Tag Archives: football

Good, now I can wash my other sweatshirt

img_3978It’s been a loooooong time.

But I like my Barcelona soccer club sweatshirt so much that I really don’t wash it. I would miss it while it’s in the machines.

But for Christmas, these church members very attentively gave me a wonderful Christmas gift, a different Barca sweatshirt. Now I can finally wash the first one.

Hahaha. Christmas blessings.

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The tiniest guy on the football field just became the target (Yes, that’s my son)

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He’s been called Mighty Mouse, a bulldog, a pinball and a Rubik’s Cube (he’s about as tall as he’s wide). Teachers and students have mistaken him for a sixth grader.

Lighthouse Christian Academy‘s freshman center, Hosea Ashcraft, became its predominant running back Friday against Cornerstone Christian of Wildomar. He had 20 carries for about 70 yards and one touchdown in the 12-58 loss to the Crusaders.

LCA’s fearsome football program has been reduced to this: its core is four freshman, its quarterback is a scrawny sophomore, its lone senior is an artist who really doesn’t want to play but goes to games just to help the guys field an 8-man football team with nine players.

Successive lean enrollments in recent years have shrunk the quarry from which they cut their tough stuff. So they resorted to the 5’1″ pre-pubescent fresh meat, Hosea.

img_1958“Defensively, we were terrible,” said Coach Zach Scribner. “We’re not doing what we told the kids to do in terms of making their reads. Everybody’s looking around trying to figure out where the ball is instead of making the read and reacting off the read.”

Indeed, the Crusaders overran LCA’s defense like Fort Apache. By the second quarter, they had racked up 38 points. They may have even stepped off the gas pedal in anticipation of an easy shutout when the Santa Monica Saints surprised them.

LCA players made some key blocks — something coaches are working intensely to improve with the team of football neophytes. The Saints drove upfield, and Hosea crashed through to the end zone to give the electrons on the visitor’s side of the scoreboard some work.

“Hosea keeps his feet running. He has a low center of balance,” observed Lighthouse Pastor Josh Scribner, himself an accomplished football player. Read the rest of the article about Santa Monica Christian school football.

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The Santa Monica LCA had a ‘sick’ football game

img_0154After throwing up all week, Justin Berry was expected to throw down.

He decked his pads, suited up and caught one of LCA’s two touchdown passes Saturday.

“There was no way I was not going to play,” the sophomore said. The tall basketball player used those basketball hands to grab over the head of a corner back and scampered into the End Zone.

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Feeling under the weather, Justin Berry still played.

Blame 95 degree heat. The Lighthouse Christian Academy looked bewildered and disjointed as they fell 14-75 to Bloomington Christian School, whose team numbers as much as half of LCA’s entire student population.

“We weren’t ready for the heat,” said Coach Zach Scribner. “That caused tons of mental mistakes. We’re going to do lots of conditioning, lots of blocking and lots of tackling this coming week.”

img_0159Saturday’s game featured the debut of rugby player, senior Daniel Jones, who offers some bullishness to our mostly freshman team. Daniel was a forced to be reckoned with and made some tackles and runs, but lack of experience also saw him block on the back to annul Levi Photenhauer‘s touchdown.

Other than his TD and some nifty catches, Justin was laggy due to his sickness.

“I played sick — in both senses of the word,” he quipped. Read the rest of the Christian school football Santa Monica article.

Atletico de Madrid believed in themselves

griezmann

Antoine Griezmann had the sparkle that Barca lacked.

There are reasons why the best team in the world lost the Champions League quarter finals today to an upstart. Barcelona played flat, with no one showing flair. Atletico were sharp, precise, technical and quick.

They were outmatched in skill, but they compensated with belief. Most teams are so intimidated by skills-rich Barca that their objective is to limit the humiliation. But Atletico brought a greater work ethic to the pitch. While Messi, Neymar, Suarez and Iniesta lacked their typical flair, Antoine Griezmann showed up with sparkle.

Don’t worry about what you lack. You can make up for it with self-belief.

Cam Newton, feared QB, temptation-beset Christian

cam-newton-runWhen Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton walked away unscathed from a horrible accident that rolled his truck in December 2014, he gave praise, honor and glory to God.

“Somebody had His good hands on me,” Newton told reporters. “One plus one always equals two. I’m looking at this truck. I’m looking at this accident, and I’m like dude, one plus one ain’t equaling two, because I’m looking at this truck, and I’m like, somebody is supposed to be dead. Me being a religious person, God is good. I’m lucky to be standing in front of you today.”

Newton, arguably the NFL’s greatest player of 2015-16 and a Super Bowl contender, is on top of the world. Passing for 400 yards in his debut game in 2012, he bested Peyton Manning’s passing record of 280 yards in Manning’s first regular season game. This year, the Panthers are 15-1. His dual threat capabilities crushed the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC finals.

42f07f33873582048e0f6a706700f644_tx600But while his professional trajectory seemed to sail through the air on heaven’s wings, things in his personal life have not always gone so well. He was hounded by an NCAA investigation for receiving payment to enroll at college, and he was accused of stealing a laptop at Auburn University. As a pro, he met and began to live with ex-stripper Kia Proctor.

Newton had grown up with God. His father, Cecil Newton, is a bishop overseeing five Pentecostal churches in Georgia.

But perhaps the intoxicating power of riding on top of the world caused him to momentarily forget the humility and fear of God necessary for a true relationship with the Creator. Then the accident left him shaken, reminding him about his need for God.

6358658538411262881957152712_CamNewtonSmilesOn that fateful day, he was negotiating a confusing intersection in Charlotte when another car slammed into the rear side of his black pickup truck and sent it rolling. He clambered out the back cabin window, and paramedics took him to the hospital where doctors treated him for minor fractures in his lower back.

