In keeping with the politically correct climate of our current government, it seems the sports media has the same affliction as the news media: a sense of entitlement and self-righteousness which requires the person of their focus to comply with their demands.
The circus surrounding Marshawn Lynch (pictured above) has no clue why anyone would not want to speak to them followed by serious anger and outbursts such as, "How dare he not speak to us!"
As accustomed as the news media is to lying about its subjects and issues, it's not a stretch to inform the gullible public that they do the same thing about athletes. They sensationalize, they lie, they make up "information" from their anonymous sources, and they spread hurtful falsehoods and misinformation as often as the regular news media does the same.
If victimized by the press either by intentional errors, malicious reporting, and/or character assassination, it's only logical that a person would guard themselves from opening up to the possibility again.
The media needs to realize that few people really trust them. Although some of them take their jobs seriously, it's hard to take a group of pseudo-journalists seriously who seem to make no effort to verify and investigate the information they dig up. Much of what is read in the mainstream media is hearsay and wishful thinking. Sports writers can be equally guilty of damaging innuendoes and suggestions instead of facts and truth.
When Marshawn Lynch refused to answer media questions precisely because of the aforementioned reasons, some of that huge media presence became incensed and furious, ranting and complaining. It wasn't as if they had no one else to question. There was ample representation from both teams on Media Day and for each required appearance set aside just for the media.
It's long past time for media to realize they are nothing more than people, not more important than the people they seek to cover or the event they're recording. They're no better. The truth is they desperately need to get over themselves because much of what they write or report isn't worth the time it takes to read it or hear it.
Father, your word reminds us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Help us to keep you our focus and act accordingly. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Football fans will tell you the ultimate quest is to make it to the Super Bowl. Pictured above is the Lombardi Trophy won last year by the Seattle Seahawks for the first time in their history since their inception in 1976. For die-hard fans like myself last year was a dream-come-true sort of season. To make it back this year is another such season which was plagued with serious injuries, the removal of a talented but disruptive player, a team meeting where all players clarified their aims and quests, and the determined efforts of the entire roster and coaching staff to make a run for the return to this big game.
True football fans are fanatics. I can't speak for others, but I can tell you this from my perspective. The game itself is simple: the objective is to score points, preferably touchdowns and point afters. You get four chances to make a first down which gives you four more to make another first down, hopefully working your way down the field to score either with a kick (field goal worth 3 points) or a touchdown (worth 6 + either a PAT worth 1 point or a 2 point conversion). The diversity of coaches and players to design ways to score points and keep the opponent from scoring them is as complex as chess maneuvers and far more enter entertaining.
I can't describe to you any of the subtleties of the position players, the intricacies of the routes receivers run, the stances and movements of linemen, but I can tell you watching my team outgain the opposition is one of the best experiences in life.
Why? Because the men on the field, some barely out of college, young and daring, some battle-scarred and wily, have been gifted to play the game just as others have been gifted to lead a church, play an instrument, write a story. Their passion is displayed on the field and many of them recognize from whom all good and perfect gifts come. Some not so much. A snapshot of life around us.
I love the game of football because . . . it gives me a break from the horrors of some of real life. It takes me away from the hard reality that headlines newspapers, the web, or any of the media. If we want to spiritualize it, it can represent the battle of good and evil - selecting whichever team you choose for each category. Granted, hatred for opponents does exist among NFL watchers. For me, football is a release and an escape. I have my favorite players, and, yes, I pray for them on and off the field. As my favorite quarterback Russell Wilson has said, "It's a spiritual experience." If you want to scoff at his remark or mine, it's your prerogative, but it doesn't change anything.
I love the game of football because . . . it gives me a break from the horrors of some of real life. It takes me away from the hard reality that headlines newspapers, the web, or any of the media. If we want to get symbolic, it can capture the battle of good and evil - selecting whichever team you choose to represent either. Granted, hatred for opponents does exist among NFL watchers. For me, football is a release and an escape. I have my favorite players, and, yes, I pray for them on and off the field. As my favorite quarterback Russell Wilson has said, "It's a spiritual experience." If you want to scoff at his remark or mine, it's your prerogative, but it doesn't change anything.
