Bob Tamasy: No Substitutes, No Imitations

Thursday, March 2, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Over the years my wife has created a couple of pretty Pandora bracelets. Well, she didn’t actually create them, but did choose the specific baubles produced by the Pandora people to fashion her own unique bracelets that no one else has. With the vast array of choices, possibilities for one-of-a-kind combinations are endless.

The other day I was at a local restaurant and, as I was paying my bill, noticed a display of what initially appeared to be Pandora charms. They looked nice and I thought, “Wow! Are they selling Pandora items here now?” Then I noticed a little sign that read, “2 for $2.” Aha! Not the genuine article at all – cheap knockoffs, even though they looked like the real thing.

If you’re strapped for cash, I’m sure the imitations would seem like a deal. You could have a bracelet that appears like the bonafide item, but at just a fraction of the cost. Kind of like the fake Rolex watches or high-fashion purses the sidewalk “entrepreneurs” try to sell passersby in New York City. They look real, only they’re not.

Substitutes – counterfeits for the genuine – aren’t limited to jewelry, clothing or accessories, of course. Sometimes we’re willing to settle for them because they cost less, or don’t require as much of us.

But when it comes to important matters, imitations and substitutes aren’t acceptable. Suppose you or a loved one get in an accident and suffer considerable loss of blood. Upon arriving at the hospital, you’re told, “Sorry, we’re all out of your blood type. But lucky for you, nurse Myrtle just got back from the grocery store with some excellent tomato juice, so we’re going to substitute that instead, okay?”

Ludicrous, right? But settling for imitations happens more that we’d like to admit. We find ourselves “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the theme song of the film, “Urban Cowboy,” observed. In the spiritual realm, it’s even more pronounced.

People hop from church to church, or even from one belief system to the next, trying to find something that doesn’t seem too demanding. They want to align with something to believe in that fits comfortably within their biases and preferences, without insisting on a whole lot of commitment.

The apostle Paul addressed this strongly when he wrote, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

It’s clear the attraction of substitutes and imitations isn’t a new invention. Whether it’s a consumer product, a philosophy, or matter of faith, there will always be alternatives presented to us that seem more palatable, more accommodating to what we seek to fulfill our desires. 

Over the years, advertisers for everything from soap to automobiles have repeated the mantra, “Accept no substitutes!” to separate their products from the competition. Cheap imitations might work when shopping for a new pair of jeans, designer clothes or ballpoint pens. But in the realm of eternal truth, not so much.

When Jesus Christ made declarations like, “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3) and “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), He wasn’t making suggestions, desperately seeking to recruit followers, or offering meaningless, empty boasts. 

In effect, Jesus was giving a simple, but extremely stern warning: “Accept no substitutes, no imitations!” That’s a warning worth heeding.


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also writes two blogs,, and He can be emailed at

Pinky Up For Freedom Event Set For July 28 At City Church Chattanooga

A women's tea luncheon, "Pinky Up For Freedom," benefiting Adult & Teen Challenge Midsouth, will be held on Saturday, July 28 at City Church Chattanooga, 7122 Lee Hwy.  Doors open at 11:30 a.m., table viewing and silent auction will be held at 11:45 a.m. and the tea luncheon will begin at 12:30 p.m.  Tickets may be purchased here . (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: I’m With Him

Being a journalist for most of my life has had its perks. Lucrative compensation wasn’t among them, unfortunately, but I did get to go to some interesting places. I had the privilege of meeting the late, highly respected Dr. Richard Halverson in the U.S. Senate Building when he was chaplain of the Senate. I got to go up to an exclusive restaurant atop one of the World Trade Center ... (click for more)

Former City Education Commissioner John P. Franklin Dies

John Porter Franklin, long a leading figure in Chattanooga city government, has died.  He was the city's first, elected black official, post Jim Crow laws, in 1971. Mr. Franklin's father, G.W. Franklin, was a pioneer funeral home director and John Franklin continued in that line. He was first an official in Franklin-Strickland Funeral Home, then he started John P. Franklin ... (click for more)

All School Board Members But Rhonda Thurman Approve Going Ahead With Equity Study

All County School Board members except Rhonda Thurman said Thursday afternoon they are in favor of pushing ahead with an equity study sought by new Supt. Bryan Johnson. Ms. Thurman said she was "tired of bullying tactics by outside groups" such as UnifiEd and Chattanooga 2.0. She said the 132 people who signed a letter in support of the study include people "with deep pockets" ... (click for more)

The Boss, Claude Ramsey

I try not to overuse the word great, but we lost a great man today, Claude Ramsey. I had the pleasure of serving under him as director of Commercial and Industrial Properties for 14 years while he was the Hamilton County Assessor of Property. He was probably the smartest person I have ever known. He was tough but patient, kind, caring and compassionate. He knew how to get ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: So, You’re Invisible?

Several weeks ago I was in the middle of My Morning Readings when, somehow, I came across a wonderful story written by Nichole Johnson. Her website says she is a speaker, a motivator, and an author whose gift is to “capture the inner-most feelings of women facing life's daily struggles, and it has enabled her to create a unique sense of community for people of all ages.” That’s ... (click for more)