Playoffs Start Today

For the first time since divisional play began in 1969, a MLB division is heading into the regular season’s final ten games with only half a game separating three teams. Houston is in first place in the AL West and the Rangers and Mariners are both a half game behind. By fluke of the schedule, Texas plays seven of its last ten against Seattle. Head to head. That means the playoffs start today.

It’s been a wild ride, for sure, to get to this point: meaningful games in September. An incredibly unforeseen blazing hot start, a just as unbelievable free-fall out of the playoff picture, and wildly inconsistent sputtering ever since. Bullpen blowups and season-ending injuries. Five Cy Young awards on the DL. That awful three-game set against Houston. Yet, here we are: meaningful games in September.

Not only does just a half-game separate the Rangers, Astros, and Mariners in the division,  but Toronto leads the Rangers and M’s by a half-game in the Wild Card race. Four teams competing for three postseason spots in the next ten days. The Rangers control their own destiny here, especially with seven of their games against Seattle.

If Texas overtakes Houston and wins the AL West — the Astros own the tie-breaker over the Rangers, so Texas would have to finish ahead of Houston — the Rangers would earn a first round bye and host a division series. If they sneak in via the Wild Card route, they would likely play the Twins in a best two-out-of-three series, with all three games in Minnesota.

Yes, this is much more than any of us bargained for when the season began. Yes, for the first time in months, Texas has its All-Star lineup intact and healthy and playing every day. Plus rookie sensation Evan Carter. Yes, the Rangers have Bruce Bochy and all his playoff experience and success at the helm. But it feels like fool’s gold.

The pitching just isn’t there.

Regardless, autumn officially begins tomorrow and the Rangers are still very much in the thick of a division race. If they can take four or five of these final seven games against Seattle, they will likely be in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. And that’s fun no matter how short lived it might be.

The playoffs start tonight.

Let’s Go Rangers!
Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!


New Creation

“By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together… God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.” ~Colossians 1:15-20

The Creator of the universe, the Creator of all things that have ever existed, the One who spoke and breathed all things into being, and the One who created you and me — the Creator is also the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus. God through Christ formed and shaped his creation in wonder and beauty and awe. And God through Christ entered his magnificent creation to reconcile all of it. To redeem it and restore it. To recreate the heavens and earth and to recreate me. And you.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation… This is the Gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” ~Colossians 1:21-23

The flesh and blood of Jesus Christ was hung on a cross and the whole world went dark again. All the darkness and emptiness and loss that the powers of evil could conjure — it all came together to kill the image of God. But his cruel death resulted in the ultimate and forever defeat of all those dark powers. Chaos and turmoil and sin and death and Satan were eternally destroyed on that great day.

God looked into the deep darkness of the cross, he looked into the lifeless void of the grave, and he created everything brand new all over again. For all of us. For you and for me. Jesus says, “Because I live, you also will live!”

“If anyone is in Christ, there is new creation! The old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ!” ~2 Corinthians 5:17-18

God’s beautiful design and purpose in creation began with Jesus Christ. And his plan for the redemption of all creation runs through Jesus Christ. What Jesus did at the cross shows us what God will do to bring his new creation to every man, woman, and child he’s ever placed on this planet. The same creative love and power that triumphed on the cross in Christ is the same love and power that created and sustains the whole world. The same Jesus who created you is also redeeming you.

Your destiny is not determined by fate or fluke or luck, but by our loving and gracious Father. The earth is not a random accident in the chemistry lab of the universe. There is meaning and purpose to all of creation. But we can’t understand it, we can’t comprehend creation or God’s purposes for creation apart from Christ.

If the heavens and the earth and everything and everyone in them are created by Christ and exist for Christ, then it’s never meaningless or without direction. And it’s never beyond the reach of God’s Holy Spirit. It’s never out of range of God’s holy possibility. It’s never past God’s capacity to create.

I wonder if, right now, your life feels formless and empty. Is there a void or a darkness in your life? Does chaos reign instead of calm? Is there any pain in your soul? Is there bitterness in your heart? How much disappointment is in there? How much hurt? How much sin?

God’s Holy Spirit is near. God’s Spirit is hovering, he is moving over you right now. He is hovering over your darkness, he is moving over your emptiness. He sees your pain and confusion. He knows about your sin. He is near. He is hovering. Moving.

And you pray. Maybe out loud. Maybe through tears.

Create in me.

And God says, “I can.”

