Safe at Home – The Real Victory

Rick: Hello, folks. Welcome to Safe at Home. And as was the case
during our last show, we’re down here
by the creek. This water meanders
near the woods. And right behind
Jude, the cameraman, is the softball field. This is one of the cooler
spots on our former cornfield that
we call home, this five acres that
we built upon about seven or eight years ago. In fact, we moved in here
about, as of this taping, seven-and-a-half
years ago. And I picked this
spot because of that. Look at that. Beautiful, clear water. In fact, before the show,
before the cameras were rolling, we noticed how
neat it was that the water’s reflecting
on these leaves. And that has to be
considered a great parable. I can’t pass that one up. Because those leaves
aren’t doing anything, but they’re coming close
to the stream of water, and look — the glory — the glory of the sun
on the water is being reflected on the leaves. We’re not able to
save ourselves, but we are able to come
into the light and come near the flowing water. And look what happens. Look at that beauty that’s
reflecting onto those leaves. In fact, it’s
hard, I think, for people with a
lot of self — oh, I don’t know — people who might have
inflated images of their own
independence, people who think that they can run their own lives — it’s hard to
just be a kid, be a child, and
just come to God, come in this way, come
to appreciate the light, come to the waters. And this is just a great
place to sit and think. One of the things I’m thinking
about isn’t terribly profound. It’s tonight’s
softball game. It’s going to be
hot out there. The mercury is expected
to go up to 101 today. That’s not too
bad, really, when you consider it,
because the games we play are only an hour long. But we played yesterday, and
it was about, at game time — 7:00, 6:30 —
that time of evening — it was 97 degrees
when I left home. It should be a little
warmer tonight. But no matter
what the weather, I just — I never get
tired of those ballgames. We’ve been playing now
for 12 years as a team — the guys and I. You have to be 14 to play
in this men’s league. And when Paul was
14, I thought, “Wow. A son to play
alongside me.” And then John became 14. That was in 1996. Paul turned 14 in 1994. It was a little
too early then, but I looked
forward to the day, because we weren’t playing
men’s softball then. We were just playing a
little co-rec softball
in those early days — guys and gals. But this is our
12th season, so a little over a decade
ago, we had enough boys, enough of our guys
who had turned 14 — there go the
crickets again — to form a team. Well, now we
have 11 of us. Nathan is the youngest. There are 10 of the
oldest boys and me. And I have to say
we’ve come a long way. We were getting creamed
regularly in the early years. In fact, our first experience
in the men’s league in the lower league,
the Silver League — there are two,
Silver and Gold — our first experience, we
dropped our first 10 games. And I remember when we
finally won a game, it was in extra innings. It was a rainy
night, actually, and it was about midnight. Mark went nuts. [crickets chirping] You know, that heat
can’t be bothering those crickets too much. They seem fresh
and excited. You know, Mark climbed a
fence, a chain-link fence. He almost went nuts with
celebrating that first victory. We were 1 and 10. And we went on to some tough
seasons in that lower league. Eventually, we started
winning some games, and the people who
run the league said, “Hey, you have to go up
to this higher league, “the Gold League.” Well, we’ve been there
for now many years. And then we had to kind of
start as an underdog and work our way up. Then came the time in the
Gold League when we started to win an equal amount of
games as we would lose. Well, now we’ve won — I think we’re 23 and 7
in our last 30 games. And many of those opposing
teams are just the top-notch clubs
around in this area, so I’m just so
proud of the guys. And I can’t really
explain when it flipped. It was little by little, just doing the little
things right — working out, throwing to
the right base, correcting ourselves, the guys being humble
enough to take correction from one of their
older brothers. Well, anyway, we’re
near the break time. And I need to stand up
and get some fresh air. One thing about
sitting on the earth — I guess the heat
of the earth — although this
isn’t that hot. But I just feel
kind of hot here. I’m going to stand up. And why don’t you
enjoy a little break? And we’ll meet again on
the other side of it. Rick: You know, we talked
in the last show about the possibility of a
poison ivy tree. I don’t know. That looks an awful
lot like poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac. I’m not going to
touch it to find out. But I wonder, is there
such a thing as a poison ivy plant just going
on, and on, and on, and turning into something
like this, a small tree? I’m going to look it
