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Archive for June, 2010

Here’s an ad by GOP candidate Rick Barber, running for Congress in Alabama’s 2nd district.

Go get ‘em boys.

[HT: Jonathan Guess via Jackie Peacock]

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People often ask, “Do you think the Lord is going to judge America?” And the answer is, “Do you mean, will He continue to judge America?” Truth is, God has been judging America for quite some time. And one of the forms His judgment has taken is economic. Here are some amazing (and distressing) facts about the U.S. economy (from Blacklisted News) that reveal the judgment of the Lord:

– It is being projected that the U.S. government will have a budget deficit of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars in 2010.

– If you went out and spent one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars.

– In fact, if you spent one million dollars every single day since the birth of Christ, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

– Total U.S. government debt is now up to 90 percent of gross domestic product.

– In February, there were 5.5 unemployed Americans for every job opening.

– Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008. Not only that, more Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S. bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.

– RealtyTrac has announced that foreclosure filings in the U.S. established an all time record for the second consecutive year in 2009.

– U.S. banks repossessed nearly 258,000 homes nationwide in the first quarter of 2010, a 35 percent jump from the first quarter of 2009.

– For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

– U.S. commercial property values are down approximately 40 percent since 2007 and currently 18 percent of all office space in the United States is sitting vacant.

– The National League of Cities says that municipal governments will probably come up between $56 billion and $83 billion short between now and 2012.

– According to EconomicPolicyJournal.com, 32 U.S. states have already run out of funds to make unemployment benefit payments and so the federal government has been supplying these states with funds so that they can make their payments to the unemployed.

– U.S. government-provided benefits (including Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs) rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

– 39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps, which represents a new all-time record. But things look like they are going to get even worse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that enrollment in the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.

– The U.S. health care system was already facing a shortage of approximately 150,000 doctors in the next decade or so, but thanks to the health care “reform” bill passed by Congress, that number could swell by several hundred thousand more.

It ain’t pretty . . . . and this ain’t all (the article is titled “50 Statistics About the U.S. Economy that are Almost Too Crazy to Believe”).

This is (in part) what it means to be under the judgment of God.

Lord, have mercy.

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As you probably know by now, legendary coach, John Wooden, departed this life last evening in California.

What Coach Wooden was able to accomplish was astonishing. He was head basketball coach at UCLA for 27 years. Between the years 1964 to 1975, he led UCLA to an astonishing 10 NCAA Championships and 88 consecutive victories. In 1973, he was the first person to ever be honored by the basketball hall of fame as both a player and coach. When I was in high school, it was almost inconceivable to think of UCLA losing a basketball game — and when they finally did, it made national headlines. One of the jokes that circulated told of a teacher asking Johnny how to spell “basketball.” “That’s easy,” Johnny said, “U-C-L-A!”

Wooden’s success was rooted in his faithfulness in little things, the details of the game, the small things of life. Each year, Coach began the first day of practice with his new recruits by saying this: “Gentleman, today we’re going to figure out how to put our shoes and socks on.” The young hotshots might have smiled, but Coach knew what he was doing. He knew that the most common injury in basketball is blisters. And the easiest way to avoid blisters is simply putting your socks on carefully and lacing up your shoes properly. So Coach would demonstrate how to roll up your socks and put them on properly and how to tighten the laces of your shoes — and made each of the players demonstrate that he could do it before continuing practice. “I wanted it done consciously, not quickly or casually. Otherwise we would not be doing everything possible to prepare in the best way.” This was simply applying one of his favorite sayings: “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Coach gave sound counsel that applied far beyond playing the game of basketball: “Don’t be too concerned with regard to things over which you have no control, because that will eventually have an adverse effect on things over which you have control.”

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

“Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.”

The last quote points to what Coach always considered to be the foundation of his success: his faith in Jesus Christ. The faith that started after he began dating the girl he eventually married and spent 53 of the happiest years of his life with, Nell Riley. “I was baptized with the young woman who was to be my wife later on, the only girl I ever dated, in 1927. We were juniors in high school and she was the only girl I ever went with and we had a relationship and she suggested that we join [the church] at the same time. I don’t want to say that I accepted Christ at that particular time because of the fact that I did this primarily because she wanted me to. But my acceptance came gradually as time went by.”

