"The way of attaining such an extensive treasure of ideas is, with diligence to apply yourself to read the best books, converse with the most knowing and wisest of men, and endeavour to improve by every person in whose company you are; suffer no hour to pass away in lazy idleness, and impertinent chattering, or useless trifles; visit other cities and countries, when you have seen your own, under the care of one who can teach you to profit by travelling, and to make wise observations; indulge a little curiosity in seeing the wonders of art and nature; search into things yourselves, as well as learn them from others; be acquainted with men as well as books; learn all things as much as you can at first hand; and let as many of your ideas as possible be the representation of things, and not merely the representation of other men's ideas: thus your soul, like some noble building, shall be richly furnished with original paintings, and not with mere copies."
1. Never switch allegiances. 2. Show some respect. 3. Visit the shrines. 4. Never give up. 5. Never give in. 6. Never leave early. 7. Neither a front-runner nor a Johnny-come-lately be. 8. Accept no substitutes. 9. Wait till next year. 10. Never turn down tickets to see [Adrian Peterson].
It always seems a little presumptuous to me when people come up with end-of-the-year reviews before the year is even over, as if nothing important ever happens on the last week of December. Kind of like when people use the term, "first annual."
2013 was a year where the more things changed, the more they stayed the same, proving Yogi's maxim. The apparent changes began when I hopped a plane on January 3rd for a job interview in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Since I am absolutely terrified of flying, and swear up and down that I will never do it again each time I do it, the job interview that immediately followed when my feet finally touched the sweet ground again was a breeze. There's nothing like being hurled halfway across the country in a tin can and surviving to ease the nerves that come with a job interview.
I was offered the job on the spot and I was forced to make a decision. I loved the town, all the people I met were great, and it seemed like a great company. What stopped me? I already had all these things here. I realized that if I went I would just be trying to recreate what I already had. So I made my decision to stay in Minnesota on February 1st and remain at the job I've had since 1999. This was the first of three jobs I turned down this year.
Aside from my quick trip to Colorado I didn't take many trips this year. My only vacation was in June, when I tagged along with my good friend Orion and his family of five on their family vacation to the North Shore.
My only other trip this year was work-related where I was once more forced to be hurled through the air in a tin can, this time to Atlanta for the Heidelberg open house.
On June 4th I was served with divorce papers. This was both one of the worst and best days of my life. Worst, because there is no failure that you will ever experience in life that compares with a failed marriage. Best, because after carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders for two years like Atlas, I was finally able to shrug.
On September 20th I turned 37. I have a different attitude toward aging than I thought I would have when I was younger. I love aging. Life gets better each time the number goes up. Each birthday I get the same feeling I used to get when I beat another level in Super Mario.
As the years have passed, I find my interest in sports decreasing dramatically outside of football. I still despise basketball, baseball puts me to sleep now, and hockey doesn't even hold my attention until late into the playoffs. But football is still the king.
After watching the Vikings get blown out in the first round of the playoffs in January, I had high hopes that this season would take the taste out of my mouth. That has not happened. As I type this, the Vikings are 4-10-1 and the talk for most of the season has been about what kind of a draft pick we'll get next year. But this season has been memorable for two reasons:
1. I attended my first game at the Metrodome in 1985 when I was 9 years old. In four days I will attend my last at age 37. It will be hard not to shed a tear when one of the last remaining links to my childhood is torn down.
2. The Vikings new uniforms have made them watchable again. While they are still not as good as the classics that Tarkenton and Page wore, I am so glad that I don't have to look at the clown suits of 2006-2012 ever again.
I didn't get to make my annual pilgrimage to see a new stadium this year on my Quest For 31, but I did attend one game at home (Redskins), and plan to attend the season finale against the Lions. I also took a trip down to training camp in Mankato for the first time since '99.
On April 14th I said goodbye to the most influential person in my life as John Piper retired as pastor and made way for Jason Meyer. I will miss him, but after hearing Jason preach for the past year, I'm looking forward to the next 29. This and the awesome small group I've been involved in for the past three years would have been the hardest things to "recreate" had I left for Colorado.
The main theological issue on my mind this year, ever since the Strange Fire conference in October, has been the charismatic/cessationist debate. While I used to wallow in uncertainty on this issue, I finally feel like I can firmly and thankfully call myself a cessationist.
2013 is the year I learned to cook. After my mom got me a crock pot for my birthday, I figured now was the time. I've got a ways to go, but enjoying a Vikings game while eating a pot roast that I prepared is much more enjoyable than frozen pizza.
On April 29th I got to see my all-time favorite singer/songwriter perform in person for one last time.
On May 3rd I had hand surgery for my carpal tunnel. Now I can feel my fingers for the first time in over ten years.
My fantasy team went 10-3 and fell one game short of the championship. Once again, Peyton Manning couldn't come through in the clutch.
