Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Prize Possession


Paul's message in Philippians 3:12-16 is that he wants the Christians in Philippi to press on. He wants them and us to run the race, so as to win the prize. We have seen Paul offering illustrations relating to the Christian life before…and now we meet Paul the athlete running the present Christian race. Paul is satisfied with Jesus Christ (3:10), but he is not satisfied with his Christian life…he is always trying to improve. Many Christians live a life of self-satisfaction, comparing their "running" with other Christians who may not appear to be making a great deal of progress. This is easy to do, but it is wrong, nonetheless. Paul compares himself with Christ, knowing that he isn’t perfect, but is always striving toward maturity. He has an honest evaluation of himself…and so must we!

Paul focuses on this one thing. It is easy to get involved in many things, when the secret to progress is to concentrate on one thing. Here, Paul says Christians must devote themselves to "running the Christian race." Few athletes succeed by doing everything -- save decathletes :-)…generally, athletes succeed by specializing. A person does not get to be a winning athlete by only listening to lectures, watching movies or cheering at games…it happens by getting into the game and determining to win. Winners focus – they keep their eyes on the goal and let nothing distract them. They are devoted entirely to their calling.

Focused Christians "forget what is behind." As one person has said, this doesn’t mean "fail to remember," but means "is no longer influenced by." It is breaking the power of the past by living for the present. If anyone’s past could have held them back, it was Paul’s (1 Timothy 1:12-17), but it inspires him on instead! It is hard to live in the past. It is like trying to run a race looking backward…it becomes easy to stumble and fall and hinder others. Christians need to put all such distractions behind and move ahead!

But, it’s not enough just to run hard; the runner must also be disciplined, self-controlled. Christians must be focused on the Word. Athletes who break training are disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). Christians cannot break training either, or else Satan, the flesh or the world can cause us to be disqualified. One day all will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12). I believe that one of the tests for us will be…did we disciplined ourselves according to grace and the Word?

This is why it is so critical to qualify for the race…this can only take place in the Son. When we respond in faith to God’s grace in His Son, we qualify -- but it is only the beginning. I will say this…we are qualified in Christ; in this, we should know that once we enter the race, the victory is ours. Knowing this certainly makes it easier to run. We must know that if we run…we win! It is incumbent on runners to run faithfully the entire race…not going off course into the wilderness – but, it is necessary to finish the race. There are no short cuts on the cross country course or in the Christian race. Like a runner racing for the finish line, there is a goal that runners in the Christian race press on toward…an eternal crown is the prize a waiting at the end.
It doesn’t matter if we finish first or last in the Christian race, but that we finish! This is truly what matters. Some may march with heads up toward the finish line, while others may just crawl across, so to speak. But, the important thing is to finish. We must qualify for the race…we are baptized/converted to Christ, and we must run faithfully. No complacency. We need to have a dogged determination that nothing will take our focus away from the race…that nothing will take us off course. Concentration is the secret – stay close to God through the Word, prayer and fellowship. We must keep fixed on the prize which is in Christ Jesus. When we discipline ourselves, keeping our will in line with God’s will, we will win this prize…and eternal victors crown. Blessings,


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good Advice


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies. 1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. CONCLUSION -- eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you. :-)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Positively Church


This is part two of a sort to the message from a couple of days ago. To a degree, the irony is not lost on me as I share this message...providing a negative contrast in order to make a positively stated point. :-) It seems inevitable...that it is not possible to get away from the monthly bulletins of a few brotherhood yayhoos who have all of the answers, who set themselves up as the thought and action police for the brotherhood. In fact, not nearly a week goes by where one does not hear or have to deal with/sort out negative statements from people, some of whom are well-meaning, but miss the point in relationship to Christ and His church. It is easy for us to have an elevated view of if Jesus does not just need to use us, but that He somehow needs us to defend the fort, as if He is not big enough to sort things out for Himself. And the thing is...we're not in a fort -- we are a temple, individually and collectively.

