This is Stephen Curry. Excuse my bad haircut and the guy in the back flashing his abs. This was a decade ago.
Do you know Steph Curry? Of course you know his name. You probably know his game.
But do you really know Steph Curry? Knowing about someone and knowing someone personally are very different.
I’ve only talked with him a couple times and not once for the past nine years.
So to judge him (for good or bad) based on a few small chats and what I see on TV wouldn’t be right.
So one day as I was having lunch with a couple of friends who happen to be beat writers for the Golden State Warriors, we started talking about the players. And they were being real with me and sharing their true feelings about certain players.
So I asked about Steph. What is Steph really like?
I’ll never forget what Felicia (Sports in the Bay - give her a follow!) said. She said, “Well…Steph….when the doors are closed…and the cameras aren’t recording…and no one else is around…that man…is the exact same person you see on TV. He never has a bad day. There’s something special about him. He is anointed.”
And so with those words, I knew I wanted Steph to be on the Play4Him team. Who better than the star of my favorite team and someone I know who shines on and off the court?
So in January 2015, my friend (who was one of the team chaplains) invited me to the pre game chapel with the Warriors and the OKC Thunder. Afterwards I gave Play4Him shirts to players on both teams. But Steph did not make it to chapel that night. I was bummed but figured it just wasn’t meant to be.
But after the game, I was invited to hang out outside the clubhouse so I could meet Steph. While we waited, we met a referee who was sharing his own personal testimony with us and how he started a Bible study among the NBA referees. He was so passionate and I loved what he was saying but as he was sharing, I saw Steph leave the clubhouse. I didn’t want be rude so I just listened to the referee as I watched Steph slowly walk away.
But a few minutes later as we said goodbye to our new referee friend, we walked over to where Steph was talking to a couple of guys. It was the perfect situation. I had my friend ready to introduce us. I had shirts for him and his family. There was no one else around us and we weren’t bothering him out in public. But Steph is so friendly, he was talking for awhile so I waited. I walked over to another player named Harrison and talked to him and his girlfriend for a bit but then made my way back to wait for Steph. I was literally about 2 feet from Steph when I heard God say, “Walk away.” It wasn’t an audible voice. More like I felt it in my heart. I didn’t think there was any way God would tell me to walk away from Steph Curry. Not in this moment. So I stood my ground and then again I heard, Walk away.” I started arguing with God. Have you been there before? I said, “God, Steph Curry is going to be MVP this year. He is going to win us our first championship in 40 years. He is the exact person I want to be on the Play4Him team. He will make Play4Him awesome!” And then I heard God say, “No, Scott. I will. Walk away.”
And so I turned to my friend and said, “I’m going to leave.” On the way home, my friend asked me, “How could you walk away from Steph Curry?!” I said, “Because someone greater than Steph Curry told me to.”
Steph Curry is great. And there is still no one on this Earth I would rather have be on the Play4Him team.
But there is also no one anywhere greater than God. And because I know Him personally I can trust that He has a plan and knows what is best.
After all, He created this whole world including you and me and Steph Curry.
He is the One who chose to die on the cross. He is the One who rose from the dead.
He is the One who wants to have a personal relationship with you and save you.
You may have heard of God.
But do you really know Him?
In high school, I had dreams of playing on the football team. I had never played organized football before but I was determined. That's me on the bottom right.
I was small for my age and I was unusually slow for someone my size.
I also didn’t work out - except for the time I used my encyclopedias as barbells.
But when tryouts came, I did rather well. Turns out my “super power” was stamina and heart and out running most of the other players. Even the varsity guys.
I had heard that the head coach was impressed with me so I was feeling pretty good about myself.
And then it was time to put on the pads. And that’s when I knew I was in trouble.
I had no idea how to put on my gear. In fact, I had my butt pad backwards. It made more sense to cover the front of me so that’s how I had it. And then someone yelled, “Shimada don’t even know how to put his pads on!” But my buddy D’Marco looked at me and said, “Yes he does. He knows to put the pad in the back. He just didn’t do it yet!”
Uh, yeah, thanks, D.
So then I hit the field and I mean I really hit the field. Over and over. I played defense so why was I the one constantly getting knocked down?
I was a defensive back that was small, slow and couldn’t tackle. Not a great combo.
But I couldn’t understand why I was always the first one down the field on kickoffs.
Was I really that much faster than my teammates? Running full speed, I was always the first one down the field. And then it hit.
An idea. And also the the rather large guy that was also running full speed at me. I was focused on the the guy with the ball and this other guy was focused on me. Before I knew it, I was on my back and he was standing over me saying things I cannot repeat here.
After the game I had to get stitches to cover the large gash on my chin and then I realized why I was always the first one down the field. I was focused on getting down there and making the tackle. Not a bad thing but I neglected to recognize all the dangers on the way to the ball.
And that reality hurt and I still have the scar to remind me.
I was so focused on the end that I didn’t think of what I needed to do to stay safe.
The same can be said of life. We know one day our time on Earth will be over. That is no secret. We don’t know if we will live 20, 50 or 100 years on this Earth. But we do know that our time will one day be over.
Is there anything we can do now to protect us for eternity?
Yes, and it’s more simple than you think. Ask Jesus for His help. Ask Him to come into your life and save you. Get plugged into a good Bible believing, Christ following church. Read the Bible, learn more about God and trust that He made you, He loves you and He can guide you.
Follow Him and it will not only change your eternity, He will impact your now.
Pretty cool to see my name on signs in Brazil. I wonder if we are related.
I actually got to talk to the man who runs the Shimada Car Detailing place. He does kinda look like my cousin. We started talking and he told me he was not sure about life and what would happen to him after he died. He said he "hopes" he will go to Heaven. I told him I flew from San Francisco to Brazil. What if I asked the pilot of the plane
if we would make it safe to Brazil? What would I do if he answered, "I hope so." or "I think so." I would not stay on that plane. I would want to make sure I made it to my destination. But when we talk about our FINAL Destination, should any of us be OK with "I hope I go to Heaven."? Wouldn't you want to know for sure? There is a way you can. 2000 years ago, Jesus died and rose again. He conquered death and we can too. But not by ourselves. It's impossible for us to try to reach God. People try to do this by being nice or kind to others or going to church or donating money or whatever. Those are nice things but none of those will SAVE you. That's religion. The truth is, Jesus came down to have a RELATIONSHIP with us. Only He can forgive us for all our wrongdoings. And all you have to do is ask Him for His help. That's it! You may think that's too easy. It is. He did all the hard work. So why not accept His FREE GIFT? My "distant relative" did that day. He wanted to know that when his time was up on this earth that he had a better place to go to. Don't you?
That's my cousin Dina on the right. I was about 12 when this photo was taken and that reminds me of a story...
I was hanging out with my cousins one night. Someone pulled out some boxing gloves and said, who wants to fight?” At the time, I was an expert in boxing because I had seen Rocky a dozen times. So I said, “I’ll go!” And then my cousin Dina said she would fight me. So we put on the gloves and faced off.
