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Showing posts from May, 2016

Following FFF = Falkenbergs Fotbollförening and IFE = Idrottsföreningen Elfsborg

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Swedish soccer's most famous product is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He started in Malmo and was a once in a generation talent. As such he moved onto the big stage of European soccer and has played in many top clubs. He is rumored to be moving next to Manchester United.

LA soccer fans have a connection to Sweden though the LA Galaxy that is owned by AEG. AEG is owner of the Swedish soccer team Hammarby. Hammarby has had limited success competitively but a very large and loyal fan base.

I follow my in-law's home town clubs Elfsborg and Falkenberg. Both clubs have interesting story lines that make it fun to follow.

Elfsborg has a record of periodically being in the hunt in the Allsvenskan the top league of Sweden. They have won the championship six times and finished second six times. The big club in Malmo (21 championships) and the big club in Gothenburg (13 championships) are the traditional powerhouses. However, the league is mid-tier in the scope of European and World soccer so the d…

Philemon - a small story of the big difference Jesus makes in life

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What do Christians believe?

How do we see and describe how God is at work in the lives of human beings?

At one level, we can go to the theologically rich descriptions that can be found in St. Paul's writings in Romans and Galatians and other places. And there is definitely a place for that.

However, sometimes, it is just as powerful and perhaps even more so when we look at the "small" stories that reveal the big impact of what God means to people's lives.

In the New Testament, I think of the one chapter book of Philemon. It is the story of three men: Paul, Onesimus, and Philemon. These three me all want to follow Jesus. In 25 verses, we read their story in all its humanity and their wrestling with what it truly means to follow the Christ!

In the video below, noted Bible scholar NT Wright offers some of his reflections of the grandeur of what God was doing in Christ in the lives of these three believers. Their example of Jesus' reconciling work 21 centuries ago is…

Zlatan to MLS? Galaxy maybe?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's contract with PSG is ending in the summer.

Where next?

The rumors have him looking at Premier League (big budget Man U is often mentioned), Chinese League (they have been raining money on players to build the league), and MLS with New York or Los Angeles as likely destinations.

LAT Baxter has the rumor mill round-up and what the possible path would be for a move to the MLS and in particular the LA Galaxy. It would require some creative juggling but the LA Galaxy brain trust is well known for finding ways to work within the MLS rules. The last two seasons of has had them navigate the system to land Gerrard, Dos Santos, De Jong, and Cole. Nonetheless, there are huge challenges.

Excerpt:
For starters there's the contract. Ibrahimovic will have to accept a massive pay cut to come to the U.S., even under the best of circumstances. MLS teams are allowed three designated-player exemptions, which allow them to pay salaries that go beyond the league's maximum ye…

How am I going to (not?) vote? #NeverTrump

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And I thought this year California would finally have a say in the outcome. Ugh.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 52 - You'll Never Walk Alone

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When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk

You'll never walk
You'll never walk alone

Read more: Gerry And The Pacemakers - You´ll Never Walk Alone Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Liverpool vs. Sevilla. It is big. It is huge. LFC has a lot riding on this. Excerpt:
The downside is that defeat in games like this slows down progression. It shuts down possibilit…

The Horns of Psalm 75

I write periodically over at Center for Chinese Church Studies. Here is a short item I posted over there recently about Psalm 75 and "horns."

Excerpt:
v. 10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

The Psalm is clearly about the reality that God is the Judge and that is explicitly stated in v. 7 but what are the horns all about? This is a case where we need a reference work to give us a window into the Ancient Near East usage of metaphors. I turned to Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament and on p. 541 it said, “See the comment on ‘horn’ in the sidebar on common metaphors in Psalms.” Thus, I turned to that item on p. 514 where there was a paragraph on how horns were used in the iconography of the Ancient Near East. For instance, deities were often portrayed as having horns emanating from their crowns. Thus, the bottom line is that horns are used as a symbol for power.

Liverpool Klopp Episode 51 - Hey Jude

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And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah

Read more: Beatles - Hey Jude Lyrics | MetroLyrics

What a season it has been for EPL fans in general and LFC fans in particular! The final 10 matches are not without drama but the big dramas have been settled.

Who will win the EPL was settled a couple of matches ago when the Hotspurs wilted under the pressure and Leicester kept finding ways to get a result. Who will be relegated was answered mid-week with the Sunderland Black Cats squashed Everton and thus ended any chance for Norwich or Newcastle to snatch another year in the EPL.

