Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tim Tebow: Make a Vow and Grow It Long

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about my wife's and my 2009 encounter with Tim Tebow and my growing esteem for Tim as a faithful Christian witness. The post was probably something that many mainstream pastors could have written at the time. Southern Baptist evangelical leaders were driving the Tebow bandwagon in 2009. Not any more. Last week Tebow cancelled a speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for this coming April. Tim is keeping other speaking engagements in the Dallas area that same week, but he is not going to be speaking at First Baptist. The Internet, Twitter and the blogs have been abuzz about Tim Tebow's withdrawal from his commitment to speak. Though not specifically stating the reason for his decision, Tebow issued the following statement:
"While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance."  
Tim Tebow did not share what "new information" he received, but the secular media had been hounding Tebow for agreeing to speak at FBC Dallas, a church that some in the media wrongly accused of being "hateful" and "intolerant" for their views on homosexuality and Islam. Before Tebow cancelled, CBS sports journalist Gregg Doyel wrote an ugly piece entitled Agreeing to Speak at Intolerant Church Is Tim Tebow's Greatest Sin. Doyel slandered FBC Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress when he compared Jeffress to the radical and uncouth Fred Phelps, the pastor of Westboro Baptist, Topeka, Kansas. Sportswriter Gregg Doyel is not writing for a Christian audience, so his words of attack against Robert Jeffress and FBC Dallas should not come as a surprise to Christians.

However, what some SBC evangelicals have said about Tim Tebow since word filtered out that he cancelled his speaking engagment at FBC Dallas is very suprising. According to Tom Rich, one pastor named Jerry Vines tweeted, "The devil laughs when Christians compromise truth." Southern Baptist pastor Jack Graham wrote, "It is very, very sad when Tim Tebow bows to political correctness and cultural decay." Another pastor, Kevin Parnella, tweeted "Being a coward, breaking his word, and turning his back on biblical truth does not make Tim Tebow credible."  For his part, pastor Robert Jeffress implied Tim Tebow "...wimped out." I find it flabbergasting that evangelical leaders who once drove the Tebow bandwagon are now verbally crucifying him.  I'm not sure I could write anything to change the viewpoints of these pastors towards Tim Tebow, but maybe there is something I could write that might encourage Tebow as he moves forward in his desire to share the love of Christ. I am calling it the Cenchrea Solution.

Cenchrea is a sea port on the eastern side of the Isthmus of Corinth, just south of Athens, Greece. Cenchrea's natural harbor (pictured here) flows into the Aegean Sea. It is the harbor where Paul and Priscillia and Aquila, after spending eighteen months in Corinth, boarded a ship to head to Ephesus and then Syria as Paul finished his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18). Cenchrea is mentioned only twice in the Bible. The second occasion is in Romans when the Apostle Paul commends Phoebe, a woman deacon from the church at Cenchrea, to the assembly in Rome (Romans 16:1-2). Phoebe boarded a ship in the port of Cenchrea in A.D. 57 and set sail for Rome in order to deliver Paul's letter to the Romans. Renan wrote, "Phoebe carried under the folds of her robe the whole future of Christian theology." 
But Cenchrea is also a signficant seaport because of a statement made in Acts 18:18 regarding Paul: "Paul had his hair cut at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken." Notice that the verb is in the past tense. Paul "had taken" a vow.  It was customary for Jews to allow their hair to grow long during the fulfillment of their vows. By the time Paul reached the port of Cenchrea his vow had been fulfilled. Now he needed a haircut. What was the vow Paul made? In Acts 18 we discover that Paul arrived in Corinth and began to teach in the Jewish synagogue. He also walked the streets of Corinth, sharing Christ with the Greeks of that city. Acts 18:4-5 tells us that Paul was trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks of the truth of Jesus Christ. "And Paul was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade the Jews and the Greeks." (Acts 14:4). However, after Silas and Timothy arrived in Corinth Paul began to concentrate solely on reaching the very religious and devout Jews of the city. "But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah." (Acts 18:5)

The Jews did not like Paul or his message."The Jews resisted ... so Paul shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will only go to the Gentiles." (Acts 18:6) This last sentence reveals the vow that Paul made. He vowed to stop going to the Jewish synagogue in Corinth. For the rest of his time in Corinth Paul vowed he would only share the message of Christ with the pagan Greeks. By the way, the culture of the Corinthian Greeks was corrupt to the nth degree. The society in which they lived really bothered the religious Jews of Corinth. But Paul's mission was to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ and nothing else. He vowed he would no longer waste his time in the religious synagogue of the Jews. As was customary for Jews when making a vow, Paul began to let his hair grow long. He stopped living with the Jews in Corinth and went to live with a Gentile man named Titius Justus, as told us in Acts 18:7:

"Then Paul left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue."

