Love is Stirring in the World

“I love you.” That’s what Jesus says. So that’s what I say. I see a homeless guy, and I love him. I’m going to help him if I can. That’s being Jesus.

The movement to love our neighbor as ourselves is stirring in this world. It is awesome to see. This is the movement that I’m asking you to join.

Where is it stirring? Everywhere! I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes Americans can forget that there are other countries out there. I mean, sometimes you can go to church and actually start to think that Bethlehem was in the USA and Jesus was white! He was probably clean-shaven, too. And He drove a Mustang. We might really think that sometimes!

But go around the world, and you’ll see a church that is passionately and deeply understanding of how to love its neighbor. You’ll see a church that is pushing congregations to really grasp the mentality of loving your neighbor as yourself. It’s so refreshing to me, because it shows me that we are starting to unify. We are starting to gain momentum in this movement.

I believe in the scripture. When the church becomes one, our God and King will come back. I truly believe His return is part of the unification process. Unity is stirring in this world, and I want to be a part of it. I want Jesus to come back! And our unity will flow from love. It will flow from loving the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Loving our neighbors seems so 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. But after all God has shown me, I am certain of one thing. I no longer pitch for myself.

I pitch to love my neighbor as myself. I pitch for people I don’t even know, but I love them. I really love them. I pitch for people who cannot eat. I pitch for people who cannot drink. I pitch for people who do not have houses to live in, and for people who are naked. I pitch for the men, women, and children being trafficked for sex, and war, and work. These are my neighbors, and I pitch to help give them something to eat and something to drink. I pitch to help house and clothe them. I pitch to free them. I pitch for all of them.

I get to help them! That’s why I am raising my three boys to be selfless. “You want to do something?” I tell them. “Then do it for somebody else. Do not do it for yourself. You’ll find joy that way!”

That’s the movement I’m stirring.

I pitch to glorify my God and King, and to represent Him well. But representing Him well extends far beyond the mound. I also put on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt after a game, and I walk out into the real world. I honor everybody. I don’t live in my own little bubble. That’s the reputation athletes have, but I want to break that mold. That’s not who I am.

If you see me on the mound pitching, pray for me. Pray for me, now that you know who I worship when I pitch. Pray for me, now that you know that to love like Jesus, I pitch for the least of these. When you go to your job or your classroom, don’t do it for yourself. Do it for somebody else. Think about your neighbor, because that’s how you will find your joy. When you love your neighbor as yourself, in your job and at your school, you will find your joy.

See you Thursday.

Unify the Church

I do not lie in bed at night saying, “Man, I’m so awesome, I’ve won three 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 three 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? “Well done, good and faithful servant, you won three World Series, congratulations”? That’s not what I want to hear!

I want to hear Him say, “Jeremy, thank you. Thank you for promoting the Gospel. Thank you for taking the least of these and loving them. Thank you for using your talents to love other people, and for using your success to help other people succeed. Thank you Jeremy, for joining the movement of people devoted to loving their neighbor as themselves.”

I want to hear that because that’s how I read the Gospel. I read in Matthew 25 about the separation of the sheep and goats, and I hear Him say that when you feed the hungry and give the thirsty something to drink, you will go into eternal life. You will be righteous if you do these things. If you do not do these things, you miss the boat. I can’t read it any other way.

So think about that when you go to work. Students, when you’re in school, think about that. Take that passion you have for your neighbor and bring it to your job or your classroom, and join the movement. Because it’s stirring. It’s stirring in you, and it’s stirring in the world. This is our calling as a church.

When I talk about church, I’m not talking about the four walls of a building. I’m not talking about a Presbyterian church, or a Baptist church, or a Catholic, Evangelical Free, or non-denominational church. Not any of that. I’m talking about a unified church.

If we follow the commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength by loving our neighbor as ourselves, then we will unify the church. We are one church. We are the body of Christ, and we have one calling. We are called to love.

When I stand before His throne, I hope to hear God thank me for joining this movement, because this movement of love will unify the church.

