Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red October

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My Cincinnati Reds have won their division for the first time since 1995. They will be playing in the post-season for the first time since 1999 when they faced off against the Mets in a one game playoff for the wild-card slot. They lost.

Their last winning season was 2000, so this year has been an unexpected thrill ride. I assumed the Reds were a season or two away from realistically contending with the Cardinals for the division crown.

I was wrong. The Reds are the divisional champs. The Cards are the d

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Sheriff in Town

I look back on it now and can't help but smile and shudder at my own arrogant stupidity. It was the early '90's and I was an E-4 corporal in the US Army, having just been assigned to lead third squad of third platoon in Delta Company (TOG). Third squad was the entry squad for the unit's new soldiers, "newbies" we called them (at least that is one moniker that I can still use with a clear conscience). As the soldier improved in his job proficiency and overall maturity, he was not only promoted in rank but usually promoted to a different squad. Third squad was for the newbies, or for the soldiers who just didn't "get it." So the NCO's in third squad were tasked with the job of helping the new guys develop, and riding the duds so they would either get it or get out.

Which brings me to my act of arrogant stupidity which still causes me to shamefully smile at myself and involuntarily shudder for a second. On the first morning of my first day in leading third squad I walked in to the barrack's room where the men had assembled. Roughly closed the door behind me, and menacingly stared at the troops. When the staring stopped I introduced myself, "Ladies, there's a new sheriff in town."

(SHUDDER) I wouldn't shudder so much now if I hadn't been so serious then.

Hopefully, I've learned a lot about leadership since 1994, but I cannot hear or read that phrase "new sheriff in town" without recalling that moment.

I think there will be a lot of shuddering anguish this Sunday in the DFW area, because the Houston Texans, who look like a legitimate contender for the AFC South crown, will be hosting the Blunder Boys; their in-state opponents, heretofore known as the Dallas Cowboys. Only two games into the NFL season, it is already apparent that the Cowboys are not even Texas' team, let alone America's team; not this year, anyway. As Roy Johnson writes at (that's where I found the cartoon):

He's still got the best stadium in sports. And his team's unis are pretty cool, too. He's still got the Ring of Honor and the history made by the iconic figures who've coached and played there. He's still got the star. And he's still got the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. But Jerry Jones, for the first time ever, no longer has the baddest NFL team in the state of Texas.

That would be the Houston Texans.

And those rights will be stamped, validated and deep-fried when the 2-0 Texans put a whuppin' on the 0-2 Cowboys in Sunday's shootout at Reliant Stadium.

That sound you hear? It would be Jerry Jones' head exploding.

That's right, the eyes of Texas are not upon the Boys. The team named for the state now owns the state. Or at least bragging rights.

Being from Indiana, I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I will be pulling hard for the Boys. The Texans have been dominated by my Colts since they joined the League - and the AFC South. This year looks different. I hope Wade Philips can prepare his team, and that Romo will lead his team to victory over the Texas upstarts. That's what I hope, but it's not what I think will happen.

There's a new sheriff in town; well, in Texas anyway. That's where I hope he stays.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Come On Baby (Don't) Light My Fire

Great post by Tony Reinke on the current conflagration planned by the Dove World Outreach Center. (Which, after reading this and hearing about their unChristlike plans for September 11, I find to be a creepy bunch.) His response to the lunacy of the DWOC is wonderful, not because I agree with it, but because it is Biblically based and argued.

September 11th is four days away, and it will mark the ninth anniversary of 9/11. As a large portion of the world mourns, one church in Florida plans to celebrate with “Burn a Qur'an” day. How many copies of the Qur'an it will take to make a newsworthy flame I’m not sure, but I am sure the media will be there when the pile is lit. The top US military commander in Afghanistan, General Petraeus, says this anti-Muslim act will only vex America’s ene … Read More
via Miscellanies.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Your Personal Testimony

In conjunction with my two previous posts on sowing the seed which is the Gospel, I wanted to provide a post on preparing your personal testimony. The following is excerpted from the book Tell the Truth by Will Metzger.

