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  "Put me in Coach" by John - 4/3/18

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PostSubject: "Put me in Coach" by John - 4/3/18   Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:47 am

First of all, I want to say, whoever it was who first said; "Never say ’Never!’”, I want pay homage to them with this, because, a while back, I told Patrick that was done with sending in anything in, to be posted but, like the man said; “Never say ‘never’!” You know what I mean. About the time you decide to just sit back and watch, the Lord seems to find something he wants done and, it just so happens, you’re the only one he will trust to do it. Why? Well, because, with everything you’ve gone through…all the challenges, regardless of how well you responded or performed, He has used it all to groom you for this time in your life. The truth is, this moment is that ‘itch’ that you could never seem to scratch...that unction that you never quite understood and, the time has come. Like that moment you had been waiting for when learning to ride your bicycle when your dad would let go of the seat and let you flap your wings for the first time to experience the resilience of freedom as you felt the wind blow threw your hair and listened as it went past ears. You may even remember thinking and saying to yourself, “This is a moment in time I will always remember.”

In an attempt for this to not be read so much as what you might think as ‘preaching’ and, keep it interesting all the way through, I want to say that, perhaps to the chagrin of some, I’m going to get into mixing metaphors here in a minute. I bring that up because, if there’s anything I’ve learned about speaking metaphorically, it’s that, if you do 'too much’ of it, you may be accused of being a ‘porch swing philosopher.’ Well, in honor of all the ‘porch swing philosophers’ out there in the world, here goes nothing.

I want to try and draw off a ‘ eason' that we've just gone through and, a season that we've entered , even while we were coming out of the last. Kind of like the weather in Oklahoma, where we can be in the midst of winter like conditions and, in the span of only a few minutes, you’d swear it was Spring. In the world of sports, we just came out of the season mostly ‘indoors contests’, like wrestling, basketball, indoor track and, many others and, while it may still be jacket weather, there's a warmth in the air so, we've entered into outdoor sports, like baseball, spring drills for football, soccer and such. Of course, there are certain sports that we all tend to gravitate to and, nothing against any of the others but, in the winter time, like many of you, mine have basketball and wrestling, almost exclusively. I have to confess, it used to be more heavily weighted toward wrestling than basketball but then, Oklahoma State University, formerly Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College or OAMC is where intercollegiate wrestling began. Not only that but, my granddad wrestled on one of Ed Gallagher's first teams. Then, my dad ran track and played baseball and, I had the opportunity to run track and play a little football. So, if we are genetically inclined to sports, you could say, the sports gene in our family runs deep at OSU. One of the things we discover, however, is if you’re an Oklahoma State Cowboy fan, you better be made out of the good stuff. I mean, the kind of stuff that has the capability to overcome disappointments and frustration because, there was a time when it seemed our school motto could have been “Wait until next year!” As I say that, it seems that a whole new story is in the process of and, on the verge of being written. Just to give you a for instance...over this past weekend, the Cowboy baseball team, un-ranked nationally in pre-season polls, hosted Texas Christian University, https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/2018-college-baseball-preview-preseason-rankings-prospects-what-and-how-to-watch/ ranked 6th going into the season, to a three-game series and…well, the Cowboys swept the series and, just to tell you how they did it. The first game went into extra innings with a tie of 6 to 6 but, the Cowboys pulled out a 7 to 6 victory. In the second game, the first of a double-header, rescheduled due to possible inclinate weather, the Cowboys came alive in the middle of the contest and defeated the Horned Frogs 12 to 6 and, quite frankly, in true Cowboy fan manner, after three innings in the third game, with the Horned Frogs up by a score of 6 to 0, I decided to go home. Now, I wish I hadn’t and, I should’ve known better because, also in true Cowboy baseball fashion, Oklahoma State came back, took the lead in the 7th inning with a score of 8 to 6 and, beat the Horned Frogs again, by a score of 9 to 6 in the third game…sweeping the series against TCU. Here’s some highlights of that third game, on this link https://youtu.be/RM6Bk5eKiSM