There are many good people who care about positive principles, but who have long grown so weary of negatives...wrangling over words and concepts. A lot of these same people look for Christians to worship and fellowship with who positively affirm Christ as supreme. They know that the doctrine points to the doctrine maker and not to self-righteousness. For a long time, people may not have known what we, as a fellowship of Christians, would stand for in our many of our churches…but they certainly knew what we would stand against. Thankfully, this is changing. In the course of life and listening to many messages along the way, one of the significant things that still disturbs me is to hear negative preaching or teaching. Some people spend a majority of their precious time accusing and defaming other believers, rather than preaching and living Christ. I don’t care what or who people are against…most discerning individuals understand these matters. We do not have to define and promote the negative in order to affirm the positive — it simply is not necessary. There is certainly a time and place for a productive contrasting illustration, but it should be wisely used, wisely stated.

I am far more interested in wanting to know what Christians stand for. If we spend our time positively preaching Christ, building "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," we have no problem letting the chips fall where they may with regard to the negatives…to the things that just do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Also, we are truly going to be able to live with the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy and peace, knowing that we are proactively striving to be like Christ and not reacting to some other group or individual. This is not tickling itching ears...but positively, forthrightly, passionately proclaiming the truth in a way that people will understand and want to learn more about the Savior. People want to be fed positives…they grow tired and weary of negative preaching -- don’t do this, don’t be like them, don’t think this way, don’t, don’t, don’t…let’s just be doers! Do live proactively, do preach and teach positively, do exemplify the Fruit of the Spirit...and see what the Lord can do. Blessings,


Monday, February 23, 2009

"Silencing" the Contrasting Correlative Argument


WARNING...I am about to get off on one of my wild-haired, albeit correct tangents...I believe. :-) There is a fascinating discussion on one of my friends blogs. It is in relationship to hermeneutics or Biblical interpretation. I believe that this is a subject that I have talked about before, but this time I approach it from a different perspective.

I think, to a degree, that a principle at work in relationship to how we approach hermeneutics or interpretation goes back to one of the key statements of the Restoration Movement… "to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where it is silent." I believe that with certain passages and principles that we have studied we have done so, on many occasions...but not necessarily “to show ourselves approved.” Instead, it has been to show ourselves to be right based upon what it is that I may already have been taught...or even what I have come to understand on my own on a previous occasion. The heart problem lies in the fact that I study because my real intent is that I want the Bible to prove my pre-suppositions...instead of get my heart in line with understanding what it is that God is continually trying to teach me or reveal to me.

There is a fine line between righteousness and self-righteousness. While it is true that we can agree to disagree on certain issues, there are greater matters at stake…matters of the heart. In other words, I can win all of the legal arguments and still be way off the mark spiritually…in fact, if I am having to win all of the arguments, I am probably more likely off the mark, spiritually, than not. A lot of the argumentation I have been exposed to in my life is not from a basis of love, but a basis of fact I have been guilty of it myself on many occasions. 1 Corinthians 13:1ff comes to mind.

Some simply approach things from a different perspective or even philosophical and theological world view. When simply making the case for a forthright positive principle, such as…"this is what Jesus stands for," it does not necessarily have to call for an anti-argument, such as "this is what He would be against." Some simply cannot understand the Scriptures unless the argument is black and white. This is precisely the temptation when we approach the Bible as a legal document instead of as a spiritual teacher. It is not necessary for such matters to have an equal contrasting correlative argument -- they can simply stand on their own. I do believe that this is the heart of what Paul is getting at in Romans 14 in relationship to the weak/strong brother (or sister :-) argument. For us, it has been and is born out in relationship to a host of issues. For example, some will say that..."we sing," therefore the contrasting correlation is that "using an instrument is wrong or a sin." This is not necessarily the case. Our bane for too many decades has been "to speak where the Bible is silent." The principle is that "we sing"... simply put and case closed. There does not have to be a contrasting correlation. If an argument needs to be made for or against another point of view, it needs to stand or fall on its own merits, but it does not have to be reactive to the case in point.

