Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some Strange Quotes..........By A Muslim

"I Believe in the redemptive death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ"

"I think I have an ongoing conversation with God...I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why I am doing it"

"I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis. I know that I don't walk alone and I know that if I can get myself out of the way, that I can carry out in some small way what he intends. It means those sins, that I have on a fairly regular basis, hopefully will be washed away. It also means a sense of obligation to embrace not just words but through deeds the expectation that God has for us"

"What was intellectual and what was emotional joined, and the belief in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, that he died for our sins. That through him, we could achieve eternal life-but also that through good works we could find order and meaning here on Earth and transcend our limits and our flaws and our foibles- I found that powerful"

"I found myself drawn-not just to work with the church, but to be in the church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ"

"Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to HIS will, and dedicated myself to discovering HIS truth and carrying out HIS works."

"Let's make clear what the facts are: I am a Christian, I have been sworn in with a Bible. I Pledge Allegiance and lead the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes in the United States Senate when I'm presiding"

Those are all quotes from our current President, Barack Obama.

As part of President Obama's spiritual advisory panel, Rev. Joel Hunter said "He gets a devotional every day on his Blackberry and so I'm going through the Gospel of Mark with him." Hunter continues and says "months and months ago, he invited me to do daily devotionals and I just decided it would be more consistent to go through a Gospel with him so that I could talk about Jesus."

According to Fox News, a recent poll conducted by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life earlier this month, showed that 18% say that President Obama is a Muslim. The article says that Obama IS a Christian, but when asked in the poll, only 34% of the respondents claimed that he is a Christian while 43% say they "do not know" what religion our President follows.

The President has said that he has NEVER been a Muslim. Like myself and many of you, The President has said that there was certainly a time where he had no belief structure, but he now believes in Jesus Christ. So why is there a question of what faith he follows? Is it because he has a "different" name? Is it because he is African American?

Most of us have had a time where we did not believe. Some of you reading might be in that category now. But for those of us that do believe, how would you feel if that large of a percentage questioned your faith?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Have A New Favorite Baseball Player!

I can't hold it back any longer. I have a new favorite baseball player and his name is..........Johnny Damon.

After last season was over and the free agency period began, it seemed as though the Tigers were going to take a step back and throw in the towel on the season before it even began after trading away Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson and letting Placido Polanco go. It seemed as if they were in a payroll cutting mode.Then, just when I thought this was going to be a lost season, the competitive juices of Mike Illitch started flowing and he gave permission to sign a top notch closer in Jose Valverde along with an aging outfield veteran named Johnny Damon. Damon had been talking the Tigers up even when he was trying to negotiate a deal with the Yankees. At the time, I figured that he was just trying to leverage a position to get a better contract with the Yankees. And, maybe that was what he was trying to do, at least that is what sports writers were saying.

But the more I listened to him talk, the more I got the feeling that he did actually want to come to Detroit to play baseball. He seemed to know a lot about the city and the sports teams that play in Detroit, in particular, the Red Wings. Once again, people were saying that he was just saying the right things to get a contract or saying nice things because he wanted to leverage an offer from Detroit against other teams that he would rather play for.

Damon has always had kind of an odd reputation in baseball. After all, in Boston he nicknamed himself and some of the players as "The Idiots". So I was not sure what to expect with this signing other then they got a guy that could hit for a solid average but did not have a great reputation on defense. And, once again, that he was kind of kooky.

But as the season has progressed, I saw how when a young player like rookie Austin Jackson would make a mistake, he would be the first one to go up to that player to explain what just happened and why. And when he himself made a mistake, you could see him explaining what happened and why so that others wouldn't do the same. All while still professing his love for the city of Detroit, the Tigers and its fans. Still, the writers were saying "he's just a one year rental, he will be with another team next year, he's just doing this for next years contract."

As the yearly trading deadline approached, there were rumors flying around that the Tigers were going to trade him for a young prospect since the Tigers seemed to be out of playoff contention. When asked about the trade rumors, Damon said things like "I understand what the Tigers might have to do, but I still want to be here and if they do trade me, I would like sign with them again next year.....I love this team, my teammates, the city and the fans." Still, the writers were saying: "he's just saying the right things to not rock the boat, he would much rather be playing for a playoff spot."

