How Do You Spell Redemption? “Andy Reid!”

Andy Reid AFC Championship Game 2020
Andy Reid hoists the Lamar Hunt Trophy after his Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35 -24 in the 2020 AFC Championship Game.

The Bible says to “rejoice with them that rejoice.” But the truth is, some people are easier to root for than others. And Andy Reid would be in the category of “some people” rather than the “others.” Andy has taken a licken and yet he keeps on ticken. I love it. Sounds a lot like a lot of us. Many of us have been through some tough times here lately. We’ve been through the fire and the flood. We’ve had some high highs and some low lows. Yet through it all, we’ve learned to trust in God. My, my.

Learning to trust God is redemption. Sports redemption is a little different from spiritual redemption, but the premise is just the same. After a loss, you are “found” and you find your way back from the brink of defeat, destruction and despair. It’s enough to drive one to tears of joy.

Here’s how Frank Schwab from Yahoo Sports describes Andy’s story, a story that we hope will have a story book ending:

“On January 4, 2013, Andy Reid was limping away from the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off a 4-12 season and being fired. The Kansas City Chiefs were in even worse shape. They went 2-14 in 2012. On that day, the Chiefs hired Reid. The words “Super Bowl” were not mentioned during his introductory news conference a few days later. Both sides were just looking for some way out of the darkness.

But that was then, and this is now.

Now, the Chiefs are going back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. They overcame another slow start and beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LIV.

‘We were blessed to be there and sometimes change is good,’ Reid said when announced as Chiefs coach, ‘change will be tremendous for the Philadelphia Eagles and on the other hand, it will be terrific for the Kansas City Chiefs.’

On Sunday, seven years after coming to Kansas City, Reid had his redemption and the Chiefs had snapped one of the most miserable droughts in the NFL.

The most compelling figure of this season’s Super Bowl could be Reid, who is still looking for a ring to validate a great career, and made some tough decisions that led to this trip to the NFL’s title game. As Reid stood on the podium after lifting the Lamar Hunt Trophy, Chiefs fans chanted ‘Andy! Andy!’ ”

I concur. Go Andy!

Runners, Take Your Mark . . .

God and Sports

Usain Bolt in starting blocks

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.   1 Corinthians 9:26- 27

New Living Translation

At the beginning of a race, especially a sprint, runners must take their mark. Taking your mark means getting into position and positioning your mind, body and spirit for the task at hand. Getting into position and positioning yourself for the race is as important as the race itself. In a sprint, a bad start can be horrendous, and a false start can disastrous, leading to disqualification.  And so a good start is not a bad thing.

At the beginning of the year we look forward to the promise and the pledge of the coming days and weeks and months.  For most of…

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Backwards and Forwards

This is one of my favorite end of the year posts adapted and revised for New Year’s Eve 2019.

God and Sports

XII FINA World Championships - Diving

At the end of the year, as we prepare to dive into 2014, we are in the midst of what is, and what was, and what is to come.  The photo shows an Inward dive which begins with the diver at the end of the springboard with her back to the water. The diver is facing backwards, but the end result is that she will be moving forwards. This is the position we find ourselves in: at the end of our springboards, facing backwards as we prepare to dive forwards.

At the end of the year, most everyone, and athletes more than most, look backwards and forwards.  We look back over the past year’s accomplishments and achievements, and forward to the coming year’s promises and potentials.  Sports teams and athletes look back at what could have been, and look forward to what may well be.  As believers, we should do…

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In A Christmas Miracle, The Eagles Upset The Cowboys!

Eagles Logo
Eagles Upset Dallas Cowboys 17-9 for sole possession of first place in the NFC East

They said Dallas was the better team. They said the Eagles didn’t stand a chance. And they said Wentz was overrated and all washed up. But the final score said the opposite. The final Score was Eagles 17, Dallas 9. In this game of arch NFC East Division rivals, the Eagles “D” held the No. 1 offense in the league to three field goals! Nuff said! This was an upset win for the ages, and the Eagles did it with backup, underdog players due to multiple injuries to numerous all pro starters. It was a great team win, a Christmas present from Santa, and a Christmas Miracle, all raped up in one.

It took prayer and faith, pleas for good fortune and fortitude from fearfulness. It took it all and a little more to win this game.

