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Fathers, pass along the faith, Tulane’s Tommy Bowden urges

NEW ORLEANS (BP)-“When we walk out of our homes, we’re pulled by society in the exact opposite direction of the Bible’s standard,” said Tommy Bowden during a chapel service March 5 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Too many fathers have divorced themselves from spiritual leadership of the family,” said Bowden, head coach of Tulane University’s football team.
The impact of his father’s faith on their family has motivated him to encourage Christians — and especially fathers — to be vocal about their beliefs, passing the faith on to their children.
Bowden said he was raised in “a religious, fundamentalist Southern Baptist home” where his father, Bobby Bowden, longtime head coach of Florida State University’s Seminoles, used only the King James Version of the Bible.
“All the answers to life’s questions are in the Bible,” Bowden said he believes.
“I believe the Bible has got all the answers, that it is God- inspired, and as it says in Rev. 22:18-19, don’t mess with it, don’t try to change it,” he said, adding, “Sometimes we don’t get answers to our questions because we don’t read it or because we don’t ask.”
“Life is full of hills and valleys, and it’s the personal relationship with God that’s stable and there, whether you’re in the mountain or the valley. It’s there to keep you stable,” Bowden said, as he voiced concern over the silence of many churches regarding the realities of sin and hell and biblical standards for morality.
“The vocal minority is ruling the silent majority, and that’s us,” he said.
“We need to be vocal, teaching those things in the home, not only letting the pastor or the Sunday school teacher do it.
“Teaching my children what the Bible says is something I need to do. That’s my responsibility,” he said.
Bowden said deciding to follow Christ and talking about the Christian faith will not necessarily bring about peace and harmony because not everyone will believe what the Bible says.
“If we quote the Bible, people say we’re being judgmental, non- inclusive or intolerant. People say, ‘This is 1998. Things are different.’ But Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Bowden said, “and the Bible says, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.'”
Bowden compared God’s relationship to the church to a coach trying to get results from his team.
“I learned a lot about God from being involved in sports,” he said.
For instance, “You can’t make a decision in football without making somebody mad.
“But if I try to make everybody happy, there won’t be any changes or any results. As a coach, I have to take 85 separate wills and conform them to mine, and not everyone is going to be happy with my decisions.”
In the same way, “Christ has a plan of what he wants from us, and we have to bend our mind and wills to his,” Bowden said.
“Commitment, sacrifice, dependability and discipline are things that make a successful team, business leader or teacher, and they also are the things that make a great Christian,” he said.
Bowden said individuals and churches wanting to grow to maturity must remain focused on God’s agenda by reading the Bible, instead of making comparisons to other Christians or churches.
Named head coach of Tulane’s football team in 1996, Bowden is the 38th coach in the 104-year history of the program.
Football is practically the family business, as Bowden’s brother, Terry, is head coach at Auburn University, and his father, Bobby, already has posted one of college football’s most prolific winning careers.
Bowden came to Tulane after six years as the offensive coordinator of wide receivers at Auburn, where he helped direct Auburn to four school offensive records in 1995, a year in which Auburn also led the SEC in rushing offense, and was the sixth team in SEC history to have at least 2,000 yards rushing in one season. The team had a combined 45-20-2 record in his six years of coaching at Auburn. Bowden also was a running back coach at Auburn in 1980.
As a wide receiver coach, he helped lead Alabama’s Crimson Tide to win the 1989 SEC Championship and to play in the Sugar Bowl, Hall of Fame Bowl and Sun Bowl.
He has coached such athletes as 13-year NFL running back James Brooks and NFL quarterback Anthony Dilweg.
A 1977 graduate of West Virginia University, Bowden played wide receiver for the Mountaineers four seasons. He was a Churchmen’s All- American in 1976.
Bowden is a member of First Baptist Church in New Orleans.

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  • Linda Joyce Zygiel