More about this next time. See you Monday.

Yes, No, Maybe

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20.

When God asks you to do something, be content with it. But if you want to do something else, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes you have to keep knocking, but that’s okay. God will answer.

And I don’t think His answer is “maybe.” I really don’t. God says yes, and God says no, but I don’t think He ever says maybe.

I don’t believe in a God that says maybe. What would that even mean? Suppose my son says to me, “Dad, can I have a candy bar?” I don’t say, “Maybe.” What sense would a child make of ”maybe”? Maybe what? Maybe when he’s good enough? It doesn’t mean anything! I really try not to do that. I tell him yes, you can have a candy bar, or no, you can’t.

When I tell him no, it might mean “no, not at this time.” He might say, “Well, when can I have a candy bar?” I tell him, “When the time is right.”

And I think that’s what God will say. He could say yes or He could say no. And He could say no, not at this time. But there is no “maybe.” I don’t think “maybe” ever comes into play with Him. God already knows what’s right.

Scripturally, “maybe” doesn’t make sense. I think sometimes the church resorts to “maybe” because it doesn’t know what else to say when the news is bad. Sometimes we think a loving God would never say no. Sometimes we can’t understand that. And when you can’t understand it when the answer is “no,” you might get confused or upset. When you ask for something and it doesn’t happen, you might be tempted to stop worshiping God. The church wants to save you from that, so it might tell you that God said “maybe.” But you can’t back “maybe” with scripture.

Sometimes, God says no. And you just have to be okay with that. God knows a whole lot more than you do. God might say no because allowing you to do what you want could corrupt or hurt you. Sometimes God says no because He loves you. I say no to my boys a lot. It’s because I love them!

The scripture says that all things in Jesus are yes and amen. It doesn’t say, all things that you ask. It says, all things that are in Jesus. Anything that allows His will to be accomplished in your life is yes. Always yes. “Can I have this, God?” “Yes my child, you can, because I think it’s going to be good for our relationship.” God will never say, “It would be good for our relationship, but no.” That’s just not how God works. Sometimes He says no, because it will not benefit you. Sometimes He says no, because it will not promote your relationship with Him. But if it’s in Jesus, He will say yes. In Jesus, it’s always yes!

Being Where God Wants Me to Be

Last time, I reflected on the roadblocks that God puts in our way. I think it’s important to recognize that sometimes, the obstacles we meet come from Him. We might have something we really want to do, but He knows we’re not ready. Maybe He wants to prepare us before we tackle something. So He blocks our path.

I look back on my own career, and it’s clear to me that I needed to wait. When I broke into the big leagues, at 22 years of age, I thought I was on top of the world. If God had given me fame then, or World Series success, then I think I would have considered myself unstoppable. Maybe I would have had a heart for some things, but back then, I didn’t have had a heart for the poor. I thought homeless people were lazy! I told them to get a job! Why would God allow me a platform when I had that kind of attitude toward people in poverty? Why would He give me a voice before I understood about injustice? I wouldn’t have used my voice, platform, or money the way that He wanted me to. I wasn’t ready!

He made me struggle for six years in the big leagues before giving me success. I’m okay with that. If He’d given me success right away, I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it in a holy and righteous way. The struggle was hard, but now I can see that He loved me too much to let me succeed right away. He said, “It’s not worth it. I can give you influence in a lot of ways, but I’ll do it six years from now — when you’re ready.” Now I can look back and see that, and I’m okay with it. Obviously!

I know it’s hard. You might be itching to do something that will, in your view, help build the Kingdom. But then God blocks you — while letting other people go and do it! It’s frustrating, I know. Why did God call David to be the King of Israel, instead of one of David’s brothers? They were all older, so theoretically at least, they were better prepared for it.

I don’t know why! But God could tell you. I think He looks at the heart of every man. I think He knows the heart of every man. That’s why I try not to (and sometimes fail) get frustrated when I hit roadblocks. He puts them in my way for a reason. I’m Kingdom-minded. I want to help a lot of people. I do it by using my gifts. And I do it right where I am in life, because this is where God has put me.

