Monthly Archives: May 2016

A God Opened Door vs. The Devil’s Trap Door 

How do you discern a God ordained door, from an evil door?

It’s a question I find myself asking daily.

Have you ever heard the saying “when God closes one door he opens another?” Of course you have, it’s one of the most repeated mantras in Christianity next to “trust the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul”, and “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Even though I feel that last one is widely misused. But that’s a different post for another day.

Photo credit: Artist unknow

But sometimes, God will make you wait in the hallway until He opens said other door. And in that time while you’re waiting for His door to open, you must also be careful of the trap doors the devil may open under the disguise of something better.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13-14 | NIV

I reference that scripture because the wide gate is the door the enemy offers us.

So how do you know the difference? Here’s what I’ve learned that may help you.

1.) You’re not confused and you don’t settle. In my experience, a God ordained door has never been settling. It has always been something better than I ever hoped for.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33 | NIV

It’s also clear that it’s from Him. I don’t have to guess if this is the best option for me, it’s straightforward that it is. I.E. The job that not only helps you comfortably pay bills, but also keep the right balance in your spiritual and personal life is a good indicator. Anything that leaves you in the opposite isn’t from Him.

2.) Opposition. Nothing comes easy. When I’ve walked through a God ordained door I’ve immediately encountered unexplainable challenges. Another example, my move from Columbus, Ohio to Orlando, Florida in April of 2007 for a job as a local news producer, and the issues of my apartment lease.

My lease stated that if I got a job out of state I could terminate it as long as I gave them a month notice. I did just that. But, the new property manager went out of his way not to honor the lease. He went as far as to try and make me pay the monthly rent until they could find a new tenant. I was not going to do that. Long story short, after a few months of negotiating, I did pay a small buyout fee—which I wasn’t happy about—but it was still SIGNIFICANTLY less then paying full rent for two or three months for an apartment I wasn’t using.

This situation was an attack to sour my mood and excitement over my new chapter. At times it did work to stress me out as I was dealing with the issue from 16 hours away, and through phone calls and emails, while trying to adjust to a new city, co-workers and job responsibilities. But like most attacks, it was short lived and resolved in my favor.

3.) Passion. A God ordained door will bring out your passion. If it is not a God ordained door you will constantly be unfulfilled.

4.) Temptation. When you are walking through a God opened door, you will face various temptations to get you to screw up the blessing. I have encountered opportunities meant to make me choose to not walk through God’s door.

Going back to the job example, when I first was offered the job in Orlando I had no other job prospects to keep me from taking it. My only struggle was whether or not I was ready to leave my family and hometown where I loved for 26 years. As soon as the offer was made to me, immediately other options popped up. For two years I couldn’t find a job in Columbus, then all of a sudden the opportunities started flowing in making me question leaving, and confused about what to do. Thankfully I was prayed up and followed what I believed to be God’s plan and went to Orlando. That job opportunity that popped up out of nowhere was out-of-business in a little over a year later, and several people who I knew that worked there never got their final checks.

The temptation will continue since you avoided the wrong door. Sucking you into temptation is the only way devil can attempt to derail this God ordained opportunity you’re taking advantage of. Since you avoided the devil’s door he has to get you to self destruct. That’s his only shot at ruining the anointing.

This is not to say God won’t use your journey through the wrong door to get you to His rightful door.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28

I’ve also heard that when God does open a door for you it doesn’t close. I take that to mean that even though we make mistakes and may get off course, He will get us back on track and we will get where He always planned for us to be.

5.) It’s not easy, but it comes with ease. Nothing in life is easy really if we want to be honest. But I have noticed that the things God desires for me I can do with a peace and ease that I can’t explain. Learning new tasks for a job or an assignment in class seems daunting on first glance, but as soon as I sit down to do them, it quickly feels as if I’ve been doing them for years. I pick them up rather quickly and before long it becomes second nature. Things also seem to always break my way, instead of breaking against me.

6.) It won’t be rushed, nor will you have to rush. God’s timing is perfect, so when you open what is behind His door, everything will flow rather smoothly. Even when a hiccup comes, you’ll see just how everything gets back on track and you won’t have to scramble to make it happen.

Regardless of the signs and points I’ve laid out, if you stay prayed up and with your nose in The Word, you won’t have a problem discerning between the two. The Lord will make sure you choose the right door to walk through.

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LeBron, You Remind Me of…

First let me say this; LeBron is a once in a lifetime player and athlete. I don’t think we will ever see the combination of size, athleticism and talent he has EVER.

However, pieces of his game are straight out of the chapters written by a couple Hall of Famers’ and a future HOFer in the Book of Basketball. I believe that being the historian and student of the game he says he is LBJ would also admit that his game comes from those who came before him. In this edition of my “You Remind Me of…”series (You can read the ones on Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and Draymond Green by clicking on their names), here are the names I’m sure he would mention.

