Need a Coach–Coach Johnny Darden is Available

Yet another article about Coach Darden in the Knoxville News Sentinel here:  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/apr/15/darden-says-hes-not-done-yet/.

A well-deserved award to the best coach I ever had the privilege of knowing personally.  As stated in a previous post, he helped tremendously in reinforcing the lessons that my parents taught me.  It was not just about basketball, of course. 

Perserverance, patience, passion, purpose and a whole lot of other words that start with letters other than “p”. 

Thanks again, Coach Darden.  I’m praying that another group of young men will have the honor of calling you “Coach.”

Hoping for One More Win (At Least)

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported today that Coach Johnny Darden was let go as the boy’s basketball coach at CAK.  You can see it here:  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/mar/31/darden-will-not-return-cak/.

Coach Darden was my basketball coach at Carter High School.  He is a good coach and a good man who tried to instill in his players moral character as well as teaching them the game of basketball.

He leaves CAK with 599 career wins.  I know that winning basketball games is not the most important thing to him.  However, I wish him at least one more win.  600 is a nice, round number.

God Bless you, Coach.

Feel the Sting

I attended Carter High School in Strawberry Plain from 1991-1995 and played basketball for the varsity team during my Junior and Senior years.  Even though I am several years removed from High School now and I don’t know any of the players or coaches there anymore, I still consider myself a Hornet.

That being said, I just have to express my congratulations for this year’s boys basketball team for making the State Tournament for the first time.  You can read more about it here:  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2009/mar/09/carter-makes-history/.

Way to go, Hornets.  Go over to Murphreesboro and make more teams feel the sting.

Coach Johnny Darden

I’m thankful for my parents–they taught me many wonderful lessons about life and how to live it.

I’m thankful for my grandparents and other relatives who reinforced those lessons.

And I’m thankful for the many others who have helped me along my journey.  One of those people is my high school basketball coach, Johnny Darden.

There was an article about him in yesterday’s Knoxville News Sentinel.  You can see it by clicking here:  http://knoxnews.com/news/2009/jan/30/game-not-over/

I’m glad he overcame prostate cancer and hope he has many more years to coach and help boys become men.  This world need more people like Coach Darden, not fewer.

I also hope that more people in my generation will step up to the plate and take responsibility for helping others along their journey.  So many people helped us, but it should not end with us.  There is more work to be done, more children to be mentored, more lives to be touched. 

Let’s get to it.

The Illusion of Safety

Once again tragedy has struck at a supposedly safe place in Knoxville.  You can read about it here:  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/aug/21/shooting-reported-central-high-school/

15 year-old Jamar Siler has been charged with first degree murder in the killing of another 15 year-old, Ryan McDonald.  It happened this morning at around 8:11 am at Central High School after the 2 apparently got into an argument.

If you are keeping track, that makes the 2nd “safe” place where people have been shot in the city of Knoxville within the last month.  I put the word safe in quotation marks because it is evident to me and should be to you that there is no place where people are truly safe.

I believe that statement is true.  I believe that evil is prevalent.  Evil deeds, evil thoughts, evil desires.  If you do not believe this, you have not been paying attention.  Every newscast, every newspaper, every news website tell of evil deeds performed by those who allow themselves to be agents of evil.

The safety that so many people desire is only an illusion.  At any moment anyone can become a victim of evil.  It is on days like today that so many find this fact out for the first time or are reminded of this fact.

However, there is a safety that we can all have and know.  It is not safety from physical, emotional, or mental harm.  It is a better kind of safety.  It is safety from the thing that can do us the most harm–safety from the consequences of our sin.  That safety comes from trusting in Jesus Christ as your savior.

Being a Christian does not mean we will never get hurt.  It does not mean that we will never face scary circumstances or tragedy.  It does not mean that we or our children will never be scarred emotionally.  It does mean that we will always have someone to turn to when we are hurting, scared, or alone.

Those that follow Jesus are not immune to pain.  But we always have hope in the midst of it.

Sadness

My last post about the shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was incomplete because I did not express something that I should have.  I have an intense feeling of sadness.