Our place in life comes from God. The impact we have for the Kingdom comes from God. We are right where God wants us to be. Don’t feel bad, enjoy it! I enjoy what God has for me. I enjoy doing Kingdom work because of it.

Be content with where you’re at, and know that God has a purpose for it. You’ve been chosen for it, so just let it be. Once you understand that you are living the life that God has arranged for you, you will be content and joyful. Just say, ‘thank you.’

Believe you’re where you need to be. And if you don’t believe it, tell Him. Knock on that door, and ask Him for what your heart dreams about. Keep asking, too. Don’t give up.

See you Monday.

When Your Road is Blocked

Last time, I wrote about the dynamics of waiting. Sometimes, like David, we have to wait for God. He may not fulfill our calling right away. Part of waiting is learning to be content with whatever He gives us, or wherever He puts us.

I admit, I have a hard time being content. I’ve got vision. I want to do a lot! But I’ve also got three little boys that I love a lot. So when I hit a roadblock, I stop and think about it. Maybe that roadblock is an obstacle put there by God. Maybe I’ve asked God to open a door, and He says no. Maybe He says, “It’s not worth it to you to chase that ministry out there, not if it makes you forget the number one ministry right here.” So He closes the door.

I do think that God closes doors. He closes them for all kinds of reasons. He might have something else He wants you to do. He might not think you’re ready. He might not want you to get so busy with new tasks that you forget what you were called to do in the first place. So sometimes He’s going to put up a wall, even if it means that you’re going to run right into it. You’re going to have to be okay with it.

I’m not necessarily content when that happens! It can be frustrating to hit a roadblock, or find that a door is closed to you. I might say, “God, I feel like you’re restraining me. Why won’t you let me run free? I can do some good here, if you’ll just let me!” But He hears that, and He says, “You can’t do anything good. You can only do good through me. When I say no, I don’t care how much good you think you can do. It’s not worth it!”

It’s only through God and in Him that we can bring His Kingdom. We prepare the horse for battle, but the victory is His. (Prov. 21:31) We prepare for the things we want to do. We set the goals. But He delivers. If you hit a roadblock and He wants you to get around it, He’ll just flick it out of the way. So if He doesn’t remove it, it’s for a good reason.

If He’s saying not now, then it’s not now. It’s okay. Why not wait until He says you’re ready? He doesn’t want you to go through a door when you’re not sufficiently mature, spiritually or mentally, to be able to handle what will come. He can see when an opportunity would be good, but He can also see when your heart is not ready. He’ll block you if it’s not going to be good for you. And then He’ll prepare you.

Instead of getting frustrated with Him, or fighting your way through roadblocks, why not try listening to Him? Try asking and listening, asking and listening. Try saying, “God, here’s my heart. Here’s why I want to do this thing. Here’s why I’d like to get around that obstacle. I would really like to be able to do that, but only if I can do it through you. And until you say it’s time, I’ll be content.”

God isn’t saying don’t plan. He directs your steps, but your heart plans the way. (Prov. 16:9) Let your heart dream. Go ahead and tell Him. And then, just be open. He will make the way plain for you (Ps. 5:8).

See you Thursday.

Waiting for a Call

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. 1 Samuel 16:11-13

As a young shepherd in Bethlehem, David got his call – to be King of Israel! And what happened next? Nothing! He went back to his sheep! God anointed him king, but David had to wait 15 years to get there.

Eventually, he was chased and persecuted by King Saul. He ran, he hid out in caves, and he survived by his wits. He had been called to the throne! And he didn’t get there for 15 years!

I think we want our call in 15 minutes. So David’s story is instructive. He had to wait, man. He had to wait a long time to become king.

Waiting for a call can be tough, although hopefully not as tough as it was for David. Is there anything you can do while you wait? Yes! Just open your heart. Open your heart up to God, your Father, and say, “All right, what do you want me to do? Anything you want me to do, I’ll do it. I just want to serve you.”

