Read the Red (No.1-2)

Fun is Worshipping Together

This is already proving to be a whole lot of fun.

Thank you all for the great contributions to this very first exchange of ideas in the Read the Red series.

(You can refresh your memory on Read the Red (No.1) by clicking: RTR-1)

I have to divulge that my FCA group had a bit of an issue focusing in on the true target of this exercise. Many of their responses resonated with the regurgitating sound of the book reports to which they had all become accustomed:

“Joseph and Mary took their son Jesus to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus was about twelve years old. They left Jesus behind when they left to go home. When they discovered that Jesus was missing, they got real worried. They returned to Jerusalem and found Him sitting in the temple talking to the teachers, and then He said…”

You get the idea.

Read the Red (no.1)

Luke 2:49 (NIV)
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Again, the ideas that were put forth in regards to this first scripture were wonderful.

Perhaps the funniest of them all was:

“Now I don’t have to feel so guilty because that is pretty much what my nine-year-old said to me when I forgot her at my in-law’s house one Christmas.”

An Invitation

The great majority of the responses likened Jesus’ first words to an invitation for the reader. I could not agree more with that assessment.

Following are some of your interpretations (or translations):

“What’s wrong?”

“How can I help you, my child?”

“You never need to feel alone, for I am always here with you.” His first words bring full circle His final words before going to heaven (Matthew 28:20).

He is telling us where to go when we need help, to church (His father’s house).

He is inviting us to church.

Is it not abundantly appropriate that we are considering this first passage as all of us approach the new year and many are seeking the way to a new beginning?

Read the Red (no.2)

Below you will find our second red phrase to be considered:

Matthew 3:15 (NIV)

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

The idea is simple: Isolate and focus on those words and parables in the Bible that are written in red-those attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your questions, comments, and answers are always appreciated. But please remember that for this particular set of blogs, your participation is essential.

Reminder: You can feel free to leave a comment below (and thus begin an open discussion), or you might be more comfortable sending me your thoughts and questions via the Contact page.


Some (more) Un-Paine-ful Common Sense

Two Kinds

There is an old adage in the ranks of college football coaches (It all comes back to football):

“There are two kinds of coaches. Those that have been fired, and those that are going to be fired.”

I checked both those items off during my brief tenure as a college football coach. Yep, got ‘em both done checked off.

Well, it seems that there is a similar saying for blog writers:

I Probably Deserved That

“There are two kinds of blog writers. Those that have received hate mail, and those that are going to receive hate mail.”

Check box one, and check box two. I am such the overachiever.

So Hateful it is Humorous

A few days ago, I did a piece on how our glorious government should take on the task of bringing an end to the ‘Bulldog’ being used as an athletic team mascot. A few hours after posting, I received an email full of more insults than an article on why people need to be more tolerant.

Initially, I chuckled at the email as I thought it to be written in the same satirical spirit as was my bulldog defense. Soon after the email, though, came a phone call (you see, the author of the hate mail is a close family member).

Early on in the phone call, it became evident that my family member was not only seriously upset with my opinion but also genuinely concerned that I had gone off the deep end. Being that this was someone whom I consider one of my most dear and close family members, I handled the onslaught in a manner consistent with the way in which the majority of us handle criticism from dear and close family members.

Let the Insults Begin
And…The Volley of Insults Thus Begun

We were almost out of breath, my family member and I, when I thought a better recourse might be to explain my position on the article’s true meaning as opposed to explaining my opinion on the family member’s lack of intellect.

So, the rest of the conversation went like this (I must paraphrase, of course, in order to protect identities):

Me: “Okay, family member, let me try and explain it this way. The phrase ‘Un-Paine-ful Common Sense’ was my clear attempt to reference Thomas Paine, a man who clearly spelled out the fact that government was not glorious but rather a necessary evil—at best. Furthermore, any person having given the least amount of attention to Paine’s Common Sense or possessing for himself the least amount of the same would have the understanding that a government ‘s sole purpose is to secure liberty—and that particular task should be carried out in the least intrusive manner possible. Paine would have zero capacity for understanding on how ‘We the People’ not only tolerate but plead for our elected officials to spend time on things as trivial as the name of a sports mascot or protection of a person’s feelings. So, I took that argument closer to its natural and most ridiculous end by putting forth the idea that our government should take up the business of protecting the honor of our pets. So, my dear family member, I now ask you what a person must be inundated with that would make it possible for him or her to believe such an utterly ridiculous petition to the government of the United States of America?”

Family Member: “Well, I am employed at USA University.”

And All is Forgiven

Me: “Enough said. All is forgiven.”

Some Un-Paine-ful Common Sense

The Ferocious Bulldog

I have sat quietly on this thought for far too long now. But, having been witness to the glorious growing of our government and having further been witness to how that government has taken an ever more active role in the well-being of its citizens, the time has come to seriously take up the matter.

