Aug 26, 2008

Don't be exceptional or it will cost you...

Baseball Team's Pitcher, 9, Ousted for Being Too Good

I saw this story on Fox News yesterday and couldn't believe what I was reading. Then I heard my friend Speedy and Rick and Bubba talking about it while I was driving to work and it got me all worked up again. The bottom line is this. A baseball league in Conneticut has decided to ban an entire team because their 9 year old pitcher, Jericho Scott, get this...he is too good. Are you kidding me! This thing has made national headlines because a bunch of spineless jellyfish who make up the league board made a bad decision.

Here's why this decision is a problem: Jericho was not asked not to compete because he throws hard and is wild and hits batters. He was not asked to leave the league because he has a character deficiency. He wasn't asked to leave because he's a bad seed. He was asked to leave because he has a talent that overpowers the other kids in the league. He was asked to leave because parents complained that he is too good and intimidates the other players. The lawyer representing the league said this, "“The spirit of the league was community, family, well being, nurturing. It’s an extended family and it’s been disrupted." That's a liberal's way of saying, "No one can be better than anyone else. Let's pull everyone down to the same level in the name of community. Mediocrity is great as long as we all are mediocre together."

This kid is nine years old - the same age as my oldest son Nathan. This is not a league of 5 year olds who are trying to learn the game and where you might could ask the kids who is too good to move up a league. At nine years of age there are always going to be kids who begin to excel at some sports more than others. Just about every little league team in America has to face at least one team with a player who is the best in the league.

What message are we sending to this young man who has been blessed with a talent and the discipline necessary to hone that talent? We don't mind you excelling just as long as it doesn't infringe on my children. Do it somewhere else. In addition, in a world where the spirit of community is celebrated and tolerance is the highest virtue, why can't we be tolerant of one who excels above others? Isn't community after all a celebration of what we have in common despite our differences, despite the fact that some are better athletes and some are better artists?

In addition, what message are we sending to the other players? Do we really believe that we are making things better for them by trying to establish a system where everyone is equal and being exceptional at something is cause for you to be removed? Are we teaching these students that being good enough is good enough?

I am thankful that when George Washington faced the greatest military force in the known world and was vastly outnumbered both in talent and resources that he didn't complain or back down because the British were better.

Last year in the World Series, Mike Lowell, who fought back from a terrible season a few years before as well as cancer, was awarded the Most Outstanding Player award. Are we now going to do away with that and celebrate the Most Normal Player instead?

As a parent of three sons, at least one of them who loves sports as much as I do, I hope I never have to tell my son not to strive for excellence. I hope that my son never has to be punished for being too good. I also hope to teach him that no matter how good the opponent, on the sports field or in life, face him or her with every amount of ability you have and whether you succeed or fail, rest in the knowledge that you faced the best with your best. I hope he never has to celebrate mediocrity in himself or anyone else.

Aug 23, 2008

Ping Pong...Sport?

Alright, I was just watching some of the Olympics and watching the gold medal match in Table Tennis. (Yes it's raining and my life is that sad right now) Anyway, I got to wondering when did the International Olympic Committee decide that Ping Pong is an act of athletic prowess? And how does Table Tennis stay in the Olympics but baseball and softball have to go after this year?

Now I will acknowledge that in the world of Ping Pong, these guys and girls are good. I would readily admit that they would kick my tail. But, I never once in my life said "I'm looking for a good, challenging athletic competition. I know! Ping Pong!" I have never thought about signing one of my kids up at the park for a Ping Pong league. I have never thought about becoming a volunteer Ping Pong coach at the local park. I have never asked Nathan to do push ups to develop his ping pong muscles.

These girls just took a time out to get a sports drink! Are you kidding me! And the announcer just said about one of the girls, "I don't think she has much left in the tank!" I am dying! This is ridiculous.

