Category: Dallas Mavericks (page 1 of 4)

Jesus Did Nothing

Tony Romo finishes his Mavericks career with a losing record and missing the playoffs. He’s still got it.

The lines between what is real and what is fake get blurrier every day. What an insult to every Mavericks player. And what a testimony to how low the bar is now for Cowboys quarterbacks. You don’t have to win a Super Bowl. Shoot, you don’t even have to win a divisional playoff game! Ever! You’re a hero!

Romo was speaking for all of us yesterday when he kept saying he was embarrassed.

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How do we move so quickly from praising our Lord to denying him? How do we go so fast from vowing to die for Christ to betraying him? The Gospels tell us that all his followers — those huge crowds that welcomed him with palm branches and shouts of loyalty — abandoned him. They went from shouting “Hosanna!” to shouting “Crucify him!” They went from showering Jesus with praise to driving nails through his hands and feet. From big, green, leafy palm branches to an old wooden cross. The apostles promised their undying allegiance to Jesus at dinner and, then, within an hour or two, maybe less, they abandoned him completely. How does that happen?

Remember the frenzy of Palm Sunday?

At last, God’s anointed King has come! The teacher and miracle-worker from Nazareth is God’s promised Messiah! Jesus will defeat the pagan rulers from Rome! He will establish the true Kingdom of God right here in our land! We’re going to regain our power! We’re going to be in control! Jesus is the Christ and he’s going to take away all our problems and he’s going to make all of us winners! Hosanna!

And there’s shouting and singing and celebration and anticipation. Huge crowds of followers surrounding Jesus on all sides, hailing him as their new king. Jesus rides through the eastern gate into the Holy City, right into the temple precincts, and he does…

…nothing.

He doesn’t do anything.

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” ~Mark 11:11

Jesus doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t lead the mob against the Roman garrison. He doesn’t physically confront the powers and authorities that are oppressing the people. He doesn’t even take the steps of the temple to deliver a stirring speech. He looks around for a little bit and then goes back to Bethany. For dinner, I guess.

What a disappointment! What kind of Messiah is this? What sort of Savior?

Yeah, the next day Jesus preaches a sermon in the temple and overturns a few tables to illustrate his point. But he doesn’t raise a finger against the Romans. He doesn’t even raise his voice. In fact, the next day, he tells everybody, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

What?

By Friday, enough of the crowds were disappointed and disenchanted with Jesus, that the priests and teachers of the law were easily able to turn them against him. The apostles — the insiders, the personally-chosen followers of Jesus — promised to never betray him, to never leave his side, to die first. But they’re gone, too.

If you look honestly at that picture, if you pay close attention to the story, you will see yourself. You will see your sin. And it will break your heart.

Jesus doesn’t always meet our expectations. His lordship doesn’t always provide for us what we think it should provide.

Maybe there’s something broken in your marriage that Jesus hasn’t fixed. Maybe there’s a deep wound in your soul that Jesus hasn’t healed. Maybe there’s something going on in your family, a situation at work, a physical illness or disease, an addiction. Maybe. And being a Christian hasn’t really helped.

Maybe you’re all alone and Jesus hasn’t given you any friends. Maybe it feels like nothing is going right. Jesus doesn’t always provide for us what we think he should.

So, you abandon what Christ teaches, you give up on the way of the Lord, and you do things your own way. In order to gain some control, you leave Jesus, you turn your back, you drift away, or maybe you flat-out deny him.

When you see that, when you see your sin, it’ll break your heart.

I know it can feel like Jesus is doing nothing. And somebody has to do something! Jesus can’t just look around at everything, he can’t just look at my life and my struggles and my problems, and shrug his shoulders and go back to Bethany. For dinner, I guess.

Well, Jesus did do something. He did something that only he could do. He did something to finally and completely and ultimately destroy the effects of sin and death in your life and for the whole world forever.

He died. He died on a cross. On purpose.

Jesus resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem and walked to the cross. He allowed himself to be beaten and tortured. He allowed them to nail his hands and feet to the blood-soaked wood of that cross. He died willingly. He sacrificed himself. He could have called ten thousand angels. But he died alone. For you and me. That’s what Jesus came to do. The Lamb of God who dies to take away the sin of the world.

