marc julagay

One families attempt to keep up with themselves


Christian Life

Jackie Robinson: How God used two faith-filled believers to desegregate baseball.

jackierobinson+3The biographical film “42” depicts Jackie Robinson’s courageous battle to break the color barrier in major league baseball. At the same time, the film provides a glimpse of his religious faith, which afforded the strength he needed to overcome fierce opposition.

“It took two Christians to pull this off,” says Chris Lamb, the author of “Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training” (University of Nebraska, 2004). “Robinson was a Christian and Branch Rickey was a Christian,” he notes. “Sometimes we miss this.”

Lamb was blind to it himself until he researched Robinson’s life for his book. “I kept wondering all these years what kept Robinson together,” he says. “Finally I realized what I missed before – the core came from above.”

The film accurately depicts the role of Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey in advancing desegregation in baseball. Rickey, a devout Methodist, was sometimes known as “the deacon” due to his forthright convictions.

“It was in every part of him,” Lamb says. “He spoke often about his religion. You could see him across the room and even with the cigar smoke, there was a warm glow.”

As an athlete, Rickey was demoted from the major leagues to the minor leagues, because he refused to play baseball on Sundays, according to Lamb.

“His religion was not a coat he put on and took off at night,” Lamb says. “It was a part of his skin, and he took it with him wherever he went.”

Wesley "Branch" Rickey as a young man
Wesley “Branch” Rickey as a young man

There was one searing incident four decades before Robinson came along that altered Rickey’s perspective on racial integration. Rickey coached Ohio Wesleyan’s baseball team, and his star catcher Charles Thomas – the only African American on the team — was denied lodging at the Oliver Hotel in South Bend, Indiana on the eve of a game against Notre Dame.

“Blacks and whites couldn’t stay in the same hotel room,” Lamb notes. But Rickey approached the front desk clerk and asked if Thomas could stay in his room on a cot. The clerk reluctantly agreed to make an exception, but when Rickey went to their room later that night he found Thomas crying, rubbing his skin.

“If only I could make it white,” Thomas said. “If only I could make it white.”

Charles Thomas

“It looked like he was trying to rub off his skin,” Lamb recounts. At that moment, Rickey made a vow before God that if he ever had the opportunity to do something about racial injustice, he would do it.

Forty years later he got that chance when he invited a young player from the Negro leagues into his office. In their first encounter, Rickey wanted to know if Robinson was made of the right stuff, because he knew whoever was chosen first to break the color barrier would endure awful indignities.

“I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back,” Rickey told Robinson. Then Rickey opened up a book he had sitting nearby, “Life of Christ,” by Giovanni Papini.

He read the words of Jesus to the promising athlete: “But whoever shall smite thee on the cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Even though Robinson’s father abandoned their family when he was only a child, these words were familiar because of the influence of a godly mother. “I have two cheeks, Mr. Rickey. Is that it?” he replied.

When Robinson was a teenager veering into trouble in the streets, he was taken under wing by Rev. Karl Downs, minister at Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena. He counseled the young man and became a father figure. “Pretty soon Robinson was teaching Sunday School,” Lamb notes.

The influence of a godly mother and Rev. Downs left a lasting mark. “Robinson wore his religion quietly, but it was sincere,” Lamb says.

In the Negro leagues, Robinson developed a straight-laced reputation. “He didn’t engage in premarital sex and he didn’t drink,” Lamb recalls. “There was a quiet strength that put him at odds with his teammates.”

On one occasion, Robinson took a glass of whisky and dramatically tossed it into a lit fireplace in front of his astonished team. “This is what liquor does to you,” he said, as the flames roared in a vivid display of alcohol’s combustible properties.

In the first providential meeting between Rickey and Robinson, the Dodgers executive discovered that Robinson had built his life on the right foundation. “Rickey sensed that Robinson had a strong central core that could hold together in the face of the storm.” The core – the indwelling presence supplying the faith and assurance — was Jesus Christ.

Robinson with Rickey, 1950
Robinson with Rickey, 1950


“I’m a Methodist. Robinson is a Methodist, and God is a Methodist,” Rickey exclaimed after the meeting. Sensing it was all more than a coincidence, their common faith gave both men the assurance to forge ahead in the face of certain opposition.

