Friday, March 31, 2006

The suspense is terrible ... I hope it lasts.

This is an interesting test, to help you see how familiar (or not) you are with the US penny. Are you able, without cheating, of course, to determine which of these is the correct 1996 penny?

Click HERE to find out if you are correct.

Apparently, "Most people have a hard time making this choice. You need to be able to recognize a penny when you see one. But you don't need to remember many details to distinguish it from a dime or quarter. The fact that most people don't make the correct choice suggests that we're likely to remember only enough about an object to recognize it in everyday life."

Me thinks there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Ambassador of Kwan

SOTERIOLOGY is the theological term for the study of salvation. Although humans have certain roles/responsibilities in the process, salvation is not something people do, but something that God does.

Of course, in describing our being saved, we must ask, "Saved from what?" This answer has three parts, for Christian salvation is portrayed in three aspects, or phases: Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.
I have been saved from the penalty of sin.

I am being saved from the power of sin.

I will be saved from the presence of sin.
Is salvation justification or is it sanctification or glorification? When God saves we get it all, the "Kwan" of salvation, a three-fold salvation. Those He justifies, He sanctifies and glorifies.

In subsequent posts, I plan to detail each of these three aspects (i.e., justification, sanctification, and glorification) to show the greatness of God's salvation. He is the ultimate Ambassador of Kwan.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Some things are true whether you believe in them or not.

What is the proper (i.e., Christian) response to truth? What's the appropriate attitude toward its acquisition? toward its possession? toward its transmission?

We know that ... God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

However, has relativism and the undercurrents of postmodernism (e.g., Derrida's concept of "undecidability") produced an unhealthy notion of humility where God's truth is concerned?

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy:
"What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert - himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it's practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . . The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table."

In John Piper's piece "What is Humility?" we see 5 descriptions of biblical humility and the notion that, "Modern-day humility would never cry, "Fire!" since the smoke might be vapor from the clothes drier."

From Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
"We contend for the objectivity of truth, and we must insist that all persons do actually believe in the objectivity of Truth. The fact is that even the relativists objectivize their own positions. The difference for us is that we know that truth exists in God, who is Truth, and whose Word is truth. Our knowledge is true only in so far as it corresponds with God's revealed truth. We are dependent upon the Word, the Word is not dependent upon us. As Martin Luther stated so clearly, "The objectivity and certainty of the Word remain even if it isn't believed." We have no right to seek refuge in a halfway house of false epistemological humility. To deny the truthfulness of God's Word is not an act of humility, but of unspeakable arrogance."

"This is our proper epistemological humility — not that it is not possible for us to know, but that the truth is not our own."

"This is our proper humility. But we must be on guard against an improper and faithless humility."
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy:
"The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether."
Humility does not mean we question whether truth exists, but we instead question whether we have understood it. Humility does not mean there is no truth, but it means we must labor to ensure we truly know truth, because truth and God can be trusted, but our apprehension must be suspect.

Such humility will also show up in how we possess truth, with an appreciation for God's giving it, and how we transmit truth, with patience for those not yet there.

"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Cor 4:7)

Pilate had asked, "What is truth?" But he failed to realize that Truth was right in front of Him, for Jesus had already explained that He is "the way and the truth and the life."

That conversation serves as a reminder that truth is not determined, but recognized, by the subject. The bumper sticker should not be God said it. I believe it. That settles it. but rather God said it. That settles it.

Truth is still truth, regardless of our response to it. Some things are true whether you believe in them or not.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Isn't that what makes a man?

Today my son, my only son, whom I love, is 3.

Many changes are ahead. Sunday was his last day in the nursery. He will go to "big boy" Sunday school this week and even stay in the main service with us, since this is "Family Worship Sunday" where we partake of the Lord's Supper. The following week, he'll go to Children's Church.

He's excited and I'm excited for him. I taught him this morning that he should no longer say, "Ich bin zwei Jahre alt," but now he's "drei Jahre alt." He's a big boy and he needs to handle up on this potty training slooge.

However, I can assure you that the transitions for him on the horizon will be more significant that these. My boy is becoming a big boy who will become a kid who will become a yute who will become a man.

I wonder(ed), what would I like him to look like? What does it mean to be a man?

