Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rejecting Conservative Christianity

If Jesus walked the earth today, what would His reaction be to the church? Would He see all the broken people encouraged by the place, or would Jesus spew the whole thing out of His mouth? For sure Jesus would show love and extend grace. Whatever He said or did would confirm scripture, and certainly not contradict. Would He ridicule immature Christians for their  baby steps, or would He gently prod and encourage them to greater things? I’d hope the latter.
These days few people leave their comfortable lives and families and sell their possessions to follow God’s call. Are we the rich young rulers of today, sadly going back to our jobs and lifestyles instead of serving Christ? Probably. I have my reasons for living my life, but they are just excuses. But if I were bold enough to go out and serve, I know I need to follow the scriptures, to do nothing unbiblical. God’s message is simple, to love others and extend grace to those hard to love. But I can’t throw out the rest of the Bible. Jesus hated sin, and so should we. He loved sinners, and gave His life for them. Jesus did not condemn, but accepted and loved. So should we.  
As much as the Christian Church today gets wrong, they still do a lot of right for millions of people who need love. It’s never enough.   
Guy I used to go to church with posted this article on social media. I take these type things to heart, and when I have the time I give them a good read – not just the headline and article but also the reactions from readers. Kratzer has the right idea, that we should love others and live by grace. At face value the guy makes a point (several, in fact) but the closer you read, some are outright un-Biblical.
“I’m Sorry Conservative Christianity, I Just Can’t Do It Anymore, by Chris Kratzer
His main points:
1. I can’t see people as being inherently evil and lost. Grace is the great equalizer.
2. I can’t support a consumer driven Christianity. Me: goodness gracious. Some people surely less spiritual than you may feel better about themselves and closer to God if they have a special bookmark or T-shirt. Remember point number one.
3. I can’t live with one eye open in fear of a bipolar deity. God is love. “Hell, wrath, judgement, and God’s discipline…all highly debatable and open to be differently interpreted, but all silenced at the foot of the cross.” “I refuse to live my life fearing…god who could love me one moment and cast me into hell the next.” Kratzer may be talking about some incorrect theology he heard preached. That doesn’t mean he should throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I am far from a theologian, and I won’t be able to define God correctly here. People want a loving God, not a God who judges and allows bad things to happen. We do not live in Heaven, but on a fallen, imperfect world. God loves us so much that He gives us free will, allowing us to choose whether or not to love and serve Him. Even when we do, we are subject to the bad things that can happen in life: cancer, death, hunger, pain. In life God never said He would remove these bad things, but can help and comfort in our suffering.
4. I can’t ask my wife to submit to me. Again, someone has their definition / interpretation wrong. Perhaps his entire article was meant as a response to a pastor he previously served under, that he didn’t see eye to eye. Years ago the church made a bigger deal about this than they do today. A line in the marriage vows, taken from scripture.
5. I can’t deny the validity of science. Kratzer is correct to say “that scientific discovery and spiritual revelation don’t have to be enemies, but are important threads that are actually woven together.” This is true. But these days the scientific community often presents mere theories as fact, then shouts down and name-calls anyone who points that out.
This same close-mindedness can be applied to those accepting “science” and the theories the world today claims as fact, without doing due diligence. Like Christianity, those believing in evolution, climate change, and even atheism must have faith that what they think is indeed true. When molecules to man evolution flopped, it’s followers pointed to microscopic evolution as proof. When global warming proved to be a fallacy, the nomenclature was changed to climate change. An old earth is based on inaccurate tools of measure: an airplane was discovered under a layer of ice said to be millions of years old. Yesterday’s “truths” continue to be updated as new information comes in. Yet so many adhere to theories as fact, when actually the opposite is true. Like Christianity, faith is required to believe scientific theories that are impossible to prove. Even the Bigfoot video proved to be a hoax.  
6. I can’t turn off my brain, deny my individuality, and freeze dry my beliefs. No, but that doesn’t mean one can pick and chose what parts of the Bible to believe and which parts to ignore.
