Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

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.

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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.

Chris Davis: A First Baseman In A Pennant Race

Posted: September 18, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews, MLB
Tags: ,

Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper – US Presswire

So far, the 2012 Major League Baseball season has been filled with a ton of excitement. One of the reasons for this new found excitement was Commissioner Bud Selig expanding the playoffs by adding a second Wild Card team. There are new markets that haven’t been relevant in terms of the postseason in years that are now in contention. One of those teams is the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles haven’t been to the postseason since 1997, but under manager Buck Showalter, they are in the running for a playoff spot, and potentially, taking the American League East away from the New York Yankees! Despite their run differential issues, they have a belief in themselves that they can win a close game. They have one of the best closers in Jim Johnson and a solid offense, which gets major contributions from my latest interview.

Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis made his major league debut with the Texas Rangers in 2008. For his years in Texas, he was known as a power hitter, but also as a player who struck out numerous times. In July of 2011, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with pitcher Tommy Hunter.

Now, Davis is making his stride with the Orioles. As of September 17th, he is hitting .264 with 26 home runs and 70 RBI’s. He is hitting .319 in the month of September as he tries to help Baltimore take the next step.  He also has a win this year out of the bullpen in a 17 inning game back in May. On my show last week, I predicted Baltimore taking a Wild Card spot and Davis could be a small reason why!

Here is my interview with Chris about his faith, his time with Texas, what he felt after the trade, and Baltimore’s newfound success in 2012:

1. Chris, how did you come to know the Lord?

Chris: I started going to church with my family when I was young and was baptized at the age of 6 in the First Baptist Church of Longview.

2. Who have been some of your Christian role models both on and off the field?

C: My grandfather (Papa my mom’s father) was one of the biggest Christian influences in my life.  He passed away a few years ago but just the way he treated others and the way he lived his life were and still are an inspiration to me.  On the field I would have to say David Murphy and Josh Hamilton have been the two biggest influences on me.  They both taught me how to play the game for God’s glory and how to enjoy the process and not focus so much on the results.  It’s not about statistics; winning and losing but about how you handle yourself and what kind of image you present to the people who are watching.

3. What is your favorite Bible Verse and how has it exemplified your walk with the Lord?

C:  I have many favorites but I really enjoy Hebrews 12:1-2. (I actually have it tattooed on my right rib cage.)  It is a constant reminder that we will face many things in life that may be difficult and hard for us to understand but anything that we encounter Christ has already experienced and overcome.  We must remember to put our faith in the Lord and continue to persevere.

4. Talk about how God has used you in the locker room in terms of possible fellowship opportunities with your teammates.

C:  I try to lead primarily by example.  I think that it is crucial to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk.  Many people will not believe what you say if you do not practice what you preach.  I try to control my language, my emotions, and carry myself as a man of God.  We have a number of guys who attend chapel on Sundays and we have actually had a few bible studies throughout the season.

5.  Last season, you were traded from the Rangers to the Orioles. Can you tell us about how you felt at at time and how God helped you get through it?

C: I went through a wide range of emotions.  I was excited to get the opportunity to play everyday in the big leagues with another team but I was also sad to leave behind so many friends.  I think God had been slowly preparing me for the trade for the past few years.  I had grown so much in my relationship with Him and had really learned how to trust Him and not lean on my own understanding.  That was crucial because I went through so many new things after being traded.

6. The Orioles are one of the surprise teams in baseball this year. What can we expect from the O’s down the stretch?

C: You can expect us to continue to play hard and to finish up strong.  Obviously not a lot of people picked us to do this well this year but we felt that we had a strong and versatile team in Spring Training and we believed in each other.  When you focus on the task at hand and worry about meeting your expectations and not others’ anything is possible.

Like I said at the beginning, the Orioles are a team that really feels that they are never out of a game. When doing this interview with Mr. Davis, what stood out to me was the fact that he talked about when you worry about meeting your own expectations, anything can be possible!

This reminded me of the verse New York Jets’ quarterback Tim Tebow tweeted out on Sunday, which comes from the gospel of Matthew when Jesus talks about a rich man entering the Kingdom of God. The disciples then ask Him if a rich man can’t enter, then who can get saved?

