Today is Mo Gaba Day

Today my local public school system is celebrating Mo Gaba Day, in honor of Mosilla “Mo” Kingsley Gaba, born on January 26, 2006.  Who is Mo Gaba?  If you aren’t a Maryland local, you likely don’t know Mo’s amazing story, but it’s worth telling!

At 9 months old, Mo had his first cancer diagnosis and soon lost his sight completely and permanently.  Over his life he fought cancer in his brain, bones, legs and elsewhere, but even with these challenges, Mo became a local celebrity because of his unquenchable enthusiasm for the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, and for life in general.  At 9 years old, he began calling local sports radio shows in secret while his mother was at work, sharing thoughts about his teams, and about life, that seemed way beyond his years.  To listeners, he was known as “Mo from Glen Burnie.”  Over time, people also learned of his health issues and his attitude became an inspiration to, and friend of, many, including then-Orioles player Trey Mancini, who had been diagnosed with colon cancer in early 2020.  Tragically, 14-year-old Mo Gaba died on July 28, 2020, after spending 75% of his life in hospitals, but he remains inspirational to many.

Mo Gaba and Trey Mancini

Two years later to the day, the Orioles held their first Mo Gaba Day, and something amazing happened: “Mancini hit an inside-the-park home run with a runner on base that started as what appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly. However, the ball deflected off the glove of Tampa Bay right fielder Josh Lowe after he lost it in the afternoon sun and hit him in the face, allowing Mancini to score…Trey commented about Mo playing around in the clouds so that he could score.”[1]  As Mancini rounded the bases, there was hardly a dry eye in attendance at the game, or watching on TV.  The Orioles won 3-0.

I don’t know much about Mo’s private life, the source of his hope and personality, or his religion, but share his story in the spirit of Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Can followers of Christ provide hope as Mo did?

Lastly, below is what I posted to Facebook the day after hearing of his passing.

“RIP Mo Gaba, age 14.

Who is Mo Gaba?  A few years ago I started hearing him on the radio, calling in to the sports talk show I listened to in the car on my drive home.  He would have been about 10 when I first heard him.  Kids don’t call in much and the hosts usually aren’t patient with them so I wondered what was the deal with this very informed, very enthusiastic kid.  He loved his Orioles and Ravens!!!  Later I found out he was blind and had been fighting cancer his whole life. He was confined to a wheelchair. But he was so endearingly positive at all times.  The talk show host (Jeremy Conn) became a big advocate for him and his family, raising money to support him.  Other local sports figures and celebrities also began to support this kid who had an amazing personality in spite of his health problems that would crush many peoples spirits.  for example, “In 2019, Gaba became the first person to announce an NFL draft pick in Braille when he announced the Ravens’ fourth-round pick.”  Yesterday he was in the news (below) for getting into the Orioles Hall of Fame and today he’s gone.

We can all learn a lesson from his attitude in the face of adversity.  His joy was infectious. 

May we all experience joy as the world has become so negative and in turmoil!  A world that in some ways is teaching us to feel nothing but guilt and helplessness.  We are not victims in God’s eyes.

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” – Ecclesiastes 7:14”

https://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bs-sp-orioles-mo-gaba-hall-of-fame-20200728-5kcctc4q6zeefbzkw6ahq2xg7q-story.html


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trey_Mancini

We Will Not Live in Tents Forever

The apostle Paul was likely one of the finest Old Testament scholars of his day, and sometimes draws on existing imagery to make a point.  One example might be Proverbs 14:11-12, where the second verse is more widely known than the first, but not unrelated:

The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
            but the tent of the upright will flourish.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
            but its end is the way to death.

Physically, it seems obvious that a house is far more durable than a tent, but these Proverbs tell us not to judge by appearances.  Looks and reputation may suggest otherwise, but it is righteousness that determines eternal destiny, specifically acceptance of Jesus’ righteousness.

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-3, Paul gives an example of why we should focus not on what “seems right”, but instead focus on the unseen things that matter for eternity, drawing on the tent image:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.”