7. I can’t believe the Bible is perfect. Yes, you are free to believe anything you want. But that doesn’t mean you are right. “…aren’t we all inspired by God anyways…” Yes, but that doesn’t make your words the Word of God. The Bible is the word of God. There are various translations, but I’m not aware of major differences that would lead people to discount, change, or remove entire sections of scripture. I must be careful to focus on the Bible and not the words of man – like this very article! Can the heart of the author be seen in how he replies to his readers? He thanks and encourages those who agree with him, but is considerably more terse with those who disagree. A couple of responses detail where the author strayed from God’s truth – but Kratzer did not bother to respond to these.
8. I can’t compete with you and your “sold out” family. Kratzer’s argument falls apart here, showing his impatience, intolerance, and disdain for people who express their Christianity differently than he. I may have some of the same prejudices, but to include such in this list is downright immature. Why would I follow someone so petty and unloving?
9. I can’t love people conditionally. “I want to boldly approach the throne of God having loved too much.” ME: not by posting blogs like this. Sounds like he can’t love people unconditionally. Which is impossible, apart from God. He certainly doesn’t love those Facebook-post, knickknack displaying “Christians” he slams in his previous bullet point.
10. I can’t condemn the LGBTQ community. “I just want to live my life outside of the condemning, discriminating, and sin-labeling mantra of conservative Christianity that shoots first and consults Jesus later – if at all.” Sounds like Kratzer is doing the same. How can he lump the entire church together on this? Just because the church has been wrong in the past doesn’t mean it can’t learn from its mistakes. More conditional love.
The church in general has failed to show love to the gay community, for sure. Many got it wrong to begin with, saw the error of their ways, then responded in love. Even so, the world condemns even these for their words from years and years ago. God has forgiven these leaders, but the world has not. It is my goal to love all people. Sometimes this is hard. Like straight people, there are gay people that are easier to love than others. It is easier to love the easygoing, and harder to love the argumentative and militant. Easier to love the open minded, and harder to love the close-minded and hateful.
11. I can’t embrace a gospel that is for me, no gospel at all. Again Kratzer seems mad at humans for adding conditions to God’s love and grace. Pastors don’t get it wrong on purpose. At least I hope not. Some may be motivated by impure motives like power or money. Kratzer seems angry he believed someone’s false gospel, and he wants to spoil everyone else’s experience. Who exactly is this “Conservative Christianity” he disdains?
Kratzer talks about what’s wrong with the church. Not HIS church, mind you. He didn’t make this mess. What is he doing to make things better? One red flag is when he invites seekers to dialogue if they’re “interested in learning about my spiritual journey and transition to the beliefs I now hold “ without mentioning God, Jesus, or the Bible. Does he just want to stir people up? Is this the best way to address these issues? Does he just want to draw attention to himself? He sure is an angry elf.
Perhaps Kratzer is just now realizing things that I discovered long ago. The church is not perfect – only God is. I cannot place my faith in a human, or an institution run by them. Like many I have problems and issues with the behaviors and comments and stances taken by some representing the church, just as I have problems by political parties, local/state/national governments, news networks, advocacy groups, universities, and sports teams. To expect perfection from any of these is unreasonable.
I have to keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on God and His Word. People will always fall short. Nothing wrong with that, as long as I remember it. Many people work in an industry for many years, then weary and disillusioned, seek out a new career. Nothing wrong with that either. Christians are called to a high standard. It’s tough work. I certainly get it wrong. Sometimes so do those in the church. With the best intentions they may get things wrong. This may drive people from the church, sometimes permanently, sadly. Had these driven away people known to trust in God and not in people, perhaps they could’ve figured out the difference.
Perhaps millennials and gays are attracted to Kratzer’s me against them approach. Contrastingly, when Andy Stanley preaches (if you can call it that) he makes it clear that he’s preaching to himself as much as anyone else. Andy knows he needs love and grace as much as anyone else. I have no problem with someone calling out the church for something they’re doing wrong. Nothing new about that (in fact it’s old and tired).What bothers me about Kratzer is the unbiblical parts.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

