Why do we bother with this?

Anyone who follows me on twitter (@drewkema) or knows me somewhat well can attest that I am quite partial to baseball in general and to the Seattle Mariners specifically. Awhile back I listed the things that the NFL did to its fans during the lockout, and today I list the things the Mariners have done to return my love:
- Won 116 games in 2001, but then lost to the Yankees in the ALCS (for the second year in-a-row, and then didn’t get back to the playoffs again.

- Lost more games than they won in 5 of the next 7 seasons, including the 2008 doozy when they became the first team ever to spend over $100 million and lose over 100 games. That means they spent about $1,000,000 for every loss! Math.

- This season, they played a stretch of 17 straight games in which they did not win one of them. They were losers seventeen times in-a-row.

- They put Miguel Batista on the mound for awhile. I'm nauseous.

- They gave an amount over $1 in return for the “services” of Carlos Silva. Even more embarrassing: it was $1 multiplied by millions.
The list could go on-and-on. Being a Mariners fan doesn't quite fit the definition of fun, and yet I’m somewhat obsessive. I still watch and I still root. I still get frustrated after every loss and excited after every win. Which brings about a question that I’ve started to ask myself a lot lately: why? Why do we as fans of any crappy team both doing this? Twins fans, you'll begin asking yourself this very soon -- that is, if you are still under the illusion that this past season is just a one year thing and haven't already. It's fun to follow a team when they're good and they win most days, but why spend valuable time watching them or reading about them when they're awful?

Two main things: baseball itself, and hope. Baseball is mostly understood. Hope is cheesy/cliché. I think both are true.

I didn’t play baseball after middle school, so I don’t have that firsthand love of playing the game, but it is still my favorite sport. I love that anticipation that you have with each wind-up and the possibilities that lie behind the next pitch. Granted, sometimes there are very few possibilities (Chone Figgins = out) and sometimes there are a great many (Dustin Ackley = anything). I love hearing the crack of the bat and then watching a stupid little ball soar through the air along with thousands of others, sometimes not sure if its going to get out of the park and other times in amazement at how far that ball might go (see: Jim Thome #596). It’s pure joy to watch Brendan Ryan play the shortstop position, leaving you right with radio announcer Rick Rizzs in saying, “hoooooooly smokes!”
There’s nothing better than those situations when all hell breaks loose during one play and all are left waiting for the dust to clear to figure out what just happened. The ball started with the center-fielder, but then it went to the catcher who threw to second base but then he tried to go back to home…wait…what? How many are out? Who scored? And then there’s the walk-off. There have been tons of crappy moments in recent Mariner history, but I will always remember in 2009 when Ichiro hit a walk-off two-run home run off of the best closer in history, Mariano Rivera. It’s moments like that that make you fall in love with baseball. Joe Posnanski nails it in this article after that fantastic last night of this year's regular season..

And hope. I can look within the Mariners' own division to find a solid example: the Texas Rangers. It took 50 years for the Rangers to win their first postseason series, but now for the second straight season they find themselves in the World Series. With the right moves (Teixiera-for-their current core), and some key things working out your way (who'd have thought Josh Hamilton would be an MVP player when he came over from Cincy? The chance was there, but the move was a huge risk at the time), a team can reach the top. It can happen with the M's. I hope it does.


Do They Owe Us?

Our long national (potential) nightmare is over – football will go on. Everyone breathe.

Over the past couple days I’ve heard numerous people say that that the commissioner and the owners of National Football League teams now owe its fans for the things that they’ve missed. Alex Marvez argued this yesterday in an article on FoxSports.com. Deciding to write on that topic makes sense, at a glance. Football fans haven’t had news outside of legal mumbo-jumbo for months and, of course, any article in support of the fans (everyone reading it) will be popular. Yeah…you guys are getting the shaft! They’re bad! You’re good! You deserve better! But really, to argue such a thing is lunacy.

Strangely, the fans created both the problem and the solution to this lockout. The problem: there’s a ton of money that needs to be split up, and how its split up will always be up for debate. People are greedy. Where does that money come from? Obsessive fans. The solution: figure it out so we don’t miss out on any of that money from the fans. But to say that the league owes the fans? Roger Goodell said that he looks forward to winning the fans back, but the question is: did the fans have any reason to stray?

