I Love Sinners!

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

It is impossible to please God without trusting Him. And without trust, it’s impossible for your wife to please you. It’s impossible for you to please your wife. It’s impossible for you to please your kids, and it’s impossible for your kids to please you. You can go down the line with this. You need trust in your family. You have to be able to look at them and say, “You’re going to mess up. I know that, and I still love you. Thank you for trusting me. I’m glad you can come to me and tell me how you messed up. I trust you too, so I’m going to tell you how I messed up. I don’t necessarily do everything right, so I’m going to need some grace here. I’m going to need some forgiveness. I’m going to need some mercy. Can you extend that to me? I am a good person. I am holy and righteous in Jesus Christ.”

This is what should be happening in the church. This is the culture that the church should nourish, if it wants to thrive. Why do so many kids leave the church before they get to college? Why is the Christian church getting smaller by the day? It’s because people don’t trust each other. They judge each other. It is a drag. You have to perform, acting like everything is always great and you never make any mistakes. It is very, very exhausting.

Hanging out with non-believers can be a pretty different experience. They’re not living a moral life, so they don’t condemn you. Sometimes you feel more freedom around them than around believers, because you’re not being judged. You’re trusted. You’re just being. It’s refreshing!

I am righteous and holy, and I like to sit with non-believers. I’m not going to say, “Oh, I can’t hang around those people. They’re not righteous and holy.” You know what? I believe the aroma of Christ can flow off of them. So I’m going to make sure that they feel loved by me. I won’t partake in their lifestyle choices, and they will see that. But I’m still going to love on them and have fun with them. I’m going to make them feel comfortable. They’re going to trust me, and I’m going to trust them. We’re going to talk, and we’re going to be real.

And the next thing you know, they’re going to say, “Man, it is really a joy to be around you! I don’t have to get drunk, and I don’t have to sleep with you. I don’t have to do all that to be accepted. I can just be around you and I’m comfortable!” Or they might say, “I don’t have to brag about how many girls I’ve slept with, or how many guys I’ve slept with, or how drunk I can get on the weekends. I don’t have to brag about all of that stuff to you to feel accepted. You just accept me for who I am!” And then I can say, “Yeah! I love you man!”

When I say that, they’re going to ask why. “Why do you love me?” And I can say, “Because I’ve got Jesus, man. And I love you with the love of Jesus. And Jesus loved the sinners. He loved them!”

Back in the day, that’s how the church grew. It grew daily because of all the trust. People said, “We’re serving each other, man. You have a problem? We’re going to love on you. We’ll pray about it. We’ll ask God what to do. We’ll talk about it. But we’re not going to hide from it. We’re not going to make you hide from it. We’re not going to cause you to live in shame, and we don’t want to be ashamed of you. We live in freedom!”

And I’m telling you, this is what we are called to do. This is what the church is called to do. This is relationship.

Next time, I’ll tell you a little bit about how this looks in friendship. See you Monday.

Why Did You Feed Me?

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

I would like to encourage you to think about your purpose in life. It took me a few years to figure out mine. Perhaps I can save you some time! After a lot of frustration and failure, and many conversations with God, I learned that my purpose for being on earth is to love my neighbor as myself. This is a mentality that will change your entire life. Continue reading

Imagine the Success of Love

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Matthew 14:16-20

In the early years of my baseball career, I was not fulfilled. I was not fulfilled as long as I was just saying, “I’m a Christian,” and then going and playing baseball. I didn’t feel good. I didn’t understand my purpose for being here on this earth. I didn’t understand, because my purpose is not to be a baseball player. Continue reading

Who Is My Neighbor?

Lately I’ve been describing the lessons I learned from God while I was a young, frustrated, underachieving professional baseball player. The lessons He gave me were sacred. They were about focusing on Jesus. They were about making a vow that I would not live for myself. And they concerned the greatest lesson of all, which is also the greatest commandment of all:

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

Last time I told you about a day in 2006 when I read these words and had a conversation with God about them. God told me, “Learn to love your neighbor as yourself within baseball, and then promote that. That’s success, Jeremy. There’s your success.” I knew, right then, that I had the answer to one of life’s biggest mysteries. Continue reading

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

To be a peacemaker is to know when to bring peace.

Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker. That’s what He came for. Obviously He had zeal and passion. In the marketplace outside the Temple, He flipped tables and made whips out of rope. There wasn’t a lot of peace when He was doing that! That was chaos! But that was a different situation.

Jesus created peace in most situations. Where there was chaos, He created peace. Even when there was chaos in nature, He created peace. One night the disciples were out in the boat when a storm came up. The boat was flooded and they were about to drown. Continue reading

Learning Confrontation

Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace. Mark 9:49-50, The Message Bible

In Mark 9 it says we are supposed to preserve peace. If you’re not all that competitive, then this should be easy for you, right? Or so you might think! Our problem is that we confuse “competitive” with “confrontational.” Avoiding confrontation isn’t good. You need to be confrontational at times. If you are grounded in your beliefs, then confrontation is inevitable. Continue reading

Stubborn Christians

I don’t go around telling people they are wrong. At least, I don’t volunteer the information. If they ask me, “Do you think what I’m doing is wrong?” and I do think so, then no problem! “Yes.”

If you ask my opinion, I’m going to give it to you. But it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I don’t give people the cold shoulder either. If I don’t think what you’re doing is right, I’m not going to tell you, “You have to get away from me, I can’t be around you.” I’d never do that! Jesus hung with sinners, and He was the most perfect thing on the face of the earth. God doesn’t want us to refuse to give people our companionship and love  just because they aren’t perfect. He wants the opposite.

Our problem is that we cling to a stubborn view of God. We just don’t want to change. Continue reading