Colin and Nike: The Ad Review

I’ve seen the ad now, so I feel like I should write a follow-up.

I don’t hate it. It actually has some very good points.

The voice over is done by Colin Kaepernick, of course. As an aside, I agree with him that police brutality is wrong. I agree with him that racism is wrong. How I disagree is in the way that he chooses to protest these things.

So, back to the ad.

I watched the ad several times, and thought about the words and the images it portrayed. And I think the entire ad can be condensed into four inspirational statements. Let’s look at these one by one.

1. Dream of being the best ever at whatever you are doing, and then believe that it’s possible. I agree with this one. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” This is a good goal, but I would qualify it by adding 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Be the best you that you can be, for God’s glory.

2. Don’t limit yourself with other people’s expectations. This is also a good motto, if qualified correctly. If you aspire to being the fastest runner, or the funniest comedian, or the best doctor, that’s great. If your goal is to become the most famous serial killer ever, that’s not great. In cases like that, you should indeed allow other people’s expectations to limit you. But in a general sense, this is a good thing. If someone tells you that you can’t do something because “you’re not good enough”, see if hard work and effort can overcome your perceived inadequacy. On the other hand, some people should be told by their loved ones that they aren’t great singers BEFORE they arrive at American Idol tryouts. Sometimes our limitations are there because that’s not what we were meant to do.

3. Stop idolizing famous people. Instead, become famous. I agree with the first half of this one, but not the second. I agree that we need to stop putting other human beings on a pedestal, because they’re just as fallible as we are. However, Hebrews 12:2 says we are to look to Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:15 says we are to present ourselves as workmen who need not be ashamed. Galatians 6:9 says we should not grow tired in doing good. In these and other examples we see that our goal should be to reveal how good God is, and not how good we are. Be the best at what you do so that people will say how amazing God is for giving you those talents.

4. Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything. The final statement is the tagline of the campaign, and it too is correct, if qualified. Obviously some things are worth sacrificing everything for. I would sacrifice my life to protect the lives of my family. I would willingly spend the rest of my life in prison if defending my family became illegal. I would sacrifice whatever it took to make sure that my family does not go hungry, working nights, weekends, etc. If your goal is good, then no sacrifice is too great. I will go where God wants me to go and do what God wants me to do, even if it is unpleasant, dangerous, or even deadly.

The only problem with the ad is that at the moment the last statement is uttered, Colin turns around and looks at the camera as if to indicate that he has sacrificed everything because of what he believes. I take issue with this, because so many other people are much clearer examples of sacrificing everything than this man.

Let’s review what we know about Kaepernick. His biological mother is white and his father is black. He was adopted as a baby by an upper class family. He played football and was drafted in 2011. He wasn’t the starting QB for the first two seasons, but became the starter for 2013. That was his best year, with a 12-4 record. The next year the 49ers were 8-8, and then in 2015 they started the season with just two wins and eight losses when the coach decided to bench him. A week later he had an injury that required surgery, making him inactive for the rest of the year. He started his protest in the 2016 NFL preseason. He wasn’t the starting QB until week 6, and started 11 games that year, losing every game except one. Let’s not act as if he was flying high, with a great career that he risked by protesting. He wasn’t doing well at all.
He only had one more year on his contract, which he opted out of so that he could play somewhere else, but unfortunately his intangibles made him a risky prospect for even those teams that might gamble on his flashes of greatness. He hasn’t played since. Part of that is because of his protest, and part is because he’s just really not that good, consistently.

Given the fact that his career was on the rocks, I don’t believe that Kaepernick should be the first person you think of when you think of sacrificing everything for an ideal. He didn’t even sacrifice very much, since his net worth is around 20 million dollars. He just isn’t playing professional football anymore.

There are other people that are far more worthy of being the first person you think of when you think of sacrifice. I can think of one right off the top of my head: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Philippians says that even though He was God, he came to earth, willingly put Himself through all the suffering that we go through every day, was surrounded minute-by-minute with the sin of the world, and finally suffering and dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, since He had none of His own. THAT is the picture of someone who sacrificed everything for something good. And He is worth believing in. Come to think of it, if you don’t believe in Him, nothing else matters.

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Nike and Colin.

I didn’t watch the NFL for almost the past two years.  I think I’ve watched one or two games total. The reason was because of the national anthem protests. As a point of clarification, I firmly believe these men have the right to protest, and I support their right to protest.  They have a right to protest, but Americans have a right not to support the company that refuses to discipline their employees for conduct detrimental to the brand, something that the NFL has lacked the guts to follow through on.  But I feel personally that their choice of time for these protests is inappropriate.  Again, I’m not saying they shouldn’t protest racial inequality, police brutality, or anything else they want to protest, I just feel it’s disrespectful to do so during the national anthem, and inappropriate to do so while in uniform on “company time.”

