John Smoltz

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Nicholas25, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. Nicholas25

    Nicholas25
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    Great player, great person, great testimony

    October 2005


    My Story
    Playing for an Audience of One
    Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, 38, is in his 18th season with the Atlanta Braves. He won the 1996 Cy Young Award as the National League's top pitcher and twice has been named Marvin Miller Man of the Year by the Major League Baseball Players Association. Smoltz's greatest highlight came in 1995—and not because his team won the World Series. That was also the year he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. His career and Christian walk have faced many challenges, including four surgeries on his pitching elbow. This summer he spoke with Tim Luke, a former Braves beat writer, to share his testimony and tell how the Lord is helping him grow as a Christian.

    by John Smoltz, as told to Tim Luke

    Ever since I've been in baseball, I've gone to baseball chapel. Every step of my life I've always tried to do what's right. So I thought that I had life pretty much figured out. I thought I was a good person. But reading and hearing about what a personal relationship with Jesus means has made me think about a lot of things.

    Enduring a rocky career with many ups and downs, I've always been molded through perseverance. But I also needed people's approval. So everything I did was geared around making sure people thought and said the right things about me.

    In 1995, I sat down at a restaurant with Walt Wiley, our team chaplain at the time. I asked him, "Why can't I just live the way I want to live until I'm 42 or 43 and then get serious about God?"

    He said, "Nothing prevents you from doing that—with the exception of one thing: You might not get to your target date." At that point I no longer wanted to take chances, so I accepted Jesus and began to live for Him. Someone might think that's why I had my Cy Young season in 1996, but it's not. However, it is why I was able to handle my Cy Young season.

    From one standpoint, my testimony is boring because God has protected me from so many things. I don't do drugs. I don't drink. I don't curse. I'm pretty much the nerd who grew up getting picked on. Yet I've had favor in the clubhouse and in life because of athletic talent.

    In my 18 years with the Braves, I think people know where I stand. They know they can come to me. And I'm going to try to make that approach as easy as possible and try not to miss an opportunity to share, even though I'm sure there are times when I have. I think anytime a guy is going through struggles, it helps to express your personal beliefs. When you start giving a lot of yourself and revealing yourself to others, it shows a real love and concern, especially because guys don't generally do that. But, personally, I'm just trying to be obedient.

    Early on in my walk, I was somewhat ashamed to stand for the Gospel. I'm certainly not ashamed today. Back then I was probably worried about being persecuted. I'm not worried about that today. I've been falsely accused. I've had many different things written about me, many rumors. But what I know is that character stands the test of time and that Jesus didn't say if you are persecuted—He said when.

    One area of incredible growth for me is a constant breaking down of who I thought I was and who God is making me.

    I'm dealing with the grace vs. truth principle right now. Some people live in one camp or the other. It's hard to be in both. If I just pound you with truth, how receptive are you going to be to what I have to say—or how much are you even going to want to be around me? If I only shower you with grace and never give you truth, then how much are you going to learn and grow? Some people are going to be offended by us, and some people are going to welcome us. It shouldn't be all one or the other.

    Today, my biggest challenge is my time alone with God—my quiet time. Another challenge is the area where I have the greatest capacity to fail: my thought life—the instant flesh reaction to what I want to do versus what I really should do. I'm not there yet, but that's why I love being surrounded by people who will hold me accountable.

    The reality of all of this is that we're not in control as much as we think we are. I'm one of the most incredible control freaks ever, but God is dealing with me in that area. He's putting me through Patience 101. I'm a guy who believes that part of my mission as a Christian athlete is to break down some of the myths about Christians being soft and on a puppet string. That's far from the truth. I'm as competitive as I've ever been.

    But as a believer I'm following a different set of rules. I'm playing for One instead of for 50,000 fans or even for my family. And these days I find myself experiencing a lot more patience that at times makes me wonder, "Hey, am I losing my edge?" But I know that I'm merely experiencing what I think God has for me in my life now.

    It seems that every year He brings something different into my life to make me grow in Christ—and I'm forever grateful. ©2005 Tim Luke
    Photos/Illustrations: Preston Mack/Zuma
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Great testimony from a great pitcher!

    Bobby Richardson was another great Christian player. I met him in the summer of 1979 when I was a martial arts instructor at Fort Bluff Youth Camp in TN and Bobby was the baseball coach. I was excited about meeting him, but my wife and I got there about 1:00 in the morning. The girl gave us our room key and said ours was the last door of the motel style rooms on the side of the gym. We put the key in and sure enough it fit, so I walked right in. A big voice said, "WHO'S THERE??" Embarassed all to pieces, I said, "Excuse me," after which we discovered that there was another door after the door into the gym. The next morning at breakfast I stood right behind Bobby, but decided not to engage him in conversation after he said to his friend, "Some nut came in my room in the middle of the night!" [​IMG] :eek:
     
  3. Gwen

    Gwen
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    Have any of you heard that John Smoltz won Tim Hudson to the Lord last year? I heard it somewhere (can't remember the source) and haven't been able to find anything else about it. I sure hope it's true! My son's high school pitching coach was Tim Hudson's room mate in college, so I will try to find out.

    [​IMG] John of Japan, that's hilarious!!
     
  4. Dustin

    Dustin
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    Awesome, reading that was a blessing.
     
  5. Dustin

    Dustin
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    Man he's 38 years old and he still throws in the mid 90's, God's blessed that arm. [​IMG]
     
  6. Nicholas25

    Nicholas25
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    Yeah, Smoltz is awesome on and off the field. He is a great golfer and had a basketball scholarship to Michigan State before choosing baseball. If you go to bpsports.net and search for Atlanta Braves men of faith it will bring up a story about all the strong Christians on the 2005 team. Smoltz, Chris Reitsma, Blaine Boyer, Adam LaRoche, and Ryan Langerhans are all Christians. I hate Julio Franco went to the hated Mets. Franco was a devout Christian as well as good hitter and a great guy to have in the clubhouse. Keith Lockhart from a few seasons ago was also a devout Christian.
     
  7. Dustin

    Dustin
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    I never saw the Mets as any kind of competition...since Houston is the closest team to where I live, a lot of people here are Astros fans. I don't like the Astros at all. It's funny how when the Braves lose a lot of thier better players the Astros start beating them in some hard fought games. When the Braves had better quality players the Astros choked a lot like they did with the White Sox.
     

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