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Bumgarner

Madison Kyle Bumgarner is no Bum. In fact, he’s a Rock Star. He’s a first rate, first class, fearless ace and future All Star pitcher who’s achieved rock star status. Bumgarner practically won the 2014 World Series all by himself. He carried his teammates on his back as his San Francisco Giants won the Fall Classic by rolling right by the Kansas City Royals in seven games. The series went the distance but it really wasn’t that close, at least when you factor in Bumgarner.

Madison Bumgarner, after dominating the Royals in Game 1 and throwing a shutout in Game 5, finished the Royals off in Game 7 with five shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking out four and allowing no walks. He earned a save for his efforts and won the MVP for his heroics.

Burgarner, for the series as a whole, was 2-0 with a Game 7 save. He allowed only nine hits, one run and one walk in 21 innings of work while striking out 17. He had an ERA of 0.43 and a WHIP of 0.48 with a K:BB ratio of 17:1.

In an era of hyperbole and overreaction, Bumgarner’s performance in this series needs no beautification. It truly was one of the greatest World Series pitching performances, ever. He’s 25 years old and he pitched his team to victory with two wins and one huge, 5 plus inning save. And so the difference between Bumgarner and any other pitcher begins and ends with how he sees himself. Madison Bumgarner, is nicknamed “MadBum;” mad meaning crazy and bum meaning he’s a scrum. But he doesn’t see himself that way.

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Some time ago, a reader asked me to write more about a blog I wrote some time ago, entitled, “Perish in the Past, or Flourish in the Future.” We all tend to live in the past. We all tend to relish the past, to relive the past, and reminisce on, you got it, the past. That’s called history. It’s past us, it’s gone and it’s not coming back. Bumgarner, by his heroics and Houdini like, legendary and historic performance, taught us again how to dwell on the here and now.

We need to learn to live in the moment. We need to learn how to see ourselves; not losing or limping or lacking, but winning, and warring and walloping all that is evil and vile, all that is crooked and corrupted, and all that is jagged and twisted. We should be setting spiritual records; not chasing them, but shattering them, just because we can.

So you too can come to rock star status. Just like David. Once a back-woods shepherd of his father’s sheep, David achieved rock star status after his date with destiny when galloped Goliath. His poise perched him much higher and much further than he ever dreamed, and this is the same destiny and doctrine that we should expect and exemplify ourselves.

“. . . He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.”
Zechariah 12:8, KJV

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There are commandments for our spirit and commandments for our soul and commandments for our bodies. The commandments for our bodies are the Commandments of Sports. We’ll get to all of the other Sports Commandments later; for now, we want to zoom in and zero on the first Sports Commandment with promise: “Thou Shalt Defeat Thy Rival.”

Defeating your rival, especially and particularly your arch rival, is a command. Your arch rival wants you dead and defeated and destroyed even more than they want to win. Just like Ohio State lives to beat Michigan, and the Boston Red Sox are better when they’ve beaten the New York Yankees, and the L.A. Lakers love to beat the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Cowboys just HAVE to beat the Washington Redskins and the Redskins can’t breathe unless they beat Dallas. In other words, if you can’t make the playoffs, at least beat Dallas.

And last night on Monday Night Football, with the entire sports world watching, the Redskins did what they are commanded to do. The only problem for the bookies is that someone somewhere bet on the Redskins winning, and against all odds, the ‘Skins won. It’s just that no one in their right mind or in their wildest whims or in their deepest delusions even dared to dream the ’Skins would win: but win they did! They beat their rival; they beat Dallas.

Defeating your rival is what you should live for. Defeating your rival is what you should be willing to die for. Defeating your rival is in fact Biblical. Yes I know that sounds so Old Covenant, so Old Testament, but even the New Testament attests to the fact that our enemies must be destroyed. “And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Until then, loving our enemies is the “Christian” way to defeat a rival.

And last night the lowly Washington Redskins, on their third quarterback this season, gave all of us reason to hope again. Last night, the underdog came through and won a game that they had no chance – at least on paper – to win. And it was against their rival. Last night, the 2 – 5 Washington Redskins defeated the heavily favored 5 -1 Dallas Cowboys IN DALLAS, 20 -17.

The Dallas – Washington rivalry is one of the fiercest and fiestiest in all of sports, and certainly the most ferocious in the NFL. And for the Redskins to beat the Cowboys with a Third String Quarterback in OT no less, was a miracle indeed. Colt McCoy come out of nowhere and led the ‘Skins to victory with a first year coach and a list of veteran players sidelined due to injury. Talk about pulling the rabbit out of the hat.

