Month’s after the Kansas City Royal’s lost the first World Series’ they’ve been to since the 80’s,  Tim Kurkjian at ESPN examines Alex Gordon’s Bottom of the 9th triple.  Now everyone knows that all involved on the Royals made the correct call and agreed that you stop Gordon at the plate.  No Question.  I would have done the same thing myself.  Especially when a “High School team in Kansas City replicated the play ten times”  and nine of the ten attempts the runner  was put out at home.   What do you think?  Could Gordon have scored?

 

MLB – The Penultimate Play – ESPN.

According to Bo Giertz,  evil comes from the devil.

Why are people so shocked by talk about the devil?  Is it more logical not to believe in an evil power that stands in opposition to God?  Where, then, does evil come from?  The fact is that many lose faith because they think God alone is in control of the world, so He alone is to blame for everything that happens.  Therefore, if something happens that can’t possibly be reconciled with their belief in an ‘all good and almighty God,’ they conclude that there is no God.  In one sense, this is true.  There is no such god, one that has no adversary and who alone is responsible for all that happens. 1

This is quite shocking, because doesn’t Scripture teach that “God works all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose?” (Rom. 8:28) Many Christians today and others do believe that God is responsible for everything–good and bad. But I’m not sure that’s exactly what that verse in the whole context of the Scriptures means.

Chew on this: If God is responsible for everything both good and bad, wouldn’t that also mean that God could be tempted?  After all isn’t temptation the lure and enticement of desire?  And doesn’t desire “give birth to sin, and sin … brings forth death (Jas.  2:14-15)”? Can God be in the presence of sin? No!    God cannot even be in the presence of sin!  This is why Moses could not gaze directly on God while on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (See Exodus 19-25 or so).  Because Moses was still a sinner,  and God was so holy, Moses would die instantly.  Not only can God not be in the presence of sin, according to His Word, but God cannot even be tempted! James makes this clear in his letter, this being that, “God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one” (v. 13b).  Well, then if God isn’t directly responsible for evil, why does he permit evil to happen and where does it come from?  Does this mean God is not all powerful or able to stop it?

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian  picks up on this theme in his book Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets you Free:

There is rarely a question of where God is when the sun is shining. … But once life takes a turn for the worse…suddenly we’re not so sure if God really is sovereign, or good. 2

He then takes the reader to the suffering of Job:

…[D]uring Job’s lengthy thirty chapter lament, God seems to be sitting back silently and listening as Job and his friends battle back and forth,, trying to figure out Why.  If God really is there, why does He hide his face?  Job cannot understand what is happening and demands an answer from God. 2

People want answers and explanations.  But answers and explanations are not faith.  There is not trust in God when we know what may happen or understand what is happening.  What is the key to God’s silence?  “God wanted Job to trust Him, come what might.”

Explanations…are a substitute for trust… . God is interested in something much more powerful than information could ever produce.  He is interested in faith. 2

All the dramatic tension in the book of Job centers on faith–specifically Job’s–but faith nonetheless.  At the start of the book in the first couple of chapters it is recorded that, “…Job, …was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”  We then learn Job has been blessed abundantly–children, livestock, and many family parties and gatherings–and makes prayers and supplications to God on behalf of his family! Then the narrator shares this tidbit of information:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.  The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?”  Satan answered the LORD adn said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”  And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant JOb, that there is none like him…who fears God and turns away from evil?  Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? …You have blessed the work of his hands and his possesions have increased in the land.  But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will curse you to your face.”  And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold all that he has is in your hand.  only against him do not stretch out your hand.” (Job 1:6-12)

Satan takes Job’s children and possessions and then later on afflicts his health to the point of excruciating pain.  In all this Satan tried to make Job lose faith in God.  This is what Satan does to all Christians and all mankind.  He “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”  Evil also eschews from our very core, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3; 1 Pet. 5).  Satan tempts us to ask “Why?” when we wouldn’t and couldn’t begin to fathom it!  “Why?” simply distracts us from the reality that God has defeated Satan, death and the devil, in Jesus Christ. 1,2  Satan uses the question “Why?” to tempt us to fashion God into a being we are comfortable with or who shares all our interests and desires.  This simply is not the case.  God’s desire is that “all people…  be saved and come to yhe knowledge of the truth ”  (1 Tim. 2:4).

