Haters Gonna Hate

Haters Gonna Hate

It’s with disgruntled reluctance that I say congratulations to Tom Brady and the rest of the New England Patriots for their victory in Super Bowl XLIX. As a Miami Dolphins fan, it really irks me to see Brady hoist the Lombardi trophy for the fourth time; him standing there with his smug grin, super model wife, and UGG shoes.

I don’t think I’m alone in those feelings. I think outside the New England area, people are tired of seeing the Patriots succeed. I think many people were not so much pulling for Seattle as they were rooting against the Pats. It’s not unlike the Miami Heat with LeBron James. Even though they won only two championships, it seems fans nationally wanted them to lose all the time, and all other teams raised their game when going up against Miami.

That’s what happens when you elevate yourself to a level of greatness.

This dynamic is especially true in our spiritual lives. It’s been my experience there’s no greater hater than Satan himself. And when you start elevating your relationship with Jesus, the enemy works overtime to try and bring you down.

Hater

I am so fortunate to have a perspective of how far I’ve come in my faith journey, and I can’t fathom gong back to the life I was living just six short years ago. Although I had belief in God, I was not living in Him. I was not fostering a relationship with my Lord, surrendering my troubles to Him and acting out of faith. Instead, I was living like a blind man, unable to see what God was showing me and unwilling to listen to His calling. I was distracted by the worldly things Satan put in my life on a daily basis. I was the proverbial seed that fell on rocky ground.

But I was able to get right with God and turn my life around. And since that moment, I’ve grown in my faith, made more time for His Word, and have seen great things happen in my life. Through my church, I’ve been baptized as an adult, given back to our community, traveled on a mission trip, and even preached in front of our congregation. I’ve definitely elevated my faith and my life to heights I’d never previously experienced.

…and then the hater of all haters showed up.

I recently had an experienced that shook me to my core. It rattled me, enraged me, and made me want to lash out at the world. It was the result of the enemy’s tactics, manipulating someone to cause others great pain. Six years ago I would have lashed out. I would have overreacted, most likely with rage and violence. But this journey I am on, a walk I share with Jesus Christ, has been a training of sorts. Every sermon I’ve listened to, both at church and via podcast, prepared me for that moment. Every reading plan in my Bible app prepared me for that moment. Every moment of prayer, both alone and with others, prepared me for that moment. In that moment, grace and wisdom prevailed.

Satan hates its when I focus on God and surrender myself to Him. Satan hates it when I work to be a reflection of God’s love to others. Satan can’t stand the fact that I have what he used to have; God’s love and a place in Heaven. So he does whatever he can whenever he can and through whomever he can to get to me and pull me down. And the stronger I grow in God, the harder Satan works to hinder me. As a Christ follower, I am called to invite others through my words and actions into God’s light, and that’s bad for business for the supreme of all haters.

Fact

I never would have guessed it’s such a blessing to be hated.

“See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!” – Psalm 25:19

A New Open Letter to LeBron James

I am very excited to have been invited to contribute to The Florida Post, a new writing endeavor launched by my friend, the ever-so-talented Jonathan C. Mitchell. Since the site is, “dedicated to all of the major Sports Teams, Culture, Entertainment, and anything in relation to the great Sunshine State,” I figured I’d make my first post a topic about which no one seems to be talking. <yeah, right>

Here is my open letter to LeBron James.

 

 

Also, be sure to follow The Florida Post on Twitter.

Championship Memories

October 26, 1997. Game 7 of the World Series. Marlins and Indians tied in the bottom of the 11th inning. Edgar Renteria at the plate, and he bloops a single over the glove of pitcher Charles Nagy and through the Indians’ infield. Craig Counsell trots home from third scoring the Series clinching run, and I start screaming like a mad man. Standing alone in my apartment, I race into the bedroom where my fiancé was sleeping. I wake her up with my yelling and incoherent blabbering. It would be three days before she speaks to me again.

October 25, 2003. Game 6 of the World Series. Josh Beckett on the mound for the Marlins, pitching on only three days’ rest, and trying to close out the series – on the road – against the vaulted Yankees. I’m once again standing alone in the family room of my house; pacing, sweating, praying. I’ve long since devoured my finger nails. My heart is racing at 120 beats per minute. Jorge Posada stabs at a pitch, making contact, and sending the ball dribbling up the first base line. Charging from the mound, Beckett scoops up the ball, tags Posada, and the Marlins are once again World Series champions. It would take me four days to get my voice back.

