Total Pageviews

Thursday, May 27, 2010

You can't have it both ways...

Last year I picked up a book by Bill Wiese entitled 23 Minutes in Hell. I read it, shared it with  friends and then it started collecting dust. I happened upon it this morning and spent a few minutes browsing through the beginning again...

This question arose: How many Christians believe in Heaven but don't believe in Hell?

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a mainstream Christian church that actively discusses Hell these days. The Bible says, "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death." [Revelation 20:14]

As near as I can tell, Hades is not Hell - it is a place where our spirits go to await judgment. For those who are saved, it is a place of rest...Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." [Luke 23:43]. And for those who have not accepted Christ as their savior, well, I think Mr. Weise's book sums it up very succinctly.

It's not going to be pretty.

We all seem to love the books and stories that talk about Heaven and listen intently when people share their near-death experiences and how peaceful, etc. they were. And that's all well and good, but if we are to take God's word at face value - as the Truth - then we can't have Heaven without Hell.

If you'd like to know more, pick up a copy of Mr. Weise's book. Alternately, there are several videos of him floating around on YouTube.

If you're convinced that there is a Hell and that you don't want any part of it, well, read Romans 10:9 - That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Everyone has free will - you can pick where you spend eternity. To paraphrase the French Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "Choose wisely."

What do you think?


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And then there were 23...

U.S. Men's head soccer coach Bob Bradley has named his final 23-man squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as announced on the US Soccer web site. Here is our team:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (2010), Marcus Hahnemann (2006, 2010), Tim Howard (2006, 2010)

DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (2006, 2010), Jonathan Bornstein (2010), Steve Cherundolo (2002, 2006, 2010), Jay DeMerit (2010), Clarence Goodson (2010), Oguchi Onyewu (2006, 2010), Jonathan Spector (2010)

MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (2002, 2006, 2010), Michael Bradley (2010), Ricardo Clark (2010), Clint Dempsey (2006, 2010), Landon Donovan (2002, 2006, 2010), Maurice Edu (2010), Benny Feilhaber (2010), Stuart Holden (2010), José Torres (2010)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (2010), Edson Buddle (2010), Robbie Findley (2010), Herculez Gomez (2010) 

All in all, I'm not too surprised at the choices Bradley made. There are quite a few debutantes to the World Cup stage and, amazingly, only four of the final twenty-three ply their trade in the MLS domestic league. This speaks to the depth of international experience this team boasts and should give fans of the beautiful game here in the U.S. some hope that we will post a good showing this go-round.

I think it's a bit much to ask for that the US team will penetrate deep into the draw, but a strong second place showing in the group stage is almost expected. Unfortunately, that will most likely earn us a meeting with a slightly injury-depleted but still dangerous Germany, the projected winner of Group D.

As always, our international hopes will be hanging on the pace and presence of Landon Donovan. The difference this year is that he has some help. His scorching hot scoring partner from the LA Galaxy - Edson Buddle - made Bradley's cut, and a rededicated DeMarcus Beasley from Scotland's Rangers should offer plenty of speed on the left wing - a prospect we've been waiting years for.

Physically, we look strong in the middle of the park with Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, but there are still questions all over the defensive end.

I'd like to see the proposed starting eleven in action for the final friendly before the team departs. I believe that game will show us a lot of what we have to look forward to. ESPN will be broadcasting the game against Turkey on May 29th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Tune in and support those Yanks!


Monday, May 24, 2010

No trumpet playing band...

Ever have one of those days that fairly screams, 'Beautiful!'? Today started just like that. It's already getting hot in Florida - I'm talking in the nineties during the day with, maybe, a low of seventy-two. But this morning, the humidity was down and it felt cooler. I left for work and drove through the tree-lined, residential streets of Bagdad. The window was down, the air was cool. The oak trees were a vibrant green and the early-morning sky was impossibly blue. After thanking God for such a great day, I turned on the radio and heard this song...

The Doobie Brothers - Listen to the Music

Maybe it's because the Doobies were my first concert, maybe it's just because this song and this morning went together so well - who knows - it just fit. Traffic was light, the wind was cool and the sun rose at my back while I drove to work over Escambia Bay...perfect.

I'm no stranger to horns and synthesizers - I love jazz and new wave from the eighties - but this morning, the pure guitar sound of the early Doobies was just what the doctor ordered.

I liked the Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald - he has such a great voice...

The Doobie Brothers - What a Fool Believes

But there is something about the early Doobies - straight forward guitar and vocal harmonies with a solid backbeat - that harkens to a simpler, more innocent time.

