What does the end justify?

I ate McDonalds tonight. I know, I know, everybody does at some time or another, and its really not that big of a deal. Well, it is somewhat of a big deal when you are going to compare some folks to McDonald’s in a not so positive way. I actually “enjoyed” my meal; if you call eating a fish fillet at 10pm an enjoyable meal. I really am seeking to answer two questions concerning our measurements of success and the steps taken to achieve what one deems success.

Last night, John Calipari coached the University of Kentucky to a National Championship in men’s basketball. Oops, I should have written supervised. Unfortunately this too quickly reveals my thoughts of Coach Cal, as he is called. I probably should give a little background.

I love watching college basketball. Since I began to coach and referee basketball eons ago I began to look for and appreciate some of the nuances that go into coaching a basketball game. It became very exciting to watch a role player, a guy who normally sits but is used to fulfill a specific role on the team, step up in a large game for his team. Whether it is a rarely-used shooting guard or a lane-enforcing forward, those are exciting and fun things to watch. It is also fun to watch a coach experiment with the chemistry of a team and see things just take off in the middle of a game. It is also great to watch the emotions of guys who have given years to a coach, a university, and a fan base, and see them be rewarded by passionate support from those people.

Over the last several years much of college basketball has changed. Sure, the majority of teams still have those role players but a new group of teams has emerged. These are the teams which have stocked themselves with potential pros who will stay for 2 years at maximum, and they simply hope to overwhelm everyone they play. There is nothing technically wrong with these teams. They are following the rules as outlined by the NCAA and the influence of the NBA. However these teams seem to be a natural prohibitive to many of the things that I love about basketball.

When I began to write this short article I had been listening to ESPN radio as I traveled that day. Foremost on the short time of broadcast that I overhead was a discussion as to whether this championship truly crowned Coach Calipari as a great coach. Really? Are we so simplistic as a culture that winning a championship with arguably 7 out of the top 30 or 40 players in college, deems that you are crowned as a great coach? A great recruiter of NBA talent is certainly a worthy crown for Coach Calipari, but I’m not so sure that I would crown him a great coach.

You see, McDonald’s is a restaurant that we have all probably eaten at. However, I doubt that very many of us would list any of their sandwiches in our top 10 of sandwiches. Is this because they are horrible, or is it simply because we realize that McDonald’s top priority is making a profit by efficiently serving as many people as possible? For this reason I am willing to recognize Calipari’s success in college basketball but will do so without calling him a great coach with a great legacy.

I can’t stop there. Recently I have been reminded of how I need to be intentional in dealing with my children. Too often I take the McDonald’s approach instead of seeking to understand each one of my kids, their particular quirks as well as their potential needs. I respond in such a way that makes it very clear that I am only interested in my immediate command being obeyed than I am in whether or not as a dad that I am correctly leading and directing them.

As a pastor I also have to guard myself from manipulating Scripture or failing to examine the entirety of Scripture when seeking to make a point or in dealing with an individual. When someone disagrees with me it is certainly an easy reaction to seek to defend myself or my viewpoint in a very controlling or authoritative way. Sadly, just as with my children, I have done this. Unfortunately I have often reassured myself later with the same assurances we give ourselves after consuming an 1100 calorie meal from McDonalds; I was in a hurry, it was the only way (only place open), or I just felt like it at the time. In the end hopefully we all realize that we will have to pay for those excuses and those decisions.

 

Muddy thoughts

I don’t like explaining myself. In fact, I imagine that very few people do. However, if one wants to write and have their writings read publicly you are forced with a decision; the splatter method or the artistic method.

I must confess that I have often participated in the splatter method while giving very little thought to the end results. The splatter method is when I find myself pointing out faults and/or issues that should be addressed without adding some personal accountability. Since the majority of what I choose to publicly write on deals with religious subjects this has caused me no small amount of trouble. I have often been accused of being opposed to believers in Christ, antagonist towards those who seek to do good, and a myriad of other claims of which I have no desire to repeat. For this reason I stopped writing for a period of time. Let’s face it, if a pastor is accused of attacking other believers and opposing good then those are charges that should be considered carefully.

