Predict Your Future

Embiid and Simmons

Here’s a sports prophesy that I hope comes true: The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers will win it all, in 3 years or so, give or take.  There. I said it.

Sports prognosticators predict wins and losses and victories and defeats. But this is not a prediction, per se. I have a prophecy,  that I hope comes true. It’s a  Type 1Prophecy, meaning it’s a prediction made based on human intuition and analysis of facts. It’s not from God, even though I hope heaven is in on this one.

There are true prophets and false prophets. And no true prophet wants to be confused with a false prophet.  And the problem with prophecy is that in order to be valid and legitimate it has to come true. So, based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to prophesy.  It’s a sports prophecy. So here goes: the Sixers will win the NBA Championship within 4 years.  (Did I say 3 before?) There I said it, and here’s why:

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem destined to be at dynamic duo set out to destroy defenses across the NBA for quite some time.  So why not shoot for the top?

In LA, Embiid scored 32 points against the Clippers and then, just two short nights later,  Embiid put up monster, if not historic numbers: he scored 46, that’s Forty Six points, had 15 rebounds and 7 assists and 7 blocks against the Lakers at Staples Center. Not too shabby for a second year big man that can hit threes with ease.   And Simmons was one rebound short of ANOTHER triple double.  And thus Simmons and Embiid have saved the Sixers.

Simmons is a Saviour; or, as some would say, he’s a savior of sorts. He was the No. 1 Pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and he’s going to a team and a city that is in desperate need of saving. And so far, Simmons is averaging 17.8, points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Not bad for a rookie.  And the 76ers other all-star candidate, Joel Embiid, is averaging 23 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

The Greek work for Saviour is Soter, meaning deliverer. To deliver from danger and death is the purpose of intent and the supreme significance of Biblical salvation. To deliver means to rescue and to defend, both morally and physically, as opposed to being lost and destroyed. And to deliver and save is the herculean task of a Saviour. To save is to revive and retrieve and resurrect to life and health and wholeness.

For Philly, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are just what “The Dr.” ordered., becaseu the City of Brotherly Love is in dreadful need of some real relief and release.  And you may be too. So predict your future. And call out for salvation, because you need to participate in your own resurrection.

The last time the Sizers had the No. 1 pick was 20 years ago. Simmons was the No. 1 pick in 2016 and Markelle Fulz, who has barely played, was the No. 1 pick this year. A generation ago, as it is hoped now, the No. 1 pick became a Saviour of sorts, and went on to become Philly’s favorite son: Allen Iverson. “AI” didn’t win an NBA championship, but he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1996–97 season. Iverson was also the NBA MVP for the 2000-2001 season, and just this year he was voted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

So While I hope Embiid and Simmons deliver, I don’t have to hope about Heaven. There is a heaven and there is a hell, just like the Bible says.  Isreal became a nation, just like the prophets predicted, and we are living in perilous times, just as the Apostle Paul, a New Testament prophet fortold.

 As for my predictive prophecy about the Sixers wining it att, the city and the fans feel and sense that their redemption draweth nigh. With Ebiid’s 46 point performance against LA the other night, the wait for a good team is over. Now we just have to wait Embiid and Simmons to become a great team, and deliver a championship.  Just like Moses arriving in Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from the clutches of Pharaoh, Jesus came and delivered all who believe in Him from the power of sin and shame.

As a Philly fan, I long for another glorious season of winning and ruling and dominating in ANY sport, so why not start with roundball? (or football  for that matter– GO EAGLES! Fly Eagles fly, on to victory . . .  I just had to get that in.)

Anyway, to the Philly faithful, sports salvation is here. And for everyone else, if you want to be saved, salvation is yours for the asking.

“Just Run As Hard As You Can . . .” NYC Marathon Champion Shalene Flanagan

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Shalane Flanagan has the recipe for winning and the remedy for losing and the prescription for victory for us all: “Just run as hard as you can, within control, to the finish, but save one more gear just in case someone is there.”

