From the Clayton Daily News & Henry Herald – Wednesday, December 9, 2014
CLICK HERE for the column
December 11th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
Here’s just a few observations I’ve seen over the last week and why I continually stress leadership development as a focal point of the FCA Huddle:
A junior football player at Jonesboro came up to me after the huddle last week (with his FCA Bible he got at camp). He’s been struggling with issues at home, and was excited to show me that God had spoken to him through the example of young David, about how God anoints based on the heart and not the outward appearance, not based on man’s opinion of somebody. This sparked a conversation about how God throughout scripture has chosen unlikely people, from society’s perspective, with insecurities and weaknesses to use.
At Henry County, all three leaders who went to camp are being used to lead the 100 person huddle. One does the welcome, one leads in prayer and one does the devotion. Two of which lacked confidence and had self-esteem issues last year. The third leader, who I have lunch with weekly at the school, was facing the very real prospect of jail time one year ago before re-committing to Christ and is now active in sharing what God has done for Him.
At Union Grove (see attached picture), the FCA co-captain set an example and led prayer before the ACT exam on Saturday.
At Luella, a senior leader once lacking in confidence and being extremely shy gave a solid devotion in front of her FCA huddle last week.
At Lovejoy, the senior co-captain, a young lady, is setting an example as a member of the football team, which is one of the state’s top programs.
At Locust Grove, we have a young committed group of underclassmen that want to grow and develop. All of whom went to leadership camp.
Also at Jonesboro, the senior captain lead both a game and the devotion. Last year, she would read directly of a piece of paper. This year, her confidence, leadership ability and public speaking skills are increased as evidence by her ability to amplify her voice so 130 students in a gymnasium can hear her while clearly holding their attention.
Keep up the great work everybody!
September 17th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
From the Clayton Daily Times & Henry Herald:
The golden calf of fall – Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Reefer madness on campus – Tuesday, September 24, 2013
What I saw at fields of faith – Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Help wanted: Leaders – Tuesday, October 15, 2013
You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution – Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Running on empty – Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Destroying the Pillars of Permissiveness – Tuesday, November 12, 2013
It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It – Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Thankful for 25 years as a quadriplegic – Tuesday, November 26, 2013
What’s going on at inner city high schools?: First installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men– Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Empowering young athletes goes far beyond the field of competition: Second installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men– Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Why I believe – Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Fulfill your potential in 2014 – Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Empowering young black men, the fix: Third installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men- Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Having a marriage that keeps getting better – Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Fulfilling King’s dream: Final installment of 4-part series, How to empower young black men – Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Getting up and out of our seats – Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Addicts “R” Us – Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Sam I am: My thoughts on Michael Sam – the first openly gay football player – Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The climate is changing – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
We’re all broken – Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Ugly Christians are no excuse – Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Leaving a legacy to those that matter most – Tuesday, March 11, 2014
America’s youth problem – Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Taming the tongue by getting to the heart – Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The culture of poverty, American-style – Tuesday, April 1, 2014
$600 cell phones, the dignity of a minimum wage job: Overcoming systematic & culture failures – Tuesday, April 8, 2014
I was healed of my disability – Tuesday, April 15, 2014
God and man at Clemson – Saturday, April 26, 2014
It’s not what we say and do, it’s what we don’t say and do – Tuesday, April 29, 2014
What about the beating heart in the womb? – Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Traveling light – Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Racial prejudice has no place in the Body of Christ – Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The soil in our hearts – Tuesday, June 17, 2014
A time for war or a time for peace – Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Feeding the Spirit dog – Thursday, July 10, 2014
The prescription continues to kill the patients – Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Working from rest – Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Lifting a veil that I didn’t know was there – Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A post-racial world after Ferguson, MO – Tuesday, August 19, 2014
American idol now playing on a football field near you – Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The two groups killing Christianity in the U.S. – Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The bondage of religion – Tuesday, September 23, 2014
God moving mountains through FCA in South Metro Atlanta – Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Giving, not receiving – Tuesday, December 23, 2014
March 4th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
Once upon a time, when European immigrants came to the United States they would stare in awe upon approaching our shores as the Statue of Liberty came into sight. Whether real or mythical, the ideals and symbolism of the Land of Opportunity brought many to tears while providing inspiration to emulate all that came before them in building a better life for themselves and families.
In our current culture, a sign should be hung around Lady Liberty’s neck that says “Help Wanted: Leaders”. Perhaps the single biggest issue facing our youth is the lack of leaders, in particular male role models, to emulate in finding their mission and God-given purpose in life. From the highest levels of government to the streets in many communities, our youth have been failed by not having proper role models.