One might ask, "is it, being prepared to do the right things? Whatever the price? Isn't that what makes a man?"

Another might say, "He knows how to laugh. he knows when to cry. He knows it's best to live. He's not afraid to die."

Robert Lewis would say a real man "rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects the greater reward."

What would you say? What makes a man?

Obviously, our question could/should be narrowed to what makes a godly man?

To that end, I heartily recommend the following:
  • Wimps and Barbarians an article by Terrence O. Moore that describes two errant ways boys develop.
  • Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family by Steve Farrar (particularly the chapter on Raising Masculine Sons and Feminine Daughters)
  • Raising a Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis
What do I want for my son? Hopefully, I want for him what God wants. (Eric Jr. has a disadvantage in such achievement since his most accessible role model is severely lacking in these categories, but I pray God's grace will overcome.)

I want him to be godly, to:
  • know God through Christ and seek to honor Him. (John 17:3; Jer 9:23-24)
  • hate sin. (Amos 5:15)
  • exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)
  • jealously guard right biblical doctrine. (2 Tim 4:2-5; 1 Tim 4:16)
  • to be just, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)
  • disciple others unto godliness. (2 Tim 2:2)
  • to endure everything for the sake of the elect. (2 Tim 3:10)
  • passionately love God & others. (Matt 22:36-40)
  • impact lives to the glory of God.
  • love Jesus. (John 14:21)

But I do want him to be a godly man. I want him to:
  • respect women (e.g., treating them with their deserved dignity, opening doors, carrying heavy stuff, being gentle and not harsh, see them as image bearers and not objects, helping when they are in automotive need, etc.).
  • beat up boys on the playground that pester his sister(s).
  • beat up boys on the playground that pester other girls.
  • work hard, as unto the Lord. (Col 3:23)
  • play hard, with the guys, to develop masculine bonds.
  • know how to camp, shoot, and fix things.
  • be a one woman man.
  • step up and lead when/where necessary.
  • know when to fight and when not to, knowing what things are worth fighting for and what things aren't.
Isn't that what makes a man?
Isn't that what makes a godly man?

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

I went on an outdoor men's retreat this past weekend, camping in tents, sitting around a big fire, gazing at the stars in a clear sky. A few times I got to really enjoy God's creation and being "away from it all." The words of one of my favorite hymns kept running through my mind as a consequence.

This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: the battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heaven be one.

(Apparently, I'm not alone as such experience(s) prompted the author, Maltbie Babcock, to pen the above words.)

It's easy to be blinded by the world and responsibilities so that we don't really see the truth of God's creation and His presence/activity in our lives. Have you recognized the Father's involvement in your life today?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I want an Oompa Loompa NOW!

Certainly, these 12 things we've all seen, but never actually done. Of course, some of us knew a lot more about parenting before we actually became parents. It has a way of humbling you, but much of parenting is learning what not to do with regard to training up the next generation.

Hopefully, we can add to the list and help each other. In fact, some who have spent some time in a state of delinquency may be able to best contribute.

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Raise Delinquent Children

  1. Begin from infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
  2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. It will also encourage him to pick up “cuter” phrases that will blow off the top of your head later.
  3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait till he is twenty-one and then let him “decide for himself.”
  4. Avoid use of the word “wrong.” It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe that society is against him, and he is being persecuted.
  5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around (books, shoes, and clothing). Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others.
  6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast in garbage.
  7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your child. In this way he will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.
  8. Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?
  9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial of his desires may lead to harmful frustration.
  10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
  11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him.”
  12. Prepare for a life of grief.
(Author Unknown, Lists to Live By, 268-69)

This is a list of 12, but I'm confident we can come up with more. Amen?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

and the wisdom … of a man.

If you plant for days—plant flowers.

If you plant for years—plant trees.

If you plant for eternity—plant people. (Author Unknown)

These words of wisdom express an eternal perspective, reminiscent of those of Warren W. Wiersbe:

“There’s only three things you can do with your life. You can waste it, you can spend it, or you can invest it.”

  1. You can waste it on things that that don't matter.
  2. You can spend it on things of value.
  3. You can invest it in the lives of people, who will live forever (eternal punishment or eternal life).
Human beings will last for eternity and we should strive to invest in the lives of others, storing up our treasure in heaven.

