Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal

It is that time of year when hope springs eternal. I know what swells up in your heart when you read that, and you're exactly right. Football season is here! Or is that just me?

My beloved K-State Wildcats open their season Saturday against the University of North Texas. I don't know what our prospects are this season. We pounded the University of Texas last season but we were awful down the stretch, including a loss to ku. And in my economy, the Cats can win every other game but if they lose to ku the season was a failure. So I am entering this season with my usual odd mix of quiet hope mixed with a fair amount of pessimism which I hope will protect me if the season is a failure. It never works. Pessimism is a poor servant, and I always quickly point that out to my counseling clients.

When it comes to K-State football I have many years of experience (just as my clients do with their areas where they battle with hope). I started faithfully listening to K-State football when I was about 12 years old. I'd be following my Dad and older brother Bob around, watching them work, and listening to the game on my little transistor radio. If you know the history of Kansas State football you know that it was never good, except for a brief period during the late 60s and early 70s when Vince Gibson was there. Things got progressively worse after that. There were occasional bright spots like Steve Grogan and Gary Spani, but my usual Saturday consisted of listening to the Wildcats get soundly defeated by their opponent, and telling myself, "just wait 'til next week." At the end of the season it was always, "just wait until next year." In those days Wildcat basketball was great, so I always had that to console myself. Still, I always hoped for a great football team. There was one good season in the early 80s--we went to our first bowl game ever--but I was in Chicago those days at the Moody Bible Institute. Al Gore was still trying to figure out how to get the Internet to the masses, and the Tribune didn't write anything about K-State, so I missed out on a lot about that season.

After that, things were just bad again. I remember going to a game against Colorado in November of '87, and there were probably 3000 people in the stands. The smart people were out hunting pheasants.

After another dismal season in 1988 K-State went looking for another head coach. If I remember correctly, the University of Iowa had beaten us pretty badly that season, and when K-State hired Bill Snyder, the offensive coordinator at Iowa, it wasn't much to cheer about. It was just another example of how we could only attract assistant coaches who were desparate for a head coaching job, not proven head coaches. Well, we did hire a proven head coach once, Stan Parrish, and turned him into an assistant coach for the rest of his career. Turns out I don't know much about coaches, 'cause Bill Snyder is now a legend in Kansas. His first win came against the University of North Texas (North Texas State in those days) and I went absolutely nuts. Fortunately, I was all alone, so there was no one around to witness this and have me committed.

Saturday night I expect I will be grilling some pork chops for us and Susanne's parents who are coming down for a visit. I'll log onto the Internet site where I listen to the games (thanks, Al). It's the start of a new season, and hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is This What Jesus Was Thinking?

I would love to know what you think of the video venue church. You can read about it by going to Mary DeMuth's blog: http://relevantblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/hologram-pastor.html.

You can see what yours truly thinks of video churches by going to her comments section.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Love & Suffering

Our daughter, Linnea, has been sick all week. She is not quite 3 (she will be 3 on November 1, and she has reminded us over and over for the past month, "my birthday's coming up!"), and it is hard to watch and listen to her suffer. She told me on the phone this morning, "Daddy, I'm not feeling good."

Susanne and I have both been up in the night a lot with her this week and on one of those occasions a family in our church came to mind. I don't know them, but I know their situation: their four year-old son has battled brain tumors for quite a while now. And I thought, "if it's this hard to bear when your daughter can't sleep because of a bad, croupy cough, how does a parent do it when their child is violently ill or dying?"

Another thought: none of us, no matter how much we love someone, loves as much as God does. How painful it must be for him to see his children suffer, especially when the suffering is because they (we, I) refuse relationship with him.

Love and suffering go hand in hand. There's no way to separate the two, for God and for us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Shack and C.S. Lewis

Several of us were discussing The Shack recently, particularly all the controversy over its' theology. Personally, I feel that some of the ones who are warning against reading The Shack are missing the main point, which is that God is committed to friendship with us and continually provides opportunities for that to happen. It may seem unlikely that the Trinity would show up in a cabin to help a struggling man, as happens in The Shack; indeed, I am not expecting that is actually going to happen to me or anyone I know. Yet the premise is not so far-fetched. God already did something "way out there" in the Incarnation. That Jesus would reside in the womb of a young Jewish girl and be born into this world in the same manner as you and I is incredible! And it shows the lengths God will/did go to in order to have a relationship with us.

Theology matters to me, greatly. I think it is easy, though, to grab onto certain theological concerns and miss something important the author is saying. As I mentioned to my friends, we hold C. S. Lewis in high regard for his great volume of work, and we should. Meanwhile, there are probably many evangelicals who assume that Lewis believed all the same things many of us believe, but that isn't true.

I was thinking about this on my way to work this morning, and I recalled an article I read years ago by J. I. Packer about C. S. Lewis, and I thought I would link to that in this post. It turns out that you have to pay to read the whole article, but if you're interested it is well worth it. Here is the link: http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1998/september7/8ta054.html.

Here is another article that points out some of the same things as the Christianity Today article: http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/4749.htm.

Again, my point is, if we got all hung up on certain tenets of C. S. Lewis' theology we might never read his books, and we would be the poorer for it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

a meaningful quote . . .

I read a good book the other day, one of those ones that entices me to drop everything except what I just have to do. It's called So You Don't Want to go to Church Anymore, and you can read it, or more about it, here: http://www.jakecolsen.com/. The coauthor, Wayne Jacobsen, is one of the men behind the publication of The Shack.

This quote in particular stood out to me because it touches on two of the things that have always dogged me: "You had this incredible hunger to know God and follow him. But you also wanted to be circumstantially secure and well-liked. Those just aren't compatible with following him. We are safe because he is with us, not because our circumstances are easy, and trying to get everyone to like you only made you less a person than God made you to be."