Yankee Old-Timers Festivities

This was a very interesting trip for my wife, Nancy, and me. It all started about three years ago when I kept reading in the “Yankee Newsletter” about various players being invited to the annual old-timers game and festivities. The Yankees are the only team that still have “Old-timer Games”. I wondered why I had never been invited since I had a very good record pitching for the Yankees from midseason in 1968 through the 1973 season. So I wrote them a letter expressing my desire for an invite. They immediately wrote me back and said it had been an oversight and that I would receive an invitation either that summer (2006) or the next for sure. Well, I waited until February this year and still no invitation. So I wrote another letter, carefully laying out all of my stats with the Yankees and enclosed a copy of the letter they had sent to me three years earlier. Lo and behold a month later I had received my invitation!! I’m kind of glad they waited because this one was special, being the inaugural year of the new stadium.

I was privileged last year when my daughter, Susie, and I were invited to the 50th Anniversary of the Giants moving from New York to San Francisco, California, and that was super nice, but this year the Yankees topped that by quite a lot. Among those attending this year were Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Don Larsen, Bobby Brown, Ken Griffey, Sr., Ron Guidry, Gene Michael, Graig Nettles, Bobby Richardson, Bill “Moose” Skowron, Bob Turley, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Don Zimmer, Mel Stottlemyre and many others – about 50 in total. Nine of these players were my teammates with the Yankees and others I had played against. Nancy and I were joined in New York by my oldest son, Dale, grandson, Blake, Nancy’s brother, Guy and his wife Judy, and our good friends from Memphis, Phil and Sandy Ford. Phil is a tremendous Yankee fan with a very large memorabilia collection.

Nancy and I arrived at the New York Sheraton (which is only a few blocks from Times Square) at about 2:30 p.m. after a non-stop flight from Dallas/FW to LaGuardia. Dr. Bobby Brown and wife Sarah sat directly behind us on the plane. Arriving at the hotel, after an exciting cab ride, we went up to the 44th Floor to check in and get a large packet of information and tickets for all of the events to come. They also gave me a bunch of breakfast vouchers for eating at the hotel. Without these vouchers, breakfast would have cost $35.00 each. We had a little more than two hours to unpack and rest before going out to eat. Our was a very nice, with king size bed, and a good view. These rooms normally rent for $450 per day, but the Yankee’s paid for our expenses. Actually the entire “Old-timers” was sponsored by Zales. Outside the hotel were many autograph seekers, and sometimes they would get inside the lobby, although the security worked hard to keep them away. Nancy and I were hungry (they don’t feed you on the plane) and wanted to eat a bit to tide us over until we ate at about 7:30. We called Phil and Sandy’s room and they were about to go out themselves. So the four of us went to “Applebee’s” which was about 2 blocks away. When we sat down I told the waiter that we wanted “Texas” prices, and he just laughed. Phil picked up the tab.

At 6:00 we met the Browns in the lobby and walked over to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse which was only a block away. This was reserved for players and one guest. Many of the players and wives (or guests) were already there, so we were able to socialize some before dinner was served. There I introduced Nancy to a number of players and wives including Bobby Richardson and wife, Betsy, Roy White, Ron Bloomburg, Horace Clarke, Louis Arroyo, Mickey Rivers, etc. They made us feel very welcome. We went downstairs to eat at 7:30. At our table were the Browns and the Richardsons and none of whom were drinkers of alcohol. The food was fabulous with a three inch thick steak and special cooked veggies. I have never had better steak. Nancy chose to eat salmon. Later I introduced Nancy to Kay Murcer who was attending with her sister Cindy. My friend, Bobby Murcer, had died last year from cancer. Bobby was my presenter when I was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. We headed back to the hotel at about 9:30. Some went on to the “club” on the 44th floor, but we chose to turn in for the night. We knew that there will be a lot “tall tales” and drinking.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

