Monday, March 30, 2009

Bye, John - - It's Been Great--Oh, and You Have No Idea What Pressure Is Until You Play in Adolph Rupp's House

Let me say at the's UK...ready or not, you gotta go.

I don't begrudge you, John. In fact, of all the programs I feel best about you going to from here, it's UK (cue "My Old Kentucky Home.")

I'm from there, and brother, you have no idea what you're about to say "yes" to. As the ascendant High Priest of the Order of Wildcat Basketball, you'll find it a stage fitting for your ego. But make no mistake--it matters not how significant you impact on UK will or will not'll never be "the man" at UK.

Sure you'll leave us, and you'll take all that we were counting on to make another run next year with you. Just the nature of the game, right?

In many ways, you're far better at playing the game around the game of basketball, than you are the X's and O's on the court.

I mean no insult. Just a fact. A recruiter par excellence. You can make somebody believe. You surround yourself with great talent to make up for your technical deficiencies.

A good quality for any leader, methinks.

In my observations, though, based on many a Tiger game attended and watched, when we got beat, it was because you got outfoxed, and great talent needs great technical skill for the moments when it all counts.

Mike Anderson
Bruce Pearl
Bill Self
and, of course, Rick Pitino, whose presence in the Bluegrass State makes this all the more intriguing. He is the one whose respect you want most and will never get in the way that will satisfy. It is the stuff of Holmes/Moriarty. The battle is rejoined.

But there's this. If the reports are right, and you're about to get a salary package equal or greater than the anyone in college basketball, how is that right?

Other than some C-USA rings, and a National Runner Up Ring, where's the national championships you've won to merit such a thing?

More than Coach K? More than Roy? More than anybody? Really?

Local reports showed Memphis put a package together that met and in some ways exceeded UK's offer. Unbelievable. It's take a lifetime to get Memphis to do anything of meaning, but if we're about to lose our coach, watch how fast we can get things done. And I would have said that had he stayed.

No question, while Cal was here, there were exciting times. And I'm thankful for that.

By about 3 this afternoon, I found myself ashamed by how many times I was checking to see what Cal's decision was going to be. Just leave, already. Quit playing around.

Let your yes be your yes and move on.

What's next for those of us left in Tigertown? A revisitation of old feelings thought locked away for ever. But here they come with relish.

I have some thoughts about the Tigers, Memphis and what's next. That'll come in my next post, but the overall thought is this--"GET INTO A CONFERENCE, WILL YA?" Until that one is handled, we're just playing games with guys on borrowed time looking to hit the big time.

Sometime next fall or winter, though, I'm going to see UK playing on ESPN with a Coach I recognize, and evidently a few players I once knew wearing a different shade of blue and I'm going to feel cheated, if only for a moment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Exceeded Expectations

OK - I've said nothing about these guys all year.
And now it's over for the season.
A few thoughts.
They already exceeded what I expected of them this year. Back in early December, I was thinking a 25 win season would be a good, if not optimistic thing.
But they played hard. Won ugly, alot. This team was not better than last year's team. But they showed themselves well. I was at most of the home games, and it was not always pretty, but this was a determined bunch.
Of the four games we lost, only one did we get beat. That was tonight.
As I've alluded in previous posts...the Tigers can't break my heart. That's happened already. But what these fellas did was help me, maybe help all of us - move past what happened last April and determine that it is good to regroup, reload and fight on another day.
Don't get me wrong, I hope KU loses their next game 124-0!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Focus, People!

Lent begins with ashes....
Ashes pushed upon our foreheads with words meant to rattle us to our core.
"Repent, and believe in the Gospel."
"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Those ashes mark us with truth we either try to hide or avoid and deny.
It's there, for all to see. It's my truth. It's your truth.

And while our liturgy points us toward intentionality in our discipleship, the reality of our mortality, and the essential need for God through the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth...
in the end, what we typically come away with at the beginning of Lent is that we've given up something....that we are "sacrificing" during this season something that would otherwise be part and parcel of our every day.
We're not going to eat chocolate (as much).
We're not going to cuss (as much).
We're not going to watch TV (as much).

Or, we may have gained the notion that this season asks as not to give up, but to take on something. As much as we give up things that do not need to define the normalcy of our lives, conversely, it is with those things we take on. These are things that identify a healthier, clearer understanding of what we're being asked during Lent.
We're going to exercises every day of Lent. (should every day).
We're going to give of ourselves in some measure of servanthood (should everyday).
We're going to advocate for causes of justice for those left behind (should everyday).
We're going to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with someone where pride and ego has prevented peace making (should every day).

