Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thankful! 2016 Best Year of Bass Fishing Ever

I am very thankful to have the blessing and opportunity to fish. The following is a documented fish in every month of 2016- all in the great State of Alabama, home of the best bass fisheries in the world!

Jan 2016

Logan Martin Jerkbait
February 2016

Lay Lake Chatterbait

March 2016

Pickwick Squarebill

April 2016

Logan Martin Shaky Head
May 2016

Lake Caroline Scrounger

June 2016

Logan Martin Texas Rig

July 2016

Lay Lake Flipping Grass
August 2016

Neely Henry Swim Jig
September 2016

Lake Martin Carolina Rig
October 2016

Lake Caroline Drop Shot (KVD story)
November 2016

Logan Martin Scrounger (Drought made it a small, tough month)

Dec 2016

Lake Caroline- Jerk Bait

Never would have guessed even 2 years ago that I would be so immersed in the world of bass fishing and by no means am I even a great one. But the potential for learning and discovery never ceases. Learning new techniques and getting better at graphing fish and how fishing conditions change these amazing creatures never seems to get old.... even on the tough days!

God is good!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

When Christmas Hurts

For many, the approaching reality of Christmas is not ALL childhood bliss and candy cane memories. It can often be a bittersweet time. And I think the older we get, the more we see the reality of the holiday. Each year brings the truth of those who are absent and those who have departed.

My mom read a very sad Christmas story to us almost every year when we were children about the little match girl. Each year I hoped that she would be saved in the end.... but her version was always ended in sadness. I stared at those same pictures..snow, cold, and a poor girl who never found one person to take her in and warm her life.

I recently re-read the classic published by Hans Christian Anderson in 1845

Here is the summary of the story in Wikipedia:

On a cold New Year's Eve, a poor young girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and early hypothermia, and she is walking barefoot having lost her shoes. Still, she is too afraid to go home, because her father will beat her for not selling any matches, and also as the cracks in the house can't keep out the cold wind. The girl takes shelters in a nook or alley and sits down.
The girl lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow she sees several lovely visions, including a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. The girl looks skyward and sees a shooting star; she then remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone is dying and is going to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can.
After running out of matches the child dies, and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the child dead in the nook, frozen with a smile on her face, and guess the reason for the burnt-out matches beside her. They feel pity for her, although they had not shown kindness to her before her death. They have no way of knowing about the wonderful visions she saw before her death or how gloriously she and her grandmother are now celebrating the New Year in Heaven.

So, the question is WHY did my mom read that story to us year after year, despite us desperately crying NO like we all do when whining about a request we see as torture?
My mom understood that while it was a sad story, but it wasn't a tragic story. 
In a home of some Christmas regrets, there was a deeper truth that was beyond me in the moment, but it took root and faithfully bore fruit in my heart many years after my mom passed away.
In fact, I think the beauty and application of that truth is lost on us if Christmas is just getting everything on our list.
'Getting everything' wasn't the Christmas past I remember. We always got some GREAT things, but it wasn't an overflowing bounty. And in my eagerness to try out the new shiny toy tucked behind the tree, I never noticed that mom and dad never really got anything for themselves.
My mom cried every Christmas when she finished the story, another reason I probably fought it like the plague.
But her tears came from more than the genuine love she had for people without means.
Christmas reminds us of the painful times, it is lament of the loss of childhood innocence, and it can be hard and cold in a world of darkness and loneliness.
But the little girl has a smile on her face in the end. What is that about?
True hope is one that carries us beyond the darkest day of human existence.
If death is the end, then Christmas is, in a sense, an empty celebration. Gifts disappear...... do you remember what you got last Christmas? The one before?
But Christmas is about a gift that came wrapped in poverty and darkness...but caused the angels to sing in exalted praise.
The birth of the Christ-child unleashed violence and over 2,000 years later bombs still fall on children in places like Aleppo and we still wipe away tears of pain and regret.
But there is a warm welcome waiting for those who walk to the other side clinging to the simple but glorious promise of why the Child came to earth.
My mom is not crying this Christmas.. her body is perfect, her home is full and warm. She is basking in eternal joy and sunshine.
Neither is Granny, neither is Lee, neither is Terry..... neither is Mr Stegall or Coach Farris.
So yes, I sometimes cry at Christmas....but that is OK with me....  the gift that God gave I will never forget....
If that is all He ever gave me, I would still have reason to praise His Holy name for all eternity.
But He gave me grace upon grace, a beautiful family, and we will have some great times very soon.
AND because of Jesus .... I know that this is just a small taste of what is to come.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Analysis of an "Upset"- Chris Peterson's Dramatic Win in 2007

Chris Peterson became a hero coach to me in 2007 when he guided Boise State to un undefeated season and the unlikely upset of Oklahoma 43-42 in one of my all time favorite bowl games.

