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Archive for the month “October, 2017”

Sleeping In The Hotel Doorway

I used to play one of the late Jim Croce’s songs on my guitar and my mom would say it reminded her of one of my friends named Wayne.  Wayne was on his own but always finding himself in unfortunate situations.  Anyway the song’s title is Box #10 and it was on Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” album.  The thing about this song was that it wasn’t a big hit.  It was almost like Croce put the song in there to fill the album up.  Yet that song said a lot about how things go wrong when we are not connected to God.  Here is the lyrics and the chorus.

“Box #10” Lyrics

Jim Croce

Well out of southern Illinois
Come a down-home country boy
He gonna make it in the city
Playin’ guitar in the studio
Well he hadn’t been there an hour
When he met a Broadway flower
You know she took him for his money
And she left him in a cheap hotelWell it’s easy for you to see
That that country boy was me
Say and how am I ever gonna
Break the news to the folks back home?
I was gonna be a great success
Things sure ended up a mess
But in the process I got messed up too
Hello momma and dad I had to call collect
‘Cause I ain’t got a cent to my name
Well I’m sleepin’ in a hotel doorway
And tonight they say it’s gonna rain
And if you’d only send me some money
I’ll be back on my feet again
Send it in care of the Sunday Mission
Box Number TenWell back in southern Illinois
They still worryin’ ’bout their boy
But this boy’s goin’ home
As soon as he gets the fare
Because the minute I got my bread
I got a pipe upside my head
You know they left me in an alley
Took my money and my guitar too
Hello momma and dad I had to call collect
‘Cause I ain’t got a cent to my name
Well I’m sleepin’ in a hotel doorway
And tonight they say it’s gonna rain
And if you’d only send me some money
I’ll be back on my feet again
Send it in care of the Sunday Mission
Box Number Ten
Sometimes we tend to operate according to our own will and not the will of God.  When we do we are asking for trouble.  The person in the song had a dream of being famous.  His dream for himself probably wasn’t God’s plan for him. If you have a dream pray that it is in line with how God wants to use you.  Listen to his voice as he will let you know if you are on the right path.  The first step on God’s path is giving your whole life and everything you are or will be to him.  When you do you will be in perfect peace knowing that it is the right thing to do.  To the man in the songs dismay everything went bad and he regretfully had to call his mom and dad to rescue him.  This story is a perfect illustration of the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible.  The prodigal son took off on his own and humbly had to come back after all of his money was gone.  The man in the song also had to humble himself and seek help from his loving parents when there was nobody else to turn to.
The first time he made a mistake.  He blew his money on his own lusts and didn’t have it to use for his dream.  Sometimes when we find ourselves in our most defeated situations it is entirely our fault.  We are suffering the consequences for the actions that we took.  The second time unlucky circumstances worked against him.  There are times when for whatever reason things happen that are completely out of our control.  Whatever the cause we are right to go to our Heavenly Father to seek help.  Don’t let silly pride rob you of your victory!
Image result for poison ivy on person
I’m reminded of one summer when Wayne and I both got a bad case of poison Ivy.  Both of us were miserable.  I remember my mom reminding Wayne not to scratch it as she caught him in the act.  He didn’t even realize what he was doing.  We used this pink lotion stuff to relieve the itch.  The stuff would get hard and supposedly dry the poison ivy up.  Somehow we both survived our poison ivy attack that summer but there was much suffering.  Years later when I was a “mature” adult I got a bad case of poison ivy again.  Stubbornly I refused to go to the doctor.  I decided that I could get rid of the stuff myself.  After about 3 weeks the poison ivy was all over me and I decided to go to the doctor at long last.  The doctor looked at me and said “what have you been in?”  He gave me some pills and within 2 days all of the poison ivy was gone!
Image result for hotel doorway
Unfortunately that is how we are with God at times.  We wait and suffer until as a last resort we come to him.  When we do he solves our problem and we wonder why we didn’t go to him in the first place.  The part of the song that really stands out to me is in the chorus he states “I’ve been sleeping in the hotel doorway, and tonight they say it’s gonna rain.”  That is how it is when we are trying to go it alone.  We are not protected from the snares that the enemy is throwing at us.  Instead of trying to live our lives on our own doesn’t it make sense to surrender it to God?  Like the parents in Illinois he is concerned about us and wants the best for us.  Instead of sleeping in the hotel doorway he wants us to have the best suite in the hotel!  All we have to do is ask!  If you have been spiritually sleeping in the hotel doorway repeat this simple prayer with me.
Lord Jesus,
Please forgive me of my sins and save me
Come into my heart and make me whole
Take me from this life of sin and give me hope
Make me a new person in you
If you prayed that prayer with me you will feel a wonderful peace in your heart.  That is the Holy Spirit making his presence in you!  Rejoice because your name is written in heaven and you will never have to sleep in the hotel doorway again!
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A Familiar Voice

