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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. 

Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals - Game Two

Bryce Harper did his part. He doubled in Ian Desmond in the 5th inning and then smacked a solo homer 377 feet in the 7th. Result: tie ball game, baby. The only problem was that rookie relief pitcher Aaron Barrett decided to throw a wild pitch in the bottom of the same inning to undo the tie. The end result? A 3-2, Game 4 loss to the San Francisco Giants, a 3-1 National League Division Series (NLDS) loss to the same team, and another demoralizing, deflating and depressing loss in the first round of the playoffs at the end of another otherwise delightful Nationals season.

When you’re not ready for prime time, it shows. When you’re ready for prime time, it’s clear to all watching who is a big time, money time, party time player. And outside of recent complete game, no hit, shut out pitcher Jordan Zimmerman, the only player who stepped up to the plate for the Nationals was Bryce Harper.

Mr. Bryce Harper is the only purely positive and palatable player that the Nats have, or at least the only one that showed any gumption and gusto in this series. He literally accounted for all of the Nats runs yesterday in the Game 4 fiasco, as he tried to carry the limp and lame overpromising and under-delivering veteran club on his young back. The kid is only 21, and yet he has the maturity and mentality and manhood to stand up and be counted. As for some of the other Nats, such as Werth and Desmond, when it mattered, you couldn’t find them.

Clearly, the Nats are not ready for prime time. They committed too many errors, had too many slips and blips and oops and bloops to warrant an invitation to play in another series, much less play in the month of October at all. Harsh? Not really. Just read Thomas Boswell and Mike Wise of the Washington Post, two of the best baseball columnists in the business.

So what have we learned? Or more to the point, what have the Nationals learned? From their first year skipper who made some bone head decisions to the players who just didn’t show up, what needs to be fixed and what needs to be forfeited? Harper and Zimmerman: hot. The rest of the team: not. So your build around at least these two and you draw straws for the rest of the lot.

Lest we are too critical, we must remember that all players and teams must pass through a rite of passage on the way to the winners circle. Biblically, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Peter and Paul, and all of the rest of the Hall of Faith Biblical “Players” all had a rite of passage to pass through before they became the champions of faith that we’ve come to love and remember. And the same goes for athletes as well.

Clearly, the Washington Nationals have a few more rounds to go and a few more rungs to climb before being able to hang with the big boys. Losing the game on a wild pitch? Really? Seriously? That’s not exactly what we’ve come to expect of a championship, prime time team.

Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals - Game Two

Sometimes you win and you’re not quite sure how, and other times you lose and you know exactly why. Such is the case of the San Francisco Giants win and the Washington Nationals loss in what was the longest postseason game ever. The six and ½ hour marathon classic comeback by the Giants, or should we say give away by the Nationals, is now the epidemy and epitome of how not to win a game. The Nationals had the game in the bag; they had all but won and the game was all but over 8 and two thirds innings in and an out away from a huge, thrilling, series tying victory.

But in a sordid twist of fate (and I don’t believe in fate) Jordan Zimmerman, the Nationals ace pitcher, walked Jon Panik to break his string of 20 consecutive retired batters. For seven innings, no Giant batter reached base until the top of the ninth, with two outs. The Nationals manager immediately pulled Zimmerman from the game, only to hand the ball to their closer, Drew Storen, who will go down with his manager as the goat of the game. Storen immediately commenced to give up two consecutive singles and then a game tying double. The score would have been 2-1 had not Buster Posey been called out at the plate.

Sometimes doing what you’ve always done to get what you’ve never got is not a good idea. I don’t believe in situational ethics, but I do believe in doing what your gut tells you to do when your gut tells you to do it.  Just ask all of spiritual giants in Scripture; you can’t and you don’t and you won’t win playing it safe. You NEVER play not to lose; you ALWAYS play to win. And while I don’t manage the Nationals, I would NOT have yanked Zimmerman one out away from a complete game shut-out. Not.

But lest we are too hard on the Nationals, it’s easier to call the game from the announcers’ booth than from the dugout, and it’s easier to play Monday morning quarterback than to make game time decisions. Because as we all know, hindsight is always 20/20. 

I feel for the Nats. I do. But I also feel that winning is not just “hoped,” it’s willed; it’s not just wanted, it’s expected. And in order to win close, tight games, you have to go with your heart and not your head.

Zimmerman should have been allowed to stay in the game. Period. He earned the right to finish what he started and pitch a complete game shut-out in the playoffs. But his manager played the averages, played it safe, and it cost him and his team dearly.