He only missed one game as a result of the accident.

“I am a prime example of how God can turn something that was bad into something that good,” Newton said after the crash.

At 6’5” and 245 pounds of muscle, Newton is currently the most feared quarterback in the National Football League. Most QBs either specialize in throwing or running, but Newton excels in both, which is why the Panthers made the NFC’s best defense, the Cardinals, look like their fine-feathered namesakes — birds.

When they face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, they will again be facing a team with a stalwart defense – not to mention legendary Quarterback Peyton Manning.

Newton will be up to his old antics. He performs a celebratory dance for every touchdown — ostentation that football purists frown upon. He also runs the touchdown football over to the fans and hands it to a little kid — a gesture that is hard for anyone to frown upon. His broad, ubiquitous smile shows he enjoys the game.

Newton hopes his gridiron prowess will do for the Panthers, who have never won a Super Bowl, what it did for the University of Auburn. At Auburn, he became the third player in major college football history to both rush and pass for 20 or more touchdowns in a single season. His outstanding performance earned him the Heisman Trophy, and he led Auburn to their second national championship in 2011.

Read the full article here. It was written by my son, Robert, with a little help from his dad.

Patch man

sports injury

The doctor extracted the blood that caused the painful swelling.

My son Rob keeps smashing his body to pieces in sports, and he keeps going back to the orthopedist to be put back together.

Keith Brookenthal (quite a name for a man who deals with broken bones, right?) is an sharp and optimistic doctor. He emanates confidence and allays fears with his smile.

You might as well and try to finish your season. See how much your leg can support you. The right ACL was partially torn Sept. 11. Since it was Rob’s senior year, he ought to go for the glory and not play it safe.

On Saturday, Rob finished tearing the ACL. But he made a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass and helped his team to their first win.

Come Monday morning, we’re back in Dr. Brookenthal’s office. The knee is swollen. He has pain. We are worried about further damage done. He tests the leg, smiles and orders another MRI. (Dr. Brookenthal successfully repaired Rob’s left ACL tear two years ago. Now, he’s doing the right ACL.)

Something about this doctor — whom I call Patch Man because he keeps patching up my son — reminds me of Jesus. We go out into the world and get smashed up. We come back to Jesus, and He heals us. He beams with a smile and inspires confidence.

When I  put my son into Dr. Brookenthal’s hands, I know everything is going to be all right. When I put my soul into Dr. Jesus’ hands, I know everything is going to be all right.

Christ on the football field?

varsity sports Christian school Santa MonicaLike Christ, he hazarded his life to help his buddies win.

And the Saints won 54-15 against Concordia High School of Sylmar, their first win of the 2015 season – thanks to a 200-pound senior who was already injured.

The Cougars were the first to score.

“They were just moving the ball. We couldn’t stop them,” said Coach Zach Scribner. “I don’t know what it was. They had too many beefy guys. They just kept pushing the line. Rob (Ashcraft) basically stepped up and said, ‘I’ll go in, and I’ll play on the line.’ And we stopped them.”

Rob – named after Lighthouse schools founder Pastor Rob Scribner, the former LA Rams kickoff returner – had been injured on Sept. 11 in a game against Rolling Hills Academy. The risk of further injury was high to step out of the field.

But this was his senior year, a last chance to grab glory and make memories – and his team needed him. So Rob, with a torn ACL, gave it all. He made one touchdown reception and threw as quarterback another touchdown pass.

In the third quarter, his leg gave out, and he collapsed.

“Fuuuuudge!” he shrieked in pain. To continue reading click varsity sports Santa Monica.

Lilliputian Lighthouse takes on Gulliver rivals in flag football

Lighthouse Church School

The boys from the Lighthouse Church School in Santa Monica

Gregory Heffley, the anti-heroic protagonist of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, thought middle school should be divided by height and weight instead of academic ability to avoid bullying.

His observations have been pointedly spot-on for Lighthouse Church School flag football this season. Drawing on a miniature school population of 60, they have stitched together a team to face towering muscle-bound opponents.

So the Lilliputians from Lighthouse took on another set of Gullivers and lost Tuesday 20-26 against Turning Point School at McManus Park.

“We had a great game. We stopped them on defense,” said LCS Coach Nate Scribner. “We lost by one touchdown, and that touchdown was my fault. They scored on an interception that was my fault. We made better blocks today. We have sixth graders playing against all these older guys.”

Lighthouse is just this year re-starting its flag football program. With inexperienced players jumbled together, it’s been difficult to get everyone doing their job proficiently. Sometimes kids run the wrong play. Blocking has been a downfall.

But through the patient work of the coaches, the team has slowly improved. In a game against Westside Neighborhood School on Sept. 29, the Saints strung together their first progression of plays leading to a touchdown.

Then on Oct. 6 against Crossroads B, they won.

Before half time, the Saints were marching in towards victory 12-7 when coach tried to score just more touchdown to fortify their lead. The fateful pass got picked, and the Saints were trailing at the half 14-12.

In the second half, the Tornadoes — with one player at 5’11” and two players almost as tall — were the first to score, but the Saints responded with a TD and with extra points tied the game at 20-20.

Turning Point scored and then time ran out on the Lighthouse push to counter the score.

“The kids should hold their heads up high,” Coach Nate said. “They pulled a lot of flags. Our guys are just beginning to grow and just beginning to figure out how to run. They played great. I hope they had fun. We should only remember those plays that worked right.” This story originally appeared on the Santa Monica Patch here.

A bright spot on a dismal loss | Christian football team loses vs. Hillcrest

Lighthouse Christian Academy football

Checking Caleb for concussion after he got zonked.

Get that guy some glue.

One of the bright spots in Lighthouse Christian Academy‘s 14-66 loss to Hillcrest Christian of Thousand Oaks was a freshman who just became old enough to play.

