A Big Thing Called “Heart”

Pictured below is a special bunch of boys. They are the Eagles from Decatur Heritage Christian Academy in Decatur, Alabama. After losing game 1 of the championship series yesterday, they found themselves down 8-0 before even coming to bat this morning in game two. They scratched and clawed their way back to register an unlikely comeback to win 9-8 forcing game 3 which they won 3-2 to become the 1A high school state champions.

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Photo Courtesy of AL.com

I think they might be just a little happy!!!

I mentioned that this was a special group. Over and over again this season they were challenged…and each time they responded…both on…and off the field. This team has what coaches call “heart”. Having “heart” simply means that no matter what mountain one faces, they respond with a fight that cannot be denied. No doubt, the Eagles were galvanized by the challenges they faced together. Our Native American friends remind us over and over again that it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight…its the size of the fight in the dog.

Coach Bear Bryant often spoke of the “intangibles” that an athlete possesses. This group of young men demonstrated that they had those “intangibles” of which he spoke, and today it paid off in a big way.

Some real world observations…

Sometimes we face insurmountable odds in life. Sometimes the world tells us we just aren’t good enough. Are we going to believe the lies, or are we going to set our faces to that which God wants for us (Luke 9:51), and refuse to let the criticism of others stand against us?

How big is the fight inside of us? Are we willing to come out swinging when we are backed into a corner. When we stare at that mountain…do we fear?  Do we cower under the pressure? Or do we refuse to be defeated? Do we refuse to let those who stand against us…those who stand in criticism over us…and want to see us fail have the last word?

Sometimes…we find out just how strong we are when we have no choice…but to fight.

The trick is recognizing when that is our only option.

How big is the fight in you?

Do you have “heart”?

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A Big Thing Called “Heart”

The Power of Words

Typically, our Student Pastor starts his message to the students on Wednesday night with an activity that plays into the topic on which he will speak that night. Tonight was no exception.

He passed out a card with a word or phrase that was complimentary to each person in the room. This was random and no specific word or phrase was chosen for anyone. For example, the card I received had “Disciple of Christ” written on it. We were asked to read the word or phrase and think about whether it was descriptive of us…and if not…how far away we were from it.

At the end of the service, we were asked to hand our card to a student who we felt that phrase did describe. It was neat to sit back and read what students were saying about them by handing them those cards. They were pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the positive words they read. It was refreshing.

The truth is…whoever it was that said,”Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” probably did not know a whole lot about what they were talking about.

Some recent experiences in my life have brought heightened sensitivity to the power of words…both positive and negative.

Negative words and a critical spirit can crush the soul. The most difficult people in the world to get along with are those who are constant critics. Always pointing out the bad and never mentioning the good in people.You know the types. These people seem to always point out the negative in others…and never even acknowledge the positive.

Constant criticism generally breaks the spirit and will of the recipient. Many can take some criticism. But people who consistently receive harsh words are going to eventually break underneath them.

On the other hand, words also have the power to give life and hope. A fit word spoken at the right time can push someone on to confidence and success. The Bible teaches in many places about the power of words. People want to know that they can do something, succeed at it. They also want to know that someone is behind them, praying for them, and supporting them.

Thoughtfully choose your words and tone. Understand that in spite of pithy sayings about words being harmless…that the tongue holds the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). It is a weapon…use it wisely.

 

The Power of Words

Long Time Coming

I am sure by now that any baseball fan who has not spent the last 5 days with their head in the sand has seen the melee between the Texas Rangers and the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. In case you did not see it…here it is below.

I played baseball for a long time. I never played in college or played professionally. However, I consider myself a baseball purist. One of the things that makes baseball the greatest sport on Earth is that generally speaking, there is an unwritten code that governs it…allowing the players to police themselves to a great degree.

This all started in the playoffs last season. Jose Bautista hit a homer in a game against the Rangers…watches the ball leave the park…and then carries out one of the most dramatic bat flips you will ever see.

The unwritten code of baseball mandates that Bautista at some point pay the price for showing up his opponent by taking a fastball off the hip or back or somewhere…other than the head.

It took a few months…but that is exactly what happened on Sunday in Arlington. And what you see in the above video is the result.

