Plastic Donuts…

If there is one principle I have learned this last year while planting Blue Bridge Church, it would be that stewardship must be a part of discipleship (a takeaway from Nelson Searcy‘s Maximize).
In fact, we have set out from the beginning to equip our church to reflect Christ in all things (including their giving) by being obedient, generous, and sacrificial.  One way we do this is to simply send a quick thank-you along with a copy of The Generosity Ladder when someone chooses to become a regular giver.
We are now considering sending all of our givers Jeff Anderson’s Plastic Donuts as a gift in the Winter.  Just another reminder and resource as it relates to our responsibility to invest in the mission.
Anderson proposes that an acceptable gift is one that. . .
  • The amount matters to you
  • The amount was prayerfully considered
  • The gift is according to your ability
  • The heart is in the right place
How is your church discipling you in the area of giving?  What have they done well?  What do you wish that they would do differently?  Have you ever witnessed abuse in this area?  How about neglect?

 

Plastic Donuts…

Ice Bowl II…

Who would have predicted that the Ravens would be 2012 NFL Champions?

You have to appreciate the parody (and rivalries) of the National Football League.  If only there was more tradition and heart – then the pros would finally surpass their college peers.

But even though there pre-season favorites, there will surely be post-season surprises.  

Without further ado, here are my 2013 pre-season predictions – not who I want to win but who I believe will win . . . 

AFC EAST

New England Patriots
Wide receivers or no wide receivers . . . Tom Brady is still the best quarterback in the game (I hate to have to admit that).  But several are catching up.  It helps that this is the weakest division in the league. 

Miami Dolphins
In addition to having one of the best logo-updates in modern history, the Fins might have had one of the best off-seasons as well (outside of the Niners-Hawks arms race, of course).  

Buffalo Bills 
It helps to have a solid quarterback.  This they do not have.  

New York Jets
Goodbye Rex Ryan.  And good riddance.  


AFC NORTH 

Cincinnati Bengals 
Every year it seams like this franchise shows so much promise and yet so little results.  This year might be different.  At least until the playoffs.  

Pittsburgh Steelers 
They might have waited one year too long to rebuild.  But they will slowly but surely become more competitive.  Watch for Six-Burg to start slow and become a postseason spoiler.  

Baltimore Ravens
Too much pressure for one quarterback.  

Cleveland Browns
I want to say that the Browns will make progress.  But injuries and inexperience will just be too much.  When (if ever) will this team win again (you have to go back to the original pre-Baltimore move)? 


AFC SOUTH 

Houston Texans
Here is why I want the Texans to win . . . because nothing embarrasses Jerry Jones more.  

Indianapolis Colts 
Luck is going to get better and better. 

Jacksonville Jaguars
Everything rises and falls on Maurice Jones-Drew. 

Tennessee Titans
Never trust a Dawg under-center. 


AFC WEST 

Denver Broncos 
They better win with the talent on this roster (and lack of talent in the rest of the division).  The window is closing as Manning is aging. But he will better than last year as he is one year removed from his operation.  The question with Peyton will always be if his new neck can finally win a postseason game outdoors.  Regular season does not mean much to this team.

San Diego Chargers 
I am almost certain that Rivers will blame someone else for another ring-less year . . . but he is quickly running out of people to point the finger towards.  

Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid was the wrong guy for this team. 

Oakland Raiders 
Worst record in the league? 


NFC EAST 

New York Giants
Does this team win the Super Bowl every other year? Against the Patriots? 

Washington Redskins 
RGIII was the Rookie of the Year for a reason.  This is an explosive (and young) offense.  They will be fun to watch for years to come.  IF he can stay healthy. 

Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo.  Enough said. 

Philadelphia Eagles
Too much to change in such a short period of time. 


NFC NORTH

Green Bay Packers 
If only they had a defense. Aaron Rodgers might just be this season’s MVP.  But it will not be enough without a few postseason upsets and some very bad weather in Lambeau.

Detroit Lions 
Will Stafford have any time to get the ball off? 

Chicago Bears
Many lessons will be learned this season.  One of which will be “never hire a CFL head coach”. 

Minnesota Vikings
Everyone knows that Peterson will get the ball nearly ever down.  And yet he still works his magic.  But can he take the pounding for yet another season? 


NFC SOUTH 

Atlanta Falcons
Great regular season team.  They will get contenders for years to come. 

New Orleans Saints
No more distractions.  Great coach.  But how is the defense? 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Risky off season transactions.  Time will tell. 

Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton will prove himself to be hype. 


