Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Super Bowl Champ Declines Visit to White House

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Super Bowl champion Matt Birk, center for the Baltimore Ravens who won the Super Bowl earlier this year, has rejected an invitation to the White House and a meeting with President Obama last week.

As you may know, it is a tradition that the winners of the Super Bowl are invited to the White House to meet with the President, take a few pictures and present the President with a football jersey.

Matt Birk, who retired following the Super Bowl win, has had an outstanding career in the NFL. Last year he was awarded the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award.

But why did he reject the opportunity to go to the White House and meet personally with the President?

Matt Birk told The Fan 101.3  "I wasn't there." He said, "I would say this, I would say I have a great respect for the office of the Presidency but about five of six weeks ago our President made a comment in a speech and he said ' God bless Planned Parenthood.'"

The Fan is also reporting that "Birk, who also took a public stand during the recent gay rights movements that swung through our country last year, is a very open and public Catholic and claims he took offense to these comments that were made President Obama. So much so that he declined a once in a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and be honored by the President at the White House."

The Fan then went on to report this: "Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year," Birk explained. "I am Catholic, I am active in the Pro-Life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way."

"I'm very confused by [the President's] statement," Birk questioned. "For God to bless a place where they're ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend."

The Fan concluded: "While Birk may look back on Wednesday's visit and think about what could have been, for him, it will remain a proud moment where he stood firm, standing up for something that he believes in. And that ladies and gentlemen, is an integral right, the First Amendment, that the current President and all of those who came before him, fought to preserve no matter what side of the aisle they may have been standing on."

I'm not certain I can agree with The Fan on the fact that the current President has fought for our First Amendment rights and freedoms, but I certainly agree this will likely "remain a proud moment where he stood firm, standing for something that he believes in."

The tone of our present culture is making it more and more difficult for people of faith to stand for biblical values and principles, without public ridicule. Or worse.

And strong conviction is often criticized---even in the church.

The secular public criticizes conviction because there are no absolutes, so why are your beliefs or "truth" any more valid than someone else's "truth"?

The church sometimes silences the expression of strong conviction "because we want to win those with whom we may disagree." However, the result is often a disconnect by those who most need the gospel with those who know the Truth but are keeping it under the proverbial bushel.

The course of human events has not been forged by people without convictions.

From the outspoken Old Testament prophets, to the condemnation by Jesus of the "money changers" in the temple and the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His time, to Patrick Henry and other Founders of America, people with convictions and the courage to speak and act on those convictions have led the way to goodness and blessing.

The Old Testament book of Daniel tells the story of the three Hebrew children---a story that anyone who ever attended church or synagogue has heard.

Shadrach - Meshach - Abedneggo.

It's the story of 3 young Hebrew men, in a foreign country, who could have simply blended in. The personal rationale, or comprise, would have gone something like this: "We are God's people even if we serve Him quietly, He knows our heart. Even if we appeared to bow down, we would not be doing it in our heart. It is more important that we have a relationship with these people than to hit them up front with our Judeo beliefs. Once they know us and relate to us, we can influence them. And we are more effective "living" for God than "dying" for Him in a furnace.

Although Nebuchadnezzar changed their names, he could not change their beliefs. And all of Babylon was impacted for God by the fact that they took a stand.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the public, "Fellow Jews and all of you who are in Jerusalem, let me explain what has happened", he said.

His explanation was not a dialog to create community. And ethos. And better understanding among diverse ideas.

He said, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, killed Him by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead."

Some would say this is not a good way to launch a new church. Bad approach. Not seeker friendly.

The secularized Christian mind would have rationalized, "You can't reach these people by telling them they killed the Messiah." The secularized mind would speculate that once they get to know us they will listen to our message. If the gospel was merely a philosophy, that would be true. But it isn't.

The gospel is the power of God to salvation. When we explain how sin separates us from God and destroys our lives, the lives of others and our very culture, linked to the powerful solution the gospel provides---a solution of restoration, forgiveness, redemption, deliverance and hope, our world is changed.

And the church grows.

After Peter told the people they had killed Jesus and what it meant, 3000 people accepted Christ, were baptized and joined the church.

Has your church added 3000 newly converted members in one day?

Stand firm in the faith. Consider this from Moses:

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again (Exodus 14:13 NIV).

The voices, personalities and circumstances that seek to silence, ridicule or undermine you at this time in your life, will soon pass, you will likely never see them again. However our stand for righteousness will be recorded for eternity.

Be Vigilant. Be Bold. Be Discerning. Be Active. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.