Out of the Heart

She was looking forward to spending time with her mom.  But then again, she wasn’t.  She said her mom gets mean when she is anxious or afraid.  Her mom cloaks the mean words with sarcasm and humor.  She pretends she’s joking.  As if she doesn’t mean the words she’s saying.  But she does.

And my coworker has been on the receiving end of her mother’s harmful words more times than she cares to remember.  She wants to avoid another one of those situations.  She loves her mom, but she doesn’t appreciate being the target of overly harsh words.

She said she had talked to her mom about it.  My coworker, the unbeliever, the one who never reads a Bible, said that her mom’s problem stemmed from her heart. Because, she said, you say what is in your heart.  And it’s true.  She is so right. 

But, I wonder, how did she know that to be true?  How did she learn it if she hasn’t read the Bible?  I don’t know. 


For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. Matthew 12:34


Then I think about my words.  My thoughts.  What is in my heart that I have tried to hide?  Oh.  It’s become a little clearer to me this week. I’ve been reading John Bevere’s book, “Honor Rewards”.  Every chapter has convicted me.  Not only the words that come out of my mouth need to honor others, but my thoughts do, as well.  Oh.  I know that.  But sometimes.  Sometimes, I can’t get past my thoughts turning vindictive. I realize those thoughts, or even words, are more harmful to me. They’re harming my soul’s eternity.

I know that God knows my every thought.  He knows my heart.  He knows if I really mean those mean words I say.  He knows the unkind thoughts I think.  I realize I have much work to do to clean up my heart.

I read that when we honor others, God will reward us.  I found that to be true this week.  One day at lunch, I read one of the chapters in the book.  I felt convicted about my thoughts of the people in authority over me.  I confessed my sin.  As I walked back into work, my step had a little spring in it.  I felt that my load had been lightened.  I had been unaware of how much my thoughts about others was affecting my mood.

I had been frustrated about a work situation, and I would have these imaginary conversations about it. Doesn’t everyone?  Sometimes in these imaginings, I would confront the person.  Other times, I would talk about them to others.  In my conviction, I realized that I should change my attitude and let things work out by themselves. I’m trusting God to let me know when or if the time is right for a face-to-face conversation.

Later that afternoon, I was sitting at my desk when my manager approached me.  He asked me to do the thing I had been stewing about.  The thing I had been hoping he would ask me to do. He asked. Wow.  What a little repentance will do for a person.  It will open your heart and allow God to give the blessings he has been withholding. 

I’ve learned. Obedience is always the key to heavenly rewards. My reward that day was nothing to write home about. But it sure did open my eyes to what I could be missing out on if I am not faithfully guarding my thoughts and words. God will reward an obedient heart.

Cravings

I once craved sweets and chocolate. Carbs were my go to meal. Unhealthy carbs that seemed healthy. Pizza. Pasta. Donuts. Croissants. Bagels. Bread. Whatever carb I found, I was in. I was always looking for the biggest piece of dessert I could find. Cookies. Cake. Brownies. You name it. I ate it.

I’ve since cleaned up my diet. In the past ten years, I’ve given up most of the foods I formerly craved. Oh. I couldn’t give them up all at the same time. They were discarded one by one. In slow increments. Over time, I have been able to overhaul my diet to a healthy one. And I find I don’t miss those foods I once craved. They no longer appeal to me. I can’t remember the last time I ate pasta or sourdough bread. Call me crazy, but I don’t miss those foods anymore.

I’ve learned that tastes can change. You have to put in the effort to make the change. It won’t be easy. It won’t be perfect. But change can happen if given a chance. Change for the better is always best.

I replaced these old loves with new satisfying foods. Healthy foods. Apples. Dates. Potatoes. Brussels sprouts. Smoothies. Taste buds can change. The desire to change must be stronger than the love of the old craving.

