Devotions for hard times

We don’t have to wonder if we will have trials; we’re told to expect them. But the good news is we don’t have to face those trials alone. The God of the universe is watching out for us.

When my sister went missing in 1982, I was able to call on God and he encouraged me through his Word. May these verses do the same for you, no matter what trials you face.

Bible Verses for Hard Times

1. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)

Often we think because our trial is big to us, that it will be too big for God almighty. But God is able to handle anything we go through, and He does that for every person who calls on Him.

2. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

SEE ALSO: 4 Steps for Helping Non-Believers Going Through Hard Times

When we are in a trial, it seems like it will never end, But God is a God of all time; He knows exactly how long our trials will endure and He will give us the strength we need to get through them.

3. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Often when we’re facing a trial, because we don’t know what is in our future, we forget God knows. He transcends time. He is the God of our present and He’s in the future as well. It just makes sense that we would let Him guide us since He knows infinitely more about our lives than we do.

4. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

SEE ALSO: 38 Ways to Give Thanks in Hard Times

Often we spend countless time and all our energy trying to figure out what we should do when we have difficulties. We end up leaning on everything but God. But this verse assures us if we lean on Him, He will direct us. He will make our paths straight. What a reassurance that is. There is no path that God cannot make straight.

5. “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Trials have a way of wearing us down and before long, we don’t think we can put one weary foot in front of another. The enemy of our soul whispers that we are alone and that we will never make it. God reassures us that He is with us. God will give us the strength we need; He will help us and will uphold us. And if God upholds us, we’re going to be okay.

6. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:26-27)

SEE ALSO: 7 Benefits of Going Through Hard Times

God has not left us alone in this world. To those of us who know Jesus as Savior, He has given us his Holy Spirit. And it is His Spirit who reminds us of what God says in His Word. The peace God gives us is a peace the world cannot even understand. It’s a peace that will settle our hearts and give our minds rest.

7. “Cast your burden upon the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

God is waiting for us to take whatever troubles us and to cast that onto Him. The problem is sometimes we do that and then we let worry come in, and we snatch out problems back from God. But if we really were able to cast it on Him, then we would know He is more than able to handle whatever we are facing. God understands that doubts will sometimes creep in. Even Thomas had doubts. Still, God encourages us to trust that He will sustain us. He will help steady us no matter how shaky the world gets.

8. “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

God often speaks about the sparrows around us. He tells us that we are worth more to Him than these little birds. He says this to make a point. If the God of the universe cares about the welfare of tiny, little birds, how much more does He care about us? The ones who were made in His own image. He tells us that we should not worry, just as those birds don’t give a second thought to where they will eat. Instead they trust the Father’s hand.

9. “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

God is our rescuer. The One who will come when we call and who will take us to safety. We acknowledge that we know Him and he gives us His protection. We call on Him and He responds. And He just doesn’t watch us in trouble, He delivers us out of it. And then He honors us and blesses us with long life. God shows us He is looking out for us, and all He asks is that we call on Him.

A Prayer for Hard Times 

Lord, help us when we face trials in this life. Help us to call on You, knowing You always hear us. Help us to lean on You instead of leaning on our own understanding. Give us the strength we need, and remind us always that You are aware of what touches us. You see even one sparrow that falls and we are worth more than sparrows. Thank you Lord, for not leaving us comfortless. Thank You for Your great love. We pray this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Anne Peterson is well acquainted with trials, having lost many people in her life. She is a poet, speaker and published author of ten books. Some of which are: Her memoir, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, three children’s books: Emma’s Wish, The Crooked House, and Lulu’s Lunch. She has also authored the poetry books Droplets, and the series He Whispers. While Anne enjoys being a poet, speaker and published author, her favorite title is still ‘Grandma’ to her three grandchildren here, and one in heaven. To find out more about Anne you can visit her at:

w: www.annepeterson.com

f: www.facebook.com/annepetersonwrites

t:

g: plus.google.com/+AnnePeterson/

p:

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com 

Publication date: February 15, 2017

www.crosswalk.com

 Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. – James 1:3

If we’re honest, most of us would like to avoid tests and trials in life. No one likes going through hard times. However, this Bible verse shows us something really great about the tests of life. It tells us that those tests produce endurance in our lives.

