Devotions

Teenage Eye-roll

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) 

Throughout my teenage years, I would often arrive home from school and tell my mom about my day. Keep in mind, I was #7 out of 8 children and I imagine most times my stories were likely a repeat of what my older siblings experienced. So often when I had a bad day my mom would listen, although she had heard it before, and at the end of our conversation she would say, (almost melodically) “Only through suffering can we grow in spirit.”  

- Cue the teenage eye roll.  

This is not what I wanted to hear. Maybe, I was hoping for a little empathy or even some commiseration? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I was not fired up (comforted?) about hearing my “suffering” would grow my spirit.  

As a Christian and an adult, I now understand that the suffering and/or hardships we face in life will grow us - if only we can find a way to embrace the challenges. Paul writes to the Romans that we are to rejoice in our suffering because God can work in and through us despite our challenges.  

Are you facing challenges? 

Are you wishing you were not? 

If someone said to you what my mom said to me, “Only through suffering will you grow in spirit,” would you want to roll your eyes and exit the conversation? 

I get it - but friends, we are called to encourage and support one another in our sufferings, so that our character is strengthened and produces hope! Please, reach out to us if you are in need of prayer, or if you are in need of hope. Take heart and meditate on Paul’s words as we walk together in faith.  

Amen. 

Posted by Betsy Butler
Tags: devotion

Why I Love Baseball

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136 

I love sports, but by far my favorite has always been baseball. I played baseball as a child and teenager, played softball in the church leagues, and I have enjoyed watching it my whole life. I had the honor to coach little league when my sons were involved. Yes, I am an Atlanta Braves fan, but I admit to cheering for many different teams.  

I love the sounds at the ballpark: the crack of the bat, the chatter of the players, and the roar of the crowd. I like game food: hot dogs, peanuts, and Cracker Jack. I like catching foul balls in the stands. I have studied the game, trying to learn the intricacies and details that help me to appreciate the truly great players, and I am fascinated with all of it. 

In a recent baseball conversation with Chuck Hodges, I commented that I believe it is the most theological of all sports. After some debate, this is how I explained my reasoning. First, baseball is like the Trinity, because so much of baseball is based on the number three: 3 strikes, 3 outs, and 3 bases. 

Second, baseball is the only major team sport with a play called the “sacrifice.” There is the sacrifice bunt, the sacrifice fly, and the sacrifice ground out to move the runner ahead. Certainly, the idea and practice of sacrifice is central to our Christian faith. And in this most holy season of Lent, we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.  

Finally, the most profound theological aspect of baseball is that the ultimate goal of the game is to go “home.” Football, basketball, hockey, and soccer all have two goals, and teams vie to go from one end to the other, back and forth. In baseball, all players on both teams are just trying to make it to home. As in our Christian understanding, we all look forward to the day we reach that ultimate destination, our heavenly home. 

…and that’s why I love baseball. 

Posted by Bob Winstead
Tags: devotion

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