It is difficult for us to deal with principles not having a correlation. It makes things much simpler, much easier if they do. This is how we have been trained to think...and it has applied to how we have approached a number of matters in relationship to life, and this includes our Bible study. God has not necessarily called us to an easy understanding of interpretation or application of said principles...our faith needs to be challenged. It does not mean that we have all of the answers, because, as I have said before, I think that it is more important to have questions. What we need to do willing to dig, to seek, to grow. In this, we can find some answers, but not as many as we might think -- it will likely raise more questions. Remember..."you are saved by grace through faith -- and this not from is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). Just ponder the italicised portion for awhile. What does it mean to live by faith? Probably much more than any of us will ever imagine -- most of the religious people around Jesus did not understand, but the gentile Centurion and Syro-Phoenician woman did, so there is hope. :-) In conclusion, always keep the following critical principle in mind -- the more you learn the less you know. Blessings,


Friday, February 20, 2009

Sowing and Reaping


We all need to eat…but, it must be the right thing, at the right time and the right portion. In relationship to spiritual principles, it is not any different. Jesus says that we need to feed on the message of the Lord and not empty substitutes. We can starve spiritually, just as it is physically possible. Jesus shifts analogies from living water in John 4:31-38 to food that sustains. It is interesting that He relates concerning the two basic staples that we need in order to survive…food and water, and makes a spiritual/eternal application, as well. Like Jesus, if we are seeking to do the Father’s will, He will “feed” us spiritually and we will be richly blessed. The old saying is that “we reap what we sow.” This applies whether we are dealing with physical concerns or spiritual.

The disciples approach Jesus with concern that He has not eaten. To their thinking, their Teacher may have been spending too much time teaching and needed to have a meal. The disciples had gone to the town in order to get some food, so when they return their encouragement to Jesus is -- eat. He gives them a message in return, which they do not understand (v.32)…which is not too unusual. :-) When Jesus says “I have food to eat that you do not know about,” the disciples are thinking that he is talking about physical food…that he has stashed a candy bar somewhere or something, but Jesus has a deeper meaning. Now, He more fully explains His kind of food. His is not physical food…but doing the will of His Father, spiritually. Jesus tells about this food so that the disciples and others will understand that He is talking about reliance upon God’s Word. He is willing to break the Bread of Life to the crowd before alleviating His own physical hunger.

Jesus now notices the crowd coming out of the city as the result of the woman sharing her message concerning Him. Once again, this is truly remarkable in many respects when we consider just how little this Samaritan woman knew about Jesus. Yet, she was just willing to tell what she knew…a good example for all to follow. We don’t have to be scholars to evangelize, just opportunistic to tell others about our Friend and Savior. Her response has now triggered an opportunity for all to meet and Jesus and be converted…very cool.

Jesus is likely pointing toward the coming crowd when He quotes a familiar proverb about waiting for harvest (v.35). The disciples, it is apparent, missed an opportunity for harvest when they went into the city; they have done no evangelizing. Having only been looking for physical food, they neglected to let others know about spiritual food that could be theirs just outside of town. The woman has effectively taken their place in sharing the Good News! The “harvest is plentiful” and her response provides a time for harvest. The disciples are to pick up others’ labors…in this situation, they are to follow up the Samaritan woman’s work. It appears that others also may have labored in sharing the Word in Samaria, but we do not know who they are(?). The disciples are to water the planted seed of the woman and others, just as Paul talks about his work with Apollos in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9…and God will provide the increase. Jesus goes on to tell that there is a reward in this -- others’ souls will be saved. This is a joy in which sowers and reapers rejoice! Everyone would soon participate in the harvest – Jesus, the Samaritan woman, the disciples and those who may have first planted at some point.