Paul stayed with Titius Justus next to the synagogue, but he never again went into the Jewish synagogue in Corinth. He walked the streets of Corinth for at least another year sharing Christ with the pagan Greeks, and he spent Sundays teaching a small but growing Christian assembly. Toward the end of his stay in Corinth, the religious and pious Jews slandered Paul. They tried to press charges against Paul, angry that he was not interested in Jewish customs and traditions and their Jewish laws. How dare this trained Jewish scholar from Tarsus spend his time with the pagan Corinthians! The Jews let Paul know they no longer appreciated him.

It's interesting to note that Paul would later write a letter to the people he had led to Christ in Corinth, and in this letter (I Corinthians), he described what he did during those months he spent among the pagan Greeks in Corinth:

"For I resolved to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (I Cor. 2:2).

His fellow Jews wanted Paul to be interested in much more than Christ and Him crucified. They wanted him to press home the Law. They wanted him to keep the customs and traditions of the Jews. They wanted him to identify with them -- but he was only interested in taking the message of Christ to the world. He was uninterested in promoting anything else. When Paul left Corinth, he went to Cenchrea to catch a ship to go to Ephesus and then on to Syria, but before he boarded:

"Paul had his hair cut at Cenchrea because of the vow he had taken" (Acts 18:18).

The cutting off of his hair (see Numbers 6:5) signified the end of the Paul's vow not to speak in the Jewish synagogue. Now notice the next verse:

"They (Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla) came to Ephesus.... Now Paul himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews" (Acts 18:19).

Paul's vow was over. He cut his hair. He could now go into the Jewish synagogue.

My Advice for Tim Tebow 

Tim Tebow, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ who identifies with us Southern Baptists. Your membership is at a Southern Baptist church in Jacksonville, Florida. It seems some of your own people (a few Southern Baptist leaders) want you to focus (with them) on secondary and tertiary issues. They want you to affirm their beliefs in matters that have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The fact that this is not your calling or your mission makes them no difference. They are upset with you.

I suggest you follow the example of the Apostle Paul.

Take a vow, Tim.

Avoid SBC churches.

Grow your hair long.

The pagans in America need your message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified more than we Southern Baptists need you in our temples.


Wade Burleson said...

NOTE: Due to technical problems with Blogger, this post had to be reposted from one put up earlier today. Unfortunately, all the comments from people earlier today have been lost. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Johnny D. said...

Excellent message, Wade. Good exposition too. I've always wondered about that vow.

Robert I Masters said...

Two things
1. Tim Has already promised to come back to FBC Dallas

2.Some of us have taken a vow to Reclaim America or any culture for His Glorify.
I can stand shoulder to shoulder with Dr Jeffries as we seek to accomplice that goal.

May the Pietist be destroyed in this battle.

Wade Burleson said...


The point of my post is Tim Tebow is not needed at FBC Dallas as much as he is needed in a culture in need of Jesus.

Tom Parker said...

Mr. Masters:

What in the world do you mean when you say:"May the Pietist be destroyed in this battle."

Mike Cosgrove said...


Taking a compassionate biblical position while leaving the bridges up with people is a lesson that some pastors refuse to learn.

Media statements and business boycotts by pastors have burned bridges that could have reached all kinds of people to a crisp. I don't know if Tebow is wanting to distance himself from churches like this, but he has maintained an open door for the Gospel through his testimony.

Tom Parker said...

Mr. Masters:

How do you know Tebow has rescheduled? Are you privy to information that no media folks have access to. I've not seen this major announcement about his rescheduling and surely it would be all over the internet.

Julie Anne said...

Excellent, Wade. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

what an excellent post. I have always wondered about that line concerning the haircutting and vow. The way you explained it was so understandable. Also your application is spot on. It seems that certain Christians only like you when you are doing things they like or you are doing things that support them.

Robert, you stated that some people have taken a vow to reclaim America for God. How have you determined that 1. America does not already belong to God? I thought the earth was the Lords and the fullness there of.
2. Is this vow in line with Gods desires? Maybe
3. Are the tactics you choose to use inline with the tactics and methods God chose to use when he sent his son to die for the world not to condemn it? I don't know about your personal methods but I can say that I witness "Christians" who seem to think that all fair in the war for America using tactics completely counter to the message they claim to believe.

Hannah said...

Its sad that these pastors are already assuming motive, and yet that is what they preach against from the pulpit.

I have to wonder how many of them approached him privately about this prior to accusing him of things?

