Thursday, November 29, 2012

40 hours from now...

One goal...the championship of the nation's best conference.

"Go teach the Bulldogs to behave..."

Let's get #23. Roll Tide!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two and a Half

Did any of you catch this story today?

Star of Two and a Half Men trashes show

This raises alot of very interesting questions for me as I live out my life in one kingdom while being a citizen of another.

It seems young Mr. Jones has come to the realization that the show he's working on promotes values he no longer believes in. So, while continuing to work and draw a huge paycheck, he is asking us not to watch. So is he a hypocrite? (Well, of course he is since "hypocrite" means play-actor. But you know what I mean.) If he actually wanted to leave the show, could he break his contract? And if he did, would the breaking of his word be a greater sin than working for a show he believes is wrong?

Should we admire him for speaking up, or be disappointed in him for continuing to work there?

These are tough questions. I don't have all the answers; if I did, I wouldn't suffer the same tension as I live in a world where self-promotion is everything while trying to serve a King who tells me to die to myself. But there are some basic principles that I think apply.

  • In any profession or worldly endeavor we will be part of systems that go against what we believe in our core.
  • We cannot, must not, give in to those and be just like the citizens of this world.
  • But we also must not withdraw from the world. We can't be the salt of the earth and the light of the world if we refuse to be part of the world.
  • While we are part of this world's culture and power structures, we must never fear to stand up for truth. If we keep silent because we fear consequences, that will be a sign that we have bought in to the current age instead of God's coming age.

I don't know Mr. Jones' heart. But it seems to me he's trying to live out the tension as best he can. I may not agree with him. But I can pray for him.

And as I work through these issues in my own world, I can use your prayers as well. Thanks.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In 140 words or less: Red Dawn 2012

Red Dawn is a remake of the 1984 classic:

Remembering how much I liked the original, I watched them back to back tonight.

There is no comparison. The writing, pacing, and dialogue were on a whole different level. Leaving the  cinema tonight, I was moved and inspired by the story in a powerful way.

In the movie, there are forces of evil threatening and attacking our freedom as Americans, and this small group of kids fought back, causing havoc among the enemy forces. They do so at great personal sacrifice and make a difference.

As I watched, I thought about the forces of evil we all face - they are real. Am I willing to fight back? At what cost?

It entertained, made me think, and I left with a new perspective. If I were you, I'd check it out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Repost: "By faith..."

As I search for a way to express my thankfulness for all the people God has placed in my life, I can't say it any better than this post from two years ago. If you have come into my life since then, just know that I was talking about you too...before I even met you. So here is the link to that post. This one is for all of you:

By faith...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

One of those nights

Last night was amazing.

Yes, the dominoes fell to get my Crimson Tide back in the BCS race. Yes, there was amazing football to watch. Yes, I was on the edge of my seat, and even pacing, as the incredible game between Stanford and Oregon played out.

But mostly it was amazing because it was one of those "shared experiences" (a perfect term used by my friend Brian). I didn't just watch the greatest sport on earth and feel the drama as several games played out all at once. I did so with a group of friends and family totally about 20. It was a night with those people that I will never forget. It was like /I was frozen in time, and that frozen moment will always exist.

As much as I might try to capture every day like that, there are some that stand above others. This was one:

November 17, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where your treasure is...

It was unprovoked. It was surprising. It was a phenomenon of the social media era.

I was (sorta) minding my own business, watching Monday Night Football with some friends. As I am wont to do, I checked my twitter feed during one of the commercial time outs. I saw something fairly innocent - a little discussion (if you can call comments in bits of less than 140 characters a discussion) between a sportswriter and a fan. The topic? The assertion that Alabama fans did not even think about the SEC Championship until after the loss to Texas A&M last Saturday.

Well, I knew this to be untrue  - at least for me. While I focus on the prize from the top down (national first, then SEC, etc.), I always have and always will consider winning the conference to be a big deal. So I tweeted, simply...."I did."