We see in the story that the disciples missed some opportunities to share. We need to be aware of the doors that the Lord opens up to us so that we can share the Word. We may even be at the grocery store as the disciples were when the Lord opens a door for us...we never know(?). We need to be patient and wait on Him, because he will provide, but we must be spiritually alert. Understand that the will of God is -- that the harvest is ready to be done…and he can use you and me in the process. We can’t provide the growth, but we certainly can do our part in being faithful to work. We don’t have to be experts…just tell what we know about Who we know, just as did the Samaritan woman. We may have opportunities to provide not only physical food, but spiritual food to someone. Consider. One final thought – Sow a thought…reap an act; sow an act…reap a habit; sow a habit…reap a character; sow a character…reap a destiny. It all works together. It is our choice. Blessings,


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good News!


I am feeling pretty speechless regarding this blog...and for those of you who know me, this is quite amazing. But, when Ian came down to quiet time the other night and said, "I have something I want to talk about", sisters and me were feeling pretty much this way...speechless. This was out of the ordinary for Ian, who is usually the one who goes with the flow, rolls with the punches, so to speak. he was with something important that he wanted to say. Little did we know just how important it was going to be. He simply said..."I want to be baptized." We were ecstatic, laughing from joy, albeit wondering where this had come from. Yet, knowing the Lord and the ways that His Spirit works in people's live, not altogether caught off guard. We were thrilled that the Lord had prompted Ian's spirit and heart that he wanted to make this lectures from me, no wonderful lesson or sermon, no in depth discussion with anyone in particular prompted it -- just the Lord. And I praise God for the beauty of the moment...the innocence, the power. We did talk some and prayed as a family. But, this is the thing about baptism as I have come to understand it. It is simply a child's innocent response (whether it be a child or an adult that is making it) saying...I love you, Jesus, and I want you to cleanse me and be the Lord of my life -- plain and simple. We accomplished it last evening with a host of friends participating, witnessing. And so, here I am having said a mouthful...and I am still speechless. :-) Blessings,


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Super Bowl of Racing


Last Sunday's version of the Daytona 500 was exciting. The only problem is that, if we were truly comparing it to the Super Bowl (which people like to do, because it is Nascar's version...even though it is the first race of the year), it ended after three quarters. This is unlike the football version which continues come rain, snow, sleet or fog. Such weather doesn't usually happen because the big game is typically in a warm climate or a dome. Yet, there is something about going up to 200 mph and rain that does not it the inability to see out the windshield or no traction for tires. The officials waited as long as they could before cancelling the final 50 or so of 200 laps, but when it became apparent that it was not going to let up, they called it for Matt Kenseth who was leading at the end of the 3rd quarter. :-) Congratulations to him for ending a winless streak lasting over a year.

I would be remiss if I did not make some comment about the race all went pretty smoothly except for an incident involving Brian Vickers and Dale Jr. I am beginning to think that Jr. is really starting to feel the pressure of not coming through with victories over the past three years or so. His career has stalled out somewhat...and it appears that he is beginning to crack a bit under the pressure. I hope that this is not the case and that what appeared to be him spinning Vickers into a crowd of oncoming cars, taking out about 10 of them was just an isolated incident. Granted Vickers had no business throwing a heavy block on Jr when Jr had a run on him...besides, they were both a lap down, so it was all inexcusable. All of this still was on top of Jr rushing into the pits and having not one, but two pit penalties. I think that Jr is a good guy, but he needs to relax and let the race come to him instead of appearing like he is in a panic. He will be the better for it and his fellow drivers will be able to like him better. Blessings,


Friday, February 13, 2009



Word association…with names. When I mention a name, something will come to mind -- think about it. David…David Koresh, Elvis, Curious George…George Bush, Amelia Earhart, Bob & Larry, Tony & Jessica, Joseph…Josef Stalin, Ruth…Babe Ruth, Judas Iscariot, Peter, Jesus. All of these people provoke unique thoughts and feelings – some good, some bad, some passionate, some ambivalent. What we come to realize is that names are significant, names are personal. Names in the Bible had great significance. Even our own names have their own significance. For example, my own name is Donald…named after my grandfather Donald Shales and Wesley…named after my uncle, my mother’s brother. I am thankful for these names as it reminds me of my heritage. This is the case in many families.

