It’s Tight But It’s Right

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The Bible, the B.I.B.L.E., our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, is in many respects “tight.” Many don’t agree with all of its doctrines and dictates, its teachings and traditions, but it is right. Like it or not, the Bible teaches us all that love is the answer; like it or not, love is the way.

The Bible Says that “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered…” (I Corinthians 13).

The Bible may not have guided Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA, but his ruling was certainly Biblically based. Adam Silver’s reprimand of Donald Sterling was tight, but it was also right. The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers was banned for life from the NBA, prohibited from attending any NBA games, forbidden from having anything to do with the team he owns, AND fined $2.5 million; that’s a heavy, hefty fine, but as they say, if the shoe fits . . . .

The Bible says that we should love our enemies – that’s people we don’t like. The Bible says to turn the other cheek. The Bible says to forgive, and by implication, to forget. It may be tight, but it’s right. It’s not necessarily easy to do; in fact, in our strength, it’s really hard. But that’s the point. We can walk the narrow way with help from Heaven above. That’s the only way you can explain how we can love people who don’t love us.

The Bible says that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” (Acts 17:26). In other words, all people and all nations and all kindreds and all tongues are one. We are one, we of one breed and one blood. We are tied to each other, so to disparage or discriminate against any is to despise and deride upon all.

And so the Bible is right, and the moral of the story is that love is stronger than hate, and blood is thicker than water. Sometimes we may not like each other, but we are to love one another. We may not get along all the time, but we need to go along with each other in order to learn how to get along with each other. Going the extra mile means that you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before chiding them and chastening them. It may be tight, but in any and every circumstance, it’s right.

Note to Clippers Owner Donald Sterling: “Keep Your Big Mouth Shut”

Keep Your Big Mouth Shut

Thou brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. (Matthew 12:34, New Living Translation)

What not to say. That’s one of the lessons we’ve just learned from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Whatever Donald Sterling said, he shouldn’t have. I mean, really? Racially offensive comments may have been commonplace and may have been heard everyplace when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in the late ‘50’s, but they shouldn’t be now.

When we don’t know what to say, it’s best not to say anything at all. That’s what my mother taught me. Thanks mom. That’s another thing I can thank her for on the eve of another Mother’s Day. So did Sterling’s mother not give that teaching, or was Donald not listening? Of course we’ve all said some things that we’ve regretted saying, or at least we shouldn’t have said, but the problem is not just what he said, the problem is where he said it. He said it first in his heart.

What to say and what not to say, that is the question. Jesus said that “a good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (Matt 12:35-36, New Living Translation). I like the way the King James Version puts it: “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”  My interpretation of this text is that good people may say a bad thing or two, but a good person will generally speak good things because of what’s in the “treasury” of their heart.

A bad person, on the other hand, may say a good thing or two out of their mouth, but does that make them a good person? No way.  The treasury of a “bad person’s” heart is full of anger and angst, hatred and abhorrence, dislike and disgust for others, and that’s what’s going to come out.

Bad people speak bad things because their heart is bad. And the only way to get a good heart is to get a heavenly heart transplant from above. That’s the lesson here. There are a whole bunch of folks who are still racist, and still say racist things, because in their heart, they harbor hatred toward people of other races and colors and backgrounds.

And only way to fix saying the wrong thing is to change the heart. Protests and pickets, penalty’s and other punishments are well and good, but Mr. Sterling will continue to say the wrong thing, in public and in private, regardless of the public outrage and outcry. His only hope, and our only hope, is to get help for the heart. Until then, Mr. Sterling needs to heed the ancient admonition: “keep your big mouth shut.”

Yet Another Washington Washout

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It seems like it was just yesterday when the sports world was awakened by an upstart, wannabe Wizards team that wasn’t worthy of winning a playoff game, much less a playoff series. Wait a minute – it was just yesterday. On the eve of their first home playoff game in what seems like a generation, the Washington Wizards were on the verge of going up 3 games to none and possibly sweeping the Chicago Bulls right out of the playoffs.