I realize now that in my writing that I took the easy way, the splatter method. In other words I simply threw out what I knew were truths and really just let them land where they may. I didn’t personalize each and every article. For me this was hasty and incorrect because almost every thing that I have ever written has come from a personal conviction of my behavior and how I personally have responded to people and situations. Sure, it is easy to point out problems in the world, and I can see how some may have felt that was my purpose.

My intent will be to take the artistic approach from this point forward. In doing this I will attempt to explain – if I feel the sensitivity of the subject warrants such – what has happened in my personal life that has brought out my thoughts. My intent will be to explain what has caused me to think and behave in a certain way. No blame will be immediately attributed to others, although I will not hesitate to assign blame if I feel the need warrants it. In essence, some may read the post and shake their heads, but, like a painting that doesn’t make much initial sense they will at least understand that it was done by another human who was attempting to articulate a truth or measure of a truth.

This is not a call to put my articles above reproach. I am human and subject to error. Criticism is valid, necessary, and welcome. So, when I get around to writing again some of you will have something to do with those 5 minutes waiting on your McD’s burger. (by the way, McD’s has got me thinking)

Lessons From A Football Game: Acting Like a Coach

Lessons from a football game

Part 1: Acting Like a Coach

Most of the times when I write it is because something about a particular situation has caused me to think. It is my sincere desire that I not necessarily pass judgment, there are many more qualified than I to do such, but rather that I comment on those things which cause me to pause in my actions. For this reason I purposefully ignore most public events (Georgia/Florida excepted) and instead choose to deal with things in my personal life that I observe.
I had a chance a few days ago to watch a football game played between two 9 & 10 year old teams. I worked the chains on the sideline of the visiting team and therefore was able to hear almost every conversation that the coaches had with the players and with themselves. This seemed to be a typical youth team with their “head coach” and numerous parent “helpers/advisers” on the sideline.

The coach also didn’t seem to be unique and this is what makes this story even more atrocious. Before I go into his actions during the game I must digress to help you see the point of the story. When I have the time I read Gregg Easterbrook’s weekly column at ESPN.com, entitled Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Easterbrook writes about football from a decidedly different viewpoint than most of ESPN’s commentators and columnists, many times with a view towards safety and sportsmanship which is direct contradiction to the former players that ESPN primarily employs. One of Easterbrook’s pet complaints is against coaches who set things up so that the blame falls on the players and not the coach. (BTW, Tim Couch, of Fox Sports, has written a fairly interesting column concerning Tebow and John Fox) In fact Easterbrook proposes, on an almost weekly basis that you must be able to shift blame to become a “successful” coach.

I had to learn this lesson the hard way myself. A few years ago while coaching my daughter-who-shall-remain-unnamed-here on a basketball team I saw this same problem in myself. In a close game in which we had a great chance to win this “child” fouled out. The rules of the league are unique in that this player would be allowed in following the end of the current period. The problem was that we needed points in that period and now our best chance of scoring those points was sitting on the bench. We had no offense, and as I implored the girls to do something I grew more and more frustrated with their inability to do anything. Later that week it hit home that I should have planned for this event. This “child” had fouled out before and to some degree I should have prepared the other players for the fact that things could change at any moment.

Back to the story. On each of his teams first three possessions the coach changed his offensive starters. On each of his possessions following his changing of players he was penalized for having too many players on the field. Each time he threw his hands up in exasperation and loudly berated the kids for messing up. Since I was on his sideline I pointed out to the parents on the sidelines that they should be encouraged that their kids were playing for someone who was sure to be a success as a coach as he was yet to make a mistake. Several of the parents laughed but most didn’t seem to understand what I was saying. For the sake of time let’s just say that the rest of the game continued much in the same way. If the opposing team had a large gain then it was the fault of individual players because he had called the right team for just that play.

