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 then it will be a blow out with UCLA going down like they did against Arizona and USC.

In an offensive shoot out, I think UCLA will win.

My guess UCLA wins 42-35.

UPDATE: After falling behind 22-0, UCLA scored 36 points unanswered points. It's a crazy game!!! 50-38, UCLA wins!!!!!! UCLA ran back TWO on-side kicks for TDs!!

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 reward.

Jesus gave an answer for the broader audience, in verse 29, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

Interesting, eh?

In light of the Rich Young Ruler who wanted eternal life but couldn't give up his wealth, Jesus is telling us, if we leave people and things for his sake, we receive manyfold back and eternal life!

Jesus ended with a warning, verse 30, "Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first."

Ever waited in line and somebody cut ahead?

As long as there are crowds, there will be lines and some who get there first and some who sneak ahead. I'm sure it was true in dusty Palestine 2000+ years ago as it is today.

Jesus the judge isn't going to be fooled. He knows our deeds and our hearts. Doesn't matter whether you are in the front or the back of the line, Jesus will know.

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, Industrial Light and Magic and Weta Workshop.

But the film works because you like the characters ...

Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell and William Moseley as the Pevensie brothers and sisters.

And there are one or more characters you can relate to ...

Though, I aspire to be as heroic and caring as Peter, I couldn't help but laugh (at myself) when Susan said, "He's a beaver, he shouldn't be saying anything!" or when she said, "Well, it can't be real, logically."

For more memorable quotes, check out

It taps into the wonders of a fanciful world ...

Lucy's first visit to Narnia

It shows you how seductive evil can be ...

The White Witch and Edmund

And the courage inspired by the knowledge of what is good and love for one another ...

Peter leads the outnumbered forces of good against the White Witch's massive army

Go see the film and afterward talk about the world C.S. Lewis and these filmmakers have imagined and how it looks a lot like our world even if in our world beavers don't talk ... ?

UPDATE: I was thinking of linking to a production photo of Aslan. But I didn't think any of them did justice to the amazing CG work done to bring him to life on the screen. There was almost a hush in the audience as we awaited his first appearance in the film. Aslan's voice is provided by Liam Neeson and he hit it spot on with the right blend of gentleness and strength you would imagine after reading Aslan described in the books.

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 have everlasting life.

What if the Rich Young Ruler, instead of walking away, after hearing the high standard of the law said to Jesus, "I can't do it and I've tried hard but I can't live up to the standard."

What would Jesus' response have been?

Jesus would say, do not despair, there is another way and give him John 3:16.

How do the two paths cross?

They do so in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.

The path of WORKS requires (1) a righteous life and (2) payment for sin.

Jesus life was the perfect life and his death was payment for sin. Thus, when we take Christ into our lives there is a great exchange: our sinful life is replaced by his righteous life and our punishment for sin is paid for by his death on the Cross. His resurrection is victory over sin and death and new life and when we take him into our lives, we get that too.

Having seen Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe recently, the substitution concept is vividly illustrated by Aslan. Go see the movie!

Lord, thank you that you came to this world which we celebrate in Christmas to begin the restoration which you finished on Easter!

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 that had me off to iTunes to download a few songs for my iPod. I just had to get "Ring of Fire" and "Folsom Prison Blues."

Phoenix as Cash

In interviews, I heard that Witherspoon and Phoenix practiced singing 1/2 a year in preparation for the role. Indeed, it is their voices you hear in the movie. Look for Oscar nominations for both. I think also Robert Patrick might get supporting actor consideration for his role as Cash's father.

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 others to figure out. But as a typical citizen of the United States, I'm sitting here wondering, what the heck is going on?

If Mr. Suspected Terrorist with a cell phone in foreign country X calls Mr. So and So in the USA, would you want to know what they are talking about?

I don't know how long it takes for FISA approval to occur but I suspect in the fast paced world of intelligence gathering, there might be times when a tip will go dry long before a couple of lawyers can file the paper work.

Imagine some intelligence agent testifying before Congress: we had a tip that several of the people in that suspected terror cell were communicating to coordinate a bombing. We found a laptop with some cell phone numbers and were waiting for approval to tap those numbers but the bombing happened.

Imagine the outrage all around?

