Is Albert Pujols being punished?

Proverbs 1:19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. (NLT)

There is a very intriguing sports story that is going on right now and it strikes close to my heart.

If you know me at all, you are aware of my affinity for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club. Having been born and raised in St. Louis, I have spent my life watching and cheering for them. While I do not consider myself a fanatic and my life does not rise and fall with their record, I do have a sizable collection of autographed memorabilia.  And you’d better believe I was happy last October when they won the World Series for the eleventh time.

The hot story in baseball right now surrounds Albert Pujols. He spent eleven glorious years playing in St. Louis, the greatest baseball town in the country. Albert put up certain Hall of Fame numbers and was arguably one of the greatest players of all time. The city idolized him – probably to a fault.

Then contract time came around. Albert refused the offers that the Cardinals gave to him. Their offer was in the 200 million dollar arena. Albert “needed” more.  He departed St. Louis for the Anaheim Angels and received about 240 million! He walked away from a fiercely loyal fan base. Seriously, unless you have personally experienced baseball at Busch Stadium, you can’t imagine the atmosphere. It is way deeper than sports. For Cardinals fans, it is a way of life.

Albert rejected the city that had been faithful to him and had supported him. He sold out for more money. I truly believe that had Albert stayed with the Birds, he would have gone down in history as the favorite player of all time. This is saying a lot considering guys like Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith and Rogers Hornsby played there.

Albert is slumping, badly. 7 weeks into the season, Albert has no home runs, 4 RBI (no RBI in 2 weeks) and is sporting a .217 average. This is a lifetime .300 hitter, 30 HRs and 100 RBI, no doubt.

Many St. Louis fans are very happy with his demise. They want him to fail. They are laughing at him. I think that is vindictive. True, Albert was “all talk” regarding his love for the city and his desire to remain there his entire career. And he wasn’t honest in his dealing with the public. But it does no one any good to be mean about it. I wish I were above all feelings of “that’s what you get”. I’ll have to work on that.

Albert is a man of faith. I have heard his testimony and it sounds legit. But people of faith have a higher standard to which they are held. The standard is the Scripture. Loyalty, humility and and generosity are among the major themes.

I wonder about greed. I had a personal discussion with another professional athlete on the topic who was very defensive of Albert. “He’s the best ever, he deserves it” was his position. I disagree. I do agree that he HAS been among the best but he does not, nor does ANYONE deserve over 200 million dollars to play ball. My assessment, for what it is worth is: Albert is greedy.

Is Albert being punished because he is greedy? I have no way of knowing that. If so, maybe he can patch things up and give away 239 million and have plenty left on which to live. Possibly he can apologize to the people of St. Louis. If not, maybe he will just play his way through this slump.

Either way, his lack of performance does not change my life one way or another. But just maybe I can take notes on what happens to a person who is greedy for money.

When yet another reported asked him today about his homerless streak, his response was, “I don’t think about that, man.” Albert – it’s time to think about it.

Anyone want to purchase an authentic Albert Pujols autographed baseball?

you’d better guard your heart

I love the wisdom of The Proverbs. Tonight in our Community Group, we are reading and discussing Proverbs chapter 4. My favorite verse in this chapter is 23: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (NLT) It speaks of the priority of heart-health, and I don’t mean taking care of your ticker.

The reason we need to guard our heart is, it gets hurt. It gets bruised. It gets crushed. Normal wear and tear on your spirit can wear you down and your heart can really ache.

How do we get our hearts hurt?

People disappoint us. We get lied to. Someone proves themselves disloyal. We fail. Sometimes, you just get tired. Life is full of disappointments and let-downs. You get passed over for the promotion. A relationship ends. Someone you love dies. These are the painful realities of life. No one can completely avoid it – hearts are fragile and they break.

So it is vitally important for you to protect your heart. Don’t just offer it up for anyone to take pot shots at. Guard it.

Guard it by watching the right stuff and reading healthy things and listening to stuff that will build you up. And maybe most important: be sure that you have someone who is looking out for your heart. Someone who loves you and will do anything to protect you. Guard your heart.

Don’t try to be a hero and survive if your spirit is crushed – you are strong but you’re not that strong.   If your heart is broken and you allow it to go untreated, it will turn to stone. Self-preservation will take over and you will not allow others close enough to hurt you again.  Once our hearts turn hard, the pain only intensifies. You were not created to live with a crushed heart.

When (not if) your heart gets crushed, remember that God is close to those who have a broken heart (Psalms 34:18) and He wants to heal you (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18). He wants to remove your heart of stone and replace it with a new tender heart (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26).  He wants to love you back into wholeness.

Guard your heart…why? Proverbs tells us …”For it determines the course of life“.

Your future well-being is on the line. And God has some wonderful plans for you! Be sure that you are ready for it! Guard your heart!