Monday, May 30, 2011

A Fascinating Twist


In an interesting twist of fate yesterday, two J.R.s...JR Hildebrand and Dale Earnardt Jr...both lost on the last lap in the two biggest races (scope for Indy...length for Nascar) in motorsports. Both cars' main sponsor is -- the National Guard. The irony is...our National Guard is second to no one...and the same is true for the rest of our armed forces. Happy Memorial Day and God bless our military men and women.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Winning in Tennis...and in Life


A good story to consider...

In the 1975 Masters Tennis Tournament in Stockholm, Sweden, tennis star, Arthur Ashe, was ahead 4-1 in the third and decisive set of his round-robin match with Romanian-born Ilie Nastase. Nastase was sometimes dubbed "Nasty" Nastase for his flamboyant on-court antics. Behind in the match, Nastase went into his act again, stalling and arguing, cursing, taunting, and acting like a madman. Finally, Arthur Ashe put down his racket and walked off the court, saying, "I've had enough. I'm at the point where I'm afraid I'll lose control." "But Arthur," cried the umpire, "You'll default the match." "I don't care," replied Ashe, "I'd rather lose that than my self-respect."

Agreeing that Nastase's unruly behavior had unfairly interrupted the match and driven Ashe to the sidelines, referee Horst Klosterkemper came up with a solution to the fiasco. He announced that Nastase was disqualified. He refused to condone Nastase's bullying tactics and he insisted that Nastase default the match for his unsportsman-like conduct. Arthur Ashe won both in the game of tennis…and in the game of life. He was a person who lived integrity…and it showed. He faced many struggles in his life, but he was respected to the day that he died…and to this day.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

An Important Message


Following is a response to a buddy of mine from my youth concerning the validity and value of the Bible in particular, and thus Christianity in general...I am sharing it here in case it may be a blessing to another.

The Bible is a simple message about the Son of God who came in the flesh, sent by His Father (God), to redeem His people. Some of the adjoining detailed principles and concepts can be challenging -- atonement, baptism, resurrection, Spirit/water/blood, etc...all run deep. What is critical is that...if we believe in the Bible and its transmission, we know that it comes from the hand of the Holy Spirit. He used 40 men over a couple of millennia to record the messages of God. While many men had a hand in the is necessary to understand that the hand of the Spirit was over them all as they worked. (This is the simplistic view...there is much more to tell...perhaps another time). It's composition is the result of many manuscripts preserved and consistent by nature...the Dead Sea scrolls prove the amazing consistency of the message over at least a thousand years of time, and it actually is consistent (in its writing composition) over the course of thousands of years. The messages found in the Word of God may appear to be contradictory at times, but most are found to complimentary with each other. There are some questions that arise, for certain, but can be discerned with reasonable consistency. All matters pertaining to life and godliness must been considered through the eyes of faith...this is critical. If we do not live with trust in the message as coming from God, then all bets are off.


Monday, May 23, 2011

God is Under the Bed


Kelly Adkins shares this story -- My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped outside his closed door to listen. "Are you there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see -- under the bed." I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world in which Kevin lives. He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size…he's 6-foot-2…there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? He is up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, returning to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in his schedule is laundry days, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He does not seem dissatisfied. And Saturdays--oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day that my dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger. "That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

I don't think Kevin knows anything exists outside his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips He doesn't know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. He recognizes no differences in people, treating each person as an equal and a friend. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God -- to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion. In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions. It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap -- I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances -- they all become disabilities when I do not submit them to Christ.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of the Lord. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed. Kevin won't be surprised at all....


