Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Draft Predictions

1. Milwaukee - Andrew Bogut
2. Atlanta - Marvin Williams He will be the biggest bust in the draft
3. Utah - Deron Williams
4. New Orleans - Chris Paul
5. Charlotte - Raymond Felton The Best player in the draft
6. Portland - Gerald Green
7. Toronto - Danny Granger
8. New York - Channing Frye
9. Golden State - Andrew Bynum
10. LA Lakers - Sean May
11. Orlando - Rashad McCants
12. LA Clippers - Martell Webster He will be very good someday. Just in time for the Clippers to lose him in Free Agency
13. Charlotte - Charlie Villanueava

Bonus Selection: Detroit - Jarrett Jack

Know your theology?

I found this test on Dave Drury's blog and it was pretty fun. I encourage you to take the test

I scored as Neo-Orthodox:

You are neo-orthodox. You reject the human-centredness and scepticism of liberal theology, but neither do you go to the other extreme and make the Bible the central issue for faith. You believe that Christ is God's most important revelation to humanity, and the Trinity is hugely important in your theology. The Bible is also important because it points us to the revelation of Christ. You are influenced by Karl Barth and P T Forsyth.

Neo orthodox
Roman Catholic
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
Reformed Evangelical
Modern Liberal
Classical Liberal

Monday, June 27, 2005

Last Week

Last week our church held their vacation bible school and I was a volunteer. The week before, I was dreading being with kids all week and wondering how I got talked into helping but I have to say I really enjoyed VBS this year. It was my third year helping out and the kids I had this year were by far the best behaved. One boy doesn't go the church and I am hoping that maybe his experience will spark an interest in learning more about God. It was hard to gauge what everyone learned during the week but I think the relationship building and positive experience probably makes up for any lack of learning. As I look back on VBS when I was a kid I honestly couldn't tell you a thing about the programming but I do remember some of my leaders and friends that were there.

On Friday, I was able to go to NY state and visit my friend Don. He and I have been friends since 1984 and it was nice to be around someone who knows me so well. His humor cracks me up. I went to NY to attend the opening of his first art show. It was a photo documentary of the town where he lives. He's very talented and I am really proud of him creating such a great collection. I also got to spend time with his wife and the rest of his family that came to see the show. His sister in law was really cool and fun to hang out with. The only downside of the weekend was losing my money at the local casino on Saturday but at least it got me out of going to the antique mall with the rest of his family.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Why I love Game 7's

I am pumped up for tonight's game 7. I love game 7's because everything comes down to one game. The rest of the series is just an appetizer and now finally we get to the main course. Game 7 has a different feel than the other games. More intensity, more nervousness, more opportunities to be either a hero or a goat. It is hard to believe that the last game 7 was 11 years ago. That's really the big problem with the NBA and with Baseball. There are two many games and everybody knows they don't mean anything until you get to game 6 or 7. Unfortunately they rarely get to this stage. Tonight's game will remind us how good the NBA can be.

I am a little nervous because all the trends favor the Spurs. It will be hard for the Pistons to overcome losing the first two games and game 5 at home to win back to back games in a place they hadn't won since 1997 until two nights ago. But the Pistons like being a team against the odds. In fact they thrive on it. They weren't supposed to beat the Lakers last year. Or even make it past the Nets when they were down 3-2. Then they beat the Heat this year in game 7 on the road. I think tonight's game will come down to a battle of wills. From watching the series so far, I think Detroit has the stronger desire and the heart of a champion. Tonight they make history by defying the odds.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Nervous about game 6

Tonight could be the last game for the Pistons. It could also mean the end of Larry Brown's tenure as coach and the end of two remarkably successful seasons. The past two years have been really fun to watch. I especially enjoyed last year's victory over the Lakers. But this year's championship run has validated that last season was not a fluke. The Pistons are good, very good and will be that way for at least a couple more years regardless of who the coach is.

As for game 6, I have heard a lot about how Detroit plays best when their backs are against the wall. Well tonight they must prove it. The Pistons must improve on covering the 3 point shooters especially if Horry gets hot again. They also need to figure out a way to keep Parker and Ginobli out of the lane. If they can do that I think it will be another close game and come down to who executes their offense most efficiently in the last few minutes. My prediction is Detroit will win 88-84.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

God as Father

Writing my last post got me to thinking about how the church refers to God as a father. I have to confess that I always cringe when I hear that. Maybe this makes me sacrilegious but to me the term father doesn't bring the kind of positive connotation that its supposed to. I loved my Dad but when I think of him I think of someone who wasn't always there and when we did see each other we usually stayed above the surface and never really connected in any deep level. I never fully trusted him with important issues in my life. So for me to think of God as a father is to think of a distant unreliable person. This could explain why my relationship with God is sometimes inconsistent and surface level. Maybe, I treat God the same way I did my Dad. Never fully letting him in or trusting him.

