The Eagles Need A Christmas Miracle

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Do you believe in miracles?

The Eagles just got one, as they defeated the New York “Football” Giants, 23-17 in OT on Monday Night Football (in the rain, mind you!) at Lincoln Financial Field. After a dismal and tragic first half, the Eagles scored 20 unanswered points to pull out a thrilling, come from behind, turnaround, must win game.

Can a Christmas miracle come in four parts? If it can, the Philadelphia Eagles just got Act One. Shakespearean plays are divided into acts and scenes – and always have a Five Act structure, no exceptions. But for the Eagles, we’ll make an exception here, because they need just three more wins, or “Acts,” to win the Division.

Do you believe in miracles? After tonight’s win, you just have too. The Eagles season has been somewhat of a Shakespearean Tragedy, and the heartbreaking first three months of the 2019 season has felt like and has been full of calamity and catastrophe, just like Shakespeare would draw it up.

But that was then, and this is now. Now, with this win, the horrid and hideous opening of this season can now lead to a tremendous, comedic conclusion. The Eagles are now 6-7, a losing record not so far removed from their historic Super Bowl LII win.

For the Eagles to comeback from way back, you must believe in miracles. This season has had more than enough heartache and had looked like it will end in heartbreak before tonight’s miraculous and momentous end. If the Eagles win their remaining games, they win the NFC East and move on to the playoffs. But they will need a miracle to do it. And they just got part one, thanks to a touchdown from Wentz to Ertz in overtime

Do you believe in miracles? You must. Christmas is all about miracles. The miracle of the virgin birth paved the way for every other miracle, including the one we just got tonight.

Was I watching? No. I couldn’t bear to watch, so instead my wife and I had on a heartwarming miracle movie on the Hallmark Channel. Yes, the Hallmark Channel. After the Eagles were down 17-3 at the half, I tuned out and turned the game off. But they won without me. We got the miracle we needed to keep our playoff hopes alive.

Do you believe in miracles? Yes it takes faith and it requires hope. And you must love this Eagles team, warts and all. Yes, I believe in miracles. And if you’re an Eagles fan, you just have to.

Zach Ertz
Zach Ertz after the Super Bowl LII Miracle

Good On Paper

Carson Wentz after Seattle Loss
At the beginning of the 2019 season, Philly fans said that Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper.

 This blog was originally entitled, “Don’t Give Up On Your Team, Vol. II, a.k.a., ‘What’s With Wentz?’  Instead, “Good On Paper” says it all.

At the beginning of the 2019 season, the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper. They had speed at the wide receiver position in DeSean Jackson, they had depth on defense, and — ahem — presumably they had a healthy Carson Wentz, our franchise quarterback, ready to return to his vintage form. But that was then, And THAT was on paper.

Carson Wentz had arguably his worst game as a professional yesterday as the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 17-9.  Wentz committed five, count’ em, FIVE turnovers, and lost four, with two interceptions and two fumbles.  Two words immediately come to mind: unbelievable and unacceptable.

Dude.  Brother.  Homie. I mean really? Seriously? C’mon Man! Man up, settle down, bring her in and get the lead out.  Wentz, you are better than this. But you’re not showing it. And the Philly Faithful is holding out hope that you will return to the MVP form you had at the beginning of the 2017 Super Bowl Season. Did I mention the Super Bowl LII win? Surely I digress, Yes, Philly fans are still holding on and holding out for a repeat performance from our wonderful Wentz of a quarterback. But Man! Is this guy making it hard or what?

For the Philadelphia Eagles, to say that this season has not gone according to plan is putting it mildly.  The Eagles are a paltry and pitiful 5-6, and there are at least two games that we’ve, I mean THEY, have lost early on in the season that should have gone the other way.

But some say that there’s still hope. Some say that the Eagles still have a chance (a fat one?) at winning the Division, the NFC East. The Eagles have a light schedule against pancake teams the rest of the way, such as Miami, the Giants TWICE and the Redskins. But there is no guarantee that things will get better.  Based on Carson’s play yesterday, things could absolutely, utterly and totally go from bad to worse. There is no guarantee that these Eagles, or more specifically, Carson Wentz, will right the ship and earnestly and honestly content for a crown, this year or even next.

But we must not lose hope in our team, right? We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we must not jump to conclusions, right? But we also must lift our faith from the pages of the Bible to the table or our hearts. Faith without works is dead. And thus far this season, this Eagles team has given us little faith and less to work with. 

ON PAPER, we should still hold out and hold on to hope: Here’s how heavy.com put the Eagles chances:

“The Eagles’ record stands at 5-6, while the Cowboys dropped to 6-5. It’s a one-game difference with five games to play. The way the Birds have played in recent weeks leaves room for doubt. Maybe their offense can’t score enough points to even win another game. Hold on. Look at their remaining schedule.