Peace,

Allan

Dirk Hits 30K

Dirk Nowitski’s name belongs now and forever way up in the rafters alongside the names of Kareem, Kobe, M.J., and Wilt. In last night’s wire-to-wire home win over the Lakers, the Big German scored his 30,000th career NBA point on his signature fade away jumper from the baseline. With a hand in his face. His typical flair for the moment captured by more than twenty thousand cell phone cameras and sealing his place among basketball’s storied immortals.

Dirk is a league MVP, a playoffs MVP, and an NBA Champion. He revolutionized the game by becoming the greatest international player in history and by creating a new position: “stretch forward.” His dedication to his craft is legendary. His work ethic and toughness are inspirational. But it’s his loyalty to the Mavericks and the city of Dallas that makes him eternally heroic.

Dirk is only the sixth player in NBA history to rack up 30,000 points. He and Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant are the only three to do it with one team. Nowitski began his career against a team that doesn’t even exist anymore: the Seattle SuperSonics. He began his career in a building that doesn’t exist anymore: Reunion Arena. But he’ll finish his twenty or twenty-one year career with the Mavericks. In Dallas. And for that, he’ll own the city for as long as he lives.

He’s Roger Staubach in shorts and high tops. He could run for Mayor of Dallas tomorrow or fifteen years from now and win. He’s Dallas royalty. He’s lived and died with the Mavericks and their fans. He’s suffered through lottery seasons and won championships. He’ll be cutting ribbons and raising money and serving on boards and advocating for the city for the rest of his life. He can do no wrong in Big D. Forever.

And it’s legitimate.

Kevin Durant could have had the exact same thing in OKC. But he chose to chase rings in Oakland with the guys who beat his Thunder. And he may never recover. I don’t see a LeBron-Cleveland reunion culminating in a title and renewed hero status for K.D. and Oklahoma City.

There’s something noble about staying with your team, remaining with your city, battling year in and year out, experiencing the highs and lows, working hard to build something and accomplish something, regardless of the changing circumstances around you. Dirk has done that and he’s achieved the great status he deserves.

And he’s just so stinkin’ likeable. Who doesn’t love Dirk?

I remember in 2004 or 2005 when Dirk became an on-line relationship advice columnist for a local Dallas paper. It was a promotional thing, kind of clever, but it was a joke. Everybody was making fun of it, and, true to his nature, he was having a good time with it. My talk show producer, Eric Gray, and I wanted to record a bit in which we would ask Dirk to give us advice for our troubled on-air relationship, to help us with the interpersonal problems we were having. It was a gag. A big joke. The questions were loaded for laughs and Dirk agreed to do it. We were in a crunch for time — the Mavs were leaving for a four game road trip — and if we didn’t record the bit after the next home game it would be two weeks before we could try it again.

So, the day of the game we set it up with Dirk to record the fake interview afterwards.

And they lost.

I can’t remember who they played. I can’t remember if they lost at the buzzer or got blown out. But they were expected to win and they got beat. The locker room was quiet. The mood was sour. Nobody was making jokes or laughing.

And after we all finished with our official interviews and the locker room had mostly cleared out, we approached Dirk about the relationship advice bit. He remembered. I told him we could wait and do it another time. But he said, “Y’all need it tonight, don’t you?” We did. And he did it.

It wasn’t great. He wasn’t in a good mood. We asked the silly questions and he tried to be funny with us. He tried. And it didn’t really work. We wound up not using it because it didn’t turn out right. It was forced. But he still went through with it. He tried. And he didn’t have to. That’s the kind of guy Dirk is. Friendly. Funny. Never takes himself too seriously. And true to his word, regardless of changing circumstances.

