Interactive Sermon

"Those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured" ~Old Russian Proverb

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Big Buts of the Bible #1

The biggest 'but' in the New Testament, for my thinking, is found in Romans 3:21. To feel the full weight of the conjunction, consider both 20 & 21 together:

Romans 3:20-21
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. BUT now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the law and the prophets testify.

The Good News is good news because it frees us from bondage to the law and death. It gives us freedom, it gives us life. This is the New Testament's biggest 'but' in my opinion because Paul utilizes it to demonstrate that harsh contrast between a religious life of trying to earn God's favor that will always come up short, and the offer that is truly good news, God has provided a way for us. He's given us His favor in Christ. A great soul question for us to ask: Which side of this 'but' do I stand?

This concludes my countdown of the top ten biggest buts of the New Testament (numbers 2-10 can be found in the archives menu). Chime in with comments, perhaps if you think that I missed a big but that you've come across. Also, be looking for the countdown of The Big Buts of the Old Testament to begin soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas Carol Survey

So, click 'comments' and take the little informal survey. You can paste the questions in if you want. I'll go first.

In General:
1) What is your favorite holiday song or Christmas carol?
2) Why?
3) Which Christmas music are we likely to find in your CD player this year?

In Church:
1) Which Christmas song do you most hope we'll sing in church this Christmas season?
2) Which Christmas song would you be happy to never sing again in church?
3) Why, to both questions number 1 & 2?

Parson to Person

#5 - An ongoing 'imaginative/non-fictional series. Find earlier entries in the series in the archives menu.

A few days passed where I played phone tag with Jay Dukes. I did my best to leave upbeat sounding messages on his machine. His replies sounded stern to me. I was torn between wanting to talk to him to get it over with, and being thankful for the few days we’d been missing one another. This little reprieve gave me time to really pray about it. I returned to 1Timothy 5:1 often in my mind, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly but exhort him as if her were your father.”

I was gathering my things to head to the weekly pastor’s prayer meeting when Lois called out to me, “Brian, there’s a Robert Smith on the telephone for you. Are you available?”
I wasn’t sure I knew anyone named Robert Smith but decided to take the call anyway. Walking out the door to a meeting was a great excuse to stifle a tele-marketing call.
“This is Brian”
“Parson” the voice on the phone began.

I recognized that greeting immediately. Tre’, the cook at the diner was the only person who ever called me Parson. In fact, he’s the only person I’ve ever heard use the word.

He continued. “It’s Robert Smith, you know? Tre’? At the café? Listen, I don’t know if calling you is the right thing or not. You know Robin? She has always thought the world of you and your wife.”
“Is something wrong Tre’?” I interrupted.
“They told her she has cancer. It’s like both her parents. Her father died from it. She’s really upset. I thought maybe if I gave you her number…”

I vaguely remembered hearing about her dad. I thought it was colon cancer. I knew that Sarah would remember. Sarah’s family history caused her to have regular tests for colon cancer. I thanked Tre’ for the call and assured him I’d contact Robin.

A quick call to Sarah helped me recall the details. It was colon cancer, and she lost her dad when she was a teenager. Sarah reminded me of the high success rate in beating colon cancer when it’s discovered early. She offered, “Brian, maybe I should call her. You know with my history, we have a lot in common.”

Lois stepped in, “Brian, there’s someone to see you." I looked up to see Robin in the doorway. “Sarah, I’ll call you back.”

Not An Ideal Laying On Of Hands

This story was hard to believe. A popular preacher out west was attacked during an altar call on Sunday. Read the article here. The article offers you a video clip of the local television affiliate's coverage, complete with a glimpse of the attack caught on film. Notice someone restraining the attacker, and the confused musician continuing to play her keyboard. Wow.

A recent article in a church leadership magazine advised that local church staffs and volunteers should have a plan in place in case something very out of the ordinary occurs during a service. I immediately thought of medical emergencies, of which we've dealt with a couple over the years. A haymaker thrown mid sermon didn't cross my mind. What do you think? Armed pastors? Tazers? Deacon/Marksman?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tuesday Morning Quarterback (wk. 12)

She's a spinning. That coaching carousel took it's first push on Monday with news of the Detroit Lions firing Head Coach Steve Mariucci. Mooch came with great expectations in 2003. He leaves with a 15-28 record. This move caught the guru off guard. I didn't expect Mooch to be on such a short leash. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron takes over on an interim basis. Jauron compiled a 36-46 record over 5 seasons coaching the Bears. Who will be the next Lions coach? The guru thinks he's currently a Head Coach in another NFL city.

How about the guru? Did you catch that splendid 13-3 win/loss record this past weekend? Another unbelievable outing. Can you beat it?

Cheers: Jaguars back-up QB David Garrard for stepping on the field when starter Byron Leftwich went down and playing winning football to keep the Jags in the thick of the AFC playoff picture. Also cheers to Giants PK Jay Feely for showing tremendous class in meeting the press corps after missing three field goals, two of them in overtime, ultimately costing his team the game. My hero of the week: A guy named Radioactive Jam for sticking his neck out with a bold prediction, commenting right here on my blog, that the Colts' winning streak would end in week 12 when they played the Steelers. He was wrong. But, it took guts to guru up. By the way, watch that Colts/Jags game on December 11th - THE guru hath spoken.

Jeers: The ownership of the Detroit Lions - the problem is in the front office. Has it dawned on anyone that the President of Football Operations Matt Millen is the one who hired Steve Mariucci and Marty Morningweg before him; has hand-crafted the team's roster; and is the one who has drafted the three wide receivers (Rodgers, Williams and Williams) with number one picks the last three years - the same guys that are re-defining the word underachiever. The Lions under Millen's leadership? An NFL worst 20-55. And my Goat of the week: ESPN Analyst and NFL Hall of Fame finalist Michael Irvin for getting busted on drug paraphernalia possession charges. His take? "It's not mine."

Check this space Thursday for another chance to amaze your friends with rock-solid NFL prognostication, compliments of the guru.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Night

Thanks to Mike and the team this morning for leading a wonderful set of worship music, and for whetting our appetites for more holiday music after singing O Come O Come Emmanuel. This morning's team included three of our younger musicians: Amanda, Katie and Krista - thanks ladies for your willingness to serve. You did a wonderful job leading us.

As I am typing this I am listening to a holiday rendition of Pachelbel's Canon performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. (Think: amazing orchestra meets rock band and choir, and plays a classical masterpiece at high volume.) It occurs to me that I really do hope for the families of Christ's Church, as I shared this morning, that this season of Advent will be a fruitful time of preparing our hearts to celebrate our Savior's birth.

Where our family is concerned, there will be much holiday music. Shari and I endeavor each year to involve all of our girls in decorating, and we try to seize every opportunity to talk about the meaning of Christ's birth. As a dad, I am hoping to set aside a couple of evenings to go shopping, but more than that, to share some holiday occasions - maybe going out to look at lights, sip some hot cocoa or cider, take in a holiday show, etc. What thoughts do you have to slow this season down and to truly appreciate it with your loved ones this year? Post some comments and ideas. And let me be among the first this season to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

For Our Saturday Night Readers - Advent

Advent is a season in the church calendar year used to prepare the hearts of the people for the celebration of Christ's birth, or advent. For more on Advent in general, click here.

Tomorrow, or the first Sunday in Advent, has been set aside to consider the hope associated with our Savior's birth. There was tremendous hope associated with the arrival of the Messiah. People who had been in bondage longed for freedom. People who had been oppressed longed for justice. People who had been neglected longed for comfort.

Consider the words of a song we will sing together tomorrow morning:
"O come, O come, Emmanuel; and ransom captive Israel"

Consider also these words from Psalm 25 that we will look at together tomorrow: "No one who's hope is in You, will ever be put to shame." Our aim tomorrow morning will be to grow our understanding of hope and its relevance to our souls - that we might truly unwrap hope this Christmas season.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Parson to Person

An ongoing 'imaginative/non-fictional' series. This is the 4th posting in the series.

I rehearsed on the way home. I imagined a gentle, “Honey, why is our 15 year old on birth control? Did you think to tell me before I went to the pharmacy?” Somehow those questions spoken calmly didn’t sound right to me. I also imagined it in an absolute tirade. I tried to sort out my emotions. Was I scared? Embarrassed? Worried? Angry?

When I got home, it didn’t go well. It came off much closer to the tirade than the gentle version.

“Brian, it’s not what you think. Our little girl is growing up. The doctor recommends this medicine to help with the severity of her cramps.”
I struggled to understand, “Sarah, why haven’t I heard about these cramps until now?”
“Brian, she’s not going to sit down and talk with you about her menstrual cycle. Don’t you remember the sex talk you had with her?”

I had ‘the talk’ with Dani a couple of years earlier. I struck up the conversation on the way home from a father/daughter movie date. I thought it went pretty well. Sarah told me the next morning that Dani was mortified. Sarah said she ‘fixed it’.

As I lay in bed that night praying and thinking it dawned on me that I was really wrestling with the change in my relationship with my oldest daughter. There was a time when I was the center of her world. Now we moved into this season of life where she would really only talk to her mom about some things. The change saddened me.

At the office the next morning another email from Jay Dukes was waiting.