Horrible invective was hurled at Robinson during his first Spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. “He had to deal with 10 kinds of awful indignities every day,” Lamb recounts. It got so bad, Robinson’s wife delayed telling him she was pregnant, because she didn’t think he could handle the news, according to Lamb.

“You can’t tell the civil rights story without Jackie Robinson and you can’t tell the Robinson story without the civil rights movement,” he observes. “Martin Luther King taught non-violent resistance, but Jackie Robinson did that 20 years before.”

Lamb sees the Jackie Robinson story as almost biblical. “When you think about where the strength comes from, it becomes a parable, a Christian story,” he notes. “It’s like something out of the New Testament.”


Marriage – Gender Appropriation

genderappropriationShould gay marriages be “legal?”  Yea, I’m sure I’ll be offending some people who are close or not-so-close to me. But we just can’t ignore what the Bible has to say about it. If we need to debate the validity of the Bible, then that can be done at a different time, but for this purpose, Scripture will remain the catalyst for the discussion. The Apostle Paul wrote to a culture which had similar moral struggles as we do. He wrote…

Romans 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

God won’t prevent someone from entering into an improper marriage or sexual relationship. In fact, according to the Bible, He WILL allow someone to do it. However, that does not mean He condones it, but like anything else we insist on choosing, it will have it’s consequences.

For People Who Don’t Like Church

2013_08billboardarticleAn article from

While driving home from a family vacation today, we passed a billboard for a church. It read: “The church for people who don’t like church.” As I continued to drive, I started thinking about it. I’ve seen many variations on this campaign across the country. So why does it always bother me when I see ads like these? Today I finally had enough time in the car to figure it out.

First, a disclaimer. I’m a marketing guy. I am not really a church marketing guy. But as a believer who happens to do advertising and marketing for a living, I often pay attention to church marketing. Does your church advertising work? Perhaps you think there’s room to improve it, or you are on the verge of giving up on church advertising completely. Before you do anything drastic, consider these three reasons why I think most church advertising (like the campaign I saw on vacation) simply doesn’t work.

1. It doesn’t resonate with as many people as you might think.
When churches run ads like this one, I think they assume it appeals to most of the people in their community. After all, the majority of the local community is not in church. Therefore, the majority of the community doesn’t like church. But this logic is flawed. It takes energy and effort to experience something and then decide you dislike it. Most people don’t dislike church. It’s worse than that. They couldn’t care less about church. Most people are completely indifferent, and as a result, this advertising doesn’t speak to them at all.

2. It beats up on an already-damaged brand—the church.
If you think of the Church (with a capital C) as a brand, we can all agree that the brand is in bad shape. But the answer is not to run an ad campaign that distances your church from other churches. In fact, I believe this approach probably hurts your local church more than it helps. Remember, the majority of your community is indifferent. As a result, they don’t care enough to take time to understand the nuances between your church and the church down the street. So any time we speak of the church—with or without a capital C—we should seek to build it up. Yes, that includes your billboard campaigns.

There isn’t a megachurch on the planet with an advertising budget large enough to completely separate themselves from the larger brand of the Church in the eyes of a public that doesn’t care.

3. It doesn’t speak to many people at an emotional level.
All effective advertising speaks to people at an emotional level. As a marketing professional, this can sometimes be difficult to do, especially when my client is selling something boring, like a technical mechanical thing-a-ma-jig to a purchasing manager. But we always try to find a way to make an emotional connection.
When I think about the church… the great commission… the power of the gospel… the stories of changed lives… that is a story that is just teeming with energy. It has the power to connect with people at an emotional level. So why on earth do we throw away advertising dollars with ads that compare our church to most other churches, when most people don’t care about church?
Don’t feel bad. It’s understandable why this approach is so often used. When pastors and church leaders see billboard concepts like my example above, it speaks to them at an emotional level. You love your church. You are passionate about what you want to accomplish in your community, and are understandably excited to share how different you are. But remember, the majority of the people who drive past your billboard aren’t looking for a better church. They don’t think they need church.