So let’s learn the lesson of the first Sports Commandment with promise. Let’s defeat every fiend and every foe that comes at us and comes after us. With God’s help, let’s determine to defeat every nemesis and every naysayer, every adversary and every archenemy that we have, in Jesus name. Amen.

OH, and what’s the promise? Tune in next time . . . unless you want to chime in on what the promise is.

Crowd Noise
Home field has its’ advantages. For one, home is where the heart is. Second, there’s no place like home. Third, playing in your home town tends to mean the fans are forcibly on your side. On the flip side, if you’re the visiting team, the fans don’t factor in your favor. Visiting teams must play in some very hostile havens, and the clamor and clatter of the fans can be distressing and disturbing, unsettling and unnerving, if you let it.

The answer? Crowd out the crowd noise. In sports, especially a professional football or basketball or baseball game, the crowd noise is another opponent. In some football stadiums, the fans, because of the impact they have on the game and the negative impact they have on the opposing team, are called the 12th Man. That means that the 11 players on the field have the aid and assistance of the shouting, screaming, howling and hollering fans yelling at the top of their lungs to encourage their team and discourage the opponent.

But here we must learn the lesson of crowd noise when we are “on the road” in difficult destinations and circuitous circumstances. Theologically speaking, crowd noise is equated to the dour and the din and sour of the sin that surrounds us on every side. The Apostle Paul may have said it best:

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, KJV). The Revised Standard Version puts it this way: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”

And the New Living Translation may put it best: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

So crowd out the crowd noise. Always remember and never forget, “we are never abandoned by God.” Don’t let the loudness of life get to you. Don’t let the racket and the ruckus rattle you. Quiet your spirit and settle your soul. Dig in but don’t dumb down. While the fans of your enemies cheer and jeer against you, you can shout for your God is with you. So trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out. Don’t worry and don’t fret; our God has never failed us yet.

1

Who’s No. 1? Ole Miss is ranked number one in the Polls, both AP (Associated Press) and the Coaches.  They have a 9 – 0 record, have impressed everybody who’s watching and have a good test against No. 24 LSU this weekend.  The question is, can they hang on and hang in and hold on to the top spot through the remainder of the season? 

So who’s really No. 1? Florida State is also undefeated, but they have barely eked out a few wins, especially against Notre Dame.  Mississippi is the third remaining undefeated team, and Alabama, Auburn and Oregon all have one loss. Four teams will make the cut for the first ever college playoffs, and so we all will have to wait and see who makes the cut.

The Number One seed, the number one ranking and being number one is like the pole position in auto racing and the first chair in an orchestra; it means you’re the best of the best. And to be the best you have to beat the best, or so says Kobi Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.    And he’s right. The best is better than all of the rest.

“On First” is a euphemism for who’s first in your life and in your heart. “Who’s on First?” is a comedy routine made famous by Abbott and Costello. The premise of the sketch is that Abbott is identifying the players on a baseball team for Costello, but their names and nicknames can be interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello’s questions. For example, the first baseman is named “Who”; thus, the utterance “Who’s on first” is ambiguous between the question (“Which person is the first baseman?”) and the answer (“The name of the first baseman is ‘Who’”). It’s hilarious. 

So who’s your No. 1? Who is first place in your heart and in your life? God is and must be first. He must be number one, in first place and alone at the top in your life. He is the Only Wise God, the King above all Kings, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and the Almighty God. The Bible says that “the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3).  

Jesus asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?” It was a test. Why? Because when we make Him first, He will move Heaven and earth for us.  We love Him, because He first loved us.  We are to love God more than we love anyone and anything else.  Nothing and nobody comes before Him. Everything and anything, everyone and anyone comes a distant second to the One and Only.

God is Numero Uno, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Beside Him there is no other.  So pledge your allegiance and devote your attention and focus your affection on the God of Heaven. There’s none other that can compare with Him.  He truly is on first.

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Some things you just don’t want to admit, but they’re true anyhow. Some things are self-evident, but you just don’t want to believe it, and some things are right in front of your face, but you wrestle with it just the same. Like it or not, and like THEM or not, the Dallas Cowboys are 6 -1.  DeMarco Murray rushed for 100-plus yards for the seventh straight game, and teammate Tony Romo threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns as Dallas has jumped out to its best start since 2007. 

