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Christian Living devotional

A Winning Formula

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After I left full-time ministry, but before I became a teacher, I spent three years in sales with Frito Lay, Inc. I was a Route Sales Rep, which is a front-line position selling salty snacks to grocery and convenience stores.

One day, my boss was helping me set up a huge display of potato chips at a grocery store. It was five in the morning, and I had eleven more accounts to visit that day, so I was in a bit of a rush. Pulling a large cart stacked high with boxes of potato chips, I turned a corner too sharply and clipped a large display of pancake syrup at the end of an aisle. Several glass bottles crashed to the floor, creating a growing pool of sticky brown goo.

I know big boys aren’t supposed to cry, but looking at the mess I’d just made, I started to lose it. To my surprise, my supervisor didn’t berate me. Instead, he came over, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, “Are you ok?”

That’s how it really went down. No joke!

“These things happen,” he said calmly, “I once dropped a pallet of milk off a loading dock!” He then showed me a neat trick: pouring corn meal on icky messes makes them more manageable. After applying a few boxes to the chestnut colored goop, I was able to scrape up the whole mess and finish stocking my display.

My boss knew just how to help me recover from a set back. Instead of coming unglued, he came alongside, giving me the tools to cope with a challenging situation.

Years later, I analyzed what he did, and figured out his winning formula:

How to Come Alongside Someone in Need

  • Ask – “Are you OK?” Recognize that all is not well.
  • Acknowledge – “These things happen sometimes. I once did something similar.” Identify with the situation.
  • Assist – “Let me show you a trick for cleaning this up.” Offer to help.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Triple-A: it’s a winning formula for helping others.

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Christian Blog devotional

God Knows You

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Phillip called you.”

John 1:48

I just saw the coolest PBS documentary about Emperor penguins! After marching up to 125 miles across the sea ice, the mother must find her chick among the thousands of others in the colony. That sounds impossible enough, but it gets worse: all the chicks and their dads–who are with them–look EXACTLY alike. To find her husband and their offspring the mother issues a unique call which only her partner can identify.

“When’s mom gonna get here, dad? I’m hungry!”

“My sheep know my voice and they follow me”

John 10:27

Jesus spoke these words in denunciation of a group of Jewish leaders who rejected Him. Basically, He told them, “Guys, the reason you don’t get it is because you don’t got it.”

True believers recognize God’s voice, but can He pick theirs out of a crowd? Of course He can! God is all-knowing and familiar will all of our ways (Psalm 139:3b). He recognizes our needs BEFORE we do, (Matthew 6:8) and knows the secrets of our hearts (Psalm 44:21b).

The concept of being intimately known by our creator is clear. However, what does this look like in real life?

The about-to-be disciple, Nathanael, had never met Jesus. Yet when Christ saw him approaching He said, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” — (John 1:47) Jesus saw much more than a guy sitting under a fig tree–before Phillip called him over. Clearly, the Son of God knew the character qualities of an apparent stranger. This surprised Nathanael enough for him to say, “How do you know me?”

God has this same level of intimate knowledge about each one of us.

I love Romans 8:27 and Romans 8:29. They serve like bookends for one of the most quoted comfort scriptures of all time.

(27) And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

(28) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

(29) For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.

With God we can be ourselves. He knows us anyway!

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Christian Blog devotional

Wet Paint

“27 February – 242/365” by Researching Media is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As a recent project, my wife and I decided to touch up some high traffic areas in our home with fresh paint. Each of us walked around one morning, with brush and paint can in hand, covering over blemishes high and low.

We finished the job as planned and were quite proud of our work. But there was a little problem: we didn’t mark where we painted. It’s hard to tell wet paint from dry of the same color, you know?

Well, I must have brushed against some fresh paint walking into the laundry room, because, next thing I know, my wife tells me I have a racing stripe across my backside! Later, our little terrier comes up to me sporting a white-tipped tail she didn’t have before. It actually looked quite fashionable on her.

I now know why signs that say Wet Paint, Biohazard, and Radioactive were invented.

Hey, someone needs to come up with a type of paint that goes on light pink and slowly turns white as it dries. I would buy some of that.

Anyway, after these two mishaps, we managed to avoid any further contact with wet paint, but the quote lover in me was intrigued. Searching for just the right words to describe our dilemma, I remembered these:

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”

Robert Burns

This actually comes from the poem, To a Mouse. Burns wrote it after plowing up a mouse’s nest in a field in November 1785. The rodent ran away unharmed, but the poet felt bad–knowing he destroyed its home just before the brutal Scottish winter.

But who knows what really happened to our little grey friend after the accident. Maybe it ran straight to Robert Burn’s house and moved in!


Being a child of God doesn’t make one immune to ‘mouse-haps.’ In fact, I’ve survived quite a few. I bet you have also.

Maybe that’s why my wife and I gave the poor mouse in Burn’s poem a happy ending. Like the Psalmist said, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more (Psalm 71:14).

Have you ever experienced a Romans 8:28 situation–something that seemed ALL bad right when it happened, but later turned out for the good?

Maybe our present circumstances are like wet paint–we need to let them dry before we brush up against them. This takes faith in God’s sovereignty, but sure beats getting paint on your backside!

Here are two of my favorite, let-the-paint-dry scriptures. Please share yours in the comments, if you like.

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the work of your hands. –(Psalm 138:8)

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “you are my God.” My times are in Your hands.” — (Psalm 31:14-15a)


God’s Child
Things don’t always turn out the way we think they should.
Sometimes, we look to heaven and say, “God, it’s just no good.”
Until somewhere from the silence…comes a voice of love
Saying, “You’re My child, and that’s enough.”

When you’re God’s child it’s enough.
He is all you need when the going gets tough.
It doesn’t make much difference if the sailing’s smooth or rough.
You’re God’s child, and that’s enough.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” — (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Categories
Christian Blog devotional

Right Now, It’s Like This

Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

On April 22, 2020 my house got pounded by tennis ball size hail. Inside, it sounded and felt like artillery shells were hitting the roof. At daylight the next morning, I went out to survey the damage. Parts of our siding looked like swiss cheese, and the roof had more divots than a golf course fairway!

Severe weather is common here–our home has been damaged by wind and hail twice before, but never like this. I contacted my insurance company, and the slow cakewalk began. Why are they so quick to take premiums, but slow to pay claims?

Getting paid for damages is just the beginning of a larger pain in the next. That’s not a typo. I meant to say pain in the NEXT; construction delays are REAL. It’s easier to find a live leprechaun, than an experienced roofer after a hail storm!

As I type, it two months after the storm, and still no new roof. However, there are pallets of shingles on my front lawn and a contractor’s trailer parked in the driveway. The timeline for job completion has been adjusted and readjusted and re-readjusted. Cue sound of breaking glass.

Three days later…

I went for a run this morning, fussing and fuming the whole time about our hopelessly stalled project. By the time I finished and walked in the door, I was ready to call our contractor and say, “Enough is enough.” But my wife stopped me as I walked through the living room, “Sweetheart, listen to the verse of the day.”

Yet those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 NASB

“Ok God, message received,” I thought to myself, “I’ll at least wait until I’m not angry before I decide to do anything.” I went out back to cool off–physically and emotionally–and sat for a few minutes with a towel over my head: “God I can’t take much more of this.”

Back inside, I realized it was trash day, so I opened the garage door to take out the garbage. And that’s when I noticed the ladder leaning against the house. The roofers were here!

I hear stories like this sometimes, and I think, “Yeah right.”
But then it happens to me.

Thank God.