(Photo Credit: PennLive.com)

(Photo Credit: PennLive.com)

This past week, SEC Media Day took place in Hoover, Alabama. As we get closer and closer to the start of the college football season, the talk of the town has centered around Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman won the Heisman Trophy and led an upset of two-time national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season.

This year, the talk about Manziel has been what he has done off the field. The 20-year-old has hung out with LeBron, played golf at Pebble Beach, and had courtside seats to the NBA Finals. Now, Manziel is in the news for oversleeping at the Manning passing academy and for his tweets last month about how he couldn’t wait to leave Texas A&M.

The one tweet I want to focus on is the one where Manziel said back on June 16th:

Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes.”

Now, I am 20 years old just like Manziel. He’s right that he’s not your normal 20 year old. I wouldn’t know how he lives in a world where everybody knows who he is. As I was thinking about it, I thought about how at times we wonder if we can find anyone who can truly say, “I understand what you are going through.”

The only One who knows our problems is Jesus. When Jesus was on this Earth, he became fully human. He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He was thirsty, He wept, and He was tired. In order to become the propitiation for our sins, He had to make himself low, to the point of dieing on a cross, so that we can have Salvation.

When we go to the Lord with our problems, He is always there to listen and He knows what we are going through.

The author of Hebrews talks about how Jesus is our High Priest. In the Old Testament, the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and offer up one giant sacrifice for the sins of Israel. Now that Christ redeemed us from our sins by being the ultimate sacrifice, we have a High Priest that does not look down on us in a lowly manner.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Today, I exhort you to think about this next time you pray. Remember that Jesus cares about you and always listens to your problems, no matter how big or small they are. Once Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. That meant there was no longer separation between God and man. Jesus took a walk in our shoes on this Earth. However, we must remember that we could never have walk in His shoes and pay the price for our sins like Jesus did for us on that cross. Now, we can go to God in any situation to receive mercy for our sins and confidence in our daily walk with Him.

Photo: Josh Turner

Photo: Josh Turner

Here is another great young man and athlete who is striving to be like Jesus in his journey in life. Josh is a very talented baseball player in which he can play most any position and even has a couple of times in a game.  Josh was born and raised in Salem, Virginia and attends Patrick Henry  Community College in Martinsville, Virginia where he just finished his freshmen year. Joshua is very passionate about his walk with Christ and about inspiring others through their journey in life. It is great to see how Josh isn’t ashamed of his faith and is proud to be a virgin. We don’t hear that a lot in the world anymore. Josh’s story has inspired me in my journey.  I hope his story will inspire you in your walk and will help you as you travel down the pathway of life. So let me get out-of-the-way so you can read in Josh’s words about his Spiritual Journey.

BEING THE INSPIRATION

Tell me a  little about yourself-where you’re from? Family? 

I am an only  child and I’m actually a “miracle” baby so to speak. My mom had one miscarriage  before I was born and one miscarriage after I was born and both my parents saw  me as a very “special” being from the beginning. They saw it was a sign from God  that it was meant for them to only have one child. Even though I go by Josh,  they named me Joshua because Joshua in the bible was a leader, and that is  exactly what they wanted me to be, and that’s exactly what I turned out to be. I  have never had a drop of alcohol or done any type of drug. I’ve actually never  been to a legit party as hard as that is to believe; that just isn’t what I  consider fun. I’m unashamed of my faith, and I’m proud to say I’m a virgin and  saving myself for the right lady. I’m very quiet and I’m an independent, stay to  myself kind of person. My actions are my testament to my faith and I’m not one  to push my faith on someone unless need be; however, I’m always trying to find  ways to encourage and inspire people and I use every platform possible from the  playing field to social media to encourage people.

My biggest goal in college is to start a charity for underprivileged families to spread the good news of  Christ and inspire the uninspired.

Other than God, my family is the most  important thing to me. Growing up they have been my support base, my rock so to  speak. If you want to know where I get my positivity and determination, look at  my mother. If you want to know where I get my work ethic, look at my father.  Both of my parents instilled Christian beliefs in me from the beginning, for as  long as I can remember. I grew up going to church with them and I’ve never  really knew anything other than doing things the correct way. My father has  always preached to me to give my best in everything I did. Words will never  describe how much I thank God that He blessed me with this certain set of  parents.

OPPORTUNITIES

Going into my senior year of high school, I had opportunities  from some Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Big South schools but ended up  messing my shoulder up pretty badly about three weeks into my senior season. I  then felt it was necessary to go to junior college and use it as a stepping  stone. About halfway through this season I walked off the team due to off field  issues involving serious drugs and alcohol problems that I didn’t feel was  necessary to be around. I felt that my faith and beliefs would take care of  things in the end. In the midst of this and with this day in age of social  media, I felt that if something were to happen to the team, it would be guilt by  association for me which could eventually lead to far worse things for my  future, on and off the field. As of right now, I will be playing in the New York  Collegiate Baseball League for the Rochester Ridgemen this coming summer, which  is associated with Athletes in Action. My general manager has some great  connections and I’m waiting on an admission decision from a particular school  that he has recommended to me. If things don’t work out, I’ll still continue to  follow God’s path for me but I refuse to give up on the dream.

What position  do you play?

Wherever I am needed; I’m a true utility player. My dad  preached to me from a young age to be versatile. I’ve actually played all nine  positions in a game before.

JOSH’S PASSION

What is your  passion in life?

When I was three I was throwing balls up in the air and  hitting them over the house. By the time I was five I was already playing coach  pitch, not tee ball. My passion is in no question to be a professional baseball  player. Growing up people have laughed at that but I’m the one that gets the  last laugh in the end. I’ve had teachers and even my own family members put  statistics and numbers in front of me telling me how hard it is to make it, and  I just laugh it off because it adds fuel to the fire. When I was three years  old, my grandmother and I were watching a Yankees game and I told her “I was  going to be a Yankee; I was going to be a baseball player.” Tell me how many  three-year olds you know that say they want to be a professional baseball  player? Fulfilling this dream is something I work for each and every day. I  believe that God put the dream in my heart for a reason, and He wants to see me  achieve it. I literally think about the announcer for the MLB Draft calling out “ID Number …. Turner, Josh” all the time and the area scout calling to say “we  got you.” It consumes my thoughts daily, and they say that you should never give  up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about; therefore, I’m not  giving up because I believe that my resilience, hard work, God-given ability,  and believing in the end result will pay off.

Tell me about  your blog- why do you write it? what inspired you to write it?

My blog was a spiritual email list that had roughly  about one hundred followers and I would send it out monthly. A follower that was  on the list recommended that I turn it into a blog so that others could view it  in case they needed encouragement at whatever time for whatever reason. I’m  really into encouraging others in their walk with Christ if need be and God has  blessed me in so many ways with His word through other people who I kind of  wanted to give back to others and  start my own way of expressing His love and word through this blog.

James  Ramsey who currently plays in the St. Louis Cardinals organization had a  spiritual email list going during his senior year at Florida State for some guys  that he had played with and against in college and he added me to the list as  well, so that kind of sparked my interest and made me start my own email  list.

