I am a man, in the middle of life. What that means to me, you and us is what I hope to frame in my attempts at this.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book review

From time to time, I will review a book I have read and enjoyed or struggled with or learned from or grew from or just plain found entertaining. Most of the literature I read is Christian in nature, but I do read outside of that as well. Which is where my first book comes from.

Through a recommendation from a co-worker, I read the book Until it Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids written by Mark Hyman

From the product description: Near the end of a long season, fourteen-year-old baseball pitcher Ben Hyman approached his father with disappointing, if not surprising, news: his pitching shoulder was tired. With each throw to home plate, he felt a twinge in his still maturing arm. Any doctor would have advised the young boy to take off the rest of the season. Author Mark Hyman sent his son out to pitch the next game. After all, it was play-off time. Stories like these are not uncommon. Over the last seventy-five years, adults have staged a hostile takeover of kids’ sports. In 2003 alone, more than 3.5 million children under age fifteen required medical treatment for sports injuries, nearly half of which were the result of simple overuse. The quest to turn children into tomorrow’s superstar athletes has often led adults to push them beyond physical and emotional limits.

Hyman takes a good, hard look at the American obsession in youth sports and how it has changed the way sports are played and kids are treated physically, mentally and emotionally. I see it everyday at work, I see the battles that these young bodies go through and the wear and tear it brings upon them.

Hyman shows us the root of all these problems started when we took the kids out of their natural environment-stick, ball and open field and forced them into sport-specific training, competition and exhibition. The need to always be better, always be the best athlete and one-up the other kids has become so ingrained it is hard to imagine it any other way. Hyman shows us the true root of these issues: Adults. Not just parents; but parents and coaches and referees and program directors and specialty experts and every adult who tries to redeem their own youth through these children.

Also, he takes an approach to not just show other people's problems, but when he shows his own personal struggle with his son and his injuries it really takes the story to a more individual level. He also concluded the book with some areas in the country where things are being done right, where programs and ideas that bring the sport back to the kid is happening.

When we see the "athletes of tomorrow" in little league, soccer, basketball-they rarely make it to the next level or to the professional level. This book looks at those stories individually and corporately and how many lives it affects, where children stay in sports more out of obligation and less out of desire or the love of the game.

Overall, the ideas and thoughts here need to be put more in the forefront of discussion especially for any parents that have young athletes or adults that work with them or coach them. Overuse is a real problem, and this book gets the topic out there. Every parent should read this book.

What do you think about youth sports?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Movie Time

4tre Film maker Rosie Newman threads a projector before screening her film 'Britain Through The War', in aid of the Victoria League charity, at the Dorchester Hotel, London, 10th June 1948. Newman's film is the only full-length colour film made of Britain in wartime. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

There are a few movies I love, and today is going to be the first of (maybe) more Movie Mondays...so to kick it off, a list of my favorite movies, in no particular order:

-Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
-Finding Nemo
-Fight Club
-Toy Story 1,2,3
-LOTR trilogy
-Back to the Future trilogy
-The Shawshank Redemption
-The Matrix
-The Chronicles of Narnia
-Forgetting Sarah Marshall
-A Christmas Story
-District 9

Each of these movies have a way to say different things to me, and some are like virtual time bookmarks in my life, holding a place that meant something sometime for me.

There is something great about a good movie, and when you find one that speaks to you, in a funny or sad or tragic or amazing way it can leave a lasting impact...when you look at the few I listed, or your own list, What movies speak to you?

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I am Jesus, and so are you.

Before you string me up, or assume me to be a heretical writer here, listen to what I mean. In the NT, we are given to views of how people on Earth can be Jesus to those around them:

"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.' (Matthew 25:41-45 Message)


“Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.” (2 Cor. 5:16-20 Message)

SERGELEN, MONGOLIA-MARCH 14 : Dealing with another snowstorm a herder walks his flock of sheep and goats on March 14, 2010 in Sergelen, Tuv province in Mongolia. Many herder nomadic families moved due to the severe cold and snow. Mongolia is still experiencing one of the worst winters in 30 years, with 68% of provinces affected. The government has declared an emergency requiring foreign aid to alleviate the impact of the ' Zud' (a multiple natural disaster) caused by bitter cold and thick snow. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimate 2.7 million head of livestock have perished already, but believe that figure will double by the end of June. The UNDP is working with other UN agencies to provide a 'cash-for-work' programme in which herders will receive income to bury the carcasses of livestock in an effort to prevent spread of disease and pollution once the snow begins to melt. The UN has recently allocated USD $3.7 million for humanitarian assistance to Mongolia from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).  (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

We are Jesus when we serve and represent what Christ it to people here on earth and Jesus is in those same people that we serve and help (or are supposed to be serving and helping). We get the notions at times that we are Jesus helping those without Him, but He shows us that He is in those downtrodden, overlooked people as well. When we stretch out our hands and feet to help those who hunger, thirst and desire-we are doing the right things, being the representative we are called to be.

When I put these verses together, it brought me to the idea I don’t think about too often-that the same faces looking for a chance to survive belong to Jesus. If I can’t love those right here, right now-what does that say about me? If I can’t make time for someone who needs it, what does that really say about my honesty in making time for God?

Do you serve those around you and love those near you knowing that it is like you are serving Jesus?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Humble Pie

Humility is a trait that is more elusive to me than anything I have ever attempted to pursue. There is a notion that we should, as Christians and as citizens of the world in general be humble. Webster’s defines the word humble as “not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive”. The root of the word derives itself from Latin and Greek origin that best translates back to “of the ground, from earth”.

I had a patient once who would announce her arrival into the area by singing, as loud as she could: “LORD IT’S HARD TO BE HUMBLE WHEN YOU’RE PERFECT LIKE ME IN EVERYWAY…” I laughed and enjoyed hearing it, she brought a great tongue-in-cheek angle to humility when she entered the room. I wonder though how many times in my life I have sang that same song, hummed those same lyrics and didn’t even realize it.

The farther you get into your profession, or spiritual growth, or intelligence or expertise in a certain area, the more praise and admiration is directed your way, and the more it becomes difficult to maintain humility. In the Parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee in Luke 18, Jesus tells the story of a proud Pharisee and a humbled sinner in the tax man. Verse 14 sums it up to His audience:

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)

Too many times I exalt myself, I raise myself up in my own eyes and attempt to in the eyes of others. Humility becomes a challenge, a trait that drifts away slowly. And when we become proud, haughty people, we lose the ability to interact as a community, to truly be supportive of each other instead of critical or judgmental. Ephesians 4:2-3 tells us:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

We cannot hold each other when we are busy holding up ourselves. So in this I pray for you and I to be humble, and to do this so we can bear each other in love.

Where do you struggle with staying humble in your life?

Friday, June 25, 2010

The middle

The more I read, the more I want to write. And sometimes, I read and think it was something I had felt or thought or should be feeling or thinking, and I feel good and/or pitiful with how I am living life. Reading has always inspired and challenged me in so many ways.

Recently, I started reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and got to a section where he discusses the middle of our story we call life. It hit home and hit hard. He says:

“I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to change the world and the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and they discover it was harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward.”

This blog is my way to share the middle with you. What I am doing here, and what I hope to accomplish. I am in the middle in so many ways-financially/economically, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally-the list goes on and on. I want to explore what it means to be here and be a part of the journey that gets me to the other shore, advances me and grows me in my journey. I continue to desire growth but relish rest-this is the constant fight isn’t it? I want to reach the end but not without loving the middle and every second it gives me. Come walk with me…