Because I’m Saved

What do children think when you hide alcohol in the house? Dad must be hiding it because he doesn’t want anybody to know it’s there. Why? Is it wrong? Maybe we should try it. You know that’s the thought process.

In my home, my sons will know where the beer is. I’ll tell them, “The beer is in the refrigerator. You can’t have it. You’re not old enough to drink. But it’s right there. In fact, I’ll tell you what, why don’t you go get me a beer. I’m old enough to drink, so go get me one, please.” I want them to be able to go get it, and hand it to me.

I’m not going to hide the fact that there’s alcohol in the house, because I want my sons to think, “Dad is being honest with us. Dad loves us and trusts us to know that there’s alcohol in the house. He’s not hiding anything.”

Sometimes kids have issues because their parents don’t want to address the reality of drinking. Some parents try to guilt their kids or scare their kids into not drinking. But that’s a problem, because then those kids only respect their parents out of fear or guilt, not love. That’s not how I want to raise my children.

LoveGreaterThanFear

I want my children to respect me. I’m hoping they will respect me enough to know that they’re not allowed to drink. If I do catch them drinking, there will be some disciplinary action. Will I have to take the alcohol out of my house? I hope not. I would, if they’re not making wise decisions. But I’m not going to start my relationship off with my sons by hiding things.

I don’t want my sons to look at me and say, “That’s my Dad who I respect because I’m scared of him.” I don’t want them to say, “That’s my Dad who I respect because I hate feeling guilty whenever I’m around him. I would rather obey him than feel guilty.”

I want my sons to say, “That’s my Daddy. I love and respect him because he loves and respects me. He’s honest with me. I know I can talk to him any time about anything. He won’t fly off the handle and yell at me. He won’t guilt me into doing what’s right. We’re going to talk things out and I’m going to feel so calm around him that I’ll want to do what’s right, because I respect him.”

It’s the same way with Jesus. Some people say they love and obey Jesus because He’s God, but that might be putting it backwards. It’s because He loved me and died for me that I obey. Put another way, I don’t obey in order to be saved. I obey because I’m saved. That’s the relationship Jesus wants to have with us.

I don’t want my sons to look at me and say, “I respect you because you’re the father figure of our home.” I want them to say, “Dad, because you’re the nurturing father figure of our home, I respect you and I love you. I’m not just obeying you because I’m afraid of you. I’m obeying you because I’m your son. You have done so much for me and you care for me, and I love you.”

That’s the reality that I want for my family.

I’m going to wrap up this short series on drinking with a few words for the churches. See you Monday.

The Power of the Young

Two days until our Something to Eat event in East Palo Alto! We had such an incredible response to our 2011 event in Spokane. For four hours, 350 young people packaged meals. We were moving all day, working really hard, and we prepared 75,000 meals for the food banks.

Curiously, only one news crew showed up. We thought that was sad. You had 350 kids in Spokane, Washington taking care of people that were hungry, and the news crews had something better to do? I think not! I think that they missed the ball on that.

We weren’t doing it for media exposure, but the community needs to see that young people are acting in a positive way. Those kids definitely didn’t come to be on TV, yet they did such a special thing.

GAThis country needs to see that young people are no longer willing to be uneducated. They will respond when a crisis hits. They’ll hear about something like the suffering after the typhoon in the Philippines, and they’ll respond. They won’t sit there and say, “We never knew that this was happening.” They’ll say, “We know what’s happening, and we’re here to help with that. We’re going to fix that. We’re going to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

The Bible was written to bring complete peace to the world, by teaching us to love God and our neighbor. There’s no law against love. You cannot love somebody too much. You can’t go to jail for loving somebody. No one can hate you for loving somebody. No one’s going to be able to do that. The Bible is a fulfillment of peace, that’s what it is.

And so we need to know about these kids, loving their neighbor as themselves. The human traffickers need to know about them. They need to know that these kids have made up their minds and are saying, “We’re not going to sit back and accept that the chocolate industry is slaving out other kids. We’re not going to be okay with that. Because that’s a lack of respect for humanity, and that’s not how we love our neighbor. And the only way to bring peace to this world is to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

People need to know about the devastation of hunger, and lack of water, and lack of homes. And above all people need to know that our kids are no longer standing for it, and they’re going to fight it. This generation is going to be the generation that does what it takes to bring about a worldwide peace. People need to know.

