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Helio Gracie Has Passed Away

Grand Master Helio Gracie passed away Thursday morning at 9:15 due to natural causes. He was 95 years old. His legacy will survive forever in all members of the Gracie Family, jiu-jitsu practitioners around the world, and all those who have benefited from the revolution he began.

In his final years, the creator of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu often spoke of his satisfaction with his life’s work. He openly stated that he had accomplished everything he had set out to do, displaying his preparedness for the transition into the afterlife.

The Grand Master believed that such a transition should be seen as a positive step in one's spiritual evolution. In a recent interview he declared: “I’ve already told my sons that when I die I want there to be a party. No drinking, no debauchery.”

To honor his request and his legacy, the Gracie Academy will host a celebratory gathering/slideshow presentation on Saturday, February 7, 2009. In anticipation of a large turnout of friends and family, they intend to have three showings starting at 4:00pm, 5:00pm and 6:00pm. If you can’t make it to the party, but would like to express how the Grand Master has affected your life, please send your story to heliogracie@gracieacademy.com so they can post it on the Gracie Academy website.

In one of his final magazine interviews the Grand Master expresses his concern for the future of Jiu-Jitsu:

“The Jiu-Jitsu that I created was designed to give the weak ones a chance to face the heavy and strong. It was so successful that they decided to create a sportive version of it. I would like to make it clear that of course I am in favor of the sportive practice and technical refinement of all athletes, whatever their specialty may be, as well as good nutrition, sexual control, avoidance of addictions and unhealthy habits. The problem lies in the creation of a sport-oriented Jiu-Jitsu, based on rules and time limits, which benefits the heavier, stronger, and more athletic individuals. The primary objective of Jiu-Jitsu is to empower the weak who, for not having the physical attributes, are often intimidated. My Jiu-Jitsu is an art of self-defense in which rules and time limits are unacceptable. These are the reasons for which I can’t support events that reflect an anti Jiu-Jitsu.”

-Grand Master Helio Gracie (October 1, 1913 – January 29, 2009)


Naked Juice Rules!

I am addicted to Naked Juice. But you may have already figured that one out. If you offered me an iPhone or a year's supply of Naked Juice, I'd go with the juice, no hesitation. And while I have not yet tried EVERY flavor, I haven't met one I didn't like.

Of course, I am fairly health-conscious. I try to eat right (don't eat a lot of junk food). I drink boat loads of water and take whole food supplements. So when I accidentally discovered Naked Juice in a Florida health food store, I was instantly hooked. Green Machine was my first love (maybe some sub-conscious shout-out to the Orions in The Menagerie -- look it up). Lately, I've been stuck on Black & Blueberry Rush and Blue Machine. But I now have a new love. It's true.

Açai Machine.

What? Haven't seen that one yet? Uh, that would be because it is BRAND NEW!

"I know some people," he said in his best Mob accent, "over at the NJ HQ in Cali. They hooked me up."

Seriously. Overnighted me some chilled samples of the Açai Machine juice smoothie and the also-all-new 100% Pomegranate juice. The juice was SO GOOD it could almost make Republicans forget that the Democrats are in complete control of our government. Almost. But I digress.

If you are a fan of Açai, you have to look for this drink. It is scrumptious. It has a whopping 178 açai berries in every bottle. They throw in some elderberry, beet, black currant, and grape seed extracts just to remind you who's boss. The Pom is equally delicious and tastes as if it should be sipped from a wine glass while nibbling on exotic cheeses. Good stuff.

Unfortunately, my sources did not tell me the exact ship dates or what stores/regions would see them first. So for now, I am savoring my samples, hoping the new nectar-divines make it to my small town really soon.


Political Bowl XLIV

Tomorrow's the "big day," the one that the whole world is calling "historic." Democrats are camping out in the snow and Republicans are all hoping for a "successful presidency." Everywhere I turn, O-mania is in the air. Meanwhile, I feel like a fish out of water. Here's why...

