Trusting God While You’re Scared

I have reached an important point in my life. Once again I am trusting God to direct my path for the next step I am taking.

Although God has always come through for me in the past I have to be honest with you and admit that it’s still scary and I still have to battle doubts.

Trusting and waiting on God is not easy. I am not good at it.

For the past 30 years I have been employed with the same organization and now I am eligible to retire. This has given me the opportunity to make a change. It is both exciting and scary.

I think we all get that scared feeling in our stomach when we face big changes and decisions in our lives. This is a huge one for me. Even with trusting God, I still get that scared feeling.

God has always come through for me. Throughout my whole career I can look back and see how God has guided my path and arranged circumstances for me even when it didn’t look that way at first. I remember many years ago when I first applied for the job I have had for the past 25 years, after my interview one of the managers told me very bluntly that they weren’t going to offer me the job. He told me they were going to hire someone from outside of the office. The next day there was a hiring freeze which ultimately opened the door for me to lateral into the job. That was more than merely a coincidence.

God says “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) but the problem is that He doesn’t always share those plans with us. That part can be frustrating and not knowing can stress us out.

A friend has saying in Spanish: Lo tuyo viene.

Yours will come.

As I conduct my job search and have interviews with prospective employers I wonder if it will come. I have to remind myself to keep calm and don’t try to force it. What may look like the right opportunity may not be the one. I must admit it’s hard not to overthink things during this process.

Peace plays an important role with trusting God right now.

Jesus assured us about it:

Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] John 14:27

That’s pretty clear isn’t it? It is, but it’s so hard to do.

I’m trusting but I’m still scared. I don’t mean to feel this way but it’s scary not to have control. Even with past evidence of how God has worked before, this another one of those big events in my life when I trust again.

God is in control of my career path and I still trust Him. I don’t see it right now and I don’t know where I am going but it will come. You never know how strong your faith is until it is tested.

What if I make the wrong decision? What if I screw up the process?

Asking a bunch of “what ifs” can drive you crazy. If I make the wrong decision I will learn from it and God will use it. He’s not much of a God if my wrong decision can screw up His plan.

So I take the next step blindly but trusting God and leaving the results up to Him.

NFL Football Returns To Europe

A new American football league is set to kickoff this summer with the European League of Football (ELF). The ELF will be the first NFL-type league in Europe since NFL-Europe ended its run after the 2007 season. Unlike its predecessor, the ELF won’t be backed by the NFL.

Prior to COVID-19, the National Football League (NFL) had planned to expand its International series. It is unclear when the NFL will resume its presence in Europe again. There had also been rumors of the NFL actually relocating a franchise to London but it is doubtful that will happen. The NFL is also not likely to invest in another league since it lost nearly $400 million with their World League/NFL-Europe venture.

Although American football is widely played throughout Europe, the ELF plans to be Europe’s top league. The ELF will use NFL rules. Most European football leagues follow National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules to reflect their amateur status.

The ELF has identified and announced club homes in eight markets. Germany will dominate the early iterations of the ELF with franchises in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hildesheim/Hanover and Ingolstadt. The remaining two spots belong to international markets, Wrocław (Poland) and Barcelona (Spain).

Almost as interesting is the slow unveiling of names for the different teams. Four have been determined and made public: Ingolstadt Praetorians, Stuttgart Scorpions, German Knights 1367 Niedersachsen and Wroclaw Panthers.

The newest league hasn’t been welcomed with open arms by many of the more established American football leagues which already exist. The German Football League (GFL), which is one of Europe’s largest, fear that the new league could potentially hurt established teams and set the sport back if the league fails. The GFL sees the ELF as a competitor for players, sponsors, fans and venues who would like to act outside of the sport organised in clubs and associations. It is to be feared that the ELF would like to make use of the players and structures created by the German clubs

The ELF plans to kick off their first season in June with their eight teams with a goal of eventually growing to 20 teams throughout Europe.

The big question is whether or not the ELF will survive. Without the backing of the NFL, it will be difficult to simply play by NFL rules to be considered Europe’s top league in American-style football. Instead, it is likely the league could be another semi-pro league in Europe.

Irv Cross: Pioneer and A Gentleman

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My early memories of watching the National Football League (NFL) on Sundays often involved the cast of NFL Today. They were the experts on analyzing NFL teams and players. Of the cast on NFL Today, Irv Cross was the very definition of class. He was a true professional which is honestly lacking with today’s NFL shows.

Irvin Acie Cross passed away on Sunday.

Irv Cross was the first African American sports analyst on national television. He joined CBS in 1971 and worked with the network until 1994.

Cross was a professional football player in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1961-1965. He was selected for the Pro Bowl twice. In 1966 he was traded the Los Angeles Rams where he played for three seasons. He finished his NFL career with the Eagles in 1969.