At 8:00 a.m. the next morning we caught the bus for Staten. This trip was reserved for the players and three additional guests. Our guests were Phil and Sandy Ford. The trip took about 40 minutes and was a beautiful drive along the water front and through a tunnel. The city of Staten was a very clean, quaint little town located on an island. The baseball park was beautiful seating about 7,000, overlooking the bay, the New York skyline and Statue of Liberty. The city of Staten sponsors this event every year. Here we received a full Yankee Uniform (ours to keep) including shoes, belt, pants, stockings and a check for coming. Everyone was fed a continental breakfast. After suiting up, we signed a whole lot of autographs for the fans who were very friendly and polite. I told them that they were as polite as the St. Louis Cardinal fans! I am not sure how well that went over with this Yankee crowd. Ha,ha. Many had brought my baseball cards and books containing my photos. I would ask the autograph seekers if they knew which was the oldest sport. I told them it was baseball, of course, for “in the big inning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Each player was introduced to the crowd and we played a local team made up of city officials and members of the press. I left Nancy in charge of the cameras, but she got a bit excited on certain plays and forgot that the camcorder was running. She got so involved with what was going on that she missed recording my introduction both here and later in Yankee stadium. It’s really tough to get good help now-a-days!! Ha, Ha. She kept zooming in on me instead of getting more of the overall view, and you know how hard it is to keep the camera steady on close-ups. Oops, I hope she doesn’t read this. She might say, “Next time buster, get your own camera man!!” She also forgot that the camera picked up sound! I just love it!! It was priceless!

As to the ballgame, we played 5 innings. Don Zimmer, Mel Stottlemyre and Gene Michael got their heads together and came up with a line-up, selected pitchers for the game, etc. At least we had a few young arms and legs among us and so we older guys weren’t under quite as much pressure. Some of the older players didn’t play at all, but they rooted the team on, or coached on the baselines. And of course the fans were glad to see one and all, even if they didn’t play, and they got big ovations when they were introduced.

You might be surprised as to the logistics and details involved in bringing in old-timers from all over the country and actually playing in a game. It is a bit overwhelming to think of the transportation, lodging, meals, scheduling for the various events, security, tickets, etc. For example, we discovered that there were no towels in the clubhouse and no bats in the dugout. So we borrowed bats from the other team. Many players did not bring their own gloves and so my glove got used over and over. Does that qualify this glove for the Hall of Fame? Those in charge quickly came up with towels, bats and even lineup cards. We had real in full gear umpires for the game.

Once the game started, it became very comical but surely entertaining to the crowd. You could see flashes of the old talent (the stance, the swing, the pitching delivery, the yelling at the umpire, etc.), but the body had a hard time responding to what the brain was telling it to do. “The mind is willing but the body is weak” type of thing. The yelling at the umpire was a put on show for the fans! Here are some of the funny things that happened: Two of our guys fell down as they rounded third base trying for home. One batter lost his shoe after he made contact with the ball and immediately fell across home plate as he tried to run to first. One batter hit the ball in the gap between center and right field with the ball rolling all the way to the wall, and he just barely made it to first. The first baseman fell down as he stretched to catch a ball from the third baseman and he had to crawl to first base beating the runner. One batter hit the ball to the infield but was so slow that the infielders played catch for a while before throwing to first for the out. A lot of very high fly balls ended up as hits because of the slow outfielders. One batter hit the ball to the infield and immediately walked to the dugout although the infielder threw the ball over the first baseman. Everyone urged him to run, but he decided that it wasn’t worth it! There was also a strange double play where the second baseman fell down upon receiving the ball from the shortstop and while laying flat on his back reached back and tagged second. The rule, “Get one for sure!” No double play this time, although I think they forgot to check on the runner going to first!

I was scheduled to start the fourth inning. Gene Michael helped warm me up and could barely lift his arm. I warmed up in front of the dugout. Some of the younger players still had good live arms, and were throwing the ball well, so I was a little nervous about walking to the mound. The game was Yankees 1 and locals 0. I haven’t pitched off a mound in years, but had been playing catch for about 2 months. I walked over and told the ump to be very liberal with the strike zone and no bunting allowed. Taking one look at me, he naturally agreed! He said, “Why certainly!” Home plate looked a long way off. So I just wound up and threw hoping somehow the ball would find the strike zone. At this point the adrenaline took over and the competitive urge kicked in so I was throwing much harder than normal. Fortunately my ball had some movement to it and I was throwing strikes. I struck out the first hitter and the second batter hit a weak pop-up and to my surprise I somehow caught it for the second out. The announcer then told the audience that I held a record for 225 consecutive errorless games in the National League and that I hadn’t lost my touch! Yeah, and I could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge! The next hitter got a base hit followed by another hit ball booted by the second baseman, and I was looking toward the bench for help. I thought to myself, “Oh, no, they are going to tie this game and we’ll be here all day!” A young player took my place and the batter hit a long fly to centerfield which Mickey Rivers misjudged and finally caught falling flat on his back with his feet going straight up in the air! That had to be the highlight of the game! We were all breathlessly rooting for him to catch the ball, for we certainly didn’t want a tied game that might go on forever. We won the game 1 to 0. It was a very quick five innings. All the players seemed a bit amazed that I could still throw the ball as well as I did. As for me, I was just glad to get out of there without getting hurt or being overly embarrassed. The announcer did a great job and dramatized every play as if it were the World Series! The people sure got their money’s worth. We signed a lot of baseballs and bats in the clubhouse later to be auctioned off with all of the profits being given to charity. This park is the home of the “Staten Island Yankees” a single “A” team affiliated with the Yankees, and the people here love their baseball. After we showered, everyone was fed at the ballpark in a special suite. We got back to the hotel at 3:30, much earlier than expected. This gave us a little time to rest.