This year the Seahawks play the New England Patriots who are favored to win by one point. The heralded team, coach, and quarterback of the Patriots have a history of winning Super Bowls. Lots of football savvy, the Pats know what it takes to win big games. The Seahawks are the first team to return to the contest in 10 years after winning the previous year. The Patriots did it 10 years ago. No easy task. The Seahawks did it after much adversity. I hope they repeat.
Many of you don't care about football - it's not your sport, your thing, your interest. I get that. But to me it rises above being a sports fan. The Seahawks have captured my heart and soul. I love them. So many of them have foundations for kids, for helping the impoverished in communities, for doing good things with the money they make. I enjoy learning of who they are on the inside of those helmets.
And I always hope they'll win.
Lord, thank you for calling your people to all kinds of things. Thank you for them giving you the credit for who they've become. Thank you for what you allow them to do and helping them to remain true to you in the midst of it all. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I know we've been over this, but it still irritates me with all of the multiple (and excessive) genre labels available, novels that aren't thrillers by any stretch of description turn out labeled as such. I suspect this is done to capture the attention of thriller readers. I get that. But you're taking a huge chance labeling a book a thriller when it's not. This disappoints real thriller readers. I can testify to that personally.
It's okay to call your work a suspense, mystery, cozy mystery, etc. Believe me, serious readers will appreciate accurate genre identifications over manufactured hype to sell a book.
Okay then. Peeve done.
Father, help us all to be accurate and honest in our books and their descriptions - and in all things. Apart from you, we can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
For World War II history buffs, this quaint little suspense novel should serve them well. Author Dan Walsh has taken a little detour from his self-described Nicholas Sparks type of stories to pen an interesting mystery of sorts in When Night Comes.
Jack Turner returns to his roots in Culpepper, Georgia, to reunite with and guest teach for his old history professor while hoping to get serious about the new book he's writing. Already an accomplished World War II author, Jack's agent is anxious for this new book to get done.
After his reunion with Professor Thornton, he settles into the guest apartment where he used to stay in his college days. Rustic and perfect for what he needs, Jack is sure he'll be inspired to get a lot done on his book. However, when Jack experiences a lifelike "dream" in which he was one of the sailors at Pearl Harbor, he finally awakes after seeing, hearing, and feeling the devastation firsthand. Feeling like he'd just been transported through time, he couldn't share it for fear of ridicule or worse.
Prior to Jack's strange occurrence, a college kid turns up dead with a horrific expression on his face but no visible signs of anything but a heart anomaly which caused his death. Detective Joe Boyd is grateful to learn a heart defect was responsible, but there remains a nagging question at the back of his mind.
Professor Thornton is caught in a web of deceit and tries to free himself after cooperating with a sinister doctor, but it's too late for idle threats. Jack is caught in the middle of something he knows nothing about while his bizarre lifelike dreams continue.
With danger and murder afoot in Culpepper, Jack stumbles upon the source of his dreams and realizes he needs concrete proof before anyone will believe his outlandish claims.
With well-written characters and an interesting plot, Dan Walsh has constructed an intriguing contemporary story with nuggets of WWII history tucked into its pages. There were a couple of "too convenient" places in the story used to solve some serious problems, but overall the story stayed true and finsihed well with a twist.
Father, please continue to bless Dan's writing and imagination. Meet his needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually as he continues this writing journey. May he always honor you in the process. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight."
There are so many types of conflict - too numerous to name. Writing conflict varies from the intense and grotesque to the simple and minimal.
If you're in a high-stress job, chances are conflict is the major contributor to that stress. Whether it be from the competition or from within via employees, time crunches for deadlines, or the overall difficulty of particular demands, conflict is rarely pleasant.
If you're living your life within a family, conflict can come from disagreements with spouses, children, siblings, added to external issues which directly affect the functioning of the family.