I find that as my cravings have moved from processed sugars to natural ones, I enjoy fruit at a different level.  It is true that fruit can sometimes taste like candy.  It sounds strange, but it is true.  Oh.  There are times that I intentionally eat chocolate.  Or a brownie.  Cheesecake.  Pizza.  I still enjoy those foods.  But I don’t dwell on them.  I no longer crave them. I can recall the flavors of the foods of my past, but I no longer use them to fill my hunger.


Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17


A craving for physical pleasure. Do I use food as a replacement for the deep spiritual longing that is within me? Has physical activity taken priority over prayer and Bible reading?

A craving for everything we see. Do I really need that new pair of shoes? Or another pair of jeans? What about the organizational items that I never get around to using? Will I ever use that new immersion blender I just bought? Will these things fill the cravings that I have for more, more more?

Pride in our achievements and possessions. Do I place my dreams and plans and goals ahead of God’s will for me? Does that award really hold more value that peace of mind and contentment? Do I treat others nice so it will make me look good?

I find that as my craving for a closer walk with God matures, my desires are centered on more holy actions.  Honest words.  Intentional acts of kindness.  Thoughtful gestures.  I no longer have the desire to prove my abilities.  I want the mind of Christ to be seen and heard through me.  Oh.  I’m not perfect.  I fall short of my goal many times.  But as my desire for heaven deepens, my desire to please the One who made me grows stronger.  No.  I’m not a holy roller.  I’m one who has developed a deep craving for God Almighty.  I’ve discovered a desire to be more like him.  I want a close, personal relationship with him.  I want to recognize sin when it looks me in the face.  I don’t want to be influenced by sin disguised as goodness. 

I recently read that God made us to crave, so that we would always desire more of him. So, these days, what are you craving?

Fragile Clay Jars

It’s been two years to the day since I felt the sting of rejection.  I was told I was no longer needed for the job.  I was no longer wanted.  The job was no longer mine. In other words, I got the boot.

Oh. I don’t remember the date so I can commemorate the embarrassment of losing my job.  I remember the date for what I gained. For sometimes when you lose, you gain so much more than you ever thought you owned.

Sure. I eventually gained a new job.  New self-confidence.  A deeper trust in God.  For what a better way to learn total dependence on God than to lose a big ticket item you depended on daily.

2 Corinthians 4:7 tells me that I am a fragile clay jar.  And yes, I am.  I’ve learned these past two years that a personal rejection can make or break that fragile clay jar.  It depends on how I have filled the jar. Oh yes.  It’s fragile.  The jar can break.  It sure has cracks in it.  They’re obvious if you come too close. These cracks are caused by greed and anger. Envy. Pride. Fear. Jealousy. And many other uncomfortable undoings.

Oh.  I’ve tried to patch these cracks.  Time and again.  Repeatedly over the years, I’ve worked feverishly on some slow growing crack that just never mends.  The problem is that I tend to try to make all the repairs by myself.  But I’ve discovered a holy patchwork that is flawless.  Oh.  The scars are still in sight, but they can be filled with a righteous covering.  In the midst of my patches and flaws, this patchmaker comes in and has begun filling this fragile clay jar with just the right amount of holiness.  He makes the repairs when the clay softens enough to accept change. 

In the spots where the clay has become so hardened, he gently applies love and forgiveness to soften the spot.  He does that so he can remold this old vessel into one that looks more like him.  Oh.  He doesn’t remove the scars, but he fills them with his signature blend of mercy, grace, love and forgiveness. The blend is actually personalized for each clay pot.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not the clay jar that’s the prize.  It’s the contents that really matter. 


We are like fragile clay jars that contain a treasure.  Our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7


Pressed but not crushed. Perplexed but not in despair. Hunted but not abandoned. Knocked down but not destroyed. 

We are pressed by troubles, but the hope within us keeps the weight of those troubles from crushing the life out of us. Our God is strong when we are weak.

 We are perplexed by loss and momentary troubles, but desperation is not our friend. God provides for our every need with precision in his timing.