Many times, athletes will undergo endurance training to help them become better in the sport they play. They train their bodies and their minds to withstand for long periods of time. This produces results like overall feeling better and having more energy.

In the same way, we can grow in endurance training spiritually too. Each difficulty in our life gives us another chance to trust in God and each test can help make us better. If we let them, the tests and trials in life can be a way for us to learn to trust God in new ways, and to learn and grow in endurance. So the next time you’re faced with a test in life, you can be encouraged by what this Bible verse says. Realize that even though the trials can be hard, that they’re producing character in your life and if you let them, these trials can bring you to rely more fully on God.

studentdevos.com

If you have a passion for competing and sports and a passion for your faith, they can work to strengthen each other!

Pray hard. Play hard.

26 April 2017—What do Masons and Coaches Have in Common?

            I am going to digress from a coaching story today and show my “nerdy” self and talk about a book and how it impacted my coaching and teaching…

One of my favorite books is

Sarum

by Edward Rutherford.  It chronicles the founding, settlement, and creation of the city of Salisbury, England. One of the families featured in the novel is the Mason family, whose patriarch Tom begins work on the Salisbury Cathedral.  His sons and grandsons follow his foot-steps and become master masons, stone carvers, and artists who see the completion of the massive church.  One thing I love about reading historical fiction novels is that I learn more history than I ever did in school!  While reading the novel, I searched Google to read about the cathedral itself and see present day and historical pictures.  Boasting the highest spire in England, the building took 100 years to complete (Initial construction began in 1220 and the spire was completed in 1320 with upgrades continuing into the 1930’s.  For you North Carolina history buffs, a stone from the Salisbury Cathedral is embedded in the narthex of the Catawba College chapel in Salisbury, NC.). I read a travelogue by Robert Hardman written a few years ago in which he described his climb to the top of the spire with a guide named Caroline.  As they neared the top of the spire, they came across an ornate stone carving of a fox’s head in the wall.  Robert asked why a mason would go to such trouble to carve something so articulate and time-consuming when no one from the ground would be able to see it. Caroline responded that the masons believed God would see it, and that was the point—for God to see their work, not man.

            A building that took one hundred years to finish…yet the average life span of a person in 1220 was 42 years, probably less for a mason or other construction worker due to frequent job-site accidents and the sheer physicality of his work.  Back to the novel…Tom Mason went to work 10-12 hours per day, six days per week for 2/3 of his life, starting as an apprentice in his early teens and working for the rest of his life

on a building he would never see completed

.  The masons and stone carvers knew they would never get rich nor would they ever receive any credit for their work as no stone in the cathedral is inscribed with their name, yet they continued to work day after day, year after year with the faith that out of the stone dust and out of their toil and out of their sweat something magnificent and lasting was being built.

            Coaches and teachers are so like the masons and stone carvers who worked on the Salisbury Cathedral (and all the other cathedrals throughout Europe).  We come to work every day for 8-12 hours per day , we will never get rich, nor will we keep in touch with 90% of the students who passed through our rooms/teams.  Many of us have taught/coached thousands of students/athletes in our careers, but we only ever see how a handful really turn out.  We need to come to work each day with the mindset of a mason or stone carver like those depicted in the novel who are building a cathedral—if we are diligent, and if we are sincere in our efforts, and if we pay attention to the details when we know no one else can see them, God will see, and through our efforts will build something magnificent and lasting in our students/athletes. 

They are our

cathedrals .

            So with the children in your home, the students in your classrooms, and the athletes on your team,

keep building cathedrals. 

April 19, 2017—Be a Romans 12 Teammate   Part 1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”  Romans 12: 1-3There were two football players I taught in English who couldn’t have been more different.  Nick was a quiet, gentle giant who played offensive line.  Bill was the flashy quarterback who loved being the class clown during school hours and the loud star of the field during practice and games. Nick went home to an empty public housing apartment which most nights was void of food and electricity as his mother would go off for weeks on drug binges, leaving no money for food nor to pay the utilities.  Bill went home to a comfortable, three bedroom house with heat in the winter and AC in the summer, a full family dinner every night at 6pm with his parents and his brother, and all the luxuries of TV/video games/etc.  Nick was learning disabled and had trouble reading while Bill was academically gifted, yet both were in the same English class their sophomore year.  Each took home a book bag full of English, math, and history homework; only one of them did the homework. 