The buses for the Yacht Cruise left at 6:00. Nancy and I were joined by Dale, Blake, Guy, Judy, Phil & Sandy. We all had special passes worn around our necks. The Yacht had three decks and we could go wherever we wanted. Food and drinks were served on every level. This was also a good time to get some autographs. Dale had two baseballs, Nancy and I had two baseballs, Guy and Judy had one baseball, and Phil brought several. I think that Dale and Blake got the best autographs as I introduced them to Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra and a number of others very famous players. It is a hard thing to ask for autographs, for we know that some of these players are pestered all the time. Of the two Nancy and I personally had signed, we gave to my daughters, Susie and Kathi who were not able to come to these events. I personally do not mind signing autographs, but it was obvious that some do not like this aspect of baseball. You can imagine being so famous that it is impossible to go out in the public without being mobbed by the crowd. I never had that problem except sometimes in New York. On the boat, they had live music and most of it was the good old-fashioned kind, but toward the end of the evening, it got pretty lively with a lot of dancing going on. It was still light enough to see well and we sat at the dock for a while before the boat left. We went up and down the east river and had great views of the skyline of New York and also of the New Jersey shore-line. We circled the Statue of Liberty several times and as the sun went down the lights on the shore grew brighter. Just before we docked, there was a raffle based upon our ticket number and I won a one year supply of vitamin water consisting of 12 cases of the stuff, so I should really be full of energy in dealing with the grandchildren! Nancy’s brother won a large box of special cigars. We returned to the dock at 11:00 p.m. We got back to the hotel very tired but happy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The next morning we had a devotional at 8:15 in Phil and Sandy’s room attended by my entire group. I talked a little bit about what is really important in life and the joy of being a Christian. Phil said a few words, read some scripture, and led us in prayer. Afterward I caught the players bus for Yankee Stadium at 9:00 and the family bus left the hotel at 10:00. I sat in the back of the bus where things became very raunchy going from bad to worse. Some men always remain boys and never grow up. Then I remembered why I never sat in the back of the bus while I was an active player. What I say here is not to taint every ballplayer with a broad brush. Some are very nice and moral.

At Yankee Stadium there was very tight security and we all had to wear a special identification tag. It didn’t matter if we were Babe Ruth, we couldn’t get in without that tag. We were taken to a special clubhouse somewhere in the deep recesses of the stadium where we found full uniforms, including stockings, belts, pants, and jerseys with our old Yankee numbers. All of this we were able to keep. After we got suited up, we were taken to a “large black wall” where we all signed our names with white ink. We were the first ones to sign, and I used my Sunday best signature just about eye level. That wall is to be signed by every living Yankee. While going to the wall, we passed by the huge modern Yankee Clubhouse and was it super nice. Nothing like that when I was a player. But in the old Yankee clubhouse we played hockey with wadded up tape for a puck. I bet that is not allowed in the new one. I wonder if the modern players ever see each other until they take the field.

After the Old-timers dressed (our clubhouse was so small we had to dress in shifts) we were escorted to the dugout and field where we had batting practice, signed autographs, were interviewed by the press, etc. Can you believe, the dugout was air-conditioned!! At the right time, we came out of the dugout in proper order and were introduced to the crowd individually. The announcer did a great job and our picture and stats were shown on the giant electronic scoreboard. We ended up standing along the 1st and 3rd base foul lines for the singing of the national anthem. The widows, Kay Murcer and Diane Munson threw out the first pitches. Then we actually played a three inning game before the fans. We had to play against ourselves, so it was hard to get enough players on the field at the same time. We had to push some of them out of the dugout. But we all pitched in and did what we could. My arm was too sore to throw, so I coached third base. The game ended up 5 to 3, and I am not sure who was playing who. I think it was the “Bombers” against the “Yankees.” It really didn’t matter. It was void of most of the comedy that characterized the game in Staten. The game ended with no one getting hurt, so being finished with our civic duty, we were all very relieved. After our game ended, the New York Yankees played the Detroit Tigers. The families were all taken to “The Luxury Suite” just beyond the right field flag pole. It would seat over 300 people with food and drinks supplied and a perfect view of the game. It was also air-conditioned, thank you very much! I wonder what these seats go for? They could see the whole field and our guests waited there until the players had showered and were escorted up. This was a good time for the old-timers and guests to relax and visit. We stayed at the park until about 5:00 p.m. when the bus took us back to the Hotel. All buses and cars of players are in a secured area behind metal gates and doors with no access to fans allowed. This is the modern way players come and go from the ballpark. A lot of changes since I was a player. We had more access to the fans.

