This Post is Slippery

January 24, 2018 v5 p3

There has been a lot of tragic and disturbing items in the news lately.  While those are difficult to deal with sometimes, the reaction to them may be even more tragic and disturbing.

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In November of 2011 a Grand Jury indictment was brought down on former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  In August of 2016 The Indianapolis Star released a report into allegations of sexual complaints, which lead to the recent news of Dr. Larry Nassar abusing over 150 girls.  Unless you’ve been living in a cave without internet (if you are, how are you reading this?) then you’re most likely familiar with these stories.  I really don’t want to go into the details of what both of these horrible men did.  All that would do is bring more attention to the sick men who perpetrated these crimes.  That isn’t what I want to focus on with this post.  In order to help illustrate what the point I’m trying to make I need to mention these stories.  What led these men to do such horrible acts?  I don’t know.  I don’t want to try and speculate about it either.

The top goal I have set for myself this year is to strengthen my relationship with God.  I have come to realize that by doing that I will be able to take all of the lessons I’ve learned in my past to be a success in everything that I do.  In Philippians 4:13 we are reminded “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”  This has never become more evident to me than it has in past couple of weeks.  I’ve been praying for His guidance for some time now and I wasn’t really sure that I was hearing what he had to say.  When I realized that I wasn’t doing what Priest I gave my last confession to told me to do, I decided I should at least start there.  After I started the first thing I was told to do it made me realize that it was God who told me what to do through the Priest.  I knew this was how confession worked, but for whatever reason I wasn’t putting it into practice.  Immediately my prayers began to come to life again, they had gotten stale for a couple of weeks.  I didn’t change anything about them, but they certainly changed.  So I continued to do more of what I was told during confession, and more has been revealed to me.

I have always had a problem doing what I knew I should be.  Not really in a sense of my faith, because if you’ve been here for a while you know that really wasn’t a part of my life for a long time.  I would always procrastinate on doing things I knew I should.  I would push timelines to the very last minute, and then stress myself out as I was forced to finally sit down and take care of what needed to be done.  Once everything was completed on time and in a glowing manner I would always look back and say to myself that I just need to pressure of the deadline to do my best work.  That was never true.  I never did anything any different in those last minute rushes than I would have if had started a project weeks in advance.  I was always more interested in what I wanted to do rather than doing what I had committed to.  It’s also not like I didn’t want to commit to these tasks when I made the commitment, but as time went on I would always find something else instead, and it wasn’t always something productive or better.  A lot of the time I wasted was spent on the couch on weekends napping.  I can excuse away those naps in a 1000 different ways, but they were never better than working on what I committed to.

My wife gave me a book this past Christmas which is proving to be one of the best I’ve ever read.  It’s really been eye opening to how I’ve been living my life up until now.  I thought I established a pretty deep relationship with Jesus over the past three years since I returned to my faith, but in reality I’m just scratching the surface.  The section I’ve been reading through over the last few days is all about idolatry.  When most people hear that word they think about the worship of idols.  Idols come in many forms, and for the most part they aren’t small statues that you put on a pedestal and burn a candle in front of.  Anything you put in front of your love of Him becomes and idol.  When you choose to spend money on stuff instead of donating it to a charity, you’re making the money and idol.  I don’t mean you have to give all of your excess money to charity, but if you have some it’s, His preference that you give some.  It’s things like this that are leading us down a slippery slope.

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So you’re probably trying to figure out how this ties to the two sexual assault cases I mentioned at the beginning.  These are both pretty extreme examples, but this is where the slippery slope leads to.  The more you worship your idols, the more you take yourself away from Him.  Those idols then begin to take control of your life.  When idols begin to take over your life you no longer have the free-will that He has given you. In 2 Peter 2:19 we are told, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”  You become a slave to that idol and begin to make more decisions the appease that addiction.  Eventually you begin to tell yourself that what you are doing is right.  It then becomes easier for you to add in more or different idols to your life.  If we don’t start changing our ways then there can only be one result, and it won’t be pretty.  If you look back through history to other examples of when people have allowed these idols to take control it never ends well for those people.  If you’d like a biblical reference, just refer to the story of King Saul.  He was told to completely destroy the Amalekites, leaving nothing behind.  Instead he kept the best of the cattle, sheep, and lambs.  He took Amalekite King, Agag, hostage.  He did all of this so he could give his soldiers the best animals for sacrifice, making them remember what Saul did for them instead of God, making himself and idol.  Because of this disobedience Samuel was instructed to annoint a new king.