The vacancy of the father in the home leads too many of youth to seek a false image of manhood through celebrities, athletes and less than desirable friends. When one looks at the dysfunction of our leaderless, dysfunctional government, they see a total lack of personal accountability. Instead of taking responsibility for what goes on around them (a trait ingrained in the DNA of all great leaders), we get the whining, name calling, finger-pointing and blaming that our kindergarten teachers didn’t accept from us on the playground.
Instead of working for a solution, those that run our country make excuses for their failures. This has a tremendous and negative impact on our overall culture as our nation’s leadership sets the tone and direction for the rest of the culture. So where do we go from here?
At the grass roots level, men everywhere need to step up and lead by taking responsibility – in our marriages, our homes, our churches and our communities. We must empower our wives, equip our children while providing mentorship to those kids in our community in desperate need. We must break the chain of self-victimization (aka playing the victim) that’s become so prevalent in our society and is holding entire generations back from fulfilling their true potential and discovering their spiritual gifts so they themselves can lead someday.
As for our nation’s leadership, we need to hold our leader’s accountable to lead. We need people to stand up, take personal responsibility for the chaos around them and lead our country by the very ideals that its been built upon. By the way, here is a good way to interject that just because we often fall short of our ideals and standards, doesn’t mean we need to abandon or lower the bar of those ideals and standards. I long for a day when we have more adults in the room among our elected officials and fewer bickering kids staking out their turf around the swing set.
October 14th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
While there was unfortunately little to no shock value to the recent five-part series by Sports Illustrated on the corruption of Oklahoma State football — as most of us assume this goes on to varying degrees at every major university with revenue producing sports — a telling quote gave an indication of how our youth are ensnared while growing up with the rebranding of marijuana as a soft or harmless drug.
“Everybody thinks marijuana isn’t a bad drug, but it really has destroyed my life,” former running back Dexter Pratt said in part three of the series titled “The Drugs.” “When I was (at Oklahoma State) I wouldn’t have said it was an addiction, but it was.”
Seldom have we seen the pendulum swing back and forth to wild extremes of cultural perceptions as we’ve seen with how society has viewed marijuana. Due partly to the fictional, propaganda film “Reefer Madness” released in 1936, the public perception of the drug was one of horror that could lead to murder, rape, suicide or insanity.
Unfortunately scare tactics not based on substance don’t last for long. Since the 1960s, the backlash to “Reefer Madness” from the counter cultural movement has moved further and further mainstream. The result is a growing perception amongst the culture that marijuana is a harmless and safe drug.
As a result of the shift in societal attitudes, we must now, more than ever, properly educate our youth on the dangers of using marijuana — not by fictional scare tactics, but by reality. While we hear that the drug is not addictive, Dexter Pratt tells us a different story.
A mind-altering substance, marijuana may not be physically addictive like alcohol or heroin, but the grips of a psychologically, addictive, mind-altering substance is no less a detriment to those addicted.
Addiction is addiction, be it physical or psychological.
Once a person becomes addicted, getting high is often the only thing they think about, and in the case of marijuana, this leads to lower levels of personal drive, ambition, motivation as well as increased levels of paranoia.
How can I verify this last sentence? Well, outside of countless medical studies, I’ve seen it firsthand. I used it as a youth and it was truly the end of the innocence of childhood for me and hundreds, if not thousands of others that I’ve seen over the years.
‘A’ students become ‘C’ students. ‘C’ students become ‘F’ students, often dropping out. Great athletes become average athletes or quit competing all together.
Are there exceptions to the rule like our current president? Yes, but by and large our youth that begin using the drug inhibit themselves from fully reaching their talent and potential. Many graduate to more potent and deadly drugs as yes, marijuana is a gateway or stepping stone drug.
The legalization push would just further legitimize use among our youth by sending the signal that it’s harmless and OK to use.
So some straight talk is necessary. Not by scaring our kids away from the drug but by showing them through our own lives that the best life lived is a peaceful, joyful existence with a strong, clear and sober mind under the influence of nothing more than the Holy Spirit, through having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
September 26th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
My early life revolved around sports. Until I hit my teenage years, everything I thought about revolved around the athletes I followed, the sports I watched and the games I played every day until the sun set. I wanted to be a professional football or baseball player. Baseball was my game and my ticket, or so I thought, until the reality of my limitations caught up with me in early adolescence when I, for the first but certainly not the last time, was forced to change direction from my chosen career path. So I can’t imagine walking away voluntarily when being right on the door step of that dream. But that’s exactly what Chris Norman choose to do.
