Mad Enough To Win

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Are you mad enough to win?  All of the great greats and super superstars in sports know that in order to win at the highest level, you have to get mad enough to win.

Richard Sherman is mad enough to win.  Sherman has eight interceptions, which ties his total from last season and leads the NFL. Many of Sherman’s biggest plays have come in decisive moments. And most of the time it seems that Sherman is playing angry, with a chip on his shoulder and with something to prove.

Anger has a purpose. It fuels the fire of our passion and can drive the demons of doubt and despair down the drain. Anger, like any emotion, is functional. The purpose of anger is to identify violations to our well-being.  After anger identifies a violation of our well-being, it can then bring empowering energy for an appropriate expressive response.

When we realize and recognize wrong, anger should kick in. When we see and sense that our opponent is a fierce fiend, anger should kick in.  When we are countered and contested, anger should register and resonate to the point that we will not tolerate being down or deflated or dejected or defeated any more.

God gets angry, and for good reason. “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). God hates evil, and we should too. God hates injustice, and we should too. God hates badness and blackness and sickness and sadness, and we should too.

So, in order to defeat our enemy, we need to get angry. But be careful; we are to “Be ye angry, and sin not” (Ephesians  4:26). That means our anger has a positive purpose, and not a single, solitary negative notion.

Jesus, our coach and consultant, was angry.  “And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.” Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave because he was angry with the side –effects of sin. And we should be too.

And so the next time you feel down and get depressed or dejected or despondent — get mad. Get mad at the situation and get mad enough to do something positive about it.  Do like Richard Sherman and intercept the attempts of the enemy to defeat you. Just get down-right junkyard dog mad. 

Get mad enough to win.

Are You Doing What It Takes To Win?

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks

 Clearly, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots are doing what it takes to win. My Eagles aren’t there yet, and neither are the local lackeys, the Washington Redskins. The Baltimore Ravens and the Green Bay Packers almost got there, but leads late in the AFC and NFC Championship games were squandered, leaving both losers to lament their lack of luster and legitimacy.

Surely, Seattle is the sentimental favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX. They hope to become the first team to re-peat as champions since, well, since their opponents, the Patriots did it in 2004-2005. Sentiments aside, the Seahawks will have to summons their “A Game” in order to win. At least that’s what the pundits and prognosticators predict. However, Seattle did not play their “A” game against Green Bay and yet and still they found a way to win.

Certainly, Super Bowl XLIX will be won with and not without whichever quarterback does what it takes to win. Russell Wilson is the up and coming upstart and Tom Brady is the savvy, sagacious senior who wants to prove that he’s still got some gas left in the tank. While they won’t be on the field at the same time, they will be playing head-to-head in a fight for Football’s top prize.

Super Bowl XLIX

And so, the spiritual tie is this: surely you and I know what to do in order to win in everyday life; it’s just that minor, minute, miniscule, and microscopic detail of execution that stands in our way. Sometimes it’s the man in the mirror and the shadow standing beside you that you want to blame, but that’s like living in a glass house and throwing stones.

So what do you say? Let’s do what it takes to win. Let’s muster and maintain the right attitude and that’s an attitude of gratitude. Let’s have the right mind and mindset, and let’s focus on the goal by keeping our eyes on the prize.

Assuredly, if we pose and posture and position ourselves in the right direction and actually do what it takes to win, we will certainly see the Savior save us from more defeats and send us on to more victories.

But we must actually do what it takes to win.

The Thrill Of Victory 2.0

Dez Wells

There’s nothing like the thrill of victory. Nothing. To win the way the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC Championship game is beyond words. And now, here we go again. My University Of Maryland Terrapins came back from being down 11 at halftime and 14 in the second period to stun Northwestern 68 – 67.

Maryland, at 18-3, is having a magical season. They began the 2014-2015 campaign unranked, but are now No. 16 in the Country after being ranked as high as No. 13. in the AP Top 25 Poll. And the Terps were on the verge of losing their second straight as they were stinking up the house, AT HOME, playing mediocre ball, until they mounted a furious comeback. And with 1.4 seconds left on the clock, senior Dez Wells rebounded an errant Melo Trimble three-point attempt and sunk the shot of his life. Wells’ “put-back” basket proved to be the game winner.

Northwestern lead practically the whole way, save a 3-1 lead by Maryland, which turned out to be an ephemeral feeling that faded faster than the memory of a bad first date.