This is where I guess I’m going to begin mixing metaphors and, I hope you’ll forgive me for concentrating on one particular school for the refereces to sports because, I spent some time watching the men's basketball team from Oklahoma State who, at the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, were picked to finish dead last in their own league…which, according to many is perhaps, the toughest league in the country. This same Oklahoma State team that was predicted to finish last in their league, played on of the eventual semi-finalists in the NCAS Tournament and perennial favorite to win the Big 12 championship (Kansas) on two different occasions and, both times they played this year…both at Galleghar-Iba Arena at home and, in Allen Field-house at Lawrence, Kansas, even while Kansas was ranked either 7th or 6th in the nation, which was up from their preseason pick of 8th but, the Cowboys won. The Cowboys also defeated the University of Oklahoma 2 out of 3 games, including the first round of he Big 12 Tournament. Both times OU was ranked in the “top 10" and, had victories over FSU when they were ranked 19th, West Virginia ranked 17th, Texas Tech, one out of two games when they were ranked 6th or 7th…and yet, with all of that, the Cowboys didn’t get invited to the Big Dance. Under the circumstances, it would’ve been easy for the Cowboy’s basketball team to just give it up and, hope for better next year. After all and, like I said, that seemed to have become our school motto but, they didn’t quit. They played in the NIT and, made a decent showing there and, all under first year head coach, Mike Boynton who, was also in his first year of ever being a head coach and, they developed all the capability it seemed, to become a true Cinderella team. Unfortunately, as it is in many instances with young men who aren’t fully aware of their capabilities, they would win games that no one expected them to and then, lose when they were supposed to win. Kind of like the disappointments that you and I have faced when we’ve believed this ride we’re on has reached its end, only to find out we’re still waiting. Maybe this is where being from Oklahoma is truly beneficial because of what we go through with the weather here. In Oklahoma, it can be Christmas Eve when parts of the rest of the country are buried in snow, we’re outside in short-sleeves, splitting firewood for a winter that may show up fifteen minutes from when we get done but, like I said, that’s life in Oklahoma. Back to Cowboy Basketball and, hopefully bridging into Cowboy Baseball, time and again this past basketball season, we watched as Coach Boynton would go to his guys on the bench and, delight the fans, while surprising their opponents with a timely 3-point shot that would be just the right ingredient to spark whatever it is on the inside of a true Cowboy to reach down deep and pull up that last bit of courage and, willingness to go for a victory that seemed to have already escaped them. You see, as a Cowboy fan, over time, you can just tell when it seems the team has given in and, have already made up their minds that it’s over even before the clock has run down. Maybe you can relate to that feeling in this endeavor we’re all a part of.

Are you beginning to see the picture that I’m trying to paint for you? You may even be able to relate to some of the examples I’m using and, you’re comparing them to your own participation in sports. I know, I have from my own playing days but, whether it’s sports or anything else, I’m not really so much interested in talking about the past as I am, in looking to the future and, to speak metaphorically again, as fun as it seems that it may be, I’m not just thinking about Oklahoma State Basketball, Baseball, Football or, Wrestling or, any other sport. I’m talking about our personal lives in every respect. You see, for many of us, we feel like we’ve been sitting on the bench for a long time and, quite frankly, we’re more than ready to get into the game…just to have an opportunity to show the “Coach” what we can do and, even though we may reach the end of our capabilities, we want to show Him what we’re made of, as if He doesn’t already know and, dig down deep in our hearts and, pull out whatever is required to get a “W” on the scorecard.

It’s in making that last statement that I want to remind you of a song that is virtually guaranteed, to almost instantly cause you to want to get out of your seat and dance…and, if you’re just too settled into your chair to dance, it will at least put a big smile on your face. Click on the link to the right, before you read any further and, you’ll see what I mean. https://www.vevo.com/watch/john-fogerty/centerfield/USUMV1000097

Of course, the image we have of the guy who is singing is someone who is sitting on the bench and, just wants an opportunity, like us, to get involved in the game and, as more than just a "dugout cheerleader." Isn’t that where you and I have been for quite a while? The truth be known, we just want a chance to show God that we’ll follow through on what He’s placed on our hearts to do and yet, we’ve been sitting on the bench for so long it seems, the zeal we we once might have had to step into this next half to our lives, has all but completely dissipated. Well, it’s right here that I think it’s a good idea to remind you of how God has always pulled people off the bench to accomplish great things throughout all of mankind. Think what you will of the Hebrew nation and, what they represent to you and me but, before there was a Hebrew nation, God reached out to the bench, so to speak…into the land of the Chaldeans to a place called “Ur" and called Abram into the game. He told Abram, ""Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1 and, Abram was a married man so, how do you think that initially went over with his wife, Sarai? We aren’t told but, you get my drift. We do know, from what is recorded for us, how it eventually went and, not just in the Bible but, from history but, just thinking about how it usually seems to go when a man introduces a “change” for his family and, it’s not always too well received at first, especially from that beautiful creature who knows him for everything he is and still chooses to love him but still, genuinely longs for safety, security and stability in her life. Never the less, Abram was obedient and, Sarai submissive and, as we know, God blessed them.

Then, think of King David. Before he was King David, he was David the shepherd boy and, there was a time when all of his brothers were in Saul’s military, facing the army of the Philistines whose leading soldier was a huge guy name Goliath, who could’ve made three, maybe four of David and yet, David’s father Jesse sent him to the front-line where his brothers were with food. To lend further to how insignificant his brothers saw him as being, especially under their present circumstances, in 1 Samuel 17:28 we can read; "But when David's oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. "What are you doing around here anyway?" he demanded. "What about those few sheep you're supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” See what I mean? In a sense, I suppose, we see how David’s own brother saw him as nothing but a ‘bench-warmer’…maybe, a ‘dugout cheerleader’, so to speak. Well, you know the story and, as you also know, King Saul wasn’t David’s ‘coach’ but, Saul had put up a reward for the man who would slay this ‘uncircumcised Philistine’ so, David looked to Saul to take advantage of the opportunity of ’no taxes to his family and, getting the king’s daughter hand in marriage. Do you see how, if David had looked to Saul as his ‘coach’, t may’ve been, we wouldn’t even have the account of David’s defeat of Goliath recorded for us because, David’s brothers were already a part of Saul’s Army but, can you also see how David was called off the ‘bench' to go into the ‘game’? Then, even before David, we have the example of ‘Noah’, also being called off the bench, so to speak. It seems, the rest of the team had chosen to switch sides and, Noah was the last of only eight people left to be put into the ‘game.’

