Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Dark Side of Competition

The Merle Haggard song doesn't quite fit the context, but the tag line is where I want to start:

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of meRunnin' down a way of life our fightin' men have fought and died to keepIf you don't love it, leave itLet this song I'm singin' be a warnin'When you're runnin' down my country, manYou're walkin' on the fightin' side of me

The message of that song is- there are things worth fighting for! There is a use of competition- there is a reality of competition.

And the purpose of this post is honestly to admit problems and explore unintended realities in the world of high level competition. Over 30 plus years of being in competition, I have seen the toothpaste come out of the tube from even the best of people. Competition is conflict and sometimes the testosterone can get the best of us.

It can happen at any level: little league, church softball, pick-up basketball, high school, college, and professional games.

Competition can have negative effects on individuals, organizations, and society as a whole.
There is a potential dark side of competition:

Unethical behavior: Competition can create a culture of winning at all costs, which can lead individuals or organizations to engage in unethical or even illegal behavior.

I personally get sad when I see how often successful competitors are often accused of cheating and this makes me suspect that there is a lot of cheating. Can't we just congratulate the winners until cheating is proven? And if there is cheating, we need to crack down hard on it..but it shouldn't be a knee jerk reaction to assume the worst.

Stress and burnout: The pressure to succeed in a competitive environment can be overwhelming, leading to stress, burnout, and even mental health issues.

I'm seeing this more and more..... when competition gets out of balance, it can wreck a life!

Exclusion: Competition can create winners and losers, and those who lose may feel excluded or marginalized. This can be especially true for individuals or groups who are already disadvantaged.

In the old days, champions didn't trash talk and respect was important. A winner was classy and that helped honor the opponent.

Short-term thinking: In the pursuit of victory, individuals and organizations may prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability.

I remember thinking way back in 1994 and praying to the Lord that if we ever did win a state championship in football, I wanted to look around after that win and still have my faith, my family, and my friends. And I was blessed to experience that in just a few years after that.

Hostility: Intense competition can create a hostile environment, both within and between organizations. This can lead to conflicts and even violence.

I have seen too many times where competition drove people to unhealthy states in temper, words, and actions.

James 1:20- for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Overall, competition can have both positive and negative effects. While it can motivate individuals and organizations to strive for excellence, it can also create a range of negative consequences if not managed carefully.

Whether the positive or negative aspects of competition outweigh each other can depend on the specific context and the individuals involved.

In some cases, the positive effects of competition can be significant, such as when it motivates individuals and organizations to innovate, improve their performance, and achieve their goals. This can lead to increased productivity, economic growth, and other benefits.

However, the negative effects of competition can also be significant, such as when it leads to the negative attributes listed above. These negative effects can have long-term consequences for individuals, organizations, and society as a whole.

I still believe healthy competition is important, but it is also important for me to know the dangers as well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Haynes and Pops Go Fishing

Haynes loved spending time with her Pops, especially when they went fishing together. They would pack their fishing gear, sandwiches, and drinks and head to the lake early in the morning.

On this particular day, Haynes and Pops had been fishing for hours without catching anything. Haynes was starting to feel bored and frustrated.

"Pops, why aren't the fish biting?" Haynes asked.

"Well, sometimes they're just not hungry, Haynes," Pops replied.

But Haynes didn't give up hope. She kept her line in the water and waited patiently. Suddenly, she felt a tug on her line.

"Pops, I think I got one!" Haynes exclaimed, feeling excited.

Pops came over to help her reel in the fish. As Haynes was reeling it in, the fish jumped out of the water and then fell off the hook, flopping back into the water.

"Oh no!" Haynes said, feeling disappointed.

But then something unexpected happened. Haynes and Pops started laughing and laughing. The way the fish had jumped out of the water was so funny, and they couldn't stop giggling.

"Haynes, that was a great catch!" Pops said. "Even though we didn't bring it home, we had a good laugh together."

