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Eagles 33 –  Dallas 10. And it wasn’t that close.

So how did they do it? How did the Eagles beat and best the dastardly Dallas demagogues in their own house? And on Thanksgiving Day, to boot! My Eagles won the same way you and I will defeat our demons and our disappointments and our discouragements and our dejections. On those dork, down days when no one gives you a snow ball’s chance in hell to win, there must be some way to overcome and overtake the enemy of our souls.

Wining the big game begins with winning the small ones. You don’t win on the big stage until you win on the back stage. Winning in secret is required for winning in public. Winning the war within starts with conquering our fears and our phobias and our doubts and our dreads and believing that miracles still happen when you believe.

The Eagles won before they even stepped foot onto the field. And we win when we make up our minds and agree with God on who we are and who He is. We worry and we’re weary and we whine and we whimper when we don’t agree with God. And that’s it! That’s how we win the big game!

We win when we agree with God without questioning or quizzing or grilling or groaning. When things don’t appear the way we wish or when things don’t go the way want, we still need to have confidence in God. His Word is still true. And it’s true not just for the few; it can be true for you too.

So take it from the Philadelphia Eagles. Win the game before you play the game. It’s not that the Cowboys didn’t want to win, but he Eagles obviously wanted it more. It may be hard to understand, but we understand and live by faith, not by sight.

So you can trust your big games to the one who is bigger that any game and every problem that you will ever have. So show confidence, not cowardice; trust and never doubt, and He will surely bring you out.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV

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Don’t count me out. That’s what every weary, wounded and washed up warrior says to all those who dont wish them well but instead wish them woe and want them to throw in the towel. And that’s what RGIII is saying to the watching football world right now.

RGII, Robert Griffin III, was the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He won the 2011 Heisman Trophy, for Pete’s sake.  He was selected by the Redskins with the second overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.  He had nothing but “ups” coming out of college and coming into the NFL. And everybody loved him. That was then.  This is now.

Now, RGIII, the once up and coming quarterback of the Washington Redskins, has been benched in favor of the 3rd string QB, Colt McCoy.  Talk about a fall from grace.  His play this season has been less than stellar, and he has been injured and on the sidelines just as much as he has been agile and on the field. 

But don’t count him out.  I like RGIII. I do. I like him a lot. Even though he’s the quarterback for my Eagles archrival, the reviled Washington Redskins, he’s got heart.  And because of his heart and his soul and his guts and his gusto and his ambition and his determination, I hope and pray that he gets back up, dusts himself off, and tries again. Isn’t that what we all must do after heartache and heartbreak? After being letdown and being put down? After fallouts and washouts? After a setback, don’t we all wish for a comeback? 

We must hope and pray that it’s not over for RGIII. We should not presume to know the outcome of RGII’s career, or any event, for that matter, which is still in progress. We must caution against assuming that the current state of RGII’s career is irreversible and determines how or when his football life will end. We can only hope and pray that he’s got a lot of football left in him and that his best is yet to come.  After all, it ain’t over till the Fat Lady sings.

By the way, where did that phrase come from?  The phrase is most commonly used in association with organized competitions, particularly sports. The phrase comes from and is generally understood to be referencing the stereotypically overweight sopranos of the opera. The imagery of Richard Wagner’s opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and its last part, Götterdämmerung, is typically the one used in depictions accompanying reference to the phrase. The “fat lady” is the valkyrie Brünnhilde, who is traditionally presented as a very buxom lady with horned helmet, spear and round shield (although Brünnhilde in fact wears a winged helmet). Her aria lasts almost twenty minutes and leads directly to the end of the opera. As Götterdämmerung is about the end of the world (or at least the world of the Norse gods), in a very significant way “it is [all] over when the fat lady sings.”

Biblically speaking, the Apostle Paul may have said 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.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-10, New Living Translation

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One reason to love the Bible is because on almost every page there is a wealth of wonderful and willful, sometimes wacky and sometimes woeful, but at all times soulful somebodies waiting to be welcomed into your heart. And if the Bible were written today, I am almost convinced that one wild and wanton but also whimsically wonderful and sarcastically doleful, sweet and sour soul that would be found on one line at least or in several sections at best is Mayor Marion Barry.

One reason Washingtonians loved Marion Barry was because he was real; at times he was real good and at other times he was real bad, but he was really and truly good for the District of Columbia even though he was the best bad boy in town. Barry epitomized the best of us and the worst in us, almost at the same time.  Loved by many and loathed by many more, he was the ultimate comeback kid.