I'd think some would want to impeach the President if he failed to take such steps in a post-9/11 world and a terrorist attack occurred on American soil.

UPDATE: I saw this item from Kaus:
Aren't the parameters of the great eavesdropping debate becoming clearer? 1) The administration bypassed the special FISA court, not because it would somehow have been too time consuming to obtain warrants, but because warrants wouldn't have been granted under the "probable cause" standard; 2) the warrants wouldn't have been granted because the wiretaps were quasi-data-mining wiretaps, trolling phone calls of 10% likely suspects for tipoff phrases like "Brooklyn Bridge;" 3) that's probably illegal; 4) but it's also probably a good way to stop terror plots--it hardly presents a "false choice;"
I'm not clear what would constitute "probable cause."

I suppose if the targeted cell phone number was from a known terrorist that would pass as "probable cause?" I suppose a known terrorist would be someone who has been involved in a prior terrorist act? But what constitutes proof they were involved in a prior terrorist act? Is direct hands on participation the standard?

What if a known terrorist is caught and his cell phone logs are obtained, would anyone he called be considered a suspected terrorist and thus subject to electronic eavesdropping? Would that be sufficient "probable cause" to intercept phone calls?

I suppose in the context of traditional criminal law that would NOT be probable cause. It would be like saying, embezzler Mr. Smith has a cell phone and everyone on his cell phone log is an accomplice so we should wiretap all those numbers.

Kaus maybe right to assert that in the context of terrorism, one may have to LOWER the "probable cause" standard because the stakes are HIGHER should intelligence fail to pick up a threat.

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. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co?author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

The results appear in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which will become available in mid-December.
It was nice to know that some of my favorite news sources are regard as centrist. Of the morning shows, I do like Good Morning America and in the evening I'm partial to the Newshour. In the report they said those two programs plus CNN with Aaron Brown were the most centrist of the news outlets they examined.

Not surprisingly, the study said that CBS Evening News, Los Angeles Times and New York Times were the most left leaning news sources. In a dichotomy of news and opinion, the conservative editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal is opposite of the liberal news pages. In fact, the WSJ news pages were regarded as the most liberal of the media surveyed!

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 seem to challenge their response and says in verse 11, "Not everyone can accept this statement. Only those whom God helps."

So if you are married and want to follow what Jesus said here you will need God's help!

In verse 12, Jesus talks about singleness using eunuchs as the exact word. There are three kinds: (1) from birth (2) made so by others and (3) those who choose it for the sake of the Kingdom. Again, Jesus says, "Let anyone who can, accept this statement."

So it would seem that single or married, what Jesus says is hard to accept!
LORD, have mercy on me a sinner.

What good I am able to do in this life is by the power of your Spirit.
What joy I can experience is due to the greatness of your love shown on the Cross.
What pleasures in Your will I can know is because you have created me unique.

Please help me to live in godly manhood offering provision, protection and gentle leadership to the women in my life appropriate to the relationships I share with them. Whether single or married, may I do all for the glory of God alone.


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.

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 on the 491st time you don't forgive them. I think he is saying, don't keep score.

St. Paul in the famous passage on the meaning of love said, "Love keeps no record of when it has been wronged." (I Corinthians 13:5) I'm thinking that this is how to look at Jesus' teaching here. We don't play accountant games on the matter of forgiving people.

However, is there a limit to forgiveness?

What about the person who keeps stealing? Or someone who gets drunk and says and does hurtful things while drunk?

Do we keep forgiving them?

St. Paul said, "Love is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out." (I Corinthians 13:6)

I think that is where the "limit" is. We forgive but we also take action so they don't steal or get drunk again. Injustice must be stopped and truth must win to the extent we can fight for that victory. Jesus had previously talked about how seriously we need to address sin in Matthew 18:6-10. And so we need to take Jesus teaching in its fullness and not in isolation.

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! Congrats Shirley!

One of my friends is a steady speedy runner. She has BQ'd (Boston Marathon Qualified!) a few times and so was invited to be one of the official Elvis runners. She shared about the various press events and marketing photo shoots they did on pre-marathon day Saturday and then during the marathon day itself. And so here they are as a team blazing down the straight away just before the left turn to the finish line!

