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Are There Common Threads of One’s Likes & Dislikes?

31 October 2012 Leave a comment

I awakened early this morning to some scattered thoughts, about whether or not there are commonalities that explain why I am a fan of sports, like The Los Angeles Lakers, that dove tail with my faith in God and even with my profession as an Air Traffic Control Specialist (my apologies, in advance, to those of you who prefer to be called a Certified Professional Controller: I’m old-school, what can I say?)

I awoke to read off my Kindle from J.C. Ryle’s book, “Practical Religion,” about a familiar story – you may have heard of it, even if you haven’t read the passage from the Gospel of Luke yourself before now:

[Psalm 23:1] Only let a man come honestly and truthfully to Christ, and be joined to Him, and he will have all the benefits of a being a child of the Living God. Is he weighted down with many sins? “Though his sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow.” Is his heart hard and prone to evil? A new heart will be given to him, and a new spirit put in him. Is he weak and cowardly? He that enabled Peter to confess Christ before his enemies will make him bold. Is he ignorant? He that was patient with Thomas’ slowness will be patient with him, and guide him into all truth. Is he alone in his position? He that stood by Paul when all men abandoned him will also stand by his side. Is he in circumstances of special trial? He that enabled men to be saints in Nero’s household will also enable him to persevere. The very hairs of his head are all numbered. Nothing can harm him without God’s permission. He that hurts him, hurts the apple of God’s eye, and injures a brother and member of Christ Himself. His trials are all wisely ordered. Satan can only harass him, as he did Job, when God permits him. No temptation can happen to him above what he is able to bear. All things are working together for his good. His steps are all ordered from grace to glory. He is kept on earth till he is ripe for heaven, and not one moment longer. The harvest of the Lord must have its appointed proportion of sun and wind, of cold and heat, of rain and storm. And then when the believer’s work is done, the angels of God will come for him, as they did for Lazarus, and carry him safely home.

No, the men of the world think little about who they are despising, when they mock Christ’s people.

They are mocking those whom angels are not ashamed to serve.

They are mocking the brothers and sisters of Christ Himself.

Little do they consider that these are those for whose sakes the days of tribulation are shortened. These are those by whose intercession kings reign peacefully.

Little do they consider that the prayers of men like Lazarus have more weight in the affairs of nations than millions of soldiers.

Believers in Christ, how little you know the full extent of your privileges and possessions.

Like children at school, you don’t know half of what your Father is doing for your welfare.

Learn to live by faith more than you have done.

Acquaint yourselves with the fullness of the treasure laid up for you in Christ even now.

Ryle, J.C. (2010-08-06). “Practical Religion” (Kindle Locations 4964-4988).  . Kindle Edition.

Wow!

Where was I?

I have read that excerpt above a few times now, at least 4 times actually – you might consider reading it again yourself.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

“Faith, hope and love” – cornerstones of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 13): Do you enjoy any sense of them in your life? “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” yet I tend to be serious-minded, blessed – or cursed? – with a sarcastic wit or flare – but always seeking ways to be uplifting to others, being as humble as humanly possible (Philippians 2:3-4).

I have confidence in my sensibilities in the moment to do what it takes to keep aircraft apart, even when things get crazy and human error makes my profession harder some days than it seems like it should have to be: I enjoy the adrenalin rush, the ability to rise to the occasion, to prove myself worthy of being counted on to be responsible in the heat of battle, to persevere through difficult stretches of my craft.

My confidence in my ability to do work is based in my faith, due to my confidence in Christ that all things in my life are accounted for, due to the love of God that has made itself resident in my heart. As crazy as that might sound to some people, let me take that to a further step: I admire the artistry of the NBA “game” played by professional athlete’s, whether such involves my favorite team, The Los Angeles Lakers, or any other elite team. The comparison breaks down when it is applied to a New Orleans Hornets vs. Charlotte Bobcats game, but it still applies in a contest such as last night’s 1st game of the season between The Boston Celtics and reigning champions, The Miami Heat.

Have I lost you?

I detest my sin. Do you? It is unnerving to me how easily I can return to the muck & mire of elements of my past, in thoughts moreso than in deed; but, nevertheless the shame is maddening, saddening, and seemingly so unnecessary – since I know what I need to do! “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

I hate wasting my time watching bad basketball, yet I endured a faltering effort by the team I enjoy watching most, The Los Angeles Lakers, last night – and I am left with one simple question… Why?

