Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Quietness of Finals Week

It is Tuesday of Finals week here in Gainesville and honestly this campus is like a ghost town. The students that are here are locked away in the library or their dorm room or somewhere away from Facebook and text messages if such a place actually exists. The student center is eerily quiet. So much so that I can hear Carmen our janitor shuffling along while he is cleaning the upstairs at the far end of the building.
The traffic outside is even manageable today. And in the last three hours there has not been one siren blaring emergency vehicle speeding down university avenue. That my friends may be the biggest Christmas miracle of all! If only they were not working on the substructure right outside our building, this would have the makings for a very peaceful day.
The only problem is that I miss the chaos. I miss the usual suspects running through the building. The folks playing boggy-pong in the game room making those loud noises when a great shot is made or somebody gets pegged really hard bring the building to life. The subtle snoring sounds of freshmen asleep on the couches out front. Not to pick on the freshmen but the upperclassmen have discovered the upstairs couches so as not to be disturbed until their ipods or cell phone clocks provide the needed wake up service. It is almost lunch time and I doubt we hear the almost daily banter about where should one go for a good lunch or at least some good comfort food.
The quiet and my restlessness with it reminds me of why I love my job. I really enjoy the daily interaction with the students. I miss the laughter and the tears at times. I miss their questions, even if the less than intelligent ones sometimes drive me crazy. I miss it because I know that the quiet of finals week means there are some of the students that I may never see again. That is a bad thing most of the time! It means that another semester is coming to an end which means I have less time with some of my favorite students and my daughter who is a student here and my son who is graduate student here along with his new wife. I know that there is one less semester to influence students to grow in Christ and live in community with one another.
But the good news is that if the Lord allows me to live three more weeks, we get to start a whole new semester. With new challenges ahead and new questions to be explored, it brings with it a fresh wind of the Spirit. So I can endure the few days of quiet which lead to a couple of weeks of vacation because of the hope and promise of the Spring semester! Which is probably when I will next post an entry unless something major happens in the meantime.

So if you read this I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year! Oh and Go Gators, beat Cincy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Comparing Tim and Danny

Let me start by saying that comparing Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel is extremely difficult for me because I love them both more for what they have done off the field and for the type of men they are than for what they have done on the field. There are others who can and will compare their stats. The wins, the losses, the yardage, the completion percentages, third down conversions, Touchdown passes, SEC championships, and even National Championships can all be quantified rather easily by anyone who really cares to see the numbers.

There are both really Godly men who live by the values they publicly proclaim. Both were genuine in their faith during their college careers both on and off the field. Both inspired their fellow Gator students to do greater things on behalf of their values and their God. Both made significant contributions to the lives of their coaches and fellow players while they were in Gainesville. Both went beyond themselves on behalf of others more times than they could count during their four or years at the University of Florida. Although I was personally closer to Danny than I have been with Tim, I can say that I knew them both at least well enough to recognize my face in Tim's case, and well enough to spend time in my home in Danny's case.

But there is a difference in Tim and Danny's legacy at UF. Part of the reason Tim is at UF is because of Danny's legacy. He grew up wanting to be like him. Tim grew up a Gator fan in part because of the type of person Danny was and is for that matter. While Danny was widely covered in his day, the coverage was enough for his influence to spread to a kid in Jacksonville and others like him in places all over the United States. That's the extent that most media went in 1996. Now with Tim, that influence has been expanded around the globe. The explosion of information sharing media has produced the hype that culminated last Saturday night with a display that I have never witnessed at Florida Field in almost 20 years of working on the sidelines. With Florida driving for what would likely be the last score directed by Tim, the camera's were flashing and glowing like I've never witnessed personally. It was greater than the effect at Yankee Stadium when Roger Clemons was going for his 300th win. I know because I was at both!

Was it because Tim is more beloved than Danny? I don't really think so. Was it because Tim has given back more to the fans than Danny? Nope, I don't think that is it. I believe the outpouring of photo love given to Tim has a much more practical genesis. Everyone now has a digital camera or a cell phone that takes pictures. Had that technology been available during Danny's last game in the Swamp, I think you would have seen a very similar expression of love and appreciation. Now everyone is a photographer just like everyone is a columnist. This writing is a prime example. I had no way to express my appreciation publicly to Danny back in the 90's. So I would like to thank both Tim and Danny for the way they have represented the body of Christ both on and off the field. I am proud to call them my brothers! I look forward to others stepping up and carrying on the tradition. I remember people saying "we'll never see another player like Danny!" and they were right. Now I hear people saying "we'll never see another one like Tim!" and they will be right. I'm just excited about who the Lord will send next to extend this legacy of faith filled, winners who live for Jesus, son's of preachers who quarterback the University of Florida to championships!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The value of "no comment"

Do you hate it when coaches and players respond to questions asked by the media with "no comment"? I know that I've heard media types get upset when that is the answer given. But now you know that response is going to become more popular than ever from SEC coaches and players.

