ornament 19 September 2003 ornament

Gator Hating Abroad

As Gator Hater Week draws to a close (this doesn’t mean that you can’t hate the Gators year-round), I’d like to recount one of my favorite Gator hating memories. I wasn’t even in the country for this one. Gator hate knows no borders.

In 1998, on my way to live in Belarus for a year, I made a brief stop in Budapest, Hungary. The brief stop happened to fall on September 19, when the Vols hosted the Gators in Knoxville. Thousands of miles and six times zones away, I awoke my jet-lagged body around 5:45 AM and placed a call to the States on the morning of September 20. I thought the game would long be decided by then, but overtimes ensured that the game had only just finished. The Vols had won in Knoxville 20-17. It was a shot heard ’round the world that set the stage for a national championship.

The best part was the next day, when I found a USA Today international edition. On the front page: Vol fans tearing down the goal posts at Neyland!

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ornament 17 September 2003 ornament

Rain Games

In keeping with the spirit of Gator Hater Week, I’d like to share a few memories of Tennessee-Florida games. The first was in 1992 in Knoxville. I did not attend the game (I was a senior in high school at the time), but I was in west Knoxville at my great aunt’s house. I remember watching the game on TV and seeing the massive downpour of water into Neyland Stadium. I went outside and there was no rain at all, but I could see the black clouds to the east, as the Vols trounced Florida 31-14.

Fast-forward two years. I was a sophmore at UT, watching the game from the upper deck. It was a warm September day, so I wore shorts and a T-shirt. There was rain this year too, but this time the rain did not go our way. We gave the Gators a 31-0 victory. I remember going to the game with three friends. At the end of the game, I was the only person left on my row. I was soaked, teeth-chattering, and freezing as I went down with the ship.

I hate the Gators.

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Play Time

Why are so many adults in our culture acting like children? This article explores this intresting new trend. Charles Colson comments on the article, noting that there is a difference between play as the primary goal of life, and play as an important aspect of how God created us.

Though we should take time for leisure, and play, we should also strive to take play seriously. I realize that when we play we are usually taking a break from being serious, but what I mean is that we are to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) to the obedience of Christ. We should be careful that our leisure, play, and occasional love of childish things does not rule us.

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ornament 16 September 2003 ornament

Comfort Grips

This has little to do with anything, but I was wondering why in the world do the makers of toothbrushes, razors, and pens think that each of those items needs to come in a special version with a “comfort no-slip” grip? Is anyone really brushing their teeth so hard that their hand becomes uncomfortable? Are razors all the sudden flying out of people’s hands so much that they need to be coated in rubber? These questions are heavy upon my heart.

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ornament 15 September 2003 ornament

Gator Hater Week

Hatred is a horrible thing. It eats at you, changes you, and makes you into a different person. That is why I love to hate the Florida Gators.

I will not mince words here. I hate the Gators. I don’t simply dislike them–that would be far too tame a term to use. I realize there are criminal charges that could be filed in some areas for hate crimes. Consider me guilty.

In the words of Doc Holliday in Tombstone, “No, I’m sure of it, I hate ’em.”

The fact that the Tennessee Vols will travel to the Swamp this weekend to play the Gators only heightens the hatred. This is the week where traditionally, in Knoxville, TN, everyone wears Gator Hater T-shirts around. I haven’t seen any here in Louisville yet, but I’m thinking about making some. If you think I’m alone in my loathing of all things Gator, here’s a website that hates the Gators as much as I do.

Give in to your hatred.

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ornament 11 September 2003 ornament

Remember

Let us not forget the events of that morning two years ago, and let us also not forget those who are still defending us in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of the world. May God be with them.

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ornament 10 September 2003 ornament

Separation of Church and Business, Cont’d.

Kevin McNeese, an employee of Familiy Christian Stores, responded to my blog entry, “Separation of Church and Business.” Mr. Neese says:

We can split hairs all day long, and I’m praying that the Christian community will embrace versus divide, but the fact of the matter is that Family Christian Stores is both a ministry and a business. No one in our company is confused about what we do. We supply people with products that help them grow in their faith, help minister to those around them and encourage the heart, mind and soul…just like our tagline suggests. It’s the same mission statement as your local church bookstore, which is open before and after services as well.

