Week 1 of 2014 Season aka Sports Rant #2 of Season

It’s pretty humbling to see what you thought was going to happen for the season basically go up in flames 2 hours after you wrote it.

1. Any more questions if Sumlin will make it without Johnny Manziel? That guy needs to go to the NFL. Now. He is setting A&M to be dominant for a very long time. At least as long as he is there. Defense looked better but still vulnerable. Offense looked better than last year.

2. South Carolina – 1 game? Really? That’s how long my annual pick of them to win SEC East lasted. 1 game.

3. Georgia looks like a bully. Like that 2009 Alabama team. Just line up and smash you all game long.

4. Alabama may have found their QB. That’s good news. Getting Amari Cooper the ball – good news. Running backs – good news. Looks like they may have a kicker!!

5. The ‘Bama defense though – yikes. A&M and Auburn offenses are going to hang 50 points on ‘Bama this year. The corners look like boys among men.

6. Arkansas looks better but if they really want to improve they need some WRs that can catch.

7. LSU looked horrible for 3 quarters. I go to bed and wake up to see they won the game. Wha??? LSU and ‘Bama may be looking at the beginning of a change of power – Auburn and Aggies are rising.

8. Now we have two weeks or so of basically horrible games against teams that will tell us next to nothing.

2014 Sports Rant #1: Alabama Is No. 2?

Grant’s Note: I actually wrote this right before Texas A&M played South Carolina. More like – put the beat down on South Carolina. So right out of the gate, Carolina once again snake bits me and it looks like the Aggies aren’t going to miss a beat on offense this year. One game, a season does not make but if you’re an Aggie fan – you gotta be happy with what you saw tonight.

Oh.

My.

Gosh.

I have missed College Football. I have missed the NFL. I’ve missed high school football. Actually, I now live in Kansas so technically I still miss high school football. HEY HEY!!!

It’s not only the start of football but a new season of my Sports Rant posts which I know is a favorite of Randi, Lindsey, and Amy. I honestly think they almost quit reading my blog during football season. Which is a shame because it’s some of my best stuff. Honestly.

Let’s talk Alabama football for a second. A quick look in the archives shows I picked ‘Bama to go undefeated last year and make the SEC Championship game against South Carolina. I was :01 away from being right about ‘Bama. Auburn – the luckiest team on the plains – played out of their minds last season. Can they do it again? Who knows. I do know that loss still sits ugly with Tide fans everywhere – me included. I’ve finally allowed Cooper to return to sleeping in the house.

As far as South Carolina goes? Every year I think – this is the year they put it all together and every year they lose some ridiculous game they shouldn’t lose and it knocks them out of the SEC Championship. I’m picking them again to win the SEC East even though my heart is telling me to get out of this dysfunctional relationship and go with Georgia. (That prediction lasted all of a about 30 minutes.)

Yeah…like that relationship is any better.

As far as Alabama goes…as big of fan that I am of Alabama, how in the world are they ranked #2? No QB. Lost some major firepower on offensive line. No QB. Do they have a kicker yet? Or a QB? And what about special teams? The wonderful, vaunted defense may not be so wonderful. They got ripped in key games last year against hurry-up offenses. Guess what kind of offense West Virginia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Auburn play?

Their season hinges on the QB position and the up the middle defenders – Linebackers and safeties. SPEED KILLS, baby and those middle defenders will have to be able to play sideline to sideline against these spread, hurry-up offenses. Alabama may very well prove to be among the final 4 teams playing at the season’s end but there are plenty of question marks to start the season at #2 is a bit of a stretch in my book.

I could see this season going one of two ways. Saban finds his “game manager” QB that fires lasers when he needs to and Alabama runs the ball down everyone’s throats and plays incredible defense on their way to an undefeated season (the schedule is pretty favorable) and is sitting pretty for the SEC Championship and a playoff berth.

Or it could be the kind of train wreck season that sends half the state of Alabama into depression. If Alabama’s inexperience on defense is exposed and neither one of the QBs workout – LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn games become track meets that Alabama can’t run in and all of a sudden they are looking at a 9-3 season and a trip to the Champ Sports Bowl in Orlando. (Which means I might have a chance of actually going to the game.)

I think ‘Bama fans would be well served if they hoped for the best, prepare for the worst.

Let’s look at the schedule.

