Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

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.

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

Dave Pasch, Broadcasting For Christ

Posted: June 29, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews

Photo Credit: ESPNmediazone3.com

When I first started this site, I wanted to use my writing/broadcasting talents to serve my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I wondered how I would be able to do that and if there were any Christian broadcasters out there for a young aspiring broadcaster like myself to look too. Then, I talked to one of those men who have been a huge inspiration to me.

His name is Dave Pasch. Pasch currently works for ESPN as the play-by-play man for both college football in the noon slot every Saturday as well as working NBA,  Big East men’s college basketball games as well as women’s NCAA tournament games . You can also hear his voice on the radio doing the play-by-play for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals since 2002. When I spoke with Dave on the phone last week, I realized that Christians can be broadcasters because we can do all things through the Lord because He gives us the strength to do it, as Paul wrote to the people in Philippi.

I hope this interview as always encourages you as it did me. I thank Dave for taking the time to talk with me and give me some great words of encouragement both for my future career endeavors and along my walk with Christ!

1. How did you come to know the Lord?

Dave: I was not raised in a Christian home. I grew up in a conservative Jewish home. First, I was older, I went to church to learn about Judaism, a woman who is now my wife came up to me to talk to me about Christ. Believing in Christ did not mean turning back on Judaism. That helped me to get started along the right path. Very skeptical, did a lot about reading and researching. It ed to an intellectual belief that Jesus was the Messiah. I eventually had to come to a hard decision to exercise faith, baptism, and repentance. I was convicted to truly get my life together with Christ. I went along with what my wife thought would be best at first, but over time, began to realize that was only through Christ and His transforming power.. It was a process and it was all about making the hard decision. It took time, but about 11 years. 

2. Who have been some of your role models during your walk?

Dave: There have been Christians, such as friends through the church, pastors, Bible teachers, people in the broadcasting business (NFL Network’s Scott Hanson). God has brought alongside me people to help me grow both inside and outside of the broadcasting world. A lot at first was on my own reading and studying the Word. It was about coming to grips with what was true, but people helped me spiritually and emotionally through the process.

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

Dave: Two verses: John 1:14 – About Christ being the true tabernacle. He is the King of Kings. Proverbs 3:5-6: Those verses are verses that I believe in and challenge you to believe more. It is a daily thing to trust and not lean on what you only see and understand. I have always been a skeptic.  To truly make a point, you want to be truly convinced before you share that view, just like before you broadcast a game. It is hard to be on air and not be truly convinced what you are talking about. I have to Lean on Him and trust Him to figure things out and that is still a daily battle. Let God direct my path and align my circumstances without manipulating it in my head first.

4. One thing I have always been curious of as a young writer is how can you glorify God as a broadcaster?

D: There are a lot of ways that you could do it such as the ways God has given you. It depends on who you are around. I have been blessed to work with other Christians that have wanted to grow and do Bible studies. I love to teach and God has opened doors to help minister to others. Being a friend and sharing your faith in a respectful, gentle way. There are a lot of ways to glorify God. Your words have to match your life. Love people would be the first thing! Let them see your heart, see how you live. Show that you care! The key is faithful friendships and building relationships.

5. You are a college football play-by-play announcer on ESPN. What are your thoughts on the new four team playoff coming into play in 2014?

D: I love it. It is arguably the most exciting regular season in sports and I think that will continue. With a playoff, it makes the regular season even better. It adds a couple more games to what you have now. It doesn’t make the other bowl games meaningless. It enhances importance of winning a conference championship. People can’t get enough football and ESPN has the best games for the most part. A lot of platforms are there to talk about those games (ESPN , ABC, Live, Final). So many places people could go to even watch replays of game. Fans are given the ultimate avenues. It is more of a reason to keep up on a day-vs.-day basis. Some teams do not play each other. Teams play different caliber schedules and that is the beauty of college football.

6. The Miami Heat last night won the NBA Championship. What are your thoughts on LeBron James winning his elusive first ring?

D: LeBron is the best player in the world. It Silences a lot of doubters. People will never let him forget leaving Cleveland and how he handled it, but there are some people who will change their mind. In terms of how he handles himself, he has a clean reputation, good with teammates, handles himself well in the media. There are a lot of reasons to be happy for him. It is hard to come up with reasons to criticize because he has the trophy. A lot of people didn’t think they would win it all this year and the Heat went through a ton of adversity in the series and even the cramps for James in Game 4. Last year, they played with a lot of hate and there was a lack of fulfillment. He realized some of the criticism was true, so he relaxed and played a different way with his teammates.

7. You cover the Arizona Cardinals as the play-by-play radio guy. Watching mini-camp, what are your thoughts on the team so far? Have you had a chance to talk with any Christians on the team?

D: Yes, when Kurt Warner was here, I became friends with him and a couple of other Christians.There are  players, coaches, administrators who are Christians. I am not around much to develop relationships in-season, but we had a Summer Bible Study a few years ago. There are plenty  of opportunities to share the faith with the team. The team has to figure out who their quarterback is and I think they will figure it out this year. Training camp we will find out for sure, but in the end, Kevin Kolb is the guy based on potential that gives you best chance to win. You want to see it on a consistent basis. In the 4th quarter, Skelton would play great, but what about the other three quarters? Kolb brings more to the table, but does not mean he will win the job and it is not about the money, but the best player to win. You need a quarterback or even two to go far in the season. Throw the ball downfield and get it to those dominant receivers.