Now the Eagles just have to win the NFC East, right? Right! In my book, Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds, here’s how I describe this Eagles’ win, and every other upset win of epic proportions:

“In the World of Sports, there’s nothing like an upset win, a comeback from way back, and a complete turnaround. The same is true in life. In sports, we celebrate the underdogs, both the teams and the players who are at a distinct disadvantage and are expected to lose. Yet some way, somehow, these teams and players find a way triumph in spite of adversity.

Upsets, Comebacks, and Turnarounds looks back to those who have already overcome and looks ahead to those facing overwhelming obstacles yet to be overcome. This book examines the intersection of God and sports and the connection of sports and spirituality. It is dedicated to those in life not favored to win; to those voted least likely to succeed; and to those picked to finish dead last or not at all; in other words, the underdogs. The Bible is chock-full of unprecedented upset wins.

The Holy Writ is replete with remarkable, courageous comebacks. And scripture is saturated with stories of tremendous turnarounds. Leah, Ruth, Jonathan, Moses, and Elijah are just a few of the faithful who overcame overwhelming odds and were victorious. They found a way to believe God for, and experience, miracles. This is a telling of their side of the story. This book is a tribute to all of the biblical long-shots. to all those who “didn’t stand a chance.” Biblical stories of men and women of the faith are inspiration and motivation for us all. At one point in their lives, ordinary people just like you and me were spiritually empty, bereft of hope and brimming with despair. But God turned it around. He did it for them, He did it for me, and He can do the same for you too.”

UCT Cover

Wear Heaven’s Helmet!

Antonio-Brown-Helmet

I’m not going to complain about my helmet.  It keeps me from injury, it is issued by the “League” of Heaven, the Holy Trinity – a.k.a., the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and I really can’t do any better. So why is Antonio Brown aggrieved that he can’t wear his own, personal, ten year old helmet?

According to ESPN, “Brown prefers to wear his older helmet, believed to be a 10-year-old Schutt Air Advantage model, which is no longer made by the company and, thus, no longer certified by the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment. He has tried the new certified helmet out and believes it protrudes out and interferes with his vision as he tries to catch the football.” Really?

We need to wear our “League” issued and “League” approved helmets. The Bible speaks of the “Helmet of Salvation.” Without salvation, we are doomed to death and destruction, because sin is real and hell is hot. We need to be saved from our sins and delivered from our debauchery. Without deliverance from bondage and the dismissal of all charges against us, we are all doomed to a devil’s hell. And our only Savior is Jesus. We can’t invent our own “personal” helmets of salvation. That won’t work with the “League.”

The reference to a helmet is an apropos analogy for what we need to protect our heads and our minds from getting rattled and shaken and banged up and beat down. The Greek word for helmet means to “encircle the head.” In other words,  in this spiritual battle we wage everyday, we must employ the weapons of our warfare. And the helmet is the armor we must use to protect our heads, the seat of our intellect and intelligence, at all cost. If our minds are not right, usually we are not right. So we must protect our heads with the equipment God gave us; salvation.

Without the helmet of salvation, we would get our bells rung. This is a football term which refers to when a player undergoes such a huge blow to his head that he can hear a ringing noise between his ears. In life, we suffer anxiety and stress and strain and trauma when we don’t rely on God for everything. Salvation is not just a ticket to Heaven; it’s a permit for abundant life right here and right now. Salvation is our assurance that a healthy and wholesome life can be lived here on earth.

Your life need not be a living hell; it only is because you haven’t put on the helmet of salvation. Don’t take God’s provision for granted. Don’t take your salvation for granted. Put on the helmet of salvation today, and keep it on.

It will save your life.

The Miracle Of Momentum

This past weekend I sat down and watched a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game for the first time this season. And I’m a Philly guy, so I’m all about rooting for the home team. But boy oh boy did I pick the wrong time to watch a bad game.

When I turned on the TV, the Phils had a 4-1 lead, and I said, OK!  Then they extended the lead to a 6 -1 margin, and this was against one of baseball’s worst teams, the Florida Marlins. A five run margin should be enough to win a game, right? Wrong.

