Hope for Knuckleheads


You stubborn and hardheaded people. —Acts 7:51, CEV

Knuckleheads—hardheaded, stubborn, limited in perspective, and unwilling to change. I often use this phrase to describe young men with whom I work. I credit them for the many white hairs that have emerged in my goatee.

The truth is we’re all knuckleheads.

I’m a knucklehead; I hate admitting I’m wrong!

Peter in the Bible was a knucklehead. Jesus told him, “Repent!” In others words, see yourself rightly—you don’t know everything and you need help. “Believe.” See me (Jesus) rightly—I’m like you but not like you; only I can turn your thinking upside down and your world right side up. “Obey.” Take what I teach you and apply it to your life.

Faith weaves all three—repentance, belief, and obedience—together. However, it often doesn’t come all at once. Peter realized his way wasn’t right; that’s why he started following Jesus (Mark 1:17). Later Peter came to the conclusion that Jesus was not just a teacher but something so much more (Matt. 16:16). Obedience though didn’t come until after Jesus died, was resurrected, and sent His Spirit (1 Pet. 1:14, 22). Even then Peter still had things to learn (Acts 11).

When I’m frustrated at myself or with others, it’s worth remembering—faith is a process, not an address.



Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).

I sat for a long time at my dining room table with a tangle of cords and chains, metal and rock, silver and gold, as I tried to separate all of my earrings, bracelets and necklaces from the hopeless state that travel had gotten them into. Usually, it is a task that I like—slow tempo, measurable results, and useful effort. But, this time, the snarl was incredibly complicated. Each time I was able to free a chain or a charm, the whole mess would begin to twirl and wind up, capturing everything again in a different way. The earrings would hook themselves onto the tiny links. The bracelet fasteners would be wound around with threads and string. It was maddening!

As I wondered how much time I should invest in this untangling, I felt the gentle encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

“This is how peoples’ lives sometimes feel to me,” a voice in my head said.

I took a moment to pray for help, even though at some points in my life I would have thought it too trivial. As I pulled and prodded, twisted and untwisted, new ideas began to flow. As I relaxed and thought about other things, what seemed like an insurmountable problem began to look more like something that could be conquered.

Here were the insights I gained from my two hours at the table with the jewelry.

  1. Knowledge is important.

    The material properties of my various necklaces, etc., made a difference in how much pressure I could put on them. There were delicate ones that couldn’t really be pulled too strongly. There were some chains that were tough and hearty. And, I had to know some basic techniques of how to get them apart (I use a pin or a needle to help my hands work better).

    But, knowledge alone could not work out the tangles in an effective or efficient way. If knowing the properties was enough, they should have come immediately apart as soon as I began working with them. It took more.

  2. Understanding is vital.

    To solve the problem I had with the tangled jewelry, I had to understand how I could succeed. I needed to understand that the tangles were sometimes actually knots. I had to understand that some the pieces needed to be unlatched, so they wouldn’t all simply form unending circles. I couldn’t move forward without understanding that the chains and ties would wrap around each other when lifted from the surface of the table.

    And, still, I was two hours at the work, trying to “un-weave” the complicated woof and warp of the knot of things.

  3. Wisdom will win.

    Once I began letting God in on my thinking (and my frustration), the whole exercise turned around. I felt the calm hand of Wisdom teaching me how to be peaceful and intentional, even in a tension-producing situation. Wisdom said, “Take it easy. Don’t rush. Let it happen.” One by one, the chains unwound from each other. The earrings slowly came out of the tangle so that I could set them aside. Bracelets shook off the shackles of the other pieces. I could finally put everything away in its place, happy and content.

There is no doubt that we have plenty of knowledge in today’s world. Some that can be trusted and some that cannot.

And, understanding is available to us with some study and some practice.

But, it is wisdom that will give success; wisdom whose source is the Creator.



Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust. —Zig Ziglar

Recently I considered joining a new gym. It was about a fifteen minute drive from my apartment. On my first arrival they directed me to a salesman. His spiel didn’t convince me; frankly, I loath sales tactics that prey on the most base aspects of human tendencies. Also, I considered the cost too high. I walked away.

On further research I found a free, five-day trial for the same gym so I went back. I tried Zumba . . .not for me! The spinning class though was right up my alley. I haven’t joined yet because honestly I’m slow to join any group, and I’m a cheapskate! However, the cost doesn’t seem so high anymore, and I’m beginning to believe they have something meaningful to offer me.

It wasn’t their words that convinced me; it was the service they gave me for free.