Caleb Zerihum made tackles. He foiled receivers. He ran down ball carriers. He scrambled after Tex Hagoski to provide some key blocking on a touchdown run. He grabbed an onside kick. He caught a pass.

And he dropped the ball – twice.

On the onside kick, Caleb nabbed it deftly. Coach had told him to smother the ball, but the freshman is famous for forgetting instructions. Or maybe he thought he would try his hand at being the charging bull Tex who sprints, slashes and bashes his way through defenders.

Caleb is bashful, but on Friday, he didn’t bash his way through the onslaught of Hillcrest tacklers. He got hit so hard he fumbled the ball.

Later in the game, he Caleb caught the ball, and in his eagerness to elude defenders he bobbled the ball. His moment of glory fizzled.

For the next game, will that be Elmer’s or superglue? Continuing reading Christian football.

A fallen hero raises other heroes

This is my son. Thank you for praying for him.

This is my son. Thank you for praying for him.

Yes, Lighthouse slumped to its third loss in the football season Friday against Ribet Academy (42-44), but if you looked below the surface, something more important was going on, something victorious. God was at work, and the 11 kids who took to the field left it with their heads held high.

Heroes were christened.

Senior Rob Ashcraft (yes, that’s my son) was taken out of the game on the first kickoff. Without their strong all-terrain player (he plays fullback, running back and wide receiver on offense, right end on defense), the team needed somebody to step up and fill the void.

Always camera shy, Alex before the game.

Always camera shy, Alex before the game.

And that’s what happened. A125-pound sophomore Alex Cervantes emerged as more than the timid team member who only played because he was pressured into it. In his heart, Alex is a basketball player. When it comes to football, he was pretty much scared of the big thrashers.

But on Sept. 11 against Ribet, Alex came up with a couple of touchdowns, a number of receptions, a key interception and a tackle of a bigger after whom he kept scrambling and would not let go.

“I feel like sometimes I’m not very helpful, that I’m small,” Alex said. “But yesterday I felt like I was helpful. I felt like I was part of the team.

Part of the team may be an understatement. Among the 60 Lighthouse fans in the bleachers, many were shouting out his name for his gridiron heroics. “I felt good about myself,” Alex confided.

texIf the truth be told, the Pacoima native has suffered something of an inferiority complex and wondered if he could ever fit into the private school from upscale Santa Monica. In one game, Alex shot up from “outsider” to hero status.

This is more than everybody’s-a-winner gibberish. Of course, the Saints long to win games. But if we look at other factors, it’s hard not to see how God is doing what He wants to do. And if the ultimate goal of Lighthouse is to bring souls to Christ, we have to conclude that we are winning. Find out more how Lighthouse is rescuing at-risk youth with studies and sports.

He was our student last year from Taiwan

study in America from TaiwanBy Elvin Chen, a Lighthouse Christian Academy student from Taiwan in 2014-15

My school in Taiwan was 3,000 students – all boys, so when I came to Lighthouse Christian Academy with only 45 students, a co-ed school, I was surprised. As a Taiwanese who wanted to study in the America, I never imagined I would wind up at  a high school that was so tiny.

When I met my host family, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, Pastor Zach is so strong. His muscles are so big. I will need to be careful and not make him mad or he will beat me up.”

Actually, Zach Scribner is extremely nice. I never had problem with him. He was also a teacher at the Lighthouse high school – and he was the coach of the football team (hence, the muscles).

elvin-yosemite-1024x682As he was my host father, it wasn’t easy to get out of football. At first I thought football would be fun to try, even though I had never seen a football before.

After the first practice, however, I thought, “I’m done with that. I must quit in order to survive. I will never do this.”

But quitting wasn’t that easy. Pastor Zach was my host father – I couldn’t let him down. And the team didn’t have enough players without me. The guys needed me. These were my new American friends, and I couldn’t let them down either.

Read the whole story: 中国留学生

Everybody else is playing slo-mo: Messi the dangerous

Here’s some more Messi hyperbole: He’s a superhero. Worldclass players just aren’t as fast as him. He sees his way out of traps faster. He sees and sends through-balls faster. He cuts surgically faster. He curls in shots faster.

Lionel Messi led FC Barcelona to its second championship this season with two goals. The first was a solo goal that befuddles four (even six) defenders. That’s half the Atletic de Bilbao team. In the end, Barca dizzied their opponents to secure the King’s Cup, after clinching the league the previous week. Now the only thing keeping them from a triple-crown with the European Champion’s League next Saturday is the mighty Juventus from Italy.


Seriously, Messi makes top professionals look like clumsy kids.

What they say about a soccer player of his caliber is that he is always “dangerous.” That is, he is creating danger for the opposition (opportunities to score goals). He does things that no one else can. (Well, he hasn’t walked on water yet.)

When you pray, you’re being dangerous to the devil.

#33 in Lighthouse Christian Academy football

Christian school Los AngelesNumber 33 was Pastor Rob Scribner’s number when he played for the L.A. Rams, four years in the NFL.

Then, his brainchild, Lighthouse Christian Academy, started a football program. Since it was a small school, they played 8-man CIF league.

Of course, among the new jerseys was #33. And one of the best players picked that number. He would continue the tradition of legends. Twice, the lowly Lighthouse, with a fraction of the enrollment of its competitors, nearly snatched championship from the entire Southern Section.

Lighthouse Christian Academy | Santa MonicaThe #33 was honorably bequeathed to another great player – and then another.

All the while its aura of greatness grew. Opposing teams could have figured out who to double-guard on offense, who to avoid on defense. Who would blast past them with a 90 yard sprint into the End Zone? Who would tackle them so hard that they would see stars from the sidelines – for the rest of the game?

