Anybody Hate the Dallas Cowboys? Vol. 2

Eagles Cowboys Logos

Anybody hate, and I do mean HATE, the Dallas Cowboys! 

Today’s game is essentially for the Division, the NFC East, and the season is on the line for both teams.  Both teams are a mediocre 7 -7, both teams have marginal quarterbacks, and both teams have an equal change at victory. So what will determine the outcome? Preparation. 

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”  The key word in this age old adage is “preparation.”  Then the next most instructive word is “prior.” Let’s unpack them both.

According to one source, “apparently the saying came from the British army and is a shortcut of the original 7Ps which mean Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent P. . . Poor Performance.”

Preparation is “the activity of putting or setting in order in advance of some act or purpose.” Preparation is also “the activity leading to skilled behavior.”  And this one must do in ADVANCE.  In the moment mental muscle is great. However, for physical strength, you need to go to the gym and work out prior to showing off your agility and physicality in a game. Mental toughness is built the same way.

Today’s Eagles Dallas game is the biggest game in Eagles’ history since the Super Bowl LII win against the Patriots. And in order to win, hopefully Carson Wentz and the Eagles have prepared themselves. And hopefully this preparation will lead to skilled behavior on field, aka, a decisive victory.

This is a great life lesson. So let’s apply it and learn from past mistakes. Let’s prepare more, and prepare better. Let’s not rush to judgement or be in an unnecessary hurry for anything.  God prepares, so me should prepare. David said that the Lord “prepared a table before him in the presence of his enemies.” Anybody like that verse?   I do!  (And to be sure, the Dallas Cowboys are mortal enemies to all Eagles everywhere!)

Let’s prepare for victory. And that will take coherent, cognitive activity, including, perception and reasoning. For the Eagles to defeat Dallas today,  Wentz will have to be at his cognitive and coherent best. And then there’s the whole Christmas Miracle thing, but preparation sure won’t hurt the Eagles, and it certainly will help you and me too.

Rafael Nadal vs. Daniil Medvedev: Survival Of the Fittest

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Rafael Nadal just won his 19th Grand Slam singles title as he was recently crowned the 2019 US Open Tennis Tournament champion. But it wasn’t easy. Nadal won because he outlasted his opponent. That’s it.  Nadal didn’t necessarily play better or serve better or volley better. He just lasted longer. And that’s the life lesson; sometimes you don’t win big by blowing out your opponent. Sometimes you just figure out a way to stay on your feet for five hours and will your way to a win. It takes guts and grit and resolve and a unanimous resolution to win the match we saw Rafael win on Sunday night. And it was one for the ages.

There were so many lessons and so many story lines and so many memories made that time would fail to capture them all in in one blog. But there’s one story line that I love. It’s about the heart of a champion. Here’s how a Washington Post writer described Nadal’s marathon match with Daniil Medvedev:

“In one of those occasional and stupendous sporting events that winds up flattering the runner-up every ounce as much as the winner, Rafael Nadal spent Sunday evening withstanding a championship match donnybrook rich in unbelievable volleys and awe inspiring, gasping points. A U.S. Open final that was an almost peerless, instant classic was built to such heights that the far-fetched story within it seemed to outweigh even the long-term significance it caused.

Daniil Medvedev, the 6-foot-6, 23-year-old Russian who looks as if he has never encountered a fat gram, spent the 4 hours 50 minutes of Nadal’s 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 win showing that his beanpole frame houses a humongous heart.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/09/08/us-open-mens-final-rafael-nadal-seeks-th-grand-slam-title/?noredirect=on

And so there you have it. Every time we outlast an opposition, we wonder how we made it over. The how is in the heart. And you don’t just need heart; you need a humongous heart, just like the tender, leathery heart of love that our Lord displayed for us on Calvary. The victory of the Cross wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Rafael Nadal would say the same about his momentous US Open Championship win.  And when we are still standing after the enemy has thrown his best at us, we too can say the same.

Work In and Work Out

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Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Philippians  2:12-13, KJV

I need to work out. Instead of dutifully going to the gym and participating in the fellowship of the gym rats, I’ve gotten lazy, both physically and spiritually.  Instead of doing what my personal trainer has instructed me to do, I’ve gotten listless, both mentally and emotionally.  I haven’t consistently applied the principles that would produce a productive and profitable preacher.  I haven’t worked out faithfully, I haven’t read my Bible consistently, and I haven’t sought the Lord earnestly.  

God needs to work in.  God needs to work in us. God needs to work in us love and joy and peace and longsuffering and gentleness and goodness and faith and meekness and temperance, which is self control.  But in order for God to work in (us), we need to work out.  Working out helps you to stay attentive to the things of God.  Working out helps you to stay alert for the wiles of the devil. Working out helps you to stay aware of  God’s plan and God’s purpose every minute of every hour of every day. 

The children of Israel worked out. They had to get their own straw when Pharaoh commanded his taskmasters to refrain from giving His people straw as had been the practice.  The Jews realized that the tide was going out and the wind was not blowing their way. “And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case . . . (Exodus 5:19, KJV).  So instead of letting His people get lax and lazy, God fixed it so that “the more the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.”  They worked out. And God worked in their situation.

So work out so that God can work in. Instead of waiting for “things” to work out, we need to be pro-active and progressive, not reactive regressive; we need to set the pace for others and not let others set the pace for us. Work out in the Word.  Work out on your knees in prayer. Work out in service to others. Work out so that God can work His good pleasure in you.