Aug 19, 2008

A Kinder, More Gentler Me

Because of the ranting nature of my last post (which has been deleted to avoid further misunderstanding), I think I left several people with a inappropriate view of me. One question was asked "Who DO you love?" and I think it's a fair question. So here is my attempt to show the kinder, softer side of me.

I love puppies, sea lions, and the way penguins waddle when they walk. I love the way fish attack the surface when you throw in the food from the feeder. I love coffee caramel milkshakes and every one of the people at Chick-Fil-A that make me one.

I love my three boys more than I can ever imagine. I love the fact that we have to start almost every morning with a wrestling match in my bed. I love the way they smile when I tell them I am proud of them (which I don't do enough). I love it when Nathan fills in the blank at school labeled "someone you admire" with the word "Dad", especially since I don't deserve it. I love the way Drew has to have at least one hug a day from me. I love the way John David turns upside down and puts his rear-end in my face and laughs.

I love my wife who stole my heart across the table 12 years ago and has never given it back. I love the way she whines when she wants something because secretly she wants to be a princess and be waited on hand and foot but doesn't want to admit it. I love the way she believes in me to be the man I can be and not just the man that usually shows up at home.

I love throwing the ball for my lab Maggie.

I love those who are giving their all in the spirit of Olympic competition for the United States whether they win 8 gold like Michael Phelps or finish out of medal competition but still proved themselves to be a champion because they competed and gave it their all.

I love my new brothers in Top Gun even though I have only known them one weekend and that they have now entered an area of vulnerability that will take them closer to being the man that God intends for them to be. I love the men in my church who have started to step up, reject passivity, and be men of God. I love that we can finally show the world that a Christian man is a leader and not some pansy-whipped man who comes to church because his wife nags him.

I love my friend Rob Sulver who has taught me a lot about leadership, manhood, and the value of giving up rights and freedoms in Christ in order to stand for a greater cause.

I love the orphans in Africa who are the victims of a sin-saturated world and suffer each and every day from the sinful choices of those who have gone before them. I love those like the Children's Hope Chest team from Westwood who give up finances, time, and energy to travel around the world to minister to them only to have their hearts broken when they come back to an equally sin-saturated, self-indulgent nation like the United States.

I love those who are lost, searching, and desperately seeking the truth even when they don't know how to find it. I believe God will reward their searching and long to hear their story of life-transformation. I love those who have gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired and finally begin to respond in faith to the one who created them for His glory. I pray that they can find Westwood to be a place where we are more concerned with matching their story of desperation with God's story of redemption than we are that they are comfortable being part of our club.

I love my Mama, my step-father "Pops", my brother, my sister-in-law, and my niece "Marlee" who looks at me like I am the Elephant Man every time she sees me but eventually warms up. I love my 92-year old grandmother "Mama Alice" who just moved to a nursing home last week.

I love my Dad who is a daily reminder to me of the power of God's grace. Only Christ can take a back-slidden Catholic who ran from God for 35 years and turn him into a trophy.

I love Bill Watterson for creating the greatest cartoon ever and then taking it away before it got old.

I love John MacArthur for faithfully preaching the Word in season and out of season no matter what the critics said. I love Mark Driscoll for being faithful to bridge the gap between biblical truth and cultural relevance (even if I don't agree with his views on alcohol). I love Max Lucado for teaching me the softer side of Jesus that I often overlook. I love Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio and how they are wise voices for truth to a new generation. I love Neil Cole for helping me to discover that discipleship is about being transformed by the Word and not about filling in the blanks.

I love the staff that I get to work with each and every day. I love that we can pound the table one hour and gather around it to eat as brothers and sisters in Christ the next. I love the way my Pastor challenges me to be better today than I was yesterday and that he has always had his door open (figuratively) no matter what. I love the way Ty Coffey laughs so loud. I love working beside Jay Gordon for 12 years even though we disagree about things more than Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

There are dozens more things and people that I can name, but I am getting tired.