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bautista by Fire


His name is Jose Bautista...and I don't believe we have seen such a hitter in Major League Baseball since (I hate to say it) Barry Bonds. Bautista is a big time hitter than makes pitchers tremble. He has a major league leading 18 home runs this go with the 54 home runs he hit in 2010. But, he doesn't just hit home runs...he has a major league leading .370 avg to go with the home runs, so he is hitting singles and doubles as well. The significant respect from pitchers also shows in that he usually walks multiple times every game. It also doesn't hurt that I have had him on my fantasy team last year as well as this year. :-)

What makes Bautista's story even more amazing is that he is not some second year player blowing up the statistics...he is a jouneryman who has played for five teams. His career home run totals were 74 in six pro seasons until last year. What makes all of this hard to understand is that it is the post steroids era, so it would be hard to think that he could have some major advantage over other big league hitters. He only hit 13 home runs in 2009, but most of those came in the final six weeks of that season. So...what brand of spinach did he start eating in August of 2009? Who knows. He did make a change in his batting stance, and he says that this made a significant difference for him. But, to allow for such an increase in power? Nevertheless, whatever he has been is working for him. And, for his and the Blue Jays' sake (not to mention my fbb team :-), here is to hoping he keeps hitting the cover off of the ball and scaring pitchers silly.


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Legend of the Precious Gift


Don Graham shares this story -- No one knows when the legend began, but generations of people called the “Sayang” have waited for its promise to be fulfilled. For more than five centuries, they eked out their existence on a remote South Pacific island -- virtually cut off from the outside world. The Sayang have survived as farmers, growing crops on rocky soil nearly too poor to farm. Rain has been the only source of fresh water. They’ve had no electricity or phone service…not even a doctor. Twice government troops have tried to force the village of 10,000 to relocate -- once at gunpoint. But the Sayang refuse to leave because they are bound by the legend’s promise -- the arrival of a foreigner bearing a precious gift. In 1967, a German tourist stumbled upon their village. He was the first foreign visitor in the history of the village of “Yang Jauh.” He left behind his signature and photograph but nothing more. Then in 1986, a Japanese scientist came. She, too, left only her signature and photograph. Nearly 20 years would pass before Yang Jauh village saw another outsider, a Christian worker “Michael Martin.”

“Agus” remembers Martin’s arrival vividly. His father had taught him the legend as a boy, and it was his father’s voice that echoed in Agus’ mind as he hurried to the house where Yang Jauh’s elders had gathered to receive their latest visitor. Martin sat waiting. He’d heard about the village by chance, through a Sayang student who attended one of the English classes Martin taught in town. As far as Martin could tell, these people weren’t on anybody’s map except God’s. As he spoke with Agus and the elders, Martin worked up the courage to ask a question that had bothered him since his arrival. Why did these people live in such an inhospitable place in the middle of nowhere? Agus gazed intently into Martin’s eyes and replied, “Our village has a story that has been passed down through generations. My father told it to me as a child and his father told him...that one day a foreigner with white skin will come to our village and reveal something precious to us.” Silence filled the air. Martin could feel goose bumps race down his back. Agus and the elders stared expectantly at him, waiting. “I was afraid something got lost in translation…this was too good to be true,” Martin remembers. “I know a lot of people probably would have jumped on that and laid out the plan of salvation. But I wanted to learn more about this story and the culture. Their worldview, their mindset, is very different from ours.” Little by little, though, Martin shared the Gospel with Agus. Then one day Martin got the news he’d been praying for -- Agus had surrendered his life to Jesus, becoming the first Christian in Yang Jauh’s history.

Since his conversion, Agus has been working to help Martin convince others that Christ is the precious gift the Sayang have been expecting. But it hasn’t been easy. Many in Yang Jauh…even Agus’ younger brother…believe the legend refers to some sort of financial gain. Others have lost faith in the story altogether. But the ministry among the Sayang is still in its infancy. So far, the language barrier has kept Martin from spreading the Gospel on a broad scale, though it hasn’t stopped Agus from sharing one-on-one. Martin believes the Sayang are open to the Gospel. He is finding ways to communicate the Lord’s message with them. “We’re on the verge of this people group being able to hear the Gospel in their heart language on a large scale for the very first time,” he says. “Each time I go out to the village someone new has had a dream and has questions about who Jesus is, why we’re coming and what this precious thing is that we have to share with them. “God’s plan for the Sayang started hundreds of years ago before I ever showed up. I’m just glad to know that I can be a small part of it.”


