Tiger Woods: Will He Make It All The Way Back?

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Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis

Now it seems as if Tiger Woods is always a bridesmaid, and not the bride. 

Tiger didn’t win the 2018 PGA Championship today. Tiger did not win his elusive 15th career major title at the PGA Championship. And Tiger did not sink the shots and the puts and the drives that he needed to hit to come out on top. But Tiger did win the hearts of the fans and he came away encouraged after his best finish at a major in nearly a decade. He lost by two strokes; and he was only one shot off the lead coming down the back nine. And he’s come in 2nd seven times now since coming back from back surgery.  

“The St. Louis fans waited 17 years to see Woods, and he delivered a performance that took golf back in time. Without hitting a fairway on the front nine, Woods cut the four-shot deficit to two. Dialed in on the back nine, he hit his approach to a foot on the 15th hole to get within one shot. The winner, Brooks Koepka, heard the roars from the crowd, all for Woods, and he answered with great shots of his own, finally converting the birdies to pull away.

Amid relentless pandemonium, Koepka ran off three straight birdies to end the front nine and seize control. When he was tied with Adam Scott through 14 holes, with Woods one shot behind, he delivered back-to-back birdies.

The crowd was enormous, louder than anything in golf this side of Augusta National or a Ryder Cup, and Woods looked closer than ever to capping his comeback from four back surgeries with another major.

Even with two bogeys, Woods shot 64 for his lowest final round in a major. He finished at 266, beating by three shots his best 72-hole score in a major.

But, it wasn’t enough. ‘I played hard,” Woods said. “I made a bit of a run. It looks like I’m going to come up a little short.’” http://www.cbc.ca/sports/golf/pga-championship-final-round-tiger-woods-brooks-koepka-1.4782774

And sometimes we all feel that way too, don’t we? We play our best, and live our best, and play our hearts out and give our all; and yet and still we come up short.

This is where the spiritual side of sports comes in. When we come up short, God fills in the gaps and the holes and the cracks so that we can be healthy and whole. We are only complete in Him. We are only victorious in Him. We are only winners in Him. In fact,  we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Thank God. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God that Heaven knew that we would come up short and came to our rescue.

God is still filling in our cracks and covering for us when we fall short. And He does it every time.  God is still giving us bonus “stoppage” time to score a goal and giving us overtime to win the game and giving us extra innings to drive in the winning run. God is still redeeming our lives from corruption and disruption and destruction. Yes, God is still working miracles for us.

Perhaps God will work a miracle for Tiger Woods, on the golf course, and in the course of his life,  too.

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Victoria Arlen: “Face It, Embrace It, Defy It, Conquer It”

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If you need a good cry, a downright tearjerker, or you just want to sob for joy, watch the new 30 For 30 Shorts Documentary, about Victoria Arlen.  After overcoming insurmountable odds at a young age Victoria has lived each and every day to her motto “face it, embrace it, defy it, conquer it.”

It’s must see TV.  Here’s a snippet from Victoria’ web page.

“Imagine for a moment being trapped inside your own body for four grueling years, unable to communicate with the outside world as your health continued to deteriorate while expert doctors offer your loved ones no signs of hope. Yet you were still there. In mind and spirit you were still you, desperately trying to find a way back to the life you once knew. Victoria Arlen has not only been through this astonishing battle simply to survive, but she has found ways to thrive and has turned her life’s challenges into an unending source of fuel that has led to extraordinary accomplishments.”

“I was told it couldn’t be done. My dream was impossible. But on March 3, 2016, after spending 10 years in a wheelchair paralyzed from the waist down, I took my first steps without assistance. That was no easy task.”

Victoria Arlen went from a horrific sickness to being paralyzed from the waist down to winning gold medals at the London Para-Olympic Games in 2012 to being a runner up in Dancing with the Stars. Vitoria has an absolutely incredible testimony.  

Victoria Arlen sounds like a candidate for a chapter in the next volume of “Upsets Comebacks and Turnarounds.”