From: jaydukes@finley.edu
Sent: 11/16/05 6:55AM
To: Brian Haas
Subject: Personal

Pastor,
Surely you know that using birth control is not the will of God! That you would purchase birth control and have one of your young daughters take it causes us grave concern. Moreover, the company that makes birth control also makes the abortion morning after pills. You are giving money to Satan’s cause! I am also disturbed by your needing to think about the email I sent yesterday. What’s to think about? Lastly, we are concerned you used the word ‘hottie’ speaking of a woman in a sermon illustration. Use of such slang and innuendo has no place in God’s house! What is happening with you pastor? I would like to meet with you ASAP to discuss this.
In His grace, Jay

Tryptophan Is Real

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in trace quantities in poultry and other foods. Legend has it that tryptophan in turkeys is the cause of people feeling sleepy after enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner. I'm not a scientist, but I've eaten enough turkey over the years to believe the urban legend of tryptophan in turkey to be real.

Yesterday at the Shaw household we celebrated with two turkeys, one baked in the oven and one 'Cajun deep-fat fried' in a bucket of burning peanut oil. After the meal everyone noted a marked drop in energy that could only be temporarily buoyed by the words "Dessert anyone?"

So now we plan to enjoy a week's worth of turkey leftover creations, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey this and turkey that. If my hunch is right about tryptophan, I may just miss most of the next week napping.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

You Be The Guru

Well now fans, we all dreamed of scoring the highlight reel touchdown or coming thru with the game winning kick as kids. I know that now your dreams have matured - you want to be the guru. So, you'll have to click 'comments' and weigh in this week.

The coaching carousel should begin spinning any day now. Who will be the first coach to get his walking papers? To help you a bit I'll give you a few pointers (even THE guru relies on some insider information each week). In the "Honey, pack up the china" category: Texans coach Dom Capers; Ravens coach Brian Billick; Saints coach Jim Haslett. In the "Isn't your cousin a realtor?" column: Vikings coach Mike Tice; Raiders coach Norv Turner; Titans coach Jeff Fisher. and in the "Fans are lobbying for my head" column: Packers coach Mike Sherman; Rams coach Mike Martz (and Joe Vitt, the medical-leave interim). I'll toss another little tidbit at you. This is one of those things that make you go 'hmmm': Redskins coach (legend/messiah) Joe Gibbs replaced Steve Spurrier who Redskin fans ran out of town on a rail for being 11-14 in his first 25 games with the team. Guess where the Skins were under Gibbs after his first 25 games. All together now, 'hmmm'.

News: By now you've heard, T.O. has officially been K.O.'d by the arbitrator. In Chicago, QB Rex Grossman is set to be back in uniform this weekend. As I had previously forecasted, now Lovie Smith has a decision to make, Grossman or stick with rookie Orton. The Colts are a perfect 10-0. Members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins bought a case of champagne this week. Their tradition has been to ice champagne each year that another team reaches the 10-0 mark, and covenant to get together and celebrate when they lose, preserving their 1972 perfect season as the only one in NFL history. Will the Colts remain perfect? Okay here's your chance. Be the Guru. Click 'comments' and let your prognosticating powers amaze me.

1) Who will be the first coach fired?
2) Will T.O. finally be out of the limelight or will we hear more from him?
3) In Chicago, does Orton finish the season or do they turn back to Grossman?
4) Does Indianapolis go undefeated in the regular season?
5) If not, which week will the '72 Dolphins pop the champagne?

Having pretended to be the guru, if you're really feeling it go ahead and take a crack at this week's slate. See if you can beat the guru across 16 games. Here's how it's done:

In my "theres-only-one-guru, say-goodbye-to-Capers-first, 2-more-weeks-of-T.O., Orton-sticks-but-perfection-ends-in-Jacksonville' picks for week number 12: Falcons over Lions; Broncos over Cowboys; Bengals over Ravens; Panthers over Bills; Bucs over Bears; Vikings over Browns; Chiefs over Patriots; Chargers over Native Americans; Titans over 49ers; Texans over Rams; Jaguar over Cardinals; Raiders over Dolphins; Eagles over Packers; Seahawks over Giants; Saints over Jets; Colts over Steelers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has long been a favorite holiday of mine. I think it was food, family and football that made the day for me when I was younger. Now, while not to underestimate the draw that food, family and football still have on my heart, it is the take the occasion to slow down and really consider how much I have to be thankful for that touches my heart.

With that in mind, I invite you to enter into this blessing with me. Take a few moments to list 10 things for which you are thankful under comments. I’ll click 'comments' and go first.

Trouble Understanding Grace?

Here's a little quiz that will help you assess your handle on grace. Try it.

Agree or Disagree?
1) God's love for me depends on what I do.
2) I try hard to obey God and it irritates me when others aren't as committed as I am.
3) I fall short because I don't have enough faith.
4) I fall short because I don't pray enough.
5) I fall short because I need to be a better person.
6) God is often disappointed with me.
7) My sense of spiritual well being is connected more to my church attendance than my relationship with God.
8) The exterior choices a person makes (tattoos, piercings, hair, clothing) are a clear indication of their character.
9) I worry when grace is preached too much that people will get the idea they can do whatever they want.
10) I will likely get into heaven because I try to be a basically good person.

Click comments and share your thoughts on any or all of these 10 statements.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Parson to Person

An ongoing 'imaginative/non-fictional' series.

While I talked with Sarah, Jack took a call on his cell. We sort of nodded goodbye, evidently we wouldn’t finish the ‘unmarried couple’ conversation today.

Sarah asked me to pick up a prescription on the way home. That afternoon, my mind vacillated between Robin’s prayer request, the Dukes’ email and Jack’s story.

I smiled as I recalled the look on Robin’s face when I asked “Would you like me to pray with you right now?” She managed a nervous, “Right here? Oh no, just later, if you remember.” What must have been going through her mind? What was it that brought her to ask me to pray for her in the first place?

As I thought about Jay’s email, I considered how I might respond to the Dukes. I thought through many possibilities.

And, what the heck was all that about a lion and filing down teeth stuff Jack was talking about? Was he serious? Actually, I knew he was serious – and that many of my other peers in the community would agree wholeheartedly with his perspective, “the church cannot let her ethical edge be dulled!”

As I stepped up to the pharmacy counter I heard a familiar voice, “Hey Brian, what are you doing here?” I turned to see Jay Dukes. “Hi Jay, just picking up a script for Sarah.” I turned to the pharmacist, “For Sarah Haas, H-a-a-s.” As she went to retrieve the medicine I offered to Jay, “I got your email. I want to give it some thought tonight and get back to you.” Jay looked disappointed. “Think it over? What’s to think about?”

From behind the counter, “Mr. Haas, I don’t see anything for Sarah. I have something for a Danielle Haas that was called in today. Let’s see, it’s Ovcon… birth control. Could that be it?”

I felt as if the temperature had risen 50 degrees in that pharmacy. It was one of those moments where your mind darts so quickly it feels as if twenty minutes are packed into just a few seconds. First my shock: Birth control? My 15 year old daughter? Then to Jay standing next to me: Had he heard that? The preacher’s 15 year old is on birth control. Great! Then back to the pharmacist: Isn’t there some kind of confidentiality law? How could she just say that out loud?

Tuesday Morning Quarterback (wk. 11)

The race is on. That is the race to get the number one pick in next year's draft. The Texans appear to have a lock on it, though the Saints, Packers and Jets are looking like they're in the hunt.

Of the Jets, in their humiliating loss Sunday, QB Brooks Bollinger (Who?) took a whack to the head and sustained a concussion. The AP reported Bollinger was vomiting on the sideline. Fitting. Having spent $50 a ticket to see Brooks play, fans were nauseous in the stands too. They should bring the Tums Sunday. Word is Brooks will start again. Texans TE Mark Bruener said of his team's latest collapse: "It's like they (they Chiefs) had kryptonite or something!" Mark, that would mean that your team, the Texans, were Superman. No. How about this, "They showed up with a football team!" That's more accurate. And how about the Madden Curse? Eagles QB Donovan McNabb's season is over. He will have surgery next week on his sports hernia. This is the fourth player to have a disastrous season after appearing on the cover of John Madden's EASports video game. In 2003 Mike Vick appeared, and broke his leg, missing most of the season. In 2002 Marshall Faulk appeared, and was injured for 8 games. In 2001 Daunte Culpepper appeared, and suffered through his worst season statistically. Hmmm.

Cheers: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger who should be back this coming Sunday. Lord knows, the Steelers can't win without him. Bucs RB Cadillac Williams for his 119 yard effort Sunday back from injury. The Vikings for turning the corner after a disastrous start to the season. My Hero of the Week: Bears Coach Lovie Smith for what should be Coach of the Year worthy coaching this season in Chicago.

Jeers: T.O. and his battery of lawyers, injunction hearings and media circus. The ruling comes out today or tomorrow. Get ready for another week worth of T.O. coverage everywhere you look. Ravens DB Deion "Prime Time" Sanders. I've noticed Deion in 'prime time' the last two weeks, getting burned by rookie TE Matt Jones (Jaguars) for a TD two weeks ago and by rookie TE Heath Miller (Steelers) this past weekend. I guess Deion's wheels aren't turning as smoothly as they once did. Getting beat by TE's who aren't exactly known for cat-like quickness will get you in the highlight reel every time. My Goat of the Week: Rams P Bryan Barker for deciding to punt a football over the heads of Veterans being honored at halftime of the Rams game. Said Barker, "I had to loosen my leg up." He later apologized.

