Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Reformation Day!

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg his 95 Theses, a disputation on the power and efficacy of indulgences. This turned out to be one of the most significant events of the past 2000 years of history, sparking the Protestant Reformation and a split many Christians from the Roman Catholic Church which continues to this day. I could write on and on about the significance and importance of this event, but suffice it to say that this event was used by the Holy Spirit to bring about the rediscovery and refocus of the truth of justification by faith alone and the reliance upon the Word of God as the ultimate and final authority over the church and the individual believer.

With Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Machen, Sproul, and so many others of the Reformed faith, I look to Scripture alone (sola scriptura) and stand with them in affirming that salvation is by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (solo Christos) to the glory of God alone (soli deo gloria).

"Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason...my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen" - Martin Luther, Diet of Worms

Monday, October 30, 2006

My First OSU Game

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my very first Ohio State University football game. A vendor with deal with at work offered up free tickets to anyone interested, and I quickly jumped on it. It was a great time.

My wife and I decided to rent a car for the trip since both our vehicles are in excess of 130,000 miles. My car is a means of getting to and from work 80 miles round trip every day, and not much else :) Part of the deal in having relatives watch the kids for the day was leaving the van so they could head to the zoo for some Halloween event, so renting was the best option (especially since my sister-in-law's husband used to work for a rental company and got us a good deal). While I wasn't keen on the transmission in the new Mazda we rented, it was a smooth and comfortable ride. We got a late start and didn't get to the vendor's tailgate party until 2:30...only an hour before kickoff. We were actually lucky to get the tickets as there was some confusion about them and they were preparing to give them away thinking they were just extras. We got the tickets and hung around for about 20 minutes to enjoy some great barbeque pork sandwiches and a few beers before making the migration to The Horseshoe.

One of the funniest moments of the weekend occured during the walk. Because we didn't have time to sufficiently ingest enough beer to keep us warm in the incredibly blustery day, we filled a few plastic cups to enjoy during the walk. So as we are crossing Lane Avenue right at Olentangy River Road (along with a mass of scarlet and grey humanity), we walk by two police officers standing on either side of a sign saying "Open Container Enforced." We look to either side of us and see numerous others with the same red plastic cups, and we notice the ambivalent looks on the faces of the officers. Then we chuckle, take another gulp of Miller Lite, and keep walking.

After a brisk, cold walk we get to the stadium and climb the endless stairs up to the C-deck. Our seats were Section 25C, Row 18, Seat 27-28. In a stadium like the 'Shoe, being in the upper deck is not a bad thing at all. We got a great view of the game, and what a game it was seeing the Buckeyes completely dominate the Golden Gophers 44-0. The game experience there is fantastic, and OSU truly has the "best fans in the land."

To make it even sweeter, we got to see OSU alum Jack Nicklaus dot the "i" in script Ohio at halftime. He's only the fifth non-band member to ever do it (the others being Ohio State President Novice G. Fawcett, actor/comedian Bob Hope, Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes and OSU ticket director Bob Ries).

All in all, we had a great time with 105,441 of our closest friends, and were it not for an important birthday party that weekend we might seriously consider shelling out the cash to see the Buckeyes play the Wolverines in the final game of the season. Nothing could be finer than watching Tressel's boys pound the crap out of an unbeaten #2 Michigan on the way to winning another national title.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

JAD Competition Weekend

This past weekend marked my first barbershop contest experience at the district level. I arrived early Friday and was able to catch the entire quartet competition that evening. I decided to go straight to my folks' place and crash rather than hang around at the HQ and catch the JADQC show so I could be well rested for Saturday's chorus competition. Saturday proved to be a very long day as we competed early in the competition and then hung around the entire day awaiting the scoring results and score review sessions.

In one sense, the results were very disappointing. We had high expectations for ourselves coming into the contest based on how we performed at the divisional level, and when all was said and done we ended up scoring slightly less than with our prior hit. We finished fifth out of fifteen choruses (PDF) behind some very good chapters. The judges gave us some useful feedback at the review sessions, and those of us who were present for those sessions all seem to agree on what we need to look at going forward.

On the other hand, the fact remains that this is the very first district competition of a chorus that has existed less than one year. What we've been able to accomplish as a chapter in the past 10 months is simply incredible and gives us every reason to look with hope and anticipation towards future competitions. While it would be easy to get discouraged by our growing pains, I am eagerly looking forward to what this chorus can and will accomplish in the coming years. I came out of this weekend that much more hooked on barbershop and determined to be the best barbershopper I can be.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Best Time of the Year

This is without a doubt my favorite time of year. It starts around the first frost and presses right through December. The weather turns chilly. The leaves change. You begin to smell the wood-burning fireplaces when you step outside. Apple cider, pumpkin bread and other great fall foods start showing up in the fridge and on the dinner table. You can sit on a freezing cold bench and watch football Friday, Saturday or Sunday (and catch it on TV virtually every other day of the week). All your favorite shows have started into their new seasons.

I love this time of year!

Overall, I'm loving this football season so far. The only temper to my enthusiasm is the horrible play of the Browns. I've accepted the fact that once again my preseason optimism will be rewarded with at best mediocre play while they continue to be a work in progress. That said, the Evergreen Vikings (our hometown high school team) is tied for the lead in the NWOAL and is putting up some serious scores. The Buckeyes are driving hard towards another National Championship, and face the delicious prospect of facing a #2 Michigan team in the final game of the season to set up the Game To End All Games (the National Championship will almost be a letdown after that one).

And of course there is Fantasy Football. Somehow I have managed, despite having the third lowest point total in a 12-team league, to post a 4-1 record and be tied for the best record in the league with another team in my division that I've already beaten. I'm not about to say I'm a fantasy football genius or anything, but I only have five of my original fourteen drafted players still on my roster and have won my games by making good trades/waiver pickups and playing the matchups. OK, and a little luck. This week I won by only two points. I was up by nine points going into last night's Broncos-Ravens game with all my players having played and my opponent still with Matt Stover and Jamal Lewis yet to play. I was sure he would be able to scrape up ten points between the two of them, but the Broncos' defense was excellent and I went to bed a happy man last night :)

This week could prove challenging with my starting QB (Brady) on a bye, but I already have some pending waiver pickups and potential trades in the works.