At practice both would get “fussed at” by their position coaches.  Nick’s response was always the same no matter what his coach’s comments were: “OK, Coach!”  Nick had trouble remembering the plays and always seemed to be blocking the wrong person.  One afternoon his coach was yelling and barking at Nick about a missed block, and Nick gave his trademark, “OK, Coach!”  The coach exploded with, “Don’t you tell me ‘OK, Coach’ one more time!  Just get the play right, do you hear me, son?!?” Nick quietly and calmly responded, “OK, Coach,” at which time his offensive line coach threw down his visor and stomped off while the equipment manager, some other players, and I tried to stifle our laughter.  The noseguard devised a plan to help Nick get his blocking assignments correct. John was going to memorize his blocking assignments as well as Nick’s for each play.  Before they left the huddle, John would tap Nick’s hand—right or left—thus signaling which way Nick was to block.  It worked perfectly, and Nick didn’t miss a block nor did he get yelled at again!  In fact, he made All-Conference that year.  When Bill got criticized for making a mistake on the field, he also had a trademark response, “Well, I couldn’t make the play because so-and-so ran the wrong route/missed a block/etc.” Bill honestly thought he was better than every other player on the field and that all mistakes made were by his teammates.  That season Bill didn’t even make honorable mention for the All-Conference team.

During the spring semester I assigned a research project. Nick worked to the best of his abilities, often doing his homework at night by candlelight while eating the sandwich and fruit the equipment manager would slip into his backpack during practice when he was the only person in the locker room. Nick never asked for any help, for any food, nor for any extensions on his assignments. Nick knew his limits and worked to meet and exceed them. During the research unit I noticed Bill never cracked a book but instead wrote notes to his girlfriend and read up on his baseball stats in the newspaper. When I asked him about his progress he always said his work was at home or he couldn’t concentrate in the classroom, but he assured me he would have his project completed. The due date came for the papers. Nick earned a B. When I read Bill’s paper, it seemed that I had read his paper before…and I had.  He had “borrowed” an upperclassman’s paper from the previous year, re-typed it, and turned it in as his own.  For his efforts, Bill failed for the year and was assigned to summer school.  That summer as he sat in class, I walked by the room to check on some students and heard Bill talking about football.  Some of the students asked about the offensive line, and Bill started naming people.  When he mentioned Nick’s name he immediately followed it with, “And that dude is soooo dumb!” Knowing he was about to share Nick and John’s system for blocking to prove his point, I quickly interjected, “But you’ll notice he isn’t the one sitting in summer school.”  While everyone else laughed, Bill’s face turned an abashed red. I didn’t bring up why Bill was in summer school, but instead simply walked away.  Bill and I never talked about that day, but it became obvious to me that Bill soon went out of his way to get to know Nick (and saw first-hand Nick’s home situation).  Bill wanted to figure out why when the “chips were down” coaches, teachers, and teammates rallied to bolster and defend Nick while none of those groups would go out of their way for him.

The following season, Bill took a lesson from Nick…hard work and a positive attitude create a winner, not laziness and excuses.  He stopped thinking so highly of himself and worked harder to be a better person and a better athlete.  Nick was a Romans 12 teammate in the way he responded to his coaches and the way he quietly led by example of work ethic.  Let’s not forget about John…who didn’t conform to everyone’s frustration with Nick but instead devised a plan to not only help Nick, but to also help the team.

How can you help a teammate today?  How can you be a better teammate?  Be realistic about who you are and your capabilities then work to get better. Do not conform to the world.  Be about God’s business, not man’s.

Where are they now?  John is a school administrator.  Nick works for UPS and is a great father and husband.  He has broken the cycle of drugs and poverty into which he was born and raised.  Bill is a nurse manager in an emergency room. All three men through mercy and grace have become great role models, family men, and community members. (Please note:  I have changed their first names to maintain their privacy)

April 17–Giants

Our season was going great!  We were undefeated and ranked in the Charlotte Observer’s Sweet 16 poll heading into the beginning of October.  Our last non-conference game was coming up, and we were facing an undefeated 4A team from Charlotte which outnumbered our school by over 1,000 students, which had won more state championships than we could count, whose athletes were bigger and stronger, and whose band had more rhythm. Who had scheduled this game, and what was he thinking?!?  All week at practice the coaches kept telling the players not to be intimidated by the opponent and that this game was a “gut check” for the impending play-offs in a month.  We were playing at home that Friday night, and the athletes were told to let no one intimidate them on their home field.