I have really focused on removing the idols from my life that have lead me down that slippery slope in the past.  I’ve gotten a pretty good foothold, and am ready for the long treck back to the top.

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Three for Thursday:Bowl Edition

January 4, 2018 v4 p2

The bowl season is complete except for the College Football Playoff Championship game.  There weren’t really that many surprises in the results column, but the results certainly showed where the power was in the country.

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Michigan – The Wolverines headed into their bowl game against SEC opponent South Carolina with the chance to get revenge for a loss in the same game five years ago.  This season it looked like the Wolverines should be the much better team and win without too much problem.  But that’s why they play the game, and turnovers and inexperience on offense were too much for them to overcome as they were the only team in the B1G conference to lose their bowl game.

Michigan State – The Spartans took advantage of three touchdowns in the second quarter to cruise to an easy victory over Washington State.  The team and fan-base seemed to think they deserved to play a New Year’s Day game over Michigan, but with each bowl controlling who they invite, it shows another flaw in the bowl system.  The big win should send this team into the off-season with plenty of momentum.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes made a strong claim to their case for getting a bid into the CFP by rolling to an easy 24-7 win over USC.  A 17 point victory really doesn’t sound too impressive, but the Buckeyes were in control the whole time.  Even as conference champions though, you have to wonder how one of the participants of the CFP would have fared against the Trojans.

Penn State – Saquon Barkley had his final game in what was probably one of the best bowl games of the whole season.  Penn State was able to hang on for a one touchdown victory after jumping out to and early 28-7 lead in the second quarter.  This may have been the match up between the best team’s in each of their respective conferences.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin proved they could play with anyone in the country by beating Miami by 10 in a defacto home game for Miami.  Northwestern won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in program history, showing that Pat Fitzgerald is one of the top coaches in the conference.  Iowa and Purdue got their jobs done too to complete an undefeated bowl season for one of the weakest divisions in all of college football.

Notre Dame – In a low scoring game the Irish were able to come away with a victory in the Citrus Bow against LSU.  It was low scoring with only a Notre Dame field goal going on the scoreboard in the first half.  It didn’t look good for the Irish until a spectacular circus catch for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

SEC –  Last year Nick Saban was quoted as saying that teams that didn’t win their conference championship shouldn’t be invited to the CFP, when it was announced that they would get in without participating in his conference championship he was pretty quiet.  In the semi-finals his defense showed why Alabama is still the standard to be judged by.  Georgia won a thriller in OT at The Rose Bowl, but the rest of the conference was 2-5 in their games.

ACC – Clemson looked to repeat as National Champions but found it tough sledding against a stout Alabama defense.  The other top team in conference, Miami, busted out their turnover chain early, but not often.  An overall record of 4-6 from this conference shows they’re running pretty even with the SEC.

Pac 12 – This was the conference that was going to be left out of the CFP without question.  There was no clear cut top team like last year, too many of them wanted to beat up on each other.  A 2-8 overall record shows that this was probably the weakest conference of the Power 5.

Big 12 – Oklahoma went into the Rose Bowl and gave Georgia everything they could handle, it ended up being one of the best games of the bowl season and possibly in Rose Bowl history.  Ultimately the strength of Georgia’s defense was too much in overtime and they were able to stop Oklahoma from scoring.  A 6-2 overall record shows that the conference is improving, but most of those wins came against much weaker opponents so I have a hard time seeing any strength beyond the Sooners still.