JOSH’S SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

Tell me about  your Spiritual Journey in life:

I’ve  been tested and fought through adversity all throughout my life and I’ve had to  rely on something other than just myself to get me through things. I’ve lost two  good friends, one to suicide and one to drunk driving and all I could ask was  Why me? I’ve never really questioned my faith; it just took me seventeen years  to truly understand what Christ could do for me and what I could do for  Him.

My entire testimony can be seen at http://ajoshuaturner.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.html

Share your  story of how Christ has changed your life.

 To say my life has never been the same would be a  complete understatement. I rarely worry and I never see the negative side to any  situation. Not to mention one of the most important things is I went from being  an awful student in high school to an almost straight A student in college. I  really had never read the bible before in my life until I was saved. I not only  started to read the bible but I’ve been able to learn what it means to live life  as a Christian man and what it means to be a follower of Christ, not just a fan  of Christ. I learned not only about God’s love but that it was actually real.

I  found out that despite all the things I had done in my life that Jesus had  already paid the penalty for them.

I learned about pursuing a life of purity for  the sake of Jesus. I learned about not only what type of woman I want to marry  but most importantly what type of man I want to be for the sake of Christ for  the rest of my life and most importantly I learned that I want to glorify Him in  everything that I do. Whether that is through my social life, playing baseball,  whatever it can be. I learned how to share my ups and downs in life through my  testimony, and I learned how to be a shining example to many. I learned that I  still don’t have everything figured out and never will, but that’s what I love  about Him, He can take someone like me who has been living a life so far from  what they professed and show people that he is real and He changes lives.

When did you  start your journey with Christ?

I  was saved on May 15th, 2012. 17 years old.

JOSH’S INSPIRATION

Who instilled  your faith in you?

My parents set a  perfect example from a very early age on faith, adversity, etc.. but most  importantly my parents taught me respect and how to treat others. I’m very  fortunate and I hope I can instill the same values in my kids that they have  instilled in me.

Was there  someone in your life who influenced you spiritually?

Most definitely. My parents first and foremost, both my  grandmothers, my best friend and his family, I am Second videos, James Ramsey of  the St. Louis Cardinals, Ryan Mathews of the Oakland A’s, Mark Appel of  Stanford, Michael Lorenzen of Cal State Fullerton, and Mitchell Traver of  TCU.

Is there someone  now that helps you in your spiritual walk?

Absolutely. You can never stop  growing in your walk with Christ. All the people mentioned above are my main  contributors and I have a great accountability group with all of the  ball players. I’m very fortunate to know and have contact with some of the best  college and pro baseball players out there.

Where do you  attend church at?

Fellowship  Community Church when I’m in my hometown.

THE CHALLENGE

Is it hard to be  a Christian and play college baseball?

Sort  of but not really, and I don’t mean that arrogantly either. I look at it in the  same sense as everyday life. People are always going to mock and ridicule you  but God has placed what you need to overcome any circumstance inside of you and  I personally know that he has my back through anything. It’s like Mitchell said “I’ve learned that if I live for people’s acceptance, I’ll die from their  rejection…so I don’t seek to “fit in.” and that the cream rises to the top.. No  one could have said that better.

I want to be different, I want people to mock  and ridicule me for standing up for what I believe in, because that means that  I’m not giving in to the temptation that surrounds me. Temptation to do the  wrong thing will always be there, willing to wash you away… but you have to be  able to stand up for what is right and know that the resilience will pay  off.

Has sports  challenged your faith?

Without a  doubt, I was scared to death that my playing career may have been over when I  messed my shoulder up senior year but I realized that if it was over, I was  being called to do something else and that gave me a lot of peace. I never once  focused on any negativity though; I just broke through the wall of adversity and  came back quicker than planned. God gives us obstacles just to see how much we  want to work for the end result. This season was especially difficult with  injuries. In the fall I ended up in the Emergency room after a regular practice  because I had torn muscle in my abdomen and had internal bleeding from doing  hang cleans in the weight room, and then in the spring I strained my left  hamstring to the point where I could barely put any weight on my leg. Things  were going pretty bad at my school athletically and it got to the point where I  honestly was content to hang up the cleats for good because I was sick of all  the bad stuff that was going on. Yet, I asked God to give me comfort,  determination, and to put the dream back in my heart, and He did just  that.

What is the  one thing you struggle with in your walk with Christ?

I would have to say the consistency to let God take the  lead even though I know that I can’t do anything without him.

I’ve always been a  leader, a “take charge of the situation” kind of person and it is tough for me  to do that when the situation is out of my control. I don’t tend to worry or get  upset; I just pray and know that something will work out.

Is there more  pressure on you to live for Christ as a baseball player?

Absolutely not. Don’t get me wrong, there is still  temptation to do the wrong thing and there is still pain and shortcomings, but  athletes are role models, plain and simple. They will always have “one up” on  anyone in the business world. I use my platform of baseball to be the example  that I wish to see in the world. I’ve experienced both the non-college athlete  side and the college athlete side of things and from experience I can say that  when I’m playing, I’m more focused on everything because I have an allotted time  to complete a given task that I know I have to get done; therefore, I can’t  stray from the correct path.

JOSH’S WALK

Any great  stories of how you have witness to others about Jesus?

I try to live the Ephesians 5 lifestyle which is  basically how to live out the life that God has planned for me and follow His  instruction.

I really just do what I can to influence people in their walk but I  don’t push my faith on to people unless they ask for my help. Instead, I look at  people just as who they are. The quote “you know my name, not my story” is  something I really try to remind a lot of people of and I have to remind myself  of it also at times. I’m in no way, shape, or form perfect by any means, and I  don’t want to be. I just try to set the best example I can because people are  always watching. My actions and my life are my testimony and people have noticed  the significant changes that have been made in my life since I was saved. When I  help someone out with their walk, I don’t expect them to get it right away and  just be changed forever because the walk with Christ takes patience and  understanding. I just try to set the best example possible because a glimpse of  me may be the only light that a person sees or hears in their lifetime.. doesn’t  mean they change their lives on the spot, but they definitely see that I have a  reason to do what I do, and if it changes their life for good, then I have done  my job. I don’t do what I do for me; I do it to help others and for  Him.

Do your  teammates know you’re a Christian?

Yes indeed.

What does it  mean to be a role model?

The  ultimate question in this entire interview. I’d have to say a humbling  experience first and foremost. It’s like Mitchell Traver put it in his article, “I’m not any more special than the guy sitting beside me in Calculus class.” To  me, a role model is a label that only very few people can actually fulfill.  Someone who is always doing the right thing, who people can look at and see that  they don’t take shortcuts or that people can come to and know they won’t be led  in the wrong direction. A role model remains positive at even the toughest of  times. They take the situation and go above and beyond all expectations, at  least that is what I strive to do.

Is it hard as  a Christian athlete with temptations that are all around  you?

Without a doubt. As I said  above, I’m very independent and quiet, I go about my business the right way and  I don’t really stray away from the path that God has planned for me but there is  a lot of temptation as a Christian because people label you differently. I just  tend not to give in to temptation and that is something that my parents  instilled into me early on in childhood.

Before a game  do you spend time in prayer?

Most  definitely.. It gives me a lot of peace and reassurance to know that what I’m  doing isn’t for me, it’s for God and I make sure I give Him the glory whenever  possible. I say a prayer before every at bat as well. I’m in constant prayer on  the field; it keeps me level-headed, humble, and reminds me that I’m out there  for a much greater purpose than just to play a game.

