Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Lesson in Bible Study

“The passage for our evening family Bible story time was Acts 20. I read:

Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "He's alive!" … The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:9-10, 12)

We then acted out the scene, emphasizing the truth that nothing is too hard for God—even raising the dead.

At the close, I quizzed our four-year-old daughter: “Carrie Anne, what was the most important thing you learned this evening from our Bible story?” She thought and thought, and then she said, “Close the window before you go to sleep.”

From Blaine Allen, Before You Quit, p. 24

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Triumph Ye Heavens!

Triumph, ye heavens! rejoice ye with high adoration!
Sing to the Lord, to the Saviour, in glad exultation!
Angels give ear!
God unto men draweth near,
Bringing to lost ones salvation.

God in man’s nature! O mystery past comprehending!
Now is the temple thrown wide
       and the incense ascending!
Christ is the way!
We who were once far away,
Now at His footstool are bending.

Hast Thou, O Holy One, deigned of my need
       to be thinking?
Chosen me, called me,
       the waters of life to be drinking?
Shall not my mind
Fullness of blessing here find,
Deep in humility sinking?

Faithful Immanuel! let me Thy glories be telling;
Ever, my Saviour, be Thou
       in mine inmost heart dwelling.
With me abide;
Teach me to stay at Thy side,
Where the love-fountain is welling.

Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Expanded CFP

The call for an expanded college playoff is getting louder in a few places, mostly in places where people feel that their team got robbed.

Okay, mostly in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

What has passed quietly by is the fact that every single one of the top eight teams had a chance to play their way in. In other words, we had an expanded playoff and all but one team has no complaints. And that team would have no complaints had they not lost to Pitt and Michigan (by 473 or something I think it was).

The top 4 (Alabama, Clemson, OSU, and Washington) made it in by winning games.

Take the next four in the previous CFP Poll.

#5 Michigan would have been a top four with a win at OSU. They lost. They don’t get to go on. You don’t get redos.

#6 Wisconsin played #7 Penn State. This is arguably the team that got robbed because the winner didn’t make it. My previous comments stand true that it had to be a big win, and it wasn’t. Of course, they lost to Pitt and lost bigly to Michigan. But they had a chance to play their way in and didn’t get it done.

#8 Colorado played Washington and lost. They don’t get to go on.

The consensus, correct I believe, is that the CFP got the best four teams. The teams that didn’t make it all have blemishes that prevented them from making it.

So an expanded playoff took place this year. It worked just like it should have.

There is also a renewed call for having to win your conference to get in to the CFP. This is mostly coming from Penn State, but others are chiming in as well.

Someone that I can’t recall pointed out last night that Penn State better be careful what they wish for. There is a good chance that they could go 11-1 next year with their only loss being a close game at OSU who goes on to win the B1G. I think that is the most likely scenario for next season for both teams.

And that means Penn State’s chance next year requires the ability for the committee to jump over conference champions for better teams.

In other words, the very thing Penn State wants now is the thing that will hang them next year.

I am mixed on both of these issues.

I go back and forth on whether an eight team playoff would be good. This year it worked out fine. Next year it might not.

I think an expanded playoff devalues the regular season. Michigan would have gone to OSU knowing it didn’t matter whether they won or lost; they were in either way most likely (even with the Iowa embarrassment). While a rivalry game is always big, it is less big when you don’t have to win to be the national champion.

An expanded playoff devalues the conference title games. Why play a game if all the conference winners get in anyway?

However, an eight-team playoff would give some room in seasons where teams don’t play each other, or where a deserving conference champion loses out.

Speaking of conference champions, I think there is a strong case to be made that you can’t be the national champion unless you are first a conference champion. And by and large, I think that is true. OSU should have won against Penn State, and perhaps would have except for a call or two that went against them. (Remember Meyer’s tirades about officiating? Yeah, me neither.) But OSU seems a better team than Penn State.

If the NCAA goes to an eight team playoff, perhaps they need to do away with conference title games.

In the end, college football is good because of the debates that take place. There will always be questions about whether Michigan, or Colorado, or Oklahoma, or Penn State could have beaten Clemson, or Ohio State, or Washington in a playoff. There might even be a few debates about whether any of these teams could beat Alabama. Those debates will mostly involve people too drunk to speak clearly.

In the end, we have the four best teams. Let’s line up and play football.

Friday, December 02, 2016

The College Football Playoff

The college football season is down to the end. Two weeks ago everything was a mess when the #2, 3, and 4 all lost the same weekend as Washington lost to USC, Clemson lost to Pitt on a last second field goal, and Michigan lost to Iowa on the same thing.

Now it’s the final weekend and the playoff picture has been significantly clarified in the past few weeks as Louisville and Michigan stumbled to the finish line.

Both were, at some point, considered among the top 4. Some thought Louisville was better than Clemson even though Clemson beat them. Louisville put that argument to bed when they got embarrassed at Houston.

Michigan was the best team in the country according to some, or at least the only team that could challenge Alabama. Then they lost to Iowa.

Yes, you read that right. Iowa.

Losing to Iowa isn’t the worst thing in the world.’ (Cough … Appalachian State … Cough). But it’s close when you are trying to stake a claim to a top 4 spot in the CFP.

Then Michigan lost to Ohio State, in a game that was essentially a playoff game:  You win and you are in; you lose and you are out. Michigan lost. They’re out.

There’s a lot of ways this could theoretically play out, but there’s only a few within the realm of legitimacy. So headed into the final weekend, here’s how I see it.

#1 Alabama plays #15 Florida for the SEC Championship tomorrow. With a win, ‘Bama is the #1 seed. With a loss, they might still be the #1 seed, that is if the world doesn’t come to an end. It is likely that there is a greater chance of the world ending than ‘Bama losing to Florida.

#2 OSU is idle. They have the strange benefit of not playing a conference championship which means they can’t lose. Given that, it will be hard to justify demoting by three spots (from #2 to #5) an 11-1 team that doesn’t lose, especially when that team is widely considered a top 4 team. 

#3 Clemson plays Virginia Tech. With a win they are in, probably at #3. A loss almost certainly eliminates Clemson (and the ACC) from the CFP, unless the world ends (see above), in which case there will be no CFP.

Now the hard work begins.

