Tiger Woods: Will He Make It All The Way Back?

PGA Championship - Final Round
Tiger Woods at the 2018 PGA Championship, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis

Now it seems as if Tiger Woods is always a bridesmaid, and not the bride. 

Tiger didn’t win the 2018 PGA Championship today. Tiger did not win his elusive 15th career major title at the PGA Championship. And Tiger did not sink the shots and the puts and the drives that he needed to hit to come out on top. But Tiger did win the hearts of the fans and he came away encouraged after his best finish at a major in nearly a decade. He lost by two strokes; and he was only one shot off the lead coming down the back nine. And he’s come in 2nd seven times now since coming back from back surgery.  

“The St. Louis fans waited 17 years to see Woods, and he delivered a performance that took golf back in time. Without hitting a fairway on the front nine, Woods cut the four-shot deficit to two. Dialed in on the back nine, he hit his approach to a foot on the 15th hole to get within one shot. The winner, Brooks Koepka, heard the roars from the crowd, all for Woods, and he answered with great shots of his own, finally converting the birdies to pull away.

Amid relentless pandemonium, Koepka ran off three straight birdies to end the front nine and seize control. When he was tied with Adam Scott through 14 holes, with Woods one shot behind, he delivered back-to-back birdies.

The crowd was enormous, louder than anything in golf this side of Augusta National or a Ryder Cup, and Woods looked closer than ever to capping his comeback from four back surgeries with another major.

Even with two bogeys, Woods shot 64 for his lowest final round in a major. He finished at 266, beating by three shots his best 72-hole score in a major.

But, it wasn’t enough. ‘I played hard,” Woods said. “I made a bit of a run. It looks like I’m going to come up a little short.’” http://www.cbc.ca/sports/golf/pga-championship-final-round-tiger-woods-brooks-koepka-1.4782774

And sometimes we all feel that way too, don’t we? We play our best, and live our best, and play our hearts out and give our all; and yet and still we come up short.

This is where the spiritual side of sports comes in. When we come up short, God fills in the gaps and the holes and the cracks so that we can be healthy and whole. We are only complete in Him. We are only victorious in Him. We are only winners in Him. In fact,  we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Thank God. Thank God for Jesus. Thank God that Heaven knew that we would come up short and came to our rescue.

God is still filling in our cracks and covering for us when we fall short. And He does it every time.  God is still giving us bonus “stoppage” time to score a goal and giving us overtime to win the game and giving us extra innings to drive in the winning run. God is still redeeming our lives from corruption and disruption and destruction. Yes, God is still working miracles for us.

Perhaps God will work a miracle for Tiger Woods, on the golf course, and in the course of his life,  too.

The Philadelphia Eagles Overcome Everything!

Nick Foles Lombardi TrophyThe Philadelphia Eagles overcame everything that was thrown their way in route to winning Super Bowl LII in a wire to wire thriller.  They overcame injuries and insults and insolence and indifference.  They overcame being underdogs and afterthoughts and from being dead last in the NFC East a season ago to coming back from way back to shock the NFL World in 2018 on Super Bowl Sunday Night.

No one, and I mean NO ONE, picked my Eagles to defeat the evil empire New England Patriots (except maybe Randy Moss). But every other so-called “expert” in the field of professional sports picked the Pats to win in a laugher.  But they were wrong.

The Eagles lost their star quarterback Carson Wentz and their vitally important All Pro Offensive left tackle Jason Peters (remember “The Blind Side?”) and their defensive leader Michael Kendricks along the way.  They finished dead last in the NFC East last year (did I say that already?) and were picked to do the same this year.  But that was then and this is now.

There are so many redemptive stories on this Eagles Championship team. But the story of Nick Foles takes the cake.  Nick Foles emerged from the shadows and proved the doubters wrong as he played better than even he may have expected in the playoffs to give Philly their first Super Bowl win, ever. And how sweet it is! 

