All Hail, King James! a.k.a., You Can’t Beat The Heat

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Lebron James prophesied that the Miami Heat would win multiple NBA Championships. More to his point, he predicted that he, with the help Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, would win championship after championship playing together on Miami’s South Beach. Odds are that no team can or will beat the heat before they win at least one more ring. The only thing standing in their way is in the mirror staring them in the face: they can only beat themselves.

Lebron has been crowned “King” James. Right now, he’s the biggest and brashiest, fiercest and fastest athlete on the court. He’s the king of his jungle. He’s a proven winner, he’s nasty with a smile, and he’s got a game face second to none.

Lebron James and the Miami Heat have eight, count ‘em, 8 wins to go before accomplishing what only a few other teams have done; winning a third consecutive title. Some think Indiana or even the Spurs or the Thunder have a chance at beating the Heat. Please. If the Indiana Pacers defeat Miami in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, I will personally pass out dollar bills on Main Street. That’s the proverbial Main Street, mind you. The only way Miami gets beat is that they beat themselves. And that just aint gonna happen.

Lebron James has made up his mind that he’s gonna win. Not going to win, but GONNA win. “What separates champions from the rest of us is a line so thin you can barely prove it exists.” (Michael Wilbon: Doing What Champions Do: Washington Post, June 3, 1993) There a thin line that separates the men from the boys; the prevailers from the pretenders; the up and over’s from the down and unders. The also rans don’t have what those who are determined to disappoint the devil do.

So let’s take a page from Lebron’s book. Let’s make up our mind what we’re going , I mean “gonna” do. Let’s renew our resolve and redouble our efforts, let’s dictate and determine our futures and focus on the goal. The goal is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The goal is knowing and doing the will of God. The goal is the acknowledgment of the truth. The goal is the discernment of the Urim and the Thummin, the revelation and truth and the light and the perfection of God.

 

Do or Die

Live Free or Die Hard

Time and again, so many of us find ourselves in this situation; we must do, or we will die. Bruce Willis always had his game face on. Well, John Wall and his teammates need to find their game face tonight. The whimsical Washington Wizards find themselves in a do or die situation right now.

Time and again, the Wiz have played well enough to almost win, to just make the playoffs, and to get everybody all hot and bothered about their chances of being a great team. Now, they’re not even a good team. Now, they are down 3-1 to the Indiana Pacers facing an “Elimination Game,” meaning if they snooze, they will lose.

Now, they must win or they will go home. They must do or they will die. And to borrow from Bruce, the Wiz must “play free, or they will die hard.” The Pacers, for their part, don’t and haven’t looked that good this playoff season, but they’ve had a heap of help from the Wiz, who are playing like a bad team looking good, or a good team looking bad. Which one depends on which game you want to talk about.

Time and again, the Wizards have strained to do instead of just training themselves to be. If they just play “their game” they’ll be fine. If they play loose and have fun and let it all hang out, they should win, right? I mean, what do they have to lose?

Time and again, we find ourselves having to “do.”  We find ourselves with the need to do or perform or produce in order to exist.  That’s not exactly what God planned or intended for us. We are human beings, not human “doings.”  God created us to “BE.”  In fact, God’s first recorded words in Genesis were “let there be …” God said let there be, and there was. God didn’t say, “Let there do.” 

Time and again, we get caught up with the “busy” ness of life’s business; the fanfare and the fuss, the conflagration and the consternation of life can wear even the strongest and sternest of us down to almost nothing. And we almost always feel that we have to “do.”  God has a better way.

Doing comes as a result of being. Spiritually and naturally, we must “be” first and then we can “do.” Trying to do something before we have been that something first is an effort in futility.  Take it from me. I’ve tried to do too many times and now I’m finally learning that I need to just be.

So once and again, it’s time to focus on being instead of doing. Paul said this: “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” To rejoice is to joy again.  It means to celebrate and commemorate; to praise and to party; to exult and to enjoy life. There’s nothing wrong with good, clean fun, and a good win is a good way and a good reason to rejoice.

Once and again, it’s time to rejoice in the Lord more. Not in life or in things, but in the Lord.  When we focus on giving the God that made us the credit for what He’s done, we take our attention and concentration off of doing and place it onto being. It’s what we were created to, well, do. We were created to “be.”

Once and again, it’s time to be good and gentle; it’s time to be considerate and benevolent; it’s time to be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true.  It’s time to be nice instead of nasty; it’s time to be gracious instead of gratuitous.  It’s time to be humble instead of haughty. It’s just time.