But like New Year's resolutions, will-powered passion that launches "a new life" fades all to quickly. Left with feelings of guilt for failure, or rationalizations that such pursuits does not a better Christian make...we let ourselves off the hook with relative ease.

Another Lent will have come and gone, and we will have missed the point, again.

Now in the homestretch of this particular Lent, maybe it's not too late to recast our energies toward that which matters most: Jesus of Nazareth.

Historically, Lent has served two purposes. First, it was a time of preparation and examination for candidates who would, come Easter morning, die to themselves and rise in the power of God through Jesus Christ through initiation in baptism. In effect, this season took any who would be bold enough to say they wanted to be "Christian," and push them to the limit by asking, "are you sure you know what you're saying 'yes' to?" Because the Christian life is counter intuitive to every impulse and passion the drives most every minute of every day.

"Those who would be my disciples, must take up their cross and follow me," Jesus said. Which is to say, to take up that which would do you in and go wherever that leads you.

"Victory in Jesus" doesn't mean so much unless we know exactly what it is that we've gained victory over.

The second historic purpose for this season finds resonance with where most of us live. We've said our "yes" at some point in the past. And we live with the reality of life in Christ that is, well, ordinary. We can't be on the mountain all the time. Truth is, Jesus calls us to live this life in the valleys of our being where the drudgery of every day seduces us into a relentless pursuit of mediocrity as it relates to our discipleship.

Lent reminds Jesus' companions to wake up, focus - and claim again the relentless pursuit of faithfulness even and especially in the ordinary.

In Luke 9, there's a pivotal text the momentum of which drives everything that comes after.
"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem."

However, whatever this Lent has been for you (and God knows I know how easily it has been to be distracted this year), it is time to focus on Jesus' road toward Jerusalem and what that means, not trapped in history, but guiding this moment.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Weight Lifted, Weight Gained

What a relief to be able to say out loud what I've been living with as it relates to my future.

Not having dealt with the itineracy so directly in eight years left me forgetting what toll it takes on the person. And I've born the brunt of that for awhile.

There has been a clear upset of the spirit for some time preceding word that this was coming. I wonder if something in me was reacting to the "signs of the times" even before I was aware I'd be involved in something involving a pastoral change?

I've had some trouble sleeping.
Not so much depressed as distracted.
Slippage into unhealthy habits as it relates to food. I've picked up 15lbs. in no time.

Stuff emotions, much?

Of course, the last time I did this, and left the good folks up at Bemis, I recall now going through some of the same issues, except amplified by the degree of change we were bearing all at 0nce:
New job
Had a baby on the way
Had to buy a house (for the first time)

Not nearly the degree of change from a personal standpoint, but signficant nonetheless, particularly as it relates to context and rhythym of work.

Being able to address what is true with those I currently serve now allows me to look on the horizon to what's coming with a growing sense of excitement and anticipation.

It is as if someone hit the release valve from the pressure cooker. The slow release of that pressure by acknowledging something was going on, helps me see how much pressure there was.

During these last weeks of Lent, it is time to refocus on my health...that of body and spirit -

Interesting thing, that. A truth shared is therapeutic. A truth repressed (or stifled) is a millstone.

Time for Weight Lifted, Weight Lost.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pastoral Letter to Saint John's

Lent 2009

To "the people called Methodists" who are Saint John’s United Methodist Church,

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

For eight years it has been my distinct honor to serve as your pastoral leader. It is a time that is a benchmark in my life both as an individual and as a pastor. In far more ways than I can tell you, this particular congregation, at the time in my life in which the opportunity to serve it came was such a gift.

And now I address you as one whose tenure as your pastor will be coming to an end. The Bishop and his cabinet are projecting me to serve in a different pastoral setting in June. And with that change will come a new era of leadership to guide you into the next phase of your continued growth.

In February, our District Superintendant sought me out and asked if I would be open to a pastoral change this year. It was not something I had considered. I told him that I felt I had several more years of good ministry at Saint John’s and that we were on the cusp of a significant breakthrough in our strategic plans for growth. He indicated a need for my gifts in a different setting, one in which I might be able to render service during a time of difficulty they were enduring.

