Winning With A Missed Shot

Tom-Brady-sports-illustrated-on-to-immortality

Sometimes you win while you watch. Sometimes you win while you stand on the sidelines and wait. In sports, sometimes you win while a field goal sails wide right or a pass is intercepted in the end zone or a three point attempt clangs off the back of the rim.  Sometimes, after you gave it your best shot, you did nothing but watch to win.  Just ask Tom Brady.

The New England Patriots field general was not on the field but standing on the sidelines, watching as the Seattle Seahawks marched down the field, seemingly on their way to erasing a four point deficit and engraving an enchanted ending onto Super Bowl XLIX. Not so. Instead, Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seahawks, inexplicably called a PASS play at the goal line. It was 2nd and goal at the one yard line. And then the unthinkable happened.  

Sometimes you can just sit back and watch. Brady watched as Russell Wilson threw an interception, not a touchdown reception. Undrafted rookie CB Malcolm Butler, who went to school at West Alabama for crying out loud, jumped the rout and intercepted Wilson’s intended pass to Ricardo Lockette, and the rest is history. Game, set, match – Patriots win.  Game over. And all Brady, the Super Bowl MVP had to do, was watch.

Sometimes, in order to win, all you have to do is watch a missed shot. It may be nail-biting and nerve splitting and we may be anxious and restless, agonizing over the outcome, but watch and wait we must.  

Sometimes, we just need to watch God work and wait with wonderment for a wonderful outcome. That’s it and that’s all. Ask me how I know. I have watched God work before. I have been in some tight spots and survived some tough times and have been over some rough roads and every time, I’ve watched my God come through and win the day for me. I’ve watched as the enemy of my soul took his best shot but missed his mark and I narrowly escaped — with a win.

So watch God. Watch God win with a missed shot by the enemy. It may not be pretty, but it’s still a win. And as the ole saying goes, a win, is a win, is a win.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 

Psalm 124:7-8

How My Team Broke My Heart

  Dissapointed Fan

The Seattle Seahawks broke my heart. 

The Seahawks  were the heart-throb of football and are heartbeat of Seattle, but last night, with a mere 26 seconds left in the game and a meager 36 inches left to drive to the goal line, their collective heart stopped beating as they gave half the football world a near heart attack.

The hearts of hundreds skipped at least one beat as Seattle lost a jaw-dropper in the most dramatic way.  The Seahawks were one play and one yard away from scoring the go ahead touchdown against the hated, heinous New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.  Instead, they broke my heart, and the hearts of the howling, hollering, hopeful Hawk fans who just knew that victory was a blink of an eye away.

Hearts were broken at the end of a very entertaining, if not enjoyable (at least for half the football world) Super Bowl. Instead of giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch and instead of running into the end zone and running away with the victory, Coach Pete Carroll inexplicably called a pass play over the middle of the field in traffic.  Instead of Russell Wilson throwing the ball to Marshawn Lynch in the flat (a play that worked earlier in the game) Russell inexplicably followed those inordinate orders and threw an interception at the goal line.  And the game was over. And my heart was broken.

My heart was broken because the Hawks had a 10 point lead late in the third quarter. Then, after they blew the lead, they had a chance to win the game right after a miracle catch that left them in the Red Zone on the edge of their second consecutive Super Bowl Championship. Yet they chose to break my heart.

And lest I appear too hard and too harsh, we must remember that the Seahawks must be hurting something awful today, as they realize they were just a hop, skip and a jump from a sweet victory. Instead, they endured a bitter defeat. Instead, they threw the game away, blew their blessing and bungled their bonus as they made a monstrous mistake after a disastrous decision.

So just what is the spiritual significance,  you ask? For one, Jesus does not break hearts. He helps our hopes and develops our dreams. Jesus is a promise keeper and a destiny deliverer. He will never let us down just so long as we lift Him up and put all of our trust in Him. That’s the good news.

As for football, after last’s night’s disappointment, I’m done —  at least until next year.

Are You Doing What It Takes To Win?

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks

 Clearly, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots are doing what it takes to win. My Eagles aren’t there yet, and neither are the local lackeys, the Washington Redskins. The Baltimore Ravens and the Green Bay Packers almost got there, but leads late in the AFC and NFC Championship games were squandered, leaving both losers to lament their lack of luster and legitimacy.

Surely, Seattle is the sentimental favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX. They hope to become the first team to re-peat as champions since, well, since their opponents, the Patriots did it in 2004-2005. Sentiments aside, the Seahawks will have to summons their “A Game” in order to win. At least that’s what the pundits and prognosticators predict. However, Seattle did not play their “A” game against Green Bay and yet and still they found a way to win.

Certainly, Super Bowl XLIX will be won with and not without whichever quarterback does what it takes to win. Russell Wilson is the up and coming upstart and Tom Brady is the savvy, sagacious senior who wants to prove that he’s still got some gas left in the tank. While they won’t be on the field at the same time, they will be playing head-to-head in a fight for Football’s top prize.

