Baseball is back! Opening Day is scheduled for April 1, and while I had my doubts with it falling on April Fool's Day, I'm so excited for the Padres to finally kick-off the 2021 season! We came close last year, but THIS year ... this is the year! Just like every other team, the Padres went through Spring Training for the past six weeks. During this time, they worked on the fundamentals of baseball that prepared us for the year we win The World Series!
Back when I used to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, we took Spring Training very seriously. And every year we’d look forward to our Farm Director’s (I spent my 10 professional seasons in the minor league 'farm' system) speech that starts off the season. (The Farm Director is who tells you whether you’re going up or down the farm system levels.)
He'd start his speech with the most basic fundamentals, saying, "Gentlemen, this is a baseball. It’s 9 inches in circumference. It’s 5 ounces, made of cowhide, and it has 108 red stitches strung around it ... "
Oh yeah, he’d go into detail! Next, he'd say, "Men, this is a baseball glove ..." Then, he'd explain, "This is a baseball bat ..." No matter who you are on the team, you attend Spring Training and you get back to the basics. I can imagine the Padres locker room ... you have people like Fernando Tatis Jr who recently signed a $340million contract for the next 14-years listening to a similar speech. With money like that, it would be easy for anyone to forget the most basic principles of the game.
You throw the ball.
You catch the ball.
And you hit the ball.
But our Farm Director would finish by saying, "And men, the team that does that the best will win the World Championship!"
Can you tell me why 300 million dollar players enter Spring Training to do the same drills we did in Little League? Or why players like Tatis even have coaches?!
Because the fundamentals are the essentials! It's the same in the Christian faith. There are basic habits that shape our faith that have to be present for us to experience what it's like to be a Champion for Christ. At Skyline Church, we discuss these habits in our Seven Steps for Spiritual Growth Class. If you've been in the faith very long, you know that a devotional time lays the groundwork for God to move in your life. You've also experienced that the habit of prayer is in essence primary to growing in relationship with God. You know that regular giving is pivotal in transforming your heart. In addition to what we do privately, we get together as Christians regularly!
It's essential! Because no matter how long you've been in the faith, we all need to consistently get back to the basics. And while we don't have a $340 million contract, as years tack on, we too can get comfortable in our faith and neglect to participate in the fundamentals of our faith.
We have devotional time.
And we gather!
Ladies and gentlemen ... the believers that do this the best are what I call a Champion for Christ!
I'll finish with this ... when I was a young guy, I liked going out on Saturday night. Even as I became a Christian I lived in that tension of half-hearted commitment. I had one foot "in the world" and one foot "in Christianity." That never works. There came a point when I started leaving gatherings with my friends and teammates to go to church. They wanted to know why I was doing this "church" thing so often. I had a decision to make. And, it may seem shallow, but I didn’t have the theological answers at the time. So, I just said, "It makes me feel good."
There's going to come a time where you have to choose between your old habits and some new Christian habits. Some habits may be bad habits that you always knew you needed to let go of. But there are also going to be some "okay" habits that aren't necessarily bad, but they are prohibiting you from becoming a Champion for Christ. No one makes it to the Major Leagues without sacrificing something. You may sacrifice staying out late with friends to go to church, eating out to give more, sleeping in to have a devotional time ... we all have secondary pleasures that get in the way of our primary goals from time to time.
It's in these moments, that we need to prioritize our commitments and decide what our main goal is. In these moments we need to get back to the basics and practice the fundamentals.
Ask yourself today, what is your main objective in life? Have you decided to prioritize your relationship with God above all else in life? Are you executing the fundamentals of your objective regularly? If you will apply the fundamentals you can bet you'll be a Champion for Christ.
*Read more blogs and articles from Dr. Jeremy McGarity at JeremyMcGarity.com!