Here’s a good rule of thumb. If you’re selling something that everybody buys (like toothpaste, cell phones or automobiles) then do marketing that focuses on differences between you and your competition. But if you’re selling something that most people don’t think they need (like church), then focus your marketing on why they need it!

Fantastic. I just wrote an article about how ineffective the church is in advertising. It would be a little ironic if I ended here, wouldn’t it? But there’s more to share. In my next post I’ll share eight practical steps you can use to design a church marketing campaign that will speak to the majority of your local community… the people who couldn’t care less about church.

The Best Players in Baseball

Who are the best players in baseball? Players who never fail? Players who don’t attack other players? Players without obsessive pride? Here are a few: Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mariano Rivera, Christian Guzman, Matt Holiday, Jamie Moyer, Ryan Church, Lance Berkman.

They are so dominate. They believe in God.

Rivera is a devout Christian. During his childhood, neither he nor his family attended church, but after a born again experience in his early 20s, Rivera—and subsequently his parents—became religious. He maintains that God has a reason for everything that happens. Rivera has publicly said that he is going to be a Christian pastor when he retires from baseball. He is often reading the Bible in the Yankees clubhouse. He has payed for a church to be built in his home Town of Panama City. He is still caring about them after he is the best reliever in the game. He is truly invincible.

Albert Pujols has contributed to more donations than he has longballs. In 2006 his team one the World Series. He is an amazing christian, he always puts his family first. He has showed christian leadership and through him he has changed so many peoples lives.

Lance Berkman is the first baseman of the Houston Astros. He was raised in a christian home. A little after, he was swearing like a sailor, spending every night in a bar. When he reached his sophomore year in college he found guys at his school that were at the same level he was at, they started encouraging one another to get deeper with God.

Jamie Moyer is playing in Philliedelphia and has a foundation called the Moyer foundation. It helps children in severe distress, children without the money to pay for the healthcare. He has created camps that help children get comfort after the death of loved ones.Matt Holiday is an amazing Christian leader on his team, even in the hard times. Last season in the clubhouse you wouldn’t find any penthouses, playboys, or a maxim. They would read the Bible, car magazines, sports illustrated and the newspaper. Other team mates that took part in their weekly Bible study were  Todd Helton who is one of the most respected players of the game, Jamey Carrol, and Choo Freeman. They made it to the world series last year as a christian baseball team.Christian Guzman and Ryan Church have been holding their team to Christian morals. Once there was a player(name unknown) on the nationals that wanted to do batting practice instead of going to there weekly seminars but Ryan Church was firm and said no, your coming.

Josh Hamilton was into drugs; then he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior and has fought his way back up to an all-star, and back up as a MVP candidate. He encourages you to do the same. Read John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believed in him would have everlasting life.”

To God Give the Glory!

Tony Dungy says, “Michael Vick Needed to Get Back Closer to the Lord”

The story can be as much about Tony Dungy and his ministry as it can be about Michael Vick’s road to redemption. When Michael Vick was convicted years ago, few people would have seen this story coming. There was a time in Michael Vick’s life when even fewer people would have believed in him as a person or a football player. Many on the current “MV” bandwagon had given up on him. Tony Dungy was one of a few people in a million that cared whether or not Michael Vick would ever see life outside of his prison walls. And when I say “prison walls,” I mean figuratively as much as literally.  Tony cared about both. Away from the limelight and away from the cameras, Dungy subjected himself to full body scans, seemingly endless moments in prison waiting rooms, and vile prison conditions few truly understand – just to have conversations with a man whom most people would consider vile. That takes the character and commitment of an incredible man of God.

Is Michael Vick a Christian? I have no idea. I’ve never had a conversation with the man and if I did, who am I to judge his heart and his motives he has to act in the way he does.   Like many people, I think we’re all going to be a little surprised by who is and who is not “walking close to the Lord.” If we are going to dismiss a person for what the atrocities they’ve committed in their life, we’re going to have to start shortening our list of heroes if we are going to be completely honest. Would you care about someone like Michael Vick? Do you have a Michael Vick in your life? To use an over-used statement, but an effective one; What would Jesus do? To determine WWJD, you first have to determine what would He feel towards Michael Vick.

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