The night was clear and the first hint of autumn could be felt when the sun went down and the temperature dropped to a crisp 55 degrees. Our opponent lived up to all the hype–they were bigger, stronger, and faster.  However, by being scrappy and running the ball a lot, we managed to enter the 4th quarter only down 13-7.  Two minutes into the 4th quarter something unusual happened–the stadium lights went out!  Suddenly it was pitch dark until a few safety lights switched on.  After an initial gasp the crowd went deafeningly silent.  The coaches from both teams called the players to their respective sidelines and used the extended time for water and coaching.  Our coaches were literally drawing a new play in the dirt.  I was taking a few minutes to ice my swollen toe (it had been stepped on in the 3rd quarter and felt like it was on fire!), and while I sat on the bench with an ice bag and the players laughing at me (it really is never a good omen when the trainer is icing an injury during a game), I looked down the field into the darkness only to notice our team statistician kneeling on the 17 yard line.  All I could make out was his shadow; was he really doing what I thought he was doing?  He was not praying as everyone thought…his bladder was no longer full when he stood up!

The break was long enough to give all the players enough energy to finish a game that seemed to be taking forever, but the clock was relentless and mocking as it ticked away the remaining seconds…and then the clear night disappeared and it started to rain with less than 3 minutes to go in the game.  With time running out and the rain making the ball slippery, somehow our defense managed to create a loose ball which our safety recovered and ran back 60 yards for a touchdown.  After the extra point skimmed through the uprights, our sideline and stands erupted while the opponents’ sat in stunned silence.  Strange events, strange weather, and story-book ending.

Anything is possible if you allow yourself to not be intimidated.  David was a young boy who was a shepherd.  His father, Jesse, sent him to serve Saul, a commander of the Israelite army, during the time that Goliath was wandering around the front lines taunting the Israelites and daring one man to fight him to end the entire war.  Two men could end the bloodshed and war of many, yet no one was willing to take on Goliath for the good of his countrymen.  David told his master Saul that fighting Goliath would be no different than when he fought bears and lions as a shepherd, killing both with his bare hands as necessary to protect his sheep.  After some convincing by David, Saul agreed to let David fight.  Saul even gave the young lad his own armor to face Goliath.  David attempted to walk around in the armor, but who could fight in a helmet and shoes that were too big and which he wasn’t used to wearing? He took off the armor, picked up his slingshot, chose 5 stones, and walked out the door into history.

Upon seeing David as his opponent, Goliath laughed and threatened to feed David to the birds. David responded with his famous quote, “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will hand you over to us” (1 Samuel 17:47).  With one stone David took down the giant, and then (the ultimate indignity) took Goliath’s own sword to behead the giant!  David wasn’t intimidated because he knew God already knew the outcome.  Strange events, strange circumstances, and story-book ending.

Giants come in different forms–a big game, opponents, nerves, bullies, tests or exams, a research paper, deadlines, etc. Don’t be intimidated by your giants!  Fight them with courage, humility, and faith.  Regardless of the outcome, walking away (victorious or defeated on the scoreboard) with grace and humility will make you a winner.  No one who gives 100% for the right battle loses in the end.  There may be strange events, strange weather, and sometimes

April 12—Win the Inning

When I first starting coaching, my team had not had a winning season in a decade.  I had to change the attitude of the players and look at “small” wins.  We were losing games by double digits, and instead of looking at a game as 7 innings, we began to look at each individual inning.  I implemented the philosophy my college coach used when we were having a characteristically difficult season—win each inning.  Instead of having one, seven inning game; we played seven, one inning games.  Although the score didn’t always end up in our favor, we slowly began to win more innings than we lost each game.  The second year of utilizing that philosophy, we won half our games, and the third year we had the first winning season in 12 years (including holding the previous season’s and that season’s eventual state champion to a 1-0 loss in extra innings).  Each new inning was a do-over; it was easy to forget mistakes of the past (while still learning from them) when the next inning was a new inning to be won. 

