You know it's fall when football season kicks off

After 8 months without college football...it's finally that glorious time of the year again! Perhaps like many of you all, I spent the whole first Saturday gorging myself watching student athletes pop pads. Game, after game, after game, with some pundits talking football in between. And I wouldn't have it any other way (I did enjoy one special visit though). I figured that I would provide a change of pace to the reader in my blog world; a little lighter reading if you will. But I do have a few other topics of interest to come, so stay tuned! (I have included several hilarious video links that you should take the time to check out as well!)

Not too many interesting match ups yet, and everyone is trying to figure out what they have for the upcoming season. After the first week is over, guys all over the country will spend countless hours scouring through webpages, blogs, and message boards looking for a reason to find hope for the upcoming season. Let me save you NC State fans some time...it looks pretty bleak this year. Positives: defense and coaching; Negatives: offense and special teams. I would figure on about 4 wins this year. Anything less is disappointing and anything more is gravy. If you were fortunate enough to attend a university with a D-1 caliber QB currently under scholarship, then you have a lot to play for this season.

Every year it seems there is more parity amongst teams in college football (that's right App St). That is just one of the things that makes college football the best way to spend a Saturday. Important caveat: if you can attend a game in person, then do it and do it right (tailgate, throw a football, and enjoy good food and people all day). My personal favorite tailgating is found in the sea of red at the Carter with some BBQ and sweet tea before a noisy evening game. If you can't attend a game, then sit back in a comfy seat and watch it in glorious HDTV with some good food and friends (notice a theme?). More than just tailgating, college football is great because of school pride (no matter how nostalgic). I know that if you went to an university without football, it is hard to understand the level of school spirit this one event can generate. However, if you have experienced that kind of atmosphere and spirit, then it's something that will continue to grip you each and every fall...as you
wax poetic with the first chill in the air, the leaves changing, the smell of grilled food wafting through the air, wearing your school colors and face painting, and seeing the next generation at your alma mater experience the same things you did years earlier. Not to mention the benefits of smack talking your annoying co-workers the following week.

Finally, here is
my advice for the upcoming football season that is guaranteed to make it a success for you! This comes from years of personal experience with heartbreak as an NC State fan...the perpetual wait til next year, get your hopes up, and crush you, lovable losers that define us as fans. Don't get too wrapped up in every game, athletic performance does not add to or take away from the value of your diploma, and keep it in the proper perspective that it is just a game. BUT, if you can't resist and insist that you play to win the game, then...go ahead, raise the bar so that your team can walk effortlessly underneath and exceed your easily attainable low expectations!

Do you think this is good advice? Were you at least entertained? Let me know...


Gotta know where you come from

Have you ever received something you didn't deserve? Well I know I have...if you have as well, then you certainly know that you can't forget the experience. No matter what the act of unmerited favor, by its very nature it leaves an indelible impression on you. I believe the reason for this impression is because unmerited favor strikes a chord within each of us that resonates with the truth of a larger narrative. Something from deep within our soul is drawn to, cries out for, and testifies to the truth of this gracious act. We seem to almost intrinsically understand that there is more to the story. And so this is my own story of when I came to understand the Gospel of grace and how it fits in with God's narrative redemption story.

I was born and raised in Durham, NC. I lived what I would consider a pretty normal childhood growing up, which pretty much consisted of fun, sports, video games, etc. Then my parents got divorced when I was about 8 years old, and that change of events rocked my little world. What I unknowingly decided was a breach of trust caused me to not open up much to others and to look out for my own best interests. I placed a lot of value in getting good grades, in playing sports, and in being funny...all things designed to get others approval. And so I did the best that I could in these things which I decided mattered and used to define myself. I wanted to be known as a good guy. My goal in life was simple back in high school: to aspire to what I considered an average and normal life. I just wanted a decent job, good family, nice house and I'd be happy I thought. I guess that could be a common dream of people, but what a funny dream it is...to be average. I acted like everything in my life was good, and so it may have appeared from the outside. However, I knew my life was not as together as it seemed at all!