Fast-forward into history and, you’ll see that Moses was called off the ‘bench’ also and, he had even been raised and, indoctrinated to play for the opposing team but, God had already been working on him for a while and, at just the right moment, began making serious tugs on his heart to discover who he really was and, who his people truly were and, for him to get into the ‘game’…but, not just to fill a player position that might be vacant but, to be a true leader for the team…to be a "Point-Guard", a “Pitcher" or, the “Quarterback."

That’s where you and I are right now, folks. Time and again, in our personal lives, we may've found ourselves in the position where it was like it was the final ten seconds in the last game of he season. We’re not on our home-court and, it’s our ball. A play has been worked up, a strategy has been devised and, if we can somehow succeed in inbounding the ball to our Point-guard or, getting it to him in the amount of time left and, he's then able to free hisself up enough from the defenders to get open, outside the arc and do what he’s done so many times all season, he’ll drain the bucket and, nail the three-pointer we need. All we need is one point at the buzzer but, we’re down by two. One point is as good as a dozen when the game’s over but, the score is 68 to 70 and then, as if it was already written into the book of life, you watch as all the steps to a kind of waltz is performed and, the smallest guy on the court…some people call him “buckshot” because his number is a “double zero” but, he lets go of the ball, as if it were a single stone coming out of a leather pouch of a sling and, in that moment, the crowd seems to go silent as you hear the “swoosh!” made from the ball hitting nothing but net.

If basketball isn’t your game and, you relate better to it being the 'bottom of the ninth of the last game of the season…there’s two outs. The guy whose up to bat is the one player that every opponent has dreaded seeing all year long, when he came to the plate…reason being, was his known capability of sending balls into the vacant lot on the other side of the fence from left-center field. Just the thought of that sends chills down your spine but, your ace pitcher is on the mound and, not just as reliever but, as finisher. Unfortunately and, as if it had been scripted just to add more drama to the situation, he's down in the count, three balls and two strikes. No one knew it at the time, they could only hope that he was about to show everyone in the stands, why the coach has spent as much time as he had, talking to “Ace’s" parents to convince them that he was going to be in good hands and, into agreeing for their “little boy”, even though he was almost 6’ 4”, to come play baseball for his school…your school and, this next pitch could very well be the last time he ever toes the rubber on this field against a true opponent. As that realization comes over you and begins to sink in, everything seems to go into slow motion…as scoot forward in your seat and, literally see the ball coming out of the “Ace’s" hand…you were thinking to yourself, "Man does that ball ever look fat!”…just as it’s coming across the plate…"Surely it’s going to be at least a base-hit" but, all you hear is the pop from the sound of the ball hitting the Catcher’s mit and, the umpire shout “Strike three…You’re out!”

Now, go back and listen to John Fogerty again…”Put me in coach! I’m ready to play, TODAY! Look at me, I can be…CENTERFIELD!”

I know this may be a little different from anything you’ve read from me in the past and, it came together differently than I initially saw it but, I hope you’re encouraged. That’s its real purpose. You see, for a good portion of my life, I’ve been in the position to be a “giver” and, many of you may be able to relate to that. The trouble is, having once been a “giver” and finding ourselves in a place where we’re not able to really give, the desire to do so doesn’t just stop. That’s where I’ve found that trying to be an encouragement to others helps satisfy that desire in another way. Actually, it satisfies in more than one way. Every one of us needs encouragement form time to time and, in our private lives, how is anyone else to know that we need encouragement if we can’t tell them? At the same time, a lot of the time, our pride and who knows what else will stand in the way of opening up to someone else in that regard and, making ourselves that vulnerable, right? Me too! Phrase like “Suck it up, Buttercup!” and, “Grow a pair, dude!” are the kind of things you expect to hear from people and, who wants to go through that humiliation, right? Then, just as we may be down in our own dumps, we meet someone whose in a worse situation from us and, being who we are, we try and draw from our own experiences to lift them up and, encourage them. Did we fix their problem? No! but, as we walk away from their circumstances, when we think about our own, we seem to have a measure of hope that was missing before…we’ve actually encouraged ourselves while in the process of following what Jesus said was the the “second greatest commandment" and, "of equal importance to the first” of “loving our neighbor as ourselves.” Do you remember what else he said about those two commandments? “There in, you fulfill all the law and requirements of the Prophets.”

in Christ,

John
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PostSubject: Re: "Put me in Coach" by John - 4/3/18   Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:29 pm

Wow, what a wind-bag!!! Has anyone actually managed to read all of that? I didn't.


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