Monday, November 15, 2004


I am a football coach and we lost in the playoffs last Friday night. I'm still hurting. Our team played great but lost a very close one. I want to mention that I do believe God is in control of these events. I can hear Him say, "It's not about you- I love you and have a good purpose for all". I know that drives some people crazy- too simple- "how can a good god allow evil?"- but I do believe that it is true. He IS GOOD and He IS GREAT and he even uses the bad things to work for greater good (Rom. 8:28)

Thank you Lord for loving me. You suffered for me.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Winter Black and Blues

Now is the winter of my discontent. I hate cold and cloudy days. I feel my life being sucked away as if I run on solar power. I want to just lie down and sleep- maybe forever. I long even now for the spring and newness of life. I feel fat and stiff and tired. The supple sunshine of summer is a distant memory.
Does the sun still exist?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Faith Horizon

“We are not free to follow our own devices, you and I” Estella, Great Expectations

“All the truths of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breath I drew.” Pip, Great Expectations

No view over the horizon
Yet peace reigns o’er my soul.
No hint to the path before me
No guess to how I go.

Days of frustration removed
Years of sorrow made whole
Nights of tears in drought
New vigor in humble roles.

He patiently bore a fist in the air
And quietly suffered my shame.
He graciously overlooked a lack of faith
And lovingly kept my name.

My vision is no clearer
To what the future holds.
I know who holds the future
The end of the story told.

Oh Lord, please forgive me.
I faltered under worldly eyes.
Thank-you for contented joy
Without even answers to whys.

I know not where my path will lead.
Joys and sorrows ahead.
The spririt says just keep walking
Jesus has prepared my bed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The 51/49 split

The latest election definitely shows our division. Is there an explanation? I find it interesting that TV portrays debates with an even 50/50 split. Take any news program and watch the screen. Usually there are the same experts on each side, handling the questions, splitting time. Even if there is a public opinion of 80/20 – it will be handled in the media 50/50. Has the “balance” of news caused a “balance” of views?
What say you?

Her Eyes

“Why don’t we even look at one another?” Emily- Our Town

“The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Matt. 6:22,23

I can’t connect eye to eye with you.
Your eyes deperately want me to.
They flicker to points of wisdom same
And slide away in pain and shame.

Some eyes look down on me.
Your eyes look up in wait.
Some eyes don’t notice me.
Some are filled with hate.

You look up for need.
Looking for me to lead
Seeking for me to fill
Looking with moldable will.

His eyes search within.
Shining on shadows of sin
Her heart needs His leading.
Her eyes search me, pleading.

I seek other eyes’ approval
And yearn for their attention.
My soul seeks their solace
Rubles of respect - no dissention.

His eyes move to and fro
And scans the depths of hearts.
To support the loyal will
And strengthen unified parts.

Little eyes are on me still.
Desperately wanting some time.
I’m scanning all the world
Expecting adventure sublime.

Oh, Lord! - If my heart is truly yours
I’ll seek the treasures unseen.
And answer this child on my knee
And know you’re looking at me
And she will start staring...
at Thee

Culture of Fantasy 3

I remember comprehending what I read very early. There was a voice inside my head that seemed to be telling me the story and I followed it. When I lost the voice, I stopped and retraced where it stopped and picked it back up. I can’t prove it, but TV silences that voice. Its flickering array of pixels, colors, sounds, and dynamic movement, and rapid scene changes damages that ability to comprehend reading- that is my theory. When children see those images over and over, it does not allow the development of the mind. I believe this so much that we have limited TV watching in our home. We do not have cable. And I believe we are better off without it.
The latest advent of reality TV is the most sinister production yet. Reality TV? 20 women allowing one man to love them while he eliminates them 1 by 1? TV cameras on a remote island editing a machiavellian deceit to shame the Lord of the Flies? What about the show where players eat sheep intestines to earn money? Reality? I hate these shows. Not because they are lacking in creativity or excellence, but are so devoid of true values.
I know the argument. I am lumping together thousands of ordinary people who are actors, writer, producers and accusing them of a mass conspiracy. No, I am saying that somehow they are being used as pawns of the Prince of this World. Satan has orchestrated this culture of fantasy with all the expertise of an artist!
Does this mean I want to rid the world of TV? No Do I let my children watch? Yes
But we plan what to watch. We turn it off if it is not planned to do so. We pick and choose. We control it. I also do not have cable- I would love to watch ESPN and Fox News and Biography and Discovery- but I have limited time and the cost is not worth it. I really have not missed cable and when I do get to see it, it is a treat.
I hope as we watch, our world-view picks up the inconsistencies. A quick example: CSI is a great show- well made- etc. However, there is a subtle message there. The only “truth” is scientific evidence. Eyewitness testimony is unreliable. Is this a problem? It is a huge problem. If historical evidence becomes a matter of perception, then the foundations of the credibility of our faith is weakened.
I asked a student one day about Christ and he said he doubted that Jesus really lived, and that it was just a story. I countered and asked if he believed the Abraham Lincoln lived.
He answered, “I cannot know for sure. I guess they can dig him up and do a DNA test, but outside of that you can’t know.” CSI supplements this view.
I am not saying to boycott CSI. Watch it, enjoy the quality; rejoice in the truths that the show portrays (all truth is God’s truth)- but be careful, and keep God’s word as the filter. Don’t disengage the mind…stay alert!
Please do not let TV shape your world-view. If you become its servant- it will tell you how to think, speak, live, evaluate, and vote. And that is a scary thought.

