All For One and One For All

We love sports because the concept of team is embedded in our inner being and lies at the core of every human concern. Unity and solidarity and community and congruence are the essentials of teams and teamwork. It has been said that there is no “I” in team. Amen. A really good team has a corporate identity that transcends and supersedes individuality yet even lifts each individual together.

Successful teams are selfless and not selfish. Teams that focus on the whole, not the individual, will win. Teams that focus on individual talent at the expense of the team invariably and inevitably lose on and off the court. It’s that simple.

E. Stanley Jones puts it this way: “Gordon Alport, professor of psychology at Harvard, said that ‘paradoxically self expression requires the capacity to transcend oneself and the pursuit of objectives not primarily referred to the self.’ Here psychology and Christianity collide. Jesus said that ‘he that findeth his life shall lose it and he that loseth his life shall find it’. Self cultivation is allright and very necessary provided the self has been surrendered, and the surrender must be to God. Then it can be cultivated for it is God centered and not self-centered.”

That’s why so many people love Carson Wentz. Yes he’s disappointed that he’s not playing but he’s shown by his selfless actions in helping Nick Foles that he’s all about the team. And that is also why Brady and Belichick have so many haters. They seem to put themselves above the whole, above the team. Yes they’re good, but what about everyone else? The sum is greater than the individual parts. That’s how God intended it to be. You need look no farther than the Trinity for the Divine example.

All for one and one for all. Each member pulling for each member, and every member in fellowship with the entire membership. This is the motto we should all ascribe to fulfill.

Squeeze Every Possible Ounce Of Joy (Out Of Each Day)

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You need people in your life that will make your unborn baby jump. And I just had a conversation with someone who did just that for me. For those who don’t understand the reference, here it is:

Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:39-41 New Living Translation

In other words, when the Virgin Mary learned she was pregnant, she went to see her cousin, Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. When Mary arrived, the sound of her voice caused unborn baby John to jump for joy in his mother’s womb.

Our victories are not won in a vacuum or in isolation. Our expected babies are not born without the knowledge of our family and friends. They are won and they are born in community and in society. We don’t win alone. We always have help.  Always. And today my carpooler gave me a boost and a bump and a lift and a push and a prod upward and forward. It was just what the doctor ordered.

You see, one of my goals is to teach college, and to do that I need to obtain my doctorate. I have an MDiv, or a Master of Divinity degree, but I also need at least a DMin, or a Doctorate of Ministry degree. Teaching includes mentoring and shepherding and counseling and guiding the next generation. And this is my passion. Well …

My carpool driver today is a very special lady. And I’m not just saying that.  I ride with different carpoolers every day. I live in Northern Virginia and “Slug” up I-95 to work (and for those who have no idea what slugging is or means, I’ll write more on that later). Anyway, I carpool or “slug” to work and so I meet a lot of people. I’ve slugged with this one carpool driver only once before. It was about a month ago and we had a wonderful ride home in awful traffic. How ironic, right?

Well, today I was fortunate enough to meet up with her again. And I had another wonderful ride and we had another delightful discussion all the way down I-95 from the Pentagon. It was such a treat. And since I “know” people, I know that you don’t meet and greet a great treasure of a person like my driver today every day.

You see, through the conversation, I learned that my driver has a PhD in Physics. I said physics. And she doesn’t sound like an old ogre either. I bombed physics in high school AND college, so I don’t have many  – or any –  fond memories of my time in the classroom being beset and besieged by my hard-nosed, old fogey physics instructors. But surely I digress.

A PhD in physics is not a degree given to the faint of heart. So when I got in my carpoolers car and realized that she was my carpool comrade from about a month ago, my heart smiled. And then as the conversation commenced and consumed, and I learned of her competence and her excellence, my immediate goal was to squeeze every ounce of joy out of that carpool ride and that blessed exchange. 

My carpool comrade gave me the thought for this blog. She said “you need to squeeze every ounce of joy out of each day.”  What an amazing thought! So that’s it; we should do this every day. We should squeeze every ounce of joy out of every day.

So what’s the lesson? It’s simply this: when a Dr. is in the house (or in the car), make sure you squeeze every ounce of joy out of the moment. Remember, as much as we all need a doctor, at times, as unfit as we may think we are, we just may be someone else’s doctor.  Dr. or patient, be sure to prescribe or procure the right medicine for what ails you.

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And the prescription is always joy.

Too Legit To Quit

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This time, the hype was not hysteria. The Oregon Ducks are in fact and indeed for real.  They’re quick, they’re fast, they’re strong, and they proved that they can bang with, and even beat down, the big boys.  And they’re too legit to quit, and that’s why they will win the National Championship.

This time, the actual games were better than all the glitter. And James Winston and Florida State actually lost a game, badly. And Alabama also lost (and some have reacted gladly). We all knew the time was coming (for Oregon to win big and Winston to lose bad), it’s just that it all came to a head and it all came crashing down in one fell swoop.