Imagine your spouse died, and I showed up to officiate the funeral. During the middle of the funeral I started railing against the evils of abortion, or human trafficking, or something like that.  You would be upset with me because that’s not why I’m there, and it would be inappropriate to do that during the funeral.

Imagine it’s your son’s sixth birthday party and you’ve hired someone to perform magic during the party, and in the middle of his magic act he decided to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.  Inappropriate.

I didn’t hear anything about Colin Kaepernick for the past six months since the Super Bowl.  But the NFL is starting up,  and he’s back. And now evidently he’s become the focus of an ad campaign for Nike.  Some well-meaning people who dislike the protests have decided to burn their Nike purchases, and/or boycott the company.  Personally I feel that Nike’s record of using child labor is a much better reason not to use their products, though by reports they are attempting to curb this practice.  It’s hard for me to say I’m going to boycott Nike since I don’t really buy their products already.  Kind of like me boycotting Outback Steakhouse. I’ve never eaten there.  If I suddenly decide to boycott them, they wouldn’t notice.  And I don’t think I would boycott Nike anyway for this.  They made a corporate decision to display the face of someone I disagree with as their spokesman.  That is their right.

And when it comes down to it, has Colin Kaepernick done anything illegal or morally wrong?  Not really.  Disrespecting the flag isn’t covered in the Bible.  Respect for authority is, but there is disagreement among veterans, NFL owners, and government officials about  whether or not these protests actually constitute disrespect.  I would much rather save my outrage for things that really matter, like the 3000 babies that are murdered every day in US abortion clinics or the fact that Republicans (the “pro-life party”) have controlled all three branches of government (only four of the justices on the Supreme Court were appointed by Democrats) for the past two years, and yet the government is STILL giving over $500 million per year to Planned Parenthood, which does do some good things for people, but they also kill babies.   So no, I’m not worried about Colin.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

I’m tired of Colin Kaepernick.  I’m tired of racism.  But neither is going away anytime soon.

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As I sit in my office, I look out the window. Movement catches my eye. There is a wasp’s nest in the upper corner of my window on the other side of the glass. The wasps industriously move over the surface of the nest, tending to whatever they are doing. There are six wasps that I can see, but there are probably more.

These wasps cannot hurt me because they are incapable of getting through the glass. I know I should deal with them, and so I plan to buy some wasp spray and come back at night and destroy the nest so they can’t hurt anybody coming to our church. The only stinging that should be done here is by the Holy Spirit who pricks consciences and convicts of sin.

Two thoughts occur to me in relation to this. These wasps are like the problems in our lives that we face every day. Sometimes we can see the problem clearly, but because we are in no immediate danger, we do nothing about it. I have a sapling growing in the backyard of my new house that is about two feet high. It needs to be pulled because it’s right up against the house. If someone had pulled it when it was smaller, it would have been much easier. I gave it a tug this morning while mowing, and it didn’t budge. Problems are like that: if we don’t deal with them when they’re small, they become bigger and harder to uproot. I need to deal with these wasps before someone gets stung.

Secondly, it occurs to me that God is like the glass in this scenario. If we have trusted in Christ as Savior, nothing on earth can harm us without His permission. In the same way that the glass prevents the wasps from hurting me even though I can get within an inch of their nest, I need not fear what man can do to me, because God has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. The problems in my life cannot hurt me unless it is in His will that they do so. In that sense, I cannot be harmed outside of His will unless He fails, and He never will.

Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

Philippians 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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My Jesus Fair

There’s a song called “My Jesus Fair” that we sang in church this morning. The first verse is:

My Jesus, fair, was pierced by thorns,
By thorns grown from the fall.
Thus He who gave the curse was torn
To end that curse for all.

I love the message of this song because it emphasizes God’s omniscient sacrifice for mankind on the Cross. The chorus says:
O love divine, O matchless grace-
That God should die for men!
With joyful grief I lift my praise,
Abhorring all my sin,
Adoring only Him.
Recently I was called to be the next pastor of the Rapids Street Baptist Church in Adel, Iowa. I have been a member of the Trinity Baptist Church of Westfield, Indiana for almost 13 years now. Today I said goodbye to many of my church family since this was our last Sunday at TBC. We are definitely looking forward with anticipation to the blessings and challenges that God has for us in Adel, but anytime we leave brothers and sisters behind, we experience “joyful grief” (as the song says).
As a believer I must go where God wants me to go. Because only in doing what He wants can I find joy and peace and meaning in my life, firmly in the Will of God.  As I told many people today, since we know Christ as Savior, in 100 years we will all be together again no matter what else happens.