Magic Johnson definitely brought style to the game with his flashy passes, fast-breaking tempo and million watt smile, but also substance as he was one of the most cerebral player of his era, and of all-time. LBJ is the same way. Sure he has more physical gifts than Magic, but LeBron would rather beat you with his mind like the 5-time Champion.

Scottie Pippen, the first 6’8″ small forward that could guard four positions easily. Pippen and LBJ share the same ability to shut down the oppositions top perimeter player whether he be a 6’9″ Magic Johnson or a 6’3″ Russell Westbrook. Go back and watch the 1991 NBA Finals, it was the move by Phil Jackson to put Pip on Magic after game one that propelled the Bulls a 4-1 series victory for the first of their six titles. LeBron has also been known to shutdown opposing teams top perimeter player and also slide down to the four spot to match up with their dominant post player.

Grant Hill was the first guy to combine the best of Magic and Michael. While Hill is smaller in weight than LeBron, at 6’8″, they both are their team’s best playmakers and defenders.

Both are also walking triple doubles. In his first six NBA seasons with the Detroit Pistons, Hill averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game while leading the team to the playoffs four out of six seasons. Numbers don’t lie. G-Hill was doing LeBron like things before anyone even knew who LBJ was. His injuries in the middle of his career are the reason he doesn’t get the respect he deserves.

Dominique Wilkins, the Human Highlight film combined finesse and power like no other in the history of the game. LBJ never gave us the dunk contest performance we’ve wanted that ‘Nique gave us, but within games, James has given a highlight reel to salivate over. ‘Nique and James are both similar in their mid-game post dominance. When they get inside the paint there is nothing anyone can do with them.

When James’s career is over, he’ll likely be in the top five on the all-time career list for points, assists and could have more league MVP trophies than anyone in history. He has earned his seat at the table with Jordan, Magic, Bird, Big O and Kobe as the best perimeter players the game has ever seen. The only question that remains is will he bring a pro championship to Cleveland for the first time in fifty plus years? This could be the year.

Draymond Green, You Remind Me of…

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Draymond isn’t the headliner in Oakland, but he is the spark that ignites the Warriors Championship engine. Photo Credit: CBS Sports

Draymond Green isn’t supposed to be here. That’s if you ask the experts. Where is here? NBA Champion, All-Star, and a 1st-Team All-Defensive Player. The product of Saginaw, Michigan was a highly productive four-year player for the Spartans at MSU; winning a B1G Tournament Championship, 2012 National Player of the Year award, 2012 B1G Player of the Year award, 2012 B1G All-Defensive team selection, three times an All-Conference selection, and making two Final Four appearances.

Even as accomplished as he was, Green still had to wait until pick 35 of the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft to hear his name called. Those experts said he was too small to be a pro power forward and not quick enough to be a perimeter player.

However the Golden State power forward, is the back-to-back runner up for NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a first-time All-Star in 2015-16, has become the heart and soul of the defending champion Warriors who just completed the greatest regular season win total in Association History.

The four-year pro is finally getting his due. As his game continues to flourish, his style of play is starting to remind me of a few guys I loved watching back in the day. Many of who also dealt with the same naysayers and bogus critiques when they entered the pro ranks.

This is the third in my installment of my you remind me series. The first two were on Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook.

Draymond’s ability to defend against guys 3-5 inches taller and 45 pounds heavier all while being able to switch off on the more athletic perimeter players in the NBA reminds me of Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman. Rodman is mostly known for his rebounding prowess, but he guarded Shaq during his days in Chicago, and Michael Jordan back when he ran with the “Bad Boy” Pistons in their two championship seasons.

Draymond has also held down the center position for the Warriors in the playoffs guarding Dwight Howard and at times other dominant bigs during the season in the likes of Boogie Cousins, Anthony Davis and Tim Duncan. In last year’s Finals, he took his turn guarding this era’s current best player in LeBron James. His versatility on the perimeter has made it easy for Golden State to switch every thing on D because he can also clamp down on the James Harden’s, Russell Westbrook’s and Damian Lillard’s of the world.

Green’s offensive skills remind me of James Worthy’s ability to play inside and outside, while having the playmaking skills to set up teammates. Even though he was the top pick in the 1982 draft, “Big Game James” is often overlooked because he played with two of the top ten players of all-time in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. But, he was named one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history because of his championship contributions. Green is playing a similar role behind the consensus best backcourt in the Association in two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

Robert Horry. While obviously Green doesn’t have the size and length of the 7-time NBA Champion, Draymond brings the same defensive versatility and ability to make tough timely baskets that often are only trusted to the Superstars of the team. Horry was the perfect compliment to Legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler with the Houston Rockets and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. As Shaq always says, “you need the others to play well to be champs”, well Big Shot Bob was the perfect “other” and Draymond is proving to be the same for the Warriors emerging dynasty.

