Category  |  competition

The Soul’s Poison

I recently witnessed an encounter where someone entirely dismissed and degraded another person. “Leave now,” the instigator said, “you’re not wanted here.” I took great offense for the person who received such cruel treatment. But I also felt profound sadness for the individual who spewed such mean-spirited words. I know how to help one who’s been rejected, but it’s far more difficult to know how to help one whose soul has been poisoned by contempt for another.

Far Greater Love

During a major sports competition, a male sprinter jumped the gun, resulting in a false start and immediate disqualification from the event. His responses included tearing off his sprinter’s bib, writhing on the ground, and weeping in a curled-up position at the side of the track. A female sprinter was running well in her event when she slipped coming over a hurdle on a rain-slicked track and fell to the ground. Her race for all intents and purposes was over, but she got up and finished it with a look of calm determination on her face.

A Home for All

During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, one of the brightest stories was the International Olympic Committee’s decision to field the first-ever team of Refugee Olympic Athletes, a team of athletes who have no country. Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, explained the decision: “Having no national team to belong to, having no flag to march behind, having no national anthem to be played, these refugee athletes will be welcomed to the Olympic Games with the Olympic flag and with the Olympic Anthem. They will have a home together with all the other 11,000 athletes.” Ten Olympians comprised the squad—refugees from South Sudan, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria.

Burning Your Instrument

As I watched a talent show on TV, I was greatly impressed by a gifted musical group. Collectively, the musicians played more than 15 different instruments. Videos of their spirited blend of Irish-influenced music and dance consistently go viral. The 12 siblings who comprise the uber-talented Willis Clan have appeared on other television programs, and they even have their own successful reality TV show.

Conquering Criticism

During the closing seconds of an American football game, the referee had to make a very difficult, game-deciding call. His decision resulted in one team winning and the other facing the bitter sting of a loss. Furious fans from the losing team ridiculed and threatened the ref for days and weeks. In time he experienced panic attacks and even considered suicide. Doctors diagnosed his condition as post-traumatic stress disorder.

July 14, 2014

World Cup elicited great passion and emotion from fans around the world. How can we use the draw of sports to point others to Jesus?

the question

Here’s something you will never read in an obituary: “Susan Abernathy is survived by Harold, her husband of 47 years, three children, and six grandchildren. Susan was treasurer of the West Kalloon Realtor’s Association, director of numerous Vacation Bible Schools, and finished the human race in 823rd place.

quitting time

Sorting through some old papers, I found a yellowed pay-stub that showed I had worked 100 hours in the span of 7 days. It’s crazy—I know, since there are only 168 hours in a week. As I fingered the faded document, I tried to recall the project that had required so much of my time many years ago. I looked…


John Isner and Nicolas Mahut made tennis history in 2010 when neither man could defeat the other. Their first-round match at Wimbledon was suspended because of darkness—twice. Finally, on the third day, after playing more than 11 hours, Isner hit two brilliant shots to break Mahut’s serve and win the longest tennis match ever played. The two players embraced at…

when the world falls apart

We are obsessed with success. An entire industry revolves around Guinness World Records, cataloging stuff like the longest beard, the fastest 40-meter wheelbarrow race, and the most T-shirts worn at once. We have meticulous lists of all the record holders, but nobody remembers the losers.

Unfortunately, this fascination with all things triumphant has corroded our spiritual pursuits. We can begin to…

run the race

One of my favorite television programs is The Amazing Race. This reality show takes up to a dozen couples (people in pre-existing relationships) and places them in a foreign country where they race—via trains, buses, cabs, bikes, and feet—from one point to the next, gaining instructions for the next challenge. The goal is to get to the designated finishing point…

more than a medal

The apostle Paul appealed to the Christians in Corinth by comparing their lives to the races of the Isthmian games. As the runners conditioned their bodies to win a perishable wreath, so the Corinthians should strive to win a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25). When I first read this verse, I thought that Paul was being naïve.…

fighting the good fight

Jacqueline’s eyes flash fury and fire. She’s the embodiment of the hot-tempered, angry, fight starter described in Proverbs 15:18, 29:22. It’s not surprising then that rather than pleading with her landlord for more time to pay her delinquent rent, she beat him up and gave him two broken ribs.

The landlord was not the first person to suffer Jacqueline’s wrath.…

February 23, 2010

The Vancouver Olympic Games have featured premier athletes competing for the coveted gold, silver, and bronze medals. What's your take on competition—is it a good thing? Should Christians compete? Why?