On the day before Thanksgiving 2016, I wanted to write what has been the biggest impression on my heart. And it is very different than most Thanksgiving expressions, but no doubt this has been my deepest rumination.
Throughout my life, people have often referred to me as 'religious' or 'deeply religious' and, to be quite honest, I have never liked the term. And close observation of my life would cause one to re-evaluate that assessment.
As I read the Bible I see quite a different analysis. I am Adam, standing quiet as a loved one is drawn to disobedience. I am Moses, disobeying clear commandments because they seem trivial. I am Esau, selling my spiritual inheritance for temporary and meaningless contentment. I am Jacob, having to meet a person with my same sins to understand the pain it causes in others. I am Saul, refusing to wait on God's provision in haste and arrogance. I am David, growing stale in comforts of life and quenching the early passions of the shepherd boy who only had the Lord, which was more than enough. I am Nicodemus seeking him at night because I can't see the truth in clear light. I am Peter, making bold pronouncements while the Lord just shakes His head and rebukes me for a lack of understanding and faith. I am James and John, arguing about glory with no clue about the cost of following the example and commands of Jesus.
But today... I am so thankful!
I am thankful that God exists and that He has told me over and over what kind of God He is. He is loving and merciful. He is understanding and gracious.
I am thankful that He has clearly communicated and demonstrated the only truth that really matters. He not only told me He loves me, He has proven it in space, time, and history. Anyone die for us lately?
When I am lying down in a mess of my own making, He scoops me up and wipes me off and hugs me again and again. As I have said before, I am no man looking God in the eye and debating the complexities of existence. No, I am a foolish toddler, stumbling around in awkward self absorption and minuscule understanding.
He is big enough to solve all of my questions and problems. He is powerful enough to hold all of the complexities and issues of the globe.
His generosity includes the gift of His Spirit Who conditions my heart to see and respond in gratitude.
No, I am not religious. I am one big sinner.
But I am also Son of the King, Child of the Master of Everything.
On top of that, He has showered me with grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, benefit upon benefit. Walking along with a beautiful wife and children is just one of many, many special blessings in my life.
So I praise Him in thanksgiving and rejoice in the freedom of perfect peace and love.
Today is a new chance to grow a little more in that grace and love.
It would be of great benefit to love and serve others...... instead of just myself.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Some teams and schemes are just a strange fit.
Every play becomes a fascinating combination of variables: Down/ Distance/ Field Position/ Momentum/ Fatigue/Belief/Trust/ Weather/ Noise/ and the crazy physics of a football (velocity, angular momentum, and gravity)....
sometimes it is strength vs strength...sometimes weakness vs weakness... sometimes strength vs weakness.
To predict outcomes is (almost) ludicrous.... especially in the stranger brew of night time SEC football.
But I have spent some time analyzing both teams... and here is my analysis...
TWO WEEK PREP
Having two weeks to prepare for a big game will never be neutral.... it will be evident EARLY ON if the off week was good or bad for both teams. My guess is that both teams will be rested and ready to go.
The bigger issue of the off week is prep time for coaches.... I believe you will see very detailed game plans put in place from both coaching staffs. These guys know each other very well. The only risk you have at times is a potential to do too much scheme wise and have mess-ups trying to execute with speed and a lack of confusion.
LOSS OF JACKSON
My biggest concern is how Alabama adjusts to the loss of Eddie Jackson- no doubt the athletes there will be phenomenal...but I expect LSU to find out quickly if the safety can fill and tackle and, if he does that well, how susceptible is he to play action?
The good news for Alabama is that they have had two weeks to work on both of those. They can do some safety swapping based on formation and can have built in coverage help.
Make no mistake... losing Eddie was a big loss for this team. A lot of guys will have to step up to try and fill that void.
I wanted to mention a little bit about Texas A&M... they had a terrific game plan vs Alabama, and had it not been for great offensive execution and the defensive TD- that game was going to be a nail biter.
I was very surprised to see the Aggies play almost the whole game with two high safeties and only 6 run defenders. But after some thinking it later made sense. If Texas A&M made Alabama run the ball, they hoped their two outstanding DE's would make enough good plays to prevent long drives for points. That slows the game down, holds down scoring, and has it tight in the 4th quarter and pressure begins to mount on an undefeated #1 team.
The fans don't help here BTW- there were some in my area that were almost depressed or either angry at Kiffin for struggling in the red zone (the murmuring sucks the energy out of the home team noise advantage)...but that's how A&M played it.. Once the field gets constricted a 6 man box becomes an 8 man box because of the depth of the safeties. This is the bend but don't break effect.
What hurt the Aggies was that Alabama executed their run game VERY well, taking the DE's out of the game by reading them instead of blocking them.
WHY SATURDAY NIGHT WILL BE WILD
I predict LSU will not follow the Aggie defensive plan. I predict you will see a run heavy box and Cover 1 and even some 0.... it will be a full pressure package hoping that attack, intensity, and noise will make it hard on the OL to protect.
LSU believes they have the athletes on defense to run with Alabama.
I think LSU will be able to do the same... a lot of 3 and outs... but also a lot of explosive plays. The reason Guice #5 scares me more that Fournette #7 is his ability to bounce wide with quickness.
This will NOT be a 9-6 knuckle grinding game.... this will be a relatively high scoring game.
And will come down to mistakes.....
WHY I GIVE BAMA THE EDGE
The QB spot is the only real difference. And I hate to create early controversy for the Iron Bowl... it is the same in that game.
A healthy Jalen Hurts..... will be the difference in Baton Rouge and the Iron Bowl. Hard to believe I wrote that regarding a true freshman.
His ability to run puts that one more element in that attack that finally stretches the defense too thin.
A mobile QB tires down a defense...
I give Saban, Kiffin, and Sarkisian HUGE props for adding zone read and RPO's in such an effective way to this offense.
I see two explosive plays by Ridley and one or two by Stewart as being the difference.
But there will be negative plays and some 3 and out drives.... will the team stay focused and execute when the momentum is opposite their direction? It will be a GREAT test... one a championship team must weather if they are to accomplish their goals.
THE ACHILLES HEEL.. OR RATHER......FOOT
Bama's biggest weakness is consistency in FG kicking versus the two major teams left on their schedule... That guy needs all the support and encouragement we can give him. And he is our guy regardless.
So here is how I call it:
Bama 31- LSU 24
don't sleep on Miss St by the way- late game pull away
Bama 34- Auburn 19 (if Hurts is healthy)
Both games will be back and forth until the 2nd half.... this team will have to compete...no one is going to give it to them.
In the end.... it's just a football game.... LOL
The fans in Crimson are pretty spoiled..... try and enjoy the journey....