Friday, December 28, 2007

I hate seeing football season end...

I don't generally talk about sports here, but with football season drawing to a close, my mind is going back to the year that was. All in all, I've enjoyed this season of football (both NFL and NCAA) more than any other I can think of off the top of my head (although the Packers last Super Bowl season was fairly memorable...). First off, let's look at the college game this year.

It seemed like there was a different number 1 or number 2 team every single week, which made for the most exciting and dynamic season there has ever been. Being a Kansas Jayhawks fan, I generally don't have much to cheer about until basketball season, but this year saw the very surprising KU squad get within 9 points of the number 1 ranking going into the last week of the regular season, and they get to play in a BCS Bowl in January. Nobody predicted it - not even close - but it was a lot of fun to watch in this most unusual year. Equally exciting was to see another Big XII team get a BCS Bowl. I'm certainly not a Mizzou fan, but I always enjoy seeing the Big XII on top.

As if the NCAA season wasn't exciting enough, this NFL season has been a great a deal of fun to watch as well. First of all, the Bears returned to their pathetic form and played well only three times this season (their recent loss to the Vikings was probably their best game of the year). While some Bears fans are talking trash about their sweep of the mighty Pack this year, it should be noted that the first game was an absolute gift (anybody who isn't a brain-damaged Bears fan will agree ;) ) and the second game was all about the Packers absolutely pathetic special teams play and Favre's horrendous 3rd quarter. Orton looked OK, but the dude had nothing to lose. Chicago still doesn't have a QB that's capable of winning more than 2 consecutive games, so expect the next two seasons to look a lot like this one for duh bears.

More impressive than the Bears return to form this season was the resurgence of the Pack as one of the premier teams in the league. They went to Dallas with four key starters watching from the sidelines and still managed to stay in the ballgame against a team that was touted as being head-and-shoulders above the rest of the NFC. Look for this young, talented team to be one of the top-tier teams in the NFL for the next 4 or 5 years.

Speaking of top-tier teams, the New England Patriots have been nothing short of amazing this season. Forget about "spygate"...these guys are absolutely incredible and seem to be about three steps of everybody else in the NFL. They will go down in history as one of the best single season teams ever and will break nearly every single-season team and individual record there is to break this season. If they manage to continue this impressive run and win the Super Bowl they will no doubt be ranked as the best single-season team in history knocking off both the '72 Dolphins and the '85 Bears claim to that title. I've never been a Pat's fan, and I'm still not, but watching them play this year has been a real treat.

The other great streak that's been fun to watch in the NFL this year was the hapless Miami Dolphins. I think their better than at least 3 other teams out there (Jets, Falcons, and Chiefs - although the Lions, Bears, Cards and Niners also come to mind), but they just couldn't win games this year. I was really hoping to see them go winless just for the opportunity to see both perfection and the exact opposite happen during the same season!

Now, all that being said, I'm going to make a bold prediction regarding the playoffs and Super Bowl. I think the Redskins will beat Dallas this week and make the playoffs as the hottest team playing in the NFC right now. They will win their first playoff game and then pull off an upset in Dallas (the Cowboys are getting a little worse each week it seems) to get into the NFC Championship game against Green Bay. If the weather is lousy, I think we'll see the Redskins in the Super Bowl against......Indianapolis. Yep, Indi. As much as I want to see New England finish off the perfect season (unless they play the Pack in the Super Bowl), I think that Indi is going to pull off the upset and repeat as Super Bowl champs over the winner of the Green Bay/Washington game.

Either that, or New England will stomp Dallas in the big game (how's that for waffling?).

By the way, another great memory from this year was the fact that my wife and I were able to go to our first NFL game this season. We went to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and watched the Packers win one of their 13 games. It was a great time and the Chiefs fans we were sitting near were a lot of fun. The picture to the right was taken right after the Chiefs fans began to exit en masse and the one to the left was taken as the Pack began their last key defensive stand that resulted in a interception return for a TD.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Is Theology really all that important?

I've been asked that very question more than once and in more than one way. A lot of Christians get a bit "put off" at the thought of studying theology or doctrine. Those two words, theology and doctrine, tend to be met with moans and groans when mentioned in any setting of Christians outside of academia. One of the best answers I've ever heard or read to the question, "why should I study theology?", was put forth by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. He said, "{If} you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones - bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas.

