Does God have regrets?

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Sorry, not the best quality pic, but it’s funny!

 

Do you think the New England Patriots regret deflate-gate?

It’s widely accepted by sports outlets that the team intentionally deflated their footballs 2 lbs. less than NFL regulations for the AFC championship game last Sunday. This gave them an advantage of greater ball control in the cold, wet conditions.

The Pats ended up destroying the Colts 45-7, and many claim that the indiscretion was insignificant to the outcome of the contest. Maybe so. Or . . . maybe not. Who can tell how many fumbles or incomplete passes were averted? And if it didn’t make much of a difference, why did they do it?

I’m less than a fan of the Patriots so my opinion is biased. They are consistently in the playoffs, and they have been consistently caught being unscrupulous. I know there’s a lot of moolah involved, but what about honor? What about winning without an asterisk next to your accomplishment? Continue reading

Climbing Mt. Everest

David Braesheres, mountaineer and film maker, was on CBS last week.  He has climbed Mount Everest five times.  When he first climbed in 1985, his party was alone on the world’s most spectacular and infamous challenge. He was the 135th person to reach the top. Recently, on his 5th climb, there were 300 people at base camp when they left. The news station showed video of a traffic jam of climbers on the imposing natural structure. Apparently, it’s not as imposing at is used to be.

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Rubbernecking

Okay, so I’ve had a thing lately for comic strips and animated movies.  Here’s how I came around to posting this one.

Emma and I passed a cop scene on the way to school last week. A mini-van was in the left turn lane. There was a police vehicle in front and another behind it. As Emma was too young to remember traffic things when we moved from Philly nearly seven years ago, she hadn’t experienced traffic due to rubbernecking. She didn’t even know what rubbernecking was so I had to explain it.

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Kurt Warner has lost his right to an opinion

Kurt Warner (left) and Amani Toomer (right)
(credit: Mike Moore/Getty Images for CFN)

Having lived in New York State and the NY city area for about 20 years, I was a fan of the NY Giants for a long time. Amani Toomer played for the Giants when they earned one of their Super Bowl titles, and I may have damaged my vocal chords from cheering so loudly. But, I can’t say that I support his recent effort. Kurt Warner, the All-Pro quarterback, Super Bowl champ (MVP), and professing Christian, said that his preference is that his sons abandon their dreams of playing in the National Football League. This was prompted by the discovery of the bounty scheme and Jr. Seau suicide, among other things. Amani Toomer responded in this way (via Pro Football Talk):

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Should Kentucky Wildcats basketball stars go pro?

You don’t see the leader of a national championship team at the college level answering the question “What will you do next?,” with plans for a vacation to Disney world.  Aside from the fear of being stripped of the title due to endorsement regulations for amateur athletes, the primary reason is: college isn’t the pinnacle of the basketball world.  There’s much more to do, and the best athletes are focused on maximizing their potential.

In all likelihood, at least Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist , and Terrance Jones will not be Wildcats next season.  Even more may defect to the ranks of those who get paid far more than the cost of tuition, books, room and board (which are at least worth a full-time salary to most).  But, is this the right path for these young men to take?

The purpose of college is to prepare students for the professions they are pursuing.  Most athletes will not go on to professional sports.  The professions that most degrees prepare for are those with a normal retirement age – not mid 30s or earlier like in basketball.  So, if a young man has the ability to play in the NBA – a career that will certainly be short-lived – why should he stay in college for two or three more years which could amount to 20-25% of his career?  Besides, if the importance of the degree is the main concern for those opposed to early departure, why don’t people who oppose pre-graduate draft eligibility play a role in helping the young men get their degrees while in the NBA?

I’ve never been a fan of Shaquille O’neal (except for the year he played for the Cavs), but I was very impressed when he finished his degree from LSU while playing for the Lakers.  I’m not sure how his degree prepared him for car, pain medicine and soap commercials, but I’m convinced that the process of higher education provides critical thinking that is useful in all aspects of life.  Nonetheless, his motivation for completing the BA degree was the promise he made to his parents and his coach when he left, not because of encouragement from elsewhere.

I’m afraid that the main objection to students enlisting in the pros before graduation is the objectors’ love of their team.  Loyalty to the school is another common argument, and I believe it highlights the real issue.  The institution is more important than the individual in the minds of many – a rather un-American argument for a truly American sport.  To his credit, John Calipari, the Wildcats’ coach, doesn’t resent his guys for their inevitable decision.  His job is to win games, and the problem with recruiting is that if you do it well, you’ll have to do it more often.  The best players in the country will not stay in college for long and they’ll have to be replaced.  It’s about time people stop making these young men feel bad and graciously release them to do what they were prepared for.

The parallel with church is striking.  We encourage our kids to bring Jesus to the world and then too often restrict them to our way of going about it in the setting we have prepared for them.  It’s not primarily about what we think is best for our kids, it’s about our fear of risking the future of our churches by losing our best members.  But our job is to prepare and send people into the world.  If we do it well, we’ll have to do it more often.

It’s the price of being the exceptional at what we are called to do.

What Mariano Rivera and God have in common

Ry Torhan, the youth pastor at The Gate, and his wife, Heather, went to see the Harlem Globetrotters.  Ry gets along well with everyone.  When he sat down next to a man who was there with his family, they quickly hit it off.  At halftime an official for the team invited the man and his family to follow him.  A few minutes later they returned, weighed down in complementary Globetrotter gear.  Before the team rep left he invited the family to the VIP room after the game to meet the players and to get their autographs.

Not only did this man receive autographs, he gave out plenty of his own.  Though everyone else seemed to know who this guy was, Ry and Heather didn’t have a clue.  The Torhans continued to interact with the stranger and enjoyed the game with him as if they had been friends for years.  During a surge in the autograph signing, Ry felt comfortable enough to joke with his neighbor, “My fans are courteous enough to not bother me during the game.”

