Eleazar Revisited

2 Samuel 23:9-10

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.   NIV

The last devotion was about Eleazar and how his trust in God, along with his determination and perseverance, brought a great victory to Israel, and how spiritual grit can help bring you through incredible challenges, difficulties, and battles.  Eleazar fought so hard, he could not let go of the sword afterwards.

I want to look at that same story, but from a completely different perspective, though the details of the story do not change.  Eleazar trusted God, defied the odds, fought hard, and saw a great victory over his enemies.  But with this alternative perspective we can learn another very important lesson.

Eleazar could not let go of his sword.  The battle was over…the enemy was defeated, but his hand was still on the sword.  I think we need to learn to let go of our sword at times…to let go of our sword after a difficult season.  Look at these words of wisdom from King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.  NLT

In our spiritual lives we will face great battles, great obstacles, and great enemies.  But when we have faced those things with God’s help, fought hard, and seen a great victory come to pass, we must learn to let go of the sword.  We must learn to live in peace as well.

I think one of the ways we do that is by not living with a chip on our shoulder.  My guess is that every person who reads this has been hurt, harmed, or betrayed by someone during the course of their life.  And (hypothetically) maybe you had to fight to clear your name and was ultimately vindicated in the matter.  But maybe the pain of it has caused you to hold on to the sword, and every time that other person’s name or memory comes up…the sword is right there!

If you continually live your life with a sword in your hand, it will affect those near to you.  They want peace; you want to fight.  They want to live life moving forward; you live life with your eye on the rearview mirror.  King David was an incredible warrior whom God called “a man of war” (1 Chronicles 28:3), yet he is the same one who wrote these words in Psalm 34:14“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

There’s a time for every purpose under heaven.  Men, let’s learn to let go of the sword.  There’s something new God wants us to pursue.


Gene Pietrini

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek,
but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


The Boy with the Loaves and Fish

The Boy with the Loaves
John 6:5-13  Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” 10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.   NKJV

Take another look at verse nine.  “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

The scriptures tell us that Andrew brought the boy to Jesus. I would like to think that Andrew, a disciple, would not just hijack a young boy’s lunch.  Think about it.  If that’s true, this youngster innocently offered the little he had without a full understanding of the big picture or the enormity of the need.  He had no idea that there were more than five thousand people that needed to eat.  The young boy had no idea that what was needed was a miracle.

What a contrast.  The boy just simply brought what he had, whereas Andrew comments, “…what are they among so little.”  It’s no wonder Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  How often we men neglect to trust God for the difficult, because we can’t figure out how that difficult thing might be accomplished.  We need to cultivate the heart of a child that says, “Here’s what I got,” trusting God to show what He’s got.  And His resources are unlimited.

Trust God with whatever you have, just like a child.  Lots of men seem to have an “all-or-none” mentality.  If they can’t give (or do) the best and the most, then they don’t give (or do) anything.  “Why should I help; I don’t have all the skills.  Why should I give; my few dollars won’t make a difference.  Why should I do anything; I’m just one person.”  You may be feeling like a child, but you’re not trusting LIKE a child.

Remember, the little you have has infinite potential!  You can keep it your own hands, or you can put it into God’s.  The results depend on whose hands you put it into.  All I know is that a young, nameless boy was the instigator of an incredible miracle.  And you can instigate one, too.

Gene Pietrini

The Centurion at the Cross


Matthew 27:51-54
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”   NIV

The centurions stationed at the cross on Golgotha’s hill were not there to bring comfort to Jesus.  Centurions were battle-hardened veterans who, over the course of many years, climbed the ranks of the enlisted to become a centurion.  A centurion had the charge over a hundred men; that’s where the name came from.  The centurions and their soldiers were there at the cross to carry out a death sentence against Jesus.  Rough men…men who would rather not be in Judea.  Soldiers who were sure to carry out their orders, and centurions to oversee those orders.  They were there to do a job and inflict pain.  And they did it well.  Jesus was beaten, flogged, mocked, humiliated, terrorized, and, finally, nailed to the cross where He would die.

As a soldier that has grown calloused to human suffering, this was as much sport as it was execution.  Why else cast lots for the garment of the one being executed?  These soldiers shed no tears over the brutality shown to a prisoner.  This is the job.  If “machismo” was a word back then, it most certainly would have been used to describe them.  You dare not show any emotion.  No sympathy here.  As a centurion you would lose the respect of your soldiers.  And that just cannot happen.

But with what he saw that day…what he saw in how this particular prisoner carried Himself…this centurion could not deny the events that he witnessed.  “Surely he was the Son of God.”  His confession went cross-grain to everything that he was.  When confronted with truth, he did not hide behind a soldier’s façade, but declared his newfound belief for all to hear, regardless of how his soldiers would view him.

Church tradition says this centurion’s name was Longinus, and that he was the one who pierced the side of Christ with a spear.  Longinus was also the one, along with his soldiers, to guard the tomb of Christ after the crucifixion.  After the resurrection he refused to keep quiet, but rather gave voice to the miracle of Jesus being raised from the dead.  As a result of his faith, he left the army and became a monk.  Also because of his faith, his teeth were beaten out and his tongue cut off.  Longinus was eventually martyred through beheading, his head being given to Pontius Pilate.

The culture we live in is not exactly one that is friendly to believers in Jesus.  As a Christian man, there is a real temptation to put our “light under a bushel,” with reasons that may sound like this, “I keep my faith personal” or, “I don’t want to offend anyone.”  When in reality (for many men) those reasons are code for, “I’m a man, and I want others to think I am self-sufficient.”

