Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Full-time Christian Work?

I am reading a book by a Christian and come across the phrase, "were full-time Christian workers."

Hmm... didn't know there were alternatives, did you?

I know he meant that this couple were "professional" ministers who were paid for their work, but I find it a bit strange that this term, "Full-time Christian" would ever enter the vocabulary. But no, sadly I think I know why we must distinguish between part-time and full-time Christianity.

In my opinion, our eagerness to obtain "converts" has greatly exceeded our eagerness to obtain "disciples". All evangelists can easily count "converts", but there isn't much to count when someone moves from "convert" to "disciple".

It would seem that this is NOT what Jesus had in mind.  He seemed more interested in committment.  Don't take my word for it.

But most benefit, check it our for yourself.

Just How DO we expect pagans to act?

My question is NOT rhetorical.  How do we expect pagans to act?

Christians seem appalled when pagans act like... well, pagans.  And I am NOT trying to disparage pagans here. Pagans have no choice but to:
  • 1) Go for the gusto!
  • 2) Act as if YOLO.
  • 3) Focus on enjoyment.

Sooooo, when they do, don't get all worked up!

On the other hand, when we Christians do the SAME THING, we ought to then be agitated.  I am NOT saying that we aren't sinners saved by grace. 

Christians sin. 

You see Christians have a choice.  We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  We have been freed from the domain of Satan.  We are capable of living HOLY lives, not because of who we are, but because of who G^d is.

So, let's try to keep it straight.  I know it's tough for us all, but it matters.

No, let's all really try.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Different View of Evangelism

Take a look at 1 Corinthians 12, or Romans 12 or here is Ephsians4, "11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."

Notice a key word in this passage, "some".  A lot of bible expositors (preachers_ fail to notice the "some".  They eagerly exhort us all to be evangelists, regardless of our gifting and calling. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we tend to promote our own gift, and evangelists typically have a better position for promoting than most other Christians.

In the USA we have prospered under a capitalistic economy.  I am a capitalist myself. As I shared in an earlier blog post, capitalism thrives because it takes the fallen nature of man into account. Evangelism is the most capitalistic of the gifts. If we recruit more "customers" we make more money, which allows us to recruit more customers, and so on in a very productive cycle. Hence evangelism is a productive gift.  Who can argue against evangelism?  Certainly I cannot and would not.

However, the above lists of gifts do NOT promote any one gift over another.  Then why do we do that?  Why do we promote evangelism as if it were the highest gift?  Maybe i have already explained it, maybe it is our capitalistic bent that explains it.

If we look at Jesus' example, it seems He did NOT put evangelism as the best and greatest.  Jesus' own evangelism was different thatn ours. Take a look at Scripture. He seemed to be quite serious on helping people see their sinfulness- their need for salvation.  Like the Rich Young Ruler and the Jewish Lawyer, Jesus is NOT intent on "closing the sale."

Maybe we should re-think our devotion to evangelism as the highest gifting.  Evangelism is a calling, just NOT the only calling.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Christmas Story- Reprise

The Christmas Story still intrigues me after all these years and all these retellings.  No one could have, or at least would have, made up such a wild story.

Consider some of the KEY aspects:
  • An obscure young gal, from an obscure city is selected to be the mother of G^d on earth
  • Her cousin, at quite an advanced age, also conceives just a bit earlier
  • The older cousin's "womb leaps" at the first encounter w Jesus in the womb.
  • Just by coincidence (not) the young lady,despite her advanced pregnancy, and her bethrothed are governmentally mandated (unfunded   mandate) to travel to an obscure village known as Bethlehem
  • In the crudest of accomdations, with no more fanfare than singing angels, the baby is born
  • Magi are notified and appear, bringing gifts.

Special note:  Every detail of these events was foretold in the ancient Jewish Scriptures.  What are the odds?  Astronomical, astronomical.

What a story!  Unbelievable!

Joy to the World, the L^rd is come...

Group Dynamics

The semester has just ended.  It is nice.  This last term I had an excellent group of undergrads in my 0800 (8 AM) Measurement and Evaluation class.  It is noteworthy because that doesn't happen every time.

What made the group so good?  They were willing to participate actively in their own learning.  They didn't have a lot of questions, which is too bad, but they did respond to my questions, for the most part.  They were engaged.  They laughed at my jokes, and my costumes.  In fact, I didn't even have to break out my costumes to the last half of the semester.  When we invited them to our home for pizza, a good number came.

I have also experienced the opposite, and that detracts greatly from the class, and my enjoyment of teaching.  I have had two very bad undergrad classes.  They're tough.

But think how G^d must feel.  G^d gives His Son for our salvation, and we are a "bad class" most of us, most of the time.  We have NO enthusiasm for G^d's instruction.  We are unenthusiastic about learning.  We want the grade, we are not so interested in learning.

And only G^d's grace saves us.  We may be a bad class, but G^d is rich in mercy.  We do NOT catch G^d by surprise.  We do not exhaust His patience.  G^d invites us to his house, and invites us regardless of our attendance or behavior. 

Thanks be to G^d.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Today (14 Dec) we concluded a semester long Sunday School class on 1st and 2nd Peter.  In 1Peter, Peter spends a lot of time talking about suffering.  He does so because much of the Christian church was suffering one way or another.  Peter himself was in prison in Rome as he wrote the letters.

To summarize, Peter says that we can suffer for two reasons.  He says some of our suffering is self-inflicted.   We make bad decisions and these decisions lead to suffering.  The remedy for such suffering is simple, stop making bad decisions.  As John Wayne said it, "Life is tough.  It's a lot tougher if you are stupid."

So how do we avoid making bad decisions?  Well G^d is the sole source of consistent top decisions.  We ought to do two things:  1) Read G^d's word so we know what to do, and 2) when G^d's written word isn't specific to our situation, we can pray and ask G^d for His guidance.

But Peter says that some suffering isn't self-inflicted.  He says, "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."  1 Ptr 4:16.

Many Christians, especially those in Higher Education, are afraid of suffering for the name of the Christ.  Instead we ought to be willing to stand up and if we suffer, rejoice.

Like so many other principles, it is easier said than done.  