Super Bowl XLIX

And so, the spiritual tie is this: surely you and I know what to do in order to win in everyday life; it’s just that minor, minute, miniscule, and microscopic detail of execution that stands in our way. Sometimes it’s the man in the mirror and the shadow standing beside you that you want to blame, but that’s like living in a glass house and throwing stones.

So what do you say? Let’s do what it takes to win. Let’s muster and maintain the right attitude and that’s an attitude of gratitude. Let’s have the right mind and mindset, and let’s focus on the goal by keeping our eyes on the prize.

Assuredly, if we pose and posture and position ourselves in the right direction and actually do what it takes to win, we will certainly see the Savior save us from more defeats and send us on to more victories.

But we must actually do what it takes to win.

Recipe For A Miracle 2.0

Believe (2)

The Seattle Seahawks won in a wonderful way. And the Seahawks’ magical, mystical, marvel of a win against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game was a wonderful win for us all. It was also a lesson in how to follow the recipe (and if you’re Green Bay, how NOT to follow the recipe) for a miracle.

This one was for all those who don’t believe in miracles. This one was for all the theologians who say the time for miracles has past. And this one was for all of us who do believe, but are hungering and hankering for a sign of hope or a signal from heaven not to throw up our hands and not to throw in the towel.

The ‘Hawks miraculous mastery of the surprisingly strong Packers (especially Aaron Rodgers) at the end of the game was a surprise to us all. The home team overcome a 16 point deficit; they overcame four interceptions by Russell Wilson; they scored on a fake field goal attempt, a.k.a. a “trick” play; and they somehow got the ball to bounce their way when they needed to recover an on-side kick. And all of that happened in 3 Minutes! And all of that HAD to happen in order for them to win. Without every domino standing in its place, the whole house of cards would have come tumbling down on their heads.

The Seahawks followed the recipe to a “T.” Russell Wilson said they kept believing and did not doubt. That’s it. That’s the recipe. We must quickly add that belief is faith, and faith without works is dead. So, Seattle did all of the right things as they believed. In other words, it takes more than faith; it takes faith AND works, but faith must go first.

Green Bay, on the other hand, did not follow the recipe as they did all of the wrong things late in the game. As their lead evaporated and was eviscerated, doubt and disbelief certainly crept in. Then that “OH NO!” feeling fell on them like the Seattle mist descending from the sky.  That eerie, spooky, ghastly feeling of a win slowly, slipping away and looping into a loss did them in just as much as did their late game goofs and gaffs and glitches. Doing “something” about your circumstance must also include doing the right thing.

Seattle also wants to remind us that the recipe for a miracle win includes all the ingredients of a regular, run of the mill, garden variety win with one exception: the odds have to be set and stacked and piled and heaped and mounted and assembled against you such that your only hope is that you must have a miracle to win.

So how about you? Have your circumstances made a circumference round about you? Are you behind? Are you trying desperately to catch up? Take hope. There’s still a lot more “game” left to play. Don’t let your circumstances set the agenda. Let your God set the agenda! Circumstances don’t run things — God does. And so again, the recipe for a miracle is short and sweet. Just believe and put feet to your faith; then wait and watch God work.

From Doubting to Dancing

russell-wilson

We can go from mourning to dancing. We can go from crying to singing. We can go from doubting to dancing and shouting if we believe. David may have said it best: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.” Psalm 30:11

Russell Wilson believed. Down 16 at the half and down 19-7 with 3 minutes left in the game, Wilson and the Seahawks pulled off a comeback for the ages as they stunned the Aaron Rodgers and the football world by winning in overtime, 28-22.  It was incredible.  It was improbable. It was implausible. But it was not impossible.

At games end, with tears streaming down his face, Russell Wilson gave a passionate and impassioned plea to all those who doubt and don’t believe. He wasn’t just speaking about this one unusual and almost unbelievable game; his comments apply to life itself.  

And I say again, who said God and sports don’t go together!

I am a believer, but at halftime I did not believe, and if you want to be honest (for a change) and admit the truth, you didn’t believe either. How many of the “No. 12’s” in the stands and at home thought there was even the inkling of a chance for the Seahawks to win, and win like they did?

seattle-seahawks-12th-man

I did not believe that the Seahawks had a snowball’s chance in hell to come back and win the game. But come back and win they did. They turned it all the way around, four interceptions and all. Russell Wilson may have played the worst game of his professional career for 57 minutes, but when the chips were down, he came up with a whale of a win. Terry Bradshaw may have said it best: “How can things go so bad for so long and then suddenly turn around?” Sounds spiritual to me.

And so the next time you face a failure or deal with a dilemma or encounter a crisis or meet a monster of a mess, remember this game and remember this:

All things are possible to him who believes.

Mark 9:23

Potential: The Kiss of Death

COV0902merced.wilson.lo.indd

The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots: Potentially the Best Super Bowl, Ever?

