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  • A Second Chance for Pete?

    Feb 25, 2011

    This week the DVD, “4192: The Crowning of the Hit King,” was released—chronicling the story of Pete Rose, and his all-time hits record within major league baseball.  As I listened to the radio story driving home from work, the conversation—as it typically does whenever his name comes up in public—quickly became more about Rose’s place in baseball’s Hall of Fame and less about the DVD. As people on both sides of the argument chimed in on whether or not Pete Rose deserved a second chance, I couldn’t help but realize some of the similarities between how sports and the church handle these types of issues.

    Sports, like the church, are filled with stories about second chances. Looking at the sporting landscape today you see numerous players who have been given a second chance, even when so many have said that they didn’t deserve one. Talented players such as:  Michael Vick, Josh Hamilton, and Tiger Woods each found themselves in the public spotlight where they had not only embarrassed themselves, but also the sport they represented.

    But then there’s Rose—an athlete who succeeded and poured his heart out on the field, yet after making a mistake, was banned from baseball indefinitely—with no second chance given. 

    We see this happen in the church all the time. We’re willing to give grace to most everyone, but we often categorize sins based on how bad we believe they are. And when someone crosses those lines into what we define as the “worst sins,” we are unable to let that go without punishment. As a result we take it upon ourselves to withhold forgiveness, making ourselves the judge of the grace deserved by others.

    God’s Word clearly states in Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” that we’re all in need of a second chance, but, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). God’s grace covers all sin, not just the ones we’re willing to forgive.

    So maybe it’s time for baseball to give Pete his second chance. I’m sure glad God has given me mine.

    by Andy Garrett

  • NBA All-Star Game: All about Itself

    Feb 21, 2011

    Los Angeles:  It truly was the perfect setting for the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend (ASW)—affectionately dubbed the “traveling circus show.” Just down the road from image-laden Hollywood and the location of next week’s Oscar Awards, the ASW has come to resemble anything but basketball—and everything about seeking glitz, glamour, and ultimately personal glory. 

    From hosting celebrity parties and sponsoring charity events, to (players) jumping over cars and borderline sacrilegious choir performances, there exists a great chasm between the original game of basketball, and the blown-out-of-proportion sporting entertainment spectacle that has hit a minstrel level.

    Now I’m not against celebrity appearances, pyrotechnics or post-game parties to enhance the fun and fanfare surrounding the ASW…but I do, however, oppose the subtle, yet increasing notion that any one player, personality, or pop-star is bigger than the event and the association itself.

    And that is where I hop off my soap box and reflect on real life for a moment. How often do you or I negate to make the main thing, the main thing? Whether it is a self-inflated ego seeking the praise and adoration of others, or a rationalized entitlement mindset—such as not needing to help with the dishes because you had a tough day at work; or maybe it is taking the form of religious justification—being too busy doing the work of the Lord yet missing out on having a relationship with Christ altogether. When will we ever realize that it’s not about us?

    We don’t need a nationally televised ‘Decision’ display or an elaborate media manifestation to state the verdict that Proverbs spoke of centuries before:  “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” May we realize and grasp the humbling reality that no matter our vocational title, our social status, or our God-appointed positions in life, we are merely flesh—no bigger than the Creator, no bigger than His creation—in utter dire need of daily direction from Almighty God Himself.

  • Cardinals Right-Hander is Thriving in His Work and Calling

    Feb 14, 2011


    Adam Wainwright, a right-handed starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, grew up in a single-parent Christian home with his mom and older brother, Trey, where he went to Sunday school, to Wainwright Adam 21church, to Vacation Bible School, as well as Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. But despite all the positive input while growing up, he did not become a Christian at that time.

    “I had doubts and was always questioning”

    “I am a true testament that just because you grew up in church does not mean you are a Christian or believer,” Wainwright says. “I had doubts and was always questioning. Not that I didn’t believe in God, [but] I wasn’t listening to anything He wanted to tell me, and I was not ready to have Him in my life.

    “Mom was a typical single mother who worked two jobs—dad not around—always making sure Trey and I were taken care of, fed, going to good schools, hanging out with the right crowd and making sure we were in church,” Wainwright adds.