Before we left the ballpark the players were given a Yankee duffle bag with lots of stuff – “T” shirts, caps, etc. As a surprise, we were all given a large golden Yankee ring, and a good size check for coming. The Yankees certainly go first class in their treatment of the old-timers. They are the only club in baseball that keeps the old-timers game and tradition. Since New York is the media capital of the world, we got lots of press, special interviews and write-ups.

Unfortunately after breakfast, Sandy Ford got sick and had to be taken to the hospital. She was not released until about 4:30, so she and Phil missed the whole Yankee Stadium event. It was just one of those unforeseen things. She is doing well now. As to the new Yankee Stadium, it was super nice. We had a wonderful view from our suite. The huge electronic screens are fabulous. Even the dugout was air-conditioned!! The new stadium seats about 48,000 compared to 66,000 in old Yankee Stadium and the seats are very costly. Phil had gone to the last game in the old Yankee Stadium and the first game in the new park. So at least he had seen the stadium. Phil and Sandy had gone to the Yankee game on Friday evening, but they had to play $95.00 per seat for all of the cheaper seats were gone. Baseball has to do something so that the average fan is not priced out. There was much discussion among the old-timers about this. Many of the old-timers live on a small baseball pension, and recently those pensions have been cut 22.3% while the Major League Baseball Pension Fund is worth more than 2 Billion Dollars! This has not gotten much press, but I along with others, intend to make it into a real issue. One old-timer I talked to was receiving only $300.00 per month. Many of the modern players receive salaries worth many millions and will receive pensions worth millions more. What about the old-timers who are just getting by?

On Monday, Nancy and I checked out of our room, ate breakfast with Dale and Blake, and caught a cab for the airport at 8:00. After we arrived at the airport, we found out that the flight had been cancelled. We were rerouted to Boston where we had a 7 hour delay for our flight. As we waited at the airport in Boston, I wore my Yankee cap, which was a rather brave (or stupid) thing to do. But the food was good and we killed time by reading or talking to people. After a quick three hour flight, we arrived in Dallas/FW airport at 9:00 p.m. I had called from Boston and instructed my grandson, Andrew, to meet us at the airport in Dallas at 9:15. We got our bag and walked out to the street at exactly 9:15 and Andrew was just pulling up with the pickup. We got home at about 11:30, very tired but carrying with us lots of memories. There were a lot more things I could write about, but this is sufficient.


The highlights for me was seeing my old teammates again and seeing the enjoyment experienced by Nancy and my guests. The game in Yankee Stadium was the first major league game seen by Nancy. The Yankees won the game and went on a 4 or 5 game winning streak. Actually I enjoyed the whole thing, and especially getting to pitch in the game on Staten Island and doing well. Rich “Goose” Gossage, who was a relief pitcher inducted last year into the Baseball Hall of Fame, came up to me and expressed his appreciation for people like me being the real pioneers of relief pitching and making it possible for others to have success. He said that I did not get the credit that I deserved. That was a very nice thing for him to say. Hoyt Wilhelm, Elroy Face and myself were some of the first ones to specialize in relief pitching, and now a good bull pen is an absolute necessity in winning.

--Lindy McDaniel -- July 26, 2009

P.S. Photos in beginning is of Nancy and me on the Yacht & signing autographs.

Believing In Jesus

To believe in Jesus is to act on that belief. In order to have any saving power, belief in Jesus means to fully trust in Him, not only as the only sacrifice for sin, but also to trust in Him as Lord by taking up our cross and following Him: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:38-39). The problem with much of modern theology is that it (1) fails to recognize the Bible as the inspired word of God; and (2) fails to define words properly.

When we define faith as simply believing that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, we defining faith as something that even demons have (see James 2:19-20). This was the kind of faith many rulers among the Jews possessed, but although believing, they were unwilling to confess Him publically (see John 12:42). None of these definitions fit what the Bible describes as faith. A broad definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Faith must includes our seeking after God. In Hebrews 11, many examples of faith are given. These were men and women who believed in and obeyed God.

