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Showing posts from 2010

Books I Read in 2010

Repost: The Two Christmases

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Originally posted December 2009:



As I walked through the front door of the Post Office, I was faced with a choice. On my left was a vending machine from which I could purchase books of stamps, and to my right was the customer service desk, where I could make the same purchase from actual human beings. Because there was no line at the moment, I chose the human interaction. I strolled up to the middle-aged, slightly balding postal employee, read that his name was "Rex", and I asked for two books of stamps.

As it was mid-December, Rex asked me "would you like Christmas stamps, or...".

Once I realized he wasn't about to complete the sentence, I looked down and saw that he was holding some very un-Christmas-like stamps bearing images of the Liberty Bell and the word "Forever." Knowing that my wife had planned to mail several Christmas cards, I told him "One of each."

To my surprise, the decision-making did not stop there. Because I had asked Re…

Is it our duty to call out businesses for this?

Good news, Christians!  First Baptist Church in Dallas has created a website where you, the average working-class, red-blooded, patriotic, God-fearing American, can tell the world which businesses are naughty, and which are nice.

The basis for such assignments is your assessment of whether or not said businesses are following your idea of an acceptable celebration of Christmas. If there are nativity scenes, references to 8-lb. baby Jesus, or the clerks greet you with "Merry Christmas" (just like the shepherds did in the bible), then they qualify as "nice". But if they say "Happy Holidays", they are clearly tools of the devil and must forever be branded as "naughty".

(Side note: what about the Little Drummer Boy? If a place has him in their decorations, is he naughty, because he's not in the bible? Or is he nice, because he played drums for baby Jesus?)

And once you know if a place is naughty, then...well, I'm not sure what you are suppos…

Why Should Marvin Miller Be Honored?

The Baseball Hall of Fame voters turned down Marvin Miller today. In the 1970's, Miller took over the baseball players' union and built it into the most powerful union in the world. Because of him, the worst major leaguers are guaranteed salary ranges in the mid-6 figures, and countless mediocre ones have been able to lock teams into multi-million-dollar deals, driving up ticket prices exponentially in the process.

The Hall of Fame is there to remember the best of the best in baseball, whether they are players, managers, umpires, or those who contributed in some other way. The idea that a union leader, especially this one, should be honored is ludicrous.  In the last half-century, labor unions have done more harm than good in our nation, and have been instrumental (along with numerous other contributing factors) in creating an entitlement mindset among most modern U.S. citizens that is truly saddening.

Some won't like the previous paragraph because they are convinced tha…

Stevie Johnson let God down....didn't he?

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There's lots of talk about Stevie Johnson, the Bills wideout who dropped the game-winning touchdown and then, after the game, tweeted:
I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…
I feel bad for the guy. He’s getting mocked across the nation, and some of the criticisms are along the lines of “it’s just a game.” Such criticisms are very ignorant. Catching a ball is what this guy was hired to do. It’s his living. I get upset when things I try to do at my job don’t go well. Doesn’t matter if your job is a plumber, programmer, pastor, doctor, or athlete.
In the case of an athlete, a failure on the job is witnessed by millions of people. To this day, athletes like Leon Lett, Bill Buckner, and Robin Ventura, who should be known for having great careers, are instead known for one bad moment. They’re regarded as failures despite being better a…

Book Review: Snow Day, by Billy Coffey

I was alerted to Billy Coffey by a tweet from Karen Spears Zacharias earlier this year. He's a blogger who has a day job and lives in Virginia, and has just published his first book, Snow Day. After reading several of his blog posts, I was intrigued by the book and had meant to purchase it. As it turns out, I won a free copy in a promotion by the publisher. I am under no obligation to give any review, positive or negative, about Snow Day.

Having said that, I'm recommending Snow Day very highly.  This is a story about a man named Peter whose circumstances are similar to that of Mr Coffey (mid-30's, wife and two kids, one with diabetes, factory job), with some differences. In particular, Peter is facing a very tough situation:  an impending layoff in a small town with little in the way of alternatives for him if he should lose his job.

