Last Saturday, the Detroit Tiger Baseball Chaplain, Jeff Totten, coordinated his 31st Home Plate outreach before the Tigers-White Sox game at CoAmerica Park. Home Plate is a ministry where Christian players, active and retired, share their testimony of how they came to faith in Christ. It takes place in the morning of an afternoon ballgame.
Jesus and Baseball Diamonds
Our church has gone for the last several years and have greatly appreciated this ministry. We have heard and read testimonies from players such as James McCann. Matt Boyd, Michael Fulmer, Frank Tanana (retired) and Willie Horton (retired). Jeff Totten is a volunteer chaplain, who is part of Baseball Chapel Ministries. It is amazing to see how this Christian ministry has made a major impact on the North American sports scene.
Chuck Congram, the former Senior Pastor of Lakeshore St. Andrew Church, use to be one of the chaplains for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have had many Christian ballplayers over the years, including Lloyd Moseby, Jesse Barfield and R.A. Dickey. Dickey has an especially interesting testimony of God’s faithfulness in his life.
He was born into a very broken home but ended up being raised in the family of Pastor Stan Toler. Stan is a Pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, as well as one of the most prolific Christian authors of this generation. R.A. Dickey is a man who is not ashamed of the Christian Gospel. Moreover, he boldly declares how the power and love of Jesus has brought healing and strength in his life. If you ever come across his autobiography at a bookstore, I highly recommend it.
Filling Restless Hearts With God’s Glory
One of the reasons I love this ministry is that I am a big baseball fan. I have played it, coached it and seen my children play it. Baseball has been a big part of our family. I also realize that even though baseball is a great game, it can’t be our all-consuming passion. Like anything else in God’s good creation, it is a blessing when we keep it in proper perspective. But it can be awfully disappointing when we try to elevate it to god-status.
Only one team wins the championship each year. And even when my teams win the championship, and I have seen the Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings win several championships, in my lifetime, that euphoric high only lasts a short time. Even though I have been elated at each Red Wing Stanley Cup victory or Tiger World Series victory, it can’t sustain us more than a few days. Like I said, I know this by experience. Even when I have played on a championship team or coached a championship team, the high lasted about 2 days, at most.
As I have heard the testimony of Christian athletes and baseball umpires, many have grown up in Christian families, but many have also found Jesus as they have pursued their dreams of reaching the Pros. They came to realize the glory of professional sports is no substitute for the more weightier glory of the crucified and risen Jesus. They came to Him to save them from emptiness, destructive addictions and rocky marriages.
In professional sports, people tend to love you and heap accolades onto you as long as you produce at a fairly high level. You can become a bum in the fans’ eyes fairly quickly. It is a hard way to live if your self identity and self worth is primarily tied up in your performance or what other people think of you. It is also a hard and disappointing way to live if your greatest satisfactions in life are primarily dependent on how your sports team does or how big your house and bank account is.
Jesus’ love and presence in our life are not dependent on such perishable and fleeting things like athletic performance, physical attractiveness and material possessions. His glory is a lot more weightier and permanent than these god-substitutes. Furthermore, as He becomes more and more the center of our lives, He enables us to love others in a deeper and more consistent manner. No wonder Baseball Chapel Ministries has a passion to tell the Good News of the crucified and risen Jesus to others.
May the Lord continue to bless the ministry of Jeff Totten, and may the likes of Boyd, Norris and Fulmer continue to walk faithfully with Jesus. Go Tigers!
QOTD: What is your all-consuming passion and can it sustain you through life and death?