June is concluding, and so is the fiscal year. Happy “end of year” to those of you who work in higher ed., the medical field and local government!
Here’s another edition of my take on six timely topics, known as Doyle’s Half Dozen.
Let’s get to it!
- Westbrook wins worthy award
The NBA had its inaugural, first-ever, original (but NOT first-annual) awards show this week. The opening was a flop and worthless. Kudos for trying, Commissioner Silver, but Drake and his crew were not entertaining.
The best part, of course, was Russ getting the MVP Award. I was happy for him and how that panned out, especially with his teammates appearing on stage with him – some of whom may have appeared with their days numbered with the Thunder. Westbrook’s speech was a little rough, but it was real and heart-felt. For him to share his family with the world was a significant moment because Russ is a private person who finds solace with his close-knit family.
I also enjoyed watching Monty Williams, former Thunder assistant coach, receive the first-ever Craig Sager Award. I can’t think of another worthy person affiliated with the NBA who has demonstrated Christian faith than Coach Williams. I blogged about him last year when he spoke at his wife’s funeral. I remember him saying “We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness.”
So after a rough start, I will give the NBA a passing grade on its first attempt on having an awards show.
- Thunder in the offseason
A lot of exciting possibilities happening in this NBA offseason. I said a few weeks ago that the NBA regular season is more exciting than the playoffs. Even the offseason is more exciting than the playoffs.
What will the Thunder do beginning July 1? Will they sign Westbrook to the newly-founded veteran player exception, making him the highest paid athlete in organized sports? Will they find a way to resign Andre Roberson and/or Taj Gibson? Will they find a way to bring in another free agent?
It seems likely Russell and the Thunder will come to some agreement on an extended contract. I also lean toward the likelihood of Robertson resigning but not Gibson.
I do believe Sam Presti and his front office cohorts are trying to make some deals to bring in a major contributor, whether that is Blake Griffin or another all-star caliber player. But like the many who cover the NBA have concluded, this may be the impossible dream. The Thunder doesn’t have the salary cap space to sign a big name star, and the cupboard is almost bare of trade options. So we will just have to wait and see.
However, I will agree with Thunderousintentions.com’s Jeremy Lambert who said the Thunder’s offseason is much better this time than it was last year.
By the way, I found it interesting that this article showed up on my Facebook history from last year.
UPDATE (7/1/17, 3:55 p.m.): The Thunder dreamed the impossible dream and reached the unreachable star. Once again, Sam Presti pulled off an amazing move by landing Paul George from the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
So many ways to look at this blockbuster trade that some NBA analysts have considered one of the greatest transactions in league history. There is some risk the Thunder took by adding George, who becomes a free agent next year and has been pretty vocal about wanting to play for the Lakers. But for now, George is playing in OKC, and I don’t think the Thunder could have acquired a better player who meets many of the team needs and raises the level of expectations.
Now, that I’ve added this update, let’s see how long it takes to become antiquated.
- Time to taper Trump’s tumultuous tweets
I’m currently bored with politics. It’s the exact opposite of how I felt this time last year. But now I’m bored.
Basically, my lack of interest stems from the non-stop rhetoric of the mainstream media, specifically with certain cable networks that unabashedly dedicate all their air time to degrading President Trump. The accusations media personalities have made are extreme. Are the accusations deserved? Depends, but no doubt about it, they definitely are extreme.
Many times I have expressed my perspective of President Trump. Scroll through previous DHDs, and you will find that I have said I would not and did not vote for Donald Trump in the last election.
I have commended some moves that have transpired since he came into office. Appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court ranks high on my list, as well as other decisions he made that favor Sanctity of Life and Religious Liberty.
I say all this say, I intend to be fair to our president. As respectfully as I can say this, President Trump needs to stop making personally insulting remarks. Those who work on his White House staff, especially those in advisory roles, need to be responsible in advising him constructively to stop the derogatory comments in his tweets and news conferences. They don’t benefit him at all and only feed the media frenzy.
Most importantly, this behavior is beneath the level of the President of United States, and Mr. Trump should take that into consideration and refrain from his brash, prideful tendencies to lash out whenever someone publicly insults him. Otherwise, these unnecessary impetuous comments may lead to the demise of his presidency.
- Small church impact
This week’s Baptist Messenger features my article “Big Blessings in Little City” as the cover story. I enjoyed visiting Madill, Little City a couple of weeks ago as well as talking with Little City’s pastor Cecil Mackey, learning about him, this rural church and the ongoing revival they are experiencing since Mackey became pastor. I hope you will check out the story. It’s encouraging.
Also released this week is a report from Baptist Press on small churches attracting the “unchurched.” A survey was announced that offered the top 10 predictors of growth in smaller churches, 250 or fewer members, and the story claims smaller churches will be more prone to appeal to people who are identified as “unchurched,” or do not frequent or have any interest in going to church.
Most of the 10 predictors on the list reflect an emphasis on presenting the Gospel or having evangelistic intentions. One contributing activity to Little City’s revival is members sharing their stories or testimonies of how they made a profession of faith in Christ.
Many churches would do well to model Little City’s approach to evangelism, and I hope the impact of small churches becomes wider in the days ahead.
- The perplexing position of patriotism
July 4 happens next week. We celebrate America’s independence and demonstrate our love for our country and its heritage.
Patriotism has been scrutinized in the last few years. Should Christians celebrate America becoming a nation 241 years ago? Brian Hobbs’ column “4th telling” covers the different viewpoints of patriotism.
I remember my days working at Falls Creek in the late 80s. One summer, I ran the spotlight during the services in the old, open-air Tabernacle. It was the best seat, hoisted above all the campers, because I had a huge fan right above me that kept me cool during those hot summer days.
Every Thursday night of the camp weeks, the worship services featured a patriotic segment. Hymns such as “God Bless America,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Star Spangled Banner” were sung, and one person would do a special number singing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” which was always a heart-stirring performance.
I know it’s cliché to say this, but times have changed. Just as the dress code at Falls Creek isn’t as stringent, the passion for patriotism isn’t as appealing.
Trevon Wax wrote a blog in 2014 where he made the conclusion “Older Southern Baptists are more likely to see the U.S. as Israel. Younger Southern Baptists are more likely to see the U.S. as Babylon.”
Some of this mentality of “living in Babylon,” I think, has affected how Christians today view patriotism. I would not agree with those who think patriotism is sinful (actually I think that view is ridiculous), but I do believe patriotism has its place in priority.
“… patriotism is a good thing, yet it must be tethered to justice and mercy, understanding that we are Christians before we are Americans or anything else” – Brian Hobbs
- American-made movies
Just to make sure I haven’t completely dampened your American pride, I share with you movie critic Phil Boatwright’s article “Family friendly films for the Fourth” (Got to love alliterations!).
To be honest, I haven’t seen a single movie Boatwright recommends, but they do sound appealing. My personal movie recommendation to watch July 4 would be the Disney classic “Pollyanna.” I love the scene where Hayley Mills as Pollyanna sings “America the Beautiful.”
Happy Independence Day!