Lord, breathe into me.

And God says, “I can.”

Make something new out of the chaos of my life.

And God says, “I will.”

Shine light into my darkness, Lord. Bring life into my soul. Create in me your holy image and your Holy Spirit.

And God says, through our Lord Jesus who was and is and is to come, “Behold! I am making all things new!”



The Creator is Still Creating

The word “create” is used six times in Genesis 1-2. It’s used seventeen times in Isaiah.

In Isaiah, God’s prophet is speaking to God’s people who are living in a dark and dreadful place. Because of their sin, they have been separated from the place God put them. They’ve been scattered and driven away by the Babylonian Empire. They’re living in exile in a foreign land. But God promises that because he created them and saved them and because he loves them, he’s going to create in them and for them something brand new.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket
or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?…
…Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?…
…Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry hosts one by one, and calls them each by name…
…Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth!”
~Isaiah 40:12-28

The Spirit of God who hovered over the deep darkness in the beginning continues to move, he continues to create. Genesis 1-2 is not just telling us how the world began. It’s not just an origin story to tell us how the sun was made and how the elephant got its name. It is a testimony to the ongoing creation work of God’s Spirit in our world right now.

“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert the cedar and acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know, may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”
~Isaiah 41:17-20

The word “create” is not just what God did one time for one week a long time ago. “Create” is what God does today for his saved and called people. The men and women he has placed on this earth and given life and purpose — God creates in them and for them still!

“This is what God the Lord says —
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand…
…See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare!
Before they spring into being I announce them to you!”
~Isaiah 42:5-9

God’s people felt so uncreated in captivity. They felt so empty and dark, so unformed and unfit for where they were and what was happening around them and to them. Isaiah brings every detail of the Genesis creation stories right into the present, right into their lives and their place right now. God reminds his people, “Hey, I’m the Creator! I make brand new things out of nothing! I shine light into darkness! I bring life to where there isn’t any!”

“Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made…
…I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.”
~Isaiah 43:7, 15

This is creation language from Genesis. I made you. I formed you. I created you. You don’t think I can do it again?

“I have made you, you are my servant;
O Israel, I will not forget you.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you…
…This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself.”
~Isaiah 44:21-24

Nothing Israel could do was going to make any difference. God’s people were standing around empty-handed and confused. It was dark and they were dead. They were helpless. Hopeless. Nothing made sense anymore. Everything they were experiencing was totally foreign from what they thought they knew. The only hope they had was for God to do in them and for them something only God can do: create.

“Behold! I will create new heavens and a new earth!
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind!
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.”
~Isaiah 65:17-19

God, create in us something new. Breathe in us, O God. Form us. Make us. Bring to us your light and life. Create in us your Spirit and your holy image.

God’s Spirit is near. God’s Spirit is hovering over our darkness and emptiness and our sins. God’s Spirit is moving.



The Creator is Near

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” ~Genesis 1:1-2

Before God created the heavens and the earth, there was no creation. There was nothing. Emptiness. Darkness. Chaos. Formless and void. No life. No shape. No nothing.

But God’s Spirit is near. God’s Spirit is hovering, moving over the darkness and emptiness. God looks into the formless void, he looks into the lifeless deep. And he creates. God breathes. And God speaks.

Let there be light! And there was brilliant light.

Let there be skies and seas and dry ground! And there were oceans and continents and tropical islands and vast deserts and lakes and plants and trees.

Let there be lights in the sky! And there were suns and moons and galaxies and billions of stars and morning and night and months and years and four different seasons.

And God created life! Life in the waters and life in the skies. Great varieties of birds to fill the air and amazing kinds of fish to fills the seas and rivers and lakes.

And God created the animals! Wild animals and livestock. Creeping things. Beasts and cattle. Little bugs and giant hippos. Amphibians and mammals and those weird monkeys that look like Jimmy Durante.

And God saw that it was good. It is all very good, every bit of it. And we know it’s good. It’s all so good. Why does the Grand Canyon take your breath away? Why do people weep at Niagara Falls? Why do children squeal with delight trying to catch a butterfly? Why do we put pictures of snow-capped mountains on our laptops? Why do we brag so much about the West Texas sunsets? Because it’s all so good. Everything our God creates is good.

