Content of Character Sharpton or Carson?

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I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Martin Luther King, Jr.

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 1963. Español: Dr. Martin Luther King dando su discurso “Yo tengo un sueño” durante la Marcha sobre Washington por el trabajo y la libertad en Washington, D.C., 28 de agosto de 1963. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was ten-years-old when Martin Luther King gave his famous speech. Perhaps the above quote is the most well-known quote from that speech. At ten, I’m sure I didn’t even have a clue who King was much less recognize the magnificence of the speech. Over the years though I’ve heard the speech and parts of the speech and been reminded of the content of their character remark many times.

It occurred to me yet again as Al Sharpton (Reverend) gave a speech in Washington commemorating the 50th Anniversary of King’s speech. Sharpton fancies himself King’s successor and it appears that millions of African-Americans think that he is as well. One of the great things about America is that we get to choose our leaders and thus get what we deserve.

Sharpton preaches a skewed gospel of social justice that is nothing more than a laundry list of the far-left’s agenda. Conservative blacks have called Sharpton out as a race baiter, a liar, a huckster and other epitaphs that seem to reflect Sharpton’s character quite accurately. I wonder what King would have thought of Sharpton?

Conservative blacks in turn have been called “Uncle Toms” and far nastier terms for pointing out what appears to be obvious.

One black leader who should have given the speech the other day is Dr. Ben Carson. He too has been called an “Uncle Tom” for his polite way of pointing out the obvious.

Here’s Carson’s opinion on what Dr. King might think about the Civil Rights movement today. It’s from the Washington Times.

It is hard to believe that 50 years have elapsed since the famous “I have a dream speech” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Mall in Washington. I was an 11-year-old child in Detroit languishing in the midst of poverty, but very interested in the strides that were being made in the civil rights movement. I was the only black kid in my seventh-grade class and over the previous two years had risen from the bottom of the class to the top. My mother had forced us to read, which had a profound positive effect on both my brother Curtis and myself. I was quite optimistic that things were getting better for black people in America.

If King could be resurrected and see what was going on in America today, I suspect he would be extraordinarily pleased by many of the things he observed and disappointed by others. He, like almost everyone else, would be thrilled to know that there was a two-term black president of the United States of America and a black attorney general, as well as many other high government officials, business executives and university presidents.


SEE ALSO: King’s dream: Looking back, marching forward for a new generation


Perhaps just as thrilling would be the sight of black doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, construction foremen, news anchors, school superintendents and almost any other position imaginable in America. The fact that seeing blacks in such positions no longer raises eyebrows is a testimony to the tremendous progress that has been made in America over the last 50 years.

There are some areas, however, where I suspect he might be less than thrilled. The epidemic of black-on-black violent crime indicates that there has been a significant deterioration of values in the black community. Not only are the lives of their fellow blacks and others being devalued by street thugs, but the lives of unborn babies are being destroyed in disproportionate numbers in the black community.

There was a time when blacks were justifiably angry that the larger community discounted their value, but now, ironically, many members of the black community themselves place little or no value on these precious lives that are snuffed out without thought. I think King would be waging a crusade against the marginalization of black lives in America.

Another area of great concern would be the fact that 73 percent of black babies are born out of wedlock. When this occurs, in most cases the educational pursuits of the mothers are terminated and the babies are condemned to a life of poverty and deprivation, which makes them more likely to end up in the penal system or the welfare system. This is a burden not only for the black community but for the nation at large.

Although I believe King would be very concerned for all parties in these tragedies, his energies would be primarily channeled into an attempt to give these young women the kind of self-esteem that would preclude their yielding to the charms of individuals who really don’t care about them and are only interested in their selfish pleasures.

