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Home runs, consecutive games, & their parallel to one’s attitude

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Christians should try not only to hit home runs but also to have staying power, which comes from right relationships and right attitudes, according to Michael Dean, pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I don’t want to just be known for home runs. I want to stay in the game for a number of years,” Dean said at a recent Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel, comparing Mark McGwire’s home run record and Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak.
“To do so, we better have relationships according to Proverbs 1:1-3, and the bottom line of relationships is attitude,” Dean continued. “Attitude is everything.” He used the word “attitude” as an acrostic to explain his point.
Accept responsibility. “We are 100 percent, absolutely, completely responsible for our own attitude,” said Dean as he referenced Proverbs 3:30, 13:3, 14:29 and Philippians 2:5. “I love what Chuck Swindoll said about attitude: ‘I believe the single-most important decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failure, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances or my position. Attitude is the single string that keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme and no challenge too great for me.'”
Think with humility. “Pride is the source of our quarrels and disagreements,” said Dean, referencing Proverbs 13:10, 28:13 and 26:12. “How many arguments are over who is in charge? We can’t be too good to take out the trash, wash the dishes or say ‘I’m sorry.'”
Trust God. This is the “most valuable attitude,” according to Dean, and is echoed in Proverbs 3:5-6, 20:22 and 28:25. “A great antidote to greed is trust.”
Invite counsel. “We may chafe under the accountability we have to give,” said Dean, citing Proverbs 12:15, 19:20 and 13:18, “yet the criticism we receive through counsel may be our best friend.”
Treasure integrity. As he held up the Aug. 18 issue of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, with the headline, “I misled people,” over a picture of President Clinton, Dean reminded, “It can happen to politicians and preachers. The events of the last days and weeks should serve as a wake-up call to us all that we must treasure integrity.” He referred to Proverbs 12:13 and 11:1. “If you lose integrity in ministry, you’re out.”
Understand needs. “Good family or church staff relationships are a product of being a good chemist and a bad mathematician,” said Dean, citing Proverbs 25:20; 18:17 and 27:14. “You can change chemistry by taking responsibility for your attitude. It’s not a 50/50 proposition but a 60/60 one — all of us have to do more than our share.”
Demonstrate mercy. In light of Proverbs 19:22, 19:11 and 17:9, Dean told of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to break Major League Baseball’s race barrier. Once when he made an error, teammate Pee Wee Reese slipped an arm around Robinson’s shoulder as the crowd jeered. “Robinson later admitted that Reese’s arm around his shoulder saved his career.”
Enjoy life. Proverbs 14:30 and 5:18 reiterate this component of attitude, and Proverbs 11:25 teaches to “make it a goal in life to learn how to refresh others with the joy of living.” Dean told the story of a single mother in a restaurant whose son asked if he could say grace. He prayed for ice cream and ended the prayer, “and liberty and justice for all, amen.” Along with laughter of customers nearby came a lady’s jeer, “That’s what’s wrong with this country. Kids today don’t know even know how to pray … asking God for ice-cream, well I never … .”
The little boy, hearing this, burst into tears and asked, “Did I do wrong? Is God mad at me?” As his mother held and assured him, an elderly gentleman stopped by the table and winked at the boy, saying, “I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer.” In a theatrical whisper he pointed to the woman, “Too bad she never asked for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.”
Dean said that the family finished their meal and the mother ordered ice cream. The little boy, staring at his sundae, picked it up, walked over, placed it in front of the woman and with a big smile said, “Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.”

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  • Cindy Kerr