Faith, Confidence and The Little Engine That Could

How many of you know who Arnold Munk is? How about Watty Piper?


The best known incarnation of the story The Little Engine That Could was written by “Watty Piper”, 

  • a pen name of Arnold Munk, who was the 
  • owner of the publishing firm Platt & Munk. 
  • Arnold Munk was born in Hungary, and as a child, 
  • moved with his family to the United States, settling in Chicago. Later he moved to New York. 
  • Platt & Munk’s offices were at 200 Fifth Avenue until 1957 when Arnold Munk died. 
  • Arnold Munk used the name Watty Piper as both an author of children’s books and as the editor of many of the books that Platt & Munk published. He 
  • personally hired Lois Lenski to illustrate the book. 

This retelling of the tale The Pony Engine appeared in 1930, with a title page that stated: “Retold by Watty Piper from The Pony Engine by Mabel C. Bragg’s copyrighted by George H. Doran and Co.”[2]

 In 1954, Platt & Munk published another version of The Little Engine That Could, with slightly revised language and new, more colorful illustrations by George and Doris Hauman.[3] Although there had been many previous editions of this classic story, “It was the work of George and Doris Hauman that earned The Little Engine the title of being worthy to sit on the same shelf as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”[3] 

 A 1976 rework featured art by Ruth Sanderson received a lot of attention at the time of its release, in part because the art reflected “the stereotypes of masculine strength and feminine weakness in vogue when it was written”.[3] 

 The tale with its easy-to-grasp moral has become a classic children’s story and was adapted in November 1991 as a 30-minute animated film produced in Wales and co-financed in Wales and the United States. The film named the famous little engine “Tillie” and expanded the narrative into a larger story of self-discovery. 

In March 2011, the story was adapted as a 3-D film named The Little Engine That Could, produced by Universal Studios and featuring the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Lee Curtis, Alyson Stoner, and Corbin Bleu.[4]

The whole premise behind The Little Engine that Could is the success which comes from believing in yourself. We sometimes refer to it as “Confidence.” 

The Apostle Paul wrote a special little greeting to the church at Philippi in chapter one of Philippians. It speaks to confidence. I particularly like verse six (6). 

  • “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NASB 

What does that mean? 

  • Does it mean God will see that you’re the greatest football player in the county, or 
  • no one can dunk a basketball like you. Three pointers are a walk in the park. 
  • Maybe it means God will make you the best pitcher to ever take the mound. 
  • The greatest hunter to bag a deer
  • how bout the greatest cook to ever put a Sunday dinner on the table, or 
  • the mother of all moms! 
  • The greatest female CEO to drive a business into financial success. 
  • Perhaps perfecting a good work in you means God will make you to be another Lottie Moon or Annie Armstrong. 
  • Another Billy Graham or Carroll Caldwell? 

The ministry that God began in you will be perfected by Him and your ministry will never end.  

What does that mean? To what is God referring? God will perfect…. 

Paul is likely referring to the salvation of the saints in Philippi. I believe the Holy Bible gives great evidence of the security of the believer. Once saved always saved. 

Not a license to sin or toy around with God’s grace but an affirmation of God’s ability to keep those whom He has saved! 

  • “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:5 NASB 
  • “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25 NASB 
  • …for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 NASB) 

You have to be careful when it comes to confidence. Writer Norman Vincent Peale wrote a book years ago titled, The Power of Positive Thinking, where confidence in oneself is heightened to where dependence on God becomes secondary. 

There comes a time when self-confidence has to be transitioned into faith in God. 

John 15:5 tells us ‘apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.’ 

King David had something to say about God and his work. Psalms 138:8 “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalms 138:8 NASB 

God’s Spirit actually lives within the heart and body of the believer. 

The Believer has absolute confidence in the work of salvation (redemption) God has begun in his life. 

1. It is an incomplete work. 
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NASB

I know I’m somebody cause God don’t make no junk…

He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be…(is not just a child’s song).
2. It is a good work. 

God’s Spirit that dwells within him gives him confidence

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NASB
3. It is a work to be completed. 

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NASB

There is always work to do; therefore God is always working in the life of a believer to mature him more and more. 
What is faith?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:1, 6 NASB 

When my daughter was very small she would jump off a table into my arms. Totally confident in my ability to catch her, to protect her, and to be there for her. 

How did that come to be. She learned she could trust me. 

Isn’t that the way it is with God? Haven’t you seen God at work in your life? Doesn’t that make you have more faith 

Confidence and assurance are two of the striking traits of genuine believers.

Believers know God and know Him personally.
“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 NASB


About Hoss

Married w/ 1 daughter & 3 step-children . Ordained minister. I do supply preaching every opportunity I get. Currently employed in a state prison system. Wife & I own a flower shop in a nearby city. I am approaching my late 50's, although I certainly don't look like it.
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