By Jay Rogers
Published December 22, 2007
- ABC’s Nightline recently featured a special report on Christian athletes featuring Philadelphia Eagle’s defensive end Reggie White.
- M magazine ran a cover story on L.A. Dodger’s Hershiser, Butler, Strawberry and Carter – dubbing them “God’s All Stars.”
Suddenly, the American media seems to be interested in the spiritual life of some of the most well known superstars in sports. Some journalists have raised criticism and some have asked, “Is the playing field the place for preaching the gospel?”
Even so, evangelical Christianity has become a dominant force in the sport’s world. Baseball, hockey, football and basketball each have their own ministries dedicated to evangelizing the players and ministering to the spiritual needs of the players on every team.
For the last six years Athlete’s International Ministries has sponsored a Prayer and Praise conference in Phoenix, Arizona. According to executive director Larry Kerychuk, “Over 2,700 athletes and family members have been touched by this ministry.” The Phoenix ’91 conference featured well known sports personalities such as Rosey Grier, Ernie Shavers and Meadowlark Lemon, as well as Chicago Bears’ Mike Singletary, KC Chiefs’ Christian Okoye, L.A. Lakers’ A.C. Green and Philadelphia Eagles’ Reggie White.
Greg Ball, National Director for Champions for Christ, was formerly a full-contact karate kick boxer. Now he ministers to some of the most well known sports personalities in the country. According to Ball, “About seven years ago, there were so many athletes on university campuses giving their lives to the Lord that we saw a need for these men to be discipled, trained and given the real message of the kingdom of God. Many of them have now become effective preachers.”
Ball tells the story of how he and some other campus evangelists led A.C. Green to the Lord while he was a student at Oregon State. “A.C. was reached at the university level. He was discipled as a part of a local church there. As he went into the NBA playing with the Lakers, there was another church in the L.A. area which was networked with the church at Oregon State. It was a big adjustment to make but because of the church, he was able to continue to grow.”
Professional sports have always produced fiery preachers – partially due to the similarity of discipline required in training the body of an athlete to the type of spiritual training needed to be an effective witness for Christ. In the past, baseball players such as Billy Sunday and Tony Kubek were outspoken proponents of the faith. Yet they suffered ridicule by the press and were called “opportunists.”
Today, because of the input of more mature leadership provided by ministries such as Athletes International, Christian ballplayers have been getting more respect from the press and the television media. Although more widely accepted than ever before, outspoken Christian athletes are still criticized for their public preaching or their display of faith on the field. Some are merely letting their character, performance and drive on the field do the preaching. Off the field they are letting their lifestyle and character be a witness for Christ.
According to Dodger’s pitching ace Orel Hershiser, “I don’t preach. I have to play on this team, with these guys, so I just don’t do that. But I do let my pitching be an example and an influence for Jesus Christ.”
Some Christian superstars have even been criticized for their aggressive style of play, being thought of as a contradiction to the meek obedience taught by Jesus Christ. Says Philadelphia’s Eagle Reggie White, “A lot of people look at what I do and say, ‘That’s not Christian.’ A lot of people think that being a Christian means you’ve got to be a wimp. I think Christians should be the toughest athletes in the world. I think we should go all out at all times.”
L.A. Laker A.C. Green echoes this belief: “God wants his people to be warriors – to be battlers and fighters. And I don’t mean waging war or getting into fights … but a fight to get the rebounds and to score points. It’s that spirit of might that moves me. I don’t start anything, but I won’t back down, either.”
But whether they are criticized for preaching or their style of aggresive play, these men and women are living faithfully in simple obedience to Christ’s command: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
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Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
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Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
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With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
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