Praying for Harrison

11856285_10206175101484253_8385987366679386824_oThis young man is named Harrison. A few days ago, he was involved in an ATV accident. He suffered severe brain trauma and was life flighted to a hospital in Pennsylvania. He’s currently fighting for his life. I’ve never met Harrison, but I’ve come to love and appreciate his family over the past few years. I’m asking for prayers for Harrison, his wife Hayley, and his entire family.

If you believe in prayer, I ask you to lift them up today.

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Yeah, She’s a Model…

  

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Things I Want to Remember, Vol. 29: Andrew McCutchen and Maroon 5

Proud parenting moment: I’m watching the Cardinals / Pirates game tonight and my 11-year old daughter walks into the room and immediately says, “Isn’t that Andrew McCutchen?”

Why, yes. Yes it is, sweetie.

Keep in mind that in years gone by, McCutchen would’ve been easily identified by his long dreadlocks. But that’s not the case in 2015, thanks to Cutch’s new look.

My daughter legitimately knows who Andrew McCutchen is.

We’re doing something right.

Maroon-5-band-facebookNot-so-proud parenting moment: my 11-year old son enters the room humming and singing a song.

I ask him what he’s singing.

He goes, “It’s called ‘Sugar.’ It’s by this band called Maroon 5. Have you ever heard of them?”

Have I ever heard of them?

My 11-year old. Already putting me in the old folks’ home. Putting me out to pasture.

To be fair, Maroon 5 isn’t really my jam. But still. It’s the principle of the thing.

HE asked ME if I had ever heard of a band.

Seriously?

Sigh.

At least I have Andrew McCutchen.

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A Season of Birthdays

June and July is a busy season for the Bybee family. From late May to early July, we go through a six-week birthday season in which we celebrate the birthday of Sunny, Jackson, Abby Kate, and Joshua. I wrote a birthday post for Sunny, but I decided to combine my thoughts about the children into a single birthday post.

2015-05-24 09.56.33 HDRFor Abby Kate

You’ve probably heard me say this many times, but I feel the need to always remind you: your name means “father’s pure joy.” And that is what you are. Seeing you always brings me such joy. There are so many things about you that make me proud. I love your concern for others; it shows that your heart is in tune with your Maker’s. You are such a voracious reader, too, and that makes me proud. You are sweet and kind, beautiful both inwardly and outwardly. We’ve joked around that you’ve been a teenager for years because you’ve always been so mature for your age. But as you continue to grow up, I hope you know that you’ll always be my little girl, too. Happy 11th birthday!

2015-06-04 19.37.10For Joshua

You are so strong, stronger than you probably even realize right now. People always say how similar we are and it’s true: we share the same blue eyes, the same love of sports (especially the Cards), the same mischief. But I see so much of your mother alive in you, too: from her servant heart to her drive and initiative. From the very beginning, you have been a ball of energy, a livewire of movement and laughter. I believe God has destined you to do great things in His name and I will always be here to encourage you to live into His call for your life. I am proud of you, Joshua Alan, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for you. Happy 11th birthday!

2015-05-04 12.35.52For Jackson

You are my headstrong, independent, willful child. And I love you for that! It takes a strong person to be a sibling to twins but you have always been comfortable being your own person. Again, I love you for that! Your passion is one of your greatest strengths. You love to read, to climb, to use your imagination to build Lego’s and draw pictures. You have so many gifts and it excites me to think of the many ways you could use these gifts to bring glory to God. I see your willingness to stand for what you believe, even if it means standing alone. And that makes me so proud of you. One of the best things about my life is that I get to be your Daddy. Happy 8th birthday!

My minions

My minions

Abby Kate, Joshua, and Jackson, we love you so much and are so grateful to have you in our lives.

May the upcoming year be filled with the Lord’s favor as you continue to become everything He wants you to be.

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A Jealous God

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. — Deuteronomy 4:24

I’m continually drawn back to the Scriptures for many reasons. Chief among them is this: the God I find here routinely defies my expectations.

jealousy picJealousy is not a becoming trait. It connotes insecurity, hatred, fear, and pettiness. We speak of jealousy as “the green-eyed monster” because it consistently wrecks so many of our relationships. Jealousy stems from some sort of perceived inadequacy, a feeling of rejection, an experience of isolation and exclusion. Producers of reality television bank on jealousy to drive the conflict of their supposedly “unscripted” dramas. Jealousy inevitably leaves you feeling angry, small, spurned, and insignificant.