Are you struggling with some aspect of your life—prayer, Bible study, gossiping, saying things you ought not to say, your temper, etc.?  Christianity allows free-will and personal choice.  With that personal choice, comes the opportunity to be a great Christian one day and one who stumbles another day.  Win each day.  If you are waking up and saying to yourself, “I am not going to gossip, and I am going to take 30 minutes each day for Bible study every day this month.”  That is a monumental task if you struggle with gossiping and are in the middle of a season and have difficult classes this semester.  Win each day.  Get up in the morning and promise yourself you aren’t going to gossip that day and find some time that day for your Bible study (consider using an app on your phone for the Bible study).  Win each day.  Every day’s schedule is probably different based on practices and games; make promises to yourself for a day.  Win each day.  If you fail to win the day, do better tomorrow.  Win the next day.  It takes doing something 500 times to make it a habit.  Don’t beat yourself up if you stumble; learn from your mistakes and win the next day.

Are you struggling with some aspect of your game—hurdle strides, batting, foul shots, pitching, penalty kicks, defense, passing routes, etc?  Look at each opportunity as an individual game.  Each half is its own game; each individual batter is its own game; each offensive/defensive sequence is its own game; etc.  Change your focus from one big game to several individual challenges.  Win each inning. Win each half.  Win each batter.  Win each race.

I Peter 1:13-14   “So think clearly and exercise self-control.  Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Christ Jesus is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children.  Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires.” 

Be great today!  Win each day!

April 10, 2017—Common Players Create Uncommon Teams

The US Olympic Ice Hockey team in 1980 was seeded 7th, but they won the gold medal.  There was no NHL all-star on the team nor was there any one individual who become prolific in the NHL later in life.  In the  movie

Miracle

(chronicling the unlikely run of the hockey team during the Lake Placid, NY, games) there is a scene where Coach Herb Brooks makes the players “sprint” from end line to end line after asking players their name and team. Each player kept answering with his name and the college which he was currently attending and playing for.  Finally, after many, many sprints, the eventual team captain finally spoke and said his name and the sentence, “I play for the United States of America.”  From that moment on—according to the movie—the players begin to “gel” and become one team who works together and respects each other’s strengths.  Saying they were all finally on the same team was their turning point—personally and as a team.  Common men who managed to achieve uncommon results.

The disciples were a common group of men.  They had no special talents. Some were fisherman. They weren’t uncommonly good at it; they caught no more than the person in the boat beside them.  How many miracles had they witnessed, but still they needed to see “one more” miracle?  Their initial loyalty was questioned after Jesus’ arrest; one of them even denied he knew Jesus—3 times within 12 hours.  Yet somehow these common men changed the world.

Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus, later became the cornerstone of the church.  John survives a kettle of boiling oil, and in doing so changes the heart of the Roman Emperor.  Each was a common man who created uncommon results because of his faith.

The first baseman is a B student.  The pitcher can throw faster than 75 mph but can’t beat a runner to first when he has to cover the base.  The outfielders can’t throw to home without bouncing the ball at least one time near the plate and frequently miss their cut-off.  The third baseman has a great arm but can’t backhand a ground ball. Common people.  How do you achieve success with a  team a common people?  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

In Acts 4 Peter and John were arrested for preaching.  While they are on trial Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit and states that his power is from the Jesus who was crucified and raised from the dead.  As the council members and by-standers watch, “they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).  

Peter and John weren’t the most talented or educated public speakers, yet people could sense their passion and devotion.  They worked tirelessly, and the crowd and council members were forced to look beyond what Peter and John weren’t (educated) to see that they had been with Jesus.  You may not be bound for the all-star/all-conference team or for a professional team, but can your team-mates and the crowd see beyond what you aren’t to see what you are—a follower of Christ?  Can they tell you have been with Jesus?

When Christ is at the center of your game….and ultimately of your team, common athletes can achieve uncommon results.  Start making Him the center of your game.  Pray before the game.  Be an encourager to your team-mates, and compliment your opponents.  Let people see that you have been with Christ through your actions and your words.  When you change yourself, you can change your team.  Please understand, I am not saying that if your team has faith and prays, you will win a championship.  The disciples worked long hours, made many sacrifices, and spent their entire lives to get their results; nothing happened over the course of a season!  After being with Jesus they were changed, and Jesus created in them the desire to be uncommon. Allow Him to make to change you!

