The Irrelevant Six

With the Buffalo Bills advancing to the AFC title game this year, here is an updated list of the NFL teams that have not won a divisional playoff game in at least 25 years:

 

Miami Dolphins
Washington Deadskins
Cleveland Browns
Cincinnati Bengals
Detroit Lions
Dallas Cowboys

That’s good company right there.

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Sixty-six years ago today, Edward Van Halen was born in Amsterdam. When he was seven, he and his family moved to Pasadena, California. Eddie and his brother Alex formed a rock band in 1972 and released the most iconic debut album in music history in 1978. And every rock-and-roll guitarist since has wanted to be Eddie.

In honor of the world’s all-time greatest guitarist, check out this video from a 1995 Van Halen concert in Toronto. And be amazed. When he breaks into “Cathedral” at about the 6:30 mark, be blown away that any human can make a guitar do that. Eddie Van Halen did not invent the electric guitar, but he owned it. Mastered it. Dominated it.

Peace,

Allan

The Chart is for Losers

Will 2020 never end?!? Tom Brady is going to be in the Super Bowl?!? Of course he is!!!

I’m disgusted by the results of yesterday’s NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. I’m sickened that Tom Brady can throw three interceptions in a conference title tilt and be hailed the next morning as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Didn’t one of his Super Bowl wins come in a 13-3 score? Didn’t two others come via buzzer-beating field goals to make up for his turnovers? Didn’t he make it to his first Super Bowl a million years ago when the referees reversed his title-game-ending fumble with the “tuck rule?” Hasn’t every Brady Super Bowl season happened in the middle of a spy-gate or a deflate-game cheating scandal? It nauseates me.

I’m also dumbfounded by the head coaches of the two losing teams in yesterday’s conference championship games. May the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely, I’ll never understand what’s so hard about making a decision to just kick the extra point.

Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur goes for two at the end of the third quarter, fails to convert, and the Packers are chasing that missed point all the way to the end of the game. Instead of kicking the PAT and being down four, 28-24, LaFleur tries to make it a three-point game. When Aaron Rodgers’ pass is incomplete, Green Bay is down five points, 28-23, which, after a Tampa Bay field goal, turns into an eight-point deficit instead of seven. And that impacted LaFleur’s decision-making at the end of the game.

He told reporters last night, one of the reasons he kicked the field goal with 2:09 to play instead of going for the TD on fourth-and-goal from the Buccaneers eight-yard-line is that they needed the touchdown AND the two-point conversion to tie. They needed both. They weren’t going for the automatic tie with a touchdown there.

Well, whose fault is that?!?

Kick the extra point at the end of the third quarter and you only need a TD to tie there at the end.

An even more unbelievable meltdown, although not nearly as dramatic, was Bills coach Sean McDermott’s decision to go for two with about four minutes left in the game against the Chiefs. Down 23 points, Buffalo scores a touchdown to make it 38-21. A simple extra-point kick makes it 38-22, a two-score game. But for some still-unexplained reason, McDermott goes for two, resulting in the rare touchdown that KEEPS it a three-score game. Miraculously, the Bills recover an on-side kick, but they still need three scores, not two, to change the outcome. I thought only Mike McCarthy got away with stuff like this!

Bill Parcells once asked me if I had ever seen “the chart.” I was having a heated discussion with the then-Cowboys coach over just this kind of indefensible lunacy he had displayed during a Monday night game in Seattle and he was blaming “the chart.” You know, it’s that little index card coaches keep in their shirt pockets that tells them when to go for two and when to kick the extra point. Of course, you never hear about “the chart” until a coach makes a terrible decision that costs his team the game.

You always, no matter what, kick the extra point until you are mathematically down to your last possible possession. Always.

The chart is for losers. So is ESPN’s Win Probability Model. And anything else that’s used to defend any other practice.

Go Chiefs.

