Your Dreams Are Your Ticket Out

Kotter_Gabe Kaplan

TV Shows in the ‘70s were the best. And they had great theme songs. One of my favorites was the opening song for “Welcome Back Kotter.” This was a great, family friendly sit-com (they don’t make ‘em like they used to, right?) starring Gabe Kaplan as a wisecracking high school teacher in charge of a racially and ethnically diverse remedial class called the “Sweathogs.” The show also featured John Travolta in his television debut.

Welcome Back Kotter Group Pic

The show is all about redemption. Redemption for Kotter, redemption for his students, and redemption for the viewers as well. Kotter came back to his high school and gave back to the same kids and same place that he somehow succeeded from.

His comeback was a dream come true.

Your dreams are you ticket out. It’s a great song with great truth.  Dreams, for the most part, point to the future and forewarn or foretell of impending tragedy or imminent triumph.  Biblically, while most dreams are relegated to the OT, the prophet Joel does say that in the last days “old men shall dream dreams.”

Joseph, the son of Jacob, dreamed that his brothers and even his mother and father would bow down to him. And his brothers hated him for it. Because of his dreams, his brothers sold him down the river, and he ended up in Egypt. After being falsey accused he landed in jail. But as Providence would have it, he eventually interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. As a reward for predicting the future, Joseph became second in command in Egypt and was in charge of storing up grain during the good times and distributing grain during the bad times.  Meanwhile, back home in Israel, Joseph sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, from, who else — Joseph, and thus Joseph’s dreams became his ticket out.

And your dreams can become your ticket out. So what are you dreaming? What are you believing God for? What do you desire? What do you long for that seems like its light years away?

My Philadelphia Eagles are dreaming of a Super Bowl Win.  For the Philly faithful, winning the Super Bowl is more than a dream — it’s like heaven; it’s a real place, somewhere out there, over the rainbow. We know it exists but we just can’t get there right now.

But that can all change this year. With a little Wentz and with a lot of hard work, this can be the Eagles’ year.  And it can be your year too. So keep hope alive.  And keep hoping. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

And may all of your dreams come true.

UNO! a.k.a., Claim Victory, Because Victory is Now

 

I pick the Dodgers vs. Yankees in the 2017 World Series.

 That’s right. Let’s renew and revive an East Coast, West Coast, “Left” Coast, “Right” Coast rivalry one more time for ole time’s sake. Could it be Boston vs. Chicago or Colorado vs. Houston, or the Nationals vs. Cleveland? Nope. It could be, but it won’t.  

How do I know you ask? Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and say what you see even before it’s actually audible or visible. Don’t wait until others see it, especially when you saw it first. Why? Because the Victory Is Now. Now is the time to decree and declare what you desire and determine to be your destiny.

And how about Super Bowl 51? Who ya got? I know only a fourth fraction of the season has been played, and this is only the quarter pole, but remember, the victory is now. That’s why I’m picking my Eagles (pronounced Iggles).

 My Eagles can win Super Bowl 51 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4th. That’s right, you “heard” it and read it first right here at http://www.Godandsports.net. My Eagles “can” win, because they’re just that good, and they’ve got room to get a whole lot better. Braggadocios, you say? An arrogant overreach? An overconfident overstep? Not if you understand the power of your words.

 The winners of the 2017 World Series and Super Bowl 51 played in February (I miss January Super Bowls – remember them?) must declare victory now. Before the first pitch of the playoffs and prior to reaching the pinnacle of America’s pastime and before they play football in December when it really counts, victory must be decreed and declared.

 In order to win in sports and in life, we need to decree and declare victory now. Because you can have what you say. In fact, you will have what you say, because you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). In fact, you will reap more that you sow, because of the principle of seed time and harvest. Seeds multiply. And multiplication always get’s you back more than you put in. So be careful what you put out, because just like in the card game UNO, it is most certainly coming back. The prophet said that if you “sow to the wind, you’ll reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7).

 Don’t get cynical on me. Some say that you don’t get everything you say. That may be true, but you won’t get anything you don’t say. Right?

