Good morning from Nashville. I'm listening to the local news. The anchors keep cutting away to the Music City marathon, and more than once they've pointed out "it's going well." Ha! As I recall from the marathons I've run, "it's going well" is a perspective from the anchor booth, not from the pavement. Jack and Jill will be drawing in our assembly tomorrow. I'll be finishing the two-week message on "Lunchables That Change the World" (on justice).
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005
Last night I spoke at the graduation ceremony for FaithWorks, a Highland ministry that started three or four years ago. It may be one of my favorite speaking gigs of the year. Nine women, having finished the 13-week program, got to receive their diplomas. These are women whose lives have been challenging. But they entered the program, bonded together, and completed the work. Three of them spoke briefly at the graduation ceremony. One talked about being told that she had cancer in an advanced stage. She had two choices: she could accept her likely fate, try to stay as free of pain as possible, and die quickly or she could fight a painful battle with all she had in her. She looked around at her nine children, and decided it was time to fight. I looked in amazement at this strong woman of faith as she received her diploma. Sunday morning at second service we'll recognize these incredible graduates.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
I've seen lots of angry Christians on television in the past week. One late-night comedian said, "They're tired of being the persecuted majority, and they're not going to take it any longer!" The ironies are too great. We can hardly understand the New Testament when we live with a "persecuted majority" complex where we're mad at people all the time. As the church's influence continues to decline, some will just continue to be apoplectic. Others, perhaps, will return to founding documents like 1 Peter. There we're told to expect persecution -- especially since we follow one who was crucified. "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." Peter encourages Christ-followers to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in them -- but with GENTLENESS and RESPECT for those who aren't (yet) believers. He tells women who have unbelieving husbands that the key isn't to nag them into the kingdom but to live with beauty--the beauty of GENTLE spirits. Right now many don't accept our status as "aliens and strangers" in this world.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
I am braindead this morning. Here's the best advice I can give you. Take a moment and check out the last few blogs from Larry James and Wade Hodges. (Both are linked to the right.) Here's a taste from Larry. (Why can't he just leave us alone?) This comes in a list of suggestions for churches who are trying so desperately to reduce their moral voice to one or two issues. Re-think, in a comprehensive manner, the annual church operating budget with a view to the inner city and its residents who live in poverty. This is a tough one, testing the authenticity of a congregation's resolve and actual commitment to answering the question, "How can we help?" in a serious way. No disrespect intended--and remember, I served as a senior pastor for almost 25 years--but, churches tend to serve themselves. Many a preacher has counseled his or her congregation to do an assessment of personal priorities and commitments by looking at checkbook ledgers. What is good advice for individual members of faith communities is excellent advice for congregational decision makers. Take a hard look at your church's annual financial plans. Who benefits most from the story of the numbers? What are the percentages? Here's a hard one: compare the funds earmarked for facilities and those set aside for action among the poor. How about a similar comparison between adult education or discipleship training and a commitment to overcoming poverty in the city? I ask that question based on my assumption that most adult members of congregations already know and understand more about what should be done as a person of faith than is actually being done! Take a long, hard, honest look at your congregation's financial plan.
Monday, April 25, 2005
A few more thoughts about Chris and Austin after watching them side-by-side at Passover last night. For the sixth straight year (so they claim), one of them found the hidden afikomen -- worth a bit more last night with "Uncle" Randy Harris providing the reward cash. They used to agree that if one of them found it, they'd split the money 50-50. Last year they decided that while they should work together there should still be some extra reward for actually finding the hidden treasure. So now they have a 70-30 agreement. Winner gets 70% of the haul; partner gets 30%. These boys were born just a month or two apart in 1992. And they've been buddies ever since. One loves music and likes sports. The other loves sports and likes music. The former has perfect pitch, a father who was a band director, and a mother who is an incredible classical pianist. The latter has parents who think the best musical instrument is a Bose speaker. The parents of the first child love all sorts of music, especially classical. The parents of the latter consider classical music to be the Eagles, CCR, and the best of Buffett. One of the boys has suffered the loss of a sister. The other has gone through the divorce of his parents. (I will say that it's been a divorce where he has continued to be completely loved by both parents, and where the parents have refused to turn against each other. They're in houses very close to each other so he and his sisters can walk back and forth.) On January 16, they were, not surprisingly, in the same vehicle coming back from WinterFest. One was taken by helicopter to Cook's. The other was taken by ambulance to Abilene and then flown in a plane to Cook's. They wound up side-by-side in ICU. It was just unbelievable, really. They had one little corner of that cavernous area. One nurse was assigned at each shift to the two of them. To make it easier to follow the vital signs, they would program the monitors so that each monitor had the numbers for both boys -- again, side-by-side. Last night as they sat across from me during Passover, I was so glad, so incredibly glad, that those places weren't empty this year. I've coached them both, I've preached to them both, and I've watched them together for the first twelve years of their lives. And I'm reminded of this: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (Eccl. 4:9-10) Who knows if they'll always be friends? I'm guessing so. Of course they both have lots of other buds to hang around with too. (For the most part they haven't discovered girls -- at least I don't think they have. But what do I know? I am an aging preacher.) But this friendship goes back to the very beginning of their lives. Anyone out there have one of those friendships -- one that goes back to your earliest days and that has lasted through the years?