But then I realized I couldn’t hit Dina since she was a
girl. I walked up to her and started to explain my dilemma and then she hit me with a left cross. Or maybe a jab. Or a hook. Whatever it was, it made my nose bleed and the fight was stopped.
As my cousins were cheering on Dina (“Dina! Dina! Dina!”) and crowning her the champion of the family, I had to live with the shame of being “beat up by a girl.”
I went inside the house to get more tissues. That’s when the uncles and aunties saw me and asked how I got a bloody nose. A cousin followed me into the house and gleefully announced, “Dina punched him in the nose.”
And then my uncles and aunties started chanting “Dina! Dina! Dina!” OK, maybe that part’s not true but it sure felt like it.
It seemed like everyone was against me as I sat there nursing my bloody reminder that I just got punched in the nose by one of the nicest people I knew.
Have you ever felt like the world was against you? If so, you are not not alone. In fact, Jesus even felt this shame. As He bled on the cross, with the weight of the sins of the world placed on Him, even God momentarily turned His back on Jesus.
But unlike me, Jesus chose to be in this position. He knew it was coming and still went to the cross. Why? Because He loves us and chose to suffer so we wouldn’t have to.
So the next time you feel all alone, thank God that you can live in Heaven forever because of Him. No matter what kinds of suffering you faced here.
Even wicked left hooks.
I grew up a San Francisco Giants fan.
And for my first 40 years, every season ended in disappointment.
And then we won in Texas in 2010. It was a dream to be there celebrating in the family section with other Giants fans and my homie Fo Dog.
And then, in 2012, I had tickets to Game 5 in Detroit…but we swept the Tigers and I missed the fun while Kimi and Forrest celebrated with the team.
So in 2014 when we beat Kansas City, I was disappointed not to be able to see the seventh and
final series clinching game.
But God had other plans for me.
At first, I was thinking about driving in the parade.
My buddy Mike worked for MLB so I texted him and said I may see him.
Then he said these words, “Well, if you don’t end up driving, would you be interested in riding on one of the cable cars?”
Uh…yes! I gladly accepted his invitation!
The next thing I know, three friends and I were on the same cable car as Buster Posey and Santiago Casilla (and his “Jesus Loves You” sign).
It was a surreal feeling.
As thousands of fans cheered, I wasn’t quite sure what to do.
Do I wave? Clearly no one is cheering for me.
Do I just sit there? My excitement couldn’t keep me down!
I decided to wave and yell and enjoy every second!
And then it hit me.
This is what grace is all about.
I didn't deserve to be there.
I didn’t play in a single game.
I didn’t work for the team or know any of the players personally.
And yet there I was enjoying the same view as Buster and Santiago.
Because I was invited.
God’s grace is the same.
He offers His grace not based on our own merits.
We can’t earn it, work for it or buy it.
But we can receive it for free.
You may not be able to ride in a World Series Parade.
But God is offering you something even better!
An eternity in Heaven. A forever in Paradise.
Is that something you would be interested in?
All you have to do is accept his invitation.
And you can enjoy a ride better than any parade.
And that ride will last forever.
My mom loved chicken pot pie. And she told me there was a place in Reno where they had really good chicken pot pie. She forgot the name but when our family drove up there in 1994, we drove for an hour looking for this place. She only gave us a few clues.
The name started with an “M” and they only have this restaurant in Reno.
After driving back and forth for
awhile, she says, “There it is!”
And she points to a Marie Callender’s.
I explained to her that this restaurant is also in the Bay Area (and all over).
My mom goes on to tell me that they sell whole fruit pies for 25 cents.
I knew there had to be a catch so I asked her the process of buying a pie.
She said, “You put a quarter in the slot machine and PIE PIE PIE comes.
I said, “Mom, you have to WIN a pie. Not everyone gets a pie.”
She said, “No. That’s how you buy it. Last time, I only used one quarter.”
I stood there waiting for my mom to realize she was wrong. She put a quarter in the machine, pulled the handle and did not win.
I said, “See mom! You have to win the pie.”
She replied, “The machine is broken. Give me another quarter.”
As I handed her a quarter, I said, “This is a waste of a quarter.”
She pulled the handle and…PIE PIE PIE.
She actually won! And then said to me “I told you! You need to listen to me.”
I tried to explain that she just got lucky. I told her to try another quarter and she will see but she just said, “I don't want another pie.”
So after we ate our chicken pot pies, we walked out of there with a fresh apple pie.
And I walked out eating some humble pie.
I was right and still felt like I was humbled because she was so sure I was wrong.
I wonder if that’s how Jesus felt.
He came and healed people. He taught the truth. In fact, He WAS the truth!
And yet He was crucified as a liar.
He humbled himself to the point that he was nailed to a cross and killed for the sins of the very people who were crucifying Him.
Who would do that? Who would knowingly choose to do this?
I was trying to prove my point over the price of a pie.
Jesus had more at stake and yet He still allowed others to falsely accuse Him.
There may have been more than one Marie Callender’s.
But there is only one God. And He chose to die so that you could live.
With apologies to my homie Diori for not cropping him out of this photo, this was me in elementary school. When life was friends, food and kickball. Yes, kickball. Have you ever played? Well, check out this story from about 30 years ago...
It was 1994 and I was the guest in a fifth grade class.
It was PE time and I was invited to play kickball. I hadn’t played in 13 years but I was excited to show these kids what I could do.
When it was my turn to kick, one
of the students yelled, “He’s huge! Get back everyone!”
Surely, I was going to blast this red bouncy ball to the moon.
As the kids ran far away to their positions, I was preparing myself to wow everyone.
“Super Baby Bouncies!” I yelled to the pitcher. The ball came bouncing towards me.
I ran to kick the ball and somehow it went off the side of my foot....
...and dribbled harmlessly foul a few feet away.
I was so embarrassed but then I heard someone yell, “He stinks!”
And in unison, I saw all these ten year olds run up towards me like I was going to bunt.
I don’t know if my pride had ever taken a bigger beating. So with the whole class playing in the infield, I was able to kick the ball into the outfield and run around the bases for a homerun.
What normally would have been an out turned into a homerun because no one thought I could kick it past them.
My pride was restored…temporarily…until I remembered that these were ten year olds.
Pride is a funny thing.
I don’t know why I cared what a class of fifth graders thought of me.
I don’t know why I had to prove that I was good at a sport I wasn’t even good at when I last played 13 years ago!
Pride can cause your mind to believe things that aren’t healthy.
Pride can cause you to behave in ways that you shouldn’t.
James 4:10 says: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.”
But pride had me worrying that a bunch of ten year olds thought I couldn't kick a ball.
How is pride hurting you?
Is it preventing you from admitting your faults? Or from forgiving others?
Or from accepting help you don’t want to admit you need?
Is pride preventing you from asking Jesus for help? He wants to help you. He wants to provide you with the one thing you need to live an eternity in Heaven.
