Increasing And Decreasing

CBS logoHuman nature seems to push us toward selfishness as I noted in “The Scientific Discovery Of The Sin Nature.” If in doubt, watch CBS’s 60 Minutes video for yourself. Here’s an excerpt:

Lesley Stahl: Sounds to me like the experiment show[s] they [the babies who were the subjects of the experiment] are little bigots.

Paul Bloom [Yale researcher]: I think to some extent, a bias to favor the self, where the self could be people who look like me, people who act like me, people who have the same taste as me, is a very strong human bias. (emphasis added)

The Bible doesn’t equivocate when it comes to human nature. We are self-deceived and wicked at our core—primarily because of our bias to favor ourselves. We want to win, to be noticed, admired, loved and praised. We want our fifteen minutes of fame, and if we can stretch it out to a half hour, all the better.

The problem for the Christian is that when we push ourselves forward, we are actually stealing the limelight from God. He’s the star, after all, the One who deserves the accolades, who produces the show, who works behind the scenes to hold it all together, who assembles the cast, who writes the checks, and who takes center stage. So when the curtain comes up for the credits, for whom is the applause greatest? The actor playing the page who carried the king’s sword, or the king himself?

Clayton_Kershaw_(8664742364)We live in a celebrity culture. Consequently Christians often flock to “famous Christians,” like Tim Tebow or Jeremy Lin or Russel Wilson or Clayton Kershaw. And isn’t it a good thing when people of all stripe, even people of other religions or people of no religion, recognize a “famous Christian” for their talent and intelligence and good deeds?

That’s what the Bible seems to say. We are to let our light shine so that people see our good works (Matt. 5:16). It’s the last part of the verse that I think 21st century Christians seem to have trouble with: “… that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (emphasis added). The goal isn’t that they might glorify the Christian, but that they might glorify the God whom we serve.

John the Baptist articulated the principle well. One of his disciples was troubled that the crowds were leaving John and flocking to Jesus. Here’s his answer:

John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:27-30)

In other words, John’s popularity was a gift from God. But he was not the Messiah. He was the second, the best man, the squire. Understanding his role, he rejoiced to see Jesus get all the attention. That’s what he lived for. To decrease, that Jesus might increase.

In some ways, it seems a person must first increase to get to the point that he can decrease. I mean, if John didn’t have a following, would he ever have been able to say, I must decrease?

But what about the widow who gave her last coin in the temple. She had no following, and she was still willing to decrease that God might increase.

I think our current Christian culture has it wrong. We should not be working to be known so we can make God known. That’s upside down. The widow gave to God because she knew God deserved her very last coin. As a result, God spread her fame down through the ages, to every tribe and tongue where the gospel is preached. She wasn’t after fame, but God gave it to her as a result of her willingness to decrease.

I think too of Boaz and the anonymous relative who could have married Ruth. In that day, a widow had no protection unless a relative of her deceased husband married her. She was also tied to the property her husband may have owned. So Boaz, wanting to take Ruth as his wife, first had to find out if the relative who was closer would step up and do the right thing.

Boaz started by asking the man if he wanted to buy the property which had belonged to the deceased. The relative said, sure. OK, Boaz said, but you know, of course, that means you’ll also have to marry Ruth. Oh, the man answered. Forgot about her. You know, on second thought, this marriage and property purchase isn’t going to work for me after all. It would jeopardize his own inheritance, he said—something about the child of their union would be known as belonging to the first husband, and his land reverting to that side of the family at the jubilee.

It’s a bit too legal and technical for me. But I bring it up because this man who wanted to guard his inheritance is no longer remembered by name. Boaz, however, and Ruth are both recorded in the ancestral record of the Messiah. The one who wanted to increase, didn’t. The one who cared for the widow, who served and protected a foreign woman in need, received recognition throughout the ages.

He must increase. And I must decrease.

My devious mind immediately goes to the idea that, yes, the way for me to get noticed, like the widow Jesus praised, like Boaz, is to put Jesus on display. But that misses the point. God can use even that wrong attitude, as Paul says in Philippians, but the right perspective is to see the way things really are: God, the high and exalted King; I, the servant holding the edge of His train.