Check here Thursday morning for this week's locks and a couple more football surprises. And, if you're ready to come off the couch, come play in the 4th Annual Christ's Church Turkey Bowl Thanksgiving Morning.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thought (Conversation) Provocation

Here is an article I ran across concerning one Presbyterian minister's decision on how to respond to Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. Give it a read. What do you think? I'll comment a little a later.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Night

The latest word from my brother Dave is that he is doing very well. His doctors have cut his anti-rejection medications again. They have also reduced the number of times they want to see him down to once a week. These are all very good signs. Dave said he is feeling very good. Last night I ran across an old Newsweek Magazine that had an article on comedian George Lopez. I wasn't aware that Mr. Lopez had a kidney transplant in April, his live donor was his wife! Both Mr. and Mrs. Lopez are doing great. I am fascinated by the wonder of it all.

On the homefront, thank you for all of your prayers for Shari. She is still experiencing much discomfort in her recovery. She has a follow-up appointment with the surgeon Tuesday. She'd really like to be feeling back to normal in time to enjoy Thanksgiving.

And, once again, I spend this evening thankful for the day at Christ's Church. Thanks to Richard for sharing with us this morning. Thanks to Jesse and the rest of the music team, Jim and Kirk in the booth, for another wonderful job of ushering us into the Lord's presence. Thanks Germaine, Nancy and Scott for your help with the Namibia meeting today, and to the 30 or so of you who stayed for the meeting, thanks for your willingness to see what the Lord will do.

The phrase that grabbed me in our experience together this morning (in John 8:1-11) both services (there is some advantage to attending both services!) was the phrase "only Jesus was left". As I meditated on that phrase many assurances of Christ's love blessed me. I intend to spend some time tonight reflecting and praying further on that phrase and then spending some quiet time in His presence before I go to sleep. Whatever phrase it was that grabbed you, I hope you'll make the time to do the same.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

For Our Saturday Night Readers

I thought this weekend I'd take you down a little different path. Instead of giving you an advanced look at the sermon text, I'll give you some insights concerning the songs we will sing together.

Christ In You - take a look at Colossians 1:27, 3:1-4, 15-17. We'll start with a declaration - it's all about Christ. Next, we'll sing a couple of songs that celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ. When I Think About The Lord - note the words 'it makes me wanna shout' as we sing. Why is it that we want to remain so reserved? Better, how is it that we can remain so reserved? My Redeemer Lives - take a look at 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Christ's resurrection from the dead sets Christianity apart from all other faiths. After celebrating our Lord, we assert our commitment to Him. Lord, I Give You My Heart - take a look at Luke 6:46. Why is it that we would call Jesus 'Lord' but fail to live as if He is Lord? This song becomes a confession anew. We Fall Down - this song pictures that scene in heaven where all the living creatures fall down at the feet of Him who is on the throne. Look at Revelation 4. It truly is all about Jesus (referencing back to where we started). Be Thou My Vision - Listen in this song for all of the above mentioned elements combined in this one rich hymn of the faith. Declaration, celebration, confession of our commitment, recognition of God's glory and holiness - it's all in there. Finally, we will learn a brand new song tomorrow. Don't be nervous. Every familiar song started out once upon a time as being new. This song is called Marvelous Light. This song speaks of where we once were, seperated from God, and how He has taken us from death to life; how He has beckoned and called us; how He has defeated sin and removed death's sting. This song celebrates our desire to live life differently in response to Him and what He has done.

I hope that this helps you to come with your heart prepared to worship the Lord. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Namibia 2006 - The Adventure Continues

During the summer of 2002, 42 people in and thru Christ's Church of Amherst traveled to Namibia to participate with over 500 believers from around the world in what is believed to be one of the largest short-term missionary endeavors ever, Namibia 2002 - The Transformation of a Nation.

In the summer of 2004 transformation continued in Namibia and also at Christ's Church, where we began a new chapter in relational partnering on a global scale with our very own Global Outreach effort, Namibia 2004 - The Transformation Continues. 35 people in and thru Christ's Church took part.

Although it wasn't a Christ's Church specific team, the G.O. 2005: Namibia team, in partnership with dancers from the Melissa Hoffman Dance Center in Hudson, NH, put 29 people back on the ground, furthering our relationships and serving side by side with our friends and partners in Namibia.

Plans are underway to return another Christ's Church team to Namibia in the summer of 2006. Veteran leaders from 2002 & 2004 are in place to once again lead our effort. Many of our friends on the ground in Namibia have been in touch with us, desiring our team to come alongside them in their efforts: Boniface and Saarah; Dieter & Joan; Brenda & Sylvia with Hopes Promise; and Pastor Stephan Nell with Feed My Lambs.

Sunday November 20th at 12:30pm we will have an informational meeting for anyone interested in even praying and thinking about going to Namibia next summer. Staying for the meeting does not obligate anyone to go, but will rather give us the opportunity to talk about the trip plans and to answer questions. I hope that you will plan to stay for the meeting and pray about joining the team for Namibia 2006 - The Adventure Continues.

Along The Way (18/Nov/2005)

Friday... It's been a few weeks now of hospital waiting rooms. First my brother's surgery, then Shari's, and yesterday Emily's. In order: Dave continues to do very well. He ran a little bit of a fever early in the week which his doctors went after with antibiotics. Those kinds of things are cause for alarm with a transplant patient, but the medicines seemed to do the trick. His test results continue to be very good. Scott, his donor and son-in-law, is just about back to normal. Shari's sinus surgery last Friday went well, but the recovery period isn't very pleasant. Discomfort and the continual feeling of being stuffy have her pretty miserable, though the doctors do say it will begin to improve. Emily had surgery to remove a little cyst next to her ear. She was the bravest of all patients (and braver than her dad!). She never shed so much as one tear. Her surgery was yesterday morning and by evening you'd have never known she had it. Lord willing, we're done with surgical procedures for a bit. Thank you for all of your prayers on my family's behalf.

I learned at the beginning of the week that I will be speaking to the men gathered for the men's breakfast tomorrow morning. Our speaker Jerry Kirk will not be making the trip from CA. I'm wrestling with whether to pick up the topic he was planning to share or to go a different direction all together. The jury is still out on that one.

We're also planning the informational meeting concerning next summer's Namibia trip for this Sunday after the second worship service. Some people have asked why we're starting earlier this time than we did in 2002 or 2004. The simple answer is that we hope, by starting earlier, we may be able to seize a sizable savings on our airfare, which is the lion's share of the trip cost. So, if you have any interest in even thinking about going to Namibia next summer, I hope you will plan to stay after that second service for a brief information sharing meeting.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Ratings Game

My gridiron guru instincts tell me this is a great week to explain quarterback ratings. A quarterback's rating is a figure born of analyzing four statistics in a quarterback's performance: the percentage of passes he completes versus attempts; the average yards gained on completions; the percentage of touchdown passes per pass attempts; and the percentage of passes that are intercepted per pass attempts. Now, somehow (the official explanation is available at NFL.COM) these figures are all dropped into a blender of equations and they yield a figure that we use to rate where a quarterback falls out in comparison to all the others. The bottom line is, the higher the number, the better the QB. A number approaching or surpassing 90 is Pro-Bowl worthy. Numbers much below 70 are benchwarming material.

Quarterback troubles in Pennsylvania! First, the Eagles Donovan McNabb (85.0) suffered a set back with his sports hernia. Doctors are advising that he has season ending surgery right now. He is seeking second and third opinions. Mike McMahon (career 55.2) takes over in the meantime. In Pittsburgh, big Ben Roethlisberger (112.4) will be out at least one more game. Back-up Charlie Batch (68.2) went down. Now the ball goes back to Tommy Maddox (32.6 in his one game this year) and Steelers' fans cringe. Look at the bright side: If Maddox goes out wide receiver Antwaan Randle-El will go in at QB. He has a passer rating of 158.3 (thanks to throwing and completing one pass, for 51 yards, and a touchdown earlier this season)!

Then there's the city by the Bay - San Francisco. They have three QB's. Rookie/Future/Messiah Alex Smith (17.5), Ken Dorsey (42.0) and Cody Pickett (28.3). This week they play the conference leading Seattle Seahawks and Matt Hasselbeck (88.7). Do the math. That's three QB's for the 49ers whose ratings added together fall short of one Hasselbeck.

Talking numbers, did you catch mine last weekend? ANOTHER double digit weekend of wins for me. That takes me to 96-48 on the season. A quick prediction before the predictions? Terrell Owens' arbitration hearing tomorrow in Philly will be an absolute circus. In the end, I predict the Eagles will neither reinstate him nor release him, so as to allow us all to listen to him whine for a couple more months. Did you see that I went 1-1 on my upset specials last week? Just say it. WOW! Watch carefully, I'll toss a couple more long shots at you. Now to the football prognostication that we really care about:

My 'check-MY-rating, 3-Niners-for-a-S'hawk, go-to-the-hospital-and-have-the hernia-fixed' picks for week number 10: Rams over Cardinals; Bears over Panthers*; Cowboys over Lions; Jaguars over Titans; Dolphins over Browns; Patriots over Saints; Native Americans over Raiders; East Rutherford Giants over Eagles; Steelers (with ANYONE at QB) over Ravens; Bucs over Falcons*; Seahawks over 49ers; Chargers over Bills; Colts over Bengals; Broncos over Jets; Chiefs over Texans; Packers over Vikings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Here, Let Me Help!

