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Category Archives: Sports

Grace, Freedom and the NFL

Boy, what a firestorm! The tension and controversy in America has reached a fever pitch over the last few years to where we have arrived at today. Not long ago it was just 49’ers  (ex) quarterback Colin Kaepernick (still doesn’t have a job) who intentionally thrust himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the National Anthem in protest of what he deemed to be wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States. Well, it’s a free country….and I don’t argue the subject of free speech. But, what we do with that freedom is an entirely different topic that oftentimes reveals the character of those who might use, or misuse it.

You may wonder about the above title and question how grace, freedom and these protests could be connected. I think, in principle, they’re very connected. Let me explain; Grace is an extremely important Biblical subject. It’s a wonderful thing! But it’s also one of the more controversial topics in the church today. It’s controversial mostly because it has been miscommunicated, ….and therefore misunderstood, ….and when all that happens it can easily be misappropriated. (used in an unwise manner)

Paul, in one of his letters, said it this way, “Brothers and sisters you have been called to liberty (freedom), but don’t use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh”. More clearly put, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to sin. It’s only the unwise, or maybe innocently by the immature, who would accept God’s perfect gift of grace and then use it as an excuse to sin. That would be an undeniable, gross misuse of grace! That’s where I see grace, freedom and these NFL protests intersecting.

The freedom that we enjoy in America is like none other in the entire world. It’s a freedom that has come at an extremely costly price. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives on the battlefield, here and around the world, in the name of freedom. I appreciate that; I’m grateful for it and it’s something that I would never, ever take lightly. So, it only makes sense to me to use that freedom in a wise, mature and conscientious manner. Everybody doesn’t agree….and that’s OK. But my opinion is that those who choose to dishonor the national anthem and the flag, are thus dishonoring the nation and those whose lives were sacrificed for our freedom. It appears to be a very immature, arrogant and unwise use of something so precious….and that cost so many, …..so much.

The NFL has some unbelievable athletes; best in the world for their God-given talent and abilities. But many of these young men have been coddled, babied and catered to since they were old enough to be involved in organized team sports. It’s a historical fact that many of these athletes making millions today won’t have any of it left after their careers are over. And, if the old adage rings true that “we all have 15 minutes of fame”, it’s a crying shame that these boys are using theirs’ this way. They’re influencing another generation of little boys in a very adverse, and negative way. I wouldn’t want that on my resume’!

Someone will probably cry, “racism”; But, c’mon …..give us a break! It’s not that. It’s called patriotism, …..and it’s makin’ a comeback!

“All things are lawful, but not all things edify; all things are lawful, but not all are helpful” – Paul

The way you handle grace….and freedom will tell the world just how deep your character actually is. 

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“I Don’t Know How We’re Gonna Win….I Just Know We’re Going To!”

Life’s Like Football, It’s a Game of Inches

It Takes a Village to go Back to Back…..to Back to Back!

 

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They Forgot to Tell the Bumblebee!

Defying the odds. Don’t you just love to hear the stories of people who were put down, ridiculed, told they couldn’t make it, kicked to the curb and ignored….who got back up and proved everybody wrong. There’s no shortage of stories like that out there.

I immediately think of two Oklahoma boys with similar paths; Steve Largent and Wes Welker. *(You really should read their Wikipedia profile!) Both were standout wide receivers in high school but anybody will tell you that there’s a vast canyon between high school success and success at the college level. But these boys made it there, too. They made it, Largent at Tulsa University and Welker at Texas Tech *(only got a scholarship because another recruit dropped out!), despite all the experts telling them that they were both too small….and too slow. Of course, for any athlete, the next step from college to the NFL is an even greater stretch. Again, they were told, “No way”! (Welker-Undrafted free agent; Largent-4th round-117th pick!) If you’re even remotely a pro football fan you’ve heard, and probably watched these two. They both went on to, much more than, stellar careers, Welker with the Patriots and Largent with the Seahawks, all the while hearing the experts on Sports Center saying they couldn’t make it. When Steve Largent retired he held all major NFL receiving records including being the first player to record 100 touchdown receptions. Wes Welker led the NFL in receptions three years and was the first in NFL history to record five 100 reception seasons. He was selected to the All-Pro Team every season of his Patriots career. Largent was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, and Welker surely will be. Not too bad for a couple of boys too small…..and too slow!

