November 2023

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

Scan to read on your smartphone.

“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 ↩︎
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