Yup. Number 33 was not to be messed with — ever.

Then, the mighty number — which spoke volumes of history — was handed out to 107-pounder Chinese student who had never played football before.

When Henry Sihao Yu, our not-too-formidable tight-end, donned the prophetic mantle, was he our best player? Read the rest of the article.

Deflategate Christians

under inflatedUnder inflated Christians are easier to grip (for the devil).

So make sure to fully inflate with the infilling of the pneuma, the Holy Spirit, the rushing wind, the breath of God.

Not deflated balls but chaplain key to victory, Patriots QB says

jack easterbyQuarterback Tom Brady says it wasn’t under-inflated balls that helped the New England Patriots clinch the AFC Championship. It was the team chaplain. The 4-time Super Bowl winner is telling people that Jack Easterby, 31, gets a lion’s share of the credit for the Patriot’s season, which culminated with a final win against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. “He’s just a great person and friend,” Brady told ESPN. “You feel a special connection with him and with his genuine caring for all the people in his life.” patriots chaplainWhile some team chaplains may feel neglected by their organization, Easterby is on the Patriot payroll with an office near Coach Bill Belichick. He’s an exceptionally upbeat former college basketball player who connects with professional athletes. His website, “The Greatest Champion,” encourages viewers to accept the greatest champion of all — Jesus Christ — who hung on the cross and resurrected from the dead. Safety Devin McCourty called Easterby “a godsend to this team” who has “helped create better men,” ESPN reported. Read the rest of my Christian sports article.

Tim Tebow does more than just take a knee: he opens a hospital in Philippines

tim tebow glory to GodPhilippines-born Tim Tebow, famous for taking a knee and praying mid-game as an NFL quarterback, has now made a touchdown pass off the gridiron: a pediatric hospital under his tutelage opened for business this Christmas.

“I have always had a great love and passion for the Filipino people,” Tebow said in a statement. “It is so exciting to be able to provide healing and care for these incredibly deserving children halfway around the world.”

Read the rest of the article: Christian news. I wrote this article for God Reports. That’s why I feature it here.

Manning: a man of faith

peyton manning Christian quarterbackThe most important moment in quarterback Peyton Manning’s life was NOT when he surpassed the NFL record of 509 touchdown passes. It wasn’t any of his league-record five MVPs. It wasn’t his Superbowl championship. And it wasn’t being named player of the decade of the 2000s by Fox News and Sports Illustrated.

The most emotional and dramatic moment of his life came when the Denver Broncos quarterback accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.

“My faith has been number one since I was 13 years old and heard from the pulpit on a Sunday morning in New Orleans a simple question: ‘If you died today, are you one hundred percent sure you’d go to heaven?’” Manning writes in his book “Manning.”

“My heart was pounding,” he writes. “The minister invited those who would like that assurance through Jesus Christ to raise their hands, and I did. Then he invited us to come forward, to take a stand, and my heart really started pounding. And from where we sat, it looked like a mile to the front.

“But I got up and did it. I committed my life to Christ, and that faith has been the most important to me ever since.”

To keep reading click here: Christian news

Prepare the way for another

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

If you ponder who is the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi would be a contender for the title. Thanks to Messi, FC Barcelona are the team to beat, the standard-bearers of magic on the pitch, a distinction formerly held by nemesis Real Madrid.

But there would have been no Messi, and Barcelona would have remained always in the shadows of white uniforms of Spain’s capitol city, had it not been for a legend from the past. Johann Cruyff is almost forgotten in the radiance of today’s stars. But it was Cruyff who made the way for Messi.

cruyff

Johann Cruyff

Wanted at Real Madrid, the Dutch dazzler opted to move to then-underdog Barca. Immediately he won the championship and two Ballons d’Or. Later as coach, he won four consecutive titles and one European Cup. He devised the farm training team for future stars to rise in. It was there that Messi discovered his own greatness.

Today, Cruyff fades into the background as the steamroller Messi continues to smash records. Who is greater? The one who became great or the one who forged the path for him to find destiny.

Maybe your ministry is waning, your influence declining. Fret not. What you have done for God has brought others into their own destiny and greatness.

Another Argentina showed up

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

What I saw previously of Argentina in World Cup rounds left me doubting. They were flat. They struggled to beat easy opponents. They lacked the flair that carries teams from the Americas in the Americas to lift the gold trophy.

But fizzless Argentina showed up to play today against Holland and shattered my predictions. (After witnessing the Orange Machine demolish former champ Spain with aggressive defending and laser-sharp passes with unthinkable finishes, I speculated they’d win their first ever).

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

It was a different Argentina. They looked like electrons shooting around the midfield, dominating most of the game. Unstoppable Arjen Robben met his match in the superb defender Javier Mascherano, whose millisecond-pinpoint tackle deprived Robben of his best chance. Argentina just couldn’t pick the lock of the Dutch defense, and so the game had to go to penalties.

Incredibly, Argentine Goalie Sergio Rojas stopped two shots and thus stifled Holland’s hopes.

It reminded of Samson. Ever flubbing, Samson showed up strong on game day. We live under grace to forgive our sins. When we are needed to step up to the plate, let it be a different us — a Holy Spirit empowered us — that shows up.

Poetic justice at World Cup

I don't own the rights for this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights for this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Algeria scared expected-winner Germany in extra time of octavos knockout stage of the World Cup 2014. Had the northern African nation upset Germany, it would have been justice.

In the 1982 World Cup, over-confident, prideful, and racist West Germany players trash-talked the upstart Algeria team. The Algerians were nomads out of the desert. The Germans would dedicate their seventh goal to their wives, their eighth to their dogs. One player boasted the game would be so easy to win, he would smoke a cigar while playing.

But the Algerians won 2-1.