Toward the end of the game, the suspense finally got the best of the Torhans.  Ry told the man, “We know you’re somebody, but we’re not sure who.”

The wise stranger replied “Everybody is somebody.”

He eventually revealed his identity as Mariano Rivera, the ace reliever for the New York Yankees who is considered to be one of the best closers in baseball history.  Mr. Rivera was cool with Ry’s inability to recognize his stardom, and even let Ry have his picture taken with him to show there were no hard feelings.  Ry proudly displayed it as his profile picture on his facebook page.

It’s a good thing Ry had left his Boston Red Sox baseball cap in his bag.

Mariano Rivera has at least one thing in common with God – and I’m not talking about the productivity in the area of “saves” (sorry, bad joke).  They both believe that everybody is a somebody.  There are no throw aways.  When God makes people he leaves a spotless cutting room floor.  We are all made in the image of God.  God’s kingdom is an interesting blend of exclusivity and inclusivity: only people who follow the Attractive Shepherd’s voice can be counted in, but everybody has sheep potential.

 Nobody hears without ears

It’s obvious that the people Jesus considers to be his sheep have not done so by their own merit.  All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  But, some of us can hear his voice and some of us can’t.

Jesus had a curious saying about people who could hear his voice: “Whoever has ears, let them hear (Matthew 11:15, NIV).”  He was encouraging people with ears to use them, but he wasn’t talking about the floppy things attached to the sides of our heads.  Jesus was referring to our ability to hear spiritual things, which requires spiritual ears.  But, who has these ears and how did they get them?  The rest of Chapter 5: A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing will tell you! This is a sample of my book The Attractive Shepherd.  Click on “About The Book” and “Read Chapter 1” above for more info.

I Googled myself and found . . . Chicago Blackhawks?

I’ve searched my name in the past, like one does, to see if I’m even slightly famous.  Lately I’ve been searching my name to see if my blog shows up so that I can increase traffic. I ended up looking into the lives my fellow name-bearers.  It’s like getting a snapshot of some parallel universe.

Even with a rare surname like mine, there are plenty of guys who have my first name as well: A real estate broker in Florida who was convicted of a state ethics violation for his actions while serving as mayor, a construction manager in Richmond, Va, a computer engineer in Boston, and a guy who ran 3 miles in 16:06 in High School back in 1973.

I’ve actually heard of a couple Dave Knickerbockers without Google.  There’s one nearby in Salem, OH, who I’ve often thought of dropping in on someday and announcing “Hello, I’m Dave Knickerbocker.”  How weird would that be?  When we first arrived in Boardman, OH, in 2005, I read in the paper about UAW rep with my name who had just retired.  In half of my job interviews people asked me if I was his son. The assumption is logical because we bear the same name. That can work in my favor if the man I’m confused with has a respectable reputation, but I’d run into difficulties if I ever decided to move to that city in Florida where the formerly-honorable mayor David Knickerbocker lives.

The one that intrigues me the most while Google searching is Dave Knickerbocker, head of marketing for the Chicago Blackhawks.  My look into his parallel existence was more in-depth due to the newspaper articles and radio spots that come with his work.  I haven’t had much exposure to hockey, but I have many other similarities with him:

  • During the parade to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 he was irritated that the fly over was five minutes tardy and that the spotlight on the banner was late by three seconds.  The timing of Sunday morning worship has often been a concern of mine.
  • He stressed about not being able to find the puck from the last playoff game of their championship run.  My wife quips that the best place to hide something from me is right in front of my face.
  • Dave has played a role in two Emmy awards for tv commercials.  Hisapproach could be a chapter in my book: “You have to make sure they (the players and coaches) have fun. We want to make you see their personalities without them seeming to be an absolute joke.”

The quote that intrigued me the most was about his approach to the job when he signed on in 2009.  It’s one of those times when sharing my name is a good thing because it’s associated with greatness.  The team needed rebuilding and his response to those resisting change was: “That’s the way they had always done it, but that wasn’t going to be the way moving forward,’ Knickerbocker said. “My name is on this.”

Well, my name is on it too.

This touches on the point of the third of the Ten Commandments.  God’s name is very important to him because it is his identity, and his objection goes beyond our casual use of it.  Whatever recognition we get for our actions, his Name is on it too.  We should be more enraged about people in our Christian gatherings who don’t show grace than we are about hearing a child say “Oh my God” outside of prayer or a worship song.  God wants people to know him, and our charge is to show them the truth about who he really is.

Is God pleased that you sign his Name on your life, or are you just forging it?

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”  (John 14:6, NIV)

Why Linsanity?

Why are you drawn to Jeremy Lin?  Maybe you’re not.  I am.  For all of my formative years I lived in New York or the New York City area, and I cheered for the team that bears my name.  I still believe the best dunk of all time was John Starks, another surprise NBA star, exploding on the baseline and throwing one down on Michael Jordan and Horace Grant.

So, I admit to being caught up in the excitement.  But, what is it about the Jeremy Lins and Tim Tebows that make us want to spend a small fortune on jerseys and tickets to see them play live?  They’ve done amazing things, but there are things that are far more valuable to attract our attention.  Dressing up in support of real heroes should translate into people walking around in a nun’s habit like Mother Theresa or in fatigues to emulate our military.  But, we don’t (most of us, anyway).

Is it because, while we honor and respect those who make great sacrifices for others, we don’t really want to be like them?  If we had the chance to be like Jeremy Lin, or for ladies who would love to be his vaLINtine, most of us would take it.

What do you think?  I’m tossing this out there for a bit of research for my book.  Thanks for helping out.