Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Swimsuit Edition

Now, I have your attention. I sipped my Earl Grey tea while sitting at a Barnes and Noble table across from my wife. While reading, I occasionally looked up as Sandy spoke to me or I initiated conversation with her. Every time I looked at her, a magazine, displayed on a rack behind her, vied for my attention. Filling the cover was a woman in a very small bikini; it was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. This magazine has no right to my attention. My beautiful wife has my attention. This magazine is invading my life. It is Satan's way of trying to interfere with my relationship with my wife.

As I talked with my wife and looked at her, I became annoyed that the woman from this magazine is trying to distract me. Even though just a picture, the words of Proverbs apply to this woman, "Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes [or other body parts]" (6:25). The remedy is "keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house" (Prov. 5:8).

It may seem like just a small thing. It is just a picture on a magazine across the room. It is not like I was looking through the magazine. It was not a real woman there. But, it is more than just a smalkil thing. First, it is still an invasion in my life and my relationship with my wife. Second, it is the first step of an attack by Satan. In his book Wierd, Craig Groeschel says, "No one sets out a plan with the express goal to have an affair." Most affairs happen with one small step. We need to understand, "We have an enemy whose only mission is to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to God" and he "has us take baby steps". I decided to do something. I am going to stop this attack.

I get up from the table, walk over to the magazine and turn it around. Now, the back of the magazine is showing. And, the back of the magazine is beautiful. There is an M & M advertisement on the back. Now, that is worth looking at.

This incident gets me thinking bigger picture, which is the purpose of this blog. Our Christian values are constantly under attack. My 11 year old son is exposed to this same cover when he walks into the bookstore. While this issue of Sports Illustrated only comes out once year, various other magazines have similar covers every month. These pictures are calling out to him, and all other males, every day.

These covers are also attacking women. Are girls supposed to look like this? Do they need to look like this to be considered beautiful? Do they have to dress like this for a boy to like them? Is this normal? My daughters are under attack.

This has to stop. While I am not naive enough to think that I can stop these magazine covers, I think people can take a small practical step to limit the exposure of these magazines. Turn the magazines over. When you are in a store, any store, not just a bookstore, and you see an offensive magazine, whether a men's magazine or a women's magazine, turn it over. Yeah, the store will turn them back, but it is still a step, a statement. Before they get a chance to turn the magazine back over, you may be keeping a boy or girl from seeing the cover. You may be keeping an adult from flipping through the pages. If I do it, it is a small step. If you do it, it is a small step. But, if everyone who is offended by these covers turned them over, it would big step, so big that stores may have trouble keeping the covers visible. And, more M & M's might be sold.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Enemy of Marriage: SELFISHNESS

As an attorney who handles divorces, I see a lot of broken marriages. While a number of things cause such breakdowns, such as alcohol and finances, my experience is that selfishness is the root of most problems.  First, we all have a sin problem. The sin problem only grows when two sinners marry each other and live together. Second, there is an expectation that marriage is going to make me happy and I will be happy when my spouse meets all of my needs.

Recently, I saw tremendous selfishness in a couple as they are going through a divorce. The husband and wife have a custody agreement in which the kids live with the wife and they visit the father every other weekend. While the agreement says the husband will pick up the children after work, no specific time is stated in the written agreement.  The husband usually gets off work early to get them. Conflict arose when the husband realized he was going to have to work late and could not get them until later. The wife, instead of trying to resolve the issue with her husband, called her lawyer to make the husband pick up the children early because her babysitter could not watch the kids that late. The lawyer then sent me a letter demanding that the husband comply with the custody agreement and pick the children up at the usual time. Instead of being unselfish and trying to accommodate the husband's schedule, she ran to her attorney, asserting her rights.
I contacted the husband to work something out. He correctly pointed out that the agreement does not specify a time for him to pick up the kids; rather it requires him to pick them up after work. On this particular Friday, he planned to get them after work, as required, but the time would be later because he was required to work late. He refused to accommodate his wife in any way, even though her babysitter could not watch the kids that late. His selfishness is evident in his final words, "It is her problem, not mine."

Timothy Keller in his book The Meaning of Marriage says, "Self-centeredness is a havoc-wreaking problem in many marriages, and it is the ever-present enemy of every marriage." Based upon Philippians 2, he explains that all Christians are "to consider and count the interests of others as more important than our own."  He continues, "now we are like servants - but to one another."  And "a servant puts someone else's needs ahead of his or her own."