Later that night, I began to think about how many times I act just like this coach in my behavior; at church, at home, and just in general. If something at church doesn’t go the way that I planned or hoped then certainly someone else must have contributed to the problem. In fact I think this is a problem that is especially pressing on pastors and those in a position of leadership. If you doubt me on this then I have one question: When is the last time you heard someone in authority say sincerely that they were wrong or that they didn’t know how to answer or deal with a particular situation? If you haven’t been around me too much then I would just have to say that those times have been too few and too far apart in their happening.

Work isn’t the only place that I have this problem. I usually deal with this same issue in my home. After all we all know that kids, especially teens, are airheaded and hardheaded so shouldn’t they bear most of the blame? When is the last time that we looked into the eyes of our kids and said, “I blew it.”

The most depressing thing about this coach’s actions was the impact that it had upon his players. Most of them became discouraged, a few became angry, but they all kept playing. In an indirect way I confronted this coach after the game (the subject of another article) and I can assure you that he felt what he did was right. If he had been asked for a measurement of his “success,” he may have pointed to the fact that his players were still present; and that he wasn’t accosted by any of their parents on the way to his vehicle. Sadly, the measurement of his success will not be known until many years down the road.

When will the result of our actions be known if we act like this coach? Let’s be honest with our family, our friends, and those we come into contact with. Feeling right in the moment isn’t worth the trail of debris that we will leave behind if we don’t become humble people.

But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Matthew 23:11-13

Who Wants It?

This is my obligatory Georgia Florida post for the year. I must admit that for whatever reason the luster of this game just doesn’t quite appeal to me this year as it has in the past. As a Georgia fan it was easy to draw the ire of the Florida afflicted with a few jabs at Tebow or Urban. This year is different because even the Florida fans aren’t quite sure about their new coach; at least to the point that they are ready to vehemently defend him. As for Georgia fans too many of them desire for their coach to be gone and many of them probably wouldn’t mind losing this game if it meant that Mark Richt would be out at the end of the year.

Therefore I have decided to look at the reasons that a fan from each team would want their team to lose. I understand that generally this is not the case but this year seems to be a special situation. (Please disregard the word special it has a tendency to confuse Florida fans)

5 Reasons Florida fans hope they lose

#5   They don’t want to face LSU or Alabama again. With a combined loss of 79 – 21 the Gators are a little weary of any team not in the Eastern time zone.

#4  They are already wondering if their new coach, Will Muschamp, is not really Ron Zook on steroids. Watch the rage there, Willy, it’s a dead giveaway. For those who have forgotten Zook never defeated a ranked team in the Wetlands of G-ville.

#3  Deep in their hearts every Florida fan wants to see Muschamp’s meltdown if Georgia reenacts the scene from 2007. Urban spent a year preparing his revenge, and Florida fans would see this as a great way to gauge Mr. Muschamp.

#2  The true Florida fans who understand the tradition and lore of SEC football do not want to see the SEC East represented by a man wearing clown pants or a clown wearing a blue shirt.

#1  A true Florida fan wouldn’t mind losing in a down year in hopes that it would help Mark Richt keep his job. Seriously, Mark’s records at Georgia are spectacular but his record against Florida is a measly 2 – 8.

5 Reasons Georgia fans hope they lose

#5  They really just don’t want to hear Florida fans whine. A Florida fan that loses is a cross between a Miami Hurricane fan (belligerent, arrogant, and wanting to fight) and a Tennessee Volunteer fan (tears, tears, remembrances of past years, Smokey, and more tears).

#4  Georgia fans are supremely excited about the possibility of Ron Zook 2 hanging around for a while. Keeping Zook 2 around has to be worth throwing a game, right? This is especially true if you take in the record over the last two decades.

#3  It would be supremely amusing to watch Nick Saban or Les Miles attempt to score 70 points against the Gators in the SEC championship.

#2  Maybe this would inspire Georgia to end the series being played at Florida Field b. 

