The Death and Life of X Gamer Caleb Moore



Caleb Moore, the Winter X Games snowmobiler, went to be with the Lord yesterday. He was 25 years old.

The young man crash landed a week ago – much to the entertainment of millions watching on ESPN – attempting a back flip during the snowmobile freestyle finals. Initially knocked unconscious, the X game athlete awakened, woozily, was diagnosed with a concussion and, eventually, whisked to the hospital.

While hospitalized, Caleb’s condition worsened. Doctors found blood near his heart. This past Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the young man’s family issued a statement that his cardiac injury had led to a secondary injury to his brain. Then, the next day, Caleb’s grandpa told a Denver newspaper his grandson almost certainly was not going to make it.

And, yesterday, the young man drew his last breath.

My heart breaks for Caleb’s family. They knew that the young man’s extreme sport was inherently dangerous; that crashes were almost inevitable. Indeed, Caleb had previously broken his collar bone, pelvis, wrist and tailbone on snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles, not to mention sustaining at least 10 concussions.

“You know it can happen at any time,” said Wade Moore, Caleb’s Dad.

Yet, I have no doubt that the Moore family is grief stricken today. For even if you know that a loved one has a dangerous job or avocation, you still don’t expect them to be taken from you suddenly.

Especially when that loved one is only 25 years old.

Caleb’s tragic death is a cautionary tale to all the young people reading these words: Tomorrow is not promised to you. Every day you spend above ground is a manifestation of God’s amazing grace.

Indeed, when Caleb awakened a week ago yesterday, he had no idea it would be the very last week of his young life. My prayer is that he was a Christ follower; that he spent yesterday in paradise with his Savior.

By the same coin, I hope that the young people who either watched Caleb’s fateful crash on ESPN or saw it on the news do not make the mistake of the thinking they have all the time in the world to get right with God.

Most of those young people can indeed look forward to a long life. But some, sadly, are destined for a premature death, like young Caleb Moore.

Only God knows how many years each of us have on this side of the grave. But we all, old and young alike, can guarantee that we will spend eternity with – rather than without – God by giving our lives to Christ.

Do Sports Fanatics Go to Heaven?


ESPN makes great commercials. It has been that way since it first launched its “This is SportsCenter” ad campaign back in 1995.

Nearly 400 commercials later, the campaign rocks on with its wry send-ups of famous athletes (usually hanging out at the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut), its comical use of team mascots, and its amusing storylines involving rapid sports fans.

But a recent ESPN commercial is anything but wry or comical or amusing. It shows the actual graves of truly die hard sports fans whose headstones pay homage not to their Creator, but to their favorite sports teams.

Such end-of-life idolatry may very well condemn those that died not in Christ, but in the jersey of their favorite ballplayer, to eternal separation from God.

Indeed, if fans are so worshipful of their beloved sports team that they would go so far as to memorialize their devotion above their final resting place, they clearly have not loved the Lord their God with all their hearts, all their souls, all their strength and all their minds.

They have violated the very first of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

That’s not meant to suggest that anyone who loves sports, who roots for a favorite athlete, who follows a favorite sports team is sinful. No. Only those who take their sports obsession to extremes.

Like the couple that so loved their Alabama Crimson Tide football that they actually skipped their daughter’s wedding to attend one of the Tide’s gridiron clashes.

Like at least three different sets of parents – including one set living, ironically, in Corpus Christi, Texas – that have named their newborn babies ESPN.

Like those who are buried in caskets bearing the logos of their favorite sports teams.

Those and other sports worshippers may not think their fanaticism sinful. They may not think it threatens their very salvation (that is, if they happen to consider themselves Christians).

But one cannot go to one’s grave in open defiance of God’s commandment to have no other Gods before Him, abiding in the sin of idolatry for which one refuses to repent, and expect to escape God’s punishment.

For the Scripture warns that idol worshippers – like the sports fanatics who went to their very graves paying tribute to their favorite teams – “shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Hooray to Our Medal-Winning Christian Olympians


I’m proud of the entire U.S. Olympic team. But I’m particularly proud of our Olympic athletes who competed in London not for personal glory– and the fame and fortune that comes with it in some cases – but for God and country.

