Counting Down

Calendar with strikethrough crosses fields. Vector ImageAn annual rite of the holiday season is the Christmas countdown. Each year, children count the days to Christmas with an eager expectation, that is only matched by their mothers’ stressful preparation.

Now that Christmas has passed, other countdowns have begun. Some people are counting down the days until the start of the new year, and others have already circled the number 14 on February’s calendar in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

The number 14 is significant to another group of people.  They are counting down the 91 sunrises that stand between them and the start of the baseball season.

When they hear the number 14, they think in terms of a Rose and and a Banks. Pete Rose was a gritty presence on the diamond during his professional career; however, he was given a lifetime ban for committing baseball’s unpardonable sin.

Like Rose, Ernie Banks also wore the number 14, but his legacy remains untarnished. Even though he had not played for over 40 years when he died in 2015, Banks remains a cherished favorite of the Cub’s fans to this day.

Professional athletes know their fans can be rather fickle and their celebrity status is the result of their performance.  If they do not measure up to the expectations of their fan-base, they are quickly booed.

Fortunate for us, this is not the case with God—His love is not performance-based. He will not bench you because you strike-out, but He will toss you another bat, and say, “Ok slugger, give it another try. Focus and remember, you’re the eye of My, and I’ll be in the batter’s box with you; so, swing away (Psalm 17:8).

Chicago: City of Scapegoats

EmanuelThe headline news coming out of Chicago can be summarized in three words that begin with the letter “M”—Murder, Mobs, and the Mayor.

To refresh your memory, Jason Van Dyke is facing first-degree murder charges for shooting 17 year old Laquan McDonald 16 times.  While I don’t know all the facts surrounding this case, it does appear that Van Dyke should be prosecuted.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to step down because the “trust and the leadership of the department have been shaken and eroded.”  If Emmanuel thinks throwing the police superintendent under the bus is a good example of leadership, he’s delusional.

In reality, Mayor Emanuel has played the scapegoat card, and he has sacrificed McCarthy to win public approval and save his own hide.

The scapegoat analogy finds its roots in an Old Testament practice recorded n Leviticus 16:22:  “The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness (ESV).”

The scapegoat of Leviticus symbolized what Jesus would do thousands of years later: He would suffer for our sins on the cross and by taking them away, His death would free us from the guilt of sin.

The story of Leviticus involved the High Priest of Israel and the focus was on forgiveness. The story of Chicago involves a politician and his low brow, pass-the-buck manipulating shenanigans.  If a person is truly known by his works, is easy to recognize the old goat in this story.

Thanksgiving: Thanks to a Special Person

When I posted  this call to  lift our law  enforcement officers  up in prayer, I had no idea that another tragedy would so quickly happen.  I was saddened by the death of  Police  Officer  Garrett Swasey, of the  Colorado  Springs  Police  Department, Colorado who died in the line of duty yesterday.  Please pray for his family, his fellow officers, and the those who were held hostage.

SwaseyToday is Thanksgiving, so I want to say thanks to a special person:  “Hey LEO, I’m thankful for you.”

I realize you might be asking:  “LEO? LEO who?”

Well, it’s not my Uncle Leo.  That fun loving, nephew-teasing, do-whatever-I-can-do-to-help-you fireman, left this world for a better place in 1990. While I am thankful for Uncle Leo, I want to go public, and say, “I’m thankful for a group of people called LEO.”

The character of our Law Enforcement Officers is under attack. This assault is Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc.  It’s poor logic that makes the mistake of claiming that one thing caused another just because it happened first.

Just because a rooster crows and then the sun rises, doesn’t mean that the sun rises because a rooster crows.  Too many people are making the same logical assumption.  Because one white LEO shoots a black person, does not mean that all white Law Enforcement Officers will shoot all black people.

Are there some bad apples in their ranks?  Most definitely, but the rogue are few in number.  Many of these men and women are college educated individuals who are punched, kicked, spat on, and cussed out as a part of their daily routine.  They go to work dressed in bullet proof vests, because they are willing to risk their lives to protect yours.

Are you aware that during the past 10 years, a total of 1,466 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty?  This is an average of one death every 60 hours or 146 per year. In 2014, there were 117 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.  During this same time period, there have been 58,930 assaults against law enforcement officers each year, resulting in 15,404 injuries.

Yes, I’m thankful for LEO:

  • I’m thankful for the more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States.
  • I’m thankful for each one of the 20,538 individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and to protect, and whose names are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
  • I’m thankful that while I’m at home in the warmth of my house and feasting on a plate of food, that LEO is at work. Whether it is in Chicago, NYC, Wichita, or El Dorado, I’m thankful for you.

If you’re thankful for LEO, “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior.”                                                                                                                                       ~2 Timothy 2:1-3

The Quotable and Notable Game of Baseball

two_boys_bat_largerWhen I was a kid, many of my Summer days were spent at makeshift ball diamonds at Graham Park, Skelly School or the water tower by Tom’s house.  The evening hours would find most of us at the ball diamonds by McDonald’s Stadium—as in Jim McDonald, not the golden arches.

I have a pretty good understanding about the ins and outs of baseball, but one thing has troubled me for many years:  Why does everybody stand up and sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” when we’re already there?  

This is what I do at 4 AM of a morning:  I give a lot of profound thought to the perplexing mysteries of the universe.  I also try to search and discover the true meaning and purpose of life.

I may have found some answers to secrets of life in the quotes below.  Read these and study the stats on today’s sports page, and you might stay busy until game time:

  • There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens. ~Tommy Lasorda
  • Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs. ~ Tim McCarver
  • Ninety percent of this game is half mental. ~ Yogi Berra
  • There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither one of them works. ~Charlie Lau
  • The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then to pick it up. ~ Bob Uecker
  • I watch a lot of baseball on radio. ~ President Gerald Ford
  • I can remember a sports writer asking me for a quote and I didn’t know what a quote was.  I thought it was some kind of soft drink.                ~Joe DiMaggio

Here’s one final quote to illustrate the lack of sophistication in those who don’t love the game:  “The baseball mania has run its course. It has no future as a professional endeavor (Cincinnati Gazette editorial, 1879).”