A Movement Conceived in Love

Last week, I described the ways that God has chosen to teach me about suffering, poverty, and injustice.

The more I study, the more He shows me. And I don’t get discouraged.

It’s the opposite! This growing awareness stokes a fire in me! Growing awareness means a growing passion to help. I want to serve people the way that Jesus served them. Jesus loved people! He showed His love through service, so that’s what I want to do. I want to stir a movement of people, all with the same idea in mind.

God’s love is at the heart of this movement I want to inspire.

It’s a movement that begins and ends with Jesus. It’s a movement that begins and ends with knowing Him and His love. It’s a movement that begins and ends with following Him, and realizing His mission.

Do you want to know what God wants you to do? Look at what Jesus did. That’s all you need.

Jesus redeemed people. He had a relationship with them.  He loved on them. And that’s why when He spoke, people listened to Him. They gave Him the right to have a voice in their lives.

And when they did, what did He say? He said, “The opportunity you have here is to love God. To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And to love your neighbor as yourself.”  That’s it! Just love God and love others.

But we don’t love others. We just don’t.

Why do I say that? Well, are you telling me that you want to be enslaved? Are you telling me that you want to starve and eat dirt? So many kids are doing that, just to feed their appetite. How can we say we love them, when we wouldn’t want that for ourselves?

Do you want to drink the same water that you relieved yourself in, and bathed yourself in, and washed your dishes in? We wouldn’t want to do that! But for so many villages, this is reality.

So I want us to spread the idea of this commandment, this awesome commandment to love others as ourselves. This commandment is not about following a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s about respect for what He did for you.

The idea is that I have a right to decide who I’m going to have sex with, and not have sex with. The idea is that I have a right to choose what job I want to do, even if I have to pay a debt. I have a right to choose my destiny and my path in life. And to love others as myself is to recognize that so many people have that right taken from them.

You really feel it when it’s happening to kids. Their mom or dad might have sold them. Or maybe their parents died, because of bad drinking water, or lack of food, or HIV. So they have no parents and they get snatched up by slavers and thrown into a truck and sold. Maybe they get turned into child soldiers who wake up every morning knowing they have to shoot people, because somebody bought them and now controls them.

A lot of these scenarios are taking place. This really happens. Diseases from hunger, HIV, or lack of clean drinking water, is killing parents and leaving children vulnerable to slavers. These scenarios all work together.

What better opportunity for a Christian, hearing God’s commandments, to say, “Hey! I can help make a dent in this!” Wouldn’t you like to feel the joy of releasing a captive slave? Wouldn’t you want to see a well that has been broken open, and get to say, “I helped with that”? Imagine being part of the joy these people have when they realize someone loves them. What do you think it’s like?

I can tell you. It’s life! It’s life in Christ! And you would say, “I feel fulfilled!”  This is such a good thing! This is the love of Jesus!

This is His love because this is what He did. He freed the captives. He healed the sick, and fed the hungry. Once you get a taste of this, you’ll find you want to spend your life loving God and your neighbors.

I want every Christian to realize this. It’s my dream that every Christian be moved by the love of Jesus to show the love of Jesus in order to know the love of Jesus.

That’s my idea.

See you Friday.

A Movement to Bring Joy to the World

In April 2012, I published my first book, To Stir a Movement. It describes my coming of age as a baseball player, and as a man. It explains my passion for loving my neighbor as myself.

You might ask, what movement? Who is your neighbor? How do you show your love?

The movement I have in mind begins with awareness. It begins with the awareness that people all over the world, our neighbors and God’s children, are suffering. It’s the awareness that we are called to help.

This is awareness that goes much further than just knowing the world has problems. We all know the world has problems. I’m talking about a much deeper awareness. It it a profound awareness that you can help. You can make the world so much better.

How? Well, you can take part in ending the hunger crisis. Or you can play a role in ending the water crisis. You know what? You can help provide homes and families for orphans. You can even help end human trafficking, and restore the lives of its survivors. It’s true! You can do this!

And when you do, you’ll discover an awareness that goes deeper than anything you imagined. An awareness deeper than knowing. Deeper than doing. You’ll discover the awareness of the joy that you just created in someone else’s life!

You see, when you help someone, you give them joy. They feel joy because of you. Because you helped them. That joy is nothing less than the love of Jesus. That’s the awareness I’m talking about!

In 2010, two young women went to Uganda on my behalf to help build a well in a village in the south. Generation Alive, the youth organization I founded, built this well in partnership with Living Water International, a water charity headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Those two young women sent me pictures. I got to see what happened the day they busted the well. As clean water poured out, the kids were standing under it. They were washing themselves in it. This was clean water and they were rejoicing. I’ve never seen anything like it!

Now 90% of the diseases in their village are history. All it took was good, clean drinking water.

Here’s a video of the dedication of the well:

Look at the faces of those kids! Look at the joy that’s on their faces! That’s just for water! It’s the same water that’s in my toilet bowl, and these kids are actually rejoicing in it. This is so awesome! We flush our toilets every day and we don’t even think twice! Right? When do you flush your toilet and then rejoice over the water that’s in the bowl?