Snow Day takes place in one day: a winter day in which the protagonist decides to take a day off. He spends the day running errands at the st…

Elections results

With the recent mid-term elections, I've been hearing a lot about how wrong it is for evangelicals and social-justice Christians to hold to the political right and Left, respectively, as the answer to the nation's problems.

I, too went through a time where I questioned why so many Protestants wrapped up their faith and their politics to the point where the two couldn't be separated. I, too, want to see this stopped, because Christians fighting Christians about whose politics are more Christian is, um, not Christian.

But as much as I love these calls to stop the madness, I don't think it will work. As long as political liberals hold and defend the party line on the two big moral issues (abortion and gay issues), there will always be a backlash from those Christians on the Right.

Like many Christians, I've asked the questions about why these two issues are picked as hot-button topics. In particular, why are conservative Christians so vocal about homosexuality and not…

The Way Home

Not a lot of phrases these days have the ability to produce extreme reactions in people like "Christian movie".

Think about it: when you read it just now, you either cringed at the memory of past experiences watching lame stories with terrible dialog, or perhaps the phrase filled your heart with warm fuzzies. The former reaction is likely if you saw atrocities like "The Omega Code", and the latter is true for you if you forgave the substandard acting in "Fireproof" or "Facing the Giants" because you agreed with the message.

The good news is, the quality of the post-"Facing the Giants" movies aimed for a primarily Christian audience has been steadily, though slowly, improving. It's not quite up to Hollywood standards yet, but it's getting better.

A recent entry into this field, The Way Home, was recently provided to me for review purposes. The only "stars" are Dean Cain, formerly Superman on ABC's Lois and Clark …

Thoughts following Game 3 of rangers/Yankees

1. This is a real confidence-builder: The Rangers ran the Yankees' best pitcher out of the game Friday, and outplayed the Yanks for 8 of the 9 innings. The fact that they have now slammed the Yankees for 26 out of 27 innings has to be a real confidence-boost for the Rangers, and has to be causing doubts in the minds of the Yankees players. Don't underestimate the mental side of this game.

2. Feliz's speed in the last AB against Texieria: 98, 98, 99, 100, 98, 99. It's very significant, because it means the batter and pitcher look each other in the eye, and they both understand what kind of pitch is coming. They're daring each other. Even if Feliz had a great breaking ball, it wouldn't have been right, and he knows it, to pitch anything but a fastball. Great way to end it.

3. The toe-to-toe, man-to-man aspect mentioned in #2 above is vital. Tex has been around a while, and can hit a fastball as well as anyone. But for Feliz to take his challenge like that says a…

MLB greed-a Double whammy

http://www.wfaa.com/sports/baseball/rangers/Playoff-charges-surprise-Ballpark-office-tenants-104319234.html

Major League Baseball has come in and told the Rangers to tell their tenants--small businesses who rent space in the offices of the Ballpark--that the precedent which has been set for the last 17 seasons is now no longer in effect. They can no longer watch games from their office without purchasing a ticket. At least for the playoffs.

MLB has always had ridiculous rules which come across as greedy. For example, go try to find a clip on Youtube. If you do get lucky enough to find one, bookmark it and come back in a week, and it won't be there. That's because MLB won't let any game footage be shown online, because they want you to view it on the league's website.


A great example of the ridiculousness of MLB's policy is in that article linked to at the beginning of this post. Watch the video, which comes from a news report on local DFW station WFAA. When it gets…

Love and War--A Review

It's only natural that, after writing about the topics of God's design for men (Wild at Heart), women (Captivating),  spiritual warfare (Waking the Dead), and the parallels between human romance and our relationship with God (The Sacred Romance), it's only logical that John and Stasi Eldredge expound on, and combine, all of those ideas in a book about marriage. Those already familiar with the ministry and writings of both Eldredges will see many similarities in their latest book, Love and War.    But it's not merely the same old regurgitated stuff. Love and War is full of fresh ideas, filtered through the familiar Ransomed Heart framework.