The content of our message is Christ and God, not our journey to faith. Our personal testimony may be included, but witnessing is more than reciting our spiritual autobiography. Specific truths about a specific Person are the subject of our proclamation. A message has been committed to us – a word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Why is it important to distinguish between Gospel truths and testimony? In an age of religious pluralism, we find many who are testifying. I’ll never forget the time when I had been speaking to a young man about the change Christ had made in my life. His sincere response was, “Listening to New Age music does the same for me.” What would you have said in reply? If our witness has no truth content, we can expect the typical response: “That’s interesting. I’m glad for you, but what you have isn’t for me.” Can you imagine the apostle Paul saying, “I just have this warm feeling in my heart”?

Preparing Your Testimony

This is your spiritual biography. Many Christians do not always know the date when God brought them into His kingdom, but this does not mean you have nothing about which to testify. Be winsome, honest and wholesome. Never go into details about sins. After a person has heard your story, will they know truths about Christ or only know you better? Good evaluation questions to keep in mind after hearing a testimony are “How much did I learn about Christ? How much about the speaker? Which was more prominent?”

Use some of the phrases under each heading to help you focus on important things.

1. What I Was Like:

My family, friends, interest were…

My most important value was…

My religious background and attitude about Christ were…

2. What God Used to Begin to Open My Eyes:

I was awakened to my need (people, books, circumstances)…

What I thought or noticed (about myself, God) at this point was…

3. What I Saw/Understood:

The aspects of the Gospel that touched me were…

I came to understand that Christ…

I saw my need was…

4. How Christ Has/Is Affecting My Life:

What changed was…

My desires now are…

I’m now doing…

A difficult area of obedience is…

Believers are called to pray for the lost to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6 ). Charles Haddon Spurgeon provides us with a fantastic example of that. He was one of the greatest preachers of the 19th century. He pastored a church in London that actively evangelized its community. The following is quotation is from Spurgeon’s book The Soul Winner which is still in print. It may also be read online at this link - This particular quote has to do with praying for lost souls to be saved. Pleading with God for lost souls to be saved should be high on every believer’s prayer list.

One more thing, the soul-winner must master the art of prayer. You cannot bring souls to God if you go not to God yourself. You must get your battle-axe, and your weapons of war, from the armoury of sacred communication with Christ. If you are much alone with Jesus, you will catch His Spirit; you will be fired with the flame that burned in His breast, and consumed His life. You will weep with the tears that fell upon Jerusalem when He saw it perishing; and if you cannot speak so eloquently as He did, yet shall there be about what you say somewhat of the same power which in Him thrilled the hearts and awoke the consciences of men. My dear hearers, especially you members of the church, I am always so anxious lest any of you should begin to lie upon your oars, and take things easy in the matter’s of God’s kingdom. There are some of you – I bless you, and I bless God at the remembrance of you – who are in season, and out of season, in earnest for winning souls, and you are the truly wise; but I fear there are others whose hands are slack, who are satisfied to let me preach, but do not themselves preach; who take these seats, and occupy these pews, and hope the cause goes well, but that is all they do. (Emphasis in the original.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Word of God Speak

I treasure 2 Timothy 2:15-21. I cannot say that it is a more valuable section of scripture than any other, but it is certainly one that has greatly affected me

This text teaches us all that life on earth is not a script which we meaninglessly follow. Instead, life on earth is a time of deciding whether we will live for God or not, and then living out what we have decided. Since God will examine what kinds of workers we have been for Him, we should build our lives on His Word and build His Word into our lives. God's Word alone tells us how to live for Him and serve Him. Believers who ignore the Bible will certainly be ashamed at the judgment. To avoid that shame we must be consistent and diligent students of God's Word, or else we will be lulled into neglecting a relationship with God.

That is our true purpose for living.