The West Germans were shocked. In their subsequent game, they colluded with Austria to play a game of 1-goal difference, which was the only option to send Algeria back home and allow both Germany and Austria to move on to the next round. After the first German goal, both teams essentially dilly-dallied with the ball for 80 minutes and never tried to score. Fans, who had paid their tickets to see a great game, were outraged. West German soccer officials recognized it was a “tactical game” and unleashed more racist comments.

I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

I was rooting for Algeria this time. It would have been payback for the evil, the corruption, the arrogance. Unfortunately, not every score will be settled in this imperfect world.

At least this time, the Germans stayed mum before the game. They respected their opponents.

Not until extra time could Germany break through a well-organized and determined squad this World Cup. They scored two goals, but Algeria struck back with minutes of play. It ended a reverse of the 1982 score line: 2-1 in favor of Germany. Algeria did respectably. We ought to respect our adversaries always.

 

Please don’t tarnish your memory as a hero

donovan lashes out

Pic from Yahoo Sports. I don’t own the rights to this pic, and I’m not making any money on it.

Landon Donovan came off bitter.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann omitted the notable U.S. star. Up until the U.S. loss, Donovan, who was my hero, was mum about the snub. He was supportive of the team.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann hasn't lowered himself to the level of defending himself against a bitter player.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann hasn’t lowered himself to the level of defending himself against a bitter player.

No sooner did the outgunned U.S. squad get booted (logically) by a Belgium team glutted with top club stars than Donovan unleashed a rant against the coach. According to Donovan, he mismanaged the team.

Landon, please, don’t do this…

julian-green-usmnt-soccer-player1

Julian Green wowed everyone with an extremely difficult lobbed ball over his shoulder that he hit squarely into the net, foiling the competent German goalie. This pic belongs to USMNT (I think). Thanks for letting me use it! I’m not making any money on it.

As the top goal-scorer for the U.S., you are an icon, an inspiration. You’re huge, but when you lash out, you make yourself small, immature, full of yourself, etc. It’s not pretty. Many of your followers will give you credence. But a whole other slew of us are going to leave you alone, a blathering brat.

If Donovan’s omission was the demise of the U.S team is material for lambasting comment threads. Klinsmann marshaled the U.S. team to success out of the very difficult “Group of Death.” He limited the German victory to one goal.

He’s locked down talented stars for the future. His recruit, 18-year-old Julian Green smashed home his first World Cup goal after only a two minutes of play. A coach can only bring so many players on his squad. Had he not brought Green, the dual-citizen starlet might have opted for Germany permanently.

Donovan, you’re not young anymore. We’re sorry. We love you. But go in grace. Don’t pile shame upon yourself. We want to hear your expert analysis, not your vented bitterness.

Build

Julian Green's late strike

Julian Green’s sensational strike sparked a rally that had people believing. (I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.)

Don’t go glum over the U.S. elimination from World Cup. The run was the impossible dream. Just to make it out of the group stage showed prowess.

Amid the tears, there is one glimmer of hope. That was a 19-year-old kid who only played a few minutes of World Cup soccer and scored a sensational neck-stretcher wild-sideways-kick goal that sparked an emotional U.S. rally in their 2-1 loss to Belgium.

A resident of Germany since age 2, Julian Green only recently defined his desire to serve the red, white and blue. He was recruited also by Germany.

sensational Tim Howard

U.S. Goalie Tim Howard made scintillating save after save to keep the U.S. in the game. (I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.)

U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was wise to sacrifice Landon Donovan for Julian Green. Recognizing that USA’s chances were unrealistic in 2014, Klinsmann’s taking the long-term approach to build U.S. soccer. Build, don’t burn, your program. Come back stronger. Make a squad with a realistic chance at winning a World Cup. Until now, our only flourish was a 2nd-place finish in the Confederations Cup in 2009.

Julian Green over shoulder kick

An astonishing over-the-shoulder one-touch fires home to spark U.S. hopes. (I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.)

If you are church leader, it matters little how badly you’re getting beaten (by lack of finances, by apathy, by attacks on your health). The only thing that matters is how you marshal your resources to build God’s kingdom. If this doesn’t appear to be the year of revival, maybe next year.

The impossible dream is not over. It’s just extended.

Need for a finisher

Clint Dempsey. I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

Clint Dempsey. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Part of the weakness of the U.S. Men’s National Team is the lack of a true finisher. Clint Dempsey finished a 34-second goal against Ghana that was nice, but he’s not like the finishers who given half a chance bury it in the net.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a great finisher, but he was injured, so he played poorly. Luis Suarez is deadly as a striker; too bad he likes to bite opponents. Wesley Sneijder took a back-header bouncing ball and rocketed it low into the net to sink Mexico’s hopes for their first-ever World Cup.

Impossible to stop, Sneijder's goal was part of Holland overturning a 1-goal deficit to win. I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

Impossible to stop, Sneijder’s goal was part of Holland overturning a 1-goal deficit to win. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

As the name suggests, a finisher may NOT be good at passing, possession, bodying, defending, imagination or creation. His job is only one: If teammates get him the ball near or in the area, he smashes it home. (He doesn’t kick it wide or high, as you so often see.)

The U.S. has an awesome goalie, competent defenders, a sensational midfielder, speeding wingers. Dempsey has played forward successfully in the English Premier League, so he’s the best thing we’ve got (if Jozy Altidore doesn’t recover from injury) for Tuesday’s game against Belgium. He’s hardworking, but he’s not a natural finisher.

Mexico World Cup loss

After barely qualifying, Mexico produced some spectacular football but lost because an exquisite finisher. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it..

Every team needs a finisher. Team U.S.A. doesn’t have one.