NFC WEST

San Francisco 49ers
Who wins this division?  Whomever stays healthier the longest . . . Kaepernick or Wilson?  And will defenses make the adjustments to make either (or both) irrelevant?  I don’t believe so.  These games will be so much fun to watch. 

Seattle Seahawks
Harvin’s absence might just be the difference-maker in this division.  And home-field advantage might just be the difference between a Super Bowl Championship and an early exit.  

Arizona Cardinals 
Spoiler alert. 

St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford, I am so sorry. 

SUPER BOWL
I will break down the postseason details once the match-ups are released.  Until then, here is my bold prediction: The New York Football Giants become the first NFL franchise to win the Super Bowl on their home field.  The Texans will not be able to weather the weather.  Eli will have three times the rings as his older brother.  Who would have ever thought? 

Ice Bowl II…

DreamWorks Animation…

I recently wrote about my concern that Pixar was compromising in the storytelling arena.  They are instead choosing to delve into the world of crude humor, rushed sequels, and unnecessary spin-offs that DreamWorks was better known for.

My expectation for DreamWorks Animation is not as high (and neither is my anticipation for their releases).   They seem to put out two films for every Disney/Pixar Feature Film.  Quantity over quality.  However, as of late, they have been the ones who have invited the audience into the sights and sounds of another world (Kung Fu Panda) and heartwarming endings (How To Train Your Dragon).

In honor of watching Turbo this afternoon with our church, I thought I would keep track of DreamWorks Animation’s best releases.  I elected to list only the top ten out of the twenty-eight movies released to date (this studio began in 1998 – just three years after Pixar released their first Toy Story film).  In the interest of full-disclosure, I have not seen all of their works – but I am fairly confident that films such as Sinbad and Spirit would not have made the list.  Maybe the only exception that rule would be last year’s release of The Croods (but I will make sure to write a follow-up blog as soon as I catch that cartoon on DVD in the Fall).

I would also like to point out that, with the exception of maybe the top three, none of the following movies would have made my Pixar list (and I struggled to come up with ten movies that I actually would recommend).  So while one studio seems to be getting better and better (most of the below films were released in the last few years), they still have a long way to go.

My top ten are…

  1. Kung Fu Panda (2008):  So creative and so hilarious.
  2. How To Train Your Dragon (2010):  The ending is second in sentimentality only to classics such as Toy Story and Up. One can only hope that the sequel will stay true to the original.
  3. The Prince of Egypt (1998):  They did the epic story justice – especially for the era.
  4. Shrek (2001):  So overrated.  Not even close to Monsters Inc. (which it shockingly stomped at the box office).
  5. Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011):  Their best sequel.  A great story. Honestly, I can’t wait for the third installment.
  6. Megamind (2010):  A great year for the studio.  Great jokes (though I don’t really want my three year old listening to ACDC?).
  7. Madagascar 2 (2008):  A pattern for DreamWorks.  Releasing an excellent original (KFP) and an entertaining sequel in the same year.  I didn’t care for the first zoo drama – but this one a much lighter tone.
  8. Turbo (2013): Bugs Life meets Cars.  Spectacular animation.  Subpar story.  Lesson learned: gangster rappers grow up to star in children’s movies.
  9. Madagascar (2005):  Talented cast.  The same cannot be said of the script. I guess it could have been worse (what was Walt Disney exactly thinking with The Wild?).
  10. Over the Hedge (2006): Gets better every time that I watch it.
What makes your list?  Do you agree with my comparisons and conclusions as it relates to the two powerhouse studios?
DreamWorks Animation…

The First Commandment…


I spent the majority of my summer vacations reading through Brad Thor’s Scott Harveth Series.  I just wrapped up part six (titled The First Commandment)The author suggests, “Being happy boils down to three things.  Something to do.  Someone to love.  And something to look forward to.”  

As far as the book as a whole – one of his best.  I appreciate that this book was a direct continuation with the last book.  Many of the same characters.  The plot deepened.  I also have enjoyed the fact that the same president is still in power – even though we are six books into the series.  Flynn seemed to move too fast.  Too much time had passed between his works.  In contrast, a great majority of these books allude back to each other.  


I also need to pay compliments to the author in an area where I was most critical of him early on.  There have not seen “The Bond Girl Syndrome” for a couple of books.  In fact, some of the old sidekicks have actually reappeared in somewhat normal situations.  I am curious to see what he does with this as the stories progress.    

My ranking (to date) of Thor’s books…. 

  1. Takedown
  2. The First Commandment
  3. State of the Union:   
  4. The Lions of Lucerne 
  5. Blowback 
  6. Path of the Assassin


I can’t wait to read part seven some time before Thanksgiving . . . . 

The First Commandment…