Tim may have a bigger vision in mind, and I have wonder if they would EVEN accept it if he told them about it.

I guess they assume that if he isn't with them - he is against them. What they can't comprehend at this point he is represents something they aren't capable of at this point. Sadly, they are too busy with their noses that are out of joint.

I don't have to agree with everything that Tim states or stands for to recognize his compassion and humility. What's sad is Christian leaders are so jaded due to their agenda...that they are unable.

These preachers are no different than the silly politicians that are on the news every night. I'm suppose to see a difference, and yet it gets harder and harder too.

Debbie Kaufman said...

My comment left yesterday morning was Bravo! I will gladly repeat it. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Wade, Good word! Amen! Thanks you again for a thought provoking blog. Some of our fellow SBC's churches and pastors and people are spiritual idiots! I sense that Mr. Jeffries is near the top of that IDIOT LIST! For sure! He is just afraid that Tebow's cancellation will somehow affect his $135+ million dollar shrine to himself and Criswell's tainted legacy. Why do they pull the bandwagon for a man one day and try to burn it down the next? Tebow is still a good witness and soldier for Jesus ... not perfect but no one is ... they nailed the only perfect man to a cross, remember?!? Maybe Tebow heard what a jerk Jeffries is and decided NOT to go and simply wanted to spare Jeffries feelings?

Many people are mere HIPOCRITS! Thats what they are! Come on Jeffries, apologize TODAY for your hateful words and get your shrine construction back on track. Adios

Kathi said...

It was this part of his comment that made me think:

"While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas..."

Don't the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas already know the message of hope and Christ's unconditional love?

On this I agree with you....if Tim wants to proclaim this message of hope and unconditional love, he needs to be telling people who really need to hear the message. The faithful will continue to hear this message Sunday after Sunday. They will be fine. It's time for Tim to ruffle some feathers and use his influence to step out of his comfort zone and reach out to the "untouchables."

Rex Ray said...


I'm glad you explained a lot more about Paul's haircut than your first post. I got confused with him taking a vow when he had his head shaved. (It's good my comment was deleted.)

Tom Parker,

You have more faith than me that Robert Masters will answer your questions.

Robert I Masters said...

It is my opinion that Tim Tebow needs
First Baptist more than First Baptist needs Tim Tebow.
The Christian community has kept Tim Tebow in the spotlight because he has strong Christian Character.
The Jets, the NFL, the Homosexualist all have no use for the man.
Without perfomance on the football field they could care less for him.
I believe he is a much better player then they allow him to be but without Christians pressuring I doubt anyone will give him opportunities.

Robert I Masters said...

Tom Parker

The quotes are all over the internet as far as him returning at a later date.

This is what I mean by pietism and its evil.

Tom Parker said...

Mr. Masters:

Thanks for the prompt response to my two questions.

Rex Ray said...

Robert Masters,
I checked your link about Tebow returning but all I could read was:

'Tebow reconsiders but will withdraw'.

This computer has no sound. (I'm visiting my brother at 'Sun Set City' in AZ.)

It looks to me if his 'returning to FBC Dallas' was all over the internet, there would be something in writing.

Robert I Masters said...


It is my contention that this really is more about the homosexualist and their AMEN section in the halls of power rather than any disagreement Tim has with Dr Jeffries.
Tim Accepted the invitation.
Tim then reneged on his promise to that invitation after secular media pressured him

Tim WUSSED out...even the pagans at TMZ said so!

Robert I Masters said...

Rex Ray
That link was just a interview that Dr Jeffries did with AFA in which he said that Tim called Dr Jeffries on Saturday night to say that because personal and professional reasons he needed to lay low right now but that he would like to return at a later date.

Aussie John said...


Excellent thoughts!

I often wonder whether the pastors and church members who position themselves as so much holier than others, realize that they are also every bit as much a sinner.

What was it Jesus said about splinters and logs?

Paul Burleson said...


I know when I say this that many will, perhaps, accuse me of at the least prejudice or at the worse being prideful, but I think this is one of the best posts you've ever written and I would hope TIM TEBOW reads it and takes it seriously.

It is also a good reminder for all of us as believers who don't have a public or huge platform as well. We certainly have a small one among a few people around us who hold to differing views of some issues both moral and theological.

May our hearts be open to people who differ on those and may our eyes be fastened on the one about whom our gospel speaks.

By the way, as to the accusations that I said might come...guilty as charged!

Donald Johnson said...

Hi Wade,

I agree with you about Tim.

My understanding of Acts 18 before I read your blog was as follows:

1) Paul had made a Nazirite vow for a certain length of time.

2) One's hair is cut at the start and end of a Nazirite vow, it acts like a kind of clock when the hair is then offered to God.

