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The Raccoon Trap

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

I’ve always heard that the best way to catch a raccoon is to create a trap with a shiny coin dangling, and then put a small hole in the side. A raccoon will reach in, grab the coin, and not be able to get his hand out because it’s in a fist. The simple way to get out is to let go, but the raccoon won’t because he wants the coin too badly. I’ve laughed at how stupid a raccoon must be, but then had to stop when the mirror was turned to me.

Each time I hear the story of the raccoon, I wonder what things I’m holding on to that I need to let go of. There was a young man who approached Jesus in Mark 10, and he asked Him what he needed to do to get eternal life. Jesus rattled off several commandments, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother” (MSG). This got the young man excited because he had kept all of those. Just then, Jesus added one more to the list.

Jesus said, “There’s just one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor.” The young man’s face dropped, and he went away with a heavy heart. Verse 22 says, “He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.” He got caught in the raccoon trap. He was holding on to things God was asking Him to let go of. In the end, he lost it all because he couldn’t let go. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

What are you holding on to that God has asked you to let go of? It could be hurt, regret, pain, bitterness, or something physical that you own. Whatever it is, it’s best to let go of it before God pries it out. Don’t let those things trap you and keep you where you are. Release them, no matter how important they may seem. You’ll find that God’s freedom is greater than whatever you’re holding on to. I’ve also learned that I have to let go of things before God can give me new and better things. The choice is ours. What’s it going to be?

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

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Saving Jesus

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

A few years ago, I played the part of Pilate for a church’s Easter drama. As I rehearsed my lines and got into character, it dawned on me that I was the one sentencing Jesus to death. My first thought was, “I don’t know that I want to play this part.” Of all the characters in the drama, I’m the one who has the power to save Him and keep Him from being crucified. Even though I find no fault in Him, I still have to release Him to the mob to be killed. I have to give in to the mob rather than stand up for the truth. I have to disregard my wife’s warning and set a guilty man free instead.

As I struggled with playing that character, it hit me that it wasn’t Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death. It was me. Me! Chris Hendrix. It was my sin that condemned Him. It was my faults that nailed Him to the cross. These are things that I’ve known my whole life, but as I began to play the part of Pilate, I realized I’ve not really fully accepted that blame. I’ve been shifting it to those who actually crucified Him. It’s easier to point fingers and wash our hands of the guilt, but the truth is that water doesn’t take away the blame.

Each of us in our own way condemned Him to death. Even though I thought that as Pilate I had the power to save Him, I really didn’t. His ultimate plan was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t been crucified, we would still be in our sins and without hope. He kept that in mind as they hurled their accusations at Him. He loved them enough to stay silent in the face of their lies. He loved them enough to not perform a miracle for Herod. He loved you enough that He willingly died so He could pay the price for your sin. The real power was in His hands, not Pilate’s, and He used it for us. He took our “guilty” verdict on Himself to make us “innocent”. This Easter weekend, if you haven’t thanked Him for that, let me encourage you to. If you’ve never accepted Him for who He was and is, it’s time to recognize Him as the Son of God and invite Him to be Lord of your life. He died for you. Will you live for Him?

Photo by Jose A.Thompson on Unsplash

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Victory In The Valley

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

When reading the story of David and Goliath recently, I noticed something I had read over. I Samuel 17:3 says, “So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them” (NLT). I had never picked up that there was a valley between the two sides. Then verse 40 says, “He (David) picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.” David had to go into the valley to win the victory.

You won’t win victory standing where you are. You are going to have to make the first move. For 40 days, the Israelites were paralyzed by fear. Each day Goliath invited them to fight him, but they stayed put. When David heard Goliath’s taunts, he didn’t get fearful, he got a righteous anger. He knew that this was a spiritual battle that had to be handled in the physical as well. To win the spiritual battle, he’d have to enter the valley and trust God.

Fast forward 14 generations, Jesus was fighting a spiritual battle that required Him to enter a valley as well. John 18:1 says, “After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.” The battle He was fighting was to have the courage to do what God wanted while facing the fear of dying a torturous death on a cross. He could have stayed where He was, but He entered the valley to pray that God’s will be done.

Both David and Jesus recognized that the battle was the Lord’s. They both knew who was fighting on their behalf. That gave them the courage to walk into what seemed like certain death in order to obtain the victory. You and I have to have the same tenacity in prayer and desire to go into the valley if we are going to win our spiritual battles. We are going to have to let go of fear and embrace what God wants to do, enter the valley in front of us, and fight on our knees for victory.

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Renovations And Transformations 

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I watch a lot of home improvement shows on the weekends. It seems my tuner is locked on HGTV when Saturday rolls around. I like watching how they transform spaces. Some require major work where they tear everything out and others are mainly painting and getting the right furniture in the right place. Before moving walls though, they always check to see if it is a load bearing wall. Some walls run perpendicular to the boards that hold up your roof and some run in the same line. If you take out the perpendicular ones (load bearing) that section of the roof can cave in. 