Have you heard of this latest attempt to remove God from public view? Check this story. Out of genuine concern for the guy, I wouldn't want him to have to sit on a wallet full of that offensive currency. Just to help the guy out, I'd be willing to take that money off his hands.

Just Leave A Message

I ran across this at gracehead.com

Take a listen to this complaint left on a church answering machine. Then take a listen to this dance/remix version of that same complaint. If you can listen to it thru stereo speakers it is even funnier. I know that I will think twice about what I say on answering machines in the future. How about you?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

G.O. 2005: Namibia (pt. 12)

This is the 12th entry in my 2005 Namibia trip report. Earlier sections can be found in the archives menu.

When You Believe
Seeking faith and speaking words I never thought I’d say…
I have always been astounded by the conversations that happen on our short-term cross-cultural trips. It’s not that these conversations couldn’t have happened at home, it’s that they wouldn’t have. I’ve come to believe that this is all very much the orchestral genius of our God; a demonstration of His extravagance – His willingness to have many dollars spent, many miles crossed in providing the perfect ‘other-worldy’ setting – for these conversations to happen.

These settings seem also to provide a most fertile environment for people to ponder the Divine. Whether a relatively new believer or someone who has walked with the Lord for many years, all of our G.O. Team members seem to return home having grown tremendously. I especially wondered what this would look like with this team’s unique make-up. In numerous journal entries before the trip began I asked, “What do You have in store for this group?”

I noticed while checking in for our first flight that, though we were a group of 29, our travel agent had booked our flights in groups of 3 and 4. There didn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to it. The groupings weren’t alphabetical. And, although we had two married couples who were grouped together and two sets of sisters who were kept together, my two daughters Amanda and Katie were booked separately from me. Having been on a number of these trips I didn’t think too much of it, realizing that we’d all be swapping seats once we got going. But it suddenly hit me that the two other people in my grouping were the two girls I was least acquainted with as the trip began, Kara and Stephanie.

In the several months leading up to our trip I prayed for each of our team members daily. Stephanie was the last to join our team. In my journal next to Stephanie’s name I wrote, “Lord, will you provide opportunities for me to get to know her?” Kara was different in that she was not a dancer but the older sister of one of the dancers. Her work schedule made it very difficult for her to attend many of the team get-togethers leading up to the trip. Next to her name in my journal I wrote, “I don’t know her at all, Lord. Help?” So, was it a coincidence that I was to be grouped with these two ladies for 10 flights?

When we hit the ground in Namibia, Stephanie wound up with the ‘shotgun’ seat in my van. The ‘shotgun’ in our vehicles on these trips is responsible to continually remind the driver “LEFT” as we drive. (Accidentally falling back into the ingrained American traffic pattern is a real danger on these trips.) Steph’s role in my vehicle in-country and our flight itinerary basically assured that she and I were connected for the entire trip. It must have been dozens of times that I looked over at her and smiled recalling those journal entries – “Lord, will you provide opportunities for me to get to know her?” Another coincidence?

Some conversations happened quite naturally. Some personalities really clicked well together. Some folks moved conversationally in one circle while others gravitated elsewhere. As it all sorted out it seemed that everyone had important connections with one or more team members.

Once again, I do God a huge disservice here in not sharing specifics of these conversations. The fact that He is at work in each of the 29 lives that made up our team, and that He was present in every conversation was unmistakable. But the conversations that you have in these settings aren’t the kind you would chronicle in a report. They are the kind you hold in your heart, pray about, and remain very thankful to have experienced. What I will say is that I was surprised at the depth and honesty of some of the sharing on this trip. We talked a lot about ourselves. We talked a lot about God. We talked about life. We talked about death. We talked about what matters. We talked about sexual purity. We talked about many of life’s decisions and choices. We laughed a lot. We cried some. We laughed some more.

One recurring theme in conversation, especially towards the end of the trip, concerned coincidence. Was it a coincidence that this team had come together? Was it a coincidence that we found ourselves in this amazing setting? Was it a coincidence that we were sharing these profound experiences? Was it a coincidence that we were coming to really care for one another? Shedding these tears? Asking these questions? Considering these answers? Coincidence?

Big Buts of the Bible #2

Just one away from the biggest 'but' in the New Testament, the countdown continues with number 2. Numbers 3-10 can be found in the archives menu.

Romans 12:2
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, BUT be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

This big but makes a hard distinction between conformation and transformation. It is very tempting to conform to the standards and patterns all around us. That affords us the path of least resistance. Verse 2, here, continues the thought Paul began in verse 1: In light of what you believe (all that he’s covered in chapters 1-11), therefore, offer your lives to God. What will that look like? It will look not like a life conformed to the world, but rather like a life being powerfully transformed by God as He renews our minds.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback (wk. 10)

How quickly things change. For 56 minutes Monday night everything was going well for the Eagles. In 4 minutes the wheels fell off. McNabb injured. Thirteen point lead erased. Hope for the season deflated. And, the guru falls from a potential 11-3 to 10-4 for the weekend. In the end, however, I am happy for the Cowboys to have given their coach Bill Parcells the win. Coach Parcells spent Monday morning burying his younger brother and coached with a heavy heart.

The latest on T.O.: Terrell showed up in Atlanta this past Sunday with the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Terrell once again spoke his heartfelt apologies. Then the Rev. Jackson spoke for 20 minutes about the injustices of the NFL allowing Terrell to suffer suspension and deactivation. Jesse's comments ended, "The Eagles should either play T.O. or set him free!" Rumor has it that T.O. will be traveling with former President Jimmy Carter who will speak of the international disgrace the NFL has become. The Dali Lama may join him next week assigned the topic of amnesty.

Cheers: Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander for doing his talking on the field. Playing in the last year of his contract, he is on pace to eclipse the 2000 yard mark for the season. A free-agent next year... say CH-CHING! Bucs head coach John Gruden for the Vermiel like guts, opting for a game winning 2 point conversion try rather than a tying extra point. Hero because they won the game, he'd have been everyone's goat had they lost. My Hero of the Week: Packers RB Samkon Gado (Who?). The fifth RB to start for the injury plagued Packers this season, this kid celebrated his 23rd birthday with a 103 yard, 3 touchdown outing. Members of the Falcons defense were asking his teammates, "Where did you find this kid?" I'll tell you. Born in Nigeria, he played a total of 2 games as a runningback for Liberty University. Next week he's starting for the Packers on Monday Night Football in Historic Lambeau Field.

Jeers: T.O. and all of his cronies. There is a hearing scheduled with an arbitrator Friday to seek reinstatement. If the Eagles back down, they will be my Goats the rest of the year. The Goat of the Week: The Rev. Jesse Jackson. "Set him free?" Are you serious?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Parson to Person

An Imaginative/Non-fictional series.

I prayed for Robin on the way to the office. Once there, I looked thru my email. I came across this:

From: jaydukes@finley.edu
Sent: 11/14/05 6:56AM
To: Brian Haas
Subject: Concerns

Pastor,
Evelyn and I thought you should know that the couple who visited this past weekend, we saw you talking with them in the foyer after the service, aren’t married! Our Annie goes to school with their children (they have two illegitimate children!!!) and we’ve met them at some school functions. Let’s just say, their family values are very different than ours! We thought you and the elders should know so you can take the necessary action!
In His love, Jay

I stared at the screen. I noticed all the exclamation marks. My eyes were drawn to the phrase that seemed highlighted in the middle by parentheses – illegitimate children. I read again the words ‘different than ours’. I noted Jay’s expectation that the elders would take action. I know it’s not a laughing matter, but I smiled for a moment imagining church folks making an all out fundamentalist assault on this family after they visited the church – “You pagans need to quit sinning! Get married! Legitimize your kids!”

Then I studied the closing words, ‘In His love’.

Later that day I was spending some time with Jack. I decided I would bounce the situation off him. How would Jack and the leadership at Abundant Life view this?

“Well Brian there’s this old story about a lion who fell in love with a beautiful woman. Her parents, you see, were opposed to her marrying the lion because they were afraid of his long claws and his sharp teeth. Because their daughter was so frail they talked the lion into having his claws removed and his teeth filed down so as not to injure her. Desperately in love, the lion complied. And when his claws were gone and his teeth were filed down…”

“They lived happily ever after?” I interrupted.
“No, Brian. They took clubs and knocked the lion on the head!”
“The point I’m trying to make Brian is that the church cannot let her ethical edge be dulled, or compromise will be our undoing.”

I was at a loss for words. It was very good timing that my cell rang.
“This is Sarah. Excuse me while I take this call?”


Sunday, November 13, 2005

20 Years of God's Goodness

Thanks to all who came out tonight to celebrate God's faithfulness to the collection of souls we call Christ's Church. Thanks especially to all of you who shared special memories and remembrances with us all. Thanks to all of our musicians for sharing your talents tonight. And thanks Germaine for the wonderful visual history video. As I go to sleep tonight I realize again how special His blessing upon this congregation really is. It has been a weekend to remember - just one more among the way.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

For Our Saturday Night Readers

As you prepare your heart for worship tomorrow morning join me in giving thanks to the Lord for 20 years of His abiding presence with this congregation we call Christ's Church. We celebrate our 20th anniversary this weekend.

