PASTOR BOB’S SUNDAY PREVIEW: “5 Uniquely American Cravings”

Can we do this again? I’d like your help again in preparation for this Sunday’s message. I’m curious if the message last Sunday on “7 Simple Truths for 21st Century Christian” caused you to pause and reflect on what you really believe about God, and why? 

This Sunday, for the Sunday morning message, I plan to take the 7 simple truths and present a “spiritual lifeline” of my own journey, correlating the 7 truths from last week with my own formational phases of life. I’ll start as a 7- or 8-year-old in Akron, Ohio and follow my path to Arthur, Illinois. But I don’t want this to be only about my journey. I’m sharing my own experience so that you may perhaps see your own journey with new insights or clarity. 

So, since you’re willing to help again (!!!), this week I present to you “5 Uniquely American Cravings” based on the wisdom and reflection of Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a native of Viet Nam, but was expelled from the country during the Viet Nam War for helping build schools in rural villages. Thich Nhat Hanh is one the most popular spiritual writers in the U.S., focusing on how to learn, apply, and live the principles of Buddhism in a modern Western culture. He resides at his monastery and retreat center, Plum Village, in France.   

If you’re willing to help, I’d like you to read the following 5 Uniquely American Cravings that I am offering below, and offer 2 quick responses to each one. First, circle either Yes, Applies to Me or No Doesn’t Apply, based on whether or not you, in your own day-to-day life, find yourself craving, or strongly desiring, the cravings named below. Then, provide a 1-2 sentence response to tell me in simple words what your craving feels like, or how you respond to it. If any of the 5 cravings don’t apply to you, then just go on to the next one. 

And like last week, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of time in thinking about this – I’m just as interested in your first gut reaction to them.   

Finally … if you’re really motivated, I would love to have you send me your responses before Sunday. I promise I won’t mention any names in my message! You could email or text them to me, or, if you wish to remain anonymous, you could jot down your responses below and drop these pages in my box at church or in my office. I’d love to know what you think about these proposed truths, and why!  

CRAVING #1: Wealth.

YES, APPLIES TO ME or NO, DOESN’T APPLY

TELL MORE …  

CRAVING #2: Fame. 

YES, APPLIES TO ME or NO, DOESN’T APPLY

TELL MORE …  

CRAVING #3: Sex.

YES, APPLIES TO ME or NO, DOESN’T APPLY

TELL MORE …  
 

CRAVING #4: Fancy Food. 

YES, APPLIES TO ME or NO, DOESN’T APPLY

TELL MORE …  

CRAVING #5: Lots of Sleep.

YES, APPLIES TO ME or NO, DOESN’T APPLY

TELL MORE …  

   

Continuing to grow together in Christ …                                                                                                        <>< Pastor Bob

  


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PASTOR BOB’S SUNDAY PREVIEW: “7 Simple Truths for 21st Century Christians”

I’d like your help! Have you happened to stop and reflect lately about what you really believe about God, and why? Perhaps not? This Sunday, for the Sunday morning message, I plan to teach on the topic above. I asked myself this question: What are the 7 essential truths for Christians today that we all should be able to agree wholeheartedly on? After some prayer and reflection, I propose to you and the Vine Street family the following 7 truths. But I know this is an unfinished effort, and I want your feedback and input. 

If you’re willing to help, I’d like you to read the following 7 truths that I am proposing, and offer 2 quick responses to each one. First, circle either Agree or Don’t Agree, based on whether or not you believe the “truth” I am proposing. Then, provide a 1-2 sentence response to the question; Why? Tell me the single best reason why you either agree or not. You might cite something from scripture, a church teaching, your personal opinion, or any other reason why you gave the answer you did. It’s not necessary to spend a lot of time in thinking about this – I’m just as interested in your first gut reaction to them.   

And … if you’re really motivated, I would love to have you send me your responses before Sunday. I promise I won’t mention any names in my message! You could email or text them to me, or, if you wish to remain anonymous, you could jot down your responses below and drop these pages in my box at church or in my office. I’d love to know what you think about these proposed truths, and why!  

TRUTH #1: God is the creator of all things.

AGREE   or   DON’T AGREE

BECAUSE …  

TRUTH #2: God is always at work in the world. 

AGREE   or   DON’T AGREE 

BECAUSE …

TRUTH #3: Humans are also always at work in the world.

AGREE  or    DON’T AGREE

BECAUSE … 

TRUTH #4: God knows that humans need a remedy for the sinful and fallen nature of their work. 

AGREE  or  DON’T AGREE 

BECAUSE …

TRUTH #5: God becomes the remedy humans need through God’s incarnation as Jesus Christ.

AGREE   or   DON’T AGREE

BECAUSE …   

TRUTH #6: Humans can acknowledge their need for a savior from their sin and receive the saving grace of Jesus Christ. 

AGREE   or   DON’T AGREE

BECAUSE … 

TRUTH #7: When any human sincerely offers their heart to Jesus, then the power of the Holy Spirit begins to transform them into “disciples,” and they become “builders” of God’s kingdom in the world. 

AGREE   or   DON’T AGREE

BECAUSE …

Growing together in Christ …                                                                                                        <>< Pastor Bob

  


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BASEBALL BLESSINGS 2021

Tuesday night we finished up our 2021 Knights Baseball regular season. We won! Good game. Close game. We won 5-4. That made our final regular season record 10 wins and 9 losses. For most people, that means we had a winning season. 

I try not to get too hung up on winning and losing … but I’ve still got a lot of work to do in that regard! But I have gotten much better at seeing the blessings of baseball despite what the scoreboard says. 