It’s obvious that Mr. Neese is proud (in a good way) of the job he does and that he supports Family Christian Stores’ move to open on Sundays. The problem is that what he has defined here as ministry makes the term applicable to almost anything. I’m sure I could get most if not all of the books that Family Christian Stores sells at Barnes and Noble–does this make them a ministry too? Some deacons at my church go and buy janitorial supplies for the church at Sam’s Club–does this make Sam’s Club a ministry? To ascribe such a broad definition to ministry makes the word almost meaningless.

The greater problem here is the devaluation of what it means to have a Christian business. Let me repeat there is nothing wrong with having a Chrisitian business. In fact, there is something quite noble in a company that seeks to operate upon Christian principles.

Somewhere along the line, the notion that “all business is bad” has trickled down into mainstream evangelicalism. So when some Christian businesses want to gain back some of its well-deserved noblilty, they label themselves a ministry to absolve themselves of the guilt they feel for making a profit. If they are a ministry, other evangelicals will feel good about them and take them seriously. It’s not unilke the familiar ploy that politicians (both liberal and conservative) use to get people’s attention: if no one cares about an issue, they just say that “it’s for the sake of the children.” How could anyone think anything but happy thoughts of the children? And so it goes with the ministry.

After all, it is not difficult to imagine how evangelicalism reached this point. I’ve been in numerous church services where someone will make known to the congregation that they’ve surrendered to “the call” to the ministry. These people are well-received by their pastors and their congregation, and rightly so. The problem is what is missing. No one is congratulated in the same way when they want to be salt and light in the world by starting a business or by becoming a physician, a lawyer, an engineer, or a laborer. The modern evangelical church looks on these people as those left behind, while we “ministers” forge ahead spiritually.

We should certainly continue to revere the ministry and ministers–after all, that is my calling–so I do not at all think it is without value. However as churches, we should also seek to revere and support equally those whose callings take them into the world of business. Perhaps if we did this, they would not have to take on other mantles to be respected.

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Bibles A la Mode

Russell Moore has a great article on Bibles that are niche-marketed, in this case to teenage girls. Among several good points Moore makes is this one:

Evangelicals have long believed that the way to get attention is to reincarnate the gospel into a vanilla-flavored version of whatever worldly fad is the going thing. Thus, we have the embarrassment of “Christian boy bands” seeking to imitate-usually badly-the music of “N-Sync”. We have Christian wrestling federations and Christian karaoke clubs and Christian line-dancing competitions. But these things just don’t seem to penetrate a secular youth culture. Why? Because they have glamour magazines and boy bands and karaoke clubs-and they are done better than we can do them.

I’ve already noted below the danger that the extraneous information that is put into many Bible can pose. Moore’s article suggests even more problems that niche Bibles present. Read it.

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Vols In Iraq!

Instapundit linked this photo and caption about the Big Orange presence in Iraq. Go Vols!

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ornament 8 September 2003 ornament

Biblical Illiteracy

Albert Mohler has a good blog today on biblical illiteracy in the church. I’ve blogged briefly about this before, and I think this is one dead horse that still needs beating. Mohler cites the statistics:

According to 82 percent of Americans, “God helps those who help themselves,” is a Bible verse. Those identified as born-again Christians did better–by one percent. A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one’s family.

Some of the statistics are enough to perplex even those aware of the problem. A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. We are in big trouble.

Big trouble indeed. Bibles today that are available to the church often contain many more notes and extraneous materials than they do the actual biblical text. The usual argument goes something like, “I need the notes to understand the difficult passages.” I will concede that point. It does help and is often a benefit to see what others have gleaned from their readings and study. This is not, however, an adequate substitute for reading the actual text. Making doctrine from the “Cliff Notes” version of the Bible is a dangerous thing.

I’ve been in countless Bible studies where, during the course of discussing a biblical passage, someone will invariably say, “Well, my Bible says,” and then refer to thier study notes (which, contrary to popular belief, are sometimes completely wrong). Study notes are not inherently bad, but they do contribute to the church’s biblical illiteracy when one looks to them before looking at the text.

The research Mohler cites doesn’t discuss the percentage of Christians who have read (or are currently on a plan to do so) the entire Bible. I wonder about this. Rarely are people encouraged to read the whole thing by pastors, teachers, and other believers, and I wonder if this is due to the fact that fewer and fewer Christian leaders have a working knowledge of the entire canon of Scripture.

The fact that Christians today do not know the Bible shouldn’t make us throw up our hands and give up because we’re too far behind. On the other hand, we should follow the voice that Augustine heard, and “take up and read!”

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