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Passover at our house this evening. Schedules were just too hectic around Easter, so we opted for the Jewish Passover date. I guess this is our 12th straight year to celebrate with our covenant group. What a memorable evening. The lighting of the candles, the cup of sanctification (with the four questions: Why matzah? Why maror? Why dip twice? Why recline?), the cup of deliverance, the cup of redemption, and the cup of praise. Dayenu! Communion. "Next year in the New Jerusalem!" "May the year be filled with peace for each family here. If this year brings prosperity, we give God the credit; if failure, we ask for hope; if sadness, we expect encouragement from each other as we strive to live for God in a world of conflict. O God, please transform us into the image of Jesus, our Messiah. Amen!" I'm so thankful that we're setting 20 places tonight rather than 18. Chris Cope and Austin Lemmons both took terrible blows to their bodies in the rollover accident in January. Tonight, the bitter herbs and the haroseth will carry special meaning as we remember the wreck that sent them flying to Ft. Worth and took the life of their friend Brody. We'll remember not just the bitterness of slavery, but the bitterness of mourning for a child (as we have for Megan for a decade and as the Bourlands are now). And yet the whole meal captures our belief that slavery and bitterness and mourning and death do not speak the final work. God does. He has spoken definitively in Jesus Christ. Maranatha!
Friday, April 22, 2005
As I end two years of Spanish today (since I can't make it next week), I think about the gap between my eyes, my ears, and my mouth. I can READ a lot; I can even UNDERSTAND quite a bit (especially when spoken s-l-o-w-l-y and distinctly by my wonderful profesora, Senora Walker). But when it comes to actually SAYING something, I feel like a first grader. Mi boca no trabaja. Hopefully language school this summer will help. - - - - I've been sent several copies of an ad that's supposed to appear in the Christian Chronicle soon. I think it will have a list of Church of Christ scholars who signed it. I'm especially proud of the many who have opted NOT to sign it. Wish that list could be published, too! - - - - There are so many beautiful signs of spring in Abilene this year: lots of redbuds, bluebonnets everywhere, and actual green grass. (The drought seems to be over!) Two things I miss from the past: the awe-inspiring azaleas of North Carolina (where we lived from 82-84) and the dogwoods of Arkansas (84-91) and Missouri. - - - - Looking forward to hearing Alan Roxburgh today at ACU. He's one of the core members of the Gospel and Our Culture Network. - - - - We get x-rays today for Chris. Would be wonderful to find out that the fracture in his vertebrae is healed and that the compressed part is growing back. He's still going to school in a wheelchair. He's thinking about going to a little league game tonight to watch. Just hasn't been able to up until now. Too sad about not playing. I'm sad about not coaching, too. But on the other hand, I'm not hacking and wheezing every night after practicing in the dust and pollen. (I would gladly take the hacking and wheezing!)