Some rings just don’t fit, at least not anymore. The Cowboys have won five Super Bowls; two under Roger Staubach and three under Troy Aikman, both legendary, Hall of Fame quarterbacks we loved to watch. But that was then, and this is now. Now, these Cowboys have come on strong and aren’t taking any prisoners. That’s right – those same Cowboys we’ve kicked around for years have become the “Now” Boys; they have the best record in Football, they’ve won six in a row, and they’ve beaten everything that’s come their way in convincing fashion.  And for those of us who root for our teams and A.B.D., “Anybody But Dallas” this is a hard pill to swallow.

Some days you just have to face the facts. The Dallas Cowboys are indeed the best team in the NFL. These same Cowboys now have the moxie and the momentum, the conviction and the conversion, the oomph and the humph to believe that they are the best, at least for now. And that’s just it, that’s the key; NOW they believe. 

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In some ways we sometimes doubt ourselves; and worse yet, we oftentimes doubt the only one we can truly trust. Our confidence should not and cannot be in ourselves or in our ability or in our capability. We are frail and fragile, we’re fickle and we fumble; we’re fraught with fractions and frivolous, flippant actions; we CANNOT be relied upon to do the right thing all the time, and we’re prone to do the wrong thing almost at any time.

In truth, we cannot count on anything or anyone but God.

So be fully persuaded, not in your ability, but in the ability of the Almighty. This is what separates the men from the boys. Boys are frisky and faulty, irresponsible and undependable. But not men. Real, grown men are regular and reliable and emulate the character of God. God is not a man that He should lie; what He says He is able also to perform.

Your “sometimes” of doubt and indecision should turn from fear to faith. Don’t be like King Agrippa, who was a man who became a boy. The Apostle Paul appeared before Roman council and asked this question: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said to Paul, You Almost persuaded me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27-18).  In other words, King Agrippa did not want to loose and lose his grip on his own belief and his own understanding.

Some don’t want to admit it, but Jesus Christ is The Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Like Pilate, Agrippa was staring Truth in the face, but he didn’t know it, or he didn’t want to admit it. Jesus looked Pilate in the face, and yet Pilate was blind to the very embodiment of truth that stood before him.

So turn your sometimes around. Become a believer and become a real man; be like the Apostle Paul and put away childish and boyish things. Accept the truth that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of the Living God. 

Joey Ortiz

Guest Blog

“Life is not about how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up.”

I started out life from the bottom looking up. I was frequently beaten with a horse whip by my father.  To kill the pain I started drinking at 8 years old.  I started playing football as an avenue to release my rage.  This catapulted me to local stardom on the gridiron.  I became so good I was recruited by many major college football programs, the only thing holding me back was my grades and my SAT scores.  I signed with the local college and was immediately declared ineligible.  I transferred to Sac City Jr. college and achieved “All State” status as a starting split end. 

I went to UNLV, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, on a recruiting trip and was offered a scholarship.  Three days later I got hit by a car traveling 55-70 mph as a pedestrian.  The car never stopped.  I laid dead in the street, to be revived and life flighted. I suffered 18 major injuries including losing half my left calf.  I was told I would never play again. 

I underwent a major rehabilitation undertaking and was back on the field in five months. This was history! Since I was damaged goods no major colleges were interested in me anymore. I hung out and partied for a year and started selling cars.  I quickly got addicted to cocaine and thought I had found the miracle drug.  In my fourth month I came across a customer named Pastor Doug Bird.  He bought a vehicle from me and spent 2 hours ministering to me. 

I was lost and it fell on deaf ears. I became a machine and dominated in the local car business reaching management in record time.  This was the life I lived until 2008.  My wife left me and I now have almost 6 years sobriety.  I got involved in Alumni football and learned that the director of the league went to church with Pastor Doug Bird.  I received an email invitation to church on November 1st 2009.  I went and gave my life to Christ that day.  I since have written a book entitled “Correcting a Wreckless Life;”  I appeared on TV, radio, in the newspaper, and on the 700 Club.  I now minister to the lost that are dealing with some of my same past issues that I have overcome thru Christ. In 2014 I signed with award-winning producer Michael Shortt to bring my story to the big screen.   Praise God!

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 Joey Ortiz

 

Correcting A Wreckless Life

Correcting A Wreckless Life.

Wow. The title tells it all. I want to get this out there and I, or the author, Joey Ortiz, will blog on this book soon. Watch the interview clip. It’s a winner.