But back to winning. When you win, all of the bad, base, and boorish details are at best belittled and at worst wetted down like dirty water gone down the drain. And if there’s a bad part of winning, that’s it. We still need to learn from our mistakes, and winning sometimes doesn’t allow us to do that.

Nonetheless, there’s still no feeling like winning. None. There’s no sense, no sensation, no taste, no smell, and no sound so exhilarating or exciting as overcoming and overpowering and overriding an enemy or an opponent. None.

So, in order to experience the thrill of victory consistently, we must do the things that are necessary to win. We must do all of the little things, the mundane things, the day-in-and day out things that we don’t feel like doing but must needs do in order to experience the thrill of victory on a daily basis. It sounds easy, but it’s not. But it’s worth it. Just ask Dez Wells.

Get Yourself A Good Coach

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A coach can’t play or win for you, but a good coach is good start to having a good game and a good season. A good coach is a good way to win without wallowing in defeat and wondering if you will be victorious more than just every other now and then. The rest is up to you.  

Coach K is a good coach. In fact, some would say he is a great coach.  And if he’s not the greatest college coach in college basketball, he’s at least the winningest coach in college basketball history. Some don’t like Duke for whatever reason, but the fact remains that under Coach K, year in and year out, the “Dukies” are a force to be reckoned with. And that only comes from having a good coach.

Coach Michael William “Mike” Krzyzewski (/ʃəˈʃɛfski/ shə-shef-ski; nicknamed “Coach K” has served as the head men’s basketball coach at Duke University since 1980.  Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to four NCAA Championships, 11 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season titles, and 13 ACC Tournament championships. Krzyzewski is also the coach of the United States men’s national basketball team, whom he led to two gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Krzyzewski has amassed a record 82 wins in NCAA tournament games, while averaging 25 wins per season.  Not too shabby. And Krzyzewski’s 903rd victory set a new record, breaking that held by his former coach, Bob Knight.

And Coach Mike Krzyzewski is on the verge of yet another coaching milestone. The Duke Coach will become the first men’s coach in Division I history with 1,000 wins on Sunday, January 25, 2015, if his fifth-ranked Blue Devils beat St. John’s. That milestone could come in the same arena where three seasons ago he became the winningest men’s coach in college basketball’s top tier.

A win at Madison Square Garden would bring his record to 1,000-308 during a career that spans four decades. He says the wins that matter most are the ones that bring titles, not milestones, and he calls the forthcoming accomplishment “a heck of a thing … but it’s not a championship.”

And that’s the sign of a true champion, and a true championship coach. He doesn’t just want to win games, he wants to win championships. Too many coaches and players and people grapple just to win games, and battle just to believe they can be more than mediocre and mundane. But not Coach K.

And so the lesson is this: be picky when picking a coach.  Not every teacher and mentor and instructor wants to push you to greatness. But a good coach does. So, I believe that getting a good coach is a guarantee that you will at least be taught and tutored and trained properly. The rest is up to you.

Recipe For A Miracle 2.0

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The Seattle Seahawks won in a wonderful way. And the Seahawks’ magical, mystical, marvel of a win against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game was a wonderful win for us all. It was also a lesson in how to follow the recipe (and if you’re Green Bay, how NOT to follow the recipe) for a miracle.

This one was for all those who don’t believe in miracles. This one was for all the theologians who say the time for miracles has past. And this one was for all of us who do believe, but are hungering and hankering for a sign of hope or a signal from heaven not to throw up our hands and not to throw in the towel.

The ‘Hawks miraculous mastery of the surprisingly strong Packers (especially Aaron Rodgers) at the end of the game was a surprise to us all. The home team overcome a 16 point deficit; they overcame four interceptions by Russell Wilson; they scored on a fake field goal attempt, a.k.a. a “trick” play; and they somehow got the ball to bounce their way when they needed to recover an on-side kick. And all of that happened in 3 Minutes! And all of that HAD to happen in order for them to win. Without every domino standing in its place, the whole house of cards would have come tumbling down on their heads.

The Seahawks followed the recipe to a “T.” Russell Wilson said they kept believing and did not doubt. That’s it. That’s the recipe. We must quickly add that belief is faith, and faith without works is dead. So, Seattle did all of the right things as they believed. In other words, it takes more than faith; it takes faith AND works, but faith must go first.

Green Bay, on the other hand, did not follow the recipe as they did all of the wrong things late in the game. As their lead evaporated and was eviscerated, doubt and disbelief certainly crept in. Then that “OH NO!” feeling fell on them like the Seattle mist descending from the sky.  That eerie, spooky, ghastly feeling of a win slowly, slipping away and looping into a loss did them in just as much as did their late game goofs and gaffs and glitches. Doing “something” about your circumstance must also include doing the right thing.