Peter and John were released and returned to their friends where they relayed all that had happened…. “…and when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered was shaken…”(Acts 4:32).  Common people achieved uncommon things because they weren’t afraid to make it known that they had been with Christ.

Don’t be afraid to show that you have been with Christ.  Be uncommon!  I challenge you this coming week to pray for each member of your team individually, even those you may not know very well or like very much. 

​April 6, 2017–Jackie Robinson and the guts NOT to fight back

Romans 12:17-21  “If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him.  Try to do what everyone thinks is right.  Do your best to live in peace with everyone.  My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger.  It is written, ‘I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,’ says the Lord. But you should do this: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. Doing this will be like pouring coals on his head.’” (NCV) 

Yesterday Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day.  It commemorates the anniversary of his MLB debut in 1947.  The man who brought Jackie Robinson into the major leagues, Branch Ricky—the GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was a man of great courage and faith.  Upon hearing of the harassment he would have to endure, Jackie asked Branch, “Are you looking for some coward who isn’t strong enough to fight back? Because that’s not me.”  Branch replied, “I am looking for someone who is strong enough NOT to fight back” (http://jackierobinson42historyday2013.weebly.com).

What is the difference between not being strong enough to fight back and being strong enough not to fight back?  Why is that particular difference important in sports today?

Jesus knew when to fight and when to walk away.  In Matthew 21:12 Jesus chased out the buyers and sellers and up-ended the tables of the money changers in the temple so it could be restored to a house of worship; He had the courage to fight.  When the Devil tempts Jesus for 40 days in the desert, he has the courage NOT to fight back. Satan offers Jesus the world (“…The devil led Jesus to the top of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor.  The devil said, ‘If you bow down and worship me, I will give you all these things.’” (Matthew 4:8-9) Jesus’ simple words, “Get away from me, Satan,” (Matthew 4:10) were enough to keep Him from giving in to the temptation of the world as promised by Satan.  How did Jesus know the difference? 

Very simply…right is right and wrong is wrong.  If you see injustice or wrong-doing, it is right to fight—usually more metaphorically than literally.  If you are being

tempted

to do something wrong, walk away.  Giving in to temptation will lead to and create injustice and wrong-doing.  When Jackie Robinson was harassed by opposing managers, players, and crowds, he had two options: fight back and be no better than those who were being verbally abusive or walk away and be a better person than those who were jeering at him.  He needed the guts NOT to become what he was walking away from.  The old adage “If you can’t beat them, join them,” isn’t applicable to Christians.  We are expected to hold firm and do what is right (“…hold fast to what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil,” I Thessalonians 5:21-22 from the New King James version. According to those verses we need to employ the adage, “Kill them with kindness” because God will take care of the rest).

 When you see a team-mate heckle another player because of his/her size, ability, color, etc…what are your choices?  One: join in.  Two: ignore it.  Three: confront it.  One is wrong.  If you don’t think so, re-read the verses from I Thessalonians and Romans.  The second option—ignore it–may work for a while, but if you don’t take a stand you will eventually be guilty by association.  Option three—confront it–is correct.  Do you have to be argumentative and disagreeable when you confront your team-mate?  No.  A quick and quiet, “Leave it alone and play the game,” will probably yield a response.  I have never seen a team heckle their way into a championship (or even a win for that matter).  Trash talk doesn’t win games; defense does. The obvious defense in the game and the mental defense of not letting yourself sink to someone else’s low level of smack talking.

It is hard to know the right time to fight for something.  Most of us want to defend our team-mates if they are physically threatened or attacked. Fight for the right things.  Take the initiative to stop trash talking and jeering before someone reacts with physical violence.  I didn’t pay a lot of attention in my college psychology class, but I do remember the concept of extinction (not the theory of extinction you hear in science class).  If you don’t acknowledge a bad behavior by your opponent, eventually s/he will get bored and will stop…according to psychologists.  If you don’t allow trash talk and heckling to bother you (again, easier typed than done)

and play the game harder , at the end of the day you will win the respect of your team-mates, the spectators, your coaches, and (possibly) your opponent. 