I made my once-a-decade visit to the State Fair and a Wilds game.
I purchased my current car on December 26, 2003. Since then it's taken me 176,000 miles, been to about 30 states, seen both oceans, and never let me down. Happy 10th birthday tomorrow.
Overall, it was a great and horrible year. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm happy that it's over. I have much to be thankful for and much to be sorrowful yet always rejoicing about.
"The difference between believers and unbelievers as to knowledge, is not so much in the matter of their knowledge, as in the manner of knowing. Unbelievers, some of them, may know more, and be able to say more, of God, his perfections and his will than many believers; but they know nothing as they ought, nothing in a right manner, nothing spiritually and savingly, nothing with a holy, heavenly light. The excellency of a believer is not that he hath large apprehension of things; but that what he doth apprehend, which perhaps may be very little, he sees in the light of the Spirit of God, in a saving, soul-transforming light; and this is that which gives us communion with God, and not prying thoughts, or curious raised notions."
“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor; for when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”
It was a pretty slow year for reading -- the slowest since 2001. However, none of my choices were wasted, and each title comes highly recommended, especially the final one.
"The joy is on the other side of the hard work. This is basic to all growing up. Part of maturity is the principle of deferred gratification. If you cannot embrace the pain of learning but must have instant gratification, you forfeit the greatest rewards of life." (John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, pg. 47)
"Hosea loved beyond the way
Of mortal man. What man would say,
'Love grows more strong when it must wait,
And deeper when it's almost hate.'" (John Piper, Velvet Steel: The Joy of Being Married to You, pg. 58)
"Your memory is a monster; you forget -- it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you , or hides things from you -- and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!" (John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany, pg. 34)
"Before World War I many premillennialists had stayed aloof from cultural concerns and all were skeptical of any plans concerned merely with the future of civilization. By the end of the war their strongest line of attack on modernism committed them to a position which put forward the survival of civilization as a principal concern. This position accentuated the longstanding paradox in the thinking of American premillennialists. As premillennialists they had to say that there was no hope for culture, but at the same time they were traditional American evangelicals who urged a return to Christian principles as the only cultural hope." (George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, pg. 149)
"Christians who struggled with BPD now learned that they were actually battling with the flesh and needed to learn to trust God and begin to walk in the Spirit. Easy? No. Magic? No. Change happened the same way it happens for all Christians -- through spiritual battle: 'the blood, sweat, and tears of dying to self and listening to God.' They 'put off' their 'issue-based identity' (BPD) and 'put on' (Eph. 4:22-24) their 'Christ-identity.' With that identity in place . . . they began to grasp the truth of the gospel; they had died with Christ and were therefore 'no longer . . . slaves of sin' (Rom. 6:6) -- or of BPD!" (Cathy Wiseman, Borderline Personality: A Scriptural Perspective, pg. 6)
"But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me -- why, we're all that's been. The anger of a moment, the thousand pictures, that's us. This land, this red land, is us; and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us. We can't start again. The bitterness we sold to the junk man -- he got it all right, but we have it still." (John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 119)
"People with BPD often perceive other people as either the wicked witch or fairy godmother, a saint or a demon. When you seem to be meeting their needs, they cast you in the role of superhero. But when they perceive that you've failed them, you become the villain." (Paul Mason, Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder, pg. 26)
"Turning back, Mr. Nichol could not help exclaiming, 'How can you whistle, when our friends are in so much danger!'
'Would you have me anxious and troubled?' was the quiet reply. 'That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on the Lord.'" (Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret, pg. 209)
"We buck when we hear these things because we are proud. We say that we do not want God's holiness impugned, but really we do not want our autonomy restricted. If God appoints all the seasons of every man's life, then no man can live unto himself, and no man can find the fount of wisdom within. If God decrees all things, then I cannot escape him, not even by plunging myself into all depravity. A man who embraces evil simply finds himself a tool in the hand of the Almighty. A man who rejects evil and follows wisdom finds himself a son in the family of the Almighty. The one option not offered us is that of thwarting and restricting the purposes of God." (Doug Wilson, Joy at the End of the Tether, pg. 47)
10. New York Jets, 1980s-1990s (I remember when the new was old and the old was new, and I didn't have a huge problem with the Jets going back to their Joe Namath unis, but they just looked faster in these ones.)
9. St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals, 1960s-2000s (This was a classic look that needed no change.)
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1970s-1990s (The change was inevitable because the old unis were so closely associated with losing, but they were unique, and they traded that uniqueness for a poor copy of the 49ers look. Their eventual Super Bowl win would have meant more in these.)
7. Seattle Seahawks, 1970s-2000s (The old ones look better and better each time they get a makeover.)
6. Philadelphia Eagles, 1970s-1990s (Like the Jets, they just looked faster in these.)
5. Cincinnati Bengals, 1980s-2000s (These ones gave a player the look of a tough, ferocious tiger rather than the prancing gay tigers that they resemble now.)