Jesus responds: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(Matthew 19:26)

The Orioles and even the Oakland Athletics are teams that do not spend like the Yankees, Red Sox, or other teams in the big markets do. However, they put their sight on their own goals and not how everyone expected them to do. With God, we as Christians, need to feel that with God, we can do anything we set our minds too. If we do succeed at those goals, we like Chris, need to continue to give God the glory in everything we do because He is Holy and Almighty!

Even as a Yankees’ writer, I find myself pulling for the Orioles and I wish Chris and his team the best of luck the rest of the way!

Steve Cishek: Setting Up For The Lord

Posted: July 11, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews, MLB

(Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Coming into the season, one of the more intriguing storylines around Major League Baseball was the newly formed Miami Marlins. They got a new stadium, a new manager, and brought in some big money free-agent signings in shortstop Jose Reyes, closer Heath Bell, and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle.

As we are in the All-Star Break of the baseball season, Miami has gone through many ups and downs. Some of those include manager Ozzie Guillen’s comments about Fidel Castro, their winning record in May, and Bell’s six blown saves in the first half.

For this interview, I wanted to hear from someone in the organization to reflect on their faith and the Miami Marlins. I reached out to set up man Steve Cishek. Cishek has been in the Major Leagues for two seasons and the 26-year-old righty has had the best season of his career so far

In the first half, he went 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA and one save. In 37.1 innings, he had a 2:1 K:BB ratio and only gave up nine earned runs. This includes a 0.56 ERA in the month of July so far. He is unique with his sidearm delivery, but his faith is what makes him a unique individual off the field.

This is my Q+A with Steve that we did a couple of weeks ago:

1. How did you come to know the Lord?

Steve: When I went to Carson-Newman college (Baptist School) I was introduced to FCA and those people that worshipped every tuesday showed me an amazing deal I was missing out on. I was shown through a friend that since I do not have Jesus I can’t make it into heaven and she and one of my team mates brought me to FCA and eventually helped me pray for forgiveness.

2. Who have been some Christian role models on and off the field for you during your walk with Christ?

S: Definitely one of my best friends, A.J. Battisto who is one of the strongest Christians I know. He is rehabbing an injury for the marlins. Also Chris Coghlan has been very encouraging and we have had some great studies together. Our chaplain Chris Lane is also amazing. He takes time to drive 40 minutes out of his way to teach us and guide us in the word for Bible Studies and Sunday Chapel services. 

3. What is your favorite Bible Verse? Why and how has it exemplified your walk?

S: Colossians 3:23. I carry it in my back pocket when I pitch every game. It reminds me that when I am pitching, I can’t pitch to impress our coaches of staff or any team mates. I’m working for God’s glory. With good outings or bad outings he doesn’t care how I pitch. No matter what He loves me. So it takes an enormous amount of pressure off me to perform for a crowd or coaches. And good outing or terrible outing I always thank the Lord for what he has done in my life and for allowing for me to play baseball.
4. Do you feel religion and sports can co-exist today? Talk about the fellowship you have had in the clubhouse whether its with the Miami Marlins or in the minor leagues
S: Christianity and sports can co-exist yes. As ball players we have an amazing platform to be an example of Christian faith. People are always seeing what we do and if we live it out people notice and ask. It is a great platform to share our faith and what Jesus has done for us. The only tough thing is no one is perfect, and since fans watch our every move we sometimes fail, so we need to be careful.

5. If a teammate or coach came up to you wanting to know about your faith, what would you tell them?
S: I would tell them I am a Christian and if they had the time I’d share the gospel with them.

6. How has the first year been in Miami for you guys so far?

S: It has been a blessing. I love the stadium, minus the Cleavender haha. But it is a great atmosphere and a beautiful park. Also Miami is a great city and living here has been great.

7. Talk about what it is like playing for a manager like Ozzie Guillen .

S: It is great. He is everything you want in a coach. He has our backs, and he loves family. When you aren’t performing to his expectations he lets you know it. And he likes to keep it light. We play hard for Him because we know he demands it from us and I hope that will never change. He has been great for the team.