If you are one of those who like an advance look at the text we will consider tomorrow morning take a look at Exodus 33. Our main focus will be on verses 12-23, though the early part of the chapter sets the stage. I have also been thinking a lot about Psalm 84:5-6 this week as I prepare to share with you tomorrow. It won't be part of our study, but it has been very meaningful to me this week. Mention it to me tomorrow and I'll share my thoughts on it with you.

I hope you will also make plans to join us tomorrow night at 7pm for a very special anniversary celebration. It will be a great time of fellowship. There will be plenty of desserts and refreshments on hand. We'll have some special memories to share. Also, a few of our musicians are prepared to share original music they've composed with us. That reminds me, I have a song or two to share myself. I better get ready. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Parson to Person

Welcome to a little experiment. I’ve decided to try my hand at some ‘imaginative non-fiction’. I call it that because the names and places are very much imagined, but the circumstances and dialogue aren’t fiction. While there may not be a pastor named Brian Haas, a short-order cook named Robert Smith III (Tre’ to his friends), or a town called Finley, if you set out about your town with an open heart, eyes and ears, you’ll find yourself in the middle of just such a story. I hope you will enjoy getting to know these characters and listening in on their conversations over time.

“Good morning Brian. The usual?”
“Hey Robin! No, I’m feeling adventurous today. Let me try Tre’s Mexican Omelet.”

The first thing that crossed my mind was that Robin thought of me as a regular, with a usual. I guess I am a regular. But I don’t think of myself as usual.

When I get together with my peers in town they converse about winning souls thru altar calls and evangelistic outreaches, my mind drifts to Robin, and Tre’, the cook back in the kitchen. I find myself thinking about Jesse and Jessi the couple that lives down the street (and I smile that their names are the same). My wife Sarah’s friends at the Center come to mind. I think not about programs and services that proclaim the good news, but the many relationships and acquaintances that God has blessed us with, and how I care about them all.

I thought about Jack, the Pastor at Abundant Life. Jack shares with us every week, it seems, a new strategy to get people to come to church. Once it was a huge mailing campaign. Every so often there was ‘Bring A Friend Sunday’. Last week he brought us information on a company that produces television and radio ads. None of it ever seems to bring the results promised, though. Jack keeps showing up with something else. It crossed my mind that though I was a ‘regular’ with a ‘usual’, and though Robin and Tre’ knew I was the Pastor of a local church, that I had never asked either of them to visit. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it just hadn’t occurred to me.

“Here you are, darling.” As the plate hit the table and she refilled my coffee.
“Thanks Robin. It looks great. Do you suppose you could grab me a small O.J.?”

I took a moment to thank the Lord for this meal and to prayerfully think thru the tasks of the day. When I looked up Robin was standing there with my juice, waiting so as not to interrupt my silent prayer.

She set down my juice and began, “Can I ask you something?” She continued, “Would you pray for me? I am going to the doctor after work today. It’s just a routine test I get because of some family history… but I am really scared this time.”

Friday, November 11, 2005

G.O. 2005: Namibia (pt. 11)

This is the latest posting in my 2005 Namibia trip report. You can locate earlier postings thru the archives menu. This is the third part of the section entitled "Hallelujahs" having to do with the dance portion of our team's in-country itinerary.



Hallelujahs (pt. 3)
Your song goes out to all the earth...
Partnering with Hope’s Promise Orphan Ministries put the dance part of our team on the road for a few days right in the middle of the trip.

Our first stop was the town of Rehoboth. Hope’s Promise had planned an evening fund-raising event that would feature our girls dancing and a number of local musicians sharing their talents. Tickets were sold and more than N$8000 was raised. The girls were scheduled to run almost every dance they had prepared. This was our first opportunity to see a tap number that was worked up on the eve of the trip that included Sandi, the dance teacher. The crowd so appreciated the dancers that they were called back for encores. When we finally thought they were done, one more specific encore was requested – a repeat of the tap number. Our friends at Hope’s Promise were overjoyed at the results, not only was it a tremendous financial success, but more, HPOM had provided this community with a fun filled night and an artistic program that brought the community together.

Our down time in Rehoboth afforded us a visit to the Reho Spa, a hot spring swimming area. A few of our team members who had been here in 2004 were able to reconnect with some of the children they had met a year earlier. As we were on a schedule to travel to HPOM’s other ministry area in Arandis on Sunday, we began Sunday morning with our own makeshift worship service on the lawn near the spa. HPOM’s Sylvia Buekes shared a heart-felt message with us.

In Arandis the girls were scheduled to perform an evening community-wide performance and also to visit a secondary school the following morning. We checked into a guesthouse right across the street from the community stage. The accommodations were different than we expected. The guesthouse had several small rooms that would house 2 people each and community bathrooms. It didn’t help that no one on the property seemed to speak any English and we were without a translator. My team leaders and I strategized about how we could use buddy systems and lookouts to cover bathroom and shower visits. I’ll sum it up in one word – stress.

As we worked to set up the sound system and get the girls ready to dance the outdoor stage was surrounded by local residents curious to see what we were going to do. Mike and Dave added in some music to fill the time and provide the girls an occasional breather between numbers. Since Dave was playing music my job at this stop was to oversee the sound board while I prayed.

The girls’ performance was being well received. We were racing with nightfall. Though there were lights on the property, there didn’t appear to be any way to turn them on. A few local folks attempted to erect some flood lights but the power breakers couldn’t handle the draw. It finally got dark enough that we needed to bring a close to the program. Again, young people gathered around the dancers to meet and greet them. Our leaders were once again concerned to see that everyone was together and safe. After a little while of meeting and greeting we decided to leave. The problem was that only one of our vehicles was there at the venue, the others were parked at our hotel across the street. My concern was that if the crowd determined where we were staying we might have visitors later that evening. As such, I didn’t want to parade the girls across the street and directly to the hotel.

The Knight family was staying in Arandis serving with HPOM for the entire summer. They had a home nearby and had invited us over for supper and a little down time after the performance. We told the dancers to pile into the one van we had – that’s 15 dancers and me driving in one 8 passenger vehicle. As we piled in the van and hurried away it felt like we were rock-stars leaving a concert venue, adoring fans tailing us as we left. The rest of our team pulled down the gear and walked several blocks to the Knight’s home. Once everyone was there we all were able to relax.

The next morning would dawn early. We had to be at the school ready to perform at 7AM, so I was to knock on dorm doors at 5:45AM. This performance would be another first for us in that we would have to be responsible for the sexual purity message this time. At each of our prior engagements we had one of our partners with us to speak. This time it was going to be all us… or should I say, all me. Since the beginning of the trip I had asked the dancers to consider if they would ever like to speak on the topic of sexual purity. One of our dancers, Samantha had hinted that she might be willing to speak. As I headed to bed I stopped by Samantha’s room. I asked, “Are you up for it?”

At Kolin Foundation Secondary School the student body was assembled in a patio of sorts. Once again, a concrete stage would be the dance floor. To make things a bit more interesting, there were a number of concrete pillars on this patio, so the girls would need to altar their dances as if they were dancing on an obstacle course. As they performed my role again was prayer, and all the while I was preparing to greet this crowd and speak about sexual purity. As usual, the dancers wowed the crowd. When it was my turn I took the mic and stepped out to be as frank and as honest as I could be. I understand that I was so frank that I made members of my team, especially my daughters Amanda and Katie blush. I finished my comments by offering that I am a lot older than the students, but that I had one of their peers who would speak to them. I handed the microphone to Sam and she stepped before the crowd that had grown completely silent.

The first thing that I had noticed was that Sam had culturally adapted her language. She shared that she had just graduated from ‘secondary school’ in the U.S. She continued that she was going to ‘university’ when she returned home. She spoke of the decision that she had made to use her body in healthy ways, like dancing, studying and serving others and not to use it in sexual ways until she was married. You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke. Tears poured down my cheeks as she spoke. I was overwhelmed. She closed her comments by suggesting that one person making a right decision can change the world. Everyone heard her loud and clear. That day Sam and our G.O. Team dancers changed the world.

Along The Way (11/Nov/2005)

Another Friday and another hospital... Thank you to everyone praying for Shari's well being. She had her sinus surgery this morning and is home resting tonight. The doctors said everything went very well, she'll just be uncomfortable for a few days while she recovers.

I had the opportunity to enjoy some quiet time in the surgical waiting area and catch up on some reading. I am nearing the end of Brennan Manning's book The Ragamuffin Gospel. I highly recommend it. I also read in two sittings all the way thru a silly little book called God's Blogs by a guy named Lanny Donoho. It is a book written as if it is God Himself blogging... not as sacrilegious as it sounds. It caused me to smile a few times.

Of course I also was able to give a lot of time to thinking about Sunday - Christ's Church's 20th Anniversary. What an amazing thing, God's manner of blessing this body of people we call Christ's Church! I hope you plan to be here Sunday evening for our celebration.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mid-Season Form

It's hard to believe that the 2005 NFL Season has passed the halfway pole. I thought a little prognosticating assessment was in order. Just how good is the guru?

First of all, to the numbers. At the halfway point I am a very respectable 86-44 in the win/loss column. That's about 67%. Considering that those first couple of weeks of the season are so difficult to predict, and that I'm running in double digit win totals 5 of the last 6 weeks, I think making my self-imposed goal of 70% for the year is in reach.

