10 out of 10 people…

bballsonRecently, my youngest son kept asking me to play him one-on-one in basketball. I finally acquiesced and accepted his offer. Knowing that all dads eventually will be bested by their sons as they grow bigger and faster (while we dads grow older & slower), I determined that this would not be the time that he would be able to beat me.

I did everything I could to beat him: I used my bigger body to get in the paint, I used the traditional “sky-hook (he laughed at me),” I tried my trusty jump shot at the corner of the free-throw which failed me spectacularly. When it came down to it, he is just too good of an outside shooter and I am too out of shape. The result is that he bested me in a game of one-on-one. All of my boys can now beat me at multiple sports!

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We Are All Broken People

Broken HeartI sat in the courtroom trying to hold back the tears that were welling up in my eyes. Before me the judge was proceeding over the finality of a divorce for a couple that I know. I have not had the privilege (or curse) of being in a courtroom often in my life. And I had never been in a family courtroom for a divorce proceeding. I honestly felt like I was at a very sad funeral, but only worse.

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Yes I Am Biased (and so are you)!

combine_imagesThe radio in my little Hyundai Elantra only picks up FM radio stations (the AM band is defunct). For someone who enjoys hearing the news, sports, or talk radio, this is maddening. The reason it is maddening is because I find myself listening to NPR (National Public Radio) for all things news when I am driving. It’s the only station on the FM spectrum in our area with any news.

The election coverage this past year topped all discussions for many people who I know. Myriads of opinions were hurled from the far right, the far left, the center, and every other sphere of the political universe. One day while listening to NPR, I had to chuckle when one of their announcers clearly said that they represented reporting that was “unbiased.” Anyone that has listed to NPR for any length of time knows that they are anything but unbiased. They typically lean left and far left in many areas. To be fair, they do have some interesting reports that have nothing to do with politics, but when they enter the political scene, the “bias meter” unashamedly dips towards the left.

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Books I Read in 2016

books2016Francis Bacon once said, “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” 2016 was a year in which this maxim was true for me.

For a few years now, I have taken up the yearly book challenge offered by Goodreads, a  free book-lovers site now owned by Amazon (if you sign up, please friend me). At the start of the year, one sets a goal of how many books he/she wants to read and during the year the site tracks their progress. For a book/word geek like me, Goodreads is legit (that’s the current term my teenagers are using for anything off the charts)! It tracks interesting statistics like how many books one has read, how many total pages read during that year, what the average rating one gave to books throughout the year, etc. There is even a statistic that charts the publication date (year) the books that one has read.
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Christmas Is About People

hope-2Tears started welling up as I heard my sister tell me about a friend of hers that committed suicide this week. Yes, the week before Christmas this thirty-two year young woman with three precious girls took her own life. I could feel my heart bursting for those innocent little girls. The mayhem that this decision made will echo for a lifetime in the lives of those closest to this woman. Questions like “Why?”, “How did it come to this?”, “Why didn’t we see this coming?”, and dozens of other questions will be asked.

Christmas is a difficult time for many people. Unfortunately, too many of us see Christmas as sending out the “perfect Christmas card,” putting up the “perfect Christmas decorations,” making certain the Christmas desserts appear perfect on that decorative plate for the upcoming Christmas party, and other mainly trivial items surrounding Christmas.

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When Your Future Looks Hazy

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This morning, my wife and I have arrived on the campus of the Christian college that our daughter will be attending as a freshman this fall. Of course, the excitement that we have for her and her future is off the charts!

The entire process of checking in, finding one’s dorm assignments, getting a mug shot for your ID card (my first card was a real picture laminated & pressed onto an ID card – yes, very ancient!), carrying one’s entire belongings into a dorm room, meeting new roommates, figuring out how you are going to share that small room with three other roommates and all of their stuff, and trying to process the myriad of other tidbits of information is exhilarating for an 18-year-old moving away from home for the first time.