What a firestorm. The fan in the exchange I saw attacked me immediately. He checked my twitter feed (incorrectly referring to it as a timeline - it's not facebook, dude!) and noted that I had a large number of tweets with the hashtag #roadto15.

Guilty as charged. As I said, I want my friends to know that Alabama football has high goals. But if you were around when I talk football with friends and family, you would know I'm alot more complicated than that. But he judged me - totally - based a series of tweets.

Problems with that? Well, let's see. In such short bites, it will be shallow. It is easy to manipulate your image. No, dude, you cannot tell what's important to me from twitter.

Or can you?

This got me thinking about alot more than football. People will judge what's important to me by the topics I choose to discuss on twitter, facebook, and this blog. It paints a picture.

But more than that, there are indicators that predate social media. Indicators that reveal what's inside. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21) He also pointed out that good trees produce good fruit and vice versa.

In Batman Begins, Rachel Dawes made a profound statement to her childhood friend and crush Bruce Wayne. She said, "Deep down you may still be that same great kid you used to be. But it's not who you are underneath; it's what you do that defines you." Well, I don't think the two can be divorced from each other. She is right, it is what you do. But it's what you do because what you do reveals what you really are.

So I have to ask myself: How do I spend my money? How do I spend my time? What do I talk about a lot? What do I pray about? Those are things I do, and they define me. Because they reveal what's underneath.

So yeah. Maybe the #roadto15 hashtag did reveal a bias in my priorities as a fan (although I still maintain it's a caricature). That's all the dude could see, so it's all he had to go by. And so it goes...
with social media and with life.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saturday in perspective

I think this tweet says it all:

This weekend was a great reminder that nothing (including Alabama football) can truly fulfill you besides a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 You think you're into football? You think it's important to you? No way it can be more so than it is to Barrett Jones, who invests blood, sweat, and tears into being the best offensive lineman he can be. And yet, this is his perspective.

So yeah, Saturday hurt. That's the point and fun of competition: the "thrill of victory" that comes from the fact that there is always the possibility of the "agony of defeat".

But it can't fulfill. Thanks, Barrett, for the reminder.

To God be all the glory.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reflections in the afterglow

I'm still trying to process what I saw Saturday night. It was the most amazing ending under the most intense pressure you'll find in a football game. Everything was on the line for both teams and it was another classic Bama-LSU game. This has become possibly the top rivalry in the SEC. And when TJ Yeldon crossed that goal line....

....well, wow!

The emotion of that night is summed up in this video posted on youtube:
(If you follow this blog, you may recognize someone at the 1:51 mark.)

It was a night I'll never forget. It makes me reflect on other great Bama games of the past. Here is a Top 11 list of games I've been to in the 44 years since my parents first took me to a game. If I thought through it on a different night, the list might be different. By tonight, this seems like a pretty good one. They are selected based on how memorable the game was from an "on-the-field" perspective. At some point, I plan to compile a list based on how meaningful a game might have been from a family/friends or off-the-field point of view. That list will definitely be different.

Note: The list is chronological. It's too hard to rank them! In the case of bowl games, dates are based on the season rather than the actual date of the game.