As an offensive coach, I was very impressed with Boise during their entire run of success. The offense in those days had an entirely different look and feel to what I was seeing week to week. Peterson developed a system of personnel groupings, shifts, and motions with picture perfect execution and courageous play calling.

I wondered a lot about 'how' Boise was getting what seemed to be a very complex system installed during NCSS mandated practice hours... a college coaching friend of mine asked, 'how many NCAA officials are going to show up in Idaho?" but there was a part of me that gave Peterson the benefit of the doubt.

So, when Boise upset Oklahoma that year with the famous pass and lateral and the 'statue of liberty' 2 point winner in overtime, the legendary status of a coach and his ability to slay the giant were cemented in place.

So, it was a lot of fun to go back and look at that game drive by drive.

Even though it was two different teams and a decade ago- would this game show a blueprint for how Peterson might do it again? This time taking his Washington team to play Alabama?

Oklahoma was formidable... I mean, Adrian Peterson was their RB of all things and he only ended up with 77 yds rushing!


Oklahoma got down early in that game. BSU threw a double move on 1st down on their first drive on 1and 10 and then recovered an Oklahoma fumble on the +9 going in and it was 14-0 early in the game.

Oklahoma cut it to 14-10 with less than 3 minutes to go in the half, but BSU snuck in a screen (missed tackle) that put them up 21-10 aT HALFTIME.

It got ugly in the 3rd Q when Boise returned a pick 6 for points.

But then.... OKLAHOMA RALLIED TO PUSH AHEAD 35-28 with just 1:02 left in the game.

BSU was facing a 4th and 18 with 18 seconds left in the game when they executed to perfection the dig and lateral trick play. Peterson kicked it to tie in regulation.

Oklahoma scored in their 1st possession in OT and kicked the PAT. Boise scored in OT and ran the now famous "Statue of Liberty" trick play to win the game.

It was an electric finish?


I don't know if I believe in 'upsets'.... most of the time, the best team wins.

But, there are times, a superior team loses... but most often it is death by suicide.... If Alabama loses, they will have beaten themselves.....



Coach Peterson will have a great game plan... he has a LONG time to install it.

He will use fast motions, he will shift, and Alabama can get confused at times on defense.

He will script all of the best plays against Alabama- squirm routes versus inside LB's- play action posts, 50/50 balls against the Alabama corners.

He will work hard to dial up some run plays.

I don't think Washington can stop the downhill run.

But even then, it will take Alabama making mistakes.... kicking game miscues, fumble, int, and penalties... all possible in the realm of college football.. for Washington to win.


That is a different question.... I say NO.

The Tide has some advantages.. playing in the Georgia Dome... experience in the playoff games... really good players at every position.

My pick: Alabama 35 - Washington 10

The Alabama 'surprise' will be power run game from the very beginning and play action to Ridley.


My only caveat to my predictions will stay the same as it has been all year- a healthy Jalen Hurts. If Hurts gets Hurt, Alabama can still find a way to win.. but all bets are off at that point.

I've been pretty good this year on my picks.... but I wouldn't bet on it...LOL

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Our Biggest Unbelief

Amazing, troubling, beautiful, divergent, vibrant, exciting, fragile, global, isolated, discordant, mesmerizing..... our current world...

It is the speed of the process that captures my attention. 

Before cell phones and internet..... things were slower
Before cars and telephones...things were slower still
Before electricity and railroads.... things were even slower

All human elements have always been in place.

When I read Shakespeare- the humans are the same: a life of laughter, shame,  mourning, desire, doubt, self expression,  accomplishment, conflict, gratitude,  guilt, and death. The same is true all the way back to Plato and Homer, AND the Bible.

It is the pace that is different. Humans are human, sin is sin, life is life, beauty is beauty, pain is pain, war is war, prosperity is prosperity and so on.

The amenities are better- knowledge build upon knowledge- technology upon technology, medical advancement upon medical advancement... that has exponentially added to the speed and comforts. I am thankful for that. George Washington did not have Advil or a modern dentist!

No matter the change, no matter the pace- the deep problems remain.

Questions of life
The Reality of death
The pain of suffering
The thirsts of the heart: peace, significance, relationship, comfort, love, and security... still not fully quenched.

But the biggest issue is unbelief.