The truth is that evil and suffering were never supposed to be part of this creation.  Humanity’s and God’s relationship was severed when Satan successfully tempted us to distrust God.  The truth is something had to be done to repair our relationship.  God sent his son Christ Jesus to die and rise again to repair it.  The truth is that Satan is scrambling, tempting all of us to trust in something other than Christ.  Satan desperately wants us to think we are free and “put [ourselves] above God’s commands” so that we stop serving God and start serving the evil one. 1  “Jesus tells us that there is only one way to find true freedom: to remain in His Word, listening, receiving, and understanding.  Then we perceive truth, and the truth sets us free, truly free.” 1

 

Sources: 1.  Giertz, Bo.  To Live with Christ.  St. Louis: Concordi, 2008. pp. 218-225
2.  Tchividjian, Tullian. Glorius Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free.  Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2012.  pp. 135-138

 

While I do believe that a team is not just one person…this is a person whom the Rangers really count on to get it done.  NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers had hoped the tightness felt by the three-time All-Star in his triceps during his spring training debut was nothing to be concerned about.

Instead, an MRI exam late Friday revealed just about the worst news possible.  Darvish has partially torn ligaments in addition to inflammation in his troublesome right elbow, and might need Tommy John surgery.

–AP article accessed from ESPN.com 8 March 2015–

I hope they can get him healthy before next season.  And I hope the rest of the staff will step up.   This is rough for Yu, the Texas Rangers, and for fans like me.   I hope you get well soon Yu!

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”  Ephesians 3:21

All flesh is like grass/and all its glory like the flower of grass./The grass withers,/and the flower falls,/but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 1 Pet. 1:25-25a

A few years ago, I still resided in San Angelo, Texas.  While there, I worked as a youth facilitator at a church, a gymnastics gym, and sometimes a mental health and drug rehab center.  As a youth facilitator, I began hosting servant events for the youth group that centered on visiting the churches shut-ins.  One elderly lady particularly comes to mind as I write this.

Her name was Ellen Elkins, her husband was Glen.  I didn’t know her that well, but what I did know was she was one of the ladies at our church who contributed to our congregation’s cook book.   I came a across that recipe while I was in Ft. Worth and read the recipe. It sounded delicious and I always wanted to try and make it.  Well, I never got around to making it then.  I moved back to San Angelo and saw she was on our shut-in visit list.  I enlisted the youth and went to visit her.  I never knew how much she enjoyed the visit, as she was struggling with memory loss and such, but I knew that if she cared enough to share a recipe with the world through our cookbook she ought to get some visitors.  After all, she must have made that meal for many a year sharing with family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy.

When I moved to Minnesota, I started making that recipe.  I discovered it tasted just as wonderful as I imagined it.  I now get to share this recipe with my friends and neighbors here.  Everyone enjoys it.  Ms. Elkins’ passed away soon after I started cooking her recipe. What’s cool is it’s now being shared and enjoyed by families across the country she never got a chance to meet, but would have been thrilled to know.

The point of all this is that, every action we take and every record we leave behind may seem insignificant to us, or just a small thing.  But what we don’t realize is that what we leave can impact generations of people we never will meet or influence directly– that’s a cool thing!  God has blessed us all with unique abilities, talents, and information.  Let’s share that now so we can better love and serve our neighbors.

Happy Friday!  God bless.

Hey!  I’m back online!  This is an exciting and Happy Friday!

Thank the Lord!  He’s lookin out for me!  Always does in fact.  Well, I am excited to share with y’all what I’ve been learnin these last few months.  My goal is to post once a week and slowly increase to daily blogs.  I hope you had a wonderful week and am lookin forward to seein y’all again here real soon.

Travis

Minneapolis, MN–Hans Christian Anderson couldn’t have penned a better ending and Hoosiers director David Anspaug surely couldn’t have elicited more drama in a basketball movie.   Never in my sports fandom did I ever expect to witness one of the most dramatic and arguably greatest comebacks in sports history this past Sunday, August 31.

In stunning fashion, the Minnesota Lynx came back from a thirteen point first quarter deficit to the Phoenix Mercury to force a decisive game three in the WNBA western conference finals.    Throughout the first three quarters of play, Phoenix dominated the game.  The 10,513 fans inside the target center kept quiet by the solid play of Diana Taurasi and company (I must note that I did not see the entirety of the first half due to mechanical problems on the train ride over).   By the time the second quarter finished it was Phoenix 44-Minnesota 36 yet a tiny shred of momentum was building for the Lynx.

At the start of the third quarter,  that small bit of momentum steadily gained steam, churning into a Maya Moore shooting clinic, who finished with 32 points in the effort.   But for every shot Moore and the Lynx made, Phoenix was right there with them.

The play of the game came just before one minute was left on the clock with an improbable Moore jumper to give the Lynx a 75-73 advantage.  Phoenix’s Candice Dupree quickly responded to knot it back at 75, but the tide had turned, the Target Center was on its feet, and Seimone Augustus successfully completed the and-1 after a field goal and foul by Phoenix’s DeWanna Bonner.  The Lynx never looked back, putting up a final tally of 82 points to the Mercury’s 77.