A relationship with Him.
And all you have to do is ask Him.
And it’s a whole lot easier than trying to kick a red bouncy ball.
The dictionary defines it as “violent or unsteady movement.”
Sounds about right.
We flew to Hawaii recently to attend (and officiate) a wedding. We knew the weather was not going to be all sunshine but we didn’t think the airplane flight would be what it was.
Two hours of turbulence.
Two hours of bumping and dropping and uneasiness. Two hours of violent and unsteady movement.
Two hours of people getting sick and making coughing sounds. (TMI)
It was so horrible, I could not keep my eyes open.
I sat there and prayed.
I prayed for the flight to be smoother. I prayed I wouldn’t get sick myself.
I prayed for the pilot to get us to our destination safely.
And then a revelation hit me.
I could trust the pilot.
Not the one flying the plane.
The One who was in control of my life.
The One who created me and everything.
The One who had never let me down before.
Sure, we were in the eye of the storm.
We were in the midst of the worst flight in 27 years (according to our flight attendant).
But I also had peace knowing that the storm would eventually be over and soon we would be next to a beach celebrating a wonderful couple.
And isn’t that how life is?
We have hopes for a smooth life.
And then the unexpected comes. Storms toss you around.
But you can also trust in your pilot.
You can trust that He is better and stronger than any storm.
You can trust Him because He can create and extinguish any storm.
And He always has a plan.
And if you can see past the storm, then you can see that there will be a beautiful Paradise waiting for you.
And no amount of turbulence can ruin that.
What is your favorite time of the year? (Leave your Answer in comments)
Winter is great because there is Christmas and holidays and snow.
Spring has the start of baseball, Easter and blooming flowers.
Summer has a long break from school, vacations and BBQs.
Fall has...Fall has...well, there's football. And not much more.
would anyone like Fall? That's when school starts. That's when it starts to get cold. That's when it gets darker earlier.
Fall is so depressing that it has two names (Fall and Autumn)
I was never a fan of Fall.
But then as I was raking the leaves off my neighbor's tree that were on my yard, it hit me.
And that's when something else hit me.
The old dies and a new life begins.
The old leaves (no pun intended) and the new comes.
Fall isn't just about dying.
It's about living! It's about starting over. It's about second chances.
Like leaves, our old self dies when we are born again in Christ.
Sure, it takes some time for the Spring to come but the Fall prepares for that time.
In order for the new leaves to come, the old leaves need to die.
But sometimes we try to hang on to our old ways.
But there's no reason to do this. It's useless.
It's like trying to run a race with a backpack on.
You might be able to run but you can't sprint.
You can try to hold onto your own way but you will not be able to grow.
Our old selves and our old ways of living need to go.
But that's only half the news.
Not only does God give us a second chance, He gives us a new life in Him. A better life.
A life with joy so we can be thankful.
A life with peace knowing He is in full control no matter what.
God rakes leaves too.
But He doesn't throw them away.
He turns them into new lives.
Give Him a chance and He will give you something to be truly thankful for this year!
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
When I was in junior high, I thought it would be cool to have a sign in my room that said “ICY” because that was the cool phrase at that time.
“The Ice Man” was a star basketball player. Rappers were named Ice-T, Doctor Ice, Ice Cube. I was even called Kid Ice (OK, no one called me that except for me).
OK, moving on…
My uncle took me, some cousins and some friends to Lake Tahoe and there was an “ICY” sign. So I took some tools and a buddy and we went to take it down. But we
could not. So we left but then saw another sign. A “STOP” sign. That was easier to bring down. So we did. Some neighborhood kids saw us carrying the sign and I got nervous. So when we went to the store to get groceries, I went to the pay phone to call the police station to tell them that I “found” a “STOP” sign.
Here is the conversation.
“I found a stop sign.”
“That must be the same one that was reported stolen. What is your name?” I clearly did not want to tell her my name so I looked around and the first person I saw was my friend Derek so I said, “Derek.”
"Well, Derek, please bring the sign to the station.” Well, I did not want to go into the station so I went and put the sign back on the pole. It was missing a screw (clearly so was I) so the top hung over like it was trying to fall forward. I went back to our cabin and assumed the ordeal was over.
That night, I was coming out of the shower when my friend knocked on the bathroom door and said, “Don’t come out. The police are here asking about the sign.”
So I took the longest shower of my life.
By the time I came out, my Uncle said to me, “Scott, I talked to the police for you and I told them I will make sure you don’t do anything like this again. But you still need to be punished. So you cannot go skiing tomorrow with everyone else.”
I was very disappointed. That’s why we came to Lake Tahoe – to ski! But I understood. I did the crime and now I’d have to pay my time.
But then Uncle said something I will never forget.
“I’ll stay home with you.”
“Why do you have to stay? You didn't do anything wrong. That doesn't make sense.” So the two of us stayed home and missed skiing because one of us was a knucklehead.
It didn’t seem fair.
But that’s what Jesus did. He who was perfect chose to be punished for those who are not. He loves us so much that He’d rather die on Earth so you can live in Heaven.
Now that is a cool God.
Or as we’d say in the 80’s, “That’s Icy.”
It was Summer 2000.
My friend Jeff and I were in San Francisco on our way to a friend’s party when we made a wrong turn and found ourselves in the middle of a parade.
But this was no ordinary parade.
There were no floats of animals or a marching band.
But there were plenty of men and women wearing leather and spikes and not much else.
Jeff and I were stuck in the middle and going maybe one mile per hour. I wanted to shut my eyes but I was driving so that was not an option.
We were headed in the wrong direction. But we were in the far right lane and the next street was one we could not turn right on.
At the speed we were going, we would have been stuck for at least an hour. So we sat and I silently prayed, “Lord, please help us.”
And seriously, how could God help us at that moment? There was no way out. And then I saw Rob.
Rob was one of my college roommates but I hadn’t seen him in years.
But there he was in a police uniform...directing traffic! So I honked and yelled his name.
All I could mutter was, “Rob, we want to get out of here!”
Next thing I know, Rob blows his whistle and stops traffic on both sides of the street.
He allowed us to make a U-turn from the far right lane and exit the parade. I yelled, “Thanks, Rob!”
After that, Jeff and I were speechless. We had been stuck. We had no hope. And God provided a way where there was no way.
I shouldn't have been too surprised. I think about what happened 2000 years ago.
Jesus came and was doing some amazing things. He was healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, walking on water, calming storms and even bringing the dead back to life.
And the rulers of that day thought He deserved to die. So there He was – hanging on the cross.
His followers were scattered. The enemy was celebrating. Hope was lost. He died on that cross. But on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead!
What a turn of events! Jesus made a way where there was no way.
And He can do the same with your life! You may think you have no hope. You may
think you can’t stop heading in the wrong direction. It’s not too late to turn around.
As long as you know who is in charge of the traffic.
Three years ago, I was in a prison in Belize.