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Rwanda and Sudan. For those who read and pray about what's happening in the world, those are two countries that bring shivers. The former suffered a genocide a decade ago; the latter is experiencing one now (in the area of Darfur). This summer, two young couples from Highland--grad students at ACU--are traveling to those countries to consider the possibility of planting mission teams there. They're going with their eyes wide open, eager to see what God may have prepared. I almost don't have words to describe my admiration for their faith and spiritual passion. Greg and Sara Kendall-Ball will be visiting Rwanda, and Houston and Kelly Shearin will be going to Sudan. (They will be in the southern part of the Sudan--quite a ways away from Darfur.) Both are going to be with older, more experienced missionaries as they survey and pray. Think of all the prayers we've lifted for these two countries. Think of how often we've prayed for the Shalom of Christ to fall on them, and of how often we've prayed "your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Both of these trips are very expensive. But how could they really commit to a long-term mission without visiting first? Highland has made generous donations to both couples, and both have been trying to raise money from friends, family, and other churches. But both still need several thousand dollars. (Think, for example, of the expense of having to charter a private plane just to get into Sudan.) If you're interested in joining Diane and me in helping them, you can make a check out to "Highland Church of Christ" and mark either "Shearins/Sudan" or "Kendall-Balls/Rwanda." Also, if you're possibly interested but would like to visit with either couple by phone or e-mail, please let me know (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll pass that along to them. I don't think I've ever done this before in the history of my little blog. But this is weighing on me. We've asked the Lord to raise up workers and now workers have been raised up. Will we send them?
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
From the incredible book (in The Gospel and Our Culture Series) StormFront: "In the Bible, talk about salvation refers primarily to God and God's victory over all the powers that resist and distort God's gracious purposes for the world. The Bible sees life as a great struggle between life and death, between sin and righteousness, between faithfulness and rebellion, between peace and violence. The good news of salvation is the announcement that God wins: God's life is stronger than death. God's righteousness is deeper than human sin. God's faithfulness outlasts human rebellion. God's peace is more enduring than human violence. For North Americans, by contrast, salvation is more focused upon how God meets our needs. It's about overcoming our guilt, solving our problems, discovering meaning in our existence, feeling included and loved, and overcoming the threat of our death and the death of those we love -- all of course with God's help. . . . "In the final analysis, the biblical understanding of salvation is not merely that our lives will be set right again at last. The biblical understanding of salvation is that our lives become swept up into something larger and greater than ourselves, into God's purposes for the world. In other words, the receiving of salvation and the call to mission are not to be conceived sequentially, as if one followed the other (first salvation, then grateful obedience in mission). Rather, to receive salvation is to be called into something larger and greater than we are, to be invited to participate in God's saving purpose and plan for the world. That is why the gospel is primarily about God, and only secondarily about us."
Monday, April 18, 2005
What a wonderful day: A morning in Larry and Linda Bridgesmith's home in Nashville, surrounded by redbuds, tall oaks, and dogwoods. So THAT is what spring looks like. I'd forgotten . . . . Hours to be with dear friends to plan next fall's Zoe conference. The conference will be held in Nashville (fall 05), Fresno (winter 06), and Denver (summer 06). Lunch at Baja Burrito. Please, please come to Abilene! And bring Barnes and Noble with you. Along with Pappasito's. A chance to read and re-read an article about the Yankees' losing streak. Spend more money, George! Home to Diane and Chris. Since Chris came home from the hospital following the wreck, I've had to shower him. He's converted me into a shower singer. So I enjoyed washing his hair tonight as we sang at the top of our lungs "Said I Wasn't" and "You Gotta Take the Lord With You." (Sorry for that image.) Finally, a chance to read further in Anne Lamott's PLAN B and in STORMFRONT.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
For Matt as you enter another week of tests . . . . Rachel Naomi Remen had just lost a breast cancer patient who was only 37. She spent some time later with the woman's husband and four-year-old daughter. As they visited, the child reached into her pocket and pulled out a heart. "It's a feelie heart," the dad explained. "She never goes anywhere without it. Dr. Remen discovered that the heart had been sent from a bereavement center in Tacoma, Washington that ministers to children who've suffered the death of a loved one. "No two hearts are exactly alike, and each has a life of its own. . . . It is common for children who have grieved to give their feelie heart to other children who are going through hard times. One little girl gave her heart to her father when her parents divorced. A small boy sent his to his teacher when her own little boy died." Remen thought about all the physicians she worked with who came through her Continuing Medical Education program to help them deal with death. They're trained to be ashamed of deaths or not to talk about them, but many of the best doctors carry around their repressed losses for years. Here's what she did: "Some time ago, I wrote to the women who make the feelie hearts for Bridges to tell them about this work, about the oncologists, emergency-room physicians, surgeons, and internists who have spent time with us and about the fifty first- and second-year UCSF medical students who take our course on the art of healing every year. They sent us hundreds of little velvet hearts. They fit into the pocket of a white coact perfectly. Several of the students have told me that they find that if they hold their feelie heart while they study, it relaxes them. But perhaps it does more than this. The first- and second-year medical students at our school and at every medical school are remarkable young people, on fire with the spirit of service. They are people who care deeply and passionately. Research at medical schools throughout the country shows that often this passion does not survive the rigors of the training. Sometimes I think of one of these young people, late at night, struggling to memorize the countless facts on which the scientific practice of medicine is based and holding on to a little velvet heart. The image fills me with an irrational sense of hope."