“It is finished,” Jesus said from the cross. No one else could earn us salvation. We can’t earn our own salvation. When He took our sins to the cross, the Sinless Savior finished off a game that the devil was winning. Death, empowered by the fall, was consuming ravenously all humanity, until Jesus finished Death off. “It is finished.”

By Picketty on redbubble. I don't own the rights to this art, and I'm not making any money on it.

By Picketty on redbubble. I don’t own the rights to this art, and I’m not making any money on it.

Jesus is our finisher.

The hero of the World Cup

ronaldo haircut

With his World Cup buzz. (I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.)

Forget about U.S. sharp shooter Clint Dempsey. Never mind the incredible saves by Tim Howard. The U.S. men’s national team advances, while Portugal limps embarrassed back home.

Kyle Beckerman's wild hair. (I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.)

Kyle Beckerman’s wild hair. (I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.)

The hero of the World Cup is Cristiano Ronaldo. This is the Hollywood-ready pretty boy I’ve sent to the itamae often for diving, cry-babying and basking in his own image on the replay screen at the stadium.

No longer.

I’m now his enthusiastic admirer. I’m not being sarcastic either. I’m not thinking about how his injury-induced tepid play helped the U.S advance out of the Group of Death, nor how his timely goal ensured Ghana’s defeat (that also helped us).

The pretty boy image.

The pretty boy image. (I don’t own the rights to this pic, and I’m not making any money on it.)

I’m talking about his haircut.

Football players are famous for crazy cuts. You’ve got Kyle Beckerman’s shock of dreadlocks. You’ve got mohawks and numbers buzzed into the side and all kinds of things. When Cristiano Ronaldo showed up with a zig-zag pattern, fashionistas groaned.

Then people found out it was more than just a racing stripe. CR7 mimicked a scar on the head of Erik Ortiz Cruz, a Spanish boy whose $83,000 brain surgery he paid for.  It was tribute and solidarity.

Sadly, people are tolerant of bad boys who score goals and win cups. But when an act of charity is performed, they become cynical and cry foul. "He's just trying to get attention," they say.

Sadly, people are tolerant of bad boys who score goals and win cups. But when an act of charity is performed, they become cynical and cry foul. “He’s just trying to get attention,” they say. (I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money on it.)

Forget about who ultimately lifts the gold trophy. The Real Madrid superstar is the biggest winner of all those brats who disgust with their entitlement and unthinkable salaries. Once and for all, the 2013 Ballon d’Or winner shatters his image as Narcissus.

I can just turn my computer screen off now. I’ve seen the best the World Cup has to offer.

German Giants

usmntPundits predicted that America OUGHT to win against Ghana, MIGHT tie with Portugal, but STOOD NO CHANCE against Germany. Tomorrow we shall see in the USA´s last World Cup group stage game if the red, white and blue can pass to the next round.

Germany´s football was like their engineering: precise, inerrant, mechanical. America on the other hand had scrapped together what it could, a ragtag band of players, only a few of which were from top leagues around the world.

Clint Dempsey's 34-second goal against Ghana. I don't own the rights to this photo, and I'm not making any money on it.

Clint Dempsey’s 34-second goal against Ghana. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Against Ghana, the USA scored an early goal and weathered a storm of shots for 90 minutes. They were sloppy, lethargic, unambitious. They couldn´t maintain possession. By a miracle of God, they won 2-1.

Against Portugal, America improved greatly. They played open football (that’s soccer, for the uninitiated), maintained possession and set up goals with creative passing. Unfortunately, Michael Bradley gave up the ball to Portugal and a U.S. defender failed to track back with his mark, and that’s how Portugal tied in the last minute.

Germany's goal against Ghana. I don't own the rights to his photo, and I'm not making any money on it

Germany’s goal against Ghana. I don’t own the rights to his photo, and I’m not making any money on it

It was a disappointing end to what would have been an upset (led by Christiano Ronaldo, Portugal is a football powerhouse). But I was happy because the U.S. did much better.

Germany dismantled Portugal but struggled to eke out victory against Ghana. Their mythic precision was off.

Will the Yankee Doodle dudes beat Goliath? Part of the answer lies with belief. They mustn’t cower in fear but like David defy their opponents’ depth of experience, speed and accuracy. They must concentrate without a millisecond of slip-up.

That’s how we Christians should face everyday in God too.

Revenge! Netherlands trounces Spain

van persie goal

pic from Business Insider. I don’t own the rights to this pic, and I’m not making any money on it.

Netherlands tore up World Cup favorite Spain in a 5-1 humiliation on the second day of the tournament. Robin Van Persie flew like Superman to header the ball into Spain’s net over the head a hapless Iker Kasillas evening the score to 1-1 in the first half.

Then, hothead Arjen Robben coolly showed surgeons how to do a triple bypass in one second. He deftly caught a long ball on his FOOT that make NFL one-HANDed catches look like a piece of cake.

Arjen Robben

Arjen Robbin celebrates after goal. Pic from Dirty Tackle. I don’t own the rights to this pic, and I’m not making any money on it.

Settling the ball, he cut contrary to two rushing defenders and fired on goal contrary to a leaning goalie. He bypassed three players single-footedly with surgical precision.

Spain — which dominated the game in the first part of the first half, looking as if they wanted to retain the golden trophy — looked stale, ineffective, slow, discouraged. Only Andres Iniesta showed life.

How did he do it? Van Persie makes an improbable connection with the ball and bounces it perfectly over the goalie and under the bar. Pic from Dirty Tackle.  I don't own the rights to this pic, and I'm not making any money on it.

How did he do it? Van Persie makes an improbable connection with the ball and bounces it perfectly over the goalie and under the bar. Pic from Dirty Tackle. I don’t own the rights to this pic, and I’m not making any money on it.

At risk of sounding off prematurely, I declare this game the most exciting of the World Cup. If Netherlands plays every game like this, they’ll carry home the gold.

