Don't Die On Third Base
by Dr. Glen Clifton
(Port St. Lucie, FL, USA)
Jesus said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mark 12:34
As I pray over, and write this sermon, IT IS ALMOST “WORLD SERIES” time in the good ‘ole U.S.A. It’s into October, 2006, and we still do not know who will be in the Series. This year with all the SCANDALS, the DISGRACEFUL FALL of some former stars, the DRUGS, the FIRINGS of managers, the LEGAL PROBLEMS of some players, the SLUMP of a few teams during the last few weeks of the season. “WHO WILL BE IN THE WORLD SERIES?” Which team will DIE ON THIRD BASE….”ALMOST WINNERS!”
While I was pastor in California, I WAS COACHING a summer American Legion Baseball team. The GAME WAS TIED three to three, and we came to bat in the last of the NINTH inning. After one out, we loaded the bases.
We went to the TENTH INNING, and we got one boy to third. Our biggest hitter was up at the plate. I called Bobby back and told him, “Bob, we don’t need a homer.
I’m going to tell you HOW TO BE A HERO.” He ask me, “How do I do that coach?” I got in his ear and said, “You are GOING TO BUNT.” “WHAT, NO WAY,” he said. I told him, "DO NOT LISTEN TO THE CROWD…and BUNT.” He bunted, WE WON!
REMEMBER: NO baseball game IS EVER WON ON THIRD BASE.
I. SOME CHURCHES DIE ON THIRD BASE
Some CHURCHES just seem to be waiting on something to happen, rather than making things happen. WE ARE WAITING on the PASTOR, for the right EVANGELIST, for a big REVIVAL to help us around third. They wait for a PASSED BALL, a WILD PITCH, a BALK or a BAD THROW.
Some PEOPLE in America are like that…..CAMPED ON THIRD, just waiting for UNCLE SAM to help and support them. They wait every month for the BIG DOLE, the WELFARE HANDOUT, the FREE LUNCH.
And, the Apostle Paul said, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).
A. FIRST, THERE ARE THE KNOCKERS AND COMPLAINERS
Every baseball game has its knockers. They KNOCK the TEAM, the COACH, the SCHOOL, and the PARENTS. There is no place on earth where KNOCKING is more dominating than at a baseball game, UNLESS IT IS THE CHURCH. It is usually true that “KNOCKERS do not WORK, and WORKERS do not KNOCK.”
Then, there are the COMPLAINERS. These are those who can never be pleased with anything that happens….at a GAME, or in the CHURCH. NOTHING, absolutely nothing, ever pleases them….SO THEY COMPLAIN!
BEN FRANKLIN once said, “Any FOOL can criticize, condemn, and complain, and MOST FOOLS DO!” SOMEONE ELSE said, “I’ve seen lots of STATUES erected to those who have been criticized, but I have never seen a statue erected to a critic.”
I heard about the TWO TAXIDERMISTS who stopped in front of a store window and immediately began to CRITICIZE the way an OWL had been MOUNTED. “Its EYES are not natural.” one said. “Yeah, and its WINGS are not in proportion to its head,” said the other. “Its FEATHERS are not neatly arranged; and its FEET on that limb could be improved,” the other critic said. During their CRITIQUE, the old OWL TURNED his head, WINKED at them, then FLEW down to the ground.
B. SECOND, THERE ARE THE QUITTERS
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “A QUITTER never wins, and a WINNER never quits.” STICKABILITY and PERSEVERANCE are some of the most admired qualities in a successful persons life.
SOMEONE HAS SAID, “If all the world loves a lover, then all the world despises a quitter.” This is God’s church, and I am God’s child….SO, THIS IS ALSO MY CHURCH! This is MY FAMILY! Can I say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course.” (II Timothy 4:7).
C. THIRD, THERE ARE THE BENCH WARMERS
These are the people who don’t knock…they don’t cheer…they don’t criticize, they JUST SIT THERE. In the church, they are the SCULPTURED FIGURES whose favorite hymn is: “I shall not be moved.” They just sit, and sit, and sit. No one can “THAW” them out. You can’t “FREEZE” them out, and nobody can “FIRE” them up.
For many, the CHURCH is nothing more than a SPIRITUAL HOTEL serving up a meal or two on Sunday on its EXCURSION TRAIN to glory. For others, the CHURCH is nothing more than just another COUNTRY CLUB for spiritual fat cats, INSTEAD OF BEING a HOSPITAL for the lost, the wounded and the hurting.
It’s no wonder that OUR LORD DECLARED to one church, “I wish that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16). Jesus said, “You are either WITH me, or AGAINST me.” (Matthew 12:30).
II. SOME MINISTERS DIE ON THIRD BASE
Many of these PASTORS die on third base, because they make NO EFFORT TO SCORE! Some are FAITHFUL, GIFTED, TALENTED men! They never seem to be “RATTLED,” but always seem to have a SPIRITUAL CHARLIE HORSE, that keeps them from doing anything positive of the Lord.