#4 Washington (11-1) plays #8 Colorado (10-2) for the Pac 12 Championship. If Washington wins, they have a strong claim. They most likely become the fourth team, unless they win close and the B1G championship between Wisconsin and Penn State is decisive. Then the B1G champ might pass over Washington.

#5 in the CFP rankings is Michigan. Michigan is out except in one narrow scenario (keep reading). They are out because they lost very badly to Iowa and then lost to OSU. For those who want an expanded playoff, remember Michigan went to Columbus knowing a CFP berth was on the line and they lost. That was essentially a playoff game. There was no margin for error. They had a chance to play their way to the next round and they didn’t get it done. Having lost the game that would have gotten them in, they have no legitimate call for a rematch. If OSU was their only loss, they might still have claim, but an extremely weak one. But they lost to Iowa. They will have a nice New Year’s trip somewhere. It just won’t be the CFP.

#6 and #7, Wisconsin and Penn State play for the B1G championship. Winner has a strong claim to the CFP if Washington loses. Otherwise, the winner ends up at #5 or #6 and out. Of course, Michigan beat both of these teams (Wisconsin in a close one and Penn State in a blowout). But Michigan is still the fourth place (maybe third if you want to argue about it) B1G team because they didn’t win the games when everything was on the line. You don’t lose to Iowa, finish third in your division, and still have a claim to be the best team in the country.

#8 Colorado only gets in with a decisive win over Washington, a close game between Wisconsin and Penn State, and a kind-hearted committee. 

No one else has a shot.

So here’s my final call:

Alabama wins and is the #1 seed. OSU is idle and is the #2 or #3 seed. Clemson wins and stays #3 unless they win big in which case they might be #2. (#2 and #3 don’t matter since they play each other.) Washington wins and they are #4.

Now the “If”s.

If Washington loses a close one, a decisive winner of Wisconsin-Penn State gets in as the B1G champ.

If Colorado wins decisively over Washington and Wisconsin-Penn State is close and ugly, Colorado gets in at #4 as the Pac 12 champ.

“Wait,” you say, “Michigan beat Colorado.”

True. That’s the nightmare scenario for the committee. But here’s the question: Do you take a fourth place team in their conference over a conference champion in another conference even though the conference champion lost head to head? I don’t know. Football wise, probably.

But do you take a fourth place team over a conference champion in their own conference? I don’t see how.

So the B1G winner gets in over Michigan unless there is a total disaster in Indianapolis. Yes, Michigan beat them both, but championships matter to the committee.

My guess is that scenario remains purely hypothetical. Michigan’s only chance is that Colorado wins narrowly over Washington, Wisconsin-Penn State is an embarrassment in a close, low-scoring game, and the committee wants to avoid being harangued mercilessly by Michigan fans who apparently don’t think regular season games count for much. If so, the committee slides a two-loss Michigan team into the #4 slot over their own conference champ and over the Pac 12 conference champ. That’s a tall order.

In the end, I think ‘Bama, Clemson, and Washington win in a fairly decisive manner and the top four remain as they are right now.

If this plays out this way, and all remains as it is healthwise for these teams, I think Alabama beats Washington and Clemson beats OSU in a relatively close game. Then I think we have a rematch of last year’s title game.

If it doesn’t play out this way, forget I ever said it.

We will see on Sunday.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

A Primer on Christmas Shopping

Christmas is a time of giving … and getting. The older we get, it is likely that we become less concerned about getting. We probably enjoy giving more than getting, particularly to our children to see their joy.

Gift giving can be a wonderful thing and a token of our love for those around us. It can help us to enjoy the life that God has given to us. But there are some cautions we must be aware of.

First, gift giving can feed idolatry. At the heart of Christmas lists can be greed, a desire for what we do not have. There is nothing wrong with wanting something we do not have. There is something wrong with allowing our desires to become idols. After Christmas, the inevitable if unspoken comparisons take place. The Bible says that greed is a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5). A sign in the national park says, “Don’t feed the bears.” Perhaps a sign at the toy store should say, “Don’t feed the idols.”

Second, gift giving can expose the recipient to danger. 1 Timothy 6 warns about the dangers that accrue from a love of money and a desire to get rich. It reminds us that this world is temporary (you can’t take it with you, v. 6) and the joy “stuff” brings only last for a while. It reminds us that “stuff” brings temptation and snare which plunge men into ruin and destruction. It causes people to wander from the faith and pierce themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:7-11). So don’t think of that gift as the next best and greatest thing. Think of it as a bomb, waiting to go off and drive the recipient away from the faith.

Third, gift giving can attach the recipient to a dying world. The more stuff we have, and the nicer stuff we have, the more attached we are to it. Most of us past the age of three or four aren’t attached to the paper wrapping and the bows. We want that gone. But we might get attached to what was in the paper. Many people help others lay up treasures on earth, and as a result strengthen the ties to earth. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure it, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). That is why he says, “Lay up your treasure in heaven … not on earth.”

Fourth, gift giving can decrease sacrifice for missions. When Jesus called us, he called us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23). He calls us to leave things from his sake and the gospel’s sake (Mark 10:30). It is hard to preach sacrifice to people who judge Christmas by the pile of stuff under the tree. It is hard to preach sacrifice to people who do not want to leave their stuff.

Gift giving is not bad. It is not sinful. God both gives good gifts and commands us to give them.

But we should be aware of their dangers. We must work to cultivate a heart of contentment and satisfaction and a life of commitment and sacrifice.

So in this season of gift giving, be loving and generous. And be cautious. Do not doom your loved ones to idolatrous and dangerous attachment that may decrease their sacrifice for the gospel.

Now get out there and finish that Christmas shopping

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

It’s Over and It’s Trump

It’s over. For a day or two at least. Trump is now President-Elect. It’s the first time we have elected a showman with a poor grasp of policy since 2012. This won’t happen again until at least 2020.

Look for a few people to announce their candidacy for the 2020 presidential election in the next few days. Until then, enjoy a few days of political relief.

Trump has apparently won the presidency. I say “apparently” because there will be likely be charges of rigging and voter fraud. Ironically it will come from the party that says this stuff doesn’t exist.

The outcome was surprising to many. Neither outcome would have been surprising to me. The surprise would have been a good showing by a third party candidate, but there was no third party candidate with the stuff to make more than a whimper.