And there has been my quandary since February. I love this place so much. As you all know, it’s not that you go to Saint John’s, or become a part of it…Saint John’s is almost viral in that it gets into you. And you all are in my blood! But after eight years of service, to say I had not been here long enough really didn’t hold water, even if I thought it. Certain factors beyond all of us that are part of the connection required me give the request its due.

And there is my issue. I had to come to the realization that the likelihood of me ever indicating that I didn’t want to be here anymore was nonexistent. Neither did I expect the day to come that Saint John’s would say the same of me.

As an Elder in The United Methodist Church, among the things I vow is that I will itinerate. This is to say that I will make myself available to serve where needed. I left it with the DS that while I did not feel I was finished at Saint John’s, if the Bishop and Cabinet were of one mind that I should take on this new appointment, I would be open to what that was indicating and would embrace the challenge set in front of me. I also asked that any ambivalence on their part that this was not the right thing would be interpreted as a sign that I needed to stay.

What I am told is that there was immediate unanimity on this. They all felt this was in the best interest of the connectional church. And I have received that as a leading nudge of the Spirit to take on a new challenge in a new place.

Say what you will about the itinerancy, and there’s much that could be said, but it only works if we who are vowed to do it are open to the prospect of change. And in this last month I’ve had to remind myself that eight years ago about this time of year I was asked to be open to the prospect of coming to a church on the corner of Peabody and Bellevue. I was, and man, am I ever thankful for that decision.

So I’ve lived with this prospect for over a month. And while it was only official a few days ago, I’ve been grieving the prospect of leaving you long before you‘ve had the chance to hear it was happening. I know that there have been whispers throughout the church. I’ve heard and overheard…but I was not free to comment or acknowledge them until today. And while I am not yet free to say much about where I’m projected to serve, I will address any questions any of you have about this process. And if you’ve heard of version of it that is different than what I’ve just shared, I’m here to tell ya, it just ain’t so.

Your Church leaders are in consultation with the DS about the next person who will be appointed to serve you. They are doing the faithful work to profile the character of the one who will be appointed. Please know they are doing a great job and I have every confidence a new pastoral leader will be wonderful for you. I especially want to note the work of the SPRC and its chair, Mac McWhirter. They are representing the best interests of Saint John’s very, very well.

Between now and June, I am still your pastor and I will serve you as I have. A period of transition will be necessary and you all will be guided through that along the way, and I pledge to do my part to make it a smooth one.

One last personal observation – I’ve been in much distress about this over the past month. I’ve come to realize what much of that pain was about. I’ve come to recognize the familiarity of that pain with other chapters of my life, when, as a preacher’s kid, and now as a pastor myself, that comes with the reality that you are going to tell people that you love goodbye. The complicating factor is my knowing I’m going to be saying it, but not yet having permission to talk about it.

Now we can talk. We can share. Together.

I give thanks to God for who you are as a congregation. For what you’ve meant to me, and to my family, I thank you.

Grace and Peace.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


No posts in over a month...

Nothing to say? Oh, I got plenty.

And yet, I find myself stifled.

Let's look at several possible definitions of that word, shall we? offers the following definitions, along with my interpretive comments

  1. To interrupt or cut off (the voice, for example). As in Archie Bunker, yelling at Edith, "Stifle yourself, Edith."
  2. To keep in or hold back; repress: As in, I have plenty to share but I am "stifled" by the principalities and powers to whom I am accountable...hypothetically speaking, of course.
  3. To kill by preventing respiration; smother or suffocate. Doesn't really apply to me in this context...yet.

There's plenty about me being spoken of right now and there's much I wish I can say. And when I'm cleared to do so (as in not stifled anymore) I will.

Those of you who read me know that this vehicle is as much a stream of consciousness medium as it a place to process deep thought and post insightful treatises on any of a number of topics, although I do that here from time to time, too. Thus, one of the reasons for my absence from this forum.

To ramble on is to breach covenantal commitments to which I've vowed my life.

My mom has always accused me of being a bad liar...something about my face giving me away - dammit. The same could be said, I guess, of what I write. I guess it's pretty clear where I am on things when I write about them.

Silence isn't golden, here. It's just necessary.

Timing can be a tough thing, and this is one such time.

Things are not bad, change isn't either...especially when we hold fast to what is right, true and fundamental about a God of Love and Grace.

Please be patient with me...keep your prayers constant, and let us hold fast to the belief that in all things of faith to God be the glory.