How High Can The Eagles Fly?

Eagles Nelson Agholor

Bald eagles can fly 10,000 to 15,000 feet high at about 65 mph. They can glide for hours without rest on warm updrafts of air. With their acute vision, they are able to spot prey a mile down below. Eagles swoop down at amazing speeds of 200 mph and lift up the prey with their strong talons.

Wow.  That’s incredible.

So hat’s off to any and all teams that adopt the eagle as their mascot.  And that brings us to my Philadelphia Eagles. This year’s Eagles have promise and potential that previous teams had but with one twist: now we have a quarterback and a coach and a contingent of fans that are rallying around the fact that this could be THE year. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know, I know; you’ve heard this before but we will say it yet again.  Before was then but this is now.  

Now is a 2017 team that’s confident, not cocky; self-assured but not self-righteous; relevant and not arrogant.  And one of the big reasons that the Eagles are flying high at 5-1 is the play of wide receiver Nelson Agholor. He had is problems last year, but this year he’s a totally different bird. Talk about turnarounds. 

Now is a 2017 team that has a big game coming up on MNF, Monday Night Football against the heated NFC East rival Washington Redskins. And if the Eagles win and to 6-1, then I say that the sky is the limit.

And that’s the life lesson that sports teaches young and old, rich and poor, big and small, first round draft pick and last-minute walk on; the sky is the limit to what we can have.  Start with your dream, proceed with your desire, progress with your drive and be determined to fulfill your destiny and finish.  

So how high can these Eagles fly? Or more importantly, how high can you fly?  Don’t let anything stop you from climbing higher and flying farther and soring faster than you can even ask or think. And herein lies the beauty of Christianity. The prophet Zechariah put it this way:

 He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David.  

Zechariah 12:8

“Here is a marked difference between all other beliefs and Christianity. So clear, full, and efficient shall be the salvation of believers under the Gospel, that the feeblest among them shall be as strong, as full of courage, and as successful as David when he went against Goliath. Ergo, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary)

Fly Eagles, fly.

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.

TZ-Star-of-Bethlehem_grid-6x2

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.

Hold On!

Fly Eagles Fly

Sometimes you just have to hold on. Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy paced the surging Eagles past the Redskins at “The Link” (Lincoln Financial Field in South Philly). Nick Foles threw for 298 yards and ran for a touchdown; LeSean McCoy had two TDs rushing as the Philadelphia Eagles snapped a 10-game home losing streak and held on to a 24-16 victory over the Washington Redskins. 

The definition of “hold on” is priceless. It means “to fasten from above with no support from below.”  To fasten from above: let’s stop right there. First, as believers in the invisible God, but the very tangible Spirit of God, we set our affections on things above.  We set our minds on things above. And we seek only that which is above. We look to Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us.  We are “fastened from above.”

Second, the definition says that “there is no support from below.” How spiritual is that?  We have no reliable support from earthly things. The only hope we have is in Christ Jesus. “Our hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteous. We dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

Sometimes you just have to hold on.  Just ask the Apostle Paul.  “The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. The others held onto planks or debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely to shore.”   Acts 27:42-44, New Living Translation.

Paul was as good as dead.  At every turn, Paul was attacked, assailed, and accosted by the enemy. If it wasn’t the Jews it was the Judaizers.  If it wasn’t the Romans it was a bunch of rabid rebels. The enemy is hell-bent on killing us and has nefarious intentions on destroying us.

And so sometimes you just have to hold on. As for Paul, this time, the storm didn’t kill him, neither did the soldiers. We don’t know how Paul made to shore, but make to shore he did.  He may have been one of those who couldn’t swim but had to make his way as best he could with “the others who held onto planks or broken pieces of the ship.”  But he held on.  And that’s all that counts.  It’s not how you win, it’s the fact that you win.

So hold. Help is on the way.

That’s The Way The Ball Bounces

Packers Eagles Football

How on earth did he catch that ball?  Maybe that’s it – there’s no way on earth he caught it; anybody believe in Divine intervention? Even though many don’t want to equate spirituality with sports, how else can you explain what happens in situations like this? Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had no business throwing into double coverage. Nine out of ten times, that pass is intercepted, Philly looses to Green Bay, and the Eagles season is over.

Instead, a deflected pass lands in DeSean Jackson’s hands.  Jackson is in the right place at the right time; the Eagles score first, go on to win, and are now tied with the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East.  You just can’t write that kind of script. That’s just the way the ball bounces.

There are times when we have no business winning, no business coming away with a touchdown catch, no business coming out on top. There are defenders determined to intercept our blessings, challengers charged with cutting-off our miracles, and opponents obsessed with obtaining our crowns. And yet, the ball bounces our way. It can’t be explained.  It can only be experienced.  And that’s the way the ball bounces.