Q. Did you think the holding call that brought back the touchdown run that would have sent your team to the championship should have been made since you barely touched the defender?
A. No comment

Q. Coach there were several calls that could have gone either way that went against your team tonight, how does that make you feel?
A. No comment

Q. The replay seems to show that the ball was clearly on the ground yet the play on the field was not overturned, you lost the game, what did you tell your team in the locker room.
A. No comment

Urban Meyer was asked a question and he gave an honest response. He didn't go out of his way to publicly criticize the official. He said, "In my opinion, I think it should have been called." That was a response to a question. Not a statement that he made unsolicited. Between this and the whole Spikes issue, I wouldn't be surprised if UF instituted a no talk policy to any of the media. It's the only way to make sure their coaches, staff, and players don't get into further trouble from the league or youtube viral posters.

In fact, maybe we should ban all TV cameras, cell phones, video and still cameras from the stadium. We could also clean up our act and keep our heads when the heat of the battle is on. Both of those would prevent the haters from piling on every week. But we have a responsibility to live within the rules set by the conference and so you will hear less from the coaches in the weeks to come. Just don't get upset with the sports writers when they have nothing to write about. And writers don't get upset with the coaches and players when they won't talk to you about anything controversial. The value of "no comment" has been set by the commish starting at $30,000. It will only go up and that's a lot of nickles and dimes no matter what you make in a year.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Insight from the Georgia-Florida Game

The annual border war between Georgia and Florida for many years was called the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." University officials have tried to change the image of the event by changing the name. They refuse to allow people to call it that officially anymore. Even the networks have had to drop the moniker in their coverage of the game. President Bernie Machen of UF has tried to force Jacksonville to curb the selling of alcohol by outdoor vendors at the Landing and set up safe zones before, during and after the game.
It is a noble idea on the part of the presidents but I don't think the general population is getting on board. I haven't noticed a drop in the general atmosphere surrounding the game. As we approached the stadium on Saturday, it seemed just as many people were just as drunk as ever. The majority of people walking on the streets or sitting in their chairs tailgating had what appeared to be adult beverages in their hands. Some were obviously there for the party and simply tolerated the inconvenience of a football game in the middle of a two day party. There were a lot of college students doing the drinking, many of who were probably under the legal age to drink. But the majority of drinkers I witnessed were of the older variety. People who you think would have better things to do than get drunk in the middle of the afternoon. Now to be fair, many of them probably didn't get technically drunk. But how can you really tell? So let's give them the benefit of the doubt.
Whatever their Blood Alcohol levels, it is clear that you can change the name but you can't really change the event from the outside. The World's Largest Cocktail Party will continue to be so, regardless of the label that Machen or anyone else slaps on it. That's because you can't change behavior through an external law or mandate. Real behavior change can only happen from the inside out. Sounds like something Jesus said a long time ago. "It's not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what flows out of him!" Character makes a difference and the only one who can make a difference in a man's character is God through His grace. I'm thankful that God changed my character when I accepted His grace through His Son Jesus Christ in 1978. Thirty one years later, that Grace is still changing me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who's really to blame?

It happens after every weekend of football in the south. If a team loses, every true fan begins to dissect the loss. Some take it farther than others. Some even watch the game back and replay it like a coach. Most have no idea what they are looking at since they don't know what the play called was or what the players are really supposed to be doing. But it makes them sound more intelligent when they write or say, "Well I went back and watched the tape and so and so did this when he should have done that." If you don't know what is supposed to happen then it's easy to assign blame to whomever you desire.

I watched a few games this weekend! Let's start the blame game with my favorite team the Florida Gators. Tim Tebow is awful, he couldn't play for a pop warner team! Not really, but you get the picture. Everyone can easily blame Tim for the Gators' struggles in the red zone. And he would be the first to put most of the blame on himself. That's not the correct read here, or I should have thrown it there are statements that he can make better than the rest of us. He knows what the plays really were. He knows the coverages, the blocking schemes, and the routes that were called. He also knows whether the line missed the block, the receiver ran a wrong route, or whether the defense just made a great play. But rarely will (no make that never) will you hear Tim blame anyone but himself. That's a shame and if you are reading this Tim, it's not all your fault!