Only by G^d's grace...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Small Town Clean Fun

Tonight was our annual "Dickens Downtown" celebration. It is one of our favorite holiday celebrations. It is good clean, small-town, fun.

It's nice to see old friends, some of whom we see only at this event.  It is nice to see the lights and decorations, to hear the bagpipers and other musicians, and taste the hot cider and hot chocolate.  One of my friends, Ben M, has a beautiful carriage with beautiful horses, and his costume is worth a look too. The line of people waiting for a ride suggests that Ben and Eddie made some serious dough that night.

Most things at Dickens, are free, as is the festival. The streets of downtown Northport are closed, and people fill them.  We see old friends and new.  We see our friend, Queen Victoria, and our friend, Santa.  We talk, and we walk.  Three of our grandkids are at this year's celebration, and that strikes us.  It used to be US pushing our own babies in buggies and trying to see as much as you can with this impediment.

There's nothing super technical about Dickens.  It's not overly sophisticated, just good clean, small-town, fun.  And that's nice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 "Scientifically Proven" Ways to Be Happier at Work

A few days back I rank across an article titled, "5 "Scientifically Proven" Ways to Be Happier at Work".  Now if you really understand science, you know that things are only very rarely, "scientifically proven".  Nevertheless, it caught my eye, and i had to check out what was "scientifically proven". Here's their list:

  1. Start the day on a good note.
  2. Make fewer decisions.
  3. Help a colleague.
  4. Make progress and acknowledge it.
  5. End your workday with a simple gratitude pause. 
None of these look too hard.  In fact, come to think of it, all these are fundamental Christian principles.
  1. Start the day on a good note equates to having a quiet time with a little prayer and Bible study.
  2. Make fewer decisions equates to listen to what G^d is directing us to do, and do it.
  3. Help a colleague is the simple application of "He who is greatest among you is servant of all."
  4. Make progress and acknowledge it equates to growing in Christ and realizing this is a great gift of G^d.
  5. End your workday with a simple gratitude pause equates to saying "thank you" to the G^d of the Universe who made us.  Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
So, I guess I'm going to believe these, even if they aren't really "scientifically proven."

But words are cheap.

Monday, December 15, 2014


As we celebrate the approach of Christmas by observing Advent, our son-in-law Ben is doing a sermon series on Waiting.  His topic this week was "Waiting with Patience".  He gave an excellent sermon.  Afterwards I remembered an old skit from boy scouts from well over 50 years ago.

A boy scout leads his donkey around the campfire. "Water! Water!" cries the donkey with a raspy voice.
"Patience, jackass, patience" says the man.
The boy scout leads his donkey around the campfire. "Water! Water!" cries the donkey with a raspy voice.
"Patience, jackass, patience" says the man.
And they keep walking in circles around the campfire and repeating this (about 5 times) until someone in the audience yells, "Hey, when are you going to get to the punchline???"
The boy scout yells back, "Patience, jackass, patience!"

Waiting... we are not so good at that, at least I am not.  But, wait we must.  We have no choice.  But the promise is that G^d will give us endurance.  Just read the verse.

L^rd, give us Your Holy Spirit, your endurance.  Let us wait on Thee alone, with eager anticipation but patience, L^rd, patience.

Let us not cause you to say to us, "Patience, jackass, patience!"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Final Exams Again

Yes, It's that time of the school year.  Friday was the last day of classes, and Tuesday and Thursday I will give final exams to some grad and some undergrad students.  This is a stressful time for my students, much less so for me.

As I have mentioned before, it is  nice to have a job with clear beginnings and endings.  Finals, are, final. They are what we call "summative" evaluation as they are supposedly a test of what a student has learned all semester long.

Few people realize that grades have ONLY ONE purpose- to leverage learning.  That is, grades provide some leverage to encourage students to learn a little more.

I took a lot of final exams, and have given quite a few more over the 30+ years of teaching.  Most of my classes have exams.  Most students have a pretty good idea of what grade they will make on the exam, because the grade they made during the term pretty well predicts what they will get on the final.  A few students surprise me, but it is few.

We too will face a final exam.  It's call the Bema seat.

Romans 14:10-12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 

Some people misunderstand, this judgement.  It has NOTHING to do with entering heaven, it has something to do with our "rewards" in heaven.  We Believers will apparently stand before G^d and explain what we did with the talents that were give us for our stewardship. 

What grade are you expecting?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Party On Garth!

Last night we had our College of Education Christmas Dinner Party.  I look forward to it every year.  It was, as usual held in the Capstone Hotel Ballroom.  The food is always tasty, as it was last night.  It is nice seeing your colleagues from work in a more relaxed situation.

We have a relatively new dean, and he wanted to build more espirit de corps in the College, so he suggested that we have a talent show after dinner.  One colleague did a notable job MCing the evening.  Another fellow was a well-practiced magician, who did a nice mini-show.

Note to magician:  I figured out the rope trick and the handcuffs, but it was good show anyway.

One of my long time friends had to fill in on the keyboard and did a marvelous job.  Another colleague, one of my favorites, debuted a super-hero movie starring himself.

Sister Maddy sang, and led us in a couple of songs.

The Dean ended the evening with poking a little fun at our southern, and his Jersey, accents.

It was a valiant try.  The goal was a worthy one.

As the old Indian on Little Big Man says, "Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't".

I'll leave the call to you.

How do we build Christian relationships, Christian Fellowship.

Not sure it can be done with good intentions and gimmicks.  Maybe it has to be done in living out life together.  We live through the good and bad together, we celebrate when the occasion arises and we morun with them, when that occasion arises.

We worship together, we pray together, we spur one another to love and good deeds.

Ultimately G^d does His work, and it's not magic... but it's close.

Hope you have a great Christ-mass season.  Blessings,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What's your Answer?

I have four questions for you today:

 If, in your convenient locale, the world's foremost authority on nutrition were speaking, and assuming this person was widely acknowledged to be far superior on the topic to anyone else, by a long shot,

1) Would you go to hear what they said?
2) Would you do what they said?

 If, in your convenient locale, the world's foremost authority on persoanl behavior were speaking, and assuming this person was widely acknowledged to be far superior on the topic to anyone else, by a long shot,

3) Would you go to hear what they said?
4) Would you do what they said?