You bet they did. Why don’t we take a look at the grievances NFL fans should have against this league:

-Couldn’t see those mini-camp highlights.
-Couldn’t hear about how OTA’s were going.
-Couldn’t hear about off-season trade speculation.
-People thought about that Sunday afternoon absent of football.
-The Hall of Fame Game

The NFL should be ashamed. I’m shocked the NFL isn’t giving away tickets for this season’s games due to non-existent demand.

Baseball fans are accused of being fickle for their bitterness when Major League Baseball missed most of a season and cancelled the 1994 World Series (really though, they had every right to be miffed since it isn’t crazy to say the Expos had a great shot to win it all that season, and that team was awesome). But now, football fans deserve something when the league to which they give all their money figured out how to divide it before they missed anything substantial? And who actually cares about the Hall-of-Fame Game?

What a horrible, awful couple of months. Sadly we had to miss out on training ca….wait….we had to miss football on Sunday after….wait…oh…we missed nothing.

Fans should be thanking the NFL for compacting several months’ transactions and rumors into one week and thus creating the most interesting off-season week in football history.


The Book Pile

I like books. I don't read books very fast. Therefore,  I see books I want to read before I can read them. And thus, the book list. I now share the list of the 15 books I hope to read in the next year or so:

1) Don't Call It a Comeback: The old faith for a new day -- ed. Kevin DeYoung
2) Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball -- Will Lietch
3) The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion -- Tim Challies
3) Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands -- Paul Tripp
4) Strength to Love -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
5) How Lucky Can You Be? -- Buster Olney
6) Churchill -- Paul Johnson
7) Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels -- Tullian Tchividjian
8) Quitter - Jon Acuff
9) Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself - Mark Steele
10) Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion -- Ted Kluck
11) The Hidden Life of Prayer: The Lifeblood of the Christian -- David McIntyre
12) All the Pretty Horses -- Cormac McCarthy
13) This Side of Paradise -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
14) Transforming Grace -- Jerry Bridges
15) The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism -- Kevin DeYoung


Papa John

Neither remotely interesting nor funny, yet on my television

John "Papa John" Schnatter, according to the fountain of knowledge that is Wikipedia, once sold his Chevy Camaro for $2,800 to start financing his family business, and then purchased it back in 2009 for $250,000. In 1998 he was the Ernst & Young Retail/Consumer Entrepreneur of the Year. Neat. But why is he on my television all the time?

For the life of me, I do not understand the Papa John's marketing strategy. The commercials feature him talking about his favorite pizza and how he started his company, and then they end with him doing some incredibly awkward little laugh after he does the "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza" slogan, as if to say, "man, that slogan that I made for my pizza company is funny! And I'm pretty funny too! More commercials! With me!" And then John pushes his favorite pizza, which is: pepperoni, sausage and four cheeses. That's the best you can do, John? Pepperoni, sausage, and four cheeses? A. Four cheeses isn't necessary. It just isn't. Only two cheeses contribute to a pizza: mozzarella (obviously) and maybe parmesan (if that's what you're all about). B. Breaking some new ground with pepperoni and sausage there, copernicus. C. Not one interesting ingredient? (Hint: mine is banana peppers). 

If I was Papa John's, I'd spend 30 or 60 seconds talking about the Garlic Butter cup that's placed in the pizza box. That is out of this world. Papa John? I'm just not sure why he's there, and he's making me uncomfortable. Yeah, it's your company and you started it up, but that has to be the pinnacle of self-absorption to be like, "hey, I'm going to be our main marketing tool!" Just talk about your pizza and your Garlic Butter, which is awesome.


The Difference

Kenneth Richard Samples, in Without a Doubt:

It has been said that 'Christianity is Christ.' This statement means that Christ is the center and heart of the historic Christian faith. The gospel message is all about the person, nature and work of Jesus Christ. In contrast, if Buddha or Confucius, for example, were taken away from their respective religions, the religions would retain the essence of their moral instruction. However, take the person of Christ away from Christianity and nothing distinctive remains.

What Hath Happened Here

I try not to allow myself to use my radio show or this blog as just an outlet for my whining. There are enough bloggers and radio hosts (very successful ones) that do such things. However, I need to use this space to really sort out what all took place last night.

- The championship game turned into the equivalent of a girls' JV basketball game. I wouldn't say this out of respect for the chicas, but several individuals of the female variety agreed with me. So, I guess its ok then? What an awful game. Painful to watch, devoid of excitement or anything resembling flow. Neither team looked like they cared about running an offense or setting what those interested in the game know as a "screen." It's like they got into the 70,000 seat football stadium with the raised court and concluded, "screens and rolls just will not work in this environment."