Make someone’s day better today because you were at school, or practice, or the game!  Be great today!

*adage—an old wise saying or proverb

​April 3, 2017—What’s in a Name?

            Alexander

the Great (Created one of the largest empires of the ancient world by the time he was 30)

Queen Elizabeth (Reigning monarch in England for the last 44 years who brought economic stability growth to her country)

Saint Mother Teresa (known for her Christian charity to the poor; Nobel Peace Prize winner)

Babe Ruth, the

Sultan of Swat (Given the nickname after hitting 54 homeruns in one season)

Air Jordan (Michael Jordan…who could fly through the air when dunking the ball)

Iron Man (Cal Ripkin, Jr.,  played in 2,632 consecutive games over 16 seasons)

The Wizard of Oz (Ozzie Smith was one of the most acrobatic and athletic shortstops in baseball)

Judas Iscariot

Names: we all have them.  Nicknames: lots of people want them.  Some nicknames are really cool—Alexander the Great, Iron Man, the Wizard of Oz, Saint…they tell us about how great the person was at something.  Alexander the Great managed to create the largest empire in the ancient world before he turned 30; he was a brilliant military strategist. Iron Man played every game for the Baltimore Orioles for 16 straight years. Unbelievable!  I remember watching Ozzie Smith dive for a ball at shortstop then jump up and fire to first to get a runner out.  He started each game with a front flip as he ran onto the field. Amazing!

When I was a freshman in college playing softball I tried to score from second on a base hit and dove into home…at which time my kneecap landed on the bat left in the box by the hitter.  The game was close, and I didn’t want to be taken out.  I kept playing…and my knee kept swelling until finally by the 7th inning I couldn’t bend it anymore.  After hitting the ball in the bottom of the 7th, I hobbled to first where I finally acquiesced and left the game to ice my knee. I was soon sent to the ER for an x-ray which was inconclusive due to the significant swelling.  My team-mates began calling my Peg-Leg…the name stuck for two years. They would say “Argh…” just like pirates whenever I was up to bat.  Three years later when I was working as an athletic trainer at my first high school job in the early 1990’s, I worked with the head of the hospital’s residency director.  He was not athletic at all (and, in fact, was not even really in shape—he was 5’5 and 200ish lbs), but was a great friend to the athletic trainers and loved working the games with us.  During one game he was telling me about his high school career and how he longed for a nickname so he could be one of the “cool athletes” to which he aspired. Unfortunately, he never got a nickname… until….a few months after he told me this story he came to a game and was jubilant—he had finally received the long-awaited nickname. While this particular doctor spoke no Spanish (not one word!) he did have a heart for the immigrants living in our area, so he started a traveling free clinic for the Hispanic neighborhood in town.  That afternoon he had made his third visit with the clinic to the neighborhood and was so excited because when he got out of the clinic bus several of the of the patients started calling him, “Gordy! Gordy!” as they walked toward the bus smiling and genuinely happy to see him.  I couldn’t hide the look on my face when he told me this story as my four semesters of Spanish paid off in that one story: “Fatty! Fatty!” was his nickname.

The disciples were also given names: John, the disciple whom Jesus loved; Peter, the cornerstone of the church; and Judas Iscariot, “…who also became a traitor.” Luke 6:16.  The very first time Judas is mentioned in the Gospels he is labeled a traitor. He made a name for himself.  In the last 24 years as a teacher/coach, I have never taught a student or athlete named Judas.  Why?  What it is synonymous for?  …a traitor is a character flaw.  We refer to people who “stab us in the back” as a Judas.  Does the name you have made for yourself reflect your character?  How are you known by your coaches, teachers, team-mates, and opponents (Coaches, how are you known by your athletes, colleagues, and opponents?)?  Is it reflective of your character? Loyal. Respectful.  Mannerly.  Positive. Reliable.  Joyful. Truthful.  Generous.  Spiritual.  Punctual.  Charismatic.  Committed.  Accountable.  Courageous.  Hard-working.  Responsible.  Strong.  Sincere.  Gentle. Honorable.  Faithful.  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23.

Start making a name for yourself today!

www.athletedevotions.com

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