What are you doing today to invest your life in the lives of others?

Friday, March 17, 2006

I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like … victory.

Ah ... the greatness of TiVo. Acting on Oilcan's suggestion, I recorded the second half of Aggie Basketball against Syracuse and wound up watching it after midnight.

I was not disappointed as the Ags beat the Orange (ESPN's lengthier recap) in their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1987, their first "W" since 1980 (i.e., before these players were even born).

I love the small of napalm in the morning. It smells like ... victory.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

These go to eleven.

One of the by-products of the Modernity, and its love affair with the scientific method & the illusion of objectivity therein, is the quantification of just about everything.

I get evaluated by my seminary students and I get assigned a number in each category (e.g., knowledge of material, preparation for class, effectiveness of the course, etc.). So, at the end of the semester my 3.92 (on a 4-point scale) in “Teacher demonstrated broad knowledge and understanding of the subject matter” feels pretty good. But, what I really find helpful and/or encouraging are the written comments about myself, the course, and/or its content.

It’s a weird thing, giving grades. I guess I’m not that into it. After I evaluate a student’s preaching I tried to highlight what he did well, but also what needs improvement and how it could be done. I don’t mean to brag, but I think that’s where I really earn my money. Students being critiqued and learning from others being critiqued is where some great learning takes place. But … what’s the main question on the student’s mind? “What grade did I get?” We can all tell who did well and who really needs work, but trying to subjectively determine an objective reflection is one of the more difficult things I do.

I recall one semester at Texas A&M being oh so close to a ‘B’ in a class, but still got the ‘C’ which affected me greatly, scholastic probation and loss of scholarship. The difference between 79 & 80, which means something to us about performance, meant even more at that time.

In sports judges assign a number to an athlete (e.g., gymnast, skater) based on how difficult somebody decided a particular feat is and based on how the judge perceives the athlete did. But the fact that not all the judges agree, though trained to see things the same way, is an indicator of the flawed nature of the system.

My point is that we’re taking things which are subjective (Did he/she like it or not?) and trying to objectify them.

Interestingly enough, the quantification of everything permeates Christianity as well.

This is even seen in the realm of spirituality whereby folks like to keep score in order to rank themselves to determine the most spiritual. In Christian circles this can materialize in the amount of Scriptures you have memorized or the number of years you’ve been a Christian or the length of one’s quiet time. Clearly, the one who prays 20 minutes is more spiritual and/or godly than the one who prays 10. Right? Not necessarily; he/she just prayed longer.

This is also seen in church comparisons where bigger is perceived as better. How does one measure success? Faithfulness to the task. After all, it is God who gives the increase. He gets any and all glory for any growth. The Lord Jesus said He would build His church (Matt 16:18), and He will/is. We just need to not louse things up.

I used to wonder why seminary chapels brought in the “big guns” to speak, but never the pastor who has faithfully labored in obscurity in a rural location that is declining in population. Surely what he would have to say would be more readily applicable to a group of which the vast majority will not graduate unto the mega church.

I’m now wise enough to know the reason(s). First, the big name draws a crowd. Reputation (i.e., ethos or credibility) comes from name recognition, which tends to come from scoreboard.

Second, seminary students want to be like the big boys when they grow up. Most don’t see themselves “paying their dues” somewhere while they gain valuable experience or invest in the lives of people over decades to see sustained growth, numerically AND in depth of impact.

So, I said all that to say this … while there is some objectivity and quantification has its place, we need to be able to cope with the uneasiness of noting being able to quantify some things. Spirituality is one of those things. While there is a certain amount of time (i.e., time as a Christian) and knowledge (e.g., about God, His Word, one’s self, and one’s world) and faithfulness (e.g., church involvement) necessary for spiritual maturity, the truth is that we cannot judge intentions, hearts, or motives.

Some things can be faked. The heathen can memorize Scripture, read, pray, and attend. True conversion and true change is heart change. Or as Jonathan Edwards so aptly described it, true change is change in the affections (cf. Edwards’ Religious Affections). One goes from loving the darkness to loving the Light of the world (cf. John 3:19).

