Deciding and choosing and picking and reaching a conclusion about a person are not easy tasks. For those of us who actually LIKE people, getting to know someone is actually an enjoyable experience. One of my absolute favorite things to do is talk to strangers. That’s one of the reasons I love to hire, because I get to meet and evaluate talent by conducting dozens of interviews each year. In selecting talent, it’s necessary to evaluate resumes and character and presence. It’s not easy.
Choosing someone means that you elected (a tricky theological term) to select them above and before and instead of others. Along this line, Christianity is a superior belief system to all others because God actually chooses us, not the other way around. And God chose us, knowing our faults and flaws and faux pas before we even committed them! How about that for taking a chance on a pick! And God the Father still wants us, despite our limits and limitations and liabilities. He still drafted us. He actually wants to be our friend in additional to being our deliverer and, through Jesus Christ, our personal Savior.
So if you don’t know God for yourself, just know that He chose you, he picked you and he wants you to “play” on His team. How about that for a Draft night tie in?
So who’s the best player in the 2018 Draft? DeAndre Ayton? Marvin Bagley? Luka Doncic? y Mo Bamba? Who’s got the most “potential?” Pick ‘em!
Pain is part of the process. The Washington Capitals players and fans and coaches and commentators have all endured much pain over their 44 year history. But after all of the pain and disdain, finally comes victorious gain. Finally, the Washington Capitals are kings of the hockey world.
The Washington Capitals defeated the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win their first Stanley Cup Trophy. And the championship was a long time comin’. The Capitals had been stained with the loser label since 1974-75, when the expansion team won just eight games, still the NHL’s worst campaign. After 44 years, 3,701 regular and postseason games and 28 playoff appearances — the most by an NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL team at the time of its first title — the Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions. And pain was part of the process. https://sports.yahoo.com/stanley-cup-run-could-capitals-playoff-failures-055535489–nhl.html
NHL teams leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have won 91 percent of the time (276-28). Of those 28, the Capitals have blown such a lead five times – FIVE TIMES – the most of any team. But there was no such falloff this time. As checkered playoff histories go, the Washington Capitals haven’t been around nearly as long as some NHL teams, but their track record was still long and sad. For instance, the Caps have lost nine of 11 postseason meetings against the Pittsburgh Penguins alone, and each loss is filled to the brim with gut-wrenching letdowns. Because pain is part of the process.
But this year, all of that turned around.
This year, the Caps defeated their longtime rival, those same Pittsburg Penguins, and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. They rode a hot goalie to the Stanley Cup Finals, and their long time star, Alex Ovechkin, finally led his team to hockey’s Promised Land. Since Ovechkin’s arrival in 2004, drafted first overall, his presence eventually brought more regular season success, and with a young superstar core of him and center Nicklas Backstrom, a first championship felt inevitable. However, Ovechkin has admitted that he sometimes took it for granted that he would win a championship, perhaps taking for granted how hard it can be to win. And Ove learned that pain is part of the process.
Surprising no one, Ovechkin was named MVP of the playoffs, securing the Conn Smythe trophy. Ovechkin finished as the postseason’s leading goal-scorer with 15. Ovechkin, who had never made it out of the second round before this season, was all smiles as he made his way through the fourth and final happy handshake line of this incredible postseason run for the Capitals.
So let’s learn the lesson. Pain must be part of the process. But our pain is not in vain. Because after a while, it leads to eternal gain, just like the Bible says.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete. TLB
And of course our beloved King James Version reads like this:
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Yes, the Boston Celtics. And I hate the Boston Celtics, but more on that later.
The Boston Celtics sent my Philadelphia Sixers home packing in only five games after jumping out to a 3-0 series lead. The sometimes clumsy and always inconsistent Sixers practically gifted the Celtics Game 2 of their Second Round Playoff series.
Philly’s ancient rival had something to prove in the 2018 NBA Playoffs because everybody had hastily picked the Sixers to advance to a chance to beat LeBron, but it wasn’t meant to be. And then when they blew a late game lead in regulation and then completely lost it in OT in Game 3 to effectually lose the series, the Celtics knew that it was their time. The Sixers had something special going this season, and they were on the verge of something really special. But the Celtics had other plans. And now it’s the Celtics who are on the verge of something special.