Saturday, April 16, 2005
I USED TO THINK of preaching as science. Take the text into the lab, dissect it, and carve it into three points and an application. Above all, make points. NOW I THINK of preaching more as art. The goal isn't to make points but to arrive at a point (destination). The message, like Christian discipleship itself, is a journey -- informed by the text, shaped by the text. Instead of seeing myself as the one who explains the Bible to everyone, I see myself as a leader in the journey who escorts people into the messy, marvelous, unbelievable, life-altering world of scripture. In some ways, it's harder. (The exegetical and hermeneutical work still has to be done on the front end!) But it seems to correspond more to scripture, for the Bible doesn't often come in nifty little sections of points. It immerses us into a world shaped by the work of God in human lives. It is Jesus-formed. The preaching that reaches deep inside me and rattles my bones is not usually very easy to outline--though that certainly doesn't mean it isn't carefully crafted. Often, it has seemed to me, the other kind of preaching tends to turn people into Bible Wonks who study scripture a lot but don't catch the overarching themes of scripture. In their search for "answers," they wind up with a reduced world. So preaching is an art. There is a place to launch the journey, there are turns and twists, there are mountains and valleys, and there is a destination. (In old classical homiletic theory that's the "thesis" or the "focus.") Disclaimer: this isn't the only way to view preaching. It's where I am on my understanding. It's more narrative/story than encyclopedia, more poetry than prose, more art than science. Take this with a grain of salt. I think I know more about good guacamole and about how to throw a good two-seam fastball than about good preaching.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
The One Egg Special. For fourteen years, I've been having breakfast most Wednesday mornings at the infamous Towne Crier. It's been a wonderful time to be with preachers from other Churches of Christ in town. As members have drifted back and forth from one church to another over "major differences," we've just smiled, enjoyed our friendship and remembered that what goes around comes around. It's rare for anyone to order anything other than the One Egg Special. (Yes, it may remind you of the Blue Plate Special that Barney used to order at the diner in Mayberry.) One egg, meat, and bread. It's $2.19 for the breakfast. Yes, those of you in Manhattan, you read that correctly. It's less than you pay for a gallon of gas. (I know there's an easy response based on double-entendre, but don't go there.) We get the same thing. But we order it SO differently! I'm the "normal" one egg special guy: one egg over medium, bacon, and a biscuit -- with water. No bells and whistles. Just pass me the strawberry jam. Eddie orders the same thing, except that he has iced tea. That's right: iced tea for breakfast. When the waitresses see him coming, they know it's time to pour the tea. Terry's one egg special goes like this: one egg scrambled, bacon, and a pancake (believe it or not, they'll substitute a pancake for the biscuit). Water. Don's order adds an interesting twist: "I'd like the one egg special with an extra egg." Now I'm not Einstein, but wouldn't that be a two egg special? Apparently not. Coffee. Phil is Mr. Atkins. He asks for extra bacon instead of the biscuit. Bring on the protein; hold the carbs. Diet Dr. Pepper to drink. So there you have it. We place five "one egg special" orders. But they look very different. It's funny to us that some of our members probably think our churches are vastly different. But we're all just one egg specials. One may be low carb, one may have the extra egg, and another is downing iced tea. But we're way more similar than most people suspect. In small worlds, minuscule differences can look VERY LARGE. Can you imagine how much energy is burned in many communities by members of various churches talking in outrage about what another church is teaching or doing? I'd like to think that in those communities, one morning a week the ministers are getting together for a bit of Towne Crier Koinonia: a one egg special, trust, deep concern, and a little humor.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
It's 2:00 a.m., and Chris and I (along with Charles and Holton) are just back from the Ballpark at Arlington. We went tonight to watch our two favorite AL teams: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the DFW Rangers of Arlington. The Angels seem to have upset both citizens of LA and of Anaheim with their new name . . . but they're still one of our two favorite teams. And tonight, John Lackey was pitching and got his first win of '05. We've now gotten to see John pitch a couple times in Arlington and once in Anaheim. There's not much better than a night at the ballpark with your child. So glad for every game Matt and I took in, and now I'm thankful that Chris (still wearing his back brace) can go again. It's a hard spring for him, since he's having to sit out baseball. But seeing him at the park (in his Rangers shirt with his Angels cap) -- well, it seemed like a moment of normalcy following months of chaos. Now for a few short hours of sleep. Tomorrow night's message in "Oasis" may be rather brief!
