Joe Paterno, Moses, You & Me

July 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

Joe Paterno statue being removed from outside Beaver Stadium.

Joe Paterno was the head football coach of Penn State for 46 years and became the winningest Division I football coach in history.  But that legacy has been tarnished, the win total diminished, and the Joe Pa statue removed in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that involves former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky. 

According to the recently released report by Loius Freeh, when Penn State officials first learned of possible abuse by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, they concluded a quick investigation and then buried it to avoid bad publicity for the school and the athletic program.  According to investigators, Joe Paterno shares some of the blame for mishandling the situation, for not taking aggressive enough action, and for being more concerned with their school’s reputation than with doing the right thing.

I do not claim to know all the nuances of the Penn State situation but this much I do know:  we never outgrow our responsibility to do the next right thing.  No matter what you have accomplished in the past, regardless of your tenure, and in spite of your stellar reputation upon which you may be tempted to rest – we never outgrow our responsibility before God to do the next right thing.

That includes you, me, the late Joe Paterno, and even Moses. 

Tonight in our UPLIFT service, I’m teaching on a most enigmatic event in the life of Moses.  It’s that puzzling event recorded in Numbers chapter 20 where God graciously plans to provide water for the Israelites in a place where water is scarce.  God instructs Moses to speak to a rock from which water would be provided.  But Moses, in one of his lesser moments, disregarded God’s clear instructions and in anger struck the rock twice.  God still provided the refreshing water for His people but He did so in spite of Moses’ public disobedience.

Moses was a very, very good man and his lack of patience with Israel was understandable.  But God did not let this notable and public disobedience by Moses go unaddressed.  Regardless of his history, his accomplishments, or his reputation, Moses was not beyond the basic rudiments of trusting and obeying God.  We are not beyond those fundamentals either.

And so tonight in UPLIFT, we will revisit this fascinating story in the life of Moses and we’ll see how God responded to Moses in such a surprising way, why He responded as He did, and what a gracious gift He gave to Moses as an epilogue to the story.  It’s a story that helps us resolve to finish well and finish strong.

I hope to see you tonight.  Blessings, Ronnie

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