Monday, June 18, 2007

t-ball theology

When I started thinking about The Rules of T-Ball, I began first with the “no-one-keeps-score” rule and how that relates to our relationship with God. The typical scriptures jumped to mind: 1 Corinthians 13:5: (…love keeps no record of wrongs) or Isaiah 43:25 (“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”). But it seemed like a message about “God-not-keeping-score” sounded as sincere as a drugstore card. And a little theologically screwy.

There is a divine "score-keeping" with which we have to wrestle.

One of the most frightening scriptures for me is Matthew 25:31-33: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

That scene, honestly, is terrifying to me. The picture of a global accounting leaves me speechless; I don’t know how to fit it nicely into our Western approach to church that is essentially suffering-free. And hellfire preachers typically don’t do it justice either—they can strike me as style-over-compassion. But this cosmic shakeout of humanity is simply outside my scope of understanding. Even more fascinating is how utterly dumbstruck the sheep are that they had actually done anything for Jesus. And it’s not just the social justice aspect that gets questioned, like how we respond to the poor, the prisoner, etcetera, but power-encounter-spirituality as well. Jesus said earlier: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’” (Matthew 7:22). He frighteningly responds with, “Get away from me. I don’t know who you are.” Nearly every book in the New Testament specifically refers to this Judgment Day…and keep in mind these are primarily letters written to friends and churchplants.

Here’s the rub: we know it’s not by our works of righteousness that we enter into the Kingdom (Titus 3:5), yet we are still accountable for our actions. But as we see in the “Lord, Lord…” verse, it’s not just our actions, it’s how actions are connected with our motivations. And if our motivation isn’t love or compassion, then it’s disqualified. Or as Paul put it: If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever. (1 Corinthians 13:3 Living Bible)

God does keep a compassion-check scorecard. It’s not just the things we do, but the things we do that are driven by true love. And I have to admit that’s more than a little unnerving for me, because I know I can't wait until I'm motivated, but it won't count until it morphs into compassion. That's sobering.

But as the psalmist said, the bright side is this: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...” (Psalm 111.10).

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God has God living inside, and that person lives in God. And so we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. This is how love is made perfect in us: that we can be without fear on the day God judges us, because in this world we are like him. 1 John 4:15-17 (New Century Version)


  1. I have been going through a debate with some friends on the Church and how they congregate. Sunday, your talk about "taking a swipe at the bride can merit a butt-whooping by God" was a real big help and inspiration. I needed to hear it, and repent of some things. Thanks for being open to hearing what God has to say. He uses your words.


  2. For the record, I did not actually say "a butt-whooping by God".

    But I wish I had. That's good.

  3. Dave, you know who I am. I am the deployed soldier in Sacramento. My situation has taken a huge turn for the worse. I am loosing faith. I am asking God for a miracle. I love my wife so very much, yet she has found another. Being in the military has hurt my relationship so much. I am attending Vineyard here in Sacramento, and going to bible study on Monday nights. I am learning more each week. I have learned that God will not give us more than we can bear. I am at my breaking point. I hurt so very badly. My heart has been ripped apart. Dave. please say a special prayer for me. As you told me a few weeks ago, I am trying to take care of myself by devoting more time to God. However, its a very hard road. I feel as if God is not listening. Any words of encouragement?

  4. This blog has been very sleepy lately. I'm ready for a new posting!!!


  5. Where are you Dave? You didn't quit the church did you?
    Hope all is well.

  6. Anonymous,

    It's certainly unfair and painful that you're in your current position. ... There are a lot of spoken and unspoken questions in your post. Where is God right now? What should I do?

    First, God is right there with you. He grieves with you over the pain you're feeling, and also promises to work in your life to bring good even through the crappy stuff like your current situation. He has given you a church family in Sacremento to lean on, and even a random visitor to this website like me to offer some encouragement. I'd encourage you to try to find a men's group at your church to hook up with. They can be God's hands and feet in this situation.

    Regarding your wife, I obviously don't know the circumstances. But I'd like to just suggest this... She has definitely wronged you, but I'd like to suggest that you go to her and tell her that you're sorry for whatever you've done to hurt her and cause her to want to look elsewhere. Ask her to tell her what it is/was because you want to change. Then listen. Don't defend your position. Just listen and try to hear what it is that she has been missing. My guess is that she didn't feel emotionally connected to you before you left for your current assignment. (Just a guess, and I could be WAY off, so I'm sorry if I am.) At any rate, if there's any chance of you reconnecting with her, you're going to have to demonstrate to her that you want to understand her and that you're committed to loving her in the way that she needs to be loved.