I wonder what other people, who have less than perfect relationships with their Dad, think when they hear God referred to as father. A lot of friends I grew up with had either judgmental fathers or no father at all. Is that how they view God? Judgmental or absent? It seems like the church could come up with a different analogy for God than referring to him as a father. Or maybe better yet, fathers should be aware of the influence they play on their kids in developing their image of God. Many of them must not realize the impact they have or they simply choose to ignore that responsibility.

I just worry that by using the father terminology, the church is losing out on communicating with a whole generation that carries such baggage in their relationships with their dads.

Thinking about Father's Day

It is hard to believe that my Dad has been gone for over 7 years. I remember the first few father's days after he died and how difficult they were. As time passes it gets a little easier. A week ago my friend Wendy asked me about my Dad and a flood of memories returned. It's still hard to tell the story and the regrets that live on. The regret of not being able to say goodbye before he died and the bigger regret that he and I didn't have the relationship I wanted.

I do miss him. I tear up everytime I hear a Neil Young song or watch a Maryland basketball game. When I hit a good golf shot I flash back to the first good shot I hit when he and I played last. I wish he were still here to talk about politics and our family or to watch the US Open this weekend.

As I get older I realize I am a lot like my Dad which scares me a little bit. He was a talented, caring man and I carry on these traits. But he also battled a lot of demons and made terrible mistakes. He ended up an isolated shell of himself before he died and I pray that I don't follow in those footsteps. Not that I would become an alcoholic like he was but I do battle my own sins and the fear of losing that battle can be paralyzing. I am learning to take things day to day and thankful I have good friends to help me along the way.

I still get a little jealous of my friends who have close relationships with their Dads. But then I remember how fortunate I am to have a close relationship with my stepdad Mike. He's a remarkably good guy. He's easy going, there when I need him, and sort of the stability of the family. The past couple years he and I have been able to spend a lot of time going to various sporting events which has been fun and good for both of us. It's hard to believe he's been a part of my life for 20 years already.

As I look around at my friend's becoming fathers I also get jealous. It would be fun to have kids and I am confident I would be a good father. But for some reason my time has not yet come and somedays I wonder if it will ever come. Meanwhile, I try to be patient and invest in my nephews. There is nothing better than being the cool uncle and knowing the impact I am having on their lives. When they became teenagers I was worried we wouldn't be as close but they still need me, albeit in different areas than when they were little kids.

So this Sunday I will celebrate father's day at my Mom and Stepdad's. My brother and his family will be there and we will go boating and watch a little golf on TV. While I miss my Dad, I am thankful that I get to see the rest of the family and look forward to the day when I get to start my own family.

Monday, June 13, 2005

What's wrong with the Pistons?

I missed the first game of the finals so I was very excited to see game 2. Under Larry Brown, the Pistons have never fallen behind in a series by more than one game so I expected the Pistons to win last night and make the series competitive. Instead, they played the worst game I have seen them play all season. After the first minute they were down 8-0 and it only got worse from there. They looked tired, uninterested and unsure of themselves. It was a completely pitiful performance. What happened to the team from last year that was tough and resilient and never stopped competing? After game 1 I thought maybe our bench was a the problem but the starters didn't show up in game 2. The game got so bad that I changed the channel and watched some made for TV movie about two singles that are put in charge of raising a 10 year old. It's sad that some crappy movie is more interesting than the Pistons. After last year maybe I expect too much. After all they did get back to the finals again. Maybe the Spurs are really this good but I doubt it. If Seattle can give them a competitive series, why can't the Pistons? Hopefully, the Pistons can get some momentum from the home crowd tomorrow night. If not, it's going to be a short series and a long off-season.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who responded to my recent post. Your comments were very well thought out and I appreciate hearing from my own "small group". I also want to welcome Andy to the blog. Thanks for the book title. I was going to buy it the other night but I couldn't remember the title.

One thing I have learned this week is that I do have Christian community with many people already but just not in the traditional church settings. These relationships have generally been built over several years and started over some type of common bond. I think my recent frustrations are due to lack of patience in developing new friendships as well as uncertainty if there is enough of a common link to make them long-lasting.