I am my worst critic, especially at work, dumbfounded by my knee-jerk reactions, but thankful that I was trained to correct my mistakes as soon as humanly possible!

What do these things have in common? Is the thread as noticeable to you as it is to me?

Another example, perhaps…

My car died the other day: I am disappointed, but I am not crushed. It appears to be headed to a charity, like Kars4Kids or perhaps via junkmycar dot com! God has a better future in place for me than what involves a mere commuter car. So, I rejoice that there will be a change in my life, and I refuse to let the fact that the timing seems awful from my limited human perspective to cloud what I presume will be beneficial  as my wife & I persevere through this current distress. I am thankful to be able to borrow a vehicle, in the meantime.

At work, yesterday, I responded poorly as I arrived to take my 1st assignment,  and to a fellow Christian who did not deserve my response to his efforts to continue helping beyond what seemed like a reasonable amount of time for him to review his work – imho – as he passed off duties of the sector to me: he was just trying to help because he cares enough to care! It was wrong of me to be resentful, or frustrated. Thankfully, as a Christian, I live my life banking on God’s forgiveness to overcome any of my shortcomings, believing it to be impossible for me to thwart His plan for the lives of others but also realizing I may be missing out on His blessings in my life when I am not in proper communication with the Lord God Almighty.

The Lakers started well last night, I didn’t; I finished well (at my work), The Lakers didn’t. Kobe Bryant played spectacular for a guy who wasn’t even supposed to play, recovering from a foot injury – he shot 12 for 14 from the field! Unfortunately, Dwight Howard was 3 of 14 from the free throw line. The Lakers lost 99-91. Do the math.

Maybe I am a nut: more likely than not, you think I’m crazy – especially after reading this. I assume a couple of you might text me with either a “smh” or a “lol” possibly. I can take it: hit me with your best shot! 🙂

So, what am I trying to say, this morning, as I now rush off to work, after doing some regular routine chores around the house? God will work in the lives of various people in different ways, but the need of the moment is for us all to recognize how He might be trying to talk to us, His Spirit to our spirit, in the moment, in order for us to be involved in the best choices we can possibly make in every situation, in order to not miss out on the blessing He gives, or the victory available to us no matter what activity we might be engaged with at that time.

Life is good, God is great! Make it a great day, Ron

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Hopeful of a Strong Start to new NBA Season, Lakers faltered

30 October 2012 Leave a comment

The 1st Quarter was inspiring to watch, as The Lakers starters handed off a tight game to the reserves who extended the lead. But in the end, The Dallas Mavericks pulled out a 99-91 victory with a scoring effort for them from their bench of 37 points compared to The Lakers 17. I don’t know how fair such a statistic really is, as Lakers starters were on the court most of the 2nd Half.

Kobe Bryant, who was not expected to play until late in the day, went 12-14 from the field, but more noticeable was the breakdown on defense by the entire team, and the missed free throws were cause for great concern: Dwight Howard was 3-14 from the charity stripe alone! The Lakers as a team, however, only made 12 out of 31 free throw attempts. If only they had made more FTs… say 67% ??? Is that a fair number? That would be: 9 points. That’s the difference in the ball game, perhaps. But what other dimensions of the game would have developed in such a close contest? Hard to say.

Loss 1 for Los Angeles’ Lakers. Will they be the best team in L.A. this season? I still think the answer to that question is a resounding YES!!! But maybe not: The Clippers have a decent team. OKC is probably the team to beat in the Western Conference, still. The Miami Heat handled The Boston Celtics handily, toying with them it seemed. It’s day #1 of the new season.

Thankfully, there is a long season ahead of us still for The Lakers to put together a better effort and develop a winning chemistry! Next stop: Portland, tomorrow night.

C’mon, Lakers! Let’s go!

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Lakers 2013 Season: Game 1, Quarter 1 = Great Start!

30 October 2012 2 comments

After the 1st Quarter of play, Lakers 29 vs. Mavericks 23: I love it!

The NBA is FAN-tastic! And so are The Los Angeles Lakers!

Last year’s bench problems seemed to have been ironed out, as the starters came out late in the 1st Quarter and saw the reserves extend the lead! If only Antawn Jamison had made a layup in the last minute off a beautiful pass/assist from Pau GasolJodie Meeks hit a 3-pointer, and that got Kobe fired up! Kobe started tonight: surprise, surprise!

