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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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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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