Monday, August 30, 2010

Sports Analogy: Training Camp

It has been a long time since I had a sports analogy but one recently popped into my head and it was appropriate time and season for it.  Right now, I'm starting what will be a year long internship (broken up into two semesters) in which I will (hopefully) finish my Master's of Divinity at Midwestern Seminary.  In one sense, it will be a daunting task but in another sense it will be good.

I was mulling over this past weekend what I needed to do in the next nine months to get to graduation.  Like I said earlier looking at it initially it seems rather daunting, this internship is what's riding on me getting my degree in May.  But I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I'm given just today and I have to take it one day at a time.  It is very much like training camp (which is appropriate given the time of year for football).  Players and coaches have a goal of winning the Super Bowl.  And in July and August, that does seem like a pretty daunting task.  But they take each day of training camp to prepare for the season.  They take it one day at a time.  Then when the season comes, they focus on the next game at hand.  Soon enough, they are at the end of the season and are holding up the championship trophy.  They didn't skip all the way to the end.  They took it one game at a time, one day at a time.

Too often we (myself included) get caught up and worried about how we're going to accomplish certain goals.  We need to be reminded by the Father that all we're given is today.  We need to be diligent at doing the work for today and the long term goals will be taken care of as we reach the designated time frame for each of them.  We all go through seasons of life where we are either to begin a new season, in the middle of a season or coming to the end.  Whatever season you're in, focus on the task at hand and what God has given you to do.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hanging out at the New Arrowhead....Kansas City Chiefs Preseason Game in Review

Everyone who knows me knows how much of a football fan I am.  It is my favorite sport.  So anytime I can go to a football game is a good time.  And living in Kansas City for three years I've lived in a town with a pro football team (the Chiefs).  When it came to my last year in KC (hopefully as I'll graduate from seminary in May and be looking for a job) I figured I should try and go to a Chiefs game.  So I began to scour around looking for tickets.  Sure enough, while I was on eBay, I found some cheap tickets.  And when I say cheap, I just mean in price because the seats themselves were sweet.  Lower level, near the end zone, 10 rows from the field.  I ended up getting 4 tickets (plus shipping) for less than just purchasing one of them at face value.  It was a sweet deal indeed.  So this past Friday, I along with my friends Josh, Ryan and Andrea went to see the Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles.  Here are some observations from the night:

*Traffic to the stadium is bad.  Granted it was Friday and that included rush hour plus a wreck on one of the interstates plus construction but it was ugh.  I thought traffic to a Royals game was bad, this was worse.  It doesn't help that it's out on the edge of the city so coming from the Northland it takes about 20 minutes on a good day, it took about double that night.

*Parking is also bad.  One of my chief complaints about that complex is that it's the only place to park.  You pretty much are stuck with parking there cause there are no other options.  We sprung to get reserved parking so we got closer to the stadium but still, it is kinda ridiculous.

*Because of traffic and such, pretty much missed the pregame stuff.  We got there right as the National Anthem was being sung and got to our seats right after the opening kickoff.  Other than that, it wasn't too hard finding out seats.  To get to our seats, we walked through the new Chiefs Hall of Honor, pretty cool stuff.  I would have loved to have spent more time around it but the game was going and didn't want to miss it.

*The view from our seats was great.  We were in the north end of the stadium and had great line of sight for most everything (except when the teams were on the other far end of the field).  Unfortunately, nearly all the scoring except a 4th qtr FG by the Chiefs' Ryan Succop took place at the other end.

*It was funny how after a few bad plays to start out, the Chiefs fans booed the team.  That was a first.  Then again, my experience at stadiums had typically been with teams who were at least decent if not really good.  When the Chiefs did get going and took the lead, then the crowd got into the game.

*Arrowhead Stadium, newly renovated, looked pretty cool.  It was one of those stadiums I saw on TV growing up and looked really good, especially with all the work they done to it.  The famed noise level....didn't really notice it.  Maybe because it was a preseason game and the team is still not at tip top shape but it wasn't deafining.  And I've been to preseason games where it's been louder.  To this day, I will still say the loudest stadium is Qwest Field in Seattle.