Secondly, considering the broader range of prediction, my 2005 NFL Preview (which is accessibly thru the menu to the right), you have to be impressed. In the AFC: I predicted an awakening in Buffalo that Losman wasn't ready at QB. Enter veteran journeyman Kelly Holcomb who is quietly gaining momentum as the starter. I told you that everyone's darling pick for this year the Houston Texans would be dead last. Have you seen the standings? Better yet, have you seen them play? I predicted that Kansas City Chief's coach Dick Vermiel would cry on camera before year's end. Did you see his the video from this past weekend's emotional win over Oakland? (By the way, don't be fooled by my poking fun at Vermiel's tearful post-game speech. That scene followed Vermiel's making one of the most gutsy calls in coaching history to win the game - way to be THE MAN coach!)

Looking at the NFC: You will have to re-read my prediction about the Philadelphia Eagles. I told you that the real opponent for the Eagles this year would be Terrell Owens. Don't think that we've heard the last of it either. This T.O. strand of the bird-flu is the 16 week variety. Catch also that last sentence in my preview of the Chicago Bears season. I mentioned that if rookie Kyle Orton played well it might spell the end of Rex Grossman's time in Chicago. Well, don't look now but the Bears are winning and Grossman is due back from injury in the next couple of weeks. What to do Lovie? (I'm not calling YOU Lovie... the Bears' coach is named Lovie... not that I don't love you and all, but...) And in the West I mentioned that Mike Martz might be singing his swan song in St. Louis. If you open a window and listen to the west you'll hear that melody in the air.

Go ahead - call someone and tell them that the Gridiron Guru is amazing. Tell them to check this spot on Thursdays for rock-em-sock-em-robot sure picks. Remind them that prognosticators in Vegas charge hundreds of dollars for their advice, and that my numbers are better - and free. Watch for a couple of gamble/upset picks* this week, I'm feeling confident! I will stop being so cocky now and return to my humble persona, small font size, and this weekends locks.

This week's 'rock-em-sock-em-robot, g.i. joe, lone ranger-and-tonto" picks for week 9: Lions over Cardinals; Jaguars over Ravens; Colts over Texans (and if they only send Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison - Peyton & Marvin over the Texans); Bills over Chiefs*; East Rutherford Giants over Vikings; Patriots over Dolphins; Bears over 49ers; Raiders over Broncos*; Panthers over Jets; Falcons over Packers; Seahawks over Rams; Bucs over Native Americans (Redskins); Steelers over Browns; Eagles over Cowboys. Bye: Bengals - watching the Steelers (caution: objects in your rear view mirror are closer than they appear); Saints - watching ESPN to see if Terry Bradshaw is really going to buy the team; Chargers - watching the Raiders/Broncos game to see if I get that upset call right; Titans - watching their season sink like Titanic.

Recovery Update

Friends, thank you for your continued prayers and concern for my brother Dave and his son in law Scott in their recoveries.

I just got off the phone with Dave a few moments ago. He is at home, in his own bedroom and eating take-out from Hardees with a friend. (Now pray the lunch from Hardees doesn't kill him, eh?) He is feeling very good and it is only uncomfortable to change positions from sitting to standing and so on. But that's all very normal. He needs to be very careful about germs and infection these next few weeks while his doctors continue to rebuild his immune system that has been suppressed to keep from rejecting the new kidney. So far, everything is going very well.

Scott is also doing very well. Dave talked to Scott today and he is feeling pretty much back to normal other than some expected abdominal discomfort. He will continue on light-duty for a couple of weeks to fully recover.

Again, thanks for your continued prayer and concern.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Church

Continuing our conversation on the church... Earlier posts on this topic can be found in the archives menu.

Upside Down
The ministry of the first century church had such an effect on the world that early Christians were actually accused of “turning the world upside-down”. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through the lives of ordinary men and women carried the gospel message to those outside the synagogue, and to those outside the city, and to those outside the region, and to all parts beyond. God relentlessly pursued the lost, ministering through the early local church.

Trace the history back to the Great Commission Jesus gave to His disciples: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Watch the early church form in the Book of Acts around Jesus’ instruction: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Observe as the church is portrayed in the Epistles of the New Testament as being linked together by mutual concern, resources, communication and genuine relationships. More than the accusation of those opposed to Christianity, it was true; the church was changing the world.

What has changed that the church, once accused of turning the world upside-down, is today considered by much of society as irrelevant? What has changed that the church once united is now divided into many denominations, factions and camps? What has changed that local expressions of the church, once having generously shared their resources with one another, now possess more of a self-survival mindset?

Ragamuffin Snap-shot

I've found another thought provoking passage in The Ragamuffin Gospel. Here, Manning quotes a theologian named Robert Hotchkins from the University of Chicago speaking about Christian Joy.

"Christians ought to celebrate constantly. We ought to be pre-occupied with parties, banquets, feasts and merriment. We ought to give ourselves over to veritable orgies of joy because we have been liberated from the fear of life and the fear of death. We ought to attract people to the church quite literally by the fun there is in being a Christian."

How does this strike you? Drop a comment before you leave.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuesday Morning Quarterback (wk.9)

"Did you see that?" That is the question being heard around many a watercooler this morning. Some folks are referring to the Colts finally getting the Brady off their back. Some folks are asking about the hit that caused Wayne Chrebet his 9th concussion. Some nightclub patrons in Tampa are referring to an 'incident' involving Carolina Panther's cheerleaders. But among the blogosphere savvy, it is no doubt a reference to the stellar 12-2 record the Gridiron Guru compiled this past weekend! "Did you see that?" Then of course, there's T.O.

We moved from ALL-TEDY ALL THE TIME last week to ALL-T.O. ALL THE TIME this week. Yes, everyone's favorite underpaid wide receiver (7 years, $49Million) with "a family to feed" found his way back into every watercooler conversation. The Eagles announced yesterday that T.O. has been suspended for four games for conduct detrimental to the team. That translates into "being a royal pain in the 'pass'". When his suspension is completed, the Eagles have decided to deactivate him for the remainder of the year. In other words, T.O. is an Eagle N.O. more. If T.O.'s play would have only rivaled his complaining about his salary and mentioning his starving kids, he might have gotten a new contract - like two of his teammates did yesterday! That's right Terrell, both David Akers and Brian Westbrook inked long-term extensions while you were at home adding up the paychecks you're forfeiting.

Cheers: Wayne Chrebet, the Jets' aging WR who, as a result of this 9th concussion, is probably going to call it a career. And, as a longshot to even make an NFL roster out of Hofstra, Chrebet has had a very fine career. Not to mention, Wayne is one of the NFL's real good guys! T.O. should take notice of Wayne's class-act. Cheers also to Tony Dungy and his Colts team for finally beating the Patriots last night (and for costing me one of my two losses this week). My Hero of the Week: Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid for making the decision to finally end the Owens circus in Philadelphia. The Eagles will be better off.

Jeers: Saints owner Tom Benson (last week's Goat winner) for continuing to spin his story in a damage control effort. Every time he opens his mouth he loses more Saints' fans. And the way that this team is tanking, his family may be the only folks in the stands by season's end. Jeers also to Angela Keathley and Renee Thomas (who?). Two members of the Carolina Panther's cheerleading squad until they were fired yesterday for a little 'incident' in a Tampa nightclub. I'll not get into all the details here (think Vikings, Love Boat... but no boat), but the night ended with the girls being arrested on a list of charges. And their week began yesterday in an unemployment line. My Goat of the Week: Terrell Owens. My only discouragement about his being sent home is that reporters followed him, so he will be running his mouth for another couple of weeks. What we need is another story to sweep him to the back-burner. And folks, that story just may be my meteoric rise toward that coveted 70% mark. So, stop back Thursday for my mid-season review and my picks for week 10.

Monday, November 07, 2005

On The Road Again

Greetings from Washington DC. I left Central Florida this morning. The news on Dave and Scott continues to be amazing. Scott went home from the hospital yesterday. He has a few weeks off of work to allow him to fully recover. Dave was moved out of ICU and into a private room. When I was with him last night his doctor stopped in and shared with us all (it was a crowded room!) that Dave is confounding the doctors. His tests and levels are all better than expected. If this all continues, they will send Dave home Wednesday. That in itself is amazing - they had planned on anywhere between 9 and 14 days in the hospital. Dave is up and walking without pain. His only pain is when he stretches the incision. All his systems are functioning. And those of you who know him know that he is laughing and making jokes about all of it.

I thank you for your continued prayers for he and Scott as they recover. They are aware of your prayers and appreciates it very much.

So, for my CCA family, I appreciate your prayers for me as I travel. Lord willing, I will be home by supper time tomorrow. Now, I am off to cheer for the Patriots! Goodnight.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Namibia 2006... Are You Ready?

Mark your calendars. Plan to stay for a brief meeting immediately following the 11AM worship service on Sunday November 20th when we will discuss the G.O. Team 2006: Namibia trip.

Who should plan to be there? Anyone who is remotely interested in even thinking about going to Namibia as a part of our 2006 summer team. We will have information on hand and be able to answer all your questions about next summer's trip. Let me repeat: if you are remotely interested in even thinking about going, this meeting is for you!

Isn't it a little early to be thinking about next summer's trip? Yes. Sort of. It is true that with our trips in 2002, 2004 and 2005 we got started after January 1st. However, we are hoping to get a little bit better of an airfare if we move a little earlier.