Shockingly, this life is really not about me. It’s about God—serving Him, loving Him, listening to Him, abiding with Him, and above all glorifying Him. Seeing Him increase.

Christian Superstars

Ted DekkerSome years ago, I went to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference when author Ted Dekker was the keynote speaker. I was impressed by his humble, heartfelt recognition that God had opened the door for him to receive his first publishing contract. And yet, in between sessions and at meals, conferees treated Mr. Dekker like a superstar.

I’ve seen the same reaction to agents and editors. But this response is not confined to the writing world. If in doubt, think Tim Tebow. Christians who openly profess their faith and who hold highly visible roles in society become Christian superstars.

This is not something new. On the apostle Paul’s first preaching and teaching mission, he and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit and commissioned by the Church to do the work God had for them.

Along the way, they arrived at a place called Lystra. As Paul was preaching, he saw a man in the audience who couldn’t walk. In fact, he’d never walked in his entire life. In some supernatural way, Paul recognized that this man had the faith to be healed, so he told him to stand up.

It’s hard to fathom how great a miracle this was. I imagine the man’s legs had never developed properly. Any muscle he had would have atrophied. And yet, he got to his feet. And then he started leaping and walking. It’s a phenomenal scene.

And the people who were standing around watching reacted as you might expect. They thought Paul and Barnabas couldn’t possibly be normal human beings. They concluded that two of their pantheon of gods had come down in human form to visit them. Barnabas they concluded was the chief of the gods, Zeus himself. Paul, the one who was doing most of the talking, they concluded was Hermes, the messenger.

All this discussion was taking place in a language that Paul and Barnabas didn’t speak. Certainly they knew the miracle had caused a stir, but at this point they didn’t realize the direction it was taking. Only when the priest from the temple of Zeus showed up with garlands and oxen to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, did they get the picture. The people of Lystra wanted to worship them.

Here’s the key part of the story. Rather than standing humbly by as the people proceeded to treat them like gods, the apostles did something that mourners did—they tore their robes. Then they rushed into the crowd to stop what was to them egregious—the crowd was crediting them with what God had done.

“Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.” (Acts 14:15)

Happy ending, right? Paul and Barbabas stopped the people from treating them like gods. They did, but the ending wasn’t what you’d actually call happy. With some prompting from angry Jews who followed them to Lystra, the crowd ended up stoning Paul and left him for dead. If he did die, God raised him. At any rate, he got up, and he and Barnabas continued on.

The point is, resisting the crowd was the right thing to do, but it cost Paul.

I don’t think the treatment people today give Christian superstars is so different from what the crowd wanted to do for Paul. Sure, no one is preparing a sacrifice, but we’ve got our own rituals. We want autographs and we want our picture taken with Important Christian, as if somehow proof of us standing beside him makes us a little more important too.

I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t responding in this way because we, like the people of Lystra, are crediting the Christian author or football player or agent with what God has done. Would we rush for an autograph if we thought, Wow, God is so great to use someone just like me to write books that reach hundreds of thousands.

On the heels of that thought, I wonder how many stones of envy might come out.

In the end, it seems to me that the culture of celebrity in which we live is unavoidable, but we as believers can resist treating each other the way the world treats their own. The success of other believers should give us cause to sing God’s praises, not those of the clay pots He chooses to use.

And a few pots would benefit from tearing their robes and rushing out in the crowd to stop the wrong-headed acclaim being thrown their way. No, no. We’re just human. The power, the ability, the strength—that’s all from God. He’s the superstar. He’s the one deserving of the praise.

Suffering Humiliating Losses

women's basketball_2009_free-throwIn my playing and coaching days, I’ve had my share of humiliating losses. A handful pop into mind without any effort. There was the college basketball game I played in against our arch rivals. At 5’6” I was my team’s center, going up against a girl who was 6’1” or 6’2”. As I recall, the final score was 72-12.