Favorite  scripture?

Honestly, this may seem  so far off the map, but I’m going to have to say Proverbs 31 as a whole because  it taught me not only what type of man I want to be to a women, but what type of  women I want to find and marry. You see a lot of relationships start and finish  these days for the complete wrong reason and I feel that if more people knew and  understood Proverbs 31, there would be more relationships centered on God, which  most of the time is a relationship that doesn’t fail.

What verse  has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has  it?

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the  plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for  disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

I like this particular verse because it takes you back  and makes you realize that it doesn’t matter what we think we are going to do or  what others think we can or can’t do, because God has our life mapped out and  His promises are His promises. We must stay true to His plan through and  through.

Any other  comments you might like to say.

Just want to thank you for selecting me to do this! I  pray that this can help anyone and inspire people to do the right thing. Anyone can follow me on Twitter as well: @ajoshturner

What a powerful witness for Christ and example for young and old everywhere. Josh has a great story, especially when he was willing to step up for what be believed in by walking away from the game he loves to play. I wish Josh the best and I know that God has a purpose for him. Please take some time to read Josh’s blog to learn more about this inspiring young man.

Photo: blumoon photoraphy

Photo: blumoon photography

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and Mitchell’s picture says what his life is all about I Am Second. Mitchell’s first priority in life is to glorify God in everything he does especially baseball where he gets to step on the hill and strike out batters. Mitchell’s story is very inspiring and I hope in some way it will bless you as it has me. In a way I guess you can call him the comeback kid.

Mitchell was born and raised in a suburb of Houston, TX, in a place called SugarLand. He lived there until 17, actually his family moved up to their ranch his senior year of high school. They got it around 2003 and finally just decided to make it home…the ranch is in Navasota, TX, which is about 20 miles south of College Station (Texas A&M). He has two loving parents, a younger brother, and a younger sister. This is what he said about them:

“To be frank with you, my family comes before everything but God. They are indeed my best friends, each in their own specific role and way, and I am so grateful for God blessing me with their presence in my life. We are extremely close; people say they haven’t ever seen anything like it. My brother actually will be attending TCU next year as a student, and my sister hopes to attend for volleyball, although she is only a freshman in high school.”

What made you go to TCU?

The distance and the “feel” of the campus…it just felt like the place I was supposed to be I guess. No place is perfect, and to be honest I was fortunate enough to have a lot of amazing options coming out of high school, but God made a way with TCU so here I am.

So instead of me trying to write his story for him, I’m going to let Mitchell tell it himself. So sit back and listen to this young man’s walk through adversity. In a way I guess you can call him the comeback kid.

To keep things as brief as possible…Going into my senior year of high school I had a good amount of attention from the professional end of baseball; I honestly didn’t know if I would be in Surprise, AZ or Fort Worth, TX come August…well, things started to happen I guess, weird things. My fingers started to go numb to the point where I’d look into my glove to make sure I was actually holding the ball. My command of the baseball obviously went completely out the window, and everyone started to notice. The pain started to show up, but I continued to tell no one except for my family. I thought it was in my head, I thought I was just being a baby, and I wanted to prove to my team that I wasn’t that draft guy all in it for myself; I wanted to win it for THEM. I did everything I could. Some of those moments on the hill are terrifying memories; I never knew a spot in the middle of so many people could make you feel so alone. As I continued to pitch through this monster of an injury, my mechanics began to break down simply because I didn’t really know where my arm was when I was throwing. Come first round of playoffs…had forearm tightness all week, of course that wasn’t going to stop me from throwing. I cruised through 3 innings, somehow finding ways to just throw strikes and get outs like I had to all year, but my arm really felt bad that day. 4th inning came, and there my elbow went. My arm shot back on a fastball with 2 quick outs already in the books. I tried to throw a curveball…50 footer. Motioned to my coach for one last pitch; I knew it was the last pitch I’d ever throw in high school. As the ball went soaring inside for a ball, I had an immense amount of pain. Weeks went by, MRI’s in the books…we still didn’t know. The day before the draft, we find out after another doctor’s diagnosis that I had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome; that’s what was causing all the numbness in my arm. I had surgery to relieve it, and figured the elbow would be fine because the MRI’s came out okay…as I rehabbed all summer, finishing 4 weeks ahead of schedule, I began to toss again, and with the tossing came the pain I knew too well. I got another MRI and found out I had actually ripped my UCL off of my forearm bone, and would need Tommy John Surgery to repair it, even though the ligament itself was not torn. TJ has an average recovery of 13 months…I was immediately medically red-shirted, and so the story continued. I got surgery on August 31, of 2012, and threw my first ball off of the mound on April 20, 2013. I should be clear for competition by mid-late summer, which would put me about 3 months ahead of the average pace, and to be honest, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Yeah…I went from potential Day One pick in the draft as an 18-year old high school student, to a kid who wouldn’t throw a ball off the mound in 358 days in about 4 months…yeah, people said I was all hype, said I couldn’t handle the pressure, said that I would never come back from one surgery that ended Chris Carpenter’s career, let alone Tommy John Surgery immediately after…and yes, I have never had that much on my plate at once in my entire life…but never…ever…have I seen the light of Jesus so clearly shone upon my life as I have in these moments. As it says in Psalm 32:8…”I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go, I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” That is EXACTLY what He did… He gave me confidence in that fact that I didn’t have to worry about my future, no matter what my present contained…He gave my a hope for what was to come and the fruit that would bear from the tireless work I put in…and He gave me every single thing I needed at the EXACT moment I needed it….

this isn’t the story of perfection; this is the story of someone who is eternally grateful for Jesus Christ and His ability to find perfection in my imperfection.

I needed these things to happen in my life for a distinct purpose…TOS and TJ are in no way hurdles to overcome; they are 2 pillars that kept my foundation from falling…They are the best things that have ever happened to me, and I pray I have received, and will continue to receive everything God has for me through these experiences…its been a battle, but moreover, it’s been such a blessing because He has walked with me every step. “To God be the glory.”

What a battle through adversity that Mitchell went through but his foundation in Christ helped him keep his focus through this storm in his life. Mitchell now shares how he made his faith his own.

Tell me about your Spiritual Journey in life?

Well, in case my story didn’t reveal enough…I grew up in a Christian home, accepted Christ around age 6 or 7, and can honestly say I’ve been a “pretty good kid” my whole life. I have never drank a drop of alcohol in my entire life, I am a virgin, and I haven’t committed any felonies unless a speeding ticket counts. But when I really made my faith my own, and really worked on “my walk” rather than the basic “good person” people think of when they think of a Christian, was when I realized God gave me a gift, and it was my responsibility to max it out. I have always dreamed of being a Major League Baseball Player till I can’t play anymore, and when I saw the signs that He equipped me to do just that, my entire perspective on life changed. I began to work hard, I found out what initiative, determination, resilience, and so many other things really mean…to be honest, as ironic as this sounds, the reason why baseball never was my identity is simply because baseball was the means in which I found out my true identity that comes from Jesus Christ. And now, the two are completely independent…I play for Christ, seeking to honor Him through this game I love so much. Baseball is a gift, and a means in which I can meet others that love Him or don’t even know Him…it’s a spiritual battleground.