King was a huge advocate of education and would be horrified by the high dropout rates in many inner-city high schools. He, like many others, was vilified, beaten and jailed for trying to open the doors of education to everyone, regardless of their race. If he were alive today, he would have to witness people turning their backs on those open doors and choosing to pursue lives of crime or dependency. I do not believe he would simply complain about these things, however. Rather, he would be raising funds to create programs that would show these young people that they do have real choices that can greatly enhance the quality of their lives.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for King would be the wholesale adoption of a victim mentality that makes people feel that they are entitled to being cared for by others rather than working tirelessly to create wealth and opportunities for their progeny. The amount of wealth that resides within the black community today is staggering. If the black community, like Jewish, Korean and other cultures in America, learned how to turn over dollars within their own community at least a couple of times before sending them out into the larger society, they would create wealth.

I believe King would advocate such economic policies and would encourage those who benefit from the wealth to reach back and pull others up by providing jobs and opportunities. I think he would stress the fact that this kind of philosophy will foster freedom and independence for the black community, regardless of whether anybody else helps or not.

Finally, we should all remember the aspect of his dream in which he desired that people should be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin. In part, this means no one should assume that a black person would adhere to certain political orthodoxy any more so than a white person would. Certainly, we have come a long way, but there is no room for complacency.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/28/i-have-a-dream-50-years-later/#ixzz2dGmGWMUl

Carson is as distinctive from Sharpton as night is from day. Carson is polite, well-reasoned, and fair, something the left is always carping about but never practicing. Sharpton is, well Sharpton, a man I doubt Dr. King would approve of much less endorse as a black leader.
In my dreams I can imagine national debate between Sharpton and Carson with King as the judge. But alas, it’s only a dream and I doubt that even if it were possible Sharpton would have the courage to debate a man of character like Carson.

Erasmus Schools Jerome (many centuries later)

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Recently I picked up the Kindle (for iPad) edition of Gregg Allison’s, Historical Theology. A friend at church recommended it and besides it had the word “historical” in it and that made it a compelling buy after I read the free sample on Amazon.

Historical Theology is the discipline that discusses the development of doctrine.

For example, how did the church over the course of 2000+ years of history arrive at the doctrine known as the Trinity. Or, on what basis, did the church decide what Old and New Testament books should be considered canon and included in the Bible?

Here’s something that I picked up from the chapter about canon.

Jerome, author of Latin Vulgate, a translation of the Greek New Testament into Latin. I always wonder why early scholars are often depicted with a skull on the their desk. I think they are pondering their own mortality.

Jerome, author of Latin Vulgate, a translation of the Greek New Testament into Latin. I always wonder why early scholars are often depicted with a skull on the their desk. I think they are pondering their own mortality.

Jerome translated the Greek New Testament into Latin (I knew that.) It was and is called the Vulgate (I knew that too.) What I did not know is that Jerome translated Jesus’ evangelistic teaching in Matthew 4:17 to say “do penance.” The early Roman Catholic Church used the text to establish a biblical foundation for the sacrament of penance and a means of receiving God’s grace after sinning.

I found this particularly interesting as a former Catholic who went to a Catholic grade school and went to confession monthly as I recall. At the end of the confession the priest assigned penance which was usually a string of prayers. I remember it like this; “say 3 “Our Fathers, 10 “Hail Marys” and 3 “Glory be.”  I remember the practice well except that my numbers were usually higher. Hmmmmm.

How praying was a penance (we kids interpreted penance as a punishment for sin) I’m not sure but at the time mine was not to ask questions but to do it and remain in God’s good graces.

My intent here is not be flippant and make fun of Roman Catholic sacraments. After all, if the Catholic Church believed that Matthew 4:17 commanded penance from the mouth of Jesus then it made perfect sense “to do” penance as one does not take commands from Jesus lightly.

But in Allison’s book, I discovered this little tidbit.

Erasmus straightening out Jerome.

Erasmus straightening out Jerome.

A humanist scholar by the named of Erasmus pointed out that the Greek should be translated “repent” and not “do penance.” The correct translation changes the entire meaning of the passage because to repent means to have an entire change of heart rather than commanding a church-imposed practice.

