Category: NBA

Hump Day Diversions

Rangers 4-1/2 up at the breakIt figures, huh? The year the Rangers go to the World Series they’re not going to have home field advantage.

New Ranger Cliff Lee. One inning of work in last night’s All-Star Game. Three up, three down. Six total pitches. One strikeout. I’m just sayin’…

The second half begins tomorrow night in Boston. Now we really start paying attention. Kipi, are you with me?


George SteinbrennerA quality I find most attractive in people is the willingness — even the joy — to laugh at oneself. George Steinbrenner was, by all accounts, an impossibly difficult man to work with and/or for. A narcissistic ego-maniac, for sure. Impulsive. Explosive. Irrational. Driven. Evil. There are plenty of words out there to describe him. But it’s hard to hate a man who seems to take such pleasure in laughing at himself and in watching others poke fun at him.

Steinbrenner’s old Miller Lite commercial with Billy Martin is hilarious. He reportedly took great delight in SteinbrennerLarry David’s numerous parodies on Seinfeld (asking Costanza if it’s pronounced “Feb-U-ary” or “Feb-RU-ary” and calling Babe Ruth a “fat old man with little girl legs”; did you know he wasn’t really a Sultan?”). But the funniest thing to me is Steinbrenner himself playing a convenience store owner on Saturday Night Live. His character spent the entire skit trying to persuade his store manager that firing people all the time is a horrible way to run a business. “How can your employees perform at their best when you’re constantly looking over their shoulders?” It’s a great skit. A classic. And I can’t find it anywhere. I’ve looked everywhere today. Help! Somebody please find that old SNL skit and pass along the link.

You know, we should all learn to laugh at ourselves. We should all relax and be able to poke fun at our own idiosyncrasies and shortcomings. God’s Church would be a better place, more people would be encouraged, and more good for the Kingdom would be done if we’d stop taking ourselves so seriously all the time.

Please find that SNL clip!!!


Cavs Owner Dan GilbertDan Gilbert reminds me of George Steinbrenner. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner released an open letter to all Cavs fans on the team’s website Thursday evening in the aftermath of LeBron James’ defection to Miami. I certainly don’t condone the attitude or the name-calling in this letter. But you absolutely have to read it! If you’ve already read it, read it again (The Cavs pulled the letter off their team website sometime last night. Click here dangilbertletter.doc to read it today). It’s fascinating. It’s incredible. Team owners don’t say things like this. Not in public. Not even Jerry Wayne. Nobody does this. I’ve read it four times and I still don’t believe it.


Empty Tomb Logo at Sickest Kids show 

One of our shepherds here at Legacy, Russ Garrison, sent me this photo of his son, Kent. The band is Forever the Sickest Kids (yeah, I have no idea). Kent’s on keyboards and vocals. They’re signed to Universal Motown Records, they’ve got a #34 single with “Whoa-Oh,” they’ve been on Conan O’Brien, played halftime at the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day game last year, and done a couple of world tours. This picture was taken at the Meadowlands during a show last month. Check out the Empty Tomb sticker in the foreground there. Cool.


David Byrnes recently sent me an email with a whole bunch of “look-alikes.” A couple of them were striking, such as this coupling of Yassar Arafat and Ringo Starr.

Yassar Arafat & Ringo Starr

A few of them were really funny, like Dalai Lama and Happy Llama.

Dalai Lama & Happy Llama

But the reason David forwarded the email to me is because he knows my love of all things Van Halen and Simpsons. And this pairing of Eddie Van Halen and the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons was too much for him to resist.

Eddie Van Halen & Simpsons Crazy Cat Lady

It’s a very, very unfortunate picture of Edward. Taken at a really bad time in his life. Shame on you, David. Double shame.


Finally, this, forwarded to me from an unnamed Legacy shepherd:

Forwarded from David Watson



Church "Aliveness"

Wondering if the seamstresses at Nike headquarters in Eugene, Oregon are busy today sewing together Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony puppets…………


Healthy ChurchesPhilip Yancey and his wife recently visited all 24 different churches in their town on 24 consecutive weekends. They just went through the phone book (does anybody use the phone book anymore?) and went in alphabetical order. They visited churches with organs and choirs, churches with praise bands and electric guitars, and even a Church of Christ that featured acappella singing of songs projected on PowerPoint slides. They found churches full of suits and ties and others with blue jeans and cowboy boots.

Based on what Yancey is calling an unexplainable intuition, he says he could tell the “aliveness” of a church within just about five minutes. He bases some of this on the noise level in the foyer, laughter in the conversations, and activities promoted in the bulletin. He’s trying to put this “health-of-a-church-formula” into better organized thoughts and words. But most of it, he admits, is just a gut feel.

