Much to share this week in another edition of Doyle’s Half Dozen. Let’s get to it!
- Relishing Russell
On July 4, Oklahoma City was grieving over Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder. On Aug. 4, Oklahoma City was celebrating Russell Westbrook’s decision to extend his contract beyond the upcoming NBA season. Emotionally, it was a quick rebound involving the sport of rebounds.
I confess, I was quite giddy when I first heard the news on Russ. It was a huge relief and provided some stability to the Thunder after KD left and seemed to have taken the wind with him.
The Thunder are not considered to be at the level of NBA title contention like they were over the past four seasons. That’s just fine with me. OKC has overcome expectations in the past, and I believe this current roster is more talented than experts are willing to admit. They’ll talk about their youth, which can be a positive, but don’t forget they have nine players with playoff experience, even if it is limited experience, and at least six players have more than a year of postseason play. Playoff experience is important, especially with the Thunder’s current condition of finding a new identity.
Russell will still play the same, aggressive and athletic, but the team will have to incorporate a new game plan without arguably the second-best basketball player in the world being on the squad. People will be quick to point out the season before last, when the Thunder went the majority of the year without Durant, because of injury, and failed to make the playoffs. OKC will have a whole different approach this season, knowing KD won’t return.
It may be rough at times, but I believe the Thunder are capable of winning close to 50 games, finishing anywhere between third and sixth in the West (only Golden State and San Antonio are assured to be better, but I believe the Thunder can compete with the rest) and possibly reaching the second round of the playoffs.
- Grudem both grilled and gratified
Last week, well-known Christian theologian and seminary professor Wayne Grudem set off a wild fire among conservative evangelical Christians, writing a lengthy piece endorsing presidential candidate Donald Trump. The article was featured on Townhall.com, and even a week after it originally ran, Grudem’s article still ranks as the website’s most popular read with more than 100,000 shares on Facebook.
Many Christian Trump supporters are looking for affirmation from leaders in the evangelical community. Grudem may be their pearl among the oyster beds.
However, Grudem also has a list of critics. I’ll share Thomas Kidd’s response because at the end of his piece, he shares the list of other Grudem responders.
I have said in previous DHDs that, as it stands now, I cannot justifiably vote for Donald Trump because of his limited support, even some contradictory remarks, to the sanctity of life and lack of proof he is against the abortion industry, specifically Planned Parenthood.
No matter how many Trump-favoring articles are written by Dr. Grudem and other respected Christian leaders, I will still hold to something I shared earlier this week on Facebook: Don’t lower your standards even when people try to tell you it’s okay to do so.
- Illustration involving Joseph and Mary
As I was mowing my yard this week, a thought came to me. I sincerely welcome feedback to this analogy, even if you consider my thinking to not be accurate.
I remember awhile back a Sunday School lesson I prepared around Christmas time. It was about Mary and Joseph in Matt. 1, as the passage tells of Mary being pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Imagining the mindset of Joseph when he finds out his fiancé is with child, the lesson focused on how it appeared Joseph had only two choices of what to do with Mary.
According to the social structure of their time, Joseph could have chosen to throw Mary out in a public gathering and have her stoned to death, or he could have divorced her quietly, which basically meant discontinuing the formalities involved in the Jewish marriage ritual. These were Joseph’s ONLY two choices according to the culture.
As verse 19 shares, Joseph was a noble and righteous man, and what was interpreted from this is his initial choice of a quiet divorce was the right decision. Again if he didn’t CHOOSE to divorce her quietly, it meant he was CHOOSING to have her put to death – these were the ONLY choices he had, according to the culture.
Obviously, we know the rest of the story, and Joseph did not choose either of those two options. He was told that Mary was carrying the Christ child who would save His people from their sins, and Joseph married her instead of doing what his culture told him to do.
My intention is not to compare the Virgin Birth of Jesus to the current presidential election, but as far as Joseph living in a culture that told him he had only two options of what to do with his pregnant fiancé, Joseph went against societal influence and demonstrated righteousness and obedience to God.
Are you confident your voting decisions this November will reflect obedience to God, especially when you are told by today’s culture that you ONLY have two choices?
- Waxing eloquent on worldly influences
One of my favorite bloggers, Trevin Wax offered another great piece this week, “4 Ways the World Will Pressure You to Conform.”
He shares from a study of the Book of Daniel offered by Southeastern Seminary president Daniel Akin, giving four strategies the Babylonian empire was trying to shape the mindsets of Daniel and his fellow Jewish exiles. The piece shares how Daniel and his three friends withstood the Babylonian teachings and pressures and remained faithful to God.
“All Christians are to live as sojourners and exiles, blessing the world around us by refusing to conform to its patterns of thought and behavior. As Augustine said, sometimes we must stand against the world for the good of the world.”
This is very applicable today, and Daniel’s example could not be more relevant.
- Falls Creek finale
The youth camp at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center has now concluded. The last eight weeks of the world’s largest Christian summer camp saw many lives impacted, as more than 5,800 students made life-changing decisions with more than 2,200 of them making professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
If you ever experienced the former Billy Graham Crusades or at least are familiar with how these impactful meetings around the world experienced thousands coming to Christ on a nightly basis, what happens at Falls Creek every summer resembles a similar result.
And there’s much more to Falls Creek than the responses during the evening services. All throughout the week, students have the chance to connect with God, learn what it means to follow Christ, grow in their faith, and even be in a position to answer a specific call to serve in ministry and missions. It has been stated that more missionaries and ministry leaders accepted their professional calling to serve God at Falls Creek than at any other specific location.
Now that this summer’s Falls Creek experience is over for many young people, may God use what happened during these special weeks in the Arbuckle Mountains to do great and mighty things in the schools, the communities and beyond.
- The Olympics are upon us
I love the Olympics! I love watching the competition of the world’s best athletes. The next 16 days are going to be fun, and I expect once again for many to be connected through these people we will enjoy supporting and discussing their performances in our social circles. There’s the staple of already known Olympians such as Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Gabby Douglas, but there’s a multitude of others we will soon embrace.
I’m also looking forward to this evening. My mother will be coming over, and she and I will enjoy one of her favorite events – the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. I plan to spend a lot of my time offering silly commentary on Facebook, but I do appreciate the time I can spend with her at this stage of her life.
May we all enjoy watching the athletes become “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”