How to Fight for the Kingdom of God

Jesus knows our lives. Even when He walked among us, Jesus could see into 2013. He could see how bad the world would become. He could see how comfortable with sin our world would be. Sin is becoming just another part of life, and the prevailing attitude seems to be, “Hey, to each his own.” Jesus looks at this, and He says, “Man! The world needs a lot of forgiveness!

Jesus knows that believers walking the earth today need a lot of hope and encouragement. Continue reading

Let’s Set the Captives Free!

Those of us who are not enslaved are so happy to hear about Jesus, who came to set the captives free.  Just imagine how much sweeter His message will sound to the millions who are literally, physically enslaved the world over!

Churches are increasingly participating in the fight against human trafficking, and they should be. Jesus came to set the captives free, so that’s what the church should be doing. Jesus asked people what they needed and then met those needs. That’s what the church should be doing. Our love comes from Jesus, who died so the slaves could be free.

Ask Me and I’ll Help You

Continuing this week with my reflections on prayer:

Prayer is a really important part of our work to end human trafficking.  We have access to God, and God knows the best way to succeed in ending slavery forever.  We can ask Him, and He’ll help us.  So we should ask.  Success will come so much sooner!

Christ is Freedom

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The anti-slavery organization Men for Freedom invited me to be their guest blogger for July! Here’s a preview:

So do I think Jesus would be the frontrunner in the fight against human trafficking and the rescuing of slaves? I am one hundred percent certain of it. It’s easy to be certain, because I know He’s come to set us free. The Bible says, “The truth shall set you free.” (John 8) Freedom is in Christ Jesus. If freedom is in Christ, then freedom is what makes Him. He is freedom.

Read the rest here.  I’ll see you Monday.

Hooked on Abolition

Last time, I told you about how God brought me to San Francisco. I believe He brought me to San Francisco for a reason. Almost as soon as I arrived, I learned to fight human trafficking.

In a previous post, I told you how I got into food initiatives, and how satisfying it is to give the hungry something to eat. It was so fulfilling that I started researching poverty and hunger closely. And then everywhere I looked, I saw a dreadful pattern. Continue reading

The Funny Thing About San Francisco

Here’s the funny thing about San Francisco. For the first seven years of my professional career, I said, “No chance I’m ever signing with San Francisco. I will not go there.” People would ask me, “Why not?” And I would tell them, “Because I don’t agree morally with that city, and I don’t agree politically with that city.”

Anytime my team went to San Francisco to play, either the A’s or the Giants depending on the league I was in, we’d always stay in San Francisco. I would stay in my hotel room the entire time. I would only come out to go to the ballpark. When it was time to get on a train, I wouldn’t even leave the hotel and wait on the sidewalk. Instead, I’d stay inside and look out the doors. As soon as the BART came, I’d run to it, get on, and go to the field. I didn’t want anything to do with that city. Continue reading

Your Neighbor is Hungry!

When I first started learning about the love-your-neighbor-as-yourself mentality, my spirit grabbed it. I mean, I was really excited. I said, “This is it!”

But then when God started teaching me about poverty, I really started digging. I’ve been researching poverty ever since. Poverty is a whole world of interconnected causes and consequences. The more I learned, the more I understood poverty’s complications, and the more I understood how people get trapped in it. And I could feel myself shifting.

I used to look at a homeless guy and say, “Man, you know what, how about you just go get a job. Shave, and go get a job at McDonald’s. It’s not that hard.” That’s how I used to look at it. I had no compassion. Continue reading

Argue with Me!

As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Sometimes I miss just hanging out and talking with people that want to challenge me. I like a good, tough discussion about different ways of thinking. I like having my moral code challenged, or being asked to explain a piece of reasoning or why I hold a certain opinion. Even in baseball, where guys are really competitive, I’m seeing the level of discussion drop off. Now a guy will just as soon say, “Well, that’s cool,” and that’s it. That’s the end of the conversation.

“That’s cool”? That’s the state of dialogue? What about saying, “I hear you, but what about this perspective?” What happened to getting into strange, fun discussions about different viewpoints? Most people don’t seem to want to deal with that. They just want to say, “That’s cool. I don’t agree, but that’s cool.”

Well if you disagree, then obviously it’s not cool. So why do you say it is? I think there’s an idea growing out there that truth is relative. People have decided, “Well, you know, you can believe that. That’s your own belief. You believe your way, and I’ll believe my way.” There’s just no “iron sharpening iron” going on.

If you think I’m wrong, I have no problem with you challenging me. I wish you would! Don’t say, “That’s cool. To each their own.” No, no. If we did that with everybody, we’d have chaos. And anyway we don’t do that. When some guy kills some other guy on the street, we don’t say, “I probably wouldn’t have done that, but, whatever, it’s cool.” It’s not cool! When that happens, we’re challenging it. We’re going to put that guy before a court. We’re going to tell him why we think he’s wrong. And we’re going to have to put him somewhere where he can’t do it again!

That’s an extreme example, but in normal everyday discourse, most people don’t want to be argumentative. And that’s part of why justice is not always being served in this world. There are literally people out there that see injustice and say, “Hey, not my problem. Whatever. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do.” Well, no, you don’t!

But we’re afraid of conflict. The people that stand up to injustice, right now, should be considered heroes. The staff of Not For Sale are heroic in their endeavors. So is the International Justice Mission. There are a lot of different agencies and organizations that are trying to stop slavery. They may or may not be afraid, but they stand up.

The problem is, they comprise a small group compared to the numbers of people that are now finding out about human trafficking and still go to bed at night saying, “That’s cool, good for them for fighting,” and then move on. It’s going to take a whole society to finish slavery once and for all. Back in the day when there was a social movement, for abolition or civil rights or women’s right to vote, that movement succeeded when a whole society revolted. We didn’t get better as a country because people said, “Well, to each their own, that’s cool, you do your thing, good luck with that.” We got better because we said no to injustice.

We’re losing that. Most people now are afraid of controversy, and I think that’s unhealthy. In the spiritual world and in the common sense world, I think that you have to be okay with conflict. There has to be an iron-sharpening-iron effect.

See you Saturday.

Consciousness Raising Part 2

A big part of recruiting players and their wives to the Free2Play team involved giving them some awareness about the situation. When Dave Batstone and I visited Bible studies for players during spring training, I shared some of my ideas about why slavery is a Jesus situation. I explained that Jesus would not support human trafficking. And since Jesus wouldn’t support it, neither should we.

Then I told them about slave labor. They were really amazed. “Wow,” they said, “slavery is in the things we buy!” And I said “Yeah, it’s in the things you buy.” But I also explained how slave labor is a really tough thing to fight, because it’s so hard to detect. For example, every one of us has a cell phone. 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