We are hunted by the enemy himself,  but God does not abandon us when we are at our weakest. He fights for us. He is the host of heavens armies. 

We will be knocked down. Many times. But we will not be destroyed when we have the light of heaven shining in our hearts. We are not alone in this battle. This fragile clay jar has withstood fiery heat to get to this point of strength. 

Our great power is from God and God alone. It is not of ourselves. Never be fooled into thinking you are strong enough on your own to handle what life throws at you. You are a fragile clay jar. The filler is the key to strength and endurance.

The Raging Battle

A battle has been raging for years. Eons it seems. The human mind doesn’t really know how long. There may not be an accurate record of when it all started. It is the battle of the ages.

There are two warriors. In one corner stands the Lover of your soul. In the other corner crouches the Enemy of your soul. One is the Holy Spirit. The other is an evil spirit. They are polar opposites. The only thing they have in common is that they want your soul. But their plan of attack is nothing alike.

The evil spirit was once a high ranking angel. He decided he wanted to be equal with God. He convinced many other angels to join in his rebellion. He lost. Big time. And he’s been laying out his battleground ever since. Satan is not giving up. He’s all out for blood and souls.

It is a battle of right against wrong. Good against evil. Truth against lies. Love against hate. Light against darkness. Selflessness against selfishness. Life against death. Creator against destroyer. It is a fight for morality in a world filled with immorality.

The enemy aims his fiery arrows at the soul of his target. Some might think having a fiery arrow aimed at them is straight out of an action-packed superhero movie. But be warned. These arrows are aimed to kill the very soul of anyone in its path. The enemy will find your weaknesses and aim point blank at them. 

It will take super powers to resist his advances. A soul can’t resist on its own. The soul needs help. And there is a warrior just fit for the battle.

So, why do so many resist?

Oh yes. A superhero is in the fight. He has powers that can’t be matched. No. He doesn’t wear a cape. But he does bear scars on his hands and his feet. He has scars on his brow that was pierced by thorns. He has a long scar down his side. Oh. He has battle scars all right. 

The lover fights for your soul, as well. He fights with truth. Justice. Love. Patience.  Forgiveness. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. He gives hope to the hopeless and a path for the lost.


How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15


The battle has been taken to the streets. To the hearts and souls of humanity. It’s not just between a fallen angel and God Almighty. Oh. They’re at the heart of it. But they each are fighting for your heart. For your soul. For your eternity. They each have a plan of attack. One is based in love and forgiveness. The other in hate and greed.

The enemy is an expert at masquerading around as something he is not. He is eternity’s worst liar. Oh. His lies are good. They fool many a soul. But in the end, they’re lies. He stands against good. He distorts the truth. He creates diversions. He plants discouragement. Discontentment. Doubt. He is looking to devour anyone in his path.

The lover of your soul offers strength and power that is unmatched. The level of his strength and power are absolutely necessary to fight the enemy’s advances. Because the enemy will stop at nothing to take you down to hell with him.

One is the underdog, but he fights a mean fight. He holds nothing back. He goes for the jugular, and he means business. He will not give up on you. He wants your soul, and he will stop at nothing to get it.

One is the victor. He fights a just fight. He makes the rough places smooth. He will go before you as the way maker and stand behind you as your rear guard. He will surround you with his presence. You will never be left behind if he is fighting for you. He loves you.

Here’s the catch. You choose who wins your soul. It’s all your choice. But in the end, the Lover of your soul will win over the enemy. Even if you don’t choose the Lover, he will still beat Satan in the final battle. But your eternity will have already been decided. It will be too late for you to change your mind.

Choose you this day whom you will serve, for the time in this battle is short.

This Man

This man. He is the love of my life. We shared the vows. For better. For worse. For richer. For poorer. In sickness and in health. Till death us do part. We signed the pledge. We are one.

This man. He is a man of strength. He is a man of his word. He is kind. He is faithful. He is honorable. He is a problem solver.