We at Jesus N Sports wish Mr. Cishek best of luck going forward and continue to pray for his walk with the Lord and pray for the Miami Marlins to play the best they can in the 2nd half as well as glorifying the Lord Jesus on and off the field.

You can follow Steve on Twitter: @srSHREK31

Ryan Mathews: An Outfielder In Action

Posted: June 25, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Baseball, Interviews

Photo Credit: NewsObserver.com

Another feature on the site I wanted to bring was talking not only to professional athletes, but to prospective athletes as well. This involved talking to some minor league baseball players after they were drafted. I wanted to see how they glorify God with their play both in college and how they are preparing for that as they start their professional career.

For this interview, I talked with Oakland Athletics’ draftee Ryan Mathews. Mathews was taken in the 27th round by Oakland out of North Carolina State University. NC State went on a great run in this year’s College World Series, as they advanced to the Super Regionals before losing to the top seeded Florida Gators. Ryan has also been a part of an organization called Athletes In Action, which has helped to strengthen his faith in Jesus as well as members of his team that take part in a Bible Study. Also, he has already spoken about God to two of his teammates down in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here is my Q+A with Ryan. I hope you all come away from it as encouraged as I was:

  1. How did you come to know the Lord?

Ryan:  I grew up in a Christian family. I was going to church every week ever since I was born, but never really lived it. I went my own way in high school and early college, living life nowhere near what a follower of Christ would live like. I got into a lot of wrong things through high school and it wasn’t until the end of my freshman year of college when I realized I had something missing. I knew it was God, but how do I get close to Him? When I came to NC State, I got involved in a Bible Study and it was a key point to me opening up the Bible for the first time and reading the Gospel. I went with Athletes in Action on a mission trip to Alaska that summer. Allowed me to see what it means to stand for Christ. I got baptized at the end of summer.

2. Who have been some of your role models on and off the field?

R: On and off the field, it would be Christ. I am Constantly reminded of Christ’s humility. Often, in sports, it is easy for athletes to try to elevate themselves over other people and society could do that too. I am always drawn back to the Gospel to the way He lived life on Earth and the humbleness He showed on Earth. Living in a world where most athletes are tempted to be higher than they should be.

3. What is your favorite Bible Verse and how has it exemplified your walk with Christ?

R: The Bible verse I write the most during autographs is John 16:33. I like that verse a lot and it relates to my journey because I have had a lot of setbacks in my athletic career. It could have been easy to give up especially in baseball, which is a game of failure. Jesus tells us you will fail, but not to worry because Jesus has already overcome the world.

4. Talk about some of the fellowship you had in college at NC State or in pro ball now. Can religion and sports co-exist today?

R: Definitely. I had a lot of great experiences at NC State. I got involved with Athletes In Action and the organization changed my life through Christ. Several guys in the team are on it as well and it was the reason I came back to my senior year after being given option to become professional. It is compromised of other believers in the athletic program. It was life changing! So many athletes seeking to live through the same way I was. In terms of co-existing, we could use our lives in sports to spread the Gospel. We are Christians that play a sport, not athletes. The way we play the game and the failures and successes allow us to carry ourselves and encourage other guys in a team-oriented sport. The teamwork allows us to build relationships that we don’t get often with non-believers.

5. If a teammate was curious about your faith, what would you say to them?

R: I have actually been able to meet two believers in pro ball. I love opportunities to share my faith. It’s easy for me to relate to the guys who aren’t Christian because of my experience. It gives me a great platform to share Christ for what He has done for me and relate to their life now.

6. For those who don’t know you, what sports player would you say your game resembles?

R: I would compare myself to Tim Tebow because I am not ashamed about my faith. People at NC State probably got sick of me talking about God and Jesus. When someone interviews me, I talk about faith over baseball because God deserves all the credit and the glory! I would rather be remembered as a follower over Christ. I actually had a class with Tebow my first year at Florida.