For far too long now our government has left our society to its own senses of right and wrong and therefore – to no surprise of this citizen – our completely unaware citizenry has too long suffered the obvious injustice of allowing thename of the beloved Bulldog be used as a mascot for many American football clubs (and other such aggressive sports teams as well).

The Affectionate Friend

The bulldog is being maligned as a vicious and aggressive beast that will stop at nothing for a victory in any one of a number of sporting events when nothing can be further from the truth (please note the cute picture of the dog loving on the kitten – the kitten obviously is representative of a modern day member of our American society). The underlying danger cannot be overstated here. If we continue to allow such misuse of this ever loyal and loving companion’s name, then there is no doubt that it will lead to the multitudes believing such bull malarkey.

Continuing to allow such a malevolent smear campaign will no doubt lead to the ill effect of those persons, whom might consider housing such a noble animal, reconsidering and going instead for something along the lines of a maltipoo or chihuahua. I am sure that all can see how that would negatively affect the well-being of the bulldogs by leaving them facing no other future other than incarceration in the local animal shelters and denying them the safe spaces to which all beings have a right.

A Mascot Too Tough

Now, many will correctly point to the further injustice of the breed having long endured the hardship of also being named the mascot of the United States Marine Corps. This writer concedes that is a valid point. However, having to focus on one fight injustice at a time I will sadly have to leave the fight of finding the U.S. Marines a kinder gentler representative figure to another clime and place.

This HolidaY Season, Is Your ‘Why’ Big Enough?

Is your ‘Why’ big enough?

The hustle and bustle of the season is here, and as a wise young man once said, “Good grief.”

My wife and I were walking through the parking lot of Walmart the other day when she began to pray, “Lord we just ask that you give us patience…”

My head and shoulders sunk, my eyes rolled, and my lungs let loose with a moose-call of a sigh.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.

“You asked the Lord for patience…don’t you realize the ordeal that will be put before us just so that He can prove that your prayer was answered.”

My wife knows well enough that it pays to ignore at least half of what I say. To that end, she has pretty much become a millionaire over the years.

But today I wanted to be heard, “Why couldn’t you pray for some empty checkout lines or at least an ample number of cashiers?”

My dear wife just smiled and with each and every step became ever more the money grubbing miser.

Made me wish I had gone shopping with Ebenezer Scrooge (or at least Bill Murray).

Because I know that everyone of us has had their own experience with checking out at Walmart, I will not bore you with the details of our shopping experience that day. Let me just quietly say, “I WAS RIGHT!”

Try and ignore that, Mrs. Scrooge.

What She Should Have Prayed For

Of course, that little story of levity was for the purpose of entertainment only. The truth is that I find it an essential exercise to pray every time I trek into Walmart (and not only during the holiday season).

But instead of praying for patience, I find it better to pray for joy. Pray for an over abundant, radiating, and contagious amount of Christmas Joy.

I know. I know what you are saying to the computer screen right now… “How, how in the world do you expect me to display some Christmas Joy when I am about to step into Walmart (or the mall, or any store during holiday season really, or…who are we kidding – it is ten times tougher at Walmart!) and go to battle against no parking spaces, wobbly shopping carts, guilt trips brought on by a ringing bell and red bucket, whining kids, crying parents, jammed aisles, empty shelves, long lines, rude customers, overwhelmed employees, and that person still ringing their bell as they look at me and then look at their red bucket and then look back at me in that special way to remind me that I said, ‘I will on the way out.’ How is that humanly possible?”

How, how, how indeed (please note the play on Santa’s famous phrase).

The ‘Why’ is More Important than the ‘How’

I recently had an opportunity to reminisce with a coaching friend of mine on the way in which we always tried to get our football players (It all comes back to football) to understand that the ‘why’ you want to accomplish a goal is always a more important factor than the ‘how’ you are actually going to accomplish said goal.

For example: If a team can find in their heart enough reasons ‘Why’ they want to win a state championship game (for family, friends, teammates, the hometown,…), then the ‘How’ they are going to win enough games truly becomes a secondary function of that end result.

So, do you have in your heart a big enough ‘Why’ to help you find and keep that over abundant, radiating, and contagious amount of Christmas Joy?

Why Keep Your Christmas Joy

Why? Because you are fortunate enough to actually need a parking space.

Why? Because you are going to make someone very happy with what you put into that wobbly shopping cart.

Why? Because that ringing bell and red bucket reminds us that we are giving just a little gift in celebration of the birth of One who gave so much.

Why? Because those whining kids aren’t yours…this time.

Why? Because that parent might be crying over the loss of a loved one.