Meeks does appear to be a bit limited in dribbling vs. a strong defender, and he passed out of it into a turnover attempting to get the ball to Steve Blake but intercepted by Collison for a fastbreak layup: oopsy! Jordan Hill was fed a pass from Jamison for a dunk, Gasol stayed out with the reserves and hit 2 key buckets… I like what I see! So far…

Go, Lakers!

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The Long-Awaited, Highly-Anticipated Beginning to this Lakers Season is Upon Us!

30 October 2012 2 comments

The NBA 2012-2013 Season will begin tonight with The Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks!

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant may miss this game with a foot injury sustained 9 days ago, but he is working hard to be ready to go – if humanly possible. But never fear, with the league’s “Superman” now on our roster – Dwight Howard – a victory is highly likely! The always amazing, crowd pleasing antics of Steve Nash running the show as our Point Guard extraordinaire should also be highly exciting for fans! The letdown might be that the NBA champions of 2011, The Dallas Mavericks, may be unable to matchup to our roster with their current squad – especially without Dirk Nowitzki and regardless of the fact that The Lakers were 0-8 during the pre-season.

Whatever may be the case for the outcome of tonight’s Lakers game, at least Lakers fans everywhere will be able to tune in to see it on TV since it’s being broadcast on TNT – causing it to be blacked out on TWC. ESPN’s advertising is pretty funny this year: “Everywhere Lakers game can be heard on the radio.” But that’s maybe only adding salt to the wound of thos fans who don’t have Time Warner Cable, since agreements have not yet been worked out for games to be carried by other companies: Direct TV, DISH, etc.

Will we see Kobe Bryant play tonight? I hope not, actually – it’s amazing for him to ever miss games, injured or not. So, the fact that he missed the last 2 pre-season contests is telling of the severity of the injury. It’s believed that the treatment he’s receiving he is responding to very well, but we might need a fresh Kobe Bryant moreso to have a chance at a win the next day – a tough turnaround, playing in Portland. The possibility of Dwight Howard playing in that 2nd game is very low, coming off the back surgery – that he’s playing already, so soon after that procedure has been nothing short of amazing, but it’s likely the team will take some precautions with the pace that he is allowed to play: restricted minutes per game, number of games played, no back-to-back starts, trying to give him the best opportunity to be available to play in the playoffs.

Nevertheless, the season is upon us, and subjective opinions and hopeful outlooks will be replaced by cold, hard facts: Will The Los Angeles Lakers be ready to go, out of the gate? Will they be able to even remotely resembling the prediction of Metta World Peace to be able to erase The Chicago Bulls’ record 72-10 season by pinning a 73-9 regular season finish in the record books? Nobody but Metta truly believes that. Do they? Does he? The Lakers will be fun to watch, make no mistake about that. But they will likely struggle some, especially early, still trying to grasp the new offense and figure out their transition defense assignments that were problematic for them in the pre-season. It’s unlikely that any of the bench players will see the high minutes they were afforded during the pre-season, with Steve Nash logging an average of 22 minutes per game that will surely spike higher.

The sky is the limit for the success of this year’s version of The Los Angeles Lakers! I’m expecting a new version of the “Pau Pow” inside passing by our big men, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, to result in easy baskets tonight vs. a smaller frontline – The Mavericks not only without their 7-foot PF Dirk Nowitzki but also C Chris Kaman. Delonte West was released, so their bench is of minimal value, Jason Terry signing during the off-season with The Boston Celtics. At Center, they will start the over-the-hill Elton Brand and team him up with an unproven rookie at Power Forward. You never want to overlook the passion of an opponent to rise to the occasion and play at their peak, but this is not a season of hope for Dallas – in any sport.

The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, are filled with passion, resolve, determination, expectation, to win the championship this season! Can they do it? Yes, they can! The starting five players will be difficult for any team to matchup against:

Center: Dwight Howard – undeniably the best defensive player in the league, and a formidable player on offense;

Power Forward: Pau Gasol – likely to shine with the pressure off him to strengthen weak side defensive inabilities of the departed Andrew Bynum;

Small Forward: the former Ron Artest, Metta World Peace – a menace on defense for the opposition and a capable, dependable outside shooter;

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant – his career says it all, as this future Hall of Famer may get to enjoy winning this season more than ever before!

Point Guard: Steve Nash – what a boost to this team to be able to acquire such an elite NBA Point Guard!

