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Second Base: Run, Forest, Run

Good, you’ve tagged first base and you’re now at second. You’re half way home, yes, but don’t get cocky, remember Sceva’s clan. No matter how far you have advanced, no matter how fast you can run or how good at the game you think yourself to be, there is still as much distance ahead as there is behind and don’t think the guy in the outfield can’t throw the ball hard and fast. If in doubt, just ask the Oakland A’s Danny Valencia who felt the stinging results of New York Yankee’s, Aaron Hick’s 105.5 mph throw from beyond the base line getting him tagged out at home plate.

Spiritual warfare is an ongoing, continuous, and relentless war with breaks in the action far and few in between. What you do at second base is simple, tag and go, “run, Forest, run”. Yours may not be an up and over the wall slammer, it may be an Inside the Park homer (IPH). Although these home runs are somewhat rare (about 1 in every 158), it still puts a run on the scoreboard.

A caution concerning IPH’s I would want you to know about when on the spiritual battlefield, however, is this; most come on the heels of an error in the outfield. Why is it important to know that? The devil doesn’t commit many errors.

Understanding that, authors such as Christian apologist, and University of Houston Professor, William Lane Craig, speaks to the subject of spiritual warfare in two of his later books, “Reasonable Faith” and “On Guard”. In both offerings, Craig places usable tools in the believer’s hands to prepare and equip his readers to force the devil into committing those errors and get you around the bases. Using the tools he writes about in his books, he has successfully debated such renown atheists as Sam Harris and was turned down by Richard Dawkins who received four British invitations to engage Craig, conveniently declining each one. Following a 2009 debate with Harris and Dawkins fellow “Horseman of the New Atheism”, Christopher Hitchens (now deceased), the website, Common Sense Atheism commented: “Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.” Check out Dr. Craig’s website at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/.

As followers of Jesus, we are all aware of the Great Commission to take the gospel to the far reaches of the earth making disciple as we go (Matthew 28:19-20). But we are not nearly as tuned into the instruction made equally clear to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3), “always be[ing] prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. . .” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).

A problem we discover a little late is how underequipped and inappropriately prepared we are to counteract the enemy’s advances, much less to engage him. As I see it, the blame lies squarely in the hands of church leaders who fail to integrate apologetics in their discipleship programs training converts on how to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). As I have said repeatedly, we are in a war. I use the game of baseball and Babe Ruth in allegorical fashion to make things a bit more readable, but in no way am I attempting to make light of such a serious matter – too many souls are at risk.

In his classic work, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” (a book I highly recommend having a place on every Christian’s bookshelf), the author, Eugene Peterson, identifies the dilemma our modern church culture is being crippled by writing:

“There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.”

Peterson’s point is clear and timely. Living in an on demand – microwave world, people want a quick fix to every issue. No one stands in line at the ticket booth anymore and why should we? It is easier, faster and much more convenient to purchase an admission voucher online, walk right into the theater, sit down and enjoy the show. Unfortunately, this approach has invaded the church. Come Sunday morning, you get an hour of my time then I better hear the choir singing, Just As I Am. Tragic but true, we just want God to see us in the pews (chairs) once a week, watch us drop our tip in the offering bucket then go home, roast a Ball Park frank and turn on the game.

If that shoe fits on your foot you can forget making it beyond second, honestly, you were out before you ever swung the bat. If you are willing to go the distance, however, as Paul told Timothy, to “do your best (“Study” in the KJV) to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15); to keep such Shakespearean  words (so thought today) as perseverance, persistence, tenacity and determination in your spiritual vocabulary then hey there friend, you are half way home and on your way to third – Run, Forest, Run”.

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