My previous post has been removed due to raging controversy. If you would like to know what it said, please contact Matt directly. More to come soon

Aug 11, 2008

Monday Morning Observations

Alright, here are some things on my mind as we start off the week:

  • We have a people problem at Westwood on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am. Now mind you, it' a good problem to have, but it makes it no less of a headache. This past year, we spent about $1 million dollars to build a new building for small groups and create some more paved parking on campus. I really believed that this parking expansion would buy us some months before we were congested again. Wrong! Yesterday, we had every parking spot full and people were parked around the curbs pretty much all around the campus. That's exciting and depressing at the same time. Now we have to handle a pretty complex congestion problem and make room for more.
  • Even though we were crowded, the worship services did not feel too bad. Big thanks goes out to Michael Helms and his First Impressions team for stepping up yesterday. We still need a lot of people to help at 11:00. Big thanks also goes out to all the Westwood people who stepped up and came at worship at 8:00, creating room at 9:30 and 11:00.
  • The men's relay team in swimming kicked tail last night winning the gold medal. When Jason Lesak closed on that dude from France and won, I thought I was going to wake the whole house! Way to go guys!
  • I looked at the paper yesterday and saw that Bernie Mac died over the weekend. That was a surprise. He was a funny man! His character in Transformers last year was classic.
  • I have got to finish my Preliminary Project Proposal today and get it in the mail. It may actually be late, but by finishing it and e-mailing a copy to my faculty mentor, I hope I am making the deadline. I am about sick of this whole process and many days wish I could throw in the towel. Only a little more to go.
  • Nathan started football practice last week for the first time. It took a few days of getting knocked on his tail, but I think he's starting to get it.
  • The MSU football team kicks off in 20 days. This is the first time most MSU fans have been able to have high expectations in a while. Pegues got suspended for the first game for not going to class. That's disappointing.
That's about all for now.

Aug 8, 2008

I Have Absolutely Nothing To Say About This...

I know there is a joke here somewhere, I just can't bring myself to say it...

26 Texas Cheerleaders Squeeze Into Elevator, Get Stuck

Pyramids of Texan cheerleaders might impress, but University of Texas security wasn’t amused by a cube of 26 teens that squeezed into, and stalled, a campus elevator Tuesday night.

The group of 14- to 17-year-olds was inspired to test an elevator’s maximum capacity while attending cheerleading camp at the university, The Dallas Morning News reported. When the elevator stalled en route from the fourth to the first floor, several girls panicked.

Transcript: " god...let's yell for help. Ready...Ok! We are in here! We are stuck! We can't believe we have such bad luck!" (Alright, I did add that. MH)

The girls “managed to wiggle a few cell phones free to call for help,” the paper reported. Police and fire crew responded, but it took an elevator repairman 25 minutes to extricate the squad.

One of the girls fainted and two others were treated at the scene, the Associated Press reported.

"It's dangerous, actually," a school police spokeswoman, Rhonda Weldon, told the AP. “There are signs everywhere: No more than 15 people or 3,000 pounds.”

Aug 6, 2008

Would Jesus Have A Reserved Parking Space at Church?

Alright. I know the answer to my question already is that Jesus didn't have a car, was a vagabond, and walked everywhere he went. I got it. Now, assuming that Jesus was transported into our culture where a car is an invaluable asset, my question is, "Would Jesus have his own reserved parking space closest to the door at the church?"

The prompting for this question was a recent visit to a church where as I drove through the lot looking to park, I saw a reserved parking space for not only the senior pastor, but his wife. Now, I am not saying this is right or wrong. I mean to pass no judgment. I am simply asking if this is a protocol that is led by the Holy Spirit. I understand the desire by many to hold the role of pastor in high esteem, and rightly so. As one who is called to this work, it is a holy calling. It is a calling only fully understood by those who have it. As John Piper says in The Supremacy of God in Preaching, there is a "gravity and gladness" to this work.