Some have been taught that man is so corrupt that he cannot believe. Belief is said to be some kind of experience that is better felt than told. It happens suddenly and without warning when God zaps it into you. Perhaps it is like the Hollywood notion of “falling in love.” Once the love arrow hits you, you are a goner! However, the Bible teaches that the gospel is to be preached to every creature and that all who accept this gospel and is willing to be baptized shall be saved (see Mark 16:15-16). Jesus stressed the importance of teaching with these words: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44-45). Paul taught that the gospel required obedience and that faith comes from hearing the word: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:16-17). Why make mysterious that which God has made plain? I think that there are so many myths surrounding salvation that people’s eyes have been blinded to the truth. As it was in the days of the apostles, so it is now.

Yes, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. That everyone needs to repent is the most difficult part, because people are content with their lives and filled with apathy, not realizing that God is angry and will bring their pitiful lives, with all of their excuses, into judgment. "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

That people are sinners does not mean that we have lost all of our senses and cannot be taught of God. Yes, we must hear words whereby we can be saved. The power of simple faith and trust cannot be over emphasized. It is our free choice either to believe in Christ, with all that implies, or reject Him. We are not lost because we reject Christ, we are lost because we are dead in our own trespasses and sins. It so happens that Christ is the only solution to our problem. --- Lindy McDaniel

Are We Saved By The Unbrella of Jesus Christ?

Some teach that we are saved by “faith only” and that once we are “saved” our life is covered by the umbrella of Jesus Christ. At the point of salvation, God doesn’t see our life with all of its imperfections, He sees only the “righteousness” or life of Christ. Therefore, no sin can be charged against God’s elect. This umbrella is the present life of Christ. They claim that such is taught in Rom. 5:10, 17; I Cor. 1:30-31, Gal. 3:27 and other places. I do not believe that one is saved by “faith only” but that is another subject for another time.

No doubt we are saved by the life of Christ, that is, the perfect life of Christ that was given as an atonement for sin (see Rom. 3:24-26). Jesus is the lamb of God (the perfect sacrifice) that takes away sin. Therefore, He is our righteousness by means of His blood atonement (read all of Rom. 5:10). It was through His obedience (see Rom. 5:19) that all men can be saved, and this obedience resulted in death on the cross: Phil. 2:8-9: “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name . . ” This harmonizes with what is written in the book of Hebrews 5:7-9: “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, he learned obedience from the things which He suffered, and having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation . .” In order to emphasize the work of Jesus in dying for our sins, He is referred to 27 times in the book of Revelation as “the lamb.” I do not intend to belabor this point. I also agree that the present life of Christ as our Lord, mediator, High Priest, etc. also has to do with our salvation, but no where do I read about Christ being our umbrella so that God only sees the life of Christ.

But just assume that we are saved by the umbrella of Jesus Christ, which I do not believe, here are some real difficulties in trying to harmonize this with the Bible:

• We are not saved by the umbrella of Jesus Christ if we continue in the practice of sin: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” Rom. 6:1-2

• We are not saved by the umbrella of Christ if we do not walk in the light: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7).

• We are not saved by the umbrella of Jesus Christ if we refuse to keep His commandments: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected, By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5).

• We are not saved by the umbrella of Jesus Christ if we do not love others: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15).

• We are not saved by the umbrella of Christ if we seek to be justified by law: “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). The context here is clearly circumcision and the law of Moses, but the application is any law system whereby man seeks to justify himself because such is possible only through perfect law-keeping.

Yes, we are saved by the righteousness of Christ by
means of His death, burial, and resurrection. And as
long as we are faithful to Christ by willingly rendering to Him our heart, life, and obedience, He will never depart from us nor forsake us.

But there is no reality in “cheap” grace which offers a false hope and assurance without any sacrifice on our part. I believe that real Christians have “blessed assurance”, but it must be on God’s terms and not ours. Any theology that offers salvation apart from our serving God with the whole heart is contrary to the plain teachings of Jesus Christ.
--- Lindy McDaniel

The Church Universal

Last month I asked the question, “Can you find your church in the Bible?” This question pertains to your church affiliation at large and not a particular local congregation. It is in this context that we read about the church which Christ established (see Matt. 16:16) and for which He died (see Acts 20:28). Of course, I was not expecting for you to find your particular local church in the Bible any more than I can find the local church I am a part of , except in terms of what Christ taught about the organization and work of local churches. That is another subject not addressed here.

