Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Adorable Miss Nichols

She's So Stinkin' Hot
I'm here to confess that I have a devilish lust over ESPN's Rachel Nichols. Whenever I happen to be watching SportsCenter & one of the anchors goes out to Nichols on location, I can't turn away. I'm captivated by her appearance. My eyes lock on the TV screen & I'm not sure I even blink for the entire amount of time her image graces the screen. It's her luscious lips. It's that cute button nose. It's the "come hither" look she's always giving the camera. Perhaps more than anything: it's that mesmerizingly gorgeous red hair. It's perfect! I'm sure that she dyes it & uses a ton of hair spray (never a hair out of place), but it is still a sight to see.

There have been some other "sports hotties" over the years. When I was in college, I heard guys go ga-ga over women like Melissa Stark or Jill Arrington. Even a "strug-a-ling" Joe Willie Namath wanted to lock lips with Suzie Kolber once on-air. Still, none of them wielded the same kind of power over my attention-span as does Rachel Nichols.

Am I the only red-blooded man who enjoys watching this red-headed bombshell?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Coolest Christmas Lights Ever

What would my viral video collection be without THIS masterpiece?!

Science Speaks on Santa

I don't intend to do here what this foolish preacher did, nor what was done to me by a Sunday School Teacher at the age of 5. Right before Christmas in 1985, my Sunday School Teacher told me & the rest of our class that there was NO Santa Claus. I was shocked. I didn't ask Dad, who took me to the Church of Christ (or, in this case, church of Christ). But when I got home, I asked my mother if there was a Santa Claus. I drilled her & drilled her & finally told her what I had heard. She confessed that there was no Santa -- there was no arguing with me at that point.

And so while I was one of the cool kids who knew at an earlier age that there was no Santa while other foolish younglings around me still believed, a beloved part of parenthood senselessly was stolen from my mother. In fact, she told me a month ago that she still resents that woman TO THIS DAY. Alas it is one of the things my mother continues to hate about Churches (or "churches" ... whatever) of Christ.

Nevertheless, I didn't intend to make you sad or to drudge up some story to show you my childhood scars. I've always enjoyed this E-mail that is sent out around Christmas time. Make sure you stick with it until the end. Hillarious.

Is there a Santa Claus? - A Physicist's View

Consider the following:

1) No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).

This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer' (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A New Addition

If you scroll down the left column of this blog, you will notice that I have added a new feature. With the ability to label my blog posts, I have gone back through all 100+ blog entries I've made, labeled them, and linked them by category for your convenience. So, loyal fans, no more E-mails saying, "How can I find all of your 'Lesser Known Scriptures' posts? Your diatribes? Your religious rants? Your sports rants? And all the rest of your meaningless talk about Alabama football or Red Sox Baseball?" Well, now you have an easy way to access it all.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lesser Known Text of the Week

How do we know what we know? This is the quesion of epistemology, which seeks to investigate our bases of knowledge.

The root of knowledge for science is observation: that which you can measure by sight, smell, taste, touch, or sound. Another root of knowledge for the religion/philosophy of Buddhism is intuition: that which is realized in one's everyday walk of life and, perhaps more importantly, that which is learned via meditation.

The root of Christian knowledge, however, is not achieved 1st hand. It is an external form of knowledge: revelation. Paul talks about it in Ephesians 3:2-5:

2Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

Not that other roots of knowledge are unimportant. There is a sense in which we can know about God through those other ways of learning. Ecclesiastes 3:11b seems to indicate that there is an intuitive way that we can know about God. Romans 1 and Psalms 19 teach us that there is also an observational sense in which we may learn about God. But none of these are as important as that which we can gain by revelation.

Paul is very clear in this passage about how revelation works. It is, first & foremost, a gift from God ("the administration of God's grace ..."). It is to be shared rather than hoarded ("... that was given to me for you."). Contrary to popular belief in some circles of historical-critical philosophy, we can understand what God revealed by reading and comprehending what Paul & other inspired writers have recorded ("In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight ..."). And God revealed his message to a select few individuals by the Spirit.

I believe that it is imperative that we very carefully & deliberately consider what it is that we rely on as our base of knowledge. What do we draw upon for wisdom? I hope that it isn't merely intuition & observation. While those are good, we have a source of knowledge that transcends those. Let us not ignore it, nor be ignorant of it.

I've heard other people say this before, and I am finding it to be true myself. The older I get, the more respect I have for the Word of God.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Hot Button Issue

You know ... you go to college, and you think that you'll learn just about everything you'll need to know about how to be a good minister. You take Bible classes. You read books & articles. You listen to professors & other experienced ministers share as much pastoral wisdom & knowledge as they can possibly transmit. And you even go out & gain a little ministry experience of your own. And after all of that, you begin to think that maybe you've heard it all ... perhaps even seen most everything that could possibly happen with your own eyes. That is until you get surprised.

The lesson today, faithful readers, is this: Never (Ever!) underestimate any given Church's history.

I thought I had a pretty good grip on what the hot button issues were in Churches of Christ today: women's roles & worship styles. That's it, right? Tread carefully around those fiery topics, as well as other long-standing CoC traditional issues (baptism, spiritual gifts, et. al.), and you'll be OK. Right?

Little did I know that this Sunday the hot button issue would be 1st Peter 5:5a, which reads:

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.

Pretty straight forward, right? Not much need for Gram-chord here, is there? It says what it means, and it means what it says.

Until one of the younger men in our church (a man under 30 who is looked up to as a leader ... let's call him "Rick") spoke up and said, "I believe that this is true ... UNLESS the 'Elder person' isn't living a Holy Spirit-inspired, cruciform, Godly lifestyle." This sparked the beginning of what I thought was a good discussion on leadership, discipleship, and character.

So when Rick finished his rather long-winded rant regarding elder persons who are unqualified to receive his "submission," and as the discussion was beginning to reach a lull, I decided to push back a little. I roughly said, "Boy ... that sounds like cut & run to me. I think Peter here is assuming that the older persons are faithful. And there are faithful older persons that we should look up to." And I really sort of thought that this statement might fulfill the void left by Rick & bring balance to the discussion. Was I wrong.

Rick once led a vibrant youth group at this small congregation. However, the group dried up as the kids graduated & moved on with no other kids coming up to replace them. Rick told the story of a time when he very visibly & openly tried to bridge a gap between the older & the younger in this church. And when his attempt to do this failed miserably on account of neglect by the older ones in the church, his attempt to bring two age groups completely backfired -- making the youth resentful of their elders, and for a seemingly good & somewhat justified reason.

And he aired this dirty laundry in Bible Class -- in front of God, the old people, and everybody!! I literally thought this was about to explode in my face. I recount at least two episodes in my ministry life where I've had a situation blow up in my face -- that is, in public. (Kellar, you were there for both. Heart-breaking, horrific, and utterly depressing are those memories ...). I thought I was getting ready to add a third.

Rick came dangerously close to tears as he recounted the story for all of us. It was an emotional story ... a story which explains a lot about why this church was in the sorry condition it was when I arrived on the scene. (Not that I've been Mr. Clean, and everything is spick & span now at the Lynn Haven Church of Christ. But the Church is at least moving in the right direction now.) But just when I thought this might turn into an impassioned, acrimonious storm of an argument, the climate completely changed. And the rest of 1st Peter 5:5 seemed to kick in:

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

    "God opposes the proud
      but gives grace to the humble."

Thankfully, I was granted the last word on this issue. As Rick remained bold in his stance about his unwillingness to follow un-Christ-like elders, I paused, and this is what I said:

"I hear what you're saying, Rick. I really do. ([Interrupting myself] ... and as I told him later one-on-one ... I mean, it is EXTREMELY telling about a void in elders as leaders, after all, that one of the most respected leaders in our church is under the age of 30.) And I think that for the part of the picture you are outlining, you are dead-on correct. Here in 1st Peter 5, Peter is putting the burden of leadership upon the elders. The onus is on them. And they need to live up to the calling God has placed upon them.

"It's similar to one of my own personal hot button issues: modesty in female dress. Oftentimes, all that is said about this is that women need to dress more modestly. And we place the burden of leadership in this issue on women. We put the onus on THEM! And then we turn around in our Bible classes and, with a straight face, talk about MALE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP in our assemblies. Are you kidding me?!


"As men, and as the male spiritual leaders, the onus ought to be on US! We need to learn the meaning of self-control when it comes to lust & sexual temptation. And you know what? When we do that, we won't have a problem with immodest dress anymore in our assemblies. Why? Because women follow our lead. Women dress immodestly because they know they can attract our attention. If we, corporately, as men & leaders, with great focus deliberately give our attention to modest women & withdraw our attention from immodest women, women will INHERENTLY WANT to dress to modest standards. The burden of leadership falls to the men here.

(To interrupt what I actually said this morning, I also feel the need to respond to what I already know what some of you are saying inside your heads. 'That's COMPLETELY unrealistic, Philip, to expect all men to control their eyes.' I COMPLETELY disagree. If you say that's unrealistic, then I say, 'Where's your faith?' If you say that's unrealistic, then what Gospel is it exactly that you believe in? If it's not a Gospel of transformation, than it is NOT 'Good News.' Boys do not always have to remain boys. They can grow up. And that's my 2 cents on THAT.)

