Archives For baseball

Go Church Go!

ib2newseditor —  November 14, 2016

People in the form of  church.First let me say I how much I appreciate my many friends who are St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox fans, even those who seemed to suddenly become Cleveland Indians fans just prior to the 2016 World Series. I try not to be an annoying or gloating Cubs fan, though some might say that simply writing about the Cubs here makes me so.

But it’s not really the now-world-champion Cubs team or organization that I want to draw on for inspiration with these thoughts. Rather, it’s the persevering, always hopeful, and now victorious Cubs fans. Though I grew up a Cardinals fan like many in southern Illinois, five things have always drawn me to Cubs fans, and made me one of them.

Worldwide – The WGN cable network is probably most responsible for giving the Cubs a more than regional fan base. When wearing a Cubs logo, I have found other fans all around the country, and even around the world.

Wrigley – You just can’t deny the old world charm of the historic yet modernized stadium that the Cubs call their friendly confines. For true baseball fans, it’s one of the most inviting places in the world.

Waiters – As almost everyone now knows, Cubs fans had not seen a World Series championship since 1908. As the Series approached, numerous writers listed things that are more current than a Cubs championship, including the toaster and sliced bread itself. True, faithful Cubs fans are by definition those who patiently wait.

Winsome – While I’m sure we all know an abrasive Cubs fan or two, the overwhelming majority of Cubs fans I’ve known are friendly, hopeful, optimistic, and deeply loyal. Even though “lovable losers” is a label that’s practically become part of the official Cubs brand, you can’t get a rise out of a Cubs fan with that kind of insult. After all, until this year, what defense was there to that label? Cubs fans just smile, and winsomely recite their equally well-known mantra: “Wait ‘til next year.”

Winners – And finally, this year, we can add a new capital W that could only have been used in small case a few times over the past 108 years. This year, Cubs fans are winners. Their perseverance finally paid off. Next year has finally come. And in a demonstration of support and celebration that has now been labeled the largest gathering in American history, and seventh largest in world history, more than five million fans flooded the streets and parks of Chicago to relabel their lovable losers—beloved winners.

Now, how do I rationalize writing about baseball here? Well, almost any time I am moved or inspired by something in secular culture, I find it’s because I see in that event a reflection of something larger in God’s Kingdom, or God’s character, or God’s people. In this case, I think I find Cubs fans so inspiring (admittedly, some Cubs players are not) because I see in them a faint reflection of the same qualities I see in faithful Christians, and churches.

Throughout much of the world, including our own nation and state, faithful Christians are not seen as current winners. But, at least when we’re at our best, we are seen as winsome people who are patiently waiting for our victorious Lord Jesus to return. We are seeking to take our love and loyalty and gospel message worldwide. And yet we seek to make each local gathering place as inviting and friendly as the confines of Wrigley Field.

There will be a day when the five million that gathered to celebrate in Chicago will be a pale comparison to the tribes, tongues, and nations that will gather at the feet of Jesus, to worship him forever. But for now, a long-suffering group known as Cubs fans have reminded me of a more important group of people whose patient, faithful, hopeful perseverance will eventually be rewarded by victory. Go Church Go.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Baseball and Baptists

ib2newseditor —  August 10, 2016

Busch Stadium

I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan and have been ever since I can remember. Growing up almost everyone I knew rooted for the Cardinals with the exception of a few odd Kansas City Royals fan.

I grew up watching their games on TV and listening to them on the radio in the family car. My parents would take us to Cardinal games to cheer our team on. When I moved to Illinois I stayed loyal to my team. I was even blessed to marry a fellow Cardinals fan and we continue the tradition of watching, listening, and going to games together.

We may be fans of different teams and squabble like siblings among ourselves, but we’ll always be a part of something greater in our Southern Baptist family through Christ.

I wouldn’t dream of supporting any other team. I am a member of Cardinals Nation, which feels like being part of a family. The atmosphere of camaraderie at the games is exciting. After games, we’ve spent the night at hotels near Busch Stadium and have gone down to breakfast to find the Cardinal mascot Fredbird the Redbird greeting people and posing for pictures with hungry fans.

At one time we even had Cardinal vanity plates on our car. I can remember being stopped at a red light a few times and having the person in the car next to us motion for the window to be rolled down. When we complied they would ask, “What’s the score?” Trips to games on I-55 often include pulling into a rest stop or restaurant. Fans decked out in Cardinal red apparel, who are perfect strangers, strike up conversations with each other about the team and the game they are on way to see.

I can relate this feeling and experience with being a Southern Baptist. My mother started attending our local Baptist church when I was just a few years old. She faithfully took all three of us kids for years until my father became a Christian when I was 12. Then church truly became a family affair. We all were part of a loving church family that worshiped, laughed, cried, and grew together.

Our own church family was part of a larger family of churches in our association, state convention, and national SBC. When we visit other churches and gather for annual meetings and conventions, we feel that same kinship as Christians and as Southern Baptists.

There is much more involved in my being a Southern Baptist than there is my being a Cardinal fan. The beliefs of my Baptist family and its commitment to the Lord are at the core of my being. In my life I’ve studied other denominations and visited their houses of worship, but none have the same belief in God and seek to follow him the way Southern Baptists do.

I suspect the same is true of many of you who are fans of the Cubs, White Sox, and other teams. We may be fans of different teams and squabble like siblings among ourselves, but we’ll always be a part of something greater in our Southern Baptist family through Christ.

-Lisa Sergent

The BriefingIllinois judge orders Christian B&B to host same-sex wedding
An Illinois administrative judge has given the owners of a bed and breakfast one year to provide their facility to a gay couple “for an event celebrating their civil union.” The order, part of a decision handed down March 22 in a discrimination case filed by the two men, also includes an $80,000 fine.