If you're writing thrillers, the conflict is accelerated and almost constant, braking at just the right moment for the reader to exhale and re-enter "normal" life within the story. If you're writing a simple romance, the conflict is usually structured and often based on misunderstandings, distance, miscommunications, or specific issues interfering with the coupling of hero and heroine. If you're writing suspense, the story is usually less intense than thrillers but protagonists experience major conflicts along the pages. Literary novels usually portray inner struggles among many intersecting characters with a plot line that can be blurred or less defined, and the way the story is told is almost more important than the story itself.
I'm not good at conflict in real life or in my writing. I don't like conflict. In my love stories the conflicts are personal with individuals attempting to understand themselves and the objects of their affections, seeking mutual resolution, clarity, love. For some readers it works. Others not so much.
Conflict is the key element in keeping readers engaged according to many readers and professional writers, agents, and publishers. I would agree concerning thrillers, but with love stories - barring those of "the ages" over distant lands and times - normal people discovering a relationship shouldn't elicit great conflicts unless there are other specific issues featured in the conflict(s) changing the story agenda.
So . . . those are my current thoughts on conflict.
Lord, people are in conflict constantly. Ever since original sin. May your peace permeate those who seek you, Jesus. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Would you agree sometimes it's the small things that make all the difference in a situation? An answer to what seems to you an insignificant prayer - one you know is "small"? Oh how big it becomes when that answer arrives. The gratitude pours forth. That little thing that slips every other little or big thing into place? Perhaps you missed its importance, but when it fits so perfectly, you realize how vitally it was needed. Again, gratitude bows your brow.
The small things in intricate types of practices - be it surgery, art, athletics, agriculture, engineering, and the list is endless - lead to the big possibilities of success.
Never disregard the small things because all the big things consist of those little things.
As the clever saying above relates, do even the smallest thing with huge love. It won't go unseen or unrewarded. You'll bless someone.
Father, the never ending small things you've done for me have humbled me repeatedly. And the big things have astounded me. You are Love. Thank you is never enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.'
"But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'
"Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.'
"But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, you evildoers!'
"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."
American Sniper has been nominated for Best Picture. Bradley Cooper has been nominated for Best Actor. Chances are in this political climate Selma will win Best Picture. Kudos to Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood, the director of this powerful film who was not nominated. This role is way out of the ordinary for Cooper, and I commend him for taking on the depiction of such a larger-than-life man and SEAL hero. Big shoes to fill.
The subtitle to American Sniper is The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice believed in the value of, and assisted in writing, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's story. The most prolific sniper of "bad guys", Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were mysteriously and allegedly murdered by a Marine in Reserve status at a gun range.
This is the honest story of the warrior Chris Kyle, who, if you believe you are marked for specific callings at creation, was destined to be a true soldier with the gumption, courage, determination, and skills to become the SEAL who attained the most recorded kills as a sniper in U.S. military history.
American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle's inevitable military career, how he pursued the option of becoming a SEAL and how in his mind the order of life was God, country, family. His wife Taya's thoughts and emotional responses to this order, her struggles with anger and resentment as their two children were born, are recorded intermittently throughout the book. Her comments help bring to the forefront the difficulties of being a military wife, particularly the wife or family member of an elite soldier who can't tell his loved ones anything about his location or specific duties and seems to value being with the Team more than being at home.
I'm going to give those of you who intend to read this amazing story a few quotations from Chris. These telltale words say more than anything I could say.
"And then we had a third group of Iraqi soldiers that we used in villages outside the city. . . .
"As fighters went, they sucked. The brightest Iraqis, it seemed, were usually the insurgents, fighting against us. . . .
"Let's just say they were incompetent, if not outright dangerous. . . .
"Besides being particularly inept, a lot of jundis were just lazy. You'd tell them to do something and they'd reply, 'Inshallaah.'
"Some people translate that as 'God willing.' What it really means is 'ain't gonna happen.'
"Most of the jundis wanted in the army to get a steady paycheck, but they didn't want to fight, let alone die, for their country.
"I realize that a lot of the problem has to do with the screwed-up culture in Iraq. These people had been under a dictatorship for all their lives. Iraq as a country meant nothing to them, or at least nothing good. Most were happy to be rid of Saddam Hussein, very happy to be free people, but they didn't understand what that really meant - the other things that come with being free.