If anyone had good reason to hide their newfound-beliefs, it was Longinus.  As a centurion his confession of faith in Christ was political suicide.  In fact, it eventually became a literal death sentence for him.  But he could not and would not deny the truth and reality of Christ in his life, regardless from whom it would separate him.

May our encounter with Jesus have the same profound effect on our lives as well.

Blessings and Happy New Year!
Gene Pietrini

Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai

2 Samuel 17:27-29
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.”

Now these aren’t names that roll off the tip of your tongue, and even if you asked the most avid churchgoer if he has was familiar with these guys, most likely the answer would be NO. But there are some beautiful, unsung qualities that are at work in this story. All you have to do is read with a “hearing” ear and they jump off the page.

King David’s son, Absalom, was working hard at stealing the kingdom away from his father. Absalom’s following was large enough that David had to flee Jerusalem. Only David’s household and most ardent followers went with him, quickly leaving their homes to escape, and finding themselves in the wilderness…hungry, tired, and thirsty.

But here comes Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai coming to the rescue with the resources that all these people were lacking. But it wasn’t just their extravagant generosity towards those who were in need, but it was their attitude…the motivation with which it was brought. Verse 29 says, “‘For they said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.’”

Notice what they DIDN’T say. They DIDN’T say, “Let’s bring David and his followers some food and things. If he gets his kingdom back, we should be rewarded quite well.” They DIDN’T say, “This could end up in our favor. All those people will be beholden to us for what we give them.” There was none of that. They said the reason they gave was because, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.”

The reason Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai gave so generously was for nothing more than the sheer sake of kindness towards someone who was hurting and in need.

Let’s be men that are not only generous towards the hurting, the homeless, and the less fortunate with whatever talents we have (resources; time; labor), but that we also take time, consistently, to NOTICE those that need help. Let’s be men that engage in regular, random acts of kindness just for kindness’ sake. No badges. No bells. No “look at me.” We just do it. Those that do are Real Men.

Gene Pietrini


Judges 11:29-32, 34-35
29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”   NIV

Who knows what kind of upbringing Jephthah may have had.  His mother was a prostitute, and Gilead was his father.  Gilead and his actual wife had many sons who were adamant that Jephthah, their half-brother, would have no part in the family inheritance, consequently they ran him out of town.  So he made a life of his own, rejected and separated from his father’s home.  But even with the deck stacked against him, still Jephthah had influence which caused men to follow him (though not men of the most scrupulous character); he even made a name for himself as a fighter and leader.  But he also raised a daughter, his only child.

When the Ammonites came to Gilead to make war with Israel, all those half-brothers knew they did not have what it takes to win a battle.  So they found Jephthah and asked him to take the lead.  Jephthah agreed to do it with a few caveats.

But before he and his men went out to fight the Ammonites, Jephthah made a vow that if God would give him victory, “…whatever comes out the front door of my house to meet me…I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering to God.” (v. 7)  Sadly, his daughter was the first one to come out the front door to meet him.  Jephthah kept his vow.

Theologians, for years, have been found on both sides of the debate as to whether or not Jephthah actually sacrificed his daughter because of his vow, or if he never allowed her to marry and have children.  Both sides make valid points.  But still this obscure man is mentioned among the faith-heroes listed in Hebrews 11.  Why would he be listed there after such a rash, hasty vow?  Here’s why.  Because he kept his word even though it was difficult.

Our vows
All this leads us to consider our promises, our words, and our integrity.
Psalm 15:1, 4
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
4 (He) who despises a vile man, but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts
…   NIV

How often have you ever made a promise, or given your word to someone only to renege on it because keeping it would be difficult or inconvenient?  It’s easy to keep your word when everything fits into your plans, but what about when it’s going to cost you?  In Jephthah’s case there was great cost in keeping his vow (regardless of which side of the debate you are on).

When a person gives their word to do something and then backs out, it devalues the person to whom the promise was made.  But it also devalues the person who gave his word, but wouldn’t keep it.  Think about it.  All the way back in Genesis 3:15, God gave His word to give mankind a savior, then He kept that promise through His Son, because He valued us.

Let’s be mindful of Who our example is.  Let’s be men of the Word, but also men of our word.  Let’s be true to our word, and in doing so, valuing others as well as ourselves.


Gene Pietrini


Israel did not yet have kings to rule over them.  Initially, God’s plan was to have judges rule over the people.  Shamgar is one of the minor judges Israel.  How minor is minor?  Well, he gets one verse.
Judges 3:31
31 After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.   NKJV
He didn’t have horses, and chariots, and swords.  He had an “ox goad.”  A farming implement used to prod the ox pulling the plow.  A long stick with a pointed end.  The Philistines on the other hand, as the occupying force in Israel, were better manned and better equipped militarily.  They had the swords, the shields, the horses, and the chariots.


But this one man, a farmer by trade, killed six hundred of the trained, better-equipped enemy with a farming tool.  He may have only had one verse written about him…not many Christians may know his name or the minute details of his story, but what he did was pretty impressive.

People may not know your name.  They may not think much of you or highly of you.  No one may be writing about you in their blog because you’re not newsworthy.  But God knows who you are, and in the midst of spiritual battles, if you stand up to the enemy, He will take whatever you offer to Him to defeat the forces of darkness.  You may not get your name in the papers for what you’ve done, in fact you may not even have one verse written about you.  But God knows.  And your willingness to fight for His kingdom is huge in His sight.  Don’t get sidelined because you’re not the main attraction in some men’s eyes.

In God’s eyes, you are.
Gene Pietrini
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Genesis 16:13