Seattle also wants to remind us that the recipe for a miracle win includes all the ingredients of a regular, run of the mill, garden variety win with one exception: the odds have to be set and stacked and piled and heaped and mounted and assembled against you such that your only hope is that you must have a miracle to win.

So how about you? Have your circumstances made a circumference round about you? Are you behind? Are you trying desperately to catch up? Take hope. There’s still a lot more “game” left to play. Don’t let your circumstances set the agenda. Let your God set the agenda! Circumstances don’t run things — God does. And so again, the recipe for a miracle is short and sweet. Just believe and put feet to your faith; then wait and watch God work.

From Doubting to Dancing

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We can go from mourning to dancing. We can go from crying to singing. We can go from doubting to dancing and shouting if we believe. David may have said it best: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.” Psalm 30:11

Russell Wilson believed. Down 16 at the half and down 19-7 with 3 minutes left in the game, Wilson and the Seahawks pulled off a comeback for the ages as they stunned the Aaron Rodgers and the football world by winning in overtime, 28-22.  It was incredible.  It was improbable. It was implausible. But it was not impossible.

At games end, with tears streaming down his face, Russell Wilson gave a passionate and impassioned plea to all those who doubt and don’t believe. He wasn’t just speaking about this one unusual and almost unbelievable game; his comments apply to life itself.  

And I say again, who said God and sports don’t go together!

I am a believer, but at halftime I did not believe, and if you want to be honest (for a change) and admit the truth, you didn’t believe either. How many of the “No. 12’s” in the stands and at home thought there was even the inkling of a chance for the Seahawks to win, and win like they did?

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I did not believe that the Seahawks had a snowball’s chance in hell to come back and win the game. But come back and win they did. They turned it all the way around, four interceptions and all. Russell Wilson may have played the worst game of his professional career for 57 minutes, but when the chips were down, he came up with a whale of a win. Terry Bradshaw may have said it best: “How can things go so bad for so long and then suddenly turn around?” Sounds spiritual to me.

And so the next time you face a failure or deal with a dilemma or encounter a crisis or meet a monster of a mess, remember this game and remember this:

All things are possible to him who believes.

Mark 9:23

Potential: The Kiss of Death

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The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots: Potentially the Best Super Bowl, Ever?

The Seattle Seahawks are a dynasty in the making.  At the start of the 2013 season, BEFORE they won the Super Bowl, Sports Illustrated crowed them “The New Kings.” The New England Patriots, on the other hand, well, they’re won 3 Super Bowls (2002, 2004, and 2005), and so they’re more of a perennial power than a dynamic dynasty. And while it’s nowhere written that you have to win back-to-back championships to be a dynasty, let’s just say it’s an unwritten rule. The caveat, of course, is that both teams must make it out of the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

The Seattle Seahawks have the potential and promise, the possibility and probability to be a great, grand, potent football power for years to come. Or at the least, they have the chance and the chutzpah to cement that seal this season.   

The Seattle Seahawks have what we all have: drive, determination and demonstration of the  dynamism to pull off what was expected at the beginning of our seasons but almost got lost in the shuffle along the way. Superstars Russell Wilson and Luke Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Richard Sherman lost to the Cowboys on October 12th, and after the loss to the Rams, the defending champs were 3-3; not necessarily the fantastic form displayed the year before. But they again realized they had potential.

We all have potential. And for some that could be the kiss of death. The motley crew and distinct and disparate band of brothers called the Seahawks are as contrasting as the come. Yet and still they’ve learned how to put ego aside and pull their pugnacious pride together.   Yes, together. If we as individuals and collectively as the congregation of Christ can coral our collective confidence, there is nothing we can’t do for the glory of God.

Potentially, the devil can’t stop us, and the world can’t beat us. Potentially.  We can only beat ourselves.  When a player is said to have “potential,” it means that he or she hasn’t quite lived up to the hype and the hopes of those who see pregnant possibilities in them. And Unfulfilled expectations and anticipations is a terrible thing.

On the contrary, let’s realize our own individual potential, as well as the potential we have as the combined, coalesced and cohesive Body of Christ.  Spiritually speaking, let’s swing the swagger that champions like Seattle and New England (with an honorable mention to the Packers) have.

So let’s take the promises of God, which are a certainty, and make them our reality. Let’s realize our possibilities, and make them inevitabilities. Let’s make our potential experiential.