#1  Maybe this would end the Mark Richt era at Georgia. I hear, and feel the pain of Georgia fans who feel as if nothing good is happening but I personally do not want to see Richt go. Does he need to fire an assistant or two? Sure, and I would feel no pain if he sent Bobbo and Grantham to the circus to practice their mime show. However, the quality of the coach that Georgia has cannot be equaled by the vast majority of coaches that are coaching college football.

As for me, well, if Florida loses then it has been a good day.

Socialism, smartphones, and the circus

WARNING: If you are sensitive regarding your current financial condition you may not want to read this. Our family is not financially wealthy in any way. We also don’t see that changing anytime soon unless this Amway thing works out. Therefore the issue that I talk about here is one in which I have had to make decisions myself. It is also not as cut and dried as it appears on paper. Ultimately every individual has to decide what is financially important and necessary for their family. For some it may be a trip to the circus or a night at the fair. While your making that decision I would just encourage you to do what I always need to do as well – look at the long term results. With these things in mind, read on.

Are we so easily entertained that we must become a socialist state to survive? I have often thought about this but today I was reminded of my former musings. I do believe that unless we have a fundamental change in the outlook of the majority of the people in this country then we will continue our slide towards socialism, or as I like to call it – mass corruption which benefits a few.

I would love to claim some special economic knowledge or even special insight but I have neither. I simply make simple observations which flow from my convoluted mind. Whether they are right or not will only be shown in time.

I used to hate the fair. To be quite honest, I still do, although the reasons have changed. I learned as a retail manager that when the fair came to town that businesses suffered, really suffered.

I did not realize until later how deep this problem went. As I learned more I saw families take out payday loans to pay for trips to the circus, and go in debt with interest rates higher than 25% to pay for a night at the fair. Sure the circus is fun and you can even get food poisoning at the fair but the question remains – Why? Why do families overspend themselves to do something that they really can’t afford? Why is it that when these things are pointed out to them they usually just shrug their shoulders as if to say, “Oh well.”

Many people have seen these things as a way of escape from what seems to be a never-ending economic situation. The sad result is that these momentary escapes only deepen the futility of their current situation. A family that has borrowed $1000 to go to the fair now can’t set aside money to do anything different because they have this bill hanging over their heads that they can’t escape.

What does this have to do with socialism? Well let me make a connection that may sink home to some of us – cell phones; cell phones and more specifically, smart phones. The average smartphone bill is $107 (JD Powers). Multiply that times how many folks are in the household with those things and you now see where much of America’s capital is going – to entertainment, cheap entertainment.

I am not at all opposed to people having smartphones. If you can afford them by all means help yourself. However, I think that we could all agree that there are a great many people who are scraping their way through their bills while supporting their need for cheap entertainment such as Facebook and a myriad of apps from their smartphone.

The final point is this; people don’t care. It reminds me of the baby shirt that stated: Just give me back my binky and no one gets hurt. The average American doesn’t really care what the economic situation is or what it will be as long as you can promise them that they can keep their beloved binky.

Why Forwarding – or Reposting – doesn’t work

In light of the appearance of Jeremiah Seepek I thought I would repost this. Friends, Jesus is the hero of the Bible, in fact He is the center of time and history. If you believe in Him there is no need for these stories.

It’s true, it might be true, I don’t think it’s true, but I’ll try it anyways – just to be sure. This is the mindset of many on Facebook today, it also happens to be the mindset of many who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ. In case you didn’t know Facebook is now going to charge $4.63 for premium service, $3.64 for extra premium service, and $6.43 for basic service. This will begin next month, or some month in the future.

Sound familiar? How about this one? Today is your day to see how much God loves you. If you will forward this message to 10 more people in the next two minutes then you will receive a blessing from God in the next hour. If you don’t forward this message then you are showing others (you know, the ones looking over your shoulder and reading your text messages) that you don’t believe in God.