It’s a modern proverb. You cannot control everything that happens to you. But you can control how you react to everything that happens to you.  Those of us who believe in heaven and hell, right and wrong, virtue and vice, know that good will overcome evil, and that there is order in the universe. God is in control. Thank God good happens when we expect bad; unfortunately, the opposite is also true: bad happens when we expect good.  But we know how the story ends. 

 So, the next time you’re double teamed, the next time the ball should be snatched away from you, the next time you come away unscathed, unphased and undefeated, know that you are in the same company as the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were thrown into the fiery furnace.  They were outgunned, outmatched and seemingly outdone.  But we know how the story ends.

And that’s the way the ball bounces.

High Hopes

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Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee; (Zechariah 9:12, KJV)

I am a prisoner of hope. I am bound and chained to hope. I will always believe.

The Philadelphia Eagles (pronounced Iggles) beat the Washington Redskins last night in the season opener. It was a Monday Night Football game, and the Redskins were favored to win. What happened in the first half was nothing short of phenomenal. Early in the third quarter they went up 33-7, and it wasn’t that close. And now, because of that unexpected victory, we Eagles fans now have “high hopes.”

The walk to Emmaus was a short distance but this time if felt like a long way. For Cleopas and his friend as they walked back from Jerusalem to their home town on that first Easter Sunday, their heads were down and their prospects were dim. They had high expectations of Jesus, but it appeared to them that what they had hoped for did not come true.

But then along came the Master. They didn’t recognize this supposed stranger, and yet they knew of the prophesied resurrection of Jesus. They knew he was crucified on Friday, buried in a borrowed tomb, and was scheduled to rise from the dead on the third day.  “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened” (Luke 24:21-22, RSV).

After walking and talking with Jesus — albeit unbeknownst to them — he shared with them. “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27 RSV).  Jesus knows how to approach us, how to come alongside us, and how give us a boost and a shot in the arm just when we need Him most.

We need to walk and talk with Jesus, and tell him all about our troubles. We need to tell Him our fears and frustrations and doubts and dejections; all of our innermost feelings that get all bottled up inside and hinder us from believing Him fully. 

Believers, above all others, should have high hopes. We are to be eternal optimists.  As Frank Sinatra sang, we should have “high apple pie in the sky hopes.”

 

Next time your found, with your chin on the ground

There a lot to be learned, so look around

Just what makes that little old ant

Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant

Anyone knows an ant, cant

Move a rubber tree plant

 

But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes

He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

 

So any time you’re getting’ low

Stead of lettin’ go

Just remember that ant

Oops there goes another rubber tree plant!

 

The song is silly, but it makes serious sense.  Proverbs tells us that we need to consider the ant: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6).  Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just like he said he would. Because he rose from the dead, we can, in all situations and circumstances, have high hopes.

Start Over!

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles

“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  Philippians 3:13-14, New Living Translation

Starting Over.  It’s something we all need to do.  Michael Vick’s story is one of new beginnings.  Yes, I am an Eagles (pronounced Iggles) fan.  Eagles all the way baby! But aside from my allegiance, I root for Michael Vick because his is truly a rags-to-riches back to rags and then to redemption story. Everybody, at some point in their life, needs a new beginning. Everybody can use a fresh start. So start over.  Start over today.

Summary and excerpts from the Book, Finally Free, by Michael Vick: An Autobiography, with Rodney Gardiner (Narrator), Tony Dungy (Foreword)

One of the most talented and polarizing athletes of our generation, Michael Vick’s stunning story has captured news headlines across the nation. From his poverty-stricken youth, to his success on the field in high school and college, to his rise to NFL stardom and his fall from grace, Finally Free shows how a gifted athlete’s life spiraled out of control under the glare of money and fame, aided by his own poor choices. In his own words, Vick details his regrets, his search for forgiveness, the moments of unlikely grace — and the brokenness that brought his redemption on the way to his celebrated return to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Michael shared with me how he had drifted away from the Christian faith in which his grandmother had raised him. I gave him a little advice that my Dad had passed on to me years ago.  ‘When you have a problem, don’t dwell on where you are but spend your energy thinking about how you’re going to make the situation better.’

Finally Free tells an amazing story.  It’s not all pretty, but it’s real.  If you’re like me – if you’ve ever done something in your life you wish you could take back – it will encourage you to learn that we serve a God of second chances. The story is not complete by any means, but this book will let you know why I’m so proud of Michael Vick and honored to call him a friend – because he has made the later chapters of his life better than the earlier ones.

And isn’t that what life’s all about?”

Tony Dungy