This man. He has the gift of helps. He enjoys serving others. Helping them to find the work that is right for them. He is a mentor to young men at his work place. He counsels them. He encourages them. He corrects them. He guides them to thinking about others more than self. He stands up for those who have been wronged and counsels those who are guilty.

This man. He is a type-A personality. He was a workaholic in his younger years. He spent more time at work than anywhere else. He knows the value of hard work. Now he has learned the value of slowing down. Of taking time for himself. Taking it easy is now a gentle reminder of a hard day’s work.

This man. I recall the years when he was his mother’s caregiver. Each week, he would buy and deliver her groceries. He would spend time with her. Take her to appointments. Pay her bills. Sit and listen to her. He honored his mother and took care of her earthly needs until her dying day.


This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12


This man. He seemed to enjoy the spotlight when he was young. He enjoyed being the center of attention. But as he grew more comfortable with himself and his lot in life, his true personality shone forth. He is an introvert. He enjoys time alone. He enjoys quiet hobbies. He looks forward to being in the comfort of his home, yet he always welcomes newcomers with a smile and a handshake. He’s comfortable in his own skin.

This man. He gives good advice. He owns godly wisdom like it’s no one’s business. He speaks words of truth and depth, when at times it isn’t popular. He offers advice from his years of working with a range of personalities. He’s spent years working for taskmasters and also for those who treated him as an equal. He makes others feel welcome and wanted.

This man. At his core, he is a musician. He makes music as if it’s a simple task. His talent reaches to the heart of the listener. He plays his instruments with a gentle touch, yet the sound is powerful enough to move one to tears.

This man. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He knows the whip of rejection, yet he has experienced the brush of exoneration. He fights for the underdog. He stands for truth and honor.

This man. My husband. The one I choose to call my own. He’s worth more than a thousand men and stands tall among his peers. Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.

Mind over Matter

I received the news. More work is coming your way. Internally I didn’t take the news well. But on the outside, I tried to show willingness for the extra tasks at hand. I was annoyed. I was frustrated. I had finally jumped one of the last hurdles of a busy fourth quarter. I was ready for a slow February. So I didn’t take the news well. But it was news I was expecting. Just not all in one fell swoop.

The words that I kept hearing in my mind were a rebuke.  They were words telling me that my attitude was wrong. They were saying I should know better than to be so upset about something so small. They said you’re bigger than this. Don’t let this annoyance bring you down.

What is in the heart, the mouth speaks.  Matthew 12:34

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

 So I knew I must be silent, because the meditations of my heart were not pleasing to God. I knew that. And I knew I must not voice them. I knew I needed to dig deep to find out why I was so annoyed. What was the real issue anyway?


We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4


Someone else had assigned a task. I did the work. But then they redid the whole thing. The final piece didn’t have one ounce of my efforts in it. I didn’t want to be offended, but I kind of was. Why? What did it matter? Did they think my work wasn’t good enough? Maybe. Did they want to take the project in a different direction? Obviously. So why wasn’t I ok with that? I knew I needed to be. I knew I couldn’t let a bad attitude creep in. I knew that I needed to be able to applaud them for a job well done, if it ever came to that. And I needed to mean it. Not force the compliment.

So I set out to pray. For myself. For my stinking attitude. I’m only human. But I want to be godly. I want to be an example of how to handle a disappointing situation. Did I pass the test? Only time will tell.

Someone else insulted me to my face. She didn’t realize what she was saying. But I sure did. I chalked up her words to youth and ignorance. For one day, she will stand in my shoes. And when the tables are turned on her, we’ll see how she responds. Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut that day.

If I want to be like Christ, then I need to be like Christ at that moment when it counts. Not tomorrow or next month. But right now. Right when the truth smacks me right in the face. Right when I have the opportunity to prove to myself that God is enough in all the trials of life.