"So, in that sense Rick, I agree with you. The onus is on the elders. And they need to step up."

"However, I am EXTREMELY hesitant to go where Scripture does not go & say that I will not submit ungodly elders in the church. We simply don't have a clear example to follow here; it seems to me all we have is our sanctified wisdom, judgment, and common sense.

"Peter has spoken in this letter about submission in many ways. He talks about citizens being submissive to our governments. He talks about slaves being submissive to their masters. He talks here about younger folks being submissive to elders. And he also talks about wives being submissive to husbands.

"That latter is sort of interesting. We know that, according to Ephesians 5, wives should submit to their husbands & husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. Should wives continue to be submissive to their husbands even in a physically, verbally, and/or sexually violent relationship? I, for one, don't think so. But how far does that line even go? When you can you call it and say, "That's abusive." I'm gonna argue that THAT line is WAY, WAY out there.

"Look at Abraham & Sarah. Abraham, knowing the beauty of his wife, cowardly folded like a tent at the face of adversity. Instead of standing up for the honor of his wife, he claimed her only as his sister so as to save his own neck. Now ... was Abraham loving his wife as Christ loved the church? NOT EVEN CLOSE! Not even in the same ballpark. He abdicated his responsibility as a husband here. But did Sarah? Do we have a record of her objection? No. She continued to submit to her husband EVEN in the face of the terrible trial of sleeping with a man who was not her husband & who she didn't even know! I'm telling you, folks: THAT is courage.

"You know what makes so many marriages go awry? The husband sees that his wife isn't respecting him & submitting as much as she should. So he gets up on that cross a little less. And so the wife begins to notice that he's not doing as much for her anymore, and so she begins to respect & submit to him even less. And you can see how this spirals further & further downward.

"What saves marriages are spouses who are willing to give at times even when nothing is given in return. And you know what? That spouse who has been derelict in his-or-her responsibilities will eventually notice. Good deeds inspire more good deeds. If as husbands & wives you continue to plant good seeds despite your partner's response, you'll eventually see a bumper crop.

"What is true of those relationships is true here, too. We can either spiral downward or spiral upward. It takes patience. It means sometimes putting up with a lot of grief. But either we're investing in mutual respect, or we aren't. And that is at the crux of what Peter is saying here in the latter part of verse 5 -- "clothe yourselves with humility toward each other." Too often, us younger folks are tempted to believe the lie that we can do without older folks & their "wisdom." And I imagine that some of the older ones here are tempted similarly to think that there is nothing to be learned from younger folks & very little that we can contribute aside from being energetic. But even in the face what appears to be ungodliness by our counterpart(s), just like our example Sarah, we must courageously continue to fulfill the commission God has passed down to us."

By reading the faces of the crowd & gauging feedback after class, I sense that these words were well-received. I'm not sure I dis-armed a time-bomb. I don't think a bomb was ready to go off there in the first place. But it sure felt like it at one point.

Nevertheles, just when you think you've got a handle on what "the issues" are, God can surprise you. Ministers: you CANNOT invest too much time in learning the history of your congregation, history of "the church" in your city, area, & state, and as well the personal history of as many of your members as possible. I know that after today I am even more tuned into & interested in learning as much history as I can absorb.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

'A Few Minutes' ... on Hyperbole

I wrote the following and then thought to myself, "Look at me ... I'm ranting like an old man." So, if you want a good chuckle, read the following while imagining these words are being read by 60 Minutes Correspondent Andy Rooney.

I'm growing tired of the use, or rather, the OVER-use hyperbole in everyday life.

I suppose the straw that broke the camel's back was a red carpet interview I watched Angelina Jolie give regarding her new movie. In that interview, she was asked a question about Robert De Niro and passingly called him "brilliant." Brilliant? Really. I wonder what is his IQ ...

Words like "brilliant," or "genius," are thrown around too often if you ask me. Such words should be reserved for the few precious souls who are truly such. Or you could tune into Sean Hannity's or Rush Limbaugh's radio shows & find out what it is the Democrats are doing right now to be "complete morons" or "idiotic." Too many songs, movies, or TV shows are referred to as "awesome" or "amazing." Are they? Really? Too many rising athletes are called "incredible talents," "athletic freaks," or "phenoms." I'm sure that those athletes are good at what they do, but do they exhibit the "once-in-a-lifetime" kind of athleticism to warrant such elaborate language? We have too many discussions about how the latest athletic achievement is the greatest of all-time. Only one athlete or feat can be the greatest -- they can't all be. And don't get me started on the kinds of events upon which we slap the word "miracle."

While we are at it, can we limit the amount of times we can use modifying adverbs such as "very" or "really." "That was a very, very good blog entry." Or, "I really enjoyed that blog entry." They have a salary cap in professional sports. Couldn't we have a vocabulary cap in everyday life?

I'm not sure what motivates people toward exaggeration. Have you ever been around a group of people talking about that one time they got REALLY sick? Or the worst storm they've ever witnessed? Or the loudest sports stadium they've ever attended? Ever noticed how each person feels a strong urge to top the story told before him or her? What is it about our humanity that makes us embellish?

I hope that I'm not raining on anyone's parade. I get excited about things, too. And sometimes, the English language doesn't adequately service to the point of painting a good enough picture to describe my level of excitement. And so I'm tempted to exaggerate. Nevertheless, the over-use of hyperbole, to me, betrays a sense of ignorance. I just wish that we would all choose our words more carefully. And when we speak, I wish that we would speak with a greater sense of perspective.

And that's my diatribe of the week.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cry Out to Jesus

Today I preached Blind Bartimaeus.

I think that if there is one thing that stands out in this passage it is Bartimaeus' persistence. Despite being told to hush up, Bartimaeus continued to cry out to the one who could bring healing & mercy upon him. And Jesus rewards this man's persistence.

We see this not only in the life of Jesus, but also in the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 18, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray with persistence and to not lose heart. When Jesus is teaching about prayer in Luke 11, he instructs us to be bold in an insistent & persistent kind of way.

There in Luke 11, Jesus says to "ask, seek, and knock." "Knock" is an especially telling command to me. So often, when we knock, we do it in a way so as to not be too disturbing. It seems as if Jesus saying that we should be the complete opposite with our prayers. Shake the door down! Make some noise! Wake up God! Be Bold! Stand in the gap & let your cares be known to God.

It's important to me in the story of Blind Bartimaeus, also, that it says that "Jesus stopped." Jesus has big important things to do. This is the story RIGHT before he is about to go into Jerusalem. He's got a lot on his plate. But because of one persistent beggar ...

Jesus stopped!

And isn't that encouraging? It's so easy to think of my concerns as petty & insignificant. "Ehhhh, I don't need to bother God with that. It's not important. Other people have more troubles than I do; I'm so blessed! I'd come off as selfish if I ask God for that." Yet, the truth is, Christ cares for each one of us as if there was only one to care for. He leaves the 99 for the 1. He sweeps the house for the lost coin. In the middle of his procession from Jericho, he STOPS ...... and shows compassion to a blind man.

Don't be afraid to bring your cares & concerns before the Lord as if you're some reprobate before a judge. Feel free to open up before a Father who loves you. Cry Out to Jesus ...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

December Potpourri

I'm feeling pensive & charged up tonight. So, faithful blog-readers, tonight I'm staying up a little later to deliver you some of my random thoughts. Though my thoughts are probably not nearly as funny as Bob's, as catchy & hip as Lloyd's, or as deep as Matthew's, alas, at the least they are uniquely mine.

  • Alabama is about to hire a new football coach. This consumes the conversation of my family right now. When I call to check on my chemo-therapy-saturated mother, and her sister (Aunt Judy to me) or mother (Mama Jean) answers, before I am allowed to speak to my sick mother, I am forced to give the latest update on the Tide's coaching search. Our family is a crazy crew. Seriously. Mama Jean calls me often not to check to see how my love life is, but to talk 'Bama football. This reputation is so well-known among some of my old Harding buddies that last year our fantasy baseball league was named "Philip's Gramma Loves Bama."

    On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike in the Morning were naturally discussing Thanksgiving. And the question of the hour was, "Will football be on during Thanksgiving Dinner at your house?" They went back & forth, and one of the Mike's said, "I just can't imagine sitting around, eating a fine meal, and listening to Grandma say what she's thankful for ... only to have to hush her up because there's a big 3rd down play." You see, at our Thanksgiving Dinner, it would be Grandma hushing up the person giving thanks to check out that 3rd down play.

    Anyways, Alabama's new guy looks to be West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez. If I had to guess, the press conference will be Friday morning in Tuscaloosa. I couldn't be happier. When it comes to the people who are credited with being the innovators of the spread offense, it is "Coach Rod" & Randy Walker (former Northwestern coach who passed away this summer). Urban Meyer seems to have a lot of "media cred" for being a spread guru as well, but when you talk to coaches, they credit Rodriguez & Walker.

    I've got high hopes.