- I would love to go to Reliant Stadium to watch a football game. It looks gorgeous and very very impressive. I have zero desire to go watch a basketball game in the same environment. Even if I lived in Houston, I think I'd rather travel all the way up to The Barn (Williams Arena, on the University of Minnesota) to watch a game than go to Reliant. I wasn't at the game, so I can't really say first-hand whether or not the game atmosphere was awful, but I experienced something similar on a much smaller scale in high school. Up until my senior year, we had played games in a 'cracker-box' gymnasium. It was hot, cramped and falling apart. And it was awesome for a big basketball game. You could feel it. Excitement was abound...it was jam packed and it was loud. We moved into the bright, shiny new gymnasium my senior year. It lacked that great game feel. I feel like a final four game at the Jon Huntsman Center (a perfect old-school basketball arena) or even an NBA arena would have that huge basketball game feel. The football stadium is difficult for players to shoot in and its just awkward.

- After the game, Jim Gray interviewed Bill Walton on Westwood One. I thought Bill Walton couldn't be more annoying when I was young. Then he left. And I missed him. I don't think I'm alone. Hearing the silly and over-the-top (although sometimes incredibly honest and accurate) things that come from his mouth was delightful. "Goodness, gracious sakes alive" and "you have to be sad for the game of basketball tonight." Right on, Bill. Horrrrrrrrrendous.

- I maintain that players should either go to college for at least 3 years or skip the thing altogether. The major programs are getting killed by very talented players that stay for a year or two and then move on to the NBA to be mediocre. There are exceptions, such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, but for the most part, there are no longer great TEAMS. There are great players on teams, but the teams themselves are weak, as we've seen in this tournament. And the weak teams are creating a very sub-par product. The play has been relatively ugly for the most part, even if the games have been close.

- Jim Nantz lost nearly all respect that many had for him as an announcer. The two canned and prepared lines were abysmal. Top Dogs in 2011? Best in show? Are you kidding me? He spent two days thinking of that. Thank goodness for announcers like Al Michaels, who, when asked how he comes up with catchphrases would say that he has no catchphrases and doesn't think of lines to say beforehand. Everything is spontaneous. One of the worst things a sportscaster can be is cute. Jim Nantz was trying to be cute. It was ugly.

Ok, that's better. Thankfully all of this doesn't really matter. The sun came up today, it's going to be mid-50's in Minneapolis (HEAT WAVE!), baseball is starting up, and, oh, right, it is just sports. All is well.


Relax and Rejoice

When talking about sanctification in today's church, "relax" isn't the first thing that typically comes up. But really though, we should.

That link is to a post by Tullian Tchividjian from earlier this week. It was a necessary reminder for me and it is definitely worth a read by you.

Christianity is not first about our getting better, our obedience, our behavior, and our daily victory over remaining sin–as important as all these are. It’s first about Jesus! It’s about his person and subsitutionary work–his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, session, and promised return. We are justified–and sanctified–by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. So that even now, the banner under which Christians live reads, “It is finished.”

Tchividjian is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and a grandson of Billy Graham.

Being Bad

Ichiro Suzuki with his first swing of 2011 (Seattle Mariners via Twitter)

I love the Seattle Mariners. For this reason, I think I've become an extremely cynical person, but I can't just stop loving them. There are a lot of times when I have to check myself and make sure that my love for Jesus is even greater than this...so much so that I can't just 'quit loving Him' -- to make sure that love is just a part of who I am. Well, on a smaller scale, that's how it is with the M's. The image above of Ichiro taking his first cut of this year's spring training while top prospect 2B Dustin Ackley (13) looks on conjured up all sorts warm, fuzzy feelings. Last season, the Mariners lost 101 games. Translation: they're really bad. I watched them on TV a few times and hated it, and afterward I was thankful I didn't blow a huge amount on an MLB.tv subscription. When Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez wasn't on the mound, there was nothing enjoyable about watching my favorite team play. It's an awful feeling. 
Living in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I'm surrounded by fans of the Twins, who would be considered the class MLB organization. Because of this, they were in the postseason (it's been 10 years since my favorite team was in the postseason), but they played the Yankees and, true to form, got swept. I attended the first postseason game, and a Yanks fan sat just behind us. Twins fans tried to get him worked up by shouting things like "Yankees Suck," which, as profound and clever as that is, didn't really affect him. He was accused, falsely, I think, of pouring a beer on someone and was almost kicked out of the game, but did return just in time to see Mark Teixiera earn his $20 million paycheck with a go-ahead home run just inside the right field pole. He was loving life. The thoughts are, man, it must be great to be a Yankees fan. They can have all the best players on their team. Would it be though? I'm not so sure. 