    Trey Wainwright, who is seven years older than Adam, is now an attorney in Atlanta. “Trey taught me everything I know about sports—anything with a ball—that is baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, and golf. He was there to teach me. He was like a father figure, and we are still close.”

    Wainwright faced the decision to go to college or straight to the pros

    During his senior year in high school, Wainwright was faced with the decision of whether to go to college or straight into professional baseball. He played baseball at Glynn Academy in St. Simons Island, Georgia, and during his senior year received several offers of athletic and academic scholarships. Coach Danny Hall from Georgia Tech offered Adam a full ride.

    Wainwright’s brother, Trey, had graduated from Georgia Tech and was ecstatic about the prospect of Adam playing baseball there. But their mom, Nancy, appreciated what Coach Hall told her during a meeting: “As much as Coach Hall wanted Adam to attend Georgia Tech, he advised us, ‘If Adam goes in the first three rounds of the 2000 draft, Adam should go for it because he is a special talent,’” Nancy says. “After Adam was drafted by his childhood favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, the second or third call to Adam was from Coach Hall congratulating him. That was class!”

    Ten days after graduating, Wainwright was off to the minor leagues

    Ten days after graduating from high school in 2000, Wainwright was off to the minor leagues. His mom says, “I was happy for Adam, but I was not prepared for it. Adam said since five years old that he wanted to be a pro baseball player, and to see him live out his dream is just an unbelievable experience.”

    In 2004, Adam married his high school sweetheart, Jenny Curry, who graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in interior design in 2003. Like Adam, Jenny grew up attending church with her parents and two younger siblings. “It was during the first year I was married that I really understood the true meaning of being a Christian,” Jenny says.” It was not just believing but more of a relationship. It was about the same time Adam committed his life to Christ; and it was a time we grew together in our faith which was awesome. It has been cool how Adam has grown into the spiritual leader of our family, especially for our two little girls, Baylie Grace (4) and Morgan (2).”

    “In 2002, I made that leap of faith to accept Christ as my Savior”

    Before getting married, Wainwright began attending Pro Athletes Outreach (PAO) meetings. “In 2002, I made that leap of faith to accept Christ as my Savior [after] my good friend, Blaine Boyer, and my agent, Steve Hammond, encouraged me to go to PAO and to get some questions answered. It all happened so fast. I had several friends who were believers who said to get involved and search out what you believe. I took that as a sign and that I should figure out one way or another whether I am destined to believe or not believe. In doing that process, I really came to know the Lord.”

    Boyer, a relief pitcher now with the New York Mets, says about Wainwright: “Adam is an extremely close friend who is fun to be around. He loves people and loves to interact with people. He has a big heart for sharing the gospel, for extending the faith, teaching about Jesus, and in trying to defend the truth in all things. He is constantly seeking God in any kind of decision he is making or seeking the Lord for answers.”

    “Jenny was a strong believer, but she never made it uncomfortable for me”

    Wainwright says he finds strength in his wife, Jenny. “Jenny was a strong believer, but she never made it uncomfortable for me. She encouraged me without coming down on me when I wasn’t doing things she wanted me to do. She is the perfect example of being Christ-like to me so I can see another instance of someone I wanted to be like.”

    Hammond, Wainwright’s sports agent and friend, says, “Jenny and Adam understand the importance their marriage and family are [in order] to be a [good] witness for the Lord. You cannot spend much time with them without recognizing that the Lord is an important part of their life. They have been very involved in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). They have been contributors and encouragers and they try to help any way they can.”

    In 2004, Wainwright was traded from the Braves organization to the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent most of 2005 at Triple A Memphis as a starter before being brought up to the Cardinals. His major league debut was September 11 against the New York Mets. The following year (2006) Wainwright was brought right to the major leagues.

    “Put me in the big show and I’ll carry the water bucket”

    His mom says, “During spring training, the Cardinals told him they did not know what to do. They said they had no place in the rotation but he need not go back to Memphis. They asked him how he felt about being in the bullpen. He said, ‘Put me in the big show and I’ll carry the water bucket.’ That is Adam’s attitude in life. He will do whatever they ask of him.”