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s hundreds of stories like that out there not only in sports but in business, in music…and just life in general. Stories of people who believed in themselves and refused to believe what the, so-called, experts said about them. They found a way to be motivated by the negativity.

What about you? Who’s told you that you can’t make it? Who’s kicked you to the curb and ignored you? You’re created in the image of God; Created to succeed and destined for greatness, maybe not in the NFL….but more importantly in life!

Get back up, get your focus on the Lord and His plan for your life and let’s see what happens.

The laws of physics and aerodynamics say that there’s absolutely no way the bumblebee can fly! Body’s too big, wings are too short….there’s just no way!

They just forgot to tell the bumblebee!

*Tell me your stories of overcoming unsurmountable odds!

Audio Version:

Read these:

It Feels Good To Be “Believed In”!!

A “You Can Do It” Atmosphere

 

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I Did It Just For Him!

*Today marks a year since my Dad left for heaven. I wrote this blog on his birthday back in August. He would’ve been 87. It seems fitting to publish it today.

The 15th of August; For as many years as I was old enough to remember we did something to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. This year was a little different in that, this time, he wasn’t here to enjoy it with us. We did, however get together anyway. Monty drove up from Ft.Worth. We had supper at Rib Crib with just about everyone there, minus Cole and his little family, (Calli Softball practice) and Cade.

As we sat at the restaurant the TV’s were tuned to the Olympics. We watched several events including the preliminaries for the women’s 400 meter hurdles. Then it was time for the women’s 100 meter finals. Allison Felix, the USA’s marquis sprinter and most decorated American woman track and field athlete, was the odds-on favorite to win the gold medal. She had a great start, ran her race, and it appeared that she was clearly going to win the gold. But just at the very end of the race the sprinter from the Bahamas did something that was totally unexpected. Rather than just running ‘through’ the finish line she dove forward at just the precise moment….stealing the gold medal from Allison Felix.

You’re probably wondering what in the world this has to do with my Dad. Well, the 100 meter finals and the miraculous finish took me back about 47 years. I was a junior in high school. One of the things I was pretty decent at was running the hurdles. I broke the school records in the high hurdles and low hurdles that had stood since 1929.

It was at the district track meet. I hadn’t been beaten in the highs or low hurdles up to that point in the entire track season. There were several really good competitors but if I’d just run my race I could beat them. I wasn’t the fastest by any means but no one could beat me out of the blocks and I could navigate the hurdles better than most of them. But on this day there was a new guy. First time I’d seen him. We were in the same preliminary heat in the high hurdles…and he beat me. I ran a good race…and he still beat me. We had the two fastest times in the prelims so in the finals we’re lined up in the two middle lanes.

Dad didn’t always get to be at the track meets but he was there that day. I wanted to do my very best for him. I got off to my usual great start but so did the other guy. In fact, for 110 yards there was never a foot or two lead for either of us. It was literally neck-and-neck. We cleared the last hurdle and he had me beat by a foot or two. Ten feet from the finish line, he still had me beat. But I wanted to win this race in the worst possible way……for my Dad. I felt like I’d be letting him down if I didn’t win. But, for all practical purposes this guy’s got me beat. But at the last possible second I did exactly what the gal from the Bahamas did. I dove….with everything that was in me. My right shoulder hit the asphalt track and it took most of the hide off for about 8 inches……but I won the race!

I was glad I’d won the race….but the excitement wasn’t really for me. I was glad to win  because I was determined to do it for him. I don’t think I ever told Dad that I did that just for him. I wanted him to be proud of me. And for me to ‘not’ put out, and give it everything I had would make me feel like I was lettin’ him down. We learned from our folks that whatever you were doing, you give it everything you got! That’s what they did.

But you know,…..all the hundreds of things he ever did for us, he never once had to say, “I did that for you”.

We just knew!

Try these:

VIP’s #10 – Cliff & Charlene Taylor

VIP #8 – Monty Taylor

Labor Day Out on the ‘Ol ‘Lazy J’

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“I Don’t Know How We’re Gonna Win….I Just Know We’re Going To!”