Haynes realized that even though she didn't catch a fish to take home, she still had a great time with her Pops. They enjoyed the fresh air, the sunshine, and each other's company.

From that day on, whenever they went fishing and didn't catch anything, they would still laugh and have a good time together. Haynes learned that it's not always about the catch, but about the memories and laughter shared with loved ones.

And who knows, maybe one day they'll catch that big fish they've been dreaming of. But until then, they'll continue to enjoy each other's company and the simple joys of fishing.

 And when Jesus  had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” [5] And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” [6] And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. [7] They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:4–7 ESV)

Children's Story Time: "No's Are Not Fun!"

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Haynes. Haynes loved to play and have fun, but sometimes she did things she wasn't supposed to do. Like one day, she tried to ride on the back of her great big dog named MawMaw.

"No No, Haynes!" her mom shouted. "That's not safe! Don't ride Maw Maw, you might get hurt!"

Haynes didn't want to stop riding Maw Maw. She was having fun, but her mom's voice made her feel sad.

"Why can't I ride my Maw Maw?" Haynes asked.

"Because it's not safe," her mom, Julie, replied.

Haynes  didn't understand why her mom always said no. She thought "NO's are NOT fun".

The next day, Haynes went to her friend Emma's house. Emma had a jar of cookies on the kitchen counter.

"Can I have a cookie?" Haynes asked.

"No, sorry," Emma's mom said. "We're saving them for later."

Haynes felt disappointed. She thought "NO's are NOT fun"

Later that day, Hayne's dad, Alex, took her to the store to shop for things for their house and passed by the toy aisle. Haynes loved playing in the toy aisle and Haynes and her dad had so much fun!

"Can I have this toy, please?" Haynes asked.

"No, not today,"
her dad said. "Maybe next time."

Hayne's felt sad. She thought "NO's are NOT fun".

But then, something amazing happened. Haynes's dad took her to a park with a huge slide. She climbed up the ladder and slid down the slide, again and again. She laughed and giggled, having so much fun.

"Haynes," her dad said, "I'm so proud of you for following my rules and being safe. That's why we could come to this fun park."

That night at her bedtime prayers, little Haynes prayed and she thought "NO's are NOT fun"

But she also remembered that she had a lot of fun with her mom and dad that day. And she thought and thought and thought about it.

Haynes realized that sometimes, no's were not fun. But they were important to keep her safe and to make sure she had even more fun later. From that day on, Hayne's  tried her best to follow the rules and listen to her parents, even if it meant hearing a few no's along the way.

And whenever Haynes felt disappointed, she reminded herself that sometimes, no's were necessary to having a happy and safe life.

No's are still no fun... but they help us. And the Bible promises happiness when we obey our parents and others who are older and care about us.

Original artwork by BCS student, Cole Weaver

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. [2] “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), [3] “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” [4] Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1–4 ESV)

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Biblical Boasting in a Culture Addicted to Attention

Romans 5: 9-11 (NIV) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The word "boast" here is  καυχάομαι (kaucháomai)
from some (obsolete) base akin to that of aucheo (to boast)

While there are instances in the Bible where people express gratitude and thanksgiving for their accomplishments or blessings, boasting is generally viewed as a negative trait. In fact, the Bible frequently warns against boasting and encourages humility. 

Here are a few examples: 
 Proverbs 27:2 - "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips." 
 James 4:16 - "As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil." 
 1 Corinthians 1:31 - "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 
 Galatians 6:14 - "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." 

 Therefore, while some forms of self-expression are permitted, boasting is not generally seen as a positive or desirable behavior in the Bible.

 In a culture of social media and an addiction to attention, boasting can become a common behavior.

 Social media platforms provide an easy way for people to showcase their accomplishments and seek validation from others. The constant need for attention and validation can lead to an increase in boasting behavior. Boasting on social media often takes the form of self-promotion, where people highlight their achievements, post pictures of themselves in desirable locations, or share details of their glamorous lifestyle. This behavior can be driven by a desire to impress others, gain social status, or simply seek attention. 

