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 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2024%3A36&version=NIV ↩︎
  2. Osborne, M. (2023, November 21). Scientists Created a Monkey With Two Different Sets of DNA. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/scientists-created-a-monkey-with-two-different-sets-of-dna-180983282/ ↩︎
  3. Kaburu, G. (1701). A New Age of Digital Enlightenment: AI’s Impact on Further Education. Msn.Com. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/a-new-age-of-digital-enlightenment-ai-s-impact-on-further-education/ar-AA1kzTZd?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=d303c6ca1f2c4386b0a49215b62f3623&ei=199 ↩︎
  4. Davis, J. (1701). Pentagon Weighing Giving AI-Enabled Drones Autonomous Power to Kill Humans in New Weapons Race: Report. Msn.Com. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/pentagon-weighing-giving-ai-enabled-drones-autonomous-power-to-kill-humans-in-new-weapons-race-report/ar-AA1kysRo?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=d303c6ca1f2c4386b0a49215b62f3623&ei=215 ↩︎
  5. Brown, E. (2023, October 2). World’s first “humanoid” robot factory will be capable of creating 10,000 robots per year. UNILAD. https://www.unilad.com/technology/news/agility-robotics-humanoid-factory-opening-salem-oregon-589901-20231002 ↩︎
Picture of Jesus with crowd of people.

Yes, I’m a Believer

With the continuing pressure to change the English language to diminish any sense of guilt, I began to think about how believing is interpreted in today’s culture. What does “believe” mean in today’s culture? For centuries, believing was a profound message for Christians.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 1:12

No Simple Matter

This keystone verse ties us to the God of all creation. Those “who believed in his name.” That name is Jesus. The Greek for “believe” is pisteuousin which means: Credit; by implication, to entrust.

Believing is no simple matter. It is an overt action by us to entrust Jesus with our past, present, and future. Believing means faith, trust, confidence, commitment, and betrothal. For, as believers in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, our Belief is, through His Church, our betrothal to Him. What it is not is a feeling.

So, when we, as born-again believers, use the word “believe,” we mean it as Paul wrote it:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

The Greatest Love

Belief is our confident commitment to the one, true, unchanging God (the Father) and His eternal Son, Christ Jesus. To believe is not a transient, emotional response, fanned into flames by misled peers who want to cover their guilt, assuage their fears, and pull people down who are not anchored to the Rock of our Salvation.

As we are pummeled and punished for our use of “the king’s English,” let’s not become confused by what “believe” means. To believe in the Son of God is the greatest love we can show to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We Know

Known what you believe and believe what you know. Your soul longs for Belief in Jesus, and your eternity counts on it.

Image by Meranda D from Pixabay

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Empty Tomb Nazareth Israel Nazareth Village Jesus

Jesus, the First Fruit

Today is Good Friday. If we have received Jesus, then today we celebrate the work Jesus accomplished through the cross – His death and burial. By these, we received forgiveness for our sins, reconciliation with God, and restoration to God’s original desire: we are children of God.

Now we anticipate our rejoicing on Sunday, the day Jesus rose from His grave and became the first resurrected man.

The First Fruit

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (New Living Translation)

There have been many people that God raised from the dead. Just in the Gospels, we find “The widow of Nain’s son1,” “Jairus’ daughter2,” “Lazarus of Bethany3,” “Tabitha4,” “Eutychus5,” and, of course, Jesus6. However, Jesus did not just return to life as the others did. Jesus was the first “fruit” of the resurrection7.

Everyone that came back to life died again, but not Jesus; Jesus was resurrected by God (Acts 2:24). This act by God was a certification that Christ Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted. And, since Jesus never sinned, His dead body did not experience “corruption” – decay.

Resurrection Is Unique

Resurrection, for us, is the act by God of allowing the death of a person’s physical body, the body we inherited from Adam. And then that person being raised in a glorified body, one that will never die, will always be filled by the Holy Spirit and be acceptable to enter heaven. Our resurrected body will be:

(1) Glorified, acceptable to be in the presence of God in heaven8.
(2) Incorruptible and powerful9
(3) Similar to the glorified body of Jesus10
(4) Immortal11

Good News

“20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.1 Corinthians 15:20

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[1]: Luke 7:11–17 ESV
[2]: Luke 8:40–56 ESV
[3]: John 11 ESV)
[4]: Acts 9:36–43 ESV
[5]: Acts 20:7–12 ESV
[6]: Mark 16:1–9 ESV
[7]: 1 Corinthians 15:20
[8]: 1 Corinthians 15:44 NLT
[9]: 1 Corinthians 15:54 ESV
[10]: Philippians 3:21 ESV
[11]: Revelation 21:4 ESV

Help in Unexpected Ways

Even when we think we’ve dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s, trouble can still fall upon us. Most of the time, our prayer list is filled with other people’s needs. But there are times when we urgently need God to make a way where there is no way. When we are in need, we should remember one of the many names of God, Jehovah Jireh, meaning “the Lord will provide.”

