Last Man Standing

last man standing pic

Last week my church threw a big party for families and filled the building with inflatable bounce houses and cotton candy.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to put me in charge of the gladiator arena.

Have you seen one of these things?  It’s basically a giant air mattress with a couple of rubber platforms a few feet off the ground.  The gladiators strap on helmets, climb up on their perch and then beat the tar out of each other with padded sticks until somebody falls off.

Let me tell you, this is good, clean American fun.  There’s nothing that advances a childhood friendship like being locked in mortal combat.   But the best part is that it’s fun for the whole family.  I saw brothers face off against sisters.  Dads against sons.  Even moms got into the action.

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Attack of the 100 Foot Hypocrite


You can’t find a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching Godzilla movies.  At least, that’s how I felt when I was five.  WDRB-41 used to run monster movies on the weekends, and I ate up every second.  How could you not love watching a 17 story fire-breathing lizard enjoy a night on the town?  We’re talking classic cinema here.

King Kong was cool, but c’mon, Godzilla breathed fire.  Fire!  When you’re a five-year-old boy, this is as good it gets.

Unfortunately, as I grew older, I began to notice a peculiar drawback with the Godzilla films.  Everybody talked funny.  Their mouths weren’t moving in sync with their words.  In fact, it looked like they were saying one thing, but I was hearing something altogether different.

Yes, as I grew older, bad dubbing ruined Godzilla for me.  My childhood symbol of unstoppable awesomeness changed to inescapable silliness.  Even as a kid, I learned that’s it’s terribly confusing, ridiculous even, when someone’s words and actions don’t match up.

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Chicken of the Sea


When I was a senior in high school, my family took our first trip to the beach in thirteen years.  To say I was excited to get back to the ocean is an understatement.  I grew up splashing around in ponds and rivers.  I knew the beach was going to be amazing.

Little did I know the best was yet to come.  The first day in the water we saw dolphins swimming just off shore.  Dolphins!  You don’t see a lot of dolphins in ponds.

I was already in the ocean, halfway out to them when I spotted them.  They were swimming in a straight line parallel with the beach. Could I actually intercept them before they passed by?  If I hustled, I thought I could at least get close. How cool would it be to swim with dolphins?

I poured on the steam.  It looked like I might actually make it.

But as I swam closer, I started doubting my marine biology skills.  It suddenly hit me.  I’m from Indiana.  What do I know about the ocean?  I assumed they were dolphins, but I wasn’t exactly Jacque Cousteau.   All I could really see were gray fins.  Who in their right mind swims toward gray fins?

So I did a 180 and torpedoed back to shore.  No shark in dolphin’s clothing would be eating me for lunch.

Okay, so I’m the chicken of the sea.  You can’t really blame me though.  I’m not exactly the first person to flee from fear of the unknown.

How many times has that kind of fear held all of us back from plunging into unexplored waters and the adventure waiting for us on the other side?  Whether it’s taking a risk with a new job, a new friendship or a new relationship with God, it’s tough to keep going when the fins of fear start circling.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been afraid, not of a real, tangible threat, but simply the possibility of what might happen, what might be lurking, just beyond the edge of my experience.

The Bible tells a great story about a guy named Joshua who was freaking out because God had put him in charge of leading his people into the new land God had promised them, a land full of endless threats and danger.

Yet, God told him, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9 NIV)

In other words, there’s no use being afraid of the unknown when you walk with a God who knows everything.  God has already explored the depths of the waters of our murky future and is beckoning us on as if to say, “Come on in.  The water’s fine.”


(Image: ‘SHARK!‘ Found on