Jeff Bianchi On How he Made his Faith in Christ his Own (Gospel Light Minute #201)

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He is an American professional baseball shortstop for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. After attending high school in Pennsylvania, he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the second round, 50th overall, of the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft. He previously played for the Milwaukee Brewers. He was also a Topps Short-season/ Rookie All-Star.

He said of his faith, “I grew up going to church with my family every Sunday, but that’s all it was to me – just going to church on Sunday. I had awesome Christian friends who are still some of my closest friends that I’m in contact with to this day. While I was in high school, I started to understand the Christian message and why Jesus came. For the next few years I thought that I had enough basic knowledge to get by, but I just kind of put my faith on the back burner.

“I’ve now been married to my wife for six and a half years, and I started dating my wife as a senior in high school. One day she basically told me, ‘Hey, unless you start following the Lord, I don’t think I can date you anymore.’ At the time, it was my first year playing professional ball, and I knew that I had to start making my faith my own. I realized after I started to dig into the Bible that Jesus is after a relationship with me, and it’s not just about going to church on Sunday. God wants a lot more, He wants all of me. When I realized that, I think that’s when I started to understand the Christian faith.

“My favorite Bible verse is James 1:2-4. It says, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ I memorized that verse, it really spoke to me the first time I heard it. I’ve gone through a lot in this game of baseball. I’ve had two arm surgeries, shoulder surgery, elbow surgery and a number of back problems, so I’ve had a lot of time away from the game being hurt. It doesn’t matter what I’m going through because I’m focused on Christ.

“Baseball will come and go. I could be done with this game tomorrow, but Christ lasts forever and He’s the reason why I’m living and playing this game. He has allowed me to come back from those injuries. From here on out I’m not taking things for granted. I think it helps me do things the right way because I know my faith is in something greater than the game of baseball. It’s in Christ, and knowing that my faith is in Christ alone helps keep me from doing the things that you might see other people fall into.”

His name is Jeff Bianchi. Continue Reading…

Wonder Mike (Michael Anthony Wright): ‘One Breath Away from Eternity’, the Only Thing That Matters is Christ (Gospel Light Minute #200)

Wonder Mike (Michael Anthony Wright)

Wonder Mike (Michael Anthony Wright)

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He is a rapper, best known for being a member of The Sugarhill Gang. The Sugarhill Gang was the first hip hop act to produce a record, “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. It was the first rap single to become a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The group’s albums include “8th Wonder” and “Jump on It!”.

In an article for Urban Faith, he tells the story of how he was able to forgive the owner of the record label over a past grievance and lead him to the Lord on his hospital bed. He said, “I was able to pray with the man who had done me so much harm because ‘He [Christ] loved us first before we loved Him, and because He said, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.’ He forgave the people. He said, ‘Father, forgive them because they know not what they do.’ How many times do we forgive somebody? Seven times? No. Seventy times seven. And it’s grace. Grace can’t be earned. It’s mercy. Mercy has to be shown in unruliness.”

“I recounted the story of God’s mercy in delivering the Israelites on the banks of the Red Sea and with manna and a pillar of fire despite their complaining. And it was the prayer of salvation that I prayed with him. I was hoping that he made that move because what they did to us was absolutely terrible––it can’t be overlooked, but eternity is eternity. This is for a small season, and it was really wrong, but you have to overlook that when you’re feet are on the edge of going over to the other side. So, I had to throw all that out the window. And, it really wasn’t hard when it came down to that. When it comes down to crossing over, we’re all one heartbeat, we’re all one breath away from eternity.”

“I’m a person of faith, but I don’t want to put walls around myself or any kind of bondage because there’s freedom in Christ. I want my priorities to be changed.”

His name is Wonder Mike (Michael Anthony Wright). Continue Reading…

NASCAR Star, Darrell Waltrip: ‘What’s More Important than Winning Races? Serving God and Putting Him First’ (Gospel Light Minute #199)

Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip

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He is a former racing car driver, television broadcaster, and author. He is a 3-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, a 3-time NASCAR Cup Series runner-up, and winner of the Daytona 500 in 1989, and a 5-time winner of the Series’ longest race—the Coca-Cola 600. He still holds many NASCAR records, more than a decade after his retirement as an active driver. He has received numerous awards including NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award, American Driver of the Year, and NASCAR’s Driver of the Decade in the 1980s. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012. He is the lead television analyst and race commentator with Fox, a columnist at Foxsports.com, and an author.

He said of his faith, “In 1983 I wasn’t very popular. I was a smart-mouthed, cocky, arrogant sports figure. Then a couple of things got my attention. First, I had a serious accident in Daytona; it was a really ugly scene. After that crash, I said to myself, ‘My priorities are right.’ I was so wrapped up in my professional life. I never thought about a commitment to God.

