Monthly Archives: November 2012

Viva, Vin Scully

“Hi everybody. And a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.” 

Night after night, with these immortal words begins my next communications workshop, led by my Hall of Fame, baseball-broadcasting mentor, Vin Scully.

See, here’s the thing. When I was in high school, my 10th grade drama teacher called me into her office one day and gave me some sage advice. She wasn’t trying to be cruel or hurtful in any way. She genuinely cared about me and didn’t want me to make a huge mistake. 

And so, her heart filled, I am sure, with ample amounts of compassion, she let me in on this little secret: “In the 15 years that I have been teaching Drama, you are the single most boring student I have ever had.” Yes, that’s an exact quote.

She continued, “You are unexpressive. You speak in a monotone. You have a speech impediment that makes it irritating to listen to you. And frankly, if you have to support your family by talking, you and they will starve.”

She finally brought her solemn soliloquy to a soul-searing crescendo when she added, “When it comes time for you to choose a career, whatever you do, DO NOT GO INTO PUBLIC SPEAKING” (capital letters added by me to convey the intensity with which she emphasized this final point.) 

And with that, our little tête-à-tête came to an abrupt end.

Not sure how you would feel if you had been on the receiving end of that little speech. Me? I truthfully thanked her because, truth be told, I never, ever harbored any ambitions that even remotely resembled my going into any kind of public speaking. Any way. Anywhere. Any time.

Are you kidding me? Just the thought of me standing in front of people, them all looking at me, each person with two eyeballs watching my every move, making a mental note of every drop of sweat, every quiver of my eyebrow, hearing every stutter of a syllable… Just my imagining that made my stomach retch in rebellion.

Fast-forward two years. I invited Jesus into my life. And He proceeded to call me to preach/teach His Word, the Bible, to young and old — anyone who would listen.

Great. Just great. Apparently, He didn’t hear my drama teacher.

Long story short, I had to learn how to do this… as a matter of survival. This was make or break for me. ‘Cuz neither I, nor my growing family, wanted to starve.

So what to do? I decided to learn from the best. And the best of the best was Vin Scully.

Night after night, and on Sunday afternoons, radio in hand, I listened to every syllable, dangling participle, and split infinitive that flowed effortlessly out of Vinnie’s golden mouth. So many times, more times than I can count or even estimate, I’d park myself in the top deck at Dodger Stadium where I got a bird’s-eye view of the activity on the field. I’d try to imagine how I would describe each play, and then I would listen to the master magically transform the action on the field into poetry. A symphony of words. 

When I listened at home, I would close my eyes and “see” each play materialize right in front of me as if I was there.

You’ve got to understand: Vin Scully didn’t just talk. He painted. Painted fantastical scenes using nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs for his colors. 

Vin is not a man to say that it’s windy in the ballpark. Not by a long shot. He’d say, “There’s a brisk breeze rippling Old Glory high atop the flag pole in center field.” I can remember when Steve Garvey hit a booming fly ball into the right field bleachers at Dodger Stadium. At that exact moment the crowd began ogling a scantily-clad young lady who stood up to cheer. Vin Scully captured the moment and froze it in time when he described Garvey’s blast as “the homerun that was heard by many but seen by few.” (I’m proud to tell you that I was one of the few!)

Vin Scully did not tell me what happened. Vin Scully took me there. His word choice (Paints, remember? Colors, contours, textures, shapes and shadows), voice inflections, pregnant pauses — all wondrously combined in a perfect formula that allowed me to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste the action as if I was sitting with him in his broadcast booth. Just him and me talking baseball, and savoring the magic of the moment together.

And so it is that to this day (Yep, Vinnie’s still doing it. He’ll begin his 64th year in April.), once the last out of the last inning is recorded and Vinnie’s microphone goes silent, as he is making his discreet exit from his broadcast booth, at that very moment I am logging off of my account, then kneeling by my bed, and praying this little prayer: “Dear God, please, help me to do with the Bible what Vin Scully does with a Dodger Game. Help me to ‘take them there.’ To see the action within each passage, to hear the voices, to feel the emotions, to smell the aromas, to taste the flavors, to touch the face of God as You touch the lives of those who listen. Help me to make this book — Your book — come alive in their hearing. Yes, help me to do with the Bible what Vin Scully does with a Dodger Game.”

I’ve been praying that prayer for 42 years.

Whether or not God has answered my prayer, I’ll let others be the judge. But by God’s grace, for over 42 years now, despite the counsel of my well-intentioned 10th grade drama teacher, I have been earning my living by talking, and my family has yet to starve.

All of that to say this: “Thank you, Vin Scully, for the priceless impact you have made on my life, my career, my ministry. And on this, the 29th day of November, in the year of our Lord 2012, God’s richest blessings to you and to yours on this, your 85TH BIRTHDAY. Viva, Vin Scully.”

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The Word became Flesh.

The newest podcast in our Jesus in HD series is now up and ready for you to listen. You can hear it here.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of this message for this one reason: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Believe it or not, these 17 simple words comprise one of the landmark, foundational verses upon which our faith, and therefore our lives, rests.

Yet, when you just read them, I doubt that you heard bugles blaring nor angelic choirs singing. You probably saw no lightning flashing nor thunder pealing. My public reading of these words never elicits from anyone any audible ooohs or aaahs. 

Maybe, just maybe, that’s because on the surface at least, these 17 words sound so foreign, so unlike the way we talk, so hard to relate to. “In the beginning was the Word”? As someone said to me just recently, “My mind has always just sort of glazed over that verse.” I can see why.

That being said, it would be impossible for me — impossible for me — to overstate the importance of this opening verse that introduces to us the Gospel According to John. Listen to this podcast, and you will quickly understand why.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Google…

…Or, upon reflection, perhaps not so funny.