When I think about my life, I’ve got a lot of walls up. I’ve got some in place to separate portions of my life from the other portions. I’ve got some up because I’ve been hurt and I don’t want that pain again. I’ve got some up where I hide all the junk I have in my life as well. Each of us have walls up in our lives whether we like to admit it or not. We build them to keep people and even God out of portions of our lives. We don mind letting them in certain rooms, but we don’t like to let them into our junk closet. 

Just like in a real house, some of those walls are load bearing and some are not. I’ve been thinking about what walls I’ve let God take down when He’s tried to do a remodel. I’ve given Him access to certain things and haven’t given Him permission to do others. I’ve let Him take out some of the non load bearing walls in my life. But like in a renovation, sometimes those walls have to come down in order to do what the master designer wants to do. One thing I’ve noticed is the more permissions or access they grant the hosts on those TV shows, the greater the outcome of the renovation.

In my own life, I want the amazing transformation that renovation can bring. I want to be stunned when I open my eyes and see what God has done with my life. In order for that to happen, I’ve got to give Him permission to tear down my load bearing walls. I’ve got to give Him access to every part of my house. I can’t keep anything hidden from Him. Our walls really don’t keep God out of those areas of our life and He really doesn’t need our permission to do things in our lives. I’ve learned that it helps my attitude in the renovation when I give those things to Him. It prepares me for the changes that are coming.

What walls have you put up to keep others or God out? Have you only given Him permission to knock down the non load bearing walls? What kind of transformation or renovation would you like? The greater one you want, the greater permission you need to give to Him. Just like at the end of those shows where people drop to their knees in awe of what has been done to their house, God can make that kind of renovation with your life. He can move walls, take out the mold of sin, repurpose your past, and create something beautiful out of your life if you let Him.

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God’s Timetable 

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement from God’s Word to us.


One of the most difficult parts of walking by faith is not knowing God’s timetable. So many times, it feels like we are to move on or we want to stay where we are longer than God’s plan. When things are going well, we want to camp in that place and stay there forever. When we’ve been stuck in one place and haven’t seen the growth we want, we are ready to move on. But most of the time, God’s timetable for moving on is different than our own.

There are times in my life when things start happening quickly, and I feel like things are moving in the right direction. Then, all of a sudden, I hit a brick wall. I get stopped in the middle of my progress, and have to stay there for a while. I don’t know why we hit these plateaus or why God camps us out where He does. Some places it seems very logical, but other times it leaves me scratching my head and asking God why.

As I’ve read through the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, I came across some verses that showed they went through something similar. Numbers 9:15-18 says, “On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the LORD’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle” (NLT).

You and I have the responsibility of following God wherever He leads, whenever He moves. Verse 22 says, “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.” You and I have to learn to be flexible with God’s timetable. We don’t have permission to move until He says it’s ok. If you want to experience all God has for you, follow His presence when and where it leads you.

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Throwback Thursday In The Bible

I always love “Throwback Thursday” on social media. Lots of people post pictures of themselves in the past. People laugh and comment about the clothes, hair or where they were. It brings back good memories of a time gone by, but it also is a reminder that we aren’t who we used to be. Times change and so do we. It’s so gradual and slow that we hardly notice it until we do something like a “Throwback Thursday”. When we do that, it becomes very clear how much we have changed and how far we’ve come.

I believe it’s also a good practice to do a Spiritual Throwback Thursday. It’s important to look back and see all the great things God has done for us and to see what He’s brought us through. Times of reflection help us to remember where we once were. They help us to relive the pain and hopelessness of the moment just before God came through. They build our faith so that we can face even harder times in the future. God is faithful. What He’s done in the past, He will do today and in the future.

In Lamentations 3:19-32, Jeremiah reflects on where he had been. He wrote, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lost mess, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh how well I remember – the feeling of hitting bottom. (MSG)” In his time of sorrow, he took time to think back to how he felt in those times of despair he had already faced. He didn’t do it to make himself feel worse in his current condition. He did it so he could have hope.

In verses 21 and 22, he said, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! (NLT)” No matter how bad life gets, you can still dare to have hope because God is faithful. Things may look worse than you’ve ever seen them. The sky may be darker than it has ever been. You may be facing the most hopeless situation, but one thing remains: the faithful love of the Lord never ends. You can hold on to His faithfulness no matter how bleak things might seem.

The writer then spends the next several verses reminding himself of the lessons he’s learned in trusting God. He gives himself a pep talk and says in verses 31 and 32, “For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He also shows great compassion because of the greatness of His unfailing love.” Sometimes we have to give ourselves a pep talk too. David did it when he asked himself, “Why so downcast, o my soul? Put your hope in God.” If doing a Spiritual Throwback Thursday was good enough for Jeremiah and David, it’s good enough for us. It’ll help you to remember the faithful love of the Lord.

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