The Wimper

There has always been a cry inside of me. It’s hard to describe exactly, something akin to a hunger. It throbs and fluctuates, groaning to be born. But it always stops. I am somewhat afraid of it…is this the evil part of me? Is it an unquenchable thirst for pleasure and self-satisfaction that wants to destroy all the good intentions of my creator?
I am afraid because I know it is tied to my ego- that part of me that wants to matter, to be noticed, to be applauded as the winner of whatever race I am in. Is it evil? Does it miss the mark- what the English termed a sin?
I am also afraid because it may turn out to be a sham. Some wild excuse to sound pseudo-philosophical and be nodded to by the brilliant. It is so funny, I am a roller coaster between self-assertion and self-denial, self-confidence and self-condemnation…. and now I chastise myself for self-absorption.
I have lived long enough now to have more questions than answers. I have read the great writers and realized that I can’t even read, much less write. I have heard the great preachers, and realized I can’t hear. I have mulled over the great thinkers and realized I can’t think. The only really good thing I do is forget.
Then I soothe myself by finding someone lower than me, only to realize that I perceive him to be lower, I can see no farther into him than he can into me. So what is my premise?
I am glad I am not a mathematician or a scientist. I am glad I am not a lawyer or a doctor. Lord knows we need all of these. I am glad I am not a mechanic, or a plumber, or an accountant, but I am glad my wife is an accountant.
I am glad to be me. I enjoy appreciating the dull things. I do love life and all in all it is an easy one. There is a part of me afraid of God. Afraid that He will look down at me one day and say, “suffer”. I know there is pain a comin’- death of loved ones (update mom passed away in Jan 2004, brother in drug rehab 2004). I feel a knee twinge now, or get a gas pain in my side, or have heart burn and I pause..”is this cancer? A heart attack? Arthritis? Lou Gherig’s disease?” Then I pause again and say, “What a poor view of my Father I have”. God design is not zapping people out of their mirth; it is getting me to trust Him enough to ascend the mountain of His pleasure.
But I’m writing today to say that I fell trapped. I am a gold fish swimming so hard against the edge of the bowl that I am fagged out- (thanks for letting me reclaim the term). I am punching against golden puppet threads and am tangled. I see the air on my gauge at critical, but am too far under the surface to survive. And so I am crying out.
I do not want to be cut loose from my wife or my girls. I do not want away from my Lord. But I need to get away from this sanctuary. I have been too safe for too long. It feels so good to lie here and soak, but I’m afraid that if I stay too long I will lose my desire to ever move again. I’m too young to pull in my reins and rest. Will I then find I have saved all I have, risked nothing, but never gained anything?
So how do I approach this? How does God’s sovereignty fit in with my knack for manipulation and coercion? Can I push so hard that I go where God cannot bless me? Do I sit back and find I never arrived where He could use me? One has faith to sit and wait – am I showing faith by swatting every gnat in my eye?
I am discovering that the truth of God that states that He put eternity in my heart (Ecclesiastes) can feel sometimes like a curse- it is a madness that tortures me. So I am crying to you- Oh my Father- get me out or take me out or take out that part that wants out….just please help…. I am not demanding…. I am begging and it probably sounds like a whimper.

Culture of Fantasy 2

Be not afeard, the isle (TV) is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
That if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak'd
I cried to dream again.
(The Tempest, Shakespeare - III.ii.135-143)

I grew to love television very early. Saturday morning cartoons held me spellbound. I especially loved Scooby Doo. We started early on Saturday (around 7) and usually finished about 11:30. I also remember watching Star Trek on Sunday evenings. I have never doubted television’s power.
But I was blessed. We only had 3 channels until I was 14 years old. It was a snow blizzard from midnight to 5:00 A.M. when Country Boy Eddie started the day. I really did not watch that much TV, because it wasn’t on that much.
So I read. Comic books and Hardy Boys were my favorite. I played outside. We loved Indian Baseball, Nerf football, garage basketball, riding bikes, and spotlight in the early evening.

Culture of Fantasy 1

Can anyone doubt the influence of the media on the masses? Though it seems to be a “no-brainer”, the Civil Libertarians and Media Moguls always are quick to side with celebrities and loudly proclaim that art imitates, not shapes the world we live in.
I am so tired of the bogus, politically correct wimpy ness that infects us. We have had our sense of reality so numbed by the constant flicker of fantasy, that we have educated all common sense, moral sense, and passion completely out of modern life.
Is television, the kingpin of mass brainwashing, an innocent element in this destruction of American character? Absolutely not! Television is possibly the cruelest weapon ever forged against the world by Satan.