More to come.

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If you’re going to play it safe, you gotta take a chance. Is this an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory proposition? Yes, but it’s true in sports and in life, nonetheless. And just like “killing them with kindness,” it can be done. Life is full of oxymorons, hyperboles and exaggerations, and this is one of them.

If you’re going to bet on a winner, put your money on The Kansas City Royals. Why? These Royals have only done what has never been done before in Major League Baseball History. (CORRECTION: The 1976 Cincinnati Reds went 7 – 0 under the old format.) They’re undefeated in the playoffs. An also ran, wanna-be, woulda-coulda-shoulda-be team for 29 years, and all of a sudden, out of the Royal Blue, here they come. To go undefeated in the playoffs is UNHEARD OF in Baseball. It’s improbable. It just doesn’t happen. And yet these same Kansas City Come-Out-Of-No-Where whiz kids are headed to the Fall Classic with eight victories and zero defeats.

If you’re going to be on the safe side, you must live on wild side. And so it is in sports and in life. Sports is so much like life and life is so much like sports it makes my head spin. Sometimes you bet on a sure thing, only to come up with no thing. And other times you bet the farm on a longshot, and you come up with a game winner. The lesson from the 2014 MLB playoffs is clear: in order to be like these Royals, you need to put your hopes on hold for what seems like an eternity, put together a Johnny-come-lately, nobody gives you a chance, it-aint-supposed-to-happen-this-way team, and then just go for it. It’s so spiritual it’s almost scary.

If you’re going to win big you must first die-hard. That’s the formula. Nothing, absolutely nothing worth anything comes without rejection and repudiation, sacrifice and suffering, and submission and surrender. So while we’re all giddy and glad and aglow for the Royals, just remember what they’ve been through in order to get to where they’re going to. For 29 years the laughingstock of Baseball; now, they’ve set an all-time record for winning and set a winning percentage that may never be matched. They’re batting 1.000, for Pete’s sake!

If you’re going to be on top, you have to know more than a little about being on the bottom. Twenty-nine years of futility is pretty awful, and eight up and none down, IN OCTOBER, is pretty special. And so sometimes you don’t start out as the favorite, you just end up one.  And these same bottom feeders are on their way to the World Series for the first time in a forever.

If you’re going to hit home runs, you’re going to have to endure strike outs. The favored and fair-haired, preferred and privileged, choice and chosen players and people and persons don’t always end up in first place or win the trophy or get the ring. It’s the ones who persevere over time and persist through trials and tribulations. These are the underdogs. We love them because we are them.

The underdogs of the Bible and in sports give us muster and metal, bravery and buoyancy, and the spirit and sparkle to endure the years of struggle and the fears we juggle as we fight through to our seasons of destiny.

So go Royals! I say they win the whole dag ‘gum thing. And it would be extra special if they go all the way AND go undefeated and unbeaten and unblemished in post-season play. It would be the icing on the cake and the cherry on top of the miracle in the making we’re watching right before our very eyes.

Eagles Emblem


Last time I checked, the Super Bowl is played on the first Sunday in February. It was played in January for forever until the NFL went tinkering with tradition. Anyway, the point is, we’re just six, count ‘em, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, SIX games into the 2014 NFL regular season, and already all of the sports prophets and reporters and predictors and redactors have the Dallas Cowboys Winning the Super Bowl. That’s’ right, after one win, (albeit a pretty impressive win, mind you) all the know it alls have it all figured out.

Last time I checked, you’re not supposed to watch a pot while it boils, because they say a watched pot NEVER boils. It’s a modern proverb; the saying means that something you are waiting for will not happen while you are concentrating on it. HMMMMM. True or false?

Last time I checked, my Philadelphia Eagles were atop the NFL’s NFC East at 5-1 with a 2-0 record in the Division, the same Division that those same sideshow sages and seers said would be the NFC Least, not the NFC East. My Eagles (pronounced “Iggles” for all those of you who aren’t from Philly) are looking pretty good, as they shut out the NY “Football” Giants on Sunday night, 27-0. I’m happy and glad, but not yet hippopotamus glad or hyena happy; at least not yet.

So I’m not going to watch this pot boil. Let’s reconvene in December, when the big boys come out and play; that’s when we’ll separate the men from the cowboys, so to speak. Winning championships is like herding kittens, it’s not easily done, and comes at great expense, effort and exertion.