If I wanted to, I could go to a restaurant and say, “I don’t like this water, I’d like a different kind. Bring me the one in the blue bottle.” It’s that easy for us. We can actually choose our drinking water based on brand, or flavor, or bubbles. In Uganda, we’re talking about kids that are rejoicing because finally, they have water that simply isn’t dirty. Finally, their water won’t make them sick.

When those two young women from Generation Alive walked through the village, people rejoiced just to see them. The kids latched onto their legs and held their hands. They danced and sang for them, and they said, “We thank you so much! You’re a part of our lives now!” All we did was help them, but it earned us an invitation to speak into their lives. My girls got to sit with them. They got to talk with them. They just got to love on them.

That’s the cup of love. It is fabulous. It’s the love of Jesus!

And that’s what stirs this movement. It’s the love of Jesus. Give it a shot! As soon as you help create joy in someone, you’ll know. You’ll know by the way it fulfills you. You’ll know by the way that your spiritual hunger gets fed. You’ll find out that there’s something inside of you that craves Jesus.

Those who have Him want more of Him. You know why? Because He’s awesome.

See you Friday.

Be Encouraged

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

If you actually look at what’s going on, it’s hard to feel encouraged. We’re in economic turmoil. We have a crisis going on. There are real issues with poverty in America. I definitely see that, and I want to help.

I want to help in other parts of the world, too. There is a water crisis going on. At least in most American cities, you can go to a drinking fountain and get fresh water. And just drink. If you really needed to, you could probably go into some restaurant bathroom and take toilet water in a cup and drink it. It would still be good, in the sense that it would take care of you. It wouldn’t give you a disease.

I see a lot of suffering everywhere. So sometimes, it’s hard for me to feel encouraged.

It’s not like the scriptures aren’t encouraging. The Bible is full of encouragement! It’s just that sometimes I struggle with it. I’m encouraged by who I am. I’m encouraged in who my family is. My family is healthy, my sons are awesome, my boys are going to be great, and God has taken care of us. I don’t have a hard time sleeping at night, wondering who’s going to pay the bills. I don’t have that issue. Obviously I’m encouraged that way.

But I also have a heart for the people. I don’t want to be self-absorbed. It’s not just me and my family in this world.

Christians are lovers of humanity. That’s who we are supposed to be. We’re supposed to help one another. We’re even supposed to love our enemies! But it’s really hard sometimes to love your enemies, when you see what they are doing to people. So how do we help and love one another, even our enemies, and how do we do it well? How do we do it without judgment or condemnation?

Sometimes I think, “God, that’s impossible for me. For You it’s possible, but for me it’s not.” And yet He reminds me. He tells me, “You know, with Me all things are possible. For someone who is not a believer in Me, or who is not led by my Spirit, it’s impossible to love their enemies. But for you? You have Me in your life. So yes. You can do it. You are to show that it is possible. You are to show that your joy does not come from what you can see, but from what you cannot see.”

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

Be encouraged. People everywhere in the faith are struggling with the pain and suffering they see, but they are finding ways to help. Be encouraged that God is at work. When you start looking at the world through scripture, through the eyes of Jesus, people will feel your joy. And they will be encouraged.

See you Thursday.

A Society of Servant Leaders

Sometimes people ask me, “What did it mean to you to pitch for other people? Why do you focus so much on others?”

The answer is pretty simple. I care about other people. I love them! And that’s because I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. It’s the same God that saved my life! So of course I want to help save the lives of others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. I want to achieve something not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I’m focused on those who don’t have food or clean water. I’m focused on orphans and victims of human trafficking. Imagine being hungry, or having a contaminated water supply. Imagine what happens to children who don’t have a parent to love them. Imagine what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom! These are the lives I want to help save.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in society. Go find a random person right now, anywhere you like, behind a desk or on a ball field or in a doctor’s office. Go anywhere you like. Ask them if they get up in the morning and set a goal to achieve something. They’ll probably say yes. But then ask them, do they do it in order to help provide for someone who does not have? Most people are going to say no, I don’t think that way when I set goals.

What happens when we approach kids with the idea of setting goals to help others? It turns out they love it! I’ve seen it in my work with the Not For Sale campaign and the Something to Eat campaign. In these organizations, I see kids setting goals to achieve something just so they can help someone else. They’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with fifteen cents to feed someone.” Or they’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with five cents to help with Not For Sale. I can do chores and I’ll raise a dollar!” They follow through, too, because for them, helping those in need is a priority.

Involving young people in projects like these is the best way to transform society. We’re helping them see that they can live their entire lives according to the idea that success is for them and for somebody else. This motivates them to be the best at what they do. They’ll work hard to become leaders at their jobs and in their communities.

They’ll also realize how big they can dream. They’ll set goals to be CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs, because they’ll realize how powerful it is to be the one to make the rules. One of those rules can be to devote a portion of their company’s revenues to building orphanages, or responding to food and water crises. Or they’ll find a way to put an end to slave labor in their industry.

