Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Super Bowl Matchups

Here are just a few of the matchups I'm really excited to see:

I know the two players I showed in each picture won't actually be on the field at the same time, but seeing how each of these guys fares compared to their counterparts will be very interesting!

Super Bowl XLV

This is only my second full season of being a Green Bay Packers fan, so I am thrilled that they beat the Chicago Bears to earn a spot in this year's Super Bowl.

I am also excited that they're playing against the Steelers. First of all, I predicted this matchup a few weeks ago. Beyond that, though, it's just a classic matchup. The Steelers and Packers are two of the most well-known, storied franchises in all of sports.

On the field, these two teams are very similar. The Steelers have the No. 1 overall defense in the NFL and the Packers are No. 3. The Packers are the No. 3 overall offense in the NFL and the Steelers are No. 9. Each team has a big, strong quarterback who can run with the ball and stretch defenses with their arms. Each team has dynamic players at the receiver positions. Both teams have dynamic players in the defensive backfield and incredible strength at the linebacker position.

One more reason I love this matchup is because my inlaws are huge Steelers fans. They wanted to have a party to watch the game, but we decided it would be smarter to watch pregame together, then go our separate ways during the game!

I will be very disappointed if the Packers lose this game, but I can't think of a better team to lose to than the Steelers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Poor in Spirit

Since the beginning of the month, I've been following a one-year Bible reading plan. I've done it before and have always fallen off track at some point, but it is still a good tool to help me re-establish a habit of reading my Bible every day.

Some days, I have to admit, it's just a matter of reading and checking it off the list. I don't get a lot out of what I read on those days, but it is still helping me instill a habit into my life.

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending conVERGE 2011 with my IMPACT Team. This weekend away also served as our team retreat and a great chance to get to know each other better. As part of the retreat, we spent time each morning doing TAWG (Time Alone With God).

On the first morning I pulled out my reading plan and went to work. One of the passages I read was Matthew 11:4-5. This was Jesus telling some messengers what they should pass along to John the Baptist, who sent them to ask if he was the Messiah. Part of Jesus' response was, "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor."

I am sure I've read that passage multiple times in my life, but here's the beautiful thing about reading the Bible: this time something new stuck out to me. The last three words, "to the poor" were what gripped me.

Why did Jesus put this clarifying phrase in there? Why didn't He just say, "the good news is preached"? Why was it significant that the poor were hearing the good news?

I stopped reading and began to write down some traits that are often associated with the poor:

They need hope
They need love
They need security
They are willing to listen
They aren't self-reliant
They can find joy in the midst of discomfort
They understand needs vs. wants

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it's a start. It's enough of a list to see a trend: Poor people have real NEEDS.

This was something I found myself unable to identify with. When was the last time I had to go without something I truly NEEDED? I can remember many times when I didn't get everything I wanted but I cannot remember a time when I've not had my NEEDS met. I have been given a richly blessed life.

The next thing I knew I was flipping pages back to Matthew 5 because I knew Jesus said something about the poor in spirit. In fact, the first sentence of the Sermon on the Mount is this, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

I looked back at my journal and the characteristics of poor people I had written down. Then I thought about myself and wondered how I could possibly become poor in spirit. How can I go from a comfortable life where I don't NEED anything, to a desperate life that is clearly in NEED of a savior?

I don't know.

Got any ideas?

Monday, January 10, 2011


Yesterday was the first meeting of a team of senior high students and leaders that will travel to the Dominican Republic at the end of June this year to share the love of Christ with people who live there.

I am incredibly blessed to be part of that team, and so is my wife.

We are excited about the unique mix of people who make up this team. The trip leaders are Kory and Alison Lantz, who are missionaries themselves, Ben and Joslynn Nehls and us. I am really excited to spend time with these guys, learn from them, lead the team with them and serve alongside them.

As excited as I am about the leadership of the team, I am just as excited about the students on the team. We have 12 girls and 8 guys who have committed to 6 months of training and 10 days in the Dominican Republic. Most of them are current high school seniors, which means they are going to get very busy in the next few months with proms, graduation plans, college plans, summer jobs, etc. Yet, they've decided that being on this IMPACT Team is important enough that it's worth the sacrifice.

I don't know all the details of what we are going to do while we are in the DR, but I know one of our main objectives is to encourage the people we meet there. We want to leave the DR a better place than what we found it. Not that we can do anything in our own power or with our own abilities, but with God's provision we will be able to shine a light in a dark place.

Personally, this commitment comes at a time when time is already running thin in my life. A full-time job, working with a small group, coaching two youth basketball teams and endless projects at home make it hard to squeeze in anything else. But, Katie and I feel this is what God wants us to do. We feel like it's an opportunity we can't miss.

So, if you think about it, please pray for this team. It is bursting with potential, but only if we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that we will do just that! Thanks.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NFL Playoffs 2011

Since I did so well predicting how the regular season would go, here's my predictions for the 2011 NFL postseason:

Wild Card Round
New Orleans over Seattle
Green Bay over Philadelphia
Baltimore over Kansas City
Indianapolis over NY Jets

Divisional Round
Green Bay over Atlanta
New Orleans over Chicago
Pittsburgh over Indianapolis
New England over Baltimore

NFC Championship Game
Green Bay over New Orleans

AFC Championship Game
Pittsburgh over New England

Super Bowl
Green Bay over Pittsburgh

I know, I know. At first glance this looks like a real homer pick because I am a huge Packers fan. But, I really believe the matchups could play out this way. My preseason prediction had the Packers against the Colts in the Super Bowl but I don't see any way now that the Colts can get past a good defense like Pittsburgh.

Packers-Steelers would be a great Super Bowl, wouldn't it? Two of the most well-known, widely-loved, historical teams in the NFL. I hope it comes out this way.

My Predictions

Below you'll find my preseason NFL predictions for how each team would finish in its division and how they actually finished the season. My picks are in black. The actual results are in red.

NFC West:

1. San Francisco
2. Seattle
3. Arizona
4. St. Louis

1. Seattle
2. St. Louis
3. San Francisco
4. Arizona

NFC South:
1. New Orleans
2. Atlanta
3. Carolina
4. Tampa Bay

1. Atlanta
2. New Orleans
3. Tampa Bay
4. Carolina

NFC North:
1. Green Bay
2. Minnesota
3. Chicago
4. Detroit

1. Chicago
2. Green Bay
3. Detroit
4. Minnesota

NFC East:
1. Dallas
2. NY Giants
3. Philadelphia
4. Washington

1. Philadelphia
2. NY Giants
3. Dallas
4. Washington*

AFC West:
1. San Diego
2. Kansas City
3. Denver
4. Oakland

1. Kansas City
2. San Diego
3. Oakland
4. Denver

AFC South:
1. Indianapolis
2. Houston
3. Tennessee
4. Jacksonville

1. Indianapolis
2. Jacksonville
3. Houston
4. Tennessee

AFC North:
1. Baltimore
2. Cincinnati
3. Pittsburgh
4. Cleveland

1. Pittsburgh
2. Baltimore
3. Cleveland
4. Cincinnati

AFC East:
1. NY Jets
2. New England
3. Miami
4. Buffalo

1. New England
2. NY Jets
3. Miami*
4. Buffalo*

The asterisks above show teams who finished in the same place I predicted they would finish. Yep, a grand total of 3.