The evangelicals showed up and taught us a few things in no particular order:

Evangelicals are a crazy mixed up bunch. From all the pietistic warnings and judgments passed down across the spectrum, one could be forgiven for thinking that Jesus indeed wasn’t returning and had left his job to the evangelical constituency that was determined to separate the sheep from the goats in the voting booth.

There is barely enough room in the voting booth for one person. Once all the moralizers, do-gooders, nay-sayers, prophets, and apostles crowded in, it was hard to mark the ballot clearly. They kept jostling my elbow while I was trying to color inside the lines.

I have to say that evangelicals picked a strange time to grow a conscience. After years of Haggard (Ted not Merle), MacDonald (James not Old), Osteen (got nothing for you here), Hinn, Swaggart, and Driscoll, the businessman-turned-politician who once owned Miss Universe (where women are degraded into sexual objects prancing in as little as network TV will allow them to) Trump is what finally crosses the line?

Perhaps the most stunning thing is that we now know there is a line. Of course, it’s hard to see the line amidst all the muck and manure we had to parade around in for the last two years. But it’s still a line. Somewhere. For some.

I am not saying evangelicals shouldn’t have grown a conscience. I am just saying it seems like a strange time since the alternative was Hillary Clinton rather than Matt Chandler. Even John Piper flipped compared to 2012.

We have no reason to believe in a bright future for evangelicalism at large. I am not saying that’s a dealbreaker, by the way.

This election saw evangelicals on one side proclaiming a vote for anyone but Trump was a vote for the end of America. They could barely be heard over the evangelical voices on the other side crying out that voting for Trump was the end of America and of morality.

And then of course you could hear the sovereigntists, those who reminded us of the sovereignty of God over all things, proclaiming it didn’t matter who you voted for (as long as it wasn’t Trump or Clinton) or if you voted at all because God appoints kings and rulers and is in charge of it. It seems a strange take on God’s sovereignty, what with the reams of binders full of evidence of God working his sovereign will through human choices.

There was a strain of evangelicals claiming that world relief for the oppressed (i.e., taking in refugees apparently without vetting) was the key issue and that those who weren’t in favor of open borders and open boarders were on the verge of denying the gospel. Of course, there was never much theological or political interaction about this. It was mostly an emotional appeal about oppressed people. And these folks never told us how the gospel was lived out in the days before immigration. It’s a conversation we should have. But we should actually have the conversation rather than just tweet platitudes and pictures about it.

There was also a strain of evangelicals who pointed out that Christians all over the world and all throughout history had suffered and now it was our turn. These seemed to ignore the fact that Christians all over the world and through history had not suffered politically and, given our political system, that was something we enjoy. I never saw anyone make the case why we should do as much as we can to sign up for political persecution, or sit back while someone else signed us up for it. It seems to me that wisdom allows us to use our earthly citizenry to pray for peaceable relations and even to work for them. In fact, I recall something from the Bible about that in 1 Timothy 2:1-2. If we are commanded to pray for it, then we are certainly allowed to vote for it.

In the end, this election was an absolute disaster. It’s a testament to the sad state of our country that, in a nation with over three hundred million people (that’s 300,000,000) these are the two people we came up with (or should that be, “with which we came up”?).

There has been no politician so corrupt as Clinton running for a major office since, well, ever. She makes Kwame Kilpatrick and Richard Nixon look good, and that’s a major achievement. Rod Blagojevich is disappointed he didn’t run for president. It might have turned out better for him.

Likewise, there has been no one so uncontrolled and arrogant as Donald Trump since, well, ever. At least Roy Hobbs backed it the bravado with a homerun in the light pole and a refusal to take the money. Trump will likely not do anything so amazing.

On the upside, look for a new era of bipartisanship as both parties in Congress oppose Trump. Look for Democrats to celebrate obstructionism and to reject executive action. It will be a welcome change from that side of the aisle.

Ironically, the two people that would have been a really interesting race (Biden and Romney) both declined to run and probably both regret it since either one of them would have been an ‘84 type landslide.

The GOP is set up well for 2020. They can legitimately claim they didn’t like Trump and offer an alternative.

The Democrats have no such room. Clinton was their anointed pick and they own her and everything that comes with her. Rest easy though. They (like most politicians) have no shame. They will quickly defend whatever they can and whitewash the rest of it, no matter how preposterous it might sound to both normal people who are left in this country.

I am just disappointed there will be no free college education. My kids will need it cuz I ain’t paying for ‘em to go.

Speaking of 2020, I know you are all interested but I am still in the decision making process. Over the next few days, my friends and family and I will be getting together and decided whether or not I will throw my hat in the ring for 2020.

Until then, get some sleep and drink a little wine for your stomach’s sake. In fact, perhaps drink a lot. You might need it.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Nothing Makes the News

Colin Kaepernick sat down for the playing of the national anthem in a preseason NFL game. He upgraded to kneeling in a second one. A few others have followed his lead.

And it’s news.


I am not sure. It’s nothing.

No, really. It’s nothing.

He sat down during a song in which it is traditional to stand. People have sat down before and people will do it again.

This is the biggest nothing since a gold-medal winning young lady didn’t put her hand over her heart for the national anthem.

At least she was standing up.

Undeterred by the common sense of priority and reality, the news media is making a big deal out of Kaepernick. It’s a $100 worth of news coverage on a twenty-five cent story. The reason is simple: The story is about Colin Kaepernick, not what Kaepernick says it should be about.

Kaepernick says did it to protest injustice that takes place under the American flag. He said that while being oppressed to the tune of millions of dollars which he will not earn by playing since he won’t be starting.

That means he will be sitting a lot. On one hand, I suppose he is getting in midseason form by sitting down. On the other hand, he has done nothing for the cause he claims to be concerned about.

In a moment of irony he surely missed, he showed up at a news conference to protest oppression while wearing a shirt with Fidel Castro’s picture on it. Protesting oppression alongside a Cuban dictator. Ironic!

On second thought, that’s not irony. It’s way past irony.

But I digress.

Here’s the big problem: No one is talking more about injustice than they were last month. Instead, they are talking about Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who has nothing to complain about.

All he accomplished was to spark a debate about how important it is to stand up for the national anthem and whether or not employers should mandate it.

Let Kaepernick sit down if he wants to. The flag and anthem he used to protest is what enables him to protest.