So far, Yancey’s come up with three main attributes of a healthy church, a congregation that’s alive. I’m quoting now from his November ’08 article in Christianity Today:

1) Diversity. As I read accounts of the New Testament Church, no characteristic stands out more sharply than this one. Beginning with Pentecost, the Christian Church dismantled the barriers of gender, race, and social class that had marked Jewish congregations. Paul, who as a rabbi had given thanks daily that he was not born a woman, slave, or Gentile, marveled over the radical change: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Diversity complicates rather than simplifies life. Perhaps for this reason we tend to surround ourselves with people of similar age, economic class, and opinion. Church offers a place where infants and grandparents, unemployed and executives, immigrants and blue bloods can come together. Just yesterday I sat sandwiched between an elderly man hooked up to a puffing oxygen tank and a breastfeeding baby who grunted loudly and contentedly throughout the sermon. Where else can we go to find that mixture?

When I walk into a church, the more its members resemble each other — and resemble me — the more uncomfortable I feel.

2) Unity. Of course, diversity only succeeds in a group who share a common vision. In his great prayer in John 17, Jesus stressed one request above all others: “that they may be one.” The existence of 38,000 denominations worldwide demonstrates how poorly we have fulfilled Jesus’ request. I wonder how different the Church would look to a watching world, not to mention how different history would look, if Christians were more deeply marked by love and unity. Perhaps a whiff of the fragrance of unity is what I detect when I visit a church and sense its “aliveness.”

3) Mission. The Church, said Archbishop William Temple, is “the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.” Some churches, especially those located in urban areas, focus on the needs of immediate neighborhoods. Others adopt sister churches in other countries, support relief and development agencies, and send mission teams abroad. Saddest of all are those churches whose vision does not extend beyond their own facilities and parking lots.

Yancey’s list is, obviously, not complete. But, we can all agree that these three characteristics are huge for churches striving to reflect our Savior and his Gospel. And it’s not a stretch to see that all of our churches have work to do in all three areas.

This should not be a disappointment to us. We should view this as a challenge. And a great blessing and privilege — that our God would allow people like us to embody his presence on earth.




KeithMost of you already know how proud I am of my brother, Keith, a Bible professor at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He teaches church history and New Testament theology and he is the world’s leading scholar and expert in the thought and theology and writings  of Jacobus Arminius. Keith’s first book, Arminius on the Assurance of Salvation, was published two years ago. You’d need a small loan to purchase it. Most of you (us) would need a brain transplant to read it. It’s heavy. Deep. Profound. And very, very important. It’s meant for reading and research in theological libraries. And I know our mom has a copy. But John Mark Hicks has recently read the book and posted a wonderful review on his website, John Mark Hicks Ministries. You can read his review of Keith’s book here.


And would you please do me this favor? It’s kinda cheesy, I know. Indulge me, though. Please. This will take a grand total of ten seconds. It’s a total of two clicks.

Randy RoperRandy Roper is the family life minister at the Edmond Church of Christ. We called Oklahoma Christian University basketball games together in 1988-89. I did play-by-play. Randy provided the color. Colorful color. Road trips. Late nights. Triple overtime playoff losses. We’ve got a bit of a history together. If you know Randy, ask him about Swampman’s Dunk, mayonnaise, or the stink bomb in the Eagle’s Nest during a game against SNU. (Don’t ask him about our halftime comments during crazy hat night against Oklahoma City University.) On a whim, he recently entered a contest in which the winner gets a free trip to New York City to accompany Oklahoma City Thunder officials for the 2009 NBA Draft Lottery.

The Thunder is the NBA team in OKC.  It’s the old Seattle SuperSonics franchise thatThunder Logo moved to Oklahoma two years ago. The set up here is to know that the team and its fans call their Thunder T-shirts and Thunder caps and Thunder sweatshirts and jerseys “Thunderwear.” It’s catchy. It’s clever. I like it. My brother-in-law and their two boys are always talking about their Thunderwear. We got them Academy gift certificates for Christmas last year so they could buy more Thunderwear.

The contest Randy entered is a slogan contest. The winner is determined by on-line voting. His slogan is “Gonna wear my Thunderwear in Times Square.” It’s down to three finalists. And right now, Randy’s leading the voting with 46%. “Thunder Loud and Oklahoma Proud” is next with 44%, so it’s close. Do me a favor. Vote for Randy right now. The voting ends at 2:00 CST this afternoon. Today.

Here’s the link to the site:

The three slogans will pop up on the left. Click in the circle next to “Gonna wear my Thunderwear in Times Square” and then hit the “submit” button right under it. Again, it’ll take less than ten seconds max. Thanks. I owe you one.