I am maybe more stunned by the acquisition of Steve Nash than by the much-anticipated trade that brought us Dwight Howard! Nash’ court awareness of his team AND the opposition is without equal! His assists are tops for the NBA, all-time! His shooting is also off the charts, especially by today’s standards – whether you view them separately or not, coming from FGs, FTs, or even 3pt percentage! I assume that the pride of these future NBA Hall of Game players will not allow them to accept losses, or even poor play. If there were issues in the pre-season, it’s all behind them now.

Expect great things from The Los Angeles Lakers! They do. I do. Don’t you?

L e t’ s  g o,  L a k e r s !  L e t’ s   g o !

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As I wait, for NBA action to begin, for The Lakers to start a winning streak…

28 October 2012 Leave a comment

I was spending time with my daughters at a friend’s house this afternoon, and we noticed that the NY Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys game was coming down to the wire, Eli Manning rejoicing on the sidelines (prematurely?) with a 29-24 lead and 44 seconds left… Huh? We wondered if the Cowboys could rally a comeback where a mere field goal would not be enough.

Sure enough, Dez Bryant catches a ball for a touchdown with 6 seconds left! Or did he? We turned off the mute to hear the official’s review the replay: clearly, Bryant’s pinky finger landed out of bounds first, as his body then landed with a thud almost simultaneously. The referees made the right call: the touchdown was overturned. Yes, football truly is a game of inches! Or, in this case, the difference was the width of a pinky finger – which touched out of bounds before the rest of the hand landed inbounds. Wow! Unlike horseshoes & hand grenades, I guess that wasn’t close enough. Fortunately, the truth does still matter! It makes me wonder if the replacement refs would have made the right call? Hmm. I also wonder if Cowboys fans accept this call as correcct? The next throw to Miles Austin landed incomplete with 1 second left – had he caught the ball, he would have been tackled at the 1 yard line, short of the end zone. And the last desperation toss was heaved too far, uncatchable.

The New York Giants’ Head Coach Tom Coughlin seemed pretty irritable afterwards: he seemed to wave off making any responses from reporters asking questions, knowing they escaped with a very narrow victory, to improve their record to 6-2.

Driving home after that, I turned on the TV to notice the SF Giants were up 1-0 vs. the Detroit Tigers in what could be the fourth and final game of this year’s MLB World Series with San Francisco’s best pitcher Matt Cain on the mound . But being the loyal Dodgers fan that I am, and curious if my fantasy football team had any chance of pulling out a victory for me this week, I turned away from FOX to NBC to check-in on the Denver Broncos game vs. New Orleans. I play Peyton Manning at QB, and I added Brandon Stokley at WR this week. So far, I am playing from behind – and chances of winning seem bleak.

In reference to The Los Angeles Lakers, I am not concerned with their 0-8 pre-season record because I am so hopeful that the acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, not to mention Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks, will make such a big difference that winning will come naturally for The Lakers this season! Metta World Peace may be out of his mind, even moreso with a prediction of going 73-9 this season! But I wouldn’t mind it if his prediction came anywhere close to predicting a very strong record for the regular season, as long as it meant the The Lakers could sustain such an effort with a veteran team throughout the playoffs.

If it is necessary for The Lakers to rest their star athletes, their older players, throughout the season, to safeguard them from major injury, and to provide them rest to be ready for playoff basketball, then a few losses along the way – during the regular season – won’t be a big deal (seen with hindsight, of course). As much as was said about their deplorable bench rotation for The Lakers last year, the expectation for better play from Lakers reserves this season has reached a level that may be asking too much of them. Antawn Jamison has been ineffective, so far; but Jodie Meeks has shined. The only real questions for me at this time are these (2): 1) Who will be the backup Point Guard to Steve Nash and how effective will they be? And, 2) Will Jordan Hill be injury-free, available throughout the season, recently troubled by a herniated disk in his lower back, or will Rob Sacre be able to develop into a significant role player able to fill that void if it develops?

I like all sports: It was fun to watch my friend Jarod’s daughter at soccer practice while I threw pitches with a baseball to his son Josh and my 2 daughters, Victoria & Isabella along the sidelines. I am considering the possibility of taking in a hockey game at Staples Center, if the NHL season would ever start – postponed due to whatever reason. But it would be fun to see The Los Angeles Kings, last year’s winner of The Stanley Cup, play – at least once… If the San Francisco 49ers aren’t playing, then most NFL games can be watched with the mute on just fine – imho. But when it comes to basketball, if The Lakers are playing, I’m probably not happy if I am thwarted from watching! Thankfully, Time Warner Cable is our subscriber and they show the “encore performance” of each game with P-I-P interviews that make it a unique and enjoyable way of reviewing a game, especially if I haven’t seen it yet.