August 30: West Virginia Mountaineers (in Atlanta) – W
At one time this would have been a great matchup. It isn’t anymore. WV plays an upbeat offense that gives Alabama problems but does anybody really think WV can go 4 quarters with anybody let alone Alabama? The real drama is what QB will be starting for Alabama and will that be the same QB that finishes.

September 6: Florida Atlantic Owls – W
Gosh, I hate these games. Why? And I get that these games help these smaller schools make their budget and keeps them floating. So I’ll give schools a pass for playing one of these teams but…

September 13: Southern Miss Golden Eagles – W
Two? Southern Miss had a very good program until about 2011. They would average 10/11 wins a season. Think Appalachian State or North Dakota State – very capable of upsetting any team. Not anymore. I think they’ve won 2 games in the last 2 seasons.

September 20: Florida Gators
Remember when this game was MUST WATCH TV? Muschamp is coaching for his life and Florida will be better than what they were but even if Alabama’s QB situation is a mess, Alabama should walk away from this one with a win.

October 4: at Ole Miss Rebels – W
Here’s where it can really go sideways. It’s at Ole Miss. They want to play fast. If they get scoring points AND Alabama has to shoot it out with them aka A&M game of ’13 AND the QB situation is still a mess AND the defense is still confused – this could be an upset that gets exaggerated to Biblical proportions by ESPN and the SEC Network calling for the head of Saban and the decline of human civilization as we know it.

October 11: at Arkansas Razorbacks – W
Arkansas..where have you gone? Can you believe that this game was once a feared game on the schedule? A game you dare not ever overlook or do so at your own peril. This isn’t that Arkansas. Maybe again someday.

October 18: Texas A&M Aggies – W
A&M is another team that is trotting out a new QB. They will have to reinvent themselves a bit this year and no one is quite sure what to expect. We know Sumlin is going to put points on the board but unless that defensive unit is massively improved, his margin of error just shrunk about 80%. Does he have a gunslinger that make up for that swiss cheese defense?

October 25: at Tennessee Volunteers – W
Another year, another Tennessee meltdown. They played better last year, I think they need another year before they put teams on upset alert.

November 8: at LSU Tigers – W
There are two reasons to pick Alabama in this game. 1. LSU is trying to find a new QB and who do you trust the least in finding a QB out of these three – Les Miles, Nick Saban, Kevin Sumlin? Hands down it’s Les Miles. 2. It’s LSU. Everyone hates LSU. Even LSU fans hate LSU. In all seriousness, this game could be a train wreck for either team. Bad QB play plus failure on defense against rival team who has found their QB and defense is coming together. And LSU/Bama could be on either side of that equation.

November 15: Mississippi State Bulldogs – W
Mississippi State has sort of taken over the role Arkansas used to play. Win about 8 games and be annoying good in the other games but not quite good enough to get over the hump.

November 22: Western Carolina Catamounts – W
And that makes 3 CUPCAKES on the schedule. It’s just…disheartening. I know why they are here. While Saban has voted to add another conference game to the schedule, nobody else has and he’s not going to add another killer non-conference game since the rest of the SEC doesn’t.

November 29: Auburn Tigers – W
Alabama will either be 9-2 or undefeated at this point. Not that any of that will matter this year when these two square off. Get ready for some hilarious signage and major hype if both teams come into this undefeated again. The entire state may just explode from awesomeness if that happens. Auburn is replacing some incredible lineman and RB’s from last year’s team so it’s not like they are returning the same team.

So I’ve got them going undefeated but all of this is because I’m hopeful that one of these two QBs are as advertised. But it could just as easily end as a 9-3 season.

Roll Tide and let the games begin.

Movie Review: God Is Not Dead

Gods-Not-Dead-2014-movie-poster

So where do I start with this film?

We seem to have entered a unique time in movie history where there are more and more blatantly Christ-centered/Christ-themed movies being made. We’ve had the sublime in films like Passion of the Christ and Ragamuffin to the head shakers like Left Behind. And we’ve had everything in between – movies that had at its core a great message, some awkward acting, a bit over the top on the cheese factor in varying degrees.

God’s Not Dead seems to have moments of all of these extremes. The movie begins on a college campus where 5 unique story lines begin seemingly independent of one another and they all will eventually collide into one another. At the center of these stories is the conflict between a freshman philosophy student and a seasoned atheist philosophy professor.