At his cornerback position, Cross had 22 interceptions during his career for 258 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also had 14 fumble recoveries.

During his playing career, Cross did drive-time sports reports in Philadelphia before doing weekend sportscasts. In 1971 he became a sports analyst for CBS. In 1975, Cross joined Brent Musburger and Phyllis George on NFL Today.

I recall Cross as being a professional and classy reporter. He was never gimmicky or tried to make any report about himself. Many of today’s sports reporter personalities could learn from Cross. He was a no nonsense reporter who you knew you could trust.

Here’s a clip of Cross from NFL Today.

Cross left broadcasting and later served as athletic director at Idaho State University and then was the director of athletics at Macalester College. He went on to become the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota until May 2010. He returned to football commentary for a local FOX station in St. Paul.

Cross received Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2009. He was the first Black recipient of the annual award, which seeks to recognize longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.

In 2018, he was diagnosed with dementia which was thought to be due to concussions he had received during his NFL career.

Cross was a pioneer in his day but he was also a gentleman. There will never be another like him.

My Favorite Bible Verse

I have had Christian influence in my life and I have heard others talk about their favorite Bible verses. Most will say that their favorite verse is John 3:16 which is probably the most popular Bible verse. There are several others that people will point to as their favorites.

When I think about mine, I always seem to go back to Romans 8:38-39 which says:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

To me, it is always comforting to know that nothing can separate us from God’s love. One of the most common prayers I pray is that God never gives up on me. There are times I fail and don’t really function well in Christian things but I am glad to know that God still loves me and that He doesn’t give up on me.

We have all sinned. No one is perfect. We mess up. It’s impossible to live a perfect life in an imperfect world. If perfection was the requirement, it would be a waste of time. God’s love makes the difference.

I like the fact that nothing can separate us from God’s love because, honestly, sometimes I feel pretty far away. I wish I could say that I always have a consistent prayer life or feel like I’m walking with God everyday. I’m just not always on it. It’s nice to know that nothing has to separate us.

I like these verses in the Amplified Version:

For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I have no doubt about this and neither should you. When you feel at your lowest point and you think that God has given up on you, these verses prove otherwise. God will be as close as you let Him be. Yep, we mess up and have seasons in our lives when we stray but God is eager and waiting to be there again.

I’ll be honest with you, there was a time in my life when I questioned everything about my life. Even though I was going to church every Sunday and working in the church, I was completely lost in direction. I asked God if there was something seriously wrong with me. I was supposed to be close to God but I certainly wasn’t feeling it. It wasn’t until I spent a week at a monastery that I discovered that God hadn’t left me, He was there for me in the silence of the monastery. When I removed all the noise and clutter of my life, I found Him there. He hadn’t left me. I was the one who had left. I found my way back to God and learned He was still with me. During that week, He referred me back to Romans 8:38-39 and that hasn’t left me.

If you’re feeling lost and separated from God, consider removing the noise and clutter in your life. God didn’t separate Himself from you, you separated yourself from Him. If you make the effort for God, He will be there for you.

Everyone has their own way and path. You will have to find it for yourself but realize that NOTHING can separate God’s love for you. He covered all the obstacles and excuses. Have no doubt that you could ever be separated from His love.

What is wrong with the Nashville Predators?

At the time I am writing this, the Nashville Predators are tied at the bottom of the National Hockey League (NHL) Central Division.

It is sad how fall they have fallen. It once was fun to watch this scrappy team but now it has become quite painful. They are definitely not the same team that captivated the Music City during their Stanley Cup run in 2017.

So what’s wrong?

You really can’t point to one thing but a combination of things that have rendered the Predators to the bottom of the NHL.

#1 – Puck handling is awful

Too many crucial turnovers and inability to control the puck have often created scoring chances for the other team. Someone should tally which players are turning the puck over the most and send them packing. It does no good to be a good skater if you can’t hold onto the damn puck.

#2 – Power play is weak

This is a glaring weakness. The Predators are currently 21st in the league which isn’t something to brag about. For over two seasons management has been aware of the problem but have yet to find the answer. Passing the puck 6-7 times and losing the puck is maddening.

#3 – Goalkeeping problems

Everyone needs to get over the emotional attachment to Pekka Rinne and bring in a someone else. I know we are all attached to Rinne but it’s time to make a major change in net and it isn’t Juuse Saros. It’s time to make the change.

#4 – John Hynes is not the answer

I am still puzzled over the decision to replace John Laviolette with John Hynes. He was not a proven winner and he’s not winning here either. Dumb move.

It’s time to break sentimental ties with players and make some hard decisions. If the players aren’t getting the job done, they need to be replaced. The Predators are no longer a Stanley Cup caliber team. They have fallen to the bottom. If Predators’ General Manager David Poile is as good as everyone says he is then he needs to work his magic and make the changes now instead of later.

