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

Thanksgiving is Good and Fitting

Since 1942, the United States have celebrated a holiday for Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November.  For Christians the holiday is a time to remember the source of their blessings, regardless of how large or small those blessings seem.  In Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, the Preacher recommends celebrating and enjoying our material things, and recognizing God as the Giver of them all, including the work needed to produce and prepare them:

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.

However, as the Preacher wrote, even those with good jobs and plentiful possessions may find it difficult to truly enjoy them.  It is “good and fitting”, but it is also “the gift of God” to find joy in the now instead of chasing things we don’t already have.  It does not come naturally.

For many, time and events make each Thanksgiving different.  The company around the table may have changed.  The meal may be different.  The means of providing the meal may be different.  The familiarity of tradition may have been shaken by the pandemic and other circumstances.  Much has changed, and much will change.

Therefore, focus on the Giver behind the gifts you have, and seek contentment with thankfulness that He has provided everything you need. For now, and in eternity.  You are in good company.

Joy in a Minor (Prophet) Key

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and other fruit of the Spirit can be hard to come by during political campaign season.  Social media and traditional news outlets are usually geared toward sharing bad news in normal times, but during campaigns the mudslinging and negative attitudes go nuclear.  Hyperbole is not supposed to be taken literally, like if I said, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse,” but in politics it seems every election is the most important ever and the other candidate or party is going to destroy everyone.  Responsible civic participation is a must in a healthy society but when it becomes apocalyptic, it may be a sign we’ve put government in a place only God should be.

Photo by Jessica Delp on Unsplash

Around 600 BC the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk was stressed out.  Ancient Israel had the law of Moses and the temple in Jerusalem.  They had God’s prophets, priests, and kings.  Habakkuk’s circumstances should have been ideal.  He saw his political, religious, and economic systems as the best possible, because they were from God Himself.  However, it had all been corrupted by sinful man, often for the benefit of the powerful.  Therefore, God told Habakkuk that He was about to do something utterly terrifying, unexpected, and unbelievable to His people:

Look among the nations, and see;
            wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
            that you would not believe if told.” – Habakkuk 1:5

God gave Habakkuk really, really bad news.  Everything around him was going to crumble, because God was going to use the horribly wicked Babylonians to judge Israel and violently take them captive into exile.  To us, this would be like God promising us that all of our worst political fears would be realized and that there was nothing we could do about it.  Naturally, Habakkuk couldn’t believe it, so he asked God to teach him and waited for an answer:

I will take my stand at my watchpost
            and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
            and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” – Hab. 2:1

In God’s reply, He tells Habakkuk that “the righteous shall live by his faith.”[1]  Not only will God ultimately judge the Babylonians, who were just tools in His hands, but His people must trust and be patient in the meantime, even exiled from the Promised Land without Israel’s institutions, which had proved useless anyway.  Habakkuk felt much better, finding peace and even joy!  He ends his book with this powerful prayer of faith and joy in Habakkuk 3:17-19:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
             the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
             the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
            He makes my feet like the deer’s;
            He makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.”

Habakkuk’s joy was real, although his situation was horrible.  None of this is hyperbole, so why don’t more people have the unshakable joy of Habakkuk?  For most of the world’s population, it isn’t because their circumstances are worse than his.  So, what is it about politics and the fear of losing an election that robs us of joy and peace?  Sometimes there’s no quick solution and a lot of long-term self-examination is required.

Sometimes we must also say:

I will take my stand at my watchpost
            and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
            and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”

So, over the next 4 Saturdays, I’ll be re-sharing some old posts related to reducing the political temperature.  Maybe we can even find some joy in knowing our sovereign God is real, He is in control, and He knows what He’s doing, whatever our circumstances.


[1] Habakkuk 2:4b

On Spiritual Mood Swings

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Life is often a battle with inconsistency.  We go from feeling good about our situations and God’s favor, to feeling like we are in a spiritual desert, and back again like a pendulum.  Knowing this, God provides verses like Psalm 126:4-6, which says:

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
            like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
            shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
            bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
            bringing his sheaves with him.