On the first pick-six if that was a called route, then the blame should fall squarely on the coaching staff. There were two receivers in the same area that could be covered by one guy in a third down situation. If they weren't supposed to be there, then obviously someone ran the wrong route and brought either the defender that tipped the ball or the guy who caught it and went the other way for six to the spot where he was not supposed to be. Or we could take a look at the offensive line that didn't protect enough to the play side and caused Tim to throw it off the back foot without having time to see the defenders. Of course Urban could have called time out to change the play or taken a delay of game penalty so it's his fault. Or the MSU defenders could be to blame for tipping the ball, catching the tip, and having the gall to not drop it or fall down or get tackled before returning it for a touchdown against the mighty Gators. Or it could have been my fault because I just said "I would rather Tim throw a pick than hold the ball too long on this next play." I never said anything about a return for a touchdown!

My guess is that we could all play the blame game a lot in our daily lives as well. There is always someone to blame for our mistakes. The truth is that we all make them, we should own up to them, deal with the consequences, learn what we can from them and then move on. That seems to be great advice, tough to do, but so worth it in the end.

Which brings me to my favorite blamer, Lame Kitten. Not only is it not his fault for not making the kick easier for his already once-blocked field goal unit, he is convinced there is a conspiracy afoot to keep Alabama and Florida on an undefeated track to Atlanta's showdown. Or at least that is what he implied with his comments this weekend after Alabama's narrow win. He wasn't going to risk letting the refs lose the game for him. That's classic. Instead all he did was risk losing the game by not running another play to try to get closer. Not to mention the other 59 minutes and 56 seconds that his team had to get one more touchdown, the line didn't keep Cody from pushing them back, and the kicker didn't get the ball up enough to clear a mound of little people, and the kick was going left even if it cleared the line. Cody jumped higher when he was throwing his helmet than he did to have to block the kick. Heck, it hit him, not the other way around. So let's leave the blame on the officials to when it was really deserved like the folks at Mississippi State. They have a real beef with the replay official, who in my opinion got it wrong but probably got it right with the information and views he had to work with. Gator fans have been on enough of the other side of the "non" or "bad" calls by the guys in the stripes to know what that feels like. Let's just leave it at it feels better being on the good side of it for once or twice!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Passion, Commitment and Leadership

So the answer to the question was "He will." As in, yes Tim Tebow will play on Saturday against the LSU Tigers. And while it wasn't his best game, it was good enough. Good enough to beat the Tigers. Good enough to beat the #4 team in the country. Good enough to beat a SEC school on their home field. Good enough to win on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge for the first time in a long time, even with their slightly skewed statistics. His play on the field was good enough.
But what was more impressive is his effect on the rest of his team. There was never any doubt he would play if he could play. The guys on this team know the real Tim Tebow. They know the make up of the man both on and off the field. They know the hype and the reality behind it. Simply put, they know, love and trust Tim Tebow. They knew that if the medical staff said he could go, no one was going to keep Tim from playing. They know so much more that the national talking heads will never know. Because they will never be able to know the Tim Tebow who is the teammate everybody wants to have on their team.
I couldn't help but laugh when ESPN was running the line "Tim Tebow cleared medically to play, decision not yet made as to if he will." Or at least some version of that line was scrolling across the screen. I laughed because earlier in the day, Coach Meyer had said if he was cleared to play, he was going to play. I don't know if even Coach Meyer could have kept Tim off that field. He came back with one goal in mind, a perfect season. I know that Coach has put an end to that kind of talk by the players, but it's the real reason Tim and Brandon Spikes came back. They have a passion to do something that has never been done at the University of Florida. Complete a undefeated and untied season in Football. And Tim wasn't going to leave that in the hands of anyone else if there was any way he could play.
That's what makes Tim Tebow such a great leader. Passion and Commitment to finishing the task before him. That's what makes others want to join him in his quest. That's why he can rally his team like very few others can do. His fellow players know his heart, his passion, and his commitment. And that translates to real leadership. The kind earned in the heat of the battle and the hours of preparation required for greatness. It's not conveyed in a title, or bestowed via position. That kind of leadership wins championships both on and off the field.
I wonder if I would have strapped on the helmet and stuck my head in there if I had the skills and the body Tim does. I like to think of myself as that kind of leader, but there are moments when my passion wanes. There are times when I get tired of doing the right things when the results are not always positive. It's in those moments when I am glad to have a guy like Tim Tebow near me. It's then that the Lord reminds me to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Sometimes the Lord even uses eye black billboards to make His Message known! Thanks Tim!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Will Tebow Play Against LSU?