Among our Christian Olympians who medaled over the past fortnight were two precocious high schoolers, 16-year-old Gabby Douglas and 17-year-old Missy Franklin.

Gabby, a gymnast, won gold in both the women’s all-around and team competition. Missy, a swimmer, won five medals, four gold and one bronze, while setting two world records in the process.

“I give all the glory to God,” said Gabby. “God has blessed me with so much,” tweeted Missy.

Similar sentiments were expressed by two members of the U.S. women’s track and field team, Allyson Felix, who captured gold in the 200 meters, and Sandra Richards Ross, who took gold in the 400 meters.

There were also two faithful Christians on the gold-medal-winning U.S. women’s soccer team, Lauren Cheney and Amy Rodriguez.

Then there’s Kevin Durant, a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team, who may very well score gold when he and his fellow NBA roundballers take on Spain in the finals.

Of course, not everyone is happy to see our Christian Olympians fare as well as they have in London.

Like Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams, who hated on Gabby, in an article in which bemoaned, “The gold medalist is a teenager of deep faith and gratitude – and that can be a little unnerving.”

Williams added that she agreed with a colleague at Salon who said of young Gabby, “I would like her more if she were not so, so, so into Jesus.”

That’s the kind of animus faced by Christian athletes – like Gabby, Missy, Allyson, Sandra, Lauren, Amy and Kevin – when they dare to lift up the name of Jesus.

And that’s why they need the support, the prayers, of those us who count ourselves Christ followers.

Baseball Slugger Josh Hamilton Gets Right With God


Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton has suffered through a two-month slump, batting barely over .200 since June 1.

There was rampant speculation as to what was ailing Hamilton, the five-time All Star, the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player. Some thought marital problems. Some others thought a relapse into the drug and alcohol abuse with which the 31-year-old struggled in a past life.

But the Rangers basher ended the speculation yesterday, releasing a statement in which he attributed his recent problems at the plate to his disobedience to God. More specifically, his failure to quit chewing tobacco.

Hamilton’s statement elicited predictable derision from those who do not share his Christian faith.

Like the snarky writer for Dallas Magazine who mocked, “So God is punishing Hamilton for using tobacco, and that’s why this year he’s been swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone than anyone else in the majors?”

Hamilton should not expect such nonbelievers to understand. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” the Scripture advises, “but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Hamilton is being saved by God’s grace. He has been convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Clearly tobacco is a stronghold in the baseballer’s life; a threat to return him to the life of substance abuse he overcame. God is seeking to protect the young man from the demons that previously enslaved him.

Those of us who are Christ followers empathize with Hamilton. For there is none righteous among us. No, not one.

We all have strongholds in our lives: Habits, behaviors, practices that, if not sinful, lead us into temptation. And they are different for every Christian.

In Hamilton’s case, it’s tobacco, which, for him, is a gateway to hard drugs and alcohol. For another believer, it could be the love of money. And for still another, the stronghold could be pornography.

A former pastor of mine mentioned a man who told him that the Holy Spirit moved him to drop out of his fantasy baseball leagues. That’s right. He was so obsessed with his hobby that it got to the point that he was neglecting his wife and kids.

Now that Hamilton is addressing his personal stronghold, now that he has renewed his commitment to crucify the flesh daily, I expect the slugger’s performance at the plate to improve.

For whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.

ESPN The Magazine Stoops to Soft-Core Porn


Since its debut back in 1998, ESPN the Magazine has tried to find a hook to rival the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Well, the editors at “the Mag,” as they refer to their publication, may very well have found it with their annual “Body Issue,” which just arrived at newsstands.

It boasts multiple covers, the most shocking of which features New England Patriots tight-end Rob Gronkowski, in all his naked splendor, striking a full-frontal pose, save for a strategically-placed dot covering his package.

