"Mark Downs, a little league baseball coach, was convicted by a jury in Pennsylvania for asking one of his players to harm a teammate. Downs offered to pay one of his players $25 if he'd bean an autistic player in the head with a baseball to prevent him from being able to play, which is just what happened."
The district attorney said, "This is a serious breach of sportsmanlike conduct."
The incident made me think of Bob Bennett's song, "A Song About Baseball." If you can track it down somewhere, it is well worth a listen. It's a great song about a father's unconditional love and a great parable of God's unconditional love.
On a larger, but in my mind, a less tragic, scale, I'm sure most of you have seen clips of the Miami University-Florida International brawl last Saturday. It seems to me that Miami has failed to step up and deal seriously with the issues in their football program. This is the third similar incident in that last seven games for Miami. Though several players received one game suspensions (which happen to come again winless Duke), neither the players nor the team is going to suffer greatly. At least Florida International took the incident seriously enough to dismiss some players from their team. And I didn't notice any of them clubbing people with their helmets or stomping on them with their cleats as Miami players did.
As often seems to be the case - winning (and the financial return) mean more than character and integrity.
Larry Coker has got to go as the Miami coach. The Hurricane are out of control.
Probably the most influential theologian of the last century is John Stott. Christianity Today recently published an interview with him. Some excerpts:
"I believe that these so-called secular people are engaged in a quest for at least three things. The first is transcendence. It's interesting in a so-called secular culture how many people are looking for something beyond. I find that a great challenge to the quality of our Christian worship. Does it offer people what they are instinctively looking for, which is transcendence, the reality of God?
The second is significance. Almost everybody is looking for his or her own personal identity. Who am I, where do I come from, where am I going to, what is it all about? That is a challenge to the quality of our Christian teaching. We need to teach people who they are. They don't know who they are. We do. They are human beings made in the image of God, although that image has been defaced.
And third is their quest for community. Everywhere, people are looking for community, for relationships of love. This is a challenge to our fellowship. I'm very fond of 1 John 4:12: 'No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.' The invisibility of God is a great problem to people. The question is how has God solved the problem of his own invisibility? First, Christ has made the invisible God visible. That's John's Gospel 1:18: 'No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.'
People say that's wonderful, but it was 2,000 years ago. So in 1 John 4:12, he begins with exactly the same formula, nobody has ever seen God. But here John goes on, 'If we love one another, God abides in us.' The same invisible God who once made himself visible in Jesus now makes himself visible in the Christian community, if we love one another. And all the verbal proclamation of the gospel is of little value unless it is made by a community of love.
These three things about our humanity are on our side in our evangelism, because people are looking for the very things we have to offer them."
"I believe that evangelism is specially through the local church, through the community, rather than through the individual. That the church should be an alternative society, a visible sign of the kingdom. And the tragedy is that our local churches often don't seem to manifest community."
Some of our students have started a Peace and Justice Group that meets to talk and pray about worldwide justice issues, as well as areas of conflict. One of the resources they have used is this map from Project Ploughshares. The map will show you where armed conflict is taking place, as well as break down the issues, etc. Just click on the labels.
As many who read this know, one of my hobbies is officiating track and field. I have been able to travel from coast to coast and to officiate some of the greatest athletes in the world.
But no one succeeds without help from others along the way. Two who helped me in the realm of track and field were Ed and "D" Wells. I met Ed and "D" in 2000 when Arkansas built its indoor track facility and we started hosting more championship meets. They were long time officials who had the chance to work the ultimate event - 1996 Olympic Games. They took me under their wings, taught me a lot about officiating, and got me into several meets in Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, etc. that helped to build my resume' and get to know other officials and coaches.
Ed passed away on Sunday in Clearwater, FL.