Of course, the losses I’m talking about weren’t on a big stage with millions of people watching. In fact, there are probably more people who learned about the humiliating loss I just mentioned from reading this blog post than from watching in the stands that day.

Not so for my poor Denver Broncos who suffered one of the all time humiliating losses yesterday in the Super Bowl. After having set records for points scored and touch down passes in a season, they managed only eight points.

Tim Tebow could have added to his reasons for being glad he doesn’t have a contract (see Super Bowl commercials), that he doesn’t have to deal with humiliating Denver or Jet losses. (See Denver’s 2011 round two game against New England and New Jersey’s entire 2012 season.)

In some ways, all teams, except the champion Seattle Seahawks, suffered humiliating losses since they either didn’t make the playoffs or ended their season on a loss. Oakland, for example, suffered a humiliating season, as did the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jets didn’t do much better, and Buffalo is . . . well, Buffalo—always promising and improved, but rarely reaching the playoffs.

But the playoff teams, from New Orleans and San Francisco to New England and Kansas City, all ended in a bitter loss that will stick with them throughout the off season.

Be that as it may, losing from the first snap in the Super Bowl has got to be a record. I wonder what the Christians on the Broncos are thinking. What does God want them to learn from this experience?

I know when I was playing and losing, I was mostly happy just because I enjoyed being on the court. I never intended to play college basketball. We didn’t have a team in my freshman or sophomore year, and most of us had no experience other than p. e. We had coaches that specialized in softball, so we weren’t getting a great deal of instruction. The point being, I was having fun even when we lost. The humiliating loss was harder to take, but I could say at the end that I tried my best and certainly none of us quit.

As a coach, the humiliating losses were ones that surprised me. I thought we were going to play better and didn’t.

There were some other really lopsided losses, but those were in a tournament when my high school freshmen went up against stronger, older teams, and it was clear we were over matched and probably should never have been put in the tournament in the first place. Those were easier to take, especially when the opponents started giving my girls pointers right there on the court during the game! 😉

I remember one coach when I was coaching middle school who used a full court press even when her team was up by thirty points. Those losses didn’t feel humiliating as much as infuriating. Their coach then wondered why the team she faced in the playoffs went into a ball-control stall (we didn’t play with a shot clock) even though they were down by fifteen points. None of the other coaches had trouble understanding. That other team was doing their best to avoid a humiliating loss. They could take a loss because the opponent was better. They just didn’t want to lose by thirty points or more.

Here’s what I take from blowout losses: they may or may not be humiliating. Whether they are or not depends on why you’re playing, who’s watching, how much effort you gave.

For the Christian, I think it’s key to keep in mind that we are always to be playing (or working) for God, that He is the one who is watching, that He is the one who will strengthen our weakness (in other words, when we’ve done our best, God can turn our effort into whatever success He wishes).

First, we are to serve God. Ephesians 6:7 says, “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” This was not addressed to athletes but to “slaves,” those in the Greek culture who were indentured servants to work at the behest of their masters. But the masters weren’t to be the ones these Christians worked for. God was the one for whom they worked.

Paul elaborated in his letter to the Colossians:

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (3:22-24)

There you have it in a nutshell. Our efforts should not be for the applause of people but because we revere our King eternal. He’s the one watching and He’s the one supplying the strength. And this is true for us work-a-day folks as much as it is for athletes.

Published in: on February 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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Beauty And Function

LaPieta-MichelAnge_detalleFrom time to time Christian evangelicals are criticized for our view of the arts. The critics believe something that is truly artistic can exist for no other purpose than to be truthful and beautiful. A song, a poem, a painting, a novel–none of those has to serve a greater purpose than to shine as art. In contrast, Christian evangelicals always want art to be functional–especially if the function is to declare something about God.

The ironic thing is, this criticism often comes from other Christians, and the next plank in their argument is to point out that God made beautiful things in the deepest parts of space which no human eye has seen until modern science captured these glories on film. Same with things growing at the bottom of the ocean. What function does the beauty of those objects hold?

