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 ↩︎
three crosses


I’ve just returned from a trip to Germany to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters. It was a wonderful visit, and the travel went well, all but the last ten seconds!

Every connection was stress-free. My seats were in perfect locations; well, I didn’t get business of 1st-class seats. I flew for free, using the last of my frequent-flyer miles. I could not have hoped for a better trip, except for those last ten seconds.

I was sitting on a bench at “Arrivals” when I spotted my wife; actually, I spotted her car and then her. As she searched for a place to stop and let me get in, I hurried to the car. That’s when it happened. I fell. Yet again, I fell hard on the pavement, but I have good news! Three men ran to where I was, working together to get me back on my feet. What an incredible blessing! Instead of me laying there like a turtle on its back, I was swept up to my feet and helped into my car. Wow! I love stories with surprising endings, so now I have one! It was nothing less than extraordinary.

In the car, as we pulled away, this verse ran through my mind:

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

1, 2, 3

In the Hebrew language, the meanings of one, two, and three are:

One: Oneness, Unity, Primacy, First, Beginning. Single and not plural, not subject to multiplicity or division. (1×1=1) One remains one, it does not change. God is One. (Dt. 6:4) There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father. (Eph. 4:4–6)

Two: Divide, difference, oppose, judge, discern, witness, conflict, blessing, abundance, building, couple, dying to self. It is also related to the Hebrew word shanah, meaning change or repeat. Context determines meaning (as with all numbers). Ideally, two should mirror one, as in the “two shall become one (echad) flesh.” Thus, making a true “pair” that works together like one’s ears, eyes, nostrils, hands, and feet.

There are two great commandments (love God/love neighbor), two houses of Israel, two sticks, two sisters, two olive branches, two silver trumpets, two leavened loaves on Shavuot, two cherubim guard Ark of the Covenant and the entrance to Eden, two good spies (Joshua and Caleb), and two witnesses mentioned in the Bible.

Three: Seeds, trees, fruit. Revelation, resurrection, gathering balance, equilibrium, pattern, counsel, witness, and strength. New life, sprouting, resurrection, fruitfulness, words of life (counsel), unity, and the foundation of the Temple/House are all signified by the number three. Three brings harmony and unity to opposites like one and two. Three creates a solid or a foundation and makes the first geometric shape (triangle). The sequence of three makes a chain of continuity: three patriarchs, three pilgrimage festivals, third day, three primary manifestations of the Godhead, three-ply cord, three witnesses, three kings of united Israel, three primary missionary journeys of Shaul (Paul), three woes of judgment (Book of Revelation). In tradition, Moses ascended and descended Mount Sinai three times.



As we just read, three or triplets in God’s Word are often used to communicate intensity, completeness, or something good. Jesus told Peter that the rooster would crow after he had denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:34) and Jesus later restored Peter by asking him three questions (John 21:15–25) When looked at as a whole experience, we see that Jesus knows we will fail and when we will do it. Afterward, He doesn’t abandon us but offers to restore us completely.

More Threes

Jesus declared in the book of John, chapter two, that if the temple were destroyed, He would raise it again in three days (John 2:18–20). He was referring to His death, burial, and resurrection, though the Jews thought He was speaking of the temple in Jerusalem.

A few more threes are when “Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish.” (Matthew 12:40). The three patriarchs of the Jewish people are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 22:32). At the birth of Jesus, the Magi presented to Jesus three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2). And the ultimate three is the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19–20)

Good News

Since three stands for completeness, then 27, or 33 (3 cubed), is even more complete. So, it should not surprise us that there are twenty-seven books in the New Testament. Let’s all take a moment and marvel at God and His Word. Do God’s will and enjoy Him!

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

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Misplaced Expectations

The Bare Facts

Isaiah was a prophet of God. One day, God gave him an almost unimaginable message. In the twentieth chapter of Isaiah, we learn that the LORD told Isaiah to “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.1” He did this for three years!

Then the LORD told him that this was a sign – “a symbol of the terrible troubles” – that would come on Egypt and Ethiopia. I wonder if the thought went through Isaiah’s mind, “Now you tell me!”

The Main Point

The Philistines, Israel’s continual nemesis, felt safe because they believed that if Assyria ever attempted to attack them, then Egypt and/or Ethiopia would give them protection. WRONG!

The LORD told Isaiah that the king of Assyria would conquer Egypt and Ethiopia. And then the Philistines would become terrified! “They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.2’”

Misplaced Expectations

Just like people, throughout history, nations have made dangerous decisions based on bad assumptions. A stark example happened in 1957.