So what have we learned? What are the takeaways? What are the Nationals feeling and fretting and privately fuming about now? Yes they’re saying all of the right things publically, but privately, I bet you they’re second guessing themselves and trying to “keep hope alive” by saying that they can come back and win a Five Game series down 0-2.  Can it happen? Yes. Will it happen? That’s why we play the game, and keep score.

Nationals

Some of us, yea, many of us, are on the verge. Usually the phrase is reserved for those who are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, or on the verge of suicide, or on the verge of something else hurtful or harmful. But here, I want to emphasize that if you are doing your best, trying your best, playing your best and living your best, you may be on the verge of a massive, mammoth miracle.

The Washington Nationals Baseball team is on the verge. They begin the postseason today, and as we speak, they are hosting the San Francisco Giants in a five-game National League Divisional Series. The Nat’s have “Nattitude” and think and feel and believe and imagine that they can go deep into the playoffs. And many hope and yea, even dream that the Nats can win it all. And that belief may not be far from the truth. It’s all a matter of faith and fortitude.

As for me, I believe that my family is on the verge. My wife and sons and I have been fasting and praying and believing and trusting; it seems like we’re just a step and a stride and pace and a rung away from busting the game wide open. Yes we have to hold on and hold out and hang in there but it seems that we’re near the edge and on the border and at the threshold of something very, very special.

So how about you? Do you feel that way too? Have you been struggling and striving and straining only to seemingly be no further along than you were a day or a date before now? No worries. Take courage. There are many who believe that the Washington Nationals are on the verge. I feel that way about them, and about me too. Breakthrough and breakout and a “break” may be just within grasp, and may be just within reach.

So take courage. Like the prophet Elijah of old, I hear the sound of the abundance of rain. The drought is over. It’s about to rain. A downpour is coming. And your epiphany and harvest and the manifestation of the prophecies are about to materialize right before your eyes. And if you keep the faith, your faith is about to become sight too.

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Amazing achievements don’t just happen, terrific triumphs don’t just appear, and wonderful wins don’t just come out of thin air. In fact, truth be told, precious plays are priceless and don’t come around every day. Such prized plays made in magical moments by players everywhere are to be valued and treasured, relished and cherished. And such is the case in the first no hitter pitched by the Washington National’s Baseball team.

Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann was one out from history Sunday afternoon, and for what must have seemed like an eternity of forever’s, he watched little-used rookie left fielder Steven Souza Jr. — a defensive replacement in the ninth inning — give chase to a line drive that threatened to dash and destroy his destined no-hitter. It was the bottom of the ninth; there were two outs, and a CG (Complete Game) no hitter was on the line. Enter rookie reserve outfielder Steven Souza Jr.

One out from history. That’s where Zimmerman found himself, and where he almost found a place to doubt his date with destiny. The hit by the Marlins Christian Yelich came on a 2-1 count. Zimmermann hurled a 94-mph fast ball on the outside corner and Yelich showed his opposite field power and drove it to deep left-center field. Nationals’ now renowned and previously unknown Steven Souza and center fielder Denard Span took off for the deep drive while the stadium crowd stood silent and breathless. Souza’s angle of pursuit couldn’t have been any better than Spans, but yet he dove at the warning track and went airborne  to make an over-the-shoulder grab to preserve the no-hitter.

One out from destiny, it was quite a way to cap a regular season in which the Nationals finished with the NL’s best record, 96-66. Washington hosts San Francisco or Pittsburgh in Game 1 of a division series Friday. “Just an epic day for an epic season,” said Denard Span, who set a Nationals single-season record with his 184th hit. Zimmermann (14-5) threw 104 pitches, had 10 strikeouts and allowed only two baserunners. After retiring the first 14 batters. “When he caught it,” teammate Dunn said, “it was just like, ‘Really? Did that just happen?'”

Before we overplay the play we want to be careful not to minimize the moment or dampen and downplay the end of a really special game that comes at the end of a really special regular season. And it ain’t over yet, as Nationals Baseball fans hope it doesn’t end until they begin to celebrate a World Series win. Possible? Actually yes. Probable? You can check that box too.  

Just like Jordan Zimmerman, you might be one out from victory, one out from history, one out from destiny. You may have come to realize that there might not be a real Santa Claus, or a real Tooth Fairy, or a real Easter Bunny, but I hope you still conclude that there is still a real reason to believe in miracles.

So what are you destined for? Where are you going and what are you going to do when you get there? Write your own script. Don’t let fate foretell your future. Determine to disappoint your detractors and decide your own destiny. God is still in the miracle business.  If you want help (and trust me, you’ll need it) you can have it, and you can have it today.

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