Routine and Rhythm

rrI rarely complain about too much rainfall because you never know when the next rain will come; but, it was either too much rain or rain at the wrong time that caused a delay in a Royals-Angels game this past weekend.
I watched as the playes rain to the dugout and the umpires called a “rain-delay” of the game. During this time, a documentary on the life of Warren Spahn was broadcast.

Spahn was a left-handed pitcher who was a sensation for the Boston Braves. He won the Cy Young Award—the pinnacle for pitchers. Even though his career was interrupted by World War II, Spahn still won 20 games in 12 seasons—a tremendous feat for a pitcher.

In an interview, Spahn once said: “Hitting is timing, and pitching is upsetting that timing.” Spahn knew that if he could interrupt the timing of a batter by mixing in off-speed pitches, he could keep the batter from hitting the ball.

Trying to hit a round ball with a round bat is a hard skill to develop, and it takes both routine and rhythm. Successful hitters will spend hours in the batting cage and studying pitchers—this is routine.

The rhythm part of the game is visual. It is done before the game ever starts. It is closing your eyes; rehearsing the routine of the pitcher; seeing the spin of the ball; and, feeling your bat make contact as you drive the ball out into the field.

You also need routine and rhythm in your walk with Jesus. The routine is the daily spiritual disciplines of prayer and reading the bible. The rhythm is closing your eyes and seeing what God has in store for you.

Routine and rhythm were key to the lives of both Jesus and Paul:
• Routine: Luke 4:16—Jesus went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
• Rhythm: Hebrews 12:2—For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
• Jesus’ routine was the custom of worshipping, and His rhythm was to look ahead to see the full impact and benefit of His death for us.
• Routine: 2 Timothy 4:12 (Paul speaking to Timothy)—When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
• Rhythm: 2 Timothy 4:7-8—I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
• Paul’s routine was a daily study of the Scripture, and his rhythm was to look for to the heavenly prize.

As you go through your routine, take the time to reflect on what God has done for you; what He is going to do for you; and what He is using you to do. This is the rhythm that will add joy to your daily routine.

The Perfect Pitch

Ted-Williams-Quotes-3Over the weekend, which happened to include Father’s Day, I listened to an interview that focused on a book written about Ted Williams. The book, written by Williams’ daughter, looks at one of the greatest hitters who ever played the game of baseball, and highlights some of the lessons this daughter learned from her father.

Williams spoke one time of his relationship with Rogers Hornsby who was also one of baseball’s greats. Williams said: Hornsby “treated me like a son, couldn’t have been nicer. And he gave me the greatest single piece of advice on hitting that I ever got: Wait for a good pitch to hit.”

To an impatient person like me, “wait” is a four letter word. It is, however, an important principle in a person’s relationship with God. Notice what the Bible says about waiting:

• Psalm 27:14: Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
• Isaiah 40:31: those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
• Romans 5:1-5: Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces patient endurance, patient endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Even though “wait” is a four letter word, it is one tht should be in your vocabulary, and the acrostic below helps to explain why:

Wisdom that is greater than yours: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

Acknowledge there is strength that you need: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

Insight from Scripture that will guide you: I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path (psalm 119:1-4-105).

Trust in the goodness of Good: Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things (Psalm 107:8-9).

Waiting is difficult when there is no obvious reason for the delay, and being patient can appear to be a waste of time when no purpose is in sight; however, when something better is promised, and hope is just beyond the horizon, waiting on God might be the best use of your time.

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Before the advent of the personal computer, summer days were spent at Graham Park, Skelly School, or some other ball diamond.  Those were days when baseball was undisputed as Amercia’s favorite game.

I enjoyed the games of “work up,” homerun derby, or whatever as long as it had a bat and a ball.  The many years I spent coaching my son through his little  league years were time consuming but very enjoyable.

As Papa, I am now watching my granchildren, and my advice to them is the same as it was to my children:  Keep your eye on the ball!  I had to remind a grandson of this a couple of weeks ago when a basketball rebounded off of his eye.  “Carson,” I said, “that is not what I meant when I said keep your eye on the ball.”

Over the years I’ve talked to some of the better hitters about technique.   Almost without fail, they have said the secret to getting consistent hits is vision:  You have to see the ball.

Seeing the ball means focusing on the seams of the ball and recognizing the spin.  Pitches can be identified by recognizing the rotation.  To help explain this, you can see a graph at this link.

One way to learn how to identify the curve ball is to stand behind a batting cage and watch a pitcher throw fastballs.  This may sound strange, but identifying what it isn’t helps you learn to identify what it is.

This is the technique Paul used when he was warning the Christians at Galatia.  They had been given the standard of truth, and Paul said they were to measure the “different” gospel against the pure doctrine.  They were to study and recognize the fastball theology they had been taught, so they would not be led astray by the strange spin of a curveball.

A comment by Joe Garagiola can serve as a thought to keep you thinking:  Nolan Ryan is pitching much better now that he has his curveball straightened out.  Was Joe putting a spin on his words or was he just stating a fact?