The professor challenges his class to sign a document that says “God Is Dead” so they can get to the heart of good philosophy and the lone freshman Christian decides to not sign it. What’s at stake? He will have 3 sessions to present evidence that God is NOT dead and the class will decide the fate of the freshman student – whether he passes of fails.

What the movie is attempting to do is admirable and needs repeating over and over again. It’s not intellectual suicide to follow Christ. One doesn’t have to check his brain at the door of Christianity. Did the film actually accomplish this?

A “straw man” in philosophy is setting up your opponents argument in a way he can’t possibly win. You state the opposite’s position in such a way that no one in their right mind would ever agree with. The straw man is easily defeated but hardly contains the full perspective of the opposite side.

The movie was careful not to set up ‘straw men’ in the classroom scenes (save the last session). The first two sessions from the freshman philosophy student were quite compelling. How creation was handle was spectacular – and it will stretch our “literal 7-days” brothers in Christ. I found the quotes and focus on Creation fascinating but it’s the third session that I believe ultimately failed the film.

The last “session” focused on personal testimony and story instead of philosophy. I’m all for personal testimony but there is a time and place to deal with deep, philosophical truth and that time was then – in the film. We’ve had plenty of other films give us personal testimony. What I wanted was the opportunity to have the great Theistic philosophers speak, allow them a chance to shine. Men like Plato, Socrates, Immanuel Kant, Kurt Godel, Blaise Pascal, CS Lewis, Peter Kreeft, and contemporary philosopher William Lane Craig to name a few. If the “lynchpin” for the philosopher was how many brilliant men believed in no god, let’s trot out the brilliant thinkers who did.

This was a HUGE miss for the film.

The other HUGE miss was the shallowness of the characters who didn’t believe in Christ in the film. A boyfriend who abandons his girlfriend because she has cancer? A dad that beats his daughter because she’s listening to Franklin Graham? A professor who insults his girlfriend in front of his colleagues at dinner?

Lost people are lost. They aren’t stupid. They aren’t slugs of humanity with no morals or feelings. They aren’t sub-human. I felt like it was a huge disservice to “straw men” these characters.

Having said that, there are a few powerful scenes. Dean Cain’s character (the heartless boyfriend) has a confession time with his mother who is going through dementia. That was an incredible bit of filming and dialogue.

I had the expectation that the scenes with the Duck Dynasty crew and the Newsboys were going to be CHEESEVILLE, USA. Sappy, trite, bumper sticker religious speak that ultimately did nothing for the film save a celebrity appearance. They actually came off pretty well.

So what is my ultimate opinion of the movie?

I didn’t enjoy it.

I love the premise. I love the idea of weaving 5 stories together. My kids liked it. Most people I know like the film. That’s fine. Don’t want to ruin their world but if the goal was to make a film to help prepare students for life on a college campus – there isn’t enough in this film to be that.

Personal stories are great and necessary but TRUTH is TRUTH. There is enough TRUTH to defend belief in God and Christ in particular. For college students struggling with their faith on campuses across our country, spend time reading Kant, Kreeft, Craig, Lewis, and Godel. Allow their minds to challenge and expand yours while inspiring you at the same time. Yes, we need our personal story but that personal story sits on the foundation of TRUTH. That truth is what gives your personal story power.

Unfortunately, this film touched little of that foundation and no amount of cool music can hide that fact.

God Is Not Dead

G's Absolutely Correct Movie Opinion

Only inspiring to Christian audience, doubt it will speak to those outside.

Guests Rating: 0.0 (0 votes)
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Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

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Also known as “Live. Die. Repeat.” This Tom Cruise sci-fi romp tells the story of a soldier who finds himself in a never-ending cycle on the same day of a battle. Every time he dies, he starts over. He has to figure out why this is happening and how to break it and how to win the war. The film didn’t fare to well at the box office. This isn’t all that surprising considering Tom Cruise’s history with sci-fi at the box office isn’t all that pretty.

Legend, 1985 – It was the ’80s and he was young. Free pass.
Minority Report, 2002 – best of the bunch.
War of the Worlds, 2005 – awful
Oblivion – had potential but didn’t do well at box office.

It’s not that they were BAD movies (save War of the Worlds) it’s just they weren’t GREAT movies.

What makes Edge of Tomorrow’s ‘failure’ a bit surprising is how many of us have always wondered – what would happen if you put Groundhog Day in the context of an invasion of Earth by aliens keen on destroying the human race? Okay…so bad example.

