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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, New York
Exterior of National Baseball Hall of Fame
Cooperstown, New York

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"Faith Hall Of Fame"
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for" (Hebrews 11:1,2).

Baseball Hall Of Fame plaque in Cooperstown, New York
Last Friday Ester and I visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. It was an interesting visit with many, many displays of the history of baseball. The main hall gallery featured bronze plaques honoring some of the greatest players such as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb.

I've enjoyed baseball since I was a kid and have many memories such as piling into the family sedan and driving into Kansas City to see the Kansas City Athletics play at the old Municipal Stadium. I can easily see in my mind's eye my PaPa (grandfather) carefully keeping the box score as he listened intently to his favorite team, the Saint Louis Cardinals, over the radio. And best of all I played little league baseball as a young boy and fondly remember honing my skill of catching the flies and grounder balls while playing hour after hour in the yard with my friend David.

Baseball Hall Of Fame plaque in Cooperstown, New York

I, like so many boys, had dreams of someday playing in the big leagues. But out of the millions and millions of boys who have played baseball, many of them dreaming of making it to the majors, only 15,500 have ever seen this dream fulfilled, even for one game. Of those, only 1% are selected to be in the Hall of Fame, which is baseball's highest level of commendation. I have come to the conclusion that I have absolutely no chance of being in baseball's hall of fame in my lifetime. But this got me thinking about another Hall Of Fame and another type of commendation I expect to someday receive!  Something far greater.

Hebrews 11 is known as the "Faith Chapter" and contains a series of brief biographical sketches of men and women of faith. This is often referred to as the Hall of Fame of Biblical characters. The recurring expression in the chapter is the phrase "by faith" (found 22 times), which introduces each individual and the demonstration of their faith in God.

Throughout the book the writer of Hebrews typically uses what is known as the hortative voice, urging and encouraging his readers with the expression "let us" or including himself with his readers using the first person plural pronoun "we" or "us". His writing style seems as if he's communicating to fellow believers in a small group setting and encouraging them on as a fellow believer. This is also my favorite style both as a preacher, writer and listener.

In this chapter the ancients are commended for their faith. Hebrews 11:3 makes a foundational faith statement, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Of course this foundational statement is under persistent and vicious attack by the secular modernist.

But the writer of Hebrews forthrightly states, "By faith we understand…" And praise be to God it is by faith that I do understand and believe this to be true though I never saw the process of creation with my own physical eyes! Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers, "that the eyes of their hearts may be enlightened" (1:18) so too our faith is nurtured and our understanding increases when our spiritual vision is not limited to just what we see or what is proven through modern science.

In the section from verses 4 through 39 the pronouns change to "he" or "they" as the writer illustrates the faith the ancients were commended for. This section ends with this concluding phrase, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised" (Hebrews 11:39).

In the very next verse the writer resumes his use of the 1st person plural with this powerful truth, "God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect" (11:40). The "us" includes "us"!

The context of the book indicates the "something better" is the incarnate ministry of Jesus Christ! Believers, in the Old Testament period, looked forward in faith to the promised future work of Christ. Believers, since the New Testament period, look back in faith to the finished work of Christ. Ultimately this is the basis for which we are all commended. Thanks be unto God!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, the people of faith listed in Hebrews died without receiving all that You had promised, but they never lost their faith vision of heaven as a "better country – a heavenly one." We take courage from these brave heroes of our faith who remained faithful to You in this life so that they could inherit a future eternal life with You. We who follow You many generations later trust Jesus' promise that He returned to heaven to prepare a place for all who remain faithful. We anticipate with great joy the hour that we are joined with You to receive our commendation in the clouds of glory for all eternity. In Jesus mighty Name, Amen.

Photos taken at the Baseball Hall Of Fame and Cooperstown, New York

Baseball Hall Of Fame main hall in Cooperstown, New York
The main hall has a dignified, almost solemn feel.

Yankee Cow at Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, New York
There were three floors of displays at the Hall of Fame including this Yankee cow!

Mystery sockBaseball trivia:  Any idea why they would place this sock on display? Actually it's a great example of perseverance!  (see below)

Flying bat photo at Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, New York
Lots of great baseball photos were on display.

Otsego Lake from Cooperstown, New York
Cooperstown is at the southern tip of Otsego lake, which is the source of one branch of the Susquehanna River, which runs about five miles from where we live and is the main river source for Chesapeake Bay.  
Cooperstown is a beautiful small Victorian village and is isolated in regard to any major highways going through it, which makes it all the more interesting. (Google map)

Rick Steudler with Mom 6/14/10Yesterday we joined our friend Rick Steudler for lunch at the Willow Valley Restaurant. Rick brought his 90+ year old Mom who has one of the most pleasant smiles we've ever seen. Rick is one of the businessmen we work with in our chaplain ministry, but this visit was entirely social and  the conversation centered mostly around our mutual interest in gardening.

Sour cherries ready for prep 6/14/10
Following our meal we went over to a friend's house who had given us permission to pick all the sour cherries off their cherry tree. This was a family effort and after an hour of picking we ended up with 9 pounds of cherries as you can see by the nine bowls (after removing the bad ones). Last night Brooksyne and Ester pitted them and today Brooksyne will make several batches of cherry jam!  Perhaps our favorite jam!  We'll share them with the generous family as well as at least one pie!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.) 

"Find Us Faithful"
 Video  Steve Green. I often use this song but it fits so well again with today's message.

"Hearts Courageous"  Video  Jamie Owens-Collins

National Baseball Hall Of Fame

Christian Hall Of Fame  Of course this hall of fame reflects both the theological and geographical frame of reference of the compiler but is interesting nevertheless.

The mystery sock was worn by Curt Schilling in the 2004 World Series (see here for the story. This site also has more photos of the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with descriptive captions)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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