It seems that now, even after just one game, the momentum has swung, the mood has shifted and the motivation to win is all with those fierce and feisty Bulls who don’t seem to be want to go quietly.

It seems that of late, Washington sports teams just can’t catch a break. The Redskins won the NFC East in 2012, only to fall flat on their faces in 2013. The Capitals were the top seeded team in the NHL playoffs in 2010, only to be slap-shot right of the first round that same year. And the Nationals won the National League East in 2012, only to whiff and not make the playoffs the next. Go figure.

And it seems that the Wizards are going to follow suit. After making the playoffs and un-expectantly winning the first two games ON THE ROAD, the Wizards just had to find a way to implode. And implode they did. Midway through the fourth quarter, with only a two point deficit to overcome, the Wizards managed to give the game away. They lost their composure, lost their cool and ended up losing the game. Nene committed a No- No by getting himself ejected over a silly push from wiper-snapper Jimmy Butler.

It seems that the altercation wasn’t that serious, but Nene took it there, and his num-headedness cost him, and his teammates. It was a turning point in the game, as the Bulls gathered strength while the Wizards lost their footing and from that point on they could never get over the hump.

So, while it seems that the Wizards have lost some steam, it aint over till it’s over. Let’s hope that they can bounce-back and not succumb and make this yet another Washington washout.

No Wuss in the Wizards: They Aren’t Playing Chicken

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The Washington Wizards, yes the Washington Wizards, aren’t chicken. They have a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Bulls in their first round, best-of- seven NBA Playoff series. Go figure. You know why? They not playing chicken. Most of us can’t even name their starting five, but that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that they’re not afraid.

The Wizards certainly aren’t chicken. Being called yellow is synonymous with being called a scaredy cat. One derivation of the term “chicken” is that chickens are yellow, and the color yellow has negative connotations. “Hippocrates and later European medical theorists believed the humors were associated with certain organs and emotions: blood (heart) with cheerfulness, phlegm (brain) with calm and composure, yellow bile (liver) with anger and temper, and black bile (spleen) with depression and gloom. For example, cowardice was associated with an imbalance in yellow bile, hence the term yellow for someone who lacked bravery.”

Who’s afraid? We all should fear God and keep His commands, for this is the whole duty of man. We should come to God with “fear and trembling.” We should fear the wrath of God, and this fear keeps us in check and in sync and also keeps us from being out of sorts and out-of-bounds.

Who should be afraid? None of us should live with unhealthy fear. Opposite of Godly fear, on the flip side of the coin there is anemic, noxious, negative fear. This fear is a killer, a defeater, and a destroyer. Unhealthy fear holds us back and hems us in. It handcuffs and hamstrings us from being and doing what we are called and destined to be and to do. We are destined and called to overcome and overpower anything and everything that comes against us and stands in the way of righteous maturity and spiritual conformity – our spiritual formation.

Because the Wizards are playing with nothing to lose, they find themselves with everything to gain – they’re two games away from their first playoff series win in memory. So it’s two down, two to go. And in the words of Wizards coach Randy Wittman, “We haven’t won anything yet.” After an overwhelming majority of media pundits nationwide picked the Bulls to win the series, many are changing their tune after the Wizards went into Chicago and took both games from the Bulls. Now, they will play the role as favorites in Game 3 as they return home to play in front of a packed Verizon Center.

Peter walked on the water because he feared and at the same time he was not afraid. It wasn’t the wind and the waves that he was afraid of. He feared missing the opportunity to meet Jesus on the water. He feared the consequence of disobeying his Lord’s command. He feared staying stuck in a stinking, sinking boat with others who were afraid to try.

So don’t be a chicken. Don’t be afraid to try. Just believe and you can achieve. Just believe and you can fly.