Now to be fair somewhere along the line the Catholic Church agreed with Erasmus because the modern-day English translation of Matthew 4:17 in the Catholic Bible reads:

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 4:17, NAB)

Here’s the same passage from a popular Evangelical translation called the English Standard Version:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17 ESV)

Pretty darn close heh?

I’m sure the Catholic Church used other texts to establish their doctrine of penance since as far as I know penance is still practiced by Catholics who take their faith seriously.

However, the point should be well taken that doctrine is hashed out and based on the Word of God (something that conservative evangelicals and Catholics say the Bible is). The above noted error led to further debate as to what the beliefs and practices of the church should be based on, a poorly translated Latin Vulgate (sorry Jerome) or the original Greek text correctly translated.

This is no small matter and in this case understanding what repentance is and is not is crucial to understanding the biblical gospel.

Duck Mania

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There’s only a couple of reality shows I watch fairly regularly. One is Pawn Stars and the other is American Pickers. Both have a historical element that I find interesting. I’ve also watched a couple of food reality shows with my wife like Restaurant Impossible featuring ex-Royal Navy guy Robert Irvine tearing down crummy restaurants and rebuilding them within 48 hours.

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So when I heard that Duck Dynasty was the number one reality show (almost 12 million viewers) I really didn’t care. It seemed like an odd idea to have a show about a bunch of Louisiana bearded boys that had something to do with ducks. I figured it was a fad and would soon pass. But it seems like it gets more popular every season and so I began to wonder what was the big deal.

Then I happened to catch Fox’s The Five‘s interview with Willie Robertson, the C.E.O. of Duck Dynasty. The Five proceeded to ask Willie questions about the show and about his politics and Willie came across as the ultimate and articulate gentleman and basic all around good guy. Even Beckel could not find anything nasty to say about him other than he hoped Willie would not run for Congress because he’d just be another right-winger in the Republican Party.

I really didn’t get much of an idea of what the show was all about. I grasped that the bearded ones were Christians and actually prayed on air and that they modeled family values and that the show was funny but still didn’t know what it was about exactly until I read a column by Doug Giles from Clash Daily.

It was these two paragraphs from Doug’s column that made me want to check out Duck Dynasty:

You just know that kind of success has got to make miserable the dainty, little, progressive crowd who are trying legislatively and culturally to peel America away from the pro-God-and-country values that the cast of Duck Dynasty showcases with hairy-chinned hilarity.

Indeed, without a sex tape; without shoving transvestites down our throats; without lauding rank, familial dysfunctionalism; or parading feral children of the corn, or mocking God, or having sex on camera for their grandparents to see, or selling moonshine, or being naked and afraid, or having their children yell, “F— you!” at their parents during church, America has voted with their time and with their cash that they would rather watch the Duck Commanders move through their day than watch the cultural chum slick that Hollywood dishes up, ad nauseum, et infinitum.

So, having found out exactly what Duck Dynasty was not I decided to tune in to see what it was. My wife and I watched two episodes from last year as A & E geared up to start the new season last week.

The first episode was about the Duck Commanders (the guys that worked in the shop) planning and making the world’s largest duck call. That’s when I finally I got the duck thing. They manufacture duck calls and it’s a family business. OK, I can be slow on the uptake!

The plot line was simple as they went through their day over coming obstacles and personalities in their quest to produce the world’s largest duck call at 4 1/2 feet in length! The show was funny, clean, and everything else so much of television is not just like Giles said.

The second episode we watched was even more amusing as well as a little touching. The wives of the three brothers led by Willie’s wife Korie decide to give Willie’s parents the wedding they never had 48 years before. Apparently, 48 years ago the parents (Phil and Miss Kate) were married by  the Justice of the Peace and never had a church wedding with a reception.

The brother’s and employees are not excited about the idea but the women will not be deterred and rope the men into doing all the heavy lifting while at least some would rather be fishing. I can identify with the fishing. Let’s see, go fishing or plan a wedding? Hmmmm, I’ll take fishing.