Winning is always fun, but it's a lot like weather. The first spring warmth in Minnesota feels infinitely better to its citizens than any good weather in a place such as Phoenix, where its commonplace. Winning the World Series for the San Francisco Giants was elation. Winning the World Series for the New York Yankees is expected. How fun is that? "Yep, we won again, business as usual. Next season, please." I looked at this Yankees fan, and the only thought I had is that it's just so easy for them. How fun can that really be? 

It's extremely frustrating to be a Mariners fan. Three years ago, the M's lost over 100 games. The next year, they won 85, sparking some hope in the fanbase. Then, last year, they lost 100 again. This year feels like a rehash of the 2009 pre-season...doom and gloom about the Mariners and how bad they are and how hopefully they can turn it around. Rooting for a bad team blows, and yet, I enjoy it, because there's still that hope. There's still that hope that, like the Giants did last year, the pieces will come together for a magical run. The hope that we can ride the Cy Young winner's arm, get a breakout from young guys like Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Ackley, and sneak into the postseason. Winning isn't expected, but I truly think it's coming. And when it does, it'll be complete elation. I may be happier than any Yankees fan could possibly be. I stick with them despite being bad, because soon we'll be good, and it'll make it that much better.


Dirty Snow Drifts

I'm tired of you
 That point has come in the winter. I snapped...I about went ballistic. All my life I have lived in cold weather climates in the northern United States, so it's something I'm somewhat accustomed to, but it hits me harder each year, and it hits harder in the Twin Cities than in Montana. That point when I'm driving in my car and I'm just watching the dirty snowdrifts on the side of the road and my car will be warm in like 10 minutes when I'm at my destination and crap there's a pothole I just hit and speaking of my car its covered in highly-corrosive salt after I washed it a week ago and what does grass look like again and brr it's so freaking cold in this state.
The dirty snowdrift ranks quite high on my list of least-favorite things. Somewhere between tuna and Robert Horry. Snow is beautiful when it falls, and, in fact, I think the snow falling outside my window right now is beautiful even with the mood that I am in. But that snowdrift that is mixed with road particles and sand and car parts and garbage? Melt. And melt soon. 

But, the redeeming factor about this moment is the moment that immediately follows. I see the grassy green outfield. I smell the clippings and the barbecue. I taste the sunflower seeds and feel the sun giving me cancer. I hear the crack of the bat. Spring will be coming, folks. Spring will be coming. 

Also, yes, I know, I did choose to live here. 


Marketing Jesus

Mark Galli of Christianity Today nails it:

Along the way—in sermons, in church slogans, and implicit in special evangelistic or missional events—are the promises. The therapeutic: Things will go better with Jesus. The practical: You'll find ideas for life. The transformational: You will be all that you can be. And whether the church is draped in the Disney-like efficiency of the megachurch or the counterculture of hipster rebellion, coolness is often an implicit part of the mix.

This should not shock or alarm us. Immersed as we are in a Super Bowl culture, what else is a church supposed to do? We think we have a "product" (albeit head and shoulders above any other product) to "sell." And we think we have to use good marketing if we're going to get people to buy into Jesus. Though I'm clearly no fan of this approach, let's face it: it often works. Many people come to faith and join churches by such means (even if they then have to spend years unlearning what such a method implies: that faith in Christ is a deal or transaction). So while I poke fun, I don't think it wise to condemn a method a gracious God is willing to stoop to use.
But he does believe there is a better way:

For one, we can stop marketing the faith as if it were a product in the marketplace. We can stop thinking it our job to convince or cajole people.
This barely scratches the surface of what he said, so really you should just read it all. A very insightful piece.


Give Me Something More Practical

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Several days ago the pastor of a local church spoke in our daily chapel at Northwestern College. It was one of the finest messages we've heard so far, if one is putting the messages on a scale from 'good' to 'bad,' which you tend to do when you've been in chapel every day for two and a half years. This speaker was fired up, and his passion and energy were contagious. His message was rooted in the truth of Jesus Christ as savior, and he finished with a great challenge for all of us. Best of all, though, was that he had a story. The theme of the week in chapel was 'story week,' where speakers came in and shared the stories of their faith journey or the testimonies of someone else. This speaker had his own story which included calling out to Jesus while DJ'ing (is that real verb?) at a rave, only to have a man come up to him minutes later telling him Jesus was his Lord and Savior. That's powerful. That's the real deal. That's the work of Christ. I love that.