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The championship game is set up between two teams from the same conference, Alabama and Georgia.  It’s hard to say that they don’t belong there based on the teams they beat, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to see a reason to leave conference champions out of the CFP.  Unless something really strange happens and there are more than a couple with more than two losses.  I hope that by having two conferences left out all together the committee is trying to force for more expansion instead of waiting until the current four team format is up in 10+ years.  I’m beginning to hear more people make the same argument that I was making when they first set up this system.  College football is the only NCAA sport that every conference champion is automatically invited to the playoff.  This shows that the bowl committees still hold a big interest in the sport.   It really calls for an expansion to 8 teams, but then you still leave out the “Group of 5” schools.  Ultimately I would love to see a 32 team playoff that would still end the same weekend the current system does, but too many people think that’s too much football for a “student athlete.”  a 16 team playoff gets in the “Group of 5” schools, but a lot of people don’t think they would be competitive.  I guess we’ll never know.  I think expansion to eight teams isn’t too far off.

For the most part another season of college football has come to a close.  I’ll be spending my Saturdays reading more books without football to watch.

This Post is Resolved

January 3, 2018 v4 p1

This is the time of year when everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions, but I don’t.  I used to make them, and like most other people, I failed at them.

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The history of New Year’s Resolutions can be traced back to ancient Babylonia over 4000 years ago.  They also used to celebrate the new year in Mid-March at the time that they planted that year’s crops.  This all centered around a massive religious celebration where they would crown a new king or pledge their loyalty to the current one.  They would also make promises to their gods in hopes for them to be given riches, power, or good health.  Those certainly sound like resolutions to me.  Throughout history there are other examples of people making resolutions around the beginning of the new year.  In more recent times resolutions have become more of a secular ideal.  People make resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier, exercise more, and other things like that.  They are most often geared toward improving themselves.  While this is a practice that isn’t overly bad, it is one that is overly failed at.   Ultimately humans are creatures of habit and for them to change those habits is very difficult.

The main reason most people fail at the annual attempt to change something about themselves is that they set their expectations too high.  I’ve learned a lot about this through the reading I’ve been doing at work the past few years.  One example of this is people who want to start exercising more.  They set out at the beginning of the year with the goal to lose 20 pounds for example.  They go out and buy all of the latest workout gear, find a gym that they like and sign an annual contract.  Then on January 2nd (be honest) they head to that gym and start working out.  At the end of the first week they step on the scale and don’t see it move a whole lot, which dampens their spirit.  This routine continues for a few weeks and eventually the majority of people give up.  If you go to the gym regularly you’re probably familiar with what I like to call resolutioners, people who start at the gym in January but are generally gone by Valentine’s Day (and that’s being generous).  I think this is why that major gym chain that promotes not judging you is so successful.  They don’t have any contracts so people can easily cancel that monthly fee coming out of their bank account.  I would guess that people who join a gym that are forced to pay for the whole year if they sign a contract have a lower percentage of people who drop out.

The other problem people have with keeping their resolutions is don’t understand they must replace the habit they are trying to break with a new habit.  One of my bad habits is that I smoke cigarettes.  I have never smoke a lot, I think at the height of habit I going through about 12-15 per day.  That doesn’t sound like a little amount, but when you consider that some people smoke upwards of three packs per day.  That’s roughly 4 per hour if you’re awake for 16 hours per day, so they’re basically chain-smoking.   I get that nicotine is an addictive chemical, but I don’t feel like I’m addicted to it.  I can go most days at work without craving a cigarette.  On the weekends I don’t start to get jittery or angry if I go too long without one.  The problem I have with smoking is the habit.  When I get in the car to start driving to or from work, the first thing I usually do is smoke a cigarette.  If I don’t have any cigarettes to go out and smoke I generally don’t take a break, this was especially more evident when I quit for a time while I was working at an automotive manufacturer.  When everyone’s scheduled break times would come up I would generally just keep going.  My current job doesn’t have scheduled breaks so I can take a breather whenever I feel it’s needed.  The hardest part I have with quitting smoking is replacing that habit.  In the car, after a meal, before bed, or while I’m having a beer, these are all times I habit smoke.  If I don’t replace that habit with something else then it becomes increasingly easier to fall back into those old habits.

