Saturday, December 05, 2009

5 DEC 09: I Said, Bend Those Knees

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

It's been a tough week for several well-known college football coaches. Notre Dame's coach was fired. Florida State's coach retired, several weeks after a university trustee called for his removal. And Georgia fired three assistant coaches - including the one man who could settle the issue of whether the city near Augusta is pronounced Mar-TI-nez or MAR-ti-nez.

Then there was the man who saw me wearing a University of Kansas hat at my Thursday night poker tournament, and declared without even saying hello: "Your head football coach was fired because he was an a****le!" First of all, he officially resigned. But if you're walking up to a total stranger and making a comment like that, what does that make you?

I hadn't heard about the resignation of Mark Mangino until this man came up to me. But I admittedly turned against him last Saturday, after Kansas lost its seventh game in a row to finish the season 5-7. My Jayhawks gave a new meaning to "running the table" - something like shooting the cue ball into all six pockets.

The seven-game losing streak was NOT what turned me against Mark Mangino. It was this statement he made in a post-game news conference, after losing to Missouri: "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees." If you've seen the size of the former Kansas coach, you might excuse this as a simple statement about his physical limitations....

An online check traced Mark Mangino's quote back around 90 years, to the Mexican revolutionary Zapata. His name is behind the Zapatista guerrilla movement in southern Mexico, which still fights to this day. But if he really was that successful, the El Zapata restaurant chain still would be open in Columbus.

Some people told me Mark Mangino was talking about not bowing down to demands from University of Kansas administrators that he make major changes. But the Christian in me took that quote very differently - taking me back to our topic of two Saturdays ago, about making light of prayer. I've heard ministers say the church of God moves forward on its knees. That could explain why needed changes sometimes very come slowly.

If you think you can live without kneeling to anyone, I beg to differ. My Bible says a day is coming is "every knee shall bow" before God. In fact, it's there a couple of times - in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, then in the New Testament book of Romans. If you don't kneel before God.... well, I probably shouldn't make comparisons to Monty Python movies....

If there's one person in college football who probably would agree with this, it's a player in today's Southeastern Conference football title game in Atlanta. If Florida quarterback Tim Tebow follows his recent pattern, he'll put a Bible reference under his eyes. Once Tebow joins a pro football team, he might be required to wear a corporate endorsement logo.

Tim Tebow is the son of an evangelist, an unashamed believer in God -- and yes, I know he has a lot of detractors across the Southeast. I read one online comment cynically calling Tebow "Jesus Christ." My response to that would be no - and I base that on the New Testament as well. Tebow's simply His spiritual younger brother.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Last Saturday we talked about meeting a Phenix City pastor at Thanksgiving dinner. That inspired a reader to share a similar meeting....

I met Rev.Cochran in the lobby of St.Francis Hospital as weI was waiting for an elderly relative to have a test done...I recognized him from TV and struck up a conversation with him..A member of his congregation had been a caretaker for my mom and frequently we talked about Rev.Cochran.He is a true gentleman and representative of God..In our conversation he never let the difference in our color interfer in his compassion for my situation..He gave me hope and promise of a better day..Thanks Rev.Cochran for that little ray of sunshine on a dismal day..

The fact that Raymond Cochran is African-American makes no difference to me, either. The other pastor I mentioned with his various trials is African-American as well. To me, the issue isn't the color of a minister's skin - it's whether his words are "true-blue." Even if the words of Christ in your Bible are red.

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