What drives the soundtrack of your life?


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In a big country...

I just finished listening to this solid example of Eighties Scot's Rock, or whatever that particular genre was called. We just called it New Wave.

The chorus of the song goes like this:

And in a big country, dreams stay with you,
Like a lover's voice, fires the mountainside..
Stay alive..

(I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered

But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered)

I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime..

In my youth I never paid much attention to lyrics - I was an American Bandstand kind of kid - if it had a good beat, and you could dance to it, that was enough for me. Heck, a lot of the songs I listed to, you couldn't tell what they were singing anyway.

But for some reason, I thought about this song today and then it came on the Internet Radio at work. I'm not shilling for them so I won't tell you which one. But they do have a nice New Wave station or two.

In a big country, dreams stay with you...

America is the big country. Not the biggest country, but the big one - the one everyone seems to want to get to; even today. When I was what is referred to as an expatriated American, we had a saying, 'The States are a great place to be from.' That was merely a chic statement at the time but true nevertheless. Even in Beirut, all the folks I ran into were not unhappy that I was American. They thought it was cool.

 They didn't have MTV in the old days...

But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered...

How often, especially during the King Bush the Second years, did you hear some flaming liberal from Hollywood spout off about moving to France? About as often as one of those tightwad conservatives replied, "Need any help packing?"

If America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, now has a busy exit door, is there another Big Country? Environmental disasters; natural disasters; military disasters; political disasters; social disasters. Sounds like the sixties...almost.

But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime...

I don't think the majority of American people want much - despite the calls for Obama's head when he bailed out Wall Street and Detroit and left us holding the bag. It's telling that many of the rabble-rousers had voted for him just months previous. No. It would've been nice to give the billions to the people - how about $50K per family? Wouldn't that have stimulated the economy? Oh, I forgot...if the banks aren't loaning money, that's bad. So if we didn't need the loan...

We just want to live and breath and see the sun in the wintertime. Icelandic ash notwithstanding.

We live in a big country where dreams can still stay with you. Dreams that don't come from Washington.

What say you?


Monday, May 17, 2010

And that's how you do it, kids...

There are a lot of stories - good and bad, inspirational and insipid - leading up to this summer's Football World Cup. For the uninformed, this year's tournament marks the 19th edition of what has become a global footballing phenomenon - and the first World Cup held on the African continent.

Injuries have dominated the news as the major European club seasons are wrapping up. Charlie Davies (F), Oguchi Onyewu (D), and Clint Dempsey (M) of the US team all went down with injuries during their respective seasons. Of the three, only Dempsey and Onyewu have recovered sufficiently to be invited to the pre-World Cup training camp by US Men's Team coach Bob Bradley. Sadly, Davies, who was nearly killed in a violent automobile accident last year, has not returned to full fitness, although he is well along in his recovery.

David Beckham, who fills a dual role playing midfield for U.S. club Los Angeles Galaxy and Italian giants AC Milan, went down with a freak tear of his Achilles tendon. The injury will likely prevent Becks from participating in his record fourth World Cup.

Germany, certainly one of the teams to watch in this year's footy-fest, were stunned this weekend as captain Michael Ballack went down with torn ankle ligaments, thanks to a late challenge by Kevin-Prince Boateng, in Chelsea's FA Cup victory over relegated Portsmouth. Fans of conspiracy theories will no doubt be exploring the coincidental timing of Boeteng's tackle - especially since he plays for Ghana, who are in the same World Cup group as the German squad.

Even non-players are getting in on the action as English Football Association Chairman Lord Triesman has stepped down from his FA post as well as the chair for England's 2018 World Cup hosting bid. Apparently, Lord Triesman was secretly taped speculating on whether the Spaniards and Russians were in cahoots to bribe some referees...or something like that. And of course, that bastion of British journalistic integrity - the Sunday Mail - appears to have thrown in some questions concerning Lord Triesman's relationship to his outer - and former personal aid - Melissa Jacobs.

Scandal, injury and intrigue aside, the best story I've seen so far is the next chapter in the Oguchi Onyewu injury tale. After rupturing his pateller tendon in a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, "Gooch" hasn't been able to play for his club, AC Milan.