It is inspiring to  know that Mitchell is truly striving to be more ike Jesus every day. The sports world and media for the past few months have been talking about gay athletes. I wonder how many would talk about a baseball payer being a virgin. I’m guessing not many but young people need to hear more stories ike Mitchell’s.

Share your story of how Christ has changed your life.

The truth of Jesus Christ really gives my life purpose. Ultimately, I believe everyone tends to struggle with significance…and as an athlete; we tend to try to solve that problem through our respective sport, and with that come many other things. God made it clear early on that I was significant enough to die for…all of my lying, cheating, lusting, stealing, everything…He knew I would do it, and still died for me.

As soon as I UNDERSTOOD that, that was it for me; I knew that this life was going to be an extraordinary journey.

Each one of us are on a journey in life with its mountains and valleys, storms and rainbows and lessons along the way. The most important journey in life is our spiritual one because when it is all said and done, it’s the only journey that will matter.

When did you start your journey with Christ?

Officially age 6 or 7…but when it really became real and alive was around age 12-13 when I discovered the gift He gave me in the game of baseball…. because the game meant so much to me, Him giving me that gift just because He can meant so much more. I realized it wasn’t about me…it was about Him.

Who instilled your faith in you?

My parents set a Godly example from day one…if I ever have a shadow of a doubt of what to do, or what Godliness looks like, I look to them. I pray I can be half the parents to my kids, that my parents were to me…I don’t have words to express my love and gratitude for them. There just aren’t any.

When we walk on this earth there are people who help us by influencing each step we take in our journey in life. Here are some of the ones who have influenced Mitchell’s journey.

Was there someone one in your life who influenced you spiritually?

My parents, family as a whole, friends, Lecrae, Dr. David Pendergrass, and even people like Tim Tebow.

 Is there someone now that helps you in your spiritual walk?

My family, Lecrae, Tripp Lee, Chauncey Franks (FCA Leader), Michael Lorenzen, and then to be more specific seeing I haven’t bragged on him yet, my brother. He is an incredible writer, has an awesome story of his own, and his transformation and walk is honestly a daily dose of inspiration for me to look up, get up, and never get up…He is one of my few heroes, even though he is 13 months younger than me. I love him very, very much.

Is there anyone who has changed your life or inspired you in your walk?

My Dad, my Mom, my brother, my sister, Dr. David Pendergrass, Lecrae, Tim Tebow, and Michael Lorenzen are the names that come to my mind. Actually there is one more…her name is Laura Valby; she is one of my best friends if not my best friend apart from my family. She has changed my life in so many ways it’s incredible. She is the epitome of what a Christian girl fixed with her eyes on Jesus looks like…she’s my superstar.

Where do you attend church at?

Community of Faith is the name of the church I attend back home. At TCU I attend a weekly chapel service called Ignite…It’s difficult to find a church here with baseball always on the weekend. But don’t you worry; I’ll find a way.

Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?

Kind of. I realized that what “baseball” may be to some, isn’t what it is to me. I don’t dip…I don’t cuss…I don’t look for fights on the field or talk trash…I don’t go sleep with “my girl” after the game, or find cleat-chasers to hang with following a big win…I have had to always keep in mind that baseball is a gift, and to whom much is given much is also required…I do everything I can not to take this opportunity a gift for granted, and part of that is refusing to mess around with those things and focusing on 3 things…my effort, my attitude, and my preparation. That’s plenty to work on…. Trying to be great is a daily decision, just as being follow of Christ is.

Is it hard to be a Christian and play college baseball?

Not for me to be honest. I don’t mean that in an arrogant sense by any means… temptation is always there. But He always seems to protect me from it. I’ve learned that if I live for people’s acceptance, ill die from their rejection…so I don’t seek to “fit in.” It’s not surprising that people think I am just a goody-goody teddy bear, or that its “cute” I don’t drink or cuss, or that I wont be tat guy that gets the hottest girl in the room…I expect those things, and day by day He has aided me in understanding how to deal with those realities, while never forgetting…the cream rises to the top; He has, and always will have my back. Dishonoring Him just because its “too hard” simply isn’t an option; it’s just not.

Any great stories of how you have witness to others about Jesus?

I do everything I can to walk the 1 Peter 3:15 life…always being ready to give an “apologia” for my faith…It’s not my job or my place to press Jesus on people. I don’t walk around telling people what they do wrong, what they should be doing, or how badly they need Jesus. Instead, I befriend people out of true love; I view people as people, not projects. If I am asked a question, which I am asked PLENTY, I answer the best way I can. I set the best example I can and realize my decisions don’t just affect me or impact my life… people are always watching. My life is my testimony; it’s my walk that I seek to be the ultimate witness to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. People notice…doesn’t mean they change their lives on the spot, but they definitely see that I have a reason to do what I do, and if that puts the pebble in their shoe that they have to take a look at come sometime than praise God for that. And don’t get me wrong, I’m no where near perfect, nor do I try to be…I just do my best to be articulate about my life’s “why” questions, and do my best to let others know my hand isn’t fit for the gavel; im their friend not their judge.

Do your teammates know you’re a Christian?

Yes they do.

Has sports challenged your faith?

Absolutely. There was a time when all this happened with my surgeries, and I wondered if I had wasted the last 10 years of my life on something I thought I was supposed to do, but really wasn’t at all being called to do. The enemy sneaks into the smallest crevices…but I was reminded God is not the author of confusion it is that fact that immediately fired me up and got my roaring to go again. Any kind of hardship challenges your faith…but adversity is a beautiful thing; the greatest of characters are seared with scars.

What does it mean to be a role model?

My goodness…a role model. It’s humbling. Yeah…it’s very humbling because to be honest I’m not any more special than the kid who sits next to me in my Calculus class.

“You see, the definition of me changed the moment Christ stepped in…it is no longer I who lives, but He who lives in me; we are a team, an inseparable team. So when it comes to “being a role model”, I think that goes hand in hand with being a Christian…I’m humbled to be viewed in such an honorable manner, but I realize that I don’t deserve the credit, I don’t deserve the limelight…there is a One who deserves all of that, and His name is Jesus Christ.”

What a powerful statement about being a role model in today’s world. This goes back to Mitchell’s picture, I Am Second. Mitchell gives all the credit and glory to Christ for having the opportunity to be an example to others. 

Is it hard as a Christian athlete w/ temptations that are all around you?

No doubt about it. Temptation is a battle for all people, Christian or not. Christianity doesn’t protect you from anything, if anything, it puts a big red X on your back. I’m a target, but I’m not alone…so I fall, I get back up, and I never stop fighting. The War was one 2000 years ago… so I really don’t worry about what happens to me or about the mistakes I make, those things are like a sunk cost; you knew they’d happen long before they did. It’s my response to all those things that acts as compass for the path I choose to travel…though I may fall, I will respond with my eyes on Christ.

Before a game do you spend time in prayer?

Absolutely. Before every inning, after I throw my last warm-up pitch, I get ball back, face home plate and pray whatever my heart has on it. After I give it up to him, I step onto the rubber, look up to home plate, and go to battle.

Does the team pray?

Some guys do. After we break from signs and whatnot after infield and outfield, most of the guys take knees individually and pray what’s on their heart, and most of them silently. Some guys get with one another though.

Are there other teammates who share your faith?