I could share many more but the point is not the messages but rather us, the people, who send them along their merry way. Last night I got a little tiny bit ill. Just a little ticked. Lewis had a game in Alma (pronounced elllMer) at 7:30. We stopped at the McDonalds in ellMer for supper for all of the kids, minus Lewis. The time was 6:20. Let’s just say the fine employees at this McDonalds had practiced the art of indifference and were very good at their job. As we got back in the truck my cell-phone rang and it was the mother of a boy on Lewis’ team. Uh-oh.

Let me regress for a moment. When Lewis had gotten off the bus he had asked me if Bacon County– ellMer’s other name – had two teams or one. It seems that one of his friends who plays on another team had told him that they were playing Bacon Countythat night. I attributed this to 6th grade boys and frankly forgot about it, until the phone rang. It seems as if Lewis’ buddy was right and that we weren’t playing in ellMer that night after all. Now I was ill; McDonalds, an idiot scheduler, and myself.

Yes, I was upset at myself. I should have called someone – not the scheduler – to verify whether or not we were playing in ellMer. We had wasted time, gas, and emotional turmoil (McDonalds) over a game that wouldn’t be played that night. This, folks, brings us to the first point that I want to bring up concerning Christians passing on these blessing-promised/curse-coming emails and texts.

1. It shows a lack of knowledge concerning God.

When we send out a text that says God will bless you if you stand in the middle of the interstate and sing, Amazing Grace, then we are showing our ignorance concerning this God we claim to serve. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. Hebrews 13:8-9

When we allow these messages and their perverted idea of who God is to control our actions then we are demonstrating that we don’t truly know what Scripture says about our Savior and Heavenly Father, not to mention the perversion of the direction of the Holy Spirit. This is crucial because at this point someone will usually interject that one time they were blessed following their participation in one of these messages. Folks we don’t need to go to our own lives to see the mercy and grace of God – although we certainly can. We can simply go to Scripture and beginning in Genesis you will see story after story concerning the mercy and grace of God. You will also see that nowhere in Scripture are we told to stand on the interstate and sing Amazing Grace, although if you will turn to Proverbs 34 you may find something similar.

2. It shows a desire for a quick-fix which is a sign that we are culturally correct and scripturally dry.

We have a pill for everything. Need more in an area – get a needle. Need less in an area – get a needle. Pills can be good and I will leave it to the reader to determine whether or not a needle is necessary in their individual life but let’s address this quick-fix issue.

Almost every one of these forwards points the participant towards a quick-fix for some area of their life. A bad day, bad children, bad dogs, bad hair, bad finances, bad spouse, etc. can all be fixed by simply clicking a few buttons. Yes!! Follow the progression for a moment. If I have had a bad day and I deal with the problem from Scripture then I may have to apologize to the teller at the bank for rolling my eyes when she asked me for my ID. The same would follow for the way that I yelled at my bad children when they said they wanted a sucker at the above mentioned bank, although they said it 49 times in a rising crescendo. The bad dogs and bad hair are probably a greater reflection on my outlook of life than I care to admit so we won’t discuss them. As for the bad finances and bad spouse let’s just be honest about what might be the root of that problem, us.

Our culture has a fix for everything or at least it has the ability to host a talk-show describing a multitude of supposed answers. When we begin to examine things in light of Scripture I am reminded of a few things that should occupy our minds when we want a quick fix. As believers we will not part from our desire to sin while still on this earth. I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:16-17

While we are being honest about our flesh lets also be hones about our enemy. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 As believers we spend much of our time ignoring the works of Satan and the demonic forces that seek to carry out his desire to destroy. If we are not ignoring the works of these principalities, powers, and rulers, then we are wrongfully attributing their work to Satan and believing him to be more powerful than he is.

Is that strong language for a forwarded text or email? Possibly. The reality is that I believe a continued involvement in such behavior points to a desire to simply click away our problems rather than examining them in light of Scripture.

3. It shows a tendency towards Paganism

All of these emails, texts, and Facebook messages revolve around one person – me. They are all self-centered. If you do , (NOW, OF COURSE) then you will receive .

