Monday Morning Inspiration

By: Jason Smith

 

Remember when I actually used to write things? Yeah, I’m trying to get back to that.

So, it’s Monday morning. You’re probably back at work, unless you’re a teacher or a full-time student (BOOM). You probably need something to push you through the day. Well, look no further than BBT’s Monday Inspiration.

 

Here’s a video of a kid with Cystic Fibrosis getting his wish to become a professional soccer player fulfilled by the Seattle Sounders in the best way possible:

 

Actual Football is only a few weeks away. You’re already ready for football season, in fact you have been for about two months now, but if for some ridiculous reason you are not ready here is a hype video from Saturday Down South to put you in the mood:

 

In the non-sports world, how about a photo of the Rock as Hercules playing paddy-cake with a three year old?

 

Not good enough? Ok.

Guinness has slowly but surely creating the best beer ads of all time. Here are my two favorites.

First, “The Empty Chair”

 

Next, and my favorite, the “Wheelchair Basketball” one…

 

Last but not least we venture to the world of animal videos. I give you “Super Dog”

 

Ok you should be ready to face your day now.

GATA.

 

xoxo,

Jason

–Jason is a grad student who lives in Nashville. He is slowly but surely emerging out of his Summer-cave and plans to actually do things for the blog now.–

Simplicity, Silence, Solitude, & Surrender

By: Alan Meincke

indexMy small group at church recently finished a short study on the book Intimacy with the Almighty, by Charles Swindoll. Since I’ve lived in the “real world” for almost three full years, the tone of the book struck a chord with me. Now, first of all, remember I live in metro Atlanta, so the pace of life here is fast – fast cars up and down 400, fast food, fast forward through the commercials-type living. Perhaps that’s why this book spoke to me with a particular oomph.

Swindoll’s quick 77-page book attributes our closeness with God into four main disciplines: simplicity, silence, solitude, and surrender. All four are spiritual “disciplines” in the sense that they don’t come about in our lives easily and they must be practiced. It was not until I started reading that I realized nearly all of these have become less and less a part of my week.

Simplicity. The book describes simplicity as the fight against our tendency to make everything really complicated. A complicated life leaves little time for God. Reorder your priorities and you’ll find time to hear the Spirit speak. This is admittedly difficult considering we’re battered daily with social media, ads, billboards, commercials on radio and TV, popup ads on the internet. All these ads try to create innate and unquenchable need for “more”. Always remember more ≠ better.

Silence. Written long before social media, email phone notifications, etc., Swindoll’s lamentations about the increasing noise and distractions from our world rang particularly true for me. How often do we complain about God not answering our prayers, yet we never take time to listen! Dedicate part of your day, whether early or late, and sit in complete silence. Not only does it reduce stress and improve your mood, but silence is also an incredibly underrated way to hear God speak (whether it’s audible or not).

Solitude. In the days and weeks since I read over this section, I’ve thought about how the ridiculous amount of free time I had in college and the time spent on various retreats almost built in a certain amount of solitude. Now, the weekly work ritual, busy weekend routine, and constant lull of the television and its endless on-demand shows and movies make solitude an incredibly rare happenstance (and I don’t even have any children!). Solitude, much like silence, grants its student the gift of introspection. Without a significant portion of time alone, one’s mind is much more easily distracted.

Surrender. Unfortunately, this is no easier than the first three. Surrender boils down to complete trust in God. If you cannot trust that God will provide for you, endless days of worry or complete apathy lie ahead. Much like the rest of these disciplines, surrender cannot merely be declared once and left behind. We must constantly search our hearts for things, plans, or thoughts we have claimed as our own. One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6, which declares:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your

own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your

paths straight.

A good friend of mine introduced me to the idea of taking a “personal retreat” a few times a year. During those times, he would completely unplug somewhere alone for an entire weekend. I went on one myself a few years ago, and it was a great opportunity to practice all four of these disciplines. I created something of a life-map, and I spent a substantial amount of time reading scripture and in prayer. This may not be an option for everyone, but if at all possible I’d challenge you to seize the opportunity. I most definitely need to try to do one (even a short one) again.

If you feel somewhat adrift or disconnected from reality or your spirituality, I challenge you to reengage with these four disciplines. Check out Charles Swindoll’s book for more info.

Do you regularly practice any of these disciplines? Have you found it difficult to consistently engage in any of these? Let’s hear it in the comments.