It was his faith in Jesus that guided, upheld, and comforted him through all his years. After Nell died in 1985, Coach was heartbroken. But he never despaired. When someone asked how he was holding up after Nell’s death, he said, “I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere.”

Coach Wooden will be honored (deservedly so) for all his amazing accomplishments, but he only desired to be remembered as a Christian. He never sought the limelight (though he could have easily kept the spotlight upon himself) and quietly led others by integrity, honesty, and a faithfulness that cannot be fabricated. He loved the Scriptures and read them daily and faithfully attended the First Christian Church every Lord’s Day. When a reporter once asked him what he wanted God to say to him upon his passing, John Wooden simply replied, “Well done.”

And yesterday, at the age of 99, he finally heard those words. No doubt Coach has spent the last few hours rejoicing in the presence of his Savior and in being reunited with his beloved Nell, along with thousands of others that he was privileged to guide and influence during his long and fruitful life — a life well-lived because it was lived for His Lord and for others.

Coach, we’ll miss you. We thank God for you and look forward to meeting you soon.

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You’ve heard about it by now, right? Armando Galarraga, a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, was pitching a perfect game last night in Detroit against the Cleveland Indians. He was only one out away from making baseball history when Jason Donald of the Indians hit a soft ground ball to first baseman, Miquel Cabrera. Cabrera fielded the ball and threw to Galarraga who was covering first. The ball arrived in time. Galaragga caught it and stepped on the bag ahead of Donald for the final out and a perfect game.

Except it wasn’t.

First base umpire, Jim Joyce, called the runner “safe.” The ruling was an infield hit. Not only did Galarraga lose his perfect game (which would have been only the 21st in baseball history and the first in the long history of the Detroit Tigers), but he also lost a no-hitter. An umpire’s mistake had cost him a place in baseball legend. But the really important part of the story happened afterwards. When he caught the ball and stepped on the bag, Galarraga thought, for a split second, he had the perfect game — then he saw the umpire’s “safe” signal. And then . . . . he smiled.

That’s right. You read it correctly. Armando Galarraga, who had just been robbed of a place in baseball history by the mistaken call of an umpire, smiled.

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanki tells us about it:

As soon as Joyce made the call, the camera cut to Galarraga. And he smiled. That’s all. No argument. No theater. No wild waving of arms. No, he just smiled, a smile that seemed to say: “Are you sure? I really hope you are sure.” . . . in that moment when he had a perfect game so unfairly taken away from him, he smiled. In the interview after the game, he simply said that he wasn’t sure about the call but he was proud of his game. When told afterward that Joyce felt terrible about the missed call, Galarraga said that he wanted to go tell Joyce not to worry about it, that people make mistakes. . . .

. . . The way he handled himself after the game, well, that was something better than perfection. Dallas Braden’s perfect game was thrilling. Roy Halladay’s perfect game was art. But Armando’s Galarraga’s perfect game was a lesson in grace.

It was. Afterwards, Jim Joyce got to look at the replay and realized how wrong he had been. And he did something unusual as well. He went to Armando Galarraga and apologized for missing the call and ruining his perfect game. Galarraga told reporters, “he [Joyce] was crying, he really feel bad. He probably feel more bad than me.” And he quietly forgave the man who ruined his opportunity to make history. No anger. No self-pity. No whining. Armando Galarraga responded like a man. And so did Jim Joyce. Both gave us a lesson in grace.

And the lesson is an easy one, though we are prone to forget it. Here it is: When you mess up. Confess it. Don’t blame anybody else. Don’t make excuses. Own up to it. Admit it. And ask forgiveness.

And here’s the second part of the lesson: when someone wrongs you and then confesses it and seeks your forgiveness, forgive him.

Jim Joyce asked forgiveness and Armando Galarraga forgave him.

There are some things more important than having your name in the record books and being celebrated and honored by men. Seeking forgiveness and being willing to forgive are two of those things.

Thanks for the reminder guys.

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