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).

Integrity: The Olympic Brand or Branded?

Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Gunsmoke, and The Rifleman, have been favorites of any child who loves Westerns. There are times when I’m channel surfing that I still stop to watch a rerun of Gunsmoke or The Rifleman.

Before Chuck Conners played the role of McCain, he had served in the Army, and played for the Dodgers, Cubs and Celtics.  When The Rifleman series was cancelled, Conners landed the starring role of Captain Jason McCord in Branded.

In the show, McCord is a graduate of West Point and the sole survivor of the Bitter Creek massacre. He is unjustly deemed to have been a coward and is dismissed in disgrace.

A question in the theme song summarizes the show: What do you do when you’re branded, and you know you’re a man?

Conners, as Lucas McCain and Jason McCord, was a man of integrity, and in both roles, he reflects the principle of Proverbs 28:6: Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

Like McCord, a person can be falsely accused of misdeeds he’s never done.  This can occur because the facts aren’t known or because a person is angry and is trying to harm the innocent.

Solomon said, The loose tongue of the godless spreads destruction; the common sense of the godly preserves them. ~Proverbs 11:9

Thanks to Ryan Lochte and his swim buddies, I’ve been thinking about integrity and wondering: Is their behavior indicative of a lack of integrity, or is it a commentary on the moral fiber of our nation?  Should we be surprised when these young men spin the truth and lie when this has become the norm in Washington?

I’ll close with this video clip from Branded….

Take Me Out To The Ball Game