The 4th (not quite Annual) Fantasy Football Draft Running Blog

It’s fantasy football time again, and it’s time for my not-quite-annual-and-probably-not-that-many-people-read Fantasy Football Running Blog. I’ve been a long time member of the Central States Football Association (CSFA) or as I like to call it the Random Friends of Keith Cooper League. Winning a Fantasy Football League is like winning the Super Bowl on Madden only 9 more people sorta care what you accomplished.

Last year, my dad won his first championship in our league, so he’s our defending champ. We don’t have a trophy yet, though we’ve talked about it for about 6 years. Needless to say the United Methodist Church makes decisions quicker than the CSFA. I’m trying to talk Keith into getting a Fantasy Football Championship Belt, so maybe in my 2019 blog I’ll show you a picture. Continue reading

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10 Commandments, Muldrow, and the Mission Field

                Muldrow is a unique place. It is one of those places that either take you back in time or is stuck in time depending on your perspective. People ride on horses up and down the highway. The Chamber of Commerce is more about friendships and relationships than businesses and agendas. There are as many people in a parade as there are watching the parade. You can’t talk about anybody, because you are probably talking to their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd cousin. And the two most important entities in the town are the churches and the school. It’s small town USA, and the community of Muldrow is proud of that.

                Last year, the churches and the schools worked together for good. We hosted a Teacher’s vs. Preacher’s Basketball game to help a local family with some significant medical expenses. Literally half the town (1500 people) attended the game to watch a bunch of over-the-hill men play a turnover-fest of a basketball game. (OK, so the preacher’s unofficially ordained Bryant “Big Country” Reeves to help us to victory.) Over $10,000 was raised for the family, and it was a special night doing something that Muldrow can do so well: work together.

                This week we got word that the 10 Commandments that are posted in every room in the school were to be taken down or there would be legal action against the school. The community of Muldrow has held on to the ideal that this town, our town is a Christian community. Now, this threat of the removal of the 10 Commandments threatens our very identity. If we can’t have the 10 Commandments in our schools, what does that say about Muldrow, the city we love? Continue reading

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Solo Dad: Random Reflections on a week as the only parent

So for nearly the past week, I have been the sole parent in the household with my two sons: Micah 3 ½ and Kasen 9 months. My wife Heather has training for a new job out of town, and thus the responsibility for this week of child-rearing responsibility fell to me, alone. I saw this as both a challenge and an opportunity for me to be DAD. So what follows are my reflections of the week.

1. People are not used to a dad watching the kids by himself for a week.

“Oh, you are watching them all by yourself!” “Are you surviving this week?” These are the statements that I have heard this week. If I was mom watching the kids by myself for a week, then they would not garner the sympathy or attention I have because it is expected of moms to be able to raise kids by themselves, but not dads as a general rule.

2. If I didn’t participate in taking care of my boys on a daily basis, then I would have been totally unprepared to do it this week.

Because I have helped get the kids ready for the day, made meals, fed bottles, read stories, and gave baths for the last 3 ½ years this was not as overwhelming as it could have been. The deciding factor for me on when to have kids was this simple fact: I wanted to learn to be a dad before I became a Pastor, so that my pastoral life would adjust to my life as dad and not the other way around. Thus Micah and Kasen did not interrupt my ministry (this week or in general), but sometimes ministry interrupts my time as Dad.

3. I’m grateful for those that have prayed for me.

I know that our families and our church families have been in prayer for me and the boys during this week. I know that God has worked through those prayers giving me patience with the boys and through the kids giving grace to their dad.

4. Putting 2 kids to bed is a workout.

This was my Tuesday night. Put Kasen down for a nap. Start cooking dinner. Eat dinner. Feed Kasen. Don’t do any dishes. Play with boys. Give Kasen bath. Get Kasen in PJs. Get bottle ready for Kasen. Make sure Micah feels loved. Feed Kasen. Rock Kasen. Lay him down and pray he falls asleep (He did). Get bath ready for Micah. Give him bath. Help him brush teeth and go potty. Play in his room. Read stories. Go potty. Tell him a story. Check on Kasen sleeping. Tell story. Go potty again. Give strict orders to lie down, be quiet, and still. Go potty again. Tell story. Threaten toys taken away if he doesn’t lay still. Pump fist when he finally falls asleep. Sit down in chair and look at the mound of dishes and toys scattered across the floor. Call wife and share about our day. Walk past the dishes and step over toys on the way to bed because I’m so exhausted.