7. Talk about the great run you guys had at NC State in the Super Regionals!

R: It was awesome. We ended up having over 40 wins and hosting the Raleigh Regional and winning it. The coolest thing about our run was that we had a big lead against Vanderbilt and they came back and beat us. We were in the loser’s bracket and everyone was down. It was shocking to go from having such a huge lead and being in the driver’s seat to facing elimination after losing lead in the 8th and 9th inning. It was late at night, so we had to play a doubleheader the next day. We didn’t have any time to process anything. We won first game vs. UNC-W and then beat Vanderbilt by one run. We played Commodores for championship with no pitching. We got down early by several runs. Down four runs in the 8th inning, we scored five runs in last two innings to win the regional! A miraculous comeback! In the locker room, I kept hearing guy after guy saying they were praying and knew God answered our prayers, even some who did not follow the Lord! Forget the championship, but to hear ten guys says something like that.

8. As you progress through the minor leagues, what is the one thing you are working on improving about your game?

R: Consistency. Major League Baseball involves playing a lot more games and with wooden bats. There is a lot better competition and once you get here, everyone is really good. There is nothing too much specific. I just got to practice and work hard and do the best that I can.

–  We at Jesus N Sports wish Ryan the best of luck with his pro career and pray that he continue to glorify God on and off the baseball field. You can follow him on Twitter: @RMath13

Finishing Strong

Posted: June 3, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in 2012, MLB
Tags: , ,

Photo Credit: MIke Stobe/Getty Images

The fans waited over fifty years and 8,019 games for history to happen.Friday night, it happened for the New York Mets over at Citi Field with their ace Johan Santana. Yes, for the first time in franchise history, a Mets’ pitcher finally threw a no-hitter in their 8-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

For Santana, his night did not come with its usual control of his pitches (five walks), but what amazed me about his performance was his endurance. He came into the year with issues about his shoulder, having missed last year due to shoulder surgery. He threw a whopping 134 pitches! The Mets have been one of the surprise stories in baseball this year with their 29-23 record (as of June 1st) and are doing better than their cross-town rivals right now.

What I want to focus on is the no-hitter itself. It is tough to get the last out in baseball, but it is also grueling to get through all nine innings without allowing a hit. You can be dominant, but sometimes have to rely on your defense like Santana did when he was assisted by Mike Baxter’s great catch in the 7th inning.

The 9th inning is the toughest. Just knowing you are three outs away from history, it is tough [with all the fatigue] to finish with the same kind of stuff that you started with. David Freese of the Cardinals gave Santana a tough last out, but that 134th pitch was a swing and a miss to seal the deal!

As Christians, we have a similar scenario. We are taught to finish the race and run the course with Christ! However, it is not an easy feat. Just take a look at one of the heroes in the hall of faith (Hebrews 11). It is the judge Gideon. People tend to focus on the story of Gideon in terms of the good things he did and how he went from working in a winepress as the lowest in his family to becoming a leader of 300 men in his defeat of Midian. (Judges 6-7)

However, what goes overlooked is the power and prestige he got and how he changed as a person. After his defeat of the two kings of Midian (Zebah and Zalmunna), Gideon felt a sense of power and vengeance, killing the people of Succoth and Penuel who would not help them by providing aid to him and his battle weary troops. This was not the same timid Gideon we were introduced to in Judges 6 & 7. After the defeat, the people of Israel approach Gideon and request that he become their king. Gideon responds by saying the right things:

I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” (Judges 8:23)

To some, this sounds like a denial of a position, but to others, it could sound like a qualified acceptance. Towards the latter part of his life, Gideon acts more like a king by making a golden ephod that had Israel go into spiritual idolatry or taking on many wives. He even names his son Abimelech, which means “My father is king”! He does not back up the theology he speaks with his actions.

Today, I exhort you to keep the faith and finish strong. Unlike King David, Gideon did not repent for the sins he committed, so first, I pray that you continue to repent to Jesus of all your wrongdoings as will I. But, don’t look ahead to the end! We are not promised tomorrow and we are called to live for Jesus EVERY DAY! ‘Finish Well’ today is the key here! I know it may seem tiring, but God did not say there would not be trials and tribulations along the way! Think of ways, in which we can finish not only today, but this weekend, or the rest of this week.

In the end, I hope that we can all be like Paul who said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).  As I wrote earlier, that 27th out can be the toughest, but we have to remember and thank God for getting that 27th out for us on the cross for our salvation when He said “It is Finished!” (John 19:30)