4. Denver Broncos, 1970s-1990s (I blame the Denver Broncos for starting the wave of ridiculousness that has overtaken NFL haberdashery back in 1997 when they traded in these classic unis for their current eyesores.)
3. San Diego Chargers, 1960s-1970s (Nobody in their right mind prefers the current Chargers unis to these classics, but they have taken steps in the right direction over the past few years, so hopefully it won't be long before they return.)
2. Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1970s-1990s (The only thing more baffling than the Rams getting rid of these classic unis was the fact that they did it immediately after winning a Super Bowl. You just don't do that.)
1. Minnesota Vikings, 1970s-1990s (What more can we say about the greatest uniforms in the history of sports? I don't think there's a Vikings fan alive who is proud of his team's current look. I would have rather seen my team move to L.A. than change the uniforms. May sanity be restored soon.)
23.New Orleans Saints (These are bad enough already, but when they break out the black pants I have to shut the TV off and turn on the radio.)
24.Arizona Cardinals (Hey, let's take a perfectly good uniform that's been around for decades and make it look like roadkill. Yeah, that'll work.)
25.Baltimore Ravens (Too many colors. Black pants! And don't come into the league in the mid '90s and try to be the second team to pull off purple. There is was only one team that can could do that.)
26.Seattle Seahawks (We've already discussed this, but as bad as they are, they still may be an improvement on the 2002-2011 unis. Nevertheless, there was no reason to abandon the originals.)
27.Cincinnati Bengals (I loved the simplicity of the jerseys juxtaposed with the striking tiger-striped helmet when they finally abandoned the Cleveland Browns replicas in 1981, but when they tried to jazz up the jerseys it was too much. Know when to say when.)
28.Jacksonville Jaguars (As if the teal wasn't bad enough, now they've decided to add a couple of stripes down the side for no reason. They may move up a couple of notches though now that they've switched to black as their primary jersey color.)
29.Cleveland Browns (I like simplicity, but this is ridiculous. And are they the Browns or the Oranges? Get a nickname and a logo already.)
30.Minnesota Vikings (Neither the Herschel Walker trade, nor threatening to move to L.A., nor blowing two winnable NFC championship games has tested my loyalty to my team like the insane choice to change the uniforms in 2006. But they still tease me once or twice a year by wearing the sweetest looking throwback uniforms of all time. I can only hope that they will come to their senses soon so I can watch my team again without cringing.)
31.Atlanta Falcons (I never really liked the Falcons uniforms in the 80s and 90s, but what they've done to them lately actually makes the old ones look good. It seems like they sampled the worst features from all the current uniform designs and put them in a blender and a Falcons jersey popped out.)
32.Green Bay Packers (If you're going to go with spinach and lemon as your primary colors you'd better come up with a really nice design to pull it off. The big G on a yellow helmet obviously ain't it. I would suggest trying the Falcons' strategy and throwing it in a blender.)
Coming up next: the top ten NFL uniforms that no longer exist....
1.Oakland Raiders (If I had just arrived from some far away land and was not bound by geographical loyalties and had to pick a team based purely on the uniforms, the Raiders would be my team. Same result if I had to pick a team based on the theme song.)
2.Buffalo Bills (The Bills were very close to taking the top spot here. I loved the old unis of the 60's and 70's and adored the 80's-90's look as well. Even when they were getting slaughtered in four straight Super Bowls they at least looked cool in the process. The overhaul in '02 was a huge disappointment and I rejoiced when they went to a more classic look last year. Whoever designed this uniform should have a Ninja Turtle named after him.)
3.Washington Redskins (Enjoy them while you can. If the Washington NBA team can move up from gun violence to witchcraft, who knows what direction the NFL team will go. But you can bet the uniforms won't be as sweet as these.)
4.Kansas City Chiefs(See number 3 and number 7.)
5.San Francisco 49ers (Another team that wised up after trying to improve on perfection. Many other teams in the league need to follow their example.)
6.Pittsburgh Steelers (The uniforms alone win them two or three games a year.)
7.Indianapolis Colts ("Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." -Da Vinci)
8.Chicago Bears (It pains me to say it, since I so vigorously root against them twice a year, but you can't wear a Bears uniform without looking tough.)
9.Philadelphia Eagles (It's a step down from the sweet threads that Randall Cunningham and Reggie White wore, but they're still pretty sharp.)
10.Dallas Cowboys (This would be higher on the list if they would wear their home uniforms at home, but unfortunately we only get to see them once or twice a year.)
"When a guy singles out a young woman in some romantic fashion, this means that one of two things is happening. Either he is trying to get her into bed dishonorably, or he is attempting to get her into bed honorably"