The group diverts Phil and Miss Kate away from the wedding preparation as odd (Vietnam Veteran) Uncle Si takes  the couple for a trip down memory lane. It was funny.

The Robertson’s oldest son is a pastor and he “marries” his parents in a brief touching ceremony at the end while the Robertson clan and friends look on. Miss Kate tells how she loved Phil since she was fourteen-years-old and while he was apparently quite the jerk for quite a while he was and had been for a number of years the  best husband ever. Phil said as much in his speech about being a jerk in his earlier years as he expressed his ever lasting love for Miss Kate.

In our era of throw-away marriages their speeches were a powerful testimony to the grace of God working in their lives. Again. this is not something you would usually see come out of the cesspool of Hollywood.

I’m not going to say Duck Dynasty is the type of thing I must see. I will say that if it’s on and I’m home I’d tune it in if for no other reason than to see something that is truly counter-cultural.

And God made them male and female and indeterminate.

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“…and God made them male and female and “indeterminate.” (Der Spiegel)

Germany is following Australia’s and Finland’s lead in allowing a third choice when it comes to gender identification on documents that ask for the information. A person simply has to enter the letter “X” for indeterminate rather than ” m” for male or “f” for female.

I could probably go on for quite a while about all the things that are wrong with this confusion but will settle for this.

It’s not exactly a secret how far Germany has drifted from Christianity since the heady days of the Reformation and Martin Luther. And where one thing retreats, another advances and in Germany’s case as well as much of Western Europe that something is Islam.

Nominal cultural Christians, agnostics and atheists may mock Christians that take Scripture seriously and get away with it since most Bible believing Christians are not surprised by anti-Christian biases but with Islam, it’s an animal of a rather different sort.

Islam tends towards being touchy.

religion-of-peace

Sharia law prescribes death to homosexuals as well as calling gender confusion sin. Sharia law is also the stated goal within the western democracies by any honest Islamist. Some rightly fear this trend while their politicians bend over back wards to accommodate Islam.

The irony is the abandonment of traditional Christianity while militant Islam  is on the rise. As one thing retreats, another advances.

For a real eye opener on what slam teaches on homosexuality follow this link to the ReligionofPeace.com

A quick search turned up a number of pictures of Islam demonstrating for Sharia in Europe and here.

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Sharia-law-in-Europe

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Sharia-SC

Caricature and Politcal Correctness

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The free dictionary defines caricature as: A representation, especially pictorial or literary, in which the subject’s distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque effect.

The use of caricature to mock political leaders enjoys a time-honored tradition especially in the English-speaking world. Below is a British example mocking King George III and his policies. King George had the dubious honor of being mocked by his subjects on the both sides of the Atlantic.

A caricature of King George III entitled 'Temperance enjoying a frugal meal.'

A caricature of King George III entitled ‘Temperance enjoying a frugal meal.’

President Lincoln was mocked as well through caricature. The cartoon below is from Punch, a British publication, famous for its ability to mock through caricature. This one shows a foolish looking Lincoln trying to convince a freed slave to fight for the Union.The jab seems to have more to do with Lincoln’s policies rather than attacking Lincoln personally. Britain was pro-Confederacy during our Civil War.

The caption would not pass a political correctness test today!

‘Why, I du declare, it’s my dear old friend Sambo. Lend us a hand, old hoss, du.”

‘Why, I du declare, it’s my dear old friend Sambo. Lend us a hand, old hoss, du.”

The use of masks is another way to use caricature to mock a politician although the mocking is more usually personal than directed at policy. George W. Bush was relentlessly mocked, often very cruelly by the left. Here a person caricatures George Bush as Satan.

George W. Bush mask as Satan. Mask caricatures of Bush were common while he was President, most were not flattering.

George W. Bush mask as Satan. Mask caricatures of Bush were common while he was President, most were not flattering.

Another caricature of George W. Bush, this time as an ape.