What remains is jockeying for positions that could yield European football and bigger paydays. For a round up see this item in the Daily Mail. Liverpool's chances to qualify for Europa League via the EPL table is not great and in fact …

Liverpool Klopp Episode 50 - The Force Awakens

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Liverpool vs. Chelsea. Am sure Klopp has a plan unlike these guys above. But of course, those guys managed to make things work out somehow!

Chelsea has had a tough year but they are still worthy of selecting the A-team and will need a professional performance to defeat.

It is near the end of the EPL season. Thought it would be interesting to go back to the first line up way back on September 8, 2015 in the road season opener at Stoke.

Mignolet was the starting goalkeeper then and still is now. Bogdan was the backup but was eventually supplanted by Ward. But Bogdan is back as number two with the injury to Ward.

The back four on that day was: Clyne, Lovren, Skrtel, and Gomez. Along the way there were injuries (Gomez had a season ending injury, Lovren and Skrtel have been out for various lengths of time) and a lot of shuffling. Currently, Clyne, Lovren, Toure, and Moreno are the "A-team" defensive line.

The midfielders/forwards at the start of the season were: Milner, Coutinho…

#NeverTrump - Gerson's view

Count me in the #NeverTrump camp.

Gerson in this piece thinks there are three broad category of Republican voters: those who support Trump energetically, those who support Trump reluctantly and may actually hope he loses so this sorry chapter of the GOP is quickly put into the dustbin of history, and those who oppose Trump.

Excerpts:

This is the main reason that some of us cannot simply lump it and reluctantly lend our support to Trump. The Republican Party is not engaged in a policy argument; it is debating the purpose of politics. For some Trump opponents, the justice of a political system is determined by its treatment of the vulnerable and weak. In the Catholic tradition, this is called "solidarity." Whatever you call it, this commitment is inconsistent with a type of politics that beats up on the vulnerable and weak -- say, undocumented workers, or Muslims -- for political gain. Those who accuse Trump opponents of elitism are engaged in a particularly mendacious slur. Tru…

GOP Post-mortem - Prager's view and Levinson's view #NeverTrump

I didn't think Trump would win. I figured at some point he would self-destruct. But it seemed with each "out there" comment, he gained more popularity. Meanwhile, his opponents got picked off one-by-one and were voted off the nomination island Survivor style.

Prayer offered these thoughts as to what happened.

Excerpt:

There are many reasons Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. The four most often cited reasons are the frustrations of white working-class Americans, a widespread revulsion against political correctness, disenchantment with the Republican “establishment,” and the unprecedented and unrivaled amount of time the media afforded Trump. They are all valid. But the biggest reason is this: The majority of Republicans are not conservative. [.........] Only America was founded on the idea of small government. But the Left is based on big government. America was founded on the principle that human rights come from the Creator. For the Left, r…

Liverpool Klopp Episode 49 - Return of the Jedi

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Liverpool vs. Watford. Watford smashed LFC earlier in the season 3-0. Will the Reds be able to take them down in the re-match?

It will be tough after the high energy Europa League match just concluded on Thursday. Most likely, many of the "A-team" members will be given the day off. The LFC "B-team" has some good players and others with potential but can this group get a win against Watford? It will be an uphill fight but things are looking up for LFC especially now that playing at home is an advantage again.



Who will Klopp send out there for this match?

My guesses:
Goalkeeper: Ward
Defense: Smith, Skrtel, Lovren, Randall
Defensive Midfield: Allen, Lucas
Offensive Midfield: Ibe, Ojo, Firmino
Forward: Benteke

Will they find some genius moments in a mad scramble like how Luke and company defeated Jabba the Hut? Or will they be able to use their speed (a la flying cycle chase through the forests of Endor) to pick off Watford on a counter?

On other LFC news, too bad th…

Liverpool Klopp Episode 48 - Yellow Submarine

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Villarreal FC adopted the Yellow Submarine song for their club and will be sailing into Anfield with a 1-0 lead for leg 2 of the Europa League semi-final. Will their fans be singing the famed Beatle song as the victors at the final whistle? Or will Liverpool be able to turn their ship around that is headed for defeat at the moment?

Though it is great news to hear that Emre Can is training with the club after recovering from injury, I don't see how you put him into a match like this without prior game experience. About the only debate for line-up selection is whether Sturridge will start.

Excerpt:
Liverpool’s goalkeeper and back four pretty much picks itself. Joe Allen and Lucas started in midfield in the first leg [......] James Milner and Philippe Coutinho will play, which leaves a choice; two from Sturridge, Firmino and Adam Lallana.

My guess is that Klopp is going to stick to his line-up and have Sturridge as a second half-sub when LFC may need to take more risks to either eve…