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Posts from March 2009

The Giant Has Been Slain!!!!!

Our church's giving, over and above tithes, this month and the past two years has been incredible.  That outstanding loan we had to get a number of years ago has finally been paid off.  This allows us to move forward with our Global Mission Offering.  God provides.

Now, the building isn't paid off yet - we still have a mortgage, but our extra loan is.  This is a great day!!!!


High School Basketball Team May Lose Championship Due to Uniform Violation

Did you see this?  I just read it on Rivals.com.  Wow.  Talk about a bum deal.  This story taken from Rivals.com and written by Steve Brawner.  Here's the original link - http://highschool.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=927371

Teams have lost basketball games at the charity stripe. They've lost because a referee wearing black and white stripes made a bad call.

Losing partly because of a stripe on their uniforms is a little rarer.

The black ring under the armpit was a violation of uniform policy.

But that's what happened before the opening tipoff Friday at the Illinois 3A state semifinal basketball game in Peoria, where referees assessed a technical foul on North Lawndale College Prep because stripes on the sides of its uniform violated a National Federation of State High School Associations rule.

Champaign Centennial's Jeff Johnson sank one of two free throws, giving the Chargers a 1-0 lead before the opening tip. Centennial also was awarded the ball to start the game. When the final buzzer had sounded, Centennial had won by one point, 66-65.

The rule states that the torso of the jersey must be a solid color and that side stripes must center vertically below the armpit and be no more than four inches wide. North Lawndale's uniform featured black stripes that curled around the armpits into the torso.

While the national federation makes the rules, state associations interpret them. Kurt Gibson, the Illinois High School Association assistant executive director over boys basketball, told the Chicago Tribune that he had warned North Lawndale that its uniforms were illegal during its previous day's shootaround at Carver Arena and on several occasions during the past two years.

"They had ample warning," Gibson told the paper. "If they had to put together white uniforms of differing styles, that's fine - so long as they adhered to the uniform rule."

Gibson told the Tribune he does not know how often the rule is enforced.

North Lawndale coach Lewis Thorpe said Gibson had not mentioned the problem when he attended a Public League quarterfinal playoff game in February.

"I can't understand why they didn't tell us before about the uniforms," he told the paper. "This is the most painful loss I've had since I've been coaching."

Mary Struckhoff, NFSHSA national interpreter for basketball rules and rules editor, said the regulations have not changed in the 10 years she has worked for the association, and they exist for a reason: "Quick recognition, sanctity of the number."

An example of the jersey rules from the NFHS.org website

She said opponents, referees and scorekeepers must be able to identify a player quickly, often by using the number. Certain uniform designs could obscure it.

"We have very specific guidelines, and once you say, well, four inches could really be five inches, then five inches could really be six, and what difference does it make?" Struckhoff said. "So, so to speak and pardon the pun, where do you draw the line? Four inches is four inches."

The game was about more than one technical foul, of course. Despite starting the game in the hole, Lawndale was leading in the fourth quarter until Centennial's 21-point, fourth- quarter surge gave it the victory. Centennial defeated Oswego, 61-59, for the state championship Saturday.

North Lawndale wore the same uniforms in its third-place game against Leo the next day and again was assessed a technical foul. As before, the team fell behind 1-0 before tipoff, but this time it won, 91-77.

Thorpe said his team was wearing the same uniforms it had worn all year and wasn't trying to make a statement. Its alternate uniforms, which it had worn the previous year, also violated the rule.

Struckhoff said the national federation began emphasizing uniform regulations two years ago at the behest of manufacturers, who said coaches were insisting on purchasing illegal uniforms because the rules were rarely enforced. A PDF file on the national federation's website clearly demonstrates uniform regulations.

"This PDF is almost like 'Uniforms for Dummies,' " she said.


Time for the Best Sporting Event of the Year - March Madness

So, you don't think March Madness is the best event of the year.  Sure the Super Bowl gets more hype and makes more money.  The BCS Championship is a big deal, but still leaves everyone arguing about having a real playoff.  Then there's the World Series and the NBA Finals, but fewer and fewer people pay attention to those. 

That leaves March Madness.  The NCAA Tournament is exciting in that there's always a Cinderella team that shows up.  These teams get great coverage and gain fans that previously didn't even know they existed.  Remember these Cinderella teams of old:  Valparaiso, Cleveland State, Gonzaga (they're not really a Cinderella anymore, but that first run under Coach Pew seemed like it came out of nowhere), George Mason, and even Jacksonville (way back when the A Train, Artis Gillmore was playing.) 