Some observations…

I am quite impressed with Roughned Odor’s connection with Bautista’s face. Typically baseball fights are a lot of swinging, yelling, shoving and posturing…but little actual fight. Seems the Texas Rangers do things differently. The other notable baseball fight that was known for connecting punches involved former Ranger pitcher Nolan Ryan rearranging the top of Robin Ventura’s head some 22 years ago after the youngster dared charge the mound on the big Texan. Odor connected to Bautista’s jaw like a heavyweight champ. It was quite impressive, in fact. After that punch connected, Bautista was only standing because big Adrian Beltre was holding him up.

if you take the whole picture into account, Jose Bautista had that punch coming. He got hit with a pitch and at that point things should have been even. But he attempts to injure Odor…and starts the whole thing over again. The slide was undefendable. When you slide and your hip does not hit the ground until you are past the bag, you have just defined the dirty slide. With the neighborhood play now a thing of the past, it is more difficult for middle infielders to defend themselves from an incoming runner. Intent to injure was clear. So Bautista deserved to get his clock cleaned and then some.

The penalties that Baseball issued today clearly did not take the whole picture into account. In my opinion…they should have.

Jose Bautista was once a beloved player in the League. He was a relatively small guy with power. That has apparently gone to his head. The bat flips and dirty play are quickly changing his persona to resemble that of Bryce Harper.

Great player…with a ripe attitude.

 

 

 

Long Time Coming

Sense and Sensibility

I do not claim to be a wise sage by any means. But the longer I live on this big blue marble we call Earth, the more I am convinced that we have gone mad. Either that…or I have awakened in some alternate reality.

I was amused this afternoon when the President actually engaged in a discourse today about gender “identity” and the use of bathrooms in public schools.

First, he really has no standing when it comes to public schools. The public schools are funded and managed by the various states. The only authorities who can actually tell the schools what to do are the state legislatures and governors.

Secondly, we all know that all he is doing is preparing to play the Loretta Lynch card if someone does not comply.

And before we all get started…the Civil Rights Act talks about discrimination based on gender…it does not protect those who “identify” with a gender that does not fit their chromosome assignment. So just stop it already.

But that is not really the point I am making today.

When did I step into a world where people suddenly get to “identify” with a certain gender? Where I come from…parts are parts. You are what you are. If you were born a male…you are a male. If you are born female, guess what? Yes, you are female. So all of a sudden a guy decides he wants to be a girl. Apparently, he can just put on a dress…and waltz into the ladies’ room…like he belongs there.

Does that not make you to pause at least for a moment?

Just because you may want to be a man…if you were born with an XY chromosome, you still have an XY chromosome. Guess what that makes you…whether you like it or not.

That’s right…a man.

What is even more disturbing is that this has become a national debate…like a legitimate discussion. Really? We are debating “choice” when it comes to what bathroom one enters?

Seriously?

And what genius one day just said, “Hey, if that guy wants to be a girl…he should be able to use the ladies room”. When did this ever sound like a good idea? It does not take a very smart person to know exactly where that is going. Think about it…grown man…in the restroom…with young girls. Yeah…that will always end well.

In fact, if you pay attention to Facebook, or other outlets that carry news items, you have already seen a number of stories of men going into ladies rooms and trying to do unseemly things with girls. A couple of them have been caught filming the women in the ladies room.

Again I ask…When did this ever sound like a good idea?

Sickos…

But unfortunately, Progressivism and Political Correctness appear to have replaced what we Southerners call “common sense”…or “walking around sense”…or “horse sense”.

When that happens…this jacked up hot mess is what you get.

There was a day where the mere suggestion or discussion of gender identity would have brought a look of derision. You know…the look that says, “You mean no one has hit you upside the head with a shovel yet?”

Come on, man!!!

In the words of the late Democratic Congressman from Ohio…James Traficant…

“Beam me up, Scotty!”

Sense and Sensibility

Dietrich Bonhoeffer…Then…and Now

Recently, the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been fresh on my mind. I listen to a radio show in which the host often refers to him and his stand for Christ in Nazi Germany. So when our pastor spoke about Bonhoeffer this past Sunday Night, I knew it was my cue to put in words something that I have been thinking for some time.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Polish born pastor. He lived in Germany during the Third Reich. He stood against Hitler and was very outspoken about how faith in Jesus and Jesus alone would bring peace to Germany…not a political despot strongman, nor a fascist government. He tried to save and protect the Jews from the horror of Hitler’s gas chambers…to the point of even being involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler. This ultimately cost Bonhoeffer his life.

Many may not realize it. But as we speak, the United States is in a perilous free fall into some form of populism. There are many parallels that can be drawn to the days of Nazi Germany as we observe where our nation is headed politically and socially. Several of the same policies that brought Germany to its knees are the hot topics in political debate today. Things like government run medicine…and gun control. as a matter of fact, Hitler waited until his SS had confiscated all firearms from the people before making his move to exterminate the Jewish population.

In the United States it is now demanded that we be tolerant of everything…except Christianity. Religious freedom is dwindling for Christians, while our leaders turn a blind eye to the carnage being carried out against Christians around the world in the name of Islam. It is becoming more and more difficult to be bold in our faith.

