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Month: December 2011

Finishing well

Finishing well

In recent weeks disturbing reports have rocked two storied athletic programs. Joe Paterno has been fired as head football coach at Penn State after one of the longest, most successful coaching careers in college history. Several weeks later Syracuse University, considered a premier basketball program, was rocked by a similar scandal. Assistant Coach Bernie Fine was fired after what has been reported to be the longest continuous tenure as an assistant coach in the same program. These two storied programs have had their reputations changed for the foreseeable future. Despite all their accomplishments and their formerly stellar reputations, each man’s legacy will be indelibly tainted by the actions he took, or in Paterno’s case failed to take, in the latter part of his career.

These incidents are a stark reminder of how quickly everything we have worked toward can be changed. One stupid decision, one compromise of our integrity, one choice based on expediency rather than morality can undo an entire career. Which is why our goal should be to finish well.

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Defending the margin

Do not write in the margins!

Swamped. As I begin the Advent season I’m already feeling it. I’ve written year-end reports, participated in our Christmas decorating event, and attended a church dinner. But there are still new classes to teach, new songs for the praise team to learn, a youth mission trip that needs my attention and an adult one that needs to be researched, new committee members that need direction, worship series for 2012 that need to be planned, and more. As if that wasn’t enough, our worship computer crashed last week, turning an hour of routine editing into 4 hours of slide creation. With all of that to do, taking care of the people in my congregation, not to mention my family, seems like an imposition. Wait. That can’t be right. Something is out of whack here.

As my day off approached last week, I was tempted to work instead. There was worship planning to be done, calls to be made, and people to visit. Maybe I could get ahead and make the rest of my week lighter, I thought. Many would applaud my dedication if I gave up my day off. But I know better.

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Dubious honor

Annie and Crash in the batting cages.
A little overdressed for batting practice?

Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) and Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) hold a conversation between pitches in a batting cage in the movie Bull Durham. Annie says, “I looked up your records.”

“You, what?” replies a shocked Crash.

“You hit 220 home runs in the minors. That’s not bad.” Annie continues.

“Don’t tell anybody,” Crash replies.

Why not?” asks Annie. “If you hit twenty more this year, you’re going to be the all-time minor league champion. The record is 246.”

Well, 247 home runs in the minor league would be a kind of dubious honor,” Crash replies.

To hit that many homeruns one would have to spend a long time in the minor leagues, which is certainly not the goal of a minor league baseball player. As an associate pastor, I understand where Crash is coming from.

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