There are times when I really enjoy having a little insider information on the Gator athletic program. And there are times when I wish I never did. The last ten days have been one of those times. I have had people call me, text me, email me, and even send me a message on Facebook asking me what I have heard about Tebow. Well here's the answer: "I have heard the same things you have!"
That's the honest truth. But even if I had heard something, I wouldn't print it or send it in writing anywhere. Even if I had the exclusive words from Tim's own mouth, I wouldn't tell anyone who was interested. I think they will do what is best for Tim first and then for the team second.
I am sure if the decision is left to Tim, he'd play. Heck he would probably have tried to go back in against Kentucky if he could have seen the way to the field clearly. I know he wants to help the team achieve all the goals they have set for themselves. He's the leader and the team would want him to play as well. But they also know that this is a long season and they will need a fully healthy Tebow for the stretch drive against the SEC east foes still on the schedule.
If the decision to start Tim comes down to a healthy Tim with a slight chance of re-injury, then that's when the decision gets tough. If the Doctors say he can play, my guess is that he will play. But they will have to give a full clear for that to happen. If there's a doubt, then I don't believe he will play at all. After all that's why you have a backup Quarterback on the team.
If I was Coach Meyer, I wouldn't say either way. I would want to make LSU have to prepare for two options. How do you stop Tebow if he plays and how will the Gator offense be different if John Brantley is the starter. More preparation means less time to concentrate for the LSU defense. I think by now, Tim has a good enough handle on our offense to go out there with no practice time and get the job done. I also believe that John is a talented thrower that when he gets the chance to start will be a star in this league. So either way, I still like our chances in Baton Rouge.
It won't be easy with Tim starting and it will be tougher with John getting his first start in one of the toughest stadiums to play at night, but either way it's going to be a fun week to be a Gator or a Tiger. The hype will continue to build. The atmosphere will be electric. My hope is that the crowd is going home early, but I don't really see that happening. And I don't think that has anything to do with whether Tebow plays or not. I only wish it was Saturday already!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Triathlon Thoughts

My training partner and friend Tom Grubbs and I recently were rejected by a publishing house for a devotional book for Triathletes. So I thought I'd just give you a little bit of what we had in mind. This first one is about starting a race and would have served as the introduction.

When you stand with your feet in the water or on the sand for the start of a sprint triathlon, your mind begins to wonder “what in the world are you doing here?” Or at least mine did on each of my three attempts during the past summer. I’m sure those around me who were more experienced were having different thoughts, but I guess that even some of the more experienced athletes were contemplating the same thing. What makes a person want to attempt to swim this distance, then get on a bike and ride while still wet, and then get off the bike and run a 5K race? The sun is barely over the horizon and we are about to push our bodies to do something we are not quite sure we are capable of finishing. I know it’s not the Ironman, but it sure feels like it from where I’m standing.
One of the reasons I began training to complete these types of activities is to keep my body in some reasonable shape. I Corinthians 6:19 states that “the body is the temple of the Lord.” So as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have a responsibility to keep my temple in as good of working order as I can. I have found that I do better with an exercise plan when it is tied to a goal that I am pursuing. Thus, knowing that I had to swim one quarter of a mile in the ocean became a goal that I knew would involve lots of swimming to achieve. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to drown in the process! Still standing there on the starting line, I didn’t quite “know” that I could make it on that first morning.
Another reason I wanted to compete in the triathlon was to make sure that I could still finish what I started. The only thing I ever quit in my life was high school wrestling and I only did that after setting a deal with our coach about my practice and my progress. When my progress didn’t match my practice, we both agreed it was time for me to move on to something else. But the older I got, the harder it has become to complete everything. My mind still says I can do it, but sometimes my body just doesn’t want to cooperate. I wanted to start the training so I could train my body again to finish the task at hand. I wanted to be able to say like Paul, “I have finished the race.” 2 Timothy 4:7. Although Paul was talking about his entire life and ministry, I wanted to know again that feeling of finishing something that seems impossible when you first start thinking about it. When I began training, the thought of finishing a sprint tri seemed impossible for me. Yet I knew that with the right training and the right encouragement, I could make it to the end. That’s a lot like life and ministry on a college campus by the way!
The final reason I wanted to run this race was just to say I had done something that so many others have never even tried. Maybe it’s the way I’m wired, but I really don’t want to be an average guy. I want to excel in everything I set my hand to do. That doesn’t mean I have to win. I’m not going to win any triathlons in my age category or weight for that matter any time soon. But I want to do stuff that others my age avoid or fear to try. When I cook, I want everything to taste great. When I compete, I want to give it my very best. When I read, I want to devour the knowledge in the material. I want my life to embody Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 10:31 that “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
After I completed the first race, there was so much to still learn about myself and the sport that I wanted to continue to train. Now that I have completed three years of races that desire to learn how far I can push myself is still as strong as ever. I’m starting soon to train for the next season of Triathlons with a hope and desire to complete an Olympic distance tri in the next couple of seasons. Who knows, maybe it will be this one. Still I know that it will take greater training and that same level of faith to jump in the water and start swimming without knowing completely that I can finish the race. I might not finish, but I know that I can start if I will only trust the Lord and jump in the water. The start is not the finish, but you can’t finish unless you get started!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What do we know about the Gators after the weekend?