So what am I trying to get at with all of this?  I haven’t set a New Year’s Resolution in years.  Over that time though I’ve set and accomplished a lot of goals.  They sound like the same thing and pretty much are.  The difference is I don’t tie them down to only starting in January.  Goals can be set and worked on at any time of the year.  Because of that you are much more likely to accomplish those goals that you set out to complete.  Goals are usually also tied to something much more significant like your career.  I’m not sure why it seems more important to set goals for your job than it does for your health.  Honestly, if you aren’t healthy then you can’t do you job, which may be a foreign concept to some.  What needs to take importance is what you want to accomplish.  No goal is too small if it’s important enough to you.  And the best thing about small goals is that they are usually pretty attainable and can be completed quickly.  Once you complete one then you start on another and before you know it, you’ve plowed your way through 4-6 of your small goals.  Those all have a compounding effect, like a snow ball rolling down the hill in a cartoon.  The more you complete, bigger that snowball gets.  It move faster and faster, and eventually is moving on its own and nobody can stop it.

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I’ve set some pretty amazing goals for myself this year, both personally and professionally.  I think those goals are going to be my focus for this year’s blog posts so stay tuned.

This Post is a Killer

December 21, 2017 v4 p61

We all have something in ourselves that holds us back, if you don’t think so then you’re probably not ready to accept it.  Pinpointing what it is that holds you back isn’t quite as easy as you think.

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A few weeks ago, I met up with a friend for lunch because he had a book for me.  This didn’t really seem out of the ordinary because I know how much he likes to read, and I know that one of his favorite things to do is gift books.  I didn’t quite know how to accept this gift because nobody had ever don’t this type of thing for me before.  I found out that the way this friend is able to gift books like this is because he is often on pre-release lists and gets extra copies.  The fact that he didn’t pay for this gift in no way makes it any less meaningful.  I was extremely touched to know that he had thought that I would be able to get some benefit from reading this book after he had read it, twice.  This particular book is titled “Kill the Spider” and is written by Carlos Whittaker.  It’s a story from the author’s own life and goes into detail about his journey through some therapy.  To be honest, we could probably all use a little therapy.

The premise of this book is that we all need to kill what it is inside of us that holds us back.  One analogy used is that people often state they are going to clear the cobwebs.  There is a slight problem with that.  What happens when you clean the cobwebs in your house?  In a week or so there are new ones.  Why?  Because the spider that is making the cobwebs is still there, making new cobwebs.  So you can’t just address the problem, you have to figure out what the cause is and change that.  This book really hit home.  It came to me at exactly the right time.  I was in a pretty tough spot in my professional career, not really feeling like I was getting the things done that I needed to in order to continue on the path I had set for myself over the past few years.  I was having some doubts myself and my ability to grown into the leader that my company needs me to be.  Coming to this realization was a big step in the right direction.

I thought it would be easy to identify what my spider was that caused all of my self-doubt.  I tried to pinpoint it on my dad.  Growing up he wasn’t the greatest father figure in the terms of leadership.  He always did what was right, or at least tried to.  His heart was in the right place.  He was never one to be too big into sharing his emotions though.  This kind of made me feel like we could have had a closer relationship, one on a different level than we always had.  I tried to pinpoint it on my older brother too.  Growing up I always looked up to him, as most younger siblings do, but the more I look back at that relationship I realize that he wasn’t interested in taking on the role of being the big brother example for me.  So I can’t nail my spider of self-doubt down to just one of those two, there has to be more to it.  Then the holidays really started to get into full swing.  My schedule got busy and this discovery process kind of worked its way to the back burner.  I think just realizing there was an issue to figure out kind of cleared up some cobwebs, but as I mentioned earlier, that doesn’t get rid of the spider.

I’ve been praying for guidance on a daily basis for over a year now.  It kind of seemed to me that maybe I wasn’t getting that guidance I needed from those prayers, so I started to focus my prayer a little more on that.  I added a little extra to my prayer over the past week or so to try and ask for more clarity in what it is I’m being called to do.  I feel like I’ve been heading in the right direction personally and professionally but I think it really became obvious to me earlier this week.  The other day when I woke up I got pretty frustrated with something at home first thing in the morning.  By first thing I mean before I had even started to make my morning coffee.  Well, as most people do, I let that five minutes of bad attitude turn into a whole day of bad attitude.  It really ruined my whole day.  It wasn’t until almost the end of my work day when I realized what I had done.  That made me remember that there was no way I was going to get anywhere with this company by letting that insignificant of a thing end up ruining my whole day.  At the end of the day when my wife and I were going through our examen prayers I asked for His forgiveness for my discretion.  I had to.  If He didn’t know I recognized my own faults and I needed forgiveness, how can I expect anyone else to give me any?