Being the unfavored, defying the odds, playing hard, believing in the impossible — these are all things of the Christian heart. Play your day for Christ to take the trophy home… to Heaven. Don’t resign yourself to losing just because the odds-makers are against you.

Netherlands lost the final to Spain in the last World Cup. Now, they can savor revenge.

Greater glory

damien berry

Damien Berry

Damien Berry sold one of the most coveted items in the world: his 2013 Superbowl ring. Since he didn’t play for the Ravens due to injury and other reason, he probably doesn’t savor the symbol of a victory he took no part in. What’s surprising to me is that not more players sell their rings. Those rings are certainly NOT exchangeable for salvation. The glory of this world dies with death.

idols

This player idolizes his ring.

Jesus said: I have given them the glory that you gave me — John 17:22. It’s uncertain what exactly that means, but what’s beyond doubt is that whatever God has for us will make this world’s glory look like a 20-watt bulb right next to the sun.

Believe

believe

Senior Joel Lahood makes a mad dash to the touchdown line

ROLLING HILLS, CA – Lighthouse suckerpunched Rolling Hills Preparatory 41-15 Friday in its third straight win since the 2013 season of CIF 8-man football began.

Lighthouse Christian Academy

LCA Saints can’t stop smiling after an improbable win, product of hard work and faith in themselves.

The undermanned Saints outgunned their numerous opponents on Sept. 13 and avenged two straight losses to their South Bay rivals from previous years. Sophomore Tex Hagoski opened scoring within minutes of the game start with a daring dash, wiggling free of would-be tackles. With each play, Santa Monica’s Lighthouse Christian Academy showed its intentions of rolling all over Rolling Hills.

8-man football in Los Angeles

Hagoki limps off the field

Next, senior Joseph “Raising Cain” Kayne powered through to the big 6 points. Next came senior and toughguy quarterback Joel Lahood to sprint into the end zone. In the second half, sophomore Adrian Brizuela, a soccer star cajoled into playing football, intercepted a pass and demonstrated fancy footwork to cross the touchdown line.

where can I get on a varsity football team?

Brizuela makes a touchdown??? But his sport is soccer!

Finally, senior Nate Peterson jack-knifed through an onslaught of hulking opponents to get his name on the scoreboard.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Rolling Hills had requested a game with the slumping Saints (slumping for the last two years) because RHP had lost a slew of seniors this year. They had hoped for at least one easy win (against us). Instead, our lopsided victory will be sure to pile up their misery.

believe

Lighthouse fans have yet to show they have the faith in their team

But if Rolling Hills had fewer seniors, their entire squad outnumbered ours by almost three to one. In a now-common pattern of brutal injustice, our opponents field both a defensive and offensive squad, which gives their players a needed respite. Meanwhile, our dogged dudes must dig deep down inside to find the energy to equal their adversaries, moving both forward and backward.

football is for men

War Wounds: “Raising Cain” Kayne shows scrapes on the forehead (barely visible in the photo) and on both arms.

When starlet Hagoski limped off the field with a knee injury, Lighthouse threw on its one and only substitute, freshman Will Clancy, who’s never played football before

When his older brother, senior Nick Clancy, took a particularly hard hit, Hagoski removed his ice pack and hobbled back onto to the field to fill the position for one play.

On the surface, it’s pure insanity. But it was a gutsy kind of testosterone  display that men love to see on the gridiron. When you analyze the numbers, Lighthouse, with fledgling resources, should NOT be winning. But these kids believe in themselves enough to make every tackle, to make every wild run, to make every handoff.

In a sign of their growing confidence, Lighthouse is making pass completions and surprising opponents with unsuspected plays. That these young men believe in their own leadership and ability is clear. Will the Lighthouse fans, jaded by previous losing seasons, believe in them also?

Image

Don’t be too busy: how to pray?

Don't be too busy: how to pray?

Effective prayer: Iker Casillas teaches

  • Effective prayer
  • Powerful prayer
  • Praying the Bible

Iker CasillasIker Casillas didn’t have to do anything to win! In the boring Italy-Spain Confederations Cup semi-final, Casillas just stood there on the penalty shoot-out that settled a sluggish 0-0 into overtime match. As a matter of fact, Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon didn’t stop a single shot either.

Buffon Casillas

It could have been a spectacular show of goalkeeping prowess, but neither could stop any PK.

On a few penalty shots, Casillas dove. But after one cheeky Italian chipped it straight and center, he apparently decided to stop diving. He just stood there uselessly. The dives were pretty much pointless anyway because both teams drilled home unstoppable PKs. So Spain won 7-6 because Leonardo Bonucci launched his to the moon instead of the net. Here were the world’s two best goalies, and neither made a single save.

The penalty shoot-out reminded me of prayer. We can try. We can dive. But ultimately, the victory has nothing to do with us. Victory comes from above. Effective prayer does more than doing more.

Casillas Confederations CupThat’s why the overworked minister who neglects prayer commits a fatal mistake. He spins his wheels. The lion’s share of the work belongs to God Almighty, and the minister (not almighty) tries to do it.

If you yearn for greater effectiveness, pray more and work less! Pray effective prayers.

Why do people hate the good guy?

*** BESTPIX ***  Spain v Tahiti: Group B - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013El Niño Torres scored an unheard-of four goals against Tahiti in the Confederations Cup, and I was happy. Lately he’s been underperforming, and lynchmob of critics has persecuted him. They’ve even mocked him for being a nice guy, a decent human being (Maybe they Luis Suarez better, the Uruguayan racist who also bites opponents.)

imagesJames Lebron led the Heat to the NBA comeback final victory, and I was happy. He has been unjustly criticized for choking in finals, for betraying his first team, even for his skinny teams. They trash-talk him.

images-1Tim Tebow talks Christianity, and they shut him up. Collins talks homosexuality, and it´s national news. He’s a hero.