That’s the words that Dabo Swinney told his Clemson players at halftime of the NCAA Football National Championship in Tampa Monday night. Alabama, on a 27-0 run over the last couple of years, was the favorite pick by the oddsmakers. There were a lot of people who were pulling for Clemson but I don’t think many were willing to bet much on the game. The Crimson Tide has just been too tough. They’re athletic, big, strong, fast, intimidating and very well coached. Nobody has given them much of a scare for a couple of years. The closest anyone has come to beating Alabama came exactly a year ago also in the NCAA Championship by…..none other than the Clemson Tigers.

But the underdog Clemson Tigers believed! That’s what happens when  a coach,….and I’m sure an entire coaching staff, fosters confidence and a winning attitude. People want to follow a leader who thinks he’s going to win! They’ll follow someone who’s not afraid or intimidated by the conditions at hand; Someone who doesn’t cut and run when chips are down….or when the tide (no pun intended) is against them.

There’s a need for great leaders in the body of Christ now more than at any other time in history of the world. But it almost seems like there’s a vacuum; a fear or timidity to ‘stand up’ and really lead. The world is longing for those who’ll defy the odds, go against the traditional religious grain, ….if they must….and empower the multitudes to take their place in the greatest move of God the planet might ever see!

Somebody needs to stand up in the midst of the adverse conditions we’re faced with today and declare, “We’re gonna win…..I don’t know how we’re gonna do it….but I just know we’re going to!”

Oh, and Dabo’s Clemson Tigers…..they did what he said they would…in a dramatic 35-31 comeback victory….scoring the winning touchdown with 1 second left on the clock!

Some more football blogs:

All-Time Favorite Sports Franchise – Canadian, Texas Wildcats

Gun Fightin’, Pool Shootin’…and Bull Ridin’! …….and I Guess, Now, High School Football!

It Takes a Village to go Back to Back…..to Back to Back!

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Life’s Like Football, It’s a Game of Inches

I was watching a high-school football playoff game a week or two back. It was a very close game involving two really good teams. It caused me to remember what I hear sportscasters, even sports fans, say about football often; “It’s a game of inches”. There was no less than half a dozen times during that game that the ‘game of inches’ concept came into play. A couple of critical fourth down measurements when in one instance the team gained the first down by maybe three inches; another time late in the game deep in the other team’s territory the measurement on a fourth and one….was short by less than six inches and kept the team from a possible touchdown. Another time a wide receiver caught a pass in the back of the end zone with one foot down in play….but only by, maybe two inches. Those close calls were critical in the overall outcome of the game. Football really is a ‘game of inches’.

It started me thinking along the lines of how life can be much like football, in that respect, …..a game of inches. For instance, when we ‘give’ our life to the Lord something truly miraculous, and supernatural, happens. There has been a literal transformation in the deepest, eternal part of us….our spirit. But that transformation takes the rest of our lives to fully manifest. We begin to think differently about nearly everything. And those thoughts, hopefully tempered by the Holy Spirit, lead us to begin reasoning, acting and behaving differently, as well. Most of the time it’s not a huge behavior swing (could be, though!), but more so just a step at a time. You know,……. incremental change. A game of inches! But over the long haul it’s truly an amazing transformation.

It can work in the negative as well. For instance a marriage doesn’t get bad in a moment. More than likely there has been a lot of little things over a long period of time that have steadily eroded the relationship. It’s a game of inches. But, in the same respect, when a couple can agree to start to really work on their marriage it can start to turn around. It’s not a perfect science but a good rule of thumb, I think, to expect the marriage to get good again in about the same distance of time that it took to get bad. That might be years. But the amazing thing is, and I see this all the time, as soon as the relationship starts to move in the right direction both parties immediately begin to feel better about it. It’s a game of inches! I could give a dozen more examples but you get the picture.

Take yourself for instance; we’re often silently disappointed in ourselves because we aren’t growing in the Lord at the pace we think we should. I’d like to encourage you to ‘not’ get frustrated about that.

Relax a little, enjoy the journey and remember….it’s a game of inches!

Try these:

The Silver Bullet Lounge

You Got to Me Too Late!