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
After writing about how the primary human predicament is often described through either a medical model (where the human problem is illness and what's prescribed is therapy and medicine) or a legal model (where our problem is lawlessness and crime and what's needed is punishment), Barbara Brown Taylor has these insightful words: "Contrary to the medical model, we are not entirely at the mercy of our maladies. Even within a fallen creation, we still have pockets of God-given freedom. However impoverished our circumstances, however badly we may have been used, we may still choose--for good or ill--how we will respond to what has happened to us. We may learn how to live with our tragedies or we may spend all of our time dying from them. We may decide to forgive our enemies or we may allow them to run our lives by continuing to hate them. In theological language, the choice to remain in wrecked relationship with God and other human beings is called sin. The choice to enter into the process of repair is called repentance, an often bitter medicine with the undisputed power to save lives. Contrary to the legal model, sin is not simply a set of behaviors to be avoided. Much more fundamentally, it is a way of life to be exposed and changed, and no one is innocent. But that fact need not paralyze anyone with fear, since the proper response to sin is not punishment but penance. . . . The essence of sin is not the violation of laws but the violation of relationships. Punishment is not paramount. Restoration of relationship is paramount, which means that the focus is not on paying debts but on recovering fullness of life. . . . Sin is our only hope, because the recognition that something is wrong is the first step toward setting it right again."
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Three basics of communication: the message, the speaker, the audience. It's Sunday morning, very early. No one else is at the building. And you realize that the message isn't finished. It's a work-in-progress. Oh, yes, the basics have been covered: languages, exegesis, prayer, etc. But it doesn't feel like enough. The message could use another week. More time to stew in the pot. Plus, you know that YOU are not ready. Not nearly as far along spiritually as you thought you'd be by now. Too caught up with grief and compromised by knowing your words go beyond your life. The Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, and you can feel the wounds from its blade. And you're quite certain the listeners aren't ready. They're tired. They've heard it before. Their lives are challenging. They may want more than you can deliver. But the moment comes. The text is read. You pray that God will pour through you the gift of preaching. And then something happens that goes beyond preparation, beyond communication skills, beyond clever twists of phrases. It's preaching. Despite your failures, despite your clumsiness, despite your personal inconsistencies, the Word of God has its say. A great mystery, far beyond what I can comprehend. But I count on it weekly.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Thanks to James Wiser for providing this blog on Harding's recognition as one of the ten most politically conservative schools in America. It was written in a kind spirit with recognition of the many wonderful people at my alma mater. Thoughts?
