Tough Love

When you talk about love, a lot of people will say you’re soft. But love is what saves people. Loving them. If you ask me, that’s pretty strong stuff.

Think of a person who has a mental illness. Probably the best healing resource is just to love on them. They still need other sources of help, but just to love on that person instead of shunning him is going to help him. Maybe more than anything else.

What’s the response to a person that doesn’t have water? Love on them! Get them water. Everybody should have clean water. When you do that, you show them that you love them. The best way to show your love is to help provide this life-giving resource.

There are a lot of things that God shows me, things that are not good. Continue reading

One World Futbol

One World Futbol makes an unpoppable soccer ball. You can try to pop it! You can squash the air right out of it, but it just fills back up.

You’ve probably seen pictures of kids in refugee camps or slums receiving soccer balls as gifts. But what happens when the balls pop? Those children don’t have lush soccer fields to play on. They play right in the road. What happens when they kick the ball into a barbed-wire fence? Or into some thorn bushes? Even if they avoid those scenarios, the ball skids over the rocks in the road. Eventually it tears a hole and pops, or a stray dog gets hold of it and bites through it.

The One World Futbol is immune to all that damage. Continue reading

Help Your Neighbor Dream

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You have been given so much to accomplish your dreams. But there are people in Haiti, Uganda, and other parts of Africa where people are too hungry to dream. Given a chance, they might say to you, “I can’t dream. I don’t have any food! I can’t even think clearly!”

You might ask them what they dream about, and they might say, “I’m just trying not to die tonight! I don’t have the ability to dream!”

Well, you know what? We’re not going to accept that!

There’s so much we can do! That’s my whole message to young people. You can make a difference. Continue reading

Bags of Gold

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Again, [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Matthew 25:14-18)

Have you read this parable? When the master returned he generously rewarded the two servants who doubled their bags of gold. But it wasn’t a happy ending for the one that buried his gold in the ground. The master said, “You have done evil! I’m taking your one bag of gold and I’m going to give it to the guy with ten bags, because he’s multiplied his giftings.”

The very next thing Jesus talks about here is the sheep and the goats. He talks about those who saw Him hungry and fed Him or saw Him naked and gave Him clothes to wear. So to me, the parables of the bags of gold and the sheep and goats go hand in hand. We should invest the gold we’ve been given in order to feed Jesus and give Him clothes. The servants who invested the gold are the sheep and the one who buried his gold is the goat.

There’s a reason why we need to strive to make a quality investment with our life! Continue reading

Christians and Social Justice, Part 2

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Thank you for all the awesome comments on last Tuesday’s post! I can tell a lot of us are thinking along the same lines. Since I’ve been blogging about the questions that I ask God and the things He shows me, I’m hoping you’ll do the same. Check out my blog’s new God page, and share your best stories about Him! I’d love to hear from you!

Annie asked me to say more about my definition of social justice and its part in Christianity. That’s a humongous challenge Annie! There are so many dimensions to the question. I’d like to focus on what God shows me, and what He calls me to do. I may not say much today about social justice and its part in Christianity, but I’ve got plenty to say about Christianity’s part in social justice!

I think God has asked me to hang out with people who have had things stolen from them. Think of all the people who have been enslaved, or struggle without water or food. Think of all the kids who struggle without parents. They’ve had things stolen from them, taken from them, and if you really want to get graphic, they’ve even had things raped from them. Think of what’s been taken from these girls that have been raped. They wind up in sex slavery and even their identities are stolen from them. Continue reading

Generation Alive

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A recent issue of Immerse, a youth ministry magazine, included an article from me that describes why youth ministry is my heart’s passion. Here’s an excerpt:

Way beyond the confines of the game, the call to work hard and be an encourager takes me to places where other players don’t often go. I believe that God has called me to baseball so that I can work for social justice. As I grew more intimate with Jesus, I asked Him, “What do you want from me? What do you want me to focus on?” And He showed me that He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18). He showed me slavery. He showed me the water crisis. He showed me the hunger crisis. He showed me how orphans are living. He took me on that journey, and then He asked me to hang out with kids who have been hungry, kids who have been trafficked, and kids who have been raped.

You can check out Immerse Journal on the web, and request a sample issue. It’s a great tool for youth ministers who seek resources for reading, teachings, challenge, and encouragement.

I really believe that the best way to minister to America’s youth is to disciple them. Continue reading

What Is Your Dream?

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People often think professional athletes are all puffed up or full of pride. Maybe we think we’re too good to talk to you. People might hesitate to say hi to an athlete because of this. I admit sometimes that’s true. But sometimes we can’t talk to you because we’re trying to get our job done. It’s nothing personal! We just have to focus on doing our job.

But if I don’t have anything to do, I try to spend time with people, especially in the ballpark. I say hi to kids and I shake their hands, and I like to give them high fives and encourage them. I like to let them know that we are human beings. We’re not just robot ballplayers who don’t want to interact with you.

I try to make sure I’m reflecting Christ in a way that’s positive. I just want to love on people, especially the kids. I want to let them know that I’m real, that I care about them, and I hope they do well. A lot of dads will say, “Do you have any advice for my son?” And I always say, “You know, you need to dream, and dream really, really big.” I try to interact with kids and encourage them to dream.

I’d like to encourage you to dream, too. What is your dream? Are you a parent or grandparent or minister? What do your kids dream? What do your congregations dream? Please share your dreams with me! Check out my new Community page, and tell me about your dream. Ask me questions, too!

Dare to Dream

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I have so much to be grateful for today. I’m a member of an awesome group of guys with awesome fans, and we’re going to the postseason!  One of the ways I can show my gratitude is to use this incredible moment to inspire you to dream the biggest dream you possibly can, and then work for it.

A really big part of our energy and success lies in our ability to dream.  There’s a great line in the movie Grey Owl starring Pierce Brosnan, where the Ojibwe elders tell Archie Grey Owl, “A man becomes what he dreams. You have dreamed well.”

When moms and dads at the ballpark ask me for advice, I always tell them to help their kids dream, and dream big.  That’s what I did as a kid.  I didn’t know if I could be a professional ballplayer, but I dreamed about it anyway.  I could dream any dream I liked!  Back then, I had no idea what a privilege that was.  I’ve learned it’s not the same for everyone. Continue reading