Philadelphia has the 12th-easiest schedule the rest of the way, according to Team Rankings. Their opponents’ records are a combined 18-41 while the Cowboys still face stiff tests against the Bills (8-3), Rams (6-4) and Bears (5-6).

(On paper,) the Eagles should reel off three straight wins starting this week in Miami, with a showdown at Lincoln Financial Field versus Dallas on the horizon in Week 16. That game would likely decide the NFC East. As bad as Philadelphia has played, (on paper), it’s all in front of them.”

In other words, the Eagles have a chance of making the playoffs, as their chances of winning the Division are good, but they’re only good on paper.

Good on paper. For more than a few folks, everything adds up, on paper.  It’s sad to say, but most of the majority of mankind (in the West, at least) may well have it all together, on paper. That’s what some people are like. They appear good and they show well. They have a good job, they drive a nice car and they live in a big house in a nice neighborhood. They may even go to church, but that’s all on paper.  

Truth be told, some Christians look good, but just on paper. They do the right things, use the right words, and give the right answers. They look nice and shiny on the outside. They go to church every week; they may even sing on the choir or play on the keyboard or even unlock and lock the church doors. They may serve as an usher or a deacon or a Sunday school teacher. They may even preach in the pulpit. But that’s all on paper.

Real people are more than the sum of their parts on paper. How do they actually live? What’s actually in their heart? And why do they do what they do? What is their motivation and inspiration for life?  Do these “good on paper” people actually believe that Jesus Christ is the center and focus of our life of faith?

Alright enough; enough about those “good on paper” patsies. How about you? Does Christ  dictate what you do and what you say? Are you authentically altruistic, genuinely genial and wholeheartedly wholesome?

This Christmas, let’s do better than be good on paper.

Let’s be true for real.  

“Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus”

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This is a 1991 Christmas film that you’ll have to tell me about, because I’ve never seen it. According to IMDb, the plot summary goes like this: “While newspaper writer Church struggles with the death of his wife, he receives a ‘special’ assignment. He must answer a little girl’s question about whether Santa Claus really exists. It’s based on a true story.”

And the Eagle’s win against the Oakland Raiders on a frosty, Christmas Monday Night proved once again that miracles are possible, and they do in fact happen.  And if backup QB Nick Foles and all of Philly ever needed a miracle, tonight was the night. Foles looked horrible, and did everything possible to lose this game.

On a cold winter’s night in late December, the Eagles had a chance to sew up home field advantage in the playoffs. But they were flat and cold and they ran into a buzzsaw of a running back that’s torched them before.  Enter Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders with nothing to play for but to be a spoiler.

And spoiler they nearly were. Both teams played ugly and gritty, neither looking like they wanted to win. In fact, this was probably the worst the football team from Philly has played all year, and yet somehow, someway they pulled off an undeserved win.

Ever been on the plus side of an undesirved win? It’s better than beeing on the wrong side of the tracks. And it makes you awfully grateful.

All jokes aside, isn’t what God did for us on the first Christmas equally undeserving? The first Noel was to lowly shepherds, signaling the coming of grace to the least of all.

It just goes to show ya; you can be down but you don’t have to be out. You can look bad and still come out clean. You can lose battles and still win the war. And you can make mistakes and deserve defeat and still, with the help of the God of Heaven, gain the victory.

Santa Claus is the holly, jolly, giving, loving and caring saint who indeed lives in the hearts of every child and every child at heart. And so I’m offering this simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two; miracles can and do happen.

You’ve just gotta believe

A Christmas Miracle

Embiid Phila Magazine

On this one of the most spiritually significant days of the year, the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers just gave sports and non-sports fans alike a reason to believe in miracles. Again. My Sixers just beat the New York Knicks 105 – 98 at MSG (that’s Madison Square Garden) in what was a Christmas Day Miracle for Philly fans everywhere. 

New York, this Christmas,  Joel Embiid has come to town. 

This was the first time Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons played on Christmas and they played before an amped and anxious, national TV audience full of fans who want to believe. We want to believe that Philly sports are back on track to stay, and that the Sixers will only get better as time goes on. But this win wasn’t pretty or easy.

The miracle was that as good as the Sixers can be, they can be just as bad as well.  They can be lights out pretty, scary good or turn the lights out ugly, horror movie bad the next week or the next game or the next possession.  Sheesh. 