    As it turned out, Adam closed out game seven in the 2006 N.L. Championship series against the New York Mets before a packed house. Then he went on to close out the 2006 World Series for the world champion St. Louis Cardinals.

    Teammate Albert Pujols comments, “I think Adam’s main priority is his relationship with Jesus Christ and his family. We all know as a believer that baseball is something not eternal but the relationship with Christ will be. That is what Adam stays focused on.”

    Wainwright’s teammates speak highly of him

    Teammate Matt Holliday further comments, “Adam is a strong brother in Christ. He is a leader in the clubhouse when it comes to putting together Bible studies and discussion groups. As a person, as a husband, as a father, he is one of the greatest men I have been around in baseball. He is one of my really good friends.”

    Wainwright says, “Christ has changed my life dramatically in that I try to see everything with a pair of godly glasses or lenses. I know Christ has made me a better husband and parent. I know God is watching me all the time, so I know I have that accountability all the time. He is in the room with me no matter what I am doing.”

    Wainwright says he has another type of accountability that helps him stay the course, “We have a great core group here with the Cardinals, guys who are consistent in their faith.” Wainwright explains the importance of being there for your teammates, “There are guys in our clubhouse that will always be there for us as far as accountability goes. When you are gone a lot and you are alone in the hotel room, that is when you get weird. That is why it is important to have that relationship with your teammates to help keep each other in check. You have to have personal time, but you also have to have fellowship. That is the key word here—fellowship.”

    “My life means nothing to me unless I carry out the work given to me by God”

    One of Wainwright’s favorite passages in the Bible is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not rely on your own understanding.” But the one that has recently touched him is Acts 20:24 which says: “My life means nothing to me unless I carry out the work given to me by God, the work of telling others the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s mighty kindness and love.”

    By Mark Darnall and Bruce Darnall

    Photo credit: Scott Rovak

  • Coaches from around the world meet at AIA for coaches academy

    Feb 10, 2011

    By ASIA AIKINS Sports Writer XENIA — Athletes in Action in Xenia played host to 17 basketball coaches from six different countries recently, as part of the organization’s Coaches Academy.

    The Academy included two coaches from the Philippines, seven from Guatemala, two from Uzbekistan, two from Togo, two from Senegal, one from Uganda, and one American girl playing in Spain with AIA.

    To see the rest of this news story go to:

  • SUPER BOWL: Steelers' chaplain benefits from coach's, team's support

    Feb 3, 2011


    Posted on Feb 1, 2011 | by Art Stricklin

    ARLINGTON, Texas (BP)--When the Pittsburgh Steelers made their last Super Bowl visit in 2009, team chaplain Kevin Jordan was just a rookie in his first year of NFL ministry.

    But when the Steelers return for Super Bowl XLV in Texas this weekend, Jordan returns as a seasoned spiritual veteran attuned to the team's spiritual needs.

    Jordan, 38, said he appreciates the strong support and access given to him by head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff.

    "Coach Tomlin understands the big picture with this team," Jordan said. "I like what he is doing and he understands what I'm all about."


    To read the rest of this story, see the original posted in its entirety on the Baptist Press website at:

  • Drew Brees to receive the 2011 Bart Starr Award

    Feb 1, 2011


    GRAPEVINE, TX (January 19, 2011) — Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints has been named the recipient of the 2011 Bart Starr Award. The award honors one NFL player for outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. NFL players from around the league vote on the Bart Starr Award at the same time they vote on the Pro Bowl.

    Bart Starr will present the award to Drew Brees at the 24th Annual NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Breakfast, presented by Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. The Breakfast will take place on Saturday, February 5, 2011, at 8:00 a.m. CST at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas (1501 Gaylord Trail).

    Past winners of the award include Kurt Warner, Warrick Dunn, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Woodson, Anthony Munoz, Reggie White and Steve Largent. Please see for a complete list of past winners.