Friday, May 13, 2011

Italy from Space


Here is a great night-time view of Italy's boot and the island of Sicily by astronaut, Doug Wheelock, from the International Space Station. I wouldn't mind seeing Italy from space...or on the ground.

Blessings, Don

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Wicker Basket


A good story from a friend...

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson.

Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible. His grandson…who wanted to be just like him…tried to imitate him in any way that he could.

One day, the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book.
What good does reading the Bible do?”

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, “Take this old wicker coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.”

The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house.

The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the old wicker basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was “impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, “I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You're just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it's useless!”

“So you think it is useless?” the old man said. “Look at the basket.”

The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old wicker coal basket, it was clean.

“Son, that's what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out."


Friday, May 6, 2011

Is It Still in the Cards?...N.L. Round Up


People assumed that when Albert Pujols put the silent treatment on his contract situation in the Spring that it would no longer be an issue...ahh, nothing but a slow start by Albert, and then the sports talking-heads were all over the subject again -- "is this (contract situation) still a distraction?" "Is this what is causing Albert's slump?" Well those concerns have certainly been laid to rest the past couple of weeks, as Albert is back to being "the Machine"...looking more like the best player in baseball. His bat has come alive with multiple hits for his St. Louis Cardinals...and many of those have been home runs. It doesn't hurt that Matt Holiday and resurgent newcomer Lance Berkman have been hitting like Mays and Mantle so far this year. The bigger question was what would the Cards do without 20-game winner Adam Wainright? He and Chris Carpenter have been their one-two punch for several years now. With Wainright gone and Carpenter struggling, the young Cardinals rotation with Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Kyle McClellan has had to pick up the slack...they have done an excellent job ot this point. Another issue for the Cards has been the bullpen, which has blown more saves than any other in the majors this year. It seems to be getting better...and still, the Cardinals are a game-and-a-half up in the N.L. Central. I guess we have known for awhile that Tony LaRussa is one of the best managers of all-time and a sure fire hall of famer...this is further confirmation of that fact.

I am not certain how many had the surprising Florida Marlins in second behind the Phillies in the N.L. East at this point in the season...but then again, this is their m.o. isn't it? Nobody ever expects them to do well, and yet, their small market brothers, the Twins, and A's...always seem to be respectable. They have been hitting well, and their pitching, while not stellar, has been very effective. I say, not stellar, but starter Josh Johnson and closer Leo Nunez are about as good as you can get.

The defending champion Giants have struggled out of the gate this year, and yet, they are playing .500 baseball. If they can really get healthy...with their pitching, they will certainly make some noise in the N.L. West as the summer comes. It is tragic to see what has happened with the beloved and respected Los Angeles Dodgers. Owner Frank McCourt's personal and financial struggles have created something of a circus for the once-proud franchise. Bud Selig has appointed M.L.B. to run the team until such a time as when McCourt can work through his struggles...or, more likely, until he sells the team. I just hope that the Dodgers can get the ship righted so that they can get back to simply focusing on baseball. At least Andre Ethier...he of the 30-game hitting streak...doesn't seem to be bothered by much right now. It would be great if Ethier can keep it up for awhile, but with each hit and each passing day past 30 games, the media and other pressure will ratchet up significantly. Go Andre...keep it up!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A New No No...A.L. Round Up


Time to get back on the baseball beat. So much for starting the baseball season with a whimper...much maligned "ace" of the Twins, Francisco Liriano, pitched the first no-hitter of the 2011 baseball season yesterday for the Twins. A perennial contender for the AL Central title, the poor Twins really needed a shot in the arm, as it is the worst start to a season that they have had in a many years. They lost all-world catcher Joe Mauer about a month ago and no one really knows when he is going to get back. The other super slugger for the Twins, Justin Morneau, still seems to be shaking off the effects of a bad concussion that sidelined him for much of last season. Then there is Liriano, who was 1-4 with a bloated ERA coming into last night. While it wasn't a thing of ultimate beauty (he issued six walks), nobody is going to complain, and maybe this is the happening they need to get them on a positive roll.