The true saint will love God (albeit imperfectly) and that will show up in obedience (John 14:21). He/She will have a love for God and His Word and His people, which will materialize in time invested in prayer, Bible study, meditation & memorization, and involvement in a church.

I encourage those who call on the name of Christ to be diligent in the spiritual disciplines. Spend ample time in prayer and with your Bible. Get heavily involved in your church, not just as a Sunday morning ticket-puncher, but involved serving God and His people in community. But remember that spirituality is not worn on your sleeve. It involves those things, which are quantifiable, but also involves the experiential love of a man or woman for the Lord Jesus. It involves demonstrating the 9-fold fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23). It involves those things which are beyond measurement via human instrumentation.

Consequently, be diligent, but don’t try to use your diligence as scoreboard to boast or brag or even to compare, for comparison is carnality.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Who's the more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?

I came across this Persian proverb and thought it a good thing to consider with regard to leadership and following quality people, in all categories of life (ecclesiastical, political, familial, etc.).

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool;
shun him

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child;
teach him

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep;
wake him

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise;
follow him.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

These are not the droids you’re looking for.

Tonight we had a guest speaker come, my old seminary buddy Pastor James Womack. He is the senior pastor of Destiny Church, a new SBC church plant in Fort Worth that has been planted in a multi-ethnic fashion from the start. As such he was explaining their efforts to that end, with a view toward helping us toward our goals in that direction.

He was on his way while I was coaching him through town on his mobile phone. As he was turning into the neighboring parking lot, he said he was being pulled over by one of Murphy's finest. Seeing him through the window, I decided to go and meet him.

I introduced myself to the officer, handing him, my card and told him James was our guest speaker for the evening. The situation was perhaps a tad ironic, if not somewhat stereotypical.

I’m certainly not saying, and don't mean to imply, that there was any racial profiling or anything like that, but the situation was a little on the tense side of things. We had a black man going to a predominantly white church to talk about "race relations" and I would rather he not leave with a souvenir from a white police officer in our suburb.

Naturally, James couldn’t find his insurance card. He remembered afterward that the copy he normally keeps in his wallet he loaned to a buddy to whom he loaned his other car the day before.

It wasn't my intention to get him out of ticket and I didn't even use the Jedi mind trick. I didn't say, "This is not the man you're looking for. He may go about his business."

Nonetheless, the officer was gracious and said, "As a courtesy, I’m gonna let you go with a warning, but you were going a little fast."

James and I laughed about it all later, but the whole experience reminded me once again how "racial issues" still pervade human interaction and it got me thinking about divergent perspectives regarding similar experiences. Look for a post in the near future along those lines.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We mock what we don't understand.

The primaries were this week. Did you vote? Should you vote? How should you vote, especially if you are a Christian? These questions could/should be asked about voting in general.

In particular, I want to ask and, hopefully, answer how a Christian should vote?

Realizing our 2 party system, should you vote Democrat or Republican? What if both claim to value human life? One may seem more concerned with protecting unborn life while the other may seem more concerned with helping the living who need assistance.

First, I'm very cautious of any talk along the lines of "All Christians should support the __________ party." I wish it was that simple. Many in my circles flirt with such rhetoric because the Republican party (in general) is pro-life (i.e., with regard to abortion).

Second, I think the two-party system has presented the Christian with a false dichotomy. That is, do you value life (i.e., anti-abortion) OR do you value helping people in need (i.e., enhancing their quality of life and perhaps even preserving life)?

Republican minded Christians will ask how Christians voting Democrat can do so since that party’s stance on abortion is favorable toward it. Democrat minded Christians will ask how Christians voting Republican can do so since that party is perceived as the party for/of the rich, the one not perceived as compassionate toward those in need. Both will deride and mock their brethren. We mock what we don’t understand.

As Christians we tend to focus on the former to the neglect of the latter, especially churches predominately of the majority culture, which tends to be more affluent. However, we should be doing both, fighting for the unborn AND caring for those of our society in need.

The reason that being pro-life trumps everything else for me is that I can still do both that way, help the unborn and the living. For example, even if the government did absolutely nothing to help people, I still can. In fact, I think the government's involvement, and the church's willingness to let it take the lead, has led to the marginalization of the church's influence in/on the communities.