Add to that argument, the one from the Old Testament about the beauty of the objects connected with worship—the priestly garments with the gem-studded breastpiece; the ark overlaid in gold and covered by the carefully crafted mercy seat with its gold cheribium; the perfumed incense; the curtains made of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material, with embroidered cherubim.

God wanted all these things to be beautiful. He specifically picked out two craftsmen to “make artistic designs” though many of the objects would not be seen by the public but only by the high priest once a year.

So does beauty exist for beauty’s sake? Are evangelical Christians wrong to think art can and should do more than just be beautiful?

It’s a much more complex question than it appears on the surface. First, the “just be beautiful” argument neglects the twin arm of art–truthfulness. Real art is more than a picture of an angel of light because Satan himself walks around in that guise. He is not truthful, so regardless of his outward appearance, he is far from “art.”

If someone painted his portrait showing him as an angel of light, no matter how skillful the painting, it would still not be good art because it didn’t reveal truth.

There’s another principle to consider, though, besides the definition of art. That is the idea of an integrated life. When a person becomes a Christian, Scripture says we are made new. We have a new self. In other words, Christianity isn’t tacked on. It isn’t layered over top our existent lives. We’re not adding on a little religion like we might add on a hobby or a new friend.

Rather, Christianity gives a person a new core that ought to have radical implications all the way out to our fingertips. In other words, art is simply an extension of our Christianity in the same way that driving should be an extension of our Christianity or Facebook commenting should be an extension of our Christianity or getting our job done at work should be an extension of our Christianity.

In this view, all of life is “functional” in the sense that all of life should be a reflection of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Denver Broncos Tim_Tebow_TebowingTim Tebow comes to mind as an example of a man who is intentional in this regard. He wants others to know that at his core is this relationship with God that changes every other aspect of who he is.

Some people hate that Tim talks about his faith so openly and so repetitively. Other people are attracted to the reality they see, whether he’s leading the Broncos to a playoff win or has been cut loose by the Patriots and is out of work.

In many respects, Tim represents Christian fiction that is overt. Reporters who interview Tim know that there will be a point where he will talk about his faith in Jesus Christ. So, too, in some Christian fiction, there will be Christianity front and center at some point in the story.

Other Christians, even those in the limelight, are less verbal about their faith. A. C. Green who played for the Lakers alongside Magic Johnson comes to mind. His faith and his moral compass were the same as Tim’s, but he didn’t use every interview to draw attention to his relationship with God.

Is A. C. Green’s life more “artistic” because it is more subtle? Is Tim’s more “artistic” because the truth is front and center?

In my way of thinking, both men are living integrated lives. Their Christianity comes out of their pores, but that doesn’t mean their lives must look exactly the same or that they handle all circumstances alike.

So, too, with art. Some beauty has a function. Male birds have more colorful plumage than their female counterparts for a functional purpose–to attract said females. The design of some animals camouflages them from predators. The sweet scent of flowers attracts insects that spread their pollen, and so on. God gave function to some beautiful things, including those Old Testament items involved in worship.

Because a piece of writing or a painting or a song carries an overt theme does not disqualify it from being artistically great. If the opposite were true, no great art existed in Europe until the twentieth century. Michelangelo wasn’t a great artist, Milton wasn’t a great writer, Handel wasn’t a great musician, Charles Wesley wasn’t a great hymn writer.

On the other hand, absence of truth does disqualify something from being great art, though not all truth is represented in any one piece of art. The function of some great art, then, is to depict something sinful–the crucifixion, Humankind’s rebellion against God or mistreatment of each other. These may have poignant beauty and gut-wrenching truth and be some of the best art of all time.

But function? As I see it, function does not qualify or disqualify a work from being artistic–and certainly not the function of declaring God’s glory or His work in the world or in the hearts of men and women. What could be a more truthful, more beautiful event than the change that takes place when “The Lord my God illumines my darkness”?

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 7:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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My Turn To Tell

As promised, here are my picks from yesterday’s post, “You Tell Me Yours, I’ll Tell You Mine,” marked in boldface font and followed by brief commentary.

a Mac or PC — no contest. Whenever I have to use a PC, I realize anew how much I like Macs.