If you’re looking for a deep mystical journey into the existential question of time travel and what it means to not be alone in the universe…this isn’t your film. This is about action, killing aliens, and getting in as many ‘gallows humor’ one-liners as possible.

And I realize it tanked in the theaters (relatively speaking) but…I can’t believe I’m going to say this…

But it’s a fun movie. It’s entertaining, the directing is sharp and quick. (Same director of The Bourne Franchise). In Groundhog Day, about the 4th time you “I Got You Babe” you are screaming at the film – “WE GET IT!!! MOVE THE STORY ALONG!!” That never happens in Edge of Tomorrow. Each cycle through, the story advances and another layer is revealed. The director seems to get – the audience is smart. I don’t have to start back at the beginning every single time. When the movie ends – you don’t feel like you’ve watched it 65 times in one sitting.

Tom Cruise is well, he’s Tom Cruise and his character at the start of the film – it’s funny to see him in that kind of role. Emily Blunt is fantastic in the film. The Mimics (aliens) are pretty freaky. The movie is based on a Japanese graphic novel and there are a couple of references to it. The first and funniest being the suit that Tom Cruise is first put in has Japanese as its default language.

The ending was a bit of a head-scratcher. Won’t spoil it here but the rest of the movie works and thought it was very entertaining. It’s a fun action movie – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Edge of Tomorrow

G's Absolutely Correct Movie Opinion

Groundhog Day meets Alien and it actually works. Good action flick.

Guests Rating: 3.0 (1 votes)
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2014 Global Leadership Summit Notes

A couple of disclaimers.

These are NOT exact quotes. I think I got most of the wording exactly right but these notes were taken while the speakers were going about 190 mph. I’m sure I missed a word or two. You get the gist.

I didn’t take notes on every session. The beauty of the Leadership Summit is that we get to hear leaders and speakers from different perspectives than we normally listen to. From CEOs to comedians, from every corner of the globe, business and church leaders – it’s awesome to hear these leaders speak. But not every one of them resonates with everybody. So I took notes from the ones that resonated with me, tried my best to listen and connect with the ones that didn’t. And there were a couple of sessions that no matter the work – it wasn’t clicking with me so I just sat back and relaxed in those sessions.

The notes are from the speaker’s perspective, not mine. I tried to put the notes in their words, from their perspective regardless of whether I agreed with them or not.

You need to go to the Leadership Summit next year. It’s an incredible two days of teaching, inspiration and challenges. We take the team at Western Hills and even had a couple of our elders go this year. If you are in Topeka – hit me up, come with us next year.

Here are the sessions I have notes on…

Day 1
Bill Hybels
Carly Fiorina
Jeffrey Immelt
Susan Cain
Bryan Loritts
Patrick Lencioni

Day 2



2014 Global Leadership Summit, Wilfredo De Jesús

2014 Global Leadership Summit, Wilfredo De Jesús

aka Pastor Choco of New Life Covenant Church, Chicago

Prayer is necessary and a powerful weapon but it must not be an excuse to do nothing.

Can not allow your budget to determine your faith.

Ezekiel 22:30 – “I look for someone to stand in the gap.”

You must engage your community. See your community as your church, your parish. This means conversing and listening the lost.

Our method is NOT sacred, the MESSAGE is.

The most powerful question, life changing question a leader can ask – “How’s Jerusalem?”

Don’t ask question if you are not willing to be a part of the solution.

PRAY – good start, must move from this.

PLAN – play clock on a football field, can’t spend forever in the huddle. Get out of the huddle.

PROCEED – will require sacrifice and make mistakes.

PERSUADE – you will have strong opposition, get strong help. Cast vision for others to join.

Nehemiah was not a priest, a prophet, a king, a pastor. He was a worker.

2014 Global Leadership Summit, Allen Catherine Kagina

Allen Kagina is the Commissioner General of the Uganda Revenue Authority. (Their IRS.)

I was naive enough to believe God could change anything – even the government.

Once you bring God into a place, He doesn’t know division of church and state, government, and business. We make the divisions, but God does not. He works anywhere.

If you are going to change a culture, you must have integrity and competence.

To deal with corruption, SOMETHING must be done. We fired everybody and had everyone re-apply for their jobs.

To make a difference, front load service, back load enforcement and payment.

Grant: Her talk was so good, I spent more time listening than taking notes. Powerful leader in a very humble, genuine spirit.