Monday, October 24, 2016

Shaken (a review)

Shaken, by Tim Tebow and contributor A.J. Gregory, is a multi-faceted book that offers more than a few surprises.

One of those surprises is that this book, Tebow's latest, is far less about the game of football than would be expected from one written by a Heisman Trophy winner, 1st-round draft pick, and former NFL player.

Instead, Tebow focuses on the emotional and spiritual impact of the game, particularly the devastating lows -- being traded by the Broncos to the Jets, only to be cut after one year; being cut by the Patriots after training camp; and again being cut after training camp a year later by the Eagles.

Tebow is refreshingly open about the effect of these disappointments. He admits that he struggled emotionally, questioning himself and his dream. In short, he is candid in explaining that his failure to be successful in the NFL shook him.

However, that failure did not shake Tebow's faith. And it is that unwavering faith and the lessons he learned from his professional struggles that form the core of this book.

Tebow explains how, despite all the media scrutiny and relentless discussions of why he'd failed, as well as the widespread speculation about his professional future, he never lost sight of who he was and what was truly important to him. He in turn explains, in a warm and engaging style, how the reader can share that same confidence in who they are no matter what life throws his or her way.

Shaken is not just for the football or sports fan. Rather, it is for every person who has faced disappointment, who has run into seemingly-insurmountable obstacles, and whose dreams have been broken.

In fact, it is a book for anyone and everyone.

I was provided a free copy of this book in return for my honest review, which I have provided here. Shaken is published by WaterBrook and released today (October 25, 2016)

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Who Has My Vote

"I've been following all the election coverage," a friend said to me late last week, "and it's all such a mess. What personalities! And the issues. So complex and so many. What issues do you think are most important?"

I explained that I vote according to one thing only, and that is absolutely true. Before I explain what that one thing is, though, I want to share a little backstory.

In May 1976, I celebrated my 18th birthday, knowing that in just 6 months I would cast a ballot in a U.S. Presidential election. My parents had always taught me that with rights came responsibility, so I was determined to be an informed voter and to make a wise decision.

As a result, I watched television and read newspapers, but there was so much to wade through that I finally made a chart that showed how each candidate -- Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford -- stood on each issue and then chose the one with whom I agreed on the majority of issues. They both seemed quietly dignified, one in a somewhat more sophisticated sort of way, so to my way of thinking, their personalities weren't an issue.

I did the same thing -- Carter and Ronald Reagan that time around -- 4 years later. In that election, personality was an issue. Both men were genial and personable yet stern and serious when the issue called for it; however, Reagan was the more charismatic of the two. While I don't remember specifically, I would imagine that my 22-year-old self was at least slightly influenced by that.

But eventually -- I don't remember exactly which election -- I changed my strategy in two ways.

First, I stopped considering the candidates' personalities and demeanor for the simple reason that they do not matter. Disagree with me? History abounds with examples, but consider just one.

Harry Truman was considered by many outside rural and small-town -- and particularly by the "movers and shakers" and the media -- to be a crude country bumpkin, unfit to be President of the United States. At the same time in history, Adolph Hitler was consistently acknowledged, even by his critics and those who were plotting his downfall, as charismatic and polished. Compare their personalities; compare their actions and "accomplishments".

Second, I stopped comparing the candidates' positions to how I stood on an issue. I continued making a chart of each candidate's stands, but instead of comparing theirs with my own beliefs, I compared them only with God's position.

By the way, I would love to say that the two -- God's position and my own -- were always the exact same. But I must admit that sometimes I get distracted by the gray areas; in reality, though, truth is not relevant and murky. Real Truth never changes and is  absolute.

Some issues were easy. God's Word is very clear in regard to the sanctity of life and, despite what some might say, same-sex relationships (yes, the New Testament does address this issue).

Other issues were not so clear. I read passages and cross-references, looked up what original Greek words were used and what those words meant, and tried as best I could to draw from all that information a bottom line, for want of better word.

There was no reason to look at any one specific issue because no one specific issue was more important in and of itself. Rather, what was important, to me at least, was which candidate's views were most closely aligned with God's view. .

That hasn't changed.

This year,  like every 4 years since I changed my strategy, one candidate stands out. His or her positions -- as indicated by their actions and their own words -- on the various issues are aligned with Godly standards far more consistently than the other candidates'. And that is the only thing that I consider when I cast my ballot.

Who is that candidate? Rather than tell you, I hope you will do your own research and that, when you discard all the chatter and focus only on the candidates' words and actions, you will have a clearer picture of where each stands in regard to Biblical truths.

An even greater hope is that on November 8 you will cast your vote for the candidate whose beliefs are most closely aligned with those truths.

I truly believe our country is at a very significant crossroad and that it is crucial that we elect a President who will put us on the right path, the Godly path.

I also believe that "not voting" is not an option. Our citizenship provides us countless benefits, but it also places on us responsibilities, the greatest of which is to vote. It is, in my opinion, irresponsible and even immoral to fail to vote for any other reason than absolute physical inability.

I realize this is a controversial issue, and I of course realize that many will disagree with what I've said here. Please share your own thoughts, even if you disagree -- but do so respectfully. Thank you!