Just this last week, the Tigers placed Damon on "Trade Waivers" which is something that every team does with almost every player on their roster. This time of year, the only way a player can be traded is to be placed on an option waiver system. If the player is claimed, then the Tigers can negotiate a trade with the team that claimed him. If they cannot negotiate a trade, then they can pull the player back off of the waiver wire. If no team claims the player, then the team can trade him to whatever team they want. When the Tigers signed Damon, they gave him a limited no-trade clause. There were 8 teams that he had to give the names of at the time of signing the contract that he could be traded to. It is unknown which 8 teams those are, but we now know that the Boston Red Sox were not one of those teams. Boston put in a waiver claim on Damon which meant that the Tigers either had to negotiate a trade with Boston or pull him back off of waivers. But Damon had veto power over the trade since Boston was one of the teams he did not want to be traded to.

Damon had 2 days to think about what he wanted to do. Instantly, he again talked about his love for the city of Detroit, the Tigers, the players and the fans and talked about how he did not want to leave. He again talked about how if he did accept the trade, that he wanted to re-sign with Detroit in the off season. Damon talked about how he understood what was going on and how Detroit might be able to get a good prospect to help out in the future.....but he really wasn't sure he wanted to go back to Boston. He talked to teammates and the front office. He was told by the players that they wanted him to stay. He was told by the front office that he should "do whatever his heart tells you to do". Damon chose to stay in Detroit and reject the trade. Again, Damon said "I love Detroit, my wife loves Detroit, I love the players, the front office and I love the fans." Again, the sports writers are saying; "If it were the Yankees that claimed him, he would be gone....or if it were the Rays that claimed him, he would be gone." They are also saying "He is just positioning himself for a contract next year."

Here is a crazy thought..................MAYBE HE LOVES DETROIT!!!!!

Maybe I am naive. Maybe I am just being a homer. But I believe him! I think he loves being a part of the Tigers organization. Maybe this is something new for the city of Detroit. A city that has been practically destroyed by the downfall of the economy. An area that is depressed beyond belief. Maybe it is hard to believe that someone could want to be a part of that. But maybe he sees hope. Maybe his heart is in a place where he wants to provide some relief to people in the form of entertainment on the baseball field. Maybe he appreciates the respect the front office shows him. Maybe he appreciates the owner that signed him to a contract when others would not. Maybe he likes wearing the "old English D". Is that really so hard to believe??

Well, he has made a believer out of me, and I hope he finishes the year out strong. I hope Detroit signs him in the off season. And if they don't, I will be cheering for him regardless of whatever team he is playing for. Maybe I will not cheer for that team, but I certainly will be cheering for Johnny Damon! In an era when people are grasping for loyalty and honesty, maybe we are actually seeing the real deal in Detroit right now and it is just hard to believe our eyes. I believe what I am seeing right now, and because of it, I have a new favorite player. Thank you Johnny Damon for wanting to be a Detroit Tiger.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Women As Church Leaders

Last Friday, August 6th, it was my turn to lead the men's bible study group that I attend. Below you will find the outline for the study. Just for the record, before you start reading, I am VERY much in favor for women leading the church if that is what they are called to do. I am in favor of anyone leading the church as long as they are qualified and teaching God's word as it was intended to be taught.

A few months ago, Michelle Wegner posted on her blog about a lack of women leading in churches. About how “They are just quiet. And Passive. And really quiet.” It has since got me thinking a little bit more about the topic of women leading in the church. I am not talking about women leading in the children’s ministry on the weekend or being a site leader for an inner city kids ministry or something like that. I am talking about actually leading the church. Standing up and preaching on the weekends. Being the voice of a congregation. Each time I look at a list that names the “most influential churches” or “most influential pastors”, I fail to see a single woman on the leader board…..not even Joyce Meyer is on the list and she is booking thousands of people to see her on speaking engagements.

I know that our group is a “men’s” group, but I thought that it would be an interesting topic to discuss since it seems that men dominate the leadership role in the church.

1) Are men and women “equal” in the church as far as roles?