The Red Sox have come back some in the past couple of weeks, but are still under the .500 mark, which has many of their fans concerned. The good news is that Josh Beckett has shown flashes of his former self, which was brilliant. Diasuke Matsuzaka, whom I believe the Sox were about ready to part ways with, has had a couple of good starts as well. Couple these things with Carl Crawford coming out of a season long slump, and he and fellow-newcomer, Adrian Gonazalez, just might lead the Sox back to the top of the AL East in short order. They will have to deal with the resurgent Rays and ever-present Yankees. Speaking of which, the Yanks just continue to work their starting pitching staff magic with smoke and mirrors. Without 19 game winner, Phil Hughes, the Yankees looked like they were going to be in trouble with only C.C. Sabathia and a bunch of other question marks for starters a couple of weeks into the season. Yet, A.J. Burnett has bounced back and is pitching much better this year after a poor 2010. Bartolo Colon has come out of nowhere and has pitched like his old Cy Young self from several years ago. So, for now, the pitching seems to be holding up and their usual vicious hitting is going to keep them in the race to the end.

The defending champion Texas Rangers have been hanging in (barely) atop the A.L. West. There is no doubt that the loss of closer Neftali Feliz for a couple of weeks has hurt them. They have given up leads and/or lost on a few occasions recently, so Feliz can't get back quick enough. This is also troubled by the fact that one of their key bullpen set-up men, Darren O'Day, was likely lost for the year. The Rangers will be getting some pitchers back from the DL in the next few days to go along with their potent hitters, so it should help, if only Josh Hamilton would get back soon! The Angels' starting pitching...particularly Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, has brought them even with the Rangers for the division lead. And if the A's could ever get some hitting to go along with their excellent starting staff, they are going to be in the mix as well. Even the lowly Mariners have been playing much better of late...hitting and pitching like they did a decade ago. So, hang on for the is going to be exciting. We'll consider the N.L. soon.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Differences between Men and Women


Some funny thoughts...


If Mary, Susan, Claire and Barbara go out for lunch, they will call each other Mary, Susan, Claire and Barbara.

If John, Brad, Tony and Daniel go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Bruno, Scrappy, Peanut-Head and Godzilla.

Eating Out

When the bill arrives, John, Brad, Tony and Daniel will each throw in $20, even though the total is only $34.25. None of them will have any smaller bills and none will admit they want change back.

When Mary, Susan, Claire and Barbara get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.


A man will pay $10 for a $5 item he needs.

A woman will pay $5 for a $10 item that she doesn't need, because it's on sale.


A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, razor, shaving cream, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Motel 6.

The average number of items in a woman's bathroom is 328. The average man would not be able to identify most of them.


Women always have the last word in an argument. Anything a man adds after that is the beginning of a new argument.


Women love cats.

Men may say they love cats, but when women are not looking, men will kick cats.


A woman worries about the future...until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future...until he gets a wife.


A successful man is one who makes more money than can be spent by his wife.

A successful woman is one who can find that a man.


A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.

A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.

Dressing Up

A woman will dress up when she goes shopping, empties the garbage, answers the phone, waters the plants, gets the mail and reads a book.

A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.


Men wake up looking as good as when they went to bed.

Women will somehow deteriorate during the night.


A woman knows all about her children. She knows about their best friends, romances, secret hopes and dreams, favorite foods, fears and dental appointments.

A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

Thought for the Day

Married men should forget their mistakes. There is no need for two people to remember the same thing.

Blessings :-),