I was there because I was being questioned about a crime that occurred.
Being questioned by the police is never an easy thing. Even if I was innocent.
But being questioned in another country was terrifying.
I was afraid they would make up any story and throw me in a cell.
would I tell my wife and daughters?
How would I let anyone know I needed help?
Let me be clear here – I was innocent.
The golf cart we had rented was found crashed against a tree and the police asked me to come in for questioning.
I prayed as I walked the mile to the police station.
When I arrived, they asked me to fill out all sorts of forms and show my passport.
I thought I was being arraigned so I simply said, “I didn't do anything wrong.”
The officer replied, “I know. We saw a video of the man who stole your cart.”
Thank God for videos!
But I asked, “Then why am I here?”
“So you could identify your golf cart and get another one.”
Phew! I replied, “Yes, that is my cart and, yes, I would love another one. Thank you! Oh, can we take a selfie?”
So after we took a photo together, I was gladly on my way!
I was a free man!
OK, I know I’m being a bit dramatic but it was scary. I felt like I was that close to being locked in a jail in Belize!
But do you know what’s even scarier?
That I was locked in a different kind of prison.
Before I knew Jesus personally, I was living my life independent from God and making all kinds of bad decisions.
And because I didn’t have Christ in my life, I was headed toward an eternity in a scarier and more eternal prison.
But Jesus provides the key and allows me (and anyone who asks Him) to avoid that punishment because He paid the price for us when He died on the cross.
Jesus saved me. And He can save you too.
If you just ask Him.
No video proof necessary.
This is Oma and me when we worked together in Berkeley. This photo reminds me of the knucklehead I was but then I felt led to write this...
My whole life I felt like I was doing something wrong.
I was the kid that always spilled something.
Or said the wrong thing. Or got in trouble. Or got others in trouble.
Bad Choices, Bad Luck and Bad Circumstances was a real person, that would be me.
I heard it all growing up.
In sports, I was too small and too slow.
In the classroom, I was a goof off and unmotivated.
In social settings, I was too shy and too awkward.
In my family I didn’t measure up to those around me. So when someone told me that God created me and He has a plan for my life, I didn't know what to think.
I mean, how could He use someone like me?
Someone with my resume would be more suited to just fade into obscurity.
But I was told that God didn’t see what others saw.
In fact, the Bible is filled with people who are seen by God in ways others didn't.
Noah’s neighbors saw a crazy delusional old man.
God saw him as a way to preserve His people.
The people saw Rahab as a morally corrupt woman of the night.
God saw her as a way to save two men sent to scout the Promised Land.
His brothers saw David as the youngest shepherd boy.
God saw David as a king who would lead His people.
Joseph’s brothers saw him as a pain in the neck and sold him into slavery.
God saw a man who would save his family (and many others) from starvation.
Paul was remembered as Saul and was seen as a threat to Christians.
God used Paul to be the greatest missionary ever.
The leaders of the land saw Jesus as a threat to their way of life on Earth.
God used Jesus to bring salvation so we can have an eternity in Heaven.
You may feel useless, insignificant, and unwanted.
But God looks at you and sees so much more. He sees someone He created.
Someone He loves.
Someone He has great plans for.
Others may not know the real you.
But you can bet the One who created you does.
And His opinion is the only One that should matter.
This was me at 17. Not the best photo but that's how I looked so whatever.
It was about this time that I took the SAT.
Did you? Do you remember your score? I remember mine.
I got a ZERO.
How is that even possible? Well, I got kicked out for “cheating.”
Let’s be clear here, I did NOT cheat. Let me tell you what happened…
The day of the SAT was the same day as our baseball league’s All-Star game.
In ten years of playing baseball, this was my very first All-Star Game.
But the problem was – it was the same day as the SAT.
So when I arrived at the test site, I asked the lady there if I could leave as soon as I finished the final section. She said, “Yes.”
So when I finished the first section and everyone else was waiting for the prompt to start the next section, I went ahead and started to work on section six (the final section).
This happened for the next few sections and then she saw me.
I wasn’t too worried because I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.
But she came over, took my paper and told me to leave.
She said it would be marked down that I was “cheating.”
I said, “I wasn’t cheating.”
She replied, “Not literally cheating but there’s nothing else we can call it.”
I said, “Then call it nothing and literally let me finish.”
She was not amused and I had to leave.
A friend looked up from his test and said, “At least you’ll make it to your game now.”
And that I did. Just in time to go 0 for 4 and make an error in the field.
My worst game of the season. But that's a story that doesn’t need to be told.
So what’s the point of taking the SAT?
To get into a college. A good SAT score could help get you into a good school.
And a bad score (like a ZERO) doesn’t help at all.
But even more important than getting into a good school is getting into Heaven.
And for that, there is only one requirement.
Asking Jesus for His forgiveness and having a relationship with Him.
That’s it. No other requirements.
No test required.
It was April 1988.
I was 17 years old (keep that in mind as you read about my bad decision making)
Some friends and I went to Los Angeles for Spring Break.
We visited friends, family and Disneyland and then headed back home.
My car back then was a 1980 powder blue Mustang with a white top.
the fastest it would go was 85 Miles Per Hour.
So I drove 85 Miles Per Hour.
(Side note: Never Ever Ever drive the fastest your car can go!)
Halfway into our trip, we get pulled over and the officer tells me that the airplane spotted me going 85 MPH. He promptly gave me a ticket and I went home to await my fate.
Soon, I got a notice saying I needed to appear in court because this was my third ticket in 18 months. (Please note: I have received about three tickets in the past 34 years)
A week later, I received another notice saying that I did not need to come to court and to wait for another notice. Phew!
A week later I got the third notice and it said that since I failed to appear in court, there would be a warrant for my arrest if I did not show up in court.
So there I was in court. I listened to people plead their cases.
My friend happened to be there because he was tailgating a police car. His argument was that the police car was going too slow.
I was hoping my case would be right after his!
When it was my turn, I approached the Judge. I already knew I was guilty of speeding. I was told I may have to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
But as I got closer to the Judge, I realized that I knew him. We had met a month or so earlier through a friend.
He asked me if I was guilty or innocent. I pleaded guilty for the speeding. He raised his gavel and I braced myself for his verdict. $300? $500? $1000?
With the pound of the gavel, he said, “$35…Have a good day.”
And with that judgment, I didn't have to pay a fortune. My license wasn’t suspended.
My fears and worries were no more.
All because I knew the judge.
One day we will all have to face a greater Judge. A Judge that knows everything we have ever done. And no one can correctly claim to be innocent.
Your eternal sentence is at stake. And only one thing will matter to the Judge.
Do you know Him personally?
I used to love baseball cards. I still do. But not like when I was eight years old.
There was nothing like opening a fresh pack of cards.
Those packs held treasures inside. There was nothing more valuable to me.
But one day as I walked up the hill to the local market to buy a pack of cards, I saw something that took my attention away from the baseball cards.
I could not believe my eyes.
