Saturday, February 20, 2010

Not Out of the Woods Yet

"I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.

"I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself
." ~ from the text of Tiger Woods comments

This was probably the most lengthy and sincere apology I've ever seen by such a huge public figure . And I for one I’m glad Tiger Woods made his public confession today. I think he was sincere. Of course these confessions, unfortunately, are public relations necessities which are carefully calculated. They are born out of the environment created by modern media, particularly the Internet and 24-hour cable news.

But, as often is the case, celebrities do not "say the right words" -- they dribble out half-truths and self-justifications. Tiger did none of that. Hopefully his public confession will make us want to confess our “sin” and make us more inclined to be self reflective to see how our moral choices hurt others.

But the test of a confession is in what follows it—repentance (change)!

Now let's give him some space. Pray for him and his family, and let's leave the man alone. Let him live up to the promises he made this morning, and hope that he can truly recover. After all, it's not just about a man's accomplishments that matter, as much as how he responds to the great challenges of life.

I also can’t help but comment on Tiger’s statement he made concerning the following: “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes and unhappy and pointless search for security… Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.”

I believe that Tiger did not stray from his religious teachings but fell prey to Buddhism’s man-centered teachings. Rather than looking for joy from “outside” himself, such as in a grace-based relationship with Christ, Tiger lived a very self-centered, prideful life of self-sufficiency.

I hope that Tiger and his wife find a way to stay married, especially for the sake of the children. But, sadly, Tiger’s adherence to Buddhism will continue to be a hindrance. All Christians should pray for Tiger Woods that he will look “outside” of himself to help that comes from the true and living God and that he will trust in Jesus Christ alone for true forgiveness and redemption.

May God bless you all,

Robert Prater

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


A string around the finger; A note left in a conspicuous place; A single word written in the square of a date on a calendar—reminders. Let’s face it, we all need them. Our memories are not perfect. We may have been told, we may have known, but sometimes the gray matter needs jogged so we can remember what we know.

Christians need reminders, Peter wrote, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.” (2 Peter 3:1).

We need to be reminded of the great grace by which we have been saved and the commitment we made to the Lord the day we gave our lives over in obedient submission to Him (Eph. 2:8; Gal. 2:20). We need to be reminded we are no longer our own but have been bought with a price.

We need to be reminded that while the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) it is comprised of sanctified sinners. These are people who struggle and toil, who try to do good and right but don’t always succeed. They are people in need of compassion and forgiveness and encouragement and that we are numbered among them.

We need to remember that as we are constantly being pressured and pushed to fit into a certain way of thinking, that we are instead to be transformed and not conformed. This comes with a renewed mind and a renewed mind is one filled with the mind of Christ.

We need to be reminded that the world is LOST in sin, a world for whom Christ did and sin which His blood is able to cleanse. As one who wears His name I must remember that God’s saving power, the gospel, has been given to me as a great treasure. I need to be reminded that as I have been blessed I also now have a responsibility.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” (2 Peter 1:12 NIV)

Remind Me, Dear Lord
Roll back the curtain of memory now and then
Show me where you brought me from and where I could have been
Remember I'm human and humans forget
So remind me, remind me dear Lord


Monday, February 8, 2010

Much ado about nothing - The Tebow ad

Fairly predictable lefty outrage was made by feminists groups such as NOW and pro-choice groups over the Tim Tebow Super Bowl commercial ad sponsored by Focus on the Family.

A 30-second Super Bowl ad, which pro-abortion and feminist groups had feared would offer a strong pro-life, anti-abortion message, instead did what the its sponsor said it would: celebrate family and life. The ad, in keeping with the comic tone of the majority of the advertisements running during the game, featured Pam Tebow, the mother of college football standout Tim Tebow, reminiscing about the struggles she faced in seeing her future Heisman Trophy-winning son come into the world.

The ad finishes with the invitation for viewers to visit the Focus on the Family website to hear more about Pam’s story.

While Focus on the Family reportedly paid an estimated $2.5 million for the 30-second spot, the publicity the group received because of attacks from its critics was priceless. Nearly every day, feminist and pro-abortion groups introduced a new tactic in an effort to smear Focus on the Family and pressure CBS officials to change their minds on running the ad.