  1. Alabama 14, Penn State 7, 1978. This was in the Sugar Bowl and was the first of five national championships I've seen the Tide win in person. Known mainly for "The Goal Line Stand" where Barry Krauss famously called across the the Penn State QB, "You'd better pass." They didn't.
  2. Alabama 20, Georgia 16, 1985. The first final-drive comeback from Bama that I ever saw. After falling behind on a blocked punt with only a minute left, QB Mike Shula drove the Tide to the winning score. Like the game this week, they got into field goal range where they could have tied it, but didn't settle for that.
  3. Alabama 25, Auburn 23, 1985. The Kick. Probably the most exciting fourth quarter ever, with four lead changes and a long drive leading to a 57-yard field goal by Van Tiffin. The key to the drive was converting a 3rd-and-18 (with 4th-and-4) after a sack. 
  4. Alabama 28, Florida 21, 1992. The very first SEC Championship Game, played in Birmingham. Florida seemed on the verge of blowing it open all night, but never could. Then, Antonio Langham broke a tie with a never-to-be-forgotten pick-6. Bama was SEC champions and headed to play for the national championship in the Sugar Bowl.
  5. Alabama 34, Miami 13, 1992. And this was the result. The heavy underdogs manhandled  the Hurricanes including a famous play where George Teague stripped the ball from Lamar Thomas and returned it. The Canes have never been the same.
  6. Alabama 22, LSU 16, 1998. Saturday's game was reminiscent of this one, although there was not nearly as much on the line then. It was memorable because it was an incredible comeback in Tiger Stadium and is the only time I remember where the Tide recovered an onside kick as part of a comeback. They recovered from a 16-7 deficit with less than five minutes remaining.
  7. Alabama 40, Florida 39 (OT), 1999. A double digit underdog to the third-ranked Gators, the Tide rode the back of Shaun Alexander to the most exciting overtime win in their history. I never will forget that 25-yard run.
  8. Alabama 12, Tennessee 10, 2009. "Rocky Flop." This was almost the negative image of the 1998 LSU game. A vastly less talented Tennessee team hung around and hung around.  Then they scored and got the ball back from an onside kick and could have won with a  field goal. But Terrence Cody blocked his second FG of the day, and Bama had faced their biggest challenge on the way to...
  9. Alabama 37, Texas 21, 2009. "Remember the Rose Bowl, we'll win then." There was nothing like winning the national championship in the Rose Bowl venue, because that was where our national tradition had been born in the 1920's.
  10. Alabama 21, LSU 0, 2011. Just a dominating performance against an intense rival. Getting to play them with everything at stake was huge, and then to shut them down like that - awesome! And...
  11. Alabama 21, LSU 17, 2012. Maybe it's too soon to put it on the list. Maybe the glow is so strong that I have no historical perspective. But this was the most thrilling finish with most on the line...ever. That combination is so rare. If Alabama goes on to a championship, this is the moment where they became that team.
So there it is. Alot of years, summed up in 11 incredible games. There are so many more. You just can't beat college football. Right?


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The night before "Christmas"

Well, I just arrived in Baton Rouge a little while ago, and I am now settled into my hotel room. And it does feel a little like Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve, when as a kid you are so excited about what the next day will bring. For Alabama and LSU football fans, this day has become like that. Every meeting seems to be proclaimed a "game of the century." Once again, it's a battle of Top 5 teams with national championship implications. This has truly become the most anticipated game on the Tide's schedule every year. For good reason.

So...random thoughts as I sit here trying to decide if there's any point in trying to sleep.

  • Objectively, all the data about team performance this year suggests that my side ought to be alright. The QB play has been worse than mediocre, which is what I expected as expressed at the beginning of the season in this blog post.
  • However, Bama is playing a team that can match up with them physically for the first time all year and that can't be ignored. If LSU comes out with their best game, it will be a war. I hope that when the Tide is in a war - for the first time this year - they'll be mentally tough enough to close it out. I think they will, but - as they say - "that's why they play the game."
  • I don't know which game or games, but I believe there will be major upsets tomorrow, and there will be a reset of the BCS discussion. Oklahoma State is so explosive offensively that I suspect it'll be Kansas State falling.
  • And, despite the ineptness of Lane Kiffin as a coach, don't count out USC against Oregon. The same thing applies to them as LSU. Incredible talent that has been underperforming.
  • Ole Miss has been much better than expected and Georgia is coming off a huge, emotional win. The Bulldogs had better be ready...this one smells dangerous.
Regardless, it's all going to be fun. I can't believe we are already in week 10. It goes by waaaaaaay too fast.

Roll Tide. Beat everyone.