Monday, August 27, 2007

Dog Days

I may have given some of you the impression that I don't care for the media attention/cultural attention that some celebrities receive. I may have posted in such a way to cause some to believe that the media focuses too much on people who do not have the outstanding qualities we should all be striving to achieve in our own lives. If you got this impression from my blogging, then, you got the point.

Next contestant on the chronically stupid media parade: Michael Vick.

I make no secret that I do not like sports. I don't follow sports nor do I take an active or passive interest in them. I am seldom up to speed on the who's who of athletics. And prior to the current news media blitz regarding the Atlanta Falcon's Michael Vick, I wouldn't know diddly about him.

But because of the media attention he is receiving lately, I have found out something about him. A.) He plays (past tense: played) professional football. B.) He was involved in dog fighting to some degree. C.) He has been given national attention in major, serious news media outlets for a crime that should be mentioned on the 4th or 5th page of a newspaper or in the sports section.

Let me start by saying that I do not believe that dog fighting is a sport. Nor do I believe that the animals are in any way treated humanely. But folks, dog fighting was around a lot longer before Michael Vick was given his first tiny football in his bassinet. This is not a new fad in the circles of the rich and famous. This has been known world wide and historically for hundreds of years. If you throw in together other animal fighting sports such as bear-baiting or bull-baiting (not to mention the Roman coliseum) we can consider this type of thing as having continued throughout human civilization.

But now it is on the front page. Simply because someone "famous" got caught with their fingers in the pudding (so to speak - if you put any body part between two fighting dogs, it will not come back to you in one piece).

But why, oh why, is this getting daily national attention? Not only that, but I heard one news commentator say that Vick is being pursued with the Federal judicial system.

And here is the kicker - he is pleading guilty to the lowest level of the crime: conspiracy. He is saying that, "Yep, me and some other guys were sitting around talking about holding some dog fights. We made the plans. But I didn't actually do anything."

So here is the wrap-up: Michael Vick is getting nationwide media attention for talking with some other individuals about holding some dogfights and the Federal court system is saying, "Okay, we believe you," when this should have never gotten into the Federal system. This is something state courts get to handle.

So we get to watch another celebrity get away with something morally vacant with a minor amount of punishment. But that punishment is outweighed by the amount of publicity (and that folks is the bread and butter of a celebrity) he will receive.

And - just to ice the cake - Michael Vick told everyone in a press conference that he found Jesus through all of this and has turned his life over to God.

Well that just made it all better, didn't it?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The $2,000,000 Dime

Don't Lose This Dime

This article really got me to thinking about a passage of scripture.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (New American Standard Bible)

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;

9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
[NASB at Lockman] [The Lockman Foundation] [NASB at Zondervan] [Zondervan]

What are you carrying around with you right now? I normally carry a wallet (with no cash), a cell phone, and a Swiss Army knife. Not much of value. But think about the value of those things in various situations. I can prove who I am because of identification in my wallet. I can call for rescue or assistance if trouble arises. And I can MacGyver my way out of a number of situations with a Swiss Army knife.

But what of the value of that which is inside of me. I will be preaching on this text in a couple of Sundays. But I wanted those of you reading to ponder that which is great and valuable within you. Because God has put within you something of value greater than all of the money in the world. Worth more than all of the land on earth. Something that cannot be destroyed by human work but is eternal.

We carry the life-giving Christ within us.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Who's watching you?

Seems Ms. Spears has had another slight "ooopsie".

Britney's parking lot fender bender

Seems she bumped a car in a parking lot, in front of the constant presence of paparazzi, and then drove off. Is this another case of superstar thinking she's above the law? I don't think so. It may be something a little more personal than that. And more pervasive in her life (as well as others). But let me share a little account from vacation.

There will be more about this story in the trip report (beginning Monday), but I had a small accident while on vacation. I backed into a car in a parking garage. When I got out to look, I had put quite a sizable dent in the bumper. So I did what I thought I was supposed to do - I found a cop. There was a police officer close by working security and being off-duty, he had to call the security office to do an incident report.

He and I were waking back to the car and chatting. He turned to face me and stuck his hand out. I thought he wanted to introduce himself (which I thought was weird) but he wanted to thank me for taking the time to make a report. Later that evening the owner called me to thank me for taking the time to make the report. Finally I was telling a friend about it (he happens to be a police officer) and he said, "Good for you," when I told him about making the report.

This got me to wondering if there is so little integrity in this area to make a deal about it when it is done. Weren't we all taught in Driver's Ed to at least exchange information in an incident like this? So why is it worthy of comment?

Integrity is a quality to so many people overlook these days. We don't see integrity very often on television or in the news. We don't even seem to expect it from one another. And when we hear about it, even in something that is obviously a simple circumstance, it causes us to take a moment to acknowledge it.

Now back to Ms. Spears. Here is a parallel situation to what I had. The only exception was that, when I bumped a car there was no one around to see it. I could have driven off without anyone the wiser that it was a short, fat, bald preacher from Oklahoma who bumped it. Britney seems completely disconnected from her reality to think that she could drive off without anyone seeing or saying anything.

Has Britney simply lost all sense of right or good? This is more than superstar-itis. This is an apparent lack of morality or conscience. She portrays no integrity in a positive sense.

So the teachable moment is this - who is watching you when you act? We are often surrounded by someone who can see us. Family, coworkers, church or social circles, complete strangers. There is always the possibility that someone will see us.

But then there is the greater witness. Each of us has a personal direct connection to God. But we act as if that connection were in our control. Psalm 139 states that there is no where we can go and be removed from the presence of God. God is ever present in our lives. And that is the one person we should be striving to show our true self to. For God can see the hearts and minds. God can judge whether we are being true to our self.

Integrity. Being true when no one is watching. Even though someone will always see us.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Vacations over

Our family has just returned from a long vacation. We took a 12 day vacation touring parts of the Southeastern U.S. I will provide a little more detail as well as pictures in the coming days.

Right now I just wanted to let readers know that we have returned and life has resumed to normal.