What I saw was so amazing that I stopped everything and gave it my full attention.
Right there in the street was a pile of diamonds!
There had to be over 100 diamonds just sitting there.
I grabbed every one of them and put them in my pocket.
I ran home and told my dad that we were now rich!
“Dad, you can quit your job!”
“Mom, I can buy you a new house!”
“Myself, I can buy my own baseball card company!”
My dad took one look at my newfound treasure and said:
“Scott, this is broken glass.” (This is where I would insert a very sad emoji face)
I replied, “C’mon Dad! Can we at least have an expert look at them?”
“Is there someway these could be valuable and we can make some money?”
“Go back to the house they were in front of and ask if they’ll pay you for cleaning it up.”
I wasn’t happy about it but Dad was right.
What I thought was treasure was nothing but junk.
And not only junk, but it could have been dangerous.
Imagine an eight year old boy in the middle of a busy street.
And imagine him with a pound of shattered glass in his pockets.
Sometimes we can be like that little boy. We ignore the real treasure and focus on what’s not even real.
Like when we spend our time focusing on worldly possessions and relationships and we neglect what really is our treasure.
A treasure that will never fade, lose value or disappoint us.
A relationship with Jesus.
On Good Friday 2020, Rev. Rod Yee passed away.
Some people want to know how he died.
I’d rather tell you how he lived.
As a friend, Rod was there for me when my father passed away in 1997.
I think Rod took it upon himself to treat me like his son.
gave me advice on money, ministry, and marriage
When our church was struggling and looking for a new lead pastor, Rod was well established in the Oakland Police Department.
In fact, he was the Acting Deputy Chief.
He was highly considered to land a Chief of Police position in other cities.
And yet God, for some reason unknown at the time, kept closing that door for Rod.
And while the door to being the head of a police department was closed, the door to being the head of our church was open.
And so Rod became our lead pastor.
He encouraged Biblical preaching.
He encouraged us to meet AND greet one another.
He encouraged us to get involved, to grow and to help make a difference.
He never got the promotion to Chief of Police.
But I can’t imagine him making a bigger difference for the Kingdom of God than he did while he was our lead pastor.
And now that he is gone, it’s important to remember one simple fact.
He did not die.
In fact, as you read these words, Rod is more alive than he ever was. He is in the presence of Jesus.
No pain. No tears. No anxiety.
And no cancer.
In fact, he got his promotion.
But this did not lead to another job with more responsibilities.
It led to peace, joy and love.
And the greatest retirement plan ever.
The Cabbage Patch.
Some remember this as a 1980’s Doll that became all the rage for youngsters.
I remember it as a dance that I could never do right.
In fact, you could add the Running Man and the Roger Rabbit and the RoboCop to that list.
And pretty much any dance that has ever been danced.
Let’s just say I was not blessed with rhythm. My younger cousin Ryan would try to teach me but even a professional hip hop dancer like him couldn't pull off that miracle.
So it was a wonder why I would agree to do a dance routine in high school with some of my buddies.
There was a rally at our school (Yo JFK Richmond – where you at?!) and while the spirit squad played powder puff football, the guys did a dance routine.
We danced, we shuffled, we put on a show.
We even Cabbage Patched.
Afterwards, a friend came up to me and she said,
"Scott! That was so good! You were the best one!
“I was? Thanks, Debra!”
“Yeah, Scott….you were sooooo funny!”
“Funny? I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
“Oh. You weren’t?” (Awkward pause). “Then you weren’t that good.”
Well, at least she was honest.
Looking back on that embarrassing day, I don’t regret it.
Sure, I was laughed at and ridiculed. But at least…well, I can’t think of anything good that came out of it.
But it did remind me of Good Friday.
There was a day 2000 years ago when someone was ridiculed and laughed at…and killed on a cross.
But unlike my dance routine that had no impact on lives other than a few laughs, what Jesus did is still significant 2000 years later.
And will be for eternity.
Thank God for that.
And that no one asks me to dance in public anymore.
March 2021 (originally May 2006)
When I was 15 years old, my buddy Jay “Schill-Dog” Schilling and I went to the track to see who could run two miles the quickest.
We had both decided to play football for our high school (what’s up Eagles from Kennedy in Richmond!) and one of the requirements was to run two miles under a certain time limit.
Let me pause here to say I am not trying to brag that I played football in high school. I was possibly the least skilled player on
the team. I like to say I was small and I added to it by being slow.
I think there were two very clear reasons I made the team.
1) God has a sense of humor.
2) I could run…not fast…but for a long time.
So, unlike Jay who actually had football skills and was fast, I had to rely on my stamina. Since that was my one skill, it was a source of pride for me.
And so we went to the track and, as soon as we started, I took off and left him in the dust. I was about half a lap ahead of him and I was cruising. To be honest, I was shocked because, like I said, Jay was fast. But that day, I thought I owned the track.
Turns out the track owned me.
As I finished the first mile, I could see Jay catching up to me.
As I was slowing down, he seemed to be going faster.
And as he passed me with a few more laps to go, I realized what I did wrong.
I ran too fast too early.
I’ve never been accused of running too fast.
Too slow? Yes. But never too fast.
But this time, I ran too fast and left nothing for the end.
I used all my energy at the start of the race while he kept a steady pace and beat me by about 30 seconds (probably more but I’m writing this so let’s just say 30 seconds)
It didn’t matter that I started strong because my finish was weak.
It’s all about a strong finish.
Yesterday (May 29, 2006), my friend, Vic Ohashi finished strong.
Sure, he lost a two year battle with cancer.
But the fact that he left this Earth will not diminish the impact he had on my life and on so many others – especially in the past few years.
When I met Mr. Ohashi (Mr. O to me), I was a young collegian and he was the father of one of my best friends. I would have meals at their house and even spend the night occasionally (even when my friend wasn’t there). He and his wife treated me like I was family.
Mr. O grew up going to a church but had walked away far from God over the years.
We would have spiritual conversations occasionally but would usually end up talking about basketball.
And then the Summer of 1991 came and I made a commitment to pray for Mr. O and his family every day.
And at the end of that Summer, the family received an invitation in the mail to come check out a new church that was starting nearby.
South Bay Community Church.
I was excited to hear that the family decided to go. In no way am I taking any credit for this but I do believe God heard my prayers that Summer.
The whole family was excited about this church that Gary Shiohama was starting. It was small but it felt right to the Ohashi family.
They attended, they learned, they grew, they served and they were baptized.
And yesterday (May 29, 2006), Mr. O went home to be with the Lord.
Back to my running analogy…
Mr. O ran the race. And he wasn’t running it to win a trophy.
He ran strong because he knew that at the finish line was Heaven and he wanted everyone to know that they could get there too.
What was important to him was not money or fame or prestige.
What was important to him was his loved ones and where they would spend eternity.
And he spent his final months, weeks and days making sure they knew how to get to where he would be.
Now that is finishing strong.
It was April 24, 1998. Michi and I had been married for 48 days.