Marriage is perhaps the most covered topic in all of American Christianity. And judging by the way marriage among professing Christians has been getting bludgeoned, it's understandable why.  But Love and War differs from the bulk of marriage-themed books in most Christian bookstores in at least two major ways.

First, there's …

Beyond the door greeter: The most important contribution of Tim Wright

My sons Jacob and Zachary have baseball cards. Hundreds of them. They like to spend time with them, because the cards feed two of their passions: baseball and numbers. They organize and re-organize the cards. They play fictional baseball games, complete with playoffs, with them. Most important, they show the cards off to their friends. Even adults who come over to the house are likely to be introduced to the baseball cards collection by my sons.
I have a friend named Frank. He's retired, and is an expert woodworker. Visitors to his house will be treated to the tour: he loves to show you the gorgeous cherrywood rocking horse, the grandfather clock, and countless other items he has made out of wood. They're all quite beautiful; very impressive. It's Frank's passion, and he loves to share what he has done with others.


For the last 15 years, I have had a friend named Tim Wright. His title was Pastor of Small Groups and Assimilation. We all know what a small group is, but &…

Outlive Your Life--A Book Review

In "Outlive Your Life," author Max Lucado takes the reader on a journey through the book of Acts, painting a picture along the way. A picture which describes the need for all believers to carry out God's work and make their life count for something. Ideally, such work will last beyond the lifetime of the worker. Lucado skillfully uses the history of the beginning of the Church, as told to us in the book of Acts, to teach the reader why helping others in Jesus' name is part of Christian life.

Along the way, he backs up this idea not only with verses, but with statistics and with real-life stories of modern believers who chose to make their lives count by blessing others.

If this sounds familiar, it's because the ground treaded by this book has been covered over and over again. I could not read "Outlive Your Life" without being reminded of "Purpose-Driven Life", "The Hole in Our Gospel", "Don't Waste Your Life", "A M…

You Changed My Life--A Book Review

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"You Changed My Life" is Max Lucado's companion piece to "Outlive Your Life". "Outlive your Life" is about the need for Christians to take action by blessing others in their lives. In "You Changed My Life," the author takes the reader into the lives of many people who have done exactly that.

The book's inner flap says it's a gift book intended to be awarded to someone who has made a difference in the life of someone. It consists of several inspiring anecdotes about real people who made a conscious choice to love others in some way. My favorite is "Love Makes a Difference", about Catherine Lawes, wife of a prison warden, who treated prisoners as if they were just as important as she was.

"You Changed my Life", while a companion piece to "Outlive Your Life", would go well alongside other books such as "Crazy Love", by Frances Chan, or "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years", by Donald M…

Book review: "Permisson to Speak Freely", by Anne Jackson

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Anne Jackson's "Permission to Speak Freely" is an astounding piece of work. It’s amazing. In my many previous book reviews, I save my superlatives and only bring them out on rare occasions. But I’m unleashing the floodgates for this one. This book will touch anyone who feels they are or have ever been “damaged goods”, which means just about all of us. I got this book for free from the publisher, but in hindsight, I’d have paid $100 for it. It’s that powerful.

It's divided into 3 parts. The first part consists of Jackson's background story, mostly sad vignettes of how she was betrayed by people in the church. This betrayal was extended in many cases to her other family members, and clearly had a lasting effect on the author.

Part 2 explains her adult life so far, and how she has come to realize some truths about her past. Of all the things she learned, the biggest impact came from the realization that many people in churches everywhere have hurts, secrets, pasts, …

Following in the footsteps of Gomer, Jed Clampett, and Barney Fife

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As a kid, I watched a lot of TV after school. At that time of day, the choices were soaps, game shows, and reruns of shows which were popular in the 50's & 60's. I typically chose the reruns. The list of shows I liked included Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy, Lost in Space, and many more.

Five TV shows in this rerun rotation had one thing in common. See if you can tell what that one thing is:



Gomer Pyle
The Andy Griffith Show
The Beverly Hillbillies
Petticoat Junction
Green Acres

That's right: they all featured hillbillies: characters with Southern accents, limited formal education, and a glaring absence of sophistication. When the hicks crossed paths with non-hicks, hilarity ensued. Many laughs were squeezed from the contrast between the hillbillies and "book-smart" people. Of course, the moral of many of the episodes was that the dumb hicks often had more wisdom than the city folks whom they were up against.