"The government wasn't going to be running their lives anymore, but it also wasn't going to be giving them food or anything else. It was a shock. And they were so backward in terms of education and technology that for Americans it often felt like being in the Stone Age.
"You can feel sorry for them, but at the same time you don't want these guys trying to run your war for you.
"And giving them the tools to progress is not what my job is all about. My job was killing, not teaching." Chris Kyle (excerpted from pages 251;252;253)
And this about taking Ramadi:
"You know how Ramadi was won?
"We went in and killed all the bad people we could find.
"When we started, the decent (or potentially decent) Iraqis didn't fear the United States; they did fear the terrorists. The U.S. told them, 'We'll make it better for you.'
"The terrorists told them, 'We'll cut your head off.'
"Who would you fear? Who would you listen to?
"When we went into Ramadi, we told the terrorists, 'We'll cut your head off. We will do whatever we have to and eliminate you.'
"Not only did we get the terrorists' attention - we got everyone's attention. We showed we were the force to be reckoned with.
"That's where the so-called Great Awakening came. It wasn't from kissin' up to the Iraqis. It was from kicking butt.
"The tribal leaders saw that we were the bad-asses, and they'd better get their act together, work together, and stop accommodating the insurgents. Force moved that battle. We killed the bad guys and brought the leaders to the peace table.
"That is how the world works." Chris Kyle (excerpt from page 319)
Chris Kyle makes the battles come alive, the pain of losing Team members searing, the resentment of having to leave the SEALs even when he knew it was best for him, and the learning to regroup and love his family as he should, hit hard. He was born to be a warrior, he was a mighty man.
Chris Kyle was a Christian who by his own account was a little rough around the edges. But one thing for sure about this man of war: he had no trouble distinguishing good from evil. None. He killed bad guys in large numbers because they were intent on doing harm to his guys and all things good. He had no guilt or qualms about protecting his own. He recognized evil and acted to put it down. He paid no attention to the awards and medals he earned. Instead he hurt and mourned over the losses of his Brothers. His sorrows came over the ones he couldn't save. That was the heart of Chris Kyle, a true Navy SEAL.
I recommend reading American Sniper for all who respect the military and admire those who dedicate their lives to protecting the United States of America, one nation under God. As Chris Kyle's brother Jeff gave his heartbreaking response, "America has truly lost one of its finest sons." If you want to read cold, hard facts about war from someone who lived it and isn't afraid to speak about it, if you don't mind some hardcore language at times, and if you're a patriot, Chris Kyle's American Sniper is the book for you.
Father, you have defined evil for the world to know. Chris knew what was evil. Only you could plant that in his heart. You forgive us our own evil when we ask to be covered by the Blood of Jesus. We know we're sinners. Without you we would be evil too. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Most of us associate the term "diva" with singers and actors who demand ridiculous perks for their lodgings and outrageous requirements for their performance needs. Usually linked to female performers, the term has stretched to include all those who make superfluous demands.
I will say I've observed the expanded diva-persona in authors and athletes, scholars, and individuals with no claims to fame.
Because it is an attitude of superiority and entitlement, the diva-persona can appear in anyone who perceives themselves more highly than they ought - to borrow a biblical principle.
Real humility is a far more desirable characteristic. A willingness to admit there will always be someone who will accomplish more someday is not a concession to not working toward being the best at what you do. However, the realization that in some fields, i.e. the arts, opinions of "the best" will vary as much as the visible stars in the sky which is why any puffed-up attitude about one's ability in the multiple creative outlets rings hollow and should be relegated to a truer reality of the emotional content contributing to the arts.
There is no plausible reason for the diva-persona, no justifiable cause to elevate oneself to the place where the pronounced actions indicate whatever one wants should be provided by someone else. No amount of entertainment skills, knowledge, or intelligence warrants placing oneself in a position of power over others who are treated like personal servants. Although more common than we might want to admit, diva behavior lies dormant in most of us. And should remain there.