But if you want to do something about injustice, then get up off your seat. Sitting down while you make millions in on the back of a free college education isn’t exactly being Jackie Robinson. Or Martin Luther King, Jr. These days it’s not even being Doug Williams. (ICYDK, Williams was the first black quarterback to win an NFL league championship and Super Bowl.)

If you want to do something about injustice, it will take more than sitting down during the national anthem of an NFL preseason game. You are going to have to talk about real issues.

Let’s start with the fact that thousands of African-Americans are denied the basic justice of life itself every day. It’s called abortion. The Democrats stand firmly behind this systematic extermination of the black community. They won’t lift a finger to stop it. Instead, they are doing everything they can to prolong and protect this extermination. Republicans are scarcely much better. It helps to get them elected, but that’s about it. There’s no one speaking up much for the unborn. And Kaepernick didn’t change that.

Let’s continue with the fact that thousands of African-American children have no father in their home or even in their life. The government has become their daddy, doling out the basic needs of life while letting men have sex without consequences. Why should they care? They get to do their thing with their honey for the night (who may not be their honey tomorrow night), and they have a rich uncle (Uncle Sam, that is) that will take care of the few who make it long enough to see the light of day over the machinations of Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Party. Kaepernick’s sit-down didn’t spark any conversation about fatherhood. That’s ironic given the fact that Kaepernick was adopted and raised by two white people because his own father fled and left a single mother. If anyone knows, it should be Kaepernic.

How about the fact that thousands of African-Americans will suffer in substandard schools because the government forces them to stay there rather than giving them true school choice. And their parents don’t care enough or don’t have enough leverage to force change. Those kids will live in bad neighborhoods and go to bad schools. And some of them will end up like a young man a few blocks away from here who, a couple of weeks ago at the ripe old of age of fourteen, was paralyzed for life by a gunshot to the neck. Now the state of Michigan has decided that failing schools don’t have to close until 2019, meaning three more years of failing education for kids with all the results that come with it. Kaepernick’s seat on the sidelines won’t give these kids a new seat in the schoolroom. They are consigned to failure with no alternatives.

We haven’t even talked about the fact that thousands of African-Americans will have no mentors who will teach them there is a better way. No one will teach them how to work, how to shake hands, how to dress and talk appropriately, how to be a husband and a dad (in that order). There will be no women to help the young ladies learn to respect their bodies and their future, to get an education, to learn how to nurture children, and pick a good man and stay with him for life. Almost none of them will get a free ride to play football or basketball, or anything else. The only free ride they might get is in the back of a squad car. Kaepernick isn’t provoking anyone to talk about how to mentor the young people.

Kaepernick’s sit down isn’t sounding the message that a black person’s chances of being killed by the police are between slim and none, and none is a lot closer than slim when you do what you are told, even if you think it is unjust. There’s a place to fight police brutality and systemic racism. But you can’t do it from a casket. Kaepernick’s sit-down isn’t getting people to talk about that.

You see, this is simple: Sitting down for the national anthem won’t address any actual problems. And even if it got people talking about it, it won’t change anything because talk never does.

We don’t need more talk about it. Round tables simply go around. We need action. We need serious people with serious solutions. We need people who will get past the rhetoric and the talking points and start looking for things that work.

We need people who will move in to communities, coach ball teams, get involved in the local schools, hang out and play basketball with kids on the street, and talk straight to them when they need it.

We are past the point where sitting down for an anthem while preparing to make a few million playing a game will make much of a statement.

We need more. Stand up Colin. Do something meaningful. It won’t make the news. But it might make a difference.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

J. C. Ryle on The Christian’s Fight

We may take comfort about our souls if we know anything of an inward fight and conflict. It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness. It is not everything, I am well aware, but it is something. Do we find in our heart of hearts a spiritual struggle? Do we feel anything of the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things we would? (Gal. 5:17.) Are we conscious of two principles within us, contending for the mastery? Do we feel anything of war in our inward man? Well, let us thank God for it! It is a good sign. It is strongly probable evidence of the great work of sanctification. All true saints are soldiers. Anything is better than apathy, stagnation, deadness, and indifference. We are in a better state than many. The most part of so-called Christians have no feeling at all. We are evidently no friends of Satan. Like the kings of this world, he wars not against his own subjects. The very fact that he assaults us, should fill our minds with hope. I say again, let us take comfort The child of God has two great marks about him, and of these two we have one. HE MAY BE KNOWN BY HIS INWARD WARFARE, AS WELL AS BY HIS INWARD PEACE.

()Ryle, J. C. Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots. London: William Hunt and Company, 1889.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Around the Horn – 8/12/16

At first, in honor of “back to school” is an interesting article on the uselessness of homework for elementary age students. Reading the article spurred this thought: Kids go to school for seven hours or more. They come home to an hour or so of homework plus instrument practice. (If your child isn’t taking piano lessons by the second grade, repent and start now. He or she needs it badly. You can add another instrument later. Piano comes first.) That means our children in elementary school have the equivalent of a nine hour work day. And many are not even in double digits agewise. I believe teaching kids to work young, but I am not sure elementary age kids are ready for an eight or nine hour workday that mostly involves sitting. Maybe homework is a good thing to change, and shortening the school day probably won’t kill anyone.

At second is a NY Times article about the vanishing jury trial. It remarks that justice frequently takes places behind closed doors with (overzealous) prosecutors and no arbiter of actual facts. They offer plea deals that are guarantees while threatening long prison sentences if the accused goes to trial. The article says that jury trials were designed to protect against prosecutorial abuse and the decline in jury trials is increasing the danger. One judge says that because plea deals are prepared before a case is prepared for trial, the evidence against the defendant is never scrutinized by anyone objective to the case. A prosecutor threatens and a defendant weighs the risk of a short guarantee vs. a long risk. I am not sure what the answer is, but I would hate to be tried before a jury of my peers.

At third is an open letter to Hillary Clinton. It is a good read about the kind of image that is being put before our young ladies today. There are a lot of women that I would love for my daughter to grow up and be like. They are found in all kinds of fields in life. But there are a lot of women I hope she never follows, and Hillary Clinton is one of them. It is a dreadful shame that in a country of about 150,000,000 women, she is the one chosen. Of course, it is a dreadful shame that in a country of 300,000,000, Clinton and Trump are ones chosen. But I will save that for another day. As parents, we need to be reminded that parenting is like politics. Remember the old saying, “All politics is local”? Well, parenting should be all local. Don’t outsource your modeling to anyone, least of all politicians. And perhaps pray often the parent’s prayer: “Please don’t let me children turn out to be criminals, or worse yet, politicians.” (Though perhaps it would be hard to tell which is which.)