Photo by Hendrik Morkel on Unsplash

Paul, defending his apostleship to the Corinthians amidst his suffering while other false apostles lived in ease, knew that an upright tent was better than a wicked house in God’s eyes, and therefore being less comfortable was entirely worth it, since there was an eternal reward waiting in heaven.

Commenting on 2 Corinthians 5, Warren Wiersbe notes that “Heaven was not simply a destination for Paul: it was a motivation.  Like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, he looked for the heavenly city and governed his life by eternal values.”[1]

When frustrated by your earthly limitations, or frustrated by discomfort in this world, know that we will not live in these tents forever.  For His faithful, God is preparing an eternal dwelling for us.  While it “seems right to a man” to think a house is better than a tent, every tent and house in this world is temporary.  Hebrews 1:12 says of all creation, the earth and all the heavens, that:

like a robe you will roll them up,
            like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
            and your years will have no end.

Do we long for our new, eternal heavenly dwelling?  Does this longing motivate us to live for God?  Let us keep Driving Toward Morning today!


[1] Wiersbe, Warren.  Be Encouraged (2 Corinthians) (1994).  P. 69.

The Part of Us That Matters

The Apostle Paul wrote an amazing contrast in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which says:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

On the one hand, there are things that are transient, described as: outer, wasting away, light, momentary, affliction, and seen.

On the other hand, what is eternal is: inner, being renewed, weighty, glorious, beyond all comparison, and unseen.

These things are part of each of us, but what is eternal matters infinitely more than the other. Don’t confuse the two, or you may lose heart because Paul earlier assured us in verse 14 that “he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.”  At that time, only what is eternal will remain.

Amen.

[Revised from a December 2021 post]

Christianity is Not in Decline. Ever.

The tomb is empty. Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

Too often I start reading something thinking it will be encouraging, but find it filled with phrases like “post-Christian world,” or “Christianity’s decline.”  I just read that apparently, I’m “living in the ruins of Christendom.”  However, because Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” our faith and hope are not based on any ruin or decline we see in the communities and world around us.  Other things may end up in ruins or in decline, but Christianity does not.  It was not in decline on Good Friday and it is not in decline now.

In a recent post about the massive expansion of Christianity under Communist China, I wrote: “As Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 – ‘And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’  This rock is the gospel of the kingdom of God, and not even a brutal regime like that of Chairman Mao could prevail against it.”

The best of the kingdom of God is always in the future, never in the past, which brings me to the Rewind Wednesday part of today’s post, from last November:

“Today, many will hear the good news of the kingdom of Jesus, and some may hear and be saved!  Also today, none will be snatched out of His hand! (John 10:28)

True progress will be made today and every day.”

An Ebenezer in the Sky

Photo by Stainless Images on Unsplash

Ebenezer the squirrel, the blog’s mascot, represents memorials of God’s intervention in the world and in our lives.  The times when He changes the course of events, and when the narrative is changed by the words “but God.”  In the ESV Bible, this phrase appears 43 times, including:

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” – Genesis 8:1

The phrase first was used in Genesis 3:3, when Eve says to the serpent, “but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”  As we know, Adam and Eve fell to temptation, eating the fruit and therefore providing us a warning that we should live by God’s words, not just quote them.

However, the second time we see “but God” it is a reminder that God intervenes to save sinners.  Sin started with one rejection of God’s word, but by Noah’s time, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.[1]  God had Noah build an ark for his family to escape the coming flood of judgement, and the last verse before Genesis 8:1 says, “the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.[2]  Even for Noah and his family, the ones God chose to save, 5 months alone in an ark may not have felt like salvation.  “But God…made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.

Today, if salvation seems far away, if the flood around us feels like it’s not going away, even if it’s been months since we’ve had a “good day”, God gave us an Ebenezer especially for this occasion: the rainbow.  Genesis 9:14-16 says:

When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

When you see a rainbow, in the sky or anywhere, remember it as a sign of God’s love for His people, for sinners who rejected Him, but who He chose to save anyway.  He will deliver all of God’s children from the flood because His covenant is everlasting.

Also, keep an eye out for Ebenezer (still the blog’s mascot) as an ongoing series here, covering the 43 direct “but God” references, but also others.


[1] Genesis 6:11-12
[2] Genesis 7:24