    Regardless of the outcome, forgiving her is also going to be an issue you'll need to tackle.

    I am so sorry that you're going through your current struggles. I have been through some very low points in my own marriage as well as my wife struggled with depression. I can't relate to your exact situation, but I can relate to your pain. More importantly, God feels your pain and does love you, even when you don't feel it.

    I hope that this helps some. I trust that God brought me to this site for a reason and hope that it was to be of some encouragement to you.

    Your brother in Christ,


  7. Tim,
    Thank you for the comments. I have pretty much lost faith in my wife comming back to me. I have prayed every night for months, and I seem to hear God telling me that our marriage will be renewed. However, I am not getting any kind of movement from my wife. I feel like she has totaly closed her heart to God and me. It does hurt very badly, yet I am getting better each day. I have tried to get someone to contact her from the Vineyard, yet that has not hapened. I feel as if someone from the Vienyard would speak with her, and guide her, she may come back to God, and subsequently back to me. I do love her very much, yet I know if she did ever come back to me it would take a lot of prayer and counseling to make things better. I myself am loosing faith. I am at a loss to what my next step should be. Should I start seeing other women now as she has told me to?

  8. Anonymous,

    I'm a bit unclear... Are you two still married? (At least technically.)

    Let me suggest a site to you where they deal with this sort of thing a lot. Go check out

    Also, painful as it is, see if you can separate your feelings/faith in God from your pain that you're feeling. I wish it were the case, but becoming a Christian doesn't protect us from being hurt, or from bad things happening to us. ... Sometimes bad thing happen as a direct result of our faith, and at other times bad things just happen to us because we live in a fallen world.

    I won't pretend to be a marriage expert. I'm not a member of Dave's church, and won't presume to speak on his behalf. However, this seems clear ... Your wife has chosen a course of action and seems determined to pursue it. Your continued pursuit of her doesn't seem to be making any progress. It may be that your last option is to say, "I love you, and want to reconcile, but if you continue on this path, you leave me no choice but to divorce you." I assume that right now she's having the best of both worlds. She gets to go out with some other guy, and you're still sending home checks that pay her rent. ... There need to be some consequences for her behavior, and at a minimum they need to be that you aren't going to continue to pay for her to live comfortably while she persists in having an affair.

    The point wouldn't be to punish her, but to homefully cause her to step back and rethink her actions. However, it may be that she will persist in her behavior and you will be forced to grieve over your loss and move on.

    There are a lot of resources on the site I mentioned, and they might also be able to put you in touch with a counselor who's close to you who could help you sort through some of this stuff.

    Please keep us posted online. Also, you really need to see if you can find some guys at your local church to hook up with. ... Some sort of accountability group...


  9. Mike,

    Just found your post from June 1, and it certainly casts things in a different light. Not to throw stone, but that post hardly sounded like a guy who was stepping up and taking full responsibility for his actions. It sounded in some respects like you were trying to justify yourself. ... Let's face it, you misled your wife. You withheld information from her about finances and brought another woman into your apartment without telling her. ... Many would assume there's more to that story, but regardless of whether there is, you proved yourself untrustworthy to your wife. It's not the pain from years ago that hurt her, it's what you did more recently.

    You definitely need to go check out I'd recommend you look into attending an Every Man's Battle workshop. I'm certain they have some near you. ...On that site you can read lots of stories about men who have hurt their wives and had to deal with the consequences. It may be to late to save your marriage, but it's definitely too late if you don't fully own up to what you have done to her and see things from her perspective.

    God wants more for you than what you're currently experiencing, regardless of whether your wife takes you back or not. To do that, you need to fully own up to who you are, and allow Him to begin to change you.

    Check out that site... Seriously... You'll find lots of material aimed right at you where you are right now.

  10. Dave!

    Hope you are finally feeling better and managed to at least enjoy some of your break in July. Uhhmm, since you were gone and I couldn't ask you in person. . .well I thought you wouldn't mind. . .uhhmm. . .sort of nominating us for a contest in 2008:


    We really do have great bathrooms at VCC, and since they serve as both public restrooms and classrooms (ultimate training ground for business blast servant evangelism) I figured we are a shoe in as one of the best in the country!

    Your buddy!