And last, speaking of politicians, much is being made by some of Trump’s comments about the NRA and Clinton’s threats about guns. (It was a dumb comment, whatever he meant by it.) But someone dredged this up today: Biden threatening Obama with a Berreta. I don’t remember this getting a lot of press coverage. You probably don’t either.  Let’s face it: People who talk a lot say a lot of dumb things. If you doubt that, just read Facebook. But it’s a good reminder to guard our tongues. Speaking fewer words is a good way to minimize the risk of saying stupid things.


Monday, August 01, 2016

I Had No Idea

“A person with a felony record can become an attorney, but is barred for life from becoming a security guard at a mall.”*

There is a joke in there somewhere, but knowing I might get sued by someone unqualified to be a mall security guard is preventing me from telling it.

*Miriam Aukerman, “Criminal Convictions as a Barrier to Employment” in Michigan Bar Journal, Nov 2008, p. 33; MCL 338.1056; MCL 338.1067.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Around the Horn – 7/29/16

At first is a political speech worth hearing or at least reading. Governor Rick Perry of Texas delivered this speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council. In it, he speaks of the failure of conservatives to reach out to Black Americans, to show that “it is Republicans—not Democrats—who are truly offering black Americans the hope of a better life for themselves and for their children.” It is filled with stories of Texas. It also notes the reality that in “the cities where the left-wing solutions have been tried over and over again…places like Detroit and Chicago and Baltimore…African-Americans are falling further behind.” What’s the solution? I am guessing “more of the same” is what many people think. I am not sure why. If it hasn’t worked yet, why will it work now? Perry has some good ideas, IMO. I don’t know why he didn’t get more traction in the presidential race.

At second Matt Walsh talks about why the nomination of Hillary Clinton sends a horrific message to the women of this country. Walsh is a strong writer, sometimes caustic, usually very pointed, and like many a preacher, one-third to one-half as long as he needs to be. But his point should be acknowledged. The nomination of Hillary Clinton sends all the wrong messages to the women and particularly the young women of our society. Walsh, like me and many others no doubt, says, “Call me sexist, but I don’t look at my little girl and think, ‘I hope you grow up to be just like Hillary Clinton.’” The question is who, knowing just what is available to be known, would say that? And why? What kind of person do you have to be to honor what Clinton has revealed about herself over forty years of public life?

At third, continuing on the theme of the election, Wayne Grudem lays out a case for Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice. You might disagree but Grudem makes some reasonable arguments. It’s worth considering. I continue to think the strongest issue in presidential campaigns are judicial nominations. Grudem makes a strong point about that issue.

Last today is an old virtual symposium of commentary on the pro-life movement and the killing of abortion doctors. No doubt most of us would consider it wrong to kill abortion doctors though we might make a philosophical case for it. Here are sixteen people who discuss it from various angles.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday Morning Reminders for Pastors

Yesterday’s message wasn’t as bad as you thought it was. Someone in the congregation was spiritually fed, so rejoice in that.

Yesterday’s message wasn’t as good as you thought it was. There were some things that would have made your message more clear and more precise and more connected to the people you spoke to. So work on that.

You get another chance next week, so stop fretting and get busy. Don’t get to Saturday and wish you had started on Monday. Start on Monday, even if it’s only a small start.

All the things you wish you had said yesterday? Say them next week, or trust the sovereignty of God even over our speech.

All the things you wish you hadn’t said yesterday? Forget it because everyone else already has forgotten it. Have more self-control in your speech next, and trust the sovereignty of God even over our speech.

Spiritual growth does not stem from a single incredible meal. It is the result of a lot of ordinary meals over the course of years. So don’t evaluate your ministry on the basis of one message, however good or bad you thought it was. Just get a solid meal ready for next week.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Around the Horn – 6/10/16

At first is an interesting article about how LGBT activism is changing our moral consciousness. It draws out some interesting implications about how things that have been historically considered wrong by virtually everyone suddenly are considered virtuous if connected to LGBT. To leave your wife and children has, historically, been wrong. But now, it is courageous if you are admitting you are gay. To cheat in athletics by using PEDs or hormones is wrong, unless you are transgendered. It is a good article about the world we are now living in.

At second is an article on the same theme, questioning whether Title IX actually matters anymore. Title IX was an act that essentially required men and women to have equal opportunity in sports. If boys are allowed to participate in girls sports, girls will be in the same place they were before Title IX, standing behind boys in athletics.

At third is an article about the funeral of Mohammed Ali that unwittingly highlights the problems of a works-based salvation.  Ali had been on the way to buy some Bibles and Qurans for a project. He picked up a hitchhiker who, when hearing of Ali’s trip to the store, offered him a Bible from his own home. Ali tried to give the man some money for the Bible, but the man refused. The article continues,

Ali says, 'Take the money, man, I'm trying to get into heaven.' And the man replies, 'So am I.'

Ali is not taking 'no' for an answer. He says, 'If you don't take the money, I might not get in.' And the man replies, 'If I do take your money, I might not get in.'

If you have a way of salvation other than Jesus Christ, what you need to do to get into heaven might be the same thing that prevents someone else from getting into heaven. And then what? Do you give up your place for theirs? Wouldn’t it be better to abandon both ways and just lean on Jesus?

Last today is a parody of a TED Talk. It might as well be a parody of a lot of preaching. If you don’t like that one, then try this one. I fear that the art and science of communication, even in its homespun iterations, has taken precedence over the simple act of preaching the Bible. Be wary of presentation. That is not to say ignore it. It is only to say don’t lean more heavily on the method of communication than on the content of the text.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


These two statements are from two different published sources. Is this plagiarism? Maybe some of my more educated friends can weigh in here.

“Their former life and works had caused the very predicament from which they needed to be delivered.”


“Our former life and works only contributed to the predicament from which we needed to be delivered.”

Friday, March 04, 2016

Sad, Disturbing, and Confusing

A rather sad, disturbing, and confusing story brings the week to a close. The Detroit Free Press reports that a 25-year old mother was convicted of first degree murder and child abuse for having her baby in a garage and then letting it die.