Amazingly, without having even previewed the ad, leaders of the Women’s Media Center urged women to sign a petition to CBS, arguing that the ad was “surrealistic” in its pro-life message. Wrongly assuming that Focus on the Family would give the abortion issue center stage, the National Organization for Women demanded that CBS pull the plug on the spot, saying that the abortion issue “has no place in the Super Bowl.”

Each year, the Super Bowl broadcast is almost as anticipated for its ads as for the game itself. Many of them tastelessly use sex and the objectification of the female body to attract attention. You'd think "women's groups" might have something to say about that. But they reserve their censorship calls for what they really care about. Again, I think the truth about what these groups are really about, were exposed.

Although they claim to be more "tolerant" than those who might not agree with them, their view is not so much "pro-choice," but "no life."

Pam Tebow decided not to have an abortion, after a doctor urged her to, when in 1987 she was pregnant and had been diagnosed with dysentery. She called Tim her miracle baby, and said that she still worries about his health. No matter what your views are on abortion, Pam Tebow had a story to share; she was advised to have an abortion, didn’t, and her son has gone on to college football record fame. The commercial was not an attempt to force someone’s views upon another, but rather the testimony of one football hero’s journey into the world.

Congratulations to CBS and the Super Bowl for the brief time-out from the game to celebrate Tebows' focus on their family.

Robert Prater


The presence of suffering and evil in the world undoubtedly presents the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith. Henri Blocher, commenting on this challenge, writes, “While it is suffering and evil that tortures human bodies, it is the problem of suffering and evil that torments the human mind.” Even the prophets in the Bible raise the question in various forms. For example, the prophet Habakkuk asked God, ―How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‗Violence!‘ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? (Habakkuk 1:2-3) Jeremiah challenged God by saying, “I would speak with you about your justice: why does the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jeremiah 12:1) The issue of suffering is taken up in the Book of Job where God’s character and moral trustworthiness that are called into question. If scripture is reliable, we may trust the goodness of God, but we will not have explanations. There apparently was never a more faithful and good man than Job, but he suffered without ever knowing why

Dr. Earl West tells of J. W. McGarvey, the greatly admired preacher and teacher of the Restoration Movement, counseling a grieving lady who lost her only son in the Civil War. She was seeking advice from the scholarly McGarvey when she asked, “Where was God when my son was dying?” Like Job’s wife, her grief and doubt led her to blame God for her sorrow. Immediately McGarvey replied, “The same place He was when His Son died.”

Ultimately, the answer to the problem of evil and suffering is not a philosophy, but a Person; not words, but the Word. The value of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is often overlooked at just this point. “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (John 1:14 New Living Translation) God “tabernacle” among us, or came to earth in a “tent” of flesh and blood, in the person of Jesus Christ. (John 1:14) Most often, in the midst of our pain, we want comfort, not explanations. This is where the presence of Christ in the lives of those who hurt is critical.

John Stott in his classic book, “The Cross of Christ,” addresses the centrality of the cross when it comes to suffering in our world. He writes:

“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. . . . In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? The God of the cross is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering. “The cross of Christ..…is God’s only self justification in such a world as ours.”

God is not indifferent to suffering. God so loved the world that He gave his only Son to experience unimaginable suffering and to die as a victim of evil and cruelty. He endured this to overcome sin, so that we might be reconciled to God and enjoy heaven where there is no suffering and death. (cf. Rev. 21:4) Also, we read all the stories of how compassionate Jesus was when encountering suffering people. He was not aloof. He cared about and shared their pain, just like He cares about your pain and problems now.

That is the God for me! I do not want to give trite or easy answers to these tough questions regarding human suffering. But in the end, when all is said, the answer to all suffering is the cross. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

And for the Christian, despite how difficult life gets, Romans 8:28 promises us that God can bring something good out of even the worst of circumstances, if we turn it over to Him. The promise doesn't say the good will outweigh the bad, or that the purpose of the bad is so there can be good - just that good can come from all situations if our lives are given to the Lord.

As long as there is life on earth, there will be pain and suffering. As long as there is life on earth, there will be injustices. We have no promise of a fair life. What we do have is a promise that God will never leave us or forsake us, that He will always be with us, even to the end of the age (Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20). And in our finite understanding, although we cannot fully understand why He does not step in and stop our suffering, we can see that what seems to matter in these few years we spend on earth is the relationship we develop with Him.

God bless,

Robert Prater