Find Your Fulfillment in Work

We were created to love our neighbors as ourselves, with the same love that Jesus has for us. That’s why it’s so fulfilling. It feels so good. You feel so good when you love your neighbor! It feels good whether you’re a Christian or not. Loving your neighbor is loving like Jesus. Love for your neighbor is His love. It’s the love that makes you tick, and enjoy life.

There are no limits to this love, either. There’s no law against it. You can love your neighbor in any environment, and in any job or career.

Why do you work? Obviously, you work to earn a paycheck. And lots of us work because we want to earn tons of money. Why not? There’s nothing wrong with tons of money!

But why stop there?

Most of us can do something more.

Maybe you’re not earning tons of money yet. Maybe at the end of the month, you only have an extra fifty cents. Maybe you have a dollar extra, or even two. You may not think you can do much with that, but you can. You can pay for someone’s day.

Imagine that. One or two dollars is the same amount of money that people in some countries make in a day. It doesn’t matter how hard they work, or how many hours they put in. One or two dollars is all they can earn. That’s all anyone will pay them. This is chronic, intractable poverty, and it’s real.

So if you give a little extra, you can double somebody’s pay for one whole day. You really do have the ability to do that!

A lot of us work for more than money. A lot of us work hard because we’ve also set goals. We say, “I want to achieve something great! I want to get that raise, or that promotion, so that’s my goal. That’s achievement, man! That’s doing something great.”

That’s awesome, because there is so much you can do with that kind of ambition! Think about it. What’s the point of being great, if it’s just to be great? That’s boring. Wouldn’t you rather turn that ambition into a means to an end?

Are you working hard because you want to be the president of your company? Yes? Okay. But why?

“Well,” you might say, “because that’s my goal!”

But why is it your goal? What are you aiming for? Two million dollars a year? Ten? Fifteen? That’s awesome, but why? Why do you want to be rich? What for?

You might be thinking that you’d like to buy cars and boats and houses. You probably want to fly all over the world and enjoy luxuries. I understand! I think almost everybody understands. But the thing is, you can only do that so much. There are only so many boats or cars or houses you can buy before you start to get bored.

As a baseball player, I was all over the income map. I started out in apartments with the minimum, and now I live in a beautiful home. And I’ve learned that they both achieve the same thing. I sit on the couch and watch TV. I go in the kitchen and cook food.

It’s not like I wake up every morning in awe. It eventually becomes normal. It’s just a place to live.

So to me, if the only reason you want to work hard is to be in a beautiful home, eventually you’ll be disappointed. We all need more. We want fulfillment, man. That’s what we really want.

I understand working hard because you want to have a nice house for your family. We all want safety and comfort. But we can do so much more. We can dream much, much bigger dreams, and we can achieve them, too.

I found fulfillment in working hard because it gave me the ability to help out someone else. There are so many people out there who work just as hard as I ever did, and will never, ever, ever, be able to make more than two or three dollars a day. Those are the people I keep in my thoughts, every day of my life.

Did you know that you can actually help someone start a business, in countries like Uganda, Kenya, India, or Haiti?  You don’t even need much money. You can do microloans.

Here’s an idea. Get together with your yoga club or your youth group and put in a well. Depending on where you put your efforts, you can provide clean water for a whole village for as little as $2,000. Or you can use all that hard work and ambition and go as high as $10,000. Challenge yourselves!

There are a lot of things a well can do that we don’t think about, like provide education for a village’s children.

I got an education, and I never had to think twice about it. One morning my parents said, “You have to go to school,” and so I went to school. But there are kids all over the world who say, “I’d like to go to school. But I’m too sick. I don’t have clean drinking water. I’m literally wasting away from diarrhea. I’m so weak that I can’t walk.”

Or they say, “I want to go to school. But I don’t have time. My mom needs clean water to cook food and wash clothes, and we need drinking water too. But the well with the clean water is in another village, so I have to walk seven miles a day to bring forty gallons home.”

That’s why I want to encourage you to work hard and achieve at a high level! Then you can get together with three other people, and the four of you can chip in $2,000 each. With that, you can provide fresh water for 1500 people for life. You will eliminate 90% of their diseases. The kids can go to school and get educated, just like we got educated, without ever thinking twice about it.

