Praying off the Judgment

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:37-38)

There’s Jesus in Luke, telling us not to judge. But judgment is such a basic part of being human! Baseball is a good example. Baseball is full of judgments.

Think of the fans. Part of being a fan is being engaged with the players. They’ll tell you when you’re good, and they’ll tell you when you’re not. They’ll tell you why you should be traded. They’ll even question why the GM signed you!

Everyone is full of judgment because judging is a normal human thing.

You know what else it says there in Luke? It says,

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6: 27-28)

But that’s nearly impossible! Do we really pray for those that hate us? There is no way we do that. There’s no way that you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, you know what, this person hates me and I just pray that he or she is blessed today. Face it! We do not do that. Not without giving ourselves a little push!

But there’s more to this. As I study the scriptures on judgment, I realize that every time Jesus talks about judging, He immediately talks about hope and forgiveness. He immediately describes abundance. He says it right there in Luke:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.

I remember late September 2010. I wasn’t getting called into many games. In fact, I didn’t pitch for two weeks! I grew angry and frustrated, and then, I read this scripture. It really hit me. I mean, I knew these scriptures, and I knew these things, but did I really pray for those that hate me? I didn’t. It’s not a normal human thing to do.

But we’re Christians. We’re called to more, right? So I prayed about this. I said, “I know it’s normal to judge, and I know it’s not normal to pray for those that hate us. But God, I am yours. I am a child of the King! I am a new creature in Christ! I have been reborn. I have been remade. Now my spirit drives me, so truly, I have to strive to do these things.”

Then I really started listening. If someone judged a teammate, or something negative was said about him — by the media or any another person — I would walk over to that teammate and I would just speak the opposite over him. I would basically give him a positive in place of the negative.

I did this randomly. Sometimes he didn’t know why I was doing it, because he hadn’t heard the judgment. But that’s not why I did it. I was just trying to break up the judgments off of every player on our team. I was praying the judgments away.

I began walking the outfield, praying for every guy on the team. If I found myself accidentally judging again, I’d ask for forgiveness.

I am not the reason the Giants won the World Series that year. We won it as a team. No, that was the year I learned to replace judgment with prayer.

See you Wednesday.

Embracing Failure @TheCauldron

Did you know that I almost quit baseball? My dad helped me stay the course. I wrote about it at The Cauldron for Father’s Day. Here’s a teaser. Click the link at the end to read the full piece!

Mariano Rivera. Babe Ruth. Christy Mathewson. Sandy Koufax.

Jeremy Affeldt?!

Even now, three World Series rings later, it sounds almost comical when I hear my name mentioned among some of the greatest players in baseball history. Those guys were elite, the best of the best; every one of them a Hall of Famer who left his indelible mark on the game. Me? Not so much. Yet when you check the all-time post-season ERA rankings, there I am.

via Jeremy Affeldt Wins By Embracing Failure — The Cauldron — Medium.

A Man After God’s Own Heart

Take a good look at who Jesus was. He never condemned anybody. He loved everybody. And He brought joy to the people He was with.

That’s what I’m trying to do. I want to be a different kind of baseball player. Of course I want to be a guy that makes lots of money, but not to have seven houses and six yachts and eighteen cars. I earn as much as I can for a different reason. I want to make money because it means I can help people that need to be helped. It means I can love people and bring them joy, just the way that Jesus did.

Of course, Jesus is God, so He’s perfect. I don’t expect myself to be perfect. Trust me, I know I’m not perfect. I mess up. I strive to live a life that is Christ-like, but I feel a lot like Paul did in his letter to the Romans. He said, “Why do I always do the things I don’t want to do, and the things I want to do, I don’t do? Because there’s a battle living inside of me and it’s called sin.” (see Romans 7:15-25)

That’s me! I’m always doing things I don’t want to do, and not doing the things I want to do. But I also live by Paul’s words in Romans 8: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives you life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (8:1-2)

When I mess up, I feel repentant like David. I want to tear my clothes! Instead I say, “I’m sorry. I’m trying to live my life the way that You’ve asked me to, and I messed up. Help me and guide me. Help me to hear You and not be in my own selfish thoughts.” And because there is no condemnation, He helps me. Jesus is the savior of my life!

Because of his repentant heart, David gets called “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22) That’s what I strive to be: a man after God’s own heart. And I try to encourage others to be that way. As an athlete and believer, I’m trying to be a man after God’s own heart. In my circle, when people look to me, that’s what I want them to see. I don’t want them to see someone who’s working for their salvation. No, no. I want them to see someone who says, “You know what? Because I am saved, my works will represent Him.”

That’s what I’m about, and I that’s what I’m trying to get young people to be about. What you do in life will represent Christ because of who you are. Whatever your giftings are, whatever your talents are, you represent Him. Be a believer after God’s own heart.

How Do You Evangelize?

How do you evangelize? I do it by trying to reflect the characteristics of God. When I’m around people, I do what I think He would do. I feel joy around them, I’m happy, and I encourage them. I love them! These are all the things that I think Jesus did when He walked the streets with us.

A lot of times when people get around athletes, they think we have big heads, so they don’t try to talk to us. And sometimes we can’t talk to them. We have to focus on doing our jobs! But if I don’t have anything to do, I try to say hi to people in the ballpark. I’m especially focused on the kids. I want them to know that we are human beings like them. I shake their hands and encourage them. I give them high fives. I let them know that I’m real, and I make sure they know that I hope the best for them. Sometimes parents ask if I have any advice, and I tell them to let their children dream. I think they should all dream really, really big.

I try to reflect Christ in a way that’s positive. I’m not necessarily out there telling people that they need to accept Jesus as their savior. When you’re representing a sports team, it’s not really appropriate to do that. Since I don’t always talk about God, I want to make sure that I exemplify the characteristics of Christ as much as possible. That way, people might follow me into other circles, where I do talk about God. Then we can have a dialogue.

When I talk to kids at community functions, I try to do the same thing. For example, I work with kids at a homeless youth shelter, and all I want to do is love on them. So I try as hard as I can to make sure that the characteristics of God positively ooze from me. I try to have the aroma of Christ 2 Corinthians 2:15. Through the aroma that I put off, I want these kids to feel good about who they are.

And I want them to come ask me what makes me different. If they do, then I tell them that I’m trying to reflect the love that I’ve been given. That’s the love of Jesus, my Savior.

He died for me, and He gives me pure joy. I try to give that joy to them. I try to give that joy to you!

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

Evangelism

How do you evangelize? I try to reflect the characteristics of God. When I’m around kids, or anyone really, I do what I think He would do. I love them, I feel joy around them, I’m happy around them, and I encourage them. These are all the things that I think Jesus did when He walked the streets.

A lot of times when people look at athletes, they think we might be puffed up and full of pride, so they don’t try to talk to fans. Sometimes we can’t talk to them, because we have to focus on doing our jobs! But if I don’t have anything to do, I try to say hi to people in the ballpark, especially the kids, to let them know that we are human beings. I shake their hands and encourage them, I give them high fives, and I let them know that I’m real and I’m human and I hope they do well. Sometimes Dads ask if I have any advice for their sons, and I’ll tell them to dream. To dream really, really big. Continue reading