The Soviet Union Invaded Hungary

The November 1957 invasion by the Soviet Union into Hungary is a painful reminder of the danger of trusting other nations for your own nation’s safety. In 1956, a national movement swept the people of Hungary to throw off the outdated Soviet repression of their nation. At the beginning of the movement, they did not seek an alliance with NATO, just as Ukraine did not seek a military alliance with the West. But, just as the Soviet Union increased its pressure on Hungary, Russia did the same to Ukraine. And, just as we have recently seen in the war between Russia and Ukraine, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. Both Hungary and Ukraine looked to the West for help; only Ukraine received it.

The Hungarian anti-Soviet militia thought they would succeed in their effort because they believed rumors, published by the CIA, that NATO and the US would step in and stop the invasion3. No help came from the West, so the Soviet Union’s invasion was an overwhelming success.

I have placed my fingers in some of the hundreds of bullet holes in Hungary’s parliament building that was besieged during the 1957 invasion. It is a chilling reminder of how political decisions do affect people’s lives.

As a side note, few people remember that Elvis Presley made a personal effort to help the Hungarians.

On Sunday, January 6, 1957, as millions of Americans watched Ed Sullivan’s popular television variety show, with the nearly 22 year-old Elvis Presley headlining for the third time, Sullivan told viewers Presley felt “so keenly about Hungarian relief, he urges all of us through the country to remember that immediate aid is needed.” The host followed this with Elvis singing an unrecorded number, the gospel song “Peace in the Valley,” saying “he feels that this is sort of in the mood that he’d like to create. – Wikipedia

Good News

God has given good promises to those that trust Him, who look to Him for their help, their hope, their hero.

6 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.

Psalms 20:6–8 ESV

Both personally and as a nation, I pray that we change, that we stop trusting the untrustworthy and wholeheartedly trust our place in Jesus for our strength.

Photo by Házy Zsolt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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[1]: Isaiah 20:2 NIV
[2]: Isaiah 20:6 NLT
[3]: After the USSR defeated the anti-communist Hungarian Revolution, the revolutionists criticised the CIA and its RFE network for having deceived the Hungarians into believing that the West—NATO and the US—would expel the USSR from the Hungarian People’s Republic. Although incitements to violence were officially against RFE policy, an internal analysis by RFE adviser William Griffith found, as summarized by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, that “RFE broadcasts in several cases had implied that foreign aid would be forthcoming if the Hungarians succeeded in establishing a ‘central military command’” and “appealed to the Hungarians to ‘continue to fight vigorously’”. – Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Rock climbers

Do We or Don’t We?

Some will look out at the ocean
But never set foot past the shore
While others set sail and never look back
And go where no man’s gone before

Anything’s possible if you have faith
Just keep your head up and stay in the race
Others before have known this is true
And now it’s time for you
To know anything’s possible, too

Gary Chapman,

I love that song. It taps into a struggle we often go through in life; do we or don’t we? Sometimes we overthink a thing we know God wants us to do. At other times, we pray too little, seek no counsel, and throw around theologically inaccurate memes to whip up our human confidence while giving little attention to God’s will and our lack of effort to know it. Humans are a strange creation.

Anything is possible, but not all things are God’s will. Right now, I’m in my deer-in-the-headlights pose. It happens to me when God puts something in my hands to do, but I lack any natural ability to do it. Though I am in one of those problems right now, I keep reminding myself what the apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:8–10

The man Gideon had this same problem. Gideon was the poster child for weakness. Yet, God made him into a military leader for a battle to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of a neighboring country. Here is God’s first message to Gideon:

Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’

Judges 6–8

God doesn’t see us the way we are. Rather, God sees us as how we will be when He steps into our story. We do not exist because of some mistake, some carnal act in the backseat of a car, or some foolishness. No, you and I exist for a divine reason. We exist to do some specific works that God planned before His Creation. God made a plan, and He is working His plan, and now it is your turn and mine. It’s time for us to do the things God created us to do.

You and I are part of God’s will that He planned for you before He created anything[1]. He isn’t going to let anyone or anything spoil His plan.

While writing this post, my heart has been changing. I have been frozen by what Christ Jesus has given me to do. But now, not so much. Writing this post has reminded my worried mind that I’ve been here before. Just as David said, “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.[2]” I pray the Holy Spirit also reminds you.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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[1]: Ephesians 2:10 NIV – For we are God’s handiwork, created – Bible Gateway.
[2]: 1 Samuel 17:34–36 ESV – And David said unto Saul, Thy servant – Bible Gateway.


The Citadel of Aleppo, located in Syria, is considered the oldest fort still in existence. It is situated on a mound where people have lived since about 3,000 B.C. Throughout the history of humanity, people have built forts for protection from their enemies and wild animals.

Many forts were protected for a while, but nearly all eventually fell, leaving their owners beaten, killed, and stripped of their property. But this is not the case for those of us who have entered the fort of God.

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.