The Bible speaks of the universal church, but the Bible also speaks of local churches that belong to Christ. The universal church has no earthly organization or physical structure and is composed of individuals who belong to Jesus Christ. They collectively are viewed by God as consisting of ONE BODY and their function is to glorify God no matter where they are in this world. Such a BODY consists of both Jews and Gentiles, male and females, slaves and free, rich and poor, etc. The Bible is silent as to any earthly organization (such as Pope, Cardinal, arch-bishop, etc.) that would function through clergy systems that tie all members together.

How did the early disciples become a part of the body of Christ? The answer is very simple. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave the great commission to His apostles which is summed up in three accounts:

Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Mark 16:15-16: And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Luke 24:46-47: and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

The gospel is the message that is to be preached to every creature. When men and women hear the gospel, believe the gospel and obey the gospel, they are “added” by God to the ONE BODY OF CHRIST. It is specifically by the means of the act of baptism that one enters into the BODY of Christ (see I Cor. 12:13; Rom. 6:3; Eph. 4:5). It is not outward compliance only that counts with God, but obedience from the heart.

When God adds you to His BODY (see Acts 2:47), no one has the power to remove you but God Himself. Therefore, we can confidently say that the universal church is constitutionally and essentially ONE and is comprised of the saved. Salvation is not a matter of being voted upon by others or being accepted by a particular group of men. You belong to Christ by means of your obedience to the gospel (see Romans 6:17; 2 Thess. 1:8). This message which is to be preached to every creature is about Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1-4) and is centered on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ—1 Cor. 15:1-4. These are simple but profound truths. Who has ever become a Christian without actually hearing the gospel, believing the gospel and obeying the gospel? It is through the preaching of the word that God in His wisdom seeks to save souls. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). This is the original message of the New Testament, but these simple truths have been lost through the ages.

The religious world has come to the point of teaching that people can join the church of their own choice or believe the faith of their choice instead of learning about God’s choice. There is absolutely no salvation in the doctrines and commandments of men, as Jesus Himself taught. Are we receiving the original teaching about Christ and the church authorized by Christ Himself? For example, we find that religious lawyers who, through a multitude of deceptive words, have hidden the gospel from the people, so that many people do not even believe that the Bible contains the infallible word of God (see Luke 11:46, 52). If there is no reliable rule book for religion then it is impossible for us to be on the same page. What I do in this paper is talk about the religion of Jesus Christ 101. Does that make sense? What say you?


Two months ago I received an invitation to join other fellow retired baseball players in the “Yankee Old-timers Reunion (a game and festivities) taking place on July 17 – 19, 2009. This is certainly an honor of sorts, but as I think on these things, many thoughts pass through my mind. It will be nice to see a lot of my old teammates after so many years, and reminisce about the game we enjoyed playing.

I have often wondered why sports are so wildly popular and yet it seems few people seem to have that kind of devoted interest in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, it will be a good experience to reacquaint myself with players of years gone by. Many which I have not seen for almost 40 years. Will I be intimidated by the fact that many of these players are Hall-of-Famers? Not at all. My record with the Yankees speaks for itself, which was 38 wins, 29 losses, 58 saves and an E.R.A. of 2.46. As a Yankee, I appeared in 265 games covering 545 innings, gave up 486 hits, struck out 343 batters, gave up 156 walks and 173 earned runs.

It will also be a lot of fun to be joined by my wife Nancy and close Christian friends, Phil and Sandy Ford, as we anticipate some good times in New York city and at Yankee Stadium. A Christian ought to have fun while putting God first. Yes, it will be enjoyable to be introduced by name, along with my fellow baseball players with 60,000+ people in the stands and millions watching on T.V.

Yet I know in the things that ultimately matter, all of this pales into total insignificance to the glory of God and the importance of knowing him. The “crown of leaves” will fade away, but the eternal crown of life will never fade away (see 1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:7-8).

I can understand the popularity of sports. It appeals to the fans because they know that sports involves “an all out effort to win in open, honest competition.” So it involves the thrill of competition and watching a genuine performance, taking sides, rooting for your team, etc. There are not many things that are so “open” and “honest”. Yet I have often wondered, as I observed a packed stadium on a Sunday afternoon, how many of those people went to church services and truly love the Lord Jesus? Have we not raised a generation of people who know more about sports than they do about the Bible? How much does sports contribute to the moral well being of our nation? Very little if any.

I have also known athletes whose world and their identity (who they are) centers around sports. As they might say themselves, “I eat, drink, sleep and live baseball. It is my life.” And yet I have seen many such men make a mess out of their lives with divorces, scandal, drug use, becoming poor examples for young people, etc. And I think to myself, “That person may be a Hall-of-Famer, but they did not know much about life.” To tell you the truth, I miss not having played on a World Championship team, but after all is said and done, this will not matter at all. Like Mary, we need to choose the good part which will not be taken away (see Luke 10:42).