What’s Your Game Plan?

 athletes praying

Some people are going through life with no goals and no plans; aiming at nothing and hitting it every time.  As soldiers of the Cross, we have a goal. It is the same goal that our Lord Jesus has. It is to bring Joy to the world. In the process, “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”

Some people go through life with no aspirations and no desires; yet they are full of regrets and remorse.  That’s no game plan. Our game plan is to receive and extend the Kingdom of God, and in so doing, shine the light of His love to dispel all darkness.  That is what Jesus came to do.  “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b).  We are commissioned to do the same; to annihilate and obliterate, to eliminate and eradicate all things opposed to the righteousness of God.

So what’s your game plan?  My wife and I rented a townhouse with the intent of staying there one year, because the neighborhood was not good.  We stayed seven years. Sometimes the best laid plans must be adjusted and amended.  But at the end of the day, you begin with a plan; at the end of the day, the goal is the aim and the aim is the goal.  

So what’s your game plan?  Keep in mind that if you delight yourself in the Lord (aim), He will give you the desires of your heart (goal).  Keep in mind that we are to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (aim). “Our heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that we need . . .  and he will give them to us if we give him first place in our lives and live as He wants us to”  (Matt 6:31-33,TLB).  That’s the goal. That’s the game plan.

So stick to your game plan.  This can’t be emphasized enough.  Don’t deviate or be deterred. Once you know the game plan, it’s imperative that you stick to the game plan. The enemy will try to thwart your plans and intentions.  The enemy will try to use people to discourage you and throw you off track. Don’t let him and don’t let them.

Stick with the game plan. Be determined.  Be dogged. Be determinedly dogged and have dogged determination.  Be resolute, resilient and always resist the devil. Don’t let “some people” derail your plans. Yes, some people aren’t going anywhere, and they’re jealous of where you are going. Don’t let them phase you.

The Apostle Paul had a God given game plan.  Paul was God’s “chosen instrument to carry the name of the Lord before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. And he also was to suffer much for His name” (Acts 9:15-16, NIV).  By contrast, Paul’s enemies had a game pan. “After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan” (Acts 9:23-24). 

We know that the enemy comes “to steal, to kill and to destroy.”  But the plan of the enemy is known and we will outsmart him, outmaneuver him and outplay him. Our Lord Jesus has already conquered the wily devil and this wayward world. Now it’s our turn to defeat our flesh and achieve the goal of being like Him.

So stick to the game plan.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight’ (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).  Along the way, save money, give time, listen more, argue less, and remember that no matter what, “all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans” (Romans 8:28, TLB).

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Give Your “Self” A Pep Talk

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.  I Samuel 30:6

Every now and then, we all need a pep talk.  A pep talk is a short speech that is given to encourage someone to work harder and to feel more confident and enthusiastic. A pep talk is a vigorous, emotional talk intended to inspire enthusiasm, increase determination to succeed.  A pep talk is a speech of exhortation, as to a team or staff, meant to instill enthusiasm or bolster morale.  Every now and then, everyone needs a pep talk.

Every now and then, you should give someone a pep talk. Pep talks are given before every game every week of every year in some sport. There have been many epic pep talks given in dozens of sports movies.  One of them was by the coach of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team. He encouraged his team not to believe the hype; not to believe what everyone was saying about the Russian hockey team, and to believe in themselves.

Better than all of the words of encouragement given by all the coaches of the world combined, Jesus gave the greatest pep talk of all time.  Jesus told his 12 disciples, and is still telling us this:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-6

Every now and then, you need to give yourself a pep talk. Yes we have friends who are “there” for us; yes we can listen to that great Bishop T.D. Jakes video; and yes we have the Word to meditate on; but every now and then, you need to give yourself a pep talk.

So give yourself a pep talk. Like David, you need to encourage yourself in the Lord. You need to tell yourself that you are more than conquer. You need to tell yourself that you can do all things through Christ that gives you strength. You need to tell yourself that you are the head and not the tail. You need to tell yourself that you are above only and not beneath. You need to tell yourself that you are a survivor. You need to tell yourself that you are an overcomer. You ned to tell yourself that trouble don’t last always. You need to tell yourself that you always will triumph in Christ!

Tell yourself! Don’t wait for anyone else to tell you! You know who you are! You are a child of the Most High God.  You are a tree planted by the rivers of water. Your are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. You are healed, delivered, set free, redeemed, reconciled and restored, in the name of Jesus.

Give yourself a pep talk.

Love Your Way Through

Love Sign

Love Your Way Through

There are no two Biblical characters exactly alike.  The breadth of Christian character runs the gamut from Adam to Zechariah and from Zadok to Abigail; we’re all different, yet we’re all the same. The range of Christian experience spans time and eternity, the now and the not yet — past, present and future.  

The extremities and similarities of spiritual understanding are found and bound in the multiple faces and faculties of the faithful. These included Moses and Miriam, David and Deborah, Elijah and Esther, Rahab and Ruth, Peter and Paul; each were fiercely individual, yet all collectively combined their faith, hope and love to form the Kingdom of God.   Each of these Biblical heroes loved their way through tests and trials, and temptations and transgressions by the power of God.

So as “mortals we join the mighty chorus, which the morning stars began.  Father-love is reigning o’er us;  Brother-love binds man to man.  Ever singing march we onward, we’re victors in the midst of strife; Joyful music lifts us sunward in the triumph song of life!”

Each Biblical hero loved their way through. Each loved the Lord. Each hoped for abundant and eternal life.  Each had faith for themselves and for others to move mountains. Each had flaws and fallacies, fears and frustrations that forced them to depend on God for victory. Their talents were not enough. Their love was.

So love your way through. Continue reading

Sing Your Fight Song

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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