Thursday, December 25, 2008

Blocking, Tackling, and Gadget Plays

"Blocking and tackling" - it is a term you hear a lot, not only if you follow football, but also if you are in the corporate world. The term signifies all the basic things you need to do well to have a well-oiled machine, one that runs successfully no matter what is happening in the world. It identifies the fundamentals. Obviously, it means the same thing in football. Blocking is necessary on offense to make sure that your skilled players can do what they do - run, pass and catch. You know, make positive yardage and score. Tackling is necessary on defense to ensure that the other team neither moves the ball nor scores. They are the unglorious tasks to be executed by all players to make sure that the team can win its championship and get the glory.

At times, a team may also toss in the element of surprise by doing something non-traditional, non-fundamental. They may throw in a flea-flicker, a Statue of Liberty play, or something else like that. Those plays are termed "gadget plays". Why? They are not normally in the basic arsenal - you don't want to use them too much - but they are available as necessary. Teams usually use them for one of two reasons: 1) They are desperate and out-manned, and are not good at the blocking and tackling components of the game, and 2) A game is so evenly matched, so tight and difficult, that a team needs to do something different to shock its opponent.

But, when life is consistently bad for a decent football team - my local professional variety notwithstanding - coaches talk about going back to the basics, blocking and tackling, and repeating those basics until the team again gets them right, and becomes the well-oiled machine it once was.

Believe it or not, this is not a football post.

I thought about this last night as our family was in church, celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Our confessional Lutheran congregation is not glorious. It does not have any gadget plays in its repertoire. Spiritually speaking, it is a well-oiled machine, and blocks and tackles to full effect. The sacraments are distributed. Hymns are sung by the choir and congregation, with wonderful playing by our choir director and our substitute organists. Visitors familiar with the basic blocking and tackling of our confessional team can participate without question of what is going to happen next. No gadget plays. We don't need to sneak up on our rival - he knows Christ takes care of us through his Word and sacraments. We do not need the gadget plays of the modern Christian church - contemporary worship, bands, or topic-based sermons.

At our congregation, we just keep ungloriously blocking and tackling. The newborn Savior of the world does everything for us. He shows us our imperfection, yet through his death and resurrection, has saved us so that we can experience his glory. We don't need any gadget plays. Do you?

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blurt Shirts!

I should be practicing for my next gig, but I'm just way too excited about something...

See those fancy, shmancy shirts that the Artist, the Engineer and I are wearing? They are my designs! And they are just two of the designs available at my new store, Blurt Shirts.

You all know that I'm not afraid to rant. I've done it here, and I even do it occasionally at my other blog. I decided to start blurting out my little quips onto shirts, and I am really pleased with the initial results. My Blurt Shirts store is hosted by I purchased and received my first shirts this week - Marie has one, too, but she was too busy taking the photo above to be included in the shot - and I love the quality of the shirts and the quality of the printed designs.

The pic above, even at this size, does not do the shirts justice. I've been working on opening up my store for almost two months now, creating designs (sports, politics, and music are also fair game) and organizing my store front as I could make the time in my schedule. Now that I have my own shirts in my hand, and am satisfied with the quality of manufacturing and delivery, I want to blurt out to everyone that