The Thing About Unconditional Love

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“Cowboy Christmas”

It’s the term that professional rodeo cowboys call the week of the 4th of July. From this time through the end of August is about the busiest time for rodeo pros traveling all over the USA garnering points and dollars in their quest to move into the top fifteen in their particular events so they can compete for the BIG money at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December. Cowboys can compete in 2 rodeos a day if everything works right and there’s even an opportunity to make 3 in the same day. Those 3  would be Cody, Wyoming, Red Lodge and Livingston, Montana. I made those 3 a time or two back in the ’70’s, and early ’80’s. Many cowboys in those days, and probably today as well, include the use of an airplane to make the rigorous travel schedule even more feasible. I also did that myself, being licensed private pilot, for a few years. There’s lots of money to be awarded through July and August. I always won good money over the 4th but never really had the kind of run that a guy dreams of. There’s alway a myriad of variables to deal with when you’re rodeoing at that pace; the draw, travel restrictions, the weather, injuries, scheduling conflicts, etc. But, in my 20’s, looking back I don’t guess I minded any of those things that much.

It’s been 35 years since that was my life but I still think about it often, and especially over the 4th of July holidays. I think about the travel, the rodeos, the challenges but most of all I think of the camaraderie amongst all my rodeo friends. It was, and still is, something very special! So, if you’re out there as a spectator at St. Paul, Prescott, Greeley, Pecos, Cody, Red Lodge, Livingston or any of the other dozen or so rodeos happening simultaneously, enjoy the show….and try to appreciate the truly, last individual professional sport in America!

Here’s a couple of ‘Cowboy Christmas’ memories: One from Pecos, Texas, one of the oldest rodeos in America. The big, black bull at Pecos, FH of Steiner’s, threw me off so hard there’s probably still a dent in the arena dirt where I landed. The other pic is from Springdale, Arkansas. Sure doesn’t seem like 35 years ago!

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If you like rodeo stories, check these out:

8378 Zulu ….. and the Flight That Was Almost the Last One!

First Trip to Calgary!

“The Best Straw Hat I Ever Had!”

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Did NOT See That Coming!

Woke up yesterday, 4th of July, anticipating the announcement from Kevin Durant that he was staying with the Thunder. He became a free-agent just a few days ago and there was at least a half dozen NBA teams that he visited prior to the 4th.

We’ve been Thunder season ticket holders since we first had the chance six or seven years ago. I quit watching the NBA 15 years ago. It got boring for me to see both teams fiddle around for three quarters, play absolutely no defense, then try to win in the fourth quarter. The Thunder were just a so-so team for a year or two but began to make their way into the upper echelon in the NBA West. KD, was the marquis player for the Thunder earning all kinds of league accolades including the prestigious MVP of the NBA. He’s been a great asset to Oklahoma…and not just the OKC Thunder. He displayed  a level of character that is not often seen with multi-million dollar sports celebrities these days. He came from very humble beginnings and I believe he is a genuinely good kid.

I really wasn’t worried that he wouldn’t re-sign with the Thunder. I was a little nervous when ESPN reported that he was ‘blown away’ by the presentation by the LA Clippers. But, still I figured he’d stay in OKC considering that we were just one game away from making the NBA Finals. All it’d take is the right trade for the right guy and we’re right back in the same spot next season. It seemed that everything was shaping up for a great run next year.

But mid morning on the 4th of July the announcement was made that he would sign with the Golden State Warriors. I was stunned! Anyplace but Golden State! I cycled through several emotions throughout the day; total shock at first, then sadness….then about half mad, but then just kinda settled in to, “Well it is, what it is.”.

We, here in Oklahoma, have never had a sports figure that received the national attention as KD did, at least not in the modern era. Heck, it’s our only Pro Sports team. KD and the Thunder brought OU and OSU fans together under one roof. It brought Oklahoma City national sports recognition and had an uncanny way of unifying a whole state, something that maybe no other sports franchise has ever done. 

All in all I’d have to say that Kevin Durant has been good for Oklahoma…but no more good than Oklahoma has been for him. He’s been supported, defended and loved by just about everyone in the whole state. But it is, what it is! I wish him the best. I hope this move turns out for him what he’s wishing for. And for us diehard Thunder fans, I guess we’re getting to experience what every other fan of every other professional sports franchise has already experienced before. 

But, I ain’t gonna lie…..I hope we kick the _ _ _ _ (you fill in the blank!) out of Golden State!

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