    The four finalists for the 2011 Bart Starr Award were:

    · Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    · Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers

    · London Fletcher, Washington Redskins

    · Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

    This year’s Breakfast will include special guests Alicia Landry, Bob Breunig, Drew Pearson, Anthony Munoz, Tim Brown, Steve Largent and other NFL athletes and coaches. Program highlights include a segment on the 1967 “Ice Bowl,” featuring Bob Lilly and Rayfield Wright of the Cowboys and Bart Starr and Donny Anderson of the Packers; as well as a tribute to coach Tom Landry featuring players who were impacted by him in terms of character, leadership, and integrity, and how that legacy continues today.

    The Super Bowl champion quarterback and Super Bowl LXIV MVP, Brees, started the Brees Dream Foundation to advance cancer research, provide care for cancer patients and provide funds for rebuilding projects including schools, parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields in New Orleans, San Diego, and West Lafayette, Indiana. Since signing with New Orleans in 2006, Brees has tirelessly worked to help rebuild the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Other charitable involvements include Operation Kids, Drew Brees Gridiron Classic, USO Missions, American Cancer Society, and Painted Turtle Camps.

    Priority and corporate tables are still available and may be purchased by calling (800) 416-9472. More information can be found at

    About the Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast

    The Super Bowl Breakfast is an NFL-sanctioned event hosted by Athletes in Action.  The signature event of Super Bowl week has taken place in the game's host city every year since 1988, drawing sellout crowds to hear from some of the game’s biggest names. The Bart Starr Award, given away at the breakfast, honors Starr's lifelong commitment to serving as a positive role model to his family, teammates and community. The winner of the Bart Starr Award is determined by NFL player balloting at the end of the regular season, making the award one of only two individual honors selected by the players themselves.

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  • Packers & Steelers: Ambassadors

    Feb 1, 2011

    It’s a tale of two cities. Steel versus cheese.  Roethlisberger versus Rodgers. Both have endured the best of times and have also seen the worst of times. Both cities have blue-collared workers and adoring fans.

    The Packers and Steelers:  two historic teams raising the standard yet again for success.  Collectively they share:  11 Super Bowl appearances, 9 Super Bowl Trophies, 18 Championships, and 40 Hall-of-Famers. Names like Lambeau, Starr, and Favre as well as Rooney, Bradshaw, and Swann—not to mention the namesake of the Lombardi Trophy itself—these names and franchises are synonymous with NFL lore and grandeur.  They are the golden thread that unites the league to it’s storied past, it’s illustrious present, and it’s uncertain future. And though they are the face of the league, they are merely ambassadors for the NFL; the National Football League would still exist without either Green Bay or Pittsburgh, but neither team would exist independently of the game itself…

    …And so too Christians—regardless of vocation, denomination, social status, race or spiritual heritage—are merely ambassadors and vessels for the Gospel of Christ.  Bottom line:  It’s not about us!  God doesn’t need anyone of us to accomplish His purposes or plans…not the Pope not Billy Graham not any Church or Para-Church, and yet He still chooses to use us—the weak and the ignorant—to bring glory to Himself. 

    That said, may we not allow are spiritual ego to swell nor sulk in our own strength.  But rather proceed humbly and willingly, and like Samuel before us, openly submit before the Lord saying, “Here I am Lord…” And then, when Sovereign God chooses to use us as He deems, He’ll—not us—will receive all glory and honor.

  • Coaches and Christians: Press On

    Jan 6, 2011

    It is said that nothing, except death and taxes, is certain in life. Added to that list of absolutes in our results-driven society should be the numerous coaching changes that occur annually like clockwork. Due to the big business atmosphere that collegiate and professional sports offers, it is no wonder that coaches are held to a seemingly unfair performance standard of perfection.

    When teams inevitably fail to meet the high expectations of fans, boosters, and alums alike, the proverbial rope of grace becomes tightened. And with so much money, for so many people at stake, that rope often becomes a noose for coaches and their staff, inescapably signaling the end of yet another coaching regime.

