Winning Is Serious Fun

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No one likes to lose and everyone wants to win. While it’s that simple, it’s not that easy. And as they say, “it’s easier said than done.”  Winning is fun; its serious fun. And fun, Biblically speaking, is “joy.” Joy is a positive attitude or pleasant emotion; it means delight.  The joy which the people of God should have is holy and pure. This joy rises above circumstances and focuses on the very character of God.

It is a joy to win, and it is a downer to lose. In losing we learn life lessons. But there comes a time when it’s time to turn in the lessons, and receive a final grade.

No one likes to lose because losing means to slip and to slide, to fail and to flounder, to miss the mission and jettison the job. When you lose you obliterate the operation, but when you win you inaugurate the celebration. Winning cures everything. Winning cures what ails us. But in order to win we must consistently do and persistently say and voice the vision of victory.  Like my Maryland Terps did last night.

My Maryland Terrapins Men’s Basketball Team upset No. 5 Wisconsin last night, 59 -53 . It was a fantastic finish to a wonderful win. Dez Wells, Maryland’s senior star, consistently and persistently poked and prodded his teammates to victory.  He mandated that they could win; he pleaded that they should win; and in the end, he ensured that they would win. And win they did. And they had fun doing it, and the fans had fun celebrating it, as they rushed the court to celebrate after the final buzzer sounded.

Everyone wants to win. And Dez Wells does too. He scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had four assists; not too shabby. Wells was the spark and the sparkle of the team. AND, I’m convinced that my Terps can play like that all of the time. Instead of being hot and cold and off and on, sometimes up and sometimes down, these Terps could be the best of the best most of the time.  The sky is the limit.

Winning like the Terps did last night makes one ponder and pose and consider and conceive – and even expect — how life would be if we played well all of the time. Just suppose; just imagine; just think of how good we could be if we hit on all cylinders at least MOST of the time? But alas, this season my Terps didn’t; and unfortunately they haven’t – played their best every game — but they could’ve.  And the same goes for all of the rest of us too.

Everyone wants to win and no one likes to lose. Because winning is serious. It’s means something and it matters everything. Why? Because winning is communicable and contagious; winning is transferable and transmittable; but so is losing. And the line and the limit between losing and winning are so thin you can barely see it with a magnifying glass.

Since everyone wants to win, and everyone is serious about winning, we strive for precision and perfection; we strive for faultless and flawless; we strive for the fantastic and the fanciful. We strive for Oscar-winning performances on and off the court. And with help from the Heavens, we hope to have happy, healthy, joyful and jovial endings to all, or at least most, of our games. It’s that serious.

And here’s an excerpt from Washington Post Sports Columnist Jason Ried’s article on the win:

“Recent signs indicate the Terrapins possess what it takes to have some fun in the NCAA tournament, and the biggest one occurred Tuesday night during a stirring 59-53 victory over formidable Wisconsin.”

“Dez Wells wouldn’t let us lose,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Melo was Melo.”

“Picked 10th in the conference preseason poll, Maryland steadily has gained supporters. It’s easy to like an up-and-comer that seemed to come from nowhere. Guess who was ahead of the pack.”

“The victory was the Terrapins’ best of the season by far . . . “

And that’s serious, and that’s fun.

Oscar Winning Performances, On and Off The Field (And Screen)

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Our lives and our years are scripted by God.  Unfortunately, we tend to go “off message” and unscripted and then must return and repent and rely again on the Almighty to direct us. The Director of our souls can make us up and write for us a new and novel original score that we can sing for Him. 

God is the best Director. But we need to memorize our lines. And our lines are His Words, because He wrote the best original screenplay ever.  It’s been called the Greatest Story Ever Told.  And so all of us could earn an Oscar for the roles we’ve played and mistakes we’ve made and the prayers we’ve prayed that were answered in dramatic fashion.

So, as the Oscars approach, let’s focus on what matters, and that is winning “An Oscar” for Him.

The following is re-posted from Bryan Altman,  http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/02/18/four-oscar-worthy-performances-in-the-world-of-sports/

“Best Original Screenplay/ Best Picture”

Much like the movies, certain games or seasons seem to follow the same old narrative and make us feel like we’re watching a rerun. Sometimes however, we’re shocked by a particular story line or plot point that arises during the year and it reminds us that life and sports can surprise us and prove to be stranger than fiction.

Here are the nominees…

Donald Sterling’s Conversation

Michael Sam’s NFL Journey

Super Bowl XLIX

Brazil vs. Germany World Cup Semi-Final

And the Oscar goes to… Super Bowl XLIX

The finale to the Super Bowl was one of those moments that you just cannot script. The dramatic drive to greatness by Tom Brady, the obscure corner back making the game-ending play, the mind-boggling decision, the last-minute fisticuffs – it was all just unbelievable. Seriously, the finale was so implausible that if someone pitched it to you as a movie, you would have ordered a psych evaluation and asked them to leave immediately.