  • We're studying Acts on Wednesday nights at church. Walked through Chapter 7 tonight. Two things jumped out at me:

    • The early church seems to have been REALLY unskilled & uninterested with playing the political game. The people in positions of power seemed to know how to manipulate the political system, but the early church didn't. Nevertheless, the early church continued to win people over & grow. Interesting.

    • Anyone ever notice how Peter's sermon & Stephen's sermon end very similarly? Peter ends his by saying, "God has made this Jesus both Lord & Christ -- the one YOU CRUCIFIED." Cut! Bam! Stephen ends, "You betrayed & murdered him (Jesus)." Cut! Bam! The text says that both audiences were pricked at the heart, though different Greek words are used. And that's where the similarities end. Peter gets to baptize 3,000; Stephen gets intimately aquainted with some of the more hand-held sized geological formations of Jerusalem.

      What made the difference between Peter & Stephen?

  • I wrote about my dream vacation today on a group blog that I'm a part of. You may find that interesting.

  • By far, the coolest 2 year-old I've ever met is Corbin Cherry. He's the son of my friend, Daniel Cherry. That little guy is so much fun to be around. I got to hang out with him a little Tuesday as I helped D.P. (Daniel Paul) move some stuff into his new house. Corbin gave me the tour of his new digs, starting with his bed-room. We ate lunch together, along with D.P., Rachael, & Anna. I then got to show Corbin around my pick-up truck for the first time. He liked the sound of the flow's. ;-)

    Everytime I'm around that boy, I think, "I've got to get me one of those." That, and I'm constantly impressed with the parenting skills of the Cherry family. If there was a way for the Cherry's to raise everyone in the world, I'm convinced we would achieve Utopia.

  • One of my favorite verses in the Bible: Psalms 37:25.

      "I was young and now I am old,
        yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
        or their children begging bread."

  • And finally, I want to commend to you the discipline of memorizing Scripture. There is so much value in memorizing the Bible I can't even begin to describe it. My favorite part: I'm never bored anymore. If I'm sitting in a waiting room, waiting in line, bathing, or cooking, I can go over memory work. I'm in the process of memorizing the book of James with a group of buddies. We're into chapter 2. You gain insights into passages & books at large via memorization that you would never be clued into by casually reading over the same portion of text.

    Part of my love for this, I think, is that I think it first my personality. I've always struggled with reading big portions of Scripture. I've only read the Bible through in a year only once. I even tried a read-the-Bible-through-in-3-years plan -- still too much for me. I've always liked to take smaller sections of Scripture & just ruminate over them. If you're like me, then memorization is definitely for you!

    If you have a group of prayer buddies, recommend this to your guys. Or if you don't have a group of guys, get some together & sell them on this idea. Pick a book. Or for bigger books, pick a section (e.g. Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' last words [John 14-17], etc.). Other ideas I would recommend are any of the Pastorals (1st and 2nd Timothy & Titus), Philippians, 1st Peter, and Jonah.

That's all folks. Thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I talked to my Mom this morning, and she gagged & became nauseous while we were on the phoen together.

Horrible drugs these chemotherapeutic medicines are. It really sounds like an oxymoron: "chemo"-"therapy." This drug is a poison in your veins that is designed to seek & destroy life -- cancerous life that doesn't belong in your body. And in the process, it saps you of life, to the point that you hardly feel alive. Nasty drug this chemotherapy is.

It's tough watching someone you love be so helpless & in such difficulty. One good thing is that it brings you closer together. My friend Daniel & I were recalling how the President of Harding University, Dr. David Burks, and his wife, Leah, dealt with the trauma of chemotherapy. Daniel, who had a special relationship with the Burks', marveled at how the process brought the Burks' closer together. He said that Dr. Burks especially began to appreciate his wife more.

I feel a little of the same way. Mom & I have a trying relationship. Partly because we have such divergent worldview's and we both happen to be pretty hard-headed. Nevertheless, this process has helped us put those differences aside for a little while & to cherish one another.

We've only scratched the surface of this chemotherapy treatment. Still at least three & a half months for us to go. And I can see already why they call this a "fight." And when somebody dies, it is that they "lost their battle with cancer." It is a war, and the cancer patient's body is the battle ground. Ever seen a nation look very good after a war? Not quite. I have a new appreciation for cancer survivors: You people are brave & strong.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Talking Heads

Alabama's name has been rubbed in the dirt this past week, especially by ESPN. It's because Alabama fired Mike Shula. The same Mike Shula that had ONE winning season in four tries. The same Mike Shula who had a losing record in the SEC, including a 2-14 combined record against Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, & Auburn. This is ESPN, who flamed Notre Dame for firing Tyrone Willingham "too soon" & has since turned around and embraced what Charlie Weiss has done for the Fighting Irish.

Sometimes, sports-writers & the ESPN talking heads turn out to be right. However, as the following article proves, often times they have no earthly idea what they're talking about. The last paragraph, and especially the last line, are particularly amusing. Enjoy!

Carroll's hiring is another mistake for troubled USC

The Sporting News
Jan 1, 2001
by Tom Dienhart

Dear Mike Garrett:

I think you made a mistake hiring Pete Carroll as USC's next coach. As Trojans athletics director, you needed to hit a home run with this hire. This looks more like a scratch single.

I know. Carroll might end up being grand, but the perception in the here and now is what matters for a program that's on the wane. And that perception isn't good.

Some might compare Carroll to Paul Hackett, the coach he replaces. That might not be fair, but you can't blame them. Carroll is an NFL guy. He's a defensive tactician who hasn't coached in college since 1083, when he was an assistant at Pacific. Hackett was an offensive expert who hadn't coached in college since 1092 when he landed the USC job before the 1998 season. At least Hackett's most recent college stint at the time was as head coach at Pittsburgh.

Unlike Hackett, Carroll proved he can be a successful head coach, leading the New England Patriots to a pair of winning seasons and playoff berths. He's also a super-enthusiastic guy. But Carroll doesn't know college football.

Oh, he's saying the fight things. You know, stuff like, "If you can understand the process in the NFL ... in the draft process, it's all about watching players in college, I don't consider myself unfamiliar with the college game at all."

I'm sure Carroll, like Hackett, knows his X's and O's. The problem is the college game Carroll doesn't know. It was the same one Hackett had trouble grasping. I'm talking about things like academic issues, recruiting / and dealing with alumni.

Is Caroll up for whispering sweet nothings into the ears of know-it-all 18-year-olds? Is Carroll up for spending more time speaking at booster events than breaking down film? Is Carroll up for fans demanding to know why USC can't dominate the Pac-10 anymore?

Carroll needs a positive start and would help himself by retaining defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and running backs coach Kennedy Pola, a pair of Hackett assistants who red-line their intensity meters.

I know, Mike. You say, "Average Joe doesn't know football." Believe what you want, but Average Joe has reason to doubt your hiring skills and thinks you are part of the problem. Hackett was 19-18 at USC, and his last team finished last in the Pac-10, the first t/me that ever has happened. He was your man after you mishandled the termination of John Robinson after the 1997 season.

Your job might be riding on Carroll's performance. Your non-communicative ways cause people to make conclusions that might not be tree about you and your program. And you didn't help yourself a few years ago when you gave a "pep talk" in the locker room.

It was hard for you to believe people didn't fall over themselves to coach your beloved USC. But it's not that good of a job because it's not 1975 anymore. The 85-scholarship limit has made college football an equal-opportunity sport in which schools such as Oregon State and Virginia Tech have BCS dreams.

Also working against USC are substandard facilities-all the way from Heritage Hall to the antiquated weight room. And the L.A. lifestyle isn't tot everyone, especially not for assistant coaches. Housing prices are out of sight, To live in a decent area, coaches must drive an hour to and from work. Their days are long enough as it is.

Oregon State's Dennis Erickson and Oregon's Mike Bellotti are the biggest names who sniffed around the USC job but didn't really pursue it. San Diego Chargers coach Mike Riley would have been a good hire. He served as Oregon State's coach from 1997-98 and was USC's offensive coordinator before that, but he couldn't make up his mind. When he continued to drag his feet, you grabbed Carroll, who was out of work last season.

Contrast that to the job search at Alabama. Marquee names such as Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and Miami's Butch Davis seriously considered taking the job. In the end, the Tide got TCU coach Dermis Franchione, one of the hottest coaches in the college game.

Dennis Franchione, USC Coach. Would've had a nice ring to it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ode to the Wingman

Ladies & Gent's, Perhaps the GREATEST commercial of all time.

I love YouTube.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Power 12: Thanksgiving Leftovers Edition

1.) Ohio State
2.) Southern Cal
3.) Florida
4.) Michigan
5.) LSU
6.) Wisconsin
7.) Oklahoma
8.) Rutgers
9.) Notre Dame
10.) Louisville
11.) Arkansas
12.) Auburn

Monday, November 20, 2006


I'm in Grove Hill, AL tonight. My mother was diagnosed several weeks ago with cancer, and today had her first dose of chemotherapy this afternoon at an oncology clinic in Mobile. I'm basically caring for two people this evening: my mother, and her husband, Herman, who is an invalid due to chronic arthritis. I'll be here for the week.

Tonight, my mother is just starting to feel the fatiguing effects of her chemotherapy treatment. She is tired, but too restless to sleep. Some medication from the nurse at the clinic is keeping her from being nauseous.

