Tim Tebow, devout QB, picked by the right team in the right state

Nobody brought this up on ESPN last night, but…

It’s fitting that college superstar quarterback Tim Tebow was drafted last night by the Denver Broncos.

Tebow is a devout evangelical Christian (you remember his pro-life commercial with mom during the Super Bowl) and Colorado is a national center of evangelical megachurches and evangelical organizations.

The millions of football analysts who are “breaking down” the Broncos’ selection of Tebow this morning are probably unaware of this unusual fit. But you can bet that Tebow, his family and all those evangelicals in Colorado are smiling.

Many are thanking God for bringing a Christian QB to Colorado.

Tebow’s father, Bob, is a leading missionary/evangelist in the Philippines, where the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association has been aiming to preach the Gospel in every village since 1985. And it’s a family Affair. Bob’s wife, Pam, and their five children are all deeply involved in the work.

That includes the youngest, known as Timmy.

The family’s website includes this:

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Although football is important to Tim, his priorities that precede football are faith, family, and academics. A verse from the Bible that he often quotes is Philippians 4:13, which credits the true source of his strength, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Tim loves football but knows that his career will end someday. His relationship with Jesus Christ, however, will never end.

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Timmy doesn’t have a contract yet but he does have his own foundation. Its mission is this: “The Foundation will utilize the public platform that God has given to Tim Tebow–through media, publishing, speaking engagements, special events, and mission trips—to inspire friends and supporters to work with the Foundation as a team in helping to make a difference.”

He should be right at home in Colorado, which is home to some of the nation’s most influential megachurches, including New Life Church in Colorado Springs (yes, that’s where Ted Haggard used to be pastor).

Dozens of evangelical groups have also put down roots in Colorado Springs, including Focus on the Family.

How will all those crazy Bronco fans feel about Tebow’s regular professions of faith? Sports fandom being what it is, they’ll be fine with it if Tebow plays like John Elway and the Broncos win. They’ll run out of patience fast if Tebow can’t adapt to the pro game (as many analysts expect) and the Broncos lose.

It will also be mighty interesting to see how Tebow — praised in college for tremendous leadership skills — will be received in an NFL lockerroom.

Being a big football fan myself who has read many books by former players, I have no doubt that Tebow will be a fine leader for the many Christians who now populate NFL teams. But the question is how he will relate to the many more worldly players who we read about quite often these days.

Having seen Tebow run over linebackers in college, I wouldn’t be surprised by anything he does.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I am a rabid Oakland Raiders fan. The Raiders stink, but have a long, heated rivalry with the Denver Broncos.

Tim Tebow is easy to like. But I won’t be rooting for him.

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Is Tim Tebow a preacher on the field?

I mentioned the other day that college football superstar Tim Tebow will appear with his mom in a pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl.

As you’ve probably heard, a few pro-choice groups have criticized CBS for agreeing to show the ad. But CBS is holding firm.

I came across a very revealing column about Tebow on Slate.com by Jason Fagone, a journalist who profiled the QB for GQ magazine. He makes a strong case that Tebow’s Christian faith is not some side story in relation to Tebow’s football career, but THE story.

3430df414bfbbd23de3748e1e001Tebow sees his football stardom as evangelism, a way to bring more people to Christ.

Fagone notes that Tebow is perfectly comfortable talking about his faith, maybe to a degree that most famous people are not, but that most writers don’t really want to go there. As if it’s too personal or too…wacky.

Fagone writes:

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Tebow has never really been asked about this stuff, which is a shame. I had a chance when I wrote a profile of him for GQ, but I blew it. I only got as far as a little riff on evolution, which Tim brought up himself, mentioning his admiration for creationist Ravi Zacharias. “Have you ever heard Ravi Zacharias speak before?” Tebow asked me. “He came here to speak and I talked to him for a little bit. … The way he can draw you in with his stories and his wording, and then at the same time make it so easy and simple for someone to understand—I was like, man, he’s great. I thought it was awesome.” But when I got to the heavier God stuff, I started to sweat, fumbling my questions like a blown snap from center. I kept thinking, This guy is a college football player. It’s not fair to ask him what he thinks of Mohammed.