Caricature of George Bush as an ape. President Lincoln was also mocked as an ape.

Caricature of George Bush as an ape. President Lincoln was also mocked as an ape.

President Obama is also mocked via the use of caricature. The right can be just as cruel mocking him as the left was in mocking George W. Bush. In politics, mockery and caricature is par for the course. Most politicians expect it and man or wo-man up  to it. The cartoon below takes a Sarah Palin quote way out of context and applies it to President Obama.

President Obama caricature.

President Obama caricature.

Given the history of caricature and the mockery of political figures not to mention the First Amendment, I find it amusing and chilling that the rodeo clown who wore a Obama mask would be subject to sensitivity training and possible investigation by the Justice Department.

The rodeo Clown who sparked a media firestorm because he wore an Obama mask.

The rodeo Clown who sparked a media firestorm because he wore a Obama mask.

Personally, I think there is a difference between a well thought out caricature and name-calling that demonizes an opponent. I think the two examples given above about President Bush and the one example regarding President Obama are simply name calling that tend to demonize. The one regarding Bush is blatant demonization and contribute nothing to debate as do personal attacks.

The last picture is about the rodeo clown who wore a Obama mask during a performance at the Missouri State Fair. It now appears he will be banned for life at that fair and be subject to sensitivity training at the least.

Here’s some comments and observations:

1) Unless the clown violated some clear-cut rules or guidelines that prohibited the use of political masks of all types he should not be disciplined. Period.

2) While the use of the mask is name calling it certainly is not demonization. If something similar happened in the Bush administration or even the Clinton administration it would be news. The left is guilty of far worse and guilty more frequently. To have the Justice Department look into this is pure hypocrisy of the highest order. If the President was not so narcissistic he’d make some hay by poking fun at himself and let this poor off. Instead, it’s become a big deal. Sad.

3) One can argue what is in good taste or bad taste but the bottom line is we still have freedom of speech and expression in this country so to prosecute this man is to send a message: Do not criticize or mock our President in any way or else. This flies in the face in our Constitution, something the Administration does now on a regular basis. This should have a chilling effect on both the right and the left and to all thinking Americans.

4) Political correctness is being used as a club to control thought as well as speech and action. When one group gets to define what is acceptable  thought and speech you have a dictatorship and a persecuted minority that will not tow the party line. For all their yapping about diversity the left requires conformity and will use law to get it. Big brother is here and he looks a lot like the mask on a rodeo clown, although he certainly is not a clown and knows exactly what he is doing.

And that’s the way I see it.

Below is a great caricature that speaks volumes!

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Embarrassed by Noah no More

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English: An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating...

English: An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Matthew 24:41 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past Sunday our pastor asked the church if we were embarrassed by the Bible.

He didn’t mean embarrassed by the Bible itself but embarrassed by some of the content.

He cited a talking snake in Genesis, a staff turned into a snake in Exodus and a bush on fire that was not consumed by the fire.

He could have gone on and on citing content from both Testaments that could potentially embarrass a Christian if challenged by someone who did not think the Bible accurate or authoritative.

His question reminded me of a place where I once was.

A Bible-believing Christian had befriended me when I was agnostic. My friend would talk to me about the Bible and my attitude was “certainly you can’t believe all that weird stuff in the Bible.” In particular I would pick on good old Noah and ask my friend how in the world did Noah get all those animals on that boat?

Yes, I was pulling his chain and I thought myself quite clever trying to get him to defend what I saw as a rather silly myth.

The people mocking Noah as he predicts a flood.

The people mocking Noah as he predicts a flood.

Now, I had played this game with him before and he had purchased for me a book titled, “100 Questions Skeptics Ask” or something like that. But instead of referring me to the book (which I had not read at that point) he asked me this:

“Bruce, the more important question is what will you do with Jesus, not what do you think about Noah and the Ark?”

My friend’s statement forced me to consider C.S. Lewis’ three possibilities. Lewis said there were only three possibilities. Jesus is either Lord, a Liar or a Lunatic. Which is it?