So while I still haven’t figured out what my spider is, I now have a renewed sense of how to kill it.  The past two days have really been different.  I feel myself moving through my day with more confidence.  The end of the year is coming and we have some holidays when work won’t get performed so it kind of escalates everything.  We’ve had some pretty high profile shipments I’ve been having to deal with over the past two weeks, and our customers kind of freaked out yesterday.  My buyer was feeling the pressure from them, but I was able to handle all of her concerns without issue.  It’s moments like that when I remind myself of how high of a level I can perform at that help me take swings at that spider, even if I’m kind of doing it blindfolded right now.  Maybe I won’t need to take that blindfold off until I’ve killed it though.  I have come to realize that with Him aiding me in my fight, there is nothing that I can’t overcome.  I just have to trust in Him.

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I’ve been unknowingly fighting this battle for years, and the past few have started to give me the right tools for the battle.  It was just this week that I discovered that I had the greatest ally with me in this war all along.

Three for Thursday:Conference Championship Edition

December 14, 2017 v4 p61

The conference championships were decided and it set up the playoffs.  The results weren’t any help in clearing up how the committee chooses teams.

Big Ten: Ohio State vs Wisconsin – The Buckeyes kept Wisconsin from being the only Power 5 conference team to go undefeated throughout the season with a 27-21 win.  This wasn’t really in doubt for the whole game as it was a defensive touchdown that Wisconsin scored early in the first quarter, but they couldn’t do much else.  The fact that the final score was only a six point difference is probably what kept the conference out of the playoffs.

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SEC: Georgia vs Auburn – After falling behind by a touchdown in the first quarter it looked like this rematch may end up like their first meeting.  Georgia went on to thoroughly dominate the game over the last three quarters and rolled to an easy 28-7 win.  If it weren’t for the earlier blow-out loss Georgia may have received the number 1 seed in the playoffs.

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ACC: Clemson vs Miami – The defending champion Tigers secured their chance to repeat as champions by blowing out Miami in a game that was over before the end of the first quarter.  Miami is much improved, and looks to be returning to a prominent space on the national stage.  Clemson is playing its best football of the season when the time is right, and could be the first team to repeat as champions in the College Football Playoff era.

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Pac 12: USC vs Stanford – In a conference where it kind of seemed like nobody wanted to win the title, the two teams most people predicted would be there at the end were.  In probably the best conference championship game in the Power 5 conferences, the Trojans held on for a three point victory.  The lower play level of the rest of the conference kept the Pac 12 out of the CFP.

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Big 12 – In what could have been the worst overall conference of the Power 5, Oklahoma looked like they don’t belong.  The blowout of TCU in the rematch showed that the second best team in the conference wasn’t really anywhere near the level of the competition from the rest of the country.  Oklahoma had the best player in the country and one of the best defenses, they are a big contender in the playoffs.

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Two conferences were left out of the playoffs this year.  The Pac 12 didn’t get a representative because their winner slipped up against lesser opponents, and their conference victories weren’t very strong.  The Big Ten was left out because their winner had one bad loss on the road, and the team they beat in the championship game plays in a much weaker division.  The Big Ten West is possibly one of the two weakest divisions in all of the Power 5 conferences.  A year ago Alabama head coach Nick Saban was quoted as saying that a team that didn’t win their conference championship didn’t deserve a spot in the playoffs.  He was strangely quiet when the playoff pairings were announced.  Their first round matchup is a rematch of last year’s championship game against Clemson.  This isn’t last year’s Alabama team, and it shouldn’t be nearly as close.  The other matchup between Georgia and Oklahoma should be very entertaining.  Two strong defenses and one team with a strong passing game and another with a strong running game should produce a college football fan’s dream.

Alabama getting in to the playoffs has proven again that conference championships don’t automatically mean you’re getting into the playoffs.  This is a great case for expansion, but I guess contracts mean that won’t be happening any time soon.