I just discovered that I am a heretic. On my way to Hell, no less.

No kidding.

It sure made my day to read THAT. :-/

This sorry saga began simply enough. As you probably know, this blogsite / website is relatively new. So out of curiosity, I googled my name in order to see if the good folks at the world’s leading search engine had yet to discover And if so, where on the list of hits did it fall?

The good news is that not only has Google discovered it, but is the first site to come up, resting prestigiously at #1, the first link on the very top of their list. Yeah for me.

The not-so-good news? #2 on Goggle’s list is a link to an article, the title of which reads, “Dewey Bertolini, A False Teacher in Oregon.”

Once again, my curiosity got the better of me (Curiosity did kill the cat, don’t ya know?) and I clicked on the link. “And what to my wondering eyes should appear?” Well, read for yourself:

“Pursue . . . holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

“Dewey Bertolini is not holy (set apart), thus he will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). He is on the same broad way (Matthew 7:13) we describe in our Saved Not! article. He’s a false teacher within ‘evangelical’ false Christianity, as is illustrated by the flattering quotes given to him by false teachers Josh McDowell and John MacArthur on his church bio page.

“On Bertolini’s amazon bio page it reads, ‘Dewey…speaks annually to thousands of young people and adults at camps and conference centers throughout this great country of ours. In addition to his books, Dewey has also authored numerous articles, taught the Bible on both the college and seminary levels, trained pastors and youth pastors, led fourteen study tours to Israel and the Middle East, and has been featured on such broadcasts as Focus on the Family and the 700 Club.’

“Most caught in the false Christian world of evangelical “Christianity” are blind to the condemning words above. Suffice it to say, Focus on the Family and the 700 Club would have nothing to do with Dewey, if he was a man of Truth (John 3:20). But, he is a worker of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Therefore, they feature him as someone to listen to, because they are of the same spirit, the spirit of error (1 John 4:6), in which false doctrine reigns (Revelation 22:15).

“Sadly, most are blind (2 Corinthians 4:4) to the abundant false doctrine, false gospels, and false Christs that are preached within the ‘Christian’ world.” Ouch. 

Well, I guess I’ll take a some measure of comfort in the endorsements of the likes of Josh McDowell, John MacArthur, James Dobson, and the 700 Club, as opposed to the evaluation of the writer of this article (who is certainly entitled to his opinion). 

But more importantly, MOST importantly, I take enormous comfort in the fact that whenever I teach, every time I teach, I labor diligently over every word in order to insure that to the very best of my ability I can present myself “to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not always get the passage right. But I will also hasten to add that no one takes the responsibility of preaching and teaching God’s Word more seriously than I — a statement that has defined my life and my ministry for well-over 40 years.

Ultimately, it’s not the judgment of the #2 listing in response to a “Dewey Bertolini” Google search that matters. All that matters is the judgment of Almighty God. A judgment that I will readily accept for everything I teach.

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Jesus to the Rescue

It’s not often that I have a burst of fresh insight while walking my dogs in the rain at six o’clock in the morning. But I had one today.

Now mind you, I consider my dogs to be among the best behaved canines in the world. Chalk it up to good parenting. Well, my parental pride aside, each morning we encounter a lady on our walk with a not-so-nice dog, a yappy little thing that snips and snaps and growls at my precious puppies. And every morning, I chalk that dog’s misbehavior to — what else? — poor parenting.

But this morning, my fellow dog walker seemed especially embarrassed and ashamedly explained, “I’m so sorry. She’s a rescue dog.”

A rescue dog.

That explained it. How insensitive of me. This lady’s poor pooch had issues, the result of months, perhaps years of neglect, abuse, pain and suffering.

A rescue dog.

Suddenly, I understood. And in understanding, felt nothing but heaps of compassion for the little thing.

And then came my burst of insight. Aren’t we all — well — if not rescue dogs, certainly rescued people?

We’ve all had our not-so-fair share of neglect, abuse, pain and suffering. Life is like that. Some days can be downright painful.

Which came as a reminder to me that everyone I meet is, in that sense, a need-to-be-rescued person. Or, in the case of Christians, rescued persons. Rescued by a living and loving Jesus. But rescued nonetheless. So no wonder if they snip and snap and growl at me. Rescued or not, they are striking out out of their pain. People who need compassion and understanding and a whole lot of grace.

Cuz you know what? I am not immune from snipping, snapping, and growling at others myself. For the undeniable reality is this: I, too, am a rescued individual.

PLEASE keep that in mind the next time I snip and snap and growl at you. It is not personal. It is a sad and sorry manifestation of past or present pain unfortunately coming once again to the surface.

Which is just another way of saying that I will gratefully receive your grace, and purpose in my sin-sick, Jesus-rescued soul to show equal grace to others. 

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Jesus in HD (Part 2) is ready for you to listen.

You can find it right here. While on its surface, Luke 1:1-4 may not seem like a remarkable introduction to this “greatest story ever told,” I can assure you that Luke’s little lead-in contains several nuggets of pure gold. You are in for some surprises as we formally kick-off our chronological study of the life of Jesus. From my heart to yours, Enjoy!!!

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The Podcast is up and running!!!

Welcome to this introductory lesson that launches this brand new series: Jesus in High Definition. You can hear it by clicking here.

By harmonizing the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — we will study the life of Christ in chronological order, from the first utterances of the angels heralding His birth, to His crucifixion and resurrection. It is our sincere hope and expectation that as we immerse ourselves in Jesus’ life and ministry, we will fall more deeply in love with Him, and become more and more like Him.

In this first lesson, we will provide you with an overview of the entire Bible — think of it as looking at the boxtop of a puzzle — so that we will understand exactly where the individual “pieces” of the Gospels fall within the grand sweep of the biblical drama.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy our study of Jesus in HD.

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