I did get to meet with my pastor again and I shared with him what I was learning. I give him tremendous credit for allowing me to vent and be honest. His willingness to do that was a great step toward building the type of authentic relationships I am looking for. At this meeting I was able to share an idea that I have been sifting through. What if the church built small groups based on common ministry interests. If people like working with the children, then maybe that is their community. Others in the church might enjoy visiting the sick and elderly and they become a small group. Out of each ministry, groups of relationships could flow out of a common interest and passion. I realize this is not a new concept. But I propose that shifting the focus to creating small ministry teams would build community and establish new ministries within the church at the same time. Just a thought.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Not at Home

I hesitate to write this post but I want to put my thoughts down and get some feedback from you. A couple years ago my church started home groups as a way of making people feel more connected. At first I attended one led my buddy Curt and it was okay. The group was made up of a mishmash of people with the lone common fact that none of us had small kids. After a year or so I decided it was time to leave that group because it was more of a chore than a blessing. I really like several of the people that attended but as a group it wasn't really bringing me the type of community I was looking for. The next several months were spent in avoiding members of the group who would invite me every time I saw them. They wanted to know why I wasn't coming, say it wasn't the same without me, blah, blah, blah. Finally, they gave up on my eventual return and I was able to roam the halls of the church free from their pestering.

Round 2. A year and a half ago a new home group started so I figured it was time to end my exile. Since my friend Sheila was hosting the group, I decided to try again. Despite the new group and my new attitude, I again felt a disconnect. The people in this group were great and I enjoy their company individually. But the meetings were stiff and artificial. Each week I would anxiously look at my watch until I could leave. After about 6 months I left my second home group. Thankfully, this group was less envangelistic in trying to retain me.

Round 3. Last Christmas, I decided to give home groups one last try. This time I went to the one hosted by my Pastor. I went mainly to see the inside of his new house and because I was looking for a free meal that night. Not the best motives but they did get me to attend. This group was different than the others. Again, I liked the people but I was in a distinct minority demographic. Lots of young family types and me. There was also one older woman there and I enjoyed visiting with her. Greg, the leader of this group is good guy but in the end I felt a little out of place and decided that this was strike three.

Now I am in the awkward position of being one of a small minority who does not attend a home group. This is fine because I have enough friends at the church already. But the church really pushes these groups as one of the main parts of the church community and my negative feelings toward these groups makes it hard to get excited about this ministry. I had breakfast with one of the pastors a couple weeks ago and I was sharing my reasons for not going and he asked me if I had any better ideas for building community. That's a very good question. I am usually good at determining the flaws but not so good at offering solutions. I googled church community hoping to find some solutions, but didn't get any good results. Then I got to thinking about how churches in the past built community when their wasn't such an emphasis on small groups. Maybe they already had community. Maybe we could model something after them. I don't know. What I do know is that you can't force community via programs and formats. Relationships have to evolve naturally or they don't really provide the authenticity that people are looking for.

Since many of you who read my blog are Christians and involved in various churches, I am asking for your help. How do we build community in the church? Are small groups the answer? And if so, what happens when you don't like them? I look forward to reading your thoughts and suggestions.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Good Luck Cleveland. Now He's Your Problem

Before I begin my rant, I am very thankful for the Pistons winning the championship last year. I also do not think we could have done it without Larry Brown. But here we are, less than a year later and he is half way out the door on his way to Cleveland while the Pistons are still in the playoffs. The guy has always had one eye on the next job and I don't fault him for that. I do fault him for the bad timing because it was obviously a distraction in games 2 and 3. I also question how committed he is to the team right now. It seems like he is more interested in denying what everyone knows to be true. He should just admit that he's leaving and be done with it.

The one puzzling thing that I haven't figured out yet is why the Pistons allowed Cleveland to contact him in the first place. They could have told them to wait until the season was over. Why wouldn't they want to keep him as their coach? I give Joe Dumars the benefit of the doubt and hope he knows what he's doing.

The big question is who will take Larry's place. I hear rumors its Flip Saunders. He's a nice guy but his teams never did anything of significance. In fact they actually underachieved when you look at the talent they had. I also heard that Phil Jackson could be a candidate. First of all, I find it unlikely that he would choose to live in Detroit over LA. But if he did coach the Pistons I would have to pick a new team to cheer for. Phil Jackson is an egotistical jack***. I hated him when he coached the Bulls and still hated him when he coached the Lakers. Why doesn't he go to Atlanta and try to win with that team? Then I'll give him credit for being a good coach. I would like to see them go after Nate McMillan. He seems like a very good coach capable of developing young talent. Maybe he could even turn Darko into a decent role player.

Back to Larry Brown. Just what is Cleveland thinking? He has limited front office experience. He is historically impatient with players. His relationship with Lebron was lukewarm at best in the Olympics last year. He is not the type of person who will be committed to seeing a longterm plan come to fruition. My guess is he goes for the quick fix in Cleveland. They make the playoffs but lose in the early rounds. Then in two years he leaves again to coach somewhere else and Cleveland will be left with a bunch of bad salaries and busted draft picks.

I shouldn't be so bitter. He did take us to the promised land. Who knows after tonight's game with the Heat we may be headed back there. But this time with an uncertain future.