RangersThe Rangers are in first place this morning. They’ve won five straight. I’m not going to say anything about it. Don’t want to jinx anything.

And we’re down to one goldfish after two more kicked the bucket overnight. They’ve named him Spot. I think he’s in trouble.



Passionate Prayer

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” ~Acts 12:5

PassionatePrayerWe know we’re supposed to pray. So we do. But sometimes we get lazy with it. We don’t always pay attention to what we’re saying and why. In 1916, in his book The Soul of Prayer, P. T. Forsyth wrote the reason our churches don’t know how to pray is “the slipshod kind of prayer they hear from us in public worship; it is often but journalese sent heavenwards or phrase-making to carry on.”

If we really believe that God is who the Bible says he is; if we really believe that he is the almighty true and living God, the powerful creator and sustainer of heaven and earth; if we really believe this God is personal with us and not only hears our prayers but faithfully answers them; if we really believe that, then every one of our prayers will be filled with passion.

Not eloquence. Not etiquette. Not posture and syntax and order. Our prayers will be characterized by passion.

If we believe it.

E. M. Bounds, from an essay he wrote in 1895:

“The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil everywhere. Prayer is not a fitful short-lived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in silence. It is a voice which goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things.

God shapes the world by prayer.

The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on his great work upon earth. The great throes and mighty convulsions on earth are the results of these prayers. Earth is changed, revolutionized, angels move on more powerful, more rapid wing, and God’s policy is shaped as the prayers are more numerous, more efficient.

It is true that the mightiest successes that come to God’s cause are created and carried on by prayer. The days of God’s activity and power are when God’s Church comes into its mightiest inheritance of mightiest faith and mightiest prayer. God’s conquering days are when the saints have given themselves to mightiest prayer. When God’s house on earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and all potent in its plans and movements, then his earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory and his enemies defeated on every hand.”

That’s power. And if we believe it, our prayers will reflect it. Our prayers won’t be little. They’ll be huge. And passionate.

Abraham pleading for Sodom. Jacob wrestling at midnight. Moses fasting and praying for God’s people in the wilderness. Hannah intoxicated with sorrow. David heartbroken with grief and remorse. Huge, passionate prayers. Jesus overcome with loud cries and tears in the garden. Elijah exploding with confidence on Mount Carmel. Paul courageously petitioning on behalf of the new churches.

When we understand the God of our Scriptures, when we see things the way he sees things, then our prayers will be marked by passion. When we couple the greatness of God with the sinfulness of creation and when we understand both of these truths, then we understand what it is God really wants and what he’s doing. And we very boldly and courageously and passionately pray for it.


PierceMVPI can root for a guy like Paul Pierce. He fought and trained and worked and played his guts out for ten seasons, mostly pathetic losing seasons, in Boston. And for all ten of those season he vowed to do whatever he could to bring a title to Boston. He never said a negative word about the franchise or his teammates. He begged the team and the fans to stick with him. He promised to win a championship there.

DocRiversI can cheer for a guy like Doc Rivers who, up until two months ago had never won a playoff series as a coach and, one year ago, was this close to being fired. He begged Danny Ainge and the Boston front office to stick with him. He promised to do everything he could to win the title.

Doesn’t the NBA championship, clinched last night by the Celtics in a rout of the Lakers, mean a whole lot more to Pierce and Rivers than it does to Kevin Garnett?

It’s hard for me to pull for a guy who plays 12 years in Minnesota, the last four or five griping and whining about how lousy his team is and how they’re never going to win, and then demands to be shipped somewhere else where he wins the championship.

To me, Pierce and Rivers embody the commitment and loyalty and team-first principles we love about sports while FranTarkentonGarnett represents the self-serving team-jumping ring-chasing we hate. Is there no room in sports anymore for an Archie Manning or Fran Tarkenton?

Garnett embarrassed his new team and his new city when, immediately after the game with a dozen live national cameras and microphones in his face, he could only muster primal screams and long multi-syallabic curse words. A string of ’em. If not for ABC’s eight-second delay, the broadcast would have been rated R. Nice. When Garnett finally found his limited vocabulary, it went something like this. “I got mine! I got mine!”

He looked into the camera and shouted, “What are you gonna say now? I got mine! I’m legit! I’m certified! What are you gonna say now?”

And then he went Joe Namath on ABC sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya, “You look good, girl!”

PaulPierce&RiversPierce and Rivers couldn’t stop thanking each other. “Thank you for sticking with me,” they told each other over and over again.

I love that. Dedication. Commitment. Loyalty. Values that should and will be more and more appreciated in sports, if only because it’s increasingly rare.