Narnia or Lord of the Rings — but that’s no slight on Narnia because I love it too.

science fiction or fantasy — and that one’s not even close.

classical or country — same here!

books or ereaders — but I’m just getting started with my very first ereader, so this could change in the near future.

Facebook or Twitter — I’m getting more comfortable with Twitter, but I don’t see it moving ahead of Facebook.

LinkedIn or Pinterest — Pin-what? Seriously, I haven’t been to the site yet, but from what I’ve heard … it’s not for me.

YA books or adult — nothing against YA. I read it with some frequency, but I gravitate toward the adult stuff.

mystery or suspense — I love figuring stuff out and hate being scared!

Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance — Stars are soooooo overrated!

The Voice or American Idol — neither, really, but the few times I watched some of The Voice, I thought it looked like a better show.

Survivor or Amazing Race — I’m a die-hard fan! 😀

Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum — I like the fact that the only bad thing the media says about him is that he’s spending too much time on “social issues.”

Old Testament or New Testament — this is where I start cheating: both, absolutely.

Apostle Paul or Apostle Peter — ditto

Elijah or Daniel — tough call. I actually like Elisha more than Elijah, but I may have learned the most from Elijah because of a wonderful series of sermons Pastor Swindoll did years ago.

Tom Sawyer or Lord of the Flies — when I wrote this, I intended to say Lord of the Flies. I think it’s a great study in human nature. But it’s also pretty depressing. So I’ll go with humor, adventure, suspense, and a little peak at human nature on the side.

Denver Broncos or Oakland Raiders — need I say more? 😉

Tim Tebow or Jeremy Linn — I’ve heard Tim speak about Jesus. So far I’ve only heard others say Jeremy Linn has faith like Tim Tebow. Besides, Tim plays for the right team, and Jeremy doesn’t. 😉

Corrie ten Boom or Elizabeth Elliot — Elizabeth Elliot is a remarkable woman. I actually had the privilege of hearing both of them speak, though, and Corrie exuded the love of Christ. Her life has had a big impact on me.

iPad or Kindle Fire — I own neither so don’t know what the advantages of each are, but because I favor Apple products, I’d be inclined to go with the iPad if it were possible.

grace or mercy — yeah, no way to choose on this one. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3), but “By grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Christian fiction or general market fiction — I’ve been reading more Christian fiction of late, but I like the general market fiction that’s been recommended to me.

New York Times or Wall Street Journal — I don’t read either regularly, but when I find links to articles, I usually find the treatment in the WSJ to be thorough and less “media party line.”

hymns or choruses — Both have their place. Paul said in Colossians, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). Was he just being redundant, or was he making a point that different kinds of musical renditions have their place? I favor the latter view.

Well, there you have it. Again, special thanks to those who took the time to give their picks. This was fun.

Published in: on March 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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Platforms And Purpose

I’ve been thinking a bit about God’s work in and through His people. Of course I apply this to writing, but the illustrations I’m going to share demonstrate my conclusions are not limited to that profession at all. I explain this because “platform” seems like a writing-specific term. No teacher is asked what her platform is. I doubt if plumbers face that question either. Would-be politicians might.

A platform refers to the number of people whose attention an individual commands. The American Idol contestants, for instance, have a small platform until they reach the finals of the contest. Suddenly they have millions of people watching them perform (and remembering their name and voting to keep them around). That’s why the judges so often console someone who is leaving the show — they know the platform that contestant gained, the attention and following, will reap benefits even for the “losers.”

So I’m thinking of two twenty-somethings who each have a book about their life. Who in the world would think someone so young would have a big enough platform to sell books, let alone have something worthwhile to say when they have lived life as an adult for such a short time? And there are two of them?