 If you want to win, talk about it. Dream about it. Sing about it. Shout about it. Because your words will carry the crib or the coffin of your dreams. And you can kill a baby before it blooms and you can also revive a corpse even after its doom.

 So stop speaking doubt and downfall, because if you speak it, you’ll reap it. When you speak health and life, those words are the seeds that will eventually produce your harvest. Speaking in generalities never works. Saying maybe and perhaps and if and I wish I woulda coulda will get you exactly that. Somewhere between first place and dead last, which is nowhere with nothings to show for it. If you don’t get definite and decisive with what you want, that’s EXACTLY what you’re going to get. So watch what you say and be careful with what you speak.

 Just remember faith without works is dead, so you need to put your aim into action and match your desire with determination.

The Washington Capitals: An Unfinished Playoff Life

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One of my favorite movies is “An Unfinushed Life.”  It’s a moving, modern-day, morass of a movie about family and relationships and hurt and healing that takes you up and down and all around; it takes you all the way from wide open, endless possibilities to an almost certain dead-end. Or so it seems.  It’s as if the writer and director were giving us a cap full of the Washington Capitals playoff season.  Ouch.

“An Unfinished Life” stars a hat trick trio that puts in a power play performance worthy of every hat being tossed to the ice. Playing center is Jennifer Lopez, a young, widowed mother who has no one and nowhere to go except to her deceased husband’s father, who blames her for his son’s death. The dad is played by Robert Redford, who’s an old fart with a cold heart; ’nuff said. Rounding out the All Star lineup is my man Morgan Freeman, the only friend Redford’s character has; and he’s got a story to tell as well. Throw in the plunky, spunky adolescent daughter and the local love interest for love starved, affection craving JLo, and voila, you’ve got a ready-made, dysfunctional bunch of denizens ripe for redemption.

You get the feeling that the title of the film is not just about the dead son and husband and father, whom we never meet (not even through flashbacks – thank God!), whose life ended suddenly and abruptly.  The film depicts a dysfunctional family and the long, arduous road back to functionality through blood, sweat and tears. And it’s also about all of our ragged and unfinished, rough and unvarnished lives which hold so much promise and potential yet fail to reach or maintain spiritual maturity.

That pretty much sums up the Washington Capitals perennial playoff picture; unfortunate and unexpected and unfinished. Some would say it’s unfair. The Capitals are down 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and once again they’re on the verge of facing yet another early exit from the playoffs.  The Capitals have finished first in the LEAGUE for at least four of the last six years, yet they can’t seem to duplicate that success in the second season. The question coming from the top of every hockey hounds head is, “Why?”  

And everyone inside the Beltway wonders why as well: why, when we’re the No. 1 Seed once again and we’ve had the best players over the years like Jaromir Jagr and Alexander Ovechkin; why this doesn’t translate into post season success is anybody’s guess. They’re the favorites to win the Stanley cup year in and year out, but their great regular season team consistently falters and flounders and fizzles out long before they should.  

The difference between the actors in this film and the players on the Capitals ice is that redemption finds the actors; and since life is about redemption and restoration, a reversal of fortune for these Caps should be in the cards, right?

For the rest of us, we have hope that redemption will find us, and that one season soon, redemption will come a’ calling for the Washington Capitals team too.

Is This The Year For The Cubs?

Cubs

The Chicago Cubs finished the 2014 season 73-89, eight games under .500 and 17 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.  But that was then. This is now. Now, the Cubbies have Joe Maddon as their manager, and in just one year, Maddon has motivated his men to make a massive and mammoth march toward the goal of winning a World Series, the first since 1908.

The Cubs won back-to-back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908, becoming the first Major League team to play in three consecutive Fall Classics, and the first to win it twice. The team has appeared in seven World Series following their 1908 title, most recently in 1945. The Cubs have not won the World Series in 107 years, the longest championship drought of any major North American professional sports team.

But somebody say “Turnaround!”

The Cubs finished this season with the third best record in baseball. These same Cubs beat the Pittsburg Pirates in a one game playoff and then went on to defeat the league leading St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in the National League Division Series, and now they face the New York Mets in a NLCS showdown. 