And Gronkowski is not the only athlete that put out for ESPN’s Body Issue. Another 26 jocks and jockettes got unclothed for the cameras, much to the titillation, no doubt, of the magazine’s more voyeuristic readers.

Of course, the editors at the Mag deny they are trying to out-sex SI, whose annual swimsuit issue is borderline soft-core pornography. ESPN claims that its Body Issue is “a celebration of the athletic form.”

Indeed, some of the nudes might be considered “artistic” in some quarters. But ESPN’s image of Gronkowski will never be mistaken for Michelangelo’s “David.” Nor will the Mag’s photo of Ronda Rousy, the mixed martial artist, be confused with the “Venus de Milo.”

ESPN’s Body Issue is not about art. It’s not about stopping, as the Mag disingenuously suggests, “to admire the vast potential of the human form.”

It’s about luring readers to the Mag to see athletes “taking it off,” as ESPN teases.         

That’s why the Mag promises us nude pictorials of “the bodies we want.” That’s why it invites its readers to “imagine how it would feel to inhabit those bodies.”

There is little doubt those double entendres are intentional.

What particularly disappoints is that ESPN the Magazine has persuaded professed Christian athletes to appear unclothed in its Body Issue.

Like Carmelita Jeter, who appears in this year’s issue, who praised God effusively after winning the 100-meter dash at the recent U.S. Olympic Trials, but who somehow sees nothing ungodly about posing for nudey photos.

She follows the example set last year by Lolo Jones, the U.S. Olympic hurdler, who says she is honoring God by staying a virgin until marriage, but who stripped down in the Mag for the whole world to see.

Like every other athlete whot has appeared in the Body Issue the past four years, Jeter and Jones rationalize that there is nothing wrong with nudity. That it’s natural. That it’s a beautiful thing.

Well, the young women are right, for the most part, when it comes to private nudity. But they are wrong, for the most part, about public nudity, such as their soft-core pictorials in ESPN’s Body Issue.

Indeed, the nude athletic bodies on public dispaly in the Mag tempt readers to look upon them lustfully. And causing others to stumble into sin is itself a sin.

What Gender Equality Hath Wrought


Keeling Pilaro is a 13-year old New York lad. And he’s a star athlete.

Not in football or baseball or basketball (or any other sport to which teen-age boys typically gravitate).

He plays girl’s field hockey.

And he dominates. In fact, as an eighth-grader last season, Keeling made all conference, after scoring 10 goals and assisting on 8 others.  He was a man among girls.

That’s what prompted school officials inSuffolk County, consider whether to bar Keeling from suiting up for this year’s field hockey season.

“It’s a girls’ sport,” said the school section’s executive director. “When a boy plays, it leads the way for other male players to come in and take over.”

He is absolutely right. And, yet, a Suffolk County committee decided this week that Keeling can continue to whoop up on the girls.

Anyone who has followed the ongoing national debate about “gender equality” could see something like this coming.

For the insistence by radical feminists on a completely level playing field with men – with  no respect to God-given gender differences – leads to the kind of game-changing policy made by Suffolk County.

Women can’t compete with men in sport. Guys have a decided physiological advantage. God built us bigger, stronger, faster.

Yet, feminist types continue to challenge the gender barrier in sports. And they attack men as sexist who prefer not to compete against women.

Like the Our Lady of Sorrows high school baseball team in Arizona. It forfeited the Arizona Charter Athletic Championship game rather than take the field against a 15-year-old girl playing for the opposing team.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Linda Maatz, director of public policy at the American Association of University Women. “Does she have cooties?”

Ha, ha.

Well, how would Maatz and other feminist types like it if male athletes started to follow Keeling Pilaro’s lead? They could kiss Title IX goodbye. They could say goodnight to the WTA, WNBA, LPGA and other women’s professional sports.

It would be the end of women’s sports as we know it. Male athletes would, indeed, come in and takeover. All that would be left for women would be such sports as synchronized swimming, ice skating and gymnastics.

I’m not saying that because I’m some sort of unrehabilitated male chauvinist.

It’s because I don’t want to see radical feminists, preaching their gospel of gender equality, destroy women’s sports.

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