Primetime Passage – Philippians 4:8-9

What do the Olympic opening ceremony, a win for the home team in a baseball game, and your tax dollars at work on a July evening have in common? They are all reasons to have a fireworks show. This summer I watched the fireworks high above the city of Frisco, Texas, on a beautiful July 4th evening and they were amazing. The best part of every fireworks show is the grand finale. For a good while you watch the fireworks come and go in a variety of patterns and colors, but everyone knows when the grand finale arrives. The pattern goes from come and go to shock and awe!

When writing words of encouragement to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul talks about the importance of maintaining Christian virtues, such as joy, gentleness, and peace. Paul’s words, as recorded in the New Testament book of Philippians, chapter 4, are nothing short of a fireworks show; in fact, they are the grand finale of his instruction:

Philippians 4:8-9
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Consider the impact of each of these words in the life of a Christ-follower and the light they can bring to those who don’t know Jesus. For example, think about the word noble. This word implies integrity, something worthy of respect. We must as the question, “Do our lives win the respect of outsiders?” Do they see in us something that is different? Do our lives make them consider their own lives and make them want to change?

Paul’s instructions are not only intended to direct my steps as a Christian, but he also recognized that when we live according to these virtues that other people will see the light of God in us. In other words, Paul is saying that believers should focus on what is morally and spiritually excellent. But he doesn’t end there. In addition to setting our minds on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, Paul encourages believers to remember everything they have seen in his life, and to put them into practice. We too must move this truth off of the pages of Scripture and into our lives in order to gain a credible witness from which to share the gospel.

Too often Christians today repeat everything that they have heard from Paul’s epistles (letters) and fail to actually put anything into practice. This only affirms the skeptical excuses of those that claim Christian hypocrisy is what keeps them from faith. One pastor has said that the greatest hindrance to the movement of Christ on the earth today is Christians. Another has said that the greatest cause of atheism is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, but deny him with their lifestyle.

So here is the bottom line. I believe that the only way that our words are going to have any impact is if they are accompanied by action. We have the amazing word of God, the fireworks, and we fail to put these dynamite words into practice. If we are going to change the world, we must start with our own hearts and lives. Maybe then, will outsiders respond in shock and awe.


Baseball Hall of Shame – Random, Weird Injuries

When Michael Jordan has the flu, he scores over 40 points in the NBA Finals and usually makes the winning basket at the buzzer. When Tiger Woods plays golf on an injured knee and broken leg he wins the U.S. Open on the 19th hole of a playoff. Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, played with pain and led the Dallas Cowboys to a division-clinching win over the New York Giants despite a dislocated shoulder.

Baseball might have a few stories of this kind, but for me the MLB is best known for random, weird injuries that send a player to the DL. The latest is the greatest. Until last week I had never heard of a pillow-lifting injury in baseball — that is, until Detroit Tigers’ Brandon Inge reported the following details about the injury that brought him “down”:

“It was the stupidest, most freakish thing,” Inge said Wednesday, explaining why he had just been placed on the 15-day DL with the pulled side muscle (oblique) he suffered 3 1/2 weeks ago. “I have a 3-year-old son who sleeps in the bed with my wife and me,” Inge said. “I was trying to push the pillow down behind his head (two nights ago), and when I did … I repopped (the strained muscle). Upon hearing this story, manager Jim Leyland said, “That’s a first.”

It may be the first “pillow push” injury, but it is definitely not the first wacky baseball injury. After a little bit of research, I now present to you those who are a part of the MLB’s weird injury fraternity:

Vince Coleman (Cardinals)
Missed the 1985 World Series after getting rolled up in the field tarp machine. How does a guy as fast as the base-stealing Coleman lose to a tarp machine?

John Smoltz (Braves)
The starting pitcher once burned his chest while ironing a shirt … which he was still wearing. Nice!

Tom Glavine (Braves)
Apparently trying to impress his “iron man” teammate, Glavine broke a rib in 1992 while throwing up airplane food.

Nolan Ryan (Astros)
The Hall of Fame pitcher once missed a start after being bitten on his hand … by a coyote.

Sammy Sosa (Cubs)
Sneezed his way onto the DL with a back injury in 2004.

But my favorite of all is Steve Sparks who dislocated his shoulder when he tried to impersonate a motivational speaker by attempting to rip a phone book in half. What is your favorite? What famous injury did I miss? Your turn…