It’s sad because a mother killed her baby. It’s disturbing because a mother killed her baby.

it’s confusing because I am not sure why it matters. (Don’t leave me yet.)

Isn’t this the natural end of being pro-choice? If, as the Supreme Court ruled forty-three years ago, it is okay for mothers to kill their babies, then why is this mother being charged for it? Is it the location that makes it a crime (i.e., it was in a garage rather than a clinic)? It is timing (i.e., had she done this just minutes before the baby emerged it would have been okay but she wait a few minutes too long)?

In a related story, this week, the Supreme Court is considering an abortion case regarding a Texas law that requires abortion clinics to have some basic medical standards in place such as the doctor having admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles and the clinic meeting standards for ambulatory medical centers. It’s difficult to see the problem with this bill. It’s hard to imagine these weren’t already requirements.

We have been routinely told that abortion is a medical procedure, a matter between a woman and her doctor.

In a strange twist, abortion supporters are now arguing that this medical procedure should not be required to be treated like an actual medical procedure.

Let’s tie these two stories together: Abortion supporters are arguing that mothers have a right to kill their children, that those who perform abortions do not need to admitting privileges at a hospital, and that abortion clinics do not need to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements.

This young mother meets all three parts of this argument.

So why is she charged with murder?

The fact that I even raise the question might be considered wrong. I am sure that everyone agrees that her act was heinous. It was. Heinous and heartless.

But why would a pro-choice person support the prosecution and conviction of this young mother? Why was there not a demonstration outside the courtroom protesting this prosecution?

She is what the abortion movement is about—a young woman who is pregnant and unable to care for another child. That’s why abortion exists—because young women should not be required to to be a mother if they don’t want to. And why should the state put undue burdens on her, like leaving her garage or something.

This young lady simply exercised her constitutional rights.

The fact that she chose to do it in a particular way should not really matter, should it? After all, doesn’t she have a right to choose what to do with her body?

There is something about this case that destroys the pro-abortion argument. It is simply this: Everyone knows this mother’s actions were morally wrong and reprehensible.

Why do they know this?

Because they know that that “thing” living inside of her was a baby and it didn’t change into a baby in that Eastpointe garage when it suddenly met the cold December air.

Nope. It was a baby in her body and it was a baby outside of her body.

And everyone knows that.

We are truly a corrupt and calloused people, not because we prosecute this young woman, but because we don’t see the intense irony of prosecuting her for doing exactly what she chose to do, to exercise her constitutional rights as a woman.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Privacy vs. Life and the “Dilemma” of Apple

The news is that the federal government has compelled Apple to break their inscription that ensures the privacy of Iphone users. Apple is refusing.

Which reminds me that civil disobedience isn’t what it used to be.

But I digress.

Who’s right? Apple or the government?

Let me pose a thought experiment: Let’s say that someone has kidnapped your child and hidden her somewhere. And let’s say that the police surrounded the kidnapper who, after a standoff, killed himself. The police break down the door and find only the kidnapper’s dead body and an Iphone that has been secured which the police have reason to believe contains data that reveal the whereabouts of your child. There is no one else that is suspected of having any information that could lead to your daughter. In the meantime, you don’t know if she is hurt, if she is being raped by accomplices, if she is unconscious and bleeding out. You don’t know anything, but the Iphone may have some clues.

Do you believe that Apple should refuse to provide a means to break the encryption?

If your answer “Yes, Apple should refuse,” I question your sanity; I question your humanity; I question your parenting skills and your heart.

What does it say about a person who would sacrifice the life of his or her own child in order to protect Iphone encryption?

I would suggest it says a lot, and none of it very good. In fact, if you believe that, I would keep it to yourself so no one else finds out how calloused you are towards life, particularly of your own family?

Strong words? Yes. So tell me why I am wrong. Explain to me why Iphone encryption is of greater importance than life.

In the current case, the phone belongs to one of the San Bernadino shooters who killed fourteen people and wounded twenty-two more. The phone could provide information as to other plans for mass murder, or provide information as to other people involved in terrorism plots.

Now, in case I have been too subtle, I will go ahead and put my cards right out on the table: I am of the mind that life is more important than privacy of an Iphone using criminal who is endangering the lives of others. I cannot think of a good reason that Apple should refuse provide to the government the means by which to break the encryption. I have seen a lot of handwringing and fearmongering about it. But rational arguments? I haven’t seen any of those yet. And I can’t imagine what rational argument there is.

The government has a long history of being to perform, with legal approval, reasonable searches and seizures. It was written right into the Constitution that all states agreed to to join the union. And it seems entirely reasonably (no pun intended) that such searches fit that category.

Such searches are reasonable, based on the facts as known at the time. They are not guarantees of success. They are not without danger.

Sure, a government might hatch a pretense of an argument that can unreasonably invade the privacy of its citizens. It already happens. It’s not new. It’s not good. But it’s rare.

I believe the use of such encryption breaking ability should be used as it is in any other investigation—with a demonstrable probable cause approved by a dispassionate judge and a limited scope of searching. It’s not a ticket to an open-ended fishing expedition.

Those who say that Apple should refuse may be endangering the lives of others. Notice, I said “may be.”

Let’s pose another thought experiment: Let’s say that, God forbid, there is another terrorist attack which kills a dozen or so people, and wounds another two dozen. In the aftermath, it is discovered that the new terrorists had connections to the San Bernadino shooters, connections that would have have been uncovered with access to the Iphone. Such access would have provided information that could have stopped the shootings.

Does that change your mind?

What if one of those dozen fatalities is your spouse? Or your parent? Or your child? Or your neighbor?

Does that change your mind?

It shouldn’t take a close friend dying to make us think about this.

If we are pro-life, then let’s be pro-life all the way. Let’s not be pro-life after we are pro-privacy. That was the basis of Roe v. Wade—that a right to privacy supercedes whatever life may be extinguished in the meantime. In other words, your privacy with your doctor was more important than your child.

And that’s why the initial thought experiment is not far off from reality. It’s just an Iphone instead of a doctor.

I understand privacy concerns. I am not wild about the government, or anyone else for that matter, rifling through my phone or my computer. I would be mortified for people in authority to find out how boring my life actually is. I would prefer to keep the sad state of my existence to myself.

But frankly, I find the right to life more important.

Ben Franklin is reported to have said that those who give up freedom for security deserve neither. It may be that that those who refuse to give up some freedom for some security shall soon have neither.