Allan

Happy Birthday, Val

Our little middle turns 24 today. We celebrated her birthday last week when she and David made the trip from Tulsa for a doctor’s appointment here in Amarillo. A Monte Cristo sandwich at Cheddar’s — her favorite.  But where do you celebrate when you live in Oklahoma? Dave already took her to Texas Road House today after church. Nice move.

We love you, Val. Happy Birthday, sweetie.

Dad

God with Naomi and Ruth

As we begin the new year here at Central, we’re preaching through the story of Naomi and Ruth. There’s a lot to like about the short book of Ruth but, as a preacher, here’s what I love: Everybody can personally relate to almost all of it. Ruth and Naomi lived on the other side of the world nearly 3,500 years ago, but the circumstances they face and the ways they deal with their situations are so normal and typical. They are just regular ordinary people dealing with regular ordinary things. Their story is about family and work, traditions and laws, marriages and death and birth. It’s about moving to a new town, looking for a job, covering up sin, trying to get along with the in-laws. It’s about making poor decisions — Naomi and her husband trade in a famine for three funerals. Some of it is so real and genuine that it’s almost comical. Chapter three reads like a script from an old sitcom: the meddling mother-in-law telling Ruth how to catch a man; go put on a pretty dress and lots of perfume and wait for Boaz to get drunk!

The author of Ruth is not trying to clean this up for anybody. This is real life with real people where real things happen to us every day. And it’s in these regular people and these common things that we see our Almighty God at work. That’s what the Bible wants us to see, that through normal ordinary people in everyday situations, God is making everything new!

Bad things have happened in 2020. All of us have suffered some level of pain and loss. Some have suffered more than others, but we have all experienced suffering. And the suffering isn’t quite over yet. The story of Naomi and Ruth shows us that the situations our God allows, the circumstances he permits to happen in his sovereignty, are the very circumstances through which he acts in love and faithfulness to his people.

While God allows emptiness to come to Naomi, he does so in order to bring her fullness again in an even more significant way that brings salvation to all of Israel for a thousand generations and to the whole world forever. Their sufferings are for reasons that go beyond them, reasons only the God of Heaven and Earth knows. But we see through the course of their lives that God moves their story from emptiness to fullness, from famine to harvest, from bitter to pleasant, from hopelessness to promise, from silence to praise, from devastating death to everlasting life, from no future to an integral link in God’s chain to bring the promised Savior to the whole world.

What God is doing for Naomi and Ruth, he is also doing for you and your family. For us. For your church. For all of creation.

In 2020 we all learned that we are not in charge. Any illusion of control you might have had has certainly been shattered over the past eight months. Now is the time to choose a new direction. Now is the time to trust God, to trust his plans for you and the people you love, to place your faith and your whole life unconditionally in his love and his will and his power to make everything new.

Right now, at the start of the new year, are you more afraid that your life might someday end or that your life will never have a true beginning?

Peace,

Allan

Sanctity of Life

Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in which disciples of Christ in this country publicly reaffirm our commitment to showing love, respect, and grace to every single human being. We proclaim the truth that every human life is created by our God in the image of our God and is deeply loved and cherished by our God. Every color, every gender, every race, every age; born and unborn, rich and poor, physically fit and physically challenged, mentally and emotionally stable and mentally and emotionally troubled — all human life is created and loved by the author of life, the Almighty Father of Heaven and Earth.

This is also a day when Central celebrates our Gospel partnership with HopeChoice and the beautiful and powerful work they do in our Amarillo community in the name and manner of Jesus.

In the mostly lousy year of 2020, 591 young pregnant women walked through the doors at HopeChoice thinking about abortion. Of those 591 young ladies, 580 changed their minds and decided on life for their babies. More than a hundred of those women made some kind of decision for our Lord Jesus Christ.

That good work has not slowed down during the pandemic. And we are so honored and blessed by God to be a part of it.

Peace,

Allan

Everyone is a Follower

“Everyone, at some time and in some areas, is a follower, and it is just as important to be discriminating in choosing whom to follow as it is to prepare to lead.”

~ Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership

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