Showing posts from December, 2005

Sports: UCLA in the Sun Bowl

The UCLA Bruins will face off against the Northwestern Wildcats in El Paso at the Sun Bowl.

Can the Bruins win?

I don't know.

For much of the season the offensive line protected Drew Olson well enough for UCLA's short pass offense to be very effective. But as the season went along, injuries began to add up. In two of the last three games, the line couldn't protect Olson and they got beat badly.

The defensive line of UCLA couldn't stop anybody. They made ordinary runners look like Heisman candidates so you can image what happened when they faced an actual Heisman candidate!

Northwestern has a poor defense. I'll be curious to see what their approach will be. Will they blitz a lot hoping to disrupt UCLA's passing game? Or will they rush three and sit back?

If UCLA's offense is shut down then the defense will have to keep them in the game and that just isn't going to happen unless something very strange happens!

If UCLA's defense is out there too much …

Devotional Thoughts: And Peter said, what do we get?

Looking at Matthew 19:27-30 this morning.

Peter can be so blunt!

He said in verse 27, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"

Jesus gave a three-part answer: (1) directly answered Peter's bold query in a futuristic sense; (2) for believers in a more general sense; and (3) a warning against pride.

To Peter, in verse 28, Jesus told him, "at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Apparently, the disciples will share in ruling authority with Jesus. I'm not clear if the twelve tribes of Israel is a literal idea. Some theologians believe that the church is the new Israel and so when the Bible makes references to Israel, the word church could be substituted in some cases. I'll leave that debate to theologians! But in either interpretation, it appears, the disciples will be granted a special re…

Life: Topic keywords in the title

According to the Blogger software, I have 785 posts up.

I don't think I'll be fixing up all the titles to my blog posts but I'll fix up a few every now and then. And from here on out, I'm adding a keyword to every post title.

At the moment, I can think of nine categories I ramble about: @ the movies, Devotional Thoughts, Life, Politics, Culture, Sports, LA Dining, LA Scene and Travel.

If you actually want to, you can type in that category keyword into the "search this blog" box in the upper left corner of the main page and it should bring up a bunch of posts with the keyword found in the title or the body of the post.

@ the movies: Chronicles of Narnia - the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Have you been to Narnia yet?

I confess, I've been twice!

Thumbs up! Three stars out of four! Go see!

This past summer I began to visit Narnia when I bought the boxed set of the Chronicles. I've finished four of the seven books.

Thus, as the film was nearing completion, my anticipation for seeing the film grew.

I can't imagine what the anticipation has been like for people who read the beloved books as children?

The two opening scenes of the film grabbed me by the emotional collar and I knew I was in for a terrific storytelling experience. I am sorely tempted to describe in detail those scenes but I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen the movie yet! Suffice to say, as a recent reader of the beloved books, I felt the film-makers have done a marvelous job bringing it to the screen.

The visual effects were quite amazing. As I watched the credits roll, I think I saw FOUR special effects shops involved with the film: Rhythm and Hues, Sony Pictures Animation

Devotional Thoughts: 2 paths to eternal life?

Am looking at Matthew 19:16-26 on this Christmas morning.

This is the famous story of the rich young ruler who wants to know how to get eternal life.

Jesus answered by listing 5 (do not murder, commit adultery, steal, lie and honor parents) of the 10 commandments plus love your neighbor.

Those familiar with the Bible will scratch their hands and think of the even more famous John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Is Jesus saying there are TWO paths to eternal life?

What do you think?

It would seem so.

One path is the path of WORKS. Hence, Jesus listing the commandments. It is odd that Jesus omitted the 4 commandments pertaining to God and love God. Perhaps Jesus is trying to establish the works one would do apart from a relationship with God.

The other path is the path of GRACE. Hence, Jesus puts Himself at the center: whoever believes in Him should not perish but h…

Life: End of the year donations

I do drop some coins into the Salvation Army kettle at the stores now and then.

I've also selected four groups to make various sized end of the year donations.

On the top of the list in importance and in dollars has to be any relief agency doing work in Pakistan. The area was hit with a devestating earthquake and winter is arriving. They need help.

Find a relief agency doing work there that you trust and give to it. I gave to World Vision.

I benefitted from my undergraduate education and even though it is a public institution, more and more of the load is carried by donations from alumni. So I gave to my alma mater, the University of California at Los Angeles.

Continuing the education theme, I've given some money to the Los Angeles Philharmonic to support their music education efforts.

Lastly, I gave a contribution to Focus on the Family. They provide resources to strengthen the family.

@ the movies: Walk the Line

Thumbs up!

Walk the Line is a three stars out of a possible four film.

I saw it a month ago and finally am getting around to posting about it.

The story follows the rise, fall and restoration of Johnny Cash.

The real Cash.

In this regard it is a typical biopic: musician in obscurity gets discovered and rockets to fame and fortune but then stumbles on drinking, drugs and women but then makes a comeback when he gets his life in order.

Clearly the hero of the movie is June Carter whose steadfast love for Cash saves him. There is an amazing scene with her and her parents confronting Cash's drug dealer that had our audience cheering.