Here’s what the New York Times had to say about Nick Foles winning Super Bowl MVP honors:

“Three weeks ago the thought of Foles being named the most valuable player of Super Bowl LII would have seemed ludicrous, but after watching the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback crush the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, and then essentially match that performance against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, the choice seemed obvious.” Amen to that.

Nick Foles taught us how to endure and persevere and hang on in there. Yes Nick made a difference, but his teammates believed in him and in the power of “TEAM” as well.  For everyone out there who’s thinking about quitting (Nick Foles did) or giving up or listening to what everyone else is saying, hold on just one minute. The motto for the Eagles this postseason was this; “one can make a difference, but a team can make a miracle.”  And that’s it; that’s the answer.

The Eagles had a miracle season and a miracle Super Bowl and got miraculous plays from players who believe in miracles. At the end of the game, when they needed one defensive stop — just one — they got it, just when they needed it most. The Eagles got a strip-sack-fumble of Brady by Brandom Graham which bounced right into the hands of Derek Barnett. But to seal the deal, they needed yet another stop, and they got it: a deflected Hail Mary prayer of a pass to Gronkowski fell harmlessly to the turf.  Thank God!

And miracles still happen because we still believe in the power of hard work and teamwork and working and believing together. The Eagles just won the Super Bowl when they weren’t supposed to. And along the way, they overcame everything Brady and everyone else threw their way. 

Jesus overcame everthing. He overcame death, hell and the grave. He was in all points tempted, and was yet without sin. And He said this to us:

In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

With Jesus, we can overcome everything, too. We can overcome past pain and present strain. We can overcome the hurt of our dark history and the disappointment of unfulfilled destiny. We can overcome factual failure and fictitious fears. We can overcome everything.

So let’s learn from the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s overcome everything. Everything people say and everything we do. Everything. Let’s overcome every disappointment and every defeat; every hindrance and every setback; every letdown and every putdown; every difficulty and every disadvantage; every big thing and every little thing. Everything.

The Eagles Super Bowl LII win once again proves that we can in fact overcome everything.  And so, my friends, as we celebrate with the Eagles and Philly fans everywhere, let’s determine that with the help of Heaven, we will overcome everything!

Now, They HAVE To Win!


Foles and Wentz

Why should you be cheering for Philly on Super Bowl Sunday? I’ll tell you why. I’m a Philly fan. And, at least for this Super Bowl, you should be too. For a number of reasons, everyone outside of New England should be rooting for Philly.

So here we go:

No.1: The Eagles (pronounced Iggles for all those of you who want to jump on the bandwagon) have a compelling story. They’ve lost their darling, star, MVP-candidate quarterback Carson Wentz to injury.  They lost their All Pro Offensive tackle Jason Peters and then Darren Sproles and several other key players to injury.  And they STILL made it to the Super Bowl!  How can you not root for this team?

No. 2: Carson Wentz is genually happy for Nick Foles. He is. As much as he would like to be out their winning the games and playing in the Super Bowl, he’s a team player, and he is helping and aiding and assisting Foles so that the TEAM wins. And you can’t help but root for that.  

No: 3: The City of Brotherly Love is deserving of a Super Bowl Victory. That’s right. We’ve got some passionate fans (to say the least) and I’m one of them. And we’re Super Bowl starved to the point that a win on February 4th in Minneapolis would quench a lot of fanatic thirst.

No. 4: The fans aren’t that bad. No, we’re not. Yes you may have heard some harsh, horrific, wild and woolly stories about the fans. Don’t believe them all. When people find out I’m an Eagles, they say, “But you’re such a nice guy?” I love it.

No. 5: We’re playing the Evil Empire. That’s right; the Patriots are equivalent to the dark side of the Force and Bill Belichick might as well be Darth Vader at his nadir. So many people hate, and I do mean hate, everything that has anything to do with the Patriots, Tom Brady and all. So there’s plenty of room on the Eagles bandwagon for all of you who want to jump on board.