I know that Scripture says that "In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:14). It also says "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching." (1 Timothy 5:17). However, is a reserved parking spot what Paul meant by "double honor"? Does a senior pastor position command a six figure salary, a reserved parking spot, and a country club membership? Or have we brought too much of our CEO mentality and business acumen into the church that we have lost the meaning of ministry in the first place?

I do not claim that I know the answer to my question. I also do not think that my church or our leadership at Westwood is somehow superior to other churches because our pastor and staff do not have reserved parking. As a matter of fact, it has never come up as an issue to give it to us to my knowledge. We tell our people here that we don't have enough parking and to reserve the closest spots for guests and newcomers and to ride a shuttle from a local parking lot. What would it look like if we asked our people to park off-site while we reserved the primo spots for our pastor and his wife?

Just some thoughts. What are your opinions?

Aug 4, 2008

What's Up With That!

Alright. I have been waiting to post this kind of stuff for a while because I didn't want to vent and complain, but it's getting hard. It's about time I posted some of the stuff that chaps my anal cheeks and seem to be repeated way too often. Here are a few of my major peaves:

1. Today I went to the Whataburger drive-thru for lunch. The drive-thru worker came on and said, "Welcome to Whataburger. May I take your order." I then proceeded to clearly, slowly, and succinctly say "I would like a Patty Melt Meal with a Diet Coke." Then after a long pause, the girl came back and said, "A patty melt meal and what to drink." WHAT'S UP WITH THAT! This happens way too often. I once went to Hardee's for breakfast and said "A ham buscuit and Diet Coke." After a long pause the person said, "A sausage buscuit and what to drink." What's up with that! For the third time I said "A HAM BUSCUIT AND A DIET COKE!"

Now I know that the food service business is not the top of the list option for most people. But if you are working there, do it right. I would rather you say, "Just a second please" than to ask me for my order while you really aren't listening, taking money from the person at the window, or jaw-jacking with your coworkers. Come on!

2. While I'm on the fast food industry, let's also pay attention to the orders. I was at the window a few months ago at Taco Bell while my bag sat on the counter and the guy at the window took my money and mysteriously disapperared. He was gone for like 5 minutes to only God knows where. Then he came back and was talking with his co-workers while I sat there staring at my bag about to scream. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT!

3. Driving too slow in the left hand lane! I have tried to look this up as an Alabama law and haven't found it, but I believe that most places abide by the "Slower Traffic Keep Right" policy, but apparently not in Birmingham! Today as I drove to work, a Chevy Cavlier driving in the left hand lane at 45 in a 55 mile per hour zone. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT! Why do some people have an obsession with cruising 10-15 miles per hour below the speed limit in the left hand lane. Are they liberals who just can't go right for any reason? Is the left hand lane more comfortable? Are you that blind to the people who are passing you? Come on!

4. No Sweet Tea - This one chaps me major! It's been a long lamented fact that you can't get sweet tea north of Kentucky, but there are actually some places here in the South that you can't get sweet tea. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT! Is it that hard to put a couple of cups of sugar in the tea as it is brewing? I understand that they're just too dumb in the North to figure it out. Why would any restaurant south of the Mason-Dixon line not serve sweet tea. The staff at Westwood went to a seafood restaurant a couple of years ago in Florida. This was an expensive place! I asked for sweet tea and the girl said, "We have unsweet. You can use the packets." I looked at her and said, "Isn't Florida in the South?"

(Let's be clear, you can't sweeten tea after it's cold by putting sugar in it. Half of it melts and the other half sinks to the bottom giving you a major sugar rush when you finish drinking your unsweet tea. And those dang blue, pink, and yellow packets don't work either. It's like putting rat poison in your tea and acting like you enjoy it.)

I looked at the waitress and said, "Here's what I want. Would you please get someone to make me a fresh pot of tea." She said "Yes". Then I said "While it is still hot, can you get them to drop a couple of cups of sugar in it?" She said "I can't do that." You gotta be kidding me! WHAT'S UP WITH THAT!

Feel free to comment below and add your own personal "What's Up with That!" pet peave.