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The year of the outspoken Christian athlete

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Tim Tebow and Wish 15 program recipient, Maggie, enjoys a pre-game hug before the December 30, 2012 Jets vs Bills game (Credit: Tim Tebow Foundation)

As 2012 ends, “year in review” lists are everywhere.  Time magazine offers 55 such lists, from “best movies” to “worst dressed.”  “Top 10 news stories” abound as well.  Relevant magazine has published my favorite such list, titled “2012: the year of the outspoken Christian athlete.”  I’ve listed their top five athletes and the quotes that make their faith so public and yet so genuine.

We begin, of course, with Tim Tebow.  Perhaps the best-known Christian athlete in America, this son of missionaries has maintained his commitment to Christian integrity through a very difficult year with the New York Jets.  After he led the Denver Broncos to an improbable playoff victory last year, Tebow told reporters, “I have so many things to work on, and so many ways that I fail.  But that’s what grace is all about.  And I constantly wake up every morning trying to get better, trying to improve, trying to walk closer to God.”

Number 2 is Bubba Watson, the unlikely winner of last year’s Master’s Tournament.  Known for his practical jokes and very long driving distance, after he won golf’s most prestigious title he said, “Golf is just an avenue for Jesus to use me to reach as many people as I can.”

Number 3 is Jeremy Lin, the back-up point guard for the New York Knicks who exploded on the NBA and is now a front-line star for the Houston Rockets.  His faith statement: “When other people see me play basketball . . . the way I treat my teammates, the opponents, the refs—that’s all a reflection of God’s image and God’s love.  So that’s the stuff I try to focus on.”

Number 4 is Collin Klein, star quarterback for the Kansas State Wildcats and finalist for the Heisman Trophy.  When compared with Tim Tebow, he responded: “I would say the thing [he and I] have most in common is the thing that’s most important to us, and that’s our faith and our relationship with Christ, and everything flows through that.  It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence.  I’m very grateful.”

Number 5 is Gabby Douglas, the 16-year-old gymnast who became the first African-American woman to become all-around Olympic champion.  After winning the all-around gold medal she told a reporter, “I give all the glory to God.  It’s kind of a win-win situation.  The glory goes up to him, and the blessings fall down on me.”

Jesus compared us to a lamp that is placed “on its stand” so that “it gives light to everyone in the house.”   In the same way, we are to “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:15, 16).  What “stand” has Jesus entrusted to you?  How will you use your influence for his glory in the new year?