Thursday, September 4, 2008

Will the Best Defensive End to Play for Goldthwaite, Please Stand Up?

I have a dream.... (okay, actually I had a dream--but not as catchy)

Ladies, this is one of the ultimate male fantasies in a nutshell....
Rarely do I dream at night, maybe because I dream all day long. If I do dream at night I rarely remember the details, and if I do remember the details, I usually question my sanity, but that's another post. The dream goes something like this...

The weather is cool. A light breeze is blowing across the central Texas town. All the shops are vacated. Car broke down? Good luck. It's Friday night and the stadium lights are on. The sun is just set and the bright stadium lights cast their gleam on the football field. Nestled in the rural town, the stadium lights beacon all to leave their lives and migrate to the field. The lights themselves are exciting and nostalgic.

Why I'm there I don't really know. (Later I learn the reason is destiny) At the beginning of the dream I'm a bystander, a fan of the game and of all things small town football. It's Fall and the height of football season. The location is Goldthwaite and the crisp air is a welcome change. The excitement is tangible.

The stadium is packed with people of all ages, economic status, and occupation. The mixture of black and yellow is obvious (sure we call it gold, but it's really yellow) . It's downright tacky. The band on the west side of the aluminum stands plays intermittently. Doesn't sound great, but it is beautiful...brass, drums, woodwinds all working together, sort of. I sit watching the game, maybe I'm by myself, I don't know, but I'm entranced by the stage before me. I'm soaking it all in. In my body I feel the need to hit somebody. Not a fist punch--a football hit. And not a typical football, hit--that's a tackle. I'm talking the kind of crash the helmet, lift the opponent off the ground, feel kinda lightheaded, dad says "that's my boy!", help 'em up with a smirk on your face, "that's going on the hightlight reel", "please tell me the photographer got that" type of hit that happens only a few times in a football career. It's a feeling all ex football players (who actually enjoyed playing) experience while watching a live alma mater game.

The game is playing. The score--unknown. Suddenly the action stops, a boy playing right defensive end dressed in all black is injured. Players take a knee on either side. Suddenly silence. No fight song. No cheerleading. Only whispers in the stands. With worry and anticipation everyone listens. Soon a sigh of relief breaks out across the crowd like a wave. The player hobbles off the field with the aid of the trainers. But there's a problem. There's no one to take the player's place. Without a replacement the game is over and the Friday night is a bust. The coaches put their heads together as if forming a huddle, you can see them conversing, but not make out what they're saying. Finally, they raise their heads in consensus. Coach Gary Proffit begins walking toward the home crowd.....

"Will the best defensive end to play football for the Eagles please stand up?" My heart stops... "Could it be me, they're talking about?" To stand up would be arrogant. What if I'm mistaken, then I'm just a fool. Just as I'm questioning what to do I hear his voice again, this time with specificity. His Texas accent is thick and his enunciation is slow. "Is Donald Newton here?" I look around. The crowd is starting to murmur and people are beginning to look toward me. "Is it okay to stand?" "Yeah, I think it is." Then I hear it again. "Donald Newton would you please come down and play defensive end?"

As I slowly rise, the murmuring of the crowd increases. The murmuring turns to cheering....then clapping. I start to gallop down the stands as the fans cheer. "Don't fall on theses steps with everyone watching." Next thing I know I'm wearing cleats, shoulder pads, and a helmet. The uniform fits. Like the Texas A&M 12th man, I was called to action.

I can't remember the rest of the dream, but honestly the rest of it doesn't matter. I think there is a reason I don't remember the rest of the dream. It was irrelevant. EVERY MAN DESIRES TO HAVE MOMENTS OF HEROIC WELCOME AND HEROIC RESPONSE. I know the dream was cheesy, but this principle is at the heart of most every man. Was I the best defensive end to play for the Goldthwaite Eagles? Most certainly not, but someone thought I was and not just anyone. Its why we become firefighters, police officers, name it. Ask any red blooded American boy what he desires to be.... bankers, accountants, and such don't make the top 10. It's also why we get bullish when someone hurts our wives' feelings. It's why we threaten our daughters' suitors, and why we work with our kids to tighten the spiral or sink the jumper. So I ask of you women who love your men. Do recognize your man's heroic moments? When he questions, "should I stand up?" are you saying "I think they're calling for you."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reckless Abandon

"Come follow me." Those words ring true today. What if I were to practice reckless abandon, drop my net and surrender totally to Jesus' call? At some point those guys must have said if not directly to Him, then in their minds, "Jesus, not sure exactly where this is going, but have you read concerning yourself? Aren't we going to be taking charge here? Look, I had a good job back there. Sure, I followed you, but let's be honest, I was a little tired of the same old, same old. I was looking for some adventure, maybe even a stepping stone. My old job is not looking so bad right now. Surely you've got bigger plans than this?" Yet, they held on, they moved past the microscope to the telescope and were martyred for their beliefs. Mabe what kept them holding on was the realization that life is a vapor and whatever the sacrifice it was short term through the looking glass of eternity.

So what if I always view life through the looking glass of eternity instead of the microscope of now? Impossible to do, but I could be better--much better. I want to live with reckless abandon for the faith. What's holding me back? God calls us all to reckless abandon. What are you going to do to practice reckless abandon? What should you do, but aren't? What dream has God put in your heart that would require reckless abandon? What's holding you back? What's holding me back?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Faith, Furnaces, and Lions

I'm amazed at the faith of the heroes of the Bible. Most of them have their moments of great faith, mingled with times of doubt or failure. Daniel was not so, or at least the Bible doesn't describe such an incident with Daniel. Some things stick out to me regarding him and countless others.

