Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tom Brady, your questions have answers

Tom Brady, the 3-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of the New England Patriots was featured the week in a 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft on CBS. Brady is already a sports legend in one of the citadels of professional sports in America, Boston. His current team is 15-0 and is poised to finish the season undefeated, something that hasn't been done in the NFL in 35 years. He has won the Super Bowl MVP twice and been named to the Pro Bowl 4 times. He also was recently named the Associated Press' "Male Athlete of the Year."

He has dated actresses and supermodels and makes millions of dollars a year. He has been called America's most eligible bachelor. By most popular standards, he has it all. That is why I was struck by hearing him make the following statement during the interview:
"Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, 'Hey man, this is what is.' I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, 'God, it's got to be more than this.' I mean this isn't, this can't be what it's all cracked up to be."
When Kroft asked him, "What's the answer?" Brady responded, "I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I'm trying to find."

Here is what I would say to Tom Brady, if given the chance to discuss this with him.

Tom, I appreciate your honesty in admitting on national TV that Super Bowl championships and Pro Bowl appearances do not ultimately satisfy what you long for from somewhere deep inside. What you feel is not unique. And your questions really do have answers. Others have asked them throughout history. Many have found the answer in what God has revealed in the Bible.

Augustine, an African Christian leader from the 5th century is an example. During his years of pursuing sensual pleasure and knowledge, he experienced that longing for something more that you described. Later, as he reflected on it, he expressed it like this in a prayer, "Lord, you made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

The 17th century mathematician, Blaise Pascal, also understood this longing and wrote about it in his famous, Pensees. "All men seek happiness...without exception," he wrote. "Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."

That is why you play football. You, like every other person, are on a quest for happiness. Like very few people, you have experienced all the happiness that the pinnacle of success in your field can offer. Yet, like everyone else, you have discovered that such happiness is fleeting. As Pascal goes on to explain, that is the inevitable result of every quest that does not recognize that God himself is the only object that can fill the emptiness that we all experience.

One of the books in the Bible specifically addresses the futility of trying to find satisfaction apart from God. Ecclesiastes says that everything is "vanity." Solomon, the author, pursued wisdom, knowledge, success and pleasure, but nothing could ultimately satisfy. Yet the quest to find satisfaction is inevitable because, as he put it, God "has put eternity into man's heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

So, the reason that your 3 Super Bowl rings leave you thinking that there is still something greater out there for you is because there is. You were made for something far greater than football, wealth, fame and success. You were made for God.

Genesis 1 and 2 teaches us that God made people in his own image. Originally, men and women were in a joyful and harmonious relationship with their Creator. But, as Genesis 3 tells us, that peaceful relationship did not last. The first man, Adam, disobeyed God with the result that the whole human race became separated from God and liable to His judgment.

The Bible calls this disobedience, sin. And sin has left every person spiritually opposed to God. So, our predicament is this--we were made by God, for God. Yet, we are no longer able to know and enjoy God because our sin has separated us from him. That leaves us in a spiritually lost condition. Our only hope is to be rescued.

That is exactly what God did by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus came on a search and rescue mission. He came to reconcile people to God. And he accomplished this mission by living on earth as a representative of sinners like you and me. Though he had all kinds of opportunity and lots of pressure to disobey God, he never did. He lived the kind of life of complete obedience to God that you and I are obligated to live. Then, in an act of incredible love and sacrifice, he stood before God a substitute for any and all sinners who are willing to trust him as Lord. He exchanged his life for theirs by enduring God's wrath against sin in his death on the cross. That is what enables God to forgive us of our sins.

Jesus put it like this: "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And this: "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus was born in order to save people who are lost. And he has accomplished that salvation by giving up his life on the cross.

When God raised Jesus from the dead after 3 days, it was a clear demonstration that everything Jesus came to accomplish had been achieved. By his life, death and resurrection, a way has been opened for God's fallen image-bearers to be brought back into a life-changing relationship with their Creator. That is the meaning of one of the best-known verses in the Bible, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

The key, then, for us, is faith. We must place our trust in Jesus Christ. That means that we must bow to him as Lord, commit ourselves to him and become his followers. When you trust Christ you receive eternal life here and now. You come to experience life that is abundant and full of joy (John 10:10; 15:11).

You see, there is more to life than great success. There is God. Until you come to know him, your heart will never be satisfied, no matter how many Super Bowls you win. So, keep being honest with yourself. Keep thinking about the "something more" that you have been created for. And go read your Bible to discover for yourself what that something is. When you find it, humble yourself before Jesus Christ, and become his follower. Trust Him. Ask him to make you right with God.

Then, and only then, will your heart find the rest that it craves.


Marc Backes said...

I wonder if the team chaplain for NE has ever shared anything of the sort with Tom Brady?

Speaking of 60 Minutes and CBS...did you watch the 2 hour special after the Amazing Race?

Very interesting stuff... Should be worth a good blog post or two over the coming days...

Have a Merry Christmas Tom...

Caddiechaplain said...

You "Pros Apologian" you! Great words for a great quarterback who is lost as a goose! May the gospel of peace find its way into Brady's Christmas stocking!!

Caddiechaplain said...

Oh! And by-the-way. . . Merry Christmas brother. I am grateful for you faithful ministry.

gordan said...

Great, Biblical post, brother.

My only complaint about it is that I can no longer despise Tom Brady with an unalloyed loathing, but now am obliged to pray for him.

(Go Cowboys! I think the shock of having Brady's one defeat of the year happen in the Super Bowl might well cause him to seek after God in the lowness of that disappointment.)

Jimmy Snowden said...

Dr. Ascol,
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I saw the Tom Brady interview on 60 minutes last night. When I heard Brady make his "surprising" confession, I immediately began to think of what I would say to him if I were the reporter.