People ask me all the time if I miss covering sports for Dallas radio. The answer is that I miss being there for the big moments. I was on the ice and in the dressing room with Mike Modano and Derian Hatcher when the Stars won those two Western Conference Championships. I was on the sidelines and in the locker room when Emmitt Smith surpassed Walter Payton as the leading rusher in NFL history. John Wetteland poured champagne down my shirt in the Rangers clubhouse when they clinched the division in ’99. And I was there when Dirk lost the tooth in that playoff game against the Jazz and then led the Mavs to an improbable victory and the series win. I was there for all those Western Conference Championship Series games against the Kings and the Spurs. I’ve had political conversations with Steve Nash, I’ve been the target of a sarcastic comment from Shawn Bradley, I’ve played three-on-three hoops with Donnie Nelson and Derek Harper, and I’ve had Don Nelson threaten to kick me out of his office during a misunderstanding. I’ve been chewed out by Johnny Oates and apologized to by Buck Showalter. I’ve gotten into a nationally-televised argument about two-point conversions with Bill Parcells and I’ve watched an episode of Seinfeld with Pierre Turgeon before a playoff game. I miss the access, maybe.

I don’t miss the travel. I certainly don’t miss the late nights and the lost weekends. I don’t miss the pressure of getting all those sound bites from all those teams and cutting all that tape and putting together all those sportscasts.

But I wish I could have been there last night.

Peace,

Allan

Younger Every Day

“Inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.” ~2 Corinthians 4:16

If the apostle Paul is right — I’m betting my life on it — then you and I are actually getting younger every day. By the grace of God and the power of his Spirit, we are more refreshed, more energetic, more joyful today than we were yesterday.

We’re all in the youth group!

With that in mind, our whole Central church family got together Wednesday night for our annual Fall Festival. Everybody’s always invited. It’s an intergenerational, church-wide deal. And we do our best to get everybody — young and old — to the party.

FallFestMatt&Lydia

FallFestPeterPan

 

 

 

 

 

 

If hot dogs and cotton candy are not your thing, maybe karaoke is. If singing a pop song over a cheesy soundtrack doesn’t interest you, maybe judging jack o’ lanterns and Halloween costumes is. If you don’t have a judgmental spirit, maybe you’d rather help with a booth or pass out candy. If none of that floats your boat, then we go ahead and play the ultimate trump card:

The family is getting together to show the kids a good time. You’re part of the family.

FallFestShepherds

FallFestSteve&JudyIt’s always good to just show up and cut loose for a bit. You can encourage the children by telling them how great they look and how talented they are. You can laugh at the adults who show up in a costume and indulge yourself with a long-time favorite Halloween candy. Mainly, though, you can spend a few minutes with a kid. Let him know you’re glad he’s at our church. Tell her how special she is and that she’s important at our church. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll head having been renewed by God’s Spirit.

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Golf2015We got Carley’s Canyon High School Golf Team pictures in. While she is yet to actually play in an official tournament — this weekend’s matches, like last weekend’s matches, have been canceled due to rain — she does take a pretty good picture.

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And, our favorite German, Dirk Nowitzki, got into the Halloween spirit this week by channeling his inner Lurch. Gotta love Dirk.

Peace,

Allan

The Holy Spirit to Those Who Ask

One last thing about the DeAndre Jordan situation: it has made Mark Cuban a sympathetic figure. Crazy, huh? You know that Jordan has done an under-handed, diabolical, evil thing when it causes me to actually feel sorry for Cuban.

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Now, back to our look at Jesus’ parable in Luke 11 and, today, what I find the most interesting about the story. Our Lord concludes his comments regarding the story with this often-overlooked line: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Wait a second! Holy Spirit? I thought we were talking about bread! I thought this story was about our basic needs, the fundamental necessities.

We’ve seen in this story that God promises to give us everything we need and he promises to answer our prayers when we ask for what we need. Now Jesus closes it out by telling us that what we really need is the Holy Spirit. So ask for it! This is what you pray for: the Spirit. And when you do, God says, “Yes!”

This is not an open-ended teaching here. It’s not a blank check. It’s never been about asking for anything you want. God never promises to give us everything we want; but he always guarantees to give us every single thing we need. And what we need is God’s Spirit. So pray for it.

FriendPrayers3This is hard for us. We don’t really know how to do this. We know how to pray for sick people. We know how to get our names on the prayer list and how to pray for my relatives and friends of my relatives and for the second cousin of my insurance guy’s mother. Who lives in Kentucky. Yeah, we’re very good at praying for healing. We know how to pray for what we want.