I think many Christians—evangelical, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians—have bought into the God of America. That our constitution is sacrosanct, and that our rights to certain things go hand in hand with the Bible, and may, in fact, go ahead of the Bible.

America isn’t God’s chosen people. And the Constitution didn’t come by divine inspiration.

Yes, the government may one day decide to outlaw Christianity. But if it take a violation of my privacy to find me guilty, I have bigger problems than constitutional ones.

My friends, let me urge us to take life seriously. If we are going to be pro-life, let’s be pro-life even it means giving up something else.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On the Indictment of a Texas Grand Jury

Yesterday, word came that a Texas grand jury had indicted two of the people behind the Planned Parenthood expose from last summer. If you have forgotten, shame on you—forgetting these kinds of things is part of the problem. However, I will recap.

Undercover videos revealed that Planned Parenthood was involved in deeply offensive and almost certainly illegal selling of body parts of aborted babies. They were frequently glib and calloused about it. While the PP defenders claimed creative editing was to blame for the message, the videographers released the whole videos which showed that it was not creative editing that made Planned Parenthood look bad; it was Planned Parenthood that made Planned look bad. Of course, moral thinking people did not need video evidence. We already knew there were problems with the abortion industry.

Back to the point, these two men who posed as undercover buyers of body parts to expose the evil inside PP were indicted by a Texas grand jury while Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast was exonerated—for the time being.

This is, in fact, an indictment of the grand jury.

How in the world are there twelve people in Texas who came to the conclusion that these two men who clearly had no intent to buy body parts (given their strong prolife position) were likely guilty for something they never intended to do, namely, buy body parts?

Some have complained about the undercover nature of these videos. 

The use of undercover stings or misleading interviews is well established in many facets of American life. Police frequently mislead suspects in interrogations and are immune from prosecution for it in most cases. Police pose as prostitutes, as drug buyers, and as drug dealers.

In the height of irony, police regularly participate in online undercover stings posing as minor children to catch child sexual predators, but when two men participate in an undercover sting to catch child killers, they are indicted. You can apparently mislead about anything except saving a baby’s life.

Isaiah was surely right: “Woe to those who call good evil” (Isaiah 5:26).

Shame on the Texas grand jury. Shame on the prosecutor. Shame on Planned Parenthood. Shame on their defenders.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Food for Thought

On every university campus I visit, somebody stands up and says that God is an evil God to allow all this evil into our world. This person typically says, ‘A plane crashes: Thirty people die, and twenty people live. What kind of a God would arbitrarily choose some to live and some to die?’

But when we play God and determine whether a child within a mother’s womb should live, we argue for that as a moral right. So when human beings are given the privilege of playing God, it’s called a moral right. When God plays God, we call it an immoral act. Can you justify this for me?”

Zacharias, Ravi. “Reaching the ‘Happy-Thinking Pagan.’” Growing Your Church through Evangelism and Outreach. Ed. Marshall Shelley. 1st ed. Nashville, TN: Moorings, 1996. 18.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Around the Horn – 1/15/16

At first, Denny Burk has a helpful response to people who doubt or deny the Bible because they think the Bible supports slavery. A lot of Bible believers struggle with this issue because instinctively they know it doesn’t sound right, but they don’t know how to answer it. Sometimes they just give up and concede the point, against their better judgment, As with other issues, like the Bible’s treatment of women for instance, people who doubt the Bible based on slavery likely haven’t read the Bible very closely, if at all. Burk’s response should be helpful and clarifying.

At second is an interesting article on the often forgotten victims of sex crimes and sexual abuse. Much attention is given to the physical victims of sexual violence and abuse, and much attention is given to the perpetrators. But as this article reminds us, there is often family—spouses, children, parents, and others—who suffer. This is a sad story that should provoke some thought about how we minister to everyone connected to these crimes.

At third is an excellent article about the pastor as an iceberg. At its root, it is an encouragement to do more than study for this week. In fact, it encourages to read and study things far and wide because those things have a way of building a foundation of thought that cannot be seen, but will inform us in so many ways we have never thought of. It’s okay to read something that’s not relevant to anything on the preaching schedule in the foreseeable future. In fact, it’s not only okay. It’s preferable.

Last this week, Scott Clark provides an online “Curriculum For Those Wrestling Through Covenant Theology and Infant Baptism.” For those interested in this topic, Clark provides fourteen links to various articles. He also reveals the position’s weakness when he says, “one’s understanding of baptism is really the product of a number of other assumptions and conclusions that one has already drawn about the nature of the history of redemption and about how the Bible is to be read and interpreted.” In reality, we don’t need a number of assumptions and conclusions about these things. We can go to the Bible and study baptism and see what it entails. In every case where the particulars are mentioned, it entails believers and lots of water. There are no instances of baptism in the Bible that involve non-believers (including infants) or little bits of water. Having seen that from the Bible itself, we can then draw some conclusions from that. Should we really believe that with all this infant baptism going on that the Holy Spirit did not inspire even one apostle to make even one reference to it? That is a bridge too far for me. Although if you are of Clark’s persuasion, you don’t need a bridge to get across that baptismal font.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On the Championship Game

Last night, Alabama defeated Clemson 45-40 to win the NCAA Football National Championship. It was a good game. It was probably the best championship game since Texas-USC. Two good teams came to play hard.

I still marvel at those who claimed Alabama was going to win big or win going away. I never thought that. If there was a blowout or a big margin, I thought it would be in Clemson’s favor because of their explosive offense. But I thought it would be a close game. And it was.

They say defense wins championships. Well, there was a lot of offense last night. Over a combined one thousand yards. Clemson’s DeShaun Watson passed for 405 and ran for 73 more. Alabama’s Jake Coker passed for 335 and Derrick Henry ran for 158.

But the big problem for Clemson was big play. Clemson simply gave up too many.

Here’s the stat of the night: For Alabama, just six plays accounted for 280 yards. When you add in the return touchdown of 95 yards, that means that 375 of Alabama’s 473 yards came on just seven plays. That’s right: 80% of the offensive production came on seven plays.

Some of those receivers were so wide open in Arizona that I could have completed a pass from my living room couch in Michigan.

It is hard to win when you give that up.

