Ad Spot

On becoming a castaway

By MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist

I saw it recently in 2 John—a letter so small Chuck Swindoll called it a postcard. John said the church mustn’t tolerate false teaching or false teachers or they’d lose their reward (2 John 1:8). John didn’t explain what he meant by reward, but it reminded me of his fellow apostle, Paul, who used athletic terminology to describe the rigors of the Christian life.

Paul said he disciplined his body like an athlete. He wished to run his spiritual race according to the rules and avoid being disqualified.

The familiar King James version uses the word “castaway” (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27). It’s hard to imagine Paul being “thrown out of the game,” but he insisted this could happen.

I’ve known a few castaways over the years.

I heard one of them on my iPod lately. He was at the top of the charts in Christian music, but then disappeared for a while. He’s back now with what a friend affectionately calls “the old guys” Bill Gaither brought together. This artist readily admits his fall into alcohol addiction. He was disqualified, but found his way back.

The late Bob Harrington, “The Chaplain of Bourbon Street,” was one of my mentors when I was a young person. His daughter, Rhonda Kelley, spoke on our campus years ago, and I had opportunity during one mealtime to delve into his story with her. She said her dad left his ministry and his family in 1978. He became a motivational speaker, using his gifts of communication and humor at business conferences and conventions throughout the nation. He drove expensive automobiles and wore diamond rings as symbols of success.

“The lavish lifestyle he was living wasn’t satisfying, and he knew the truth — he’d preached the truth for years,” Rhonda told me. “And another factor was that horrible night when Dad was mugged after a speaking engagement. He was in the hospital and thought he was going to die. He didn’t want to die in the condition he was in.”

A broken Harrington moved back to New Orleans in 1995 and checked into a rescue mission where he’d often preached as the “Chaplain of Bourbon Street.” And thus began a long process of restoration.

Several years ago we were planning an evangelistic event in Perry County, Alabama. Harrington called one of our committee members and asked that he be considered for evangelist. He explained that he wanted to go back to places he’d preached in the past, to ask for forgiveness and to proclaim the mercy of God.

We serve a merciful God, indeed. But it’s much better not to think we’re invulnerable and not to make foolish choices, disappointing God and others and becoming castaways.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is

280 Main Story

Leadership Shelby County Class of 2020 makes graduation official

Alabaster Main Story

ACS working to address mental health needs of students


Pelham Parks and Rec releases summer activity guide


Kramer swears in new CASA Volunteers

280 Main Story

Chamber’s 6th ‘Ready to Shred’ a success


UM hosting Warrior Challenge 5k, 1-mile Color Run

280 Main Story

Chamber accepting Small Business of the Year nominations


Sapp’s Fitness Garage to host Workout for Water April 17


Helena moving forward with Greenway project

Alabaster Main Story

Adventurer’s Coffee Co. to open in Alabaster

Alabaster Main Story

Earth Alive concert to showcase ACS choirs

280 Main Story

Oak Mountain Middle School to remain indefinitely closed due to damage

280 Main Story

Kearley shares abuse story during National Child Abuse Awareness Month

280 Main Story

Chelsea Council annexes more land, shares Nick Grant


Pelham to offer youth coed flag football this summer


Proximity park to be built in Old Town Helena


Helena Council denies Riverwoods rezoning request


SCAC High School Juried Art Exhibit is April 24

Community Columnists

Billings caps 30-year Army career with volunteerism


HPD sets date for Douglas W. Jones Memorial Golf Tournament


Barks and Boils: Pub 261 hosts crawfish boil and pet vaccine clinic


Helena students enjoy a “Fireside Fairytale” prom

Alabaster Main Story

Alabaster City Schools recognized for music education programs

Alabaster Reporter

I-65 lane closures expected April 12-15