I’ve learned that in those moments of  frustration, disappointment, insult or direct honesty, I do have a choice. I can choose to be like Christ or not.  Easy or not. I need to take a step back. Listen to what’s being said. Appreciate the fact that I have work to do. Be willing to take criticism. I can be a godly example. It is a choice.

Stand Lest You Fall

Peter and John had healed a man in front of the temple.  As they spoke to a crowd of people who had gathered, they were confronted by the temple leaders and guards about their teachings.  Peter and John were arrested and put in jail overnight.

The leaders could see the man who had been healed. I wonder if they recognized him as the lame man who had sat outside the temple for years. Had they ever given him money? Or had they ignored him as they walked past? They couldn’t deny that this was the same man. And here he was made whole. He was standing and walking around. He was praising God. They couldn’t deny that a miracle had happened. And they were furious.

The next morning, the council of all the rulers, elders and teachers of religious law met to discuss what to do with Peter and John.  The high priest and some of his relatives were involved in the meeting.  These were important people.  Or so they thought. 

I can only imagine the conversations of these high and mighty men the night before as they plotted their strategy to take down these two disciples.  They were furious that Peter and John were teaching that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead.  But did they know that 5,000 people believed the story?  Did they know that the news of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection was spreading like wildfire?  What were they really afraid of here?

By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?

When confronted about their teachings, Peter and John didn’t hold back.   They were commanded to stop preaching about Jesus, the one who had been killed for claiming to be God Almighty.  Instead of cowering and backing down, they stood and boldly spoke the truth. 

The leaders tried bullying the two men, but they stood their ground.  Their faith was strong, and their commitment was unwavering.  They were fearless.


The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. Psalms 29:11


I wonder.  If I was confronted about speaking the truth of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection to a group of people, what would I do?  Would I cower?  Would I change my story?  Would I cover up the truth?  Would I give in and walk away?  Would I stand up for my beliefs in the midst of possible persecution? Would I boldly speak the truth?  What would I do?

These two men were just ordinary men.  They had no special training in the Scriptures.  What they did have was an intimate knowledge and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  They knew this Jesus.  They had walked with him.  They had talked with him.  They had eaten with him.  They had served the crowds miraculous food when there was no food.  They had seen Jesus at his best and at his worst.  They witnessed his arrest. Peter witnessed his trial, trying to blend in with the crowd. There was that time that he wasn’t willing to boldly stand for Jesus. There was a time right before Jesus was nailed to the cross that Peter had denied knowing him.  Not once, but three times.  All in the matter of a few short hours.  But he repented of his ways and became an outspoken teacher of Scriptural truths. 

So when he was asked to never speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again, what do you think he said?  Of course, he boldly took a stand for truth. His life had been changed. He was a forgiven man. He would not be quiet about his faith and trust in God.

Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? –Peter

Would I be so bold?  Would I be willing to risk my life in order to stand for Jesus? 

Peter and John didn’t know that they would later pay the price for continuing to share the Gospel.  Peter was crucified upside down.  John was sent to live in exile on an island, because he preached about God. While he was alone, he wrote one of the most profound books of the Bible. You can’t tell me that even in the midst of persecution, God isn’t present. You can’t tell me that God isn’t with us in our suffering. God is with us even in the most difficult, trying times of life.

What would I be willing to give up in order that others might hear the truth?  Would I be willing to risk everything so that others could enjoy eternal life?  Would I be willing to stand when falling to peer pressure would be an easier path to follow? Am I willing to stand?

Not Knowing

It’s easy to deny the truth. Especially when it’s painful. Especially when it’s right and I’m wrong. I want to run in the opposite direction. Away from the truth, so maybe then I won’t have to face it. The truth isn’t real if I don’t acknowledge it. Right? But what if I really don’t know the truth? What if the truth hasn’t been shared with me? What happens then?