Around 2000 years ago, a God-man named Jesus…

God's Promises for Girls-Review

http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Promises-Girls-Jack-Countryman/dp/1400315913/
Thomas Nelson provided for me the book God's Promises for Girls, by Jack Countryman and Amy Parker.  This is a devotional-type book designed for young girls. My 8-year-old daughter read it with no problem and it seemed to be just right for her reading level.
Beyond readability, of course, is the content of the book, and it's very well done. It divides each day into two pages (one page spread).  For each day, there is one topic (example: Trusting God) and a few verses to meditate on. There is no commentary; just the verses, plus some very nice illustrations.
I highly recommend this book for girls around age 8, give or take a few years. In fact, as an adult male, I found I could get a lot out of this book as well.

Note that there is also a boys' version of the book which I did not review.

Crazy moving story

Ever have an incident so crazy that you say "if someone wrote this as a sitcom script, nobody would believe it!"?  In 1987, I was leaving the army, and experienced that very thing.

I'm getting out of the Army. It's a Thursday. Snowstorm closes the finance office, so I cannot out-process. It's closed Friday, too. Snow melts Saturday, but they're closed on weekends. More snow Sunday night. Monday morning, finance is closed again because of snow.
Monday afternoon, finance opens, they out-process me by 4:30. I load stuff from my barracks into my car. When almost done, I realize I don't have quite enough hands to carry last load, so I leave one item in room. On way back from car, fire alarm goes off. Fire trucks come. I'm prevented from entering building to get my one last item and heading into civilian life.
An hour later, firefighters call it a false alarm, let me in to get that one thing. I load up. It's 6:00. Rush-hour traffic in DC …

Rainbows and Other Reminders

Perhaps you can relate to the following scene: I'm driving along, with my kids in the back seat, and suddenly, I spot a rainbow. I make a point of saying something to my sons and daughter, so they won't miss it. "Look, a rainbow!" About the same thing I do with we drive by something else I'd like to point out, like cows or fire trucks.

Only thing is, there is something different about a rainbow, something which separates it from cows and other attractions.

Genesis 9:14-15"And it shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow
shall be seen in the cloud. And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every
living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."


God looked at the destruction, which He had sent as a way of dealing with the sin of the world, and said to Himself that He needed to find another way to deal with it. He would send His only begotten Son, to be…

Sammy vs. David Lee Roth

20 years after Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth in Van Halen, it occurs to me that I like the Hagar-era songs better. Why? I'm not sure exactly. I have a theory, though. 

When I was single and hanging with other singles, we'd be in a large gathering at someone's house, and there's always that one person who came in and announced him/herself with a shout. Something like "Who's ready to party?" or maybe just a simple "Woohoo!"    People who do that have always been a turnoff to me. 

Now that I think about it, Dave was more like that guy. Always having to draw attention to himself, reminding people how fun it is to have him around. But the songs of the Hagar era were more about the song than the guy singing them. They didn't scream out "see how cool I am!?!" They were just good songs.

Father's Day

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I didn't realize, growing up, the cost of not having a relationship with my father. It's only in recent years that the weight of the impact on my life has become evident to me. This new realization comes to me for many reasons. Becoming a dad is the obvious one, but in addition, it's helped that I have read several books which emphasize the importance of a dad. Finally, I've noticed several films where the main character fathers his kids, and the children have an understanding of their father's role that I never did. I have learned of a father's importance by watching dads ranging from good ones, as in "The Pursuit of Happyness," to ones who fell way short, like in "Shine", "The Great Santini", or "Up".

The benefit of gaining this new understanding is that it forces me to pay special attention to my role as father. I'm pretty sure I would have been too self-absorbed to have had a good impact on Abby, Jacob, and Zachar…

Book Review: Jesus Manifesto

Jesus Manifesto, by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet, aims to, as the subtitle states, "Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ." It does an admirable job of just that. 