But that was not only stupid; it was condescending. Today, I really regret not asking Tebow about Islam and gay marriage. I regret not asking him if a Jew can go to heaven, and whether he believes that Hurricane Katrina and the stock-market crash are manifestations of “God’s wrath”—as the new pastor at his church, Mac Brunson, has said. (Just last Sunday, Brunson name-checked Pat Robertson, who had been pilloried for calling the people of Haiti devil-worshippers: “You can’t help but just pray for him, you know?” Brunson told his congregation. “He may be right, but what a dumb time to say something like that.”) These are more than fair questions given Tebow’s decision to politicize the Super Bowl, and if reporters don’t ask them, they’re actually doing Tebow a disservice. At SEC Media Day last year, one brave reporter asked Tebow if he was saving himself for marriage. “Yes, I am,” Tebow said as the room burst into nervous giggles. He laughed and his eyes lit up: “I think y’all are stunned right now! You can’t even ask a question!” If anything, he was frustrated that nobody had asked him the question sooner. After all, it can’t be much fun to be a culture warrior if the opposing culture is constantly wimping out, denying you a chance to show your true mettle. Grind him, test him—he’s ready.

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Sure, most college football fans know that Tebow is a Christian. They’ve seen the Bible verses painted under his eyes during games.

But Fagone spends some time on the super-conservative Christian tradition that Tebow comes from. His dad runs the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, which has been working to save souls in the Philippines since 1985. Their website explains: “Since 1985, there has been an increasing movement of the Holy Spirit in the Philippines. BTEA feels an intense sense of urgency to get the gospel to every Filipino before this great door of opportunity closes.”

As Fagone notes, the group’s website includes a detailed description of the “rapture” to come.

In other words, Tim Tebow is not your average star QB with a church background. His story, as it unfolds, may be far more interesting.

Photo: Phil Sandlin, AP

College football’s biggest star already a professional at preaching

The most passionate evangelist in the land just might be the quarterback of college football’s national champions.

That’s what I was left thinking after reading Sports Illustrated’s cover story about Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner who is heading into his highly anticipated senior senior for the Florida Gators.

The article deals almost entirely with Tebow’s aggressive, unambiguous Christian faith, which he takes into prisons in an effort to save souls.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do,” Tebow says. “You’re talking to guys who have no hope, no support, who have been totally written off by the world.”

Keep in mind that this guy is 21 years old.

He is the son of Bob Tebow, who has been doing missionary work in the Philippines since 1985. Pastor Bob tells SI that he was preaching about abortion back in 1986, when he prayed, “God, if you give me a son, if you give me Timmy, I’ll raise him to be a preacher.”

His wife’s pregnancy was very difficult and he says that doctors advised an abortion, which they refused.

Tim was born, a “miracle baby,” Bob says.

And: “I asked God for a preacher, and he gave me a quarterback.”

Well, Bob got both.

Tim is so devout that in the hours before his team won the National Championship last January, he called about 15 teammates to his room to read the Bible with him. No one knew where they all were.

The QB says he told his teammates: “We’re going to win because we’re going to handle it the right way, we’re going to be humble with it, with God leading us.”

The SI story even adds some real religious stuff about Bob Tebow’s beliefs and ministry:

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Under the heading What We Believe, the BTEA’s website details the conservative brand of Christianity it is spreading. The ministry espouses a literal interpretation of the Bible (“This is to say the written Word of God is totally without error of any kind”), supports the teaching of Creationism (“We believe God created the heavens and the earth … out of nothing in six 24-hour days”) and is convinced of the inevitability of the Rapture followed by a seven-year tribulation period. “During this time the antichrist will appear,” says the BTEA. Some will be saved, but “many will be martyred.”

Asked if there is any wiggle room for people nagged by doubts about, say, the creation of the world in six days or the imminence of the Rapture, Bob strikes a warm, inclusive note. “You don’t have to believe everything I believe to be saved,” he says. “You just need to believe in the Lord Jesus and trust him to give you the free gift of eternal life, and you can figure out Genesis and all that other stuff later.”

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The article by Austin Murphy describes how at a Florida prison, Tebow is greeted like a hero.

“If you were to die right now, where would you be?” the football star asks the inmates. “For me, I have an answer to that question. I am one hundred percent certain I’m going to go to heaven because I have Jesus Christ in my life.”

Being that Tim Tebow may this season become the biggest college football star ever — a guy who lowers his shoulder and runs over linebackers — we may be hearing much more about his faith in the months to come.

(AP Photo/ Butch Dill)