5. My church family is awesome.

I know that if I needed someone to watch Micah or Kasen, I could have called 20 people to help me. They give our boys such love. The youth love watching them, and I don’t tell them thank you enough. The ladies in our church are so glad to see Kasen and Micah grow, and I am so thankful. When we have a church activity, all of the adults feel some sort of responsibility to make sure that “our” Micah does mostly what he is supposed to. If you don’t have the love of a church family, I pray that you can find the loving home like we do.

6. I miss my wife.

I miss my wife on many levels. I miss her help, obviously, with raising the boys. There is a reason God desires a husband and a wife to raise a kid because the kids need it, and the parents need each other. Not just to share child-rearing responsibilities, but also to be there in support for one another, to share the joys and the laughs together. To have an adult conversation in the midst of talk about Spiderman house, cries, and potty is a blessing.

7. Continuous sleep is a gift from God.

Kasen has been getting up at 3:00 A.M. or 4:00 A.M. for a bottle. This morning he slept till 7:30. I felt 10,000% better today than I did yesterday.

8. I have tremendous respect for single parents.

My experience is 6 days. Before my wife left, I went to the store and stocked up for the week. I know Heather is coming back soon. I know that if I don’t get all the dishes or laundry done that we can work together to do it. I know my wife will take a night shift soon so I can get the gift of continuous sleep again. Single parents don’t have that luxury. Love the single parents around you, and find ways to serve and love them. Give them grace, from my experience they have to be exhausted, and I always need extra grace when I’m exhausted.

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A Holy Agitator: My thoughts from Willimon’s book Bishop

A Holy Agitator. I think that is what I would call Bishop Will Willimon. There are a lot of people who aren’t afraid to speak their mind, but there is no one who quite has the theological mindset of Willimon. As I read through his most recent book Bishop: The Art of Questioning Authority by an Authority in Question, I found myself nodding my head frequently, shaking my head occasionally, and AOL (Amening out loud) often. (I just came up with that, let me know if that is dorky or cool, or a combination of both.)

This is not a book review because I’m not the book reviewing type, but I do think great ideas should be shared, so I’ll share some of what the good Bishop writes, and then add my own commentary. Just so you know I read it on my Kindle, so I’ll put the Kindle location on the quote. I highlighted many passages in the book, so this is just the beginning. I hope you enjoy, learn, and get agitated.

The most important appointment a bishop makes is the selection of district superintendents…Nothing moves in the UMC until a DS commits to leading that change.” KL 259-265 Continue reading

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Working on Our Roar: Young Clergy, General Conference, and Leadership

I don’t want to pass over others to leadership. I want others to pass their leadership over to me. I don’t want to be entitled to anything. I want to be empowered and encouraged for everything God has for me by the church that first recognized my gifts for ministry.

General Conference 2012 is currently going on, and as a 28 year-old commissioned elder in the Oklahoma Conference, I have been following General Conference largely from twitter via #gc2012. This is, of course, not the best way to follow General Conference. I don’t see the delegates talking, I’m not in the conversations, and I don’t experience the worship services. I read updates, opinions, and immediate reactions to events that happen that I don’t fully understand. (i.e. anything to do with Roberts Rules of Order, I don’t fully understand.) My experience of General Conference has largely been through a medium that lends itself to snarkiness and sarcasm instead of constructive criticism. Also the folks that are on twitter are overwhelming Americans, overwhelming white, and mostly young: characteristics that also define me.

As I read these tweets from people like me, I couldn’t help but think about one of my son’s favorite movies The Lion King and the song, “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”

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How to pick a Winning NCAA Tournament Bracket 2012 Edition

It is the ultimate activity for bragging rights: the NCAA Tourney.  Whether you are male or female, young or old, spend hours picking your brackets or chose your teams by who would win a fight between the mascots, anyone can fill out a bracket and have a chance to win.  In fact, a few years ago the winner who predicted George Mason to go to the Final Four did so because he thought they were George Washington.  So, here are 21 little tidbits of info for your bracket picking pleasure.