Jesus left us with two very simply commands: love God and love others. Our love for self is natural and does not need to be cultivated. The more we participate in this behavior the more we are buying into the world’s philosophy that we somehow need to love ourselves more. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

Most of us probably think that we spend most of our time thinking and caring for others but I would say that we are probably wrong. What we do is we spend a lot of our time thinking and caring for others in relation to how it impacts us.

Paganism may be a strong word but it fits the situation. Pagan: one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods. That simple definition is why it is so easy for us to become involved in forwarding something that looks silly – we like sensual pleasures and material goods and a little more our way just for clicking a button sounds good. “I’ll have material goods for 400, Alex.”

4. It distracts others if we desire to minister to them

James Merritt is an idiot. A rich, well-educated idiot but an idiot nonetheless. Oh, he’s also a Southern Baptist Pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In this article (http://fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com/2011/07/i-thought-i-had-seen-it-allthen-i-saw.html ) Merritt is shown pushing a “business opportunity” that certainly seems like a pyramid scheme. Frankly, I don’t see how he could rectify this in his own mind but for him to push this publicly would certainly hinder his ability to minister to others.

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:5-7

If our hope is in Jesus Christ others will be able to see this in our daily lives. If we put our dependence in the same things that others without Christ do then we can be of no help to them.

What now?

Weigh the very decisions you make so quickly against the Word of God. Examine them next to the person of Jesus Christ. Question how much focus is on self and not on Christ and others. Finally, live so focused on Christ that you don’t need a bumper sticker or Facebook post to show others that you are a believer.

Fasting, Legalism, & Grapes.

A lack of relationship with God leads to legalism to lend some feeling to our “Christian” lives. In 1 Samuel 14 we follow the story of Saul as he finds himself needing to prepare for battle with the Philistines. Saul finds himself needing to create an experience and issues a decree that the Israelites should fast. There is no mention of God made when he issues the order but it would certainly seem that Saul may have thought that he was going to be able to simply create something that would give the Israelites tangible evidence to act on.

 

Saul issued an order that none of the Israelites were to eat that day – he declared a fast. Now Scripture talks of fasting and it is encouraged and used at various times in God’s dealing with the Israelites. Jehoshaphat as king ofIsraeldeclared a fast when the nation was in dire need of God’s protection from an invading enemy (2 Chronicles 20). Ezra also declared a fast when the Israelites returned fromBabylonand it was noted that many of the Israelites were living in disobedience to God’s commands (Ezra 8).

 

Saul’s fast was different, very different. Saul does not mention seeking the Lord rather he talks about his need to be avenged of his enemies. As we read the story in chapter 14 of 1 Samuel we see that Saul’s legalistic fast defeated his people. Man’s rules will always leave man impotent in his relationship with God and seeking a quick fix. Paul dealt with this issue when he wrote to the Galatians:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

 

I was convicted of my own proclivity towards legalism yesterday when I was trying to convince my youngest child to eat some grapes. Most of my children are true food junkies like me. They don’t care a lot for fruit; I don’t blame them, the texture is weird on most, and it requires a herculean effort to get this child to eat much of anything at times. I remembered that just a few days before that she had called grapes, “papple,” her word for apple. Armed with this knowledge I held the grape out and proudly declared, “Apple.”

 

She didn’t buy it and I immediately was convicted of my willingness to mislead her in hopes that she would do something “good” which in this case was eating grapes. How does this tie to legalism? Too many times I have been content with legalism in either my life or the lives of others prompting us to do something “good.” Seriously, it can’t be bad if we bully or deceive people into doing something they “should be doing” already. Right? I mean if we can convince people through our own intellect and knowledge then shouldn’t we be pleased?

 

I’m not and I don’t ever want to be. This is something that I know God is constantly working on with me. I have a tendency towards legalism; telling people they should be in church, should be giving, should be ministering, etc instead of having dependence on the Spirit of God to work in an individual’s life. Anytime we begin to coerce (bully) people through guilt (the number one tool in “christendom”) or any other means we are being legalistic. 