I love it.

“New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan hasn’t slept much since Sunday, when she became the first American woman to win the race in 40 years, but she’s still exhilarated. ‘I updated my Instagram profile and wrote ‘New York City Marathon champion.’ “

Here’s what the Marathon Champion said to ESPN:

“I said, ‘OK, I’m just gonna put my head down and work hard, and they may just fall in line behind me, but I feel like I can just push hard to the finish. Just imagine you’re back in Portland on your own training grounds, and visualize your support team.’ Before I knew it, I got a sense, a feeling that there was no one right behind me, but I never turned around, because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to make a turn. ‘Just run as hard as you can, within control, to the finish, but save one more gear just in case someone is there.’ I could tell there was no cheering for any other athlete. I kind of was like, ‘Pretend that they’re close,’ but I could sense there was a gap developing.

I just was so focused on myself and not letting the moment overwhelm me. When you realize you’re achieving something that you have thought of forever, you can get very emotional — imagine trying to cry and run at the same time, it’s really hard. I didn’t want to tense up, so I was just trying to stay super-focused on my form and being strong. Not until did I see the literal finish line tape did I allow myself to soak it up for the 20 seconds that I had. I didn’t want it to slip through my fingers, I didn’t want to be overly confident. I ran scared those last three miles.” http://www.espn.com/sports/endurance/story/_/id/21338985/not-crazy-thought-do-says-2017-nyc-marathon-champ-shalane-flanagan

Congratulations, Shalane.

Many times we turn from side to side, wondering whether we have competition or opposition. We spend time and effort turning to the left and to the right or turning around “to see who is there.” But again Shalane saves us. She said “I got a sense, a feeling that there was no one right behind me, but I never turned around, because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to make a turn.”  There it is. It’s not worth the effort to make a turn.

So stay focused, eyes fixed forward on the prize; because it’s not worth the effort to make a turn when the goal is ahead of you, not behind you.

A Good Kid Does A Bad Thing

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UCLA freshman LiAngelo Ball comes from a high profile family. His father, Lonzo Ball, is frank and forthright, can be outspoken and has been underestimated; he may have a big mouth but he’s also got an oversized vision of his sons’ basketball future. And you can’t blame him for that.

But this is not about dear ole dad. This is about his middle son, who by all accounts is a good kid who did a bad thing. It’s upsetting and it’s disappointing.  But we’ve all done upsetting and disappointing things at one time or another. And most of us are thankful that our missteps and mistakes didn’t make front page news. The hope here is that LiAngelo can come back and turn this thing around for good.

Here’s the skinny on what happened to LiAngelo Ball and two of his teammates in China:

“UCLA faces the embarrassing prospect of opening its season without three freshman players who have been benched after being released on bail following an alleged shoplifting incident in China. LiAngelo Ball and his Bruins teammates are in Hangzhou, China to play Georgia Tech in the team’s season-opener this Friday–except Ball, along with fellow freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, will probably miss the game.

As time as gone by, it now appears that LiAngelo Ball and these two teammates will not play when the Bruins open the season against Georgia Tech at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time Friday in Shanghai, Coach Steve Alford announced Wednesday. ESPN, which will carry the game, first reported the news. In fact, they might miss other Bruins games (plural) when the team returns home to the States. And it won’t be because these players suffered injuries or illness. It will be because they are still in China–and possibly in a Chinese jail.

The three players were arrested on Tuesday for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store. The arrests, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, followed interviews by about 20 local police officers with UCLA players while the players stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hangzhou. The Louis Vuitton store is located next to the hotel and, particularly given the high value of much of the store’s inventory, most likely contains security cameras throughout and around the store.”

And the moral of the story is?  Good guys from good families who are good players can have a bad day and do a bad thing and end up in a bad way. It’s sad but true. The hope is that LiAngelo learns from this quickly and is allowed to return to the States and his team and chalk this up as an example of what not to do. It’s called a second chance. In biblical parlance it’s called redemption and restoration, something we all have needed and still need, every day.