I'm not familiar with the work of either Sweet or Viola, but read this book because it was provided to me by tghe publisher, Thomas Nelson. The writers have turned out something that is impressive, and which has the potential to be a timeless work.

The point of the book is simple: our focus as Christians should be on Jesus. Not causes, not personalities, not politics, and certainly not ourselves. Scriptural proof is offered in the form of Paul's' constant references to his desire to preach Christ.

Key passage: "So many Christians are blissfully unaware of His vastness. They have settled for so much less and have known Him so little.  But...when the people of God get a sighting of their incomparable Lord...every idol will be forced to the ground. The clouds of doubt will part …

Will Jesus Buy Me A Double-Wide? by Karen Spears Zacharias--my review

A few months ago, I was given a free copy of "Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?", by the author, Karen Spears Zacharias, for participation in a Haiti relief effort. I mention this for two reasons: first, a new law says that bloggers who review a complimentary book must disclose that they didn't pay for it; in this case, it's worth adding that Ms. Zacharias didn't ask me to review the book.

Reason #2 why I mention that the book was a free gift is that, frankly, I most likely wouldn't have read it otherwise. After all, it's about the damage done by the teaching known as the Prosperity Gospel. These days, it seems that we are bombarded with people telling us they are against things. Everyone from Beck to Maher to Limbaugh to Olbermann tells us constantly why they are against something. So this book's main point is that there is one more thing to be against? No, thanks. I'm good.

But when it comes to this book, throw all of that kind of reasoning out.…

Book Review: Plan B, by Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson's "Plan B: What do you do when God doesn't show up the way you thought He would?" has a title that is perfectly descriptive, yet had me convinced it wouldn't be terribly interesting. As someone who's been a Christian for many years and heard a lot of sermons, I thought going in that I had this book pegged. And in one way, it does repeat the concepts that have been preached countless times, only because those concepts are based on truths found throughout Scripture. And in fact, the first few chapters lived down to my expectations. Not that the message isn't a valid one, but I simply had no interest in hearing something that is not news to me.

But to my pleasant surprise, the message grew on me, and offered this veteran believer some fresh things to ponder. The message, at its core, is a simple one: in life, stuff happens. Nobody's immune to failure, disappointment, even death or divorce. Things happen in the course of a person's life wh…

Review of Wild at Heart--10th Anniversary Edition, by John Eldredge

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since John Eldredge's Wild at Heart was released. Actually, it's more like nine, but who's counting? The book, love it or hate it, has been influential in ways nobody could have imagined upon initial release.  It will be remembered as one of the most important books of our time. Now, Thomas Nelson has released an updated version.

Wild at Heart, with its assertions that God is wild, that feminism has removed from men the most valuable thing they have to offer (their strength), and that women want to be rescued, created a bit of a firestorm almost as soon as it was released. It has been the subject of criticism from Christians and non-Christians alike, banned from some Christian bookstores and even churches. It was blamed for a killing. But on the other hand are those who assert that WAH has been immeasurably influential and healing in the lives of countless men, and by extension, their wives, and their children.

Because of th…

Is it catastrophe--or is it beauty?

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The Iceland volcano is understandably getting the headlines this week. Mostly, the reporters, journalists, and such are telling us about the results: grounded flights: the economic impact, the Europeans who cannot get home.

While I understand this perspective, I can't help noting that the majority of the things being damaged (essentially planes, trains, and automobiles) are man-made.  If one can suspend their concern for such things for a minute, and look at the event itself, it's quite stunning. I'm not trying to be insensitive to those being adversely affected, but asking all of us to see the incredible event folding before our eyes. Only God could do something like this. Amazing.

Click the photo above to see it full-size. It's breathtaking. Click this link to see the original, as well as many more which will make you want to worship the One who created it all.
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/04/more_from_eyjafjallajokull.html
Is It Impossible To Come Back to God? --What's the point of Hebrews 6:4-6?
Hebrews 6:4-6 (NIV) "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted of the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subject Him to public disgrace."

