Saturday, March 31, 2007

Repost: The Final Four

I posted this a year ago and thought it would be appropriate to post it again. I'm fortunately doing better with my tourney picks this year and can win a few that I'm in if it ends up being an Ohio State-UCLA final with the Buckeyes winning the final.


In honor of the Final Four being held in Indianapolis this weekend, the Indianapolis Star is featuring some stories on Hoosier basketball great. One of the greatest coaches of the college game, John Wooden of UCLA fame, grew up in Indiana and attended Purdue. Not only is he a legendary coach, but a very humble man that is a strong follower of Christ. The Indy Star did a great interview with Coach Wooden which was posted online today and it can be found here.

On another note (pun intended), all real college basketball fans are familiar with the song, "One Shining Moment." This song marks the end of CBS' telecast of the NCAA tourney each year with a great montage of all 64 teams in the tourney and highlights of some of the greatest plays and moments. It gives me chills every time I hear it. You can find out some background and learn the history of "One Shining Moment" here.

I'm not really sure who will win the championship game tomorrow night, although there is quite a buzz here in Florida about the Gators making it to the championship game. But this should tell you what's the biggest sport here... The other night I was watching the evening news and they were doing a short story on the Florida team making into to the Final Four, but the footage they were showing was of the Florida football team! Guess football is still king in Gainesville.

My tourney picks did okay this year. Ended up in third place in the bracket I was in. The second place finisher was my wife, Lori. Yeah, I'm man enough to admit it. :) But I did beat my sister, Kelly, by a point. Which I don't think I'd enjoy beating her as much if it didn't bother her so much that she failed to beat me again. :) You can read her early thoughts on the tournament here.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

A Changing Orlando

In its current issue, National Geographic features an interesting article on the history of Orlando, Florida and its changing nature. Focusing primarily on the impact that Walt Disney has had on the Central Florida region, the piece also discusses the influence of Campus Crusade for Christ, mega-churches, and the growing Hispanic and international population of the region. Since I now call Orlando home, I found this pretty interesting as it hints on the change that is happening in the American landscape.

You can read the article here.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Holocaust?

I spent this past weekend in Boston along with some other leaders from our ministry as we planned our bi-annual training in Colorado for our U.S. staff. We met and stayed downtown in the historic city and ate some great food and saw some neat historical sites. When walking to dinner on Monday evening, we came across this row of old pubs and quaint little restaurants. Oddly, across the street was this cool-looking glass structure. It was six separate square glass pillars that reached a couple stories high. As we got closer, we asked one of our hosts, Ryan, what it was. Unexpectedly, he shared that it was a holocaust memorial and that the six towers each represented one of the main concentration camps. Etched into each of the glass panels were thousands of numbers, each set representing the number that every person taken to one of the camps was given.

To say that this experience was sobering would be an understatement. I've been to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the names on that represent just under 60,000 soliders killed in that war. This Holocaust memorial represents an approximated 6,000,000 million that were killed by the Nazi regime during World War II. As I read the quotes of survivors and looked at the numbers, I couldn't help but wonder how many good people, followers of Christ even, stood by while their Jewish neighbors were taken away and murdered. As Edmund Burke said,

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"
Unfortunately, there is still much of the evil that inhabited the Nazis in the world today. The Bible calls this sin and says that all of us inherit this nature to be predisposed towards sin. Lest I think that I am better than someone else, I only need to be reminded of my own proclivity to violate God's holiness.

As I finished walking through and reflecting upon the New England Holocaust Memorial, I came upon this quote at the end of the memorial:
"They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Sadly, the killing of the innocent still goes on in the world today. Whether it is in Darfur or in the womb of a mother, innocent life is taken while many of us stand by without giving much thought to it. The morning after visiting this memorial, I read this article in the paper about the current situation in Darfur. Admittedly, I don't know a whole lot about this situation, but I was moved by the devotion and passion of this individual who hopes to make a difference in the world. I hope to learn more and see how I might be involved.

Please read the article and check out these websites to learn more about how you can prevent another Holocaust from happening:

Save Darfur -

National Right to Life -

The ONE Campaign -

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Remembering the Fab Five

I love this time of year with the NCAA basketball tourney happening and all that comes with March Madness. But the tournament is just not as enjoyable as it once was for me. None of "my teams" are in it this year so other than wanting the teams I picked to win to advance, I really don't care that much about the games. In recent years, Kent State has had a strong showing, even advancing to the Elite Eight in 2002, and my Central Michigan Chippewas advanced to the second round a few years ago. But the main major conference school that I'm a fan of, the University of Michigan, has not been in the tourney since 1998. They have been one of the dominant teams of the NIT the past couple years, but that doesn't mean too much when you're a Big Ten team.

Michigan's absence from the tournament lately makes me long for the good 'ole days in the late 80's to early 90's when the Wolverines appeared in the national title game three times over the span of five years (taking the title with the Glen Rice and Rumeal Robinson-led 1989 squad). As a Michigan fan, it was particularly fun to watch the Fab Five (Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson) when they were tearing up college basketball. Never before had we seen five freshmen experience so much success and they were trend-setters with their baggy shorts, black shoes & socks, and trash talking ways.

I was especially interested in the Fab Five since I was in the same year as school as them and grew up in the Detroit area. I was able to follow Webber and Rose throughout high school and even came within two games of playing against Webber in the state tournament my junior year. It's fun as a fan to follow your team when they are doing well nationally and competing at the highest level. Though they were never able to claim the national championship, the Fab Five were a lot of fun to watch.

Check out this video for some highlights:

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Trouble in Hawaii

Hawaii is commonly known for its great weather, Pearl Harbor, its people and culture and the legendary trip that the Brady Bunch took there when they ran into Vincent Price. But this article paints a more troubled picture where the appearance of racial harmony may not be all it's cracked up to be. In a state where white people are not in the majority, racial tension continue to rise as the residents seek to co-exist peacefully.

You can read the insightful USA Today story here.

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