up on the Internet. [crickets chirping] Rick: That insect
singing right there — it sounds as if it’s
about 12 feet away, 12 feet above me. It’s interesting — in the Psalms, we
see that all creation is to sing and
praise God. It seems, in our
American culture, sort of impractical —
doesn’t it — to spend a lot of
time just stopping and spending time with God,
talking with Him, but I have found that it’s not only the right thing to do — God says we
are to do it — He does it for
our own good. He knows we need to step
away and spend time. I know over the
years, with 14 kids, and starting a few businesses
based with the family, doing a lot of
things with the TV, and the softball leagues, and the Softball Classic — with all of that
responsibility, I have found it necessary
to come away with Him. And one of the places
I come is the woods, and just to kind of
soak in, and listen, and see what
He has to say. Sometimes I find
myself whispering — just walking
through the woods, or just talking
and saying, “What do you think, God? “Anything you
want to tell me? “What’s up? “What do you think
about this situation? “It looks like that’s
my only option.” But just sort
of like that. Or praying in
the Spirit, letting the Spirit
pray through us. And that’s a wonderful
gift that God gives us of a prayer language. But the wonderful thing
about it is the fact that God’s open 24 hours a day. And so often, we put it off
because we’re too busy, but He’s never too
busy, and He’s God. We have to really repent of
that and make a correction. “Am I too busy,
even mentally busy? “Or do I think of my things
as being to important, “so to speak, to allow me
to pause and just spend “time with Him or to spend
time with the kids?” Sometimes I’d be tired,
Cathy would be tired, but we knew that this would be
the best way to end the day. We’d take the kids out
for an ice cream cone and just go out
to a park — our yard wasn’t
really big enough — and just play
some ball. And they’d always
want one more pitch, one more throw. But it was a great
bonding time, because for a dad to be able
to spend time with his kids — or a mom — you sort of
earn the right, as the kids
grow up later, to share your
heart with them, and to talk about God,
and pray with them, and it all flows together
sort of seamlessly. Because we would weave God in
and out of our everyday lives. If we would be out
on the ball field, and somebody
would become hurt, we’d just pause and say,
“Lord, just touch Him.” We’d lay hands on the
little one and say, “He’s aching right now. “Do you think you
can still play?” “Oh, yeah. I can still play.” “Okay. God, just help him. “Strengthen that leg.” But we would just kind
of let that weave into
our everyday lives, or just thank God spontaneously
as we were driving. “Oh, look at that. “Isn’t that beautiful? “Only God could
have created that.” And just to kind of weave
it all together so that their experience of
God would be just like breathing in and
breathing out, and Jesus would seem
as if He’s right there. His sacrifice
would come alive. They would understand, “Oh, yeah. He died
on the cross for me, “because He wanted
to be with me. “He wanted to
abide with me.” And we would then
gather every night — oh, I almost fell over. We would gather together
every night in one of the bedrooms and just
have a meeting, just talk with each other,
and sing a little bit off-key, talk to God,
welcome His Spirit, always trying to
keep it fresh, never just rigidly — “Okay. Do your prayer time. “Let’s have
family devotions.” But keep it natural. I want to talk a little
bit more about all of this, but I think we’re running
out of time for this segment, so I’m going to walk down to
the creek for about a minute. And I’ll meet you on
the other side of this. Rick: Hey, welcome
back, folks. You know, we’re in a different
part of the creek right now. This is an area that’s
normally real lush and green. We make a point of
cutting the grass here, planting grass, and
letting it become just like a nice area to sit
and watch the waters go by. But the flood
just scoured it. The flood that came
through recently just
scoured the surface, and we’ve had a dry area, so right now,
it’s very barren. So it really makes you
appreciate when it is barren — the green times. And that’s what we’re
doing on this show. We’re seeking ways — we’re talking about ways to
keep your life with Jesus fresh, assuming, of course,
you’ve done the right thing, and repented, and come to
God, and welcomed Jesus — based on that premise. And if you haven’t, do it. It’s the only
way to have life. And we have to abandon all
efforts to try to live for ourselves and just
simply say, “Yes.” It’s a free gift that He
offered through Jesus. It’s so easy. But sometimes people’s
pride or sense of “I can do it myself,” or stubbornness,
or whatever will cause them
not to do it. And simple sin
will block that. So that’s the first step. But I know a lot of the
folks who watch this have already made