Many have read Hebrews 6:4-6 and interpreted it to mean that someone can be saved, choose a sinful life, and then can never recover their salvation. However, a close examination of the surrounding scripture makes it clear that what the author of Hebrews was saying has nothing to do with the impossibility of returning to God.
Is the passage about losing salvation? Whether or not one can lose salvation is an age-old debate and has caused much dissension within the Church. It is possible to come up with many convinc…

The Differences Between People in the Real World and People in TV Land

When a guy asks a girl for a date on TV or a movie, the two of them invariably come to an agreement for him to pick her up at 8:00. When you count the time he will come in for a minute while she finishes getting ready, then their drive to the restaurant, then waiting to get a table, and then waiting for food after ordering, you're looking at maybe getting some food into your gut by 9:00 if you're lucky.

For some reason, when he says "I'll pick you up at Eight", this is acceptable to her. This brings several questions to my mind: Why? Who the heck eats supper at 9:00? Do people in TV Land eat another meal earlier in the evening to tide them over between lunch and supper? Do they call it Lupper?

I don't know about you, but if it gets to 6:00 and I haven't eaten yet, my tummy starts barking at me.

This is just one more of the many differences between people in the real world and the people in TV Land. Others that come to mind:

--People in TV Land never …

Book Review: A Hole in Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns

In "A Hole in Our Gospel", Richard Stearns tells his story: a story of leaving a position as CEO of a well-known manufacturer to CEO of World Vision, taking a 75% pay cut and uprooting his family in the process. That story only takes a couple of chapters; the rest of the book proceeds to open the reader's eyes not only to some severe and difficult realities, but to the responsibility of believing Christians to address those realities.

I must confess: about halfway into this book, I was unconvinced. Sure, there is value in helping the poor, but it seemed that Stearns was making a mistake that so many well-meaning Christians make: they work to convince others that their particular passion should be the passion of everyone who claims to follow Christ. By the end of the book, however, the truth is inescapable: we (Christians in America) are the richest church in world history, and we're falling so short of Scriptural directives on this topic that it's heartbreaking.…

Inexplicable unwritten rules of sports -- #1

One of the more inexplicable unwritten rules of sports is the one that says that when a team is playing for a championship, someone from the team or school must have pre-ordered some caps and/or t-shirts that declares them the champs, and then they will force the players to wear it within 30 seconds after the clock has ticked down to 0:00.

Caps are worse, because you can't recognize the individual players on TV when they wear the cap. But the t-shirts are bad because the losing team has those shirts that nobody will ever wear. Sure, they tell you they donate them to homeless shelters, but have you ever seen a homeless person wearing a "Philadelphia Eagles--Super Bowl XXXIX Champions" t-shirt? Ever?

The Death, the Resurrection, and Will Ferrell

Today, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. I can't not think of this scene when I think about this day:



Think about Jesus, praying in the Garden, knowing He's about to go through an agonizing death, is about to bear all the sin of the world, and about to be separated from the Father for 3 agonizing days. Jesus prays to Him--the Author of the greatest story ever written--asking if there's another way. But there isn't, so Jesus says "Finish the book. It's a great story. If I have to die so that this story gets written, I will."

Male Mentors in movies

I'm only recently discovering the powerful affect a mentor can have on a kid when the father is absent, for whatever reason.

Here's my ranking of best movies in which a man takes on a pivotal role in the life of a kid (or kids) not his own:

10. Stand and Deliver;
9. Karate Kid;
8. The Cowboys;
7. Finding Neverland;
6. Dead Poet's Society;
5. Secondhand Lions;
4. Antwone Fisher;
3. Simon Birch;
2. About a Boy;
1. Up

Top Ten List: My favorite movie heroes

My favorite movie heroes of all time. Listed like this: Character name--actor name--Movie name

10. Neo--Keanu Reeves--The Matrix
9. Maximus--Russell Crowe--Gladiator
8. Simon Birch--Ian Michael Smith--Simon Birch
7. Chris Gardner--Will Smith--The Pursuit of Happyness
6. Jim Braddock--Russell Crowe--Cinderella Man
5. Jean Valjean--Liam Neeson--Les Miserables
4. John Creasy--Denzel Washington--Man on Fire
3. Paul Rusesabagina--Don Cheadle--Hotel Rwanda
2. Atticus Finch--Gregory Peck--To Kill a Mockingbird
1. Oskar Schindler--Liam Neeson--Schindler's List


Note: Jesus--Jim Caviezel--The Passion of the Christ should be #1, but really, He's kind of in a league of His own. My list consists of great heroes, but none of them are on the same level as Jesus. If I listed Him, there would be an insurmountable gap between #1 and #2.

