Tag Archive | Jackie Robinson

Unleash The Greatness Within YOU!

 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them:
because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:4

  • Born into privilege, “Copperknob” (as he came to be nicknamed because of his red hair) was born into British aristocracy. Spending much of his childhood being raised by people other than his parents, he was independent and rebellious, and although an obviously smart child, made poor grades in school. Suffering from a speech impediment he worked hard to overcome, his life was a series of successes and setbacks.

Sir_Winston_S_ChurchillAfter years of public service, and suffering from a severely damaged reputation, he went into exile. However, with a world in crisis, he returned to the public eye, and became Prime Minister of Great Britain at the age of 65, leading his nation through its darkest hours and on to victory against the Nazi regime. He famously said…

…We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

He was Winston Churchill.

  • In 1919, while segregation was alive and well in the South, a boy was born to the daughter of a former slave. After the boy’s father left when he was just a few months old, the boy’s mother Mallie moved, with her five children, to California.

Jackie_Robinson_1945As Mallie’s boy grew, he experienced the racial hatred still aflame, even in California, in the 1920’s. However, Mallie’s example of diligence, hard work, and kindness, as well as her faith, lighted the way for her son. Overcoming the hurdles of a racially divided nation, Mallie’s boy worked hard to become a fine athlete, excelling in multiple sports including football, track, basketball, and baseball. Although he had minor brushes with authorities, the Christian values instilled in him by a good mother and other Godly adult role models kept him on the (fairly) “straight and narrow”.

After a period of playing semipro football, as well as serving honorably in the United States Army, “Jackrabbit” — as he came to be nicknamed — accepted an offer to play baseball in the Negro National League. His exceptional ability on the diamond attracted the attention of an older gentleman…

Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“Jackrabbit” Jackie Roosevelt Robinson overcame the obstacles of hatred and racism to become the first African-American to play major league baseball, receiving awards and accolades, a world championship, and the Medal of Freedom (posthumously awarded to him in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan).

We all have untapped potential. We all have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. It doesn’t matter if you are born into wealth and prestige, or come from humble beginnings — we all have the potential for greatness.

“How is that?” you say.

It just stands to reason that, if He is great and greatly to be praised, and we are made in His image, we have the potential for greatness as well. So what does it take to unleash that greatness? What does it take to tap into that untapped potential?

It takes courage. Venturing into the unknown takes courage. It is no small thing to go into uncharted territory, personally or professionally. Churchill had the weight and fate of Britain on his shoulders. Jackie Robinson was breaking down the wall of racism in professional sports at a time when vitriol and hate against people of color were in full swing. It takes courage to go down a path no one has traveled, where the path is neither clear nor well-lit.

It takes commitment. Although he faced criticism and opposition, Churchill was committed to his nation, and the principles of freedom that Britain stood for. Jackie Robinson had to be committed enough to, not just baseball, but the vision that Branch Rickey had, that he was willing to look beyond the physical and emotional abuse, threats, and ridicule he incurred for the sake of an ideal bigger than he was. Being committed to your calling is vital to see your vision through to the end.

It takes Christ. Sure, there are plenty of people out there with lots of success who do not believe the tenants of Christ. But in the end, only what is done for Christ will last. Only what is done for God will stand the test beyond time, and still matter when the hands of time have stopped.

We are put on this earth for but a moment, compared with the eternity that awaits us… it’s best that we don’t waste that moment. God has called you to something bigger than yourself, but you’ve got to make the decision to get into the game if you are going to make a difference. In the words of Jackie Robinson…

Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.

In 1997, amidst much fanfare, Jackie Robinson’s number 42 was retired from major league baseball.

When eternity looks back on the race you have run, will your number be retired?

Will you fight the good fight of faith?

Will the sound of your accomplishments echo through eternity?

Will you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant“?

Free At Last

Truth

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe, with all of my heart, the quote above. The logical converse of this truth is that, without the truth, we cannot be free. Today, I am writing to you in the interest of truth and freedom.

