grayscale photograph of train rail

Do You Feel the Shaking?

When I was a young kid, my dad was providing for our family of four on a Graduate Assistant income while working on his PhD. We lived in married student housing that was built in the middle of a woods. We were surrounded by trees, bees, and weeds that made us sneeze, not to imply that it was a bad place. As a kid, I loved it.

Often, a bunch of us (what’s a bunch of kids called? A cacophony of kids!?) would hike deep into the woods, where a railroad track split the woods and acted as a defacto boundry, beyond which we rarely traveled. But railroad tracks seem to stir adventure in young boys. Though rightly warned many times, we still played on and around those tracks. Only by God’s grace did tragedy not befall us.

Each of our gaggle of guys(?) challenged the others to discover who could balance on a rail track and walk the furthest before losing their balance and falling tail over teakettle. Another required task we each tried was putting our ears on a rail track to ascertain whether a train was on its way. One time, we did, and it did. We could feel the vibrations, the shaking, signaling us that a train was approaching! 

Having no experience with correlating the intensity of shaking with a train’s arrival, we stepped back from the tracks and waited, and waited, and waited. Boys aren’t known for their patience. Finally, the train arrived. It felt like the second coming of Christ, not that we had experienced that! None of us had ever been so close to a train. It was huge! And it was going very fast. The locomotive engineer blared the engine’s air horn when we were spotted. To this day, I don’t know if the engineer was warning us or just saying “Hi.” 

I learned from this experience that shaking warns us when something big is heading our way. Now, if you would, consider this passage of Scripture:

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Luke 21:25-26

When we try to discuss this passage with pastors, teachers, or mature Christians, we often are reminded that Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father1.” They go on to say, “It will happen when it happens. There are better things to think about.” The error in rejecting all thoughts about Christ’s return is shown by what Jesus said to His disciples when they asked about the end-times. 

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that the end is near, right at the door.”

Matthew 24:32 NIV – “Now learn this lesson from the fig – Bible Gateway

We cannot know the day or hour when Jesus will return, but we can know the season if we “learn from the fig tree.” So, in the news articles that I read today, we have “created” one monkey from two sets of DNA2, we have entered a “new age” of digital enlightenment3, our government is considering giving “AI-Enabled Drones Autonomous Power to Kill Human4”, and the “World’s first ‘humanoid’ robot factory5” will be in production by the end of this year.

When I look at the strange things happening in space, on Earth, in the earth, and by people, I am reminded of the time I felt the shaking of that railroad track. A train is coming, and that train is Jesus with His saints. I can’t tell if it’s today, tomorrow, or years away, but that event is closer than ever. And by the shaking, we know we are in the season of His coming.

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV – And let us consider how we may spur one – Bible Gateway
  1. Bible Gateway passage: Matthew 24:36 – New International Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 27, 2023, from ↩︎
  2. Osborne, M. (2023, November 21). Scientists Created a Monkey With Two Different Sets of DNA. Smithsonian Magazine. ↩︎
  3. Kaburu, G. (1701). A New Age of Digital Enlightenment: AI’s Impact on Further Education. Msn.Com. ↩︎
  4. Davis, J. (1701). Pentagon Weighing Giving AI-Enabled Drones Autonomous Power to Kill Humans in New Weapons Race: Report. Msn.Com. ↩︎
  5. Brown, E. (2023, October 2). World’s first “humanoid” robot factory will be capable of creating 10,000 robots per year. UNILAD. ↩︎
woman standing on shoreline

The Key to Peace

A Contest

If you grew up going to church, you probably remember the old hymn “Count You Blessing.” If it were a Sunday night service, there would often be contests around which group of people could sing it the loudest!

The song leader would shout, “The left side of the aisle first!” And a boisterous “Count your blessings” chorus would burst forth. “Now the right!” and the folks seated in the pews on the right side of the aisle tried to sing even louder. “Now the women!” and a beautiful “Count your blessing” round would be heard. Then it was the men’s turn; those always sounded off-key and weak in my church.

Of course, we’d change it up and sing, “Count your blessing. Name then ton by ton.” Often, the song director would stop the song and ask if anyone had been blessed that week. This was a safe call because two or three always had the same testimony, which was good. It broke the ice for others to stand up – the scary part – and tell the congregation about something God had done for them that was poignant, personal, and powerful.