Championships are like girlfriends; they’re frail and fragile, delicate and docile and must be warmed and wooed, coaxed and cajoled, buttered-up and chased down in order to be won. You can’t order them in or dial them up; they come when they’re ready, and you just have to be there when they show up. That’s what the Philadelphia Eagles Fans are doing. While we have no Super Bowl rings to speak of, we’re waiting by the phone. To switch sides in the boyfriend/girlfriend metaphor, we’re waiting for that great guy to call us back. Going back to the NFC East, those Cowboys have 5 Super Bowl rings, the Giants have 4, and the Redskins have 3. And we have none.

Spiritually speaking, those of us who believe that this world is not our home, we are waiting for the manifestation of all the promises of God. They are all true and amen, so we can bank on God coming through with each and every promise He’s made to us. Those promises include healing and heath, wellbeing and wealth, and benefits too numerous to fit in a blog. So let’s take courage and have faith. If you’re waiting on a promise to come to pass, take it from me, don’t stare down at the pot. Instead, focus your eyes upward and skyward and Heavenward, for this is where the provider of the promises presides.

So while we Eagles fans have a big pot on the stove full of fresh water, and in the pot this time we have Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy, and Darren Sproles, and Jordan Matthews and host of other Pro-Bowlers once again, but this time we’re going to wait this one out. All Eagles fans everywhere would KILL for a Super Bowl victory, but we’re willing to wait for it. Right? Right. RIGHT? Right. And the wait this year is until the first Sunday in February when the Super Bowl is played.

 

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The Kansas City Royals are red-hot. How hot are they? They’re now 6-0 – undefeated in the 2014 Postseason, they’re won 4 of five games in extra innings, and they’re hitting home runs like IHOP heaps out hotcakes. These Royals swept the Angel’s in the ALDS and before that they won a one game playoff against the A’s. The Royal Blue Bombers now have the Baltimore Orioles in their sights and it doesn’t look good for the orange and black.  The Royal Blues have the Orioles feeling blue as they have won back to back games ON THE ROAD in the ALCS against the best team in the AL East.  Good gracious! Talk about catching fire and getting hot at the right time.

Clearly, the Royals are proving that they’re the hottest team in baseball, because they are showing up and showing out just when it counts.  These Royals are the hottest team in the coolest month.  On the other side of the ledger, the poor Baltimore Orioles look like a deer staring into a pair of high-beams; clearly, the O’s are not a Johnny-come-lately team, but now they look like they don’t know what just hit ‘em.

The Kansas City Royals are playing the kind of white-hot ball every fan wishes their team was playing this time of year. They are playing loose, light, and lively. They have nothing to lose, seeing as they haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985; that’s 29 years. Talk about no pressure. And yet they’re playing with a reckless abandon that is fun to watch but fearful to play against.

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Baseball in October is as special as eating your favorite ice cream and cake on your birthday. And on your birthday, you think you can do and be and say anything and get away with it. On your birthday you’re “hot;” you’re Da’ Man (or Da’ woman, as the case may be), and everybody exalts and extols you and expects and assumes and presumes that you can and could and may and might do the improbable. And so it is with baseball in October.

October is the occasion and opportunity for the best of baseball and baseball at its best. This time of year, you don’t necessarily need to be good, even though being good doesn’t hurt and it certainly does help. On the cool and cold nights of October, it’s better to be hot and hungry than to be good and gruffy.

October is the month you want to be hot, especially if you’re a baseball team.   And the Royals are just that. They’ve got confidence, charisma, and chutzpah, with the ability to get hits seemingly at whim and the ability to score runs seemingly at will. And as we all know, being hot is the uncanny combination of talent and tenacity and flair and fortuity.

And so what about you? Can you get hot at the right time and be at the right place and dot a base hit in just the right spot? And can you do all of this on demand, when the pressure is on and the bets are off?

Spiritually speaking, Believers are supposed to be “hot.”  In order to win, we need to get hot, and in order to get hot we need the fire of God. Being hot comes from spending time with the God who is a consuming fire. It takes praying hot prayers and shedding a lot of tears living a glowing life. And it takes following the leading of the Lord. We can’t possibly know and be and do everything the right way all of the time, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Wind of God, the Divine Comforter and Keeper, we can be hot with the fire of God just when we need to be.

So stop relying on your own muscle and your own might. Instead, desire and determine to depend on the leading of the Lord. It’s the only sure way to get and stay hot. 

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