Two people are dead, others injured, and so many more who will never be able to forget the evil that they witnessed.  There are children whose sense of safety was shattered.  There are parents who have no good answers.  There is great pain–physical, emotional, and spiritual. 

Not only that, there are some professing Christians out there that feel that this happened as God’s punishment for TVUUC’s pro-gay teachings.  Have I heard anyone say this?  No.  But I know from experience that this thinking is out there.  This increases my sadness.  Those who claim to follow Jesus should know better than to place themselves as God’s spokespeople declaring the causes of tragedies both far and near.  We are all sinners who need God’s mercy.

Let me be clear.  I do not share TVUUC’s position concerning homosexuality.  There are other major points that I disagree with them on.  But no one deserves what happened yesterday. 

I am saddened for the one accused of committing this horrible act.  He thought he was doing the right thing.  He thought he was doing something for the good of our country.  He was deluded; he was wrong. 

What, then, are we to do in light of this evil and all the other evils that seem to abound?  Romas 12:21 informs my opinion in this matter.  “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

So, I will strive to not allow my sadness over evil to overcome me.  Instead, I will seek to do good deeds.  In this was, whether big or small, I will make this world a better place and take part in overcoming evil.

Tragedy at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

If you have not heard, a terrible tragedy occurred at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church yesterday morning.  At about 10:18 am a man opened fire with a shotgun in the church’s sanctuary.  So far, 2 people have died and 6 others were injured.  This happened during a play that was being performed by the children of the church as well as children from other churches.  You can read more about it here: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/news/local/church-shooting/.

While there are many differences between my theological beliefs and those shared by members of this church, we are the same in one major way.  We are all people that God loves.  My prayers are with those who were injured, their families, and their church.  I pray that God provides them with comfort and peace during this time and in the times to come.

Franklin Graham’s Boldness

Being bold about your beliefs is difficult.  You must have a thick-skin when it comes to criticism and you can not be afraid about what someone may do to you because of what you say. 

Franklin Graham is holding a Festival in Knoxville on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend any of these meetings.  I have kept up with the best that I can and, if this article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel (http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/apr/26/thousands-watch-bands-listen-graham-accept-christ-/) is a good indicator, then Franklin does not lack in boldness. 

I appreciate his ministry and his words and pray that the response will be great to the messages that are shared.

Baptisms Down–Surprised?

Here is a link to a Knoxville News-Sentinel article about the decline in baptisms for the Southern Baptist Convention – http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/apr/25/southern-baptist-membership-baptisms-decline-2007/.

In looking at the article and comments that follow, it is easy to come up with a conclusion that it must be the fault of the Christians.  It must be because we do not do a good enough job of living out what we claim to believe.  I agree with this to a point–so much so that I wrote a column in the paper about it last year.  Here is the link:  http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/jun/10/an-apology/.  I received a lot of feedback after this column and enjoyed corresponding with those who agreed and disagreed.

But, there is another reason that has little to do with how believers behave.  Jesus tells us that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself.  When He said this it indicated Him being hung on a cross.  It also indicates that if we lift Him in our lives that people will be drawn to Him.  However, there are no promises that everyone will believe or stay with Him.

During Jesus’ ministry, He continually spoke truth, some of it being considered “hard truths.”  Occassionally, after hearing these hard truths, people who followed Him stopped and left to go back to their homes.  The message that Jesus is the only way is divisive and causes many to reject Jesus and in turn reject those that follow Him.

Truthfully, we shouldn’t be surprised when the Gospel is rejected.  We live in an era where there are numerous defenses readily available to anyone who wants to justify their beliefs and reject Jesus.  What would should be amazed at is that there are still people who become followers of Jesus.  He still saves and it is still a miracle when someone gives over their will to His will. 

Those of us who believe in Jesus and have put our trust in Him need to be sincere followers of Him.  However, even when we do this there will be those who will reject the message that could set them free.  All we can do is try to emulate Jesus as closely as possible and allow Him to do the work of drawing people to the truth of who He is.

For Better or For Worse

Take a look at this (it appeared in the paper on Easter):  http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/003048.php.

Pretty good question, don’t you think?

(note to readers:  click on “To Help a Church” at the top of the page for an opportunity to help a church that seeks to help others)