First of all, I would like to begin by saying that we, the American people, are the victims of fraud on an astronomical scale. Over the past 6 years, we have witnessed…

  • The national debt increase from 7 trillion to 18 trillion dollars (and rising);
  • An absolute debacle in foreign affairs, leaving us to restart a war that had already been won;
  • The murder of our Ambassador in Benghazi;
  • The beheading of American citizens by ISIS;
  • The unprecedented betrayal of Israel, one of our greatest allies;
  • The dismissal of 12 of our nation’s top military leaders;
  • The unemployment rate of African-American youth skyrocket to its highest point in history;
  • The elevation of street thugs to heroes. While my generation witnessed men of character like Jackie Robinson, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King, Jr., this current generation has been subjected to the toxic ramblings of race-peddlers, always quick to show up at the site of any potential racial tension, always quick to throw gasoline on the fire.
  • Narrative being elevated above real news. The “media elite” and left-wing press in this nation regularly editorializes what it wants a story to be, instead of the reality of the event in question;
  • A Congress that refuses to hold the President accountable for unlawfully acting against the Constitution;
  • A former Secretary of State who says that we should “empathize with our enemies”.

To empathize means to “think as they think”.

WRONG!

Jesus said “love your enemies”, meaning that love works in order to change them. If our government is going to empathize with anyone, it needs to empathize with…

  • The American middle-class that is being taxed to death while losing income;
  • Those without jobs who are desperately looking;
  • Our underpaid, under-appreciated, and under-supported military;
  • The African-American community that needs jobs, encouragement, and hope instead of empty rhetoric, violence, and death in their communities.

While America has its fair share of problems, America is NOT a racist nation. As someone who grew up in the segregated South during the 50’s and 60’s, I am personally sick and tired of allegations that portray our great nation and our fine people as being something less than what they are. I have witnessed the sweeping changes that have taken place over the last 60 years. I have been a long-time supporter of civil rights, and was present on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama when Dr. King spoke to the crowds there during the Selma-to-Montgomery march. I heard the story of how my father took a stand for a colored friend (and veteran) who could not get a driver’s license simply because he was black. I was there when it cost something to take a stand, and know first-hand what that looks like, so I am deeply troubled when race-hustlers and religious phonies take isolated incidents and try to use them to divide our great nation. I’ve grown weary of a biased news media and White House leadership that are trying to invent crises as a way of grabbing more money and power. Our military as a whole was held up to scorn and ridicule by the media because of the actions of a few renegade soldiers at Abu-Ghraib. Now, we are witnessing those in the highest seats of power attacking our first-responders… the police and national guard. To watch New York City Mayor DeBlasio throw the NYPD “under the bus” was sickening. While there are officers who do things that are questionable or wrong, the vast majority of law-enforcement personnel are men and women of integrity, and I have known, been friends with, and presided over the funerals of such brave public servants. The same criticism can be said of any occupation, including politicians. If I could, I would say to the good mayor, “Mr. DeBlasio, should the people of New York City judge you based on the lack of integrity (or criminal activity) of other politicians around our nation? With no evidence to support an assertion of guilt on your part, would it be fair to lump you in with such names as Boss Tweed, Spiro Agnew, and Rod Blagojevich?”

What I have found is this…

Praying2America is still a great country. A recent study of racism in the world revealed that, out of the 50 participating nations, the United States is one of the least racist nations in the world. In Alabama — the center of the Civil Rights movement in the ’60’s — the Crimson Tide is being quarterbacked by Blake Sims, an African-American. I have followed the career of Dr. Ben Carson, a brilliant neurosurgeon and author. According to Forbes, 7 of the 8 most powerful celebrities in entertainment and sports are African-American, including Beyonce, LeBron James, and Oprah. In our own city (which has had its fair share of racial tension in the past), I’ve watched our children’s sports leagues operate, not on the basis of race, but ability. The church I have pastored for over 35 years is racially integrated. In fact, I have been told by people of color that they do not want to be referred to as “African-American members”, but simply “members”.

Yet, many questions trouble us all these days, and the recent deaths of men such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin —and subsequent violence and racial division — do not represent the best of America. Certainly, these men were all too young to die, yet I am troubled by the narrative in the public arena.

In the case of Michael Brown, a young man is dead, and a young police officer has lost his career and the life he would have had. Yet, the narrative in the media seeks to make a hero out of someone who was not, and tries to give meaning to a story that is, quite honestly, a tragic moment in time. And now, we have the symbolic gesture of “hands up – don’t shoot” being parrotted by news personalities, sports figures, and politicians… a gesture that has become a rallying point, based on a false narrative (proven false by autopsy reports and witness testimony).