The metaphor is a comparison to the south of Israel, which has a very dry climate, yet experiences flooding in a rainstorm.  The Negeb also is mentioned in the story of Caleb and his daughter Achsah.  Her inherited land was in the infertile Negeb, and she asks him also for springs of water, which he gives her.[1]

Like Achsah’s father Caleb, our Father God also provides for us in our seasons of trouble.  Here, the Psalmist compares tears to seeds, reminding us that in the dry times as well as the times of overflowing blessing, God is with us, using those circumstances.  Our current loss is future gain, and our current time of suffering is bound and measured by God’s will, like the Babylonian exile was measured at 70 years[2] and the year of Jubilee came after every 49 years[3].  After our time, we will enter His rest and rejoice eternally.

In this life we may experience spiritual and emotional extremes, like drought and flood in the desert.  Don’t overreact to the pendulum swing but count your tears as seeds.  Pray that He will restore your fortunes and thank Him that our seasons are in His hands.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4


[1] Joshua 15:18-19
[2] Daniel 9:2, 9:24
[3] Leviticus 25:8

Grandpa Solomon’s Retirement Advice

Have you ever asked yourself what Solomon, son of David, king of Israel, and author of much Biblical wisdom, would have to say about modern retirement?  Probably not, but I’m going to write about it anyway, because Solomon actually had some relevant advice.

Since this blog is not a source of income, I have a day job which happens to involve helping companies help their employees save and invest for retirement.  In American culture, retirement has in some ways replaced heaven as the future we hope for.  Advertisements promise retirees can do all the things they dreamed of doing during their working years.  Travel.  Relax.  Read those books you’ve been putting off reading.  If you can, buy a yacht.  After all, if you’ve worked so hard for it, you deserve it, they say.  Like many marketing schemes, something good and prudent (saving for retirement) is wrapped in a lot of gloss to get you to do something you might not do otherwise.  Sacrifices made now are worthwhile because of a later reward.

A guest at church this morning inspired me to write this post, since he was working with a ministry to grandparents.  The ministry is called Legacy Coalition (website link).  While talking with him, I made a connection and wanted to share it here.  That connection is that Solomon[1] when writing Ecclesiastes was acting in the role of a wise, Godly grandfather in a way that offers a sharp contrast to the story of retirement that goes unchallenged in our culture.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon lays out an argument that he lived almost the exact life pictured in our retirement ads but learned to regret it.  While still a very young man, he had the power and wealth to try anything he wanted.  He planted vineyards and drank a lot of wine.  He built gardens and pools and acquired many servants and property.  He also had 700 wives and 300 concubines.[2]  He could have everything he desired – everything the retirement ads would show you if they could be R-rated – but he ended up disappointed.  Ecclesiastes is his advice to those who come after to not repeat his mistakes.

While a blog post can’t cover all of Ecclesiastes, I must add that Solomon did encourage us to invest for the future, but also not to place all our bets on one specific vision of the future: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.  Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2).  A long, healthy and prosperous retirement is one possible future among many, but eternity with God is a future certainty.  Earlier in the book, Solomon writes: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  God gives us a sense of what He has planned for us, but not many of the details.  We should not foolishly ignore the future, but we should not cling to one future we desire at the cost of the present God has given us and the future He already knows everything about.

Solomon encourages everyone – young and old – to live more in their own moment, enjoying the gifts God has given them and sharing those gifts with the people around them.  While Solomon is encouraging the young to not repeat his own mistakes, he is also encouraging the old to share their perspective.  In both cases, Solomon is telling us not to stress too much about what may or may not happen, but to invest what we have in light of what will be meaningful in eternity.  Joy comes from enjoying the relationships and things God has blessed us with now, not from sacrificing the now in light of a false vision of retirement.

Solomon recommends joy in God’s provision, and so I close with this quote, and pray that we all experience joy and thankfulness in the gifts God has given us today.  Don’t keep them to yourself.

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.  Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.  Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” – Ecclesiastes 9:7-10


[1] I’m going to proceed for the sake of argument that Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastes, although I know some debate that and it’s not explicitly stated.
[2] 1 Kings 11:3