1. Don’t trust Dick Vitale or Bob Knight for that matter.  They get paid to talk, not think.

2. Vegas knows more than you do. What 5-12 game has the lowest spread? Is there an 8-9 match that has a larger spread? Listen to them. There is a reason their lights are so bright, and their buildings so big.

3. Only once have all four number 1 seeds made the Final Four. Don’t put all four no. 1 seeds in the Final Four.  It will not happen this year.

4. A 16 has never beaten a 1.  There is a reason they are a 16 seed.

5. A 15 rarely beats a 2.  Don’t pick this unless you feel lucky or your alma-mater is playing.

6. A 14 or a 13 beats a 3 or a 4 seed practically ever year.  Take a shot with one of these, because if you get it right you are a genius or at least you can claim to be.

7. A 12 will beat a 5, maybe 2 of them.  Pick one maybe two and feel good about your chances.

8. I hate the 6-11 game, because 6 seeds can made a deep run, they have enough talent, but they are inconsistent or else they would be a higher seed.  At least one 6 seed will made it to the Sweet Sixteen.  At least one 6 seed will lose in the opening round.  Good luck.

9. Both the 7-10 games and the 8-9 games are toss ups.  Never refer to a 9 beating an 8 an upset.  It isn’t an upset.  They are the same caliber of team.  The only people who call them an upsets are “experts” who are too chicken to pick an actual upset.  A 10 over a 7 just barely qualifies for an upset, you cannot brag about your 10 seed beating a 7 seed as your upset special.

10. At least one 1 seed will not made it to the Elite Eight, yet all the reporters will be shocked when this happens, you should not be.

11. At least one 2 seed will not make it to the Sweet Sixteen, yet again all the reporters will be shocked when this happens, you should not be.

12. In looking for an upset, never pick a lower seeded team that plays the same style as a higher seeded team.  What makes us think that a  full court press fast break team with marginal athletes beat one with stellar athletes.

13. Teams that play defense tend to win more games.   Especially look for defensive-minded teams playing not-so-defensive-minded teams.  It’s pretty simple but we forget about this.

14. Guard play wins in the tourney.  It is not that post players are not important, just that guards are more important.

15. If you pick a team to go to the Final Four, they need to have at least one player who will go to the NBA.

16. At least 3 of the Final Four teams will be top 3 seeds in their regions, and a top 3 seed will win the National Championship.

17. Find yourself a Cinderella and dance with her to the Sweet 16, take a 10 seed or a 12 seed to win their first 2 games, it makes the tourney more fun.  There seem to be two or three double digit seeds that make it to the Sweet 16 every year.

18. Location, location, location.  Is there a team that is playing 30 miles from home against a team that is playing 3000 miles from home.  Advantage closer team.  Especially pay attention to lower seeds that are significantly closer than their opponents.

19. Experience matters.  Looking for an upset special?  Try going with a team that has been to the Big Dance recently or has an experienced ball club.

20. Balance your head and your heart in choosing winners.   However, you know more about the teams you watch, use that knowledge, and you will also enjoy watching the game more if you pick your favorite team to win.

21. Pick a whole bracket on what you hope to have happen that way if everything works out, you can brag about your great bracket.

22. Don’t let your bracket ruin March Madness for you.  If your bracket is busted, get over it.  It doesn’t mean you are dumb, it means that March Madness is well, madness.

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Giving up Something or Becoming Like Someone: On Self-Denial and Lent

                Ash Wednesday is just a couple of days away, and so the question for some of us is “What to give up for Lent?” I remember growing up, and I heard my friends in the youth group saying, “I am giving up pop or Chocolate for Lent.” And while I admired their sacrifice, I often wondered what the point of giving up those particular things was. Because after Lent was over, it never seemed to make any difference in their lives. They went back to drinking pop and eating chocolate, and the only value they ever seemed to receive was some practice of self-denial and some pride because they accomplished something.

                So, why do we give up something for Lent? So, we can practice the principle of fasting. Fasting is about abstaining from something for a certain amount of time. This practice of self-denial forms us and teaches us and forms us as Christian disciples, and it reminds us of Jesus’ command in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Denying ourselves is essential to following Jesus. And thus the point of any fast is Christ-following.  Let me say that again, the reason we fast from anything is so that we can be more Christ-like. Continue reading

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