that decision, but just need
more of that life. And what we talk about
is how to keep it fresh. We don’t want an experience
like this, where just a — there’s a sparse growth. Sure, there’s some green
there and some green there, but we want it to be a
full, hundred-fold harvest. And I mean in the
sense of relationship. I think some people
think of God as abundant. “I have come that you might have
life and have it to the full.” And the Scriptural
promises. They might kind of — they might Americanize
it and think, “Well, that means
more of something — “more this, more that.” And it could mean that. Whatever His will is for
abundance in your life, it could mean that. But it’s all the more precious
to have an abundance of love — love for Him,
love for others, relationships, friendships,
an authentic life, something to look back upon, something that — as Paul writes, something that when God examines our works, our body of
work, our lives, that it can pass
through the refining
fire and still be there. It won’t be like wood,
and hay, and stubble. It will be like gold, and
silver, and precious stones. And that’s what
we’re talking about. What can we do to really
build upon that bedrock of a relationship with God? I know that in
practical ways — this might seem kind
of too practical, but that’s where we
live in everyday life. Last night, we
lost a tough game. And I didn’t want
to lose the game. We had been talking
about it all year. It’s a particular team in one
of our men’s leagues that is — has been very good and used
to beat us all the time. This team — they’re able to
have the luxury of kind of hand-picking guys who
are in their prime. Well, we’re at
a disadvantage, and we choose to be, because
we put out an Arndt — an all-Arndt team. So that means everybody who
is above 14 and male plays. And we have to kind of win
under those conditions. That means that our
guys, our younger guys, learn on the
field, so to speak. We would routinely be
creamed by this team, but during the last
couple of years, would come closer. And earlier in
this season, we actually beat them
8-7 — a close game. They had the winning
run up at the plate, and the guy flew out
to deep left field. Well, we’ve
improved since then. So we thought,
“Hey, this” — last night’s game, coming
into it, we thought, “Hey, we might have
a crack at this.” So we kept working
on our fundamentals. And everybody would kind
of remind each other, “Now, don’t forget to hit
line drives and not pop-ups. “And don’t make any
base-running errors” — and things like this. Well, we went
into the game, but they took an
early lead — 9 to 1. It looked pretty
hopeless — about halfway through
the game, 9 to 1 — but we came roaring back. Well, by the fifth or sixth
inning — we play seven — we actually had the tying
run up at one point. We couldn’t quite deliver. And it was a
heartbreaking loss. In the last inning, we
were losing, I think, 16 to 10 going
into that inning, and we almost brought
up the tying run. In fact, the last out,
we — who was up? Jacob. Jacob was up for our team. We had a couple of
runners on base. We were down 16 to 12. He hits a long drive
to right field, and it was twisting, and I thought it was going to go
over the right fielder’s head. And that guy is —
that guy we know — he’s an older player,
but he’s quick. He’s a wise guy,
a wise player. He’s wise. What he lacks in speed,
he knows in experience. He went back, and
caught that ball, and temporarily
dashed our dreams, because the tying run
would have come up next. Jacob’s speed would have
ensured a home run on that one. So it would have been 16
to 15 with Seth coming up, and then Jude,
who’s been very hot, would have been
the winning run. Well, we were
disappointed. And I immediately — I’ve trained myself, whenever
there’s something like this, to look at the good. And I’m going to tell you
on the other side of this break what is good about
a heartbreaking loss. Rick: Hey, I’m glad you
stuck with the show and came back for the
final segment. I’m going to walk over this
temporary barren desert. Normally, it’s very
plush and nice. But we’re talking about
ways to keep it fresh. And when something
sad or bad happens, or something that
puts us down — there are ways that
we can control that. We’re basically — basically, nobody can
make us depressed or — I know there are conditions
that have to be dealt with, and there’s
brain chemistry, and we don’t want to
minimize any of that, but in general, we
sort of get — we — nobody can really control
what happens to him or her, but we can control
how we react to it, with God’s help. We can put God’s grace
and His Spirit between us and that event
to filter it, so that by the
time it gets to us, it’s something good,
sort of like — oh, I don’t know — purifying water,
when people filter water coming out of the
ground with harmful — maybe former pesticides
or chemicals — things like that — and it comes out to be pure, soft, sweet drinking water. God’s Spirit has a