NFL's Fastest Players?

Last night I noticed the NFL Network had compiled the Top Ten Fastest Players. I’ll have to watch. In the meantime I found several similar lists on the internet, with one often contradicting the other. Many of the lists were subjective, though the criteria is easily not. Like many greatest ever lists these days, many who make it are often from recent times, since the young writers work from their own memory, research be damned.   
Hardly any list mentioned former track star Herschel Walker, who ran documented times faster than most players listed. He also played a little NFL football, retiring with the third most combined yards in NFL history. You can’t be slow and be the only player in NFL history with a run, catch, and return 90 yards or longer.   
The top ten is typical:
HM Mike Vick, Falcons 4.25
HM Ron Brown, Rams 6.64 (60) 10.06
10. Devin Hester, Bears 4.41 10.62
9. Trindon Holliday, Broncos 4.27 10.07
8. Jamal Charles, Chiefs 4.36 10.13
7. DeSean Jackson, Eagles 4.35 10.5
6. Randy Moss, Vikings 4.25 21.15 (200)
5. Bob Hayes, Cowboys 10.06 20.5
4. Chris Johnson, Titans 4.24 10.38
3. Deion Sanders, Falcons 4.21 10.26
2. Bo Jackson, Raiders 4.12 10.39
1. Darrell Green, Redskins 4.43 10.08
Bleacher Report ranked 25 players in order.
25. DeSean Jackson, Eagles 2008 WR 4.35
24. Mike Wallace, Steelers 2009 WR 4.33
23. Darrius Heyward-Bey Raiders 2009 WR 4.3
22. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cardinals CB 2008 4.29
21. Champ Bailey, Redskins 1999 CB 4.28
20. Joey Galloway, Seahawks WR 1995
19. Jerome Mathis, Texans WR 2008 4.28
18. Dante Hall Chiefs KR 2000
17. Devin Hester, Bears KR 2006 4.26
16. Jacoby Ford, Raiders WR 2010 4.26
15. Fabian Washington, Raiders CB 2005 4.25
14. Ron Brown, Rams WR 1984
13. Stanford Routt, Raiders CB 2005 4.25
12. Randy Moss, Vikings WR 1998 4.25
11. Mike Vick, Falcons QB 2001 4.25
10. Chris Johnson, Titans RB 2008 4.24
9. Trindon Holliday, Texans WR 2010 4.27 10.07
8. Clifford Branch, Raiders WR 1972
7. Willie Gault, Bears WR 1983
6. Renaldo Nehemiah, 49ers WR 1982
5. Ike Taylor, Steelers CB 2003 4.18
4. Deion Sanders, Falcons CB 1989 4.21
3. Darrell Green, Redskins CB 1986 4.15
2. Bo Jackson, Raiders RB 1987 4.12
1. Bob Hayes, Cowboys WR 1965 10.06
But elsewhere the Bleacher Report also said Herschel ran a 9.3 100 and 6.15 in the 60, to Bo Jackson’s 6.18 in the 55 meters. Not sure where this information came from. But a read of the article below substantiates Walker’s superiority. reports Herschel’s 100 time as 10.23, ahead of Deion but behind twelve others, including Ford, Hayes, Brown, Green, Graddy, Gault, and Branch. Against Carl Lewis in the 60 yard dash Walker finished second with a 6.12, placing him third on FloTrack’s list.

FloTrack also named Eric Metcalf as one of the greatest in both sports. Metcalf retired with as many return yards as anyone, and also set several records on the track as well.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hot Wheels

After I found the Hot Wheels Yellow Submarine on Easter Sunday, research revealed it was part of a series of TV and movie themed cars. Here are some of the others, starting with Herbie, The Love Bug.
Another favorite: Scooby's Mystery Machine.
The Ghostbusters' Ecto-1.
The Jetson's Space Car. Not their best work.
Trigger, from Smokey and the Bandit.
KITT, from Knight Rider
And the Beatles Yellow Submarine.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Banner Day

This year's neighborhood banner. Hopefully year three of four straight with a Murphy on the banner:

2015 Anna
2016 Mary-Clayton and Will
2017 Matthew
2018 Will
2019 Anna

The last two times we had Mellow Mushroom pizza for lunch at work I got sick by 6 pm - probably because I had eaten too much. Friday I only ate two pieces. Left work shortly after 1 pm and headed toward the ballpark. Met LJ at Yearwood's office, and we walked from there. Got there early so we walked around The Battery. Stepped inside the Baseballism store but not much to see. Tossed the ball with Darrell on the green.

Walked around once the gates open. Saw several friends. Was so hot I drank two Coke Zeros. Nice breeze blowing in our face on the third deck. Good game. Braves gained another game on the Nats and secured their position in second place. Took 3 of 4 from Toronto and 2 or 3 from Washington. I'm watching more and more. Dansby's home run Friday night came during the RaceTrac inning, so I got $5.00 of free drinks on Saturday.

Walked back to the car and stopped at RaceTrac on the way home. Was going to drive through Taco Bell but the line was long, so I didn't eat. Got home and had to take Anna up to Roswell to get her car.
Saturday I cleaned some upstairs. A and C went shopping. Took Anna's Jeep to get gas, but had to make a second trip to check out her taillight. Then I drove up to Roswell to RaceTrac and three thrift stores. Found a nice Nike golf shirt, a red Braves T-shirt, and a grey Braves jersey that fit perfectly. I had been wanted a grey road jersey, and this one is great, with ATLANTA stitched on the front, not laser cut and unreadable like the current jerseys (see yesterday's post).

Came home and started some laundry. M got off work and went thrifting with Anna. Drove Ceil to the Dekalb Farmer's Market. Got home and C cooked pizza. W&MC drove from Augusta to Auburn AL for a wedding, then drove back late Saturday night.
Sunday morning Anna went to JFBC with us. Had chicken salad for lunch, then A left for her summer at Camp Highland. I did more laundry, test drove M's car, watched the Braves, and hit golf balls. C had to go back to Decatur for fabric. M went to Passion City Church. He got home late and brought home Chinese food, so for lunch I have that, some ravioli - and Brad brought leftover BBQ from his son's graduation party.