Norman didn’t have the limitations that most of us have athletically which prevent us from going past the high school level. Although never meeting him, I have to think he wanted to be a professional ball player as well. After being heavily recruited in 2008 as one of the top linebackers in the nation, Norman became a three-year starter and team captain at Michigan State University. But, after being projected as a mid to low round pick, with a legitimate shot at a professional career, Norman promptly shocked friends and family in announcing he was forgoing the NFL draft to follow God’s call to attend seminary.
Norman’s story is chronicled in his own words, a highlight reel and video testimony at Desiringgod.org/drafted. According to Norman, his priorities were realigned after he tore an elbow ligament against Alabama in a 2011 bowl game. “A lot of people see this type of lifestyle and they think ‘this is what it means to live’…(but after the injury) I got lost and I realized there must be something more to life than a football
Soon thereafter, he gave his heart to the Lord and although he would fully recover for his final two seasons, a burning desire began to set in for full-time ministry. He is joining the staff at Highland Park Baptist in Southfield, Michigan with the church paying for his seminary education. In a world where our children our bombarded with the wrong cultural messages of what success is and where gratification comes from, Norman’s decision to forego an opportunity of temporal fame and worldly fortune should be a lesson for all of us on when it comes leaving a true legacy.
September 9th Posted in: Christian Living, Fellowship of Christian Athletes with No Comments
This is the best time of the year to a lot of us who have the pleasure of living in the South. We’ve made it through the worst of the summer heat and the beauty of the crisp Georgia Fall will soon be upon us. But even more so for us football fans, the dog days of the sports calendar are behind us.
Nothing says Fall more than Friday night lights, Saturday tailgates and Sunday afternoons glued to the television. But as Christians we need to be careful and guard our hearts in pursuing what’s truly important. While there’s nothing wrong with rooting for our team, I’m saddened that too many of us have created false idols when it comes to our favorite teams. While we no longer worship Old Testament idols, we’ve created modern gods in the shape of high school, college and professional teams as well as players. We’ve exchanged the passion and pursuit of the living God for the fanaticism of obsessively following our little gods.
I’ve been passionately following sports for 35 years and myself have struggled with over obsessing over things that really don’t matter. But I’ve come to realize with age and maturity that the agony of defeat or the glory of victory is temporary and meaningless in the big picture. As someone active in sports ministry, I’ve learned the true, lasting values of sports are linked with spiritual values of learning from defeat, winning with dignity while developing integrity, teamwork, character, perseverance and, most of all, honoring the Lord by recognizing Him in maximizing the talent he’s given you.
Sure, many of us sports fanatics still sit in the pews every Sunday morning. It’s not like we take football season off. But I’m saddened with how anemic Christianity in this culture. What kind of impact could Christians have in this nation if we were as impassioned about being Jesus to people as we are inflamed in our sporting lusts? In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites threw their gold into the fire and out came a calf. Today, we throw our money into the fire and out pops the logo of our favorite teams which we tattoo to our hearts.
We all need to step back and appraise what we truly value. Do we get more excited for Friday nights, Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoons or Sunday mornings? Are we more intimate and talk more about our team than Jesus? Do we spend more time obsessing over social media and talk radio than we do with Jesus? Does the pain from your team’s loss matter more than the lost?
September 5th Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
With the Emerging Church Movement (see Chapter 2) leading the way, many of the long-held scriptural truths by Biblical-based Christians have been called into question. One example is the recent push to take another look at the very first chapter of Genesis in questioning the age of the earth. Biblically speaking, most Christians have always taken the literal view that Creation took place over six days and that the earth is 6,000 years old. We know that science, mostly through the technique of carbon-dating, puts the age of the earth as 4.5 billion years old. Quite a drastic difference, needless to say, and hard to reconcile. Either those calculations are way off, to say the least, or Christians are ignorant fundamentalists and the Bible is indeed a fairy tale as most secularists, agnostics and atheists believe.
But in the spirit of the first seed of doubt ever planted by the serpent, “Did God really say” that the creation of the universe, earth and humankind took place in only six days? You’d have to be a fool to believe such nonsense, right? When I first took up the question a couple of years ago, my first reaction was “who cares”? It doesn’t have anything to do with the core of the Gospel message as laid out plainly in John 3 and the Romans Road (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10, 13). And besides, do we really now that a day in Genesis was a literal day as we know it to be now? And doesn’t Peter say in 2 Peter 3:8 that “…With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
Well, I’ve come around to the view that it has everything to do with the Gospel and calling into question Genesis calls into question the very core of the Gospel of Jesus as Christ. If we can justify, rationalize or ignore Biblical creation than we can do the same with a literal Adam. And if there’s no literal Adam, then there’s no Original Sin that entered into mankind. And it follows that if there’s no Original sin, there’s no need for a Savior to free us from the spiritual death caused by sin.