One of these individuals is Tim Tebow and the other is Katie Davis. Oh, you might think, of course, Tim Tebow (Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker, Harper). He’s a big-name athlete. Make that BIG Name Athlete. I saw it again on the news last night after the Denver Broncos scintillating victory in overtime — a news anchor saying that Tim Tebow was The Most Talked About Athlete of the year (the implication was, last year). Not the Cy Young Award winners, not the Heisman Trophy winner, not the NBA MVP. Tim Tebow.

But what about Katie Davis (Kisses From Katie, Katie J. Davis and Beth Clark, Howard Books)? In fact who is Katie Davis? I’ve mentioned her here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction before. She is the young single girl who went to Uganda for a short term mission. She returned to the US and attended college for a semester because she’d promised her parents that’s what she’d do, but then, not yet twenty, she left for Africa again to work with children — the most vulnerable and needy. After starting out teaching, she focused her work on orphans. In fact she has become the foster/adoptive Mom of thirteen girls. She’s also started a ministry (Amazima Ministries) that provides support for poor children so they can attend school and can receive nourishing meals. In addition there’s a program for moms who struggle alone to care for their children.

Katie does not have hundreds of thousands of people watching the way she changes diapers or nurses the latest scrapes or tucks her daughters into bed. Her platform isn’t Tebow-sized. But one look at the pictures of her children, and there’s no doubt that she’s serving a purpose that is eternal.

Tim’s platform, interestingly, allows him to participate in eternal purposes, too. This missionary kid has a heart for missions still and has also started his own ministry — The Tim Tebow Foundation “to bring physical and spiritual healing to the world’s poorest children.”

What do I learn from these two young committed Christians? So much. They are both inspiring in their own ways. But beyond that, I see God doing marvelous things, with Katie’s thousands and Tim’s ten thousands. The size of the platform does not dictate the value of the ministry or reduce the importance of the purpose God has given to each of them.

I feel as if Tim is oblivious to the numbers of people following him, talking about him, and Katie, when she mentions the growth of the attention she’s receiving, it’s with fear and trepidation. Instead of focusing on the size of their platform, it seems both of them are riveted on their purpose — to please Jesus — and they then let Him decide just how big their platform should be.

Published in: on January 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm  Comments (8)  
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It’s Inspiring To Lose?

Al Davis, the former owner of the Oakland Raiders, was famous, not just for his knowledge of football and his iron-fisted rule of his team, but for his attitude toward winning. His statement “Just win, baby,” was his version of the adage “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”

The Raider theme during their short stay in Los Angeles was “Commitment to excellence,” but seemingly Davis ranked winning even higher. Lots of athletes and coaches, and even fans, do.

I love to win too, and I enjoy watching the teams I cheer for win. Consequently, when the Denver Broncos, who I’ve been behind my entire adult life, went on a six-game winning streak, I was pretty happy. But the icing on the cake was that quarterback Tim Tebow, outspoken Christian, was engineering these victories, at least in part.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when the Broncos lost first to New England December 18, then to Buffalo last Saturday by the lopsided score of 40-14. Suddenly the march to the play-offs, led by the Christian kid who pundits were beginning to say was for real after all, was in serious doubt. But worse, Tim threw four interceptions, two that were run back for touchdowns. Tebow magic? Nowhere in sight.

But of course there never was any magic — just a young man playing hard, inspiring his teammates to do the same.

So what was his take on losing, especially two in a row, especially when he had such a bad game? From his press conference:

Something my mom taught me long ago, give the praise to the lord and give your disappointments to the lord, because that’s the number one way I can deal with it, because tomorrow I still get to celebrate my savior’s birth, and ultimately I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future and that’s something that gives me a lot of peace and a lot of comfort when there might be a lot of turbulence around me.

The sports wrap show I was watching aired the clip of Tim saying those lines, then the broadcaster sort of shook his head, and said, “Tim Tebow,” as if that’s all the explanation needed to make sense of something so unusual coming from an athlete programed to win.

But to Tim Tebow life is bigger than football, bigger than winning games. He sees the eternal picture and wants above all else to make an impact for Christ.

I wonder what would happen if more of us — bankers, waitresses, plumbers, librarians — would be as open about our faith as Tim Tebow is, win or lose.