Many churches that are influential in their communities typically are so because they make up the difference (or at least attempt to do so) where the government leaves off.

What if the government didn't do anything to help people? Would the churches step up in this regard? Would Christians start really giving so that people could be helped ala pure and undefiled religion (cf. James 1:27)? I'm all for helping people who cannot help themselves (even making up the difference), but less inclined for those who can but don’t (2 Thess 3:10).

If Christians (and consequently churches) were salt & light in their communities and made contributions of time & money, then they would have an impact and Christ would be honored and depended upon, rather than glorifying government through dependence therein.

I said all that to say this ... while this is a involved issue, I go pro-life as my trump card (even or against party where/when necessary (e.g., Giuliani (R) vs. Lieberman (D), although Lieberman seemed to go pro-choice in 2000 when put on the ticket)). I figure the government can't prevent me from helping others, but there's not much I can do to help the unborn.

I believe I do understand my Democrat minded Christian friends, but would encourage them to evaluate how they prioritize their values. I strive to be a “compassionate Conservative,” not because I want votes, but because I want to see Christ honored in how I vote and try to care for humanity, the born and the unborn.

In another venue a brother asked:

are we concerned with life (6th commandment) when we only address a certain stage of life?

I'm certainly not suggesting a Christian ought to be a one-issue voter.
Rather, Christians (people in general, really) ought to rank their values so that when one value is in competition with another the decision may be more easily be made.

The easy answer to our brother's question is "No," because a person concerned with life is concerned with all (human, in this discussion) life, its preservation and quality therein.

But, for a person who does value all of the above, difficult decisions still arise. For example, does one vote for the candidate who is pro-choice yet is for helping unwed mothers?

My rationale is that whether or not the government gives a dime or a minute of time to help the unwed mother, that hinders me not from doing so. But, there is no alternative method of helping the unborn. If they are dead, no help (potential or otherwise) can be given.

Now, is it hypocrisy to be for life with regard to abortion, but apathetic with regard to helping others in our society that we can? Certainly, but that should transcend merely voting patterns to take shape in real efforts to advance the name of Christ as we are His agents of grace.

But, though quality of life is huge, snuffing out the life of one made in the image of God is hard to top. We mock what we don't understand, but I hope we can at least understand each other in the interest of genuine discussion about such matters.


Monday, March 06, 2006

There's no crying in baseball.

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So, I pinched a nerve in my back moving a big screen tv. Not fun. So, with limited range of motion, I figured I'd take it easy in the first annual Softball Game for Baptist Supremacy in Murphy on March 4th (i.e., our exhibition game against Murphy Road Baptist Church).

My wife, however, tends to be the more realistic one and in no uncertain terms informed me that I was showing the wrong side of the fine line between courage and stupidity by playing at all.

Well, I tried to save back strength by not warming up and I could hardly swing the bat. I knew I was going to be hurting the next day.

Well, by God's grace I didn't have to dwell on my back that night. Instead, I had other issues. Earlier, rather than later, in the game a ball took a bad hop to me at second base that hit my hand. I fielded the ball nonetheless and made the throw, but then the pain set in. I tried to "shake it out" and then realized I was squirting blood everywhere, apparently all over my face as well.

Although I keep my fingernails rather short, the ball hit my ring finger just right so that it bent it back to where there was a significant gap between the nail and its former place of residence. I couldn't get the thing to stop bleeding until I put some liquid bandage stuff on it the following night.

My hand really started to swell, so I took off my Aggie Ring, moving it from right hand to left. (As I finish this post over a week later, I still cannot replace my ring.)

I said all that to say this ...

People respond differently to such events. Some teammates wondered why I was holding up the game; others showed me the ball smeared with my blood. The opposition shared their first aid kit. My boy was there and, when he saw the carnage, just put his thumb in his mouth and stared at the blood dripping on the cement. When I got home Rachel asked me if I cried. Of course, I informed her that there is no crying in baseball, or its cousin, softball. My wife, of course, gave a gracious, but knowing "I told you so" look and a "When will he learn, Lord?" headshake as she went back to her business. Me, I'll likely lose the nail and that will be a reminder of the lesson I'm supposed to learn, but as a slow learner I'm not sure yet what the lesson is.