No. 6a: The Eagles are the underdogs. And they’re relishing this role.  And why not? It’s so spiritual.  God loves the underdog.  All dogs don’t go to Heaven, but all of Heaven is pulling for all underdogs who have been knocked down and shoved aside and left for dead. And if you’ve ever been in the role of an un-liked, unloved and unlikely little guy, you know how it feels to be voted least likely to succeed. And then when you do  succeed, it’s the best thing ever.

No. 6b: The Eagles were underdogs to the best defense in the league this year, the Minnesota Vikings. Yet and still their journeyman backup quarterback, Nick Foles, had the game of his life against them! Go Eaglesssssssssssssssss!

No. 7: The Eagles are destined to win. When Wentz went down, no one, and I mean NO ONE outside of Philly gave them a chance.  So now they must be the team with the date with destiny, right?

So, let’s borrow a movie line from a touching scene in The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katnis Everdeen and a young Amandla Stenberg as Rue. After Katnis goes through all that she goes through to get to the goal line of a victory and was on the verge of a unbelievable upset win, Rue, the cute little caramel colored girl who eventually gets killed imploringly gives Katnis a prophetic word. Remember what she says? She uttered these immortal words: “Now you HAVE to Win!

After all the Eagles have been through, now they have to win.

 

Fly Eagles Fly!

Cleveland Breaks The Record!

Cleveland Indians Logo

Don’t settle for what others have done. The path to victory is paved with the desire to exceed and excel and extend and expand upon what has gone before and what has already been. Newness of life and freshness of spirit are Heaven’s specialty.  God is all about newness and novelty and innovation and imagination.  So if you’re feeling drab and glum and sad and bummed out, break the record.

Don’t be a broken record. Don’t keep repeating the same ole, same ole to your own detriment and demise. Break the record. Do something different, special and exciting that will get the juices flowing. This urban idiom is one of my favorites. According to The Urban Dictionary, “ ‘Get The Juices Flowing’ means to become inspired to greater creativity, productivity, or energy, or to cause such a feeling in someone.” Isn’t that great?

So don’t miss how important and significant it is for the Cleveland Indians to win 21 games in a row. They broke the consecutive wins record of 20 games set by the Oakland Athletics, who won 20 consecutive games in 2002. The Indians are now tied with the 1935 Chicago Cubs of the National League with 21 straight wins.

Why is this such a big deal? First, setting records and then breaking others is spiritual.   “The most recent record setting win was a 5-3 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon in a game sealed by a diving Lonnie Chisenhall catch, evoking a postseason-worthy roar from the 29,346 in attendance and that gave goosebumps to anybody with a sporting soul”. That’s right. If you have a “sporting soul” you understand why breaking records in sports and in life is eerie and even ethereal. http://m.indians.mlb.com/news/article/254088838/indians-21-game-win-streak-against-all-odds/   

“This is the longest win streak in the 116-year history of the American League. It is tied for the second-longest win streak of all-time. It is the most consecutive games any team has won in 82 years. It is a baseball streak that is very much anti-baseball, because it counters everything we know about the humbling nature of a game played just about every day, a game in which ‘momentum is the next day’s starter’ and ‘Hall of Famers fail seven out of 10 times’ and all those other truisms you’ve heard time and again.’”  http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/sports/indians-set-mark-with-21st-straight-win-now-chase-disputed-mlb-record/CMFfkKn1OLvOQi4AW8ehXP/ Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

So, this is for those of us who relish swimming upstream and skirting across the field and cutting against the grain: let’s find a record to break. Let’s prove to all of the “go with the flow,” humdrum, dull, droll, dreary denizens of life that breaking records and reaching beyond our grasp is indeed worth the extra effort after all.

Can Anybody Stop The Dodgers?

Dodgers

The LA Dodgers are RED HOT! 

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball by far. Get this: “L.A.’s winning percentage over the past two months (.863) is nearly 200 points higher than the Nationals’ winning percentage over the past three days (.667). That’s right. With another win on Sunday, the Dodgers are now 44-7 in their past 51 contests. Forty-four and seven. Incredible.