So what about that the day in Genesis being a literal day. Without getting too techincal, we know that each time “day” is used in Genesis, it’s classified as “first day”, “second day”, etc. and each day in every Biblical text of Genesis is bounded by “evening and morning”. I believe therefore that each day in Genesis is a 24-hour period and that, according to Genesis, there’s no wiggle room that Creation took six days and is in direct conflict with the scientific claim that the universe has evolved over billions of years. As for 2 Peter 3:8, I’ve come to realize in my studies that that verse has nothing to do with the meaning of the word “day” in Genesis but rather is a descriptive way of saying that God is patient and is not constrained by time as human beings are constrained by time.
So it’s an either or, I believe. You either believe in an “old earth” or a “new earth”. Again, if you believe in an “old earth” than you’re already going wobbly when it comes to your faith in Genesis 1 and if you’re already wobbly in your faith in Genesis, how will that carry over to the rest of scripture? I believe it will make you ineffective in your faith. Because if you really, truly don’t believe Genesis, how can you believe everything that comes after, including the Gospels?
OK, great, you might say. But how can you reconcile the science that says the universe and earth is billions of years old? How can science be that far off! Well, it is that far off and here’s just a couple of thoughts as to why:
Nowhere is it written in the Bible that God created anything – the universe, earth, man – from infancy. In fact we know that Adam and Eve as well as the Garden of Eden were NOT created from infancy. So if you carbon-dated the biggest oak tree or rock in the Garden on the day of creation, how old would science say that that tree or rock is? Further, who is to say that God didn’t put fossils deep into the ground upon creation?
We know that from the flood of Noah’s time, that only did the heavens open up and pour down, but that the fountains of the deep (from underground) sprang up as well. So what does this mean? It means that the same radioactive materials that contaminated the earth’s surface, likely shortening mankind’s life span, also sped up while contaminating the scientific process of carbon-dating.
All in all, it’s just not plausible that the universe is 10+ billion years old, the earth is 4.5 billion years old, that humans are 200,000 years old but we only have roughly 4,000 years of written history. There are just too many gaps there. The more plausible explanation is that the creation took place 6,000+/- years ago, that God is who He said He is and His Word is infallible, true and above reproach.:)
August 1st Posted in: Christian Living with No Comments
I remember being shocked when former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley gave a riveting speech in August 2010 towards the end of a bloody summer, specifically for young black men in Chicago. In one of the hardest hit neighborhoods of Englewood, Daley said to the residents in no uncertain terms (paraphrasing) that the police are not your enemy, the primary problems lie within the breakdown of the black community, that the father is no longer in the home and the church is no longer the center of the community. It was refreshing, blunt and surprising candid coming from a politician, but even more so given that it was coming from a Democratic politician and member of the liberal political establishment. It also came as no surprise when he announced a month later that, out of gas, he would not seek a seventh term. Clearly, when he gave his speech in Englewood, he knew he would be soon heading off into retirement and was free from the shackles of preaching the liberal orthodoxy of victimization, blame as well as finger pointing. Instead, we got raw candor and emotion in calling for personal responsibility and accountability from a mayor that had been at the helm of one of the most violent American cities for over two decades.
We need more of that candor to solve the problems plaguing our black brothers and sisters trapped in these dysfunctional communities. While Conservatives, in particular white conservatives, need to do our part by recognizing that institutional racism still exists. While we need to sympathize, if not emphasize, with those young black men who feel stigmatized over deep rooted issues like racial profiling. While we need to reach out to help empower these communities with our time and treasure, its time the black leadership and here I’m speaking to the hierarchy of the liberal establishment – from the Democratic politicians, the President to the Congressional Black Caucus to the Civil Rights Organizations, the NAACP to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH coalition to the ministers like Al Sharpton to their surrogates in the mainstream media that push their narrative – to STEP UP with the full force of their tremendous resources and public platform to empower the black community to do or itself what it cannot expect others to do for them.
In 1911 Booker T. Washington said “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well.” Sadly, this grievance industry still exists and the patient in the inner-city is not getting well.