I miss those times. I’m not against 7-11 worship – seven words repeated eleven times – but many of those old hymns taught people how to live a Christian life. “Count Your Blessings” is one of those. Consider the first verse.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

by Johnson Oatman

If you’ve ever watched an episode of “The Deadliest Catch1,” you’ve seen the dangers of a raging sea. Of course, Christ’s Apostles had a first-hand experience of raging sea2. Jesus never held back the truth that in this world, “you will have many trials and sorrows.” Here’s the whole verse:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NLT – I have told you all this so that you – Bible Gateway

I like to tie this verse to Matthew 18:7, in Young’s Literal Translation.

Wo to the world from the stumbling-blocks! for there is a necessity for the stumbling-blocks to come, but wo to that man through whom the stumbling-block doth come!

Matthew 18:7 YLT – `Wo to the world from the – Bible Gateway

Like Water Off of a Duck’s Back

Notice that Jesus said, “For there is a necessity for the stumbling-blocks to come.” God never wastes anything, and all things a subject to God. These stumbling blocks come from the world, and those worldly people will be judged for their wicked actions. Nevertheless, there are reasons that God allows the world to rage against us. There are reasons we are “tempest-tossed.”

In our times of trouble, depression often tries to enter our homes – our lives – but Jesus gave us a promise. He said, “Take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We must not repeat what the Apostle Peter did and look at the raging sea; we must drawn deeper into Jesus, our Master and Savior, for it is in Him that our peace and joy can be found. In Jesus, fear and worry roll off of us like water off a duck’s back.

Good News

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

The key that Jesus has given us to overcome life’s problems is to seek our strength from Jesus, not from our abilities, social connections, or any other worldly thing. This hymn reinforces this key to victory.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

I pray that no matter the burden you carry, you will find your rest and strength in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

* No part of this article was produced by artificial intelligence (AI). **

  1. Discovery’s Deadliest Catch | Discovery ↩︎
  2. John 6:16-21 NLT – Jesus Walks on Water – That evening – Bible Gateway. ↩︎

Into The Deep

I’ve been reading a book by 17th-century Roman Catholic friar Brother Lawrence titled “Practicing the Presence of God.” Brother Lawrence, himself, is an interesting guy; You can read his story here.

Some people will cancel this devotional because I’m writing from the other side of the aisle. – Brother Lawrence was Roman Catholic, and I’m a Full Gospel Protestant. But I have learned that all truth is God’s truth. There is no such thing as truth apart from God. So when we find truth, we should indulge in it, for we are indulging in God.

For Brother Lawrence, the presence of God is “a simple attentiveness and a general loving awareness of God… or to speak better, a silent and secret, constant intercourse of the soul with God.”

“It consists in taking delight in and becoming accustomed to his [God’s] divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him all the time, at every moment, without rule or measures; especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity [dryness], weariness, even infidelity and sin” (21).

Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

I had the privilege of being a friend and co-worker with a man who continually practiced the presence of God. When we were quiet, he sang; when we traveled, he taught; when he rested, he dreamed about God’s will. I learned from my friend and from Brother Lawerence what Jesus meant when He said, “ For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost1.”

As believers, we know that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth2.” But I wonder if we understand how true this verse is. If we turn our attention to Christ’s sermon on the mount, we read Him saying, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.3” There is no “action” here, only thought. Likewise, we sin when we ignore the Holy Spirit’s revealed actions or changes required of us. The New Testament is basted [cooked in the juices] in this truth.

Consider this often misunderstood verse:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,4

Some Christians abuse this verse by trying to justify bad behavior. They seem to miss the part about “fear and trembling.” Only God and you know the depths He is calling you into in His kingdom. I can think of few disciplines more needed in our lives than practicing the presence of God. Be in His presence at all times, and you will be blessed.

Image by lucatelles from Pixabay


  1. Bible Gateway passage: Romans 14:17 – King James Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
  2. Bible Gateway passage: John 4:24 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
  3. YouVersion Staff. (n.d.). Matthew 5:28. YouVersion | The Bible App | Bible.Com; YouVersion. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
  4. Bible Gateway passage: Philippians 2:12 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from ↩︎
The meeting room full of people.