Witherspoon as June Carter and Phoenix as Johnny Cash.

Hugh Hewitt mentioned he was disappointed that June and Johnny's Christian faith wasn't explored a bit more. There are hints of it in the movie but I'd have to agree that a few more scenes highlighting that would have been a good thing.

In any case, great performances by the actors, super music t…

Politics: Wiretap controversy - Impeachable offense?

There has been lots of thunder and lightening over President Bush authorizing electronic intelligence gathering of communication between suspected terrorists without the usual FISA court approval.

FISA is a special Federal court that was established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Critics claim that Bush has violated the Fourth Amendment:Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.Defenders of Bush are citing Article II Section II:Section 2
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.I'm not a lawyer and so I'll leave that to oth…

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus, the Children and Languages of Love

Matthew 19:13-15

Some children were brought to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples told them not to bother him. But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." And he put his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

So how many of the 5 languages of love were demonstrated by Jesus in this passage?

Lord, help me to be a blessing to the people I meet today.

Politics: In case you hadn't heard, media left of center

The conclusion isn't surprising.

But I found the way they tried to quantify right-center-left very interesting.

The press release from UCLA says the following:While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author.…

Life: The Five Love Languages

Was talking with a guy buddy of mine who got married earlier this year. We hadn't had an extended conversation in a while so it was good to catch up. One topic we got onto was his experience with The Five Love Languages a renown marriage book that was a NYT bestseller.

The idea is simple: we all have different ways of expressing love and different ways we receive it.

The author identifies and describes these five languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

These concepts can be applied to any type of relationship but of course it is most profoundly important the context of marriage.

Devotional Thoughts: Can we accept these statements?

In Matthew 19:1-12, Jesus talked about marriage, divorce and singleness.

The bottom line on marriage was in verse 6, "Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together."

The Pharisees wanted to know if there was any exceptions and Jesus mentioned only one in verse 9, unfaithfulness of one of the partners.

Most Christians would include in the definition of "unfaithfulness" abandonment (absent physically and emotionally) and abuse (physically present but abusive physically or emotionally or both).

What puzzles me is why did the disciples then say in verse 10, "Then it is better not to marry!"

If I take it at face value, then the disciples really seem to be saying, "If there is only one escape clause for marriage, better not get into one!"

I suppose as a single guy, maybe I don't have a full appreciation of how difficult marriage can be even in the best of circumstances?

In any case, Jesus doesn't s…

Culture: Pajamas Media Up and Running

Pajamas Media has been going for about a month so be sure to check it out.

I was introduced to the idea at the LA Press Club's Hugh Hewitt event.

At the time they had three concepts: (1) a news service where bloggers are the on the scene reporters (they did that with the just concluded Iraqi elections using Iraqi bloggers equiped with digital cameras and their word's eye views) (2) a portal for bloggers big (the main page is mostly drawn from well known bloggers) and small (this humble blog is listed as one of the blogs in the blogroll) and (3) a device to run ads through smaller blogs (this idea had to be abandoned as it simply cost too much to pump ads to small blogs for the amount of response they would expect to get).

Anyway, the world of new media continues to grow and it will be interesting to see in what ways it will be successful and in what ways it will have problems. Also, it will be interesting to see how mainsteam media taps into the resources of PJ and visa-versa.

LA Dining: Do it yourself tri-tip

Have blogged my attempt at cooking tri-tip roast.


Devotional Thoughts: Forgive 490 Times

Am taking a look at Matthew 18:21-35.

Peter asked, how many times should I forgive someone? 7 times?

Jesus said, 70 times 7 times.

Jesus then told a story of someone who owed a huge sum of money (I think in the original Greek the amount is 10,000 large pieces of precious metal) to the king. The king decreed to sell him, his wife and children to help pay the debt. The man begged the king saying that he would pay the debt. The king had pity on him and forgave his debt.

This guy then turned around and demanded payment from someone who owed him 100 days wages. A large sum but nothing compared to his own debt. He got this man thrown in jail. The king heard about this and threw him in jail.

Jesus concluded by saying, "That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart."

This is tough. When someone tramples on us, we seek payback.

I don't believe that Jesus is actually saying forgive somebody 490 times and that …

Travel: Weekend in Lost Wages (Las Vegas Marathon)!

This past weekend, I went to Las Vegas!

Or as the flight attendant on Southwest called it: Lost Wages!

I was planning to do the Las Vegas Marathon and had reached 17 miles in my training when I had a medical issue. But since the hotel had been booked, the reg fees paid and the plane fare paid, I figured a weekend getaway would be nice.

I stayed at the Excalibur.

Las Vegas was very crowded that weekend because of the marathon but mostly because of the National Finals Rodeo. Numerous fans were about town. In my hotel, there were televisions dedicated to the NFR coverage.

The marathon was Sunday morning. One feature of the race was the "Run Through Chapel" at mile 5. In the news coverage, they said 20 couples renewed their vows and 3 took their vows for the first time. The "tag line" was they have what it takes to go the distance in the marathon and in life! Congrats to all the couples!