Yes, although I wont say them by name, there are a few other guys on the team that are believers and are active in their pursuit of Jesus and His calling on their life.

Fav. scripture?

Geeze…so tough! Psalms is my favorite book, as I seem to give a lot of qualities similar to that of King David, or so I am told. I would say my favorite verse is probably Psalm 18:31-34…I love Psalm 91, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Romans 12:2, Jeremiah 29:11, Jeremiah 17:7, Matthew 17:20, and John 16:33 to name a few others.

What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?

1 Corinthians 2:9…”No eye has seen, no ear has heard, what the Lord has in store for those who love Him.” No matter what monsters I face in this life, and no matter how hard things get…He has my back, and He has me covered.

“All I have to do is continue to MAXOUT what He has given me in my life…because I love Him, He will be with me always…it’s only the beginning.”

We have been hearing so many stories of athletes in the news who have decided to share about their homosexual lifestyle, who have got arrested for drugs and so many other stories.  Here is a story of a TCU pitcher who has given his life to Jesus Christ and who truly is a role model. Please share this glimpse into the life of Mitchell Traver with your friends, family and even ESPN. One day we will see the comeback kid take he hill and throw out a pitch for the Houston Astros. His story of keeping his faith through adversity inspired me and I hope it will do the same for you.

Mitchell thank you for inspiring us to walk our journey and MAXOUT what God has given us. We are rooting for you and know that God has a plan and purpose for you. Keep on walking in his steps.

Photo: Gary Hardemon

Photo: Gary Hardemon

The past few weeks I have had the opportunity to interview both Pro and College Christian Athletes about their walk with Christ. I asked them to share their story of how Christ has changed their lives and to share what their passion is in life. The question is will stories of athletes who are Christians get on the front of Sports Illustrated, will President Obama call them to congratulate them for standing up, will there be countless articles and tweets about it and will the nation hear their stories.
My mission is to get their name out there, to share their story and to give all the glory to God. Will Watson is one of those names I want to others to know and has a story I want to share. Will plays baseball for Northwestern State University in Louisiana. NSU is in the Southland Conference and are 13-33 overall this season. In 2012, Will Earned post-season honor as second team All-Southland Conference and led the team in batting average, on-base percentage, stolen bases, stolen base percentage, and hit-by-pitch categories. Will was also a two-time All-State player for Lary Hughes at Southlake Carroll High School in South Lake, Texas.

Here is Will’s Story:

Tell me a little about yourself-where u from? family?

I am originally from San Jose, California and I’m named after Will Clark. We moved around a lot as a kid, going from California to Seattle to Dallas in high school. My parents still live in Dallas, and I have a younger sister that attends Dallas baptist university.

What university do you go to? Why did you chose that university? What position do you play?

I go to Northwestern State University a small division one school in Louisiana where I am a communication major with a minor in business. I ended up getting a scholarship offer to play baseball here and had an opportunity to start right away. I play center field and can also play first base.

What is your passion in life?

My passion in life is to tell people about Jesus Christ. After all He has done for me, I just want to make His name know by serving people and loving people.

When did you start your journey with Christ?

I got saved my freshman year at NSU. Growing up on the west coast I went to church a few times but never fully understood the magnitude of the gospel. We went to college athlete retreat within fellowship of Christian athletes. That was the first time that I understood the gospel and was so humbled by it that I could barley stand up when the speaker said stand if you are willing to let Jesus take control of your life.

Who instilled your faith in you?

Without Andy Stroup, my life would be drastically different. He is the FCA chaplain at LSU and he basically was my spiritual father figure. He was there when I got saved, and he is the one that baptized me.

Was there someone one in your life who influenced you spiritually?

At NSU, Randy and Christie Price are the FCA staff members. The Prices have been there for me every day since I got saved. They took me is as their own.

Is there someone now that helps you in your spiritual walk?

Zeb Marcotte is the pastor of the bridge church and we meet once a week to talk about life and get into the word. He is my mentor that pushes me on a daily basis. We are going through the book Multiply right now by Francis chan and David platt. I also am leading a discipleship/accountability group that meets on Friday mornings with some kids on the team that just got saved.

Where do you attend church at?

When I’m at home I go to the Village church, and when I’m at school I attend the Bridge.

Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?

As a kid we were always playing on the weekends so going to church wasn’t really an option for my family. Here at NSU, Randy Price comes on the road with us to do our Sunday morning chapels. It’s tough to get corporate worship time, because we play Tuesday and Wednesday along with the weekend, but I either attend Fca or baptist college ministries to get it in.

Is it hard to be a Christian and play college baseball?

I wouldn’t say that it’s hard, I would say that it’s challenging at times. You are a witness. People are going to see you and try and say well he’s a Christian he’s not allowed to do that. I think that God has given us our talents. He blesses us everyday, so how we life our lives both on and off the field will show what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives.

Any great stories of how you have witness to others about Jesus?

Sometimes when I’m playing first base if a runner gets on I will ask him, but the best part of this year was in January watching two teammates get saved. College athlete retreat was going on and it’s the first weekend that we start practices, so we were only up there for probably two hours max. It’s about an hour away and I convinced a couple of guys to come with me. On the way up there we were talking about what Jesus meant to them and it was kind of like “well he’s a good guy”. We get there just in time to hear the speaker and within 15 minutes, both kids were balling their eyes out standing up saying that they are in desperate need of Jesus.

Is there anyone who has changed your life or inspired you in your walk?

Other than the people listed, I would say Christian professional athletes. The world doesn’t have very many solid believers who are playing sports, so I look to guys like Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, and even friends of mine like Ryan Matthews. Within college athletics I’ve been blessed to get to know people such as Mary Michel Maggio, Andrew Lacombe, Justin Gordey, and Josh Jones who went about playing sports in college the right way.

Does your teammates know you’re a Christian?

Yes they give me a hard time about it, but most of the time it’s good natured.

Has sports challenged your faith?

I would say my faith has changed the way I view sports. It used to be I was going to do anything that I possibly could to play professional baseball. After I got saved I realized that that was an idol and that now everything I do on a baseball field is worship to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to be a role model?

I think that being a role model is being able to leave a legacy. If you go to a four year school out of high school like I did, you only have 4 years to make an impact on people’s lives. Out reaching to the community is big. In four years people won’t remember the stats you put up or the home runs you hit, but they will remember you for the type of person you were and how hard you played.

Is it hard as a Christian athlete w temptations that are all around you?

Yes, there is temptation everywhere even at a small school. There are girls and alcohol around every corner. The need for accountability is even greater now within college.

Before a game do you spend time in prayer?

Yeah I like praying throughout the national anthem. Just asking for God to use me in the game for His glory. Asking for a humble heart through every circumstance that happens throughout the game and to just stay focused on Him and not drift away.

Does the team pray?

Yes about 15 minutes before the game I lead the prayer out in the outfield.

Is there other teammates who share your faith?

Yeah there are about 5 of us that meet Friday mornings to dig into the word and keep each other accountable. It’s nice having other believers on the team to have your back within locker room talks.

Fav scripture?

Proverbs 24:16 “for a righteous man falls 7 times, he will rise again, as the wicked will stumble into calamity.”

What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?