I think people despise the nice guy because the nice guy makes them feel like bad guys — by comparison. Thus, the rant, the hate, the cackling of “good guys finish last.”

So… I love it when good guys finish first. I’m trying to be a good guy too! And, yeah, good guys DO finish first. If you don’t believe me, just show up on Heaven’s Judgment Day. (Everybody will show up, even those who don’t believe in God.)

If it’s over, where’s the elation?

  • How do I pray?
  • Faith in prayer
  • Prayers of the Bible

imagesBarcelona won the 2012-13 Spanish league when it wasn’t even playing. It’s nearest competitor, Real Madrid, tied, and, with only  a few games left in the season, no one can reach Barca’s points.

images-1Winning by NOT playing (when your rival ties) is a very undramatic way to seize a crown. But that’s the way the European leagues work: no flourish of playoffs. It’s boring mathematics: whoever has the most points, wins. Now whatever FCB does — even it loses every game 0-20 — it cannot lose the league.

images-2Despite being an avid fan, I’m disappointed. Where’s the flush of excitement of a memorable finale? Where’s the high fives in front of the big screen with pizza with my buddy Adan? In the essence of anti-climax, I read it on Yahoo soccer news. It was over, and I wasn’t even watching the game to relish it (why would I? It wasn’t even my team’s game).

images-3Instead of seeming happy, it’s a let-down. No more tension as a rival threatens a comeback. No more discussing injuries and speculating who will cover what position. No more guessing outcomes, despairing over setbacks.

images-4Christianity is like this: it’s over. Christ won — a long time ago, at the cross. What remains is an unavoidable and boring march towards victory. We can lose the excitement of God’s crushing championship, but we should never forget that He has won. The fact that secularists appear to be winning our nation is much like Iran’s president denying the Holocaust: ludicrous brouhaha.

Go to prayer today with:

  • the sensation of the thrill of victory
  • certainty of the positive outcome for your petitions
  • persistence in securing wins (Barca still wins games, even though they can’t lose the championship losing games). Show our stuff!

100% — not 99%

imagesAmong other things, the 99% movement was about the disenfranchised and powerless getting power. It didn’t work because the oligarchy won.

Prayer is also about the powerless seizing power. When in this world, you have no means to deliverance, to health, to change lost friends or relatives. You only have prayer. You feel helpless to do anything, and you turn to God, who CAN do everything.

prayboyfieldNo power structure, conserving its privilege, is going to be able to subvert God, the Power over every other power. Don’t just stand idly by, wringing you hands, woefully wishing things were different. Seize power and change your world: pray today. God has 100% of the power.

When you overcome fear, you become dangerous

tumblr_m6ulm3TT8U1qa7gx5o1_500

Rob Scribner then

Rob Scribner then

My pastor, Rob Scribner, tried out for professional football to prove he couldn’t do it.

He just liked it. But he thought he wasn’t good enough. Because of hard work, he wound up on the team, playing for the then-LA Rams from 1973 to 1976. A lot of other guys didn’t even try out because they thought they wouldn’t make it.

Fear of failure is a major problem. Whatever you long to do but are afraid of doing, that is what you should do.

Pastor Rob Scribner now

Pastor Rob Scribner now

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. — Thomas Edison

The explosion of “fantasy” — sports, Second Life, etc. — is illustrative. People want more but are afraid to live it.

Christian, when you overcome fear, you become dangerous to the devil.

Need a confidence booster?

Midfielder Gerrard

Comeback king Steven Gerrard rated himself a modest 6 out of 10 before facing Sweden in a friendly. He was lauded for humility.

By contrast, Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic boasted he’s a 10 and then backed it up with a mind-boggling overhead kick from an acute angle that has gawkers jabbering about “best ever in history.”

from 30 yards

Nobody downgrades Gerrard, who got his 100th cap for England, but his performance was lackluster. And nobody is criticizing Ibrahimovic’s behemoth ego after his astonishing performance.

I never believed in myself because there wasn’t really anybody around me as a kid who believed in me. My self confidence bloomed late, starting in college. Just for me to accept the challenge to pioneer a church in Guatemala was a huge step of self confidence/ confidence in God.

Get around people who will build you up, not tear you down. Hopefully, you can find such people at a church. People who tear others down are insecure themselves; they feel better about themselves cutting you down.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another — Pr. 27:17 NIV.

This is one of the uses of the church, that like-minded believers would encourage you and share talents and attitudes with you to make you better. Ideally this support network is a far cry from the hypocritical society painted by many.

We live in an age when growing droves are leaving the church. Has it lost its relevancy? Pundits may prattle, but reform, not replacement, may be the order of the day.

Football helmets of salvation

 

Rob’s team’s football helmets just arrived. They cost $200 each. One special helmet, for a high school student injured last year, cost $1,000. That’s a lot of money for sports equipment. Then again, when it comes to your head, you don’t want to tight-wad. A head injury, almost more than any other part of the body, can cause death, so maximum protection is imperative.

Ephesians exhorts us to protect our spiritual cranium. Put on… the helmet of salvation. — Eph. 6:13,17 (entire verses are not cited). I understand that when we are “born again,” we cannot be “unborn,” to follow Jesus’ metaphor. So I don’t think salvation is like a light switch that you turn on and off depending on your behavior. However, this scripture certainly gives us the idea that you need to “put on your salvation” daily. Undeniably, there is a daily element of renewing relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is salvation.

I don’t mean to settle or even get into a centuries-long debate about salvation here. I only mean to inspire Christians to the daily act of prayer — preferably in the morning — as part of protecting your relationship with Jesus. It’s worth the investment to protect your head: make time to pray.