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
MANY QUESTIONS surround Major League Baseball and its future. The question still reigns: “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. We were tied for the Pacific Northwest lead with another team from Eureka.
Our little town closed its businesses to come see this game. It was so exciting. Parents were going wild and the boys were really excited.
We went to the TENTH INNING, and got them out. Now, LAST of the TENTH, and we were up again. Bryan came to the plate and singled. He stole second, and went to third on a fly ball.
ONE OUT, WINNING RUN ON THIRD again, and our biggest hitter was up at the plate. Bob swung at the first ball so hard, he almost came out of his shoes. The PARENTS were screaming at the top of their voices, “HIT A HOMER BOB, HIT IT OVER THE FENCE.”
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 YOUR PARENTS. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE CROWD…and BUNT.”
Bob BUNTED….Bryan SCORED….WE WON!!!
NO baseball game IS EVER WON ON THIRD BASE. The person who QUITS TRYING, the one who MAKES EXCUSES, those who will NOT HUSTLE, the one who GOES ALONG with the CROWD, the one who’s always LOAFING, will NEVER GET OFF THIRD BASE. The man on third must have ONE THING IN MIND
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. They are just relying on their CHURCH SIGN: “Services: 11 a. m…..You' all Come On In.”
A. There are the KNOCKERS.
Every baseball game has its knockers. They KNOCK the TEAM, the COACH, the SCHOOL, and the PARENTS. LISTEN CAREFULLY and you can hear them knocking their TOWN, the MAYOR, their JOB, their BOSS….AND, YES, EVEN THEIR CHURCH.
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.”
B. 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.”
C. 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.” WHY? They start off so fast, but just can’t stand the strain. They break under pressure and desert in the day of battle. Quitter!
To PARAPHRASE the Apostle Paul, “I have played the game hard, I have raced from third, I have crossed the plate, and have won the trophy for first place….but, not just me, but to all who will run the race with purpose.”
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).
D. 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.
LISTEN: There comes a time when a DECISION FOR, OR AGAINST “COMMITMENT” must be made. 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 make the bonehead play, the wild pitch, or are not caught napping on first base. 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.
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)
The minister must be extra careful about temptations, and especially HOW HE VIEWS HIMSELF. There is a great difference between letting the light of God shine THROUGH you, and just letting YOUR OWN light shine.
Many SPORTS FIGURES are like that. Ever see a RECEIVER DANCE in the end-zone after catching a pass for a touchdown? “IT’S ME, IT’S ME! And don’t you forget it,” he is saying. MINISTERS SHOULD NOT be like that! 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.
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. It’s always so SAD to FAIL TO WIN with a RUNNER ON THIRD BASE.
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 MOTHER'S PRAYER: “God save my child.” Many a man who’s life has been steeped in sin, was brought to conviction by his mothers prayers.
On the other hand, many a sinful man has NAILED THE LID on his mother’s coffin by their rebellious, ungodly lives. Scores of mothers lives could have been prolonged if only she could hear that her son or daughter has been saved.
B. HUSBAND, A WIFE IS WAITING FOR YOU AT HOME PLATE
Sir, your wife 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. Far too many homes have a HUSBAND who SWEARS, and a WIFE that PRAYS. MISTER, SHE WAITS FOR YOU TO RUN FROM THIRD….TO VICTORY.
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.
A man should be a Christian for his child’s sake if for no other reason. PERSONALLY, I’d rather you’d spit in my face, or just shoot me dead in my tracks, than to have my child say, “Daddy, you didn’t do your best for me.”
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. JESUS CALLS OUT to you, “Let Me bear your burdens,” “Let Me forgive your sins,” “Let Me enrich your life.” JESUS is waiting to forgive your sins and change your life.
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.” Sad, sad, that bitter wail, “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)