The gravity of the situation hasn't quite hit me, I'd say. Perhaps when mother's hair starts falling out, or if her health deteriorates even more, it will. However, everything just seems sort of normal now, just a little less convenient.

Speaking of cancers, it appears that one will be removed from the University of Alabama. Rumors are flying about the future of Mike Shula. I can't wait to see who will replace the apparent future Shula Steakhouse Co-Manager.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Power 12: Rivalry Weekend Edition

1.) Ohio State -- oh God, let there not be a re-match with Michigan.

there seems to be quite a bit of separation between the #1 team & the rest of the nation

2.) Southern Cal -- starting to play good football at the right time. And it could likely earn them a National Championship berth. They get Notre Dame, who they have beaten 4 years in a row & whose defense stinks, at home. Then if they beat UCLA, they're in like flynn.
3.) Arkansas -- I'd rank them over USC ... except for the tiny fact that the Trojans beat them earlier in the season ... soundly ... in Fayetteville.
4.) Florida -- the Gators will drop-kick the Seminoles this weekend.
5.) Michigan -- the Wolverines get 4 more quarters with the Buckeyes if (and ONLY if) each and every one of the above three teams loses in the next 2 weeks. Which is not out of the question, BTW ...
6.) Notre Dame -- lost to Michigan. Badly. How could anyone rank them above Michigan? Therefore, how could Notre Dame win a National Championship this season? They can't.
7.) LSU -- Wouldn't be surprised if they lay yet another egg in yet another big game ... this time, with Arkansas Friday.
8.) Texas
9.) Wisconsin
10.) Rutgers -- now Rutgers must learn to handle failure. They didn't handle success very well, forgetting to show up Saturday night against Cincy after the greatest victory in their school's history. Nevertheless, they beat Louisville, who beat WVU ... and will remain this high until the Mountaineers beat them.
11.) Louisville
12.) West Virginia

I will take this opportunity, also, to voice my displeasure for the leadership of the football program at the University of Alabama.

I will always have a great deal of respect for Mike Shula for coming to Alabama when few had the spine to come (much less stay ... FRAN). He faced handicaps with the installation of his offense, handicaps with recruiting, and ... well, handicaps. I'm not sure any school has had a four-year run like Alabama's has with such a lack in injury luck.

Nevertheless, it has become crystal clear to those who follow the program that Mike Shula does not resemble the tough, good-looking young coach his father was 40 years ago. Rather, Alabama's Shula resembles very much more his brother David, who failed miserably in his seasons at the helm of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Is it too harsh to say that Shula has failed miserably in his time at Alabama? After all, the Tide did win 10 games last season & finish ranked in the top-10. To see the true nature of the Shula Regime, one must look beyond that fact to see the truth in numbers.

  • 0-4 vs. arch-rival Auburn

  • 1-3 vs. arch-rival Tennessee

  • 0-4 vs. division rival LSU

  • 1-3 vs. division rival Arkansas

  • 2-8 in Alabama's last 10 SEC games

  • 0-19 when trailing entering the 4th quarter

These simply aren't numbers of a winner.

Alabama won 10 games last year because of it's defense. And that talent has graduated and is now thriving in the NFL. Demeco Ryans is a defense rookie of the year candidate. Mark Anderson is a sack machine for the Chicago Bears. Even Roman Harper was starting for the Saints before he blew his knee out. Anyone can look pretty good when they have more talent! Heck, even Mike DuBose won an SEC Championship at Alabama when he had Shaun Alexander at running back! Shula has won ONE game in which Alabama was not expected to win -- the 2005 Florida victory. And even after the fact, we came to learn that Florida was over-rated.

Mediocrity is accepted at other University's football programs. Not at Alabama. Alabama football coaches are expected to win. And despite the handicaps, Shula should have won more by now.

Mike Shula's brother David is now the Manager of his father Don's Shula Steakhouse in Miami, FL. Perhaps they could use a co-Manager?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Power 12: Veteran's Day Edition

1.) Ohio State
2.) Michigan
3.) Arkansas
4.) Notre Dame
5.) Florida
6.) Southern Cal -- I know that the Trojans beat the #3 team on this list, but that was when Casey Dick & Darren McFadden were injured. The Hogs have improved; the Trojans have regressed. Arkansas would take them in a rematch.
7.) Rutgers
8.) LSU
9.) Texas
10.) Wisconsin
11.) Louisville
12.) West Virgnia -- I think that all three of the Big East Big Three could & would beat Auburn.

Sadly, I won't be able to watch next weekend's National Championship game. CBS will be airing the Iron Bowl at the same time ... a little game I like to call "The Greatest Rivalry in all of sports."

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Amazing game on ESPN tonight. I thought the Tennessee/LSU game was the best I would see all season after it ended Saturday. Louisville/Rutgers topped it.

Amazing how the Big East has turned out this season. Just seven days and, ohhhhh ... 4 hours ago, West Virginia was the best team in the conference. Louisville topped them, and now Louisville has been topped.

If Rutgers runs the table, why SHOULDN'T they play for the National Championship? They physically dominated the Cardinals in the trenches on both sides of the ball -- a Cardinals team widely touted to be "just as talented" as any of the big boys or any of the SEC teams. And Rutgers looked BETTER than them?

Rutgers & Ohio State share a common opponent: Illinois. The Buckeyes scrapped their way by the Fighting Illini by a single touchdown. The Scarlet Knights, however, won by a whopping 33.

If this were March, and we were talking basketball, we would LOVE and EMBRACE a team like this. This would be Cinderella! They would be Gonzaga or George Mason. We would be rooting for them all the way. But because it's college football, and elitist, we dismiss Rutgers because their NAME isn't as impressive as Florida, or Texas, or USC.

Rutgers still has some wood left to chop. But they have already beaten Pitt, a pretty decent team in their conference. They beat Louisville tonight. But their last game of the season is against West Virgnia. I can't WAIT to watch a team this good in the trenches face off against a spread rushing attack as good as the Mountaineers'.

Hey -- Big East football is exciting! Besides the SEC, tell me what conference is more impressive. The Big 11? Please! They look exactly the same -- a few elite teams at the top, and all the rest stink. The ACC? That conference is a mess. The Pac 10? Talk about a conference that doesn't play defense. The Big East belongs, people. And if Rutgers goes all the way, it would be outrageous to deny them a shot to be called the best team in college football.

Rutgers probably won't vault all the way to #3 in my own Power 12 early next week. But if they beat West Virgnia in their final game to finish undefeated, they will no doubt be #2. If Rutgers fails, then my next pick to face the winner of the National Championship Game (a.k.a. Ohio State vs. Michigan) in the BCS Championship Game (for whatever that is worth) is Texas. If the Buckeyes prevail, then why should Michigan get another shot? Why not let Texas get the 2nd chance against them? They had to face them early in the year with a first-year starting freshman quarterback. He won't be a freshman anymore. And Texas is one of the few schools this season who you can't point to and see improvement week-by-week. What an exciting showdown, right?

My next pick would be the winner of the SEC Championship (whether it's Auburn, Florida, or Arkansas). Next pick after that (if all the above have 2 losses by that time) is the winner of USC/Notre Dame (again, assuming one loss).

But go Rutgers. I'd love to see Cinderella make it to the ball.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Dem's Win

Stephen Colbert reflects on America's mandate

Well, I guess I'm going to have to call this thing ... for the Democrats.

WOO HOO! The people have spoken. An apparently they're tired of freedom. Don't get me wrong: I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed. I thought this country would last longer than 230 years. That's it, folks! America's over. At this point, we might as well just give it back to the (censored ... "Gosh Darn") Indians. Let's see how they deal with foreign enemies bent on their destruction.

Here's your cake, Terrorists. Here you go! Enjoy. MMmmmmmm. Tastes like "surrender."

Timmy, you might as well get those subtitles going. [Subtitles appear in Arabic] There ya go. Get used to these.

You know what really gets me here? You know what really gets me? Democrats didn't even win this thing; the Republicans lost it. They ran away from the President. "Hey, the ship's in trouble! Quick, let's drown the Captain!" We were THIS close to Jesus coming back! And you Republicans who turned your back on the President are going to wander in the desert for the next two years ... literally! Someone's gonna have to replace those troops in Iraq.

And don't think you're off the hook, voters. You're the ones who made this bed. Now you're the ones who are going to have to move over so a gay couple can sleep in it.

Tomorrow, you're all going to wake up in a brave new world. A world where the Constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones created in a stem-cell research lab created by homosexual doctors who sterilyze their instruments over burning American flags!

Where tax & spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach Evolution to illegal immigrants.

OHHH! And EVERYBODY'S HIGH! [Inhales immaginary doobie] WOOOO!!

Sadly, Colbert nearly quit, only to happily return by the end of the show with a renewed mission to take down this Democratic administration. Thank God.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Power 12: The Election Day Edition

1.) Ohio State
2.) Michigan
3.) Louisville
4.) Texas
5.) Auburn
6.) Florida
7.) Notre Dame
8.) Southern Cal
9.) LSU
10.) Wisconsin
11.) Arkansas
12.) West Virginia

I dogged the Cards. But I've gotta dish out the prop's now. They don't play an SEC schedule. But if they win out, I don't know how you can deny them an NC shot.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Harding Rap

Alright HU alum's. Are you ready for this?