Don’t just do something; sit there.

Yesterday, I listened to a video about the difficulties of the Millennial Generation (the mid–1990s to early 2000s), also called “Gen Y.” I will write more broadly about this in the near future. Two comments that got my attention were: 1) It is wrong for other generations to deflect their difficulties back on Gen Y individuals. 2) The Gen Y addition to the instant feel-good release of dopamine that comes from seeing unknown people “like” their comments is the same amount that comes from addictions to eating, gambling, online shopping, and sex.

This social-technological addiction can be seen in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices, bus stops, and parent/teacher meetings. Here is the one that got me thinking – If denied access to their smartphones, Gen Y people often learn more while waiting for a meeting to start than is in the meeting!

Not Just Gen Y

Our society seems to have learned to use social media for social avoidance. When people waited for a meeting to start, they used to talk with each other. “How’s your dad doing since he was released from the hospital?” “Did you buy that truck you were looking at?” “I’m going to need those TPS reports… ASAP.1

No Quick Way

At the root of our social avoidance is risk aversion. We can get a quick “hit” of dopamine from a few “likes” on Facebook instead of the slow process of learning about other people’s lives and risking that we will “put our foot in our mouth.”

It is the long-term journey into personal relationships that provides us with deep friendships, lasting marriages, and reliable faith in Christ Jesus our Savior. A fulfilling life is achieved by learning to “not just do something but sit there.” God said it this way:

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

Psalms 46:10 NLT.

Notice the two parts of the first sentence. “Be still.” This has almost become an antiquated skill. Few people are ever still. Few turn their music off, their TV off, go into their prayer closet2, and be still. The second part tells us, “And know that I am God!” It is nearly enough for us to do what my parents told me: “Sit down, shut up, and pay attention.” We need to know God. To know anything takes time, it takes effort, it takes commitment.


We need repeated times when we come to God and don’t pray our “shopping list.” We need to be still. To listen. To be aware. During these times, we don’t just empty our minds; we learn to know God. We learn how God deals with nations (see verse six 3). We need to gain confidence from the knowledge that God will be honored throughout the world – we are not on the losing side.

Our spiritual “core strength” will become firm from our quietness with God. It will become beneficial. A life that contains joy, strength, and a deep, personal relationship with the God of our eternity comes from repeated times of quietness, being still before God. Our investment in this relationship must be greater and for a longer time than we spend with any video game, tik-tok™️, or social avoidance technology.

Image by Chelsea Ouellet from Pixabay

** No part of this article was produced by artificial intelligence (AI). **


  1. Judy, A. (2021, May 30). The 17 Best Quotes from Office Space that will Make you Laugh. AnQuotes.Com. ↩︎
  2. Bible Gateway passage: Matthew 6:6 – King James Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from ↩︎
  3. Bible Gateway passage: Psalm 46:6 – New Living Translation. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from ↩︎
the word "trust" written in sand

From Trust Comes Courage

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that count.”

– Winston S. Churchill

Few would dare to question the courage of Winston Churchill, but few would guess that one of the 18 books he authored was, “Painting As a Pastime.” So often, we pigeonhole people into tidy mental cubby holes. Each person is quickly analyzed, assessed, and assigned their place in our roster of personalities. Such great loss comes from this method!

When we consider true believers in Christ Jesus, we must include the effect of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence in a person’s life, such as yours or mine. 

Our Catholic Friends Have it Right

Several years ago, I was a member of a small non-denominational church focused on doing the things Jesus taught. One man that I will never forget was a person who rightly understood that human life begins at conception1

If you met this man, he would seem ordinary – middle-aged, slightly overweight, and married. If I had tucked him away in my memory under the heading, “An Average Man” I would have made a terrible error. God had laid on him a costly ministry; he worked to save young women from being pressured into believing that abortion was a “good option.”