In the Rose Bowl this time, the second-seeded Ducks (13-1) scored six straight times they touched the ball in the second half, with five of the touchdowns covering at least 21 yards and the last four coming after Florida State turnovers. Marcus Mariota and the Ducks are built for speed and in a flash they turned the first College Football Playoff semifinal game into a Rose Bowl rout. The final score: OREGON 59, FLORIDA STATE 20, and it wasn’t that close.

This time, it’s time that the truth comes out.  And ultimately the truth will come out. The critics have been downing and dogging the Ducks for far too long .That time is over. Now, it’s time for Oregon to shine for the football world to see.  And those of us who love God and live for God and are determined to disappoint the devil are also coming to the light for all the whole wide world to see. 

It’s about time for those who have been reborn and redeemed and restored and repaired by the power of God to predominate and prevail.  It’s about time for those who have been revived and revamped and refreshed and reframed by the Almighty God to overcome and overpower every archrival and every archenemy.  And it’s time for those of us who have been regenerated and resuscitated and refurbished and redecorated by the Spirit of God to know that we are destined to defeat and destroy every opponent and every antagonist that dares to even approach us.

And so the spiritual tie-in is clear: it’s time. It’s time to conquer hate with love. It’s time to redirect wrong by doing right.  And it’s time to overcome evil with good.  It’s just time, because believers of God are too legit to quit.

When You’re Hot, You’re Hot; And When You’re Not, You’re Not

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The Kansas City Royals are red-hot. How hot are they? They’re now 6-0 – undefeated in the 2014 Postseason, they’re won 4 of five games in extra innings, and they’re hitting home runs like IHOP heaps out hotcakes. These Royals swept the Angel’s in the ALDS and before that they won a one game playoff against the A’s. The Royal Blue Bombers now have the Baltimore Orioles in their sights and it doesn’t look good for the orange and black.  The Royal Blues have the Orioles feeling blue as they have won back to back games ON THE ROAD in the ALCS against the best team in the AL East.  Good gracious! Talk about catching fire and getting hot at the right time.

Clearly, the Royals are proving that they’re the hottest team in baseball, because they are showing up and showing out just when it counts.  These Royals are the hottest team in the coolest month.  On the other side of the ledger, the poor Baltimore Orioles look like a deer staring into a pair of high-beams; clearly, the O’s are not a Johnny-come-lately team, but now they look like they don’t know what just hit ’em.

The Kansas City Royals are playing the kind of white-hot ball every fan wishes their team was playing this time of year. They are playing loose, light, and lively. They have nothing to lose, seeing as they haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985; that’s 29 years. Talk about no pressure. And yet they’re playing with a reckless abandon that is fun to watch but fearful to play against.

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Baseball in October is as special as eating your favorite ice cream and cake on your birthday. And on your birthday, you think you can do and be and say anything and get away with it. On your birthday you’re “hot;” you’re Da’ Man (or Da’ woman, as the case may be), and everybody exalts and extols you and expects and assumes and presumes that you can and could and may and might do the improbable. And so it is with baseball in October.

October is the occasion and opportunity for the best of baseball and baseball at its best. This time of year, you don’t necessarily need to be good, even though being good doesn’t hurt and it certainly does help. On the cool and cold nights of October, it’s better to be hot and hungry than to be good and gruffy.

October is the month you want to be hot, especially if you’re a baseball team.   And the Royals are just that. They’ve got confidence, charisma, and chutzpah, with the ability to get hits seemingly at whim and the ability to score runs seemingly at will. And as we all know, being hot is the uncanny combination of talent and tenacity and flair and fortuity.

And so what about you? Can you get hot at the right time and be at the right place and dot a base hit in just the right spot? And can you do all of this on demand, when the pressure is on and the bets are off?

Spiritually speaking, Believers are supposed to be “hot.”  In order to win, we need to get hot, and in order to get hot we need the fire of God. Being hot comes from spending time with the God who is a consuming fire. It takes praying hot prayers and shedding a lot of tears living a glowing life. And it takes following the leading of the Lord. We can’t possibly know and be and do everything the right way all of the time, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Wind of God, the Divine Comforter and Keeper, we can be hot with the fire of God just when we need to be.

So stop relying on your own muscle and your own might. Instead, desire and determine to depend on the leading of the Lord. It’s the only sure way to get and stay hot. 

Do You Believe In Luck?

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Colts 45 – Chiefs 44

I believe in Luck. Andrew Luck, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.  In October, Luck and his team bested his predecessor, Peyton Manning and the previously undefeated Denver Broncos in Peyton’s return to Indy, the most anticipated game of the season.  And now, in the Wild Card Game of the Playoffs, with Luck on their side, Indy came from 28 points down to defeat the favored Kansas City Chiefs in the 2nd biggest comeback in NFL history.  KC was in the lead by four touchdowns – countem’:  FOUR TDs – in the third quarter and yet  managed to lose.  Remember, “Don’t Blow the Lead,” right?  (December 16, 2013)

Quarterback Andrew Luck has shown that he’s got skills before, as he was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in both 2010 and 2011, but now I’m really believer. I believe in Luck. Andrew Luck.