When we consider the Word of God, we can see that people’s names often had to do with their heritage, as well. Abram and Sarai's own names had significant meaning…particularly the new names which the Lord gives to them. In Genesis 17, the most significant name in the chapter appears in v.1. This is the first time that the name El Shaddai occurs in the Scriptures. And it is almost exclusively translated “God the Almighty.” Expanded, what the name says about the Lord is that He is the “all-powerful and all-sufficient God who can do anything and meet any need”…a reference to God’s omnipotence. Why would God reveal this name to Abram at this time? Because He is about to tell His friend that Sarai would have a son…they will be 100 and 90 respectively. What God is trying to help them to understand is that He is more than sufficient to bring about this miracle birth.

In order to further emphasize His covenant with Abram, God gives him a “new” name. Abram means “exalted father” whereas Abraham means "father of a multitude." God changes his name in order to reflect his new situation in life. A new name is given to Sarai. Her name is changed to Sarah, which means “princess.” The final name is Isaac, which means “he laughs.” Abraham laughs with joy when he hears that his wife will give birth to the promised son (17:17); Sarah laughs in unbelief when she hears the news (18:9-15), then laughs for joy when the baby is born.

In the New Testament, shortly after the day of Pentecost (Acts 3-4), Peter and John go about teaching in the name of Jesus. This quickly upsets some of the Jewish religious leaders who thought they had done away with the business about Jesus. Peter and John, wondrously tell them, “we can’t contain it…you can beat us, flog us, throw us in jail, or even take our lives if you must, but there is nothing that can restrain us from telling others about our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I guess we could say that they were living with certain conviction. :-) The apostles recognized that the name of Jesus was the name by which they would live, move and breathe. They recognized that -- not only do names have meaning, but in Jesus’ case…there is power and authority. When demons were cast out and other miracles performed in Acts, whose name is it in? It was in Jesus’ name. When we pray, whose name do we mention? Jesus’. When we baptize, whose name is it in? Jesus’ name. Jesus is the name above all names. Why? As the song says, He is our blessed Redeemer and glorious Lord! He shed His blood on the cross to set us free.

As Jesus’ is the most significant name, it underscores the importance of names. Our own names are important as well. What is the most prized possession that a person has? Their name. We may not be able to remember a lot of things about people that we meet as we travel the road of life, but the most important thing to their name -- and so it should be to us. If we can work at remembering names, it is a worthwhile pursuit. Not only this, but remember the names of friends and family before the Lord. And one day...the Lord is going to remember our names -- they are written in His book...the Book of Life! Blessings,


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Baseball Has Sold Its Soul


The above is the headline in the San Diego Union-Tribune...and it would be pretty hard to argue with it. With the outing of the latest steroid list, one has to wonder if the right hand really does know what the left hand is doing in baseball. There is going to have to be some serious damage control between the players union (see Donald Fehr), the owners, the commissioner (see Bud Selig), as well as with other baseball people. Understand, I think that if someone -- A-Rod in this case -- is guilty of doing steroids, it should be known. However, the way that this has all come out and about, with someone leaking his name to the public, while the other 103 names are on some "master list" somewhere (that was supposed to be destroyed) remain dirty pool -- it all smells really bad. It would appear that there has been some significant corruption in baseball for some time. The steroids era has certainly tarnished one of America's greatest past times.