“Oh come on!  It’s only me”  Indeed it was only Vin Scully the long time announcer of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  How long is long time?  How about 67 years!  Who does that?  How many people have you ever heard of  did a job for 67 years?  After 67 years the day came when Vin was finally getting honored.  The ceremony was before a Dodger game and the place was packed.  Many of the people that Vin had touched through the years were there to speak.  One of them was a great pitcher of yesterday named Sandy Koufax.  Sandy had an up and down career.  In his case it was more down and up.  His first 5 years in the league he was a troubled left handed pitcher who barely won as many as he lost.  Then miraculously he found himself and for 5 straight years was the best pitcher anyone had ever seen!  Then at the tender baseball age of 30 Sandy retired.  Arthritis in his left pitching arm had led to his elbow swelling up every time he pitched.  It didn’t affect his great pitching, but made life very painful and Sandy had had enough.  Vin-Scully-FTR-Getty

Sandy now 81 talked about Vin and what he meant to him.  He mentioned how the Dodgers had another great announcer before Vin in Red Barber.  Sandy thought Red was pretty good but he rated Vin very good.  They became friends through the years and Vin has a special place in Sandy’s heart.  You see Sandy has lived his life after retirement far away from the public eye on purpose.  Only as a tribute to Vin was Sandy willing to get before the public again.  Sandy told the story about when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.  It was in those early home games that Sandy notices while pitching that the voice of Vin was all around him.  Fans had paid Vin the ultimate tribute by bringing their transistor radio’s to the games.  They were saying “We like to see the game with our own eyes, but we also like to hear the gentle voice of Vin describe it in his own way to us!”  It was Vin describing Sandy behind the microphone as Sandy performed his greatest feats.  In the 1965 World Series he described Sandy’s every movement on the mound as he maneuvered his way through the Twins order without his best curve ball.  In fact he wasn’t able to get it over the plate at all and relied on his fast ball constantly.  Vin led us up to the big moment and when Sandy recorded the final out Vin was silent.  His style was to let the picture and the fan noise take over.  It was telling a story and his silence invited us to drink in the moment.

After the game in the locker room Vin was interviewing Sandy about a statement he had said earlier.  “Sandy, After the last game”, Vin began “you said you felt like you were one hundred years old.  How do you feel now?”  Sandy quickly answered  his old friend “A hundred and one”  That question in retrospect was what Vin was about.  He wasn’t always trying to get the strategy out of the player as much as he was getting the person out of the player.  We always hear announcers describing games, but Vin had a knack of describing people.  Earlier that year Sandy had thrown a perfect game against the Cubs.  Twenty Seven batters came up that day and twenty seven went down.  It is rare for an announcer to be able to describe a perfect game, but ironically I am sure that Vin called many perfect games.  They weren’t perfect in the baseball world.  The pitcher invariably gives up a hit, walk, and run.  Still the job Vin did in his broadcasts describing the action was perfect!

From the beginning Vin had his own style.  Not only did he describe what was going on in the games, but he was a friend and a story teller.  He did his homework and got to know the players personally.  He would tell us the inside information about a players personal life and how it related to the big game. He could tell us what the player was probably thinking because he had asked them beforehand what they thought about in certain situations.  Vin always described in kind of a sing song tone that was comforting and came across as someone we could trust.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  There is an announcer broadcasting games in Japan that gives Vin that highest compliment.  Even though his broadcasts are in Japanese if you listen you will notice that same sing song tone that Vin has used the last 67 years.

Through his many years of broadcasting Vin made numerous great calls.  However the call he made in the 1988 World Series has been voted the greatest moment in baseball history.  Kirk Gibson had carried the Dodgers to the Series with his great play in the N.L. Championship series that qualified them.  In two of the games against the Mets he hit decisive home runs and he also made a great catch in the field.  However during that series he sustained two crippling injuries.  The first was to his left hamstring while stealing a base in game 5.  In game 7 still hobbled by the hamstring he injured his right knee sliding into second.  So as the Series began speculation was that the Dodgers best player through the season and championship series wouldn’t be able to play.  Game one was winding down and the Oakland A’s were a run ahead of the Dodgers.  Vin had been periodically talking about Gibson and how his injuries had him missing in action.  At one point Vin was talking about how Gibson couldn’t possibly pinch hit.  Gibson who was sitting in the locker room with the TV on was heard to say “like He_ _ I can’t!”  He showed up on the bench and informed the manager he was available.  The game winded down to it’s last out.  The Dodgers had a man on first and two outs when Gibson limped up to the plate as a pinch hitter.  Vin had stayed on the story and was taking us step by step into the narrative.  Dennis Eckersley, the best relief pitcher in baseball quickly got two strikes on Gibson.  Gibson feebly hit foul balls where he barely hit the ball.  With each swing we could see how much pain he was in.  The count reached three balls and two strikes.  Then the miracle occurred.  Gibson guessed that Eckersley would throw him a slider and he did.  Gibson’s timing was just right as he hit the ball solid.  Vin Scully described the hit in a very short manner.  “High fly ball to right and she is gone!”  Then there was silence as Gibson hobbled around the bases.  As he got near second base he started pumping his arm in a heroic gesture.  Vin spoke again, “In a year that has been so improbable the impossible has happened.” Then there was silence as Vin let the picture do the talking. Finally as Gibson had crossed the plate to the mob of his ecstatic teammates there was more silence as we drank in the moment and his comment.  Then as the screen played the replay of Gibson hobbling around the bases Vin said “And now the only question was, could he make it around the bases unassisted?”

