Saturday, February 26, 2005

Thinking About The Afterlife

This past Wednesday I attended a mid-week class at my church and the topic was the afterlife and more specifically hell. During this discussion we digressed into the fall of satan out of heaven. We also discussed how a portion of the angels followed satan instead of the most high GOD. This raised several interesting ideas that I had never considered.

Why would the angels, who were able to see GOD fully revealed, choose to follow satan instead? Was he able to trick them with his deception? If this is the case, how much easier is it for us to be deceived when we only see GOD through a dark window.

If satan and the angels had free will to rebel against GOD in heaven will humans have the same free will when we get there? Most people I know hold to the theory that if we just suck it up on earth and then get to heaven the hard work is done. But what if heaven requires the same day to day commitment to follow GOD that earth requires? One of the main tenants of those who place emphasis on the free will of man is that GOD wants us to choose to follow him and he would get less pleasure if we simply had to follow him. If this is the case, why would it be any different in heaven? Does GOD want any less of us then?

I make no pretense that my thoughts are true and I welcome correction. I simply offer up my ideas for discussion.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Random Thoughts

For the 31st year in a row I missed the boring event called the Daytona 500. I hear some guy named Jeff won so I guess that's a good thing. Really if they wanted to make it more watchable they should have a wife or girlfriend ride along in the car to nag the drivers. Now that would be reality TV.

I am starting to get excited about fantasy baseball. In fact, I am more excited about it than the real baseball league starting. The reason is because each year we have a new draft and everybody gets to start from an equal position. If only the Pirates and Tigers had the same chance.

I recently read an article about the 10 worst tyrants in the world. I only knew a few of them and wondered how big a threat can they be if I didn't even know they existed. But then again who had heard of Al Queda or a guy named Bin Laden before September 11th.

After this weekend's pitiful attempt to resurrect the season, the NHL should stand for Knuckle Head Losers. Millionaires are arguing about a salary cap when they should instead be working together to make their sport more entertaining and fan friendly. The fact that the dog show last week got a larger audience than the Stanley cup finals last year says it all about the state of hockey.

Even though yesterday was Presidents Day, today is George Washington's actual birthday. Growing up, Washington was widely considered the best president but today it is more fashionable to pick someone else. I say history speaks for itself and that it is unlikely the country could have sustained itself without a strong, thoughtful leader like Washington.

Today we had a school milage vote and it got me to thinking. If education tops the list of voters priorities every year why do so many school milages fail? Could it be that they want other people to pay more but not themselves?

I just had my 13 year old nephew spend the weekend with me. The thing I noticed most was how mature his faith is. He doesn't know about theology or exegetical bible study or who the early church fathers were. He just loves Jesus. His example is one I should learn from. I pray he is able to maintain his zeal as he gets older.

Last Sunday I had the privilege to substitute teach for the 5-6 year olds at my church. I was nervous that I wasn't prepared but all they needed was glitter glue and construction paper to keep them occupied. Oh and lots of hand wipes. I wish the rest of the world were so easy.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the miracle on ice when the Americans beat the Russians in the Olympic hockey semi-final. I have faint memories of the event but still believe this was the greatest upset in Olympic history and maybe in all of sports.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Withdrawal symptoms

Well it has only been about 10 days since I gave up TV and I am going through withdrawal. Sure the shaking and blurry vision has gone away but I am anxious, irritable and curse more than normal. Then again I experienced many of these same symptoms while I was watching TV. This was especially true when it came to the Steelers.

I thought that giving up TV would free up more time and make me more productive. Instead I have tried just about everything I can think of to fill my time and procrastinate from the important things that need to be done. I have discovered that it is not TV but laziness that is my main foe instead. Even if I gave up the internet, computer games, talking to friends or even reading, I would take up something as lame as kite flying to avoid doing laundry, paying my bills or praying.

In lieu of TV I have tried filling my time by reading and I recently picked up a book by Henri Nouwen. It is actually a book I had bought a couple years ago but never read. (I have several such books.) In his book he talks about loneliness and how we will do anything to avoid being alone. Even when we are by ourselves we have to have the radio or TV on or a book to read; anything to avoid just sitting alone with our thoughts because of what we will learn about ourselves.

I have found this to be especially true over the past few days. When the TV was on I did not have to think about all my shortcomings or past hurts or unfulfilled expectations. Mind you, I was just playing pretend and I have been dragging these issues with me all along. Now, without TV as a barrier, I have had to come face to face with myself. It has been a struggle because I do not really like what I am learning. My job is not as fulfilling as it once was. People I care about let me down. I make foolish decisions. I have missed many opportunities because I am too cautious. The future is unpredictable. All these things are hard to except but I am experiencing a sense of freedom by facing these facts instead of avoiding them.