Why? Because those jammed aisles are filled with God’s children.

Why? Because those empty shelves are an indication that we still live in a most blessed nation.

Why? Because those long lines provide us with a greater opportunity to spread the good news.

Why? Because your battle is not with that rude customer, that person of flesh and blood.

Why? Because that overwhelmed employee has likely had to deal with too many persons of flesh and blood.

Why? Because someone is watching, and you are either going to draw them closer to the faith or put a barrier between them and the opportunity for eternal life.

Be that city upon the hill that shines with Christmas Joy, my friend.

Merry Christmas!

Read the Red (no.1)

Read the Red (no.1)

Perhaps it is the beginning of the holiday season that has so inspired me.

And, perhaps it is the fact that having recently spent some time in one of my former teaching venues has brought an overwhelming desire to hand out homework.

Either way, I hope you find this series of blogs interesting and find yourself compelled to participate.

The Assignment

NOTE: I did this a few years back with one of my FCA groups and found the results to be rather interesting.

The idea is simple: Isolate and focus on those words and parables in the Bible that are written in red-those attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ.

New Testament vs. Old Testament

I think I remember reading somewhere something about a man not coming to abolish the law but to fulfill the law. Yet, there is invariably at one time or another (or another and another and another for the non-believer) where we doubt that the God found in the Old Testament is like-and-kind with the God that we see through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So, where do the red words seem to contradict those found in the Old Testament? Where do they fulfill them?

Bible Times vs. Modern Times

If those words in red were said to you today-in a reference completely removed from any religious talk-then to what do you think the conversation might be pertaining?

Would your thoughts today coincide with the interpretations of the disciples?

Back in the Day vs. Youth of Today

One of the most fascinating aspects of this exercise was how the understanding of the words in red are so very generation dependent.

As an FCA Ministry Leader, I would come to an FCA meeting with my notes in hand, thoughts in mind, and ready to share share share. However, when the student-athletes would begin to exchange their research and thoughts on the words in red then I would find a great gap between their interpretation and mine.

The nice thing was that discovering that great gap proved to be a primary step towards building a bridge between their world and mine.

Now, I am not under the delusion that you are going to be able to compel your youth to do their own bible research. However, I do believe that you may find it engaging to simply ask, “Hey, what does it mean to you if I said ‘XYZ’?”

To the Task at Hand

This is a participation grade, my friends. Your questions, comments, and answers are always appreciated. But please know that for this particular set of blogs, your participation is essential.

Below you will find our first red phrase to be considered:

Luke 2:49 (NIV)
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

You can feel free to leave a comment below (and thus begin an open discussion), or you might be more comfortable sending me your thoughts and questions via the Contact page. Either way I will compile and share our collected thoughts in a follow-up post.

I will try my best to introduce items in chronological order and to combine the like phrases found in the different gospels. This initial assignment will last until Christmas and then will be followed-up with a new phrase every two weeks or so.

My oh my, it does feel good to be giving out homework again.

BCA 1st Annual Winter Craft Show

My wife and I were very fortunate to attend the Baytown Christian Academy 1st Annual Winter Craft Show.

How fortunate?

Well, to start off, our shipment of books arrived less than twenty-four hours before the start of the craft show:

UPS arrives with the initial delivery of The Real Race.
UPS arrives with the initial delivery of The Real Race.

Then, there were only two booths left at the craft show. Kudos to the BCA staff for putting forth such a tremendous effort. Their very first craft show was deemed a huge success by both vendors and patrons.

Vendors take over the Baytown Christian Academy gymnasium.
Vendors take over the Baytown Christian Academy gymnasium.

We arrived in the rain, but we were able to get set up with zero water loss to any of our newly arrived copies of The Real Race.

Ready to meet and greet thanks to some help from an old friend, Coach Nathan Gray.
Ready to meet and greet thanks to some help from an old friend, Coach Nathan Gray.

Got to see some old friends and share some holiday cheer.

Best part of becoming part of the BCA Family..."Once a bulldog, Always a bulldog."
Best part of becoming part of the BCA Family…”Once a bulldog, Always a bulldog.”

Also, was very proud to be able to donate copies of The Real Race to both the BCA and Lee High School libraries.

Presenting a copy of The Real Race to BCA Headmaster, Al Richard.
Presenting a copy of The Real Race to BCA Headmaster, Al Richard.
Presentation of The Real Race to Lee HS Librarian, Connie Knotts.
Presentation of The Real Race to Lee HS Librarian, Connie Knotts.

The BCA 1st Annual Winter Craft Show…Enjoyed seeing some old friends, benefited from meeting some new friends, and loved every minute of it.

Thank you Baytown Christian Academy for your hospitality today. The good Lord willing, we will see you at the 2nd Annual event in 2017.