Although he never mentions Tim Tebow by name, First Baptist Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress pretty plainly addressed the controversy between his church and the New York Jets quarterback from the pulpit on February 24.
Jeffress' sermon came on the heels of Tebow's canceling a scheduled appearance at First Baptist Dallas via Twitter last week. The NFL veteran and outspoken evangelical was to close a month-long celebration in April for the church's behemoth new campus — a $130 million facility that opens March 31.
"I am grateful for men of God who are willing to stand up and act like men rather than wimping out when it gets a little controversial," Jeffress said.
"This has been a wild week. It really has been, but it's been a great week," Jeffress said to his congregation on Sunday. "I have seen the hand of God in so many different ways, I can't begin to tell you."
Jeffress spoke about the controversy and media attention in general terms and appeared to make reference to Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy, who said that Jeffress was reveling in all the attention.
"I don't love controversy, but I love the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible," Jeffress said, adding, "I never realized what an awful person I was until I started reading all these articles about myself."
Jeffress says he has received hundreds if not thousands of letters and calls of support from people across the country, including Prestonwood Baptist pastor Jack Graham and Focus on The Family's James Dobson.
"I am grateful for men of God like these who are willing to stand up and act like men rather than wimping out when it gets a little controversial and an inconvenient thing to stand for the truth," Jeffress said. "God bless men like that."
It isn't hard to draw the comparison to Tebow, who sited "new information" in his decision to back out of a planned speaking engagement with Jeffress. The pastor went on to say that those who preach only about the "love of God" are missing the real message of Christianity.
"The love of God has no meaning whatsoever unless you understand the judgment that all of us deserve," Jeffress said.
In his February 21 Twitter missive, Tebow wrote that he would continue "to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day."