Friday, August 29, 2008

Order of Elder

Yesterday, Bishop Thomas Bickerton convened a meeting of the Order of Elder in Western PA Conference, hosted by Christ UMC in Bethel Park. Hundreds of pastors - Elders, Deacons, local pastors, and provisional pastors - gathered for a time of worship and fellowship. Along the way, Elders elected Eric Park as the head of the Order for the next four years. Deb Flint will head up the Deacons and Tony Fallisi will head up the local pastors.

A few of us went to the Olive Garden for lunch rather than partake of the provided munchies; here are some pics of the guilty parties...

Dayton Mix (Reynoldsville), Dennis Lawton (Tionesta),
Gary Bailey (Brush Run)

Randy Costolo (Hopwood), Eric Raygor (Somerset: Grace)

Myself, Randy, Eric

Friday Top Ten: Current NFL QBs

1 - Tom Brady (New England Patriots)

2 - Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts)

3 - Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)

4 - Brett Favre (New York Jets)

5 - Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys)

6 - Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)

7 - Eli Manning (New York Giants)

8 - Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle Seahawks)

9 - Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals)

10 - Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers)

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Real Race Begins for McCain & Obama

With the Olympics behind us, America will begin now to turn seriously to the upcoming presidential election. The Democrat convention begins tonight. I have posted previously (here and here) about the need to vote first and foremost based on a candidate's personal character. In my view, both John McCain and Barack Obama seem to be decent fellows. This isn't to suggest that these men have never made mistakes or errors in judgment, and it certainly doesn't mean that I agree with all of their stated positions or goals...but, both senators seem to be OK guys.

I've been disturbed by some elements of the campaigns. It bothered and confused me, for example, when Hillary Clinton attacked Barack Obama for his "lack of experience". It disturbed me that she had only four more years of experience than Obama, and, of course, neither Clinton nor Obama possesses experience comparable to that of John McCain. Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt had very little experience, yet both are among history's finest leaders. If John McCain focuses on this aspect of the election, his campaign will go down in flames as did Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Experience isn't nearly as important as personal character. In addition, the ability to raise up talented people to serve and lead is far more important than how many years one has served in the U.S. Congress or as a state governor. In my opinion, these gifts are areas worthy of our focus.

Without question, prayer needs to begin regarding the decisions Americans will make in a little over two months.

Heavenly Father, gracious lord of all creation, you rule and judge all nations; you scatter the arrogant of mind and heart; you cast down rulers from their thrones and raise up the lowly.

This November, Americans elect those who will serve in government, and the voices that call to follow one path or another are often confusing; the signs of these times that must be discerned are tragic and unjust; the culture of death that afflicts all humankind is powerful.

Open all eyes to see your reign in history; open all hearts to share your love with people; open all ears to hear the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger among us. In the midst of chaos, enable your Church to be your obedient people.

Send your Holy Spirit upon the people of this land. Help Americans to make wise and prudent decisions. Increase faith and hope. Empower your Church to live the Gospel she professes, even when this means alienation and criticism from the world. Guide your Church on to perfection, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- adapted from

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Top Ten: Best Non-Beatles Albums

1 - The Joshua Tree (1987) by U2

2 - Highway 61 Revisited (1965) by Bob Dylan

3 - Pet Sounds (1966) by the Beach Boys

4 - What's Going On (1971) by Marvin Gaye

5 - Thriller (1982) by Michael Jackson

6 - Blonde on Blonde (1966) by Bob Dylan

7 - Nevermind (1991) by Nirvana

8 - Woodface (1991) by Crowded House

9 - Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970) by Simon and Garfunkel

10 - Achtung Baby (1991) by U2

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Top Ten: Best Beatles Albums

1 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

2 - Revolver (1966)

3 - The Beatles ("The White Album") (1968)

4 - Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

5 - Rubber Soul (1965)

6 - Abbey Road (1969)

7 - A Hard Day's Night (1964)

8 - Help! (1965)

9 - Beatles for Sale (1964)

10 - Let It Be (1970)

Note: All albums British editions except Magical Mystery Tour (US edition).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Big Apple Brett...Favre's a Jet

What a shock to wake up this morning and discover that Brett Favre is now a New York Jet. Can this soon-to-be 39 year old quarterback handle these great new expectations?

Favre is perhaps the most beloved player in today's NFL (unless you live in Illinois or Minnesota). For those of us too young to remember the glory years of Vince Lombardi, Ray Nitschke, and Bart Starr, Favre is synonomous with the Green Bay Packers. In a franchise of countless Hall of Famers, he became the greatest Packer of all. Now, to see him in New York City, leading one of the most hapless teams in the league, is going to be very, very strange.

As a nation, we watched Brett Favre emerge in the mid-1990s as a very special young player. Built more like a tight end than a quarterback, he played with a certain joie de vivre that was contagious; he had fun, broke rules and took risks, playing the game like it hadn't been played in 50 years. It always looked as if he were playing a pick up game in his backyard with his buddies. It was a true football pleasure to see the young "gunslinger" lead the veteran Pack to a Super Bowl victory in 1997. He quickly became the only three time MVP in NFL history.

Then, something else happened. While the eyes of fandom turned to John Elway's triumphant finale and the emergence of two legends-in-the-making named Brady and Manning, Brett Favre aged. The young gunslinger transformed into a grizzled old veteran, the oldest player in Wisconsin, whose wild style of play resulted in all-time records for starts, touchdowns, yards...and interceptions. He became more than an legend; Brett Favre is an icon, like few other football stars in recent history.

He started out as the exciting young player with a contagious passion; he turned into John McClane fighting the baddies and trying to survive in Nakatomi Plaza. It was sometimes painful to watch, but you had to watch, and were ultimately thankful that you did. A tearful retirement was a sad day for all of America. It staggers the imagination that the Packers wouldn't or couldn't welcome him back into the Lambeau fold.

Now, he'll finish his career under the bright lights of the Big Apple. Has sixteen years in the NFL's smallest market prepared Favre for the scrutiny of the largest media market on the planet?

I think so.

In Pittsburgh, we take Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward very seriously. We can't be bothered with, say, Carson Palmer or Randy Moss. In San Diego, it's all about LaDainian Tomlinson; they couldn't care less about Tony Romo.

But Brett Favre belongs to all of us. We'd all love to have him on our team; at least, we'd like to sit with him, have a beer, and watch a game. Our hearts went out to him when he lost his father, and then turned out maybe the greatest performance in the history of Monday Night Football. We prayed during his wife's bout with cancer. We sat on the edges of our seats as he struggled with an addiction to prescribed painkillers, and we marveled as he became the world's toughest athlete, starting a record 253 consecutive games, often in serious physical agony.

New York City is exactly a thousand miles from Green Bay. It will be bizarre to watch Brett Favre play in a New York Jets uniform. But, he didn't leave his fans a thousand miles away; his fans are anywhere and everywhere people love the game of football. If the Steelers aren't playing in Tampa in February, what a joy it would be for every football fan to see Brett Favre under center.