 The downside of this type of boasting is that it can create a culture of comparison and competition, leading to feelings of inadequacy or jealousy in those who feel they can't measure up. Additionally, boasting can also contribute to a lack of authenticity, as people may exaggerate or misrepresent themselves to get attention. 

 Overall, while social media can provide a platform for self-expression and sharing, it's important to be mindful of how much boasting is appropriate and whether it's contributing to a healthy or unhealthy culture of attention-seeking.

I still think we can participate in this cultural marketing platform to shine a light for Christ as well.

But it is very HARD to do... and even my desire to post about this, I have to admit that self promotion is very much in play!

Potential Dangers of Artificial Intelligence

Sorry to be so late in the game in keeping up with the AI news and banter. I did spend a little time playing around with ChatGPT and found it fascinating, mesmerizing, and terrifying all at the same time.

While artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to bring about many benefits, such as improving healthcare, increasing efficiency, and driving innovation, there are also potential dangers associated with its use and application. Some of these dangers include:

1. Bias and discrimination: AI systems are only as unbiased as the data they are trained on, and if the data is biased, the AI system may perpetuate and even amplify that bias. This can lead to discrimination against certain groups of people, perpetuating and amplifying existing societal inequalities. 

 2. Job displacement: AI has the potential to automate many jobs, leading to significant job displacement and economic disruption in certain sectors. This could lead to widespread unemployment and social unrest. 

 3. Privacy violations: AI systems can collect vast amounts of data on individuals and their behaviors, raising concerns about privacy violations and the potential for abuse of that data. 

 4. Security risks: AI systems can also be vulnerable to cyber attacks and hacking, leading to significant security risks and potential harm. 

 5. Lack of accountability: As AI becomes increasingly integrated into various systems, it can become difficult to determine who is responsible for its actions and decisions. This can make it difficult to hold individuals or organizations accountable for any negative consequences that may arise. 

 6. Misuse: AI can be used for malicious purposes, such as creating deepfakes or generating fake news, leading to widespread misinformation and manipulation of public opinion. 

 Overall, it is important to be aware of these potential dangers and take steps to mitigate them as we continue to develop and use AI technology. This includes ensuring that AI systems are developed in an ethical and responsible manner, that they are transparent and accountable, and that they are subject to appropriate regulation and oversight.


Everything in blue above was written by an AI open source in about 2 seconds when I prompted it to write a short summary on the dangers of AI. Crazy? The AI also picked out the image to use on this post.

How about this- I asked it to help me write a pre-game speech for my football team 

In 2 seconds:

Title: One Team, One Goal
Gentlemen, today is the day we've been working for all season long. This is the moment we've been waiting for - an opportunity to compete at the highest level and show the world what we're made of. But we're not just playing for ourselves today. We're playing for each other, for our coaches, for our school, and for our community. We're playing for something bigger than ourselves. And that's what makes this moment so special.

Main Points:
1. Focus on the task at hand.
Today's game is important, but we can't get caught up in the hype and lose sight of our goal. Our goal is to play to the best of our ability and leave everything on the field. We need to focus on the task at hand, one play at a time, and give it our all. If we stay focused and play with intensity, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

2. Trust each other.
We've been through a lot together this season - the ups and downs, the victories and defeats. But through it all, we've learned to trust each other. We know that we can count on each other to do our jobs and play our roles. We need to trust each other today, more than ever. We need to have each other's backs, communicate effectively, and play with unity and purpose.

3. Play with heart and passion.
Today's game is not just about executing plays or following a game plan. It's about playing with heart and passion - leaving everything on the field and playing with everything we've got. We need to play with intensity and aggression, but also with respect and sportsmanship. Let's show our opponents what we're made of and leave them no doubt that we are the better team.