So let’s hope for a positive outcome and not throw stones. It’s easy to judge and be a critic when things go south. But it’s better to withhold the verdict and delay sentencing because we all live in glass houses. Just think, what would have happened if you got the punishment you deserved when you got caught for that silly, stupid thing you did back when?   

A Good Start is A Good Thing

NFL 2016-PHILADELPHIA EAGLES DEFEAT PITTSBURGH STEELERS 34-3
Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback, CARSON WENTZ, completes a pass to Darren Sproles in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first down. WENTZ completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards and 2 touchdowns and no turnovers.leading the Eagles to a 34-3 victory. WENTZ is the first rookie in NFL history without an interception in his first 100 pass attempts to begin a career.

 The Philadelphia Eagles are 8-1. The Philadelphia 76ers are 6-4. Who saw this comin’?

First, the Birds. My Eagles are atop the NFC East AND have the best record in the NFL. There’s still a lot of football left, but by golly – an 8-1 start is not too shabby. In fact, is pretty darn good, if not downright scary. This past Sunday they beat the Denver Broncos 51-23 and it wasn’t that close. AND going into the game, Denver had the league’s No. 1 Defense.  Really!

Now for my favorite sons: DA Sixas! Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have taken the Sixers by storm, and they are on a FIVE GAME winning streak. I just said the 76ers have won five games in a row after starting the season 1-4.  The last time they won five games in a row was 2011. Seriously. 

All of Philly is trying not to overreact or be overconfident or overestimate our chances of . . . well, you know.  But there’s no harm in having high hopes, right?

The moral of the story is this: a good start is a good thing. Yes, you still have to finish, but in God’s Playbook, a good starting point is not a bad thing. So start strong. Start fast. Start with the end in mind.  The goal is always high and lofty and a stretch. That’s why your goals should be just beyond your reach, and your reach should be just short of your grasp. It pushes you forward and pulls you onward above all that you could even ask or think.

So don’t settle for mediocre or middle of the pack or the mean, median or the mode. Your enemy is called average. You can do better than before, and even the rest.

Just get a good start.

As Good As It Gets: Jay Ajayi’s Flying High As An Eagle In Philly

 Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi’s debut in Philly was as good as it gets.  He’s off and running, or flying, in Philly and opening day couldn’t have been better for the Eagles and Ajayi, as they steamrolled the Denver Broncos in front of a racous, rockin’ and rolling Lincoln Financial Field crowd. Ajayi was traded to the Eagles for next to nothing (a 4th round draft pick?) and was seemingly dumped and his impact was downplayed because he’s “a problem child” that’s a distraction. But the Eagles said “come to Philly.” And come to Philly he did.

So all of Philly is singing in the rain and dancing in the streets. The Iggles are now 8-1, are in first place in the NFC East with the best record in football and their best start since the Super Bowl Year of ’04.  So go Birds, and atta’ boy Ajayi.  Next Stop: Arlington Texas and the Dallas Cowboys.  And they don’t scare me.

Here’s what ESPN had to say about my Eagles:

“The Philadelphia Eagles went from very good to downright scary with the addition of running back Jay Ajayi. Just ask the Denver Broncos.

Acquired from the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, Ajayi made an instant impact in his Philly debut, breaking off a 46-yard touchdown run as part of an eight-carry, 77-yard performance that helped the Eagles cruise past Denver, 51-23.

‘It was special,’ Ajayi said afterwards. ‘First off, it’s my first touchdown of the season, and it’s exciting for it to have been in Philly in my first game as an Eagle. I don’t think it could have been written any better than that.’

The Eagles, now 8-1, entered the game as the third-ranked offense in the NFL. Still, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stayed aggressive at the trade deadline and worked up a deal with old friend Mike Tannenbaum, who holds the same title with the Dolphins, sending a 2018 fourth-round pick to Miami for the 24-year-old Ajayi.