My premise is that this has already happened, and yet few of us listen and even fewer obey.

But then again I am cynical.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christian Consumerism

Surely I have vented about Christian Consumerism before?  Surely!  It's one of my "hot-button" topics.  Don't get me started.

Too late!

One of the strangest questions I have ever been asked is, "How do you select a church to join?"

"That's the 'strangest'?" you ask.

It's not rare by any means, but it does strike me as very strange.

"What's strange about this simple, straightforward, sincere, question?  You should be happy that people are asking, particularly asking you." you say.

I see your point.  We Americans are nothing, if we are not consumers, or better, CONSUMERS!  We are used to "have it your way" and such slogans.  We are used to being appealed to, coaxed, induced, catered to.  We are accustomed to being wooed, persuaded, sold.

We see church denominations and congregations as "just another commodity", and we expect churches to cater to us.

What's wrong with this picture?  Isn't that what churches are supposed to do?  Don't churches exist in their myriad of worship styles and approaches to cater to our tastes?


Yep, you figured it out.  Churches are collections of individual Christians joining together, hopefully, for the purpose of worshipping G^d, not the "customers".

Notice that I used the word, "hopefully".

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mystery of Sports Teams Affliations

I work at one of the best known collegiate sports schools in the USA.  U of Alabama fans are rabid over football, and more recently over gymnastics. Those of you who come to UA tailgates before football games know of what I speak.  Football fans spends thousands of dollars coming to games in these ways:
  • There are scores of expensive campers that show up the day before games, and I suspect these get little other use.
  • Allegedly many people rent apartments and buy condos- strictly for football games.
  • People and companies spends lots of money on skyboxes, etc.
  • After the game you could hear scores of small, private planes exiting town over our house (we are about 3-4miles East of the Tuscaloosa airport which chiefly services private aircraft).
  • Tickets to the game, parking, and soda pops are amazingly expensive.
There's more examples, but you get the picture, and this is just for home games, away games involve more expense.

Why do people do this?  Honestly I have no idea, but that never stops me from speculating.

I am guessing that people want the "heroism by association".  People want to be associated with success and winning.  People want to be associated with public figures, and the UA football team is clearly public.


Jesus the Christ is another opportunity to be associated with a famous public figure.  Jesus defeated death forevermore.  Jesus has not a single negative mark associated with his actions and teaching.

And yet most are ashamed to be associated with Him.

Go figure.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Blatant Theft

A friend, Heather Holleman, shared in her blog some questions asked by a student at Penn State.  The questions are pretty interesting, so I stole them.  What would you say in response to these:

1. What was your biggest regret from college?
2. If I only read one book in college, which one book would you recommend I read?
3. What is your definition of a great student?
4. How do you define success?

These are some good questions to consider.

Whether are not you went to college, the last two Qs are especially useful.  Whether we are in school are not, we are students.  We may be bad students, but we are students.  It is good to recognize a good student, so that we might become one.  I have taught a lot of students, have been a student most of my life, and think about this.  Here's my answer to #3:
  • Interested,
  • Attentive,
  • Inquisitive,
  • Engaged,
  • Alert,
  • Thoughtful,
  • Challenging, and
  • Application-oriented.
So what kind of student am I?  What kind of student are you?
So, how do you define success?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Ph.D.s ought to know... but seem not to know

It was many years ago that I earned a doctorate at the U of GA.  I graduated thinking I knew a lot about the very small area of exercise physiology, in fact, knowing a lot about a very small area of gender differences and body composition. As a prof, I get paid to study, so I have learned much more in the ensuing 31 years.  About 15 years or a few more, I learned a valuable lesson.

I was speaking in a Spanish language country about NASA and space physiology.  I gave my spiel and near the end I offered a small Christian/theistic apology.  Afterwards a bright young man came up, and in excellent English, said to me,

"Let me tell you about god."

Always eager to learn, I encouraged him to teach away.

"In the old days, we knew little, and so attributed lots of things to god.  We thought the weather came from god, the lightening, etc.  Now that we know the natural bases for all these things, there's not very much left for god to do."

"Interesting" I replied.  "I do science for a living.  I go into the laboratory with one research question, and in the course of answering that one question, I come up with two or three more questions.  There's a lot more for G^d to do than there was when I first started studying!"

And that is true, and good, for all of science.  Each discovery raises new questions, and that is good, because it ensures our future employ and that of thousands of others scientists around the world.  And that observation brings me to this point,

We who are highly educated ought to be the MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE of our ignorance!

Not only do I not know lots about my own specialty area, I am aware, somewhat, of what I don't know about:
  • Particle physics
  • Astrophysics
  • English lit
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Mathematics (beyond differential equations)
  • Any kind of engineering
  • Education
  • Qualitative Research methods.

The list goes on, but you get the point.

If I am so ignorant after a lifetime of study, then why would I think I am smart?

How smart are you?

  Three guys with doctorates...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Trees, Beautiful Trees

As I have mentioned before, I love trees.  My half-week in WA was perfectly timed to see their trees at the height of color.  I was impressed by the color.  Photos cannot capture the depth of beauty, but here's a try:

Nice color, eh?  Why such beauty? G^d's grace, is my only explanation.  G^d made the trees, and He made them beautiful in spring, summer, fall, and winter. 

G^d's grace.  G^d's grace displayed in a tree. 

Thanks be to G^d.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Things that go BUMP in the night

Most all of humanity has innate fear.  As babies we may be scared by loud noises, or feeling insecure.  As youngsters, we fear the night, goblins, and such.  As adults our fears expand and become more complex.  Try these out for fear:
  • Ebola
  • Crashing stock market
  • Economic disaster of one kind or another
  • Domestic terrorism
  • Our health will fail
  • Our mind will fail
  • Our children will suffer from ______
Some of these are legitimate threats, other much less so, but most of them are evoking fear in some readers just reviewing this list.  We combat this fear several ways:
  • Insurance against____ (lots of things can fill this blank),
  • Planning against (though it is impossible to plan for every contingency)
  • Exercise and healthy eating
  • Investigating ways to avoid the next great disaster...