What is outstanding about the Lynx’s play is they never looked flustered.  Despite the rough first half, they continued to execute their game plan, exhibiting confidence in their ability.  Many other teams in that situation would have fallen apart.  If my late uncle had seen this game, he very well might have been persuaded to mention the WNBA’s Lynx occasionally in his columns… maybe.

Either way, I am looking forward to following Game 3 of the WNBA Western finals tonight and hope you will too.  I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

 

Another football season begins this weekend.   While many games took place on Thursday, it will always start with the first Friday in the UIL season for me.  That day is today.  My San Angelo Central Bobcats will be opening the season against Del Rio as well as many other teams in the West Texas region in their respective openers.  In preparation of this, my hometown paper published an excellent editorial concerning the start of the season:

SAN ANGELO, Texas – A persistent, if somewhat muted, complaint for years has been that there’s too much emphasis on athletics — especially football — in West Texas and throughout the state.

If there’s any truth in that, it’s not evident to the players or the many fans who have been counting the days to Friday night’s season kickoff.

Few events generate the excitement that builds in the days and weeks before the opening games, and stadiums will be abuzz from Tyler to El Paso, from Harlingen to Dalhart.

Everybody’s undefeated, and dreams of glory abound.

Within a few weeks, many of the dreams will be dashed, or at least forced to be modified. OK, no state title, but a win against a longtime rival brings joy that’s hard to match.

But what about scholastics suffering because of all the football hoopla? It’s long been known that students who participate in extracurricular activities generally perform better than those who don’t. …

And trite as it might sound to some, all involved do learn lessons that will serve them throughout life — teamwork, discipline, sacrifice, sportsmanship. How is it possible not to gain from that?

For the title-contending teams, the benefits are greater than what’s evident in the win-loss standings. Administrators say a successful season lifts an entire school. Students are more engaged, the larger educational experience more rewarding. There are distractions, but overall the pluses rout the minuses.

And few longtime fans need to be reminded that community life is enriched by an exciting football season. For nearly half the year, high school football is the talk of the town throughout West Texas — so much that it’s hard to imagine life without it. …

You can read the whole article at gosanangelo.com.  I whole-heartedly agree with this assessment of high school football in Texas.  While I have a serious love-hate relationship with the sport, I wouldn’t trade those experiences on Friday night with the world.

Now in other football news:

Texas A&M  served the Gamecocks of South Carolina bar-b-q’d with a side of slaw in the first major upset of the college football season Thursday night.   Read the Recap here.  Also, Johnny Football’s passing record was shattered by new QB Kenny Hill with a whopping 511 yards.

In more SEC action, Ole Miss routed Boise State in the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff game in Atlanta.  Maybe the Rebels will finally have a season where they sit on top of the SEC…then again, they still have to go through a gauntlet of an SEC schedule consisting of Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn.   70 TOTAL yards rushing in a game won’t get the job done.  There will need to be signs of significant improvement if they want a chance at the SEC title and a play-off birth.

Meanwhile in the State of Minnesota, the Golden Gophers won their season opener handily over one of the Top FCS teams in the country.    They’ll need to get into their rhythm a bit quicker though, especially with an exciting game at TCU on September 13 and the start of their Big 10 schedule beginning September 27 at Michigan.

It’s been too long since I have been actively writing on here.   About a month ago, my uncle, Randy Skinner passed away.   For the last few years he was with us,  he would send out a column entitled “This Monday”.   It summarized the current sporting  landscape and connected what current athletes today were doing with what others had done in the past.  Sometimes he would focus on current events only, and he had a wonderful, unique style.   From a correspondence between my brother and uncle 2009:

WRITTEN DURING THE U.S. OPEN :

TOO BAD, TY COBB. NO ONE REALLY LIKED YOU ANYWAY. NOW A COMELY LASS FROM MARIETTA, GEORGIA, HAS TAKEN SOLE POSSESSION OF YOUR NICKMANE AND STOLEN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF TENNIS FANS AND NON-TENNIS FANS ALIKE. 17 YEAR OLD MELANIE OUDIN (OOH-DAN) HAS STORMED THROUGH THE WOMEN’S SIDE OF THE U. S. TENNIS OPEN IN A FASHION NOT SEEN SINCE WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN MARCHED THOUGH GEORGIA. SHE’S GETTING EVEN FOR THAT DASTARDLY YANKEE ACT WITH FOUR STRAIGHT WINS AGAINST HIGHER SEEDS IN THE BIG APPLE AT ASHE STADIUM. THE REAL GEORGIA PEACH.

