The NBA’s Tebow?

“Linsanity” is sweeping New York City, the NBA, and much of the sports-world.  Even the talking heads at ESPN seem to be climbing on board.

Jeremy Lin is an undrafted point guard from Harvard, released by two NBA teams, who is now playing for the New York Knicks in the National Basketball Association.  A week ago he was sitting on the end of the bench, not playing, and in danger of being released yet again.  He had a ten-day contract with the Knicks and slept on his brother’s couch.

But what a difference a week makes. Forced into the line-up by injuries and the tragic death of a teammate’s brother, Lin has had one of the greatest NBA debuts ever. He has 89 points in his 3 starts. That’s the most by a Knicks player in his first 3 starts with the team since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77. Last night, against the Los Angeles Lakers, he scored more points in a single game than any Knicks player this season.  And the NY Knicks have guaranteed his contract through the rest of this season.

What most people do not know, but many are starting to realize, is that Jeremy Lin is a man of strong Christian faith.  That is news to those of us just hearing of him but not to those who are aware of his college career. In fact, he gave an interview back then about his faith. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 on patheos.com.

ESPN reports that comparisons are being drawn between Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, for their ability to help get the best out of their teammates and speaking of their faith when the camera is on.  After beating one of the NBA’s premier teams last night, the attention of Lin is only going to grow.

It will be interesting to watch how Lin’s story develops.  He burst onto the scene only a week ago but is likely to remain in the starting line-up for the rest of the season.  With Tebow’s notoriety in the past NFL season and now Lin’s NBA attention, I find myself wondering what God is up to.  It is interesting to have two examples — two spotlight players with strong Christian faith. Lin does not have to be Tebow.  He just has to be himself.  How his story and his career develop will be fun to watch.

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Sad State

“An estimated 92 percent of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies, according to research reviewed by Dr. Brian Skotko, a pediatric geneticist at Children’s Hospital Boston.

via Down Syndrome Births Drop in U.S. as More Women Abort – ABC News.

“I’m Dreaming of a Simple Christmas”

Did you hear about the woman out in California who used pepper spray on other shoppers at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night?

Initial news reports said that the attack took place around 10:20 pm.  Employees had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players.  A crowd had formed while waiting for the crate to be unwrapped.  According to police reports, a woman began spraying people around her “in order to get an advantage.”  About 20 people were injured and treated at the scene.  Nothing serious but being sprayed is a painful experience.

In the confusion, the woman got away.  It was uncertain whether she got her Xbox.  Police said she could face felony charges if she were found.

As it turned out, the woman was not charged with a crime at all.  Police say she may have been acting in self-defense.  She turned herself into police who interviewed witnesses and watched surveillance and YouTube video.  They concluded that she may have feared for her life, afraid of being trampled by other shoppers.

I am not sure which scenario disturbs me more.  Spraying offensively or defensively.  Mad rush.  Ruthlessness.  Fear.  Desperation. All for a video game system.

Now, I am not trying to be a humbug.  I’m not trying to say we have lost the meaning of Christmas or that our society has become too materialistic.  Those are all givens.  Christmas is what it is…or what it has become.

In fact, I think we should join in the fun.  Give gifts. Watch our kids’ reactions.  Cannot wait to spoil future grandchildren. Celebrate.  Christmas is about celebration.

But something about the pepper spray story still annoys.  Is it possible to celebrate without the extremes or excess? But then is that second-class celebrating?  Can we do a little less? Should we do a little less?  What message should Christ-followers show and teach and tell at Christmas?

Certainly, not that we want to spoil the fun.  Certainly not that Christmas needs to be somber.  I like celebrating.  But still, something nags at my emotions.  How can we be different?

Let’s wrestle with this on Sunday..

Dealing with Depression – Part 1

In the Christian community, the subject of depression provokes controversy.  It should not.  I wish that it did not.  But it does.  Can a good Christian be depressed?  Many of us feel shame because we do suffer.  Others never get help because they refuse to admit their struggle.  Still others try to tough it out on their own, resulting in years of distress.

I am a depression sufferer myself.  Obviously, this will bias my take on this.  My depression cycles…sometimes better, sometimes worse.  But this is an important discussion to have.

There are three main causes of depression (Comment if I leave something out):

  • Physical issues.  Depression often traces its roots back to physical issues.  Hormone imbalances, blood or brain chemistry faults, and side-effects of illnesses can all be causes of depression.  Physical causes require medical treatment.
  • Life circumstances.  Some seasons of life are tough.  Chronic stressful situations can cause depression.  Trauma can leave a lasting side effect.  Transitions in career, where you live,  marital status, financial ability, or becoming empty-nesters can all leave us emotionally vulnerable.  Adjusting to change or removal of stress can make the depression lessen or go away.  But…not always.
  • Spiritual conflict.  Not all but some depression has spiritual cause.  Some people become depressed because of unconfessed sin.  Some depression results from spiritual attack.  Using biblical strategies to battle spiritual issues works miracles.

These are all legitimate causes of depression.  Depressive responses to these stimuli are not weakness but can be considered normal.

Often, depression sufferers feel alone when they have many companions.  It is not talked about enough but there are many of us.  As there have always been.

In the Bible, many suffered from depression.  Some just for a season and some seemed to have battled it their entire lives.  Who?  David, Elijah, and Jeremiah .. to name just a few.  (For Comment:  who else dealt with depression in the Bible?)

In church history, other well-known individuals famously suffered at the hands of this beast.  Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, Charles Haddon Spurgeon…

In 1866, Spurgeon told his congregation of his struggle:  “I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go (through).”  Luther once wrote that “the content of the depressions was always the same: the loss of faith that God is good and that he is good to me.”

Christians can suffer depression.  Spirit-filled Christians can experience emotional problems.  It is not something to be kept secret.  Too many suffer in silence, believing that something is wrong with their faith.  We can encourage one another by sharing our struggles.

In my next post, I will share some things I have learned about dealing with depression.  But let me say here that there is hope.  If you suffer today, don’t be ashamed. You do not have to deny it. You are not a failure in your faith…or a bad Christian.