Christians seem as worried as non-Christians, and as James said it in a different context, "My brethren, these things ought not so to be." James 3:10.  As I shared in a previous blog, we ought to obey Phil 4:6, "Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

Sooo, despite the potential for death and destruction around us, we Believers ought to be unreasonably HAPPY. 

Whereas that is easier said than done, our lost friends OUGHT to be fearful, and we ought NOT to be.   How do we achieve that?

Prayer and practice.  Prayer and practice.

Monday, November 10, 2014

West Coast!

I just returned yesterday morning from Washington State.  I was there to give some talks at Central Washington Univ in Ellensburg, WA.   It was beautiful, though it rained most of the time I was there.  The local folks couldn't recall a time period of more rain.
I was late getting in on Tuesday because of a closed runway in Detroit and bad weather there.  I was scheduled to speak Tuesday evening but at the time to start we were still about a half-hour from Ellensburg.  On well, that's the way it goes sometimes.  We did get in to town in time to hear the guy who originally invited me finish his talk. 

Afterwards I told him,  "It's just as well I was going to say the same thing you did".

That guy, Brian H, was a terrific guy who I certainly enjoyed meeting, as were a number of folks.  I found the students to be impressively warm and courteous.  They were very attentive when I spoke and many thanked me personally afterwards.

I'll write more about the campus and the surroundings and adventures later, but the outstanding thing, and my outstanding memory of this road trip were the people.  From Austin the student juggler, to my hosts, Rob and Kelly, and Mark and Kathy, to Vili who I met on the airport shuttle, these were some outstanding people.

And, though the scenery was magnificent, though the campus was remarkable, though the talks were fun, the outstanding thing were the wonderful people.  And, as need to be reminded, those mountains will crumble, as will the beautiful buildings, but the people are  immortal.

As Wes says, "relationships matter."   Amen.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Different Kind of Tailgate

If you have never been to A U of Alabama pre-game football tailgate party, you have missed an experience.  It is like NOTHING I have ever seen in over 50 countries.  The preparation starts months in advance, but the visible prep starts on late Thurs PM.  By Friday the grounds are covered with yellow tape normally reserved for crime scenes.  Some of the large rectangles have little 8.5x11 laminated sheets declaring that these are "authorized" reserved spots.  I would guess these would be easily fabricated, as there isn't even a signature on them.

By early Saturday, the Quadrangle is covered in tents, as is most of the surrounding spaces within a half mile of the quad.  The circus has truly come to town!

Our local church congregation had a men's fellowship tailgate the weekend of an away game- U of Arkansas (the other UA, along with Arizona and Alaska).  Our tailgate was a little more low key.

It wasn't rowdy.  It wasn't raucous.  It wasn't rambunctious.  It was pretty quiet with good food and fellowship.  I was able to talk to a few men, with whom I seldom have the opportunity to chat.  Some of hte younger crowd played some games, and the men mostly chatted and watched Auburn on t.v. whilst awaiting the late start of the UA-UA game.

Most of life is like this.  It is pretty calm.  People may be desperate, but we distract ourselves with sports, with hobbies.  We may fellowship, but are we doing anything of substance?

Is our tailgate different from any of those on the Quad?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ole Miss Road Trip> Last Post

The highly popular Dallas preacher Tony Evans tells about being the team chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys professional football team.  Tony tells about being given access to the special places in Cowboy's Stadium, and how anyone with him, had the same access.

I experienced that very thing on this road trip.  I was on the sidelines for two hours prior to the kickoff.  The referees were right there.  The players were right there.  Every member of the support staff for UA was right there on the sidelines.

At one point as I moved around snapping pictures here and there, I was accosted by a paid security person.

"Where's your credentials?"

"I don't have any credentials.  I am a guest of the team."

"Everybody has to have credentials, I don't care who you are."

"Sure.  Talk to my sponsor.  Follow me."

I led him over to Jon Dever.  Jon didn't have credentials either, but for whatever reason, the security guy backed off and left us to our own devices.

Go figure.
 I could be on the sidelines, not because of any merit of my own, but by the grace of my sponsor.

When I get to heaven, I'm going to proudly point to the Christ, and say,
"I'm with Him!"

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thanks for Reading

A few months back I wrote about blogging.  When you post a blog...nothing happens.  At least it appears that way.  There is a little app on the blog that lets you see how many visits your blog had on a day.  That number is seldom very big.  I don't advertise, so few people know this exists.  But I write it anyway.

Partly I write for you, and partly I write for me.  I write to remember.  I write to make a tangible record of what is happening in my life and in the world.  I write because I must, but the fact that a few people read this makes it even more special.

I hope that you are called to think about what you read.  I hope that you are entertained a bit.

Regardless... thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ole Miss Football Road Trip>> Welcome to Ole Miss

I have never experienced anything like it.  When the UA team arrived at the Ole Miss Stadium, they had a horde of well-wishers to greet them.  The crowd gave the team a hero's welcome, and we got to trail along behind the team.
I imagine that this is remotely similar to the Palm Sunday welcome that Jesus received in Jerusalem.

It's a bit sad to me.  A football team gets celebrated as modern heroes.  A GAME becomes a cause for wild celebration.  A person who can throw or run a ball in a GAME outranks so many other endeavors.  Go figure.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The world of D-1 Football: Defense

While on the road with the UA football team, I had the chance to attend the Defensive Squad meeting the night before the game.  The meeting is held to about an hour, and there is no time that is not engaged.

Through the whole hour I understood less than 10% of what was said.  Had it been in French I would have done about as well.

You think I exaggerate?  Interpret these comments for me:
  • Silver pistol
  • Odd hail
  • Chop
  • 47 socket
  • Big Moke
  • Hip Diamond stick
  • 40 red 7 special
  • dagger pop fox
  • odd coin
  • big nickel
  • free bench chop
  • key zone sky
  • ringo
  • 17 fire zone
See what I mean?

I suppose if someone came in to an Exercise Physiology conference, they might be equally confused. I am unsure.

That's why it amazes me so much the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It's so simple, yet so profound.  So simple, so vital.

Believe on the L^rd Jesus Christ and you will be saved.  Simple in any language.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ole Miss Football Road Trip>> Sports Medicine

American football is a violent game.  There are the biggest, strongest men in the USA throwing their bodies at each other.  They try to rip each other in two.  In the game I attended, 3 UA players were injured in the first 15:15 of the game.  That's no surprise.