I have heard Pastor Mark Driscoll say that studies show it takes the parties in a marriage 9 years to stop being selfish.  While I don't know how a study can determine this, it sounds good.  As people wait longer to get married, it seems to me that selfishness will only increase.  The longer someone lives single, I think they will become more selfish because they have spent a greater amount of time only thinking of himself or herself.

According to Keller, a marriage thrives only when both spouses serve each other with joy.  Ideally, both spouses are trying to serve the other.  While my wife and I have plenty of faults, we recently experienced a moment when our desires to serve the other ran into each other.  On a Sunday afternoon, I knew that Sandy had something to do, but she could not if she was watching the foster children.  So, I wanted to watch the children and let her do her thing.  At the same time, Sandy knew I wanted to do something, but I could not do it if I was watching the foster children.  So, Sandy wanted to watch the kids so I could do my thing.  We actually had competing desires to serve each other.  We worked it out; I quickly did my thing and then watched the kids so she could do her thing.  On this occasion, we were doing a good job of serving each other. 

One of the many things I love about my wife is how much she loves me and shows it by serving me and trying to make me happy.  I wish I was that good at serving her.  I will keep trying to serve her better.  While we have a great marriage, I know that as we continue to serve each other, our marriage will continue to get better.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sports Blog

I love sports but rarely blog about them. Today, several thoughts came to mind, so I decided to share them.

The Flyers retired Mark Howe's number. It is about time. He is the best Flyer's defenseman I have ever seen. I will always remember watching him play in the 80's. Finally, he is Forever a Flyer.

Drexel lost in the conference tournament championship game. It is a shame. They had a great season. A conference championship would have guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, schools like Drexel normally do not get in the tournament unless they win their conference tournament. The tournament should invite Drexel to the tournament anyway. They are 27-6 and lost to VCU, a team from last year's Final Four, by 3 points in an arena near VCU. I predict that Drexel will be in the NCAA tournament.

Looks like the real Sixers finally showed up for the season. I thought they were over-achieving and kept expecting the mirage to end. But, I kept holding out hope that this team was for real. Unfortunately, their lack of overall talent has caught up to them.  Pre-season, I hoped they would finish with 36 wins, which would put them 6 games over .500.  It looks like that may be a realistic goal.

Still talking 76ers, the #2 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, Evan Turner, finally made his first start of the season. He showed he deserved the start, and being picked #2, by scoring 2 whole points. Nevertheless, I am not ready to give up on him yet, but I am close. He should keep starting and we can evaluate him at the end of the year. At this point, the early returns are not good.

Speaking of under-achieving players, it appears that Holiday has regressed. I was never impressed with him. I hope he can turn it around, but I am not optimistic.

Still talking 76ers, there is no quick solution to their problems. Considering their good start, I think they need to stay the course for the rest of this season. They should not trade any young players for an older veteran. Such a move may provide a short term benefit, but no long term gain. Instead, let this group play, including Turner and Holiday, and evaluate them at the end of the year. During the off-season, they can use amnesty on Brand, which will free his money up from the salary cap, and they can use his money to find sign a free agent. They should do everything they can to trade Iguodala. I think he is having his best season yet, but he is not good enough to take the Sixers over the hump. Plus, he makes way too much money for what he provides. Get rid of him and free up that salary cap money. Since he is having his best season, I would hope they could trade him without having to accept a bad contract player in return. The plan should be to build for the future and they should continue with that plan.

One last thought on the Sixers - at least they finally have a good coach.

I saw that the Eagles signed a linebacker, their biggest position of need. They guy they got was on the 49ers practice squad last year. Really? They need significant changes.

It looks like the Colts will release Peyton Manning. The Eagles should try to sign him. If he can play, he would immediately make the team better. Imagine Manning throwing to Jackson and Maclin, with McCoy in the backfield.  Plus, it would keep another NFC team from getting him.  Of course, the Eagles will make no attempt to get him.  Can you imagine Andy Reid allowing Manning to run the offense?  It will never happen.

Finally, my bold baseball prediction.  After winning 5 straight division titles, the Phillies will not win their division this year.  Teams do not win that many titles in a row.  Eventually, things catch up to them, such as injuries, age, and complatency.  Other Eastern Division teams have improved.  While they have the most talent, I do not have a good feel.  I hope I am wrong, but I don't think they win the division.  However, they will make the playoffs by getting a wildcard spot.