Overcoming Adversity

On August 10, 1989, Dave Dravecky took the mound to pitch for the San Francisco Giants.

UNITED STATES – AUGUST 10: Baseball: San Francisco Giants Dave Dravecky (43) in action, pitching vs Cincinnati Reds during first start after having cancer surgery in pitching arm, View of WELCOME BACK DAVE sign on screen scoreboard at Candlestick Park, stadium, San Francisco, CA 8/10/1989 (Photo by Mickey Pfleger/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

As you can see from the picture, he was warmly welcomed back by the fans. Why is that so remarkable? Well, it’s because Dravecky had endured surgery to remove a tumor in his deltoid muscle in 1988. The doctors informed him that he would never pitch again. Dravecky spent over a year rehabbing and recovering, determined to get back on the mound. And on August 10, he pitched the game of his career. He went 8 innings of 3 run ball in defeating the Cincinnati Reds. However, his next outing on August 15, 1989, in Montreal would end his career and change his life forever. Dravecky pitched three no-hit innings, but in the fifth inning, he felt a tingling sensation in his arm. In the sixth inning, he started off shaky, allowing a home run to the leadoff batter and then hit the second batter, Andres Galarraga with the pitch. Then, on his first pitch to Tim Raines, his humerus bone snapped; the sound of it breaking could be heard throughout the stadium. Dravecky fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Eighteen days later, doctors informed Dravecky that cancer had returned to the arm. For the next two years, Dravecky endured surgeries and therapy. Then, on June 19, 1991, doctors amputated his shoulder and arm.
Dravecky, a Christian, went through an emotional rollercoaster – anger, depression, and disbelief. Yet, his faith in Christ kept him going. Dravecky, “When I broke my arm, I knew there was something a lot bigger than baseball (about to happen) … I had a sense that God had something for me, something bigger than baseball.” Today, Dravecky is a motivational speaker and helps people overcome their adversities.
As believers, we are promised adversity, sometimes it is from the world and other times God allows things to happen to us. And nothing will stop or hinder God’s plans for our lives. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The verse promises that God is at work in our lives, whether we sense His divine plan or not. God is at work! We overcome adversity by trusting him daily and knowing that He will fulfill the work He began at our salvation! Just trust Him!
God bless,
Pastor Mike

 

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Land of Liberty & Freedom

At the height of immigration into the United States 1880-1921, there were only two inspections. The immigrant’s papers were checked and a physical was conducted. Only 2-5% were not allowed into the country either because of suspicious papers or physical problems (e.g. cholera, influenza, tuberculous and other communicable diseases). However, because of a large number of immigrants flowing into America, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924. The bill passed Congress with bipartisan support 323 to 71. The Act limited the number of immigrants to 2% of each nationality. Southern Europeans were particularly scrutinized and the vast majority were not allowed into the country. So, 1924 seems to be the point where America began to tighten its borders and restrict entry into the U.S. There were many other restrictions in the Act of 1924, but I am trying to keep this short. I would encourage you to read it for yourself.
The hot topic of immigration reform in our country today has me thinking about entrance into heaven. A majority of people believe that all “roads” lead to heaven. So, whether you are a Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic, Muslim or other religion, you will get into heaven. However, Jesus says that only those who come to him will be admitted into the Kingdom of God. Jesus told Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In a world that believes everyone goes to heaven, Jesus declares that He is the only way to God. While God is loving, merciful and full of grace, He has provided only one way to reach Him – Jesus Christ! Those who accept Christ by faith are the only ones who will be admitted into the Kingdom. All other roads are closed! There will be an inspection, not of your documentation, but of your faith! Make sure you have the right faith! Trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior! Then, you will be welcomed into the land of real Liberty and Freedom! At liberty to worship God and freedom from sin, bondage and death!
In Christ, Pastor Mike

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Abortion

Ireland has officially overturned years of anti-abortion laws protecting the fetus. The final vote was 66% to 34% in favor of allowing women the right to choose to end a human life. Although this defeat is tragic and morally unacceptable, Americans are starting to shift in their opinions of abortion. According to Rasmussen poll taken earlier this year,  49% of likely U.S. voters now consider themselves pro-life, while 46% say they are pro-choice. While 5% are undecided, this same voting group believes that abortion should be restricted. We are starting to move the needle in the right direction. So, why are Americans starting to slowly move toward protecting the unborn? Well, there may be several reasons for the change.
First, Americans are becoming more conservative. Yes, I said more conservative. The last election points to a middle-America uprising which has not been witnessed in decades or possibly ever. If you take away the California vote, conservatism swept across the nation. This reaction is partly due to the eight years of liberal ideology and the results of that ideology on mainstream America. We saw a record increase on a dependency upon the State, a decline in our moral fiber, an increase in crime, loss of jobs and a general sense that the nation was moving in the wrong direction.
Second, and perhaps, more importantly, science and what we know about conception is having a huge impact on public opinion. Scientists are now leading the way in understanding the fetus. New technology is revealing some previously unknown facts. Science is now discovering that the fetus feels pain, can hear sound including recognizing the mother’s voice, laugh and cry. These findings are helping the pro-life cause. Armed with this new information, Americans are beginning to turn against the pro-choice movement. While we are not completely there yet, thank God for scientific breakthroughs.
Finally, we are slowly moving toward protecting life. God and the Bible have always been on the side of the unborn. Exodus 21:22-23,  “When men strive (fight) together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life.” Although there are many other passages that support life, God is still the author of human life and desires these precious babies to be protected from harm. Keep praying!
in Christ,
Pastor Mike