Replacing Judgment with Love

Nietzsche said the last Christian died on the cross.

That is such a bold, yet powerful and piercing statement. Is it true? In some ways I feel that it is. And that’s painful!

It’s not just how one man saw it, either. I think a lot of people see it that way. Jesus would not want it to be true, so we need to do something to change it.

It’s a joke how much we judge in the church. Continue reading

Relationships, Not Rewards

Christians are called to love. To love like Jesus requires grace! As I reflected last time, loving like Jesus means loving and giving and sacrificing with no thought of the reward. Jesus died for us without calculating a reward. He knew that a lot of people would forget Him, or not return His love. But He died for us anyway. And He freed us from the bounds and obligations of law! Now we live in grace, filled with His Spirit. And by His Spirit, we love our neighbors like He loved us.

When I help somebody out, I do it because I love them. I don’t do it so that I can get right with God by scoring charity points. I don’t need to! Jesus already got us right with God. Continue reading

Why Jesus Died For Us

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44

Jesus looked at Jerusalem and He wept. He looked at Jerusalem and He said, “I see what’s going to happen to you.” It was still a few decades away, but Jesus could see what was coming. The Romans would demolish the city and nearly everybody in it would die. Jesus wept because these were His people and He loved them. He loved humanity. He loved us – you and me.

Jesus loved humanity so much that He died for us, even while knowing that in two thousand years, a lot of us would not even care that He existed, much less care that He wept. Continue reading

And He Will Return

“I love you.”

I see the homeless guy, and I love him. I’m going to help him if I can. That’s being Jesus. That’s the movement I’m asking you to join. It seems simple, and you might think, “Of course, that’s how I was raised,” but most of us still don’t do it very well. I don’t do it very well. There’s so much more I could do to love my neighbor as myself. I keep trying!

The movement to love our neighbor as ourselves is stirring. It is stirring in this world. It is awesome to see.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes Americans forget that there’s any other country out there. Continue reading

We Will Unify the Church

I do not lie in bed at night saying, “Man, I’m so awesome, I just won two world championships! Oh, I’m so cool!” I do not do that.

I don’t go home at the end of the day and say to my three boys, “Hey sons! Tell me what your dad did,” just to hear them say, “Dad! You won two World Series!” I would be so disappointed to hear my kids say that. I don’t want them to say that. I don’t want them to know me as some pro athlete that won a world championship. In five years, no one is going to even know I was on the team.

Okay, Giants fans might remember, because they really love their team! But most people will not know who I am. When I stand before my God and King, and He looks at me from the throne, what is He going to say? Continue reading

The Least of These

Throughout my baseball career, God has continually increased my role in Christian social justice projects. Due to my participation in hunger and abolition initiatives, and after I saw the joy expressed by Ugandan children over clean, clear water, I read about the judgment of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 with fresh eyes. And as I told you last time, this opened me anew to the simple truth of the Gospel. When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you make that dedication to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then the Spirit of God becomes alive in you.

That’s when the aroma of Christ will flow out of you. Continue reading

The Answer Part 2

What I do for a living, which is play baseball, is not my calling. Your calling is also not the same as what you do for a living. No matter what we do for a living, we share the same calling. We are called to love our Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Baseball is not my calling, but it is my gifting. When we go through life, we have to understand that our gift, the thing that we are gifted at doing, is not our calling. It’s what we add to our calling. We use our gifts to love our neighbors as ourselves.

God showed me that. Continue reading

The Message of Christmas

Merry Christmas!  What a wonderful, holy day.  God gives us a child, to be our Savior.  God – who has everything – gives His Everything so that we might inherit everything!  LIFE full of LOVE and FORGIVENESS!

Thank you for reading, and for all your support. I’m looking forward to blogging for you in 2013, and I hope you’ll keep reading and commenting. And please remember those less fortunate. If you’re looking for a way to spread the Gospel of love, please visit our partners, and consider giving a gift. The amount doesn’t matter. Remember, it’s not how much the individual gives. What counts is how many individuals give!

I’ll see you here next Wednesday. Meanwhile, enjoy this awesome message about hope and expectation from Pete Greig, Prayer Director of Holy Trinity Brompton in London, England. This is a beautiful time to be celebrating our Hope. Remember, God loves you. He made you just as you are, and He gave you a gifting, and with that gifting you can change the world!