We were celebrating my 28th birthday and we went to the zoo with Michi’s Kindergarten class.
Afterwards, we were going to the Giants game.
was setting up to be a really good day.
And then something unforeseen happened.
A goat ate my wedding ring. Yes, you read that correctly.
A baaaaaad goat.
Ate my wedding ring.
We were in the petting zoo area and I noticed my ring had slipped off. I searched high and low but no ring was to be found.
The zoo workers said that if the goat saw something shiny, they would have eaten it.
They said I was welcome to come back in a couple of days to see if it “appears.”
I told them I would pass when it, um, passes.
I was sad, shocked and disappointed that I no longer had my wedding ring.
And to top the day off, the Giants lost the game too.
It was not a good birthday by any standards.
But I chose to look on the bright side.
Instead of letting the goat incident eat me up (pun intended), I decided to see if there were any lessons I could learn – other than “Don’t let farm animals eat your ring.”
This is what I learned…
Things on this Earth will be lost.
They will gather dust. They will rust. They will be eaten by goats.
But God and His Word will stand the test of time.
He will not fade away. He will not grow old. He will not be lost.
And because of that, we can have confidence that no matter what happens, we can stand tall.
Even if a goat turns your most valuable possession into lunch.
This is Wataru “Wat” Misaka. Wat played on the University of Utah basketball teams that won the NIT and NCAA Championships. He was also the first minority to play in the NBA (known as the BAA in 1947). And he did it as a Japanese American in 1947 - just a few years after World War 2 ended.
But I am not writing this because he played professional basketball. You see, the Wat I knew was already well past his playing days. But his impact on my life was still great.
Here are some things I encountered over the years in my friendship with him.
I met Wat almost 20 years ago when he and his wife drove to California from Utah to attend our 3 on 3 basketball tournament. He drove even though I offered to pay for airfare. He even brought me a University of Utah golf towel which I hang in my office. He came all this distance, paid his own way and brought me a gift to show appreciation. Appreciation for what? I don’t know. I didn't do anything.
He offered to sign a basketball to give away as a prize and Michi said she watched him spend a couple of minutes to sign it. Why so long? He wanted it to look good for whoever would receive it. While most celebrities take a few seconds to scribble a name, he gave so much care.
A few years later, I was asked to speak at his church in Utah. After service, I saw him waiting to talk to me. His first words to me were, “Hi Scott, I don't know if you remember me but my name is Wat.” Such a humble man who didn’t assume everyone should know who he was.
So a few years ago, Wat’s pastor shared with me that Wat wasn’t doing so well and he didn’t know if Wat had ever asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. Well, a little while later, my family happened to be driving through Utah so I called and asked if we could visit. So we stopped by and after some time catching up, I shared with Wat that Jesus loves Him and wants to have a relationship with Him. All he had to do was to ask Jesus to come into his life. And then Wat’s wife, Katie, says from the kitchen, “Wat accepted Christ last Christmas!” I said, “You did? Awesome!” So after a little while, we left and continued our road trip.
And then a year or so later, I asked if Wat would like to make a Play4Him video. We flew to Utah to meet with Wat and record his story. Sadly, by then, his memory was already fading and Wat could not recall many of the details I was hoping to record. He did recall winning the NCAA and NIT Championships and being drafted by the New York Knicks. He shared stories of teammates and coaches and even being offered a spot on the Harlem Globetrotters. But when I asked him about his relationship with Jesus, he could not remember many details. At this point, the video became secondary and I just wanted to make sure that Wat really had accepted Jesus into his life. He said he was not sure and respectfully declined any invitations that day.
I went home sad. Not because we didn’t make a video. But because I didn’t know if this wonderful man had ever made the one decision that would impact his eternity.
And then eight months later, I heard that he had passed away.
But I received a text from Wat’s daughter, Nancy, saying she had some news to share with me.
She said something amazing happened on what turned out to be Wat’s last day on Earth. Wat’s pastor, Brad, went to visit Wat and shared the Gospel. Brad prayed for Wat and Wat thanked Brad in a very heartfelt way. Soon, Wat’s neighbor came to visit and she said to Wat, “You look very calm.” Wat replied, “I am calm. I talked to Jesus today.” Nancy said her father never said things like that. Wat then added, "Well, He did the talking. He said that He was in control and that everything was going to be alright." Wat also said that he wasn’t going to be around much longer. He said the same thing to other visitors that day.
Later that night, Wat passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Wat lived a long and amazing life. And he is now enjoying his eternity in Heaven with Katie. And he is not there because of anything he did on the basketball court in 1947.
It’s because of what Jesus did 2000 years ago on the cross.
And the decision Wat made to accept His free gift.
Where you spend eternity is up to you. Jesus already did the difficult part.
Will you make the one decision that will guarantee you peace forever?
You can. What are you waiting for?
If you’re a baseball fan, you may remember the MLB All Star game in 2007.
Ichiro Suzuki did something no one in the history of MLB had done.
He hit an inside the park homerun in an All-Star game.
But here is something you probably don’t know.
Before the game, someone told Ichiro that their friend was in the hospital fighting for his life.
And Ichiro gave them his All-Star game shirt and then hit the homerun.
Some may say that this sick person was the inspiration for his homerun.
I would say that. Do you know why?
Because I was that sick person.
While Ichiro was doing his thing in San Francisco that night, I was laying in a hospital bed in Oakland fighting for my life.
I watched that homerun on TV and, at that time, I had no idea it was for me.
Well, maybe it really wasn’t.
I like to think there is a chance he was thinking about me when he hit it.
I even thanked Ichiro a few years later when we finally met.
He simply said, “You’re welcome.”
I don’t know what was going through his mind when he hit that homerun.
His thoughts were probably more on baseball than on me.
So maybe it wasn’t so personal.
But there is something that we all should take very personal.
Not a homerun in an All-Star game.
Something much better.
Jesus dying on the cross…for you!
He purposely chose to die on the cross to save you.
That may not sound as exciting as an inside the park homerun.
But it is.
And it is very personal.
This photos is me and some of the guys from our 30 year reunion. It was good catching up with old friends.
But let me be quite honest here. I was a knucklehead in high school.
Some might call me a knucklehead now.
Without boring you with all the details, let me share with you one story.
My senior year, I got highly sick. The disease? Senioritis.
I basically quit going to school the last quarter of high school.
Somehow I was able to still make it to third period (Journalism) because I was the Editor in Chief of the Eagle Eye, Otherwise, I was AWOL.
So when June came rolling by, I realized I should do something or else I wouldn’t graduate and maybe even lose my chance to attend UC Riverside.
I checked with my teachers and, to no one’s surprise, I was failing three classes.
With the help of friends and gracious teachers, I was able to pull all my “F” grades to “D.”
But the school had also lost one of my books and I had prove that I turned it in.
At that same time I saw a friend trying to get his yearbook back from some “visitors.” I didn't have time to help him as I was frantically trying to get everything in order to graduate. Regretfully, I chose to not help him and focused on me.