This Post Looks Different

December 12, 2017 v4 p60

If we all do the same thing as everyone else, we lose our identity.  Our identity is what makes us unique.

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A lot of people are afraid to go against the grain.  They are afraid to stick out and draw attention to themselves.  I get that.  There’s part of me that wishes I could just go with the flow.  It would be so much easier to just fit in.  But I’m not wired that way.  I never have been and I don’t think I ever will be.   When I did try to act like everyone else I found myself divorced, living with my parents, and at the bar more nights than not.  If I wasn’t at the bar I was probably at home drinking, or in the midst of some other self-destructive habit.  It wasn’t leading me down a very good path.  When I finally realized that if I would spend more of my money on rent than beer I could afford an apartment with an extra bedroom for my son when my parenting time was one thing that helped me get out of that rut.  Since I only had him for three nights per week that left four others that I could still be self-destructive.

My wife and I reconciled and she moved in with us, which helped control some of those behaviors even more.  My life had turned from being a part-time single parent and part-time single guy to being a full-time family man.  There were a lot of bad habits that I had developed over a three year period that I thought I could hide from wife.  I thought I was pretty successful, but really I was just ignorant.  In my ignorance I ended up creating a huge mess.  Through nobody’s fault but my own I was driving my wife away, and my family apart.  I thought I could continue to ask for forgiveness and keep doing what I was.  All that did was drive my wife into a depression that was totally my fault.  It took some pretty major events to change my perspective.  My parents both passed away, she left her job, and we lost our house, all within the span of about 10 months.  When the dust all settled from that I started to change.

At my last job I did a lot of the “going with the flow” stuff and didn’t really push back against my boss.  I showed up every day and did my job to the best of my ability.  That ended up getting me promoted into lead positions.  Along with promotions comes more money, so I was never in a place to turn them down.  What I didn’t realize was that because of the increase in pay the management thought that meant I could be given more responsibilities that two people could handle.  As the amount of work I was expected to perform increased I started to let things slip.  Although I was doing things in the same manner my manager was, she didn’t like it.  If I took the same short cuts she did it was unacceptable.  When I reached the point where I was averaging 65+ hours per week I started to push back.  They didn’t like that.  Everyone else that they tried to do this type of thing would just accept what was being forced on them and went about their day.  I was trying to get the culture changed, they didn’t like that.

Ultimately I left that toxic environment because I was starting realize that if I continued I wouldn’t get anything changed and would only be stressed.  After a couple of months on the hunt I found my current job.  Over the last five plus years with this company I have grown more personally and professionally than I ever have.  It was my first manager here that encouraged me to return to my faith.  That has been the single most vital thing that has happened in my life in my professional life, in my family life, and in every other area of my life.  Returning to my faith has allowed me to find peace that I had been missing throughout most of my life, probably dating back to my days in middle school.  It certainly has changed how I look at things, and I would guess that if you ask my friends they would say that it has changed how I look from other people’s point of view.  That has really become evident as of late.

As I am scrolling through my social media on a daily basis I’m constantly reminded of the life I used to live.  I shake my head almost constantly and wonder if having a social media presence is even worth the stress.  I seriously think about deactivating my accounts on a weekly basis, but then I remember how my timeline has changed.  One of the features on Facebook is to see your “memories” which is just a different timeline of what you posted on that specific date over the years that you’ve had an account, I’m sure you’re familiar with it.  There are two distinct differences in my Facebook history.  The first one comes from anything posted in Mid-May of 2012, when I left the toxic job, and the second comes in early 2015, when I returned to my faith.  There has been an even deeper change that has occurred over that last six months, but that isn’t viewable through that option.  If someone were to scroll through my personal timeline they would see it.

A few weeks ago it really hit home how much different I have become than most people.  I really don’t like getting into conversations with some people because I know it’s going to lead in a direction that I’m not interested in.  I see all of the sexual innuendo posts on social media and in people’s conversations and I try my hardest not to get drawn into that.  But as they say, old habits are hard to break.  I’ve come to notice now how I’m not leading the life I want to when I get drawn into those types of conversations.  It’s almost an immediate thing for me, like when a light bulb appears over a cartoon character’s head.  I began to reflect on whether or not I wanted to look that much different than everyone else.  It didn’t take me long to answer myself with a resounding yes.  If I don’t look different than everyone else then my children won’t either.  I don’t want them to head down the paths that I did.  There’s no hope in that direction.