2) I notice that when the topic of a woman leading the church comes up, often I hear scripture thrown out to “rebuke” that female as a proper leader. Below are a couple of those scriptures. How do you feel about these scriptures? Is it ok for a woman to Lead a church? On the 2nd scripture, why do you think that Paul said “they should ask their own husbands at home”? Do you feel that these scriptures are an outdated way of thinking by the church or should we strictly adhere to them?

1 Timothy 2:11-14 11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 34women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

3) Would you attend a church that is being led by a woman? Is it ok for a woman to run for President or be the Governor of a state but not be able to lead a church?

4) Do you think that a church would be ran differently if it were run by a woman? If so, what impact do you think female leadership would have on the church? Negative or positive etc…..

5) Do you think a woman pastor is viewed differently? If so, then how are they viewed? Men leaders are often viewed as “strong” or “insightful” what words are used to describe female leaders?

Thanks for reading! I know this is a hot topic within the church right now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Batting Practice at Comerica Park

As a kid growing up, my childhood dream was to play 2nd base for the Detroit Tigers. That dream never became a reality for me. I played summer league at Thomas Stadium in Niles, played on the J.V. team in High School and was the last one cut off of the Varsity team when I tried out as a Junior. Which was when the reality of my situation hit me. I just was not a good enough player! The glove was there, but the bat was not close to being good enough. Looking at my future, I had a choice to make my Senior year. Put more effort into a baseball future that really was not there or go to work as a co-op student so that I could try to pay for college since my parents were not in a financial situation to help. Nobody in my family had ever graduated from college and few had even attempted to go to college. So, I chose the latter of the two choices and even worked full-time between 2 jobs while going to college full time all while trying to build a solid relationship with the woman who would eventually become my wife. It was hard and I don't regret it one bit! I have been blessed with a great wife and a career in Real Estate that I genuinely enjoy and have met some great people along the way.

But, when the opportunity came up for me to step out onto a major league baseball field, I jumped at it. On Friday, July 30th, I had the awesome experience of taking batting practice at Comerica Park in Detroit. Home of my Detroit Tigers. It was a blast!! From taking warm up swings in the batting cages behind the visitors dugout to shagging fly balls and eventually stepping up to bat against former Detroit Tiger and 1984 World Champion, Dave Rozema, which was who was throwing BP.

There were over 60 people taking BP with me. Out of those 60+ people, only 1 was able to pop one over the fence. No, it was not me! But I was in Left Field when it was hit right over my head as I was heading back to the fence so I got a nice view of it sailing over the fence, over the gap between the stands and the field and then into the seats about 3 rows up.

I practiced leading up to Friday. Taking BP in the cages at Hackers up in Niles and worked my way up to the fast pitch machine. But I was not sure what to expect or how I would feel when stepping up to bat against a former Major League Pitcher in a profession ball park. I took the whole thing seriously. I had my Detroit Tiger batting practice jersey on, baseball pants, cleats, batting gloves and even the knee high blue socks. I made sure that I had an old school look about me with the socks and the way that I had the bottoms of my pants up high to show off those blue socks (not a big fan of the way the players wear the bottoms now a days).

When I stepped up to the plate, Rozema spoke out to me and said "At first glance, you sure have the look of a ball player! You have the uniform and the batting gloves, but I don't see a belt! Real ballplayers finish out their look!" It was funny, and said as a joke, but I did get his point. I laughed and had a hard time during that first pitch. He got in my head! Luckily, I re-grouped, focused and was able to get some good swings in. The best of those swings might have been a double in the gap in left center. The rest would have been line outs, ground outs or singles.

A couple of things became VERY clear from my experience.

Hitting a Home Run is a very hard thing to do! You truly have to hit the ball perfectly and with a lot of bad speed in order to hit that baseball 345 ft down the left field line or worse the 420 feet in left center. I really do not see how there could be such a thing as a cheap home run after having the experience of being out on that field.

The people that play baseball for living work really, really hard at what they do! To be in playing shape and to be able to hit a little white ball that is coming at you 95 mph takes skill and dedication. There is no way these players can just show up and play.

And, if you have an opportunity to take BP at a Major League Ball Park.....TAKE IT! It was worth what I paid and it is an opportunity to do something that you would not be able to do otherwise!

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