What can I do? There are a number of opportunities to serve with our partners next summer. Everything from manual labor to playing with and loving on orphans and vulnerable children; mentoring young adult students to providing respite help to foster families; sharing your faith in evangelistic outreaches to teaching English; partnering with ministries in the arts (music, dance, art) to computer and technical helps; you name it, there is a place on this team FOR YOU.

Where can I get more info today? Information about this trip and trip application forms will be available the next couple of weeks in the entry way of the church. You can also look at the trip weblog which is already up and operational. Go to http://namibia2006.blogspot.com and follow this trip from the very beginnings.

Are you ready?

For Our Saturday Night Readers

Just because I’m 1300 miles away doesn’t mean I can’t provide an advance look for you into tomorrow morning’s service. At Christ’s Church come prepared to worship the Lord by observing the Lord’s Supper. The topic for the morning will be “Grace”. Here are a couple passages that you might read before tomorrow morning: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 and also Romans chapter 5 and Ephesians 2:8-9.

Were you to wander down to Deland, FL tomorrow morning and make the service at Covenant Community Church (for the folks in NH that’s 1300 miles - you’d need to leave now and drive really fast!) I will be sharing from Luke 5:12-16. I’ve been amazed countless times by the scandalous manner in which Jesus loved people. In this text He breaks the law by touching a man with leprosy. That touch had to be as meaningful to the leper as it was scandalous to the religious onlookers. I’ll be asking whether our love for others is as reckless in appearance. So, whether you worship at CCA or CCC tomorrow morning, I pray God’s richest blessing upon you!

Recovery

Thanks for your continued prayers. I’m just back from seeing Dave and Scott. All continues to be going very well. Scott is up and around, hoping to go home tomorrow. Dave is sitting up, drinking fluids and getting broth and so forth. They have decided to move him out of ICU a day ahead of when they expected, so tonight he will be a private room. Dave is feeling pretty good, although moving certain ways is painful. He slept a lot yesterday and last night in short naps but is having difficulty sleeping for longer periods of time simply because of discomfort.

G.O. 2005: Namibia (pt.10)

This is the latest section of my Namibia 2005 Trip Summary. Earlier postings can be found thru the archives menu. This section entitled "Hallelujahs" covers the girls' many dance performances on this trip. As such, I have broken this section into parts. This is part 2 of this particular section.

Hallelujahs (pt 2)
Your song goes out to all the earth...
Our next day's schedule had the girls dancing at a Secondary School (middle & high school) in Okahandja. As we neared the school just about the whole team realized that this school was one block from the cemetery we had visited when we arrived. These were the very family members who had buried loved ones there, and so many, and so recently.

As we arrived a man appeared with a number of students in front of us. They broke into song and dance as a special welcome. We were so thrilled at their talents. A few of the students brought forward hand drums and played and moved to the beat. It was a real cultural treat for us all.

This performance was on a patio of sorts, on concrete. If that wasn’t enough, there were many pebbles, twigs and cracks, all of which could cause a serious accident or injury to our dancers. Before they started we policed the area as best we could to provide a clear area for them. As the girls started, however, they quickly moved beyond the boundaries we had cleared to get closer to the crowd. As they began to dance I saw every rock and pebble we didn’t get to right at their feet as they leapt and turned. I knew my job – once again I began to pray and pray fervently.

With each performance Sandi would string together different dance numbers based on the time limit we were given and the space requirements, and arranging them so as to allow the girls to rest. As I recall, there were 10 numbers planned for this particular engagement. As the performance went on it dawned on us that it was overlooked in our planning that 14 year old Michelle was in 8 of the 10 numbers. It was when she ran out for her sixth in a row without a breather that it dawned on me. I shifted the focus of my prayers from the girls and concrete and pebbles to Michelle, “Lord, give her grace and strength!” Michelle gave one of the most unforgettable performances of that trip that day.

Also on this day would come an occasion Mike and I had been waiting for since before the trip began. It was the night before we left for Namibia that the dance team did a dress rehearsal of sorts at the dance studio for family members and friends to see. As Mike and I talked to parents and family members Stephanie’s mom Denise, fought back tears as she told us that this (Africa trip) would be the first time her daughter would ever have danced without her being there to see it. It seemed that Mike and I were both thinking the same thing, and that was to catch Stephi’s solo on video and put her solo on the blogsite for Denise to see.

Stephi stepped out before this crowd of 1000 students. Mike and my daughter Katie were poised to video tape from two different angles. I watched Steph thru tears in my eyes, realizing I was again witnessing an answer to prayer – I had seen this sight of dancers in Namibia for months in my mind, and here we were. The very end of Stephi’s solo there was a power flicker and the CD stopped. Stephi kept going and finished to tremendous applause.

When our performance was finished a school official began to dismiss the students. As this announcement was being made the dancers were gathering their things and other members of our team were disassembling our sound system and preparing to leave. The school official offered that if anyone would like to briefly meet and greet the dancers on their way back to class that would be fine. At that very moment my back was to the crowd and I suddenly heard a roar and literally felt the earth moving as this crowd of more than 1000 students stampeded toward us. All I could think to do was get myself between the crowd and our dancers. Mike, Dave, Germaine, Dieter and other adults with our team all had the same idea. The next thing we knew we were all basically pinned between the crowd the side of a building, our team leaders and adults pretty frantically reaching to buffer the dancers. But in just a matter of seconds we heard whistles and shouts from school officials and immediately the crowd began to leave for their classrooms. Our team stood dazed and confused, looking at each other. What had just happened? Though a bit shaken by the experience, no one was hurt. It was a sobering reminder, however, for our leaders that we were indeed caring for the safety of 15 teenage girls in a very different culture.

When we got back to our camp Mike went to work editing the video and splicing in a complete recording of Steph’s music. He had the video ready to be posted that evening. As he headed to the internet cafe to post it we joked about the emotional response it might generate back home. I gave thanks to the Lord for what He was going to do thousands of miles away in people’s hearts.

Nothing could have prepared us for that response. Within minutes of uploading that video dozens of comments began to roll in from home, raw emotion, wonder and awe spilled over. As we shared the comments from home with our team that emotion, wonder and awe seemed to spill across the oceans and continents to our little campfire. I realized that God was at work in many hearts and lives far beyond the 29 that made up our G.O. Team. I asked in my journal that evening, “What will You do with all of this Lord?”

Friday, November 04, 2005

Recovery

Greetings All - thank you for your continued prayers on my brother Dave and my nephew-in-law Scott's behalf. Their surgeries began this morning at 7:30AM. By 11:30 they were both in recovery - a full hour sooner than surgeons estimated. The surgeons said that both surgeries went better than expected.

We visited both Scott and Dave this afternoon. Scott was finishing his jello for supper, sitting up in bed watching tv. He said that he was pretty comfortable, though still on a bit of pain medicine. He had been up and around and his 'plumbing' was working. They are thinking he may go home tomorrow. He will be on a lite-duty regiment for a few weeks.

Dave is in ICU and is expected to be there for at least 2 days. He was awake and joking with us. They will not allow him anything to drink but ice chips until tomorrow and he's pretty ornery about that. He wants some orange juice. I told him it's good he didn't get my kidney or he'd have awakened with an insatiable appetite for a Coke! The plan is to move him out of ICU in a couple days and then he will be in a private room for somewhere between 4-9 days, depending on a lot of markers the doctors are watching. From there he will be sent home but need to be at the hospital numerous times for follow-up checks and so forth. A few months down the road, Lord willing, life should return to pretty much normal for him. He's very hopeful to that end. He's planning to lead a trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in July. He was talking about that this afternoon.

So, please continue in prayer. I'll keep you posted.

I just got off the phone with Eric Reinertson, the leader of the youth worship band at Covenant Community Church. They are leading the service this weekend. I am really excited to worship with them this week. But there's no place like home. As I type this Michael Thompson and his band are on the stage at CCA during Java Jam. I wish I was there Michael. I'm with you guys in spirit! I understand Amanda is home from school. Miss you Amanda. Has it been three weeks already? (Inside joke)

Well, Flabber My Ghasted!

I have long heard that former President Jimmy Carter is an evangelical Christian. I've heard that he is very devout in his faith. I've heard that he and Rosalyn regularly teach Sunday School at their church, and financially support missions all over the world. But, I struggle to remember one statement President Carter has uttered on social issues with which I agree with him. Well, could this be the first?

Check this article I located thru Drudge tonight. If your recollection of President Carter's views are like mine, I suggest you sit down to read this. It is not mine to judge a man's heart. He professes faith in Christ, so he is my brother as far as I am concerned. I have to admit, it seems a bit easier for me to swallow tonight after reading this article. What do you think of the former President's statement?

Along The Way (4/Nov/2005)

Friday... Thank you to all of you who were praying for my safe journey to Florida. I made it safely, and rather enjoyed the two days on the road. I spent time with Dave and Bonnie last night. Dave was scheduled to go to the hospital at midnight and Scott (Dave's son-in-law) at 5AM this morning for their surgeries which began this morning at 7:30AM. The doctors expect the surgeries to last 5 or so hours, and for Dave and Scott to be in recovery and then ICU this afternoon. I am hoping to see them sometime this afternoon. Thank you for your continued prayer for Dave and Scott.