Motivation is often overlooked and underestimated, unobserved and disregarded, passed over and swept under. But those of us who know the value of motivation know that a good motivator can make or break a player or a game or a team or a season. And that’s why you need a good coach.

 A good coach can motivate a team to do the impossible and the improbable. A good coach can  inspire and influence and impact in ways that numbers and statistics and digits will never tell. And from all accounts, Joe Maddon is doing just that with the 2015 Cubs.

The Cubs and the Mets have never met in the playoffs. Ever. So this should be a doozy of a series.

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 20: Joe Maddon the manager of the Chicago Cubs watches the action against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 20, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

So what about you? Who are you motivating and encouraging and prompting and provoking to greatness? Joe Maddon came up short in Tampa, as my Phillies beat Joe’s Tampa Bay Ray’s in the 2008 World Series. But that didn’t stop Joe from trying. Now he’s with the Cubs doing his thing, and I hope he pulls it off.

So stop crying over spilled milk and reliving long ago losses and wrangling over missed opportunities. Stop waiting for someone to come along and encourage you and start looking for someone else to encourage. You’ll be glad you did.

Go Cubs!

How To Get Out Of A Slump: Meet The Right People In The Right Place At the Right Time

Seattle 2015 461

I just got out a slump. And so did the Mets; Yes the Mets; the Amazin’ Miracle Mets. But first me. Sometimes you limp and lag and teeter and totter and flip and flop along and you don’t even know that you’re not moving in a logical procession or making any meaningful progression. That was me. But that’s over. Thank God.

Sometimes you just don’t know what to do or when to do or how to do what you know you need to do to get out of a rut. Sometimes you’re in a rift or a ravine or a gully or a gorge or a ditch or a drain that’s leading to nowhere. You know you need to reboot and recharge and re-image and rethink everything. And you know it but you can’t quite seem to do anything about it.   That is unless and until you happen upon or meet by chance or run into the right people in the right place at the right time. Well, all of that happened for me in Seattle.

Seattle got me out of my slump. And more specifically, I’m out of my slump because I met a great guy and his wife, Chris and Cindy. They were hidden away in an out –of- the way restaurant on Bainbridge Island and they gave me the gumption I need to go on just a little further. Yes I go to church and pray and read my Bible, but there’s something about meeting someone “out of the blue” that charges your battery and revs your engine like nothing else can. There’s something about a coming together at just the right time that is almost indescribable and indiscernible but is real and palpable nonetheless.

So here’s another reason to believe in Providence. It all went down like this:

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I really wanted to take a ferry ride across Puget Sound and I wanted to go on a nice, sunny day. Well, Monday, April 20th was my day. It was a beautiful, balmy 72 degrees and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. And for all that know Seattle, weather like that doesn’t come around every day. So I caught the 4:40 Ferry and had a therapeutic trip and a resuscitating ride with views of Downtown Seattle and the Olympus and Cascades Mountains to die for.

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I got to Bainbridge Island and determined to eat dinner at a local diner, so I asked around. I was told there were plenty of nice places to choose from. Then I “happened” run into an older lady who told me to “hurry up!” She thought I was going to the museum, but I told her I was looking for a nice, homey restaurant. She gave me a few suggestions, but then said if I wanted to go to an out-of-the way place on the water I should walk a little further and go to Harbor Public House (http://harbourpub.com/ ). I’m so glad I did. I believe God put the right people in the right place at the right time just for me.

Enter my new friends. They were sitting and waiting for a table outside overlooking the water. I chatted it up a little with them and the next thing you know, because they had been waiting awhile, and I wanted to eat outside too, they invited me to dine with them. Wow! It was great. The ferry ride was “Da Bomb,” the food was better and the company of my new friends was the best.  Wow.  Sounds like teamwork played a part in this, huh? 