Religious liberty focus of new study
A growing number of Americans believe religious liberty is on the decline and that the nation’s Christians face growing intolerance, according to a survey by LifeWay Research. Two-thirds (63%) say Christians face increasing intolerance, up from half (50%) in 2013. Those surveyed also noted American Christians complain too much.

Feds threaten NC aid over transgender law
The Obama administration is considering whether North Carolina’s new law on gay and transgender rights makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways and housing. Cutting off federal money would put major new pressure on North Carolina to repeal the law, which prohibits transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not match the sexes on their birth certificates.

Abortion pill guidelines eased
The Food and Drug Administration has updated its guidelines concerning the abortion drug mifepristone, allowing women to take it later in pregnancy and with reduced medical supervision. The New York Times called the update “an unequivocal victory for abortion rights advocates.”

Evangelicals love baseball
Religion, it turns out, is a better predictor of who is a baseball fan than age or where one lives. A poll last year by CBS found that while there is a gender gap (but evangelical women are among baseball’s biggest fans), there are also religious differences. The “nones” are less likely to be fans; Catholics and evangelicals are more likely to root, root, root for the home team.

Sources: WORLD Magazine, Facts & Trends, New York Times, Baptist Press, Religion News Service

Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter was re-elected to a second term during the denomination's annual meeting in Houston last week. Luter is the SBC's first African American president.

Southern Baptist Convention President Fred Luter was re-elected to a second term during the denomination’s annual meeting in Houston last week. Luter is the SBC’s first African American president.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Southern Baptists arrived at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Houston expecting lively conversations about Calvinism and the Boy Scouts. But those issues took a back seat to a report released by LifeWay Christian Resources just before the convention, showing declines in baptisms, average attendance and membership in SBC churches across the country.

Concerns about the report and the denomination’s future were compounded by a low number of registered messengers in Houston – just 5,103 by the time the final total was tallied.

Just before the convention convened, LifeWay released the 2012 Annual Church Profile, which showed declines in baptisms, church membership, average attendance and total giving.

Almost every leader that stepped to a microphone or sat in on a panel discussion in Houston offered input on how to reverse decline in the Southern Baptist Convention. But their solutions didn’t necessarily offer hope that the downturned numbers will rebound. Rather, they encouraged Southern Baptists to look at the effectiveness of their own local churches.

“This is not a convention problem; this is a local church problem,” said David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, at a luncheon for young leaders. “To bring it a little closer to home, this is a pastor problem.”

Are we making disciples, are we multiplying the Gospel, Platt asked. “I want to lead out in this by example.”

Fred Luter’s president’s message rang out across the convention hall with a similar theme: Lord, send a revival, and let it begin with me! And, let us be unified.

“Lord, revive us and make us one like the early believers in Acts 2 where the Scripture says that the believers and Jesus Christ were all together in one accord, in one place,” preached Luter, who was re-elected in Houston to a second term as SBC president.

“Let me say that again, that the believers were all together in one accord, in one place and as a consequence, because they were all together in one accord, in one place, the Bible says they turned the world upside down.”

Do Baptists have the opportunity to change the world, even a world that may not recognize them for the cultural force they once were? In his report, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page offered an optimistic outlook:

“Some have said that doing denominational work and being a part of a denomination in the 21st century is like the Titanic, it’s headed for disaster. And the best you can do is rearrange the deck chairs,” Page said.

“I choose to believe that kind of analogy is not appropriate. I believe that we together can see victory moving forward and applying Christ-like selflessness, can see days of cooperation and days of victory ahead.”

Read all of the Illinois Baptist’s 2013 SBC Annual Meeting coverage in the current issue, online at ibonline.IBSA.org.

Other news:

Lottie Moon offering tops $149M
Southern Baptists did get a piece of very good denominational news: They gave the third-largest ever Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in 2012, sending more than $149 million to support International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries serving across the globe. The offering, more than $2.4 million more than the previous year, “is a reminder that missions is the stack pole around which Southern Baptists place their hearts, afire for the Gospel,” said IMB President Tom Elliff. Read more at BPNews.net.

Atheist group plans 1-800 hotline
Recovering from Religion, an atheist group in the U.S. and Britain, plans to launch a telephone hotline to offer advice and answers to spiritual doubters, CNN reports. In response to criticism that the 24-hour hotline is devised as a way to convert people to atheism, Recovering from Religion executive director Sarah Morehead said, “Most of the people who contact us are working their way towards disbelief, so of course we are very equipped to handle that. That is not the goal, though, or the job of the facilitators.” Read the full story on CNN’s Belief blog.

Majority says gay marriage ‘inevitable’
A Pew Research survey released this month found 72% of Americans say it’s “inevitable” that same-sex marriage will be legally recognized, compared to 59% who thought so in 2004. Of those in the nearly three-fourths majority, 85% are same-sex marriage supporters, and 59% oppose it. Read more at PewForum.org.

Book explores faith on the field

“Intentional Walk”, a new book by sports writer Rob Rains, explores the Christian faith of several members of the St. Louis Cardinals, including manager Mike Matheny and stars Adam Wainwright, Carlos Beltran and David Freese. The book, subtitled “An inside look at the faith that drives the St. Louis Cardinals,” chronicles the 2012 season. “These players realize how lucky and fortunate they are to play for the Cardinals and to play Major League Baseball in general,” Rains said, “but they also realize how lucky they are to have such a strong faith in God. Read the full story at BPSports.net.