AS SHE AWAITS TOMORROW NIGHT’S QUARTERFINAL MATCH, SHE HAS JOINED THE LIKES OF SERENA WILLIAMS, LINDSEY DAVENPORT, TRACY AUSTIN, AND CHRIS EVERT AS U.S. FEMALE 17 YEAR OLDS WHO HAVE HAVE ACCOMPLISED THIS FEAT. RANKED AS THE 225 TH  FEMALE PLAYER IN THE WORLD RANKINGS  LAST YEAR, SHE WAS # 75 GOING INTO THIS FORTNIGHT FREE-FOR-ALL. 8 WOMENS’ TOP SEEDS HAVE ALREADY BEEN PLANTED AT THIS EVENT, INCLUDING #1 DINARA SAFINA AND #3 VENUS WILLIAMS, AND ON LABOR DAY OUDIN, THE PINK AND YELLOW SHOD WITH THE WORD BELIEVE ETCHED IN HER SOLES, OUTED 13 TH SEED NADIA PETROVA. PRIOR TO THAT, # 26 MARIA SHARAPOVA, #4 ELENA DEMENTIEVA AND A 1ST ROUNDER,  ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA, ALL RUSSKIES, FELL PREY TO THE FEMALE WUNDERKIND. IF YOU SAY SHE IS PARTIAL TO RUSSIANS, YOU’RE RIGHT. NOT SINCE JAMES BOND HAS THERE BEEN  A CONQUEST OF RED LADIES IN SUCH CONSECUTIVE AND CONVINCING FASHION.

If you’re curious about the all caps, it was easier for my uncle to read what he wrote.  Never once did he shout in this column (unless it was to call curses on the Evil Empire in New York, Derek Jeter excepted).

Anyway, my goal is to put one This Tuesday column out weekly,  in honor of my uncle.  While it won’t cover all sports per se,  it will focus on Big XII and Big Ten football, some devotions and inspirational pieces and any other events on my mind.   There will probably be a few Texas Ranger updates as well.   The column will appear on Tuesdays only because for me, Mondays  belonged to Uncle Ranny.  I always looked forward to getting his email column.   And that’s how it will stay.   So may he rest in peace and I hope I can capture just a tiny bit of what made my Uncle’s column magical.  God bless and happy reading!

 

A TCU friend of mine posted this to his Facebook page recently. I think this is something my late Uncle Ranny Skinner would have appreciated. Without further adieu, here is what I call The Matt Skains Guide for Football Fans:

Things to get straight before football season:
– If you do the wave, you are terrible.
– If your college team loses 4 games, they suck. No exceptions.
– Running up the score – particularly in college – is part of the game.
– Don’t root for your division or conference. It’s sad. Unless you are directly benefiting from it being terrible, then tongue in cheek is acceptable.
– It’s perfectly ok to complain about a player/coaching messing up your fantasy team/bet but you have a 1 week time limit on it. Exception for egregious fantasy championship game situations.
– If you correctly predict an outcome, it’s worth bragging about, but you must submit to ridicule w/o rebuttal when you are wrong.
– The refs always go undefeated. Deal with it. Also, 99.9% of the time they are not out to get your team – your team just played poorly.

Upon finishing this part Matt poses this statement and question, “I think that’s it for now. I miss anything?”

So did he miss anything?  All points are up for debate.  Have a good weekend and happy football season!

Growing up in Texas, most of the time on major highways speed limits average around 65 miles per hour.  Most people go way over that, but it decreases travel time and helps clear congestion on the free way.   In the Midwest, particularly in Minnesota, the speed limits on the highways are 55.   With the way people drive around here, everybody seems to go at least ten miles an hour below the speed limit.   One can imagine how elated I was to read this in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press this morning:

On more of Minnesota’s two-lane state highways, motorists could soon be free to drive above 55 — legally.

As part of an expansive budget bill signed into law last week, state lawmakers nudged transportation officials to boost the speed limit to 60 miles per hour on lane miles where it can “reasonably and safely” be done. By 2019, traffic engineers must examine every mile of road with a 55 mph limit and determine if it is prudent to go higher. …

“The fact we’re studying the roads does not mean you can jump to the conclusion that all roads will be raised to 60 miles per hour,” said Peter Buchen, assistant state traffic engineer at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

But the agency has been moving in that direction. In 2005, the department bumped the limit to 60 mph on 791 miles of two-lane highways and added another 750 miles last year. Buchen said those were prime candidates — straight, wide-open stretches with clear sight lines and low incidence of crashes. He said limits on hillier, curvier highways probably won’t budge.

Well, at least all the roads that run in a straight line will increase.    The project is going to extend into 2019 according to the article, but driving will become much less stressful for me each subsequent year.

Source: Bakst, B. (2014, May 25). Minnesota lawmakers demand higher speed limits on more miles. . Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_25834474/minnesota-lawmakers-demand-higher-speed-limits-more-miles