And what I find so surprising is the number of biblical references to God as a “jealous God.” Here is a sampling of such passages:

  • Deut. 4:24, For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
  • Deut. 5:9, You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…
  • Deut. 6:15, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God…
  • Deut. 32:16, They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols.
  • Deut. 32:21, They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols.
  • Joshua 24:19, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God.
  • Ezekiel 16:38, I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring on you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger.
  • Psalm 79:5, How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
  • Exodus 20:5, You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…
  • Nahum 1:2, The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
  • Zephaniah 3:8, The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.

And perhaps the grandaddy of them all, Exodus 34:14: Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

The Scriptures are pretty clear in communicating the truth that Israel’s God is a jealous God. But the Exodus passage puts an emphatic point on it: when it comes to His covenant people, God’s very name is Jealous.

How do we make sense of this? How do we reconcile this teaching with our understanding of the word? Does all of this imply that God is insecure, fearful, and operating out of some sense of deficiency?

In his book, Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture, R. W. L. Moberly makes an important distinction:

YHWH’s requirement for Israel to be faithful is regularly spoken of elsewhere in terms of His being jealous…precisely because jealousy is a corollary of love when it matters that the loved one, especially if covenantally committed (as in marriage), should return the love and not faithlessly go elsewhere.

Moberly, p.46

We would do well to strip the term of all connotations of deficiency when referring to YHWH and instead adopt an understanding closely aligned with Moberly: an awareness of jealousy as a corollary of love. It matters to God when covenantal love is not reciprocated. We have emphasized our inability to match God’s gift to us — the theological point is not in question here. But perhaps we’ve let the pendulum swing too far from center. Perhaps we’ve emphasized God’s faithfulness and love to the exclusion of any mention of our reciprocal actions in covenantal relationship with Him. Is this not part and parcel to the understanding of covenant laid out in Deuteronomy 28 (blessings and curses)? Has God’s covenantal nature changed? Have his desires for relationship with his covenantal people been modified?

It should come as no surprise, then, that Scripture conveys the magnitude of God’s love in such stark terms. He is, indeed, a jealous God. It matters greatly to God when his covenant people engage in unfaithful dalliances with the competing and corrupting false gods of the world. James notes that such “friendship” with the world is adulterous, akin to enmity with God – the same God who jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us (James 4:5).

God’s jealousy is a corollary of God’s love. And today I’m giving thanks for yet another unexpected pearl from God’s Word: the reality of a God who loves me enough to be jealous. It’s just like God to bring Good News in the most unexpected places (words).

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MLB Franchise Four: Tampa Rays and Toronto Blue Jays

Another entry in my ongoing series on the MLB Franchise Four initiative. I’ll finish off the AL East with a look at the Rays and Jays.

Tampa Bay Rays Franchise Four

As one of the most recent additions in the majors, the Rays list of nominees isn’t nearly as impressive as most clubs, but here they are:

  • Carl Crawford
  • Scott Kazmir
  • Carlos Pena
  • Ben Zobrist
  • David Price
  • Evan Longoria
  • James Shields
  • Melvin Upton, Jr.

And here’s my ballot:

  1. Carl Crawford. Franchise leader in many significant offensive categories, including hits, runs, and steals.
  2. Evan Longoria. The current face of the franchise is also the team leader in HR and RBI. I suspect he’ll end up surpassing Crawford in hits and runs eventually.
  3. James Shields.
  4. David Price. Shields and Price rank #1 and #2 in most of the important pitching categories for this team. Pretty easy choices here.

Toronto Blue Jays Franchise Four

Here are the Jays nominees:

  • Roberto Alomar
  • Jose Bautista
  • Carlos Delgado
  • Dave Stieb
  • Roy Halladay
  • Tony Fernandez
  • George Bell
  • Joe Carter

An impressive list of players. I was a bit surprised to see Bautista at first, but he’s been racking up numbers for the past several seasons. Given my theory of recency bias, I’d be shocked if he isn’t recognized. And where’s Vernon Wells? He compiled some great numbers. Alomar is a great player, but his career was split among several clubs, so I couldn’t justify voting for him.

Here are the players I voted for:

  1. Carlos Delgado. He sits atop the team leaderboard in the power categories and he deserves to be one of the players recognized.
  2. Dave Stieb. Stieb is the pitching version is Delgado — the team leader in the starting pitching categories.
  3. Roy Halladay.
  4. Joe Carter. You could probably make a case for Fernandez, but I chose to recognize Carter primarily on the basis of the ’93 World Series homer. Plus, he had some great seasons in Toronto.
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My Girlfriend

Twenty years ago TODAY, I asked this girl to be my “girlfriend.”

Thankfully, she said, “Yes.”

Here’s to 20 more, Sunny! Love you!

10984214_10204586336072976_1147447691397313307_n

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