Nov 15 2011
Sexual Abuse, Penn State, and Actual Hope

 

(CLICK HERE for the iTunes link, and subscribe!  Or HERE to open the podcast in your browser.)

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Heath Evans is THE guy to talk to about the Penn State saga.  Yes, he just wrapped up a 10-year NFL career, and is now an analyst for NFL Network.  He played at a legendary football school - Auburn - and has played on Super Bowl teams, the Patriots and Saints.

But that's not the story.

Here's the story: He wants to bring hope for the victims of sexual abuse.  His foundation - click here - is for that, specifically, to bring Jesus-focused counseling and healing to those who've undergone a nightmare. 

In this podcast, Heath very frankly responds to Bob Costas' interview with Jerry Sandusky, comments on what sexual abuse can do to a life, and talks about forgiveness, and why he was angry watching the Penn State game on Saturday.

Please check out www.heathevans.org

 

Nov 15 2011
I'm Not Quite Sure What You're Saying With That There Tebow Shirt

So you buy a Tim Tebow replica NFL jersey, but you replace the "Tebow" with "Jesus".

Allrighty.

I think you're saying (?) that Jesus went 2 for 8 on Sunday, with a touchdown pass.  And he won, which is awesome.  Jesus is now 3-1 as a starter this year, but He got sacked a lot by the Lions.  

At this point, Jesus still needs to work on his throwing mechanics, but He ran the triple-option with efficiency.

I think you're saying that...?

Or you're saying you like Jesus more than Tim Tebow, specifically?  That's it -- you're saying you think Tim Tebow is getting WAY too much attention, when we should really focus on Jesus.  By invoking Tebow's team colors and number, you're making an artistic statement about misplaced societal priorities on sports!  You're pretty sly!  I like that.

Or, perhaps it's more nuanced.  You're saying that, while you don't personally know Tim Tebow, you *do* personally know Jesus, and Jesus is awesome, and the Broncos are awesome, and while they have several players professing Christianity, you're pretty sure that Tim Tebow is the best Christian on the team, and so by replacing his name with the name of Jesus, you feel that -- actually, I can't remember how I started this sentence so nevermind.

So maybe that's not it.  I got it!  You're really saying that Tim Tebow, whom you don't personally know, tries so hard to be Jesus that he actually succeeds in a way that other, lesser NFL Christians, never achieve. This is why you don't have a Saints jersey with a number "9" that says "Jesus".  Tim's kinda the best NFL Christian...?

But that's probably not it.  Sounds weird.  Maybe it's this: People often get custom jerseys with their OWN names.  So you mean... YOU are Jesus.  You're claiming you have returned, and upon your return, went to nfl.com and got an awesome custom jersey.  And what better place to make this claim, than at Mile High Stadium, where you can feed the 80-thousand with five cheesy-pretzels and two Cokes?

...but that's silly-talk!  No way you're really saying that.  You're saying you're Jesus, as in, "I am Jesus, because I am part of His people, His body, in a very real way."  And that makes sense!  

And it's true, if you belong to Christ!  So you're wearing this now, saying, "I'm Jesus to the world."  Kind of bracing to put this on your shirt, and creates high expectations, to be sure, but certainly it's less unfair to call yourself Jesus than to saddle Tim Tebow, whom you don't even know, with that kind of pressure, right?  

Think of it!  To put that kind of pressure on a fellow sinner who has so many people watching him!  Wow, THAT would be bizarre, awkward, and strange in the weirdest way.

So I salute you for not doing that.

You're not promoting silly sports hero-worship, or identifying Christ, himself, with only one particular NFL player, whom you don't actually know.  Quite the opposite.  You're saying, "I've got to be Jesus to people.  This means good news for the poor, for the outcast, for the not-so-popular, for the world's 'losers'.  The Kingdom is near, and thank God, He's allowing ME to play a role in it, turning this world's value systems upside-down, and loving the unlovely, no matter the cost. I will no longer value the things our culture says matters. I will embrace the humble, those who are not celebrated, the most vulnerable, in a manner that will not only confound the world, but roil and anger a religious establishment which exalts public acts of piety over the very heart of God for the least of these."

Smart move. Lotta pressure, but bro, I like that statement.

