Friday, June 28, 2013

Josh Hamilton speaks to Example

Josh Hamilton spoke to future, present and past Lutheran North students
before a recent game against the Detroit Tigers warning them about the
dangers of drug and alcohol use.
Example had a great time visiting with Josh Hamilton, five-time MLB all-star and right fielder for the Los Angeles Angels before yesterday’s Tigers game.  He was scheduled to speak to our group for ten minutes and ended up sharing his struggles with drugs and alcohol for thirty minutes.  At one point it was announced that he needed to attend a batting meeting.  When somebody from our group reminded him that, “You already know how to hit,” Hamilton laughed, agreed and resumed speaking to our group. 

Josh Hamilton explained how he fell victim to the temptations of drugs and alcohol after he was in a car accident following a spring training game.  Unable to play baseball while recuperating from his injuries, he turned to drugs and alcohol to replace the rush of playing baseball.  His honesty about his failures and the advice he gave to everyone in the room was encouraging.  He implored the young men and women to surround themselves with people that share their values.  He also reminded the group that it doesn’t matter what others may think of their decision to not drink or use drugs.  Sure some people may not understand or pressure you into changing your mind, but that doesn’t matter because you have to stay away from the negative pressures and their potentially life-changing consequences.

Hamilton also explained how important his faith in Christ has been.  He admitted that he has not made God-pleasing decisions all the time and used his descent into drugs and alcohol as just one example.  It was refreshing to hear a professional athlete share how his faith in Christ is more important than his career, friends and anything else.  Hamilton admitted his mistakes and finds comfort in Christ and His redeeming sacrifice.  He shared with the group that being in God’s Word daily is vital for daily living.

Several times Josh Hamilton referenced how he accepted Christ as his Savior.  While Hamilton clearly professed that Christ is his Lord and Savior, I wanted to clarify what God’s Word says about how we come to faith and the role God has in that conversion. As revealed in Ephesians 2: 1-9, God through Paul explains how the Almighty first came to us because we couldn’t: 
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.  
It is so comforting to know that we are declared God’s redeemed children in spite of our sins and because God, through Christ, came to us.  Our salvation, our redemption is not based on our abilities but always found in God’s almighty power and love for His creation.  Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller crafted an excellent explanation on why  it's important to understand that faith is God’s work.
“If we think that the unbeliever has the will to choose Jesus or make a decision for Christ, then we undo Jesus' words, as if He wanted to say, ‘Apart from Me you can do nothing except invite Me into your heart.’ But Jesus wants us to have the comfort that He Himself, through the Holy Spirit, has given us repentance and faith.  Far from making a decision for Jesus, the Lord's people rejoice that He has made a decision for us, to die for us, to forgive all our sins, to baptize us into His family, and to call us through His Gospel. Our faith is Jesus' work, and this is our great comfort.” - Rev. Wolfmueller
Thanks to everyone who came out to see Josh Hamilton and the Detroit Tigers.  While the Tigers didn’t win, we can all treasure the eternal victory that is ours because of the heavenly righteousness given to us through Christ’s death and resurrection.