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!

A Hunger For The Game

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Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

We must have a hunger for the game. The feature film Hunger Games and its sequel gave us the motto “may the odds ever be in your favor.” For those of us who believe in God and not “the odds,” we watched because Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence’s character) wears a mokingjay pin. The mockingjay pin is the circular gold token Katniss wears during the Games to represent District 12. The pin is a symbol of hope for those who hunger for help and are depressed, and distressed and in debt; Katniss had a hunger to win for those who needed hope for their future.

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The hunger to win is the unmatchable and unappeasable trait that champions cannot do without. To win without hunger is like losing with joy. It can’t really happen and it doesn’t make sense. Hunger to win the “big game” is irreplaceable and incomparable. You can’t do without it.

To win at any level, one must be hungry. Winning doesn’t come by accident and victories don’t come by chance; winning at the highest level requires a little more sacrifice and a lot less selfishness than the regular. To win at the highest level, you almost have to be rabid and ravenous; your appetite for victory almost has to be insatiable and unquenchable; you cannot settle for less than complete and total victory.

The team that wins this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, be it Michigan State or Virginia, Arizona or Kentucky, or any of the other Sweet 16 teams, will have to have an aching appetite for victory and a constant craving for conquest. It’s not to say that the teams that lose aren’t hungry; it’s just that the team that wins will have wanted it just a little bit more.

As believers in the God of favor, we hope in the help of the Lord. We don’t believe in odds, and our winning is dependent upon our dependence on God and His desire for us to win. We hunger and thirst, we long and we pine, we hunker and we hanker, not after material or earthly or worldly things, but after intangible and heavenly and spiritual things. We long to win the  favor of God and hunger and thirst after His presence and His power.

We hunger and hope and are helped by this promise: “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied” (Luke 6:21, RSV). Unlike March Madness where there is only one champion, all whose hopes lie in the Lord will be victorious – in this life, and in the life to come.

So satisfy your yearning and satiate your burning desire to be victorious by seeking the Lord; by seeking His face; by seeking His friendship and His fellowship; by seeking His nearness and His closeness. By knowing that even when He does not feel near, He is yet near. 

And so hold onto another one of our precious promises, which is this: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more . . .” (Revelation 7:16). Why? “For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps 107:9, KJV).

Look For The Silver Lining

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Our best is brought out when we are faced with the worst: our worst fears and our worst enemy, the worst case scenario and the worst possible predicament. Stress and strain tend to pin our backs to the wall when we are faced with what could be the worst. But then that’s when we are at our best.

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The best tends to come out when there is the possibility of the worst.  The greatest and finest of our moments usually come on the brink or on the heels disaster; we ascend to the top only after having descended, at least proverbially, to the bottom. We sink or we soar; we flop or we fly; we rise or we fall; it’s usually one extreme or the other as the two collide and vie for supremacy.

Peyton Manning was faced with a worst case scenario. Based on his circumstances, one could only think the worst. The critics said he would never throw a football again. Injured on the field, ill-treated by his team and ill-favored to play again, Manning, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, was facing the worst.

Manning made the best of the worst.  After neck surgery, Manning could not use the Indianapolis Colts’ facilities for practice and workouts due to the NFL lockout. Reluctant to have witnesses to his recovery, he used the Colorado Rockies baseball team’s trainers at Coors Field in Denver. Manning was unable to complete his throwing motion and his arm strength had significantly diminished. Based on an MRI, doctors told him in the late summer that he needed spinal fusion surgery and that at his age they could not guarantee his return to the NFL.  And now he’s on the NFL’ biggest stage as he and his team are favored to win the Super Bowl.

Our faith can survive the worst.  The Old Testament is full of shades and shadows, hints and hunches, clues and traces, anti-types and archetypes, fore-runners and fore-bearers of the coming, promised Messiah, and Joseph was one of them.  Mistreated by his brothers, misunderstood by his parents and mistaken for dead by all, the worst was that fate tried to destroy him, but the best was that his destiny determined to defend him.

Our faith prepares us for the best. Joseph went from slave to sovereign, from the prison to the palace, from being down and out to being up and in.  He was sold for thirty pieces of silver, and yet he did not return evil for evil; instead, he overcame evil with good.  Instead of hating, he loved; instead of dying he lived; instead of retaliating, he redeemed; instead of fighting back, he fought forward; he purchased the lives of his brothers and his father with the corn of Egypt.

Joseph looked for and found the silver lining. He gave the best when he was given the worst.