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While I believe in Andrew Luck, as he has proven that he can “hang” with best of them, I know that there’s no such thing as luck. Luck or chance is an event which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result. Saying it was luck or attributing anything to luck denies that God is in control.  We need to give credit where credit is due: the credit for everything that happens to us is God’s. There’s no such thing as luck, because God is alive and well. He cares about us, and is involved in our lives.

While I believe in Andrew Luck, I firmly believe, trust, rely on and have faith in God. Not luck. Not fate nor flukes; not chance or coincidence; not happenstance or circumstance; I believe God.  God has blessed us, so we don’ t have to resort to luck.

Unfortunately, we don’t trust God like we should all of the time. We hope and we wish, but we don’t trust the Lord with all of our hearts. Instead we lean to our own understanding. Such was the case when it came time to choose a replacement for Judas; unfortunately Peter relied on chance, not God.

In Acts Chapter 1, while the disciples were waiting for the Holy Spirit, Peter and the others were searching the Scriptures, looking for guidance as to what was going on and what to do.  Peter found that God knew all about Judas, it was no surprise to God (Psalm 69:25 and 109:8). Yet Peter takes it upon himself to direct the choosing of the new apostle.  God knew about Judas, his betrayal of Jesus, his suicide, and the need for him to be replaced. God did not say Peter needed to facilitate this. This was Peter’s deduction, Peter’s “therefore”, Peter’s reasoning. Peter went ahead of God.

Peter added something God didn’t require. An apostle is one chosen by Jesus (Acts 1:2); Peter did allow God to choose. God must have felt like me on election day-only 2 choices!

God had a person all picked out for the position, but the time was not right. Peter was impatient. In that time and culture 12 was considered complete; 11 was not. By the end of Acts, there are 13 apostles, not twelve. God picked someone the disciples would have never dreamed of, someone they would have voted against unanimously. Saul-the man plotting to destroy the church, who would meet Jesus on the road to Damascus, witness Jesus resurrection, be chosen as an apostle by Jesus Himself. The man who would become the Apostle Paul. (Sermon by John Beehler, June 2000) 

I believe that Andrew Luck may win a Super Bowl, but I also believe what the Bible says “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  and “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:9 and 16:33, New Living Translation)

Let’s trust God to determine our steps.  Let’s trust God to determine how the chips will fall. He knows what’s best for us, and if we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6).

Let’s root for Andrew Luck, and not believe in Lady Luck, and leave it at that.

Repost from October 21, 2013

Who’s In Your Corner?

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Who’s In Your Corner?

Angelo Dundee was in Muhammad Ali’s corner. He was in “Sugar” Ray Leonard’s Corner. He is famed for being the man who trained the man who called himself the “Greatest of All Times”; Muhammad Ali and five other champion boxers. He was a legendary trainer who cornered a host of world champion fighters and was even called upon by Hollywood to help bring authenticity to the 2005 hit movie “Cinderella Man.”

Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti find depth and texture in otherwise ordinary roles in this classic boxing film about a down-on-his-luck pug granted a second chance at glory. Ron Howard’s meat-and-potatoes “Cinderella Man,” a tale about a meat-and-potatoes underdog, may ring familiar; he does have history in his corner: the true story of James J. Braddock, who went from the soup lines to the heavyweight title in 1935.

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So who’s in your corner? Who do you trust? Who do you go to for advice and counsel? Do you surround yourself with “yes men” who agree with everything you say? Or worse, do you walk in the counsel of the ungodly? Do you stand in the way of sinners? Do you sit in the seat of the scornful?

Who’s in your corner? Who can you can you depend on? Who can you count on when the chips are down? Jesus had 12 disciples, called apostles, in His corner. Of these, he held three in close confidence: Peter, James and John. Ironically, Peter, the leader of the band, notoriously denied his Master three times.

Who’s in your corner? David had mighty men of valor in his corner. David had warriors in his corner. David had defenders in his corner. They fought for him. They killed for him. They died for him. At one point three of the roughest and toughest of the bunch broke through enemy lines to fetch a bottle of water for him.

So who do you have in your corner? Fanny Crosby penned these words: “Whom have I on earth beside thee? Whom in heaven but thee?” Continue reading

Sing Your Fight Song

  Rocky-with-kids

Fight songs.  They inspire, motivate, and drive.  I believe they are called “fight songs” because our teams are in a fight for victory. A fight is a clash and a contest, a battle and a brawl to determine supremacy.  The weekly competitions on the gridiron, however, are no match for the epic, eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell, good and evil, right and wrong. So, if we sing fight songs for the earthly competitions between flesh and blood, why not join in the eternal chorus for the ultimate prize? 

Fight songs. We don’t call the songs, hymns and spiritual songs we sing in church “fight songs”, but they are fight songs nonetheless. We are singing and cheering for our “team.”  Our team is “Team Jesus:” Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We worship the creator and the redeemer. We praise the Alpha and the Omega.  We cheer on the King of Kings and Lords because the victory has already been won, and the outcome has never been in doubt.

Heaven and earth sing fight songs.  Continue reading