Brian Dawkins: The Best Eagle Ever

 

 

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Brian Dawkins 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Speech

Faith, family & football: these are the three key elements in the life of Brian Dawkins, arguably one of the best players to don a Philadelphia Eagles uniform in the modern era. Dawkins is passionate about everything, and everything starts with faith. Faith the noun and faith the verb were Dawkins’ No. 1 traits. He practiced what he preached and he lived what he learned.

Dawkins’ speech at the 2018 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony was one for the ages. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and stop reading right now and watch it. Please. It’s totally worth it. B-Dawk was the first Eagle to reach the Hall since Reggie White, the “Minister of Defense” in 2005, and it was worth the wait. I’ve watched the clip over and over and I’m moved to tears and cry like a baby every time.

Dawkins began his speech by giving praise to God. He shouted “hallelujah” before uttering any other words. It set the tone and paved the way for a stirring, rousing, emotionally moving speech that revealed that there was no shame in Brian Dawkins game. His past, private struggles are now very public, as he detailed how his pain gave birth to his gain. Dawkins faith and his family, especially his wife, were vital to helping him deal with the vicissitudes of his life,

Dawkins was a great football player and he wasn’t great by accident. He was a great player because he is a better person. He urged everyone not to settle, but to push through the pain, because there is purpose in pain. You saw how he played the game; he played with reckless abandon. And that’s how he lives. Dawkins told us that his pain increased his faith exponentially. He said that he went “through” his struggles – he did not stay in them. And he encouraged everyone with these words: “Don’t stay where you are; keep moving and keep pressing through.”  

If we didn’t learn anything else from the 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, we learned this; it’s faith that gets us through, it’s family that carries us through, and football, for most of the inductees, as rough and tough as it can be, connected the two together. Brian Dawkins, Randy Moss and Ray Lewis are symbols of the faith we need to have in God, the strength that family gives us, and the joy of being a part of a championship caliber team that endures pain and struggle and secures victories and upsets and comebacks and turnarounds in providential ways. 

So take it from Brian Dawkins: push through. There’s s gain on the other side of your pain.

 

The “I Promise School:” LeBron Will Not Shut Up and Dribble

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LeBron James is more than a basketball player, an NBA World Champion and a perenial Allstar. He is the driving force behind a brand new, cutting edge school for underprivileged inner city kids.

Unfortunately, earlier this year, journalist Laura Ingraham sought to rebuke the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James for “talking politics” and being active off of the basketball court. She had the audacity to tell LeBron to “shut up and dribble.” Yet LeBron continues to defy the naysayers and do more than dribble.

LeBton’s “I Promise School” in Ackron, Ohio is a wonder to behold. And LeBron deserves all of the credit in the world for giving back to his home town and the community that he came from. LeBron hasn’t forgotten his roots and the rough road he had on his way out of poverty and adversity.

It just goes to show that sports and life go hand in hand. Being active socially and civicly and even politically should not and even cannot be divorced from sports. LeBron demonstrated that you can translate and transfer your influence from the hardwood and the diamond and the gridiron to where the rubber meets the road; everyday life.

We all would do well to follow LeBron’s shinnimg example.

Why Are We Talking About Football In July?

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Why are we talking about football in July? Why does ESPN’s Sports Center allot and spend the bulk of its air time reporting from minicamp? And why aren’t we spending more time talking about the first place Phillies!? Because we love football, and we love movies about football.

Baseball may be called the national pastime, but football actually is. We are obsessed with our teams and their talent. Even in July, we are passionate and preoccupied with the schedule and needed wins and unwanted loses. And we can’t get enough of how good our teams look on paper. That’s why we love the underdog. And that’s why we all loved The Waterboy, and The Replacements, and all Philly fans everywhere rooted for Vince Papale in Invincible.

Just think – if we put as much time and effort into averting teen pregnancies and decreasing drug addiction and preventing recidivism and bolstering job creation and creating more affordable housing, we might also come up with a cure for cancer along the way. No there’s nothing wrong with watching and celebrating sports (especially football in July), but do you think our society has perhaps, maybe, possibly gone a bridge too far?

This is coming from an avid, borderline rabid sports fan, and a PHILLY sports fan at that. The Eagles are the defending Super Bowl Champions, and so defending the crown is all we Eagles fans are concerned about right now. In July. The sound of sports and the matrix of sports has sent many a fan one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. And that sound reminds us of listening to Brian’s Song and Radio. Yes, it’s July, and while some like it hot, on any given Sunday, there’s a Rudy we can root for.