If we can truly grasp what other people are going through, we’re going to want to work harder. Our goals will change. Our concept of greatness will change! You’ll say, “I want to be the president of this company so that I can make the rules.” Then when you become president you’ll say, “The rule is that a portion of this company’s funds is going to build wells.”

What do you think of that? Aspire to be a successful entrepreneur, so that you can take your company and go help people!

The world is full of opportunities for fulfillment, if you’re not just working for a paycheck and thinking only of your own comfort. There is so much you can achieve, if you start thinking about how to love your neighbor! That’s when you’ll really start to tick. That’s when you’ll truly enjoy life!

Rest in God

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:
“Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
“The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 28:2-8

If you live in legalism, then you eliminate God. “But Jeremy,” you say, “I’m righteous.” And maybe you are! For example, maybe you don’t tell lies. That is consistent with a righteous life. But what if the only reason you don’t lie is because the Bible tells you not to do it?  Then you aren’t depending on God. You’re depending on rules. And what happens when you depend on rules? Things fall apart.

What if you were able to just rest in God and understand that His grace will show you the way? What if you could believe that God gives you His favor, even though you didn’t earn it? As the scripture says, in obedience to God, whatever you say, whatever you do, wherever you walk, and wherever you go, you will be blessed. Your basket will be full. Everything your hand touches will prosper. To put it as simply as possible: in grace, you will find success.

Now, success may not happen exactly the way you want it to happen. In fact, you may be surprised by the form success takes in your life. I sure was! And that’s okay. It’s better, in fact! Let God decide what your success will be. Let God show you what to do. He will show you exactly what to do so that your family will thrive. He will show you what to do so that everyone you meet will thrive. You’re on a journey, you know. You’ve just got to believe that your journey will be one of success.

What happens when you walk and talk with the people you meet? If you let Jesus guide your steps and tell you what to say, then the people you meet will feel really good. You don’t have to be super spiritual and legalistic. You don’t have to quote Bible verses at them. Resting in God is not about soapbox Christianity. It’s not about telling people to accept Christ or else rot in hell. It’s not about telling people that they’re bad. You are here to love. That is your purpose. So ask God to tell you how to love people. He will! He’s our faithful God!

What do you suppose happens when you do that? Man, the people you meet on your journey will love on you! They’ll be inspired to live a righteous life because of you! So listen to Jesus. He will help you tell people exactly what they need to hear. And when you do that, they’ll want to be around you! Maybe they don’t believe in God. Maybe they don’t do all the same things that Christians do. But you’re the one they’ll hang out with, because you won’t judge them. You’ll live with them, in grace.

Allow Jesus to guide your steps. Allow the Spirit to give you wisdom. Do this, and you will find so much love and joy. And guess what? That will be your success.

See you Thursday.

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.

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.

Kingdom Dialogue

Kingdom theology invites us to think about what it’s like to be in the family of the King of Kings. So let’s think about it. When the king — your Dad — says, “I need you to go out and do something for me,” you go out and do it!

I want to go out there. I want to leave the Kingdom walls. I want to bring the aroma of Christ to everybody. If God asks me to go out and provide clean water for people, I want to go! I want to go so that I can bring clean water. I want to love my neighbor as myself. Love connects, and I want to connect with people. I want to talk with them. I want dialogue.

I want to say, “Look, I see you need water. I want to give it to you.” That starts the conversation. That opens the door to dialogue. And when they ask me why I’m helping them, I’ll get to say, “Because I love you.” They’ll ask me,”Why do you love me? You don’t even know me!” And that’s when I’ll get to say, “I love you because of God. The one I call my Dad. He loves you! He loves everybody! He loves humanity. So here I am. I’m here for you, and I’m going to love on you.”

When I see people who can’t eat, I’m going to help provide food. They might ask me, ”How are you going to feed us?” And that’s when I’ll get to say, ”I’m going to ask God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He commands everything, and He will help me get food to you. He will give me the right food program. He will help me involve people — hundreds of people — in making packages of food for you. They love you too! And even if He doesn’t give me a program, He will still help me feed you. He’s going to allow me to take two loaves and a fish and feed all of you with it. He does all of this because He loves you, and I love you because He loves you.