Well, the hyped up weekend is over. Lame Kitten came to town, blustered, coughed, choked as a coach, sprinted off the field to avoid being questioned by CBS (only to be brought back on the field to answer the questions), and then left town without singing Rocky Top all night long. Sorry, Lame but that's the first of many promises you will make but can't keep. He should be very glad his dad has his back or that would have been an ugly game! Oh and it helps to have a guy in the middle of your defense like Eric Berry. He's a great player. Not quite a Heisman worthy player as some of my Vol friends want to think, but he was the difference in a good game and a blowout on Saturday. But what do we know about the Gators after that game?

First we know the Swamp was rocking on Saturday. Florida fans definitely get up for the big games. It was so loud you had to scream to talk on the sidelines all game long and that fourth down play was as loud as it's been in a long time! The fans gave it to Lame all day long. It was a great atmosphere inside the stadium.

Second, Florida fans are getting a little over the top. I actually heard a ten or twelve year old kid tell three Tennessee college students that their mascot, Smokey, was a gay dog! To which the college student responded, "Dang, I knew there would be a lot of trash talking, but from a kid!" Hey you gotta start them young in the SEC! But there were actually fans disappointed that we didn't hang 50 or more on them. They still have guys who get scholarships to play as well and they are from the SEC! Even still if we punch in 4 of the 5 trips to the red zone, it might have gotten there.

Third, even when we don't play our best, we are still a really good football team. It seemed like the Vols were running all over us, but at one point I looked at the score board and we had only given up a little over 100 yards rushing. We had some guys sick with the flu and some guys hurt that made our offense a little sluggish. See the above paragraph for another reason our offense didn't look like normal. But even so, we are 1-0 in the SEC East and 3-0 on the season. We set the record for consecutive wins and now hold the advantage for the first time in the series with Tennessee. There are a lot of positive things that came out of that game.

Fourth, it's really good to have Tim Tebow on your side. There might not be another one like him in our lifetime, so enjoy watching him now. The scramble play late in the game is the stuff of legends. He just refuses to lose or be stopped. Oh, it happens, but not often and not for lack of effort. Yes, he fumbled in the red zone, and I know Rebs, you stopped him once! But that guy just steps up and gets it done. The collision with Berry was the hardest hit I've seen up close. It sounded like two rams colliding in the mountains on an episode of the Wild Kingdom. I was shocked that they both got up. You gotta give them both credit as great players for not backing down in that situation.

Finally we know that the college gameday crew picked the wrong place to spend a Saturday. The atmosphere on campus was crazy. You could feel the excitement all day long. I had hoped that with ESPN getting the rights to some SEC games that GameDay wouldn't be so motivated to be at the location for their ABC game, but I guess some things just don't change. It was an awesome weekend capped off with a birthday celebration for my son complete with post game cake! I would have shared it with Fowler and Kirk, and maybe even Corso! Maybe....

Friday, September 18, 2009


There is a different feel to Gainesville this week, especially noticeable today. There is anticipation in the air. It's real. You can almost feel it. It's quiet, yet you hear the noise building. It still, but there's a restlessness that is stirring. The anticipated day is almost here. For those who are not college football fans, doubt you are reading this if you are not, the Tennessee Vols come to town tomorrow to play the Gators in the Swamp. That means it's SEC football time in Gainesville!

That would usually be enough to make it a special weekend, but this year the intensity in the rivalry has been jacked up a notch or twenty because of the comments by the new coach of the Vols, Lane Kiffin, AKA Lame Kitten in these parts! If you haven't read them or heard them, they you really aren't a sports fan and probably just need to skip to the last paragraph. If you have heard them you probably have your opinion on them. Much like those who disagree with Kayne's outburst many feel that it was brash, arrogant, and maybe a little stupid to call out Coach Meyer and the Gators. Others think he was just firing up his fan base or trying to make a name for Tennessee football on the national scene. Some even say he was trying to make the Vols relevant again in the discussion of big time college football. There is only one problem I have had with his comments. Ready? He hasn't done squat yet! He started running his mouth before he ever coached his players. I'm sure he had seen some film, looked at the guys in meetings, and maybe even saw them workout, but they hadn't thrown a pass, made a block, or made a guy miss even. His personal coaching record is nothing to make you go wow. Yeah, he was on a great staff at USC, but since then he's gotten fired and accused of lying by his boss. So how does running your mouth make you relevant?