It’s in July, when football players train and talk about training camp becomes insane, that we Remember the Titans. It’s in July that we start thinking about Friday night lights and being Undefeated (the Best sports documentary ever!). So let’s not get to excited nor should we neglect to look for the Silver Linings Playbook in sports. We all need to protect our blind side. That’s why balance and moderation and having more than enough margin in life is a good thing. Because too much football in July can be a bad thing. But it doesn’t have to be.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy! (The Phillies Are In First Place!)

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That’s right folks; the Philadelphia Phillies are in first place in the National League East. And they’re looking good doing it. Well, kinda good.  It’s a stunning turn of events. The Nationals were SUPPOSED to be the best team in the East, but not so. And the Braves came out this season with a little something to prove, but they find themselves going neck and neck with the Phils. And I love it.

It seems like this: every time I watch Sports Center or pay a little too much attention to my ESPN App or am a little too concerned about the standings, they’re losing or they’ve lost. Conversely, when I don’t pay attention or forget to check in or deliberately say “whatever” in a good, unfazed and nonplussed way, they win!  So, is that the formula and the principle — don’t be anxious, don’t worry about it, and don’t sweat the small stuff?

It seems like the same philosophy that pays in life works for us on the field of play too, and vice versa. In essence, sports and life are teaching us, and each other, the same lesson. It seems, yea rather, it is in fact the prescription for a stress free, worry free life.  Whatever happens, in spite of what happens, and yea, even BECAUSE of what happens, we must learn to live this way. The ticket to being “care free” in this life of cares is that feel-good, Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” . . . in Jesus!

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And here’s our scriptural ammunition for the fight:

Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.    New American Standard Updated Version

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.     New Living Translation

 

 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

1 Peter 5:7, KJV

Toronto?  Kaw-Why!?

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Sometimes somethings just don’t make a whole lot of sense on paper. And sometimes somethings make less sense in reality. And Sometimes somethings weren’t even a good idea at the time. Hence is the Kawhi Leonard trade from San Antonio to Toronto. Yes, Toronto. That perennially great regular season team that can’t do a darn thing in the playoffs. Now they’ve essentially rented Kawhi for one year, because next year he’s a Free Agent. (And why does free agency cost so much?)

Toronto traded Kawhi for DeMar DeRozan, but “in the initial aftermath, reports came out indicating that neither of the star players involved were thrilled about the deal, and in fact Leonard had no interest in playing with the Raptors. However, it seems that Leonard has softened that stance a bit. According to a report from Bruce Arthur, the Raptors have had ‘positive’ talks with Leonard’s camp, and the star has shown no indication that he’ll holdout.

And so Kawhi Leonard finally got his wish. He’s no longer a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Only, the blockbuster trade that got him out of town sent him not to Los Angeles, but the polar opposite: Toronto. Early on Wednesday morning, the Spurs and Raptors swung a huge deal that sent Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Spurs.

So again, the $25,000 question is “Why?” Why did the marriage between Kawhi and San Antonio, and more specifially between Kawhi and Greg Popovich, go so bad so fast? Why Toronto? And why do teams trade their best player to a team they don’t want to play for?

Sometimes somethings just don’t make sense. But for those who know and trust God, there is a silver lining. Romans 8:28 says that “And we know that all things work together for good for them who love God; to those who are called according to his purpose.” The Message Bible puts it this way:

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Every detail is worked into something good. I don’t know what Kawhi’s spiritual status is, but I absolutely know mine. And that means that all of the bad and the ugly are working together for my good. Thank God. Job felt the same way. He went thorugh somethings that did not make sense. And without this promise, Job and I would have gone crazy a long time ago. So we hold to this promise, and all the while sing this old hymn, until our change comes:

We are tossed and driven
on the restless sea of time;
somber skies and howling tempests
oft succeed a bright sunshine;
in that land of perfect day,
when the mists are rolled away,
we will understand it better by and by.

Refrain:
By and by, when the morning comes,
when the saints of God are gathered home,
we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.