We've put a couple pieces about the life of Pope John Paul II on the Wineskins website. Anytime my buddy Darryl Tippens writes something I wonder, "Why can't I think/write like that?" (There was also an interesting discussion yesterday on Greg Kendall-Ball's blog.) What an amazing man he was. It was hard to co-opt him to promote your own causes because he didn't fit into neat little American categories. He denounced the war in Iraq, capital punishment, abortion, stem cell research, birth control, and Western greed that tramples on the poor. I don't want to put a damper on his powerful influence for peace. AND YET . . . I just wonder what his legacy would be if he had forcefully led in a direct, honest, compassionate response to the revelations of sexual abuse from within the church's clergy. The sense of downplaying and cover-up was strong, wasn't it? I'm sure I have no idea how complex the issue was. But there was a chance to say that all records would be released, all predators would be removed, and all victims would be compensated even if the Vatican had to be sold to pay for it. Nevertheless, I hope my worst moment isn't the central topic on the day of my funeral. It's clear that hundreds of millions of people were impacted by his kindness, compassion, and intelligence.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Please, PLEASE don't tell Bill Rankin. But I'm thinking about purchasing a Mac. Yep, I'm looking at the possibility of getting a Powerbook--especially for ease in video editing. You're either a PC person or a Mac person. I'm the former; Bill is the latter. And we've been around-and-around about this many times in the last, oh, decade or so. (Note: it was mostly in jest since Bill knows a lot about technology and I don't.) But my technology intern (Matt Maxwell) tells me it's time to take the plunge. So -- mum's the word.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Anyone know anything about dodgeball? I don't think I've played since, ummmm, well it's been just a year or two. But I'm coming out of retirement Saturday. Our youth ministry is sponsoring a dodgeball tournament to help raise money for mission trips. There is, unfortunately, an adult division in the tournament. And, of course, the Highland staff needs to lead the way. So far, only four of the six slots are confirmed. The other three confirmees are 30 or under. I'm, well, a bit over 30. I put that one astern 18 years ago. - - - - Good news: the Rangers are only a game out of first place. Our two favorite AL teams, the Rangers (local loyalty) and the Angels (because of former Highland member John Lackey) played each other in the opener. I'm not predicting it -- but wouldn't it be great if either the Rangers or the Angels wound up in the Series next October?
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
So where's the guy in the elevator at Midland who made fun of my picks now? :) I've got a buddy who shall remain nameless (Richard Beck) who insists that the NBA is great entertainment. He has the right to be wrong. March Madness: now that is basketball! Actually, my favorite basketball is Y-ball, where the coaches can go out on the courts to remind the kids which way to go. As I think about my homes -- and, by the way, thanks for those wonderful thoughts about home in the comments yesterday -- I try putting together a "home" from all of them. If I could combine the hills and relatives from Neosho with the trees and friends from Searcy with the ocean and salty breeze from Wilmington with the church from Abilene, THAT would be quite a home! Tonight I get to hear Tony Campolo speak at the "Just People" dinner. I never get tired of his stories. He's one of my heroes for his constant insistance on a "whole-bodied gospel" -- a gospel that turns outward toward the world that God loves in ways of love and justice.
Monday, April 04, 2005
So glad to have done "Stream in the Desert" again. (Lots of conversations there with folks from this blog community.) But also SO GLAD to be home. I talked yesterday morning about HOME. And it got me thinking on the way back to Abilene about the places that have been my home: Neosho, Missouri (for 16 of my first 18 years, including my place of birth and graduation), Austin (where we lived a couple years while my folks went to UT), Searcy (four years of college and seven years as minister), Memphis (three years of grad school), Wilmington, NC (two years of ministry), and Abilene (fourteen years). Is "home" more place or people? Location or relationship? In some ways, I carry a bit of at least four of those places in me as "home": Neosho, Searcy, Wilmington, and Abilene. Plus, maybe, Memphis--especially since Matt was born there. Our kids were born in Memphis (1982), Wilmington (1984), and Abilene (1992). I think I lean more toward home as people/relationship. Home is where Diane is. Home is being with Matt, Jenna, and Chris. Home is Megan's grave. Home is sitting down over a meal with friends and being with family over holidays. And as a believer, there is that other home that some days every cell in my body is crying out for.
Friday, April 01, 2005
I just got off an elevator at my motel in Midland, TX. A man getting on nodded to me and then said, "Your picks are all wrong." This blog thing is out of control. :) By the way, he's picking Louisville. No stinkin' way. Pitino can coach, but he can't play! They'll be whipped by Illinois, who in turn will be whipped by the Heels. Two of my six sessions at "Stream" are behind (the leadership conference part). I'm reminded again that Ken Young is one of the kindest men I've ever known. We make a pretty good team: I tend to be a "the-cup's-half-empty" guy and he's a "the-cup's-half-full-and-after-one-or-two-more-songs-it'll-be-overflowing" guy.