Talk about a Providential turn of events. And so it is in life and in sports for those who go a little further wait a little longer and reach a little higher than they were reaching just a day or two ago. When you have everything fall into the just the right place at just the right time it is no accident.  It’s Divine. Coincidentally, Deborah Fike in “The Change Blog,” suggests that one of the ways you get out of a slump is to reconnect with old friends or, — find new ones! And that’s what I did! And in writing this blog I found these blogs which were helpful: http://www.thechangeblog.com/get-out-of-a-slump/ http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Out-of-a-Slump

And speaking of Divine, how ‘bout ‘Dem Miracle Mets! (Previous Blog Please 🙂 )

Chip, Chip, Chipping Away; a.k.a., The Chips Are Down In South Philly

Chip Kelly

I just came back from the dentist. My dentist, whom I LOVE, is great (What’s Up Doc!).  She’s an avid, rabid, die-hard Philadelphia Eagles football fan; so how can you not love your dentist when she knows more about your football team than you do? We fussed and fumed about Coach Chip Kelly’s future so bad that we had to laugh to keep from crying. But we laughed so hard we did cry! And you better believe Chip Kelly’s shocking shenanigans are no laughing matter, as all of Philly is nigh near tears.

Chip Kelly came to town after Andy Reid left for Kansas City.  Ok. So we got over that, because Andy, much as we loved him, had done all he could do in South Philly.  Andy had run out of chips, and it appears that Chip is using up all of his chips too; and for Mr. Kelly, the game for him has barely begun.

Enter Chip Kelly, who is now front and center.  So after Andy we got a dandy of a coach in Chip (or so we thought) and his newfangled offense. Ok. So for Kelly’s first two seasons we put up with being laughed at by the Cowboys and the Redskins and even the New York Football Giants, not to mention the rest of the League. But we win!  Even with this crazy, hurry-up, hafta’ catch your breath offense, we win!

My Eagles went 10-6 in Chip’s  first year AND won the NFC EAST! Go figure!  That’s not too shabby for a first year coach with a new system, right? But we go 10-6 AGAIN in his second year AND fail to make the playoffs! What?!!!  This, when we were picked to win (or at least go to) the Super Bowl. Not good. Not good at all, especially if you’re an Eagle’s fan.  NOW THIS!

Charles “Chip” Kelly is chip, chip, chipping away at the Eagles roster. He’s chipping away at the Eagles fan base, and in so doing, he’s chipping away at his job and maybe even his NFL career. Last year he traded DeSean Jackson, a fan favorite no less, to the Washington Redskins for Pete’s sake! This year, for an encore, he just shipped Shady McCoy to outer Siberia, I mean Buffalo, for an injured kid who sat out all of last season for crying out loud (but he played for him at Oregon.) THEN, he traded Maclin. AND,  . . . this just in, . . .  we just traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford.  Whaaaaaaaat?!!!

Chip had better put some chips together to make a whole something because his support is sinking and his boosters are blinking and his defenders are dropping like flies.  He’s been a first-rate coach with an inside track, but now he’s being second guessed and hardly has an outside chance of staying in Philly for more than a year if this doesn’t work.  And it better work.

 A chip is a flake and a flaw, a minute, miniscule morsel, a scrap and a scrape, a tidbit and a taste, a slice and a shard — but not nothin’ near a whole anything. And as he cranks out trades, Mr. Kelly might want to consider that his chip may be crumbling and his mindset may be mumbling because he seems to be bumbling his way out of a decent job.  Too bad.

Spiritually speaking, God takes gambles too. For starters, He gambled on me and you. And God is chipping away at our faults and our foibles and our flops and our flaws and our failings and our fears and yet He keeps giving us the ball even when we fumble and fall. Because God’s gambles always work out.  

So, let’s take the positive path, shall we? When you have a problem, what do you do? You can’t swallow the whole bowl of gruel in one big gulp. So chip away at the problem, and try to whittle that big mountain down to bite size chunks. So, let’s all take a deep breath, count to ten, and THEN look for a new coach!

Sorry Chip, but your chips are down. So I hope you have a chip on your shoulder, and that chip is that you can prove that you’re right and the rest of the football world is wrong. Because sometimes you have to take risks and gambles and go against the grain and try to beat the odds when you think you’re right. The only thing is, you better be right.

Hit or Miss?

Bowling

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