While there were reported concerns about the long-term health of Ajayi’s knee and his effect on Miami’s locker room, the Eagles believed Ajayi could be a system and identity fit based on joint practices with the Dolphins this summer. They were willing to take a risk in hopes he would regain his 2016 Pro Bowl form when he rushed for close to 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns.  Ajayi’s longest run this season with the Dolphins was 21 yards, but he found his home run swing in his first game> with his new team.http://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/22824/with-jay-ajayi-added-to-mix-eagles-look-unstoppable-against-broncos

Hooray For Houston!

 Houston Astros Sports_Illustrated 2017

The Houston Astros just won their first ever World Series, the first and only in the 56 year history of the team. Good for them. They made it through a topsy, turvy seven game series with the LA Dodgers, and came out on top.  And the City of Houston made it through Hurricane Harvey, and it coming out on top of that tough time too. The Astros have many ties to Puerto Rico as well, beginning with Correa and Beltran, and World Series MVP George Springer is half Puerto Rican. So the Astros won not only Houston, but for Puerto Rico,  which was devastated by another powerful Hurricane, Irma. 

I’m not a Houston fan, but I’m glad for them. So I’m not going to hate. Yes I was rooting for the Dodgers, but the Astros won it fair and square.  And they won it for the City of Houston, and that’s pretty special. AND Sports Illustrated called it (albeit 3 years ago, but they called it! How about that!

Never mind Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish got chased out of) his second horrific World Series outing. Never mind Darvish shouldn’t even have been in the game (because of his poor previous play), much less start the Seventh Game of the World Series!  Never mind the game was lost in the dugout by the Dodgers Skipper, Dave Roberts who started Darvish. And never mind the Dodgers still had chance after chance to get back into the game, even after digging a five run hole for themselves. In the bottom of the second, they had the bases loaded with their hottest hitter, Joc Pederson, at the plate, but came up empty and left all three base runners stranded. Oh well.

So Houston won the World Series. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, there’s bad sports news coming out of Houston as well. Houston fans had to go from World Series celebration to losing their star QB, Deshaun Watson because of a torn ACL in practice. Michael Wilbon said “the feel good” from the Astros’ World Series title didn’t last as long as it should have because of Watson’s injury.

In sports and in life, we rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep, and mourn with them that mourn.

Strengthen Your Core

olympics-athletes

Victory begins with strength and stamina and energy and endurance. And all of these, especially strength, incubate from within. Strength deep down eventually wells way up and flows out from the heart.  A strong spirit leads to a strong heart which leads to a strong mind which leads to a strong body, in that order.  And the starting point lies at the core, hidden and buried and concealed and covered up inside.

It’s really not the outside that matters; it’s the inside. Because what’s in will eventually come out. So beware what you put in, because what you put in will eventually come out. They say you are what you eat; that’s a physical and a spiritual axiom. What you feed your body and your mind and your spirit will eventually and ultimately determine where you end up.

I’ve seen too many people who should be better off or farther along or higher up, but they aren’t. I know of teams and clubs and lineups and players who play down or soft or lax and you know that they have more in them than they’re showing. And you’ve seen it too. How many people and athletes do you know that are strong and healthy physically but at the same time are weak and sickly emotionally and psychologically?  Why? Because they have a weak core. They may be sound in body but they are weak in spirit.  And that’s where it all starts and that’s where it will all end up.

And if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m talking about me too.

So strengthen your core. Do more than core power yoga and abs training and squats. Strengthen your core values and your core beliefs need to be strengthened and fortified. Your inner being and your inmost thoughts and feelings need strengthening and shoring up. Forget about what other people are doing or saying or even getting away with. Don’t focus on what they’re about; focus on what YOU’RE about and what you need to do and say and be.  And it starts way, deep down on the inside of your very being.  The essence of you is your core.  Your center and your crux and your nucleus and your nub is the real you.

So do all you can to be strong on the inside. Then, and only then, will you will be strong on the outside.

Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

I Samuel 16:7