Anthony Mason. The late “Mase” was the enforcer on those Patrick Ewing led New York Knicks teams that gave MJ’s Bulls a run for their money in the 90’s and became Eastern Conference Champions in 1994. Coach Pat Riley often used the 13-year power forward as a point forward during their time in the Big Apple and with the Miami Heat. It wasn’t odd to see him bring the ball up court and initiate the offense by dumping it down to the big fella on the block, or stop and pop an elbow jumper. While Mason didn’t have the all around range of Draymond on offense, both are similar as irritants on defense for opponents. The 2001 All-Star was a stellar defensive player throughout his career even making the All-Defensive team in 1997.

Cliff Robinson. “Uncle Cliffy” was a key contributor to those early 90’s Clyde Drexler-Terry Porter led Portland Trailblazers teams that challenged MJ’s Bulls, Magic’s Lakers and Isiah’s Pistons for NBA titles. Robinson, the 1993 Sixth Man of the Year did all the dirty work for those Portland teams during his eight-season there. He also was one of the original stretch power forwards who had range from deep shooting 35% with the Blazers. He also had a knack for mixing it up with trash talk and the occasional borderline physical play to gain an edge over his opponents. Sound familiar?

The Ingredients of Russell Westbrook

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat

Russell Westbrook attacks like few in NBA history have. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Last month I wrote about the combination of historically great NBA players that Stephen Curry (you can click the link to read it). has evolved from to become the best player in the game. Yes, I believe that the soon to be back-to-back league Most Valuable Player is the best. I know, I didn’t go out on such a limb in saying so. Anyway, Steph isn’t the only current player who has many different ingredients from players of the past that make up his game.

At 6’4″ 200 pounds, Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic guards the Association has EVER seen. His rage, relentlessness and intensity on the court are just as unique and eccentric of a combination as his fashion sense is off it. But when he gets on the court, some of his best attributes do remind me of a few players I enjoyed.

First, Steve Francis. At 6’3″ the “Franchise” played much bigger than his listed size, and brought an exciting playground style of game that flourished on the hardwood. He could rebound inside with bigs, then explode down the court for a coast-to-coast dunk, or set up a teammate for an easy bucket. He didn’t hesitate to dunk on a 7-footer. The 3-time All-Star point guard averaged 18.1 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 assists in his 10-year career with the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and New York Knicks. Like Westbrook, Francis was also heavily criticized during his prime for not relying more on his teammates.

Baron Davis. Another 6’3” shooting guard in a point guard’s body, Davis’s game resembled more of a power forward than the graceful athlete that Westbrook is. However, in his younger days before the laundry list of injuries took its toll on his body–specifically his knees–Davis was a nightly fixture on the highlight reels for putting guys on posters and breaking their ankles.

Like Westbrook, Davis punished smaller point guards in the post, creating double teams and finding open teammates while leading seven teams to the post season, including a historic victory with the 8th seeded Warriors over the 1st seeded 67-win Dallas Mavericks with league MVP Dirk Nowitzki in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs.

For his career, the 2-time All-Star averaged 16.1 points, 7.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in his 13-seasons in the NBA with the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks.

Oscar Robertson. I have to admit, I never saw him play, as I am only 35-years old. But from the limited highlights, the stats and the way he is described by those who watched him, I surmise that he was the premier athlete of his time at the point guard position like Westbrook is today.

The “Big O” is the OG walking triple double. He averaged a triple-double for an entire season in 1961-62, and flirted with the feat four other seasons (1960-61, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-65). Those who watched Robertson play said he did it by overpowering his opponents with his size and athleticism. “Hussle” Westbrook does the same way, which allowed him to register the most triple doubles in a season (18) tying Magic Johnson.

Kevin Johnson. At 6’1″ 180 pounds, KJ wasn’t physically imposing, but he was super athletic for his size in the era in which he played. He was never afraid to go in to the land of the trees and throw one down on you. Ask Hakeem Olajuwon….

KJ had a nifty right to left crossover that he used to knife through defenses and set up his pull-up midrange jumper. A skill he and Russell share. Most of their points came off their in-between game, as neither is an exceptionally good consistent 3-point shooter. Johnson averaged 17.9 points, 9.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game over his 13-seasons in the NBA.

Gary Payton. A ruthless no nonsense competitor, with no back down, and is in your face on defense and offense. Sound familiar?  “The Glove” is known mostly for his defensive prowess winning the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year award and being named to the All-Defensive 1st-team 9-times in his career, but he was also a dominate scorer for the great Seattle Supersonics teams that were consistently in the playoffs and competed for the NBA titles. Over his 17-seasons, he averaged 16.3 points, 6.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. In his prime with the Sonics, he averaged 18.2 points, 7.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Payton finished his Hall of Fame career with 17 triple-doubles.