So we need more diverse voices at the leadership table. We need prominent players to stand up to an entertainment and music industry, rap and hip hop culture that glorifies the worst aspects of sexuality, violence and base instincts within the community while perpetuating vile stigmas which become self-fulfilling prophecies within the disillusioned inner-city. I can come up with an All-Star line-up of a multitude of black male and female leaders in prominent places in the media, public and political realm. But they are shunned by the establishment leaders and the mainstream media. Instead of the usual line-up of the Jacksons, Sharptons, Tavis Smileys and Van Jones, we need to see the Jason Rileys, the Ben Carsons, the Thomas Sowells and the Allen Wests be given a prominent “mainstream” voice. Even moderate liberals like Juan Williams, the author of Enough, is shunned for not preaching the usual liberal orthodox
We know the statistics – black men make up only 6% of the population yet commit 50% of the murders in this nation, 92% of which are against other black men. Between the drugs, the gangs and the violence, there’s genocide going on within the black community and its only going to stop when the liberal establishment steps in to demand accountability by screaming from the highest mountain tops from Washington D.C. to Hollywood, CA. I hear the establishment talking about disproportionate rates of unemployment and incarceration yet make no mention of 50% high school dropout rates (compared with under 10% in the suburbs). What else would we expect with so many young men on the streets and ill prepared to enter the job market?
It’s become a redundant, conservative cliché, but it really does start with the family and providing a stable home where education is encouraged not frowned upon – 73% out of wedlock birthdates (80-90% in the inner-cities) is a continued recipe for ruin. We need young black women to be more accountable in taking responsibility while honoring their bodies as the temples God created them to be (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Likewise, we need black men to be more accountable for honoring the women by treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve (Ephesians 5:25-28), while most importantly taking responsibility for the children they bring into the world (Ephesians 6:4). The culture is not lost. But the problems plaguing the black community are deep and generational. We need to start now with the youth if we’re going to have an impact in our children’s lifetime!
July 24th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
The number one reason most people give for rejecting Christianity is the behavior of Christians. To paraphrase Ghandi – “It’s not your Christ I have a problem with, it’s your Christians”. What we have in our culture is a divide as wide as the Grand Canyon between Jesus’ love and Jesus’ truth. And that’s unfortunate, because Jesus was the perfect balance of love and truth (John 1:14).
On one hand, you have overly judgmental and condemning Christians so focused on God’s truth that they not only are blinded by their own sin but they’re too quick to point out the sin in others as well as the culture. They’ll be dealt with as depicted in Jeremiah 7 – “…Will you steal, murder…follow other gods and then come to stand before me in this house (of worship)? I have been watching” or in Matthew 7:5 – “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Unfortunately though, using the bad behavior of Christians doesn’t excuse anybody from rejecting God. This is also addressed in Jeremiah where the nation of Israel, much like modern America, had rejected God after years of corruption, exploitation by priests, prophets, kings and common people (sounds familiar for anybody that has an understanding of the last 50 years). Those growing up then, like now, no doubt wanted nothing to do with the God of their forefathers because of the hypocritical example that had been set by those forefathers. Rather than letting those of the hook who had rejected Him because of the example of wayward men, God called for a complete and total return to Him through love and truth (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Opposite the truth or overly-judgmental crowd, some Christians – and most non-Christians – want to believe in the love of God but they excuse, rationalize, pick and choose what’s convenient to them (cafeteria-style) or flat out reject the truth of God. And when I refer to the truth of God, I’m talking about consistent threads that run throughout scripture, not just obscure verses that get taken out of context. So, for instance, you can’t compare the dietary restrictions that we no longer adhere to in two Old Testament chapters (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) to God’s plan for sexual morality / relations which are consistently and clearly laid out throughout scripture. Truth is truth and you’re either all in or all out when it comes to God’s truth.
God is love as clearly defined, among other places, by Jesus in the Gospels. But He’s also the God of the truth as laid out from beginning to end in Genesis to Revelation. He’s given us clear boundaries, the same way a playing field has boundaries, so we can experience the fullness of His love. If you remove the boundaries of a playing field what you’ll end up with is chaos which is what we have in our current culture.
As Christians, we shouldn’t rant, rave, and condemn others to step back into the proper boundaries of the playing field of truth. Rather we should gently encourage them with love and by leading by example. So they’ll see the fullness, richness and love of Christ’s Truth. To quote U2s Bono from a recent interview he gave to Focus on the Family – “Jesus isn’t lettin’ you off the hook. The Scriptures don’t let you off the hook so easily. … When people say, you know, “Good teacher”, “Prophet”, “Really nice guy” … this is not how Jesus thought of Himself. So you’re left with a challenge in that, which is either Jesus was who he said he was or a complete and utter nut case. … You have to make a choice on that. And I believe that Jesus was, you know, the Son of God. And I understand that … we need to be really, really respectful to people who find that ridiculous and … preposterous.”
So be really, really careful in how you act towards those with a different set of beliefs than you. But in the end, if you love them then you’ll share the truth with them:)