 For the love of the game

In an incredible gesture - Onyewu has signed a one-year, unpaid extension with the Italian Serie-A third-place finishers. You heard me right - unpaid. Can you imagine A-Rod, Peyton Manning, or LeBron James opting out of their salaries after sitting for a year due to injury? Isn't that what insurance and contract guarantees are for? In these days of prima donna sports personalities, Onyewu's loyalty and commitment to his club and contract are exemplary. In fact, here are AC Milan's exact words, ""This is an exemplary gesture that deserves our sincere congratulations."

I don't know about you but I'll be cheering a little louder for Gooch as the U.S. men take the field on June 12th.

U.S. Men defeated Spain 2-0 in 2009 Confederation's Cup

How about you?


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

That's Outrageous!

In the past couple of weeks, I've heard enough outrage and umbrage over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to, well, fill the Gulf of Mexico. Don't get me wrong, I am appalled at the impact this spill is going to have on the Gulf ecosystem.

At the same time, I'm trying to be a little pragmatic - with anything mechanical, there is always a risk of failure. Frankly, I think the oil industry has done very well in cleaning up its act. How many wells are in the gulf? How many hurricanes have they weathered? I can't remember another major disaster like this. Folks refer to the Exxon Valdez - but that was a ship - and that was wholly a result of human error. We don't know what caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion yet, but I think we're talking apples and oranges here.

The biggest thing that jumped out at me as I watched President Obama this weekend - and it was reinforced by subsequent news reports - is that we're not addressing the larger issue.

No doubt we need to clean up this spill and hold the oil companies - not just BP - responsible. But what about seizing the day? What about taking this opportunity to draw a line in the oil sheen-coated sand and say, "Enough is enough." Wind, solar, battery, fuel cell, even nuclear (or nucular, if you like George). We have plenty of energy alternatives that can be developed. We've already got several companies producing road-ready, fully-electric cars.

I would so drive this car

Granted, models like the Tesla S (pictured above) are still expensive, but how much would it take to bring this technology to the masses? It's reported that BP is spending $6-7 million A DAY on the oil spill in the Gulf - and that's going to go on for some time.

Can you imagine what we could accomplish in terms of alternative energy technology if we spent $6-7 million a day in a concerted effort?

I don't mean to minimize the tragedy of the Gulf spill and the ongoing risk to a huge natural habitat along the Gulf coast - but I think we're missing a larger opportunity. Let's take those broken eggs and make an omelet, people.

What do you think?


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rich man, poor man...

I was glancing through the comments at the end of this article on the challenges facing U.S. Men's soccer coach Bob Bradley, when I came across a comment that highlights a monumental truth regarding soccer in the USA.

A soccer oracle with the odd name of SignGuyDino hit the nail on the head when he opined, "In the world, soccer is the poor kid's game.  In America, it's the rich kid's game."

I thought about that for a minute and realized the truth of it. Our oldest son just finished his freshman year in college. He didn't play club ball growing up and only played three years on his High School team. yet even with that lack of experience, he was able to get a partial scholarship to play at a small NAIA school in central Florida - Webber International University. But let me tell you, that is one expensive college. Is our son getting some great coaching and a great education? Absolutely - but it ain't cheap.

Our younger son, still a junior in High School, has been playing for the local club team, FC Santa Rosa, to boost his skill level. We are struggling to keep that dream alive. At $70 per month for club dues, it's not too pricey as club soccer goes, but the start up costs, uniform fees, tournament costs, etc. all add up. And in this economy, with a spouse who fell victim to layoffs, yeah, it's expensive.

I think what SignGuyDino was trying to say is that if you go to just about any other country in the world, soccer is played at the street level. Kids grow up playing the game anywhere they can. The professional leagues have academies to draw in the better prospects. National teams sponsor camps and other opportunities for kids of all age brackets - not just to showcase their talents,  but also to offer real and valuable advice on what they need to do to improve.

Soccer is the world's game and it's looked upon across the globe like we look upon football, basketball, and baseball in this country - as a way to escape the poverty of the streets through excellence in athletic endeavor. I'm tired of hearing couch pundits rip American soccer - and I'm guilty as charged, although I still play the game - but many of their rants have substance, if not style. That dino guy also said that, ' the U.S. soccer is played with a soccer mom mentality,' and he's right. We need to get serious about building a national organization to develop soccer in America. We need private companies and public organizations to help finance the growth of the sport in this country. We won't need the gravy train forever; once the sport takes off and the infrastructure is in place, then we'll begin to see the U.S. emerge as a real challenger on the biggest stages of the world's biggest sport.

What do you think?


For more in-depth commentary on the Beautiful Game than I can offer, check out the great blog by Ives Galarcep - Soccer by Ives