Give me this new job, Lord. Help her fall in love with me, God. Father, get me out of this traffic. We pray for what we want.

Lord, keep my children safe. God, help our church to grow. Father, help our candidate win the election. Lord, help our Wednesday nights to be successful. We know how to pray for what we want.

Jesus tells us to pray for what we need. And what we need, he says, is the Holy Spirit.

What would it look like to pray for the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit convicts hearts of sin, right? Can you pray that? “Father, please convict me of the sin in my life. Please shine a bright light on the sins in my heart, God. Convict me of my sin. Expose it, Lord. And deal with it.” That’s not necessarily what I want. But it’s certainly what I need.

What would it look like to pray for what we need instead of what we want? The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, right? Can you pray that? “Father, maybe I need to go through some suffering. Maybe I need a season of washing and purifying. I know your Spirit will help me, Lord. You know what I really need, God. Maybe I need to be weak for a while.” Not what I want; maybe what I need.

What would it look like? Jesus calls the Spirit the “Spirit of Truth.” Can you pray that? “Lord, give me your Spirit of Truth. Show me what’s really true in my life, the things I can’t see, the things I ignore, the things I neglect. Show me the truth about myself. And force me to deal with it, God.” Not what I want, but what I need.

What if you went this whole weekend, from this moment through Sunday night, and only prayed for what you really need and did not pray at all for what you merely want? What if you took our Lord Jesus completely at his word? What if you really trusted him with what he says about prayer: that God provides everything we need, that God will answer us when we pray for what we really need, and that what we really need is his Holy Spirit?FriendPrayers4

What would it look like?

Maybe you’ll need help. Maybe flipping to the “fruit of the Spirit” passage in Galatians 5 could be a good starting place for you. Pray for more of that Holy Spirit character in your own life.

Pray for joy. Not joy because you sold your house or you got the raise. Joy because even though you’re going through a very difficult time, God is mercifully sustaining you. Or joy because the blood of Jesus is washing you.

Pray for patience. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard your whole life not to ever pray for patience. Jesus says pray for what you need, not what you want. It’s the Spirit. Pray for patience.

Pray for kindness. You know that person you’re not nice to. Be specific. Ask the Holy Spirit to break your heart for that person.

Pray for self-control. Part of your life is probably out of control. Part of your life is led by your impulses, your urges and desires, not by God’s Spirit. The way you eat, the way you experience sex, the hours you work, the hobby you pursue — pray for the Holy Spirit to bring those things under his control.

What would it look like?

Peace,

Allan

NOOOOOOOOO!!!

DeandreJordanFT

I can’t say anything more clever or more accurate than what Bob Sturm has already said: “I want him fouled every minute of their first game here. Six hour game. 148 free throws. We will set records.”

Who knew that DeAndre Jordan converts a higher percentage of his free throws than his free agency signings?

This gutless about-face will go down in Mavs history with the Roy Tarpley flame-out and the Sean Bradley signing. This sucker-punch sinks the Mavs for the foreseeable future, maybe for a decade, maybe longer. Dirk doesn’t survive this. Neither does Carlisle. Compare it to Jackie Smith’s drop or Nelson Cruz’s bobble. The franchise may never recover.

If this is the kind of integrity Jordan has, no wonder he gags at the stripe. He clearly doesn’t have the nerve to be a number one guy anywhere. No stomach for it. It’s sickening.

Allan

Be Assured of Salvation

The Mavericks played the absolutely best game they possibly could have Saturday night and still lost to the Thunder in OKC. Durant and his boys are going to take it in five games. Last night Derek Holland looked overmatched, Josh Hamilton pulled something in his back, Ron Washington got tossed out of the game on his 60th birthday, and the Rangers lost their first series since last fall. And the Cowboys used their top draft pick on a guy who just set the record for the lowest score on the Wonderlic intelligence exam in NFL draft history. Tough weekend.