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Your Opinion Is Only Wanted When Requested

OpinionI stood there shaking my head. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Earlier this year, I was having a conversation with a pastor who was about five years my junior (approximately 38 years old). He was telling me that recently his parents (his dad is also a pastor) just up and told him that they didn’t like or agree with his wife’s choice of clothing.

Really? This still happens? Incredulous as it may seem and sad to say, but it happens more often than not. For some time, I have pondered this dynamic. The reason I use the word dynamic as a noun (i.e., a basic or dynamic force, especially one that motivates, affects development or stability) here is simple. These type of conversations or should I say “imperatives”  usually do not end well but they definitely affect the development and stability of relationships. Why does a well-intentioned Christian feel the need to tell other Christians (especially adult family members) how they should live, especially in preferential matters?

I have a confession to make – I’ve been that person in the past. And I’m continuing to purge this divisive, disruptive, even devilish spirit. The following are reasons I believe that Christians act this way:

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Entertained & Saddened

One year ago today, one of the world’s most beloved entertainers, Robin Williams, took his own life. Very few entertainers have cut across such a wide swath of age groups while entertaining the masses. From Aladdin to Peter Pan to Mrs. Doubtfire, Williams put his very own mark on every movie or act that he performed.

Several months ago, my wife and I had stopped at some yard sales in a small town near our home. While perusing a box of older VHS movies, I came across the movie Dead Poets Society. I had never watched the movie but remember hearing about it years ago. I purchased it for $1 and several weeks later watched the movie. Although we could debate some of the finer philosophies presented throughout the movie, one thing was undeniable. Williams was brilliant in playing his part as an English teacher encouraging his subjects to not just endure another English class but to seize life and live it for all its worth.

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Coach or Cheerleader?

Coach or cheerleader

It was a beautiful fall day. One of those days when you wished that it was twenty-five years earlier and you were the one suiting up for a thrilling soccer match. There is something about the cool, crisp air in the fall that just beckons any true soccer player to the pitch. Although I was not the one playing, I was equally excited to see my three boys playing on that fine afternoon.

As the game progressed, I stood on the sideline and listened to the coach. To be honest, I couldn’t tell if I was listening to a cheerleader or a coach. To be fair, he was trying to inspire nearly every player that got close to the ball. However, looking at the level of play on the team, it was apparent that there had been more inspiration dispensed than instruction over the course of the year to that point. Continuing to watch their level of play, I was convinced that there had been much more cheerleading than coaching. Certainly a coach should inspire his players. There are times when he needs to encourage them to play above their level. However, the primary responsibility of a coach is to instruct, to teach, to train.

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Books I Read in 2014

Stack of booksCharles William Eliot said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” Ah! Such wisdom in this quote.

Personally, this year of 2014 has been a new high for me when it comes to the reading of books. Not only have I read more than at any time of my life, the books I read were quite rewarding in a variety of ways. The longer I live, the more I believe that reading can shape a life unlike nearly anything else. Although I am one who enjoys a good movie, in my opinion, a good book will trump a good movie every time. It does concern me that more & more men that I meet read so little. It is through a Book that God communicated His truth to us. Often, no desire to read will lead to a struggle for a Christian to read the Word of God.

My wife and I constantly encourage and direct our children to learn to love reading. We do this in a multitude of ways: taking them to the library (we encourage them to find at least one book to check out every visit we make), purchasing good books for them as gifts throughout the year, raving about certain books my wife & I have read, and in general, making much of reading.

Like last year, I used Evernote to track/compile this list. In addition, I am constantly revising my current list of “books to read.” For something that I believe this important, why wouldn’t I want to be organized? One more note – two items that I read on a regular/constant basis are the Bible (daily) and WORLD magazine (a Christian biweekly news magazine). Enjoy the list and may 2015 be a rich year when it comes to reading for you!

Books That I Read in 2014

Top Five (in order)
1. The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan
2. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell
3. Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer
4. The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller
5. Out of Commission, Paul Chappell
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