    Similar to coaches, as Christians, we’re called to strive for the high goal of perfection. The Gospel of Matthew (5:48) sets the gold standard, “…Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect…” For mortal man, this seems unobtainable, and in many ways it is. Fortunately for our frailty, in contrast to the grace period oft given to coaches, the apostle Paul conveys that God continually offers an arm of grace to the genuinely repentant individual. And so we too, regardless of our failings, must exemplify the model of Paul, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…”

  • Heisman Winner Cam Newton: Hope it’s not True

    Dec 17, 2010

    College football has long been synonymous with big business. Lucrative television contracts, corporate sponsorships, conference profit sharing, coaching endorsements, merchandising, concessions, luxury suites, seat licensing, stadium naming rights and multi-million dollar bowl appearance payouts—there is nothing “non-profit” about the game.

    So it is no wonder that the collegiate landscape has long been tainted before the allegations ever surfaced surrounding Auburn’s Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton. Most recently, before Newton, was another Heisman inductee—who has since returned the reward—former University of Southern California (USC) standout, Reggie Bush. Prior to USC, there have been multiple programs that were reprimanded by the NCAA for illegally alluring recruits, most notably of which was Southern Methodist University (SMU). In the 1980s, SMU saw their football program cease operations for two years—receiving the ‘death penalty'—for multiple incidents surrounding the illegal payment of players. And even prior to WWII, William and Mary found itself in scandals revolving around transcript adjustments that directly made players eligible to play and receive academic scholarships that were unearned.

    For every school, coach, and player that was convicted for operating illegally, there are many more that are left undetected. Some critics would say, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying, and thus you won’t be competitive.” And though the NCAA has recently become more strict in its due diligence, as long as there is money and imperfect people, there will always be controversy, greed and unethical business practices in an attempt to “get ahead.”

    So for the Christian, how do we proceed? In 1 Timothy we are urged to “be above reproach.” Regardless of what others do on the field of competition or in the boardroom at the office, it’s imperative to live blamelessly, knowing that you’re ultimately responsible to God. Because, regardless of success or not, His opinion is the only one that truly matters.

    So congratulations Cam Newton on a phenomenal year, but regarding the surrounding defamatory allegations—we are hoping it’s not true.

  • Preseason bonding helps Flyers soccer to NCAA berth

    Dec 8, 2010

    Team forged chemistry during a preseason stay at the Athletes in Action facility in Xenia.

    By Doug Harris, Staff Writer

    Updated 12:03 PM Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Most coaches would prefer not to start a season with a road trip, but Mike Tucker, the University of Dayton women’s soccer coach, thought the best decision he made all year was loading his players on a bus back in August and getting them out of town.

    Because UD’s preseason camp opened before campus housing was ready, the Flyers spent a couple of days at the Athletes in Action facility in Xenia. And the chemistry forged on that get-away helped propel them to an Atlantic 10 title and an NCAA tournament berth.

    “We would all eat together, all practice together and all do different activities together,” said junior star Kathleen Beljan. “And even in our down time ... because we were at that camp, we all just hung out as opposed to going our separate ways. It brought us close together.”

    That unity certainly will come in handy when the Flyers (18-3) begin NCAA tourney play against Virginia Tech (10-9-1) at Ohio State at about 7:30 p.m. Friday. OSU (14-4-1), the Big Ten co-champ, plays Northeast Conference winner St. Francis (15-4-2) in the first game of the doubleheader at 5 p.m.

    The Hokies, one of eight ACC teams in the field of 64, eliminated the Flyers from the tourney last season in a second-round game at Baujan Field. UD dropped a 1-0 regular-season decision at home to the Buckeyes this season.

    Tucker, who has led the Flyers to seven NCAA berths in 16 years, doesn’t consider the trip to the AIA grounds a stroke of genius, calling it instead “dumb luck” because UD’s campus was closed.

    He’s glad it was.

    “When you come to camp that early, you have one group here, another group there,” he said. “They all got to know each other. They all got to spend a lot more time together than they would have otherwise. That was big. We’re going to try to do that every year now.”

    Contact this writer at (937) 225-2125 or

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