So, who should answer for all of this? We haven't heard a thing from the commissioner, Bud Selig. Bud...where are you? I can honestly say...this Bud isn't for you. He has been the so-called "leader" of baseball while all of this has been going down. He has to take much of the blame for all of the corruption that has taken place on his watch. It may be time to clean house...but where does one start? The corruption appears to have filtered throughout all levels of the game. It's pretty sad. Most of the contemporary heroes of the game for the past decade have been tarnished...McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, Palmiero, Pettitte, and now A-Rod. Just don't tell me that Griffey Jr. is on the list. His is the one name that I really do not want to see on the list. He is the one who could stand out and be the torch bearer for dignity through this corrupted era. His 600+ home runs need to be legit, so we can have a reason to believe that there is hope for baseball...and that it will not take another 30 years to finally get it back to square one, if ever.

But, this is a people problem. As we know...power corrupts and absolute power, corrupts absolutely. This is an unfortunate lesson we learn from the business world, from world leaders and even in places where it should not happen...with sports, with church, etc. How can we have the millions and even billions of dollars being spent on players and teams in all of professional sports and not understand that it is going to have a decaying influence on standards? People in this day and time believe that they have to do what they can to get ahead, to get an find the best way to cheat without being detected. In fact, I am willing to bet that most ball players are still on some performance enhancer that is capable of going undetected, be it HGH or something else.

So, with all of this said, I come back to A-Rod. I saw the full interview with Peter Gammons yesterday...concerning A-Rod's admission to using steroids. As many of the talking heads were saying -- what do we believe? How much of his story can we believe? He said he was coming out and telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- just appeared to be some seriously well-orchestrated spin doctoring by his agent and PR people. The biggest point (of contention), among many, with A-Rod's disclosure should be with regard to his statement..."I do not even know what performance enhancers I was using." How could anyone believe that this man would not know precisely what he was putting into his body(?). One would not be so foolish as to believe that he did not know exactly what he was doing and exactly what he was taking.

So...this is another sad chapter that comes a week before pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the 2009 season. To be so many others...I am irritated about it all (in case you couldn't tell :-). All we are going to be hearing about throughout spring training and the entire season is -- steroids...and who is on the list, who is not. It would be wonderful it all the negative would go away, but it won't -- it can't. So, the best thing to do is...just sort it out. Enjoy the positive when it is present...ignore as much of the negative as possible. Blessings,


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's Big Ben's Time


In true Middle Man form :-), I want to look at the other side of the coin a bit. I have to say that even though I am not a Steelers fan...which is probably apparent if you read yesterday's article...I am a Ben Roethlisberger fan. What is amazing to me is that this guy seems to be the Rodney Dangerfield of QB's in the NFL. He does not seem to get any respect. Now that he has won two Super Bowls, perhaps he will get some more love, but he just does not seem to be able to shake the down-to-earth, kid-next-door image that would allow him to be compared to some of the other NFL greats. Don't get me wrong, I think his folksy demeanor is is what endears him to people, but it just does not seem to have the same effect as Tom Brady's shoot and ask questions later demeanor. What is truly amazing is that Payton Manning has much the same personality as Big Ben, down-to-earth...and yet, he has been able to transcend to be one of the top three or so faces of the NFL. Maybe all it will take is time. But, Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls for the Steelers and he has never been mentioned amongst the top ten, or maybe even top fifteen all-time great QBs. Much of all this may have something to do with quarterbacking the Steelers. I think that there is a certain amount of disrespect that goes with being the Steelers QB, because they have always been known for stellar defense and running game. Ben's image also took a hit because he had the worst winning QB rating of all time in the Steelers SB XL victory over the Seahawks. Nevertheless, it is almost like a mental block to even consider that there could be an adequate to great Steelers QB because so much attention, historically, has been given to these other positions.