Soli Deo gloria.

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I have had conversations recently with an elderly person who has dementia. This means that she frequently forgets basic information such as where she is, what year it is, and even sometimes who she is. This condition means that she does not believe people who remind her where she is, etc. Even if you manage to convince her of the truth of what you say, she very quickly forgets that she agreed with you, and goes back to believing it’s 40 years ago and asks where her husband is, who died over a decade ago.

It occurs to me that many people living today, both Christian and non-Christian alike, suffer from the same spiritual disease: they believe lies. The woman who believes that she is good enough to get to heaven on her own. The man who thinks he can cheat on his wife and get away with it forever. The teenager who thinks that life is not worth living. The person who believes that sin is preferable to th path that God wants them to walk.

Every choice we make, every word we say, every course of action we pursue should be processed by the question is this right? Is this what God wants me to do? And if the answer is anything but yes then we should think long and hard about whether or not we should do what we are about to do. If the answer is a definite no then it is the height of insanity to choose to do that which is bad for us.

A cactus is covered with spines. Most of us would shake our heads at someone who would willingly run into a cactus. Like a cactus spine, sin is never a good thing. To paraphrase Randy Alcorn’s “The Purity Principle” “sin is always stupid.” Every time you have the opportunity to do right or wrong and you choose wrong, it’s like you’re choosing to walk in a patch of cacti instead of a smooth path. And then you get upset when the spines hurt, make you bleed, and possibly even stop you from walking.

I tell people how they can be saved but they don’t believe what the Bible says. I tell them avoiding sin will give them a better future, but they deny the danger they are in. I beg them to stop the self-destructive cycle that they are in, but they just keep right on thinking that they know better than God does.

I think we all have a little bit of dementia.

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Afraid vs Prepared

In reading the activity on social media in the past several days after the most recent evil person decided to kill a bunch of people in Florida, I’ve heard one comment several times in several places. It’s some variant of the statement, “What are you gun lovers afraid of, that you need guns?”

I’m wondering if these people have ever been in a situation where someone with a gun wants to kill them (probably not) or have seen a movie or tv show where people encountered an evil person with a gun. Am I afraid of someone or something that causes me to own and carry guns? No.

I am not afraid of getting in a car accident. I am not planning on getting in a car accident. But if I do, I have insurance to protect me.

I am not afraid of dying and leaving my family without support. I am not planning on dying anytime soon. But if I do, I have insurance to protect them.

I am not afraid of losing my contacts while on vacation. I am not planning on losing my contacts. But if I do, I have brought an extra pair to replace them so I can see.

I am not afraid of my phone’s battery dying. I am not planning on my phone’s battery dying. But if it does, I have a battery recharger with me to recharge the battery.

You see, I don’t carry a gun because I’m afraid. I carry a gun because I want to be prepared.

Do I expect to ever get in a situation where I will need to use my gun? No. But if it should ever happen, I want to be as ready as possible to protect myself, my loved ones, and other innocent people.

I’m not afraid to protect those I love. I’m prepared.

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The Map Is Wrong

18 shootings

I have seen this map floating around on the internet stating that there have been 18 school shootings so far this year. Actually that map is misleading.

If we define a “School Shooting” as an incident where someone shoots random victims on school grounds (like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland), then there have only been three school shootings this year. That’s still three too many, but not the 18 pictured above. The “school shooting” in Maplewood, MN on that map was a police officer’s gun accidentally firing. The one in Arizona was a student committing suicide. Alone. Of the three shootings that were “school shootings”, the one in Louisiana saw nobody killed or even injured by gunfire.

That leaves us with two: Benton, Kentucky and Parkland, Florida.

Nineteen dead from these two shooters, and countless other people traumatized, some for life.

Here’s my idea:

1. Pass a law that if a person commits first degree murder on school property they automatically get the death penalty.
2. Get rid of the “gun free zones” policies entirely. Pass legislation stating that people who hold a license to carry a firearm may not be barred from carrying in any building.
3. Train teachers on a volunteer basis to handle firearms and train them to be prepared in the eventuality that they may be called on to defend their students. And have the taxpayers of their district buy them a firearm.

I firmly believe that these things would disincentivize shooters to the extent that school shootings would by and large go away. There would still be shootings, but with far fewer victims and the shooters would be held accountable via the death penalty.

So what do you all think?  I welcome honest opinions and real solutions, even ideas I disagree with, but comments with profanity or insults will not be allowed.

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