Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentines Day

By My Anonymous Friend

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I am always intrigued how such special occasions and traditions get started. Was it Hallmark trying to find still another special day to sell cards? Or was it florists and candy makers marketing their particular products? How unromantic you say!!

Most people will say that Valentine's Day originated with St. Valentine. But which one? There are two for sure and likely a third early church leader named Valentine. The first two lived and died in the 3rd Century and the third St. Valentine is believed to have been martyred in Africa. None of them had any relationship with things romantic whatsoever. According to legend, one of the Valentines violated the edict of the Roman emperor that soldiers remain single and married many of them secretly. That may seem at least somewhat romantic. Another legend that has evolved is that Valentine, on the night before his execution, wrote a letter to the daughter of his jailer and signed it "From your Valentine!" There is no factual basis for this legend however, but it sounds romantic enough. In 1382 Chaucer wrote a poem which begins, "For this was sent on Valentine's Day." It is the first linking of things romantic with Valentine. Other parts of the poem however suggest that it was written several months after February 14. We will never know and it does not really matter. In the early 1800's printers began creating Valentine cards, and so the tradition has evolved to this day. It is estimated that in the US close to 200,000,000 Valentine cards are sent each year. In 2010 about 15 million e-cards were sent via the internet. In some cultures the traditions of Valentine’s Day run strongly against the political or religious ideologies of its leaders. For example in Iran today, any printing and distribution of any items promoting the holiday are banned. Those who violate this law will be legally dealt with!

So much for the unexciting historical background of Valentines's Day. The concept of expressing love to those dearest to us is a very good one obviously and it is good to have one day set aside when particular attention is devoted to it. Hopefully, it is not the only day we say "I love you" to those nearest and dearest to us.

Love is defined by some as a chemical addiction whose greatest goal is reproduction. Indeed a myriad of chemical reactions take place in the brain when the subject of love comes up. I suppose this is why we say we have or do not have "chemistry" with another person. It is an amazing and miraculous part of how the Creator designed humanity. Were it not so academic and unromantic I would go into more detail, but I have already set too much of an academic tone in this email.

Love is a basic component in all interpersonal relationships. It is one of the most common themes in the arts. Philosophically and theologically speaking, love is the highest human virtue. It can express a fondness for certain things as in "I love sports!." It can also refer to passion and romantic and sexual love. Theologically love is the basis and foundation for all being. It is the highest description we can ascribe to God. Such diversity of meaning and application makes love hard to explain with distinction. We do know that love is essential to life. George Sand said it this way: “There is only happiness in life, to love and be loved.

I agree. I wish to pay tribute today to the person I love most on this earth-- my wife. (-----) and I first met on April 16, 1967. I remember the location and time as if it were yesterday (well almost like yesterday). Our first date took place on April 30. She says it was my persistence that won her over. Persist I did. On that April Sunday when we first met, I told a friend that I had just met my wife. He reads these emails and can verify that statement I made then. We were engaged to be married on Dec. 31, 1967 but since we were students at Moody Bible Institute and the school was not fond of students marrying, we waited, and waited, and waited for what seemed like an eternity. On August 16, 1969, our wedding day finally came. Now, almost 42 years later, the anxieties of waiting are more of a distant memory. We have lived in various places, traveled to many destinations, seen four wonderful children come into our family, experienced many joys and sorrows too, but always we have journeyed together. We do so now as we live as "empty nesters." I sometimes think that (-----) has been part of roughly 67% of every experience I have had in my entire life from birth to today.

This past week I attended a college basketball game which honored its seniors. The parents or friends of these athletes joined them on the court and were showered with flowers and plaques and other gifts. As so often happens nowadays, the parents of athletes have been divorced and remarried. Often the mother is introduced with a name different from that of the father. Sometimes only one parent is present because the other has begun a new life elsewhere. It is awkward sometimes and I always wince in my spirit at such occasions. I am very happy to say that my children's parents BOTH have the same name and are together after all these years. Thanks (-----) for being my Valentine for all these years!

I hope you have a very special Valentine too and I hope he or she knows what a special Valentine you are to each other. If you do not have such a person today and some who read this do not, I hope you will find one soon! Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nobody Died

I have been coaching high school girls’ basketball for over twenty years. During that time, I have had successes and failures, and my teams have both won and lost their share of games. While I always coach in such a way as to try to win each game, I learned a long time ago that, while winning is more fun than losing, winning is not everything, and winning is not the only thing. There are many important life lessons that can be learned through athletics, and the lessons learned through losing can be just as important, if not more important, than those learned through winning.

My team is currently coming to the end of a successful season with a record of 12-2 overall and 7-2 in league play. We are solidly in second place in our league and poised for the playoffs. In our 12 wins, we have had several close games and a few one-sided wins by scores such as 58-18, 60-26, and 47-11. I am always careful when a score gets out of hand not to humiliate another team with pressure defense, etc.

We hit a big bump in the road last night when we had an opportunity to move into a tie for first place if we could pull off an upset against the team currently in first. We had done very well against them the first time, playing them even for three quarters before falling in the fourth quarter and losing our first and only game of the season until last night. We went into the game at less than full-strength with one of our key players out with a knee injury. However, there are no excuses in sports. We had one of those games where nothing seemed to work, our free-throw shooting was uncharacteristically bad, we couldn’t seem to buy a basket even when we were wide open for a lay-up, and we finished with the lowest point total any of my teams have had in several years. We ended up losing by a score of 65-18 to a team that is clearly better than us, but probably not that much better than us.

So what does a coach say to his team after that kind of a loss? I said what the title of this article says. “We lost a basketball game, but nobody died.” I have never lost any sleep over a game. Does that mean I don’t care about winning? Of course not. The object of the game is to attempt to score more points than the opponent in a manner consistent with the rules. However, in the grand scheme of things, certain events, such as basketball games, fade into insignificance.

I lost my first wife to a massive stroke in the summer of 2001. Since that time, the Lord has helped me put my coaching experience even more into proper perspective. Losing a basketball game is of little consequence when compared to losing a spouse. If someone can’t deal with losing a game, how on earth will they deal with losing a friend, a sibling, a parent, a spouse, or a child? We can learn a little bit about dealing with the big losses by dealing with the small losses in a proper manner.

My first season of coaching after my wife went to be with the Lord was a unique experience. I had an All-CIF guard and a supporting cast made up of very inexperienced players. We ended up with a record of 2-18. We really cherished those two wins. Many might consider that season a total failure, but I remember it very fondly as one of the best ever, not because of what happened on the court, but because of the godly young women on my team who rallied around me daily by practicing hard, by doing the best they could do in the games, and by encouraging me with their words as they understood I had suffered a great loss.

When a little disappointment comes into our lives, we can certainly put it into perspective by recognizing that other things are much more significant and by reminding ourselves that “nobody died.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jesus is the Way

Jesus said, “…unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24, NASB). There is no wiggle room in that statement. Jesus did not give people freedom to sort of believe in Him but to also make their own way. He is the way. He is the only way. It doesn’t make any difference what anyone thinks or feels about it. If a person believes he can get to God in any other way besides through the Lord Jesus Christ, he is very badly fooled. This truth is further underscored in the Book of Acts. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NASB).