Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bible Fantasy Draft

This Friday we will kick off the 21st season of my fantasy baseball league. I started this league way back in 1991, and somehow it has managed to survive a complete turnover in league membership, work stoppages, steroid scandals, and the existence of Bud Selig.

For the first 20 seasons, we chose our teams through a "snake draft," meaning that we each took turns choosing players, reversing order from one round to the next. For the past two seasons, I ended up with the very last pick, thanks to my evil son Thomas, who chose the names "randomly" (so he says) out of a cup. I fired him. Twice.

This year we are doing something different. This year we will be conducting an auction. Each owner will have an imaginary sum of $260 to spend, and we will bid against each other until our money is gone and our rosters are filled. This will present a new set of challenges and strategies. Should I spend big money on the top players and settle for scraps at the end, or should I try to balance my team with middle-of-the-road guys throughout? Should I spend equal amounts on hitting and pitching, or is pitching too risky to spend good money on? I'm not really sure how it will go, but it should be fun.

This also got me thinking, What if we had a Bible fantasy league? What if we had to choose teams of Bible characters, but only had $260 to spend? Would we load up on "superstars," like Jesus ($48), Paul ($39) and Peter ($32), or try to get by with some of the lesser-knowns?

Here are a few of my choice picks and projected prices...

Elisha ($18). He's not quite the caliber of Elijah ($32), who is a human rain delay and bringer of fire, but Elisha can bring miracles and prophecies with the best of them. I think he's a steal at $18.

Joshua ($16). Like better known OT leader Moses ($36), Joshua brings excellent leadership skills and good experience in battle. He might be the one to get me to the Promised Land.

Job ($12). Yes, he's an injury risk and can be temperamental, but he's also primed for a major comeback.

Luke ($7). It's always good to have a doctor on the roster.

Andrew and Nathaniel ($4 each). Let's face it -- you're gonna have to pay big money for Peter, James ($27) and John ($31). These two guys are underrated and under-appreciated. Nathaniel is a guy you can trust, a good "clubhouse" guy, and Andrew enjoys setting the table for his teammates. I think it's a good one/two punch.

Timothy ($2). Since we have a "keeper" rule, meaning I can keep him for the next two years at a discount, it's worth taking a shot on the young guy and hope he pans out in 2013.

I would enjoy hearing your suggestions for filling out my roster.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Simply Blessed

Sometimes you find the best wisdom in surprising places.

I just spent the weekend in Chicago at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. This annual conference is designed to encourage and equip more than 3000 youth workers for the daunting and beautiful work of student ministry. There were general sessions with worship, comedy, well-known speakers and concerts. There were tons of workshops with titles like, "Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture" and "Taking it to the Next Level: Advanced Junior High Ministry" (Enter your own joke here). And of course there was a small planet of exhibits filled with books and resources to address everything a youth pastor could ever need, with the exception of a chiropractor.

I enjoyed it all. It was a nice hotel (Hyatt). I ate well (on the church's dime). And my room had a 40" flat screen with NCAA games playing all weekend. It was worth every penny.

However, I must confess that it wasn't the conference itself that provided me with the majority of encouragement and wisdom. It was my traveling companions.

There were six of us from Frederick, all youth guys from the churches involved in Epicenter. We are good friends and have spent a lot of time praying and working together over the past five years. We all have our distinct personalities, represented by our nicknames for the weekend (Grandpa, Pa, Sista, Cuz, Bro and Crazy Uncle Dan). We all have our unique ministry contexts. But we all share the same devotion to the insanity that we call "working with kids." And like soldiers bonded by war, we share common experiences and a like-mindedness that we cannot find among "civilians."

That's why I learned so much at this conference. I learned more while we were crashed on the giant bean bags the conference was selling, asking each other questions about how we structure our student leadership teams, recruit volunteers, or relate to our senior pastors, than I did while the "experts" were speaking from the stage. That's why I laughed more sitting around the table after midnight swapping stories of "worst parent encounters," "mission trip disasters," and "worst thing we ever did to a kid" than I did at the paid comedians. Youth ministry is a strange animal, staffed by even stranger ones. Finding camaraderie and true brotherhood is all too rare, and we are blessed to have discovered it here at home.

So to make this blog seem spiritual, I thought of a few verses that might apply. How about Amos 4:10: "I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps." That's accurate, especially after the Chicago-style pizza. Or maybe Proverbs 12:8: "A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised." No comment. I actually like these guys and I think they like me. So how about Proverbs 15:22: "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed." Yes, that works. Our impromptu conversations, questions, stories and jokes are what filled my head with great ideas, my body with a second wind, and my heart with the realization that I am in the company of fools. And I love them.

(For the film version of this blog, check out...)!/video/video.php?v=10150099798002724

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There's a new God in Town

In a move surprising to everyone but his omnipotent self, Charlie Sheen has fired God and taken control of the universe.

Sheen, winner of Academy Awards for his roles in such critically-acclaimed films as Major League and Hot Shots! Part Deux, as well as spokesman for Fruit of the Loom undergarments, made this announcement while spinning the planets on his fingertips. "I'm hot. I'm life. I'm the man, or should I say, THE DEITY," he said during a radio interview broadcast from heaven. "God wasn't getting it done, you know? The world was jacked up. Lots of dirty laundry and nothing but fabric softener. I'm an atom bomb, a tsunami, an earthquake. I'm continental shift in a bottle. I'm nuclear fusion, bro. The universe needed me to complete my self-actualization and assume control like I was meant to."

Sheen had been under fire for his alleged addictions and self-destructive, narcissistic behavior. A series of public rants, binge parties and police encounters had led CBS executives to delay production of Sheen's hit TV show, Two-and-a-Half Men. The show, which Sheen says is named for his prowess as a lover, has been the number one rated sitcom for several years, due to Sheen's unparalleled acting skills and a laugh track which enhances the same tawdry joke week after week. Sheen was receiving $2 million per episode, a sum which now pales in comparison to his ability to mine the cores of stars for any element he chooses. "I'm a black hole; the world flows through me, man. I'm the Big Bang. I'm not king of the world, dude, I'm king of eternity. I'm the Alpha and Omega."

Sheen's first move as God was to take over every television and cable network in the world and replace them with SHEENGOD TV, a network featuring nothing but Sheen shows and movies. "There's really no need for anything else," he said. "I AM the networks, Direct TV, every Cable provider, XM radio, Syrius, Sling Box, Red Box and Juke Box in human form." SHEENGOD TV is expected to receive a boost from the fact that all universal remote controls do nothing but tune the world to Sheen.

Potential rival Alec Baldwin offered his temporary, though unenthusiastic, support of Sheen as Deity and Proprietor of the Universe. "It's mine when I want it, but Charlie's a supernova, so I'll let the world worship him for now," Baldwin said.

Yahweh, the Being formerly known as God, could not be reached for comment.