November 24, 2013

Broken Road, The Redemption of Tony Collins

During my regular visit to the non-fiction, new book shelves in the Penn Yan Public Library, I discovered Broken Road, a book written by local football celebrity Tony Collins and Bethany Bradsher.

Tony’s exceptional power and speed as a running back thrilled fans at Penn Yan Academy, East Carolina University and the New England Patriots. In each venue, he established records that still stand today.

Tony’s occupational hazard throughout his remarkable career was pain, but painkillers upset his stomach, so when he played for the Patriots, he chose to use marijuana for his nausea. That decision ultimately led to more hardcore substances and the dark abyss of drug addiction. Today, Tony blames no one but himself for his own bad choices.

After eight years of destructive addictions, Tony found the courage to escape the nightmare he created for himself. The power to turn his life around came from Trudy, the woman who gave him unconditional love and support, and God who gave him the opportunity, self confidence and peace of mind to change. 

Today, Tony speaks to high school athletes about making good choices. In Broken Road, where he records the mountains and valleys in his life, Tony writes:
"I truly believe that nothing is wasted in God's economy, and He intends for me to use the struggles of my life to help others make better choices."
May God be with Tony in that enterprise. 

November 17, 2013

There Is a War on Christmas!

Daniel Mach, director of ACLU’s program on freedom of religion and belief, is quoted in a recent USA Today article about Sarah Palin’s new book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas:
“Culture warriors have spread the myth of a fanciful ‘war on Christmas’ for years. This is largely a manufactured controversy. Christmas celebrations in this country are alive and well.”
Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia adds,
“There is no war on Christmas.”
I have lived through 82 Christmases, and the celebration of Christ’s birth has changed substantially since the Thirties when:
  • “Merry Christmas,” not “Happy Holidays” was the standard greeting.
  • Schools offered Christmas Concerts, not Winter Concerts. 
  • Christmas carols were sung in schools. 
  • Christmas cards outnumbered Holiday cards.
  • People decorated Christmas trees, not Holiday Trees.
  • Store clerks were permitted to wish customers a "Merry Christmas."
There are many theories about how December 25 was chosen as the date to observe Jesus’ birth, but the tradition is at least 1,700 years old.

In the past 100 years, Christmas practices have changed dramatically, but the fact remains December 25 is not simply a “holiday.” It continues to be a celebration of the birth of Christ, and no amount of semantic manipulation can change that fact!

November 12, 2013

Selecting Disciples

Imagine you are living 2,000 years ago, and you have been chosen as a member of a selection committee to determine who will assist Jesus in his ministry.  These are the men who will walk with Jesus, hear his sermons and witness his miracles. 

Yours is an awesome responsibility, for no one will know Jesus as well as the people you select for discipleship.

Unfortunately, none of the candidates you interview are qualified to assist Jesus.

Peter is a a blundering, clumsy and impulsive fisherman with a lurid vocabulary and a terrible temper.

James and John are impatient, ambitious and arrogant. Judas is volatile, unpredictable and dangerous.  Matthew is only interested in money.

The fact is none of these men or any of the rest of the candidates are qualified to walk with Jesus.

But these are the men Jesus chose ___ rough, crude, selfish, impulsive, quick tempered, cautious, greedy and vain. But when they became disciples of Jesus, they were changed, and they became one body in Christ.

When we walk with Jesus, we also become one body in Christ, and our guilt and shame, fears and despair, frustration and indecision are washed away and we begin a life-changing experience.

November 4, 2013

So Help Me God

On Friday, October 25, 2013, officials at the Air Force Academy announced that Academy cadets will no longer be required to include the words “So help me God” when taking their annual Honor Oath. That phrase is now optional.

“So help me God” is an expression added to an oath as a call to a moral authority to guarantee someone’s honesty. So who will guarantee the oath taker’s integrity now? 

The decision to make the Academy oath optional was the result of accusations that the reference to God was a violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

There are five references to God in the Declaration of Independence. If our Founding Fathers often referred to a Creator in that revered document, which clearly did not establish a religion, how can a reference to God in an Air Force Academy Oath now be considered a violation of the Establishment Clause?

Atheists believe references to God in official documents constitute the establishment of a church or a religion. It’s time for the ninety percent of us who believe in God to “man up,” and assert strongly and publicly, “No it doesn’t!  That position is not logical or defensible! ”