4. Have fun and enjoy the moment.
This is an important game, but it's also an opportunity to have fun and enjoy the moment. We've worked hard all season long to get here, and we should be proud of ourselves. Let's savor this moment, and play with joy and enthusiasm. Let's celebrate our successes, learn from our mistakes, and play with no regrets.

Gentlemen, today's game is an opportunity to make history. It's a chance to showcase our talent and determination, and leave a lasting legacy for ourselves and our school. Let's play with focus, trust, heart, and passion. Let's have fun, enjoy the moment, and give it everything we've got. Together, we are one team with one goal. Let's go out there and make it happen!

Then I said- "We are a big underdog"

In 3 seconds:

Title: Believe in the Upset


Gentlemen, today we face a challenge that many people say we can't overcome. We're the underdog, and the odds are stacked against us. But we didn't come here just to accept defeat. We came here to play our hearts out and show the world what we're made of. We're not just playing against our opponents today - we're playing against doubt, fear, and the idea that we can't win. But we know that anything is possible in football. And we believe in the upset.

Main Points:

1. Embrace the underdog role.
Being the underdog can be a powerful motivator. It means we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It means we can play with freedom, passion, and aggression. We need to embrace this underdog role and use it to our advantage. Let's show our opponents that we're not intimidated, and that we're here to fight.

2. Believe in ourselves.
The key to pulling off an upset is believing in ourselves. We need to trust our abilities, our preparation, and our teammates. We need to believe that we can win this game, even when others doubt us. Let's play with confidence and conviction, and let's show the world what we're capable of.

3. Play with heart and intensity.
Today's game is not just about winning or losing. It's about playing with heart and intensity - leaving everything on the field and playing with no regrets. We need to play with passion and aggression, but also with discipline and focus. Let's show our opponents that we're not going down without a fight.

4. Control what we can control.
We can't control what our opponents do, or what the referees call. But we can control our effort, our attitude, and our execution. We need to focus on what we can control, and do it to the best of our abilities. Let's execute our game plan, play with discipline, and make the most of every opportunity.


Gentlemen, we face a challenge today, but we are not alone. We have each other, we have our coaches, and we have our fans. Let's play for each other, for our school, and for our community. Let's show the world what we're made of, and leave everything on the field. Believe in the upset. Let's go out there and shock the world!

Then I asked it to write a sermon for me on Psalm 23.

In 3 seconds:

Title: The Lord is my Shepherd 

 Introduction: Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved and comforting passages in the entire Bible. It is a Psalm of David, who himself was a shepherd before he became a king. In this Psalm, David uses the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep to describe the relationship between God and his people. Today, we will explore this beautiful Psalm and learn about the ways in which God cares for us as our loving Shepherd. 

Main Points: 

 1. The Lord is our provider and protector. David begins the Psalm by declaring, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." This statement reveals his trust in God to provide for his every need. Just as a shepherd provides food, water, and protection for his sheep, so too does God provide for his people. We can rest assured that God will meet all of our needs if we trust in him. 

 2. The Lord restores our souls. David goes on to say, "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." Sheep need to rest and be restored, just as we do. God invites us to rest in his presence, to drink from the still waters of his Word, and to be renewed by his Spirit. When we are weary or burdened, we can turn to God and find the rest and renewal we need. 

 3. The Lord guides us on the right path. David says, "He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." A shepherd leads his sheep on the right path, away from danger and towards safety. Likewise, God leads us on the path of righteousness, away from sin and towards holiness. He does this not for our own sake, but for his name's sake - to bring glory and honor to his name. 

 4. The Lord is with us even in the valley of the shadow of death. David says, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." Sheep sometimes have to walk through dangerous or treacherous valleys, and so do we. But we need not fear, for God is with us. He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, and he comforts us with his rod and his staff. 

 5. The Lord prepares a table for us. David says, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." A shepherd sometimes leads his sheep to a place of safety where they can graze and eat in peace. God does the same for us. He prepares a table for us, even in the midst of our enemies. He invites us to feast on his Word, his presence, and his love. 