The Seattle Seahawks are a dynasty in the making.  At the start of the 2013 season, BEFORE they won the Super Bowl, Sports Illustrated crowed them “The New Kings.” The New England Patriots, on the other hand, well, they’re won 3 Super Bowls (2002, 2004, and 2005), and so they’re more of a perennial power than a dynamic dynasty. And while it’s nowhere written that you have to win back-to-back championships to be a dynasty, let’s just say it’s an unwritten rule. The caveat, of course, is that both teams must make it out of the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

The Seattle Seahawks have the potential and promise, the possibility and probability to be a great, grand, potent football power for years to come. Or at the least, they have the chance and the chutzpah to cement that seal this season.   

The Seattle Seahawks have what we all have: drive, determination and demonstration of the  dynamism to pull off what was expected at the beginning of our seasons but almost got lost in the shuffle along the way. Superstars Russell Wilson and Luke Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Richard Sherman lost to the Cowboys on October 12th, and after the loss to the Rams, the defending champs were 3-3; not necessarily the fantastic form displayed the year before. But they again realized they had potential.

We all have potential. And for some that could be the kiss of death. The motley crew and distinct and disparate band of brothers called the Seahawks are as contrasting as the come. Yet and still they’ve learned how to put ego aside and pull their pugnacious pride together.   Yes, together. If we as individuals and collectively as the congregation of Christ can coral our collective confidence, there is nothing we can’t do for the glory of God.

Potentially, the devil can’t stop us, and the world can’t beat us. Potentially.  We can only beat ourselves.  When a player is said to have “potential,” it means that he or she hasn’t quite lived up to the hype and the hopes of those who see pregnant possibilities in them. And Unfulfilled expectations and anticipations is a terrible thing.

On the contrary, let’s realize our own individual potential, as well as the potential we have as the combined, coalesced and cohesive Body of Christ.  Spiritually speaking, let’s swing the swagger that champions like Seattle and New England (with an honorable mention to the Packers) have.

So let’s take the promises of God, which are a certainty, and make them our reality. Let’s realize our possibilities, and make them inevitabilities. Let’s make our potential experiential.

On and Off The Field

russell-wilson-sept-sikids-cover2

Russell Wilson is a  winner on and off the field. The faith and football of Russell Wilson are co-joined, co-mingled, and coterminous. He  wears his faith on his sleeve.

On the field, he’s on his way to the Super Bowl.  On the field, Russell Wilson had a phenomenal sophomore season with the Seattle Seahawks (“Go Hawks!”).  On the field, he’s thrown 26 TD passes against only 8 interceptions –  not so shabby – and was rated the sixth best quarterback out of the field of 12 in the 2014 playoffs.   

Incredible as his play on the field has been, he has performed even better off the field.  Since joining the Seahawks, Russell Wilson has demonstrated care and concern, affection and devotion, association and participation in the lives and families of ailing patients at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. 

Off the field, over the past two years, Russell Wilson and his wife Ashton have faithfully visited the cancer ward every Tuesday. And when he can’t come, he calls.  “Eve Kopp thought the phone call was a prank. Russell Wilson? Who was that? He calmly explained that he was one of the new draft picks by the Seahawks on that late summer afternoon in 2012. He wanted to become a part of the fabric of the city and wanted to get involved with a cause immediately and thought Seattle Children’s Hospital would be a great place to start. He loved kids, liked making people smile, laugh.

Kopp put him through the vetting process.  “At first we were dubious,” said Kopp, the director of corporate annual giving for the hospital’s foundation. “We thought, ‘Is this guy going to really come every week?’ No way. We’ve never had that experience before.”[1]

They wondered if there were other motives behind the request. The hospital had dealt with the city’s athletes before. Some would say they would come regularly, show up once or twice and then never again. Others would be ushered in for photo ops in common areas with non-serious patients and then out the door they went.

Everyone kept waiting for the Tuesday when he wouldn’t show up. That never happened. And even more stunning: Wilson kept asking for more. See more kids. Visit more rooms. See the toughest and hardest cases in the hospital.

Off the field, Wilson’s faith is an important part of his life. He’s refers to his faith in post-game interviews and he posts daily Bible verses on his Twitter feed. One of His latest: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NKJV)

On and off the field, Wilson says faith in God is the foundation for his life and family – brother Harrison Wilson IV, sister Anna, and mother Tammy. Wilson told a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter about how faith helped him deal with the death of his father, Harrison Wilson III in 2010, who had been suffering from diabetes and several strokes.

God is concerned about our lives on and off “the field.”  Many Christians can walk the walk and talk the talk in church or “on the field” so to speak, but “off the field” –  on the job, at home, and away from the rest of “the saints,” their lives are a shabby mess.  But perhaps I have it turned around? Perhaps “the field” Christians should be playing on IS outside of the four walls of the sanctuary, where our faith is tested, where our beliefs are tried, and where our foundation must stand sure.

Take it from Russell Wilson. Let’s glorify God with our walk and our words on and off the field.