Tuesday, October 24

Some earlier link problems have been corrected. Sorry about the inconvenience.


Tonight was our annual "Ask Mike Night" at Christ on Campus. We have been doing this for fifteen years or more - setting aside a night when students can anonymously ask any questions they want. It is always fun and interesting. I think that tonight was the first time I have received a question about aliens (from outer space, not other countries).

I always end the night with two feelings. The first is second-guessing my answers, or at least wishing I had another chance at the question. I don't think I would change the answer, but I often wish I had said it better or included something I didn't. By "rule" I only have three minutes after I read the question to complete the answer. Tonight, especially, I felt that many of my answers were too "rambling". The second feeling is always a deep sense of inadequacy. There are so many things I don't know and my wisdom is so shallow that I'm afraid that I don't do the Lord or my students much of a service in my answers.

There are always more questions than there is time to answer them. There have been many years when "Ask Mike Night" carried on to two, or even three, nights. But with access to this forum, I will address the questions I didn't get to on here. I'll try to do a question or two a week. But not tonight.


If you watching the second game of the World Series on Sunday, or have been exposed to any sports news since then, you probably know about Kenny Rogers, the Detroit pitcher on Sunday, and the brown spot on his hand. He claimed it was dirt, but photographic evidence shows that it has been there on more than one occasion. The common thought is that it wasn't dirt, but pine tar or some other sticky substance that let him get a better grip on the ball.

In other words, he cheated.

The real question was why didn't Tony LaRussa, the St. Louis manager, pursue the issue more fervently? Most seem to think that some of his pitchers cheat, too, and so he didn't want to make too big of an issue of it.


Here is a link to an article in Christianity Today about how Christians in Lebanon are responding to the conflict there and reaching out to help their Muslim neighbors in need. In an area of the world so full of hatred and violence, it is a joy to see Christians who are practicing their faith in a very real and practical way.


"The Gospel message says: 'You don't live in a mechanistic world ruled by necessity; you don't live in a random world ruled by chance; you live in a world ruled by the God of Exodus and Easter. He will do things in you that neither you nor your friends would have supposed possible.'"
Eugene Peterson

"God's Word is designed to make us Christians, not scientists, and to lead us to eternal life in Jesus Christ. It was not God's intention to reveal in Scripture what human beings could discover by their own investigations and experiments."
John Stott


See what the New York Times calls "the greatest web site of all time."

If that link doesn't work, you can go straight to the website here.


Columnist Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote a piece on the misogyny of our culture. He sees the attacks in Bailey, CO and PA as hates crimes against women that raised very little outrage across our country. He then demonstrates how our culture tolerates a negative attitude towards women. It's thought-provoking and troubling. And it is a clear demonstration of how little a truly Christian worldview has permeated our "Christian nation."


And, finally, on a lighter note, WebMD has an article entitled, "Coffee: The New Health Food?" Good news for many of us!

Wednesday, October 18

Maybe you saw this in the news:

"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."

You can read the full interview here.


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.

Monday, October 9

I haven't had a chance to post since the horrifying events of the last week in Pennsylvania - the murders of the young Amish girls. What a testimony that community gave as to the counter-cultural nature of a life lived by the values of Christ. And it wasn't their rejection of modern conveniences that spoke so loudly, but their willingness to demonstrate compassion, grace, and forgiveness to the family of the murderer. Most of our cultural cries "an eye for an eye" but they demonstrated mercy and compassion. And the world noticed. They talked about their love and their values.

That is the kind of difference that brings glory to God. It isn't our rantings and ravings. It isn't our efforts to exert political or economic power. It will be lives that are lived by the values of Jesus, while clinging to the Truth of Jesus, that will be noticed. The world will notice compassion. It will notice mercy. It will notice grace. It will notice forgiveness.

I thank God for the faithfulness of that Amish community. They have allowed the world to see a different, deeper side of Christianity - one that is beyond the megachurches and printing presses. They have demonstrated a Christianity that takes God's Word seriously, that applies it to the affairs of man (regardless of how tragic or senseless), and that applies it with love and compassion - not with heavy-handed dogma or self-righteous rants. I firmly believe that this kind of witness will do far more to soften the hearts of those who are cynical about Christianity than our fine arguments.


In light of their model, I read an interesting remark in the latest issue of Christianity Today. Sociologist Brad Wilcox noted that the highest rate of domestic violence in America today is among nominal Christians - those men who wear the name of Christian but rarely darken a church door. They also have a very high divorce rate.

What a contrast between those who just wear the name of Christian without any regard for what that means in their lives and values and those who have learned to incorporate the Word of God into the deepest parts of their lives.


Here is an interesting column by Terry Mattingly on The New Campus Rebels.


Here is Christianity Today's list of the 50 books that have most shaped the ways we think, witness, worship, and live. Many of them I've read, but my "want to read" list just went up!


And, finally, to help with your Christmas shopping, check out the new items offered in the Neiman Marcus catalogue. Included are such things as a 500 horsepower BMW ($139.000), a backyard water park ($100,000), a trip into outer space ($1.76 million), membership in a Tuscan wine estate ($3.8 million). Of course, if those things are out of your price range, you can go for the hand-crafter Italian pet shelter ($7,000, but it does include a leather recliner).


A few true confessions:
I like the "Man Law" beer commercials
I like the Vonage commercials - "One smart decision among a lifetime of stupid ones"
After all of these years, I still enjoy most of SNL