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Divine Help

You may remember the account in the Old Testament when the servant of Elisha walked outside and saw that a large army had surrounded the city they were in. He rushed to Elisha and shouted, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” Elisha didn’t even break a sweat. Instead, Elisha probably put his arm around him and said, “Don’t be afraid. Let’s take another look.” Then Elisha prayed, and his servant’s eyes were opened, and he saw, “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15–20)

If we could see as Elisha saw, we would see a world not only filled with tangible objects – people, pets, buildings, and roads – but we would also see God’s celestial beings as well as the devil’s fallen angels. My guess is that we would often find God’s angels in unexpected places, and the same for fallen angels. We know from God’s Word that sometimes the enemy interferes with the angels of God (Daniel 10:12–14). 

Angels Watching Over Me

The idea of angels at work in our lives may seem surprising but we need to remember Hebrews 1:14. Angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.” Many years ago, the Christian singer/songwriter Amy Grant recorded a song called Angels Watching Over Me. I know that at least once in my life, God sent an angel to deliver me from serious trouble. I had an immediate need, and God provided help in an unexpected way. You may not believe that spiritual warfare still takes place in our modern world, but having experienced God’s hand of deliverance by an angel, I can tell you that it does.

So, when you experience real trouble, crushing heartache, or a total sense of being overwhelmed, take your problem to Jesus and leave it with Him. I’m not just writing some pablum to soothe your mind. I am testifying to you that God still changes times and circumstances when a child of His prays in faith.

If you’re unsure how to pray, I recommend this passage of Scripture. Pray it to God. Believe Him.

I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and he saved me from my enemies.

Psalms 18:1–3 NLT

Good News

There is no problem so big that God cannot solve it.

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Stroller Fall Fog Man Human Mood The Atmosphere

Walked A Mile With Sorrow

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:2-6

Jesus Experienced Deep Sorrow

We find Jesus, when He was about to be betrayed, telling His disciples, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Luke 22:44-45)

Today’s passage in Isaiah is a Messianic passage. It is a prophecy about Jesus. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Surely Jesus has known more sorrow and grief than any son or daughter of Adam, including Job! So, since Jesus felt sorrow, we must expect that we will.

Walked a Mile with Sorrow

The spark that got me thinking about sorrow was a “Jesus Music” song by Barry Mcguire from the 1970s.

Walked a mile with pleasure
She chattered all the way
Left me none the wiser
With all she had to say
Walked a mile with sorrow
Never a word said she
But oh the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me

Barry Mcguire – I Walked a Mile Lyric

In the wisdom of God, there is value in sorrow. I don’t know why. However, when I search the Bible, I find verse after verse about sorrow, and some of my most life-changing experiences were wrought in sorrow and grief. It’s in those times when we surrender to God; we become honest with ourselves and Him.

Good News

Here’s the good news. God promises that in the future “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) In this life we will have hardships, sorrows, loss, and grief, but should thank God for these. I think Andraé Crouch nailed it.

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consolation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through It All by Andraé Crouch

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The Joy of a Good Heart

10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Psalms 147:10-11

We all know this, but it’s refreshing and encouraging to read in God’s word that He judges us by our hearts and not our physical attributes. Social media platforms and video streaming sites all treat us as people that are “inadequate and uneducated.” We don’t know the secret that they want to share with us. From hair to high-rise condos, these influencers tell us to trust them; they can tell us how to improve our lives. They focus on trying to fix our outward appearance – our bodies, cars, condos, we need them so we can have power like them. But those are deceiving messages.

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

What has actual value is our hearts. In our hearts, God finds our love for Him and our determination to walk on the path of righteousness. Maybe this doesn’t happen to you, but there are times when I’m in a store or on vacation, and I know I have an encouraging word for a stranger, but by the time I think of what I should say, the moment is passed, and then I think of it! I was so close, but I missed the opportunity.

I’ve come to think of these missed opportunities as drawing water from the well of my heart. If I have not replenished my heart, it takes longer to drop my bucket down to the water level and then bring it back up – it takes too long. But if my heart is overflowing with my love for God and trust in His word, then I can quickly retrieve God’s message and pass it along to that stranger.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

So, God doesn’t consider our physical strength (the legs of man) or what we possess (the strength of the horse). Instead, God looks into our hearts to see upon what our wisdom is built, what is the source of strength, and upon what moral ground we have built our lives. Living for Jesus keeps our hearts overflowing with steadfast hope. Be joyful and let your trust in God be like that of the Psalmist who wrote:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalms 20:7