One reason Barry was so good at his chosen sport was that he knew people.  He knew his game and he played it well. Barry played the blood sport of politics and he was a first ballot hall of famer almost from the start. He is one of the few fellows that could both smooth and get under your skin while you oooed and awed and moaned and jawed. The alternative weekly Washington City Paper nicknamed him “Mayor for life,” a designation that remained long after Barry left the mayoralty. And tThe Washington Post has stated that “to understand the District of Columbia, one must understand Marion Barry.”

And so let’s name all of the reasons that we should honor and pay homage to the dearly departed Mayor Marion Barry. I never met him, and I don’t know his faith or his fidelity to the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But I do know that this man, above all men, like a great athlete, was the epitome and essence, the embodiment and expression of how to win an upset, how to stage a comeback, and how to turn a bad situation all the way around.  

And God, and only God, because of His great mercy, is the author of the upset win, the comeback king, and the triumphant turnaround. And only by His grace, which is found in Christ Jesus.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  Ephesians 2:4-6, New Living Translation

Philadelphia_76ers

Who is Brett Brown, and why does this wanna-be, first year coach of the Philadelphia 76ers still have a job? The Sixers are 0-13. That’s the worst start in the team’s history, and their roster is full of players I’ve never heard of. My son went to seen them play and he said they look like crap (against the Knicks at MSG – and he had courtside seats! Dat’s my boy!) Anyway, to top it all off, Brett Brown, whoever he is, coached last season at Boston College of all places. He’s not even NBA material!

What is the NBA record for loses to start a season? Eighteen. So why are people even watching the Philadelphia 76ers play? To see them break the “record?” I mean seriously? And the kicker is that the Sixer’s webpage is begging people to purchase packages, not just individual tickets, but Ticket Packages!? Seriously?

When are these same 76ers going to win a game? When are they going to snap out of this slump? What is a fan to do? Keep hope alive. We’ve gotta remember that trouble don’t last always, and it can’t possibly get any worse, or go on like this forever. Right? What am I to do? We’ve got to remember the great teams that we’ve had, and hope that they will return, in new improved form.

Where oh where are the great Sixer Teams of yesteryear, and the great players that played in South Philly at the Spectrum? And why am I even writing about the sad and sorry, hapless and luckless, can’t buy a win Sixers? Because we are a storied franchise with a rich history. I mean, we had Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, Billy “C” Cunningham, Dr. Jr., Bobby Jones, Allen “The Answer” Iverson and Charles Barkley, The Round Mound of Rebound, to name a Hall of Fame few. And now were stuck with a bunch of bumbling bums who can’t even muster enough muscle to win a dag gum game. Oh well.

Why are Sixer fans being tortured thus? Because all teams go through tough times. It’s a mirror and barometer of our lives. And the way to survive is to think on the past good and look toward and forward to a future hope. And Since its Thanksgiving, I guess we need to be thankful that they haven’t broken the record for loses to start a season. And our thanksgiving prayer will include a provision that God spares us from breaking that ignominious record.

And why do the 76ers stink to high Heaven? Somebody has to be bad, and had the NBA asked for volunteers, the Philadelphia 76ers would’ve raised their hand and yelled, “Pick me!” Not that there’s anything wrong with Noel, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. Well, there’s nothing wrong with him except for that injured knee — which supposedly will keep him out until at least December. Even when he returns, there’s that whole business about him being a rookie.

What to the Sixers look like? The have the look of an expansion team, only probably not as good. But all of this appears to be by design. If they are this bad all season, we’ll control the fight for a high draft pick come next spring. And that’s something to be thankful for.

andre-agassi

Guest Blog From Verne Harnish, EO Barcelona member and founding partner of Gazelles, Inc.

Companies that build teams with strong moral character win. Their teams are happier, perform better and are more successful overall.

This bold claim stems from the work of Jim Loehr, renowned performance psychologist and author of the book The Only Way to Win. Loehr´s research, which in part is based on his experience taking 16 world-class athletes to number one in their sport and working with thousands of “corporate athletes,”  shows that the satisfaction we get from achieving extrinsic accomplishments (number one in tennis, a new job, winning a deal, building a company) is mostly shallow and fleeting.

Instead, what gives us a long lasting feeling of fulfillment and happiness is having practiced integrity, generosity, gratefulness, humility, optimism, and compassion in the pursuit of these goals. CEOs with the mindset of a “servant leader” are in a unique position to support the development of these strengths.