Suddenly I don’t think that loss last Saturday was such a bad thing. Now fans know Tim isn’t a fair-weather Christian. Now reporters see how someone who believes Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior, not his ATM, responds to adversity.

If you’re interested, here’s the entire post-game interview. Pretty inspiring.

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm  Comments Off on It’s Inspiring To Lose?  
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Photograph by Jeffrey Beall

I admit it — I’m a fan. I’ve been a Denver Bronco fan since my college days. At the time my parents lived in Denver, and I spent summers with them — the time of Spring Training. Honestly, you couldn’t watch a news show without a blow-by-blow report on Broncos happenings, and before I knew it, I was hooked. Never mind that they weren’t much more than a break-even team. But then, along came a player named John Elway, and things changed. But what does all this have to do with Tebowing? For that matter, what is Tebowing?

Tim Tibow was the Denver Broncos’ 2010 first round draft pick, taken number 25 over all. In spite of the fact that Tim won the 2007 Heisman Trophy — the only sophomore at the time to do so — and led his college team, the Florida Gators to two National Championships, his selection was controversial. In fact, Tim is controversial.

His introduction to controversy came when he was in high school. As a homeschooler, he was allowed by Florida law, to play for a school in his district. When the school he first played for would not put him at quarterback, he and his mom moved, so he could be near a school of his choice. He went on to be named Florida Player of the Year in both his junior and senior year. Nevertheless critics complained that homeschoolers had an unfair advantage over others who weren’t free to choose their school.

In college, Tim stirred another controversy because this son of missionaries incorporated Bible references in the eye black he wore.

In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, he wore John 3:16 on his eye paint, and as a result, 92 million people searched “John 3:16” on Google during or shortly after the game. (“Tim Tebow”)

The following year the NCAA passed the “Tim Tebow Rule,” banning messages on eye paint.

Controversy continued to follow Tim, in part because sports analysts doubted his ability to play quarterback at the professional level. After he was drafted, the controversy spread to his faith.

Tim, you see, was born in the Philippines, the youngest of five children and one who almost didn’t make it into the world. “While pregnant, his mother suffered a life-threatening infection with a pathogenic amoeba” (“Tim Tebow”), and doctors recommended she abort her baby (Tim) who they feared would be still-born. She refused, and he lived.

When Tim and his mother shared their story as part of a Focus on the Family commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLIV, he was at the heart of controversy between pro-choice proponents and pro-life advocates.

All this, and I still haven’t explained Tebowing. This adulteration of Tim’s last name came about because of another controversial Tim Tebow activity — he prays, openly, on the field. Mind you, he’s also started interviews with, “First, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” and he answered a reporter’s question about his sex life that he was in fact a virgin, so apparently what people find offensive about Tim Tebow praying, versus all the other athletes that have been caught on camera praying, is that he means it.

Tebowing, however, stems directly from one particular prayer. In Tim’s first start this year with the Denver Broncos, his team won in overtime. As Tim left the field, he dropped to one knee, bowed his head, and in all appearances, offered a prayer of thanks.

A fan and his group of friends imitated the pose that night, taking a picture and posting it on Facebook. Later he started a blog inviting others to share their pictures of Tebowing, defined as “(vb) to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.”

The next week, however, the Detroit Lions demolished the Broncos. Players and fans alike mocked Tim by taking the posture of prayer he had taken after the Miami game, and Tebowing became as much a joke as a point of honor.

But what a thing to be known for — praying in public. If I hadn’t been a Broncos fan, I still think I would have become a Tim Tebow fan. Here’s a line from the latest Associated Press article about the Broncos’ overtime victory over San Diego last Sunday:

Tim Tebow wasn’t watching as San Diego’s Nick Novak lined up to attempt a 53-yard field goal that would have given the Chargers an overtime victory over the Denver Broncos.

He was praying, of course.

Whatever else people may think of Tim Tebow, they can’t take away the fact that he’s a man who lives out his convictions, even in the face of controversy. Good for Tim. Good for Tebowing. 😀

Published in: on December 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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