It seemed appropriate that Kevin Costner who starred in baseball movies Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For the Love of the Game would conclude the tribute with this moving speech to Vin Scully.

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640 × 426 – ftw.usatoday.com

“We will miss you, my friend. We will miss you in our radio, in our cars, in our backyard. You’ve been a gift to Los Angeles and to baseball itself. It seems forever that you’ve been guiding us through your personal window into the game.

“How lucky we were that day in Brooklyn when the microphone passed into your hands. You were the chosen one, the skinny redhead who stood on the shoulders of the biggest kid, ready to look through the knothole in the fence to describe to us what was going on. You were better than a golden ticket. You invited us all to pull up a chair, spend the afternoon, then proceeded to walk us into the next century.”

“For 67 years you managed to fool us into believing you were just a sports announcer, when in fact you were really a poet, a wordsmith. It was a nice trick, and after almost seven decades, you might’ve thought we would’ve caught on. But now the masquerade is over and the jig is up. We’re all taking deep breaths Vin, and we’re all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we’re down to our last three outs with you.”

“You did it in a style so friendly and unique, so effortless that years from now we will not be able to explain it to those who never heard it for themselves. The game will not lose its way, but it loses a perspective, a singular voice that managed to capture a boy’s game played by man at the highest level. You grounded it in a way no one else ever has, trusting that you never had to make more of any one moment than it really was.”

“We’re all taking deep breaths, Vin,” Costner said. “We’re all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we’re down to our last three outs with you. You’re our George Bailey and it has been a wonderful life. You can’t blame us for trying to hold on to you for as long as we can. And shame on us if you ever have to pay for another meal in public.”

“We know that you have to move up to the press box. Don’t mind us as we turn in our seats to look up one more time. Forgive us our silly wave, our clumsy toast, our personal salute. And should your mind begin to wander as innings start to slip away, we already forgive you. If the memories become too thick, then just stop and look around.  “You leave us and the game, Mr. Scully, but not without leaving a lasting impression, and not without taking a piece of our broken baseball heart.”

Vin was a voice of reason.  When it was hard for Dodger fans to watch because of the tension of the situation, it was Vin with his ever pleasant voice that led them through.  That is how God wants to lead us through trying situations.  The Bible states that “My sheep hear my voice.”  It is very peaceful to hear God’s voice and know that all is well no matter what is happening.

Sandy Koufax mentioned something that Vin prayed for before every World Series.  “Lord, make every player a hero.”  He knew the damage that a single play in an important game could have on a player’s life.  He didn’t want goat horns put on anyone.  That exemplifies the compassionate spirit of Vin Scully.  In his own way he touched lives by his peaceful demeanor, friendship and story telling.  Those are wonderful qualities for all of us to strive for as Christians.  What a wonderful life we can live when we take this non selfish attitude.  What a story we have to tell about Jesus’ undying love for all of us!  We are no more than the vessels he is using for his glory.   Likewise Vin was there to describe, promote, and help us enjoy the game.  As the fans went crazy with their applause Vin in his own way brushed off the gratitude.  As the fans cheered their loudest Vin wasn’t about to let their cheering define the moment. Awe Cmon”, he pleaded,  “It’s only me.”