I found out two days later that he was shot…over a yearbook. Luckily, he survived.
So back to me trying to graduate…
At my school, for every two unexcused absences, a grade would be lowered.
I had about 10-20 unexcused absences in each class. Do the math.
I had to figure out how to clear all my unexcused absences.
So I went on the school computer. (The school secretaries were all very nice to me and they had compassion for me)
But I was still having a hard time when the Vice Principal walked by.
Mr. Gonzalez said, “Scott, what are you doing?”
I didn't know what kind of trouble I could get in for being on the school computer.
“Uh, well, uh…OK, Mr. Gonzalez. If I don't get these absences cleared, I won’t graduate.”
He looked at me, grabbed a piece of paper and wrote these words, “Please excuse Scott Shimada from all unexcused absences for the Spring Semester.”
And with that one note, I was free to enjoy graduation with the Class of 1988.
And with God’s grace, we are free to enjoy Heaven forever.
Grace is admitting you are not perfect and that you need God’s help.
Grace is receiving something even though you don’t deserve it.
And God is offering His grace to anyone who wants to receive it.
Even knuckleheads like me.
Many years ago, I went on a trip with my parents to visit the homelands for the first time.
We spent two weeks in each country – first Korea and then Japan.
When our time was over, we had to catch a flight from Japan to Korea and then back to the U.S.
There was a two hour stop in Korea so there was plenty of time before our flight home.
But then our flight from Japan to Korea was delayed for two hours.
Stress and panic came as I worked out a way we could make that flight.
I talked to the agent at the gate to make sure we would leave as soon as possible.
I called the airline to let the flight in Korea know to wait for us.
And I talked to the flight attendants to make sure they let us off the plane first.
He replied, “Don’t worry. You will be fine.”
So I sat down and tried to relax. But I couldn't.
What if we miss our flight?
Will we have to stay another night in Korea?
Do we have to pay more money for another flight?
So I tossed and turned and when we finally landed in Korea, I ran to the door.
The flight attendant stopped me and told me that our flight had already left.
But I said, “You told me now to worry.”
He replied, “Yeah, don’t worry. Catch the next flight.”
At first, I thought that was really bad advice.
But actually, it was very wise.
No amount of worrying could have stopped my flight from taking off for California.
Sometimes, we worry about things that we have no control over.
What people are saying about us or how they will react or treat us.
All the anxiety, distress and agony did more damage than good.
If I was able to relax and not worry, I could have rested.
But instead, I was a big stress case.
What are things you worry about? School? Money? Career?
The biggest worry any of us should have is where we spend eternity.
It’s more than about a flight home. It’s about our eternal home.
There’s no bigger issue on earth than where you will spend eternity.
But you don’t have to stress about that one either.
If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you can know real peace.
And you can take these words to be true.
“Don’t worry. You will be fine.”
How can you do that?
1) Realize that you are not perfect and you need God's forgiveness.
2) Know that Jesus is 100% God and 100% Man. And because of this, He bridges the gap between sinful man and perfect God.
3) Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. How? Ask Him to come into your life. Just talk with Him and surrender.
4) Learn more about Him. Read the Bible. Ask questions to your Christian friends. Ask God to help you. Join a good Bible following church (like ours - San Lorenzo Japanese Christian Church). Join a small group.
5) Enjoy the peace and joy that only God can provide. You won't have to worry because your final destination will be secure!
When I met Miles and Jena Burris, Miles had just finished his second season with the Oakland Raiders. I shared with him my idea for Play4Him and he said he wanted to help. Soon, we made a promotional video with Rick Quan (Bay Area sports anchor) and rookie Quarterback Derek Carr.
Things were moving along and Miles finished his third season with the Raiders where he was second on the team with 109 tackles (Charles Woodson had 113). But despite the stats,
Miles was released from the team in 2015. And that’s where the heart of this article begins.
A few days after Miles was released by the Raiders, he texted me and asked if he could come over. He came by and we spent some time catching up and, as he left, he handed me an envelope. I knew it was a donation but how could I accept a donation from someone who just lost his job? (Note: NFL contracts are not 100% guaranteed) Miles assured me that he and Jena had prayed about it and wanted me to accept it. So I put the envelope down and walked Miles to his house (a few blocks away). The whole time we walked, Miles encouraged me and told me that he and Jena knew I was doing the right thing and that they knew my intentions were good and they wanted to support Play4Him. Honestly, I should have been the one encouraging him. Miles had just lost his job and was injured and had no guarantee that he would ever play in the NFL again. And he was encouraging me?
I walked home feeling unworthy of such encouragement but also inspired and uplifted knowing God had blessed me with such supportive friends. And then I got home and opened the envelope to find a very generous donation check and a letter encouraging me more. I called Miles and told him there was no way I could accept this amount but he again assured me that he and Jena wanted me to have it. I thanked him and then thanked God for allowing it to happen.
When I went to the bank to deposit the check, I asked for the balance.
The amount that was in there before the deposit?
One dollar and thirty seven cents.
At that moment, I heard God say to me, “I got your back. As long as I want you to share these videos, I will provide the funds and athletes. When I don’t, then it’s over. In the mean time, don’t worry.”
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
My faith is not in myself. My faith is not in Play4Him. My faith is not in those around me.
My faith is in Someone greater.
My faith is only in Jesus who created all things and is in control of all things.
Because of Him, I stepped out in faith and started a non-profit with no skills, no funds and no idea what I was getting myself into.
Because of Him, Miles and Jena were able to see beyond their current situation (in 2015) and know that God had their back as well.
And that’s why they wanted to give back some of what God had provided for them.
Even with no guarantee that Miles would ever play in the NFL again.
And he hasn’t.
Sure, he had a few tryouts but God had other plans for him.
These days, Miles can be found on a different football field. Playing linebacker for Clemson University in the Disney film Safety. You should check it out. If you do, you will not only see a great movie but now you’ll also know the back story of one of the stars.
Thank you Miles and Jena. Thank you for your friendship, your love and your support.
But most of all, thank you for living out your faith.
Can you believe Christmas is here?
I love this time of year!
I’ll be honest, when I was young, I loved Christmas for one main reason.
The tradition in our family was that I could open one present on Christmas Eve.
I would plan this out for weeks.
Would I choose the one that made sounds like a box of LEGOs?
Maybe…but I might also try to find the Star Wars action figure.
That was trickier because it didn’t make any sounds.
Well, one year, I decided to be brave. I chose a box that made no sounds.
No clue as to what was inside.
I just knew it had to be something good!
After a week of going back and forth, I decided that was the one I would open.
So on Christmas Eve, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found…
A pack of underwear.
Not even Super Hero Underoos (which I never ever had, desired or wore FYI)
As I sat there in shock, I looked over at my parents.
They smiled and did a “Gotcha!” look.
This was clearly a break in the laws of gift giving.