Check out Kodak & D'Lee at Click on the song "It's Goin Down (Harding University)" and prepare to laugh your socks off.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Plausible Deniability Continued

In yet another example of shoe-urination named rain, Rev. Ted Haggard denies the allegations of an alleged former gay sex partner & drug dealer.

Of course he does. Bless his heart.

I find it difficult to accept & forgive the actions of a man who so blantantly insults the intelligence of his family, his church, and a nation. I mean come on people. This is worse than "I didn't inhale" or "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Good grief.

Snarky? You're DADGUMMED RIGHT I am!

Perhaps I'm offended on a deeper level, though. As a minister, it is imperative for one to protect one's integrity at all costs. Of course, no minister is perfect. But I just can't imagine what answer Mr. Haggard will have for his Lord for bringing so much public shame and disgrace upon Christ's name.

For ministers, and all Christians of influence alike, this is a lesson to us. It's a lesson I wish we wouldn't have to be re-learning so often these days, but it is nevertheless a lesson: guard your integrity at all costs. Make every effort. Protect your integrity, not just for your sake, but for the sake of the Lord & the movement of His Gospel.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Back in with the Gilmores

I must be gay. Honestly. I am about to dedicate an entire blog entry to an episode of Gilmore Girls.

WARNING: You probably don't want to read this.

Anyway, I just watched the first episode of this season. They re-ran it last night & I Tivo'd it. WOW! I had complained about there being new producers & writers of this show, but I hadn't given them a chance from watching the first couple episodes. They really did the first episode justice.

Luke Danes
Luke Danes:
Our Man in the Clutch
I think the thing that I am happiest about is that they have made Luke back into a good guy. He's not a jerk anymore. And when he hung his heart out on the line for Lorelai when he apologized & confessed his undying love, we all fell back in love with the "old Luke" again. And when Lorelai crushed him with the news that she had slept with Christopher, the father of her daughter, he just turned, got in his truck, and drove off. And the best part was that I SAW THE WHOLE THING COMING. Not in a bad, awful unimaginative predictable kind of way. But in a good, warm, "They got it right!" predictable kind of way. It was a nice, "They got it right! They still have the characters right!" kind of moment. It's almost as if I was afraid I had lost some friends for good when the Palladino's left the show. (Wow, that makes it sound like I watch WAY too much TV. And, with Gilmore Girls, I probably do take this stuff way too seriously.) It was also a sinking feeling for Luke, though: "Poor guy always gets the bad end of these things."

And in the episode, Kirk drives Taylor's car into Luke's diner. Luke's diner. His pride & joy. The place he cherishes above all else. All of this sets up this great scene at the end of the show.

Lorelai Gilmore
The ever-charming, ever-gorgeous, and ever-neurotic Lorelai Gilmore
So, ok. Near the end of the show, there is this absolutely compelling, completely touching scene where Luke & Lorelai are both not at ease. Of course, the Sam Phillips "la-la" song is playing. (AHHHHH ... I just LOVE that song. So peaceful & tranquil ... yet, unsettled.) Lorelai is restless: tearing the bedspread off her bed, moving pillows. She's throwing pillows, she's putting pillows back -- she just can't quite find the right niche to settle into. And it's just like her life. In her life, she has never been able to stay settled. She can't find stable comfort in anyone's arms for very long. Whether it is Rory's old teacher from the first couple seasons, Luke, now Christopher, or any of her other boyfriends, she cannot stay comfortable. She is unsettled. She can't find comfort. Poor Lorelai. So Sad.

At the same time, Luke is sitting on a chair in the middle of his destroyed & cluttered restaurant as we peer in through the big hole in the side of the place. He sits there. Still. People walking by on the street, and he just sits there with his arms folded in his big empty, cluttered restaurant with the hole in the wall. It symbolizes the big hole in his heart, and the emptiness & clutter that Lorelai has wrought with her whirlwind wares. There is even a broom next to him. He's not ready to clean up. He's not ready to pick up the pieces. He's just sitting there, in stillness & in shock: heart broken wide open. Poor Luke. So Sad.

Anyways ... GREAT art. Well-written, well-produced art. And I know it's Gilmore Girls, but folks, it is still an awesome show.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is anyone Guilty anymore?

I posted these thoughts earlier on a group blog that I'm a part of. I decided to expand those thoughts a little here.

Harold Reynolds plans to sue ESPN. Reynolds, a former analyst for Baseball Tonight, was fired (I believe) because he "allegedly" sexually harrassed a female co-worker at ESPN. "Allegedly," this was not the first incident. Therefore, he was dismissed. He denies the allegations, however, and plans on clearing his name.

(FWIW, Reynolds was my favorite ESPN personality. I love watching Baseball Tonight, and the show has not been the same without him. Guilty or not guilty, I hope he lands on his feet on some other baseball program, because the guy is fun to watch.)

My question is this: Is anyone guilty anymore? It seems that the order of our society is plausible deniability. Rafael Palmeiro didn't do steroids -- he tested positive due to sharing needles with Miguel Tejada, who gave him a B-12 shot. Floyd Landis never knowingly took steroids -- it was the alcohol he drank, the supplements he took, or any other of the half-dozen excuses he gave. Kenny Rogers didn't have pine tar on his hand -- that brown smudge you saw on TV was "dirt." John Kerry wasn't talking about all the troops who are honorably placing their lives on the line -- he was talking about George W. Bush.

In the immortal words of Cousin-Kissing John Stossel: "Give me a BREAK!"

I know it's shameful to confess and to admit that you did or said something wrong. But why don't people just own up & do it? And certainly, not all the publicly accused are necessarily guilty. But for the ones who are, honesty has become the last resort.

This frustrates me. I'm sick & tired of people peeing on my shoes & telling me that it's rain.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Power 12: The Halloween Edition

1.) Ohio State -- Kicking butt & taking names.

2.) Michigan -- Could get bumped if West Virginia looks impressive enough against Louisville.

3.) West Virginia -- It's all or nothing for the Mountaineers this Thursday.

4.) Texas -- Had a scare Saturday. Forgot to show up in the 1st quarter, putting themselves in a 3-touchdown hole. Came back & took care of business.

5.) Auburn -- They are here by default. None of the one-loss teams are really impressive right now. There is a huge drop off from 3 to 4.

6.) Florida -- Put on their disappearing act again, this time against hapless Georgia. They were lucky to win.

7.) Notre Dame -- Would be disappointed if they don't win out.

8.) Tennessee -- Rocky Top rolled through Carolina. Now the Bengal Tigers come to town.

9.) Southern Cal -- Can I say it? I TOLD YOU SO! Trojans stink. I'm keeping them where I've been rating them the last several weeks.

10.) LSU -- Another big game this Saturday. Will they once again come up small?

11.) Wisconsin -- Survived against the fighting Zook's.

12.) Boston College -- Owns victories over both coaching Bowden's this season.

Dropped Out: Clemson -- Horrible showing on ESPN Thursday. Classic let-down game after beating Georgia Tech at home with ESPN Gameday in the house, they go on the road to Blacksburg, VA & lay an egg. High octane offense, but not yet a mature team.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chasing Rabbits

My friend Matthew asked with a recent blog of his, "What rabbits have you chased lately?" There are subtle threads woven throughout the fabric of scripture that are fun to follow if you are deliberate about following them. So, faithful blog readers, for your obscure Bible passage(s) of the week: rabbit chasing.

One came up tonight in Bible Study. In the adult class on Wednesday nights at the Lynn Haven Church of Christ, we are studying Acts. Tonight ... end of Acts 4 & beginning of Acts 5. Barnabas & Ananias and Sapphira. I love how "the folks" tiptoed around giving -- "well of course this means we aren't supposed to give EVERYTHING away." Fun stuff.

Anyway, Ananias & Sapphira can be a disturbing story that is difficult to understand. But something clicked with me tonight as I read it. One of the themes that Luke develops in Acts is that of Giving God Glory. Luke very carefully shows that one of the greatest sins is that of failing to give God his due.

This is why Herod was killed in Acts 12. Herod spoke, and the people cried out, "The voice of a god and not of a man! 23And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died." Herod should have deflected and not accepted such praise. How interesting that God killed this man for a sin of omission.

And then, soon after this, we have the story of Paul & Barnabas in Lystra in Acts 14. Paul heals a man. So we pick up in verse 12. "12And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. [...] 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the Heaven and the Earth and the sea and all that is in them." Their response was the proper one. They gave glory to God. And so the worms were held at bay.

So what does Ananias & Sapphira have to due with giving God glory? Well, you know how we have figures of speech in language? It clicked with me & I remembered that Jews had a figure of speech about giving God glory. Dr. Ken Neller taught it to me in my 3rd semester Greek Readings class at Harding. It occurs twice in Scripture:

John 9:24. The man who was born blind was healed by Jesus & being brought before a council of Pharisees. '24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give glory to God; we know that this man (Jesus) is a sinner."' What they are saying is this: "Come clean. Tell us the truth. What really happened to you?" But the figure of speech isn't "Come Clean," it is "Give Glory to God."