3) For some unspecified reason, he needed to restart the vow and cut his hair to restart the clock. For example, perhaps he needed to show love in a way that involved touching a corpse. He did the love act but then would need to restart the time part of the vow.

So I see no need from the text we have to suggest that his vow had other components from a standard Nazirite vow.

But I know I might be missing something.


Wade Burleson said...

Most people believe it was a Nazarite vow. I do not because (1). Paul was emphasizing God's grace apart from the Law, and a Nazarite vow was dedication to the Law, the Temple rites, etc...(2). The vow is not called a Nazarite vow, just a vow (3). The context of Acts 18 indicates the vow was a promise to vo to the Gemtiles in Corinth only with the gospel, a point not conducive to.a.Nazarite Jewish vow of dedicatiom to Jewish Law. I think it is simply a vow, not a Numbers 6 Nazarite vow. Of course, I could be wrong and you could be right.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


I agree with you - I think this was one of Wade's best posts.

I hope Tim Tebow reads it too!

Rex Ray said...

An example of a lifelong ‘Nazirite vow’ was James, as recorded in ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs’ by W. Grinton Berry, editor.
John Fox (1516-1587) wrote the original. Berry wrote---page 9-10:

“Of James, the brother of the Lord…took in hand to GOVERN the Church…”

Side Note: The 1963 BFM has about the ordinance of Christ “…committed to his teachings…” while the 2000 BFM has “…governed by his laws…”

“…to be a just and perfect man. He drank no wine…neither did he eat any animal food; the razor never came upon his head. To him only was it lawful to enter into the holy place…worshiping God, and craving forgiveness of the people…called ‘The Just’ and the safeguard of the people.”

“…Scribes and Pharisees, saying…we all give heed to thee, and all the people do testify of thee that thou are just…persuade the people that they be not deceived about Jesus, for all the people and we ourselves are ready to obey thee.”

Side note: The First Church Counsel (Acts 15) was to decide how Gentiles were saved.
The Christian sect of Pharisees argued they had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses.

Peter argued: “…We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence…” (Verse11-12 KJ)

I believe if the Counsel had adjourned at that point, all Christians would have the basic Baptist’s teachings today. But look at what James did:


A lot of people don’t realize what he did even today. The result was confusion. Both sides thought they had won.
Some thought the four rules for the Gentiles were a RESULT of being saved, while others thought the rules were a REQUIREMENT.

Tom Parker said...

Rex Ray:

You said:"Side Note: The 1963 BFM has about the ordinance of Christ “…committed to his teachings…” while the 2000 BFM has “…governed by his laws…"

There are so many things wrong with the 2000 BF&M CREED!!

Rex Ray said...

Tom Parker,
Webster: Creed: “A brief authoritative formula of religious belief.”

I agree there are many ‘worse’ things in the 2000 BFM, but these ‘bad’ things don’t make it a creed. The “authoritative” or being forced to sign is what makes the 2000 a creed.

Most Baptists are NOT forced to sign a man-made-paper because their income does not come from the SBC, but I believe many are brain-washed by SS literature stating:

“The 2000 statement of the Baptist Faith and Message is our doctrinal guideline.”

I thought Baptists used the Bible as their guideline. Anything else would be elevated higher than the Bible.

In 1500, Catholics gave tradition equal authority with the Bible, but looks like their belief has been exceeded by fundamentalists.

Anonymous said...

Robert, part of the reason Tim is unfairly attacked is because of his faith. If he were silent, none of this would happen. Tim only needs God, not First Baptist. We put too much emphasis on buildings and the human in the pulpit. Church is important and God wants us to fellowship with each other but our focus should be about Him. Then maybe so many wouldn't develope this gang mentality and take one side over the other. We're all uniquely made and should use our individual gifts for His Glory and not mimic someone else.

greg.w.h said...


“The 2000 statement of the Baptist Faith and Message is our doctrinal guideline.”

But it is the doctrinal guideline....for Lifeway and for cooperative ministries. Individual churches choose to give to the CP understanding that the BF&M2000 is the guiding doctrinal statement as well. The local church isn't locked into the statement on the other hand.

So their statement is a shortcut for a more complex situation. They do it that way because it's easier than having a longer explanation. Whether it is simply distracting or intentionally brain washing is debatable. Whether the BF&M2000 is the doctrinal guideline for the SBC and its entities isn't.


Love the explanation about the vow and I agree it is entirely plausible. I'm not sure that I'd denigrate the Nazirite vow as strongly as you did. We have to remember that the OT saints looked forward to Jesus through faithful participation in the statutes and ordinances of the Law according to Hebrews. Not that they were sanctified or justified by that faithful participation (and the occasional UNfaithful participation), but by their faith.

