Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1
The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness.  Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is patholgical.  At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.  And each of these rare and precious moments in life - beside the Canyon, before the Alps, under the stars - is an echo of a far greater excellence - namely, the glory of God.  (John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life)

Friday, February 12, 2010


We're in the middle of Maškare season in Croatia. It's like Carnival in Brazil and is typically celebrated by countries that are predominantly Catholic.  In small town Croatia it looks more like trick-or-treating than anything else.  You'd have to go to one of the bigger cities like Rijeka to attend a parade and enjoy the festivities.

So we were a little taken aback when we heard this band playing down the street. The middle of a snowstorm in February doesn't seem like the most celebratory time, but give these guys credit (and candy) they endured the weather in order to keep the tradition.  Take a look:

Note: I have no control over what YouTube suggests after the clip finishes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Lesson in Simplicity

A new acquaintance recently volunteered his time and expertise to help our church complete our building project. In meeting and spending time with him he gave me a lesson in simplicity.  Here are a few ways in which he did so:

5.  He doesn't drink coffee - he hates the feeling he has when he needs it and can't get it. 

4. During his 3 week visit to Orahovica, he didn't drive despite the fact that his car was parked out front the whole time.

3. From what I could tell, he brought 2 outfits: 1 for work and 1 for the rest of the time including church services.

2. He gave up the opportunity to earn a paycheck for the last 3 weeks so he could help us complete our building project.

1.  He didn't bring a computer, didn't have access to a television and spent his evenings either chatting (in person) with friends or praying and reading the Word. "It's been one of the most refreshing times of my life" he told me last night.

Though we have a simpler life in Croatia than I believe we would in America, I've been coming to the conclusion that there are still many ways I can simplify.  I appreciate my friend's example in how to do so.

Another resource I've found to be helpful is Paul Borthwick's Simplify.  Before reading the book, he advises you to "ask yourself before you buy it lest a book on simplifying your life be added to the cluttered stack of to-be-read literature you already own".

Richard Bach said: "The simplest things are often the truest".  My experience has been that the simplest lives are often the truest.  Rather convicting for someone who desires to live Truthfully.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why Soccer Will Never Be Popular in America

Croatia, like most of the world, is crazy about soccer.  These were taken in 2008 during the Euro Cup:
No Croatia didn't win the tournament, but they did win one game - which was plenty enough to celebrate.
And the streets are where the party is.  This group brought the bar-stools from the bar to the middle of the road.
Isn't it true that sports say a lot about culture?

I have a theory that soccer can never and will never become any more popular in the States than it currently is.  Certainly the owners of the LA Galaxy who paid big bucks for David Beckham to come over a few years ago were putting money on the fact that it would. 

But it won't.  Let me tell you why. 

Commercials. Have you ever seen a soccer match?  There are no time-outs.  No end of innings.  No kickoffs.  No quarter changes.  Other than halftime, the clock keeps on running and running and running. 

Which means if you need a bathroom break, a beverage or a BLT you're out of luck.  If you want to make popcorn or check the internet you'll miss part of the match and possibly the only goal that will be scored. 

And for a culture where ADD is as common as HDTV that just doesn't work for us.  We are dependent on calls to the bullpen.  We count on the two minute warning.  We need Phil Jackson to call a timeout, because we need one too!

But soccer does not afford us such luxury.  They run and run and run for 90 minutes.  Don't get me wrong, that kind of endurance beats baseball, American football and even basketball.  But it also tops the average viewer's ability to sit still for two 45 minute halves.

Why do you think the Super Bowl is one of America's biggest holidays?  Because of what happens before during and after the game.  Pregame shows, Budweiser ads, halftime shows, wardrobe malfunctions, Dorito ads and postgame shows are all diversions that define the event more than the event itself. 

You just can't do that with soccer.  It's as simple as that.  Sure you can celebrate in the streets like many soccer fans do after the match.  But for those fans, the game is the event.  Nothing interrupts a good soccer match. 

As America prepares for the Super Bowl and the over-consumption that accompanies it, the simplicity of soccer is rather shocking.  Perhaps even appealing.