Father, we are desperate for you. You are the provider of all things good and perfect. Help us to remain faithful and devoted to your intentions for us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Many people use the new year to begin something new. Maybe it's a new version of something old, but it's supposed to be a fresh start. In reality it never matters what time of the year or month or day we find ourselves in the position to restart our lives in some way.
Whether it's renewing past commitments or making new ones, starting something over usually is the result of watching personal failures reach an ugly climax. As "they" say, there's only one way to go from there and that's up or forward or anywhere else but the present. Improvements are needed, wanted, and must bring change from the stagnant, unattractive mess we can find ourselves in without intending to have brought ourselves there.
It all may be ill-defined, or madly designed, but starting over or creating another beginning is what's left, and either we decide it's critical to find a way to change, improve, or create a better place to be in our hearts or our heads or both, we know if we don't, ultimate failure will be pending. And it won't be pretty. And we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.
As Christians, we open ourselves up to the fresh cleaning and renovation by the Holy Spirit - not that we didn't think we had kept that open to Him. It's just that the penalties of life have weakened our abilities to heed what He's telling us or reminding us or even instructing us to do to not only make our lives better internally and externally, but, in fact, to make our inner being better, more content, at peace with His sovereignty in order to let go of the anger, disappointment, cries for justice, and everything that impedes our progress as a believer, as an individual created for His glory, as a person living out the number of days given to us on planet earth.
Here's to starting over - whatever that means.
Father, I'm all yours, such as I am. Always desperate for you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'
"'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'"
The writing is supposed to entice you, draw you into the experience which will take place through the pages of that novel you're reading. It's an invitation to share in the goings on, the troubles, the emotions, the resolutions.
So what happens when you're not drawn into the pages of the book? Do you quit? Do you persevere waiting for it to improve? What is it you're hoping to find in those words?
One thing I've decided over the years of reading and writing is that one person's junk is another person's favorite tome. It never ceases to amaze me what different people like.
For me, give me enticing characters and some well-put-together words to lead me on their journeys, and I'm hooked. I like a variety of styles. From Vince Flynn to Brandilyn Collins to Robert Liparulo to Steven James to so many more - they rarely disappoint, but they're all different.
What draws you in?
Father, help us writers to draw in our audience, to do our best, and to bring you our gifts of words and stories. Thank you, Lord, for it all. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The late, fabulous, Vince Flynn explains the origin of his famous one-of-a-kind character Mitch Rapp.
The expected date for the release of The Survivor is October 6th, 2015, as Kyle Mills will continue Mitch's story. Mr. Mills is contracted for three books in this amazing series created by Vince Flynn.
Father, please continue to bless the efforts of Kyle Mills as he attempts to do justice to this important series. You're the only one who can provide the right inspiration. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
It's a popular phrase, reignited by multiple references to living in the moment by those who are trying to stay tuned to this time right now which requires all of the focus and attention to the here and now.
You'll hear it from professional football players this time of year as those who are in the playoffs do their best to concentrate on the present opponent, nothing beyond that.
Living in the moment is not an easy thing to do. It's an acquired taste and requires training oneself to stay in today. We've discussed goals, plans, and a bit of spontaneity, but in professions of many kinds, workers are asked to present long-term goals, visions, lists, and plans - even dreams for the future.
However, much hard work and determination can produce the realization of some dreams, and when they do, it's time to "live in the moment". But not only then. During the pursuit of those dreams, it is also the optimum hope to remain in the moment. If an individual can do that, come what may - and we all know there are plenty of those times - staying in the moment will produce direct solutions.
Spontaneity can be a fun thing. It can also be a serious thing. Sometimes an immediate response to an unexpected plight or an enjoyable occurrence can bring lasting practical and emotional satisfaction. It's about being prepared but also being aware that life is definitely unpredictable and tests and trials await us all.
In the moment is just that. Regardless of that current challenge, the "handle it" attitude prevails.
Much can be said for the positive aspects of good planning, training, and superior organization, but if that's what drives a person or asserts a rigid schedule into their lives, they lose an element of living in the moment and with it the beauty and fun of spontaneity.
Father, you know what's best for each of us. Rigidity stifles me, but your order is freeing. Help me to be the one you designed me to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.