But it’s nothing compared to what comes next. All of that is just a warm up for the main event. All the goodness and greatness of the first five-and-a-half days of creation are nothing compared to the goodness and greatness of God creating people. When God created man and woman, he blew the top off the whole thing! God creates man and woman from the dirt of the earth and into his own image. God’s holy image. And he breathes into men and women his own holy breath, the breath of his eternal life, his Holy Spirit. If you want to look at the apex of God’s creation, if you want to see God’s masterpiece, you look at people. It’s us.

We say things like, “I need to spend more time in God’s creation” and “I really sense the presence of God in creation” or “I love being in God’s creation.” We’re usually thinking about a day in the mountains, not a day with the in-laws. We much prefer time spent at the lake over time spent with people at work or church.

The way the Bible reveals creation to us, you and I are the very best part. We are the “very good” of God’s creation.

The truth of Genesis 1-2 is that our God is the Creator. God is the initiator, God is the power. And it’ s all good.

God said. God made. God created. God blessed. God gave. God formed. God breathed. God placed. God called. Over and over again, in a rhythm, in a cadence. There’s purpose here, there’s control. Where there once was darkness, God creates light. Where there was emptiness, God fills by his grace. Where there was chaos, God brings his divine order. Where there was no life, God breathes his holy breath of eternal life. And it’s all so very good.

But maybe things don’t seem so very good to you. Maybe your life or your place where God has put you isn’t so good. Maybe your life feels formless and empty. Is there a void or a darkness in your life? Does chaos reign instead of calm? Is there a pain in your soul? Is there bitterness in your heart? How much disappointment is in there? How much hurt? How much sin?

And you pray, God, create in me something new. Breathe in me, God. Form inside me. Make me. Bring to me life and light. Create in me your Spirit and your holy image.

Well, God’s Spirit is near. God’s Spirit is hovering over your darkness and emptiness. God’s Spirit is moving over your pain and your void. God is hovering. He is the Creator. And he is moving. He is near.



Scherzer Out

Today’s MRI revealed a tear in a muscle in Max Scherzer’s throwing shoulder. The Rangers’ ace is done for the remaining three weeks of the regular season and “unlikely” to pitch any playoff games should the team qualify.


Brandon Brunson texted me a few minutes ago, asking if we could start a support group tonight at church. I told him we’re going to have a lament service.

“Why, O Lord, do you just stand there and watch? Do something God! Nabat!” (RSV – Revised Stanglin Version)

Leading Lavishly

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” ~1 John 3:1

Our God does not measure his love out to us. He doesn’t weigh it on scales or scoop it out with a spoon. He doesn’t give just enough of his love to get us by or just as much of his love as we might deserve. He floods us with his love. We have more of his love than we could ever ask for or imagine. That’s the one thing you can ask God to do that’s impossible: God, will you love me more? Nope. Can’t. Impossible. He lavishes us with his love. We are his children. That is what we are.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” ~Ephesians 1:7-8

Our Father lavishes us with his grace. We sing about it. God’s amazing grace. Matchless grace. God’s grace that reaches even me! God’s forgiveness is over the top. It’s not that you’re forgiven of some of your sins or most of your sins or all the little sins or every sin except that one sin. It’s not that you’re forgiven is you do this one thing or keep this set of rules or follow this particular creed. In Jesus Christ, every single one of your sins — all of ’em; name em! — are all gone forever! God’s forgiveness is total and complete! Your sins are removed from you as far as the east is from the west! They are all hurled to the bottom of the sea, never to be dredged up again! God doesn’t put your sins up on the top shelf in the corner of a dark closet just so he can pull them out again and hold them against you at the worst possible time. God’s grace is lavish and complete.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~John 10:10

This is not an incidental or isolated remark from our Lord. This comes right between “I am the gate” and “I am the good shepherd.” Jesus is our doorway to salvation and the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. And in the middle is the key contrast between his purpose and mission and that of the thieves and robbers: They come to take, Jesus comes to give. They seek destruction, Jesus seeks abundance.

From the fullness of his grace we have all  received one blessing after another. God gives the Spirit without limit. The water he gives will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Rivers of living water for all to drink. You will bear much fruit and your joy will be made complete. You will  do greater works than me. The Gospels are full of Jesus’ lavish life-giving abundance. If we wrote them all down, all the books in the world wouldn’t hold them!

The apostle Peter says we shepherd like our Chief Shepherd. We treat those in our flocks the same way Jesus does. With lavish love. With limitless grace. With inexhaustible forgiveness. With unmerited favor. We give everybody in our church life to the full.



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