Make no mistake about it though...Big Ben willed this Steelers team to victories this year. He should have won the Super Bowl MVP, if nothing else, just because he carried this team on his back all year while he had running backs dropping like flies to injuries. Understand, I do not have a problem with Santonio Holmes winning the MVP, but it just goes to show the lack of respect for Steelers QB. If it had been Tom Brady or Payton Manning who had led his team down the field for the game winning touchdown, either one would have been the shoe in MVP...and this, not to mention the fact that Ben led the Steelers to six 4th quarter comebacks this year. is time to give the Steelers QB his props. Big Ben deserves much of the credit for the Steelers success this year. Let's hope that it will not take three, four or five Super Bowls for him to get the respect he deserves. Make no mistake about it, he could very well lead his team to this many more championships...because Big Ben is one thing -- a winner. Blessings,


Monday, February 2, 2009

Controversial Ending


If you are a Seahawks fan, yesterday's Big Game brought back a lot of memories...and not many of them good. If this sounds like sour grapes...make no doubt about it -- it is. :-) But, it is also objective, because I think credit needs to be given where credit is due. I take nothing away from Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes and the game winning drive with two minutes left... it was excellent stuff. However, the final two minutes after the final two minutes created even more questions in other respects -- questions that have been the talk of high school, the town, and I am sure the country.

Many of the sports talking heads do not want to deal with these questions, so they just gloss over them. Thankfully, there are a few brave souls who have the integrity to ask. First, why was there not a flag for excessive celebration after Holmes touchdown? Most may not have even realized it, but Holmes displayed a flagrant excessive celebration. Yet, for some strange reason, there was no call. The flag certainly has been thrown for considerably less...and this would have made a 15 yard difference on the upcoming final kickoff to the Cardinals. Second, how on earth do the referees call the last play of the game a fumble? It was quite obvious that Warner's arm was pushing and moving the ball forward when it came out(?). An even more difficult question is...why did the referees not take the full two minute review as they had done at other critical junctures of the game when a big play had occurred? This is the Super have got to get it right! Instead, they quickly hand the ball to the Steelers and they take a knee -- game over. There was a kind of, sort of explanation offered that a quick review had been done and that it was ruled a fumble.

Pardon me for being the skeptic, but something does not seem quite right when it comes to the Steelers and the Super least in this decade. As Rick Reilly pointed out this morning...hmmm, the Steelers have a great history with great ownership who have given so much to the game. The Cardinals have no history worth mentioning (nor the Seahawks for that matter), and has to wonder. The New York Giants do have a history, so it would not be as alarming if they would pull off the major upset, which, of course, they did.

Now, most of us would say, it is silly to consider that there would be some sort of "a fix on"...and I would generally have to be in agreement. But, like so many other things in life, sports games are called by men (and women) who are human...and as much as referees/umpires are told that they have to be unbiased, it is simply impossible for there not to be a certain amount of subjectivity that enters into calls and decisions made on the field. I have been a (soccer) referee...and know this to be the case. When an umpire gets into it with a 1st baseman over balls and strikes, it certainly has some effect the next few times that ump sees that player come to the plate. Indeed...and if the ump has a long memory, that player may never get another questionable call from said ump. Even though I sincerely doubt that there is some head honcho of the NFL telling the refs..."okay, buddy, if there is a call that could go either way, let's be certain that we lean this direction...see," there still just seems to be much more to be gained from the Steel city having that 6th banner to hang up, and for the NFL to point to and, the first team to 6 Super Bowls! rather than for some historically pathetic team to win it.

All this to say...I would like to have seen that final play. It should have happened on the biggest football stage in the world. I would have loved to see Kurt Warner throw the 30 or so yard hail mary into the end zone to Larry Fitzgerald. I would have enjoyed seeing if Larry could pull off one more amazing play, or if Troy Polamalu would make a pick, or if the ball would have fallen to the ground. I just would have liked to have seen it. But, as with a number of questionable decisions made in SB XL, it all would have been interesting and wonderful...if so many big calls had not been missed in yesterday's game -- we'll never know. Maybe now, it is time for full time NFL refs. Nevertheless, it is time for yet another ref review by the NFL...or maybe not (if you know what I mean wink, wink ;-). Blessings,