Below is a snapshot of the UA Athletic trainers.  Thye are a super group and one of the nicest groups of people you will ever meet.  They are caring, which I guess explains their profession.

The sidelines work these folks do is pretty impressive.  Gatorade makes their presence known in a big way, and getting gallons of this stuff mixed falls to the trainers.
I was most impressed with their "first aid box".  Their is something here for every eventuality.  Need an eye wash?  Got it!  Need an asthma inhaler?  Got it!  You need it, they got it!
The only Person I know better prepared than the Crimson tide Trainers, is G^d himself.  Need a miracle?  He's got it!  Need your sins forgiven?  He's got it.

Pretty impressive eh?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ole Miss Football> On the Sidelines before the game

Howard Hendricks once recounted a story of someone asking a famous football coach,  "What does football contribute to our nations' fitness?"

"Absolutely nothing!" declared the coach.

"Football is 24 players on the field desperately needing rest, and 80 thousand people in the stands desperately needing exercise."


It was a thrill to walk out the tunnel the players use.

It was neat to be on the field just before the game.

We arrived at Ole Miss Stadium about 12:30 for a 2:30 Kickoff.  We had just shy of two hours to enjoy the experience.  They day was cool and windy, and I was happy I brought my jacket.

I was neat to see the players warming up.  The refs arrived, the sidelines officials who keep the down markers, came up to our sideline.  The UA team athletic trainers, cheerleaders, and lots of other folks were there.  The sidelines were rife with security people, one of whom asked to see my "credentials".  Of course I had no "credentials" so I said, "Ask my Dad."  I led the security guy over to my athletics department sponsor who explained what was happening.  Surprising to me, the security guys just said something nice and walked away.

I was surprised that his attitude changed so readily, but there is a key point to be made.

When we get to heaven, the security there may ask to see our credentials.

We can say, "Ask my Dad".

We don't get to heaven because of our credentials, but because of the credentials of our Savior and L^rd.

It really isn't WHAT you know, it's WHO you know.

Thanks be to G^d!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ole Miss Football Road Trip>> Snacks

I mentioned last post that there was NO shortage of food and snacks for the football team or for us groupies.  There was a snack available when we boarded the plane, there were snacks after the evening meeting, and there were snacks for "early risers" on Saturday morning.  I had  one Gatorade in my airplane snack and picked up another one just before we left dinner Saturday night.

Saturday morning I picked up one to drink on the bus so I'd be hydrated on the sidelines before the game.

I asked the team nutritionist about the snacks and she explained that she was going for "salty" snacks to maximize hydration and stave off cramping.  These guys seem to really like rice-krispy treats, which suit me fine as I think I ate two or three on the trip and wound up with three in my bag when I got home.

Here's the small stash that I brought back.

They had a lot of calories because they burn a lot of calories.  A few of these guys, offensive linemen, may be a few pounds too fat, but most of them are lean.

They can snack a lot without getting fat, because they burn a lot of calories.  It turns out that having a lot of muscle, burns more calories even when we are sleeping.  Reminds me of Scripture,
"29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath."  Matt 25:29.

As we exercise our spiritual muscles, we grow them and are able to exercise even more, and eat more.

Get out there and exercise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ole Miss Football Road trip> Food and Drink

When we boarded the plane, there was a bottle of Gatorade and a snack bag hanging from the seat-back pocket.   I had just eaten, so I stuck those items in my backpack for later.

In my last post I mentioned Dinner.  We all followed Coach Saban into the huge dining room and the tables were clearly labeled, the staff up front and the players closest to the three huge buffet lines.

A terse announcement was made regarding the next evolution, and Coach Saban called on one of my former students, Denzel D. to pray.  After his prayer, the players headed for the food.

The silence was eerie.  There was one announcement of the next event, with no commentary.  Everyone grabbed a plate and headed for the three big identical buffets.  At the end of the buffet was a big table with 2 of the biggest containers of vanilla ice cream I have ever seen.

Everyone ate with very low and very little conversation.  I snapped a picture of Dr. Jimmy Robinson, an old friend and was quickly advised to turn off my flash and be very discreet.  I had asked about photos before the trip and was told that there were no restrictions.   Well, that wasn't quite correct, as I had just learned.  Noteworthy though, this was the ONLY mistake or miscommunication for the entire trip.

I asked about the silence, and my guide, Jon D., advised me that the morning before the game it would be even quieter.  That would be impossible, I thought, and so it was.  The silence was pretty close to absolute, so that would be hard to intensify.

After the team meetings that night there was a "snack".  The next morning there as a continental breakfast at 0830 then the pre-game meal at 1030.  That meal was impressive.  Lean steak, great scrambled eggs, baked potato, fruit, jello, chicken cutlets, OJ, water, Gatorade.

Our last meal was a nice boxed lunch with extra chips and Dasani water.

There was no shortage of food, and the only place it was readily available was during the game.  In fact, at the two meals we had, there was enough left over to feed the same group about twice more.  Even ice cream was left.

It was all delicious and purposeful.  The idea was to maximize the salt intake to maximize hydration and minimize cramping.

It worked for me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ole Miss Road trip> Organization

I spent 12 years with the US Navy, plus I taught a year at USMA, West Point, NY.  I have made a lot of trips with the military, with NASA, with CRU, with lots of organizations but NOTHING compares to this trip with the U of Alabama Intercollegiate Athletics department.  I have never seen any trip as well organized as this one.

We got to the Tuscaloosa Airport an hour before takeoff.  I saw some old friends and made some new ones.  We had come to the airport via our own autos, but the team was coming via buses.  We boarded the plane, and a short while later the team came on.  I watched as one by one they tall guys ducked to avoid smacking their head on the overhead monitor.  One of the last guys, and a tall one, but not too tall, smacked his head.

Everyone had assigned seating, with the Athletic Director and those of highest status in First Class, and the rest of us, including coach Saban, back in coach with the team.  We took off very close to on-time, not always true in the airline industry.