I was once asked to give a brief overview of systematic theology to an adult Sunday School class. That overview was to be followed by a 4-week study on the subject of Christology. I began the first class by asking the question, "what's the first thought that enters your mind when you hear the term systematic theology?" That question was met by audible groans, some laughter, and one man shouting out, "TROUBLE!" The responses caught me a bit off guard, but I guess I wasn't really all that surprised...people tend to view the study of theology as something that should be left to "professional theologians" - pastors, professors, and the piously argumentative intellectuals who like to hear themselves talk and are visibly shaken when a conversation takes to using too many monosyllabic words!

The fact is that all Christians are theologians...some are just bad ones. We should be constantly striving to learn all that we can about our Heavenly Father. Too many Christians allow their pastor or their church's doctrinal statement to tell them what they believe without ever having bothered to study for themselves. I think it's an understatement to say that this is tragic....why would a Christian operate under the notion that that sort of laziness and apathy is acceptable?

Obviously, study isn't the end all. Increasingly deeper study should lead one to correct doctrine and a correct view of God. A solid grasp on correct doctrine, coupled with a correct view of God, ought to lead one to a more holy way of living as he strives more and more to please God.

Too often I've seen blissfully ignorant Christians take some sort of ridiculous pride in their ignorance of even the most rudimentary portions of theology. I once heard a pastor proudly proclaim, "I ain't no theologian" (that's a word-for-word quote). The sad part was that this proclamation was made during his ordination (a sham if I've ever seen one). The purpose of the ordination was so that he could be sent out to pastor a church elsewhere. He went and within 2 years the church had all but vanished from the face of the earth. That pastor went back to his sending church with tales of how the people were against him the whole time and he was just glad to be back amongst "God's people". (By the way, even though this guy should have known that he was in no way prepared for the pastorate, I hold the pastor of the sending church even more responsible.....another reason I'm so thrilled to be away from the psychotic fringes of IFB-dom). While this is purely anecdotal, there are a million stories just like this one. While these same people can quote Matthew 22:37 by heart, very few of them have ever bothered to consider what the phrase "with all your mind" might encompass.

Is the study of theology really all that important? Absolutely! Let's strive to engage our hearts and minds in diligent study of the things of God. I began a new study on the Doctrine of Scripture this week and came across this great statement from R.C. Sproul, "The Word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart; but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Finally back!

We've been without internet access since my last post on 12/12. We've had cable the entire time, but we were waiting for the cable company to get out here to replace our fried modem - they finally showed up today and all seems right with the world once again!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

No lights, no heat, but a lot of fun....

It's been an interesting couple of days out here in the Midwest US. Ice began flying on Monday early evening and didn't stop until sometime Tuesday mid-morning, only to start up again on Tuesday night. We lost power at our house at about 5:00 Tuesday morning and decided to "hole up" for the day. We were grateful to have our power restored at about 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, but that only lasted for a couple of hours....

So, Tuesday night we moved a large mattress into our bedroom and put the kids down on it. We shut everything up and managed to stay pretty warm in the bedroom even though the temperature dropped below 20 degrees overnight. When we woke up this morning our room was still fairly comfortable, but the rest of the house had dropped down below 50 degrees and was steadily dropping. Listening to the radio we discovered that there was no power anywhere in town, so we went to the Red Cross shelter so we could get a warm cup of coffee and try to find out some information from the folks there. As soon as we got there the Red Cross representative asked us if we wanted to get cots reserved for the five of us since power wasn't expected to be restored for at least 2 days! We got the cots, came home and got bedding, and headed back to the shelter to ride the rest of this thing out.

We spent about 3 hours at the shelter mingling with the folks, eating lunch, and watching "Cars" when suddenly, the lights came on! The problem turned out to be a tad less major than the power company had assumed and they were able to get power restored to a large part of the it turned out, our house was part of that section (although, not everyone in our neighborhood has power just yet).

So, we're back home where it's warm and cozy and I'm sitting here drinking coffee out of my favorite coffee cup. Rarely has a shower and shave felt as good as they did this evening! The kids are a tad disappointed that we didn't get to sleep on the cots at the shelter, but when they found out that school was canceled tomorrow (for the 3rd consecutive day), they kind of forgot about missing out on the adventure of sleeping on cots with a couple of hundred other people!

The entire town is a mess right now. Enough ice dropped that a lot of power lines and a few poles broke. There are trees down all over town and several of the trees in our backyard sustained some pretty major damage. Thankfully, we haven't heard about there being any injuries or deaths due to the storm. Some of the clean up began today, but we've all got a heck of a long week ahead of us. Tonight it's supposed to drop down to 18 degrees or so, but it doesn't like there going to be much moisture in the air, so we shouldn't have any problems overnight.

I'll try to post some pictures of the damage to our property later this week...