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Let’s resume our chapter-by-chapter look at Leroy Garrett’s “What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved?” The book is a compilation of suggestions Garrett makes for us if the Church of Christ is to have a redemptive role and an effective ministry in our rapidly changing world. We reach the halfway point of the book today with suggestion number ten:

Have an assurance of our own salvation.

Garrett claims that our members “do not know we are saved; we hope we are.” I know what he’s talking about. I hear it all the time. My own brothers and sisters in Christ talk about their eternal salvation in hesitant, halting, uncertain terms. “I hope I am.” “I pray that I am.” “If God will just give me a tiny back corner in the basement of heaven, I’ll be happy.” “I’m trying as hard as I can.”

The by-product of such uncertainty is a lack of joy. One thing Church of Christ people aren’t, in spite of many noble qualities, is a joyous people. We have little joy because we have little assurance. We don’t talk like people who are assured of their salvation. We don’t sing that way. We don’t pray that way. That is why our singing is unexciting, our prayers dull, and our services generally boring. Take a look at our Sunday morning service at most any of our churches. Is it a funeral? Where is the spontaneity? Where is the joyous excitement of being a Christian? Who would seek solace from a troubled world among folk who go at their religion with a yawn and a sigh?

Garrett says Church of Christ people are scared to live and afraid to die. We have no joy because we’re not really one hundred percent sure we’re good with God. Despite the clear teachings of Holy Scripture, our people have doubts and fears about their standing with God. They’re uncertain. They wonder if they’re doing enough. They wonder if they’re good enough. They wonder if they’ve loved enough or served enough or worked enough. (By the way, the answer to those questions is “No, no, no, no, and no.”)

Garrett’s dead-on analysis is that we really don’t believe in the grace of God. We would never say it, but the reality is that, for the most part, Church of Christ folks actually believe in salvation by works. We’re taught this at an early age. We think and talk this way. We practice this way. It’s been unambiguously modeled for us and by us for decades. Seriously.

We are saved by being baptized in exactly the correct way for exactly the right reasons. We stay saved by taking communion on exactly the correct day — and only on that correct day — in exactly the correct way. We keep ourselves saved and we save others by studying our Bibles and reaching the exact same correct conclusions about all the exact same doctrines. This is what makes us unique. This is what makes us distinctive. This is what sets us apart from all the others. We’ve got it down right. And since we know so much about God’s plan and God’s will, we’d better be about doing it exactly right.

No wonder we’re so uncertain and nervous! Who could possibly measure up to all that? If I’ve misunderstood a part of that doctrine or I’ve misinterpreted part of God’s will or I’ve done something in a worship service that’s not entirely in the proper order, then my salvation must be in jeopardy. I’d better figure things out and get right with God.

We must start believing in the Gospel of the grace of God, the basis of which is that salvation is his free gift to us. There is no work that we can perform to attain it. There is no way for us to buy it. We can’t be good enough to deserve it. There is no power that can wrest it. It is a gift, a free gift, that is ours only because of God’s philanthropy. In short, we must come to see what has been in holy Scripture all along: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

“[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” ~2 Timothy 1:9

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” ~2 Timothy 1:12

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” ~Titus 3:5

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy!” ~Jude 24

Look, I don’t believe in “once saved, always saved;” but I sure don’t believe either in “once saved, barely saved.” We are saved by God’s grace. We are redeemed by his mercy. It’s a free gift from our Father. And if we can ever all get our brains and our hearts and our souls around that, we’ll be freed from our own hangups to live and praise and worship and serve with great gladness and joy. Finally, we’ll be able to forgive people we haven’t been able to forgive before because we’ll be drawing on God’s goodness instead of our own. Finally, we’ll be able to accept those we’ve never been able to accept before because we’ll be depending on Jesus’ righteousness and not our own. We’ll be able to love every man, woman, and child on this planet in ways we’ve never been able to love before because we’ll be experiencing God’s unconditional love in our lives and not applying our own very conditional love to others.

It’ll be a huge shift for us. Huge. Radical. Dramatic. It’ll change us. It’ll mature us and grow us up. And it will have an eternal impact on those around us who just might see Christ in the Church of Christ for the very first time.

Peace,

Allan

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