At the Memphis Airport, the 5 large Gray-hound type buses were waiting for us.  We deplaned and loaded quickly and headed for Olive Branch, MS.  We made the 25-30 min bus ride with a police escort, but more on that later.  Upon arrival at Whispering Woods motel, we grabbed our bags and walked into the lobby where all the room keys were organized by "group type".  I easily found my envelope with my Name, room number and key, ready to go.

I carried my stuff to my room and took a look at the small laminated schedule I had been handed.  It listed every activity and every time.  The next real evolution was dinner.  At the appointed hour, Coach Saban walked through the doors into the huge dining area. Everyone quickly followed. Thirty minutes later, most everyone had eaten and left.

About 45 minutes later were meeting for the offense and a separate one for the defense.  Everybody was on time and all business.

And so went everything.  All on time, all organized.  No one messing around or messing up.  Like clockwork.


Friday, October 10, 2014


The word "submission" is a dirty word in the vocabulary of most Americans.  Not nearly so much for the early Christians.  today's Sunday School dealt with 1 Peter 2 with a reference to the start of 1 Peter 3.  With what do these verses deal?  submission, that dirty word.

To work backwards, Chap. 3 deals with wives submitting to husbands.   Uh oh!  We Americans don't never submit to nobody no time, under no circumstances, no way, no how, no further discussion.  Now you are being sexist, mysogynistic, and stupid.  No way any self-respecting woman is gonna ever submit to nobody, under no circumstances, no way, no how, no further discussion. 

Except of course that's CLEARLY what the Holy Spirit is telling us.  We American evangelicals are capable of some high-level Scriptural gymnastics, and here's a concept worthy of our best contortional-distortional efforts.

But back up a bit.  In the last verses of 1 Peter the same message is given to EVERY Christian regarding submission to governments and all officials.  Hmm, what was teh contemporary situaiton when the readers read this letter?

Paul was writing from... a Roman prison.  His immediate authorities to whom to submit were prison guards!  The emperor of Rome was everyone's favorite... Nero!  Yes, the Nero who burned Christians alive to light his garden parties!

Whoa, there must be some mistake!

Check it out for yourself.

I have puzzled over this, and came to the conclusion that we are to indeed submit.  There is a place for civil disobedience, but it must be civil.  See Acts 5, Daniel 6.

There doesn't seem to be any place for:
 Personal attacks on authorities at any level (including our boss),
Disrespect towards any authorities,
Insubordination, and

The Christ was submissive even to the point of his own death.  The Christ never criticized those in authority, though he has plenty of criticism for the religious officials in the seats of honor.

We ought to be more like the Christ.

My hypothesis for all this is that, just as the Christ was submissive, we ought to submit so as to develop a habit of submission so that we learn to submit to G^d.

In my view, we need, I need, very much to practice submission.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I was Wrong (Once Again)!

One or two of you might recall that I have written a few times about the silver thread of sin that ties all sins together.  I have maintained that it was PRIDE.  And sure enough, there is plenty to cope with in dealing with my own pride.

But, once again, I was wrong.

I was reading a Tim Keller book just last night, Every Good Endeavor.  It is a book about work.  Last night Keller was dealing with the idolatry of work and pointed out that the FIRST commandment of the famous 10 was this:

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."  Ex 20:3.

Keller claims, rightly I believe, that it is IDOLATRY from whence all sin originates.  Pride is merely a manifestation of idolatry.  In the case of pride, I am the idol that I worship.

Sadly true!  I am super competitive.  Why?  I compete to show that I am better.   Better than whom?  It doesn't matter.  I need to feed my own ego to keep worshiping myself.  I must earn my own worship, even though I really don't deserve any of it. 

Citius - Altius - Fortius. Faster - Higher - Stronger.  It's my motto and a sad one at that.

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."  Ex 20:3.  I guess that includes self.  No, I am sure that includes self.

Ex 3:5-6 says, 5 "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

We have the ONE thing in the world worthy of all worship in the Holy Trinity. Wouldn't it be better, more fulfilling, to worship G^d instead of myself.

Sounds good right now.  How long will I remember this?  Not long enough.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ode to Jeremiah

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, had a pretty tough life.  His time as a prophet spanned several Judaic kings, beginning with the last of the godly kings, Josiah.  Josiah had instituted spiritual reforms among the whole nation, but the Israelis, as was their habit, lapsed spiritually shortly after.

G^d called Jeremiah to point out the sins of His people and call them into repentance.  He was told by G^d to promulgate the forthcoming fall of the Hebrews and the captivity by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah faced:
  • Rejection by his family
  • Opposition by other prophets who falsely prophesied
  • Rejection by the Nation of Israel
  • Being carried into captivity
  • Being the bearer of very bad news
  • Being the bearer of a very grim prediction of future events for his country and people
  • Being thrown into a muddy cistern
  • Being carried into captivity in Egypt where he died.

Hmm, not exactly a "bed of roses".

But Jeremiah was given these words to share,

 "23 Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord."   Jer. 9.

So Jeremiah remained faithful to his call from G^d regardless of circumstances.  Jeremiah never saw the nation he loved return to G^d.  There was no great reward in THIS LIFE.

So, will we remain faithful in the face of adversity?

Some will.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SEC Nation

I am not a devoted football fan.  I enjoy it.  I saw an excellent Auburn v KS State game Thurs night.  I am watching Clemson play #1 ranked FSU right now.  I watch/listen to most all UA games.  I wasn't all that sure what "SEC Nation" was until this last few days.

You see, SEC Nation set up right outside my office beginning early Thurs.  I was impressed at the manpower required.  They had about 6 or 7 people stationed around the periphery just to keep people outside the fence they said up around their perimeter.

They had 30-40 people working to set up for 10 hours plus Thurs and most all day Friday.  By Friday about 1600, they seemed to have everything set.  There was heavy-duty security, and still plenty of worker-bees.  It looked like a circus, literally.  To heighten the effect, in the background the whole quad was being covered with tents.

 My office widows are second floor, just to right of big screen.

I marvel at the time, effort and money put into a college football pre-game show.  Clearly this is BIG MONEY.  Clearly LOTS of people watch, which is why they can spend all this money on doing this show.

Does all this really matter?  Does it really make a difference in the world as to who wins and who loses in college football?

