Let It Happen or Make It Happen?

Durant and LeBron

The phrase “Let it happen” can often be used in a situation where someone may be trying to force something like a relationship, or a deal, or a connection. The phrase is applicable in life, and of course, in sports. “Make it happen” is mainly used for advice for friends, but may not always be the right thing to do. This phrase accompanies a sort of ideology that some things are meant to happen, while others are not; therefore one should not force things.

On the other hand, “make it happen” means to do something and complete it, usually under extreme circumstances. And in case you’re wondering, I’ve obtained this privileged prudence from the wonderful wisdom of www.urbandictionary.com.

Game Three of the 2017 NBA Finals is one of the biggest games in the history of the sport. Why? Because tonight we will see which one works. Are LeBron and the Cavaliers trying to make it happen? Or are Kevin Durant and the Warriors so good that they will let it happen?

So which is it? Should we let things happen or make things happen? Should we yield our will or impose our will?  Should we lay ourselves on the altar or grab hold to the horns of the altar? Which one works?

As we live and breathe, both are simultaneously true.  We must both let it happen and make it happen, both and all at the same time. God will do His part and we must do our part. As a wise man once said, “pray as if everything depends on God, and then live as if everything depends on you.”

Yes the just shall live by faith, and, at the same time, faith without works is dead. So the axiom and the truism is this:  God has done His part; it’s now up to us to do our part. We let it happen by trusting and praying and believing. We make it happen by loving and caring and forgiving.  I call it the marriage of theology and practice. Letting it happen and making it happen are opposite sides of the same coin.

So make it happen, but only after you let it happen.

Durant and Warriors: “Be The Best You Can Be”

Warriors

That’s what the Golden State Warriors are showing us and teaching us; they’re schooling us on how to be the best. They are undefeated in these 2017 Playoffs. They are winning games by double digit margins. They have the best shooters, and they are playing the best defense. The Warriors won Game One of the 2017 NBA Finals 113 – 91, and they won Game Two 132 – 113. That’s pretty impressive.

After Golden State’s Game 2 thrashing of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, the questions abound:

How is it that last year the Warriors lost Game 7 at home in a close, contested contest that saw LeBron James lead a pretty good team against a really good team and win? How is it that the best team (a 73 game regular season win squad) in the NBA last year got even better? How is it that this year the Kevin Durant led Warriors, made an already great team an instantaneous juggernaut? And how is it that the Cavaliers are playing really close but then are getting really blown out?

Now, the questions get fewer and finer; can the visibly vulnerable and discernably dejected Cavaliers mount a charge against the mighty Warriors? Can the defending champions (that’s right, they ARE the defending champions) summon the stamina to withstand this relentless, oncoming tide of three pointers and pick and rolls and more points than they can find? And can LeBron save face and win at least one game? I say no.

The Warriors look borderline unstoppable through two games of the 2017 NBA Finals. And, to add insult to injury to the rest of the League, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the rest of the Dubs looked poised to dominate the Association for the foreseeable future.

The Warriors are dead set on proving to the basketball world in general and to the sports universe in specific that last year’s loss was a fluke. The fact that they should have won is fairly debatable. The fact that they didn’t win is forever undisputable. But now these Durant led Warriors are bent on proving that they are the undisputed heavyweight champions of the basketball world.

Not even the great and mighty LeBron James can carry his team up this mountain. Not this time.When these Warriors play their best they’re at their best, and they’re simply unbeatable. Period. 

And the same goes for you and me too. When we are at our best and when we do our best and when we display our best, we are relying on God and not on our own strength. When we “walk by faith and not by sight;” when our “love is sincere and we hate what is evil and cling to what is good” and when we “trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and don’t lean to our own understanding,” we are at our best and we are the best we can be.

Too Much Talk and Not Enough Play

Lebron-Curry Some Cavaliers have been a little too cavalier with their comments. And some warriors have been a little too wanton with their words. Both teams are posturing and showboating and mudslinging so much that you wonder if they will have anything left when the games begin. There’s been too much work with the mouth and not enough play with the muscles. Of course the Finals haven’t begun yet, so let the talking terminate and let the games begin.

Goliath was a big mouth, and nobody likes a big mouth. Goliath was a loud mouth, trash talkin’, tongue waggin’ somebody. And until David came along, he could back up what he said by what he did. But that all changed. Because David could out talk his taunter because of what his God could do.

Trash talking is and always has been a part of the game. Oft-times players brag and boast about what they are going to do on the court and on the field, yet, only 50% of all trash talkers can deliver; only one team can win the battle for the game, and by extension, the trash talk war.

David and the giant Goliath engaged in what we would call trash talk. “The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.’”

But David was unphazed.  He did not talk trash; he spoke by faith. “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.’ ”  1 Sam 17:43-47, RSV

So many of us talk a good game, and yet we don’t back up what we say.  We say one thing, and do another. In my book, that’s trash talk. We promise but we don’t deliver. That’s trash talk.  Indeed we over promise and under deliver.  That’s trash talk.  We purport and “front” and sell wolf-tickets, yet when it’s time to cash them in, we come up short. We talk loudly and proudly before the game, yet slink silently and pitifully on the sideline; after boasting and brandishing we live unseen and unheard lives and are unable to back up what we say.

Many doubt our faith and our Lord. They are trash talking us.  They are wolfing us down. And so the question is, what is our response to this doubting, doubtful, degenerate generation? Like Goliath they look down on us and decry us and our God. Can we backup everything we say?  Can we do everything we promise? As Christians, can we perform and can we deliver?