Joshua 7:19. Achan has sinned, and Joshua is trying to discover the truth. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me." Joshua isn't saying, "Go sing some songs to God, and then come tell me the truth." With there being so much repetition in this text, it's like Joshua is channeling Tom Cruise: "I WANT THE TRUTH!"

So, back to Ananias & Sapphira. What was their sin? It isn't that they didn't give all they earned from the selling of their land. It was lying about it. And by lying, they were not giving God his due glory. I have little doubt that this figure of speech was in Luke's mind when he wrote this down, and that "Theophilus" was able to pick up on it while reading this story.

So there you go. Give glory to God and you'll avoid being food for worms.

I pity the poor soul whose wife reads this blog. "Honey, give glory to God: does this make me look fat?"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Something Frivolous, brought to you by YouTube

YouTube is becoming one of my favorite web sites. Anyways, you might have already seen this music video. But if you haven't, this is fun! :)

I especially enjoy watching the "big-boned" fellow with the pink shirt, buttoned-up sweater vest, white shoes, black-rimmed glasses, bald head, and obscenely big sideburns. He seems to be having the most fun of all four of those guys.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Power 12: The Birthday Edition

1. Ohio State -- blah blah blah. They are the best.

2. Michigan -- Slept a little through their game against Iowa, but made it look quasi-impressive on the scoreboard in the end. On a collision course with the Buckeyes.

3. West Virginia -- Rich Rodriguez, the man who used to make Tommy Bowden look like a genious, continues to put the best offense in college football on the field.

4. Texas -- Gutted one out on the road against a surprisingly tough Nebraska team.

5. Clemson -- This is a GOOD football team. They could beat Auburn. Big test this week -- they have a short week to prepare for a Thursday game against Virginia Tech.

6. Auburn -- Best of the SEC right now.

7. Florida -- Could wipe the floor with Georgia this Saturday in Jax.

8. Notre Dame -- Continues to struggle with bad teams. They won't earn points in the Power 12 for that.

9. Southern Cal -- Like the Irish, they've struggled with BAD football teams.

10. Tennessee -- Alabama proved that Erik Ainge can be rattled & that the Tennessee offense can be significantly slowed down. Defense is average, which apparently is plenty good enough to shut down 'Bama. Sad state of affairs for my Tide ...

11. LSU -- They've played six opponents at home and outscored them 274-36.

12. Wisconsin -- Earn their way into the Power 12 by playing well week in & week out. Their one loss was to #2 Michigan.

Dropped out: Louisville -- Not a good football team the last two weeks. Victory over Miami looks less impressive week after week.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

October Magic

By a large margin, my favorite month of the calendar year is October. There are a variety of reasons why. For firsts, it is when humidity disappears and the air turns cooler. It gives you an instant natural high just to step outside & take a breath of air. Also, in October, it is my birthday, meaning I usually get free stuff. For you, my precious blog readers, there is still time. My birthday is Monday the 23rd. So get crackin'! And, as well, October is one of the greatest months of college football. You have border-war matchups like Oklahoma-Texas, Florida-Georgia, and Alabama-Tennessee. The season is in full swing, teams are playing at their best, and it is this month that separates the contenders from the pretenders.

And as singularly great as each one of those are, my favorite thing about this month is October baseball. There is nothing more edge-of-your-seat, pump-your-fist, yell-out-loud exciting than a playoff baseball game. There are are rivals, to be sure: back-nine of the Masters, college football rivalry games, March Madness. But for my money, it's October baseball.

Some may say that better athletes play football & basketball; I say that there is no more difficult task in all of sports than hitting a baseball off of a major league pitcher. Some may say that the games are slow; I say that it's just that the drama is building. And some may say that other sports are just more exciting; I say that no other sport produces the kind of "magic" that baseball produces.

Big Papi
Come on! I couldn't talk baseball and not mention this guy!
October makes great players, like Kirby Puckett and Joe Carter, into legends. Beyond heroes. Legends. It was one October a couple years ago that David Ortiz became more than that big oaf who hit homeruns -- he became "Big Papi." It was in the Fall Classic that Reggie Jackson became even more than "Reggie" -- he became "Mr. October."

It's in October that old pitchers can sometimes dig way down deep & recapture that old greatness, like Jack Morris in his 10 shutout innings in Game 7 of the '91 Series. It's also in October that young flamethrowers emerge, like when Josh Beckett silenced Yankee bats in Yankee Stadium in the 2003 World Series.

October is when Kirk Gibson limped into history. Off of one of the greatest closers of all-time, no less: Dennis Eckersley. It's when Curt Schilling pulled off a real-life Roy Hobbs-like performance -- blood seaping through the uniform and all. Only Schilling's performance lasted batter after batter after excruciating batter. And not just once, but TWICE: against the Yankees AND against the Cardinals.

You can't write these scripts. The Red Sox coming back from an 0-3 deficit in a 7 game Series ... after losing game three 19-8 ... forcing not just one, but TWO Mariano Rivera blown saves. Give me a break. Right? The wrinkled old washed-out, burned-out manager returning to coach a group of underachievers, "has-been's," & "never-will-be's" with a franchise that lost a league-record 119 games just a few seasons ago. THEY put the pieces together for a World Series run? You can't make this stuff up.

It's a month that makes life-long memories with unfamiliar names. Names like Bill Mazeroski, Francisco Cabrera, Luis Gonzalez, and Aaron-Bleeping-Boone. It's a month that makes goats out of Mitch Williams & Bill Buckner. The Fall Classic has intimately intersected with some of our nation's tragedies. The Giants and Athletics played in the midst of a devastating Bay Area earthquake in '89. The Yankees brought life to a city that had felt lifeless after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Yankee Killer Luis Gonzalez
And if there is an unpredictable sport out there, Major League Baseball is it. This October we will crown the seventh different franchise "World Series Champion" in the last seven years. And of all the teams to make the Series ... the Tigers & the Cardinals? If you had put money on this Series pairing three weeks ago, you could have made a bunch of money. Detroit, who led the AL Central ALL season, limped down the stretch, sacrificing their pennant and earning a playoff spot only by sake of the wildcard. And the Cardinals lost 7 games in a row in one stretch in the last 2 weeks of the season. They very nearly missed the playoffs entirely! And now they find themselves on the greatest stage in sports.

We have already seen a little playoff magic already. Kenny Rogers has rejuvenated his reputation entirely. After 2005, you could have stuck a fork in this guy. Who would want HIM? He is notoriously undependable. He always fades down the stretch, when you need a pitcher most in a pennant race. And he has always flopped in the playoffs, never more famously than in this moment in the 1999 NLCS. Not only that, but he seemed to prove himself nothing more than a hot-head jerk when he assaulted a hometown cameraman in 2005 with Texas. But NOW, Kenny Rogers is capturing the imagination of the baseball world. With every nail-biting pitch against New York & Oakland, you were hoping for just one more strikout. One more chance to see Kenny pump his fist and slap his glove. Will Kenny find more magic this coming week?

And what about Jeff Weaver? Talk about a come-back story! The journey-man head-case, errr, pitcher. The Los Angeles Angels basically dropped him from their roster this season. And now he is one of the Cardinals' most dependable starting pitchers headed into the World Series? It's gotta be that October Magic ...

We've seen Magglio Ordonez live the dream of every young baseball player. "Two outs. Bottom of the 9th inning. He connects ... ... long fly ball ... deep left field ... and ... it's ... OUTTA HERE! Three run homerun, and the Tigers are going to the World Series!" Ordonez is so happy when he sees his first-base coach it's almost as if he momentarily forgot that he had to round the bases. The guy on second, Placido Polanco, doesn't just trot home; he SKIPS home, like an exuberant little kid.

And that's really the point. October baseball can make you feel like a little kid again. "It's as if you've dipped yourself in magic waters," and you believe that the impossible CAN really, actually happen. When the world beats you down, the humidity wears you down, & you feel like you're just about to turn completely cynical, October baseball arrives and lets you believe in magic again.

Jim Edmonds
Will Jim Edmonds recapture the Magic?
Can the Detroit Tigers consummate their magical run? Or will Scott Rolen, or Jim Edmonds, or any other of the wounded Cardinals capture lightning in a bottle & become the next Kirk Gibson? Will Albert Pujols become a legend? Or will the next Francisco Cabrera step into the up to the plate and shock the world? Will Kenny Rogers continue channelling Jack Morris? Will Justin Verlander become the next Josh Beckett? Or will it be young Cardinal Anthony Reyes who shocks the world with his young arm? Will Tony La Russa shrug off the image of being just a great regular season manager and finally add another World Series title to his resume? Or will Jim Leyland complete his redemption story? Who knows! But I can't wait to find out what that October Magic has in store for us this week.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Spread It Out Before the Lord

In Isaiah 36, we come to learn that Jerusalem is in trouble. Assyria has already invaded & conquered the Northern Kingdom. And now they have Jerusalem in their cross-hairs. Sennacherib, King of Assyria, has commissioned one of his Generals to go and deliver Jerusalem to him.