Now, as soon as I say 'unbelief', it causes an immediate assumption that I am referring to God.

But that is not the starting place of prescription.

No, that is not the problem at all.

The journey away from promise and hope does not begin with a loss of faith in God.

The wandering begins with a loss of a healthy skepticism of self.

Here is the first verse we do not believe:
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I Corinthians 13:13
This verse if often overlooked and often disbelieved.....

The very fact that it is right at the end of the great 'chapter of love' in Paul's letter is quite striking to me.

The speed of information and the glossy nature of advancing technology hides a startling fact- we do not and can not know all of the information... nor do we have a right to do so.

This bothers us... immensely... enough for some to abandon the only hope of rescue on a sinking ship in the storm of disillusionment, depression, and doubt.

It is hard to convince a man with a mental illness that he is not seeing the real picture.

But the Bible tells us as honestly as it can- that our views are distorted, our wires are crossed, and our nature is prone to error.

We cannot know God as He is... He is beyond us... He is incomprehensible. It is like trying to get a newborn baby the grasp the theories of relativity.

When we reject this notion, a seed of tragedy begins to sprout.

"'Knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up."

If we exalt our knowledge... our opinion... without any filter of self-suspicion we obtain a license without  a regulator of love and humility.

This knowledge is dangerous... it becomes self centered, self confirming,  and self trusting.

Before long we are not being considerate of the conditions of others... we cannot see life from their circumstances.

The reason pride is so deadly is that it ignores truth... it ignores God, refuses Him, and rejecting Him when His views conflict with ours.

"if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, . . . but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

 This effects all of us... the religious, the agnostic, the educated, the simple.....

If your only source of confirmation is you or the small circle of self confirming 'sources' that flood your on-line inbox.... be careful... be very careful... deep inside you know you can't really trust the outsiders.... but I am challenging you to consider ONE MORE STEP... what you really can't trust is YOU.

And the first route out is a willingness to humble yourself and open up to the Creator.

As I close on this, I want to one last time, refer to Rosaria Champagne Butterfield... I like her a lot.

The reaction to her story reminds me of how everyone would respond to the real Jesus if we met Him- no one would be comfortable around Him, but His love draws you in regardless.

Do you know her story? A former professor of English and women's studies at Syracuse. Went to a reformed church for a time while standing firm in a culture of feminism and lesbianism. For many Sundays she would leave the bed of her lesbian lover and carefully consider the words of Scripture. The wrestling match in her soul raged.

But through it all, she began to see the real problem. The real problem wasn't worldview, or same sex attraction, or intellectual problems with the existence of what seemed to be a hypocritical God.

The real problem was her pride.

As she writes in her mesmerizing book: Openness Unhindered

In the LGBT community, the opposite of pride is self-hatred. But in the Bible, the opposite of pride is faith. Was pride keeping me from faith, or was pride keeping me away from self-hatred? 

And what she said a few sentences later is the point of this blog post....

"This was the first of my many betrayals  against the LGBT community: whose dictionary did I trust?"

She had a talk with herself in the mirror one morning...

"Who am I? Am I an atheist? Am I a lesbian? Do I have to have a category? 

The strongest sense of self I had at the time was my lesbian identity, but even that was pieced together by a jumble of things.

If Jesus could split the world asunder, divide the soul and the spirit, judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, could he make my true identity prevail?"

"Who am I? ... (but then she asked the question of humble submission) "Who will God have me to be?"

If you are reading this... did you get hung up on a word?... did your red flag of angry opinion rise?

Do you trip over words like God, Bible, Lesbian, LGBT in angst or anger?

Settle down for an instant and listen....

Whose dictionary are you going to trust?

And my challenge is to do something you haven't done in a long time.... read the Bible, in a quiet and submissive spirit.

Read it in a thoughtful long section.

Read the Book of Colossians or Philippians... read a long section of the Book of John. Don't read it in an effort to judge it... read it in a longing for love and direction. The voice of your Father isn't angry.. it is a tone of understanding and love. He LONGS for you.

Let God have a chance to re-wire your thinking.

And what you may realize is that you are letting the speed of information cloud your eternal perspective.

Our biggest unbelief is our inability to understand that left alone, we will soon become the god of our own life. And we are incapable of steering that ship.

That happens to believers as well.... you can miss the story of Rosaria on both sides. You can be angry at God on the left... or you can throw stones at the sinner from the right.

Stop demanding to know it all immediately... quietly walk with the Master on a journey and let His light lead the way.

You cannot read the roadsigns with any GPS of this world.

Follow HIM!