Maybe football is a great illustration for us all. 

Why get so excited about something that will be forgotten in a couple of years?

Instead, why NOT get excited about something that WILL matter in a thousand years!!  What could that be?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I am getting old.  Perhaps that explains why I tire more easily than in the past.  I got up early today and went down to Hale county.  We were clearing trails on the deer property, and I walked quite a ways.

When I got home, I had two tasks and those took about 4-5 hours.  At the end of all that, I was really tired.  Part of the tiredness may be "residual".  It was a very busy week and I was tired by Friday.  Then Friday night one of my students had a soccer match and Brenda and I sat in the rain and watched.

Our own research on training recovery suggests that older athletes take longer to recover.  In fact, that is part of the answer to the research question as to why older people perform steadily worse despite training hard.

Being tired makes me want to do less, to just sit.

Sitting isn't always bad.  Some good things do come from sitting.  Meditation sometimes comes sitting, sometimes moving.

Being tired makes us appreciate rest.  And rest is good.

G^d Himself rested on the 7th day of creation.  He had "rest from all His labors." 


That's G^d who SPOKE the world into existence, and HE rested.

G^d worked and then rested.  We have that little bit in common with G^D - this working and resting.


Monday, September 29, 2014

You need Glasses, So do I

This AM, as I sit in Sunday School listening to some great teaching on 1 Peter 1, it dawns on me that we need glasses.

I was wearing my brand new glasses. I wear them most waking hours because I have an ailment that afflicts most of Christianity. I am myopic. I am near sighted.

The peril of Christianity is myopia.  We cannot see far away- in space or time.  We are oblivious to most of what goes on in the world, because it is beyond our vision. In fact, using the word "world" is wrong.  But I don't know of a better word.

We don't have sufficient vision.  We see only those things close at hand- fame, fortune, comfort; but we miss the important stuff outside our range of vision.

The only way that we can see further is by trusting in the Word.  Consider 1 Peter 2:2  only by becoming "Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk (of the WORD) so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment...".

May our vision improve, whether by glasses, by LASIK, or by G^d's healing.  AMEN.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Football Fridays> Home Games

I am NOT a great fan of football.  Typically I listen to U of AL games each Saturday, and watch their annual bowl game on t.v., but I am not a big fan.  One of the things about football that I do enjoy is the palpable excitement that accompanies a home game.

I went to tthe US Naval Academy for my undergraduate studies.   Yes, there the emphasis was much less on football and much more on studies.  The Brigade of midshipmen march to every home game and sit all together- o ate they did when I was there.  We had Saturnaday mornign classes.

Yes, you read that right.  We had classes Saturday until noon.  The pre-game hype for Navy football was pretty small.  Even the Army-Navy game, or better the Navy-Army game was really low-key compared to an Alabama game.

As I walked across part of campus this morning, the excitement is quiet high.  Even yesterday (Thursday), it was beginning to build.  The huge quad is quickly filling with tents creating an obvious circus atmosphere.  There are signs in all the parking lots warning us that our stay there is temporary on game weekends.  "This parking lot must be cleared by 5:30 PM!" they proclaim with a severity that cannot be missed, especially since they promise to tow away your vehicle.

As Friday matures,  the excitement will continue to move towards a peak, at kickoff.

It is odd what we humans find exciting- and what we find boring.

We spends billions in income and weeks of time in artificially contrived competitions of sports.  We rabidly identify with our favorite team- regardless of the acknowledgement that it is almost purely arbitrary.

BUT, we approach some other things with a yawn and a nod.

I am not going to spell it out, because the few who read this are sufficiently bright to see where this is headed.

But ask yourself, "What genuinely excites me?  Why?"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Bracelet

Brenda and I were strolling on the beach at Panama City Beach right at the end of July.  There in the sand, in the wave-wash was a most precious bracelet.  I saw what was written on it, and quickly put it on my own wrist, without so much as offering it to my dear wife.

I have continuously worn that precious bracelet since that day.  It is very valuable to me.

The value does NOT lie in the materials which comprise it.  The total materials must be less than a nickel, and doubtlessly less than a dime.  The value is in what it says.

No price can account for the valuable message inscribed, really printed, on that cheap little bracelet.

It's value is its reminder.  It reminds me that my time in this world is very limited.  It reminds me that I was made for another world, not this one.  It tells me not to put too much stock in my job, my house, my work.  It tells me I am temporary, this world is temporary, and all it contains will pass away.  There's no point getting too angry about worldly disappointments.  There's no point in expecting too much from people.  There's no point in getting too comfortable.  There's no point in accumulating a lot of possessions or money.

I need to be reminded of all this.  I forget over and over.  I am surrounded by all these things, and people and enterprises are shouting a contradictory message loudly and often.

"How can we get all that on one bracelet"? you ask.

"We can get that from a single word". I declare.

What's the magic word?

Monday, September 22, 2014

1st person, 2nd person, 3d person

  As a quick reminder,
  • First person = I, we
  • Second person = you, you
  • Third person = he/she/it, they.
Each of these has its place.  If we are speaking of opinions or "how things ought to be", we ought to be talking to ourselves.  I think I ought to ________, that is terrific, but it is a first person position, in MY (first person possessive) opinion.  Christians often talk about "legalism", they are referring mostly to people who have taken their "I" opinions and tried to lay those on others.  This was the problem Jesus spoke of in Matt 23: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger."

Notice here that Jesus says to OBEY the law, but don't do it like the Pharisees, who want everyone ELSE to do it.  Private convictions are no problem as long as they remain first person.  Don't berate a brother or sister for their obedience to the law, they aren't legalistic until they apply their convictions in a second or third person way. 

The second person, "you" is the bailiwick of my people, the teachers of the world.  We are inclined, and sometimes paid, to tell YOU what to do.  

The third person is where we decide what the world OUGHT to do.  "They" should simply do this or that.  This reminds me of the quote, "Nothing is impossible for those that don't have to do it".  Often times, we teachers of the world want to broaden our teaching to third person.

I'm thinking that there is a better use of teaching and a better person to use.  I think (first person singular) WE ought to stick with first person.  It's not YOU who needs to do this or that, it is either WE who need to do it, or perhaps it doesn't need to be done.  "What's good for the goose...".