Football is here!!

Since college football starts this week AND due to the fact that I will be making a foray back into the land of Excuseville (as Central Florida will soon be known absent Spurrier, Meyer, and Tebow) I thought to help folks remember the true spirit of football I would put up an old post. Many blessings on all college fans and may the Gators lose by 5o this week. Go Dawgs, Go Noles, and buzz on you little itsy bitsy bees of Tech. By the way does anyone know if it is true that Tech has tried to play a Prep-only schedule?

A Game For the Ages: Georgia – Florida Commentary

4-4

4-3

Weird numbers you say?

How about some more?

7-0

8-0

Yes, they have to do with football and anyone with even a passing interest in college football could easily discern what they mean. The first two sets of numbers depict the season record for both Florida and Georgia this year as they get set for this Saturday’s rivalry game. To many out there who would call themselves football fans they may be confused as to why this game would be important with such paltry numbers by both sides. A short trip down memory lane should serve to remind them of the other two sets of numbers.

The year was 1966 and Florida, led by their hotshot quarterback, Steve Spurrier, came into this game ready to clinch their first SEC title. Spurrier was on his way to winning the Heisman and the Georgia game almost seemed an afterthought. Alas, victory was not to be his as he threw three interceptions and Georgia went on to win the game. Spurrier lost his chance to win a championship as a player and Florida did not win their first championship until twenty- five years later in the third year with their new coach, Steve Spurrier. As a coach Spurrier certainly sought and received his revenge as his teams beat Georgia in eleven out of twelve games.

The year was 2002 and with Spurrier gone the Bulldog nation felt as if there was a chance they could finally win a game against Florida. Georgia entered the game ranked #4 in the nation and sporting an 8-0 record. Florida entered the game at 5-3 with the enigmatic Ron Zook in charge. Florida won the game and Georgia finished the season winning the SEC but unable to play for the national title due to their one loss.

Nothing tells the story of Gator fans “issues” more than the fact that most are absolutely uninterested in discussing the series as a whole. Instead they choose to look at the past 19 years in which Florida has won an impressive 16 games. They accuse the Georgia fans who point to the decades of the 70’s and 80’s as living in the past and unwilling to face reality. They talk of Tebow and Grossman (!?) forgetting that during the three games that Herschel played against Florida that he tallied up over 600 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns, never losing.

As they meet again this Saturday each fan – Bulldog and Gator – have some thoughts churning in their mind. As a slight diversion I thought we would peek into each of their minds and see what is happening. I am especially able to do this due to the fact that I spent 19 years living in the very heart of Gator country and was surrounded by their fans and understand the peculiar psychology that makes up a Gator fan.  As a Bulldog supporter and a resident of Georgia for the past 12 years I am able to glimpse into the makeup of the Bulldog faithful.

Florida thoughts:

“Whew, at least if we lose this year we can claim it wasn’t really a bad loss. Everyone already knows our team stinks – we lost to Mississippi State.”

“We can always tell those old Bulldog fans that Tebow was great and you just can’t replace a legend …as long as they don’t remember how good we said we were going to be with Brantley.”

“How many have we won in a row?”

“Will God listen if I pray for the Gators?”

“If I’m not Catholic can I say a Hail Mary?”

“What shirt did I wear last year?”

“You know the Bulldog fans are going to bring up the overall record, again. What can I say? I don’t know how to count to 48.”

“We never lose in the Swamp. We should play this game in the Swamp. Wait … isn’t that where we played LSU and Miss State?”

“If we lose can we just skip the South Carolina game?”

“I really don’t care this year, we’re rebuilding.”

“I really don’t care this year; football is such a small part of my life.”

“I really don’t care this year, Urban has been sick and he’ll be back next year with a vengeance.”

“I really don’t care this year, I really don’t care this year, I really don’t care this year.”

