Friday, September 28, 2007

Clint's NFL Picks

Houston at Atlanta
I think Atlanta wins their first game at home in a close contest.
I called this upset! Yeah Baby!

NY Jets at Buffalo
This will be another close one, but I think the Bills win this game because it is at home.
I was all over this one, wasn't I?

Baltimore at Cleveland
Cleveland in an upset at home.
I could have made big bucks if I would have bet on this one. Woot!

St. Louis at Dallas
Dallas wins big!
This one was a gimme!

Chicago at Detroit
Detroit wins this game and goes to 3-1. Maybe John Kitna was not that far off with his prediction!
Did you know Detroit is now my #2 team. It is the least I could do for my Jenny!

Oakland at Miami
Culpepper gets sweet revenge as Raiders even their mark for the year, and tie their win total from last year.
Ok, again I called this upset as Oakland gets better and better.

Green Bay at Minnesota
I think Minnesota upsets Green Bay in this game.
I was wrong with this one. My first loss of the day on Sunday.

Tampa Bay at Carolina
Tampa wins another game led by Jeff Garcia.
Another insightful prediction!

Seattle at San Francisco
Seattle wins in a high scoring nail biter.
Ok, so it was not as close as I thought, but oh well.

Pittsburgh at Arizona
Pittsburgh wins this game, but it is closer that most might think.
I did not listen to my first instinct here, and it cost me.

Denver at Indianapolis
Denver gets an upset against the Colts.
See if I ever give the Broncos the benefit of the doubt again!

Kansas City at San Diego
San Diego goes to .500

Philadelphia at NY Giants
Philidelphia wins and also goes to .500
Philly is always so unpredictable!

New England at Cincinnati
New England wins in a rout!
This one was easy for everyone I think.
I started well, but finished poorly in the late games! I am so proud of the upsets I picked!

total record 9-5. Not good. Not bad.

Bea Bogart

One of the most memorable funerals I ever attended was George Bogart’s funeral. Toward the end of the service, Bea stood up and shared about her husband. She shared about how her husband sent for her when he had his affairs together to come and be his wife. As Bea was discussing this major life change with her mother, she said her mother told her, “You better go to him Bea. He is a good man, and he will be the kind of man who will always put your needs above himself”. Bea left soon after, and a happy marriage of several decades began.

Bea went on to share that her mother was right, and that her husband always put her first every day of their lives together. I am not a man who cries easily, but I had to choke back the tears that day. As I heard about their loving relationship, I felt like I was on holy ground.

At the end of last month, as Bea entered hospice care, Pastor Barbara passed on a message that Bea wanted to see me. A few days later, I dropped in to see Bea. She was having a rough time. Illness has limited the use of half of her body. Her hearing aid worked intermittently at best. She was sleeping most of the day. Yet, as she awoke her face quickly filled with a grin. It took her a little time to recognize me, but as she did she had a story to tell.

She decided to congratulate me on my recent engagement. “Clint, I have been praying for you for years. I hear such good things about your Jen. She sounds so kind and so pretty. I am so happy for you!”

She reiterated her joy for me several times. I attempted to turn the conversation toward how she was doing. Over and over again, she would return to how God had answered her prayer.

Eventually, I asked if I could pray for her. She nodded her head indicating that I could. I began to pray for her healing and strength. In the middle of my prayer she interrupted me, and began to pray for my future marriage. She said and repeated in her prayer that she wanted me to have the kind of marriage that she and her husband had experienced. What a prayer! What a gift!

I was deeply moved. I was touched not only because she thought of me, but because of the person she was. Noticing that she was in failing health, she called me into her room to give me a blessing. And not just any blessing, but a blessing like the saints of old offer in their twilight years. Even as she lay in a hospice bed, unable to care for her self physically, she was seeking to be a minister of Christ. As Bea struggled to stay awake, she was seeking to love rather than be loved, and to bless rather than be blessed. May it be so with each of us.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On Stewardship

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(I John 4:18)

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
(Psalm 118:6)

If most people were asked what the opposite of faith is, what do you think they would say? The traditional answer would be to say that doubt is the opposite of faith. You may be surprised, maverick that I am, that I would look at things a little differently. I believe that acknowledging doubt is part of having honest faith, not the opposite of having faith. Faith is an action word. Although we often morph faith into some sort of noun so we can define and tame it, faith is actually more of a verb in Christian spirituality. Faith is actively trusting when we do not have all the answers. Doubt is about being unsure. That sense of being unsure, otherwise known as doubt, can either lead us to trust (have faith) or lead us to be fearful. What is the opposite of faith? If you were to ask me, it is anxiety and fear.