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And by the way, the best sports movie of all time was, of course, Hoosiers.

Regarding Redheaded Rodman: a.k.a., Don’t Let Your Enemy Get In Your Head

Dennis Rodman

Every athlete has two internal enemies: arrogance and ignorance.  Arrogance is an offensive display of superiority or self-importance.  Arrogance is overbearing pride and must be guarded against at all cost. Arrogance is an enemy that can keep us thinking and feeling that we are better than we really are. Arrogance is a malicious, malignant menace, intent on misdirecting our minds away from a moderate and temperate measure of ourselves.

On the other hand, every athlete must also guard against ignorance. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, information, or education. Ignorance is not knowing how good you are or failing to acknowledge how bad you are. Both are evils to be avoided.

Dennis Rodman was  a rare bird indeed. But Rodman was neither ignorant nor arrogant.  He was smart and savvy and unusual and uncanny all at the same time. Rodman’s untoward ability was an uncommon agility:  some consider him the best rebounder ever.  He managed to lead the NBA in rebounding (15.0 rpg) in 1997-98 for a record seventh consecutive season.  How did he do it?

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For starters, Rodman had an unabashed command of the psyche of other players. In other words, Rodman managed to get into the heads of his opponents. He managed to mess up their minds and muddy up their mentalities to the point that those that played against him were more concerned about him than they were with winning the game. For Rodman, this was mission accomplished.

Remember the red (and yellow and green and pink) hair? Remember the earrings and the tattoos and the taunting and the trash talking? Rodman used all of this and some to distract and disturb and befuddle and bewilder all those who were foolish enough to pay him any mind.   Rodman’s antics and tactics were especially designed to knock opponents off their game. And it worked.

 And so the moral of the story is this: don’t let the “Rodmans” of your life get to you. Don’t let the Rodmans in your life get at you. Don’t let them. Because you must GIVE them permission to get in your head. Don’t fall for their tricks or their traits; don’t get distracted by all their jazz or any of their jive; instead, focus your faith and turn your attention to the prize that lies ahead.

Since we know about the “wiles” of the devil, let’s not focus on them. Let’s focus on our Sovereign and our Savior, our Redeemer and our Redemptor, our Deliverer and our Defender, and let’s keep His promises and assurances in our head.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11, KJV

Hit or Miss?

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I went bowling today. Yes bowling. It was a team building exercise with our Division at work, and, for the most part, it was fun.  The outing was entertaining and exciting and enjoyable. Some team members could bowl very well and some had never bowled before at all. But that’s not the point. The point is that we did it TOGETHER! We did it as a team.  The wearying and wearisome part was the entire Division did not take part; and for me, that’s not a total team effort.  

Sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss. Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry. Sometimes we smile and sometimes we sigh. It’s not an either/or; it’s a both/and. 

Sometimes we hit it out the park and sometimes we go down swinging. Sometimes we can’t miss and sometimes we can’t hit the side of a barn.  Sometimes we bowl strikes and sometimes we roll gutter balls. But such is life. We have to take the good with the bad and the hits with the misses and thank God that it all does in fact work together for good for those who love God. And I love God.

So let’s take the hits and the misses; let’s take the knockouts and the washouts; let’s take the strikes and the gutter balls, the ups and the downs, the wins and the loses and the success and the failures and somehow trust God to make them all work together for our good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28, KJV

Your Enemy Brings Out Your Best: Duke-UNC

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Duke defeated UNC last night 92-90 IN OT in yet another instant classic between the two ACC basketball powers.  Some say that they play better when they play each other. Some call it “The Blue Blood Rivalry.” And the tried truth taken from this tale is that your enemy brings out the best in you. In fact, that’s your enemy’s job.

Duke and North Carolina are arch rivals, sworn enemies, and fierce foes. In other words, they just don’t like each other.  But it’s the tension and the friction between them that makes them better when they play each other.

 Duke has won four NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships—second most of any ACC team, and second only to the University of North Carolina, which has won five. Duke has been in 15 Final Fours; UNC 18. Seventy-one players have been drafted into the NBA from Duke, and eighty-three NBA (and ABA) players attended North Carolina.  That’s 154 professional basketball players between these two schools. Not too shabby. And the comparisons and contrasts between the two can go on and on.

 The Blue Devils and the Tar Heels have history. They have basketball pedigree and it shows. It’s a heated and spirited, feisty and fiery contest of teams that almost always leaves you on the edge of your seat, if you’re not standing on it screaming at the top your lungs. Both teams have more spunk and more spritz, more guts and more gumbo, more zest and more zeal when they play each other. That’s just the way it is when your adversary shows up and calls you out.