America is now in the Post Christian Era. As a nation, we now worship at the alter of political correctness. Political correctness has zero tolerance for a faith that says there is one way and one way only to heaven. It has zero tolerance for a faith that excludes individuals because of sin. It has zero tolerance for a faith that says, “My savior lives!!!” while pointing out that Mohamed and Buddha are dead.

So that brings me to what I have been thinking about for some time.

I am about to make a perhaps shocking statement. But I believe it to be true.

In the lifetime of my children or my grandchildren, the church of Jesus Christ in America will be forced underground.

We will see a time, in the land where the pilgrims came to find religious freedom, that faith in Jesus Christ will be insufferable to the powers that be.

Will we see another Bonhoeffer? Will another take a stand for Christ in such a way that he is willing to lay down his or her life for what they believe in their heart? We are quickly coming to a time in this nation…where another Bonhoeffer will be called to take a stand.

Who will it be? Where will he or she come from?

Is it you? Is it me?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer…Then…and Now

Be Smart with Your Information

Protection of personal information has over time become an issue that is gaining more and more attention. Scammers and thieves are becoming more sophisticated with the tactics they employ in an attempt to separate you from your information or your hard earned money.

One such tactic is to cold call on your phone and tell you that you owe money or have an unpaid bill…and then try to get information from you over the phone.

Be smart.

  • Never give any personal information (Social Security Number, Credit Card Number, any further info about you) to anyone who calls you
  • If you have no prior relationship with the company they claim to represent, likelihood is high that its a scam call
  • If you do have a relationship with the company the caller claims to represent, inform them that you will call them back, ask for a contact name, and call them back with a legitimate number from the company’s website

The rule of thumb is that if someone calls you, you should not give out any personal info as listed above to someone you do not know or who you cannot verify their identity.

Don’t be a victim.

And as they used to say on Hill Street Blues…”Be careful out there!”

Be Smart with Your Information

Slave To The Rhythm

As I started (or restarted) this venture, I purchased “Some Thoughts About Writing” by my friend and fellow writer, Patrick Rhone. In this great short read, Patrick points out that there is material to write about all around us. We need to be observant when we are out and about or interacting with our families. Write about those things that leave an impression with us.

What I am about to share…is one of those moments.

My wife and son were both under the weather over the weekend. So for a few meals, it was only my daughter and myself eating out. Saturday evening, we decided to go to our favorite wing place in Madison, AL. Once we were seated, I immediately spotted a very interesting situation at another booth some 15 feet away from us.

Sitting at this booth were 3 older people…and 1…very detached teenager. I would guess he was 15 or 16 years of age. You really could not miss him because on his head…were a set of bright, green Beats headphones. So he is sitting and eating with members of his family…wearing a set of DJ style headphones. His head for much of the time was bobbling up, down and around with, I assume, the beat of whatever music it was he was listening to on his iPhone (I am afraid to ask what it might have been). Occasionally, he would catch himself, and stop the bobbing long enough to look around sheepishly. But eventually, the head bobbing would start again. To borrow from an old Michael Jackson hit…he was apparently a “Slave to the rhythm”.

I got my daughter’s attention and whispered, “Hey, Rea…don’t be obvious, but check out the kid in that booth.” Reagan had been talking with me, and was engaged. But she did have her phone in hand. Her reaction was priceless. Upon seeing this, she slowly laid the phone down, face down, on the table and did not touch it again until we left the restaurant…with an expression saying, “OK…I’m not gonna be THAT GUY”.

What was clear, was that this teen was completely disengaged from the situation he was in. Lost in a sea of music creating a reality he wanted rather than living in the moment he was in. He was physically present…but completely absent in every other way.

You have seen it. The couple that is out for a “date night”, but do not say 10 words to one another because they have lost touch with what they can talk about, or no longer understand what it is they have in common. So they alleviate the awkwardness by burying their faces in a phone…as if social media will fill that void in their life.

Have you actually been “THAT GUY”?

It is vital that when we are engaged with people (the ones who are sitting in front of us…not the ones residing in a phone or computer), that we genuinely be there…physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is not only a matter of value in a relationship. It is a matter of respect.

When we are listening to a speaker (classroom, work, church, Bible study…), respect the speaker. We need to demonstrate that we appreciate the time they put in to prepare. In a social setting, assign value to the people around you by being not only physically present…but wholly present. Put aside the distractions…and interact.

Few things show someone that we do not assign value to them like being physically present, but completely disconnected.

Stay engaged. Stay connected. Be there.

Slave To The Rhythm