Sometimes you need to ask Him. “I am a child of yours, and I would love to go out and be a part of something that’s just awesome. If now is not the time, okay! But I’d really like to go, if it would be okay with you. I would love it.” And then just see what He says. If He says no, then that’s okay. Keep doing what you’re doing. If He says yes, He’ll make it happen.

I think sometimes God wants you to ask. If you never ask, you’ll never know. That’s why the Bible says to keep asking. “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) But don’t forget, if you’re going to ask, you better be ready for the answer! If the answer’s no, you need to be okay with that. You may be disappointed. That’s fine! But you’ll need to get over it.

And you may just need to find your joy. Joy is not necessarily always in doing. Sometimes joy is just being where you’re at. I think that’s important to God too. Sometimes He wants you to just be. Be content sometimes. Be content with the calling you already have. Be content for now. When He feels like you have matured enough and you can handle what’s in store for you, He’ll call you and send you out. But until then, just be content.

In the long run, you’re going to be happier because you waited. If you do something that you think is so great, but you do it outside of God, you’re going to be disappointed. If He lets you go before you’re ready, you’re going to be miserable. And then you’re not going to like what you’re doing. You won’t find your joy. God doesn’t want that for you. What would be the point? Wait until He calls, because then you’ll find joy. Remember, Kingdom work is joyful!

More on this next time. See you Monday.

We Need More Ammo

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?…If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. James 2:5, 8

Doing God’s work is filled with joy. Love your neighbor as yourself! I mean, that’s joy! It’s the royal law, the commandment of the Kingdom of God. The trumpets sound, and the King says, “Go and love.” That’s the warriors’ command from the King. The trumpets sound, and Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself, and love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

So go and love your neighbor. That’s your war cry! Leave the Kingdom walls, figure out what is wrong with your neighbors, and love on them. Don’t worry about having the means to do it. Trust God for that! When you need help, send word to the King. Tell Him, “We’re filling a need here, and we need more resources.” He’ll provide what He needs to provide.

Imagine this as if it were a movie about medieval Europe. The king’s forces have gone to war, and there’s a moment when the tide of battle seems to be turning against them. They realize, “We need more men!” What do they do? They send word to the king. What does the king do? He provides more men! When they run out of anything, they send a courier to the castle. “Tell the king we need more ammo.” Or, “Tell him we need more food.” The king sends food, ammo, or whatever his forces need.

God will provide for you. Pray, and the Holy Spirit will go to the Father and speak some words. We don’t necessarily understand what the Spirit says, but we know it means something like, “Hey, your daughter needs something.” There’s no doubt in my mind that God replies, “Go and give it to her.” He says, “My child says we need more ammo, or food, or men, or tents? That’s my child! I’ll give him or her what he or she needs.”

That’s what the Bible says. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6) Does this mean that if you ask for a million dollars, He’s going to say yes? I don’t think so. He’ll ask, “Does my son need a million, or does he want a million?” Those are two different things! But whatever you need, God will give it to you.

We can trust the King of Kings because we are His children! As members of His family, we say, “I am a part of God’s Kingdom, so I am going to go forth to fulfill the royal law. I’m going to get on my horse and go out of the gate and into the world. I’m going to love my neighbor, and when I do that, I’m going to represent the Kingdom of God.”

We go out even if we don’t have any money. We go out even if we don’t have the resources lined up. Just send word to God. Pray. Tell Him, “I need a way to get more ammo so that I can love on my neighbors. They are in need, God!” He will give you the ammo you need. Jobs will open up. Maybe a donor will come along and offer to help you. God will provide. Trust Him in this.

The Bible says we’re all royalty now, since we have heard and responded to Jesus. We are all holy and righteous. This is what God means when He says, “You are mine now.” You are His child. And as a child of the King, you are a prince or princess of the Kingdom, God’s precious child.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.