I wish that people in our great nation love Christ as much as they love sports. Although in fact, if one is to be a true disciple, he must love Christ more than anything else. But at least it would be a step in the right direction. Let us just say that if they dedicated themselves to Christ with the same dedication they have for sports, then Christ would be #1.

Seeing the “Old Timers” will be a reminder that we live in this time/material universe where nothing remains the same. Many of my old buddies in baseball have already passed on. As the brother of Jesus wrote: “but the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation; because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away” (James 1:9-11). We may joke and kid one another about our age, but we all know that we live in a time of fading glory. Even the glory of all those Yankee Championships will become a distant memory and will not be long remembered many years from now.

Eccles. 1:11: There is no remembrance of earlier things; And also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance Among those who will come later still.

I must confess that many of my friends and loved ones are not into sports. I assume that they love me for who I am and not because I had a long stint in baseball. Oh, they remember my birthdays and other occasions by giving me baseball books, baseball movies on D.V.D’s, and other such things, but they know that baseball is not the most important thing to me. I have a very ordinary life compared to many of the sports stars of today, but it is rich in many things money cannot buy.

– Lindy McDaniel, 2009

E-mail: lindymcdaniel41@yahoo.com

Does The Church Save Us?

We know that the church plays an important part in the thinking and planning of God. Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:16). Jesus is the head of the church (see Eph. 1:22-23). Jesus purchased the church with his own blood (see Acts 20:28). The church is the expression of the eternal and manifold wisdom of God (see Eph. 3:10-11). So, if we had nothing else, these passages would show the importance of the church.

The word “church” is not an ecclesiastical term. It doesn’t refer to a religious organization or a building. The word was used in Bible times to refer to a gathering of citizens of a city or even a mob (see Acts 19:30, 41). In fact, the basic meaning of “church” is simply “people”, although in terms of Christ’s church the word refers to a special people who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ (see 1 Pet. 2:9-10). Since the word “church” is a collective noun, it refers to the people who belong to Christ viewed collectively. These same people are viewed as a “body”, a “temple”, or the “household of God”. But when it comes to the church, the Bible consistently teaches that there is only one body (Eph. 1:23; 4:5), one temple (1 Pet. 2:5) or one household (see 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:17). With these few facts before us, I now proceed to address the topic of this article.

There is a misunderstanding of the church in relationship to Christ. The church looks to Christ as Lord and Savior and the giver of all spiritual blessings (see Eph. 1:3-10). The church has no authority – Christ does. The church does not save – that is the role of Christ. Rather, the church constitutes the saved. The church does not dispense the blessings found in Christ. Christ has given the church no “sacramental system” whereby all blessings must flow through the church (usually referring to clergy), but rather, every Christian receives blessings directly from Christ. Christ is the only mediator between God and man (see 1 Tim. 2:5). However, many are taught that there can be no access to Christ except through the organized church (usually organized in ways unheard of in the New Testament). This may give some people power over others, but this power has been usurped from Christ and is not legitimate.

Here at the Lavon Church of Christ we recognize Christ as Lord, Savior, Law Giver, Mediator, and we strive to do all things in harmony with His will. We do not attempt to exalt one person or persons over others, for Jesus has forbidden His followers to do such things (see Matt. 23:7-12). We are all equal as brothers and sisters in Christ. We do have elders, but they are not “lords” (see 1 Pet. 5:3). We take our orders from Christ and not from some ecclesiastical board in some other part of the country.


Man has a tremendous capacity to rationalize bad conduct and morals. Jeremiah wrote long ago: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jer. 17:9-10). Below are a few of the modern rationalizations for doing bad things.

“Everyone Is Doing It”

Usually everyone is not doing it, but some people feel better if they think others are guilty of the same things. It might just describe what Paul wrote in Romans 1:32: “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice such things.” It is so much easier to do evil if others are doing it also. But I have a saying, “Wrong is wrong no matter who is doing it. Or the Bible teaches, “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar,” (Romans 3:4). Very often others are not doing it. It is just that bad behavior seems to get the most attention!

Some, who flaunt their bodies by wearing scanty clothes, showing much cleavage say, “Well, God gave me my body and I am not ashamed of it! It is not my fault if people lust after me.” I am at a loss as to how to respond to this except to say that any conduct, no matter how outlandish, can be rationalized. Read Jer. 6:15. Have we lost all sense of modesty and propriety? The great lie that has been taught to many young people for years is that their bodies belong to them and that no one can tell them what to do when it comes to their body.