Those who know me know I'm not a fan of the Miami Hurricane football team. But after last night's beating of Georgia Tech, they are relevant again in the discussion of ACC champions and maybe even for a trip to Pasadena. That's the way to make your program relevant again. Win the big games on National TV! You can't talk your way back to swagger U, you only get that from your play on the field. Hard as it is for me to say, maybe Lame could learn some things from Randy Shannon. (That will help him more than I will ever know!) And that's an inside joke for some!

That got me thinking that we inside the church often talk about the way young unbelievers view the church as irrelevant for their lives and then talk about ways to make the church more relevant today. Maybe we should take a page from the Miami playbook and start working out our faith in the real world. It's a lot harder than just talking about it in a press conference or holding a series of meeting to discuss it. If there is to be a real Great Commission Resurgence it certainly won't happen because someone stands up in Nashville and proclaims it so! It will only happen as we who are Southern Baptists and other christians get out into the world and serve and love others the way Jesus commands us to do it. We will see what happens tomorrow in Gainesville between the Gators and the Vols, my guess is that Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes will lead the team to make sure Kitten's words come back to haunt him, but you never know. Let's hope that we take a different path in attempting to make the church relevant for the students on our campuses today!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Civility or Just Being Nice

Patrick Swayze played a tougher than nails cooler in the movie Road House. Don't throw stones, you know you watched it at least the cleaned up version on TNT! One of his three rules was "Be Nice". It seems that that concept has been lost in our day. We are not as nice as we once were collectively. Most recently demonstrated on a huge stage by Kanye West's jumping on stage and interrupting Taylor Swifts moment last night at the awards show.
While his actions were rightly greeted by a chorus of "boos", he is only one example among many that I have witnessed over the last few weeks. There is the almost daily example of drivers who pay no attention to the right turn only lanes in Gainesville. There are the rude people who run the checkout lanes at our Wal-mart. Yep, I know at Wal-mart of all places. Then there are the photographers who clearly should know the rules of the field at Ben-Hill Griffin stadium, but still complain when they are asked to abide by the rules. It seems these days that rules are arbitrary in almost every arena of life.
Unless there is a moral obligation to not obey the rules, it provides a more civil society when we do. Many traffic jams are caused by people running the yellow if not the red lights and clogging up the intersections during rush hour or on the way home from the games. Our breaking the rule usually leads to someone else breaking them or getting mad at us because we broke the rule. And when someone breaks a rule that affects us, we get mad at them and respond in less than Christ glorifying ways. I just think the world would be a better place if we all tried to be a little more nice and civil to one another.
Maybe that's what Paul had in mind when he wrote, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32. Maybe someone should remind Kanye and the rest of us of the relevance of the scriptures. It would have made for a better ending of an awards show, maybe less of a buzz, but certainly less awkward for Taylor and Beyonce. And I believe it would make for a better world in which to live.

Friday, September 4, 2009


One of the things that should mark those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ is commitment. I mean Jesus did say "Simply let you 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no' which implies a level of commitment to keep your promises in Matthew 5:24. In a day and age where so many are so likely to change a plan, an appointment, or a marriage because something better comes up, that might be a word we need to revisit from time to time.

If you say you are going to do something, then you should do it. If you say when you are going to do it, you should get it done by the time you said or explain what extreme circumstances prevented you from keeping your word. My dad used to repeat the old expression to me time and time again, "A real man is a man of his word." Maybe the old timers had it right. I never remember one of my father's friends ever saying they were going to do something and then just "forgetting" or "just didn't think about it again." So maybe it's time we do the same, even when it is not the easiest thing to do or something better comes along. Maybe the opportunity isn't worth seizing if it means we have to go back on our word to seize it.

My wife and I watch Big Brother together. It's one of my concessions to get her to watch sports with me. It always seems that whatever a player on that shows says is destined to be proven as less than the truth. I'm sure most of the contestants are not that way in "real life" but they all will say one thing to a player's face and then stab them in the back to win the prize and most of the time go back on their word in the process. That's why I wouldn't want to be on that show. Survivor, heck yes! Amazing Race, let's go. Big Brother, no thanks. I don't want to have to break a commitment to someone in order to advance in a game!

But how often do we break a commitment to get something in life? We break with our commitment to our husbands or wives because we want to get something new and exciting. We break with our employer because we want to get a few more dollars. We break with our friends because someone else invites us to do something a bit more exciting. I think that might be one reason the unbelievers don't really look at our lives with a more jealous longing. We don't really keep our commitments better than anyone else. So when we say we are their friend regardless and then do something that breaks that commitment, we do more than harm a friendship, we hinder the kingdom of God from coming in power and fulfillment. Let's make a commitment to be committed to being people of our word. Whatever the cost may be. Want to join me?

Monday, August 31, 2009

When did the NFL become an extension of Upward Football?