 Conclusion: Psalm 23 reminds us that we have a loving and caring Shepherd who watches over us and provides for us. He leads us on the right path, restores our souls, and comforts us in times of trouble. Let us trust in him and follow him wherever he leads us, knowing that he will never leave us or forsake us.

I just said WOW each time.

I do think we need to be aware of the growing ability and inherent dangers of this new technology.

We need to think about education in light of this new arena- people kind of roll their eyes and go to sleep when I speak of teaching virtue and principle and technique of epistemology... but that is the direction we are heading. The content and writing world is instantly changed... now we need to learn discernment and cling to virtue.

Feel free to visit my writings on the need for Implementing a System of Justified Belief in an Educational Setting Here- Post #1 here: Developing System of Justified Belief

FACE TO FACE communication will become the best avenue for truth exploration.

And finally- we will have to be slow and deliberate when we see images, sounds, information that could be damaging to people or institutions.... 

I worry mostly about the deep fakes and irrational responses.

And yes, technically this blogger is out of business- but this is for my children.

A real human being is still writing this... you can tell by my flaws!

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Wave Upon Wave: Walking the Way

Almost a decade ago, U2 included a song on their "Songs of Innocence" album entitled 'Every Breaking Wave'.

Looking back and remembering the controversy seems long ago now, but it had all the elements of the rampant reactions that we experience even today in a global mass communication culture. 

Billboard magazine summed up the consensus of opinion in an article published in 2019 called " The 100 Moments That Defined the Decade in Music"

Here is how they evaluated the moment:

September 9, 2014: U2’s Songs of Innocence released as a preloaded album on the new iPhone 6

"The 13th studio album from rock gods U2 was given an extremely forward-thinking release: The band partnered with Apple to give the new album away to purchasers of the new iPhone 6, which had the album preloaded into its music library. Though the free LP was intended by Apple as a gift, it was considered an invasion by many customers, who may not have desired the album and found it surprisingly difficult to delete from their new phones. The failed strategy showed the perils of embedding music within technology so deeply (and so quasi-literally), and today, most Apple subscribers couldn’t tell you a thing about Songs of Innocence besides the backlash."

I personally enjoyed the music. It was during my running days and this album was a part of my marathon training where I finished the Mercedes Marathon in Feb. of 2015 (My Mercedes Marathon)

It was this song, Every Breaking Wave, that pushed me the most- the idea of repetition of steps over and over that seems monotonous and counter-productive... but there is a hope of winning, even though the cycle seems to be meaningless failure.

The irony is that this album and song was tossed on that sea of dissension and accusation... but still found a welcome place in my library.

I stumbled on this song again recently and, just like a lot of art, found me in a different time and disposition. My running days are long behind me and walking is more my speed (though I miss them!).

I also spent some time seeing how the song fits into society now. Originally, Bono said the song is about how hard it is to maintain relationships over time- and that still resonates. But Bono has performed it acoustically in different settings and even changed a few lyrics in the succeeding decades of performing it. It has been used to illustrate the seeming never ending cycle of violence in our world and often seems to have a more mystical or spiritual attachment as U2 ages and explores deeper meanings and the struggle between hope and despair.

I find that the song is a call to keep relationships on the forefront of our journey. The waves will never stop crashing, and the opinion of men will never stop criticizing. And instead of being worn out by the pace, we need to continue the desire to be swept off our feet in the relationships that keep us floating. And that main relationship, for me, is with my heavenly Father.

That main relationship helps me to enjoy the others- my wife (we will have been married 35 years this April 2nd), my children, my friends... even the ones who are distant or I haven't spoken to for years.

I know this is what the Lord is impressing upon me in recent readings and encounters. It is funny how the convergence of Scripture (currently Ecclesiastes), a Disney+ show (Mandalorian), difficult news cycles (Nashville shooting, Ukranian war, political controversies, economic distress, culture battles, global enemies), and the joy of my family (especially my new grand-daughter) all have influence in my day to day walk.