There was a clear officiating blunder that may have made a difference. At the end of the first half, the clock failed to stop on Clemson’s first down, which made them waste a time out and cost them at least one play. A 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked. Give them the extra play they should have had and that field goal may have been shorter and easier. And that means a five point deficit is now two points. But the officials were bailed out of that by the final score. Of course, if the game is three points closer, both teams are playing differently.

The onsides kick was a gutsy call and Swinney threw a fit about it. He may have a good case. His argument was that in the Clemson-USC game in 2014, Clemson had recovered an onside kick only to have it overturned because they did not allow the receiver an unimpeded chance to recover the ball.

Here is the play starting at the 28:00 mark:

What was the right call? I am not sure.

The NCAA rule book Rule 6 Article 3 (p. FR-64) specifies that “No Team A [kicking tean] player may touch a free-kicked ball until after: 1. It touches a Team B player (Exception: Rules 6-1-4 and 6-5-1-b); 2. It breaks the plane of and remains beyond Team B’s restraining line (Exception: Rule 6-4-1) (A.R. 2-12-5-I); or 3. It touches any player, the ground, an official or anything beyond Team B’s restraining line.”

However, it also specifies “A player of the receiving team within the boundary lines attempting to catch a kick, and so located that he could have caught a free kick or a scrimmage kick that is beyond the neutral zone, must be given an unimpeded opportunity to catch the kick.”

The play last night did not appear to have a receiving team player attempting to make the catch or in a position to make the catch, although it is possible he could have made a diving catch. It’s hard to tell how far away he was.

In the end, it’s hard to say the better team won. But it would have been equally hard to say that if Clemson had won. Clemson won in almost every statiscal category except time of possession where Bama edged them by less than a minute. But Bama won in the only place that matters—the scoreboard.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Around the Horn - 1/8/16

At first this week is Ten Reminders for Preachers. Nathan Busenitz has assembled these ten reminders from the words of ten preachers of old including Spurgeon, Baxter, Lloyd-Jones, and others. They are good reminders of the task that preachers face, particularly with another Sunday coming soon. If you don’t have time to read all ten of these guys before Sunday, these short quotes will be helpful.

At second is an interesting article about how Detroit Defied Reality to Help Win WWII. It is about the production of B-24 bombers at Willow Run in Ypsilanti, just west of Detroit. After what can only be considered failure by Consolidated Aircraft, Ford Motor Company took over the project, built the Willow Run plant and the machinery, and eventually produced a B-24 every hour at the height of production. Eventually, the government told Ford to cut back on production because the losses were not as great as they had anticipated. It’s an interesting story about the manufacturing power that helped to win WWII.

At third is a pair of articles that will be controversial for some because they deal with race and incarceration. The first is a review of a book entitled Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment. The second is a recommendation of the review that originally turned me on to the review. It’s interesting and controversial because the drug war and particularly sentencing is under fire. The author of the book is a black man who grew up in Brooklyn “during the height of the crack epidemic.” In 1986, a law was passed that made selling 50 grams of crack the same penalty as selling 5000 grams of powder cocaine. This ended up leading to a disproportionate number of black men in prison for dealing crack. The laws are often called racist because of this effect.

What many don’t know (and I didn’t know) was that the stiff sentences for crack cocaine that appear to disproportionately affect young black men were originally supported by the black community because of safety issues. The reviewer says, “It was blacks who instigated the crackdown on black criminality, often over the opposition of white liberals and black political elites.” In fact, the review says,
This crack/powder disparity was increasingly attacked as racist—crack offenders tended to be black, while powder offenders tended to be white. Never mind that Representatives Charles Rangel and Major Owens, two black liberal Democrats from New York not known for their reluctance to play the race card, led the fight to impose the differential. Never mind that 11 of the 21 black lawmakers serving in Congress in 1986 supported the new law. And never mind that even those black congressmen who opposed it did not do so on grounds that it was racially unfair.
Today, certain comments and perspectives about racial issues are almost litmus tests for evangelicals. If you don’t say the right thing, you can quickly be labeled, tarred and feathered, and run out of evangelicalville, as a friend of mine recently experienced on Facebook because of an obviously true and relatively benign comment about a certain situation. I would cautiously urge a bit more nuance in some of these areas as we seek to engage in these issues. The book looks interesting and appears to give a needed historical perspective on this issue.

Last, but not least, CCEF Now is a publication of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) which is headed up by Ed Welch, David Powlinson, and some others. They have some excellent resources for counseling. I would particularly point you to the articles on “Becoming a Wilderness Companion” by Winston Smith on ministering to those in the hospital and the article on “Engaging Emotions Engaging God” by Alisdair Groves. Of course, Welch’s article “Counseling Is Theological” (emphasis his) is a much needed reminder for those who are tempted to separate counseling from Scripture or integrate counseling with secular psychology. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Around the Horn – 1/1/16

At first, let’s kick it off with a few reviews of 2015. It seems like it was only yesterday but Dave Barry will help you remember in his usual way. You can also check out Thomas Sowell who says 2015 was the year of the big lie, or George Will who points out just how ludicrous some things were. For better or worse, 2015 will not come again so enjoy the fleeting the memories.

At second, Mark Minnick mines John Newton for some helpful pastoral counsel (part 1 and part 2). The times have certainly changed since Newton was alive and writing, but these old perspectives have a certain amount of freedom from modernity that is helpful to those who us swimming in it.

At third is an article about parents and coaches. It highlights a serious problem for prep coaches and officials—namely, parents. I have coached high school sports more than fifteen years ago and we have been pretty successful winning four state championships in that time (more than any other school of our size in Michigan). As an assistant, I don’t have to deal with parents much, and our parents are good parents for the most part. But let’s face it: parents are ruining sports for their kids, for other kids, and for coaches and officials. There are lots of other problems in KidsSports these days, and I hope to write on that more this year. But parents would do well to back off—back off their kids, their coaches, and the officials. Listen Dad: the chances of your kid getting a scholarship to play sports in college are slim to none. If that’s your plan to finance your kids’ education, find another one. And let them enjoy sports. Don’t ruin it for your kid and everyone else because of your misguided dreams.

Last, for those looking for a Bible reading plan for 2016, Ligonier compiles a number of different plans including downloadable PDFs you can tuck in your Bible. Pick one and get started early. If you fall behind, don’t worry about it. Just pick up where you left off, or start where you are supposed to be. If you miss a day, or a week, or a month, it’s okay. Just start again.