Write something about Penn State… ok.

My first blog request… what a huge honor/encouragement!! Someone reads this AND wants to hear my thoughts on something pressing in on their heart!?!? And to top it off, they showed up at my job to request it, so I got to enjoy Chick-Fil-A cashier ‘rock star status’ for no less than 11 seconds. It was awesome.

But there’s an odd reality to desiring the perspective of someone else… no one ever really asks how you view joy or exhilaration. There are few queries about deeply positive things. And today’s request was no different. ‘You should write about that awful stuff going on at Penn State.

If you aren’t up to speed, go to cnnsi.com. They have full coverage of the alleged sexual abuses of a former PSU assistant football coach. The short of it is that there are 8 cases (or victims) building a case of sexual abuse again young male children between 2002-2009. And if you swing by any chat area, blog or journalistic site that allows comments, you can read some raw, angry thoughts from people all over the country. I listen to a good bit of ESPN radio, & it is the dominant topic of the day. And in unusual unanimity, everyone agrees. Like everyone else, I am deeply saddened. Of course the depictions are horrifying & gut-wrenching. But if we all agree… why in the world does someone want my opinion?

Here’s what I’ve come up with… is there a Christian response? Is there a sense amidst the nonsense? Is there a peace within this war of abuse, neglect, & worldliness? No. Not likely. And I doubt it.

There is next to nothing to compare this to. Is this atrocity on the level of death camps & genocide? In those cases, I have never heard someone venture a silver lining. That would be a hard sale & probably a terrible idea to propose. And if there is an atrocity scale, & these abuses under-rank Auschwitz, does that really matter? There’s still no silver lining that’s going to pop out from however many innocent lives were damaged, distorted or destroyed by this.

So here’s some advice going forward. Integrity is foundational, fundamental, & always necessary! Find it, study it, grow it, cultivate it, search for it, cling to it, err on the side of it, never walk away from it, & forever hold it as a banner to who you are & how you live your life. In your marriage, your home, your work, your thoughts, your dating life, your text messages, your attractions, your conversations, your motivations, your desires, your successes & your failures, lift up the need to know & hold fast to integrity. Find your own moral compass & ethical principles & stick to them. Pursue those things that make you whole & holy. For me, it is Christ. So here’s some words from the Word on pursuing wholeness & integrity:

‘whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ [Philippians 4:8]

‘Let the words of my mouth & the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock & my redeemer.’ [Psalm 19:14]

‘May integrity & uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, & I have trusted in the Lord without wavering’ [Psalm 25:21-26:1]

‘Have you considered my servant Job… a blameless & upright man, who fears God & turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.’ [Job 2:3]

I especially love that last one. Faced with unfair circumstances, pitfalls everywhere, & innumerable foes, Job held his moral ground & his faithful bedrock. And that’s the key. Integrity, immersed in faithful obedience to Christ must be foundational. It can’t be a window dressing or an add-on. If integrity is not indispensable in our lives, we will dispense of it when the cost gets uncomfortably high. And there will be circumstances that try your integrity. These tests don’t always lead to sexual immorality, the dissolution of families, corruption & loss. But a lot of them do. And the trials that do not lead to the ‘big downfalls’ [whatever you think those are] lead to some pretty awful results themselves. So chase after the highest ground you’ve found, as if your life… your children, marriage, church, ministry, family, finances, & overall stability depends on it!

I suppose we are all faced with a Frostian divergence in the proverbial woods: one way leads to this being said of us…

‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his own soul?’ [Matthew 16:26]

The other way resulting in this…

‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus.’ [Philippians 4:7]

That’s my answer. ‘Choose this day whom you will serve.’ [Joshua 24:15b] And then go for it. Go recklessly after God. Pursue righteousness for His name’s sake. And when someone asks you about atrocities that are both wretched & unfathomable, turn the conversation to intentional choices in your life to avoid those things that lead to stumbling, falling away, & failing. And if the only ‘silver lining’ that can come from this devastating headline is renewed focus on integrity, amen.

‘…as for me & my house, we will serve the Lord.’ [Joshua 24:15d]



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4 responses to “Write something about Penn State… ok.

  1. John


    At first I was going to just write that, but decided to elaborate. I live in the Philadelphia area, and Penn State is a religion to many people here. I agree that sounds silly and is silly, but it is a reality. For a snap shot of the PSU culture read this article: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7205085/growing-penn-state.

    But the real reason I wanted to reply here is that I believe people would ask you to write about this story because they want some confirmation for their feelings. Or maybe they do not know how they should feel about something like this? Maybe they are looking for direction of some sort.

    I like most am horrified by what has been discovered. Not just the incidents, but the apparent cover up or damage control the university “attempted,” instead of dealing with it immediately and completely. Any time something like this happens, my heart aches for those impacted directly (and indirectly).

    I think this situation presents a dilemma for some Christians. Clearly, the damage done to children is awful and reprehensible. And any adult who would abuse a child in any way, is clearly wrong and should be punished to the full extent of the law. But the dilemma can be in how we react to these situations. Does God’s grace, unconditional love, and forgiveness apply to all partys here? Or do they just apply to the victims? I know that forgiveness cannot always be instantaneous, but should be an eventuality (is that a word? and if so did I spell it right?). And how do we treat the guilty parties? Not just if we saw them in public, but how we talk about them at the “water coolers” of life?

    This is the dilemma. Because I find it easy to show others grace, love and forgiveness when the world cooperates and life is grand. But it is not so easy when the world falls apart and grown men are taking advantage of children. I don’t know the person who made this blog request, so I don’t know what they were looking for. But I think that as followers of Christ, we are to embody the life of Jesus in all seasons–especially at a time like this. I agree on the importance of integrity, it is paramount in life. And I think this goes along with that. Integrity’s root is the word “integer”…which mean “whole.” As a person, and a member of God’s family, we are to be “whole” everywhere we go and in everything we say. So when we glorify God for his love, grace, and forgiveness on Sunday mornings…it is just as important to be that same person when we are faced with a man who has committed terrible crimes and has caused years of trauma and damage to who knows how many people.

    Even though this comment may not be convenient or popular, but neither is life.


  2. Roma

    Brad, what a hard subject to write about especially wen it is so fresh and ew to everyone. The whole situation is a tradigy for everyone involved including our great country.
    I feel for what it is worth at a time like this we as followers of CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOR should try to focus on what would JESUS do if he was walking this sinful earth at this time. I know we as humans have a very hard time with trying to focus on HIM during this very difficut times. GOD BLESs YOU, BRAD


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