As an illustration of grace (getting something you don't deserve--remember?), I will give a personal example here. A family friend gave me an old car for free before my senior year of high school. That was great because I could not afford one due to a financially tough family situation. The only thing that this friend said he wanted from me was to consider visiting church and give it a chance. I mean I went to church at least a couple of times each year with family or on holidays. So no big deal, I could do that request! Growing up in America, the south no less, of course I believed in God, right? Even from my admittedly limited exposure to church, I had heard that God created and loves me. Cool but not exactly life changing knowledge at that point. So that was about as much thought as I put into it then. Fortunately as I graduated and headed off for college, I already had my life all planned out (or so I thought). I was going to NC State to become a civil engineer. I wanted to meet "the right kind of crowd" to be friends with in college. So I began getting information on some of the student religious organizations. On one of the pamphlets I read that sin separates us from God. This happens when we choose to go our own independent way and is characterized by an attitude of active rebellion (commission) or passive indifference (omission). Well I knew that I was not perfect despite my best efforts, so I figured that I fell into the same sinful camp as everyone else. The thought of being separated from God because of my sin made me want to seek out some more information. In an effort to make some friends and learn more about this stuff, I decided to go to a Bible study that I was invited to in the dorm I lived in. I noticed that something was different about the guys I met at the Bible study...and that intrigued me. Unsurprisingly, they talked a lot about Jesus. It seemed like they knew something that I had not quite figured out yet. I had heard that Jesus was God's Son, but they also said that Jesus Christ is God's only provision for our sin. If that is true, then it means all of my efforts to earn the approval of others could never earn me God's approval. Therefore, life is not about all that we do or don't do to earn favor with God, but about what God did for us through Jesus. A few weeks later, the two guys who led the Bible study that I had been going to without even owning a Bible invited me to their place. They went over these things that I had been learning and told me that I had to individually and personally receive the free gift that God was offering. For some reason in my 19 years of life, I don't think that I had ever heard that before. And at that moment something clicked in my mind, and everything seemed to make sense. Right then and there I prayed with my friends and asked God to forgive me of my sins and to come and take control of my life. From that moment on, I began my personal relationship with God.

I had somehow previously missed that idea. Redemption is not found through religion, but through relationship. Almost immediately, I started noticing changes in myself from the inside out...in my thoughts, motivations, and actions. My outlook on life shifted from caring mostly about myself to having a growing love for God and others. I finally gained peace as I found my identity and purpose for life in Christ and not in grades, sports, or being funny. I went from wanting merely an average and normal life to wanting an extraordinary life...desiring to make an eternal impact and difference in others and the world. That's why I no longer chose to work as a civil engineer, because I'm positioned to invest in college students' lives for His Kingdom instead of building roads for this world. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." You see...the only catch about a gift is that you have to receive it.

Have you ever thought about this before? Are you going about life in a completely selfish and hedonistic manor with no concern of God? Are you trying to earn God's favor by being good and doing the right thing in and of yourself? If you don't want anything to do with God now, then what makes you think you would want to spend eternity with Him? Do you want the blessings of God and nothing to do with a relationship with Him? It is about time that you think where you fit into God's redemptive narrative.

Whether you want some help processing through this stuff or you just want to share what's going on in your story, then please write me a note and leave a comment!


It's the end of the world as we know it

So after being convicted while watching the office this year (you know the episode where Michael Scott says that technology tried to kill him after he blindly followed his GPS directions into a lake), I decided that I needed to finally join the 21st century. Yay, taking my bows...I know, I know, and you're welcome!!

Now, by nature I am a skeptic and it takes a while for me to come around to new ideas. Important side note: This fits perfectly with my hatred of trendy things (I am not a sell out!), because I decided that it is no longer trendy to have a blog -- it's now so common that it's normal! However, once I commit myself to embrace something, I tend to be extremely loyal. That is what I am aiming for at least. So hopefully I will update this weblog at least semi-frequently...and it's up to you, my loyal and currently non-existent readers, to hold me to that.

Unfortunately, I cannot promise that I am an adequate writer or even readable for that matter. Much less my spelling and grammar mistakes. I guess I tend to write almost entirely informally, bouncing from one topic to another...like I think (which is why you have so many asides explaining or confusing my thought process and flow even further). Fortunately, I am counting on the fact that you aren't reading this because of my writing, or lack thereof, skills; I am also not particularly famous, interesting, smart, good looking or funny; so that leads me to conclude that you are reading this because you have a vested interest in me (or stumbled upon my page somehow).

And that is exactly why I am doing this now. I want to stay connected to you: family, friends, supporters, facebook stalkers, whatever. In this post-collegiate world, where everyone has moved all over the world and life seems to change at an ever quickening pace, I try to do what I can to let you know what's going on in my world or at least my mind. Hopefully you will do the same for me and leave me some feedback, updates, encouragement, etc.

Take a look around, enjoy, and cheers!