Thursday, October 10, 2013

Welcome, October!

Last week I said that The Observer ought to cover the PORTA football team, and, lo and behold, I bought a copy of the paper and right there on the front page was a great write-up of the game. I didn’t see a byline, but to whomever wrote that article – nice job! 

October has always been my favorite month. On the sports front you’ve got football season in full swing, post-season baseball (yes, Cubs fans, there is baseball in October), and even basketball practices get started. Sorry, hockey fans, I’ve tried to like your sport but I just can’t. It’s a good time to be a sports fan. 

Weatherwise, I enjoy the cooler mornings and warmer afternoons, and the transformation of the leaves into beautiful fall colors always highlights the season. “For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy” (Psalm 92:4). There’s even some good motorcycle riding left in October. 

Then there’s the fact that my birthday is in October, the 12th to be exact. I suppose everyone’s favorite month is the one in which their birthday falls. Maybe I’m just a kid, but I secretly still enjoy the special attention. However, with my youngest son’s birthday coming just two days after mine, much of that attention over the past nine years has been diverted to Toby. Oh, well. I’m going to stop counting pretty soon anyway. 

And to top off October, I’ve found out that along with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, National Book Month, National CyberSecurity Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month, among a host of others, this is also Pastor Appreciation Month. 

A couple of weeks ago I came home to find two long-bearded thugs in my garage messing around with my motorcycle. Listen, if there’s anything you don’t do, you don’t mess around with another man’s wife and you don’t even think about touching his motorcycle. But before I could show them my best Karate Kid “Crane Kick,” it turns out the intruders were installing a new windshield on my bike. The whole operation, as I understand, was even being financed by a couple of tough gangs in town that like to refer to themselves as “Senior Men” and “The Ladies” Sunday School classes. 

I would say the whole thing smells fishy to me, but not as fishy as the Jay Leno line someone posted on Facebook recently: “The National Aquarium in Washington is going to close. But don’t worry. If you’re in D.C. and you still want to smell something fishy, stop by the White House. They’ve gone from ‘Change you can believe in’ to ‘Changing the story until you believe it.’” Oh, the things I could say about the state of our political absurdity and chaos. America voted for change, and we’re sure getting it. 

Last week I got a letter in the mail from my current health insurance provider stating that the new law (Obamacare) requires that I have maternity benefits. Talk about change! All I know is that if my wife finds out that I’m pregnant, heads are gonna roll!

If I could change anything about October it would be our culture’s fascination with the dead, our appetite for fright and enjoyment of all the ghosts and goblins and witches and wickedness we see around Halloween. Clearly for a Christian, we are called to walk in the light of Christ Jesus and have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness. And yes, I’m talking about the horror movies and TV shows portraying (and glorifying) all sorts of violence, gore and death. I’m talking about haunted houses that feast on terrifying young and old with evil images, scary scenes and the dread of darkness.

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Christ Jesus has called His followers out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46). You’re not walking in the light when you’re walking through dark haunted houses, watching horror movies or reading books about zombies.

There is so much more, so much that’s better and true and good and wholesome and hope-filled and peaceful and life-giving when we’re living by the light of Christ Jesus and shining out that light into the darkness of the world. And let me offer my appreciation to my fellow pastors who preach that word of the gospel. May the Lord bless you and His church as you stay faithful in the work! Enjoy October!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Smarter than my Dad"

“…and that’s the day I got smarter than my Dad,” Toby grinned as he talked with me about what he was going to tell his friends at school. Unfortunately, I could hardly disagree with him. 

After all, when he pointed out the nail in the front driver’s side tire, it really was a bonehead move for me to pull it out. And that against my 8-year-old’s counsel to leave it in. I’m not sure what I expected to happen. Maybe that it would not have actually pierced the inner tube or that perhaps it would not leak, miraculously. Hey, if Jesus can stop the wind from blowing on the sea, surely He could stop the air from leaking from my tire.

All I know is that nails do not belong in tires, and I wanted it gone. Of course, the hissing that immediately followed my blunder quickly deflated my pride and served as confirmation to Toby that he just got smarter than his Dad. 

At least I can still beat him in arm wrestling. Wish I could say the same about my 13-year-old. We usually end in a draw, but I should note that he always wants to take me on when my right arm is already physically exhausted from playing the guitar or writing newspaper articles or strenuous texting. I think they must be beefing him up in football. 

Speaking of football, the PORTA Junior High teams are doing well. If you missed the home games, you’ll have to travel to catch the last couple away, but it might be worth the trip. The 8th graders are undefeated (as of this writing) so far this year, having gone 8-0 last year. They have some great players on the team, but the coaches have really drilled the fundamentals of the game into them, taught them well, praised them enough but not too much, and have been tough on them when needed. Go watch a game and you’ll see how well they execute. 

Then, speaking of football (again), was last Friday night’s homecoming game not one of the most thrilling high school football games you’ve ever seen? Big plays, clutch catches, blocked kicks, fumble recovery, Manning-like offense for Auburn, an AP-like running game for the Bluejays, overtime, an extra point through the uprights for the win. You name it, this game had everything but defense as PORTA electrified the home crowd with a 56-55 overtime win. Great job, Bluejays! Go take down the Bullets this weekend!

The Springfield paper had a nice write-up of the game in Sunday’s Sports section. They reported Jesse Setzer carried for 359 rushing yards breaking the school record set in 1988 by Bart Jones. The article also noted the Auburn QB threw 7 touchdown passes – also a school record. I’m one of those guys who will watch a game and then want to read about it in the paper the next day. I even like box scores. Weird, huh?

Somebody ought to cover the football team for The Observer. Even if you get the news nearly a week later, I think people would be interested in reading about our high school sports, wouldn’t they? I would so do it, too, if I weren’t already busy messing with car tires and arm wrestling with my boys.

Amy might write this one up in her journal. I thought it would be good for the boys to learn how to change a tire, so I had them come out to the garage with me, to learn from the master. Space will thankfully spare me from embarrassing myself here, but let’s just say it didn’t go as well as I would have hoped. Big thanks to Bill Hodges for bailing me out! I probably should have had Toby walk me through it since he’s smarter than me.

Finally, a biker’s wave goes out to the guys who rode their motorcycles for Bike to Church Sunday last week! Even had one pedal in to church. Next step, we need to get a group together and ride! Just want to let everyone know, even bikers, there is room at the cross for all who turn in faith to Christ Jesus. Hope to see you Sunday!