I am a sports fan. In pro football, I love the Pittsburgh Steelers and have since the 70's. I"m really hoping that they will be the first team in history to earn SIX Superbowl rings. At the same time, I have nothing but respect for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals. Rooted for them against the Eagles. But here's the bottom line: Once that ball is kicked off to begin the four periods of play known as Superbowl 43, I am not interested in seeing the Cardinals do anything except get beat down by the Steelers. I'd love to see the Steelers achieve total domination in every aspect of the game.

Sorry Kurt. It's not personal. It's football.

The same is true in politics.

Some time tomorrow, this country kicks off four quarters of Political Bowl 44. It's the Republicans (who are looking totally outclassed right now) against the number-one seed Democrats. Sure, the Dems have a Rookie QB (as in this is the first time he's ever even played the game), but he has achieved Rock Star status because of his great press conferences and his permanent tan. The fans worship the ground he walks on. Even fans of the opposing team are seemingly behind him. The latest polls say that 89% of Americans say, “I want him to succeed…”

That absolutely baffles me. My response: "Really? In what way? You want him to succeed in raising taxes? Nationalizing healthcare? Increasing the size and control of government? Expanding gay rights? Seriously..." That's perfectly understandable if you are a liberal or Democrat. Otherwise...it's just insane. I do NOT want him to succeed in ANY of those things. As a matter of fact, I cannot think of a single issue on the Democratic platform that I support wholeheartedly, and those are the only things that will be measurable in terms of his "success."

For Obama and the libs to "succeed" in any way means that the true conservatives in this country have to lose. There is rarely ever a "win-win" in politics, just like there is no win-win in football. For me to say "I really hope Warner and the Cards have great success in the Superbowl" is to hope for the Steelers to fail. Only one side can succeed on the issues that really matter. Beliefs are too deeply ingrained for a compromise. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

I know the odds are stacked against us, but I am not interested in seeing Obama and the Democrats do anything except get beat down by Conservatives over the next four periods of political play. I'd love to see the Conservatives achieve total domination in every aspect of the game.

Sorry Obama. It's not personal. It's politics.

On the other hand, if Obama wants to begin intentionally turning the ball over or even switch sides mid-stream, I'll become his biggest fan. But it ain't about Obama, it's about conservative principles. Quarterbacks--rock star or not--come and go, but the team lives on. And I, for one, have never been a fair-weather fan. I am not conservative because of some celebrity politician. I am conservative because it is who I am in the core of my being. There are some changes I refuse to believe in.

By the way, I'll be skipping tomorrow's pre-game spectacle. It's completely irrelevant and a monumental waste of money. Let's just get on with the game.


Jack and the Magic Beans

Think About ItGod’s Word is alive! (Hebrews 4:12)

Read About It—Luke 8:4-15

You have to love the old story of Jack and his “magic beans.” The kid and his mom are down to nothing and Jack’s mom sends Jack into town to trade the family cow for some food. Been there…well, not exactly—with the cow and everything—but scraping to come up with enough money to buy lunch or put gas in the car. Then Jack, obviously not a very bright kid, meets this guy on the side of the road (should have been your first warning, Jack) and trades old Betsy for a few “magic beans.” Man, you gotta hate it when a deal goes south! Needless to say, Jack’s mom was pretty upset. Mom goes ballistic and hurls the beans out the window and she and Jack go to bed hungry. But overnight, a transformation takes place! In one night, what looked like a raw deal turned into a mysterious path that stretched pass the clouds and into the heavens. You know the rest of the story. Jack plunders the castle of a giant and comes back with enough goodies to allow Jack and his mom to invest in Microsoft at the early stages and today they are billionaires, or something like that.

But what if Jack and his mom were symbolic of life without Christ, spiritually bankrupt, depending on the old cash cow to make life bearable? What if I were the guy on the side of the road passing out “magic beans?” What if the “magic beans” represent the Word of God—full of divine power, life and mystery? What if the giant and his castle in the sky were symbolic of the kingdom of darkness, ruled by the prince of the power of the air? That changes the story a little, wouldn’t you say? Jack wasn’t so dumb after all, was he? In this new version, Jack risks everything in order to receive the Words of life, the divine, incorruptible seed that is the Word of God! The results? Jack is infused with new life and plunders the enemy’s camp! The Kingdom of Darkness is held at bay and Jack is at rest in the riches of God’s grace! God’s Word is truly alive!