No worries. As long as we speak the Word of God, we have no fear of trash talkers. And our Champion and King can back up what he says. He will do just what He says! Contrary to Ali, Jesus Christ the righteous is truly the greatest. What He promises He is able also to perform. So let’s follow our Lord’s example.  Let’s say we’re going to do the right thing, and then let’s DO the right thing. No more saying one thing and doing another.   No more reneging on our word. No more trash talk.

Bring It On!

Kevin-Durant-Golden-State-Warriors

This is the Finals we’ve all been waiting for: The Warriors vs. the Cavaliers, and now the Warriors have KD, Kevin Durant. It’s Ali / Frazier III all over again.  And this time, Love and Kyrie aren’t hurt, and hopefully Draymond Green won’t get suspended. So both teams will be at full strength, and we’ll see who’s boss. 

As Kobe once said, “to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.” So if you think you’re all that and a bag of chips, you shouldn’t worry who you’re playing. When you’ve got confidence and conviction and assurance and assertion, it doesn’t matter who’s lining up on the other side of the ball.

And the same principle applies spiritually. We who trust in the God of Heaven shouldn’t be worried or concerned when we’re challenged or cornered or confronted or called out. We know we’ve got a God who will fight our battles. We’ve got a God who’s got our back and our front too. We’ve got a God who won’t back down or back up or give in or give out when we need Him most. We’ve got a God who’s not afraid of the enemy or the opposition. Not in the least.  When we have a problem or a glitch or a quandary or a conundrum, our God says “Bring it On!”  We just have to hold on and hold out and not give up.

So wake up! It’s time to watch NBA Finals, and these Finals should show some of the best basketball ever. And if I fall asleep during one of those late night games, it will be because it’s way past my bedtime, not because one team is playing bad ball. But the action and the excitement and the drama should be enough to keep me awake, right?

The plot is thick and subplots are plenty. Will Durant get his ever elusive championship ring after jumping ship and leaving the Thunder behind and joining the Warriors? Will LeBron win back-to-back championships in Cleveland, after starting his career there before jumping ship and going to the Heat to win two rings on South Beach?

And will these be the best Finals ever?

Bring it on.

You Are A No. 1 Pick

SI NBA Draft Pics

On this the evening of the NBA Draft Lottery, thoughts of being chosen and selected and overlooked and left out come to mind.  We all want to be a part and participate in something big and meaningful.  But we can’t get  there on our own. We all need to be selected.

 Think about it: only a small, rare, select few athletes are in the No. 1 Pick Club. And who was the biggest, baddest and best NBA No. 1 pick of them all? That’s fairly debatable.  Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Iverson (yes Iverson), and of course LeBron, come to mind. 

As for you and me, we need not lament if we were never picked first on the playground to play pickup games, or if even now if we’re not anyone’s favorite.  In the eyes of God, we all find grace and favor.

So never no mind what people say. You only need to know what God says about you. You are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us. You are the head and not the tail. You are strong in the Lord. You are a child of the King. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s own special selection. You are the light of the world and you are the salt of the earth.

In God’s eyes, first and foremost, you are His greatest love, joy and concern.

Derek Jeter: Baseball At Its’ Best?

Here’s my tribute to Derek Jeter, written two years ago. Jeter was honored this past Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. He was one of baseballs best.

God and Sports

Derek Jeter

Derek Sanderson Jeter just played in his last All Star Game and is playing in his 20th and final season with the only team he’s ever known. At the All Star Game he went 2 for 2 and was the darling of the dance. The incomparable heart beat of the Bronx Bombers, Jeter is the poster child of the pinstripe primadonas, and the captain of the team that captivates us all. Jeter’s team, the New Yankees, is the team that we love to hate, and Jeter is a player that we will hate to lose.

Jeter is the heart and soul and the modern “Pride” of the Yankees. He’s won five World Series rings, and lost 2. And the two he lost he hated to lose. And hating to lose, more so than loving to win, is his enduring legacy. His stats are stellar, but stats are only one thing…

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John Wall: Force A Game 7  

John Wall (2)John Wall and the Washington Wizards forced a Game 7 in the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the No. 1 Seed Boston Celtics.  This DC dandy is a fan favorite, and he reconfirmed his star status when he hit a three pointer with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. With this heroic effort, Wall and the Wiz are going back to Boston to decide the matter, once and for all.

Johnathan Hildred Wall Jr. was a NBA No. 1 draft pick in 2010, so he has a lot to live up to. This playoff year, with his team and his city on the ropes, Wall won with the weight the Washington sports world on his shoulders. And I’m happy for him.

Life is won and lost in distinct, decisive moments.  And Game 7 is one of those moments. Game 7 is when you find out what you’re made of. Game 7 is when stars are born and when memories are made.  For these reasons and many more, any and all sports fans worth their salt would pay a king’s ransom to be present at a Game 7 (at home, of course).

Life is not won or lost in abstraction. It’s won or lost under the microscope of the big stage. And to get to the big stage of Game 7, we all must win the majority of the 50/50 balls and most of questionable calls along the way.  

So when life pushes you to the brink and to the edge, push back.  Like Mandisa said, sometimes you have to “speak when you don’t have the floor and you have to go when you’re not invited.”  Boston could have/(should have?) won Game 6 on the road, but Wall and the Wiz had other plans. The same should go for you and me too. When life and living and circumstances and situations say that you should be over and done with, roundly object.

Force Game 7.