Passed over yet again

The Country Music Hall of Fame just made their annual announcement of new inductees:

--Billy Sherrill (a producer who is a great choice)
--Ferlin Husky (one of those guys who sang in the 50's and nobody who is still alive actually remembers, but whatever)

And two very curious choices:
--Jimmy Dean
--Don Williams

Dean was famous essentially for one song (Big Bad John), and then some acting and building a sausage empire. He is in no way a music legend.

Williams had a nice run of hits in the 70's and 80's. He's a borderline HOF-er, at best; he cranked out hits for several years, but he was not spectacularly popular nor did he have a profound impact. If you want to induct him, fine. But not at the expense of Ronnie Milsap.

I am befuddled why, in the last several years, many lesser talents than Milsap have been placed in the CM HOF. Roy Clark? Emmylou Harris? Vince Gill? Mel Tillis? Are you serious? All are nice artists, and I own a lot of their work, but they are sim…

The NFL in the 2000's: The Decade of the Lovable Losers

Now that the last NFL season of the first decade of the new century has completed, a look back is warranted, and such a look reveals the theme: This was the decade for the triumph of the perpetual losers.

Before this decade began, the Patriots, Buccaneers, Saints, and Ravens/Browns were known for their losing ways. The Pats had been to the Big Game a couple of times, but fallen short. The Bucs had actually started out by losing their first 22(!) games as a franchise. The Browns had not won a Super Bowl, but had been the victim of The Drive and other heartbreaking defeats. And the Saints, well....it's simply enough to point out that their nickname was "The Aints", and their fans were famous for wearing paper bags over their heads.

But in this decade, all of these franchises broke through their past failures and won it all. If you wanted to end decades of frustration, this was the decade to do it. It started with the 2000 season, in which the Ravens (the original Cleve…

Verbal pet peeves

Here are a few things that come out of the mouths of well-meaning people, but which drive me nuts:

Time Clock: I work on salary, but many of my co-workers get paid hourly, and must punch in and out. The device they use to clock in is usually referred to as a "time clock". Why is this? Every clock is a time clock!

Literally: I once heard a news reporter say "people here in this small town are literally bursting with pride that this young man from their hometown has won a Gold Medal..." Wait! Did you say that people are literally bursting? Like a whole town is full of exploding people? Shouldn't this be front page news?

Awesome: I also once heard a waitress say that the tortilla soup is "awesome." No, it's not. It might be really good. But save the word "awesome" for God, or a volcano, or the Grand Canyon, or a cure for cancer. Your soup is not awesome. It can't be.

Redundancy phrases:
ATM Machine (because the M stands for Machine)
PIN …

A Teachable Moment: Taking advantage of technology on MLK Day

I didn't want my kids to think of January 18th as just a day off from school. I wanted them to understand the importance. So the night before (Sunday night), I gathered them around the computer, and we viewed 3 short clips.

First, we watched the "I've Been to the Top of the Mountain" speech from the night before he was killed. In only a little over a minute, he delivers one of the most passionate, inspiring orations I have ever heard:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0FiCxZKuv8&feature=related


then, I went to Patty Griffin’s song based on that speech:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA6Q5-Ap3o8


I paused the song a couple of times to emphasize the following points:

MLK said in his speech that he knew his life might be cut short (as it was just 24 hours later), but he was satisfied just doing God's will. He was convinced that God had asked him to take on this role, and he readily carried out God's calling, knowing it would be painful.

In the song, Griffin sin…