Week Eight, 2022

Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? Romans 9:21

Clay must be pliable. The only way it can discover what is to become of it is if it yields to the touch of the potter. That lump on the potter’s wheel might become a beautiful vase to be set in a prominent place. Or it might become a pot to hold garbage. The clay has no idea what is in the mind of the potter and no business telling the potter what he can form.

We are those lumps of clay. We don’t know what God has destined for us, or how He plans to use us. We don’t know what we are to become. The only way we can discover it is by surrendering ourselves to Him. Clay can only yield.

The Potter’s hands are powerful—powerful enough to mold and shape a life. The wheel spins at a frightening speed. As the whirling begins, questions arise: What is God doing? Why do I feel so out of control? What is to become of me? But if you can silence those questions and trust those hands, if you can accept the pressure and ignore the fear, if you can remind yourself of the goodness of the Potter and the purity of His heart, then faith will replace anxiety. Fear will flee. Peace will surround you will replace anxiety. Fear will flee. You might even find yourself enjoying the ride.

Father, as we are whirling on the wheel, confused about what You might be doing, help us to yield ourselves to Your touch. May we not resist, and thus become marred in Your hands. Form us into vessels that will bring You glory and honor. Dan Shock



Percentage of self-identified Christians falls 12 points

I am addressing this theme today in light of a story from the Pew Research Center that is dominating headlines: “About Three-in-Ten US Adults Are Now Religiously Unaffiliated.” The subhead adds: “Self-identified Christians make up 63 percent of the US population in 2021, down from 75 percent a decade ago.”

The study also reports that fewer than half of US adults (45 percent) say they pray on a daily basis, down from 58 percent in 2007 and 55 percent in 2014. Roughly one-third of US adults (32 percent) now say they seldom or never pray, up from 18 percent in 2007.

This despite Harvard University research documenting that regular worship attendance corresponds to a 47 percent lower risk of divorce, 33 percent lower risk of mortality, and 29 percent lower risk of depression. Gallup is reporting that Americans’ mental health declined 9 percent from 2019 to 2020, with only one exception: those who attend religious services weekly, whose mental health improved 4 percent in that time. Another study showed that highly religious individuals and evangelicals in America suffered less distress last year than other groups.

Why would the tolerance of unbiblical morality and the intolerance of biblical morality be skyrocketing when the latter has such positive, proven outcomes? Why would more people than ever claim no religious affiliation when such affiliation brings such significant benefits?

The answer is both simple and profound: Our secular society has exchanged Christ for Christianity. It has traded a personal, transformational, very real experience with the very real Jesus for a religion about him.

The Bible calls us to “know” Jesus (John 17:3); the Greek word means to know personally through experience. Paul testified, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8), a personal encounter that changed his life and changed history as a result (cf. Acts 9:1–31).

However, rather than knowing Christ in a concrete but deeply intimate way, many think the Christian faith is about rules and regulations, clergy and church buildings, doctrines and traditions. Such a religion was always destined to falter, because Christianity without the living Christ is a car without fuel, a laptop computer without batteries, an airplane without wings. As a house built on sand, it will always fall in the storm (Matthew 7:24–27).

Here’s my point today: If you and I want our culture to value biblical morality, we must demonstrate personally the liberating power of biblical morality through a transforming, daily encounter with the person of Jesus. If we want more people to identify as Christians, we must exhibit the real and living Christ in us. If we want more Americans to pray, we must show them what happens when we connect personally and powerfully with Christ in prayer. Jim Denison



Some people are born on third base and think they hit a triple. Bob Sprinkle

Don’t say no when God says go. Ken Whitten

If we can completely believe some of God’s promises, why do we have difficulty believing all of God’s promises? Dan Shock

It is easier to be remembered for what you do wrong than for what you do right. Julius Caesar in Shakespeare

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. STEPHEN KING

If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday… Isaiah 58:10 Dwight Short

Loyalty is missing in America. Brandon Hughes

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. CICERO