She doesn’t believe in eternity. She says she thinks about what happens after death. But she doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Her husband is frightened to even think of it. They don’t know the truth about eternity. They’re living a life against God’s truth. And they don’t know it. Are they living a lie?

He says he’s a good person. He believes that being good is good enough. He doesn’t seem to think he needs God in his life, so he’s living life on his own terms. And he thinks that’s enough. Does he know that being good can send him to hell, because being good alone isn’t good enough for heaven. Only God knows his heart.

She says you love who you love. It doesn’t matter who. You just want to find someone to love. Someone who will love you. It doesn’t matter if a man loves another man. Or if a woman loves another woman. That’s what she says. I wonder if she know what God’s word says about that kind of love. If she does, she’s denying the truth.

How many people are there left in the world who can actually say they don’t know they are sinning against God?  How many?  Do they deny the truth?  Or have they never been told?

Do we acknowledge the truth even if it hurts? Do we follow the truth even if it isn’t popular or politically correct? Do we stand up for truth even though we may be persecuted? Can we honestly say we don’t know the truth?


Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34


When Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers were just doing their job. Oh. It’s easy to say that. Were they just doing what they were told? Or were they willing participants in his arrest and torture? I wonder if some of them followed him from a distance. I wonder if some believed his story. I wonder if they knew what they were getting themselves in for on that fateful night. Did they know they were taking down God Almighty? Would they have dared to arrest him had they known?

How could they not know what they were doing as they found him guilty of a crime he didn’t commit? Who is the guilty party here, anyway? They may have known the truth. They may not have. But those guards didn’t know they were part of God’s ultimate plan. They didn’t know what they didn’t know.

As Jesus hung on that cross, he asked his Father to forgive those who had tortured and crucified him. He begged for mercy for those who lied and found him guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Instead of asking for punishment to fall on his accusers and abusers, he asked for God to rain down his mercy on their souls.

Heavenly Father, I pray that those who don’t know the truth or choose not to believe it will come to an understanding of the truth. Open their wills to seek and to know you. Penetrate their hearts with your love. Open their ears to hear the message of salvation. I ask that you will have mercy on their ignorance. They don’t know that you came to forgive them. To save them from their sins. I pray that the truth will set them free. Father, have mercy.

Friends, I realize that what you did to Jesus was done in ignorance. Acts 3:17

Rough Week

It was a rough week at work. One coworker just can’t quite get her act together. The job petrifies her. And it shows.  Her discomfort makes others uncomfortable. She’s slow to get her work done. She manages her time poorly. She avoids the hard stuff for as long as she can. And then she’s sweating bullets trying to get her work done accurately and on time. This week, her discomfort put someone else in a precarious position, and he snapped at her. She deserved it. Didn’t she? But she didn’t deserve the public dressing down.

Another coworker also had a tough week.  He comes in all cocky and macho. But his work habits speak of insecurity and lack of discipline. Oh. He’s quick to talk of his military combat experience. His PTSD. But his work ethic and dishonesty cause discomfort and lack of trust in his coworkers. He’s a tough one to work with. 

There’s another who struggles with insecurity. She doesn’t believe in herself enough to stand up for herself. She just doesn’t think to do that. She doesn’t even trust herself. She will point the finger of blame at someone else if she is challenged. Her lack of self belief causes others to doubt her.

I get it. It’s a tough job to do. You either get it or you don’t. And if you don’t, then where does that leave you? Not in a good place. That’s for sure.

I find myself torn down the middle. Wanting to snap at these people who are struggling. Yet at the same time, I remember when I was in their shoes. Not sure if I could cut it. Now that I know I can, I want to remember the struggle of beginners. Because it is a real thing. Struggling in a place where you’re not sure you belong can cut you to the core. I know.

But I find myself getting impatient. You can only claim the “new” card for so long. And I find myself wanting to say words to them that aren’t mine to say. I find myself caught in a place that I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be that person who snaps at others. I want to be helpful. and kind.