 This age-old tangle of basketball titans teaches us a valuable lesson: we need our enemies. That’s right — you NEED your enemies; that’s your fiends and you foes, your slanderers and your saboteurs, your betrayers and your backstabbers; you need them almost as much as you need your friends.

And, if that’s not enough, get this: God can’t serve you “a six-course dinner” unless your enemies are present. Psalm 23 says that God prepares “a table” for us in the presence of our enemies. So, you say that you don’t want any enemies or adversaries around? Then you can kiss your blessings you’re your benedictions goodbye.

 So take it from me. Your enemies bring out your best. And how about this — they bring out the best in us and in our God. God shows Himself strong on our behalf when there is a need for strength. And His strength is made perfect, or made even STRONGER (if that is even possible) in our weakness.

So when your enemy is near and your heart starts to fear, fret not; when our enemy shows up, God will always show out.  When our situations are at their worst, our God is at His best.

Will Kentucky Go Undefeated?

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What’s all the hub bub about? Well, It’s all about this . . .

Will Kentucky Go Undefeated? The Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball team is 25-0.  These ‘Cats are undefeated and unbeaten and seemingly unbeatable and unassailable.   The last college team to go undefeated was Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers team in 1976, 39 years ago.  And because it’s been so long, and it’s especially so hard, some are asking, not if but when.

When will Kentucky lose a game?  And will a loss tarnish their legacy or expunge our expectancy that they are the best ever? Because that’s what these boys are playing for; they’re playing to answer the ages and become more than an iota of sports antiquity.  And so the question is, are they the best college team, ever? Judge for Yourself.  

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Why is this such a big deal? Because we all want to know how good this Kentucky team is. We all want to know if Kentucky will be beat or if Kentucky will beat themselves.  As we all know, anything can happen in college basketball in March. Yes, the month of March is right around the corner, and that must mean that the madness of March is right behind it.  So we’re all watching and waiting, hoping and hyping, wanting and wishing and hopeful and heartened that we are watching history in the making.

But what about you? Let’s not get so consumed with sports that we forget about life. (Wait – what? Is that me talking?) That’s right. Sports is just a game. (Hold your breath, I’m going somewhere with this.)  That’s right, I said it, sports is just a game. It’s importance lies in the truth that it teaches us about the game of life.  And so the question is will YOU go undefeated? Or will you continue to go up and down and in and out and back and forth from day-to-day and week to week; from month to month and from year to year?  

Decide that you will not go down without a fight. Decide that you will go undefeated, mentally and emotionally and spiritually; and, on the off-chance that you lose a game or two, decide to bounce back.  Decide. Don’t listen to the pundits and predictors and analysts and authorities that say you can’t make it. Don’t fall for the fallacy that you don’t have what it takes.

Get yourself a good coach (and say what you want, John Calipari is a good Coach.) Decide that you will silence the critics; decide that you will disappoint the devil who is just waiting and watching for you to fall.

Faith In God Is A Slam Dunk

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Faith in God is a slam dunk. At least it should be. The Psalmist said that “the heavens declare the glory of God . . .” Case closed.   Yet and still  there are those who stare at the evidence and still call white black and up down and right wrong.

Sometimes my faith may be weak, but I still believe. And so I struggle with people who don’t believe in God.  It’s not even those who don’t believe; it’s those who REFUSE to believe.  It’s those who have a failure to launch and have failed to take a leap of faith. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, some simply say there is no God.

A slam dunk is a sure thing. It’s a given. It’s a fait accompli. It’s something you don’t even have to think about or muse upon.  And that is what faith gives us; the surety of the power and the presence of God.  Yet for those who insist that faith alone is not enough, then reason is and has a rightful relationship to fidelity; in other words, reason is a rational relative that is a friend of faith.  

Thomas Aquinas understood the meaning of “Slam Dunk” long before the term was coined.  Aquinas “developed what has become a traditional view of the relationship of reason and revelation.  There are some truths about God that can be learned through human reason and others that are known only through the divine revelation.”  In other words, we can learn about God, and God can school us about His ways. But his omnipotence and his omnipresence and his omnipotence are a slam dunk.

James Slam Dunk

And so the next time you doubt things can or will work out, just remember Zach Lavine, winner of the 2015 NBA Slam Dunk Contest at Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY. And for us old heads, remember Mike’s signature slam dunk or LeBron’s legacy lay downs from yesteryear.  It might not seem like it’s going to work out, but if you trust in God and place total trust in Him, for our Heavenly Father, solving our situations is as sure as a slam dunk.

http://on.aol.com/video/timberwolves-zach-lavine-wins-2015-nba-slam-dunk-contest-518652706