Okay, go back and read Luke 8:4-15 one more time.

Now for the REAL stretch—Disciples of Christ…

Know God—In what way did God reveal Himself to you as you read His Word?

Live for God—What one lifestyle change is God calling you to make?

Love Others—In what way is God calling you to minister to someone in need?

Bear Fruit—In what ways will you set the example and the standard for others to follow?


2008, My Year in Review

Seems folks like doing "memes," which have been defined as "some kind of list of questions that you saw somewhere else and you decided to answer the questions. Some suggest that you get [a specific number of] other people to do the same" and so forth and so on, infinity. So, in the spirit of memetics enthusiasts everywhere, here's my wimpy attempt to start a meme, with only ONE question. I hope you'll play along.

Name the TWELVE most "news worthy" things that you learned/experienced in 2008. These should be things that friends and family would find interesting. Here are mine:

  1. January: I enrolled in CPR Training at my place of employment. Things have changed since I learned the "ARMY" way back in the late 80s.
  2. February: I turned 40--and 10--this year (I'm a leap year baby). So I threw myself a big 'ol 80s party, complete with live band karaoke and big-haired girls. It was rad.
  3. March: The day after I turned 40, I tore my meniscus. My wife says I turned 40 and broke. Four previous injuries (football, basketball,Army and martial arts) helped assure that this tear was complete. Doc recommended surgery and I opted for "natural healing." I'm about 90%...hoping to lose the cane by the time birthday 41 rolls around.
  4. April: I decided to give Twitter a try after watching the Common Craft explanation. Now I'm addicted. Here was my first "Tweet": "Having lunch...thought I'd give Twitter a try, primarily as a tool for use with Emmaus."12:48 PM Apr 23rd, 2008 from web. It has become so much more than I intended.
  5. May: My oldest son, Nicholas, turned 13. So after a year of private conversations about the difference between boys and men, myself and a group of mentors took Nicholas through a Rite of Passage weekend that none of us will ever forget. Highly symbolic with lots of neat ceremonies and great learning experiences. Then we welcomed him into the community of men.
  6. June: "The boys are back in town..." Mike Timms moved his family from Florida to the Atlanta area, just 2 hours south. Trying to get the "Men of 101 McNabb" back together again!
  7. July: I watched Affliction Clothing launch their first attempt at promoting an MMA event. It was called "Banned" and featured some great bouts. I signed up as a local promoter for the event.
  8. August: After a six year hiatus, I was able to re-launch YouthChurch.com, the site I had developed when I worked for Strang Communications, thanks to Strang generously agreeing to give the domain to me free of charge. The site went live on December 8 and is doing well so far.
  9. September: Life Care paid for me to receive training on all the new features of Adobe CS3 (Illustrator, Photoshop & Flash. Fun experience and I came away wowed by Adobe software.
  10. October: Started doing some Mobile DJ gigs around town. My first was a black bachelorette party. It was VERY interesting. :-) I learned a lot about modern hip-hop.
  11. November: For the first time that I can remember, I had a Crisis of Voting Conscience experience. I did NOT want McKain to win the nomination and did not support him, but refused under any circumstances to vote for anyone as liberal as Obama. I felt very "disenfranchised."
  12. December: I decided to throw a New Year's Eve Slumber Party for friends and family. A great time was had by all and Phyllis and I are hoping it becomes a new tradition for us.

So, there you have it. My Year in Review, the meme. Looking forward to reading yours.

If you are interested, here's the "companion slideshow" to this meme.

To start things off, I'll ask seven folks to respond: Phyllis Wilbanks, Eric Partin, Jon Grubbs, Matthew Green, Adam Lowe, Daniel McElhenny and Stephen Hollifield.