The timing of the Dodgers’ streak is not a coincidence, either: The first of those 51 games came on June 6, when L.A. beat the Nationals in the finale of a three-game set in Tinseltown. The following day, Justin Turner — who’s, um, really good at baseball — returned after missing three weeks with a hammy strain. It has been ice cream and puppy dogs ever since. And that’s despite missing ace Clayton Kershaw for the past two weeks!

Of course, just because Dave Roberts’ club is on pace for an absurd 115 regular-season wins doesn’t guarantee anything in the postseason. Just ask the 2001 Mariners, who set an MLB record by going 116-46, then lost in the ALCS. Then there’s this: Of the 21 teams that have posted 100-win seasons since the beginning of the wild-card era, only seven of them have reached the World Series. So maybe there’s hope yet for the Nationals. Or the Cubs. Or the Brewers. Or the Marlins.”

http://www.espn.com/blog/washington-nationals/post/_/id/2928/what-nationals-cubs-told-us-about-the-nl-pennant-race

And so the question really is, how can you and I get hot and stay hot? In other words, how can we get on a roll, spiritually?  It’s the question of the ages. First of all, it takes focus and not hocus-pocus. Sometimes it takes more than we’ve got but less than we know how to give. What it takes is not a mystery, nor a well-kept secret.  

Getting good and staying good is easier said than done, but it can be done.  Getting good and staying good requires discipline and determination and concentration and furtive contemplation. It requires having a will and making a way.  It also requires a hand out from Heaven and a hold out from hell.  We’ve got to have Divine assistance, and we must resist demonic attack. 

So don’t just wish a win; will a win. We must desire to succeed more than we desire life itself.  Look up and not down; look past obstacles and look through objections. And then, nothing, nothing at all, and no one at all, will be able to stop what God has started in you.

Divine Madness: Sports For People Who Don’t Like Sports

Sports_Illustrated March Madness 2048

There is a connection between God and sports, especially during the maddening month of March. Some call it Divine Madness. The month of March is a time when everyone can be a sports fan. And that’s why I write for any and as many that will read. While I’m not a sports writer, per se, I am a sports fan. And I’m a blogger that writes about the nexus and the node and the link and the liaison between God and sports.

I get it that some are not “in” to sports. Many women don’t like sports. Some men don’t like sports, but we won’t go into that, at least not now. Anyway, for those who say they don’t like sports, I can see football being too fluctuated and baseball being too boring and hockey being too horrid. But basketball, and specifically college basketball, and college basketball in MARCH, indeed is rated “E” for everyone.

And that brings us to the subject of our session (wait, is this therapy? Yes, it is, but more on that later). Anyway, the subject of our session is The Big Dance. The Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments are sports for people who do and DON’T like sports.

The obsession termed March Madness is a microcosm of life itself. It’s a single elimination tournament with entirely all sorts of every type, from the cream to the crap, and everything else in between. You have the haves and the have nots; you have the big dogs and the little dudes. You have the powerhouse teams and the rag tag, just happy to make it to the Dance dames who didn’t even dare to dream of dancing with the prince of the prom. There are middle of the roadies who aren’t that bad but they’re not that good either. All are on equal footing and have an equal opportunity to win at least one game, and stand an outside chance at winning the whole dag gum thing.

And that’s just like life. We all have hopes and dreams and ambitions and aspirations and we all collide with each other on the way to dance with the prince at the Ball. Unfortunately and invariably, some dreams will die hard. When a favorite loses to an also ran, and when an unlikely-to-succeed beats the belle of the ball, we all can identify and personify the notions and the emotions and the feelings and foundations that form and frame the structure of our core.
At our very core, we long to be successful and to succeed. We long to be acknowledged and to be accepted. In essence, everyone wants to win and we all yearn to be celebrated. And each and every team in the tournament wants to win, and they have to believe that they have a chance to win it all. And that’s why we love the upsets and the comebacks and the turnarounds that the tournament will give us almost every night for the next three weeks.