 

CHARACTER STRENGTHS WIN IN SPORTS

Loehr recently founded a junior tennis academy at his Human Performance Institute. On their first day, the students hear: “We care about your tennis but care more about who you become because of tennis. Our most important imperative at this academy is winning with character.”

Working from a list of moral strengths, the students are required to journal about lessons learned that day, on and off the court. Not surprisingly, this has helped their performance. All 15 students going through the program are currently nationally ranked.

 

… AND IN BUSINESS

What Loehr has learned works in business, as well. After the tragic loss of his wife, Jay Steinfeld, founder and CEO of Blinds.com, reached a turning point.  “My future really began to take shape only when I began to define my success as being in the act of continuous improvement and improving the lives of others around me,” he recalls.

Realizing, as he put it, that he was “an overly burdensome micromanager, always finding fault in others,” he concentrated on identifying and recognizing the successes of his team. As he became more empathetic, his team relaxed—and performed better. To help his employees to stick with their own self-improvement goals, he put up a white board where individuals could share such commitments

As the company has grown increasingly successful—it is now the world’s largest online retailer for window blinds and shades, with $120 million in annual revenue and 180 employees—Steinfeld has tried to help his team stay true to its humble beginnings. He personally brings new recruits to a run-down alleyway in Houston where the thriving company had its first office back in 1996. There, he shares the history and core values of the company. He even built a reproduction of the alleyway at the company’s new offices.

“This way, we keep our humble history fresh in our minds and it also reinforces our core value ´Help People Achieve What They Never Thought They Could,’ ” he explains.

 

ANDRE AGASSI’S DAILY JOURNEY

Andre Agassi shares in his memoirs how writing down his goals every morning and how he wants to achieve them that day helped him gain that “steely resolve” that brought him back to the #1 spot in world tennis. “After putting them on paper, saying them out a loud, I also say aloud: `No shortcuts.’”

As Loehr emphasizes, Agassi’s reinvention of himself—from an obnoxious player who became number one but hated his fame and wealth and at one point battled drug addiction—to “the compassionate, generous, thoughtful and humble person he is today,” as Loehr puts it, shows how moral character development ultimately supports performance. When he focused on improving himself, he came back as number one and was happier.

As a servant leader, consider how you might use your company as a vehicle for building your own character strengths and those of your team. The results will likely astound you.

 

Read more: http://blog.eonetwork.org/2013/10/moral-character-wins/#ixzz3JwaFqVP2

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As an undergrad, I majored in land use planning at the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!).  I graduated with 124 credits, and half of them were in my major.  I also minored in sociology. I loved my major and wanted to spend all of my time and energy in classes that would teach me about my major. But it was alright to take a few classes in my minor. But only a few.  Because I didn’t need to spend a whole lot of time in my minor. And The problem with many college students in general and many more people in specific is that they major in the minors and minor in the majors.

The fault of most and the failure of many is that they major in the minors and minor in the majors.  We tend to focus on light and little, flimsy and flippant  noiseless nothings instead of the weight of glory.  And no self-respecting baseball player wants to stay in the minor league. Every minor league player aspires to rise and be called up to the big, or major league.

“Majoring in the minors” is used to describe someone focusing on the unimportant things (“minors”) rather than the more important (“major”) issues. The context is usually along the lines of focusing on the wrong thing, making a mountain out of a molehill, etc.  It can be construed as stupid nit-picking, going down a rabbit hole, or any other deviation/distraction from the main point/purpose.

The Third Day is the foundation of our faith and the bedrock of our belief.  On the Third Day Jesus rose from the dead.  This very meaningful and vitally momentous, magnanimous event was a “game changer.”  Jesus rose from the dead, just like He said he would.  The Old Testament of the Bible is full of prophecies and promises, predictions and  prayers all centered around and focused on the Messiah. For those of you who don’t yet believe, consider these predictive prophecies about the Third Day:

On the third day — “Abraham looked up and saw the place [Mount Moriah] from afar.” There he intends to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering to God. Yet he assures his companions, “We will worship and return.” (Genesis 22:4-5)

On the third day — Pharaoh releases his chief cupbearer from death-row. (Genesis 40:20-21)

On the third day — Joseph releases his brothers from prison in Egypt. (Genesis 42:17-18)

On the third day — God descends to Mount Sinai in fire with the sound of a shofar. He then reveals The Ten Words, Israel’s constitution of new life as a nation after their resurrection from the death of slavery in Egypt. (Exodus 19:16-19)

On the third day — Joshua’s spies emerge from hiding from the Jerichoites, then return to their commander. (Joshua 2:16, 22)