I used to look forward to watching Predator games but now I have come to dread them because they are painful to watch. There is no consistency in their play and something needs to change.

Carman…the Elvis of Christian Music

This past week the Christian music world lost a legend. The artist known as “Carman” finally lost his health battles which were complicated due to cancer.

For most of my life in the church, Carman dominated my Christian music playlist. He was very different and always got the message out through his music. I always referred to him as the Elvis of Christian music. Certainly in the 1990s and 2000s, Carman was a household name.

Carman won six Dove Awards which is the Christian music version of the Grammys. In fact, he was actually nominated for four Grammys and sold over 10 million records. It is believed that he holds the record for the largest single Christian concert in history in 1993 with over 55,000 in South Africa. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

Even with his battles with cancer, Carman was still performing in concerts up until his recent illness.

The thing that made Carman different was his ability to perform in different styles of music. He could perform in rock, country, pop and hip hop. I had the opportunity to attend one of his concerts and it was amazing. He never charged admission but opted for people to give an offering.

Carman took advantage of the popularity of music videos by making his own and being relevant to the younger generation at the time. During the time when I was a youth group leader, Carman’s songs often played a major part in skits and other presentations.

Some of my favorite Carman songs are:

  • The Champion
  • Lazarus Come Forth
  • This Blood
  • Lord of all
  • Great God
  • The Courtroom
  • Jesus is the Lamb
  • Faith Enough

Although I didn’t agree with his politics and was deeply disappointed by his endorsements, I can’t deny the fact that his non-political music over the decades inspired me.

Best Keyboards for iPad/iPhone (for me)

Over the past year I have had a problem. An obsession. I have been on a quest to find the perfect keyboards for my iPad and iPhone.

Yes, I know they each come with their own on-screen keyboards where you can thumb-type or peck on them but sometimes I need a REAL keyboard to type something without having to figure out where my thumbs or fingers are.

After many, many trials with various keyboards and keyboard cases over the past year or so, I have finally settled on the best keyboard solutions for my iPad and iPhone devices. I have had quite a quest in my search for the perfect keyboards. I am very picky about it and I want it to do what I want it to do without too much sacrifice.

Let’s start with my iPhone.

My pick: Logitech keys-to-go keyboard

This keyboard is perhaps the easiest to throw in your backpack or purse. It weighs next to nothing and if it gets dirty or something spills on it, you can simply clean it off. The keyboard is very well designed and although it is small, you won’t feel cramped when typing. It’s also a very quiet keyboard. You won’t drive people crazy with clicking on the keyboard while typing.

The only negatives to it are that there are no backlit keys and bottom can slide around on flat surfaces. This hasn’t been a major issue and the benefits outweigh the negatives.

If you want to go minimalistic, take this keyboard with your iPhone. For more information about this keyboard click here.

Now, for the iPad.

This one took a while for me, I tried several that came really close. Brydge and Zagg had some very good keyboards. They both offer some good options to turn the iPad into an alternative laptop.

The keyboard option that decided it for me was one that I should have tried first. It is the Apple Smart Keyboard. Yep, the one that Apple makes for it. I resisted jumping on yet another Apple product accessory – mostly because they are usually expensive – but after trying others I found the Smart Keyboard at a good price on eBay and decided to try it.

What made my decision on Apple’s Smart Keyboard?

First, it is lightweight. It doesn’t add any weight to the iPad. It also easily attaches/detaches from the iPad or folds so I can use the iPad when I want it to be a tablet. I did buy a back cover for my iPad to compliment it so now it is fully protected. The back cover also has a holder for my Apple Pencil as well. So, now I feel like I have the right combination for me. The one thing that I thought would be a deal breaker was that I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to use the Smart Keyboard on my lap. I was wrong. In fact, I am typing on my lap now. It really checked my boxes of expectations in a keyboard. The only thing it doesn’t have is a backlit keyboard but I have not found that to be a problem. I should know where all the keys are anyway. I never have to look at my keys anyway so the added backlight feature isn’t a deal breaker for me.

I really, really like this combination now. So much that I don’t have to search for any other keyboards or keyboard cases. Another positive about the Smart Keyboard is that it connects via the iPad’s smart connector and does not need to be charged or connected through a Bluetooth connection. Once you are connected, you are ready to type.

One thing to tell you about this keyboard – it is pricey – especially if you get it from Apple. Shop around. That’s what I did and I found one for half the price. The price is largely the reason I didn’t try this keyboard first.

Click here for more information on the Apple Smart Keyboard.

I also told you about the back cover which is made to work with the Smart Keyboard. Click here for information on it.