Showing up to help a person or a community in need is holy. It really is. The effects are felt everywhere. People know they have been helped, and they want to do the same thing. They know that someone provided for them by setting goals and dreaming dreams. So now they set goals and dream dreams. Now they achieve for the sake of others. Now it goes global.

When we think about about how to help others, we are motivated to excel in our jobs and our lives. We work harder for success when we know that our success can actually help. I really hope we can all learn to think this way.

Happy Thanksgiving! See you Monday.

Justice Beyond Anger

The Bible says there will be a day of judgment. That time will come. But right now, we just need to make things right. We need to represent the God who loves us by fixing what’s wrong. We need to reflect Him by bringing justice to those who suffer. And we need to do it with love, because that’s how He does it.

We don’t preside over Judgment Day. We don’t have the right to condemn. We don’t have the right to say to someone, “You’re going to go to hell for the rest of your life.” We don’t have the right, and we don’t have the ability. God is the only judge.

We do have the right to say, “You know what? I just want to love on you. I hope you will accept Jesus. I want to share with you what He’s done for me. And I’m going to represent Him. When you see me, I’m going to represent Him. When you have any questions, I’m going to represent Him. And when I can help out, whether it’s ending human trafficking, hunger, a water crisis, or poverty, I’m going to do it. Because that’s what it means to represent Him.”

But how am I going to do it? How am I going to help? Is there ever a place for righteous anger in the pursuit of social justice? I think you have to discern your answer. I think you have to use wisdom.

justice beyond anger

If people are suffering a water crisis, I don’t have to get angry. There’s really no place in a water crisis for righteous anger. What am I going to do, judge the Earth? Condemn the planet for not producing enough water? Obviously not! I just have to help find water.

Nor would I need anger to sit in a room with convicted traffickers. A convicted trafficker has already been judged and sentenced. If I’m going to sit with them, I’m going to explain why they have been judged that way, and I’m going to love on them. I really am. I’m going to love and encourage them, and help them repent and be forgiven. I’m going to help them to a new life, a life in Christ where no one is for sale.

But if I came across people actively engaged in the practice of trafficking, I don’t think I would love on them. If I see someone trafficking a human being, you might see me flip some tables. That might be the time for some righteous anger. Is that the right way to respond? I don’t know. It would be a good time to ask for wisdom. Would an angry reaction be a reflection of Jesus, or would it straight up be a situation in which my flesh blazes with anger? I have to trust God to guide me in those times.

But I don’t worry about it. I don’t hesitate to do what I think is right. I rely on God’s wisdom, along with my knowledge of who Jesus is. Wisdom and knowledge tell me to love my neighbor as myself and pray for my enemies. That’s what my first reaction has to be. And then I go from there. I have faith that I’ll know the right thing to do. And I’ll be confident that it comes from God, when the solution I use brings peace to me and to the world.

A Global Society of Service

Sometimes people ask me, “Why do you say you pitch for other people? What makes you focus so much on others?”

The answer is pretty simple. I care about other people. I love them! And that’s because I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. He saved my life, so of course I want to help save the lives of others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. It’s because I want to achieve something, not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I want to achieve something for those who do not have food or clean water. I want to achieve something for orphans and victims of human trafficking. Imagine being hungry, or having a contaminated water supply. Imagine what happens to children who don’t have a parent to love them. Imagine what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom! These are the lives I want to help save.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in society. Go find a random person right now, anywhere you like, behind a desk or on a ball field or in a doctor’s office. Anywhere you like. Ask them if they get up in the morning and set a goal to achieve something. They’ll probably say yes. But then ask them, do they do it in order to help provide for someone who does not have? Most people are going to say no, I don’t think that way when I set goals.

What happens we approach kids with the idea? It turns out they love it! I’ve seen it in my work with Team Not For Sale and the Something to Eat campaign. In these organizations, I see kids setting goals to achieve something just so they can help someone else. They’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with fifteen cents to feed someone.” Or they’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with five cents to help with Not For Sale. I can do chores and I’ll raise a dollar!” They follow through, too, because for them, helping those in need is a priority.

earth love

Involving young people in projects like these is the best way to transform society. We’re helping them see that they can live their entire lives according to the idea that success is for them and for somebody else. This motivates them to be the best at what they do. They’ll work hard to become leaders at their jobs and in their communities.

They’ll also realize how big they can dream. They’ll set goals to be CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs, because they’ll realize how powerful it is to be the one to make the rules. One of those rules can be to devote a portion of their company’s revenues to building orphanages, or responding to food and water crises. Or they’ll find a way to put an end to slave labor in their industry.

Showing up to help a person or a community that does not have is holy. It really is. The effects are felt everywhere. People know they have been helped, and they want to do the same thing. They know that someone provided for them by setting goals and dreaming dreams. So now they set goals and dream dreams. Now they achieve for the sake of others. Now it goes global.

When we think about about how to help others, we are motivated to excel in our jobs and our lives. We work harder for success when we know that our success can actually help. I really hope we can all learn to think this way.