I would say that verse. The only way we are made righteous is through Jesus Christ. Even when we are in Christ we will fall to temptation. The beauty of it is that we are his children and we will rise up again and continue the purification process that God is working on us. It also shows without Christ, your sin will continue to drag you down and that it will lead you into ruin.

I hope you can tell by now why I wanted to share with you Will’s story. Will is on fire for God and is willing to share the great message with everyone he comes in contact with, even the batters that make it to first base. I’m so thankful we have young men like Will who are willing to stand up for Jesus. Thanks Will for sharing your heart, passion and life with us. May God continually bless you in your daily steps.

Photo: Bob Jones University Athletics

Photo: Bob Jones University Athletics

“I just want to exalt Jesus Christ as much as I can.”

I was blessed with the opportunity to visit with Ray Holden, JR about his passion in life. Ray plays basketball for the Bob Jones University Bruins. This past season was the inaugural season for the Bruins basketball program but this also was the first athletic season for the University.  The Bruins play in the USA South Athletic Conference and are a Division III athletic program. Bob Jones is a Liberal Arts College located in Greenville, SC and has an enrollment of about 4,000 students. Ray is one of them majoring in Youth Ministry and playing basketball. He wants to exalt Jesus in every dribble he makes on the court and every walk he takes off the court. His passion is sharing the love of Christ with everyone around him. Here is his interview with me:

Tell me a little about yourself-where u from? family?

My name is Raymond (Ray) Holden Jr., I’m 19 years old, a freshman Youth Ministries major at Bob Jones University. I am a proud athlete for the BJU Bruins basketball program. I’m from the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland and I have five other siblings, three older brothers, one older and one younger sister. My dad passed away six years ago and God has blessed me with a great mom who is loving, hard-working, and amazing in all that she does.

What made you go to Bob Jones University? talk about Bob Jones a little bit please.

It was truly the Lord’s plan for me to attend Bob Jones University. At the time I was running away from basketball and BJU didn’t have a team but they do have an outstanding ministry program and that’s the primary reason why I was attracted to the school. Bob Jones is a Liberal Arts College with an emphasis on building their students up to be great men and women for Jesus Christ. The school does a great job exposing its students to a number of things whether its drama, operas, sports, etc.

Talk a little about your coaches.

I couldn’t have been blessed with a better coaching staff. All the coaches have impacted me not only to be a better player but to be a better man as I grow in the Lord. I have been given books to read and inspirational posters or text messages a number of times that have encouraged me to do my best for God’s glory.

I saw that you are majoring in Youth Ministry? Is that your passion?

Youth Ministry is the biggest passion I have! Jesus Christ saved me at a young age and has changed my life dramatically as a teenager. I believe that teenagers and even those who are younger are the future and reaching them for Jesus Christ can have a huge impact on the World.

What is your passion in life? Would you like to go to the NBA one day?

My biggest passion in life is Youth Ministry but I would love to play in the NBA if I ever had the chance to. Reason why is because it’s such a huge platform to share Christ with others. Sometimes I dream of being the Tim Tebow of basketball.

Is there a difference going to Christian college than a non-Christian college?

I believe there is a difference between attending a Christian College and a non-Christian College. I have experienced both and I am more appreciative of attending a Christian College because I am constantly fed the Word of God whether it’s through class, chapel, small groups, basketball or personal devotions. Also, the environments are totally different in a number of ways and at a Christian College you really don’t have to worry about a lot of things. Well at Bob Jones you don’t lol.

What is its advantages and disadvantages?

Some advantages of a Christian College are spending time in God’s Word in chapel every day. Opening God’s Word with a body of believers is a blessing and having that freedom to worship is a privilege. Another advantage is that there are a lot of people who share the same faith as you. Also, the teachers and faculty do their best to help you grow in Christ as well. In addition, at a Christian College you really don’t have to worry about things like safety or things being stolen. Some disadvantages of a Christian College are becoming “stale” in your faith. Sometimes it is easy to hear God’s Word and tune out the preacher. Another disadvantage of going to a Christian College is meeting people who think they are holier than others.

Tell me about the Bruins? Was this season their first basketball season?

We just finished up our inaugural season and it was a great experience. Even though it was our first ever basketball season we did a good job being competitive with most of the teams we played and represented Christ well. We also progressed and learned how to deal with adversity as the season went on.

Your theme this year was Know God. What does that mean to you?

To me, knowing God is more than just having a head-knowledge of who God is. Knowing God is knowing Him through experience and having that personal relationship with Him that is solid and genuine. There’s a difference between knowing of someone and getting to know someone. When you get to know someone you spend time getting to know all about that person to help build your relationship.

Tell me about your Spiritual Journey in life: Share your story of how Christ has changed your life.

Growing up I was a rebellious kid with a really hard heart. I honestly didn’t care about life and I was quick to step on someone else to get the things that I wanted. To make a long story short by experiencing things the hard way and through a number of circumstances God got my attention and I trusted Him as my Savior at the age of nine. I struggled living the Christian life because I was living a double life. Around my friends I would do things to make it seem like I was tough but in church I would put on a whole new facade that people could see and know that I was a believer. I was challenged a number of times through sermons I’ve heard to be sold out for Jesus and not live a double life like James 1:8 tells us. So, I responded and told God I wanted to go into full-time Christian service. Ever since I’ve made that decision I have moments where I struggle but God is always shaping me and refining me through the refiner’s fire to convict me of sin so that I can confess it to Him and repent from it. It’s an ongoing process.

When did you start your journey with Christ?

March of 2004 is when I accepted Christ as my Savior and ever since then God has been faithful and has been molding me into the man who He wants me to be.

Who instilled your faith in you?

My Youth Pastor Aaron Finley

Was there someone one in your life who influenced you spiritually?

Three men come to mind: My Youth Pastor Aaron Finley, my high school coach Chris Gorham, and a teacher in my high school John Gorham. These three men have always been there to answer questions for me or just sit down and talk with me on how to live a spirit filled life. These three men have influenced and inspired me so much growing up and I thank them for that.

Has there been any dramatic events in your life that has shaken your faith or pulled you away from it? If so, how did not let your faith been shaken and how did you stay strong?

Although I didn’t have the best relationship with my father, I think when He passed I struggled the most because I know he died without Christ. I was always questioning God and asking Him why did He allow that to happen. Shortly after I lost my dad my best friend since 1st grade was hit by a car and killed. I didn’t understand but I would constantly remind myself that God’s ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9). I also viewed the death of my father as God calling me to the ministry because our lives in this world are only but a vapor and if I’m going to share Christ with someone I cannot hesitate and think that they will be here forever because they won’t. So it has encouraged me to step up and share the gospel when I’m given the opportunity to.

Is there someone now that helps you in your spiritual walk?

My coaches here at BJU, my high school coach and my youth pastor.

Where do you attend church at?

Grace Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?

Yes, Steve Pettit my sophomore year of high school, that summer had preached a message on double-mindedness and I realized I was double minded because I wanted to play basketball for the rest of my life but also be in the ministry.

Is it hard to be a Christian and play basketball?

It can get tough because as a believer in Christ you always have to be careful of how you react to different things on and off the court.

Any great stories of how you have witness to others about Jesus?