But here I am, at the end of a spring break- ready to walk in patience and perseverance. It is always a struggle though we MUST keep climbing upward, I believe, to the heavenly Jerusalem. And though crashing waves cast me down and even, at times, overwhelm me- I am not alone. God puts people in my life who pick me up and I want to help pick up others as well. That's how we do it.... together.

Let's look at this song together- then I encourage you to add it to a playlist - songs that help us in our walk!

Every breaking wave on the shore
Tells the next one there'll be one more

This is the ever ending cycle- 
sun up/ sun down
and the inevitability of crisis AND drama
you are either just coming out of one, or in one, or about to go into another one
It's OK- this is the drumbeat we walk to
and though Longfellow says our hearts are muffled drumbeats of a funeral march to the grave... as followers of Christ, we know it is a march to Zion to the arms of our King and Shepherd!

And every gambler knows that to lose
Is what you're really there for

The world is Satan's dominion, and in the casino, the house always wins!

Summer I was fearlessness
Now I speak into an answer phone

This is what I struggle with- as I age I get more cautious, I get afraid to speak. I cling to personal peace and affluence, and stay out of the fire of the culture. I am not a powerful warrior for good. I am too comfortable in Babylon. But I also sense that there may be a day where I can't stay there... I pray still for revival, but I worry that I will be forced to be a part the resistance reluctantly... 

As the song says....

Like every fallen leaf on the breeze
Winter wouldn't leave it alone

The chorus of the song is a cry to stay together- we can't let this world isolate us from loved ones. We can't let our love grow cold! 

If you go-
If you go your way and I go mine
Are we so
Are we so helpless against the tide?

And this next line makes me smile....

Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat

This is the opinion and verdict of the world system... but the Bible always points to the walk of the way
Do you long for this reality? 

Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing every breaking wave

In my application, the next stanza presses us to find the wise mentors who have lived enough of life to separate the truth from fraud... I never worry about the idealism and error of the young people ... in time, life makes them confront the truth.. this world is by nature a dark and mean place. But there is a way to live as we hope for restoration from the Creator.

Every sailor knows that the sea
Is a friend made enemy

And every shipwrecked soul knows what it is
To live without intimacy

The line above reeks of the gospel... it is not a message of failure or the stain of sin, it is an invitation of repentance and faith in the love of God who demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!

I thought I heard the captain's voice
But it's hard to listen while you preach

This line has a lot of truth in it. Read the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, and you will find the hard choices between love and obedience in a world of conspiracy and destruction. We have to walk in humility, simplicity,, AND LOVE. Love demands listening!

Like every broken wave on the shore
This is as far as I could reach,

Chorus again:
If you go
If you go your way and I go mine
Are we so
Are we so helpless against the tide?
Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat
Are we ready to be swept off our feet
And stop chasing every breaking wave

We are powerless, we are not the elite... nor do we want to be... we trust in God and we love Him BY loving others.

The bridge of this song is excellent!

The sea knows where are the rocks
And drowning is no sin
You know where my heart is
The same place that yours has been
We know that we fear to win
And so we end before we begin
Before we begin

It is a reality- it is understanding- it is an admission- it is a testimony to our quitting before we even try-  but it also holds out a hand to another- we WANT to love- and that is still our quest and dream!

If you go.....

So there you are... a little bit of how my quirky brain works. 

It can sound almost like a mental illness. But if my hope in God is a mental illness, I would rather die in this hope than live in the cold, stark lostness of hopelessness and isolation.

Two pessimists met at a party and instead of shaking hands... they just shook their heads.
Two Christians met outside of that party, uninvited, and they hugged each other in love and hope.

Despite the crashing of wave upon wave, I walk with my bride of 35 years in thanksgiving to my Savior. Please join us in that upward climb to the glory of God.

We march on our knees once again today and we fall time and time again under every breaking wave.
But it is foolish to chase every breaking wave as well.