By Redunda Noble
Baptist Press

Laura Spradlin

Laura Spradlin

MEMPHIS — Watching Laura Spradlin drain 3-pointers and block shots, it’s hard to believe a car crash nearly took her life.

Driving alone on her way to school, Spradlin was severely injured when her car collided with a pickup truck at a Memphis-area intersection Jan. 22, 2014. Despite doctors’ low expectations, Spradlin aimed to stay positive amid the rigors of her recovery.

“Rehab was my opportunity,” she said. “Whenever they told me to walk for five minutes, I asked if I could walk a mile.”

News of the accident initially devastated her parents. “On the way to the hospital, we prayed for God to spare her life,” said Mike Spradlin, president of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova. “She was only 17 and I prayed she wouldn’t be in a wheelchair the rest of her life,” he added.

Though the idea of losing their only daughter and youngest of their three children was heart-wrenching, Spradlin’s mother Lee Ann rejected fear that tried to set in. The Lord immediately reminded her “Laura was right with Him no matter what happened.” [Read more…]



Baptist Press

Sid Hopkins, shown at the 2010 Olympics, will serve once again this year in Rio.

Sid Hopkins, shown at the 2010 Olympics, will serve once again this year in Rio.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Sid Hopkins is an eye-catching sight when he visits the Olympics.

The retired director of missions for the Atlanta-area Gwinnett Metro Baptist Association dons a hat and vest decorated with hundreds of pins that people aren’t bashful about inspecting. Hopkins trades pins with other Olympics fans while distributing pins made especially for the Olympics that tell the story of Jesus.

“There is an openness by people to talk with one another and to talk about spiritual things,” Hopkins said. “So sharing the seeds of the gospel through the ‘storytelling’ witnessing pin is well-received. Then the seeds of the gospel go back all over the world as the people return home.”

Hopkins is in Rio de Janeiro as the world prepares to turn its gaze on the first South American city ever to host the Olympics. The Games, kicked off with the Aug. 5 opening ceremony, will become the centerpiece of family entertainment and workplace discussions for more than two weeks. [Read more…]



By Mark Moore
Associate Pastor, Worship, Third Baptist Church, Murfreesboro

Mark Moore

Mark Moore

A few summers ago, my son attended a baseball showcase in Lebanon. The stated goal of the showcase was to be chosen for a larger event in Atlanta — one that would be attended by college coaches and professional scouts.

The cost was minimal and only involved about two hours of our time. It was more evaluation than anything, and since my son would need to do these kinds of events in the years ahead for college exposure, he participated.

The following week I was contacted by a representative from the sponsoring organization who was impressed with my son’s skills and wanted him to play on an age 16 and under team that would play tournaments in Arizona the following month. The cost? $3,500. I politely refused his offer and told him it was way too early and way too expensive for us to participate. [Read more…]



By Daniel Woodman
Baptist Press

Pat Summitt -Photo by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Pat Summitt
-Photo by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history who professed her faith in Christ four years ago through baptism, died today (June 28) at age 64 after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Summitt, coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team from 1974-2012, was a member of Faith Promise Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Knoxville, Tenn. Her pastor, Chris Stephens, told Knoxville’s NewsTalk 98.7 June 27 she would “probably pass into heaven in the next few days.”

Stephens led listeners in prayer during a five-minute interview, praying, “I knew her as one of Your followers. She brought so many people to church, and there was such a side of Pat that so many did not get to see and know, but I did.” [Read more…]



By Bill Sorrell
Contributing Writer

Ben Reeves displays the form that made him an all-conference golfer at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Ben Reeves displays the form that made him an all-conference golfer at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

MARTIN — Driving down Interstate 40 toward Jackson, saw something that made him almost swerve off the road — a larger-than-life picture of himself  on a billboard advertising the University of Tennessee at Martin where he is a senior.

“I was looking around at the other cars. Do they know that this guy is in the car next to them?” laughed Reeves, who is captain of the golf team. “It was fun. A lot of guys gave me a hard time about it.”

UTM golf coach Jerry Carpenter has seen Reeves’ face value. [Read more…]



By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Coaches, from left, Ronnie Sandlin, David Cuffman, Josh Simon, and Theresa Sanders prepare to lead teams in a prayer before an Upward Basketball game in metropolitan Nashville. — Photo by Bobby Sandlin

Coaches, from left, Ronnie Sandlin, David Cuffman, Josh Simon, and Theresa Sanders prepare to lead teams in a prayer before an Upward Basketball game in metropolitan Nashville. — Photo by Bobby Sandlin

GOODLETTSVILLE — When Ken Castleberry, pastor, Parkway Baptist Church, started Upward Basketball here 12 years ago, it drew 75 children.

Today, the church manages an Upward Basketball and Upward Cheerleading league involving three other churches which draws about 490 children or teens, 100 coaches, 35 referees, and another 400 adult volunteers.

About 2,000 people will attend the league’s upcoming Upward Awards Night which has to be held at a church not involved in the program that has a sanctuary which can accommodate the crowd. [Read more…]



By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Before it Hits the PressLifeWay Research released a new poll on Feb. 3 asking the question, “Does God care who wins the Super Bowl?

Surprisingly, one in 10 actually thinks God cares whether this year’s Super Bowl will be won by the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers. One in 20 say they don’t know. [Read more…]



Baptist Press

160203-super-bowlNASHVILLE, Tenn. – An old gospel hymn says God’s eye is on the sparrow, but what about panthers and broncos? Not the ones from Carolina and Denver matched up for the National Football League’s Super Bowl 50, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research.

The poll found most Americans are skeptical about divine intervention on the football field. They say God doesn’t determine who wins or loses. And most believe God has bigger things to be concerned about.

“The Bible says God sets up and takes down nations and rulers,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. “Either Americans do not agree, or they think God focuses on political leaders rather than cultural sports icons.” [Read more…]



By Lisa Cannon Green
LifeWay Research

160125sports2NASHVILLE (BP) — Wagering on sports isn’t morally wrong, most Americans say — but nearly half think it should be illegal anyway, a newly-released study shows.

And as millions nationwide manage their fantasy sports rosters, Americans straddle the fence on whether heavily advertised daily games by companies such as FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. should be banned.

A study released today (Jan. 22) from LifeWay Research shows widespread belief that sports gambling is morally acceptable. Nearly two-thirds of Americans disagree that it’s morally wrong to bet on sports. The results are from a survey conducted this past September.

Yet 49 percent think sports betting shouldn’t be legalized nationwide, while 40 percent say it should be. Eleven percent of Americans aren’t sure. [Read more…]



By Mark Schutzius
Associate & Youth Pastor, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Halls

sports, fans, basketball, arena, worship, audience, people, gymLet me preface everything I’m about to say with this: I love sports. I played organized sports all the way through high school and college and I follow just about every major sport. I do not think anything involving a ball is of the devil.

I want to tackle this subject with patience, grace, understanding, and honesty. In Jeremiah, the southern kingdom of Judah had fallen so far from God that they had committed hideous acts for the sake of worshiping their false gods, especially Baal. Read Jeremiah 19:4-5. [Read more…]