So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6


We all have issues that we try to keep hidden from others. Sometimes those hidden issues cause public problems. If they’re never addressed, trouble follows at every turn. It isn’t pretty.

Insecurity is a real thing. We all suffer from it. We try to hide it. We cover it up with false conceit. We over-exaggerate our words and actions. We tend to either talk too much or not at all when we’re insecure. We’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

Insecurity causes one to become defensive if they feel threatened. They may throw a friend under the bus when they’re just trying to protect themselves. Insecurity weakens your defenses to the point of not trusting yourself. 

I say go to God. Share your insecurities with him. Your doubts. Your fears. He knows them. He sees you. He hears your words and your thoughts. He loves you. He fights for you. He defends you. But in order to grow in your faith in God and in yourself, you must fight the fight. Defend yourself. Stand up for what you believe. Do your best. Don’t try to do things on your own. Depend on God for strength. He will provide.

Second Place

It was the game of a lifetime for these college players. The number two team was slotted to play the number three team. The number three team had won the national championship the previous year. No one wanted to play them in the playoffs. But here we were. We were playing them. Dumb luck.

The game started out well. It was going in our favor. We were ahead. And then we weren’t. Bad plays were called. Mistakes were made. At the very last play of the game that could have signaled our win, the other team caught the ball in the end zone. We lost.

We won’t play in the national championship game this year. Once again, we lost out in what was billed to be the game of the season.

Oh. There’s always next year. That’s what they say. Whoever they are. But after a winning season, this loss is a huge blow. A sting to the ego. A wrong that can’t be righted.


To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. Ecclesiastes 5:19


Someone else came in second place another time. I wonder if he even knew he was in the running. He didn’t ask for it. But, all of a sudden, there he was. He was in the running to replace Judas as the twelfth disciple. Judas had made some serious mistakes that cost him his life. Someone must replace him. That’s what Scripture says.

So a search was made of all those men who had faithfully followed Jesus from the start right through the end of his human ministry. They were to choose someone who was with them the entire time. Someone who was faithful. Which man would be chosen to replace a traitor? Who would want to fill those shoes? Was that an honor or a curse?

Oh. The remaining eleven prayed about who should be the replacement. And then they rolled dice. After praying, why did they gamble on the outcome? Was that a thing they always did? Was that the custom? Regardless, that’s what they did. They chose Matthias. Not Joseph Barsabbas.

I wonder how Joseph B. felt when he wasn’t chosen to replace Judas. He had been one of the seventy who were called disciples. But he somehow couldn’t break into the ranks of the top twelve. Maybe he wasn’t concerned about that. Maybe he was. We’ll never know. Did he think that he had escaped notoriety by not being chosen? Did he think he was safe from mistreatment and persecution? Did he think he would fly under the radar? Was he relieved or heartbroken?

Joseph Barsabbas. Who was this man, anyway? He may have been the brother of James. One can never know these things for sure. Legend says that he went on to become a bishop. And just as the other twelve disciples, he also died a martyr. Did he know that he would meet a death similar to all the other disciples? Death at the hands of others. At the hands of those who were against his beliefs.

First place is what seems to be the top goal. Number one or none. Why is number one always the goal? No one wants to be thought of as a loser. But losers may have something to prove. Perhaps to others. But mostly to themselves. It’s not for all to win. Sure. Disappointment can set in. And move into resentment. But losing isn’t the end of the world. It can be the start of the next best thing.

I can’t call Joseph B. a loser. After all, becoming a bishop is not for the faint of heart. He was a bishop in a very important city. Sometimes not being chosen is the best thing that can happen in someone’s life. Life and happiness shouldn’t end just because a dream is left unfulfilled. Just because hopes are dashed doesn’t mean new hopes can’t thrive.

Second place. Not being chosen. It’s just that. A closed door. Time to look for the place that’s right. That’s better. That’s the perfect fit. Find the next thing and move on. After all, whatever happens is God ordained. What is better than that?