*The game itself was pretty good.  The 3rd preseason game is the closest to a regular season game because it's the game the starters play the longest.  It was funny but both sides played their starters through 3 whole quarters, rare in the NFL (they usually only play a half maybe a few plays into the 3rd quarter).  The Chiefs, after being down 10-0 rallied and even took the lead and held it with about 2:00 minutes to go 17-13.  Then then proceeded to give up a touchdown with about :25 seconds left and wound up losing 20-17.

This was my 9th NFL game.  I've now been to 4 preseason games, 4 regular season games and 1 postseason game.  It was fun times and I'm excited that it's football season again!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Predictions for the 2010 NFL Season

Football season is rapidly approaching and with that is the time of the year for predictions.  So, in the spirit of usually being wrong at the end of the season, here are my picks for this upcoming season:

NFC East:
NY Giants

NFC North:
Green Bay

NFC South:
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

NFC West:
San Francisco
St. Louis

Wild Card: Minnesota, Atlanta

AFC East:
New England
NY Jets

AFC North:

AFC South:

AFC West:
Kansas City
San Diego

Wild Card:  Tennessee, Houston

Super Bowl:  Tennessee over Green Bay

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reflections on the Retirement of Glen Coffee

Last week I (along with many other football fans) were shocked by the announcement that Glen Coffee, RB for the San Francisco 49ers announced his retirement.  A lot of shock was because he was a 3rd round pick last year out of Alabama and was expected to continue in his role as backup/3rd down back to starter Frank Gore.  People speculated as to why he retired (didn't get along with how HC Mike Singletary ran training camp was one main one.  When he finally answered question, Glen simply said that he felt that it was time to go and that in part it was because of his faith and trust in God that he decided to walk away.  In an interview with a sports writer for the Sacramento Bee, Glen mentioned how he came to faith in Christ while at Alabama and that he shouldn't have entered the draft because his heart wasn't in it.  When asked why he couldn't reconcile his faith and football, Glen responded:  "His [God's] will, I felt, wasn't football. I felt like I forced football because everyone expected me to play football. He told me a long time ago to walk away from the game."  Glen is heading back to Alabama to finish his bachelor's degree then pursue a master's degree.

This story is similar to one back in January that I blogged about.  There, a prospect for the Oakland A's, retired to pursue a calling as a priest.  The two stories are similar in that both were young and felt God's call into ministry.  The difference being Glen was already in the highest level and was getting snaps and playing time while the baseball prospect may or may not have made it to the highest level.

While there are those who have played in the NFL while being bold in the faith, Glen Coffee didn't feel that was God's calling in his life.  The important thing is to follow God's will.  I understand in some way how Glen feels.  Pursuing God's calling in your life is hard but in the end is the most rewarding.  I wish him nothing but the best in the weeks, months and years ahead.

(Here's a link to the interview)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

T-Shirt Tuesday & The Race to the End of the Race: Eighth Royals Game of 2010 in Review

Yesterday I went to my eighth Royals game of the year.  My friend Lane and I took advantage of another deal on tickets and got some good seats cheap (Field Box, third base side).  It was another T-Shirt Tuesday which meant another free T-Shirt.  Aside from a fitted hat, all my Royals gear has been free (I got at games or during Royals chapel).  Can't go wrong with that at all.

The funny part about this game was this:  So Lane and I got to the stadium just as the gates opened.  We got our T-Shirts and went to our seats.  We sat down and were looking around.  We see this guy with a headset on and a Royals polo shirt walk over and ask us if we'd be interested in doing one of the games between innings.  We were like sure.  He said it was the Inflatable Slugggurrr race.  Basically it's these blow up suits that look like the mascot Slugggurrr and people are to run two laps out at the Little K (small ballpark for kids) in the suits.  He asked us to stand up to check our heights and he told Lane "Yeah you're great." and he looked at me "You'll be okay" because the preferred height for this was 5'5" to 5'10" (and I'm 6').  So he had us sign a waiver and said meet over by the Little K in the middle of the 2nd inning.