I said, “Mom, you’re not supposed to put underwear under the tree until the morning.”
I was not a happy camper. Clearly, underwear is not a Christmas gift.
I mean aren’t those something parents are required to buy you anyways?
I didn’t understand it back then, but I missed the real meaning of Christmas.
Christmas isn’t about the presents that are under the Christmas tree.
The real gift came 2000 years ago.
When God came in the form of a baby to be the Savior of the world.
That’s what Christmas is all about.
People try to do good things to be close to God.
But the truth is, God came down to us.
Because that is how much He loves us.
He left the comforts of Heaven to come to this crazy world.
And there is no better present than that.
Way better than underwear.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
One of my best memories was going to Lake Tahoe with my parents.
The three of us would hop in my dad’s 1974 Buick and we would go on vacation.
I don’t remember the name of the motel we always stayed at but it was our regular home away from home.
We got to know one other family fairly well.
Well enough to play with the two kids.
enough for me to sleep over in their room while my parents went out.
Well enough for the father to share with my dad why they were living in a motel.
He was hiding from the police because he robbed a bank.
Yes, my parents had a bank robber babysit their only child.
I found this out years later when I was in college.
So I asked my dad about this.
“Dad, that guy was wanted by the police? And you had him babysit me?”
My dad’s reply?
“Scott, he was wanted for bank robbery. Not for kidnapping.”
Oh, ok. I guess that’s Ok then. (insert rolling eyes emoji here)
In my dad’s eyes, he saw no problem since this man was a bank robber.
And since I was not a bank, there was nothing to worry about.
So apparently, my dad could put his trust in a bank robber.
I would think most people have a hard time trusting people.
Many people even have a hard time trusting God.
God…Creator of the universe.
God…the same God who made you and me.
God…the same One who chose to die on the cross because He loves us so much.
If anyone has a reputation for being trusted, it is Him.
He has proven over the years that He can be trusted.
The Bible is filled with stories of promises kept.
And I have seen Him work miracle after miracle in my own life.
So when we talk about who will take care of our eternity…
Or where we will spend the rest of our infinite days…
I put my trust in the only One who deserves to be trusted.
In 2012, the NBA saw something no one expected.
Jeremy Lin set the basketball world on fire.
He was all over the internet, newspapers, magazines and TV.
Linsanity was born.
Two years earlier, he signed a rookie deal with the Golden State Warriors.
Jeremy and I had been messaging each other that Summer but we hadn’t met in person.
I thought I’d get a chance when I was invited to his press conference.
But it landed on the same day as my wife’s birthday.
I asked if they could change the day.
But I got the same response you are giving me now.
So, the season started and the Warriors asked if I could help organize an “Asian American Heritage Night.” The Clippers were in town and Jeremy was going to speak after the game to anyone who wanted to hear him.
As Jeremy walked onto the court after the game, I briefly introduced myself and he began addressing the crowd. When he was done, I asked if we could talk.
We walk towards the tunnel and the usher says to me, “You can’t go in there.”
Jeremy points to me and says, “He’s with me.”
I point to Jeremy and I say, “I’m with him.”
So there I am. Inside the tunnel. Where not everyone is allowed to be.
Was I there because I was so cool? Un, no.
Was it the way I looked? Obviously not.
I was only there because of one reason.
I was invited by Jeremy.
That’s it. I did nothing to deserve this other than ask.
We all have access to the greatest place ever.
And all you have to do is ask Jesus for His help.
And He will say, “This one is with me.”
Have you asked him yet?
It's not too late.
Thankfully, I was able to take a few days off and stay at a friend’s cabin in Truckee.
Heading out on my journey on a Sunday with my family joining me the next day.
An hour into my trip and a scary realization hit me.
No!!!! I forgot the key at home.
Key! Hopefully, there is a “Hide-A-Key” at the cabin.
So I called my friend and asked him.
The response was, “Haha! No.”
So I looked at my options.
Unfortunate as it would be, should I drive an hour back home?
Keep driving to Truckee and hope a door is open?
Ask if he happens to have a key on him.
“Hey, you got a key on you?”
“I do, “ he said. “Come meet me in El Cerrito.”
Right on! I back tracked about half an hour to pick up the key.
And then he hits me with this statement.
“So…I am pretty sure these are the right keys…but they may not work.”
So I took my chances and drove up to Truckee with keys I wasn’t sure would get me into the cabin.
If those keys don’t work, it would be a long night. Possibly sleeping in my car until my family arrives the next day.
If those keys do work, I gain entrance to a warm place to sleep, running water and peace and quiet.
I prayed and headed up the mountain.
Many are traveling on a road not knowing what their eternal future holds.
Do we have the right “key” to enter Heaven?
Do we have what we need to enter an eternity of peace, safety and comfort?
Some may think the key is in how we live or what we do.
But all we have to do is ask for the key from the only One who has it.
He is the way because He died on the cross for us 2000 years ago.
And He wants you to be secure knowing you have the right key. Luckily, I had the right key and was able to get in the cabin.
You, however, don’t have to rely on luck.
Life is unpredictable. Many of us have had to cancel plans for the next month or so. Who knows when life will return to what we knew it as? Social distancing, closed schools, cancelled trips and empty restaurants. Grocery shopping has turned into some sort of sporting event.
But may I take a minute to share with you about something so important that I am ashamed it took a National crisis for me to post?
I did not grow up in the church. I didn't know the difference
between Jesus Christ, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. But when I was in high school, my cousin and some dear friends shared with me about the MOST IMPORTANT thing any of us can hear about on this earth. And that is the need for Jesus in our lives. I hope you keep reading because He is not some made up fictional character. Even atheists who have studied history will tell you that Jesus was a real person who lived on this Earth 2000 years ago. But He was more than that. He was man. But He was God also. God in human flesh. And He came for one reason - to save us. And that's why He chose to die on the cross for us. That's why He stayed on that cross even though it was painful and people mocked Him saying, "If you really are God, prove it and come off that cross!"
But 2000 years later we don't worship Him because He came off that cross. We worship Him because He STAYED on that cross! He stayed to finish what He started to do. To redeem the world and pay for all our sins.
If you were to give Him a chance and allow Him to come into your life, He will bless that decision.
Do you have to give up anything? Sure!
We give Him our fears and He offers comfort.
We give Him our anxieties and He brings us peace.
We give Him our pain and He gives us healing.
We give Him guilt and He responds with forgiveness.
We give up an eternity in hell and He gives us a forever in Heaven.
It took a national crisis for me to write this post. There is no shame in a national crisis helping you make a decision that will impact your eternity. You can make the one decision that will GUARANTEE YOU A FORVER IN PARADISE.
If you haven't done that yet, may I ask you? What are you waiting for? You have one life to make this decision. Once that life is over, it will be too late. Don't wait. Just ask Him to come into your life. And follow where He leads. You will not be disappointed. By giving Him a chance, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Feel free to call, text or PM me anytime.
This is serious. Much more serious than a virus.