A demon approached his aged master. “My Lord,” he sneered, “I want to serve you more fully. What do you desire?”
The cruel creature sucked in a grotesque mixture of slime and smoke. His eyes cowered the demon, whose legs showed a slight tremble.
“I want to take away literacy, pathetic one. The sword is more powerful than I ever imagined it to be. We must keep the children from using the sword..”
That pathetic demon tried stamping it out, but it only grew.
He martyred the writers and copiers…. the sword flourished.
He confounded the translations, set up governments to block it….nothing succeeded.
……until, the advent of the technology for television. Flickering at a pace to mesmerize the mind. Fantastic images so far removed from reality, that it was a permanent holiday…
in less than 50 years, reading ability plummeted. Brains were rewired before the children even knew what hit them.
Bible production continued to rise……but the sword dwindled in the land.

Friday Night Lights

“… all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Col. 1: 16b-17

I watched the movie Friday Night Lights with a few senior football players last night. It is based on a book of the same title, which tells the story of Permian High School football in the 1980’s. I read the book in 1997, but remembered very little about it.
The movie is a highly stylized production, shot very similar to Black Hawk Down. As a typical Hollywood movie, it goes over the top in many ways to keep the audience and evoke emotional reactions. I have a few positives and a couple of critiques:
1) To the average high school player- the hype is reality. It is typical for the teen to see this team as his moment, his destiny- and his small window to play as bigger than life.
2) Pressures to perform are real to players and coaches.
3) The chaos of everything is real- including the fragile relationships and family dynamics.

Points to Ponder:

1) Football out of balance is a destructive activity.
2) Truth telling is rare.
3) Relationships matter
4) Healthy families are a blessing
5) Life goes on- pain and pleasure fade with time
6) Without Jesus- all is vanity

How I want to be different:
1) Tell the truth
2) Audience of 1- He is my pressure
3) Individuals matter-
4) Instruction involves discipline
5) Pray
6) Trust the Lord
7) Ability to go on after football is part of my responsibility

My Limp of Purpose

God cares for me! A paraphrase of Genesis 32:24-31

Then Jay was left alone and a man fought with him until daybreak. And when he saw that Jay would not quit fighting, he touched Jay and hurt him; so much that Jay hurt as he fought with him. Then He said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But Jay said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So He said to him, “What is your name?” And Jay said, “Schemer” And he said “Your name shall no longer be schemer, but “God Striver”; for you have devoted serious energy with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jay asked him and said, “Are you God, Do you care?” And Jesus blessed Jay there- even as Jay was sweating, and hurting, and bleeding. So Jay named the time of suffering “the face of God” for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Now the sun rose upon him just as he crossed the river to a new adventure, and Jay was limping, but Jay was blessed….it was time to receive even more blessing.

I’m thankful for scars- I’m thankful for the hard road!
Jesus kept his scars. “Proof of battles He’s brought us through”

Coffee Cups

Quarter - filled Cups of Coffee

”I have measured my life in coffee spoons” -Prufrock
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What advantage does a man have in all his work which he does under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 1: 2,3

Quarter - filled cups of coffee,
Shadowed stains below the band.
Cooled liquid, thick and soiled,
Etched foam, marked by hand.

Appearance of apparent progress,
Concrete marks of constant time.
Accompanied by piles of paper,
Crumpled calendars, plans sublime.

Of what reward do hours meed?
Riches and honor untold?
What state does watched time translate?
Unused potential to save and hold?

Three - quarter empty cups of coffee,
Symbols unfinished and undone.
Epochs spent on early ambition,
Numerous laps short, the race not won.

Lurking depths of unrequited desire,
Taciturn anger behind the smile,
Endless action churning piles of perception,
Steps no closer to the next mile.

Will the minutes always last?
What price is one to pay?
When activity is ambiguous and prostituted
and success is a shade of gray.

The trap has sprung inescapable.
The suction stronger than my will.
No one there to loose or care,
Fractions of effort to close the sill.

Those dreams seem marathons away.
No tunnel light, no ray, no rule.
Only a vast wasteland of utopian ideas and funny ambition.
I laugh at myself - the fool.

Prayer for America

Dear God Our Father,
In this time of great division and danger, we ask that you help us. Not that we deserve it, but we want to continue to be a beacon of hope and a model of success. This life is a mixed bag and a temporary host. May you allow us to continue being a preservative of the natural entropy of order.
Lord, the churches are dark in the old land and selfishness reigns. Intellectual imperialism tickles the ears but salve no wounds. Our churches are flickering. Please revive us- give us soft hearts of love and united hearts of courage. We wimper in our prosperity and hoard our greed.
Be gracious to our leaders and heal our land.
In the name and example of Christ,