The Assyrians threaten the Israelites with their strength and make seemingly-logical arguments for why they should surrender. Finally, entering chapter 37, they send a letter to Judah's King, Hezekiah, insulting his God & threatening his future. And then, this:

14Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15Hezekiah prayed to the LORD [...]

I really don't have a sermon to preach tonight. Just admiration of Hezekiah's act. I love that image: the connection of the physical letter & the spiritual God. I love that example: without hesitation, he took his needs to his God.

And I love the ending. You should check it out. I'm not going to spoil it for you. Start in Chapter 36, and see what happens when you take your troubles & spread them out before the Lord.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

THIS is Alabama Football: The Running Diary

Bill Simmons, ESPN's "The Sports Guy," often keeps running diaries of significant sports events & posts them on And since apparently none of my blog ideas are original (because I "copied" Bob, who invented the incredibly fresh idea of ranking college football teams!), I decided to give all of you a peak into what a Saturday afternoon is like as an Alabama football fan. I warn you. It's not pretty.

So, without further ado, my running diary of this past Saturday's Alabama-Ole Miss game.

2:30 PM (Central Time) -- OK! And welcome to the diary. Alabama is favored by 15 today, which of course means we will play down to the level of our opponent, make a slew of mistakes, and win by a field goal. Let's get it on!

2:33 -- CBS just finished a nice montage highlighting the football history and tradition of Alabama and Ole Miss. The actual subliminal message of desperation was this: "Sure, these teams suck this year. But they used to be good! Please don't change the channel!!!"

Also, besides the Archie & Eli Manning, does anyone know anything about Ole Miss football tradition? Tradition of what? Losing?

2:36 -- I always sort of thought the funniest multiple-name in sports was that of Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni (three first names ... Mike. Dan. Tony.). However, he may have been eclipsed by Ole Miss Rebels' running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Two first names. Two last names. Were his parents unable to settle on a name & decided to just compromise?

2:38 -- 3 and out Ole Miss. Lately, freshman linebacker Prince Hall has been out of position & chasing running backs from behind. Here on third down, he stuffed a running play on 3rd & short. Good sign.

2:40 -- DJ Hall catches a short curl out, turns it back toward the middle, heads up-field untouched, and ... TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA. 39 yards. This might be an easier day than I first thought.

2:46 -- Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer just scrambled for a first down (after a couple missed tackles), and Alabama safety Rashad Johnson slung him to the ground about two yards out of bounds resulting in an additional 15 yards for Ole Miss. Just when it appears that we're about to put our foot on any opponents' throat this season, this team has an uncanny knack for letting them right back in the game.

No wonder I chew my fingernails.

2:52 -- Touchdown Ole Miss. This is an offense averaging 118 yards per game, and they just drove all the way down the field on us for a score. There are no words ...

2:54 -- Not sure I care for this new wave of Vonage commercials. Just thought you'd like to know ...

2:59 -- Alabama drives to midfield, stalls, and is forced to punt. I should say fortunate to punt. Alabama QB John Parker Wilson nearly threw two interceptions on successive plays. You know, sometimes this kid looks like Tom Brady, and other times he looks like an underclassman first-year college starter.

3:05 -- CBS just showed former Alabama quarterback Scott Hunter describe the 1969 Alabama-Ole Miss game. He and Archie Manning combined for over 700 yards passing as Alabama squeaked out a victory in a shootout. Here is Hunter:

"After the game was over with, I was looking for Archie and I found him. And he had tears in his eyes. I didn't even know what to say. I reached out, shook his hand, and he looked me in the eye and I looked him in the eye. We didn't have to say a thing to each other. We just knew what we'd had ... together ... that night."

My sister Katie: "That sounded sort of homo."

3:09 -- An update from College Station. Missouri 7, Texas A&M 3. Hold the rope, Aggies!

3:10 -- 3rd & 15. John Parker scrambles and finds Will Oakley for a first down. There's Tom Brady.

3:14 -- Katie: "Ole Miss' coach has man-boobs."

3:20 -- The announcers just let us know that Alabama has only 9 touchdowns in a conference-leading 28 trips to the redzone. Thanks CBS.

3:21 -- Alabama is forced to settle for three points. Really, CBS. Thanks for that.

Very GRRRRRR, Baby!
The View at Alabama is Spectacular.
3:24 -- Ahhhhhhhh ... The Houndstooth Twins. Thanks for THAT, CBS. Really! Thank you.

3:32 -- Fran and A&M are still losing. Despite the fact that Ole Miss seems to be running at will on our defense right now, Alabama fans everywhere are high-fiving.

3:41 -- Brent Shaeffer's numbers for the season entering today: 55 completions. 122 attempts. 8 interceptions.

Today: 7 completions. 10 attempts. 0 interceptions.

The lesson, as always: We suck.

3:43 -- For those of you who don't know, Alabama has a field goal kicker, Jamie Christensen, whose nickname is "Money." He hit three game-winning field goals last season. He has plenty of leg strength.

So, of course, when faced with 4th down & longer than a yard at the 27 yard-line, Shula decides to go for it. Mr. Hyde, errr, John Parker Wilson overthrows the tight end.

File that one away for later. Score is 10-10.

3:44 -- Awkward exchange:

Katie: "Wow, that Ole Miss guy just got hammered by a white guy!"

Me: "He's black."

Katie: "Number 20?"

Me: "Marcus Carter. He's like a light brown, but he's black."

3:55 -- For the second straight week, Alabama goes to halftime trailing one of the worst teams in the nation. Rebels kick a FG. 13-10, Ole Miss. I'm gonna go bang my head on the wall for 20 minutes.

3:59 -- The BEST commercial on TV these days is the Yellow Wood commercial with Gene Stallings. I'm surprised it hasn't shown up on YouTube yet. When it does, I'll let you know.

4:13 -- Back from halftime. CBS does another "Tradition" montage.

"Please-Please-Please don't change the channel! Why didn't we get the Auburn-Florida game?"

4:17 -- Ruby Tuesday is about to change your perception of what a burger can be.

Nope. Pretty much what I expected.

4:25 -- I'll be honest. I'm bored. I look forward all year to Alabama football, and this game is boring. Both of these teams just aren't good. We suck. They suck. And it is boring the snot out of me.

4:30 -- How bad is Alabama playing today? 3rd & 25.

4:31 -- And there's Dr. Jekyll. John Parker Wilson completes a pass to DJ Hall for 36 yards. First Down Alabama.

4:37 -- Another Alabama trip to the redzone. Another field goal. For anyone keeping track, that's 30 trips to the redzone on the season & only 9 touchdowns. At least we're not losing to Ole Miss anymore.

4:40 -- OK, Alabama is +8 in turnovers for the season. Ole Miss is -3. No turnovers for either team yet in this game. As bad as Schaeffer has been this season, something's gotta happen here soon!

(Editor's Note: And the game ended with 0 turnovers for either side. Turns out I don't have ESP.)

4:46 -- Missouri just scored a safety against Texas A&M. Missouri now winning by 2. Alabama fans everywhere smile in glee.

4:47 -- Alabama running back Kenneth Darby just broke off a 35-yard run. Alabama's longest run from scrimmage this season is no longer held by a quarterback. Nice of #34 to finally show up this season.

4:53 -- Still bored. To the bulletin boards! Here's a post from BamaOnLine:

"This game is like two girls fighting in the back yard."

4:58 -- TOUCHDOWN 'Bama. 10:32 left in the game. That's the equivalent of a deep four-finger scratch down the other girl's back, right? Not a knockout punch, but pretty hard to recover from that.

Not Bette Davis eyes
Would you want to meet this guy in a dark alley?
5:03 -- Katie: "Jamie Christensen has freaky looking eyes."

She's right! Something about him almost looks thuggish.

5:07 -- Three and Out! Defense holds. Nice of you to show up, defense.

5:08 -- FAKE! Ole Miss lines up in punt formation, the punter throws out to a guy in the flat, and he barely gets the first down. Ballsy call by the guy with man boobs. I feel sick.

5:09 -- Touchdown Ole Miss. Long touchdown pass by Brent Schaeffer. And the other girl scratches back. It's times like this that I question why I invest so much passion into such a fivolous, meaningless hobby.

5:11 -- I may be in the minority here, but I enjoy the Sonic commercials with the people sitting in the car. Good stuff.

5:14 -- Ole Miss almost picked off Mr. Hyde. Phew!! [wipes sweat from brow]

5:16 -- 3rd & 5. Dr. Jekyll scrambles 10 yards for a first down. I love that guy. He could win a National Championship if we could build a good defense in the next couple years.

5:18 -- OK, this is where Alabama goes into their conservative shell. We're gonna run the ball, move the chains, milk the clock, put one through the uprights, and go home.

(Editor's Note: I still don't have ESP.)

5:22 -- 4th & 2 ... From inside the 30 yard-line ... AND WE GO FOR IT AGAIN! It must be that "Money" Christensen isn't 100% healthy, right?


5:36 -- After holding my breath for a world-record 14 minutes, we are headed to overtime.

CBS tells us that Ole Miss is 6-3 all-time in OT games. Alabama's record is 2-6. I feel great.