“God Wants Us To Be Happy”

This can be said to justify all kinds of behavior. We think it will make us happy. Happiness can here be defined as anything that will bring some momentary pleasure. This is the bait that Satan uses in setting a trap for us. When I played baseball, some players idea of happiness was having a girlfriend in every city even though they were married. Some find happiness by using drugs and alcohol. Others find happiness is doing bad things to other people. No, God wants you to do the right thing! God says through Paul: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 7-8). If you sow to the flesh, you shall of the flesh reap corruption. Yes, God does want us to be happy and He knows that will bring true happiness and what will not. If we are faithful to God He will give us a joy that is far greater than any temporary happiness produced by indulging ourselves in sinful activities.

“The End Justifies the Means”

This is used as an excuse for a young woman to sell her body so that her children, born out of wedlock, could be fed? I heard that recently. Why not just ask for help and start making responsible decisions? What about those who profit from pornography (which is a Billion Dollar business that destroys people) and then give money to charity. Maybe that helps their conscience, but God is not impressed.

“They Are Going To Do It Anyway”

This is used by many adults justify their failure to lead and guide young people properly. I have heard adults use this argument to justify their allowing young people to have drinking parties in their home. They reason, “They are going to drink anyway and so it is better to allow them to drink at home under my supervision.” What supervision?! And why do we think that bad behavior is written in concrete. I happen to think that people can actually change. But why should they change if they are encouraged to do wrong? Yes, young people make mistakes, but we do not need to encourage them in such things. The same argument is used for giving “condoms” to young people. They reason, “They are going to do it anyway so why shouldn’t they be safe.” The fact is that condoms are not safe and provide little protection against many sexually transmitted diseases, and more importantly, such parents are totally abrogating their God given role as parents. I read where the government is involved in clean needle exchange programs with drug users. This is more of the same warped thinking. Yes, there is no end to how much we can rationalize in order to do wrong.

“I’m Not Hurting Anybody”

In the first place, God is aware of all conduct, whether private or public. Secondly, you are hurting yourself, and you are hurting those who are encouraged to sin because they know what you are doing. Some say, “Two consenting adults can do whatever they please as long as they don’t hurt someone else.” How do seemingly smart people come up with such stupid and naive ideas? We are in no position to judge what “hurts” and what does not “hurt”. None of us live to ourselves and none of us die to ourselves. One of my fellow teammates with the New York Yankees used to say, “Just because I do so and so, that doesn’t make me a bad person.” He had the knack of justifying any bad behavior not matter how bazaar. So you are not hurting anybody. By whose standard? All conduct which violates the laws of God is sinful and is hurtful to all who practice such and in so doing influence others to do wrong.

“I Can’t Help Myself”

This is used to justify just about everything. It means that we cannot altar our conduct. Some believe that they were born a certain way, and that they can do nothing to change the way they feel and act. The Bible does teach that a person can find himself in bondage to sin. But in Jesus Christ, God has provided a way of escape. God has also given us a “free will” so that we have the power to choose. No one is compelled to be a sinner. By hearing and believing the gospel, the power of sinful conduct can be broken. Paul, who once was a great sinner himself, wrote: “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans 6:17). He wrote this to combat the idea that Christians can “continue in sin” (see Rom. 6:1).

“I’m Going To Die Anyway”

I have talked to a number of people who justify wild and sinful behavior on the belief that they will die young. So they had better live it up while they can, because they might die tomorrow. I asked one of my teammates, who had quite a wild reputation, what was he going to do when he got old when he could no longer do all of these things. He said, “I will never get old, so I am having all of the fun I can now.” Unfortunately (or fortunately) for him he did live to grow old and paid a steep price for his wild living by going bankrupt, never knowing the joy of a true wife, children, grandchildren, etc. Sometimes I am often reminded, “why is youth often wasted on the young?” Having a good life has very little to do with youth, but it has everything to do with bringing life in harmony with God and enjoying His blessings whether young or old. On the other hand, when life is based solely upon physical things (youth, health, wealth), and these things are lost, our life is basically over. Yes, we are all going to die, but the life in Jesus will be forever and transcends life on earth. Since life is precious, maybe we should make the most of our opportunities to serve God, rather than wasting our time investing in things that will never last and never produce true joy.

Here are a few other rationalizations: “It’s just a little white lie” or “It’s OK to do as long as you don’t get caught.” You are always caught on God’s camera! I wonder how many used that one in the baseball steroid scandal? You can probably think of many other ways people justify bad conduct.

–Lindy McDaniel

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