I was in Chicago doing a basketball missions trip with my high school team and we made bracelets just like the wordless book bracelets with the colors-black, red, white, green, and yellow-but instead of string we used a basketball net. Anyway, we were doing some sight-seeing in downtown Chicago and someone came up to me and asked what was the meaning of my bracelet. I shared the gospel with the teen and asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Savior he said no. So I asked if he was interested in accepting Christ as his Savior and he said yes. That day in the inner city of Chicago near the Giant bean I led a teen to Christ, gave him a bracelet, and encouraged him to tell his friends the gospel as well.

Has sports challenged your faith or faith challenged your sports?

My faith has challenged my sports by testing me on whether or not I was really playing sports for my glory or God’s glory.

What does it mean to be a role model?

To be a role model is to be a leader or an example setter. These people have to be willing to lead others in a positive way, and to impact the lives of those following their examples.

Is it hard as a Christian athlete w temptations that are all around you?

It is difficult because people tend to place you on a pedal stool and soon pride will creep in just before you stumble. I try to remind myself daily that the pleasure in Heaven is far more and far greater than the temporary pleasures we can receive instantly down here on Earth.

Faviorte scripture? Faviorte song?

Two Favorite songs because I can’t have one haha are His Robes for Mine by Chris Anderson and Struggle by Tenth Avenue North. My favorite passage in the Bible is Acts 20:19-24

What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?

Philippians 3:7-8 says, “But what things were gain to me those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung that I may WIN Christ.” The things in this world that I achieve and gain are nothing compared to what I can have in Jesus Christ.

What advice would you give my 11 yr old son who plays basketball but has to sit on the bench sometimes.

Remember if you quit now that will be the pattern of your life. Your time will come and once you are given that one shining moment make sure you play hard to please your Savior not man and God will bless you for that. 1 Cor 10:31

Any other comments you might like to say.

“What it all boils down to is that I’m a nobody who knows Somebody that everybody should know and that’s Jesus Christ!”

Ray tore his ACL and Meniscus recently. This is what he said about going through this ordeal in life. “At first I was a little down about it but I thought to myself maybe this is God trying to get my attention. When sheep wander away from the shepherd, excuse the analogy, but the Shepherd breaks the leg of the sheep so that the sheep would not wander away anymore and now has to depend on the Shepherd. God has something to teach me and I’m honored that He chose me to have this injury because He wants our relationship to grow.”

Ray is a great young man and I’m so thankful to have this opportunity to share his passion with you all. I decided to start writing more about Christ and sports. The best way to do that is to interview these athletes who are passionate more about Christ than they are about the sport they are playing. Look for more interviews to come. Thanks to Ray for blessing us with his story and sharing with us his passion.

"ESPN-NFL"

“Photo: ESPN-NFL”

A year ago I had a wonderful interview with  Tim Shaw, a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans. I recorded our conversation and also wrote down notes from it. The problem after we talked, my phone went on the berserk and I lost our conversation. So I want to apologize to Tim for this post because it doesn’t really share the full passion that Tim has for Christ in his life. This is my interview with Tim as he shared his heart with me about his faith, football and his passion for both.

Shaw was the 2001 Michigan Gatorade Player-of-the-Year while playing tailback and linebacker for coach Greg Hudkins at Clarenceville High School in Livonia, Michigan.

At the time of his graduation, he held the Michigan high school records for career rushing yards (7,611) and career touchdowns (131), records since surpassed by East Grand Rapids High School‘s Kevin Grady.

He earned 11 letters in football, basketball and track and field. He was the Michigan state 100-meter dash champion his junior year. n January 27, 2010, the USA Today announced that Shaw had made its All-Joe Team, honoring the NFL’s unsung and underrated players.

Tell me a little about yourself:

Tim: I was born in England and I still have family there. We moved to Michigan and I attended Penn State University. I attended Penn State and had the privilege to have Joe Paterno as my head coach. I chose to go to Penn State because it was different from the other colleges I visited on my recruiting trips. When I stepped on campus, the people were blue-collar and I just felt like I fit in there. He was drafted in 2007 in the 5th round by the Carolina Panthers.

Spiritual Journey In Life:

I was blessed to have a family who were very spiritual and Christ like. My grandparents set the example of Jesus who had a desire to follow God closely in their lives. That passion for Christ and to follow God was instilled in me at a young age and will be part of my life forever. Church camp and church was a big influence in my life as I started my own walk with Christ. The memories I have from them still inspire me today.

Went to college and made my own decision to go to church on Sunday mornings. No one told me I had to go to worship, I wanted to.

Who spiritually influenced you and influences you today:

My parents and grandparents influence my life spiritually. As a young person I was daily accountable for my actions and for my walk with Christ. I have had several spiritual mentors who helped me with my walk with Christ. Some of my amazing mentors are Tim McGill a chaplain who once  a week taught the bible to me and my teammates. Another guy who influenced me was Reggie Pleasant. I still meet with him today in Nashville, which is a Christ community.

The Titans have a team bible study and a chapel service the morning of every game.

Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up:

I never had to choose between them because they went hand in hand with each other. I always had people around me encouraging me to give the glory to God for whatever I did in life.

Is it hard to be a Christian and play in the NFL:

There is defiantly plenty of temptations out there if you lose your focus. Like any other job it is hard to live that daily life. You can slip up by being as good as you want to be. You need to stand up to your peers and keep walking the walk.

Do your teammates know that you are a Christian:

I believe they do by the example I portray on and off the field.

How do you life your faith on the field:

The way I play at practice and in games by keeping guys in check, reading scripture, being a good teammate,showing good sportsmanship and by making an impact in their lives by encouraging them and helping out the young guys.

Are there other teammates who share your faith:

Absolutely! So far on every team I have been on there has been a solid group of guys who love Jesus. (Tim was on the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguar’s before coming to the Titans) I have some really good friends who have been good examples for me and others. Several of the Titans sever God with all their heart especially Matt Hasselbeck is a great leader and a strong believer.

Most powerful verse that has helped you with your walk:

Romans 10:9 – “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Other comments:

One story: My dream was to play in the NFL, that dream came true and I was drafted by the Panthers. I thought now I’m here  and it’s going to be great. I thought that now I can live life and get married but I was cut after my rookie season. I wasn’t picked up for 3 months and needed to trust and rely on God. It was a critical time in my life but God helped me through it and now it really worked out for me with the Titans.

He shared his heart with me during our conversation.  Tim is a godly man who shares his heart for Jesus and is very passionate about his walk with him. You can follow him on twitter or be his friend on facebook and you can see his love for Christ and for others. Tim has inspired me by his encouraging comments, thoughts and lifestyle. He is a great player for the Titans and even a greater man of God. Take some time next season to watch the Titans play and watch number 59 smile has he tackles an opposing player.

Ballin' is a Habit

Ballin’ is a Habit

I have been blessed to follow Julian Wright through his college years at Kansas and now to talk to him via twitter and e-mail. Julian played for the Kansas Jayhawks from 2005-2007 and decided to enter the NBA draft in 2007 where he was drafted 13th overall by the New Orleans Hornets. Julian played for the Hornets, Raptors and the Toros of the D-League, He currently plays for the Maccabi Rishon LeZion professional basketball team in Israel.
The past few weeks he has really encouraged me by his quotes on twitter and his videos on you tube. I tweeted him and asked him if he would be willing to do an interview with me and he said, sure why not. I sent him an e-mail with the following questions and he was willing to answer them all. Hopefully after you read his answers you will be blessed to know that Julian is a god fearing man and let his answers encourage you to tell your story of how Christ has changed your life.