So, while Ferguson, Missouri burns, and the race-hustlers attempt to extend their 15 minutes of fame, spreading their poisonous ideology to other cities to incite more unrest, a darker, more sinister question is hiding in the shadows: Why are the news cameras not rolling on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, and other large urban areas in which blacks are killing blacks, whites are killing whites, Hispanic youth are losing their way, and suicide is reaching epidemic proportions? Where is the concern by the American media for the native Americans living in squalor on neglected reservations?

The problem rests in our homes, churches, and communities. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child… it takes a mother and a father investing their time and their lives in their children. It takes parents who will raise up their children to honor God, love others, respect authority, and do what is right.

Are today’s heroes to be poor street kids involved in petty crimes whose lives end far too soon?

No. Life and death must have more meaning. I think of Medgar Evers, who fought for civil rights, and believed the Gospel of Jesus. Here was a hero who was assassinated in his own driveway, but, by his death, affected civil rights around the world.

What about Rosa Parks?

What about Martin Luther King, Jr., and his belief in non-violence?

What about the courage exhibited in the life of baseball great Jackie Robinson?

Girls2There are thousands of young people of all races whose names are never called. One such young lady was Shirley Martin, the first African-American student in my high school in Alabama. She faced enormous odds, yet won a small victory for equal rights. Shirley gave up her head-cheerleader, homecoming queen status for the cause of racial integration and equality. Books will not be written about her. You won’t find her listed in Wikipedia. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will never invoke her name. Yet she, and so many like her, are true heroes.

As sad as their stories may be, those who break the law and disrupt society are not heroes, whether they are young, old, law enforcement, civilians, famous ministers, or notorious personalities. A person who incites others to riot based on false pretense and a manufactured narrative is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, a charlatan, and a coward. Heroes do real work, make real sacrifices, inspire real promise and hope, and champion real progress.

It is time to join hands and take a stand for truth. It is time for us to lower our hands in surrender, and reach out to help someone different than ourselves. It is time that we reject the shrill voices of hate and division, and allow the words of Dr. King to resonate in our hearts…

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

It is time to be free at last.

The Cross and the Ballot

UTDDOA2

This week, we have the great privilege to exercise our rights as Americans and vote to elect our next leaders. As citizens, it is an honor to be able to choose the leadership that will serve our country for the next few years. As Christians, it is a solemn responsibility that none of us should take lightly. Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh once said…

“This is a frightening statistic…
More people vote in ‘American Idol’ than in any US election.”

Whether Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Tea Party, or any other affiliation we may have politically, as citizens of Heaven, we have a responsibility — first and foremost — to make sure that our vote reflects our commitment to Christ. Baseball great Jackie Robinson once said…

“I guess you’d call me an independent, since I’ve never identified myself with one party or another in politics. I always decide my vote by taking as careful a look as I can at the actual candidates and issues themselves,
no matter what the party label.”

With issues like abortion, gay marriage, racism, sexism, environmentalism, support of Israel, religious freedom, and immigration as hot button topics, as Christians, a good question to ask ourselves would be “How would Jesus VOTE?”, and cast our ballot based on His values, regardless of the platform of our party of choice. I recently saw a great quote on social media. It said…

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it is accepted by a majority.” ~ Unknown

In an atmosphere of political correctness, many in the church have become swayed by popular opinion and the desire to be “relevant”. While finding some common ground with those we are trying to reach is important, we cannot do so at the expense of our testimony. As Christians, we should strive to be Christ-like. But being like Jesus does not being accepting of that which God calls sin. Being like Jesus means being in the world and not of it. It means having the ability to be honest with those with whom we disagree without compromising our convictions. It means checking our egos, our popularity, and our pride at the door, and following in His steps. It means heeding the call of Christ from Mark 8:34 when He said…

“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Sure… it is always much easier to “go with the flow”, than to swim upstream, but as believers in Him, that is our call.

To be righteous… at the expense of being “relevant”.

To stand… when the rest of the world bows to the idol.

To follow the true and living God… even if that path leads us through the lions’ den.

To boldly proclaim “I love Jesus”… when everyone around you is screaming “Crucify Him!”

What will your vote say about you? Will your vote reflect Jesus?

I hope so.