So on matters of personal conviction and opinion, let's keep it personal.  On matters of obligation, let's keep it plural.

I think we ought to help them see the truth of our opinion!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Is Christianity Hard or Easy?

Is Christianity Hard or Easy?

That question has haunted me for a couple of weeks.

What do you think?

No less than Prof. CS. Lewis captured the struggle- “You have noticed, I expect, that Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, “Take up your Cross”—in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp. Next minute he says, "My yoke is easy and my burden light." He means both. And one can just see why both are true.” The full essay from Mere Christianity is here:  http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/march2012p4.htm .

I find this dichotomy- hard and easy – in my experience as a Follower.  I cannot agree that it is easy, on the other hand, parts of it are quite easy.  Easiest of all is to NOT follow at all.

Gilbert K. Chesterton  had this to say, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” 

That difficult/challenging part gets much attention for me.  On the other hand, I also engage in difficult things of much LESS value than this.

There is little doubt the truth of Christ in us- The Holy Spirit at work- is essential, but I still find myself in the Garden of Gethsemane at times.

I see very few US Christians “trying too hard”.  Instead we seem to mistakenly “try a little” and then try to convince everyone to do whatever we are doing. Preachers are at high risk of this mistake.

I find trusting more deeply to be tough.  It takes a LOT of effort to give a talk, travel, help others, - all of which I feel compelled to do, not by LAW but by a sense of gratitude.  If is far easier NOT to do these things, and easiest of all to do NOTHING.  “16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Rom 6:16  Servant hood is NOT free of effort, as best I can tell.

I do Not worry about keeping the LAW (Rom 8:3) , on the other hand I find working at the LAW to be an excellent way to express gratitude (Jn 14:15).

In modern Christianity we seem to think that any effort= WORKS.  But in I Tim 6:11, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

We do NOT save ourselves or sanctify ourselves by working, but pursuing Christ as Paul describes to Tim can take energy.  I can choose to work at my profession and expect a return, BUT, more importantly I can pursue righteousness, and expect a greater return, but both seem to require commitment and effort.

DO NOT think that we EARN righteous status, I am saying that IF I ERR on either side of balance, I would rather err in pursuing with too much effort as opposed to NOT enough effort.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweat, wonderful, stinky sweat

Sweat is essential to human life.  When our body temperature elevates, our body's defense is to wet the skin and allow evaporation to take away the heat.  It is a very good system.  A few years back I attended a Physiology lecture on the sweat gland.  It was fascinating because the sweat gland is so complex.

I study, not sweat glands, but sweating, because I study work in hot conditions.  We measure sweat production, hypohydration, body temperature changes.  It is interesting how complexly the different parts of the body work together.

Our body temperature is maintained within very narrow limits.  Our normal temperature is 37C, and at 40C we are concerned that the body's processes will be disturbed enough to kill us.  Not a very wide margin for error.

Of course sweat also is our major source of body odor.  You actually have two distinctive types of sweat glands, and one of those is the stink-tive one.  Eccrine sweat is mostly water with some sodium and potassium.  We did a study one time and measured some of the constituents of sweat in different circumstances.  The second type of sweat is apocrine sweat which in addition to water also contains proteins and fatty acids.  These latter two substances are as tasty to bacteria on our skin as they are to us.

The bacteria are really the stinky culprits.  As the bacteria feast on the "food" parts of apocrine sweat, and this bacterial action is what we smell as body odor.

We go to great lengths to eliminate or cover-up body odor.  It is normal, it is healthy, but we don't like the smell so we spend billions bathing and rolling and spraying.

And I am glad we do.  Not everything about humans is appealing.  In fact, at times, given our fallen nature, very little is appealing.

Despite our literal and spiritual stink, G^d loved us so much that He gave his son for our good. 

Go figure.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Are You Ready for Some Football??

We kicked off a new football season this week.  It's neat because there is a great feel of excitement in the air.  It is amazing.

I try to understand why I feel this excitement, and why so many feel it so much more intensely than I do.

I have been to a total of 2 Alabama football games in 31 years.  I missed 3 seasons being away, but that still isn't much of a record, because I am not much of a fan.  I root for the team and listened to them over the WWW last year in Africa.  I often try to be doing something else while the game is on.  All that to say that I am not a very good fan.

I am trying to figure out the fanatical fans.  In truth even the just-very-loyal fans are a mystery.  I know some of the most highly committed fans never attended the school they so strongly support.

Here are some ideas:
  • Opportunity to be part of something bigger,
  • Opportunity to identify with success,
  • Another cause for celebration,
  • A helpful replacement for some of the hurts and disappointments in life.

Not sure that any of these are accurate, just trying to figure this fan stuff out.  maybe it is a combination of all of these and more, with different motivations speaking more strongly to different people.

In the Southeastern USA, it is often remarked that people are more excited, more enthusiastic, more dedicated to football than they are to Christianity.  Exaggeration?  Maybe, maybe not.

Take another look at that list.  If those are motivators, it would seem that we ought to be MUCH more excited about Christianity.

Why aren't we?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A new school year

A new school year has begun.  It is my 52st school year to begin.  It still has a bit of excitement coupled with a smidgen of dread.

Every school year means a lot of work.  I worked hard as a student, and hard as a teacher.  Every school year is ripe with possibilities.  I will learn new things.  I will work, but I will grow.  It will be a shared experience.

My undergraduate class has met three times.  I have learned everyone's name, all 31 of them.  Some of them should be a lot of fun; others not so much. But G^d created them, UA enrolled them, and it's my job to induce as much knowledge into them as possible.  Some of them learn willingly, others not so much.

I will tire myself in this endeavor, but it is a good tired.  It is a tired with purpose and product.  I will learn, and it is good to learn.

Some things will surprise me positively, and some things negatively.  My students will experience the same.

Sometimes I don't like some students, and sometimes some students don't like me.  It is unpleasant to be disliked, but I tell myself that I did my best, and as the old chief  said in the movie, Little Big Man, "Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't".   We do our best, and the rest is in G^d's capable hands.

Let's pray that G^d does something special this school year whatever and wherever He may.

"Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind."  Eccl 12:12-13