Georgia thoughts:

“Whew, at least if we lose this year nobody will make fun of us – we lost to Colorado.”

“What!?! Florida lost to Mississippi State … there goes the Colorado excuse.”

“It would be nice to have one player like Herschel again.”

“When is God going to shut up those Gator fans.”

“How many Gator fans are praying this week?”

“Can we play the Gators in the Swamp this year?”

“How many field goals is Mark Richt going to kick on Saturday?”

“Wow, we would have only needed 3 field goals against Florida two weeks ago.”

“It’s going to be a stinky season if we can’t beat Florida; as usual, Tech isn’t even on the map anymore.”

“Can we play Florida twice instead of playing Auburn – they have the same colors.”

My thoughts:

Once again this is all said in fun – from a Georgia perspective. As this Saturday’s game rolls around other duties and needs will once again prohibit me from watching the game but there is no doubt where my desire lies. However, as a fan of the real team from Florida, Florida State, I also have another game to look forward to in a month. It is my desire that everyone has an enjoyable Saturday and that the Bulldogs win by 50.

Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin

In Wrapped in Rain Charles Martin shares the heart rending story of two cast-away boys. Tucker Mason, and his brother, Matthew (Mutt) Mason, are the two sons of a wealthy man who has abandoned them in pursuit of wealth. When Rex Mason is “home” his focus on the boys is controlled by his alcoholism and he abuses the boys quite readily, physically and verbally. Shortly after Tucker’s birth Rex hires an elderly black woman, Ella Rain, to manage the household and care for Tucker and later Mutt when he arrives several years later.

 

Tucker and Mutt vividly experience the abuse of their father and this shapes their adult life in many negative ways. However, the reminder of the faithfulness of Miss Ella and her commitment to the Lord shines through their difficulties and leaves them longing for the love of which she spoke that could only come from Him.

 

If you are looking for a “canned” religious fiction book don’t pick this one up. Charles Martin writes of real people who have real issues. In his books there is no quick fix prayer that magically makes his characters think right act right and their circumstances disappear. For this I applaud him. I didn’t breeze through this and come out feeling lighthearted and while I did I didn’t agree with all he wrote I did come away from this book with a greater desire to know more of God’s Word. That is pretty inspirational for a Christian fiction book.

 

So if you like to read fiction find yourself a copy of Wrapped in Rain. You can get one at www.christianbook.com or any other outlet for books. I got mine from www.booksneeze.com for free because I agreed to review the book. Happy reading!

Picture book, anyone?

At some point in their life all of our children have loved books. Lilah, our youngest, is no exception and may love them more than any of our other children have at this point in their lives. I was reminded of her love for books while driving in the car with her yesterday and I was constantly forced to hand her another “buk, buk.”

After several, several, “buks” being “read” and thrown to the floor she finally settled on one that occupied her attention for several minutes. As I watched her I was reminded of the stages that my children have gone through in reading.

They all started out loving the pictures. As they grew older and we continued to read to them they began to learn particular words and would even know when Dad was skipping pages or skipping words. (Hey, some kid’s books are loooong!) Landon especially knew every word to his favorite books. Picture books, however, don’t last forever and they began to foray into the books with more words than pictures. Finally, they become bored with picture books. Yes, they may pick one up every now and then and be amused but this passes very quickly and they are off to look for something more substantive.

Allow me to skip over into a believer’s personal devotion life. As a youth pastor I was constantly asked by parents about devotionals for their children. I was usually hesitant to recommend much that I knew was available because it really was just a picture book, most of simple colors and shapes. I have even been asked by many adults what I would recommend and I sometimes facetiously reply, “ummm … the Bible.” Listen to what Scripture says about a believer and their spiritual growth:

Hebrews 5:12-14  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

You and I would be disappointed and would be enquiring about the mental growth of our children if they were satisfied with picture books all of their life. As believers we should desire to learn more from God’s Word than just the “picture stories” which are quickly seen. Let’s read with interest and with a desire for understanding.

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