Practical Pointers

My practical points on living

James F. Howard is a freelance writer residing in Valdosta, Georgia, United States.

Years ago, my life was a mess from abuse as a child and many other situations. I had come to the Lord, but I still needed help. My pastor would study the Bible with me, expound on the Scriptures, and ask me questions. During this time, God’s promises were rooted in my heart to be a disciple and grow and then teach others.

A few years later, a previous boss of mine saw the change God made in me and wanted this salvation. I shared with him the Word of God. Each morning I read the Word of God to him on the phone because he did not own a Bible. He accepted Christ.

The apostle Paul summarizes this divine strategy: “God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (2 Cor. 1:4, The Message).

When the evil one draws near, his aim is not just to disrupt our lives but, through us, to devastate the lives of others. God’s design is for us to be in their lives and teach and equip them so they, in turn, may go and make disciples. Here is God’s strategy.


Personal time with the Word lets Christ dwell in me and shows me the will of God for my life. Its light goes forth into my soul and works doctrine, correction, and righteousness so that I can then walk in the ways of the Lord. God’s Word shines its light on attitudes I may have that are contrary to Him and brings correction to my heart. How can I know what pleases God? By His Word.


I visited a mentor—a pastor and director of a homeless shelter—and saw a man in a rage, threatening and cursing the pastor to his face. I stood there, amazed. No matter what this man said or did, my friend, in gentleness, warded off the attack with soft words. God’s grace caused him to walk in His peace and gentleness.

Paul shared how to help people influenced by Satan. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24–26, NKJV).


Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6, 7, NKJV).

I have been in prayer meetings where leaders maintained a heart of true thanksgiving. They knew that thanking God in their prayers brought peace to their hearts and minds in Christ.

I must confess that there are times when I do not give God the proper honor and thanksgiving when I pray. I rush through with my usual prayer. That is a sin on my part because God has been so merciful and kind to me. My heart must ring forth with joy and thanksgiving in prayer. That leads me to the final practical point on living.


John wrote about forgiveness and repentance: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8–10, NKJV).

Repentance means “a turning around.” It offers us a second chance. I have heard my pastor crying out to God in repentance for not having a heart on fire for ministry. He humbled himself, and God worked.

Whatever failings God pierces my heart with—care for members, care for family, care for self—my course has been to repent and confess the indifference creeping into my heart. Thankfully, God has worked. I have obtained mercy and grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).

May these practical points guide you also to the foot of the cross.

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James F. Howard is a freelance writer residing in Valdosta, Georgia, United States.

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