Our Catholic friends have it right regarding the sacredness of human life. My friend understood this. When I knew him, he worked tirelessly for the babies who couldn’t protect themselves. He galvanized a right-to-life chain. He helped organize a life chain. On a Saturday, thousands of supporters showed up. We held hands and formed a peaceful, humble chain that lined the main streets of our town. I’ve often wondered how many people were impacted as they drove, possibly for miles, past person after person, praying for the lives of unborn children to be spared.

The courage of this peaceful man, who never once acted or encouraged any form of violence, ended up being arrested because he “cared too much.” Where does courage like this come from? Throughout God’s Word, we see Him use common people to do surprisingly uncommon things, actions that sometimes put them at mortal risk.

We are familiar with the courage of Moses, Gideon, Esther, Daniel, Joshua and Caleb. What do they all have in common? Trust in God. Out of trust comes courage. The Psalmist said it this way:

1 Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!
7 He is not afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 112 RSVCE – Blessings of the Righteous – Bible Gateway

You and I need to grasp how profoundly our lives are affected when we “trust in the Lord.” A great evangelist made this statement:

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.

Billy Graham

** No part of this article was produced by artificial intelligence (AI). **


  1. Bible Gateway passage: Luke 1:34-36 – New Living Translation*. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved November 4, 2023, from ↩︎
pumpkin on brown wooden table

Adam’s Fear

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Inside each of us, there is a battle. Some have progressed further than others, but we all have walked on this path. This path is called fear. Fear does terrible things to us. Though the Holy Spirit lives in us, our human nature oozes with fear. Throughout the Bible, we find person after person who made terrible decisions because they were afraid.

Adam’s Fear

Fear began with Adam in the Garden of Eden.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

Genesis 3:8–10 NLT

Adam’s fear became part of the nature of humanity. Abraham gives us a good insight into the damage that fear causes.

He and Sarai (Sarah) went to Egypt to escape a severe famine. Abram was afraid that an Egyptian would kill him to take Sarai because of her beauty. So, because of fear, he told his wife, “Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.1” Fear wrecks our common sense.

I Will Not be Afraid

Before we received Jesus as our Savior, each of us was alone in a wicked world, enslaved by the devil. It’s a wonder that we didn’t do more stupid things than we did! But when Jesus comes in, we are no longer alone. Jesus asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit, and He did. Now, as a believer, the Holy Spirit lives in us and will for all of eternity. But our old nature tries to bring fear back into our lives.

If you are an American, find a dollar bill and look at it. Printed on the back are these words: “In God we trust.” Those words come from Psalms 56:11. The rest of that verse states, “I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Now consider this verse of Scripture:

But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.

1 Peter 3:14 NLT

Stop, Drop, and Roll

If Jesus is your Lord, then there is nothing you need to fear. Fear is not part of the new life that Jesus gave you. Whenever you become aware of fear creeping into your thoughts or emotions, treat it like being on fire – stop, drop, and roll!

Stop that fear from growing inside you. Drop the Rock, Jesus Christ, on those fears. And roll on down the road of life with the wind of the Holy Spirit at your back, the Light of Jesus ever before you, and our Father’s eternal care surrounding you. Perfect love, God’s love, drives out fear!

Photo by Monstera Production

** No part of this article was produced by artificial intelligence (AI). **


  1. Genesis 12:13 NIV, ↩︎

We or Me?

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We or me, that is the question. That wasn’t Shakespeare’s question; it’s mine. When I pray, do I pray “we” or do I pray “me?” Do I ask God to use “my” church or “our” church? Do I pray for my country or our country? And for this nation, do I pray “we have sinned” or “I have sinned?” Well, this morning, as I often do, I prayed what many call the Lord’s Prayer. Yes, I pray the version recorded in the book of Matthew.

9 This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Matthew 6:9–13 NIV

As often happens, I wavered with the words “us” and “we.” It was just me, in my office, alone. Of course, I prayed “us” and “we” as those are the thoughts of my Savior. Still, sometimes, I pray, “My Father” but I rewind and pray “Our Father.” The Lord’s Prayer is the Messiah’s prayer and the Messiah is Jesus, God with us1 – emphasis on “us”; It was the lips of God that taught us how to pray.

Christ Jesus’ prayer compels us to consider whether our struggles are personal or communal – is it “us” or “me.” There are many things in a Christian’s life that beg this question. When I am alone, am I truly alone?