On the third day — after asking God for release, King Hezekiah is healed of his fatal disease and offers thanks in the temple. (2 Kings 20:5)

On the third day — Jonah is expelled from the fish belly. (Jonah 1:17) (Matt 12:40; cf Matt 16:21; 17:23)

On the third day — After fasting, Esther puts on royal apparel and enters the palace of the Persian king in order to thwart a death-plot against her people, the Jews. (Esther 4:16; 5:1)

And Jesus himself prophesied of himself to his disbelieving disciples:

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”  Matthew 16:21, KJV

As believers, our major focus is the Cross of Christ. The center of our attention and the axis of our attraction is Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. We need to major in our major, not the minors.  Minors are denominationalism, sectarianism, creeds and customs, rites and rituals. 

The fault of most and the failure of many is that they major in the minors. The Love of God is our major!  The grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is our major!  The joy of the Lord is our major!  Let’s stop majoring in the minors, and minoring in our major.  Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight. Jesus loves us, and we are His major. Let’s make Him ours as well.

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There are games that you just have to have. There are contests that you MUST win. There are battles that you are required to emerge victorious from. In other words, with some games, if you win, you’re in; but if you snooze, you lose. There are some games that are more important than others, and winning them makes all of the difference in the world.

Some games are a must win. Some games are non-negotiable. Sometimes you just have to win; and if you don’t win, you won’t survive.  Vince Lombardi said “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

The one game we must win is the war within. We must improve ourselves by victories over ourselves. There must be and will be a contest, and we must win.

thCAHRMUGI

Stranded In Snow

There are a number of “male chauvinists” out there who think a woman can’t do what a man can do. Spiritually speaking, we are all one, meaning “there is no male nor female,” but we are one big happy family in Christ. This is true, to a point.

On the other hand, yes there are gender specific roles. Men can’t have babies, and women can’t procreate without help from a man, just to name a few. Men can’t be a mother, and woman can’t be a father. It just can’t be done.

But when it comes to being strong when things go wrong, and being sturdy and stable and heady and hardy and rugged and robust and resistant and resilient when the chips are down, we all can learn a lesson from the Niagara Woman’s Basketball team.

These girls taught us all a lesson on what everybody needs to learn how to do: “gut it out.” Spiritual strength is an inward asset. It is a God-given power that is neither fake nor phony, fabricated nor falsified; you’re either strong in the Lord or you’re not. And you can’t even pretend to be strong and full of faith because even dogs can smell fear.

This week, the Niagara Women’s Basketball team was stuck in a horrific, horrendous snow storm. Their bus was caught flat-footed in a blizzard as they tried to travel in 3-4 feet of snow outside of Buffalo New York. It may not seem like a big thing, but the bus was immobile for over a day, and some reports said they were stranded for up to 30 hours since embarking on their journey home after playing the University of Pittsburgh. Snow was falling at a rate of 4-5 inches an hour. The girls made do with granola bars, cookies, brownies and melted snow. There was no other food on board.

But when the bus went slow, and when the rations got low, you would think their spirits would also? Not so.

The girls did what we all need to learn to do: they gutted it out. There were no reports of complaining or whimpering or being grouchy or grumpy or crabby or crotchety. The gals just took it in stride and weathered the storm. While speaking with ESPN via cell phone, Head Coach Kendra Faustin refused to play the victim, preferring to acknowledge the plight of those in smaller cars as the snow continued to fall, inhibiting the National Guards ability to rescue the stranded.

So let’s learn the lesson that woman in scripture and in life continue to teach us. At one point or another, Sarah and Hannah, Ruth and Rachel, Esther and Elizabeth, and Abigail and Anna all had to tough it out. They all had to weather a storm and to continue to exist and not complain during a difficult period and to be all right despite experiencing serious problems or great difficulties.

So the next time you’re faced with a tough test or a rough road, remember the gals from the Niagara Woman’s Basketball team. They passed the test. They taught us that toughness is a spiritual thing. They taught us that gutting it out is not just for the “big boys” or the “tough guys;” it’s not just for “spiritual” people or for pastors and preachers; being strong in the Lord is something that we all must learn to do.

Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.

Ephesians 6:10

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What’s wrong with the NBA?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong. The Philadelphia 76ers are 0-10, and since I’m from Philly, that’s a BIG problem!  The Los Angeles Lakers are 1-9, and therefore all of LA Land is in meltdown.  The Oklahoma City Thunder are 3-8 (sans Kevin Durant, 2013 NBA MVP), and The Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers are 5-4. On the other hand, the Memphis Grizzlies are 10-1; the Toronto Raptors are 8-2; and the Washington Wizards are 7-2. Go figure. Age-old and perennial powerhouses are at the bottom of the heap, and wishful-thinking, wanna-be teams like the Wizards and Raptors (they were a good team a LONG time ago) are first place in their Division?  So what’s up with that?