But what if, say, I grew up with two fantastic Christian parents, in a Christ-centered home (usually...I'm not sure if any real home on this earth can always be completely Christ-centered), and have been brought up with the solid instruction of Christian schools and churches? Charles Spurgeon asks me, "Believer, do you recollect the day when your fetters fell off?" I think, yes, I do know that my 'fetters' (Spurgeon talks real cool) have fallen off, but do I remember the 'instant' that that happened? I remember several times when I feel as though I've really come back to Christ and been awakened from complacency, but I don't have that instant, and I feel like, as you go through the uphill struggle which John Bunyan's Christian goes through, you tend to forget certain things. There are certain words that I hear so often and read so often, they lose their meaning, and it is tragic. One such word is trust.

Growing up around constant Christian instruction, you start to want new ways to go about things. The simple scriptures is not quite enough anymore, as, well, I've already heard that time and time again, and 'it's not working.' Just writing it makes me feel foolish, but this is the honest thought process. Proverbs says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart," and I think, 'yeah, that verse again, ok, I've heard that one. That's cool and everything, but let's get to something more practical.' More practical? What's more practical than trusting? When I think about the problems and the sin and stress that plagues me and discourages me, how much of its influence can I attribute to a lack of trust in Jesus Christ? At the heart, that's essentially what happens with sin. It is no longer fully trusting in the Jesus as Savior.

And, at this point in life, when the future is very much up in the air, I think to myself, 'well yeah, I'm trusting in Jesus for that.' And when I get stressed, I think a large part of that stress is the refusal to trust in Jesus in the everyday decisions that I make and the everyday killing of sin. How am I to trust in Him with the big things, when I so often neglect to trust Him in the smaller things.

If anything is to be fully trusted, it is the Lord. First in the small things, then in the bigger things? Don't let the commonplace command simply to 'trust' be overlooked.

Life is So Hard Sometimes

This dude might need to go read Job or Habakkuk. Life can just be so very very hard, and he found that out yesterday. My heart cries out for him...nachos and popcorn are definitely things that cannot be replaced. They are priceless.


You know that guy that you thought was impossible to like much less, but then something happens that makes the impossible possible?



Something about Jersey Shore is redeemable (apparently).

“The Situation” is rigorously committed to, well, doing his laundry. He exemplifies disciplined pursuit of things that truly matter to him. Sadly, these ends are not ultimate; they are trivial and in many cases sinful. This does not obscure the point, however; for Christians, profitable rebuke can show up in the unlikeliest of places. If Mike Sorrentino can devote himself rigorously to what he sees as important, why do I struggle to do the same, when I am captured by Christ and given all things in him (Rom. 8:32)?

-- Owen Strachan
If you've ever watched the show, you've probably thought to yourself, "hmm...I wonder what Snooki would do if she were president for a day." Thankfully, Snooki answered that so you don't have to go on wondering about such a question. Whether or not she'll be running, probably with John McCain, against the likes of Romney, Palin and Bachmann, no one really knows.


I Stumbled Upon It

And you thought pop music was complex and original...

Music that is Good to Listen To

I will be the first to admit that when it comes to music, I can be a little out-of-the-loop. I find out about sweet bands about a year after their good album is released. However, thanks to my friendship with morning show co-host David Wonders, I'm finding out about delightful music as it comes out. 

The latest? The Civil Wars. Yesterday, they released a new album, "Barton Hollow." Relevant Magazine has the scoop with an interview. I haven't been able to listen to a lot of the album, but the tracks I've listen to are just good, good stuff, including the title track, Barton Hollow. They've got a good folksy sound, and while the music isn't "blatantly Christian," the band members are Christians. As my professor said, "it's just some Christian peeps havin' fun crankin' out some tunes." This is true. Fun music.

More Words! And Stuff!

As a senior at Northwestern College, I've begun working on my senior project, which is producing a morning show which will air three days a week on Northwestern Media's HD-2 station in Minneapolis. Since I am on the show, much of the content we discuss would be appropriate fodder for this blog as well, so I'll be posting a lot of the things from our show right here on this blog. That means more words and stuff, which is just neat.