 So the next time you’re tempted to do, just remember, it’s better to just be.

Participate in Your Own Resurrection: The First Sports Commandment with Promise

 
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The Washington Wizards have participated in their own resurrection.  And John Wall, the No. 1 Pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, is central and singular to this resurrection. They have gone from being a sub-par team with only a faint hope, a slim chance and a pipe dream of making the playoffs to being a playoff team to contend with. They are a combination of young talent and journeymen players, yet when they play their game, they “can beat anybody.” They are fun to watch and can build a future on the foundation of the present.

These Wizards are “only” a .500 team. They finished the regular season 44-38, slightly above average, yet they exceeded all expectations and became the darlings of the dance by defeating the Chicago Bulls 4-1 in the first round. And then, for an encore, they surprised the No. 1 Seed Indiana Pacers ON THE ROAD in the first game of the second round.

In spite of all this recent success, last night, the Wizards lost ugly. This team is like most of us: they have a tendency to win big or loose bad. They have come so far, and yet it seems that they have so far yet to go. They were in a close, low scoring, slugfest of a game full of bad shots and poor decisions. Yet they were only down by one at halftime. Down but just one measly point at the break, they lost by 22. Go figure. But before we jump to conclusions, we must remember that one loss does not a series lose. Yet a bad loss can demoralize a team and hard fall can derail a dream.

Watching a good game is joyful, and watching a bad game is painful. And last night was painful. Good teams usually win pretty and bad teams usually lose ugly. Usually. The converse can also be true, but the general rule applies across the board. The Wizards are either a good team with bad team tendencies or a bad team with good team qualities. Sounds like most of us.

Most of us, if not all of us, need to participate in our own resurrection. In order to win, we need to do the things that we know we need to do. Nuff said. Last night, the Wizards played like a bad team; they did the things they shouldn’t have, and they didn’t do the things they should’ve.

We’ve all had ghastly games and nasty-nights; we’ve all had dreadful drubbings and beastly beat-downs. We’ve all fallen hard and tripped up bad. But even and especially after an ugly outing and an insidious inning, after being livid after a loss and being furious after a failure, we all need to participate in our own resurrections. If and when we fall, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try, try again. After a deadly defeat, we need to participate in our own resurrrection. 

 So always remember the first sports commandment with promise: thou shalt participate in thine own resurrection. Simply put, that means that thou shalt get back up, again. That means you’ve got to fight!  You’ve got to determine to disappoint the devil. You’ve got to reach up for that hand that reaches out.  And if  John Wall and the Wizards need any more inspiration or motivation, they can watch the top ten inspiration sports movies of all time.

God’s No. 1 Draft Pick

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Who’s going to draft who? That’s the question going into the 2014 NFL Draft. Johnny “Football” Manziel is the talk ok the town, yet prior to last night’s first round of the draft, it was anyone’s’ guess where he would end up. While all of those hopeful players are waiting with baited breath and will be watching with wanton eyes while looking above at the big board to see who drafts them and where they land, as believers, ours is to trust that God has drafted us and will use our knowledge, skill and abilities in the assignment where he places us.

We’ve all been drafted by God. God has need of us and He wants us on His team. To draft means to employ and to enroll, to enlist and to enjoin. The Lord hath need of us. He doesn’t HAVE to use us, but He WANTS to use us. Most of us aren’t draft material; most of us aren’t ready for the next level; most of us would fall all the way out of the draft and would be unemployed and unengaged, unwanted and unwarranted were it not for God.

Abraham was drafted by God. He was a liar and a cheat, yet God drafted him anyway. He lied and told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister and did it so he would save his own neck. Abraham to Sarah: “Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” Hmmm. Abraham doesn’t sound like a Boy Scout to me. But yet and still, God drafted him.

Moses was drafted by God. A hot head and a murderer, yet God drafted him anyway. He had to go through years of testing and training to become the great Deliverer. God knew his upside, and drafted him for what he would become, not for who he was.

David was drafted by God. He had a healthy passion for God but an unfortunate passion for women as well. Thankfully, the spiritual passion he had for God won out over physical passion he had for Bathsheba. And God drafted him to be on His team.

And you too can be God’s No. 1 draft pick. You too can be God’s choicest and chosen. You too can be God’s leading man and wonder woman. So don’t worry if you aren’t picked by man or men; don’t worry if you aren’t chosen by the choicest chaps; don’t fret if you aren’t selected by the select elect or the fleet elite.