1) If you are a man of God, the people you serve in power will most always love you. They may not agree with you, but they will respect you. For a person in power, having an objective, right hand man who will willingly say difficult things is invaluable.
2) How one receives hard advice, will determine their success in life/death. Best to embrace that person than to shun them and do whatever you planned to do anyway.
3) God takes care of his own. You may not avoid a lion's den or a fiery furnace, but he will be faithful to deliver me through it.
4) Compromise in a small thing, don't expect to stand strong when faced with a pack of lion's or a furnace. The gospel is to change the culture, not change with the culture.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Robbing God

What am I aftraid of? If God is for me who can stand against me? Bring all the tithes into the storehouse and all my offerings and will not God supply all my needs? Will he not give heaping, shaken and pressed down so much that I can't contain it? Am I building a house of panels and cedars, while the Lord's house is in ruin? Holes in my pockets? Who am I to doubt God? Is His arm too short? Trust in me and I have myself to blame. If I trust God with my money, I have Him to blame. God is blameless. Can a man rob God? But I need insurance. Really? I know they have my best interests at heart! But I need TV! Really? I'm such a better person for it. But my house is too small? Really, the son of Man had no place to lay his head. But I need retirement? Where is retirement in the Bible? Who will take care of me when I'm old. Really? Didn't Moses walk Mt. Sinai and live to a ripe old age? Haven't my heroes in the faith lived full lives until they passed, and they never saw the likes of nursing homes. Who will pay for my children's college? Doesn't God give them wisdom for SATs and the like?

I've been testing the waters of faith, sometimes even getting waist deep, but the water is cold. Why not jump in? At least it's not lukewarm. God, push me in and float me there, cause fighting the current is getting old.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hear, O Israel

A friend of mine cleverly used Donald Rumsfield's words from a press conference months ago to describe our limited understanding of scriptures. I believe Mr. Rumsfield was talking about intelligence in Iraq, but Patrick was referring to our understanding of the Word. "There are things that we know. There are things we know we don't know. There are things we don't know that we don't know."

I am convinced that many Christians have too quickly explained away Israel. Maybe we should not discount Israel's role today and in the future, but I understand why many of us have to this point. The current nation of Israel was only recently reestablished. For someone studying the Bible up through the mid 1900's, seeing Israel as a nation in the Bible would have been difficult to perceive. Maybe this is why some believe the church had replaced Israel. I don't think that is necessarily the case. Were God's promises to Israel conditional? I'm not sure, but I believe a study of Romans indicates that we have been grafted into Israel and not them into us. I have been slapped in the face for being prideful that I accepted Christ while so many Jews did not/have not. But this was all part of God's plan. Paul says regarding Israel, quoting the OT "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear to this very day." He also says "For if their [JEWS]rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?" "Do I think Israel should return to the Law, animal sacrifice, and rebuild a temple to be saved. No, salvation is still through Christ, but would their returning to what they knew to do be viewed favorably by God? Perhaps. Paul says this "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."

What do you think? Some of this I know I don't know. Some I probably don't know that I don't know.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Underestimating your enemy whether in combat or competition is always disastrous. It's a lot safer to overestimate your enemy's abilities, but I can't say I've ever done that. Unfortunately, many Christians and fringe believers have relegated Lucipher to the Darth Maul type figure from our childhood, when in reality he's a master of his craft and there is no beating him one on one. The Charlie Daniels song "Devil Went Down to Georgia" makes great folklore, but that's all it is. The real ending to that song would end with the fiddler smoldering in fire and brimstone.
My understanding of the devil has changed over the last few years. I would credit 4 influences: The book "Seeing the Unseen", the movie "Devil's Advocate", the movie "The Usual Suspects" and personal experience.
In the words of Chip Ingram, "I'm not saying I see a demon behind every bush", but I am definitely more aware of satanic forces at work in the world. I've often viewed myself as falling victim only to my own sinful nature or just a victim of coincidences, but I now view my life and everyone's lives differently with the understanding that spiritual forces are at war all of our souls. I'm not saying I give myself a free pass, just that there is much more to temptation than a little voice of a felt puppet on one shoulder. If you don't realize that then listen to the last line from the Usual Suspects.
If that doesn't make sense to you then puruse through Devil's Advocate. It's a horrible movie with lots of disgusting stuff that you need to fast forward through, but it depicts Satan's schemes very well, especially the last scene.
The interesting thing is that overcoming Satan ultimately is not a matter of trying harder, but much prayer. Just look at how Jesus did it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Brown Eyed Girl

No earthly thing is as fulfilling as family when done right. No family thing is as fulfilling as marriage when done right. No marriage is always done right. No thing done right is easy. Any right thing done enough gets easier. Anything right thing that gets easy can be taken for granted. I hope I don't take my brown eyed girl for granted....

Honey, you are a rock, upon which I stand
And I come here to talk. I think you understand....
Brown eyes, yeah the spotlight shines upon you
And how could anybody deny you?

I came here with a load and it feels so much lighter now I've met you
And honey you should know that I could never go on without you.

Brown eyes... Brown eyes...

Honey you are the sea upon which I float
And I come here to talk. I think you should know...
Brown eyes, your're the one that I wanted to find.
And anyone who tries to deny you, must be out of their mind.

Because I came here with a load, and it feels so much lighter now I've met you
And honey you should know that I could never go on without you.

Brown eyes... Brown eyes...