray to him about the Cubs, we should believe in him enough to come into his house.”

“Well, it’s good to have you, and it’s great the Cubs won!” He wondered how the part of the service where people shared their praises and concerns would go? He found out about ten minutes later.

“Are there any praises and concerns today?”

Edith jumped up like a turned loose spring. “I just want to praise the Lord this morning. I can just feel the Spirit’s movement in our midst. God is so good, and faithful!” Edith took her seat, smiling smugly.

A hand was raised in the back and Pastor Fred encouraged the person attached to the hand to stand and share with the congregation.

“Pastor, I just want to give God the praise for Anthony Rizzo. What a first basemen he is, praise the Lord!”

“And, Pastor Fred!” The voice came from the pew in front of the Rizzo-lover. “I got on my knees in the top of the tenth and unashamedly shouted, “Lord, if you are who people say you are I know you can move mountains! So I’m asking that you move the runners along so our beloved Cubs can win this game. If you do that for me I promise to be in church each of the next seven Sundays- one Sunday for each game of the World Series.”

The amens thundered through the congregation.

A smaller voice rose from the left. It belonged to a little girl who couldn’t be any more than seven years of age. “Pastor, I love the Cubs and I think God does too! And I think Kris Bryant is cute!”

There was laughter throughout the church, except for Edith! Her revelation about spiritual revival did not have the Cubs as part of the vision. She’d be talking to the deacons this week about repentance and getting right with the Lord.

The Cubs’ spiritual revival sharing went on for another fifteen minutes. Everyone from Jack Brickhouse to Ron Santo was mentioned. By the end of the service Pastor Fred was beginning to think that this spiritual renewal, at least for one Sunday, WAS because of what happened four nights earlier. He started wondering if God could use the end of a 108 year drought to bring new life to a dried up church. One thing was for sure! He was going to the nearest department store and buying a World Series Champions t-shirt. He might even wear it under his suit and tie next Sunday.

Go Cubs Go!

Promising Basketballs

June 28, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      June 28, 2013


On our first day of basketball camp at Grace School in Herrera (an area in the inner city of Santo Domingo…kind of like saying “The Bronx” as a part of New York City), I made a promise to the kids. At our first session that first day we only had eight children. We had planned on a hundred for each session (although, in hindsight, we are somewhat thankful that didn’t happen).

A couple of our VisionTrust bags on our trip down were filled with deflated basketballs that had been donated. We brought seventy-five balls with us and spent a good deal of time putting air in them after we arrived. So on Monday I opened my mouth and inserted tennis shoe, and said that we would give a basketball to each child on Thursday, our last day of camp.

Many basketball camps in Colorado Springs do that. I had just helped at a camp at the Classical Academy a couple of weeks ago and each of the fifty campers got their own basketball.

So…no big deal, right?

Yesterday…Thursday, after our first session…the one that had eight children the first day…thirty-seven basketballs were handed to kids as they left the 8:30-10:00 session. By the end of the day we had given out all of our basketballs…plus the fifteen that the school had…plus we have the names of the eleven boys who did not receive one yet.

I need to buy the eleven plus replace the fifteen! It is an expensive lesson on making promises to kids…who have cousins…who have cousins!

In essence, about a hundred basketballs, or the promise of a basketball, exited the building yesterday. And I was the one who did the training session for our team about the American tendency to treat the problem of poverty with the solution of “giving people things.” Poverty is really brokenness…brokenness in terms of a person’s relationship with one or more of the four foundational relationships: with God, with myself, with the rest of creation, or with others.

We often treat the symptoms of poverty without acknowledging the core problems.

So today there are many children in Herrera who have a new basketball, but they still returned to the same situations of brokenness in their homes and communities.

I guess my hope is that as they hold their basketballs they will think about the week they had at camp, the hope of Christ that we shared with them. That as they think about some of our daily lessons of jumping, shooting, and shooting an impossible shot, they will think about the lessons we taught concerning grace, forgiveness, and the love of Christ.

Last night we met two exceptional young people who are graduating from high school- Pamela and Delton- who come from very difficult situations. Pamela taught herself English. She spoke to us last night more clearly than many of us talk. She volunteers with VisionTrust two to three days a week, and wants to major in tourism. Delton, who looks like a six-foot Kobe Bryant, and plays like Kobe, grew up in an orphanage, Remar. He is heading to the University next year, but wants to help the children who are still living at Remar. He wants to major in computer engineering.

Both Pamela and Delton were redirected in the course of their lives because, first of all, God loves them, and secondly, because God grabbed hold of the heart of some people and made them realize that he had a purpose for the lives of a little girl and a little boy, but that purpose could not be realized without someone being obedient to God’s beckoning.

It makes me wonder how many children are lost because someone didn’t heed the calling of God to come alongside.

A new basketball will not change any of the lives of those hundred children, but perhaps it will help them to know that there is a way of hope, a place of grace, and a plan for their lives that will lead them to make a difference.

I still have to get twenty-six more basketballs! I’m okay with that!