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While I claimed to be an agnostic I wasn’t quite prepared to call Jesus either a liar or a lunatic so I said nothing. Noting my silence my friend referred me to Matthew 24. The speaker is Jesus:

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
(Matthew 24:36-39 ESV)

Apparently Jesus thought Noah a real person with a real ark. He uses the conditions in Genesis to predict what it will look like when he returns at the end of the age.

I know something now that I didn’t know then. The fact that I could not call Jesus a lunatic or liar was not because “I was figuring it out.” I could not call him a liar or lunatic because the Lord was cultivating my heart to believe. My smart alecky question to my friend became the Lord’s vehicle to give me a glance into my heart-a heart that needed to consider the claims of Christ in a serious manner.

My friend had it right. Was there a talking snake, a bush on fire that would not burn or a staff that turned into a snake? Those are not unimportant questions but the real issue is what does a person do with Jesus?

The Limits of Hero Worship_Ryan Braun

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One of the old Milwaukee Braves owned a home not too far from my parents house in the early 1960’s. Whenever his  name was mentioned my mother would say something like, “he drinks too much.” The man and some of the other Braves had a reputation for drinking heavily and that was one of my mom’s pet peeves. Mom had a brother who was alcoholic and that partially explains her disdain for heavy drinkers.

In her own way mom taught me limits  to hero-worship. Admire the Milwaukee Braves as a baseball team and their performance on the field but don’t admire them to the point of thinking that heavy drinking is a good thing.

Milwaukee Braves logo (1953–1956)

Milwaukee Braves logo (1953–1956) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, the Braves  left Milwaukee at the end of the 1965 season and frankly it took me a while to warm up to the Milwaukee Brewers but by the late 70’s they were my team to follow.

By the 80’s there were a few scandals emerging from the Brewers. Everyone seemed to know who did drugs and I don’t mean the performance enhancing variety, Eventually some of the more notable Brewers came forward and admitted their drug problems and sought treatment.

Milwaukee Brewers

Again, there was an evident limit to admiring our home-town heroes.

The commonality between the heavy drinking Braves and the drug-addicted Brewers is that each vice did nothing for their careers. In fact, if anything, their addictions harmed their careers. They simply were seeking pleasure and drugs and alcohol were the means to obtain it.

Today Major League Baseball has a huge credibility problem as well-known players are busted time and time again for using performance enhancing drugs.  The Milwaukee Brewer’s star player, Ryan Braun, lied about it for over a year and finally came clean after he became boxed in by irrefutable evidence.

It remains to be seen if Braun can rehabilitate his career. He might at some level if he hits a lot of home runs without the drugs and becomes an anti-drug crusader. People tend to be forgiving of home town heroes, not-so-much if they are on the visiting team!

Why do gifted athletes like Braun do it? Why risk their careers for better stats?

I suppose it’s the fame. It’s an insatiable demand to be the home town hero no matter what it takes. Fame becomes a god that the player seeks to control, but the god actually controls him.

My mom’s counsel was more practical than spiritual. It doesn’t mean it  was useless counsel, it just meant don’t admire baseball players too much and don’t follow them in their vices.

The take away for the biblical Christian is certainly in tune with mom’s advice but it’s also more. Christians can be slaves to their gods just as any athlete can be slaves to theirs. Put whatever label on it you want. Fame, power, control, pleasure, comfort, self-esteem, etc., they all add up to false gods that can control our lives.

If Jesus is not on the throne of our lives then some other god will be.

I, like many other Milwaukee fans admired Braun and believed him for a long time. Yet, his fall is not surprising, because I know as a pastor, biblical counselor and fellow human being we all have feet of clay.

My prayer for Braun is not that he recover and hit a lot of home runs and become an anti-drug crusader. Braun’s greatest need is that Jesus finds him. (For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV)

Jesus is the only hero worth following to the fullest.

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