And that’s why everyone can be a sports fan, especially during the maddening month of March. God will accept us and receive us; yes all of us – red and yellow and black and white – just as we are and just where we are.

Because we’ve all been dinged and damaged by life in some way; we all need therapy, in some form or another. And so we end this needed and necessary session with this: sports is therapy. Yes it can be misused and abused, but sports in general and March Madness in particular is a window and a glimpse of how we all have a chance and a shot to be elevated to Heaven and to be celebrated by Heaven.

And so the bottom line is this: the God of Heaven is the only hope we have for health and healing in this life. March madness, it its wired, wacky way, teaches us this truth. That’s why everyone can be a sports fan.

To some it’s not rational and it doesn’t make sense, and that’s why some others call it Divine Madness.

The Pain Of Loss

Sul_Trimb_

I just lost my mom. “Loss” is the conventional, politically correct term you use when a loved one or friend passes away. My mom was sick and she died on March 8th, right in the middle of March Madness. So this March, the madness of March was more maddening for me for so many days in so many ways and on so many levels. So that’s why I haven’t been writing or posting for a while.

A loss hurts. A loss burns and bruises and even barks and bites. A loss can break and bend and twist and curve and swerve and nerve your emotions and affections like nothing else can.

For Christians, when someone we know dies, our loved one is not “lost” per se; it’s just that their presence is lost; they’re physically dead and gone to us. And there’s nothing we can do to bring them back. But they’re not lost as if we can’t find them, because we know where they are. However, it’s still a loss of their face and their embrace and their voice and their visits and their laugh and their love.  

While it does not compare — not hardly – the University of Maryland Basketball Team lost. Actually, my team won and lost. They won 27 games, but they lost 9. They began the season 15-1 and finished 14-8, but in March they were 5-3 and they finished the season a woeful 5-6, dating back to that mind bending, nerve numbing, unexplainable, inexplicable loss at lowly Minnesota on February 18th and the home loss to Wisconsin on February 13th.

According to Joshua Needleman of the Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s student run newspaper, “The sentiment for much of the season was when — not if — the Terps started clicking, they’d be unstoppable. They stormed to a 15-1 start even while working through some kinks.”

“Yet in an odd twist, the Terps didn’t get better or wiser over time — like my mom — or like that bottle of Chardonnay residing untouched in the cellar for years. They slowly fell apart, each loss sapping more and more of the fan base’s confidence. There always seemed to be something going awry, a new question that needed an answer.”

In another excellent article written by Alex Kirshner of the TestudoTimes, Kirshner writes “Maryland’s basketball team existed in a weird space this year. The Terps entered the season as a popular national title pick, and they remained so well into February. Even this March, plenty of people thought they had it in them. In the days leading up to the Terps’ season-ending loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16, I’d come around to expecting Maryland to beat the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed. The Terps had a tantalizing glow about them, even when they weren’t their best.

The Terps wound up winning three times as many games as they lost, finishing 27-9. That’s really good for most programs, and it’s really good for Maryland. The Terps made their first Sweet 16 since 2003, which is quite an achievement. But in the end, why did the season seem so unsuccessful?”

 That’s a question that begs an answer. As with all of the other teams that lost in the NCAA Tournament, we have the hope of next season, and the high expectations of seeing Maryland players go on to the NBA and doing well (but if the underclassmen just came back for one more run!)

With all loses, we must look back, reminisce and recall to mind the mercies of the Lord. We must savor the good and sift through and sift out the bad. My mom was sick — I mean really sick — for the last six months of her life. I watched as she withered away, and the loss of her health and her strength was as hurtful as the loss of her presence.

But the grandkids and my sisters and I have the legacy of her love, many, many, meaningful memories and the wonderful well wishes and the sweet scented sentiments of our family and friends that will carry us till we see her again one day.