There was no crying that day (though we almost did after we earned the "L" and not the "W"), but my paw certainly did hurt. I mean, it really hurt. I had to sleep with a padded glove because the slightest bump would whip me beyond all measure. Allegedly, there are a lot of nerve endings in that region. Apparently the paper towel that I wrapped it in Sunday morning was a distraction while gesturing during my sermon.

Such a small ailment can really humble you when you can't grip anything or lift much. I don't think it's infected, but that may just be my wishful thinking since I never actually had a doctor investigate. Yet, I had a whole congregation of nurses on Sunday who gave me lots of theraputic advice, which I've heeded (except the recurrent, "Uh, have a doctor check that thing out."). Through it all, I better appreciate my human frailty and the strength of God and the genuine benefits of the Christian community (i.e., the church).

Saturday, March 04, 2006

this is a league game, this determines who enters the next round robin. Am I wrong? Am I wrong?

2006 St. Louis Cardinals tickets went on sale today, at 9AM. By 9:30AM, the games I was interested in were sold out. With ticket sales and the onset of Spring Training, I started thinking about the team's chances for a World Series Championship.

Which brings to mind when they got robbed in 1985 of the championship. Don Denkinger's blown call in Game 6 cost the Cardinals the trophy.

Don Denkinger was an American League umpire for 31 seasons, but he is best remembered for being at the center of the most controversial play of the 1985 World Series. The NL Cardinals led the AL Kansas City Royals in the Series 3-2 and were ahead in the 9th inning of Game 6, 1-0. Denkinger called the Royals' Jorge Orta safe at first on a grounder to the Cardinals' Jack Clark, but TV replays (and the picture below) showed that the throw to pitcher Todd Worrell had the ball in glove long before hitter got to the bag! KC went on to rally for two runs, averting elimination, and the next day won the Series.

This was a World Series game, an elimination game. This cost the Cardinals the title in '85.

I was still tender in '87, when they also lost 4-3. I was tender when they lost the NLCS in 2000. I was tender in 2001 when they lost the NLDS. I was tender in 2002 when they lost the NLCS. I was tender in 2004 when they lost the World Series. I was tender in 2005 when they lost the NLCS. So, they've been so close lately, but never as close as when they were robbed in '85, in a World Series. I'm still tender.

Am I wrong? Am I wrong?

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Friday, March 03, 2006

You got the wrong guy. I'm the Dude, man.

I am often asked, "What's with the nickname?
Why Gunny?"

Well, this is as good a time as any to divulge the secret as to why and why it has stuck all these years.

Having been raised in a military family, I wanted to go into the military myself. In fact, I wanted to go to West Point. However, I learned that I could not go to West Point due to an eye injury suffered as an 8-year old. So, it seemed the next best thing was to join the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University. A&M had originally been a military academy (the Corps remains the largest uniformed body of students in the nation outside the U.S. service academies) and my intent was to go through their seven-day ROTC program into the military.

In order to psyche myself up for this experience, I spent the summer after high school heavily immersed in the movie Full Metal Jacket. Given a knack for memorization and a handheld recorder, at summer's end I had the opening monologue of the senior drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, memorized.

For example:

I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your Senior Drill Instructor. From now on, you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be "Sir!" Do you maggots understand that?!

While in the Corps at A&M, especially during morning formation, the upperclassmen would say, "Do the Gunny, fish Hartman; do the Gunny." So, I would go into my rant. I had some of my buddies trained to play the parts of other characters (i.e., Privates Snowball, Joker, Cowboy, and Pyle).

However, during this time I became a Christian and one day it dawned on me that it probably wasn't the best witness to be shouting vulgarities in formation, even if in jest. But, the nickname stuck for me and holds a special place in my heart. As odd as its origin might be, I liken it to a conversion name, like Saul to Paul. People that know me as Gunny know an entirely different human than the one I was before.

At A&M, I still had a desire to go into the military, particularly the Marines, but wound up medically disqualified from any branch due to abovementioned injury. My service would just have to be in the Lord's army. But, I could still strive to live the Marine motto, Semper Fi, short for Semper Fidelis, "Always Faithful."


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