“And when you’ve eaten, and your children are healthy because their water doesn’t make them sick, then I’m going to tell you why He loves you. When you can trust my voice, I’m going to tell you what it means that He loves you. And I’m going to invite you to come and be a part of His family, in His Kingdom.”

When I get sent out from the Kingdom of Heaven, to enter the world in order to serve, and to heal, and to dialogue, that’s joy, man. That’s joy, even though it’s not always easy. More on this next time. See you Monday.

Who Am I?

In the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot to say about sin and grace. Jesus died for us. And when He did that, He served as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Because of His crucifixion, death, and resurrection, we are free. We don’t have to make reparations before we can be in the presence of God, our Father. Not any more. He knows we will sin. We are in our flesh, so we can’t help it. We can’t help it! But when we sin, Jesus walks through it with us. He is right there. He loves us.

I’ve come to truly understand what it means to be a saint who sins. Discipleship is my identity. Who am I? Do you ever ask yourself that? I know who I am. I am a holy and righteous child of God. I mess up. I definitely mess up. But He loves me. He is in me, and He is with me. Who am I? Someone who wants to be just like Him. I am a man after God’s own heart.

Think about Jesus. He looked at people and He wept for them. Think about Lazarus. Jesus knew He was going to raise that guy from the dead. Yet still He wept. Why? Because He saw Mary’s heart breaking, and it grieved Him. This is who He is! So it’s a part of who I am. When I hear about people who are suffering, it grieves me. That’s the identity in which I live.

I love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I love my neighbor as myself. So God sends me out of His Kingdom and into the world. He sends me to where people are hurting.

I help fund wells so that families can have water to drink that doesn’t make them sick. I help hungry people get something to eat. I help orphans get into homes with moms who will take care of them. I help free the slaves — men, women, and children trafficked in work, sex, or soldier situations. They’re not allowed to leave. They’re locked up when they are not being used. I help them.

I don’t do it because I have to. I don’t do it because I’m afraid that God won’t see me or smile on me if I don’t. I do it because it’s who I am. The love of Jesus is part of who I am. Loving my neighbor as myself is part of who I am. When I know my neighbor is suffering, it grieves me. This who I am.

Called to the Disciple’s Life

We’re here on this planet for the simplest of reasons: to love our neighbors as ourselves.

When we love our neighbors, we’re happy! That’s because loving your neighbor as yourself is fulfilling.

Last time, I promised to say something about the mentality of discipleship. As we discussed, some people will think that all you have to do is accept Christ. After that, you can sit around and wait for the Second Coming.

That’s not quite right. Saying the words just isn’t enough, not if you want to see your life transformed by the Spirit. You have to live your salvation, and living your salvation is living the lifestyle of Jesus. It’s having the discipleship mentality.

I truly, truly, truly, believe this. Salvation is not the whole story. It is fundamental, sure. It’s the key. It’s the beginning. You have to be saved. You have to recognize what Jesus Christ did. You have to know that He died on that cross. He took your sins. He took the blame. He took it all.

But He also taught us to pray for God’s kingdom on earth. He discipled us. He called us to live the life that He lived.

And that’s simple. Love your neighbor as yourself. Whether you’re rich or poor or in between, your joy will come from the way you use the gifts you’ve been given.

How are we supposed to use the gifts we’ve been given? Use them to live the lifestyle of Jesus! This is what I teach my children. Life isn’t about how much money you make. It’s not about fame, either. It’s not about what you can get. Life is about what you can do. What can you do? Love your neighbor as yourself!

Loving my neighbor as myself is the concept that I’ve built my life around. When I use my gifts to love my neighbor, I feel like I’m fulfilling my life’s goal. It’s fulfilling to do something good. It’s really fulfilling to do something good for somebody else, with no thought of a return. Do something good. Do it simply because you love humanity. It feels great!

Do you believe in Jesus? If so, then how do you use your gifts? Do you use them to love others? Then congratulations! You’re on the course of discipleship. You are living the lifestyle of Jesus.

See you Monday.