Thursday, August 21, 2008

Do the Impossible

[M]any people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) that it is impossible. But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility. Faced with an optional question in an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can. You may get some marks for a very imperfect answer: you will certainly get none for leaving the question alone. [...] [P]eople quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to. -- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I go through so much of my day acting as though God's commands to me are, in effect, impossible. Not that they are not logically inconsistent, nor do they violate any laws of physics. I even know of others who succeed in obeying them. No, they are "impossible" because of how flawed my character is. The problem with this supposition is it's not how God sees the situation. I can pout and say "Unfair", but he has more right to say that to me; which one of us was unfairly mocked and tortured, and unfairly died for the other's offenses? Instead, I must ignore how "unfair" it feels, how "impossible" it seems, and do it.

Watching my daughter learn to walk, it must seem awfully unfair that gravity pulls down so mercilessly. And yet each time she plops on her rear or bumps her nose into the floor, she gets back up to try again. Gravity just is, and to walk she must take the falls. Not to walk, however, is not an option, nor should it be. And so it must be in my walk; each morning I must rise up to the challenge of living for Him, and each time I fall flat on my face, I must get up again. To stay where I am is unacceptable, if not to me then certainly to God.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Most Interesting Games

Rob Neyer (my favorite ESPN columnist) posted a blog entry (ESPN insider required, sorry) about computing the most interesting baseball games to watch, if you disregard any allegiances, interests in individual players, or starting pitching matchups. We're talking solely about which are the most interesting teams to watch play each other.

He creates his formula by using the number of games out of a playoff spot for each team, with a bonus (divide by 2) if the two teams play in the same division, but only if both don't stink (at least 5% chance of making the playoffs). This was an interesting idea, but I found it lacking in a few areas.
  • Teams that are so far ahead in their division are less interesting than those in tight races. (See Angels)
  • Teams in wild-card races are less interesting than teams in division races.
  • Good teams outside the division should rank higher than mediocre teams in division.
Here's my attempt:
  • Each team starts with 10 points.
  • Division leaders add half of the games ahead they are (Angels add 7.5; Rays add 1.5).
  • Teams closer in the division race than the wildcard add the total games back (Twins add 0.5; Braves add 9).
  • Teams closer in the wildcard race add the average of wildcard and division games back (Yankees add 6.5, Cardinals add 5.75).
  • Teams then subtract 50 times how much over .500 a team is (.600 = 5 points off, .500 = 0, .400 = 5 points ADDED)
  • Division foes get another 5 points off the game score.
  • Lowest score is the best game.
So, for the games on Wednesday, here are the three best and worst games:
17.9 : PHI(64-56) vs LAD(61-59)
23.6 : MIN(67-53) vs NYY(64-57)
24.0 : STL(67-56) vs FLA(63-58)

48.3 : SEA(46-74) vs LAA(75-44)
49.9 : BAL(57-62) vs CLE(54-65)
55.2 : CIN(53-68) vs PIT(55-65)

And here are the top 10 possible games (not counting interleague), given the standings at the beginning of the day Thursday:

8.8 : TAM(72-47) vs BOS(70-51)
9.2 : CHC(73-47) vs MIL(70-51)
11.7 : NYM(64-56) vs PHI(64-56)
13.3 : TAM(72-47) vs CWS(67-52)
13.8 : NYM(64-56) vs FLA(63-58)
14.7 : BOS(70-51) vs CWS(67-52)
14.8 : CHC(73-47) vs STL(67-56)
16.2 : NYM(64-56) vs MIL(70-51)
17.3 : TAM(72-47) vs NYY(64-57)
17.9 : NYM(64-56) vs ARI(61-59)

We are the Socket, He is the Bulb

Revelation 1:20 explains that churches are (seven) lampstands in the vision shown to John. In verse 4:5, the Spirit of God is referred to as a lamp (or seven lamps). This juxtaposition means two things to me. First, there's a Spirit for each church. Not literally, of course, but that the Spirit is fully available and present for every church. Second, we are not the light of the world by ourselves. We are given the privilege of holding the Light for all to see.

Jesus, help me to hold your Light high, that when others look at my stand, they'll see You shining brightly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Take Two

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. -- Proverbs 19:21
How incredibly true that is. I had so many great ideas for what to write about, endless sets of "series" about all sorts of topics, and yet a few weeks into it, I stopped writing, for SIX MONTHS. Why? Because I fell out of the habit for a few days, and then couldn't get going again. Because I got stuck on part 3 of a series and had "promised" that would be next. Because I was lazy. Because they were my plans and not His.

I want to say that I'm back for good now. That I've learned my lesson. But who am I kidding? What I do know with decent certainty is that God wants me to write. What I also know is that I shouldn't plan out too much. Spend time with God; listen; write. That's my new plan.

God, may this time be your purpose, and not my plans.