From the early 1940's: looking north at the Peachtree and Wesley intersection.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pretty in Pink

For Mother's Day weekend the all MLB teams again wore special pink trimmed uniforms. The Braves were in Miami.
Dansby shows off the pink bat, pink bat, pink sleeve, and pink belt. 
Nick Markakis (below) donned pink shoes and special socks.
Bartolo Colon high fives Markakis.
Perhaps all pink caps would look nicer. Might as well.
The Marlins wore the same socks. That's catcher Tyler Flowers.
Those pink shoes look OK with long pants legs, like on Freddie Freeman. Like other teams that usually wear stripes on their pants,
the Braves went plain.
All-time hit king Ichiro Suzuki kept his pink to a minimum.
While the laser-cut script "Atlanta" looks OK up close, from a distance the letters run together and are hard to read. Plus they look cheap.
The Braves' current home and road uniforms suffer the same curse.
Guess they perform better on the field than the tackle-twill predecessors.
As usual, the Yankees kept it simple.
A league wide recap is here.
On Father's Day look for similar light blue trimmed uniforms.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 19 Braves/Nats

Came back Friday afternoon for my second straight game.
Mat LJ at Yearwood's office, and made the long walk past the Marriott (below right) across 75. Here's the view looking north from the bridge. Note new SunTrust Park sign on the left.
Stopped to check out the Braves hall of fame section of the commemorative bricks just outside the ballpark.
Just to the left of the diamond above was Bobby Dews' brick,
laid in a section of other late Braves alumni.
Close up of the Braves dead hall of famers.
We were early, so we walked around The Battery. Here's a view of the Chop House Gate looking from just outside Antico Pizza.
Checked out the Baseballism store in The Battery. Expensive non-MLB licensed designer baseball themed T-shirts and caps. And $15.00 socks, which seems to be the going rate these days. Not impressed. Nice Babe Ruth statue, though.
Cute little rich kid made a point of being first in line. Note stacks of bobbleheads beyond the gate. Talked to Larry, the usher who a view years ago took me from the upper deck down to a seat behind home plate.
The Inciarte bobblehead depicted Ender's 2017 game-saving catch in centerfield against the mets at Citi Field. I had a ticket, plus Kevin traded me one for last week's Gwinnett Star Wars bobblehead. Sold both before the evening was over. Helped Kevin gather bobbles during pregame.
Saw several other friends before the game in addition to LJ and Kevin: Darrell, Johnny, Sandy, Katie, Coach, Michael, Danny Downing, and even Thomas and Holly. Hugged my usher friend. Was parched from the heat, and downed two Coke Zeros. Was in position to snap a picture of the relievers on their way to the bullpen, just after greeting starting pitcher AJ Dickey and his batterymate Kurt Suzuki.
Couldn't find Kevin and Katie, so LJ and I found a cool spot on the top row of the third level. Nice breeze in our face.
Wore my Braves Vision polo and new tomahawk cap. My feet were sore so I wore my most comfortable shoes: the old school New Balance 993's.
Sat right behind a Mexican concession stand. Noticed sour cream dripping out, and to her credit the employee cleaned it all up.
Noticed a long line and wondered what it was for.
People were waiting to get outside to smoke.
The ballpark looks great all lit up at night.
Crossed the pedestrian bridge over Windy Ridge Parkway (below right) and looked back one last time. Got home and drove Anna to Roswell to pick up her Jeep. As I crested the hill above the stinky Kroger for the first time I noticed the glow of the SunTrust Park lights on the horizon.

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 18: Braves/Jays

Left work at 4:20 and headed west. Made it to Yearwood's office by 5:30. We walked the mile and a half to The Battery. Ate at Antico Pizza.
Good picture of the Braves bridge. Jeff and I crossed this bridge and entered at the gate at the top right.
Poor Freddie Freeman hanging out on the bench. His first game after breaking a bone in his wrist. Dansby at the bat.
Got back in the habit of photographing the relievers
making their way to the bullpen.
Rain delay. Left at about 10:30, in the top of the 6th inning.
Good catching up with Jeff - it had been a couple of years since we had hung out. More on Jeff next week.
For some reason I wore a blister on my foot, due to the shoe/sock combo. Trying to be more careful today.

Got home at 11:30. Watched some of the postgame before going to bed. The pizza hadn't stuffed me, but in the park Jeff wanted a Mello Yello. It was hot and I thought that sounded good, so I got one as well. I only sipped on it and actually never finished it, but it filled me up, plus the caffeine kept me away most of the night. Plus Barney was extra restless. Not much sleep and I have a long day. Not a good combination.
C and A drove over to Augusta for the day.
Anna gave Will a haircut.

I'll have to get one of those chickfila BBQ bacon sandwiches. They might be the secret calendar card item in June. I never was a watermelon guy but I want to try the strawberry lemonade drink if they still have it. I'd been drinking a bunch of strawberry lemonade koolade instead of all the soft drinks I used to drink, but have been trying to transition to Vitamin Water and plain old water.