So I was watching the football game last night while waiting on my wife and daughter to get back from a weekend trip to Alabama for a wedding when a most curious penalty was called. Alex Brown, former Gator, was flagged for "Roughing the Passer" because he tackled the quarterback. It wasn't ruled a late hit. He got there just as the QB was letting the ball go. The replay clearly showed that there was no way Brown even knew the ball was gone. It was not a vicious blindside hit. It was just a defensive end beating a tackle to arrive just as the ball is thrown following through with momentum and knocking the quarterback down. But apparently the rules have changed.
Since Tom Brady got hurt, there is a new emphasis on not putting your full weight on a Quarterback when you tackle them. This might be the dumbest rule in the history of football. What is the defensive player supposed to do exactly. Wrap up the QB in a snuggie and gently lower him to the surface so as no to damage the priceless throwing arm of the prima dona? They can't hit them in the head, even if they are jumping to block a pass. They can't hit them in the legs, even if they are being pushed down by an offensive lineman. Now they can't land on the poor guy with their full weight?
I know I'm an old school guy, but if they keep this up, the only real football we will be able to watch is the replays of the NFL Films. Even in the days of leather helmets and no face masks, no player was protected above the others. Maybe we should just do away with the pads all together and let the guys play in a new league called the professional flag football league. But wait since someone might get their fingers hurt pulling the flag, we better just make it the profession two hand touch league. Wait, we wouldn't want anyone getting tripped by having to touch below the waist, so let's make it the profession two hand touch above the waist football league. Ah, I've got a better idea, since we don't want to hurt anyone's ego by having a repeat of the win less Detroit Lions, let's just stop keeping score and call this the professional two hand touch above the waist professional Upward football league. That way every pro can be a winner too!
Let the guys play or give the QB a pink skirt and shirt to wear. Just so we know who we can and cannot run into without a penalty. Bring on college football!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Don't you love this time of year?

Three days into the fall semester in Gainesville. How are you feeling?

If you are a new student, chances are you are at times overwhelmed with the size of the place, the number of bodies walking around and into you on campus, the newness of the late night hours without worrying about waking your parents. But you just might be settling in to the routine about now. Maybe you have cried because you are homesick or you are just now hitting your stride in your new found freedom. Some of you are looking forward to going home this weekend. Getting back to the familiar and the family, back to that special someone who isn’t here with you in Titletown and that sounds really great to you. Some of you aren’t planning on going home or can’t go home until Thanksgiving or Christmas break. Whatever you are feeling you know one thing for sure, this is a busy place this time of the year!
If you are a returning student, by now you have probably caught up with most of your friends and shared the most significant parts of your summer experience. You are settled back into your routine as well. You have your first classes behind you and you are already planning how to spend your first real weekend back in Gainesville. For some of you that will include a chance to worship on Sunday. For others it will mean a night of hitting up the clubs and maybe a few things that you don’t want to get photographed and pasted on Facebook. You know all too well that the stress of mid-terms and the pains of procrastination will come soon enough. Now is the time to enjoy the beginning of the semester bliss as a student in Gainesville. And that doesn’t even include the fact that the first football game as the defending National Champions begins in a week and a couple of days!
If you are a full-time resident of Gainesville and Alachua County you also might be feeling some things. The sad reality that a trip that should take 15 minutes now takes 30 to 45 because a couple thousand of our closest friends are trying to get somewhere on Archer Road in the evenings or NW 39 Avenue in the mornings. The crazy idea to start the public schools on the same day as the Universities only adds to the frenzy of people trying to find ways to schools on the same mornings and afternoons. Maybe we should start earlier or wait a week to let all of our out-of-town guests figure out the best routes to get where they need to go without having to drive through two or three school zones at the same times parents are trying to get to that new Elementary, Middle School, or High School to drop their babies off for the day. One thing we know is that you never go to Walmart the weekend before classes begin unless you enjoy a battle, waiting in long lines, and having to fight for that last Cartoon character backpack or whatever is the latest craze among the college students! Ha, you thought I was going to say first grader. Seems they have the same taste in book bags often. Just walk around campus and you’ll see what I mean. Sponge Bob never gets old, or so it seems!
With all the problems that the fall can create, this is the best time of the year for me. It’s what makes me love living in a college town. The energy level is crazy. People are everywhere. And while it can be frustrating, it is also an opportunity like no other. It reminds me of the festival of Pentecost in the Bible just after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The entire world was in Jerusalem or so it seemed. That’s when the Lord broke out in a myriad of languages that were understood by the people there. Wouldn’t it be awesome if this fall was the beginning of another breakout of the Holy Spirit and that it started right here in Gainesville among his people and the students from all over the world that gather here? That’s what we have been praying for and longing for. Join us in sharing the good news of Jesus to the students here, or where you live, or praying with us for real revival to begin among God’s people and a true awakening among the non-believers on the campuses of UF and Santa Fe! Wow, I love the fall!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vacating Wins