Rex Ray said...

Are you the same person that used to have comments a mile long? If so, we haven’t ‘crossed swards’ in a long time. smile

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Lifeway is a publishing company that prints what they’re PAID to print.

They print other SS literature that does not have: “The 2000 statement of the Baptist Faith and Message is our doctrinal guideline.”

Maybe you could tell who pays for the ‘statement’ and who does not pay for the ‘statement’. Or would we leave that question for “Thy Peace” blogger”?

You said, “Individual churches choose to give to the CP understanding that the BF&M2000 is the guiding doctrinal statement as well.”

Since I was a charter member of our church in 1944, we have always given to the CP, but I would change your statement to read:

“…give to the CP DESPITE that the BF&M2000 is the guiding doctrinal statement…”

In other words, just because the SBC receives our money, it doesn’t mean we agree with their doctrine.
We don’t stop giving because we want to support our missionaries to spread the Gospel.

Tom Parker said...

Rex Ray:

Greg W.H. you said:"“Individual churches choose to give to the CP understanding that the BF&M2000 is the guiding doctrinal statement as well.”

All I can say to that is just not true. Many SBC churches as Rex Ray said continue to support the CP inspite of this quirky statement. If the SBC churches that did not 100% support this statement quit giving to the CP the SBC would have a huge financial problem IMO.

Rex Ray said...

Worst time of his life Worst time of his life
Broke no law Broke no U.S. law
Unfair trial Unfair trial
Hung between criminals Handcuffed to a criminal
I thirst Denied water
Alone Experienced loneliness
Criminal trusted Jesus Alan trusted Jesus
Criminal witnessed to others Alan witnessed to others
You will be with me in paradise Alan will be with Wade in paradise


Rex Ray said...

I’ll try this comment again
Tom Parker,
Your humble opinion is right on target.
Paul Burleson,
Let me try to tell you about the BEST post Wade has written by doing a comparison your son must have felt.

Worst time of his life……………………….. Worst time of his life
Broke no law…………………………………Broke no U.S. law
Unfair trial...................................................Unfair trial
Hung between criminals ............................Handcuffed to a criminal
I thirst..........................................................Denied water
Alone...........................................................Experienced loneliness
Criminal trusted Jesus………………………Alan trusted Jesus
Criminal witnessed to others........................Alan witnessed to others
You will be with me in paradise……………..Alan will be with Wade in paradise


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Joella said...

FBC Dallas ex-worship pastor was Rick Land Who is Russ Tapp? Russ was worship pastor for 16 yrs at Harvest Baptist Church, he confronted Ollin Collins and suspended him

Russ came to our church, became our worship pastor for 2 years, then left his wife and 2 kids because of his time at a week long Worship Conference having meet Rick Land, worship pastor of FBC Dallas.

My husband was on church staff with Russ Tapp and we witnessed the breaking of ministry and families. It is amazing how God comes full circle to reveal His truth.

My two Aunts and their families were the first members at Harvest Baptist Church, where Ollin Collins began his ministry in Wautaga, Texas. Actually, my sister lived with the Collins' family (my sister had spent time in jail and was a model trying to leave her addictions behind) and Ollin got her scholarship at DBU (Dallas Baptist University). At age 13, I went down on altar call and received Christ as Lord, but the years of knowing Ollin and his prodigies have disheartened me and many others.

Yes, pastor Jeffries and those who know the truth, like myself, are devastated by the sins of men.

We should praise God's TRUTH, more than any man. God gave His life so others would come to Him not to idol a man made in His image or a lifestyle of luxury.

It was about the money. Tebow cancelled his engagement because the pressures of LGBT were too strong. Tebow is speaking in Dallas for pay at fundraiser. March 8, Tebow spoke at Liberty University for pay. Tebow's earnings from speaking engagements are lucrative. Tim Tebow is waning because his future is looking dim.

WE ARE TO FOLLOW CHRIST ALONE. Even God's people are most times a bad imitation of Christ. And when MONEY is involved people get blindsided.

History speaks a lot about the power of money and the Bible references it well over 300 times.

History records early puritan Robert Keayne gives Christianity a bad name for overcharging and getting rich. The debate will be on going: Is wealth the exact opposite of sanctification: greed and spiritual degradation?

Men judge according to external deeds, but only God can weigh the motives behind them. Romans 14:12 says we'll all give an account before God.

May God continue convicting those who know HIM in both words and deeds not just nice-sounding eloquent speeches.

The Christians in America need men/women who are willing to make and keep commitments, too many young people leave churches because of this. Parents say one thing and do another.