Some teams become so BOASTFUL that it begins to hinder their performance. It becomes: “all about me,” OR “look at me…I’m the best.”
After almost 50 years of preaching the Gospel, I believe that the GREATEST DOWNFALL of the MINISTER is “PRIDE!” Some may fall through SEXUAL sins, and some through GREED for material gain, and some from the STRESSFUL pressure from the leadership of the church or the congregation, but it is PRIDE that leads to personal weakness and a fall. (I Corinthians 10:12)
Ministers are called to be HUMBLE. The Apostle Paul warned against PRIDE. In his letter to the CHURCH at EPHESUS, he wrote, “See that you walk circumspectly (carefully), not as fools, but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15).
MINISTERS SHOULD NOT be like that! Because of a ministers position in the church, he can began to think that he is BETTER than everyone else. He may think that he is someone SPECIAL, and DESERVES special attention. He may think he KNOWS MORE than everyone else, and therefore he should be given special treatment. These things, and many more may lead him to stronger PATH OF PRIDE…AND A FALL.
Instead of being equipped with the “Sword of the Spirit,” the minister will only have a little “Butter Knife.” His POWER and GLORY will be gone, BECAUSE HE HAS FALLEN TO PRIDE, and worst of all, he won’t even know it.” (I Samuel 4:21).
Some MINISTERS just FORGET who they are: They were CALLED and ORDAINED to preach BY THE LORD ! Every GOD-CALLED preacher should fulfill his deepest longing, his daily purpose, to preach and share the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, some ministers are “just there.” They never visit, they never prepare, they never share, they never try to win souls to their Lord. They JUST SIT ON THIRD base and expect someone else to help them to score.
LISTEN BASEBALL FANS: There is nothing in the universe SO SAD as to see a man DIE on THIRD BASE. There is nothing so disheartening as to see a TEAM FALL TO PIECES in the ninth; to see a PITCHER blow up in the last inning, to witness an ERROR in a crucial situation causing the team to lose the game.
BUT, LET ME END THIS MESSAGE ON A HIGHER NOTE, A POSITIVE AND EXCITING WORD…
What do you think about this verse…? “What shall it profit a man if he gain the PLAYOFFS and make it to the WORLD SERIES, and DIE ON THIRD BASE?” No, that’s NOT in God’s Word, but IT IS IN the BASEBALL BIBLE.
III. SOME REASONS TO SCORE FROM THIRD BASE
A. YOUR MOTHER IS WAITING FOR YOU AT HOME PLATE
There’s nothing greater than a MOTHERS PRAYER: “God save my child.” Many a man who’s life has been steeped in sin, was brought to conviction by his mothers prayers. Many were going, going, and almost gone, but their mother prayed, and through the power of the Holy Spirit in response to her prayers, a son or a daughter was transformed through the blood of Jesus.
B. HUSBAND, A WIFE IS WAITING FOR YOU AT HOME PLATE
Sir, she does not want your money, your presents, or the material things of life. She wants YOU, and her FAMILY CIRCLE complete. She wants you to pull with her. She wants you to be the SPIRITUAL LEADER of the home.
C. PARENTS: A CHILD IS WAITING FOR YOU AT HOME PLATE
One little boy said to me, “If my Dad can be so kind and clean, and not a member of the church WHY SHOULD I BELONG?” Many a child is without Christ and outside the Church because of his dad.
IN THE JUDGMENT many a BOY will say, “My dad never read his Bible, never prayed, never told me about Jesus.” I believe if there is a place in HELL that is HOTTER than any other place, it will be for the father who did not give his son a good example.
AND MORE IMPORTANTLY….
D. FRIENDS, A WONDERFUL SAVIOR IS WAITING FOR YOU AT HOME PLATE
God Almighty, in His Son Jesus, is waiting for you. How long He has waited for you. Through the long hours of the DAY, and during the long silence of the NIGHT, He has waited for you. He is ready to save and bring you home now.
During your whole life, with YOUR series of RESOLUTIONS, BROKEN VOWS, BROKEN PROMISES, and SINFUL ACTIONS…Jesus has been waiting for you.
MY FRIEND, WHY WILL YOU WAIT until the last GAME is played, the last BALL is pitched, the NINTH inning is over, TO REACH HOME PLATE? GOD FORBID, that you should wait and hear the UMPIRE OF THE UNIVERSE say, “THREE STRIKES, YOU’RE OUT!” Why will you wait?
Some of you are so CLOSE to REACHING HOME PLATE. You are ALMOST there. You are ALMOST FORGIVEN. You are ALMOST SAVED. BUT, YOU ARE STILL LOST IN YOUR SIN. “ALMOST, but LOST.”
OH, MY FRIEND, King Agrippa said to the Apostle Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.“ I say with Paul, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am…” (Acts 26:28,29)
Will you be saved today….and CROSS HOME PLATE? Jesus is the WAY to VICTORY and ETERNAL LIFE. (John 14:6) DON’T DIE ON THIRD BASE! Will YOU trust Him TODAY as SAVOR and LORD of your life? God says, “Now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2)