We know that in all places, at all times, and in every situation, the “Spirit of Christ2” the “Spirit of God3” the ”Holy Spirit4“ is in us. But often desperate times come when no one else is around. In our personal, desperate times, do I pray ”we,“ or “me?”

Good News

Well, I have good news. All believers are corporately joined together. We are never alone. Each of us is part of the Body of Christ, “joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped5.” Perhaps, the most beautiful confirmation of our togetherness is this:

and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

Revelation 8:4 ESV

The prayers of the saints come up before God – let’s not put too fine of a point on who are “saints.” They – we – are like incense. We know that the smoke of each incense candle mingles with all the candles; missing one aroma changes the whole aroma. So, it is obvious from Scripture that we pray the “our” and “us” because we are part of the whole Body of Christ6, the sweet aroma that pleases God.

Be confident, even when physically isolated, that in the spirit, which is the true reality, you are connected to all other believers. After all, you were saved for a purpose7. And your purpose is intertwined with all Christians.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay


  1. Matthew 1:23 NIV ↩︎
  2. Romans 8:9 ↩︎
  3. Romans 8:9 ↩︎
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT ↩︎
  5. Ephesians 4:15–17 ESV ↩︎
  6. 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT ↩︎
  7.  Ephesians 1:4 ↩︎
folded hands in prayer

How Much Prayer is Enough?

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Have you ever told someone that you would pray for them? Then, when you do, the thought goes through your mind, “Is once enough? Do I pray about his or her need forever? What have I committed to?” Maybe it’s just me. I tend to overthink things.

So you’ve promised someone that you will pray for some need this person has. Then, later, you wonder, how much prayer is enough? Well, before I comment, let’s consider Isaiah 62:6–7 NLT, which says, “Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work.”

This passage of Scripture is part of a prophecy specifically about the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon and the rebuilding of the temp1. But, as God so often does, He tucked a truth in there that applies to all of us. He tells us, “Take no rest.” and “ Give the Lord no rest. This begs the question: How long do we pray? Do we pray until we see God’s completed His work?”

This Scripture in Isaiah has the same meaning as Jesus’ parable about the widow seeking justice. Jesus frames the parable this way: “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up2.”

But How Much is Enough?

There is an old-time Pentecostal idea called “Praying Through.” Don’t let the word “Pentecostal” scare you. I have often experienced this truth. Praying through is available to every believer. Why? Because every believer has the Holy Spirit alive within them3!

Praying through is simply praying continually about a need until the Holy Spirit impresses on us that the Father has heard our prayers and has settled the matter. Just as we know we are saved, not because somebody told us we were, but because the Holy Spirit impressed on us the truth of our salvation, so we can know when enough is actually enough.

Christians do not live by feelings or five senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste). Instead, “we walk by faith, not by sight4.” It is by our faith that we pray. Otherwise, our thoughts and words are just foolishness. Likewise, as if blind, we walk unaffected by what we perceive around us. Instead, we are led by the Holy Spirit. God has even stated that “without faith, it is impossible to please Him5.”

Good News

So, now we know the answer to our question, “How much is enough?” The answer is “enough.” God’s response may not be immediate, and it may not be what we expected. But, if the Holy Spirit has impressed on us that He has heard and answered our prayer, we need to change from praying to praising God for His answer!

God answers prayer. He still heals, mends, renews, reconciles, delivers, defends, guards, and so much more. Pray, for there is no greater gift He has given to the redeemed.

Image by Jenny Friedrichs from Pixabay


  1. 520 b.c. Isaiah 64:8–12 ESV ↩︎
  2. Parable Luke 18:1–8 ESV ↩︎
  3. Holy Spirit Titus 3:5 ESV ↩︎
  4. Faith 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV ↩︎
  5. Pleasing God Hebrews 11:6 ESV ↩︎

Dusty Old Books

My wife posts a daily Facebook blog titled, My Daily Treasures. Borrowing from her, I have found that dusty old books often contain treasures just waiting for someone to discover. These old books exist because someone kept them. The Internet has replaced old books, so if an old book is found, somebody likely saw something in the book that made it worth keeping. I have several of these books.