Psalm 59:16

I think, as Christians, we understand that God is our hope and our salvation, but do we “leave money on the table?” Do we receive only some of God’s provision and fail to glean all of His promises that He has made available to us? Do we understand God as a fort where we can enter and find refuge?

Are we distressed? Do we feel as the apostle Paul did?

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:8–12

We must take refuge in God’s fort when hard times come, and they will come for each of us. And where is HIs fortress? It is in Jesus, our Lord, the Holy Spirit who lives in us, and our attentive Father who is ready to hear and answer our requests.

Jesus didn’t fold up God’s fortress and take it with Him when He ascended back into heaven. Jesus asked His Father to send us the Holy Spirit, and He did! God’s fort and refuge are still here, still ready. It has never been overthrown and never will be. Do you need relief? Then enter Jesus, for He is the Rock of our salvation (Psalm 62:6). He is our fortress and refuge.

Memorino, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Steep Mountain Road

Practical Faith

In the opening paragraphs of 2nd Corinthians, the Apostle Paul tells us something surprising. Here’s what he wrote:

8 We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die.” 

2 Corinthians 1:8–9a NLT

Practical Faith

We would have lost much of the New Testament if Paul had died. But God brought them through what appeared to Paul and his companions as certain death. We may be tempted to discount Paul’s statement since he is an Apostle, but we would miss God’s message for us. We find God’s intent in the following verses.

9 But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again.” 

11 “And you are helping us by praying for us.” 

2 Corinthians 1:9b–11 NLT

Paul found God to be reliable. This is practical faith. It’s easy for us to pray and trust God to help the orphans in Syria, but when it comes to our life-or-death situations, we quickly find out how well we’ve learned to trust God for immediate and practical matters. 

My Telephone Poll Story

Once, when I was a missionary in Eastern Europe, I was in the back seat of a very old Mercedes Benz full of people. The driver had little experience driving, but he decided to drive up a small mountain to get a telephone pole-sized log.

We strapped it to the roof of his car. As I sat down in the backseat, I had a bad feeling about this adventure. The Holy Spirit often prepares me for bad situations. Oh, I forgot to tell you the car had a manual shift (stick shift) transmission. Our driver started the car and immediately began going backward – he put the car in reverse – and he didn’t stop!

As the car sped faster and faster in reverse, we passengers began yelling instructions. Our frantic instructions accomplished one thing; the car stalled. This might have been good, but the driver held down the clutch while trying to start the vehicle.

So, as we free-wheeled down the side of a mountain, backward, with a telephone pole strapped to the roof and passengers screaming in multiple languages, my trust in God didn’t waiver; the driver was another matter!

We had picked up quite a bit of speed as we rapidly approached a jam-packed highway. Oh, the road was on the side of a high mountain. The lane we needed to end up in was the one that would take us down the mountain to a small village at the bottom. 

It was as if we were in a 1930s Laural and Hardy movie. Cars were whizzing down the highway while we bumped and bounced toward it. And just like in the film, a gap opened right when we sprung upon the pavement. Thankfully, the driver steered us, so the front of the car pointed down the mountain.

Praying for Others

Sitting in a dead car on a busy highway is not the time to learn how to pray. It’s time to pray. We made it to the village – that’s another story – and we all lived to tell our versions of what happened.

For me, the most important verse in today’s Scripture is verse eleven: “And you are helping us by praying for us.” Praying is very practical; it is based on practical faith. When we pray for the orphans in Syria, God hears us, and with the measure of faith we have, He measures out His help. You see, God answers our prayers, no matter how small or far away the need is. So when it comes to practical faith, remember this verse:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

Photo by Henry Lo on Unsplash

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rain on a car wibdshield

Rain Clouds

Ecclesiastes 11:1 is a famous verse. It’s one of those verses that has become part of the American narrative and has spawned at least one Christian song. The verse states: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.

The meaning of this verse is a challenge – it’s not talking about soggy bread. Generally, it is interpreted: “The passage as a whole communicates the principle of doing as much good as you can, knowing two things: the results are in God’s hands, and you don’t know when you yourself will be in need of someone else’s generosity.[1]

However, today, I would like us to consider Ecceleasties 11:3–4:

3 If the clouds are full of rain,
they empty themselves on the earth,
and if a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
4 He who observes the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

Now you may say, “Gary, I don’t get it.” Well, there is a nugget of wisdom here that is of critical importance right now. Right now, the world appears to be a scary place.

Get On With It

If you observe the wind and regard the clouds, if you watch the news and listen to your neighbors, their fears and warnings of uncertain times can paralyze your thinking and easily give you an excuse to do nothing, and that is not how Christians are called to live.