So the NCAA is making Memphis vacate wins by its basketball team because they used an ineligible player. They are also trying to force FSU to vacate wins by the football team for a similar offense. The NCAA needs to get real! Let me explain why this foolishness has gone on long enough and it really hasn't gone on that long.
Does anybody really care that the Memphis record will be reduced by 36 wins? Do they have to count them as losses, or do they just go away to the magical land of NCAA stupidity? Does it help the teams they beat on their way to the final four at all? Does that mean that the team they beat to get to the final four can now claim another final four appearance? Do you think the coaches care about the vacated wins? Most coaches don't remember who the opponent is in two weeks, much less care about what happened two years ago. Apparently Kentucky doesn't care if they will have to vacate wins in the future either. But just in case, the SID should keep that word file handy because he or she is likely to have to make an amendment in the next five years!
The only reason FSU is fighting like crazy to overturn the NCAA's ruling is this crazy competition to see who can outlive and outcoach the other between Bowden and Paterno. That might just be the next reality TV series from Mark Burnett. If that wasn't the case, you can bet that FSU would have said thank you and moved on when the penalty was handed down. Memphis is appealing the decision because they have to give back the post-season cash from that year. Schools don't really care about the wins, it's the other things that make them go off on the NCAA.
If the NCAA wants to really reign in the bending of the rules that takes place, they have to start hitting the schools where it hurts. Take away the TV appearances! That's where the money is and that's what is most important to the athletic programs at big time schools. Let the SEC lose Florida and LSU from it's TV package and see how quickly they move to shore up any compliance issues. Let the ACC lose Duke and UNC from it's basketball lineup and see just how much ESPN is willing to pay for the contract to broadcast basketball and watch how quickly college basketball coaches start to care about recruiting issues.
But they won't do it. Because in the end, the NCAA doesn't care about student-athletes or fairness. They only care about having the appearance of doing so. The NCAA is the police of athletics, but the problem is that the NCAA is also the biggest profit maker from the programs who are skirting the issues and bending the rules. In the end, if they take away scholarships and post-season appearances, and TV appearances, they know they hurt their own bottom line as much or more than the penalized institution. So they just keep vacating wins! Maybe the rest of us should take a vacation from NCAA events....... Yeah right, it's two weeks from game day in Gainesville!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Reason We Are Losing Our Students In SBC Churches

A few weeks ago, I served as a counselor for our churches trip to M-Fuge, a summer camp designed around doing local mission projects. I have gone the past few years to help our Seniors make a better transition to college life at the request of our youth pastor. The camp was held at one of our Baptist colleges, in fact at the place where I did my undergraduate work. I surely don't remember chapel services being as lively as the worship times were with the youth gathered from all over the southern states.
At the same time, there was a pastor's conference happening on the other side of campus. During one of our breaks, I walked over to the pastor's conference just to see what was happening and because I hadn't seen the new chapel that had been built. When I opened the back door and peeked inside I was struck by the beauty of the chapel itself and something else about what was happening during a worship time in the conference.
At the podium was a man in a pressed suit leading music in classic style. The pipe organ was fantastic. The old hymn had the feel of a very somber moment. Looking around, it was hard to tell if I had walked into a worship time or a funeral. I came in at the end of the hymn which was followed by a special music selection performed by a couple accompanied by what sounded like a violin and the organ, although it might have been just the organ. I had walked outside by this time into the foyer. All of the music was extremely well performed. Every note seemed to be right on pitch. And yet, as I looked into the faces of those in the room, none of them seemed to be really engaged with the message or mood of the songs.
As I was walking back across campus it hit me that this dichotomy is one of the reasons we are losing students in our SBC churches. Here we have a pastor's conference and the music is reinforcing the style that might have reached our parents and some of us and right across the courtyard is a worship setting that is moving 500 teens to give up a week of their lives and go serve people in a city that they will never see again. If only we could somehow meet in the middle of the quad, we might have a better chance at engaging our students in meaningful and relevant worship. Perhaps we should have let the Fuge band inject some life in the Pastor's conference and the PC worship leader teach some of the deeper doctrine in the hymns to our teens. I think we need a little of both in our churches to reach both the generation before mine, the mixer generation that I am a part of, and the generation of students that are now coming of age in our churches.
We must do something different or we risk losing our voice with this generation of college students. Change is coming, either we change or our students will find the non-denominational churches or other denominations that will change to address the worship style needs of college students and teenagers. It's really not that bad, just bring your ear plugs if the volume is a problem for us old folks!