 

The Scorekeeper

We’ve all heard the old saying “It isn’t if you win or lose but how you play the game.”  In our society that saying just isn’t true.  We watch sporting events every week and countless players interviewed after the games will say “the important thing is we got the W.”   I remember when my son first started playing basketball.  They had this YMCA basketball league and to my surprise they didn’t keep score.  This absence of a scoreboard struck me as unrealistic.  The thinking was that kids that young didn’t need to be all concerned about if they won or lost.  Being around sports my entire life I found the games to be an effort in futility.  They were playing the game but it was like it didn’t matter how they did.  When I participate in sports I am always the scorekeeper.  I don’t know why I originally took up the role.  I think it is the fact that nobody else ever jumps to do it.  To me the scorekeeper cannot miss a beat.  They need to call out the score after every made basket or winning point.  When others keep score I notice that points are made without them calling it out.  That leads to confusion later as the proper score gets incorrectly called as the game goes on.  I’ve found that in the order of things calling out the score let’s everyone know the game situation.  Everyone is on the same page and the score is never confused unless the scorekeeper makes a mistake.  If that happens the other players will quickly correct them and the game goes on with the proper score agreed on.

In organized sporting events we don’t need to keep score in our heads.  The scoreboard and official scorekeeper are all part of the game.  In the professional ranks people are paid good money to make sure that the score is right.  I’m reminded of watching numerous basketball games where the scoreboard isn’t working right.  Usually it isn’t the actual score as much as it is the time clock.  When the referee comes over to try to correct the problem the scorekeeper will invariably throw their hands up in confusion.  It strikes me as funny that the person in charge of keeping things straight has no idea what is going wrong.

With the knowledge of how important the score is and how people want to know the score Ernie Harwell the great old Detroit Tigers announcer used to make sure he said the score often.  Ernie’s broadcast was on the radio and he realized that people were tuning in and out all of the time.  For them it was important to know what the score was.  For those listening from the beginning a reminder didn’t hurt anything.  By saying the score often they were sure not to get the score mixed up.  Ernie Harwell - WJROneOfAKind.jpg

The official scorekeeper in baseball has traditionally been a rather interesting job. The actual score of the game is easy but the insides of the score can be difficult.  Many a controversy has arrived as to if a batter is credited with a hit or the fielder an error.  That particular controversy is very important to the person hitting the ball.  Getting a hit raises their batting average which is a meter at to how well they are doing their job.  When the scorekeeper scores the hit as an error on one of the opposing teams fielders it is scored like the batter made an out. Even though they are on base and eligible to score a run their batting average has went down.  Players have been known to bug the official scorekeeper continuously over calls that were made affecting their batting averages.  One time Babe Ruth hit a towering popup.  Not only did he hit long home runs but he also hit the highest popups anyone had ever seen.  Players circled around trying to gauge this towering fly and one of the players got a glove on it before it dropped to the ground.  The official scorekeeper gave the fielder an error on the play and Babe was furious.  Every time he saw that scorekeeper he brought up that pop up that he felt should have been a hit.  To his credit the scorekeeper held to his original conviction and never changed his decision in spite of all of the pressure Babe put on him.Related image

Now when we go to a professional event the scoreboard is so big it dominates our thinking.  Not only do we see the score we ,can also watch the game on the scoreboard.   A giant screen can give the viewer an at home view of the action that they might have missed originally.  The scoreboard has come a long ways through the years.  It used to be done by hand with someone hanging numbers on an actual board.  Now everything is electronic and when things go wrong some kind of specialist has to be called in.  Fenway Park in Boston still uses the old fashion way of keeping their scoreboard.  There is still a person inside the famous Green Monster Wall that does the scoreboard by hand.  This old school feature in their ballpark takes us back in time.  Even with all of the technology of today’s scoreboards the obvious thing is most important.  No matter what else is going on that draws our attention the most important thing is to show us the score.  Image result for green monster scoreboard

As important as it is to know the score in a sporting event you would think that keeping score would be something we should do in life.  In fact some of us are constant scorekeepers.  Have you ever heard yourself say “I’ll get even with that person?”  We say or hear other things like “that person gets all of the luck.”  Rick Springfield had a song with the lyrics “I’ve done everything for you, You’ve done nothing for me.” These are all indications that we are score keeping.  

Unlike the basketball game with no scoreboard our efforts in life without a scoreboard are not futile.  If we truly want to please God we cannot be score keepers.  Jesus doesn’t want us to keep score because when we don’t he gives the ultimate victory.  He talks about loving our enemies and if someone sues us and takes our shirt give them our coat too.   Romans 12:19 states It is written “It is mine to avenge; I will repay”, saith the Lord.  In life the ultimate score keeper is in heaven.  He see’s everything and in the end he will settle everything.  It is our job on this earth to walk our road he has set out for us.  There is no room to compare ourselves to other people on their own path.  When we focus on loving God and doing his will it takes away all of the burden of keeping up with everyone else.  “Peace I give to you”, he tells us.  We will never get that peace when we are concerned with the world’s scoreboard.  Giving up keeping score frees us up to do what we are supposed to do in a loving way.  We are supposed to put others first.  When we do that it may look like we are losing on the world’s scoreboard but great is our reward in heaven!

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