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The NBA Playoffs: Wake Me When It’s The Finals

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 Correct me if I’m wrong, but are the NBA Playoffs a sham or a charade? Are the NBA Playoffs a shame to the game or a waste of time to this great sports pastime? Or all of the above? Compared to the Men’s NCAA Tournament, the NBA Playoffs are a disgrace. In the early rounds, the Wizards or the Wolverines may win a game or two, but will they really win a series? Do they even have an outside chance of getting to the Conference Finals, much less the Finals?

On the eve of the Men’s NCAA Tournament, no one, and I do mean NO ONE, picked UCONN to win it in the fashion that they did. And that’s what makes college ball so much more exciting and exhilarating and intoxicating; the NBA Playoffs are just an excuse for commercials and revenue. The more games they play, the more money the league and the owners make. Nuff said.

All of God’s creation has value and worth. No person is wasted or unwanted. But in the NBA Playoffs, we are sold a bill of goods; 16 teams vie for a crown that only a handful of teams really have a legitimate shot at. So wake me up when it’s the Finals, and shake me when the conference finals roll around. The way I see it, if I watch these early rounds, I may be put to sleep, so why should I stay up when I can go to bed early?

Wake me when the NBA is ready to play some real ball.

Boston Strong: All In and All Out

 

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Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24, RSV

To go all out means to do one’s best, to give full measure, or to give everything and hold nothing back– nothing. In poker, “All In” means to be totally committed to your hand, and you are so totally committed that you are willing to bet the house.

A bomb exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring more than 260 others. One year after this bombing, Meb Keflezighi cried as he crossed the finish line as he became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in over 30 years as he added Boston to a resume that includes the New York City Marathon title in 2009 and a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics.

Meb Keflezighi was all in and he went all out. Running just two weeks before his 39th birthday, he had the names of the 2013 bombing victims on his bib, including 8-year-old Martin Richard, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and 23-year-old Lu Lingzi. (MIT Officer Sean Collier was shot three days after the marathon.) “At the end, I just kept thinking, ‘Boston Strong. Boston Strong,” Keflezighi said. “I was thinking give everything you have. If you get beat, that’s it.”

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All in and all out. That’s how we should live and approach life. Be all in and go all out. Anything less is either laziness or indifference. And this is a Biblical principle. Jesus gave this admonition: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat — I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self” (Luke 9:23-25,THE MESSAGE).

Make no mistake; coming after Jesus is simply living life the way it was intended to be lived. Life is to be lived in connection, in community, in communion. We are to live in association and in collaboration with our brothers and sisters, and this association requires connection and communion in the community we live in.

All in: It means giving 100% one hundred percent of the time. Half-heartedness is like a half-baked pancake; it’s done on the outside but gooey and nasty on the inside. It just doesn’t taste right. We are like Ephraim when we give less than our best. The Prophet Hosea said “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned” (Hosea 7:8, KJV).

Sometimes we’re not all in. Like Ephraim, we are cooked on the outside, but raw and undone on the inside; half-baked. There are portions of our life given to God and potions held back; half-baked. Our spiritual side is developed, but our emotional side is undeveloped; half-baked. Our law side is strong, but the love side is weak; half-baked. E. Stanley Jones said “a half-Christianity is more of a problem that a power. Half-baked Christians are a halfway house trying to become a home. And no one can live in halfwayness.”

All out: this is the remedy. Giving our all is what every coach comes to expect from every player and what every team should aim for and aspire to in every instance.

The tragedy of the 2013 Boston marathon galvanized a city and bolstered the Boston Red Sox to another World Series win. And commemorating the three victims is why Meb Keflezighi won; he was all in; all in to the marathon and all in to the memory of the victims. He went all out and determined to defeat the demons of fright and fear that forbade runners to run in the Marathon again.

When we give our All to God, He gives His all to us. The hymn writer put it best: “Thou and Thou only first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my treasure, Thou Art.” So let’s go all in, and watch how God goes all out for us.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

 

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

 

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;

Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;

Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:

Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

 

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,

High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

 

High King of Heaven, my victory won,

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

 

English version by Eleanor Hull, 1912