The LeBron’s (a.k.a., the Cleveland Cavaliers) are NOT the Sixers, and yet Boston had a 29 point lead on these same Cavs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But lest we forget, Cleveland lost Game 1 to Indiana in the first round, and we were asking if LeBron was out of gas then. And the answer was a unanimous “NO!” LeBron came roaring back to take out the Pacers, and they just thumped the hapless Raptors in a surprising sweep. Now LeBron finds himself in the Eastern conference Finals once again.
So, the question is this: can the Celtics, who are playing without Kyrie Irving, win the East and beat King James, the reigning King of the NBA pop culture? LeBron is still LeBron, and one game aint no series. So we’ll see.
And in case you didn’t know, I’m from Philly, so I HATE the Celtics. I just love to hate them. And that’s where the whole love your enemy like your neighbor part comes in. Did I get that right? Anyway, since I’m from Philly, I mean, I just have to hate all Boston teams, right?
After years of writing and editing and kneading and massaging this baby of an idea inside of me, voila, my book is here! It will be available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com soon so stay tuned! I hope you read and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a pick me upper and a shot in the arm for all who love the little guy and the also-rans in sports and in life.
Here a few excerpts from the back cover:
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 to triumph in spite of adversity.
Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds looks back to those who have alreadly overcome and looks forward to those facing overwhelming obstacles yet to be overcome.
This book examines the intersection of God and sports . . . and is a tribute to all of the biblical long-shots; to all of those who, in sports and in life, “didn’t stand a chance.”
Here we go! The Sixers and the Celtics are getting ready to go at it in the playoffs one more time. And it will be just like old times, right? For those that can remember, Dr. J. played against Larry Bird all season long and almost every year in the playoffs. They went toe to toe, duking it out, sometimes literally, each leading their team, each vying for Eastern Conference supremacy. It was great theater and better basketball.
And here we go again. Now we have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid versus a new band of Bostonians including Al Horford, Terry Rozier and rookie sensational Jason Tatum. It should be an instant classic series. All of Philly and all of Boston are sitting on the edge of their seats already in gleeful anticipation — and the opening tip off hasn’t even come yet.
And that’s the anticipation that Christians have living in these toxic and turbulent times. We don’t fear what’s going to happen next. We anticipate the lively hope we actually already have, and now enjoy the promise of the soon coming of Christ. The gloom and doom of yesterday and today will fade in God’s tomorrow as Christ will usher in a truly golden age of bountiful blessings for all who trust and believe in Him.
We have the promise now, and will inherit a retirement package second to none. The theologians call it “the already and not yet.”
And that’s the lesson that this new, highly anticipated Philly/Boston NBA Basketball Playoff series teaches us. Anticipation and expectation are spiritual things. And they belong in church and in sports too.
Baker Mayfield is the embodiment of faith and hope and love for the game that Cleveland Browns fans have everywhere. At least some think he is. He’s a risk and a gamble and a wild card and a wild one as the Browns are going out on a limb and betting the farm on a hothead who’s got a hot arm who hopefully can get on a hot streak. We’ll all have to just wait and see how it turns out because right now he’s just numbers on paper. Here’s what an ESPN staff writer had to say about Mayfield being the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft:
The Browns has been expected to take a quarterback and had insisted Mayfield was under consideration through the pre-draft process. Most speculation still centered on USC’s Sam Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen, but momentum started to build in the last few days that the Browns favored Mayfield.
Cleveland also had the fourth pick Thursday and used it to select Denzel Ward, a cornerback back from Ohio State.
Mayfield, who had a stellar college career at Oklahoma but also made headlines with his behavior on and off the field, will be tasked with turning around a Browns team that went 0-16 last season.
Mayfield joins a roster that has Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback and Drew Stanton as the backup. The Browns hope to play Taylor this season, allowing Mayfield time to learn and grow. Mayfield, though, said at the scouting combine he would never “settle” for a backup role.
The Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002, which is the longest active drought in the NFL. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have had 28 different starting quarterbacks — the most in the league during that span.
Baker Mayfield will be tasked with turning around a Browns franchise coming off an 0-16 season in 2017. Harry How/Getty Images
Mayfield led FBS with a 70.5 completion percentage in 2017, and he set a single-season record by averaging 11.5 yards per attempt. He threw for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
But Mayfield also garnered negative attention in recent years for his on-field antics, which included making an inappropriate gesture toward Kansas’ sideline and for planting Oklahoma’s flag on Ohio State’s logo at the 50-yard line after the Sooners’ victory over the Buckeyes. And if that wasn’t enough, on top of all that, Mayfield also was arrested last year in Arkansas on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest. He reached a plea deal last June and paid fines for several of the charges.
Throughout the draft process, the Browns said they felt Mayfield had admitted to mistakes and they were behind him. Browns general manager John Dorsey even joked with Mayfield at the team’s combine interview, asking how he liked food trucks, a reference to the February 2017 arrest that took place near food trucks.
Mayfield, who is from Austin, Texas, transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma after his freshman season. During his college career, he threw for 14,607 yards and had 131 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions. He also rushed for 21 TDs and caught another during his college career.”
“When I was six years old, while playing with an old doll on a beat up sofa, I heard a knock at the door. My grandmother opened the door to reveal a woman I had seen earlier at school that day. My grandmother burst into tears and I was terribly confused. In that moment, I was being taken away and placed in the custody of Children Protective Services. Where was my mother? My father? Both were out on drug binges and I had not seen them in days.
Over the years, the only ounce of stability I received was in the eight hours I spent in the classroom. It was my comfort zone. I was a confused fourteen year old child who had already lived in over six different residences between all four years of high school. Some were friends whose parents allowed me to stay long term, and others were friends who sometimes had to sneak me in to stay the night. I was supposed to be thinking about what color lip gloss to wear or where to hang out with my friends over the weekend, however, I was worried about whose house could I stay at the following day. Soon things became overbearing and I reluctantly dropped out of school during my senior year. I wanted to help others who were in awful situations, perhaps plead someone’s case for innocence, yet I had no diploma and no desire to return to school. As the years grew, my dreams for becoming an attorney died.
By January of 2009, I was a mother of three and given the news of expecting my fourth child. As excited as I was, this turned out to be the most traumatic year I had ever experienced. Each month presented an overwhelming tragedy. I lost everything I owned in a house fire, was laid off from my job, and while seven months pregnant, lost my children’s father to cancer. I was suddenly a single mother of four with nothing to fall back on; not even my sanity. I had four children, and I was already in my late 20’s. However, in the midst of this turmoil, I went back to school to obtain my GED. I did not want my children to experience what I did as a child. I had to succeed for them and for myself.
Upon matriculation into Thurgood Marshall School of Law, I was scared. I was a mother of five young children, and the only help I had was that of my church family and my sister, who also has five children of her own. My sisters’ love and care for me and my children helped me out in ways that are indescribable. She cooked for us, watched my children and hers after doing long hours at work, and most importantly, she always encouraged me and was a shoulder to lean on when I cried. She has been there every step of the way for me, despite her own personal obstacles she’s had to overcome. My church family has walked this journey with me since day one and has prayed for me daily, talked me out of giving up and most of all, they’ve been a family like no other. They’ve opened their home to me and my children and comforted me. It is situations such as those that gives me the drive and eagerness to become a successful attorney. Many of my peers identify me as a walking testimony, and are amazed at where I am today. I was once told that the odds were against me. I responded by not just defying the odds, but destroying them by resurrecting a dream that died.
I took the pictures with my kids because they helped me through school. They’re graduating too! They would help me review with flash cards while I cooked. They would sit as a mock jury while I taught them what I learned that day. I would sit in my closet and pray and cry because I was overwhelmed and my oldest son, David, would gather his siblings, give them a snack, make them take a bath, gather their school clothes, all to make things easier for me. And I had no knowledge of him doing that until I went to do it!”