The professional basketball team from Philly needs to learn how to finish and complete and accomplish a total team win. There are some things that we can control. So control them. You can’t avoid making mistakes, but you can minimize your faults and your flubs. Falling apart in the fourth quarter is always a bad thing, and protecting the lead is always good thing, especially when the game is on the line.  Hear that Sixers?

It sports and in life, we all need to think things through and think things over and try to stay cool and calm and calculated, even and especially when we’re under pressure.  When you get rattled and you don’t reason, you tend to throw the ball away or rush the shot or commit a silly foul when a prudent, practical and pragmatic play would be warranted.  Discretion is always the better part of valor. Because it’s always better to make the safe play than trying to be the hero and trying to be Superman.

That’s why we thank God for grace. When we can’t or don’t play or live as best as we should, grace steps in and delivers a gift wrapped miracle just for us.

Remember the Sears Christmas Wish Book Catalog?

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Who remembers the Sears Christmas Wish Book Catalog? The Sears Christmas Wish Book was and is a holiday tradition. The very first Sears Wish Book came out in 1933. Featured items in this first catalog included the “Miss Pigtails” doll, an electric (battery powered) toy automobile, a Mickey Mouse watch, fruitcakes, Lionel electric trains, a five pound box of chocolates, and live singing canaries.

I loved the Sears Wish Book! Growing up, my sisters and I would literally fight each other over who got to see the catalog first, because we got to pick which toys we wanted from this annual registry of toys and trinkets and trifles. This was all to the chagrin of my parents, who outwardly groaned and moaned; but inwardly, I’m sure that way, deep, down, they loved to buy toys for their children, because they loved to see us glow and giggle after they gave us what we wanted. But that was then. This is now.

Now, we’ve matured and realize that we don’t always get what we want. But what I want is what most – if not all – of what Philly wants, and that’s Chip Kelly out of town. He needs to be flayed and then fired, sacked and then canned, discharged and unilaterally dismissed. He’s caput in Philly; the only problem is, he doesn’t know it, at least not yet.

So it’s official: Chip Kelly has GOT to go. Go where, you say? Anywhere but in South Philly. His team is disappointing and disconcerting, depressing and distressing, and if there is one coach in the NFL who needs to take a hike, it’s Chip Kelly.

And for Christmas this year, I wish that all Philly fans everywhere will sign my petition to have Kelly kicked to the curb and ditched to the dump. So why am I so steamed and so reamed and so stumped and so stymied? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Kelly’s system IS NOT working. Case in point, in last night’s awful, dreadful and dismal display of a game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles were down just 17-10 but yet they were driving down the field, within reach of a tying touchdown. Then the inexplicable happened.

DeMarco Murray is an All Pro running back and was last year’s League leading rusher. Kelly traded Shady McCoy and then brought in Murray from Dallas to run up the gut and gain critical first downs on short yardage plays in critical 3rd down, or dare I say 4th and inches situations. Murray was on the BENCH, err – sidelines in football, when we had a 4th and inches situation in the Red Zone! Seriously!? And the end result? You guessed it – we didn’t get the first down. We turned the ball over on downs and went on to lose 40-17.

So the silver lining may be this: As much as I want Kelly gone, Kelly can redeem himself. He can win the NFC East and give Philly a playoff game and- dare I say, a playoff win? Because Christmas is more about giving than getting. Christmas is all about redemption. Mankind was lost and God sent his Son to buy back and get back the lost souls that he made. Thank God for Christmas.

Sears Wish Book

I’m sure many tiny tots everywhere still look forward to fawning over the Sears Wish Book. It was fun then and I’m sure it’s still fun now. Because Christmas is all about the joy of giving what is really needed, and getting what is really wanted.

Expect The Unexpected

Eagles v. Bears

Eagles 54 – Bears 11?

There are some games that turn out contrary to what most expected going in. Some contests have a final score wildly different from what the prognosticators predicted. And some match-ups don’t look like much on paper, yet they have outcomes outlandishly opposite our best hopes or worst fears.  Some nights, everything turns out right (or wrong) depending on which sideline you stand on.

As a believer in the God of the Bible, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. This is true in my spiritual life as well as my natural life, and my “sports life” as well.  Last night, with the entire NFL world watching, my Eagles did the unexpected. Not only did they defeat the favored Chicago Bears, they walloped them. The final score was 54 to 11, and, as they say in the sports biz, “it wasn’t that close.” The Eagles did just about everything right, and the Bears did just about everything wrong.

God is the God of the unexpected. He unexpectedly allowed Elizabeth to give birth to John the Baptist at a very old age. God unexpectedly chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of our Lord. And He unexpectedly chose shepherds to be the first recipients of the message of the birth of Christ. God is full of surprises.