Middle of the 2nd inning we walk over and meet up with the guy.  He has us go onto the field of the Little K and look into a camera there and wave to the camera so they could tape us and the fans could see our faces since we'd be in the suits during the event.  At about the end of the 3rd, they strapped out feet into the suits put a thing on our backs like a backpack and started getting us into the suits and inflated them.  I was in the "Royal blue" Slugggurrr while Lane was in the "Powder blue" Slugggurrr (there usually is a 3rd suit but it's out of commission right now).  The middle of the 4th was when the race took place.  The real Slugggurrr was there along with Tim, the "host" and also several members of the K Crew (who help with giveaways and entertainment stuff).  He tells us beforehand to "run as hard as we can and have a great race".  When the time comes it's a countdown and then we're off.  I start slow the first lap mainly because I'm having to look down a little because the line of sight is lower than I am and I was still trying to get a feel for the suit.  I round the cone that I started from to complete the first lap and I started to pick up speed.  When I rounded the cone to start the home stretch I just ran as hard as I could in that suit.  When I got to the end I was a little tired but I found out I won the race.  I could look out and see Slugggurrr standing in front of me waiving the flag and then he bopped me in the head gently with it.  They then got us out of the suits and I was handed an envelope for winning and Lane for runner-up.  I got back to my seat and opened up the envelope.  It had a couple of coupons for KC Masterpiece products and a $25 dollar gift card from Hy-Vee.  Not bad at all. (The race to the end of the race in the title is a reference to Homestar Runner in case you didn't catch it)

The game itself was pretty good.  Zack Grienke pitching is always a good night and he got a quality start.  It was another low scoring game but two solo home runs made the difference.  Soria came in for the save and it was good times.  Royals end up winning the game 2-1.  The other highlight was they were playing Cleveland which meant Trevor Crowe was playing, our favorite Cleveland Indian player.  He did get a double in the game so that was cool.

Overall the Royals are now 4-4 in games I've been to (3-0 when I wear the powder blue jersey, last night wore the royal blue jersey so it's 1-0) and for teams I've rooted for the record is 6-2.  Good times abound!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reflecting on The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels

People who know me know that I grew up a professional wrestling fan and to some extend I still am today, though I'll watch old matches more than I'll watch new ones.  One of my favorites to watch growing up was "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels.  He wasn't a big guy or really muscular, but he above and beyond the call of duty in putting on a show for all the fans in the arena and watching on TV.  He is a guy who I respected as a wrestler and have come to respect even more so as a person.

For those that don't know his story, to try and sum it up would be difficult.  But he was someone who had achieved a lot of success but was feeling empty, he tried to fill that emptiness with drugs, with fame, and it didn't work.  On the outside he was successful but on the inside he was a wreck.  He had an injury to his back that forced him out of wrestling in 1998.  That was the beginning of a rough time in his life but it was also the time God used to work in his life.  He got married, started a family but things weren't clicking in his life fully.  His wife got back into church and invited him to go.  He did and heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and from that accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior and has been following him ever since.

From that point on, there was a change in his life.  He had turned his life over to the Lord, began making amends with friendships and relationships that had been hurt by his previously destructive behavior, got involved in his local church leading bible studies and would share his faith often.  He got back into wrestling in 2002 after his back had healed up and continued to wrestle until his retirement after Wrestlemania 26 this past March.

He is someone who is an encouragement of the work of Christ in someone's life and the impact that has.  Shawn is quick to point to his faith in interviews even to this day.  This week Bill Simmons, writer and podcaster, interviewed Shawn and during the interview there were several times Shawn referenced his faith and the importance that it has in this life (you can click on this link to check out that interview).  Also, if you ever get the chance watch the DVD "Heartbreak & Triumph:  The Shawn Michaels Story".  It is produced by WWE and tells the story of Shawn's life and career through 2006.  It talks about the highs and lows of Shawn's life and does share a little bit of his testimony of his conversion.