 

The Greatest Farewells in Sports

By: Andy Crawford

During the MLB All-Star Game last night Derek Jeter was given a standing ovation as he made his 14th and final appearance.

I’m usually a little cynical about these stilted instances of manufactured drama. Live sports telecasts milk every second, trying to get the viewer to believe he is witnessing history. “You will one day tell your grandchildren about the time you saw Derek Jeter play in his last all-star game!” In reality, the all-star game doesn’t mean that much (home field advantage in the World Series) and Derek Jeter still has several more months of baseball to play.

But it will be historic when Jeter finally hangs up his cleats at the end of the season. It’s not every day the Yankees career leader in hits (3,363), games played (2,645), stolen bases (349), and at bats (10,786) retires. Do the math: in a 20 year career the guy averages over one hit per game. That’s amazing.

He will certainly be worthy of all of the attention, acclaim, and retrospective when he plays in his final game. When it happens, we will have to see how it stacks up against some of the all-time best farewells in the sports history. Here’s a quick rundown.

John Elway’s Super Bowls

Elway

Until 1998, the fabled quarterback class of 1983 was a combined 0-8 in Super Bowls. Jim Kelly had lost 4, Dan Marino had lost 1, and Elway had lost 3. All three are in the Hall of Fame today, but are dogged with the reputation of never being able to win the big game.

The exception is Elway. In January 1998 he led the Denver Broncos to a 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers. (This was the game where Elway did his famous “helicopter” run, demonstrating to everyone how much he wanted that championship.) Having finally won the big game, many expected him to retire. Instead he returned for one last run, and demolished the Dirty Bird Atlanta Falcons 34-19 in his last game.

Going out as a back-to-back Super Bowl champion and MVP is about as storybook as it gets. It has almost no equal, except of course….

Michael Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals

Sure, Jordan came back from retirement about 7 or 8 times (we stopped paying attention after number 2 or 3). But Jordan’s serious basketball career ended when he left the Bulls.

It was widely expected the Jordan would retire after the 1998 NBA Finals, which, if victorious, would be the sixth Bulls championship of the decade and their second three-peat. The Bulls were leading the series 3-2, but trailing the Jazz 86-83 with 41 seconds left.

Then Jordan took over.

First, he scored a quick layup to trim the Jazz lead to 1. On the subsequent possession, Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone with about 19 seconds left. Once Jordan had the ball, all that was left was for him to casually drive down the court and hit the jumpshot everyone knew he would make. The Bulls won 87-86.

Jordan was a one man force in that final minute, demonstrating why he is considered the best of all time. He went out as the NBA regular season MVP, the NBA Finals MVP, and with his sixth NBA title.

Jack Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters

Like with Michael Jordan, this wasn’t Nicklaus’ final time competing professionally. However, golf is the kind of game that many play past their prime, occasionally turning in a good score and delighting the crowd as a sentimental favorite (see Tom Watson at the Masters every year).

By 1986, the Golden Bear was 46 and had not won a major in 6 years. He was only four years from playing on the senior tour with other old has-beens. While he had the record for the most major victories in golf, the general opinion was that he was washed up.

Nicklaus

Well, the washed up Nicklaus would go on to put in three solid rounds, and was behind by four strokes going into the final round. On Sunday, he hit -6 on the back nine, including an eagle and an 18 foot birdie putt, to win his record 18th and final Masters.

One golf historian called Nicklaus’ improbable win, “nothing less than the most important accomplishment in golf since Bobby Jones’ Grand Slam in 1930.”

Lou Gehrig’s Speech

Consider this one a bonus. Gehrig was too debilitated to actually play in the last game he dressed out as a Yankee. But he did make his legendary speech.

Gehrig began noticing his body weakening by the end of the 1938 season. However, he still continued to play into the beginning of the 1939 season. By May 2nd, Gehrig was playing his worst baseball of his career and he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup, ending his streak of starting 2,130 games.

By June he was diagnosed with ALS, and abruptly retired. However, he came back on July 4th to give this speech to a sold out Yankee Stadium. He was given a two minute standing ovation.

(That’s the incomparable David McCullough narrating.)

This is only a short clip from the speech that was captured for the news reel. You can read the full text here.

Andy watched more baseball while writing this article than he has all season. He blames that on the Rangers sucking. Maybe their front office shouldn’t have run Nolan Ryan out of the organization.