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check list

Jesus’ Check List

[✔︎] Descend from heaven. John 3:13
[✔︎] Be born of a virgin. Luke 1:26–38
[✔︎] Go to people of my natural nationality. John 1:11
[✔︎] Do these miracles: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Luke 7:22
[✔︎] Tell people how vital it is for them to put their faith in Me. John 12:44
[✔︎] Help people understand that My Father, I, and the Holy Spirit are One God. 1 Timothy 2:5, Matthew 28:19, Matthew 3:16–17
[✔︎] Communicate that the first step towards forgiveness is repentance. Matthew 4:17
[✔︎] Preach the kingdom of God. Matthew 4:17
[✔︎] Build a team that will become a community and grows to be My Bride. Matthew 4:18–22Acts 2:1–4Revelation 19:7
[✔︎] Teach people that love is never optional. Luke 10:25–37
[✔︎] Let people know that I often give second chances. John 21:15–25
[✔︎] Make it clear that my actions are fulfilling all of the prophecies about Me. Luke 13:32
[✔︎] Tell people that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. Matthew 7:13–14Matthew 10:28
[✔︎] Reveal to people that believers have a home waiting for them in heaven. John 14:2
[✔︎] Teach people that this life is full of troubles. John 16:33
[✔︎] Help people know the value of differed gratification – Luke 14:33
[✔︎] Ask My Father to send the Holy Spirit so my believers will not be left as orphans. John 14:16, John 14:26, John 14:18
[✔︎] Be humiliated, cursed, spit upon, nailed to a cross, receive the wrath of My Father, be separated from My Father for the first time in all eternity, become sin so My Father cannot even look upon Me, and die as a sacrifice to provide the way for sinners to be forgiven and reconciled to God. Matthew 27:32–56
[✔︎] Rise up from death to become the resurrection for my followers. Luke 24
[✔︎] Ascend back to heaven. Acts 1:9
[ ] Return a second time to gather my people. John 14:3

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Prisoner of Hope

Have you ever had such a need to feel the hand of God that, like a puppy, you became so frantic that you couldn’t receive the very thing you wanted? I think I’ve been in one of those times. You see, I’ve been asking God to directly intervene for the health of several people and a church. But when I pray, I get so wound up in the needs that I feel like I’m chasing my tail.

Called to Serve

I’ve never been a puppy, but my observation is that an excited puppy will spin and tumble and nuzzle in attempts at feeling his master’s hand. But only when the puppy quiets, panting from exhaustion, can his master rest his hand on him, and only then does the puppy feel what he craves. I think I’ve been caught in “puppy syndrome” and am still in the frenetic phase. But I am changing my ways.

Jesus didn’t call me to chase my tail; He didn’t call me to chase the devil; He called me to serve Him, and may God have mercy on the soul of anyone that attempts to mess with His will. So, as I was reading my Bible, the Holy Spirit gave me a verse to grasp hold of that has settled me down. This verse is a promise, and the good news is that it is as much for you as me. Here is God’s promise:

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Zechariah 9:12

Prisoner of Hope

Did you catch God’s promise in this verse? It is the “prisoners of hope.” That’s what I am; I am a prisoner of hope. I cannot deny so great a salvation. I am not ashamed of the Gospel. Because of what Jesus has done in me, through me, and for me, how can I not be wrapped in chains of love and lashed to the Rock of my salvation? I am a prisoner of hope.

I no longer need to cast my soul into a frenzy when my Master stretches His hand towards me. There is no need because I am already bound to Him, fed by Him, and continually communicating with Him. Do I still need the touch of His hand? Absolutely. Do I still have petitions for Him? Yes, indeed. Should I be concerned that He may not hear my prayer? Not at all, for I am a prisoner of hope.

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yellow bellied prinium


Years ago, I drove past a church’s sign that had the quote, “Sometimes silence is golden, and other times it’s just plain yellow.” That memory came to mind this morning while reading Biblegateway.com’s “Verse of the Day.” The first thought I had when I remembered that quote was, “Why is yellow a code-word for cowardly?” This information was especially important because, as a kid, every week on “The Lone Ranger” I heard, “You no-good, yellow-bellied, horse thief!” 

“Yellow” was originally “yellow-bellied” and applied to birds that literally have a yellow belly, like the yellow-bellied sapsucker. From there, it came to mean an insult for cowards. If you’re afraid to ask someone on a date, you’re yellow-bellied. If you’re easily frightened or spooked, you’re yellow-bellied. This is often used as an insult or challenge, like “What are you, yellow-bellied?!” 


There are times for us to be silent. I wrote a devotional titled, “All truths are not to be spoken to all persons at all times.” However, silence sometimes means a Christian is easily frightened. That doesn’t sound like a healthy Christian. The Holy Spirit lives within us, Paul wrote, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to put on our whole armor, and we have historical accounts, such as “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” (epub free on Google Play), of mothers urging their children to look to Jesus while their children were burned at the stake for their commitment to Christ. No, “yellow” isn’t the color of a Christian.

What triggered my memory? “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 6-7NIV) In our daily life, it’s easy to be drawn into worldly conversations or to be slightly duplicitous in conversations. 

We must not be afraid to shut down or walk away from worldly behavior. By doing so, we protect Christians that may be afraid to take a stand. Moreover, we can teach them by setting an example of a healthy Christian, one who hates evil, always hopes, always, perseveres.

Photo by SK Yeong on Unsplash

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