Remember Christ’s parable of the house built on sand and the house built on the rock (Matthew 7:24–27)? The rock is a “type” for Jesus. Jesus is our rock. The rain (v3: clouds are full of rain) will not overcome us, rather, we are the overcomers.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5:2–4

Listen to the Holy Spirit, pray, talk with faithful believers, and, with prudence, do the work Jesus has called you to. Don’t let “weather forecasts” prevent you from doing God’s will. “Don’t let him [Jesus] find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. (Mark 13:34-36 NLT)” You can hear the song “Cast Your Bread On the Water” here:

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay


Worry and Fear

A Fish Story

I once was fishing with another guy when his hook snagged me while casting. It stuck right in me, and pain exploded when he dropped his pole to “help” me. As I face today, I have some needs and many desires. All of these have snagged me like fishing hooks.

Worry About Worry and Fear about Fear

When I pray, do I allow thoughts and feelings that deny God’s provisions? Fear that our government will fail. Fear that my income will become worth-less due to inflation. Worry about a church that God laid on my heart. Worry about a former pastor that fell into sin. Worry about how much longer my car will last. Worry about worry, and fear about fear. How can I be this way!?

You see, in a much less important way, I am acting like the Apostle Peter when he got out of the boat and walked on water. But, seeing the storm, he began to sink. My condition is not life or death, but my concerns are: Can I just rest in Jesus? Can I write more? Am I being redundant? Am I a good teacher:

He [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

Matthew 13:52

Good News

Jesus is my friend that sticks closer than a brother. He mediates for me to Father God. And my Father gave me the Spirit of God to live in me. Jesus has made sure that I am fully equipped and have an open line to Almighty God. I have access to anything I need to do the will of God. It’s all at my disposal. And by faith, I can receive it. Therefore, I lack nothing.

I know my concerns are foolish. My good news is that the Spirit of God is helping me. He adds to my groanings and delivers to God articulate, faith-filled prayers from me. I know because my mind is being transformed and less cluttered, and my faith is being rejuvenated. This old man is still strong in my spirit; my faith in God has not wavered. And, guess what, the same is available to you!

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

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Bicycle Vintage Bike Old Retro Style Hipster

Foolish Confidence

When I was a kid, one of my uncles had a large farm in central Indiana. I always enjoyed our visits there, partly because of the terrain. When we reached the turn-off to his home, we were confronted by a one-car (wagon) wide path that was quite long. The fun part was that the path started at the top of a large hill and immediately went down, like one of those thrill rides at a county fair! At the bottom was my aunt and uncle’s home and barn.

The Family Reunion

One summer day my aunt and uncle hosted a family reunion at their farm. While the menfolk waited for the reunion feast (this was a long time ago) they played horseshoes and all of the cousins played in the lush grass at the bottom of the hill. At some point, one of the cousins suggested that we ride bicycles down the side of the hill – every kid is crazy, some just hide it better than others.

The idea was to go a little way up the hill and then fly down on the bicycles! This sounded fun since the long grass made for difficult peddling. There were two or three bicycles so more than one kid could go at the same time.

Going Down the Hill

I was among the youngest of the cousins, not counting babies. Still, even at six or seven, I knew I could do this despite having not yet learned to ride a bicycle – silly rabbit. So, when it came to my turn, I took the bicycle all the way to the top of the hill. I was going to have the ride of my life! I nearly did.

I felt no fear. When I walked the bicycle to the top of the hill I pointed the bike towards the bottom, jumped on, and pedaled (as if I wouldn’t have enough speed from gravity). Down I went, fast and faster. Quickly I couldn’t keep up with the rotation of the pedals. Then the handlebars started wobbling. Finally, about halfway down, I flipped. The bike was riding me down the hill!

When I reached the bottom of the hill I was a beat-up little kid. No significant injuries. but the bike had “taken the starch out” of me. That was the day I learned about foolish confidence.

Foolish Confidence

As I was reading my Bible today I came across this passage:

“This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
yet after them people approve of their boasts.”

Psalms 49:13

How many times have we heard people boast about how they will live after they die. I heard a song by Willie Nelson called, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” There is no doubt that Willie has great talent and seems to be a down-to-earth guy, but the message of this song is foolish confidence.

My point is not to pick on Willie Nelson. Instead, my point is that we need to be on guard against foolish confidence. “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:31) And, let’s not forget “The Seven Sons of Sceva.”

In Acts 19:11-20, Luke records an event where seven unsaved sons of a Jewish priest tried to cast a demon out of a man using the name of Jesus. It didn’t go well. The demon told the son, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” After that, things rapidly went downhill for the sons of Sceva.

Good News

For Christians, we are called to walk in faith, share the Good News of Jesus with everyone, and learn the voice of the Holy Spirit. If we do these things then we will act in faithful confidence instead of foolish confidence.

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