God wants those who don’t necessarily have ability but those who have availability. And so to be chosen by God, make yourself available for the Master. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due time. Clear your calendar and avail yourself for the God of the universe, and watch how He uses you to win the fight and gain the victory.

Kevin Durant: “Mom, You’re The Real MVP”

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Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball star, won the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. It was well deserved. In sports, a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is an honor typically bestowed upon the best-performing player or players on a specific team, in an entire league, or for a particular contest or series of contests.

Kevin Durant was the league’s scoring leader and is one of the most exciting and exhilarating and electrifying players ever to play the game. He is leading his team through the playoffs and has his sights set on a higher goal: The NBA Championship. While the team has a tough hoe to roe en route to winning the title, Durant’s individual accomplishments as a player are not in dispute.

Kevin Durant loves the game. But not only that, it is apparent that he loves his teammates even more. And the love he has for his mother is even more heartwarming and tear-jerking. His MVP speech is a must see. In the speech he praises his mother, Wanda Pratt: “And last my mom. We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”

Kevin Durant got it right. Tina Turner didn’t. In her smash hit “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Tina Turner didn’t quite get it right. Love, for her, was a “second-hand emotion.” Ummmmm, no. If we love the games of basketball and football and baseball and hockey and soccer and the sports of gymnastics and track and field and swimming and everything else in between, then it’s clearly more than a second hand emotion. It’s a primary emotion. And our emotion or emotions have EVERYTHING to do with our love, and our love is inextricably tied to our emotions.

Kevin Durant reminded us that our moms are the love of our life, and they have done more for us than we’ll ever know. The love of a mother is emblematic of the love God has for us. The “Mother’s Day” song Shirley Caesar popularized says is all:

“For the 9 months I carried you holding you inside me, $ NO CHARGE

For the nights I sat up with doctored you and prayed for you, $ NO CHARGE

For the time and tears and the costs through the years there is NO CHARGE

When you add it all up the full cost of my love is $ NO CHARGE “

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2014/05/07/kevin-durant-praises-the-real-mvp/ 

God’s love comes with a price, but not at a cost to us. Love is a fact and a feeling. It is first a fact. God loves us: fact. His love compels Him to do for us and to care for us; to console and to correct; to comfort and to cajole. Love “made” God do for us what He did for us and does for us. God so loved the world that he gave, and He cared enough for us that He sent His best, His only begotten Son. Jesus, loved us and cared for us so much that he lived and died for us.

The Washington Wizards? Really? Seriously? . . . Wow!

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Wow means to amuse, delight, cheer and entertain. It is an exclamation expressing astonishment or admiration. Coincidently, synonyms include holy cow, holy mackerel, and holy moly. Michael Jordan gave us plenty of wow moments, and now the Washington Wizards are doing some of the same.

Wow is what the Washington Wizards are doing right now in the 2014 NBA playoffs. They wowed the Chicago Bulls right out of the playoffs by beating them four games to one in the first round. Now, to add insult to injury, they’ve beaten the Indiana Pacers ON THE ROAD in Game One of their second round matchup with the No. 1 seed. The Wiz are wowing their way through these playoffs into the hearts of Washington fans in general, and die-hard sports fans in aggrandizement.

Wow. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see this one coming. Not in a long shot. The Wizards haven’t won a second round playoff game since 1982. That’s 32 long years. That’s longer than the life span of their prominent dynamic duo of John Wall and Brandon Beal. But they won. And they won convincingly. And that’s why I’m a sports fan and that’s why we love the game.

 Wow. That’s what Israel said when David defeated Goliath. Wow is what Abraham said when Isaac was born. Wow is what Joseph said when he became second in command in Egypt. Wow is what Mary and Martha said when Lazarus came back from the dead. And that’s what doubting Thomas said when Jesus showed him His nailed scared hands and the wound in His side.

And wow is what God wants to do with your life. Wow is what God wants to do in the earth. Wow is what God will do because all creation is waiting for that wow moment – the manifestation of the sons of God. Ours is to believe we serve a Wow God. Ours is to believe God is the God of Wow. So take it from Bishop Wesley T. Cherry of the Word Alive Church International in Manassas, Virginia. Yesterday he preached “Wow!” I got the message, and I hope you do to. Expect the God of wow to perform wows in your life!