God is the God of the unexpected. The devil did not believe the Scripture which prophesied of a Virgin conceiving and giving birth to Immanuel, God with us.  Our enemy did not factor in God using an unknown, unlikely and unsuspecting humble girl to be the mother of Jesus Christ. That old serpent could not prevent the coming of the Christ child, even though he used Herod to slaughter the innocents.

As a believer in the God of the Bible, I’ve come to expect the unexpected.  God is the God the unexpected and Christmas is the ultimate expression of this expected unexpectancy.  We should trust that our God will do the impossible, the improbable and the unexplainable in order to deliver His people from depression and dejection, and to save His people from oppression and suppression; He will go to any length and leave no stone unturned to save His people from the penalty, power and presence of sin.

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The Star of Bethlehem was an unexpected sign to the wise men of the expected coming of our Lord, and this song by the 2nd Chapter of Acts neatly sums it up:

 Heaven came to earth in a small package

For a child was born, a gift to man

Yes the living light came to the darkness

Wore the harness of mankind

 

Laid His body down to be sin for us

Gave His earthly crown so we could be kings

Yes He came to break the yoke of darkness

That would harness all mankind

 

This morning star of love still shines (and shines)

We buried Him within our sin but He rose again

 

Gave His heart away so we could find Him

Changed our night to day so we’d live in light

Tore the veil between the light and darkness

Broke the harness for mankind

 

This morning star of love still shines (and shines)

We buried Him within our sin but He rose again

 

Let our hearts rejoice in Christ our Savior

Let us come before His throne with praise

Let us pray for peace so we’ll break the darkness

Melt the hardness of mankind

   Artist: 2nd Chapter of Acts ,  Heaven Came to Earth

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, God pulls a fast one.  Just when you think you’re at the end of your rope and all hope is lost, God has a way of doing the unexpected. When the odds are against you and it seems that no one is with you or “for” you, God has a way of doing only what only He can do; He will step up and step in and set the record straight. God will do what is impossible for man but is totally possible for Him, because He is God.

This Christmas, expect the unexpected.

One Lord, One Faith, One Heisman

NCAA-Football-Heisman-Trophy-Presentation

 

There is only one Heisman. It is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football in the United States whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. It is presented by the Heisman Trophy Trust in early December before the postseason bowl games.  The Heisman Trophy is seen to be the premier athletic award in all of sports, and the athlete that wins the Heisman is seen to be head and shoulders above his peers in the sport.

Jameis Winston won the 2013 Heisman Trophy cementing himself as the “Best of the Best.”  Winston took college football by storm this season, lifting No. 1-ranked Florida State to its first BCS National Championship Game appearance since 2000. He put himself on the radar with a stunning performance in the Seminoles’ opening victory at Pittsburgh and never stopped, finishing the season with 3,820 passing yards and 38 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Winston completed 67.9 percent of his passes and led the nation in passing efficiency.

“When you watch someone work so hard for something and be so team-oriented it reinforces good things happen to the good guys,” Coach Fisher said. “The trials and tribulations and things he went through, he had to stay strong. It’s the true mark of a man when you have your own individual issues and you never let them get in the way of us reaching our goals as a team.”  What a spiritually profound statement. It was certainly apparent that faith is what carried Jameis Winston to the top of his game.

2013 Heisman Trophy Presentation - Press Conference

There is only one faith. Faith in God who created heaven and earth is shared by most of the people of the world.  The differences between us center on how we worship and Who we worship. But most of the world claims to worship a supreme being, a supernatural person, a divine deity, who is the mastermind behind the creation of the heavens and the earth.  We all worship someone or something, be it an avatar or an angel, a savior or a spirit; we all worship.

Moses won the admiration and allegiance of the children of Israel when God delivered them from the power of Pharaoh, their enemy in Egypt.  David won the respect and reverence of the men of Judah when God delivered them from the tyranny of the Philistines and the taunting of Goliath. Moses and David prefigured One who would soon come to deliver all people from the power, penalty and presence of sin. He came to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.   

There is only one Lord.  It follows that “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:5).  He is the One and only.  He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and everything in between.  When asked if he would turn away, Peter boldly replied, “to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”  Peter also professed that Jesus is “The Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  We believe and are sure that Jesus is Lord of all. And if He is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all. Paul concurred and gave us this doctrine:

“For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:5-6, NIV)

There is only one holiday or Holy Day, like Christmas, which is Christ’s Mass; the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist.  The Mass is “the source and summit of the Christian life”, to which the other sacraments are oriented.  This Advent season, remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. Let us be like the wise men and seek him. Let us be like the shepherds and adore Him.

O come let us adore Him; the One true and living God, Jesus Christ the Lord.