A five run margin wasn’t enough. Why? Because the Marlins understood the moxy and miracle of momentum. They got one hit, then another hit, and then two runs and then a few more runs, and the next thing you knew, they were winning 9-6, and that’s how the game ended. The Marlins stole the momentum and won the game.  Just like that. The Phil’s can hit but they sure can’t pitch. They just can’t stop the other guys from hitting, and scoring. In other words, the pitching staff, or more specifically, the relievers, failed them, and this wasn’t the first time this has happened this season. It appears that the Phils relievers aren’t worth their salt.

For all those out there who don’t understand momentum, this one is for you. And for those of us who do respect and hold the muscle of momentum in high regard, let this be a reminder. You don’t want to give away what you’ve worked hard for and rightfully earned, or even what you have been given. 

Momentum in sports is everything. When you’re on a roll, you don’t want to do anything to mess it up or muck it up. If you do make a mistake here or there you recover quickly, and get back to rolling. Trying to sit on a lead and playing “prevent” defense (whatever that is) is always a bad idea. Listen; when you have a good lead, even a little lead, but especially a big lead, you want to do everything in your power to protect it and even pad it, because to lose a lead is next to disastrous, and to lose a big lead is tantamount to preposterous. 

In baseball, a “save” is when a relief pitcher comes in late in the game, say the seventh inning or so, and pitches one or two innings. The reliever’s only job is to keep the other team from getting hits and getting on base and, God forbid, scoring runs. Throwing strikes is good, and getting strikeouts is even better. The worst thing a relief pitcher can do is to give up hits and allow base runners and permit the other team to take the lead and win the game AFTER his team has given him the ball with the lead.

The word save is a theological term. In baseball, the relief pitcher could be considered a “savior,” of sorts. A savior is “a person who rescues others from evil, danger, or destruction. The Old Testament viewed God Himself as the Savior, and because God is the source of salvation, He sent human deliverers to rescue His people, Israel. This word was also used to describe the judges of Israel, those “saviors” or “deliverers” who rescued God’s people from oppression by their enemies.” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

A relief pitcher wins the game. In other words, a relief pitcher is a savior who brings salvation. Our Lord is our relief. He will never lose a save. Never. He came to seek and to save all who were lost.  And he can come into your “game,” a.k.a. into your life, and save you too.

Amen.

How Much Is Too Much?

odell-beckham-jr.2

Odell Beckham, Jr. is all smiles, because Odell just got paid. The New York Football Giants just offered their star stud a deal that makes him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Is he worth it? Some say yes. Does he deserve it? Some say no. But the deal is done, and now Odell is one fat cat.

And so the question is this: how much money is too much money? How many cars are too many to own? How big a house or how many houses does one need? How many yachts and private jets and penthouses and beach bungalows does one need to be satisfied? In essence, how much is too much? Most would agree that professional athletes are overpaid. And this just adds fuel to that fire.

On the one hand the Bible speaks of Abraham, and Abigail and Solomon and the Rich Woman from Shumen, all who loved God and were a blessing to their fellow-man, and all of them were very rich. And the New Testament tells of those who were very well off, including the Roman Centurion that built a synagogue for the Jewish People of Capernaum, and Barnabas, both of whom had means. And Jesus himself said that He came to give us abundant life, right here on earth.

On the other hand, rich, yet wise King Solomon said “Labor not to be rich.” (How ironic is that?) And Paul told Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The Message Bible puts it this way: “Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.” The Bible also speaks of the deceitfulness of riches which “choke the Word.” The New Living Translation says that the “lure of wealth” crowds out the message that God intends for us to receive.

And just what is that message? The message from Heaven is that the Kingdom of God is more important than the things of this world. Yes God wants us to enjoy everyday life, but enjoying everyday life is not the goal of life. If we seek God first, He promised to add things to our life. It doesn’t work the other way around. God comes before things, and money; things and money do not come before God.

Anyway, that was the color commentary — here’s the play-by-play:

“Odell Beckham Jr. has agreed to a five-year extension with the New York Giants that makes him the highest-paid wide receiver in football.

The three-time Pro Bowler can receive a maximum $95 million over the course of the deal ($90 million base value plus $5 million in incentives), with $65 million in total guaranteed money, a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson, including $41 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Over the first three years of the deal, Beckham will be paid $60 million for an average of $20 million a year over that earlier term. This means the new money average of the extension is $18 million a year over the five years, but his total average over the entire deal is $16.4 million a year over six years, which includes his previous option year (for this season).”