As I became more and more successful, I would think, ‘I have a great life, but I have this hollow feeling.’ I looked at what I had accomplished and what I had won, and realized there was no glory there. Soon I met minister named Dr. Cortez Cooper, and we developed a solid relationship. He was the first minister in my life who could really make the Bible come alive. With his help, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I have learned that God is there all the time.”

“I’ve been a Christian since 1983 but even then I was more interested in what I wanted than what God wanted. As I began to grow as a Christian I began to realize that there were more things in life more important than winning races and what I thought. I began to see that serving God needed to be first. God showed me just how blessed I was in having such a strong Christian wife and how children are a true blessing as well. The most important thing to do is to pray and study the Bible. God can take your need and bless you as well as others around you if you put Him first.”

His name is Darrell Waltrip. Continue Reading…

Tyler Zeller: Winning the Right Way With Jesus (Gospel Light Minute #198)

Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller

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He is a professional basketball player who plays the center and power forward positions for the Boston Celtics of the NBA. In high school, he was named “Mr. Basketball” as well as a McDonald’s All-American. He played college basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was named the ACC Player of the Year in his senior year. In 2009, North Carolina won the NCAA championship against Michigan State. He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2012 NBA draft and traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers that same night. He played for the Cavaliers from 2012 to 2014 before being traded to the Boston Celtics.

In an interview with Athletes In Action, he said of his faith, “I’ve got to give my parents a lot of credit for making me the person I am today. They took me to church every Sunday. As a little kid you draw pictures and everything, but over time you start to develop an appreciation for that, and you start to pay attention.

I came to faith my freshman year of high school. My brother took me to a couple of Bible studies and then to a camp, which is really where I got to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I embraced that as my own – what He did for us, how He died on the cross and took all our sins away and gave us the life that we shouldn’t be able to have.

Being competitive and being a Christian can go hand in hand. You’ve got to go out and play hard and compete, but you also have to do it in a Christian way. If you lose, you can be hard on yourself, but you don’t want to go curse up a storm, hit somebody and all this. It’s about the way you act. You can be very competitive, but you’ve got to be able to win in the right way and lose in the right way.

Audience of One is a huge concept in my life. It means that even though you have all these fans and things going on, your audience is really only God. Your main focus is on what He believes about you, not what all these people think. Maybe you missed a game-winning shot and you’re very frustrated. But God still loves you, and there’s a purpose for everything. Maybe He wanted you to miss that shot to learn a lesson, or there’s something down the road, or maybe you just weren’t supposed to win that game. There’s always something. When you can understand that, it makes life so much easier. You can go out – you’re going to lose, you’re going to be frustrated at times – but you can come back and know that God’s got a purpose for you. He’s going to give you what you need to have, but He’s also going to challenge you in ways. When you face challenges, it’s going to develop perseverance in you and help you, and going forward it will make you a stronger person and a stronger Christian.

The line that I always use is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I know if you look at the actual verse it’s not speaking in terms of basketball, but God really does strengthen me emotionally and physically. He’s always with me, always getting me through things, in basketball and in life.”

His name is Tyler Zeller. Continue Reading…

Joanna Gaines Trusted God With her Dreams and He Brought Them to Pass Beyond What she Imagined (Gospel Light Minute #197)

Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines

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She is the owner, founder and lead designer of Magnolia Homes, a remodeling and design business in Waco, Texas. Magnolia Homes is a creative compilation of construction with a heavy emphasis on quality and unique design. She, along with her husband, are the hosts of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” “Fixer Upper” shows the process by which they turn dilapidated but potential-rich houses into showplaces that are helping revitalize whole neighborhoods throughout central Texas. She graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Communications. Her passion is to create inspiring spaces that encourage others to do the same thing in their own homes.

In an interview with Charisma News, she spoke of how God spoke to her and how she has learned to trust His plan for her life. She said, “I heard God say very clearly… he said, ‘Joanna if you trust me with your dreams, I’m going to take Magnolia (a boutique she owned) further than you ever dreamed.’ I look back and I go, ‘God, your promise that you spoke years ago, I’m now seeing. I trusted you with my dream and you took it far beyond what I ever could have dreamed or imagined.'” She continued, “I really believe that God has a purpose for me. But he also has a purpose for you and on the other side of that is the enemy where he knows where to hit. Let God speak in your life. Let his father heart come and say, ‘this is what I have for you.’ And I think that’s the key — not believing the lies, fixing our eyes on Jesus and walking in that truth.”

Her name is Joanna Gaines.

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