It's always good to point out those who are active and sharing their faith and using the platforms God has given them to do this.  Kudos to Shawn and hope that God continues to use him in such a manner.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Supporting a Good Cause through Fantasy Football

I came across this through Twitter and wanted to pass it along.  Everyone that knows me knows I love football and I'm excited about the upcoming season.  I also enjoy being involved in fantasy football, and I'm not alone.  There are millions across the country that are signing up for leagues even as we speak.  It's a great way to supplement watching the games, have bragging rights and enjoy winning a championship every now and then.

It is also a means by which people can help support a good cause.  This last week Alexandra Schlereth, actress and daughter of current ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL great Mark Schlereth set out a twitter message promoting two openings in a fantasy football league that she and her dad participate in.  The way these two spots were to be filled were by people donating $20 to Generosity Water.  Generosity Water is a non-profit organization that is "committed to ending the clean water crisis" (from their twitter page).  Their mission is:  "Dedicated to ending the clean water crisis in developing countries, one community at a time. Through innovative awareness campaigns, strategic implementation and in depth accountability, we hope to inspire people to think globally and live generously." (from their website)  For each $20 dollar donation, there was one entry put in and at the end of the week Alexandra drew two names and those two are invited to play in their league.  Overall, there was nearly $800 dollars raised.

It's great to hear stories like this.  God can use fantasy football to help raise money to help out those in need.  What passions has God given you that you can use to help out those in need and to share the Gospel with others?

(If you want to donate to Generosity Water, you can go to their website)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reflections on Amare Stoudemire

Last week there was an interesting article on (the link to the article is right here).  In the article, Amare Stoudemire, PF formerly of the Phoenix Suns and now of the New York Knicks, was interviewed about his visit to Israel and his search for his Jewish roots.  His mother side of the family is Jewish and he is tracing his roots back on her side of the family to confirm this.

The interesting part of this article was a quote that Stoudemire said.  When talking about his upbringing, he said this:  "I grew up in a very spiritual home. It's not about religion, it's about spirituality for me."  A very interesting quote, and I would venture to say quite common in this postmodern society we live in.  Personally I think Amare is half right.  It's not about religion.  However, where I would disagree is what it's about.  It's about relationship.  In both the Old and New Testament, God has (and still does) wanted relationship between people and Himself.  We see this throughout the Old Testament reflected in the relationship between God and the Israelites.  We see this in the New Testament through Jesus Christ, who lived on this Earth and reflected the relationship God wants with His people and then died on the cross so that we can be able to have that relationship again without sin blocking our access.

I will say that I'm encouraged that Amare is looking.  I hope that while he is looking, the Holy Spirit works on his heart and shows him that the Messiah has already come and that it can be more than just spirituality, but a relationship between him and the Father, through Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Retro Feeling: Seventh Royals Game in 2010 in Review

Yesterday I went to my seventh Royals game of the year. It was the first one in nearly two months (last one I went to was early June). Worked out to get cheap tickets and was in the city so away I went. It was free hat giveaway, they gave away a Kansas City Monarchs hat, in honor of Negro Leagues Celebration they do every year. The Royals were facing the Baltimore Orioles and both teams wore Negro League jerseys.

The game was a quick one (a little over two hours) and Zack Grienke got the win. The highlight was the 2 run homer by Billy Butler in the bottom of the 8th to allow the Royals to take the lead.

One other thing that stood out was the amount of people that walked up and down the aisles during the innings. In Seattle, the ushers in the lower levels wouldn't allow people to go while an at-bat was going on. In KC, they allow it. It gets kind of annoying when people are walking up and down and blocking the view of the game. My friend Kyle and I started joking about it after awhile and added that to the list of things he's going to teach on when he does his Baseball 101 class someday.

Overall the Royals are 3-4 in games I've been to, (all three games they've won I wore my Billy Butler jersey) and for teams I've rooted for the record is 5-2. I'm hoping to make it to a few more games before the season is done but we'll see.