So, the MLB’s AL MVP Melky Cabrera hit a 2-run HR for Detroit to take a 2-1 lead  in the 4th inning of Game 4 in The World Series, down 0-3. The Saints have now tied the game 7-7 vs. Denver @ Denver. But I will probably now search the newswire, Twitter, Lakers.com, for relevant news on whatever might be happening with The Los Angeles Lakers. Is Kobe Bryant’s foot injury better? Will he play in the home opener, in 48 hours? Has anybody else been cut from the roster since I last looked at such things? Is Chris Duhon’s name being mentioned instead of Steve Blake’s as the primary backup to Steve Nash? Will Lakers management keep both? Neither?

Go, Lakers!

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The NBA Regular Season 2012 is Right Around the Corner: Yes!

26 October 2012 Leave a comment

The NBA is FAN-tastic!

I don’t know what it is, but this “switch,” where players can turn it on and off – at will -may malfunction during the pre-season, although I believe it exists during meaningful games of an NBA season just like it did for Tom Brady last week in a NFL football game!

The regular season matters: seeding for the playoffs matters; homecourt advantage matters. There is personal pride at stake, during a regular season game, incentives involved in contracts, it’s just different – “star” players crave headlines, and a national exposure during the season is of value to their prestige among their peers.

Pre-season games are for the coaching staff to tweak the team, to make bench changes, to scout for d-league squads, for general managers to get a better look at other teams’ potential “dropped” talent, to remember to track them, to see if they might be considered “down the road.”

Thankfully, the pres-season is over – it’s complete.

Bring on the regular season!

Go, Lakers!

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Lakers Looking @ Slow Start to Season, Possibly

25 October 2012 1 comment

You can lose every game of the pre-season, if you’re an elite team in the NBA, if you’re at least competitve with players trying to make the squad; but, The Lakers woes are somewhat worrisome: 0-8, really? Or, are they? They did make 23 assists on 28 shots…

Should the loss of 1 star player make enough of an impact that a team should automatically be expected to lose? Dwight Howard and Steve Nash played tonight, as well as Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. Yes, The Lakers were without the services of Kobe Bryant, starting Devin Ebanks instead of Jodie Meeks – for some reason. I suppose the easy answer is: Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown is still seeking out lineup matches and mismatches, in order to pair down the roster, and to determine what choices are available to him during the regular season – interms of developing a substitution pattern that makes more sense than what we have been observing during this pre-season. The Lakers did lead, at different moments of the game. But, the word of the day = Inconsistency.

Dwight Howard seemed to lose interest early, The Sacramento Kings took an early lead: his 3, count ’em, yes THREE, 1st quarter fouls seemed unnecessary. However, their double digit deficit was quickly erased by… none other than… The Lakers bench players! Who knew? Of course, they couldn’t sustain the effort; but, they did gain back lost ground, and – I am assuming here, but – if this had been a regular season game, I’m sure the starters would’ve played a more strategic role in moving forward with the momentum gained. Right? Meeks played well, again, off the bench. Jamison still seems lost. Nash, seems to have found a passing rhythm with Pau & Dwight – so, there were aspects of the game to be pleased with. Perhaps.

Jordan Hill seemed to have a lot of passion to play, but his energy seemed adrift, misdirected at best.  He also seems to be playing through pain, and potentially causing more damage to his lower back, just by his style of play – already known to be recovering from a herniated disk issue. He plays all out: he’s fun to watch! But will he be able to sustain the effort throughout the regular season? Doubtful.

The Kings played pretty well – but, I don’t see them as a playoff team. I am hopeful of The Lakers beginning the season on a successful winning streak. But Lakers announcers, closer to the team, more knowledgeable of day-to-day operations, than most of us, they seem hesitant to believe that the high amount of turnovers will decrease anytime soon due to “over-thinking” the offensive scheme they have yet to learn adequately well.

The Lakers start the season against a Dallas Mavericks team that will be without the services of Dirk Nowitzki for 6 weeks. Of course, it’s the first of a back-to-back, home-then-away NBA start to the season taking them up to The Rose Garden in Portland to play the Trailblazers. They might start off the season 1-1. They might get Kobe Bryant back after those first 2 games, sufficiently healed from the foot injury he sustained last Sunday. They might start playing well. I’m hopeful! Are you?

Let’s go, Lakers! Let’s go!

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