The doctors will be adding Scott's kidney into Dave's system, but not removing Dave's kidneys. So, at least for a while Dave will house 3 kidneys. They may decide later after Dave recovers to go in and take the others out. I was thinking they might plumb this third one into him in such a way as he could carry it around in his pocket, you know, save the big incision and all. Or if they're going back in later, give him a zipper. I'll be anxious to see what they really do. Isn't medicine amazing? And we are indeed wonderfully and marvelously made.

I'm excited to be preaching for Dave at Covenant Community Church Sunday. It is a youth Sunday at CCC, so they've asked me to preach in blue jeans and a 'Fireproof Youth' t-shirt. My kind of Sunday! I don't need that tie that I packed. I'm only wishing I'd have packed my Jesus Freak t-shirt - go 'old-school' on them (a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor based on earlier posts and comments!). Ben told me that the youth band talked about playing "Jesus Freak" this weekend, but thought better of it out of respect for their elders.

I'll try to get word up later today on Dave and Scott's condition. Again, thanks for your continued prayers. Remember, our God watches us and He never slumbers nor sleeps.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Player Of The Week

Greetings Gridiron Fanatics! I want to talk for a moment about the NFL's Player(s) of the Week program. It's a marvelous idea that nets dollars for the charities NFL players partner with by giving a large contribution, $5K a week, to the top offensive, defensive and special teams player from each conference. That's $30K a week! And at the end of the year there will be player of the year awards thru which the NFL doles out $25K to each recipient's favorite charity. Great stuff. But this week I take issue. This week's AFC defensive player of the week announced yesterday? You guessed it... ALL TEDY, ALL THE TIME! Hey, NFL - enough Tedy already. Let's roll the numbers, shall we? Tedy had 2 solo tackles and was in on 5 more. For contrast, consider the stats of the NFC defensive player of the week, Bears CB Charles Tillman. Tillman had 9 tackles, 2 passes defensed, AND let's not forget that 1 interception returned for a game winning touchdown in overtime. If I'm Tedy I'm not putting the plaque on the wall, my wife's selling it at a yardsale.

If you didn't hear, Tedy returned. But, the news will not be so good for Terrell Owens this week in Philly. Word is he's out this week, and likely the next week too. I think he's planning his next holdout with his agent. You remember, Terrell has a family to feed. One player who is back this week is Cardinals' QB Kurt Warner. Coach Denny Green is trying everything to get his team on track and handing the ball back to Warner is this week's plan. Steelers' QB Big Ben Roethlisberger is doubtful for his team's game against the Packers. That might actually allow the Pack to sneak up and play the Steelers. And the soon to be household name, Cody Pickett, gets his first NFL start at QB for the 49ers against the East Rutherford Giants. Welcome to the NFL, Cody.

Picks? Get to the picks, you say? First allow me to speak to my performance last week. Since the NFL is so generous in awarding players of the week, have they considered my 11-3 performance? If you're counting that's 74-42 on the season. How about giving me a Player of the Week award? Maybe once I eclipse that coveted 70% mark on the year they'll recognize me as Player of the Year? I better start looking for a charity to give the $25K to. Maybe Terrell Owens' kids. They need to eat, you know. Here's those picks...

Here are those 'cushy-charitable-feeling, get-off-the-TEDY-story, write-a-check-to-feed-Terrell's-kids' picks for week number 9: Falcons over Dolphins; Bucs over Panthers; Bengals over Ravens; Vikings over Lions; Jaguars over Titans; Chiefs over Raiders; Chargers over Jets; Browns over Titans; Bears over Saints; Giants over 49ers; Seahawks over Cardinals; Steelers over Packers; Redskins, ahem - Native Americans over Eagles; Patriots over Colts (nope, that's not a typo - afterall, Tedy is playing!). Bye: Bills - wishing they still had Bledsoe; Cowboys - trying to decide which RB starts next week; Broncos - wondering if fans would like Plummer better wearing number 7; Rams - having all their coaches' hearts evaluated.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

So Let's Talk Church - Step One

Ask 5 people to define 'church' for you. Just for fun, ask 5 more people who would think of themselves as Christians. Shoot, ask 10! Go ahead... I'll wait.

Our conversation about 'church' must start with a good definition. If you were to engage in my little exercise you would see that we are hurting for a thoroughgoing definition. You no doubt would hear answers having to do with buildings, programs, clergy, hierarchy, doctrines and evangelism. A few may hit closer by identifying the church as people, but follow up by asking, "So what identifies people as 'the church'?" and watch the haze set in. Go ahead... call them back. I'll wait.

Help us out. What are you hearing? What is the church as defined by the man (or woman) on the street? What is the church as defined by society? What is the church as is defined by the church? Will the real definition of the church please stand up? Click comments and jump in on this one. Once we narrow in on what the church is, then we'll send this thing into an all out firestorm by discussing what the church does.

Big Buts of the Bible #3

This is the latest in my countdown of the biggest buts in the New Testament. Locate #'s 4-10 thru the archives menu.

Galatians 4:3-4

"So also, when we were children we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. BUT when the time had fully come God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law."

I love it when timing works out in seeming coincidental fashion. Our consideration of the scriptures this past Sunday had us in Galatians 4. The 'but' here declares the tipping point God's gift brings to our lives. We were enslaved to law, legalism or religiosity of some kind - whether as the Jews Paul is speaking of in this letter to the law, or the Gentiles to whom he writes, to principles written upon their hearts. But, and it's a big liberty declaring but, the time came that God delivered us from bondage to law to marvelous freedom, changing the very nature of our relationship to Him - He adopted us as sons and daughters. Consider the greater context, and give thanks!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Along The Way (1/Nov/2005)

Tuesday afternoon... I really dislike this part of turning our clocks back which makes it dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. The parent in me dislikes it because it is starts to feel like the children should be in bed already - and then I realize it's only 5:30! Shoot, the 'growing older' part of me feels like I ought to be in bed - and then I realize it's only 5:30! Who came up with this idea? When it's light out - it's daytime. When it's dark - it's nighttime. Look back into Genesis chapter 1. God came up with that plan. This isn't so hard, is it? What? Someone had a better idea?

I am preparing to leave tomorrow for Florida to be with members of my family during Dave's kidney transplant surgery on Friday. Thank you for your continued prayers for Dave and his son-in-law Scott, who will be his kidney donor.

The time in Florida, I am hoping, will be productive for me in planning the sermon calendar for 2006. Every October/November I manage to get away for a few days and pray about just where we ought to go as a congregation studying God's word together. I appreciate your prayers for a fruitful prayer and planning time for me these days while I am traveling. I'll be blogging from the road, so I'll let you know how it's going. Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback (wk.8)

Let me begin this TMQ with this disclaimer: I am both a Patriots fan and a Tedy Bruschi fan.

All Tedy! All the time! Did you catch any NFL pregame shows this weekend? If you did you understand, ad-nauseam, my "all Tedy" references. I'll bet even Tedy's momma got tired of seeing her son's story told over and over. By halftime of the Pats/Bills game on ESPN, you heard the name Tedy 700 times - 4 of them as he was in on an actual tackle. Tedy did help the Pats to victory, which also helped your favorite football blogging guru to finish the weekend with a very healthy 11-3 win/loss record. Thanks Tedy.

As if there wasn't enough to be miserable about in Minnesota before Sunday, the news Monday that Daunte Culpepper is lost for the season to a knee injury should just about sink the Vikings ship. Brad Johnson takes over as the starter. Rumor has it that the Vikes are talking with Tedy's agent about whether he can play QB. And, news out of St. Louis Monday was that interim coach Joe Vitt was at the hospital having his heart checked. This is the guy who replaced the Rams coach Mike Martz, who is in the hospital having his heart fixed. If Vitt can't finish the season word is that Tedy will be taking over - shoot, he's back from a stroke!

Cheers: Tedy - for being back on the field. Cody Pickett (who?). Cody began October as the 49ers 4th string QB. By the 4th quarter of Sunday's win over the Bucs, Cody was engineering a game sealing drive. And they think Alex Smith is the QB of the future in San Fran. My Hero of the week: Giants' RB Tiki Barber for a heroic 206 yard rushing effort in the Giants 36-0 win over the Redskins and for giving his touchdown ball to the late Giants owner Wellington Mara's grandchildren after the game. You're a class act Tiki. Did you notice Tiki has the same number of letters as Tedy? Whoa.

Jeers: Every network for the 'All-Tedy, All-the-time" coverage. Here's Tedy arriving at the park. Here's Tedy lacing up his pads. Here's Tedy sipping gatorade. Jeers to Saints' owner Tom Benson for beating up a helpless television camera as he left the first game of the season his Saints actually played in Louisiana. Way to show the Louisiana fans your love Tom. And jeers to the NFL for not fining the owner. If a player did that the fines and suspensions would be astronomical. I guess there is a different standard for those who write the checks as opposed to those who cash them! My Goat of the week: Gregory Gall - the Cincinnati Bengals fan who ran onto the field, interrupting play, and stole the football from Packers' QB Brett Favre's hand in the game's final moments. Mr. Gall was arrested and charged with, among other things, disorderly conduct while intoxicated. You don't say? Word is the Cincinnati security detail has put a call in to Tedy to offer him a position. Check this spot Thursday for another week of sure-fire prognosticating. And with that: Tedy has left the building.