Anxiety and fear are some more of those action-words that we have tamed by trying to make them into nouns. How much of our lives do we live based on our fears? How much of our energy do we put toward feeling safe? How much time do we put toward increasing our financial and personal security? How much energy do we devote toward worrying about what people think? How many great opportunities do we avoid due to fear of failure? I think if we looked, we would discover that sometimes our lives are governed by fear. We struggle with fear of ourselves, fear of others, fear of the unknown, and maybe even fear of God. We prefer the scarcity of what we can control to the abundance that God has to offer--if we would only have the courage to trust him.

As I said in the worship service a couple of weeks ago, many churches tend to order their programs and their ministries around their anxieties. They are afraid of their church dying, so they hire people to work with children and youth. Churches are afraid of feeling old or insecure around younger folks, so they do not volunteer to work with them. Many children and youth are afraid of adults in church for many reasons too. Students are afraid they will not be valued or heard. They are afraid of what truly trusting in Jesus may cost them. Kids are afraid they will be a part of a church that is passionless and pointless. A lot of ministry is based on where our fears are.

In the years I have served at First Baptist, there have been some of our decisions that have been based upon our anxieties about one another. Sometimes worry someone else will be angry with us if we do what we think is right. Once in a while, make decisions that will alter the future of our church in one direction or another based on our worries about one or two individuals. Sometimes we have a difficulty trusting one another enough, to speak the truth in love. Both stewardship and our relationships in our churches can based on our anxieties.

Sometimes we also worry about money. Every August of each year I have been here, we have begun discuss how much money we have, and whether we will have enough. I believe we need to be good stewards. I believe we need to be responsible with our money, and at times even be frugal. I also believe we can be good stewards of our resources while living in faithful action instead of being ruled by anxiety, guilt, and fear.

As we look toward our annual stewardship time in our church, let us not simply look at the bottom line. Let us look at the abundance God has given to us. Let us celebrate how God has seen us through some difficult losses in the last year. We can also celebrate that God has kept this church in existence for the last 135 years. Then, let us look beyond the facts and figures, beyond the bottom line, and begin to ask how God may be leading us have courage to face the future at First Baptist Church. What changes is God asking us to make? What dream is he giving us to achieve? What adventure is he calling us to be a part of?

After we have looked at our church, let us look at ourselves. How is God calling us to be good stewards of our lives? How is God calling us to face our fears in relationship to our church? How is he calling us to face our anxieties about other people and begin to have the courage to serve where God is calling us? What is God saying to us about having the courage to build closer relationships with friends, and break down barriers of hostility with folks we do not get along with at church? And, how is God calling us to be a part of God’s dream for First Baptist by committing to support our church financially? Listen to God. Trust how you feel led. Step out in courage. Know that God is a God of provision and abundance.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Pick-up Artist

The man in goggles is named "Mystery". Mystery hosts a show called "The Pick-Up Artist", in which he is an expert in picking up chicks. He is the role model for several single men who have struggled in their relationships with women for most of their lives. When I first flipped through this show, I thought "what the h**l is this?" There is this androgenous, metrosexual man coaching young men on how to be successful ladies. What would he know?

It turns out, the show is really good, but not for the reasons I might have anticipated. It is a good show because it helps the men who are involved grow and feel better about themselves. Mystery seems like a manipulator and a player. The men involved, however, seem to grow in there abilities to connect with and relate to people. They begin to see themselves as persons of value, inside and outside of the romantic realm. The skills that they learn work not only because they are basic assets of good "game" with the ladies, but because they free the men to step out from behind their fears and confidently relate to women.

I think there is something that is very primal about this. A lot of times psychology tries to build confidence through self-esteeem enhancement. If you want to build confidence in people, build a sense in their lives that they are competent with things. Give them skills. Allow them to have small sucesses and build on them. Don't just give them daily affirmations.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I am engaged

Yesterday, I asked Jennifer Adler to marry me. She said yes. We have not set a date yet. But we are having a lot of fun thinking about the future.

I am working on establishing a new charity. It is called "sponsor the groom". The goal is to help grooms pay for their weddings and honeymoons. My sponsor number is ALPHADOG00001. Cash donations are acceptable, especially with unmarked bills. :)

Have a great Labor Day!