 

Nov 13 2011
No One But Jesus

"Joe Paterno wouldn't cover something like this up.  I know he would never do something like that."

Really?  You know him?  Really? You know his motivations, whether there's any rift between very public outward actions and inner reality?  Are you able to see into everyone so clearly, or has God just given you insight into the heart of this particular sports hero?

This isn't about Joe Paterno, but maybe it's a teachable moment. 

Maybe it's just me, and I lack the insight others have, but I can't see into anyone's heart.  Not Joe Paterno's, not Billy Graham's, not my own kids. So i'm going to stop pretending. It means I have to admit I don't know everyone's status with God, and it also means I can't wrap my own identity into that of someone else, not even a little bit.  But here's some good news:  

You can actually live like this.

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Years ago, the brilliant satirical "news" outlet , The Onion, ran a headline:  "Neighbors Say Serial Killer Seemed Like the Serial Killer Type".  Satire works, of course, because it's precisely the opposite of what we're used to: "I never thought he could do this," or "He was always nice, kinda kept to himself, I never dreamed this," or "They were involved at our church, and good people in the community, and..."  

And...we knew him, but it turns out, we didn't.  And, satire aside, this resonates with millions of people who's marriages have broken up after many years, when, in a heartbreaking moment, even spouses find they didn't really know their loved ones.  Not completely.  (I caught MSNBC's special on the BTK killer recently. He was president of his church board, had a wife, kids, regular job...and raped and strangled people for years. His own family had no inkling who he really was.)

Bizarre as that is, this isn't about expecting the worst in people, or even a warning about the "dark side" of others.  It's about one thing:  Humility about what you and I actually know.  That's all.

We don't like admitting this.  In fact, once we take a stand on a particular issue, or person, that alone is enough to provide psychological momentum to just keep going with him, all the way down, if need be.  A few years ago, I was part of

a church who's very charming pastor - and he WAS a cool guy! - was having multiple affairs.  There was denial from the congregation, a lot of let's-not-look-that-way.  When finally confronted, the pastor strongly and convincingly denied this character assassination, too... until he was handed, by the board, a DVD showing him in his car, making out with a member of the church staff, recorded by a private detective.

Busted.

Case closed?  Not for his ardent supporters.  Even though he admitted it, they knew he wasn't that kind of guy, you know.  He wouldn't do that.  Video or no, he was a man of God, and really knew his Bible, and...

Happens all the time.  My Grandma Hansen was a Republican, and she defended Richard Nixon.  He was completely innocent.  And when Nixon admitted his own guilt, it did not dissuade her. Makes me think of the words of Matt Thiessen, from "When I Go Down":

When I go down, I go down hard

And take everything I've learned

And teach myself some disregard

But Grandma Hansen wasn't that into Relient K.  

We think we know more than we do. We find our identity in someone else, and we get on board.  Trouble is, if it's not Jesus, we're getting on a train with no guaranteed destination, and a high probability of going off the rails, anyway.  And the eerie thing: The way our consciences work, once we're aboard, we can even see the thing going over a cliff, and we still don't want to jump off. We'll even re-write the story in our minds, doing whatever narrative gymnastics necessary, to make our hero, and therefore us, the real victims.

So don't buy a ticket.  Don't find your identity with anyone except Jesus.  Not even the most charismatic, wonderful-seeming, harmless, funny, charming, person you've ever met.  Not even the most learned, scripture-seeking, powerful-preaching, or stirring worship-leading person ever.  Not even your own family.  Not your children, not your dad, not your spouse.  No one, but Jesus.

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"But Brant, I happen to really look up to you, and -- "

I get this from time to time, and I'm blown-away honored, as a Z-list Minor Radio Celebrity.  But you don't deeply know me, not really, try as I might for honesty on and off the air.  I don't even know me, not my innermost motives.  (Once again, check out I Corinthians 4!) My motives are a mixed bag, always.  And yes, I do, much of the time, want to be an example of what it can look like to grow in and toward Jesus, but that's just it - follow me only on the way to Jesus.  Find your identity in Him.

Jesus is your Teacher.  No one else.  

He will not let you down.  Pay attention long enough, and I will.  

Better yet, let's walk together, humbly, toward God.  And all the while admitting we see only outward appearances, while God, and God alone, sees the heart.