LeBron James and Kevin Durant are what’s right with the NBA as they are the faces of the NBA franchise. One has won championships recently and the other is the reigning League MVP, but they can’t hold down the fort all by themselves. Durant is hurt and LeBron is back in Cleveland with a new team and new teammates who are trying to find themselves and figure it out.

What’s wrong with the NBA?  Who can watch these games?  It’s too early in the season to really pay attention, as most games end too late in the evening to stay up and watch. There’s too much competition from the NFL and college football, and there’s too little interest from middle-aged men like me to warrant any viable discussion about a bunch of overpaid, over privileged, over-hyped “kids” playing what amounts to a slowdown, one-on-one style of game with no “teamwork” in sight.

What’s wrong with the NBA? The great NBA legends of the game are long gone, such as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Willis Reed, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek, and of course, the greats from my generation such as Dr. J, Moses Malone, David Robinson, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Walton, George Gervin, and of course, Michael Jordan.   Without them, the game is just not the same.

So what’s right with the NBA? We still love the game and we will still watch, but not until after Christmas.  I mean, the regular season for the NBA is about as exciting and enthralling as watching paint dry. The new kids, such as Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose and of course LeBron James have charisma and chutzpah, but it’s just not the same as it was before. Many of the newbies in the League lack character and don’t have a reputation for being solid and stable people.

And many have a problem with Christianity as well, for just the same reasons. Many Christians lack muster and metal, moral fiber and spiritual muscle. The lack of integrity and veracity, legitimacy and authenticity turns people off. So, the challenge for Christians is to be true to the fundamentals and foundations, the nitty-gritty and nuts and bolts of our faith. 

I may be old-fashioned an old fuddy dud, but I believe that character still counts. I really don’t care how good you can play ball if you stink at playing the game of life.

PS: I thought this article (see below) spoke to why we as Christians are sometimes given the cold shoulder by unbelievers, because we should be willing and able to share our faith (the verb) with those who question and query our Faith (the noun).   Anybody?

Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make About Christians

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Well! My Eagles learned a hard lesson by losing 53-20 to the red-hot Green Bay Packers and the even hotter Aaron Rogers at cold Lambeau Field, with those butt-ugly uniforms, no less. And by so doing they taught us an easy lesson in the process. Just last Monday Night, the Eagles (pronounced “Iggles” for all those of you outside of Philly) beat Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers up and down the field, 45 – 21, and it wasn’t that close. So we learn, as the old saying goes, that what goes around comes around. So be careful what you dish, because that’s what you’re going to be dealt.

Well-meaning Mark Sanchez looked lost, listless and lifeless as he managed to make mistake after mistake; he just couldn’t corral his confidence after he got cornered. Sanchez, and the entire Eagles team, for that matter, came off of the field time and again looking bewildered and befuddled, confused and confounded, like a dear staring into a pair of high beams. Now, predicting the Eagles to get to the Super Bowl, much less win it, will be a tough sell. And as the old country saying goes, “that’s just swell.”

Oh well. Right now, the Eagles smell. They stink to high heaven and their performance in front of the waiting, watching, wondering football world was no belle as they were a shell of what they showed us in recent weeks. So now it’s hard to tell how well they will rebound from this near death knell.

And the lesson to be learned, pray tell? Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, even when things don’t go your way. You can recover if you keep your wits about you. When you win big you’re primed and prone, subjectable and susceptible to lose big. It’s just the way it works. Because what goes around comes around. But your big loses don’t have to be fatal, nor do your bad loses have to be final.

Well intended athletes of every age and at every stage of the game must learn how to lose well. The problem is that when things start going south, most of us start panicking instead of persevering. And THEN we let our emotions get the best of us, and it gets out of hand – sometimes way out of hand. So the lesson here is to resolve to resist the temptation to give in, even when it appears that you should give up.

So, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, after they started the season 1-2, he said “R.E.L.A.X.!”

And this teaching on “Five Ways To Relax In God’s Grace” by Rick Warren was pretty good, so I’ll pass it on.

“Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace.” (Hebrews 12:15a NCV)

 How do you learn to “R.E.L.A.X.” in the liberating grace of God?

 
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