Cheers! Here are four marathon runners from the Los Angeles Roadrunners and Los Angeles Running Club celebrating with a delicious buffet at the Mandalay Bay. Congrats on completing yet another marathon!

And no photo report on Las Vegas would be complete without a photo of the famed dancing waters of the Bellagio! Mouse around their web page and you find out there are 30 songs they have choreographed the dancing waters to!

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 be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Thus, to some extent, the church can do the will of heaven on earth!

When reading the Bible, context is important. In other words, what else is being said in and around the verse that is catching your eye?

In this case the binding/loosing appears in three contexts:

(1) Proclamation of Christ and the Kingdom (Matthew 16:13-19)

Do our churches do this? When you look at what your church and my church is doing, do we think Jesus would be doing the same thing? When the preacher steps up to the podium, is Jesus uplifted? Is the Bible opened?

When Jesus is at the center of our church, there is power.

(2) Winning a person back from sin (Matthew 18:15-17)

The church is a place to worship God and uplift Jesus. The church is also a training center to send us into the world to be ambassadors for Jesus to proclaim the truth of God and the hope He has for us. The church is also a hospital for the broken people of the world where needs of ALL types are met. And one big need is that we need correction when we sin. Do our churches take a stand for what is right and wrong? And do we lovingly receive the person who has sinned and knows it and seeks restoration?

(3) Prayer (Matthew 18:19-20)

Finally, prayer. If two or more gather in Christ, there is a community where God's power can be unleashed.

When we are alone, it is easy to get discouraged. When we are alone, it is easy to get deceived. But in community, we can better grasp the wisdom of God and we can better pray for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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 what many on the team were feeling), DePodesta dumped, potential GM hires turning down the Dodgers and then manager prospects turning down the Dodgers.

I wonder what the season ticket sign ups are looking like?

But maybe, things will turn around.

Ah, the life of a baseball fan, soon it will be the springtime of hope as a new season begins!

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 team that will finally knock them off the top of the heap?

The stat they showed on the TV coverage that leaped out at me was this one:
USC average offensive lineman: 315 pounds.
UCLA average defensive lineman: 265 pounds.

Big and fast beats small and fast.

And there you go, USC's line will probably all be in the NFL and UCLA's line will probably go onto graduate school and jobs their BAs will help them earn.

I don't know who will win in the USC vs. Texas match up. The instant analysis I'm hearing from other sports fans is this: USC offense > Texas offense and Texas defense > USC defense. Should be a good game.

I wonder what the Las Vegas line is?

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 pray for our men and women who serve the cause of freedom. Some will be on duty and some may well be at their bases listening to football through Armed Forces Radio.

Take a minute or two to pray for the families of those who have loved ones in harms way.

When I think of their bravery, I think of the famous PBS Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War and of the letter written by Sullivan Ballou:
July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days -- perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been!

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night -- amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours -- always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.

Go here to see the full text of the famed letter by Sullivan Ballou.

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 cover the Colt receivers, James can run it. If USC's passing is off, Bush can run around people and White can run over people.

As a Bruin fan, I hope they will put up a good fight and have a shot at winning. I'm realistic enough to know their chances of actually winning are pretty low. But as a fan, I want to believe!

As I see it, as a clear-headed sports fan, USC, at its best, is unbeatable.

But USC having an off day and UCLA at its best means the game will be close.

And if comes down to the fourth quarter in a one possession game, UCLA has the big play makers that could pull off the upset. If you doubt, take a look at the stats and notice how many different receivers have gotten TDs. And notice Maurice Drew: 12 rushing TDs, 4 receiving TDs and 3 return TDs. But, of course, the key is to be in that position to have that lightening strike.

In too many games this season, UCLA got behind in the first quarter or the first half. UCLA must not fall behind by too much to have the "puncher's chance" in the fourth quarter.

Clap - Clap - Clap - Clap - Clap - Clap - Clap - Clap - U - C - L - A - fight - fight - fight!

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 won't the 99 left behind get scared? Or what if the shepherd has to spend so much time looking for the lost sheep that the 99 starve to death waiting for him to come back? Those kinds of consideration come in to play only if the face value point is made in a literal way.

Lord, thank you that you found me, a lost sheep! Help me to join you in finding the lost sheep in the world today.

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