Tim Tebow and Sports Fanhood

A good friend of mine sent me a link yesterday morning. I always enjoy links from this friend, and this one was sent to me, I think, with the main intent being to get a rise out of me. The subject of this link: Tim Tebow. Success for her. The link was to a site called "Always Think Positive," and at that point I knew I was in for something very special.

A little context. Tim Tebow is all that is man. Not only is he all that is man, he is all that is the Christian man. Timmy will throw a 60-yard touchdown pass, run for two more, head to New York to grab the Heisman trophy, swing down to the Philippines to circumcise kids, and still make it home for dinner with mom. After dinner, he and mom will film an award-winning anti-abortion ad. Exaggerated? Well yeah. He won't accomplish these tasks within the course of a day, however he'll surely take care of them within the span of just a few years. Tim's shot appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated and you immediately notice the eye black: "Phil" on the right side, "4:13" graces the left. The guy was a one-man wrecking machine at the University of Florida, winning the National Championship for the Gators, and since he left, their offense has been in disarray. It didn't stop there. Tebow was drafted in the first round by Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos, and before he even took a snap, he led the league in jersey sales. Tim started several games for the Broncos at the end of 2010, and after many doubted he had the ability to succeed at the pro level, he threw for 654 yards and rushed for 227 more for Denver. And he did it in the name of Christ. He is the Christian athlete, not only boldly standing for his faith, humbly serving and keeping from the moral corruption that envelops many athletes, but also succeeding. He was the best. And he loved God. So why am I not a huge Tim Tebow fan? Why am I, a Christian fan of sports, not a huge fan of Tim Tebow? Why have I not purchased his jersey yet? Am I what you would call a "Tebow-hater?" Absolutely not, but it seems as though the lack of my absolute adoration for him earns such a tag. 

But why is this? Is it because I happen to be a Tennessee Volunteers fan and he demolished my Vols on too many occasions for the rival Gators? I guess that's part of it. But he should be the type of person that I look past the uniform to cheer for the man, right? Well, then, is it jealousy? Am I envious of Tim and all that he has done? That's not the answer either. Tim is successful, and good for him. I don't get jealous of every person that is successful. I go nuts watching someone like Felix Hernandez pitch, and he hasn't spoken a word about being a follower of Christ and, unless I'm missing some article about him (which, I can assure you, I'm not), I don't think he does any circumcising or missions work. Should I not care as much about someone like Felix and be a bigger fan of Tim, simply because he's a better guy and more worthy of my fanhood? 

In short: no. There appears to be a misconception among fans that athletes are in categories: "the good guys" (Tebow, Tony Dungy - an athlete, sort of, and Josh Hamilton - but he's a little dirty with those tattoos, and screwed up that one time), "the bad guys" (Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Dennis Rodman), and everyone else. The truth is, Tim Tebow is no better than any of these other athletes. Tiger Woods and Tim Tebow are both just as in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. 

I agree with Ted Kluck, who writes in The Reason for Sports: A Christian fanifesto, "I can relate to guys who feel angry, nervous and self-conscious, while I have a harder time relating to Super Bowl champions for whom things appear to be going incredibly well." I don't absolutely adore Tim Tebow partly because I can't relate to the spotlessness with which he is often portrayed. I would consider myself a bigger fan of Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, and a big reason for that is that he screwed up. He struggles with something that I struggle with (and everyone struggles with): sin. But he's incredibly open and honest about it, much more-so than we often are. In addition to that, he humbly goes about his work. No one hour specials on ESPN, no commercials 'thanking' his doubters and no award-winning ads. If you want to look it up, you can find his testimony. But otherwise, Josh Hamilton puts a lot more importance on his relationship with Christ and his mortification of sin than on hitting bombs (which he does...often).  Hamilton doesn't make the game bigger than God Himself.

Do I hate Tim Tebow? No, not at all. Quite the opposite. I admire what he's done, and if he becomes successful and his success spreads the Gospel, then that's wonderful and praise God. Many legitimately hate Tim Tebow just because of his beliefs, while they decry other athletes who don't 'do things the right way.' Just the fact that he is hated because of Christ (Luke 21:17) is pretty cool. More of us should probably be hated by society because of Jesus Christ. I am less a fan of the hype and adoration surrounding Tim Tebow, which he might have nothing to do with; however, he also, by all indications, doesn't seem to shy away from. 

And I didn't really appreciate his running all over my Volunteers.