Friday, October 18, 2013

Called to Coach by Bobby Bowden

As a diehard Florida Gators fan I grew up pulling against Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles. To me, the perfect weekend included a Florida win and a Florida State loss. I used to hear that Coach Bowden was a Christian. But to be quite honest, in my mind it was hard to accept that someone could be both a Christian and a Seminole. It seemed that the latter meant he was living in sin.

In all seriousness, it was always hard not to like Bobby Bowden. He was the epitome of class on the sidelines, and he graciously handled his termination from FSU (he has more wins than any other major college football coach, and he coached on a field that was named after him; how can you fire a living legend?).

A few years ago Georgia coach Mark Richt told me about his salvation; he confirmed the rumor that I had heard. A football player at FSU was murdered during a bye week, and Bowden took the opportunity to tell his players that they needed to be right with God because their moment could come any minute. Richt, who was an assistant at FSU at the time, went into Bowden’s office and gave his heart to Christ.

Coach Bowden will be preaching for us here in January, so I read his book Called to Coach to see what he is really about. I have to say, even as a Gator, I am very impressed. Throughout his coaching career Bowden would have devotions with his team on the night before each game. Here is how he described them:

“I would talk to them about how to become a Christian and how you become saved. Some may say I didn’t have the right to do it, but I would much rather be spiritually correct than politically correct.”

He went on to say that if he were told to stop talking about Christ in front of his players then he would have gone “underground” and done it anyway. The book is not only an autobiography (complete with pre-game speeches and scores from his 5+-decade career), it is also a treatise about the faith of Bobby Bowden.

As the name of the book suggests, Bowden feels like God called him to coach, much as He calls others to preach or be missionaries. When Bowden was a boy, there was a time when he was sick and was presumed to be dying. He promised God that if He healed him, then he would serve God for the rest of his life.

And he has.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Dove-Award Winning Christian artist Matthew West has written a wonderful called Forgiveness. This book is based on his hit song by the same name (which is currently nominated for Dove Song of the Year).

West invited his fans to submit stories to him for inspiration in his song writing, and that led to his album The Stories of Your Life. One powerful story was submitted by a lady named Renee, and her story led to the song “Forgiveness,” which was saved for West’s next album.

Renee recounted how a drunk driver killed her teenage daughter and her daughter’s best friend in a car accident. Anyone would understand if Renee chose to respond in anger, bitterness, or hatred, but instead she chose forgiveness. The drunk driver was convicted and sentenced, but eventually Renee and her family petitioned the judge for his early release. The man has turned his life around through the power of forgiveness, and today is a believer in Jesus.

Here are the lyrics to the song that inspired the book:

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…


It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’


Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Help me now to do the impossible

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me

Monday, October 14, 2013

Update from Tommy Mann Ministries

Tommy Mann Ministries was begun in 2009 with the release of my first book All the Law. Writing has always been about ministry to me; it is a way to spread the message of Jesus. I never wanted to make money off of writing, so I found a way to give back everything that comes in.

Now, a few years and a few books later, I wanted to give an update on what the ministry has been doing. One of my biggest passions has been fighting for the unborn, but it does no good to convince a woman to keep her baby if we do not help her keep her baby. Because of this, a top priority of this ministry has been supporting crisis pregnancy centers. We routinely supply diapers, wipes, baby food, clothes, monetary donations, and other items to pregnancy centers.

Aside from pregnancy centers the next biggest ministry has been behind bars. TMM supports Angel Tree Ministries, which provides Christmas gifts for the children of incarcerated inmates. Prisoners fill out request forms for their children, and Angel Tree makes it happen. We sponsor several children each year.

We also minister in the prisons by supplying materials to be used either by chaplains or for inmate-led Bible studies. Every blog and devotion from the website is sent out; we also provide Bibles, Bible study books, and other materials.

We also have supported organizations like St. Jude Children’s Hospital, The March of Dimes, and other needs as they have come along.

Through the Rachel Dowd Book Sponsorship Program, we provide free copies of Asleep in Heaven’s Nursery to people who have recently lost small children.

Finally, I have stayed true to the promise I made to Philippi’s deacon board when they voted to approve this new ministry: one dollar from every book sold has been donated to Philippi’s building fund.

When What Now? is released, it will be another chance to do more.

This is not a bragging blog; none of this would be possible without the donations, customers, and supporters of this ministry. Your giving has allowed this ministry to be a part of great things, and I just wanted to let you know what we have been doing.

Thank you for your support!

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Now? Taking Your First Steps With Christ

     Congratulations! You’ve put your faith in Jesus and you are now trusting in Him for your salvation. But you might find yourself asking, “What now?”
     Many times we as the church have been guilty of celebrating when a person chooses to follow Christ, but then we fail to teach them the basic things they need to know. We present the new convert to the church and the church claps, shakes hands, and hugs this new Christian. But that new Christian is often left to fend for himself and figure out the next steps the Lord wants him to take.
     The purpose of this book is to help you answer some of the most basic questions that you 
may already be wondering. Some of these questions include:

*Eternal Security
*Tithes and Offerings
*How to Pray and Read the Bible
*The Importance of Church
*The Need to Serve

What Now? is now available here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What Happened to Barbie?

Last week I was pushing my daughter in the shopping cart as we went down the toy aisle. She likes to look at (and ask for) all the Disney princesses and Doc McStuffins toys. As we made our way through the toys and came to the end of the aisle, I was shocked to see this doll:

Not only is this doll wearing a half shirt, but that is the shortest skirt I have ever seen on a toy. This doll is showing more “skin” than she has covered up, and the article of clothes with the most material are her socks.

This was not in an adult toy store or with the pre-teen stuff, but on the same aisle where my 4-year old finds cloth replicas of cartoon characters. What is wrong with us?

I wonder how many fathers were shocked over Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, but would buy this doll for their little girls. I wonder how many mothers think men are pigs for checking girls out, but they let their daughters wear skirts just as short as this doll’s (and thus, giving those pigs something else to check out).

This is how we justify what we do.
It’s just a toy.
This is the style these days.
It’s just entertainment.

And the message we send our kids is that these things are normal and OK. But it isn’t normal to “twerk” in front of millions of people; it isn’t normal to ride naked on a wrecking ball. It isn’t normal to leave more uncovered than covered. But we’re telling our kids that it is.

This is the problem in our country. This is why Christians are leaving the faith: We give them a Christian worldview on Sundays, but give them a secular worldview the other six days of the week.

What we produced is a generation that has no problem calling themselves Christian while living like the devil. This did not come from professors or the “wrong crowd;” it came from compromising parents sending mixed messages to their children.

Parents, I beg you to evaluate the message you are sending your children. We are not perfect, and that is not what I am calling for. But we need to strive to set a clear, consistent example of godliness. I would rather my children be right in God’s eyes than in the world’s eyes.

That means we might have to say no to the dress, or in this case, the complete lack of it, on the doll.