June 20, 2006. Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Dallas Maverick Jason Terry misses what would have been a game-tying three point shot, and the Miami heat hold on to win the game and their first ever NBA Championship. Standing alone in my apartment, I once again go into crazy person mode, and hope my neighbors don’t call the police because of all the yelling and screaming.

I remember vividly where I was for each of the recent championship-clinching moments for my beloved South Florida sports franchises. They are memories that are emblazoned into my brain; mental tattoos I will carry with me forever.

The same applies to other key sports moments I witnessed in my lifetime.

I remember jumping up and down with my dad in our living room as Kirk Gibson hit his majestic and legendary homerun to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. I remember yelling gibberish at the TV as I watched Marcus Allen weave his way through the Redskins’ defense in Super Bowl XVIII on his way to a 74 yard touchdown run. I even remember crying both a year before and a year later as I watched my Dolphins fail in Super Bowls XVII and XIX, respectively. The images of John Riggins plowing over Don McNeal and Roger Craig high-stepping into the end zone still haunt me as a sports fan.

But I recall more distinctly sharing those moments with my dad and other family members. I remember the laughing, the screaming, the cheering, and yes, the crying. I remember the euphoria and the sorrow those moments brought, but more so the fact I was able to share those emotions with the people I loved.

With the recent championships of both the Marlins and the Heat, however, what I specifically remember is that I was alone as I watched them happen. It was just me and my sports psychosis. The moments are still very memorable, but they don’t exactly rank with the memories from my childhood, where the smile on my dad’s face was outdone only by the smile on my face. Those moments were special, snapshots in time dipped in magic and sealed forever in that happy place that is the corner of my heart.

June 21, 2012. Game 5 of the NBA Finals. There was no drama. There was no suspense. For the better part of the 4th quarter, the Miami Heat held a twenty point lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The only things that were shocking were how dominating the Heat played to win their fourth consecutive game of the Finals, and Mike Miller’s lights out performance from 3-point range.

But one thing was spectacular as the clock ran down to zeroes and the Heat put a bow on their championship run. I watched the whole game with my daughter sitting right beside me. She laughed at my quirky mannerisms and ignored my sports Turrets as I yelled at the TV. She asked me why I spent so much time tweeting during the game. She indulged me as I felt the need to highlight and explain the nuances of the plays we’d just witnessed.

Yet through it all, we took in the historic moment together. I was able to watch her excitement build as the game progressed, as her eyes exploded open with every laser beam pass and gravity-defying dunk. I relished the sound of her pre-teen voice as she’d marvel, “that was awesome” or “that guy’s on fire.” She was less cheerleader and more a student of the game, but a fan nonetheless who was thrilled to see her dad’s favorite basketball team win it all. It would officially become her favorite basketball team that evening as well.

And as we took in the post-game festivities and watched LeBron James hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in poetic celebration, I noticed the only thing bigger than the smile on my face was the smile on the face of my daughter. I hope she, too, will carry that mental tattoo with her forever.

001/365 The Start of Something New

Inspired by my awesome and wonderful wife, who on September 6 started a daily photoblog on her site, I will attempt to post a photo to my blog on a daily basis. To be honest, I resisted this idea for such a long time. For me, it was not what blogging is about. However, something happened recently that made me change my mind.

Lee recently lost her great uncle, and in his passing, Lee pondered about how a generation of story tellers had left us. To use her words:

It is for this reason that I want to foster my blog so that it becomes my own personal living, breathing history book. I want to do this for my nephew, Hunter, and for my step-children, Natalie and Daniel.  I want to fill it with stories of my childhood, of coming of age and of finding myself.

So, in the spirit of better documenting my life and my experiences, as well as Project 365, I present to you Day 1 of my photo journey. I hope you enjoy.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We rang in the first day of 2012 by taking in the Miami Dolphins’ final game of the season – which also happened to be Jason Taylor’s final game in the NFL – and then hopped on the Metrorail to downtown Miami to attend the Miami Heat game against the Bobcats. Both home teams won, and it was a fun, albeit exhausting, experience for Lee and me.