5:43 -- Ole Miss gets the first posession in OT. Alabama holds them on 3 plays, and the Rebels kick the field goal. You mean you don't have to go for it on 4th down?

5:46 -- Darby - 25 rushes for 162 yards. Nice to have him back in the offense. Probably the MVP today.

5:51 -- TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA!!! John Parker Wilson to Le'Ron McClain. 26-23, 'Bama.

And just as I predicted, Alabama edges the Rebels by 3. Turns out I might have ESP after all.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Power 12: "The Apostolics"

Just like Jesus picked a top 12 of all his disciples, I'm picking the top 12 of the college football landscape.

1. Ohio State -- John. This is the team whom the pollsters love. However, their win at Iowa is looking less impressive as the Hawkeyes lost to Indiana ... in football.

2. Michigan -- James. James & John were the "Sons of Thunder," and the Wolverines are on a collision course to meet the Buckeyes at the end of the season in a clash of the titans. I'll also point out here that I put Michigan #2 last week, and now the AP Poll agrees with me this week. Just goes to show the level of my influence over the world of college football ...

3. West Virginia -- Thomas, because everyone's doubting them. And perhaps they have some holes on defense, but who cares when their offense is so stinking good?!

4. Texas -- Andrew, who was the first-named Apostle. And I'm naming the Longhorns first among all the teams with one loss.

5. Auburn -- Judas Iscariot. Because I don't like them. Just like Judas. And I hope that their insides burst & their entrails pour out all over Bryant-Denny Stadium in about a month. The Tigers' defense isn't nearly as dominant as it has been in the last couple seasons. However, their offense is near unstoppable when it's on. Problem is that their offense hasn't clicked on that often this season -- they've scored 1 offensive touchdown in their last two games against Arkansas & Florida. So, Auburn may be the most beatable team among the 12. However, they've found crafty ways to beat two athletically superior teams, so I gotta give 'em their prop's.

6. Notre Dame -- Peter, because the Irish are Catholic & Peter was their first Pope. Plus, whenever Jesus decided to start calling Simon "Rocky," I imagine Simon Peter's friends started snickering -- just like you are right now because you think I've fallen into the "over-rating the Irish" trap. This team has looked awful at times, but incredible at others. They are #3 among the once-beatens by virtue that their loss was to Michigan, plus they do have at least one mildly impressive win on their resume (Georgia Tech). Perhaps over-rated, but at least they have a dependable QB, which is more than the next three schools can say.

7. Florida -- Jude. Both hard to figure out. At times, Jude is straight forward. And then he goes and references Enoch & Bell and the Dragon. Florida looks great at times. And then sometimes they disappear, like in the first half against Alabama & in the second half at Auburn this past Saturday.

8. Tennessee -- Bartholomew/Nathanael. "Can anything good come out of Knoxville?" Apparently so, at least when David Cutcliffe coordinates the offense. Will be fun to see him & Alabama defensive coordinator Joe Kines duke it out this Saturday.

9. Southern Cal -- Simon the Zealot. Just as Simon zelously desired to overthrow Roman rule, I urge everyone to band together & overthrow this silly BCS system that has the Trojans BLATANTLY over-rated at #2. Apparently, just squeaking by Arizona State at home earns you tons of respect. Guess what people? Carson Palmer isn't walking through that door. Matt Leinart isn't walking through that door. Reggie Bush isn't walking through that door. USC has talent, but they aren't a good team right now. And quite simply, I don't think they could beat any of the above eight teams right now.

10. Clemson -- Philip, who wanted Jesus to show him the Father (John 14:8-21). I want Clemson to show me more. They lost a squeaker early, beat a bad FSU squad, and appear to be the best of the ACC. They have a phenomenal offense, but they need to show me more. They'll have their chance to do just that this weekend at home versus Georgia Tech, as well as next week in Blacksburg, at Virginia Tech.

11. LSU -- Matthew, who borrowed a bunch of the material of his Gospel from Mark. LSU is living right now on a borrowed reputation from their former coach, who is now in the NFL. LSU has tons of talent, but unfortunately for them this season, whereas they have come up big in the small games, they have come up small in the big games.

12. Louisiville -- James, son of Alpheus. What do we know about him? What do we know about Louisville? This weekend they barely beat Cincinnati. AT home. In serious danger of falling out of my Power 12. They will earn points, major points, in my book if, and only if, they manage to beat the Mountaineers.

Waiting list (Matthias ... waiting for someone to "drop"): Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Cal, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Arkansas.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Praying in 2nd Person

For the latest installment of a lesser known Bible passage, a prayer. From Acts 4:24-31 (NASB, w/ a few adjustments):

24And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, "O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, 25who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,


27"For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. 29"And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus."

31And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

I enjoy a great many things about this prayer. For one, I love how the early Christians received an INSTANT answer to their request to speak the Word with boldness. It's always fun when God decides to answer our prayers instantly. Also, one of the things I've tried to emphasize in my teaching recently is how important it is that we retain a boldness when we speak about our faith. And, a lot of times, we equate boldness with rudeness or arrogance. Yet, there is example after example in Acts of how to be bold politely & in a well-mannered fashion (FWIW, my favorite example is Paul's defense in Acts 26). Among other things that we ask of God, we should ask him for Boldness.

I also like how the early Christians connected Psalms 2 with what was happening in the world around them. One thing I like about modern-day post-liberal theology (and specifically with regard to Scripture) is how they capture the sense of how the early Christians viewed Scripture like unto a script to be lived out. That is, that Scripture is not simply a chronicle of past events, but that it is also a living document which finds allegorical-like application in current events. It is not simply a document to be studied, but it is also (and perhaps even more ...) a script to be lived out. And so the early Christians, in this prayer, found an allegorical match for every character mentioned in that Psalms 2 passage (as I underlined for you above). Also, for you non-Greekniks, "Nations" & "Gentiles" is the same word in the original language. So, in interpreting this way, they took courage from the words of Psalms 2. And as the installed ruler of Psalms 2 vanquishes the foe with ease, the early Christians ask that they may vanquish the foe via the name & authority of God's annointed.

None of us will ever forget September 11th -- it's events, it's aftermath, and where we were when we heard the news. I was at a Bible Major's Retreat at Camp Takodah in Arkansas, barely a month into my first semester at Harding University. It was an amazing scene to return to campus later that afternoon and to put pictures & video with the devastating descriptions we had already heard. And one other thing I will never forget is Chapel on September 12th. I remember sitting down & seeing a gigantic American flag behind the podium & Chapel leaders' seats. I don't remember what songs we sang or even anything that Dr. Burks said as he brought the devotional message that morning. But I'll never forget the Scripture that Dr. Burks read:

1 God is our refuge and strength,

     A very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change

     And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;

Was the writer of Psalms 46 writing prophetically about the events of September 11th? No. But it's words find new life & special meaning as it's words are compared with the events of September 11th. One thing that I love to do is to pray the Psalms -- reciting a Psalm & making it my own prayer. I suggest that you try it, as well, and that you try to capture a new wider view of Scripture, rather than just the narrow historical-critical perspective.

But what impresses me most about this prayer is what you will find emboldened. This prayer is almost exclusively in 2nd person. You know, you can tell a lot about someone from listening to how they speak. Even Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34). And as I think about this prayer alongside my own prayers, I think about how selfish I must sound. I mean, if I were to have prayed this prayer, I wonder if it might have sounded something like:

"Lord. I know you know about what's going on here. Things are about to get pretty tough for us down here. The Jewish Council threatened us, Lord. We need your help, and your power. Lord, bless us."
It is very subtle, but there is a distinct difference between speaking in 1st person vs. speaking in 2nd person. Do you see the difference? This second prayer is more me/we-centered. And it is primarily concerned with what happens to me/we.

However, the 2nd person prayer is more concerned with the movement of God & the will of God. These Christians see themselves no longer as individuals, but corporately as the literal body of Christ, carrying out God's wishes as Jesus' very hands & feet. They weren't concerned with the threats against their lives & livelihood; they were interested in how the recent events were going to affect the infant Christian movement.

Not only that, but the prayer was more personal. It was a conversation: you & me (or, with that group, I guess "us"). Sometimes, in my own prayers, I can catch myself drifting & have to catch and ask myself, "Who are you talking to? Yourself? Or God?" And I've found that being deliberate about using 2nd person language in prayer, and breaking out of normal speech patterns and well-worn prayer phrases, can be unsettling as you all of a sudden gain more perspective on who it is you are keeping company with: The Almighty.

I urge you to try this. Say a prayer in which you almost exclusively & very deliberately use 2nd person language. For those of you who may have more advanced prayer lives than me, perhaps this won't be very startling. But I'm guessing that for some of you who read this blog, praying in the 2nd person will almost be like a paradigm shift. It is amazing how we can sometimes almost subconciously think about God in a way that we would never affirm consciously. You will begin to view God in your prayers less as like a Divine Dispensing Machine (money in: candy bar out ... prayer in: blessing out), but begin to view Him more as a Person with feelings & values as you are talking to Him. Less of a mechanistic view and more of a personal view.

Best wishes to all of you as you learn how to better pray in the 2nd person.