This season was like no one other for the Knights. First, we were coming off the “lost season” of 2020, when our entire season was cancelled due to the pandemic. You may recall that I wrote about that season, and in particular the 7 seniors that never got to play their final season. Even to this day, that still weighs heavy on my heart. 

But this season became one of special blessings. My eyes were fixed more on the beauty and wonder that this game provides rather than the scoreboard. And we had plenty of amazing blessings to thank God for. Let me share a few:

> Our Athletic Director and Administrators:  Let’s start at the top. In my 4 years coaching here, I have never been so connected to the high school administration as this season. I’m sure much of that was because of the pandemic, but it gave me the opportunity to see all that goes into offering a sport in high school during a pandemic. I discovered first hand just how dedicated the leaders of our high school are to our kids and their families. 

In particular, our new Athletic Director, Nathan Seal, walked into a flurry of pandemic rules and requirements for high school sports, and Nathan was hands on with every team and every player in every season. And, I should mention, he did this every day! Oh, and by the way, Nathan is also our High School Assistant Principal!  

I am so thankful for the leader and administrator he is. Being a former coach, he always had the big picture in mind, and he worked many extra hours to ensure that our teams, and players, had every chance to play sports this year, whatever it took. And it took a lot of work from Nathan, and Shannon Cheek (Superintendent), Stephanie Seegmiller (Principal), and, behind the scenes, our dedicated school board members. I hope all of them get at least a week to decompress from this past year before they start getting revved up for another. They are all a blessing in my life.  

> An amazing group of seniors: Actually, there were 2 different amazing groups of seniors. First are the 3 seniors who there from the very first day that I arrived in Arthur. Amy and I were attending our first ALAH football game, and a small group of young men came up and introduced themselves, saying, “We hear you’re the new baseball coach.” Since that day, Logan Brough, Nik Miller, and Brady Borntreger have been committed to our team and their development in extraordinary ways. Indeed, during these 4 years, each of them has been a fixture in my life, helping to build our program and be better players on the field, and better young men off. And they have succeeded. 

The other group of seniors is 3 athletes at ALAH that made a personal decision to come out for baseball this year because, like so many teams in the area, our roster was very small. Thanks to Coach Jefferson (football) and Coach McGill (basketball) encouraging them, we added Wyatt Romine, Brayden Fay, and Jamison Rocke to the team this year. Wyatt and Brayden had played for us early in their high school years, but both chose to focus on their number one sport – Wyatt’s is basketball and Brayden’s is football. And Jamison (basketball) hadn’t played baseball for years, but he came out to help us too. 

I love a school where this can happen. At bigger schools, it’s much more unlikely that students can hop from sport to sport, or even from sport to band, or chess club, or bass fishing, or academic team. But here, it’s the norm. And because of that, our students get such a broader and deeper experience, I think, than those at big schools. These seniors are all a blessing in my life. 

> Our one freshman: Coaches seem to agree that our rosters go in cycles, so that one year we may be low in freshmen, and the next year we’ll have plenty. It all evens out in the end. This year we were blessed with one freshman who remained “all in” from his very first day of practice in February to this very day. Derrick Schrock is one committed ball player, and Cardinals fan too, by the way. Without a doubt, Derrick has made more progress in his game than any other player on our roster. He hasn’t received all the playing time he deserves, but that’s often the life of a freshman athlete. What Derrick has done, is put a smile on my face each and every day of practices and games. Just the other day, raining outside, we played our periodic game of whiffle ball in the gym. Derrick pitched. I watched all our guys have pure uninterrupted fun! Especially Derrick. Over and over, as I watched him with joy in my heart, he laughed and smiled, and played the whole game, too! And isn’t that what it’s all about.

This freshman, Derrick, is a blessing in my life.  

> Our parents and fan base: This year our home field was moved from Arthur to Lovington. Not everybody was happy with that move, but it’s clearly worked well for us. Except, it leaves many of our local Arthur fans with an 18 mile drive, there and back. But, as is said in one of my all-time favorite movies, Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. And our fans came. Each home game, I was so impressed with the turnout and the vocal support our team received. Yes, many of them are parents or grandparents of the players, but praise God for them. And, for our other loyal fans who showed up just as often as the families of the players. In particular, my mom, Lois Silvanik, came to several games, thanks in large part to my brother-in-law Peter. And Susan Bursa became one of the regulars at our home games, and would always flash the thumbs-up sign to me before the game. And a special blessing was Doug Davis, pastor at Arthur Southern Baptist Church, who was willing to broadcast ALAH baseball games for the very first time on the Knight’s Roundtable. That meant so much to our players and fans. All these folks blessed my life this season. 

As I always say when I’m writing about baseball … “I could go on” – and there are many more people that have blessed my life this season. But I think the point is clear. The true blessings in baseball, as in life, aren’t written on any scoreboard except the one in heaven, which only counts blessings. The true blessings aren’t runs, or wins, but the people that God surrounds you with as you attempt to share God’s love with a bunch of teenage baseball players who are still learning what the real blessings in life really are. 

For me, it’s the players themselves, the athletic director and administrators, and the fans in the community who actually care about the team, because the team is composed of “our kids.” Trust me on this one, the true blessings in life are not often found in the things the world places importance on – like the scoreboard in baseball. But rather the blessings are in the hearts of people around you, right in front of you, or sitting in an office at school making all the arrangements with opponents and umpires and busses, so that I can “play” the game I love and receive all the blessings this beautiful game offers me. 

FINAL NOTE: Our season is not over! This Friday, June 4th, at Lovington Field, our Knights take on Casey-Westfield in the regional tournament at 4:30pm. Win or lose, it will be a day of many blessings. I hope you can join us.  

You’ll find me in the 3rd base coaching box, praying,  

Pastor Bob <><


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