8. If you had a colleague come up to you and asked you about your faith, what would you tell them?

D: I am pretty honest and forthright about my faith when it comes up in a conversation. I am a follower of Christ. I would tell them how I came up with that conclusion, continue to help someone understand. I was reading Isaiah and does that reading make sense to you? It is not a commitment you make only with your mouth, but a full hearted commitment. It takes more than just five minutes. Developing a friendship is important! It takes time, but I would want them to tell me what they believe? Be willing to listen to others. Peter always talks about a reason to be ready to share your faith. It is about knowing what you believe and being able to communicate with it.

We at Jesus N Sports, wish Dave Pasch the best of luck at ESPN and with the Cardinals this season. I pray that all of us look at Proverbs 3 and just continue to trust the Lord in everything that we do and lean on Him in everything that we do in our lives. No matter how big or how small, we can ALWAYS go to Him in prayer!

 

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

Chansi Stuckey: A Free Agent Sold To Christ

Posted: June 18, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews, NFL

(Photo Credit: Sipkin/NY Daily News)

A few months ago, I had the pleasure to talk to my first athlete from the National Football League. He was not well known across the country, but definitely was well known in the state of New York where I am from. His name is Chansi Stuckey. The former New York Jet wide receiver is currently searching for a job in the NFL, but even through his hardships, that has not stopped him from pursuing Christ and knowing that God will provide for Him.

The 28-year-old wide receiver was a 7th round pick of the New York Jets back in 2008 out of Clemson, where he was a two-time all-ACC wideout. His career in New York was short-lived due to injuries, but he did catch Mark Sanchez’s first NFL touchdown pass. He has also spent some time with the Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals over his career.

Enjoy this Q+A I had with Chansi about his faith and even Tim Tebow’s publicity of his faith is brought up in this discussion:

1. How did you come to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

C:  I came to know the Lord in college at Clemson.  I would fall back and forth for the next 4-5 years until I made up my mind two years ago to go full tilt. I got re-baptized at that time also. 

2. Who have been the influences in your life that have helped to encourage you on your walk with Christ?

C: Reggie Hodges, who is a punter for the Cleveland Browns and Brad cooper, who is a Youth leader at Newspring church in South Carolina.

3. You have played for three NFL teams so far in your career. How have these teams helped you in your walk. What are some faith based things that you do with other teammates?

C: It is the same format everywhere I go.  It is all about just dealing with different guys because all of our struggles are different.

4. If you could pick one verse to describe your life right now, what would it be and why?
C: There’s not one because I feel like life is so evolving and changing that it just has to be the entire Bible!

5. What is your take on the Tim Tebow story? A lot of people like Kurt Warner say that he should tone it down. Where do you stand on whether religion and sports can co-exist with each other?

C: God is creator of all.  It’s no accident Tim is where he is.  Anytime you’re doing something for the Lord there will be opposition.

I spoke with Chansi again last week as we talked about what was going on with his life. He sent me this direct message that encouraged me to say that with God, we should always have confidence!

“God has something, so he has me in the active patience mode, which is a great growing experience”

In turn, I shared with him this verse from the book of Hebrews that has taught me to always be confident with the Lord on my side.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” (Hebrews 10:35)

With that in mind, I exhort you today to keep your confidence up in tough times. Even though the plan from God may not be clear from you now, you need to exercise patience because the Lord knows what is best for us and His will will be put into motion at His time, not ours!

We at JesusNSports keep our thoughts and prayers with Mr. Stuckey and pray that God will keep him in that active patience mode!

You can follow Chansi on Twitter: @ChansiStuckey

Marquis Daniels and Psalm 91

Posted: June 15, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Interviews, NBA

Photo Credit: Matthew West

In our next interview series, I talked with Boston Celtics’ guard Marquis Daniels. Daniels graduated from Auburn University as a shooting guard where he was second team all-SEC in 2003. He was undrafted, but signed by the Dallas Mavericks and made NBA all-rookie 2nd team in his first year. Currently, Daniels is a reserve for the Boston Celtics.

Even though the Celtics’ run to the NBA Finals fell a bit short when they lost a seven game series to the Miami Heat, Boston still had a great season. He played in an average of twelve minutes per game and averaged three points per game for Doc Rivers’ club.

When I talked with him, his faith really stood out to me. As you read this interview, keep in mind the influence his grandparents had on his faith as well as his favorite Bible chapter always being a constant reminder to him. Enjoy the Interview and God Bless!

1. First off, Marquis, how did you come to know the Lord?

M: My grandfather and grandmother were the pastor and mother of our church, so I was in church every Wednesday and Sunday.  I had no options but to get to know the LORD!!
2. Who have been your Christian role models both off the court and on the court? How?

M: My role models off the court has been my bigma who I was speaking about earlier, she has been the glue to my family and she’s never lost her faith and continues to serve the lord to this day, as far as on the court I haven’t really had any sit downs with anyone to really get into there spiritual world!

3. If you can name your favorite verse or a verse that exemplifies your walk with Christ, what would it be and why?

M: My favorite verse is Psalms 91. I have the whole verse tatted on my side word for word. I used to have to read to my grandparents frequently due to their eye problems and my grandfather was blind.

4. Do you think religion and sports can co-exist in the locker room today? Why or Why not?

M: I think it can co-exist, you see players praying in there lockers before they take the court, but everyone has different views on religion, so I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem!

5. If a teammate came up to you asking about your faith, what would you say to them?

M: I’m not afraid to acknowledge my LORD and savior and I’m open to discuss with anyone to see how they view things.  I may  learn something from them as I hope they can gain knowledge from me!!
After Marquis mentioned Psalm 91 to me, I gave it a read and it was a very encouraging chapter. One verse stuck out to me in particular because it shows that in any situation, the Lord is there to protect us in any situation. As Christians, we need to remember that in spite of our circumstances sometime, we can look to God for strength.

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your waysOn their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12)

We thank Marquis for taking the time out of his day to interview with us about his faith!