Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Church Can Rock

Church doesn’t have to suck for those people who are inclined toward active faith and religious practice. Such people need to be able to live their faith as part of the church instead of observing a faith through religious tradition and ritual. Such people need to be able to be the church that they observe in the pages of the New Testament Here are some ways to take the suck out of the church. Keep in mind that I am talking to those who are part of the evangelical church culture and specifically Pentecostals. 1. De-emphasize the Sunday morning worship service. There is a reason that most television shows are either 30 minutes or 60 minutes long. Anything longer than that causes the active people to start looking for the door and make other plans for Sunday mornings. 2. Make it all about Salvation. No one is ever done being saved because repentance is an ongoing process. For all of us, there is always something in our spiritual walk we are working on. Whatever form it takes, the church should be full of people actively improving their salvation. 3. Change the world. The people of the church have tremendous power to change the world. In our age, racism, human trafficking, poverty, and brokenness among other issues plague society. The church people should be actively solving those issues. 4. Accept people. If the church is doing things right, the people you most don’t want or expect to show up will show up. They will not necessarily be nice or moral. Along with that, the church needs to stop criticizing the “other” people in the world. The church isn’t about having the right opinion. It is about doing the right things. The New Testament church was a dynamic force that engaged a world full of lost people and suffering from the consequences of its lostness. That church engaged people actively following Jesus Christ. That can be the church of today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chewing on the Coach

Last night I didn’t issue the technical foul, I chewed out the coach. I’ve never done that before. I think age is changing me into more of a dad than a professional, at least when it comes to officiating high school games. The rules for basketball change at least a little every year. Beginning this year, players are not allowed contact with ball handlers at the defensive perimeter. Every referee and every coach was required to attend an online meeting that explained the new rule. So, there should be no surprises when the new rule is enforced. Right? The refs started calling the new rule in the preseason. Some coaches prepared their team for the new reality. One coach scoffed at me, saying, “Go ahead and call it, but I’m telling you that your colleagues won’t do it. I’m still telling my players to chuck and push.” Last night my crew enforced the new rule. Both coaches were angry. “That’s just basketball!” they argued. “Let them play.” My colleagues each warned the home team coach that complaining won’t be tolerated. He is a well-known high school coach who knew better than to complain about enforcement. I made the call against the visiting team for extending an arm bar into a perimeter ball handler. The coach was irate. “You are not letting them play the game!” That’s when father Sean came alive. “Coach, if they are playing the game you prepared them for, then you haven’t prepared them to play. You had the same information that we have. You knew the rules and how they were enforced. Now, you may need to explain why you haven’t prepared them to play.” Both coaches made adjustments to their team play after the half. The game ended on a visiting team three point shot that left them just three points short of forcing overtime. The moral of the lesson is this: The team that adjusts to the reality of their situation will probably win.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Feeling MOOCy

I’ve discovered nerd paradise on the internet. Paradise, that is, for those people who like to learn stuff on the college level but can’t afford to keep paying college tuition. I’ve discovered MOOCs. MOOCS (Massive Open Online Course) are online courses colleges make available to the public without charge and without credit. I’ve searched many MOOC listings for courses to discover that pretty much any course I would want to take can be found for free. Today, I read through an introductory class on Sports Management. There were assignments to do, but I skipped them. I’ve been thinking about going for a masters degree in business. I am afraid of pursuing it because I am many years removed from taking any math classes. For instance, I have never taken a calculus course. I passed high school geometry without distinction. Now, thanks to the world of MOOCs, I can take a course in calculus and find out if I can handle it. Here are some good reasons to take a MOOC: 1) Because learning stuff is fun; 2) Because you can find out how smart you really are; 3) Because you can take a course for practice before taking it for credit. 4) Because you can learn the information and then test out of it later; 5) Because at my age any learning might just prolong the onset of dementia. I have resolved that in the New Year, I am going to take those economics classes I have been too chicken to enroll in. I am also going to take that Calculus class, that is unless I can’t understand any of what is being taught. Then I will take a pre-requisite and work my way up to it. Of course, I am going to do it all in my spare time.

Alex Kicks My Butt So Now I am Blogging (again)

I am sure Alex and I drew unwanted attention as he gave me a verbal kick in the butt while those around us were singing during church. It may have been a mistake to tell Alex, the local newspaper editor, that I would write but I don’t know that I have anything unique to say. In my defense, the Sunday morning service hadn’t started yet. Alex responded with a motivational speech that may have caused me to stop everything and begin writing a blog. However, seeing as we were disrupting everyone sitting on the back three rows of pews in church already, I chose to let his words sink in for the moment and wait until I had some quiet time to begin writing. I fear that my desire to write exceeds my knowledge of any particular subject. The only subject I have any in depth about is my life, and that may not be of much interest to anyone. But, as Alex points out, I am unique (aren’t all people?) and I have my unique way of saying things (don’t we all?) I have an ever growing list of things that I want to write about someday. The partial list goes as follows: 1. Screwing up a mid-life crisis. 2. Why it is ok to hate going to church. 3. How to stay happily married after really fu#$%ing up 4. Angels and demons and other spiritual things I have discovered while being a sports ref. 5. I didn’t want kids but I am glad my wife did. The list is really quite long. Those are the topics I wrote down this morning. I am going to take Alex’s admonition to heart and begin my blogging adventure with some simple “rules”. I am going to write every day for the rest of this year (about 3 weeks). And, each post is going to be less than four hundred words but more than three hundred. So, here we go.