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In Matthew 5:11 the disciples are told “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”  If I lose some contacts or get insulted because of my faith, then that just proves that Jesus was right.

Three for Thursday:Week 13

December 2, 2017 v4 p59

The final week of the regular season brings all of the traditional rivalry/trophy games.  This is a great way to bring an end to the college football season.

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Michigan – The Wolverines jumped out to an early 14-0 lead by the beginning of the second quarter and then became complacent, by the players own admission.  I would guess that if you look at the box scores of this season you would find the Michigan had its biggest struggles in that quarter.  The youth and lack of skill in key positions, OL and QB, ultimately led to the Wolverines not being able to keep up with Ohio State in the second half.

Michigan State – The Spartans traveled to New Jersey with hopes of finishing strong.  After a slow start in the first half, Michigan State was able to dominate in the second half and cruised to an easy 40-7 victory.  There’s a lot of youth in East Lansing as well, making the 2018 season one to look forward to all of the football fans in The Mitten.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes traveled to Ann Arbor for “The Game” with the confidence of most people that they were going to win pretty easily.  Michigan came out and landed the first punch, and the second.  A championship program can withstand multiple punches and continue to win, even if their starting quarterback gets sidelined in the middle of the second half.

Penn State – After a strong start the Nittany Lions seemed to fall off the radar.  They won easily in Maryland, the worst team in the B1G East division.  Back-to-back losses in the middle of the season doomed the season, but they can still hold their heads high about the way they performed this year.

Big Ten West – Wisconsin completed their first undefeated conference season in program history by defeating an over-matched Minnesota team in the “Battle for the Axe.”  Northwestern finished the season strong with a seven game winning streak.  Their week two loss at Duke kept them from a double digit victory total.

Notre Dame – With very slim College Football Playoff hopes still alive the Irish traveled to Stanford for their season finale.  Unfortunately they showed that they are still a little bit away from being included in the national championship picture.  The Irish are much improved over 2016, but a .500 record against their top four opponents won’t get an independent into the playoffs.

SEC – The Iron Bowl is arguably the second biggest rivalry game in college football behind Michigan/Ohio State, and one could argue that over the past few years it has been bigger on the field.  Auburn hadn’t beaten Alabama since the “Kick Six” win when they returned a long missed FG at the end of regulation for the victory.  Outside of the top three teams in this conference; Auburn, Georgia, and Alabama, the SEC isn’t as good as it was five years ago from top to bottom.

ACC – Miami really made the conference championship games more interesting by dropping their first game of the season at Pitt.  Coach Pat Narduzzi is making a habit of getting his team ready to knock off the top teams, surprising Clemson last year.  Florida State handled Florida and kept themselves in line to earn a bowl bid in a season that has been decimated by injury and weather.

Pac 12 – The Cougars came into the Apple Cup with a chance to get to the conference championship game, and they proceeded to lay an egg.  Stanford took advantage of that loss and beat Notre Dame to get into that spot, surprisingly after a rocky start to the year.  The rest of this conference being down, aside from USC, is what puts this conference as the first one on the outside of the College Football Playoffs.

Big 12 – Oklahoma finished the season strong with an easy 59-31 victory over West Virginia.  Without the loss at Iowa State, which proved to be a tough place for everyone to play this year, Oklahoma would probably be the number one team heading into the conference championship weekend.  The bottom of this conference is worse than the Pac 12, but Oklahoma may be the best team in the country.

Western Michigan – The Broncos really didn’t put up much of a challenge for the Rockets, who are easily the best team in the conference in 2017.  After starting quarterback Jon Wassink went out against Eastern Michigan with a shoulder injury, it became tough Western to maintain the same level of play as they had experienced early in the season.  A fourth straight appearance in a bowl game will help ease the pains of ending the season where their expectations may have fallen a little short.

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This weekend brings the conference championship games and the release of the four team playoff pool.  There are so many different scenarios of who could be in it can be kind of mind-boggling, and I love it.