I loved to watch him play both in College and in the pros. He sent this e-mail to me via his i-phone which to me is pretty cool.

“I’m honored that you reached out to me. We all have a story and I just want to be bold and let my light shine as bright as it can, in the midst of this dark world. Times are rapidly changing and we have to be watchful and guard our hearts and conscious daily.”

Stay encouraged friend,
Julian Wright

Tell me a little about yourself-where u from?
My full name is Julian Emil-Jamaal Wright and I’m twenty five years old. I was born in Chicago and eventually lived in Chicago Heights, a south suburban city of Chicago.

What made you go to Kansas?
The reason I decided to play for Coach Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks is because of their storied program as well as his straightforwardness in assuring me that I’d have to work for my playing time. However, I knew with four seniors leaving, I’d have a legitimate shot at playing and hopefully continuing the legacy of dominance.

How did it feel to be a Jayhawk?
It felt great then, and it feels great to be a Jayhawk! It is a family atmosphere and it was as if it expedited me into becoming a well-rounded young man. I learned many life lessons while playing in Lawrence, Kansas, and I cherish all of my memories.

How does it feel to play basketball in Israel?
It’s been an exciting experience playing in Israel. I’m starting to get used to the playing style out here and I’m also learning Hebrew, which has been a lot of fun!

Do you miss the NBA? Do you want to play in the NBA again?
I miss the level of play, in terms of the NBA style of play, but as a professional I’m grateful to be playing a child’s game for paychecks. I wouldn’t mind returning to the NBA someday. I think I have the skill-set but I’ll just need the repetitions to match my once again, found confidence.

Game day ritual:
I am not a really superstitious person so I’d just say my game day ritual consists of praying that nobody gets hurt.

Can you tell be about your Spiritual Journey in life:
My spiritual journey has been filled with ups and downs, as almost everybody’s is, I’m sure. For many years, I’d been what you would call, a carnal minded saint. I had truly believed in Jesus but I wouldn’t allow Him to truly transform my life into a new creature in Him. I have no regrets though, because I’ve looked my experiences as a way to help others hopefully not make the same mistakes I have made.

When did you start your journey with Christ?
I can say I truly gave myself to Christ when I was seventeen years old. I grew up going to church services ever since I was born but I had to come to know Christ for myself and not feel pressured by man to go forth during an altar call, so to speak. I’m thankful God did not allow me to taste death without tasting His Salvation!

Who instilled your faith in you?
I’d say my mother (Gina Wright) has been my spiritual mentor, if you will. She kept encouraging me to have a relationship with God and Jesus. I trusted my mother’s advice because I saw how faithful she’s been to God and didn’t grow weary, even in tough times. Her faith strengthened me to make something of myself and not settle for being mediocre. That went for my athletic, academic, personal, and spiritual life.

Was there someone one in your life who influenced you spiritually?
My mother has great friends who I’ve looked up for encouragement (especially males) but I can’t place my finger on any one person in particular. I see it as a collective effort with all of those who are in Christ, contributing.

Is there someone now that helps you in your spiritual walk?
Even though my mother has been a great help in my spiritual walk, I know I can read the Word of the Most High God and pray to Him in the name of Jesus and He’ll see about little ‘ol me.

Where do you attend church at?
I’m currently keeping my eyes, ears, and spirit, open for a place to assemble in Israel.. It’s quite scarce compared to the United States, but I love to get on message boards and Facebook pages, for instance, and assemble there with like-minded saints.

Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?
I don’t feel I have consciously chosen sports over faith. I’ve backslidden at times due to many worldly distractions and peer pressure but now that I’m coming into my own, as a confident man, I’m trying my best to not compromise my faith for anything or anybody.

Is it hard to be a Christian and play professional basketball?
I don’t feel it’s hard to be a saint while playing professional basketball. I look at my profession as a means to provide for myself and my family but my faith in Christ, hopefully glorifying Him and for people not to see me but see Christ’s Spirit dwelling inside of me.

Does your teammates know you’re a Christian?
I am sure some of my teammates know about my faith in Christ. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ so I have told some people in the flow of conversations, but I’d rather let my actions be the testimony.

Has sports challenged your faith?
Sports has definitely challenged my faith due to the various backgrounds in which many players come from, and now we are around each other closely, for months and even years. Sometimes it can feel like living for the Lord can come off as being better than a non-believer but I know that I, am not worthy of eternal life, by myself alone.

What does it mean to be a role model?
I think being a role model requires humility and having a high moral standard. I also think a role model should encourage others to persevere if a given situation seems rough and to have a mind of their own and think critically.

Is it hard as a Christian athlete w temptations that are all around you?
There are many temptations that come along with playing professional basketball; to live luxurious, to party and live for the moment, as they say, so I try to stay prayerful and ask for strength to get through my days.

Before a game do you spend time in prayer?
I try to spend time praying every day so naturally, I try to pray to God daily and thank Him for this opportunity to make a living and be a blessing to others as well.

Does the team pray?
My current team doesn’t pray together but in America, almost every team I’ve been, did pray before games and even practices.

Is there other teammates who share your faith?
I haven’t gotten into deep discussions with any of my teammates but with me being in the Holy Land, at least there isn’t a famine with God being talked about.

Fav scripture?
I can’t pick one favorite scripture but I’d say two of my favorites are John 4:24 and John 14:6.

What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?
I’d say a powerful verse that has stuck with me on my walk with Christ is Matthew 10:16. In paraphrasing, Christ has charged those who truly believe in Him, to be wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove. Christ was full of wisdom and He used the Word (the Law and the Prophets) to perfectly navigate through this world filled with deception and temptation. He repeatedly preached against the Pharisees and Sadducees, who claimed to be the wisest and “holier-than-thou.” I feel that I’m charged to proclaim the gospel to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, yet stand for truth and continuously seek it in God’s Word.

I have a 11 yr old son who plays basketball, what advice would you give him?
My advice for your eleven-year old son and any adolescences who want to play basketball is try to have fun and work on fundamentals. It’s cool to watch professional players make fancy plays but they’ve gotten to that level by hard work, and mastering the basics first.

How do you think the Jayhawks will do this year?
I’m trying to keep up with my Jayhawks as much as I can! I think the Jayhawks have a solid team, with a combination of youth and experience, ripe for a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Any other comments you might like to say.
In closing, I believe we are in the Last Days and it’s imperative that we all strive to improve our spiritual journey with Christ. According to Romans 11, God has not forgotten His people (Israel) regardless of what man’s thought’s and suggestions have been. There is still a bloodline (not a religion) of people among us who come from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, scattered all over the world. However, regardless of a person’s lineage (Israelite or a Gentile) I believe our duty is to be bold and share the gospel when we are led to. We should pray for godly wisdom and discernment to withstand the daily temptations throughout our human experience.

Shalom
Julian

I truly believe he is right about how we all need to strive to improve our spiritual life. The question is how are you improving your walk with Christ? I hope his story can encourage  you to share your faith with others around you.  Thanks Julian for sharing your heart, passion and love for Christ with us. May God bless you in your walk with him and may one day we have a chance to pray together.