Take it from someone who is totally into tech gadgets and had thoroughly researched this issue. For me, these keyboards are perfect for me. If you are looking for the right keyboards, try these first.

Obscure Leagues: Fan Controlled Football League

Johnny Manziel is playing professional football again.

Say what?

This news caught my eye over the weekend.

Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M basically fell off of the football map after stints in the National Football League, Canadian Football League and Alliance of American Football.

He is now playing again in the Fan Controlled Football League.

The Fan Controlled what?

The Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL) is an indoor professional football league which was created in 2017 and the first sports league controlled by fans. It’s like a live version of a video game. The league’s first season began this month with all four teams playing their games over six weeks at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Georgia to limit COVID-19 issues.

This concept began by an organization called “Project Franchise” created a fan-controlled team named the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the Indoor Football League in 2017. A mobile app was created with a subscription service for fans to call plays during a live game. The experiment worked although the team finished 5-11.

So how does this really work?

Games are televised on the gaming network Twitch. There is real time play calling where fans have the option to run or pass when their team is on offense. When the option is pick, play options are selected and voted on. The top vote winner will be the play that is used.

Games are played indoors with seven players on each team. There is no kicking, punts or special teams. Teams start at their own 10-yard line and drive 40 yards for a score. Extra points are a one-on-one battle between a wide receiver and defensive back.

It’s definitely different.

In addition to Johnny Manziel, other recognizable names are invested in the league. Marshawn Lynch, Mike Tyson and Richard Sherman are owners in the four-team league. The teams are definitely like video game teams with the names Zappers, Wild Aces, Beasts and Glacier Boyz.

For more information about the league, visit https://www.fcf.io/

Manziel rushed for a touchdown for his Zappers’ team but lost to the Beast 48-44 in the season opener.

Johnny Manziel returns to professional football

Minor League Mash Up Coming in 2021

Did you see the latest about Major League Baseball’s realignment of minor league baseball? It’s a mess.

There is no more Southern League, Pacific Coast League or American Association. All the traditional has been scrapped in the name of “streamlining” the minor leagues into a regional setup.`

There were fourteen leagues in MLB’s farm system but now the minor league system is spread out in a massive realignment. Leagues have been replaced by tiers and regional alignments. It’s going to be a mess.

MLB claims this will allow for higher salaries, better facilities and create geographical rivalries.

The four new levels will be known as Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A with the lower three of those levels split into three regional leagues, the Triple-A level remains at just two leagues. Several teams were either bumped up a level or dropped down and three previously independent-league clubs have been invited and are now affiliated with Major League clubs.

For example, my local Nashville Sounds which had been a member of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) is now grouped in the Southeast Division of Triple-A East.

Here is a graphic which shows the new alignment for the 2021 season:

Unfortunately with the fruit basket turnover of the minor leagues, 42 teams were cut from the realignment. This includes teams in the Pioneer, Appalachian and most of the New York-Penn League. These teams will be forced to go independent, join a collegiate summer league or disband.

With COVID-19 disrupting minor league baseball last season, it is certain that this new realignment plan will definitely make things much different as baseball takes the field this spring.

When Your Christianity Is Punched In The Gut

Punched in the gut.

That’s how I felt recently when I discovered that my favorite Christian music artist had written and performed highly inappropriate song and posted it on YouTube.

I can’t describe how I felt.

In recent years, many other Christians have fallen from the respect I had for them. I know that you are supposed to look to God and not man but it still stings all the same.

I do the only thing I know to do – I write about it.

We have endured a crazy four years where we have all been divided. People have picked their sides. Preachers, prophets and singers have showed us their political endorsements over the past year which have further divided believers.

People will disappoint you. What do you do?

Regroup and remind yourself to look to God and not man.

The Bible tells us this.

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (Psalm 118:8)

Here’s something that is hard to admit to ourselves. We have disappointed others ourselves at some point in our lives too.

Ouch! That’s difficult to admit.

The fact is that we are all human. We fail.

When people disappoint us we have to hit the reset button. Renew our minds and re-examine our expectations of people.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

If we were completely honest with ourselves, it is easier for us to put our faith in people than God because we can’t see God or relate to Him like we do everyone else. It really makes it difficult for us to follow someone we can’t see or someone who doesn’t talk to us. I’m just being honest. That’s why we get drawn into putting our faith in people.

We get lazy. It takes some serious spiritual discipline and work to keep our focus on God. Maintaining a relationship with Him takes work. It sure would make things easier if God related to us like we do others. It is what it is.

It’s still okay to have people who you respect but we have to be careful that our respect doesn’t distract our focus from God. Don’t allow people to be a surrogate for your own personal relationship with God.

The punch in my gut will eventually go away as it served its purpose as a personal spiritual wake up call. Focus on the message more than the messenger.