way of doing that. God — the blood of Jesus
purifies us from sin, but it does a lot more. It doesn’t just leave
us neutrally forgiven, but it’s like a pro thing. It’s like an active force,
and His Spirit is, too. And we need to kind of
find that flow each day. And it doesn’t have to be
something really abstract or something far
away or otherworldly. It can be involved in
such things as being disappointed about a game. And last night, we were
out there in the heat, and it had been about
100 degrees that day, and we fought, and
fought, and fought — almost brought
up the tying run. It was a contest that
meant a lot to us, because we were one
half-game behind this
team in the standings, and they were
in first place, tied with another
team for first place. And we knew that if we
would win, we would be — have passed them up
in the standings. And we could have done it. And I was disappointed. We’re all human. I think it’s wrong to be
super-spiritual and to deny that you’re disappointed about
something like that, because — you turn off your
feelings that way, and then you can’t
really appreciate the
thrill of a victory. So what’s kind of neat
about this experience — for one, it’s
a church team, one of the few teams
like that in the league, so after every game,
we all join hands and pray around home plate. And we did after
last night’s game. John led the prayer. But I was disappointed, because
I knew that we could have — we actually probably
played a better game, or a really —
a fairly good game. It’s just —
things happened. And I purposely began to
thank God for the good things that came out of
the loss that could not have come except
for the loss, and I came up with 17 solid
gifts, precious gifts. And I actually got to the point
where I don’t mind that we lost. And I do that with
everything that’s devastating or
disappointing. I begin to thank God for
something good that came out of it because of that. I don’t know right now which
one to pick out of the 17, but one way — one
obvious one is the fact that it trains you to be
happy for other people. The other team,
obviously, was very happy. They came close to
losing the game. So in a sense, we’re
ministering to them. It was — if I
can actually be — share in their joy —
it’s a training session. We believe that, as
Christians, theoretically, that we’re supposed to love
others as we love ourselves, but if you could actually
own that and say, “Hey, I’m just as happy for
their victory as I am for ours,” it frees you. One other analogy
with that — I heard a long time — this stuck with me
a long time ago. Somebody was
saying, I believe — and let me just
paraphrase the story — that someone
stole his wallet. And he was obviously
upset about it, and yet he was a
Spirit-filled Christian and really wanted to just
have Jesus live through Him. “How do I handle
this situation? “I’m mad about it. “And I just feel that
this isn’t right.” And he was starting
to feel bitter. What he decided to do is, in his
mind and heart, and before God, he just gave the wallet
generously to this individual. “This is no longer my
wallet. It’s yours. “The wallet and its
contents are yours.” He received
immediate peace. Isn’t that something? Just things like that. We can control — we can
free ourselves from these things that kind of
snag us, you know? If at a traffic
intersection, someone cuts you off, and
you were unjustly accused, and that person
expresses disenchantment, maybe through the
window, at you, or something like that,
through some signs, or some — the mouth moving, you can just set yourself
free by praying a special blessing on that person. Just own that situation. Adopt the person as a
prayer subject for the rest of the day, until
it doesn’t hurt anymore, until it doesn’t
bother you. And I do that
over and over. And it just —
I’m learning. I’m still — I still don’t
like to lose tough games, but it has helped. And I found 16 other things
that made the loss better. And I’ll just try to
pick out one more here. Well, it helps you to look
at things that are eternal, to realize what the real
victory is in Heaven. Because the real victory is,
how do we handle that? Everybody goes through
disappointment and suffering, but how do
you handle it? Can you go to God,
and can you rejoice? Can you still have a
wellspring of joy within you? And it trains you to go
deeper with God and not to be shallow and just to have
your emotions attached to — “Oh, I’m happy
because this happened. “I’m sad because
that happened.” It teaches you to plunge
your roots more deeply
into the soil of God — His presence,
His Spirit, His love, and
His reliability, His steadfastness. Well, I’ve probably
gone a little bit long. And this is getting
kind of hot on Jude. I can see — boy,
he’s been a trooper, but I can see
that he’s hot. Let’s head back to the
house, Jude, and get cool. Thanks for watching. And check out our
website, Bye, now.

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