What, if anything, could be done to get the Gospel message to a man who is so tucked away from normal, every day civilization?

Jimmy Snowden

F.J. Aalderink said...

Now THAT is the gospel!

Tom Bryant said...

Great job. Clear presentation of the Gospel!

kelly jack said...

That confession should make all christians ponder what we have in Christ Jesus. Here is a man that can go no higher in his job or status in the world and he basically is seeking what we have.
The poorest Christian on Earth already has everything,take that from Tom Brady.

heath lloyd said...

Tom: Thanks for this post. I, like the brother ahead of me, must now pray for Brady as I pull against his team.
Also, what comes to my mind is that there are people just like Tom Brady all around us -- my neighbors, my relatives. They aren't on 60 Minutes or winning Super Bowls, but they are just as lost. Do we care about them? Notice them? Why not?
May we be stirred to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.

Yogi Taylor said...

Tom, that was a great post and well worth the read. I have filed this away for a great illustration of how money, fame, women, and success, can not satisfy like Christ.

I am going to pray that some how you get the opportunity to share this to Brady, if maybe that he would just read it and come to know and love Christ. Again thank you for the great post…!

Yogi Taylor

Byroniac said...

I wish someone who knows Brady would direct him to this post.

Terry Delaney said...

why not just print it off and mail it to the him in care of the team? I used to do that as a kid when seeking autographs from my favorite baseball players (St. Louis Cardinals!!!) and many of them would answer.

I would do it if I got Bro. Ascol's permission, but if someone else has the urge, by all means do it! Here is the address as per the team home page:

Tom Brady
c/o New England Patriots
One Patriot Place
Foxborough, MA 02035

I pray that the gospel is preached and that Brady comes to Christ with the rest of y'all.

Zack said...

I listened to the podcast version of that interview yesterday, and I was putting together a very similar blog post in my head, and within an hour, I found yours :0)

Small world...

Thanks for the well-thought remarks.

Let's couple it with prayer.

Here's the post I ended up writing, including a link back here:

Tom said...

Let's pray for Brady as he goes for the record this Saturday. And Terry (and others)--by all means feel free to pass along my comments to anyone who might get them to Tom Brady.


Dusty McDust said...

The insurmountable unfulfillment of not knowing God is one good illustration to draw from Tom Brady's life, that's true.

The other one, which I think Christians really need to pay some attention to, is that one can amass blessings upon blessings for one's self completely apart from knowing God. That is, there is not a one-to-one correlation between Pleasing God and Getting Stuff. One can be Godless and get all kinds of stuff; Health and Wealth teachers would do well to jar themselves with that realization.

The problem isn't limited to TV preacher types, of course.
The worst thing about modern Christianity is this overall "relationship with God as a means to getting what I want out of life" phenomenon. We'd all do well to witness more of our Christian brethren "sawn in two" (Hebrews 11) for their faithfulness from time to time. Ah, those were the good ol' days.

Terry Delaney said...

This letter is going out in today's mail along with the original post minus all the comments.

Dear Mr. Brady,

You recently gave an interview on 60 minutes. What follows is a response from a minister in Florida. I implore you to please take the time to read what he has to say. Please know that as I write this (28 December 2007), you have thousands of Christians praying not only for your game this weekend, but also that Christ would save you. Sir, we are not fanatics—no more than fans of a professional football team. However, we are concerned about your life eternally. If you have any questions, please contact Brother Ascol at:

Founders Ministries
PO Box 150931
Cape Coral, FL 33915
(239) 772-1400

God’s blessings,

Terry Delaney

MLS said...

"'Repent!' Of what? Here you must answer such questions as, What is sin? What is the evil of sin? What are the consequences of sin?"

"...Men need to be told that, except divine grace shall bring them out of their enmity to God, they must eternally perish; and they must be reminded of the sovereignty of God, that He is not obliged to bring them out of this state, that he would be right and just if He left them in such a condition, that they have no merit to plead before Him, and no claims upon Him, but if they are to be saved, it must be by grace, and by grace alone. The preacher's work is to throw sinners down in utter helplessness, that they may be compelled to look up to Him who alone can help them."

"...God never clothes men until He has first stripped them, nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the law."

- Charles H. Spurgeon, "The Soul Winner"

I love you, Dr. Ascol... and I know your heart is filled with the love of Christ... and you sincerely want to see this man saved. But I do not think this letter throws Tom Brady "down in utter helplessness." It sounds a lot like a preacher I once heard (actually I've heard more than one), who would say something like this... See, he's got a God-shaped hole in his heart that only Christ can fill, and if he'll only try Jesus, then he will be truly happy.

HUMANISM... If y'all don't see it, please listen to Paris Reidhead's "Ten Shekels and a Shirt" sermon again. I think the truths preached in that sermon badly need to be thundered from our pulpits today... for I'd like to see the old, old gospel return to our town squares... a preaching that does not empty the cross of Christ of its power... and I'd like to see sinners really repent and be broken before a holy God.

I hope I'm not being overly critical... I just want to be a soul winner... and it is amazing for me to consider that God would use a wretched sinner like I for such a task. Amazing grace!

Consider your calling, brothers...

in Christ alone,
Marty Smith
Franklin, TN

Em Klopfenstein said...

I really appreciate your thoughts and I'm glad that you saw the same interview and had the same response. It makes me even more thankful for the hope that we have and that our hearts have found their eternal rest. Hopefully somebody will be able to share this hope with him...and we'll be able to ask Tom about how it happened in eternity together.
In Him,

DefenderOfTruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jim warren said...

I hope Tom Brady finds the prince of peace, then he will find the meaning to his life, but I'm sure if Tom Brady is a sheep the good shepard will find him and he will know the peace that passes all understanding