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North Korean Crisis

During my Army days in the 80s, I made four trips to South Korea. On three of those occasions, I was on the DMZ (The Demilitarized Zone). I remember looking into North Korea with armed guards looking back at me. At that time, my focus was on the enemy in the north. Our goal was to protect the South Korean people and provide a show of force along the border. However, today I have a much different view of North Korea. Maybe because I understand the real situation in the Korean peninsula and partly because of my growing faith in Christ. As a pastor, I have become sympathetic to the plight of the people. In short, I no longer view them as the “enemy” but a people in crisis.
Here are some undeniable facts about the situation in North Korea:
1. The average worker makes $2 or $3 a month. It is hard to imagine in the economically driving culture of today that people could possibly live on that amount of money.
2. 84% of Korean households have borderline or poor food consumption. In practical terms, it means the people are eating a poor quality of food. We have become spoiled as a nation. We drive 5 minutes down the road and shop for quality food. The people in North Korea do not have that luxury. They are forced to eat sub-standard food. And worse of all, the children are deprived of vital nutrients they need for growing healthy bodies.
3. 48% of North Koreans live below poverty. Think about that for a moment. This means that roughly half the country lives in a state of poverty. Images taken from space reveal the horrible, real-life conditions of the people.
4. 200,000 North Koreans live in concentration camps. We know the Jews suffered during WWII in Auschwitz and Dachau. The world promised never again would people have to suffer the horror of these camps. But, these camps are alive and well in the north. If a person manages to escape, often their entire families are killed. And 40% of the prisoners interned at these concentration camps die of malnutrition. It simply is horrific.
5. Kim Jong Un has instituted a three-generation punishment. So, if your grandfather committed a crime, the next three generations will pay the price. This is partly to keep generations oppressed and to establish an authoritative rule.
6. The government spends 5 Billion dollars on the military and weapons. So, the military consumes over 30% of the annual budget. Another large portion of the budget goes to the affluent few. This leaves the average person with very little.
When President Trump announced today that the summit has been canceled, my heart sunk because of the people. As Christians, we should be on our knees begging and asking God to intervene. So, I would like to encourage every Christian to pray daily for the people in North Korea.
In Christ, Pastor Mike

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Mother’s Day

This Sunday, May 12th is Mother’s Day. On this day we remember our mother’s sacrifice, devotion, and love. Also, I am mindful that some mothers are no longer with us. So, I realize that tomorrow may be difficult. Please know that I understand those emotions and your loss. My prayer is that those godly mothers who went before us will be honored and cherished in our hearts always!
Today, we are thankful for those godly mother’s who have made an impact on our spiritual lives. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
Paul reminds Timothy that the Christian faith was instilled in him by his mother and grandmother. This wonderful verse reveals two important points about these godly women.
First, these two women lived the faith. Paul’s use of the word “dwelt” (ἐνοικέω) means that faith in Christ was active in their hearts and lives. The gospel had made a home in their hearts. In short, the gospel had set up house in their innermost being and was being lived out on a daily basis. So, the influence was much broader than sharing a Scripture and praying with Timothy before bed. The young boy Timothy was able to see the real Christian faith lived out on a practical level.
Second, the Christian faith was caught by Timothy. Paul’s words “I am sure” (πείθω) refers to something that is convincing beyond question or something that is certain. So, what was Paul convinced of in regards to Timothy? He was convinced that the same faith that was alive in his mother and grandmother is now fully active in Timothy’s life. Although we are not told how this came about, we can safely assume that both Timothy’s mother and grandmother spent hours teaching him the ways of God and leading him to personal faith in Christ. What a joy it must have been for these two godly women to see Timothy not only receive Christ but to watch it play out in his daily life!
As we celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow, I want to thank all mothers for your dedication, service, and love! Teaching your children to follow and be obedient to Christ is the greatest challenge and yet, the most rewarding. You are leading a legacy of the Christian faith and the Kingdom of God!
So, my prayer is that you truly have a wonderful day!!!

in Christ, Pastor Mike

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