One dusty old book I recently was reading came from my dad. He was an educator, so he kept a book about how to educate people. Its title is “Perceiving, Behaving, Becoming.” Here’s a small excerpt:

It is a common fallacy among many lay people and some teachers that, since the world is a very hard place and people sometimes fail, children should be introduced to failure early…People learn that they are able, not from failure, but from success.

by Arthur W. Combs, et al

Real Success

The author refers to actual successes, not the kind where every child wins a trophy. This focus on success is what Jesus did with His disciples and what He does with us. Jesus didn’t send out His disciples to heal the sick1 until they had heard His Sermon on the Mount2 and seen Jesus feed thousands of people3. And even then, Jesus gave His disciples all they needed to be successful.

For our children and those new in Christ, we must provide more than the “what” and the “why.” For success, people need to experience the “how.” But it’s the “how” that places the most significant cost upon us. Telling is easy; showing, mentoring, and equipping requires time and patience, the very things we have the least of.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

James 1:22 NLT

Doing implies not just doing to be doing but to be successfully doing. If we revisit Christ Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, we find in verse 13 that before Jesus fed the crowd, He told His disciples, “You feed them.” Jesus didn’t say this harshly. He made that statement to get them to understand that He was changing their focus from abstract learning to vocational education!

Good News

As believers, we are all called to teach vocational education. Lecturing is different from educating. Let’s avoid telling people what they should do, but instead, let’s invest our time, talents, and treasures in educating people to succeed.

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay


  1. Luke 10:9 NLT ↩︎
  2. Matthew 5-7 NLT ↩︎
  3. Luke 9:10–17 NLT ↩︎

Crooked Nails

Recently, at church, our pastor spoke about his dad never wasting anything, including bent nails. That brought back a flood of memories. My dad grew up during the Great Depression. For him, everything had value. He would never throw away a bent or rusty nail. He always had a bucket full of them.

Dad loved building or rebuilding things, and like a magnet, he’d pull me into his projects if I were anywhere within his magnetic field. Often, I would find myself pulling nails out of old boards – I was useless at painting. When pulling nails, I had to find a used piece of wood or the anvil on Dad’s bench vice and hammer them into usefulness.

God also doesn’t waste anything or anyone. It doesn’t matter how far we fall or how rusty we are; Jesus can renew us. He loves us and even chases after us, like the sheep that wandered away from its flock. But we have a responsibility.

We must believe God1. Believing is different from faith. Faith is a thing – “faith is the substance of things hoped for2” – but to believe is an action.

In order to find true guidance and restoration, we must turn to God for help. Our own efforts to straighten ourselves out are as unlikely as a nail straightening itself. Instead, we should ask, seek, and knock on God’s door, shifting our focus from worldly distractions to the peace that only He can provide. Emotions and external influences may lead us astray, but Jesus is the source of salvation and a renewed connection with our deepest love.

You and I know that we are unable to straighten ourselves out. That’s as likely as a nail straitening itself out! To get back on the “narrow path,” we need only God’s help. We must ask God, seek God, knock on God’s door. We must move our eyes from the storms to the Quieter of storms3. Our emotions will betray us4. The world will try to sway us5. But only Jesus can save us and restore us to our first love6.

Jesus said that He would never leave you or abandon you7. Invite the Holy Spirit to work in you. And He will make you fresh as new8, useful once again to the kingdom of God.

Feature Image by JoeBu from Pixabay 
Bench-Vice Image by Davie Bicker from Pixabay

[1]: Bible Gateway passage: John 5:24 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from

[2]: Bible Gateway passage: Hebrews 11:1 – King James Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from

[3]: Bible Gateway passage: Mark 4:39 – New Living Translation. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from

[4]: Bible Gateway passage: Proverbs 29:11 – New Living Translation. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from

[5]: Bible Gateway passage: 1 John 5:19 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from

[6]: Bible Gateway passage: Revelation 2:4–5 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from–5&version=ESV

[7]: Bible Gateway passage: Deuteronomy 31:6 – New Living Translation. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from
[8]: Bible Gateway passage: Titus 3:5 – English Standard Version. (n.d.). Bible Gateway. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from

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