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In the course of ministry, hard spots are inevitable. It could be a set back, a conflict or perhaps an illness. They cannot be avoided. They are part of the providence of God. They are for your sanctification.

Do you remember that often? I mean between the whining, complaining and the pity parties you throw. We all do that. But do we remember they are intended for our maturity?

 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1 (ESV)

How is that, you might ask. One important thing is perseverance. James 1 points all Christians in this direction. Pastors are no exception from that instruction. We should not be surprised when the hard spots hit. Pastors, just like lay people, will have their faith tested in order to produce steadfastness, otherwise known as perseverance. There can be no maturity without perseverance. You can’t excel at anything without perseverance. Ask any great musician. Ask a woodworker or a computer programmer. Perseverance through boredom (that’s been a tough one for me), pain, disappointment and more.

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A great read!

I am currently reading Game Six: Cincinnati, Boston and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America’s Pastime.  I was a 9 year old boy, in New England who had to go to school the next day and missed one of the greatest games ever.  In the book, I just finished the account of the game.

In the section leading up to Bernie Carbo’s game-tying pinch hit 3-run home run, Mark Frost mentions some of Bernie’s personal issues.  He had a number of personal demons the prevented him from realizing the potential that he had.

One of my clearest memories of our many trips to Fenway Park as a child was leaving a game early, thinking it was over.  Dad wanted to beat the traffic.  Then we heard, “Now up, Bernie Carbo.”  He was pinch hitting again.  Soon the crowd erupted as we saw a baseball fly over the netting atop the Green Monster.  The man could hit.

He has admitted in a Boston Globe article that he was high on drugs at the time of his historic home run.

“I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate and hit,’’ Carbo said.

His story is tragic in many ways, as the article continues.

“I played every game high,’’ he said. “I was addicted to anything you could possibly be addicted to. I played the out field sometimes where it looked like the stars were falling from the sky.

“I played baseball 17 years of my life and I don’t think I ever missed a day of being high, other than when I went to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait [for a baseball clinic] in 1989. And the only reason I didn’t do any drugs there was that I was afraid that I would lose my life.’’

I ache for a man who could have done so much, but wasted it.  The man who gave Boston another shot needed to be redeemed himself.  Thankfully that is not the rest of the story.  He has been redeemed, he has found the peace that eluded him all those years.

“I threw away my career,’’ said Carbo, 62. “If I knew Jesus Christ was my savior at 17, I would have been one heck of a ballplayer, a near Hall of Famer. Instead, I wanted to die.’’

Now he uses his old love, baseball, to tell people about his new love- Jesus.  He runs a fantasy camp in Mobile, Alabama each year at Hank Aaron stadium.  He uses the proceeds from the camp to travel through New England each summer putting on clinics, speaking at youth camps, prisons, 12-step programs and more.  His story recounts the pervasiveness of drugs and alcohol in baseball in those years, as well as the sins against him that he tried to sooth with drugs.  But it also reveals the Mighty Savior who found him, able to reach him in the darkest hole.  Check it out.

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I’ve been here before.  My disgust with the 2-party system drives me to consider the Libertarian Party.  During time outs of the Celtics game I’ve been flipping over to the Libertarian Party debate.  I saw want to be Libertarian.  More than any other party they seem to get the Constitution.  I agree with small government.  They seem to forget that people are sinners, but the answer is not big government, which is giving lots of power to a group of sinners.

Then they do it.  “It” is something really stupid, something that turns me off just as much as the Big Party candidates.

Tonight it was their comments on marriage as a private contract which the government should not regulate.  If there was no such thing as children, maybe.  But marriage is a public thing, not a private thing.  It was designed to fulfill God’s purpose, not our selfish purposes.  Marriage matters, and since the Libertarians don’t get this, they don’t get my vote.

And this is why they really don’t garner much popular support.  Their isolationism, legalization of drugs and refusal to talk about abortion will sentence them to a mere oddity.  I guess their problem is they are Pelagians who think that evil only exists in the accumulation of power.  They don’t realize that individuals do bad things.

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