Then there are the perennial favorites that include a team or two each from the ACC, Big East, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and the Pac 10. 

The fact that offices around the country are creating pools and more and more people are filling out brackets makes it the most interactive event of the year.  Now, with games streamed online the first couple of weeks, we know that work productivity across the nation is going down.

So, disagree if you like, but since this is my blog, I'll assert that this is the biggest and best sporting event of the year.  Get your brackets filled out soon.  Tip off is next week.

(How about all the upsets in the conference tournaments?  Syracuse over UConn, Florida State over North Carolina, Oklahoma State over Oklahoma, Baylor over Texas, Mississippi State over LSU and Western Kentucky over North Texas - OK, that last one wasn't an upset, but I wanted to list the Mean Green of UNT somewhere.  These upsets give us a preview of the big dance.)


What To Do If You're Laid Off

No easy answers here, and maybe not applicable to all situations, but I found an article on LifeWay's website with this title.  It's written by Dr. Keith Hamilton.  Here's some information about Dr. Hamilton. . .

Keith Hamilton, D.Ed.Min, CFP, CRPC is with the Georgia Baptist Convention. He has written several publications on establishing church designated funds, managing your household finances, and protecting your church and ministry from identity theft. Check out www.churchfinancialservices.org for more help.

Here's his article:

Being laid off from a job is terrible, but it is not the end of your world. Unemployment must be kept in balance with the rest of your life. God has given us families and friends to help us through these difficult and hard days. No matter how difficult life becomes, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to help us through the hard times. In fact, if you think about it, Jesus was unemployed, too. During Jesus’ last three years on this earth, He did not have a paying job either. He had to depend on the generosity of others. Of course, Jesus knew his heavenly Father would take care of him. Likewise, our same heavenly Father will take care of you during these coming days if you will allow him. You only have to call upon Him and He will answer you.

Free Download: What to do When You Are Laid Off (PDF)

As part of our church’s ministry, we want to help you through the coming days by offering some practical financial helps for you to follow. These are just some tips that have made a difference in other lives facing the same thing you are facing.

1. Go ahead and apply for unemployment compensation.
Your employer has been paying premiums for years for you. Why not take advantage of this benefit? It is not welfare, but a benefit from your former employer. Do not be embarrassed to ask for help.

2. Talk to your former employer’s HR department about the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
This is a federal law that allows those separated from their jobs to purchase health insurance at a group rate for a limited time. Of course, you will have to pay your former company for this benefit, but at least you will have health insurance.

3. Consider a career change.
It may be a good time to go back to school to work on some skills to make you more marketable. You will be surprised at the low cost of attending school. In many cases, it could be free. Look at this time as an opportunity to do something you have always dreamed about doing, but too afraid to try.

4. Consider relocating.
It will be difficult to leave friends and, possibly, family, but it might be necessary to help provide for your family. Look at the move as a new adventure and start, but make the decision as a family. It is important the wage earner and the family relocate together.

5. Develop a spending plan (budget).
Try to list the possible bills you will have in the next three months. Rate them in importance. What can you live without or what is essential? Certainly, cable TV or cell phones are not as important as paying credit cards or loans. Nevertheless, credit card and loans are not as important as the water bill. It is very important for the list to be developed as part of a family discussion. This is the reason God gave us families to help each other during times like these difficult days.

6. Talk about how different family members can make extra money to help the family through this time.
Please encourage even the youngest child to consider working small odd jobs around the house to help him feel he is making a difference. After the list of bills and extra income is developed, the family needs to decide what bills can be paid and what bills can wait to be paid right now. This will be a hard decision, but it will eliminate a lot of stress if the decision is made now instead of when the bill collector calls.

7. If you cannot pay some bills, contact the company and explain what has happened.
Ask the creditors about a payment reduction plan. They might just do it for you. Regardless, you then need to write them a thank you for considering deferring payments during this time of your unemployment. Keep a copy of your letters in your files.

8. If the bill collectors become overwhelming, contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service for help at 1.800.251.2227.
Although, seeking a service like the Consumer Credit Counseling Service will impact your credit rating, but it is still better than bankruptcy.

9. As a last resort, consult an attorney about bankruptcy.
Do not despair -- even if you have to file for bankruptcy, it is a legal method to help individuals recover from overwhelming debt.

10. Finally, make sure to commit your financial problems to God before taking any action.
He is the source of your strength during these times.