Avoid Turnovers!

The meteorological fall is upon us now that September has come. Soon, on the 22nd, it will become official. With this season, pecan, pumpkin, and apple pies will begin to take the center stage of our preferred desserts at family dinner gatherings. While I delight in the peaches of late summer, Monique can’t wait for fall and the apple harvest. She recently purchased a special batch of Granny Smith’s and turned them (pun intended!) into a delicious pastry of apple turnovers! Culinary turnovers are triangular pockets of puffy pastry dough, stuffed with fresh fruit filling, sealed with a fork in a decorative pattern, and then baked to perfection. We love to eat them warm out of the oven!

Warm, Yummy Apple Turnovers!

There are other definitions for “turnovers.” This word can have business and financial applications. It is also used frequently in sports when, for example, a basketball team loses possession of the ball due to a personal foul, a pass that goes out of bounds, or because of traveling or dribbling violations. My brother-in-law, Vernon Eppinette, was a successful high school basketball coach in the Florida Panhandle during his career. His teams earned seven consecutive trips to FHSAA championship games and won five State (2A, 3A) Championships from 1994 to 1999. Coach Epp kept track of turnovers! 

A fireball player could steal a ball and go down the court several times and score, and the team certainly enjoyed the show of dazzling athleticism and agility. But when that same exuberant player carelessly fouled or travelled, Coach Epp would sit that player down on the bench for a little while to give him time to think about how costly turnovers cancel out the very points the player was putting on the board.  Coach taught his players that "in life and sports it’s about team over self!"

One of our pastors recently regarded the Sunday after the Labor Day weekend as “Back to church Sunday.” He was trying to encourage all of us to get focused on being back in our places each Lord’s Day. I think his intention was to re-gather the sheep after a long summer of “vacation wandering!” 😉 I have been one of his parishioners for nearly four years now. I know this man cares about the sheep, his team - our church, and the mission God has called us to in our city. I am striving for active churchmanship and trying to be one of his faithful church members. I am inspired each Sunday to see that many of my fellow members are in their places and busily serving in many capacities.

One special couple I know faithfully attends worship and participates in a small group on Sunday mornings. During the week, they also participate in a weekly prayer meeting with the pastors and attend a mid-week study as well. They are the couple who greets those around them during the welcome time, serves Communion on the first Sunday of each month, and gives their offerings to the church – time, talent, and treasures! In short, they are fully engaged and model excellence as church members. This couple is happy, too! I see the bounce in their step as they walk down the hallways, I hear their infectious laughter, and a joyful expression is evident on their faces. These encouragers are a delight to be around! May their tribe increase!

Putting the team above self is challenging in our culture of narcissism and navel-gazing. We have raised up a generation of consumers who will “cut and run” from the fold when things don’t please them! We have a lot of spectators, but few servers! Turnovers abound. Some say that churches lose attenders and members at an annual rate of 10-15%. I read that others say this has increased since the Pandemic to 30%. I know that the backdoor is crowded today and too many are quietly (and some, not so quietly) slinking out the back and side entrances of our churches. It is time to put team over self and get back into our places. We can’t win the game if we are turning the ball over!

There are some prominent examples of failure and “spiritual turnovers” in the Bible. The list includes some “surprising superstars” of the faith like Moses, Elijah, David, Peter, and Paul. Some of them wanted to “throw in the towel” in defeat and discouragement. Some of them had to be “benched” for a time, but each of them found forgiveness and a renewed purpose. God did not give up on them because they had committed serious “turnovers!” And He won’t give up on us either! God is still about reclaiming and restoring His servants.  

Avoid those turnovers! Instead, do as the Scriptures teach, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, MSG).

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

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