This process has been scary and revealing but much needed and long overdue. So while maybe I still have a pile of laundry on the floor, dishes in the sink and I procrastinate as much as before, my time is not being wasted as much as I thought.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Valentines Day sucks

I am sick of Valentines Day.

I am sick of not having someone to celebrate with.

I am sick of well meaning friends giving me advice on dating.

I am sick of being set up with women whom I have nothing in common with.

I am sick of being the third wheel.

I am sick of being out of place in social events.

I am sick of awkward dating situations.

I am sick of hearing about family values; as if not being married makes my values somehow less important.

I am sick of having to explain that the reason I am not married is not because I fear commitment but because I fear divorce.

I am especially sick of people in crappy marriages asking me why I am not married.

I am sick of watching other friends who are still single feel the same sense of outcast that I feel some days.

I am sick of trying to explain what its like to be single and over thirty to people who were married in their twenties.

I am sick of people asking my why I am not married when I am so good with kids; as if because I like kids I should get married to the first person around the corner.

I am sick of ex-girlfriends getting married.

I am sick of married women who flirt with me.

I am sick of being told I have too high expectations.

I am sick of society linking marriage with being mature and grown up.

I am sick of being alone.

I am sick of Valentines Day reminding me of all my sicknesses.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Farewell to TV

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The past few years I have given up various activities during Lent with varying degrees of success. Last year it was fast food but I think I only lasted a couple of weeks. This year I am giving up TV. Tomorrow morning I will put the call into my cable company and cancel my subscription. Yikes!

Lately, I have noticed that TV is sucking a lot of time away from real life activities. Some nights I come home, turn the TV on around 6pm and before you know it it's 11pm and I have completely wasted an entire night watching re-runs of shows I never liked in the first place. Why is it that bad TV seems more appealing than good silence? How many times can I watch the same Law and Order episodes?

I began to consider giving up TV a couple weeks ago but the final push came Sunday morning when the sermon was on time management. God has a way of making his point very clear to me sometimes. I have to admit that I am a little nervous about my staying power as I just spent all night watching as much TV as I could before finally pulling the plug. I've heard the harder it is to give something up the more God will bless our obedience. If that's the case I should be more blessed than Billy Graham. Only time will tell.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Steelers in 06

I, like most of you, watched the Superbowl last night. Being a Steelers fan there was little to root for but begrudgingly I must congratulate the Patriots on another successful season. We'll see just how good a coach Bill Belicheck is next year when he has all new assistants. For the record he is no Chuck Noll.

Perhaps the best thing I saw was Donnovan McNabb struggle most of the night and throw 3 interceptions. I figure if McNabb (the NFC's best QB) and Peyton Manning (the AFC's best QB)both struggled against the Patriots then Big Ben Roethlisberger's failure is somehow more justifiable. Although how he throws an interception on his first pass against the Patriots remains a mystery.

I still look forward to next season. For the Steelernation hope springs eternal and I am already picking them as a touchdown favorite to win the Superbowl next year in Detroit.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Mr. President

For those who are unaware today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. He would have turned 94 if he were still with us.

In college, I along with the other political junkies would go to applebees and request a booth underneath Reagan's picture. We would sit and share our favorite stories or memories of him. Growing up in the 80's Reagan was the first president that I have a clear history with. I remember seeing him speak in 1988 at a youth rally in DC. He was charming, articulate, witty and comfortable with himself. If only more of our leaders could share the same characteristics.

As I reflect upon his greatest achievements I wonder how history will remember him. Will they remember him as a movie actor, a tax cutter, the origin of the Republican revolution, the great communicator or as the man who brought down communism and helped liberate millions in Eastern Europe? To me he will most be remembered for his core commitment to the goodness of America. He believed in the people of our country and that together we could tackle the tough issues of our time.

Today I celebrate his spirit of optimism and his leadership. I also thank God for providing him at just the right time in our nation's history.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Welcome to the 21st century

I finally broke down and decided to start my own blog since many of my friends already have one and I cannot stand being left out. I hope to contribute in my own way to the newest medium that is changing popular culture. My interests are the Christian faith, politics and current events, college and professional sports, and finally the pursuit of fine women. I plan to post my thoughts on all the above. Stay tuned!