UPDATE: A blogger-marathoner reports on her 20th anniversary renewal at mile 5…

Devotional Thoughts: what's this binding and loosing stuff?

Am looking at Matthew 18:15-20.

Take a guess: how many times does the word "church" show up in the Gospels?



The word "church" appears in Matthew 16:18:
"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."

and Matthew 18:17:
"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

Both passages also make reference to the idea of:
whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19 and 18:18).

When the church is operating in the will of God, it is powerful. The church exists in the earthly realm and its binding/loosing power reflects what is in heaven (the realm of God). It makes me think of the part in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:10) that says, thy kingdom come, thy will b…

Sports: In search of a second chance - Dodgers name Little as manager

It seemed like the GM job was the job nobody wanted.

When finally GM Colletti was named, it then seemed like the manager job was the job nobody wanted.

Well, today, William "Grady" Little was named manager of the Dodgers.

Little, unfortunately, had the misfortune of managing the Red Sox when the Sox were defeated by the Yankees in game 7 in 2003. Sports media and Sox fans blamed him for leaving Pedro Martinez in a little too long costing the Sox a shot at the World Series and Little his job.

The Dodgers were a wreck this past season: disdain for DePodesta and McCourt was rampent among fans and media, disruptive fans in the stands became all too common tarnishing the family friendly atmosphere and reputation of Dodger's stadium, trades and acquisition of players seemed willy nilly, injury after injury, Bradley and Kent publically feuding as the season wound down, Tracy dumped, Gagne openly critical of the front office after the season was over (many felt he was verbalizing …

Sports: Unambiguous BCS

Well, the BCS planners are happy.

Any objective sports fan has to admit that USC and Texas are the top 2 teams this year.

I wonder how many players on USC and Texas will go to the NFL?

How many players on UCLA and Colorado will go to the NFL?

The two games last Saturday was as if an NFL team played a college team with the inevitable results.

As a UCLA fan, I have to take my hat off to USC. Angst is for the close games when you say coulda, woulda, shoulda. When you get beat outright you really can't be too upset.

I suppose my feeling is more disappointment and frustration. There are a finite supply of football talent and they will go to the programs that can win and help them launch into the NFL. UCLA is thus left looking for the players that the USC and Texas and Florida programs didn't pick. Dorrell can only offer, at UCLA you can start while at USC you may have to wait a year or two for a starting job. Dorrell might be able to say, USC snubbed you, you want to be on the …

Sports: 1 day to go until U$C vs. UCLA

The table is set.

1:30 PM PST in Los Angeles.

ABC television coverage.

AM 1540 in Los Angeles has radio coverage for Trojan fans.

AM 570 in Los Angeles has radio coverage for Bruin fans.

The hype will continue as game time is a little over 12 hours away. With the kick-off, the talking will give way to what happens between the lines.

I'll be cheering and groaning and hoping for the best as the Bruins try to pull off the upset of the century.

However, in the back of my mind, I'll always remember, it is just a game.

A few hours earlier, two rivals will play and they will play hard and they will do their best to win.

For them, only pride is at stake. For them, there probably aren't any or very many NFL scouts making notes for draft day. For them, for the seniors, the next stop will be Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever freedom needs defending.

Of course, I'm thinking of the Army-Navy game.

As we enjoy our Saturday watching football or not watching football, take a minute or two and …

Sports: 2 days to go until U$C vs. UCLA

Last year, the Bruins weren't expected to give USC much of a fight.

It turned into a contest.

I watched the game with some friends. We channel surfed between ABC and CBS which had an SEC game going as one of my friends is an SEC partisan.

UCLA's defense put up a better fight then expected. Bush got his yardage and then some but the USC passing game was slowed up and UCLA stayed close.

In fact, UCLA had a possession late in the 4th quarter down by only 5. But Olsen like many times that season couldn't make the big play and threw the INT.

Olsen is certainly one big difference this year. I don't think physically he is that much better than last year. But he is making better decisions which for a QB is where you can make a quantum leap in effectiveness. Look for USC to try to rough him up and shake his confidence.

USC is the college version of the Indy Colts. Manning given time to sit in the pocket can dissect a defense. Leinart is the same way. When people try to co…

Devotional Thoughts: God's Mathematics

Am looking at Matthew 18:12-14 this morning.

Sometimes people ask, should I take the Bible literally?

My response is yes and no.

What do I mean?

I think we can take it at face value when the text justifies it, we can take it literally.

For instance, this morning's passage says a shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to go look for the lost 1 sheep.

So is this literal?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, in that we take it at face value that Jesus is making a point about God's desire to find the lost.

No, in that he is using a metaphor of sheep and shepherd.

In day-to-day conversation, we do this all the time.

We are literal in that we are trying to communicate something. And sometimes the details are literal: I went to the doctors office today. And other times we are non-literally, I was running around like a headless chicken!

In today's passage, Jesus stresses God's desire to find those who are lost. That is the face value point made metaphorically.

So we don't have to wonder, but…