How This Defeat Could be Your Victory in Disguise ~ Guest Post

How This Defeat Could be Your Victory in Disguise ~ Guest Post

Ever experience a time when God snatched you from the jaws of death?

Or finances poured in from unlikely sources during a crisis?

Or an impossible door was opened for you?

Ever experience a miracle?

Me, too.

Gust Post battle

We love this kind of outcome. We tell all our friends at church and write it in our journals. We celebrate.

It’s natural to praise God for dramatic answers to prayer. And it’s appropriate.

But what about the other times? Times when the healing doesn’t come.

When money stays tight.

When the prodigal still hasn’t returned.

You deal with the same old situation for weeks or months or years. You’ve struggled so long you are tired of asking others to pray about your problem.

You’re tired of guarding yourself from spiritual platitudes and not-so-subtle hints that things should be better by now.

You’re weary of feeling like a spiritual failure.

Here’s the thing:

Victory doesn’t always look the way we think it should.

Check out Hebrews 11, the hall of fame for heroes of the faith. Note the shift in verse 35. The writer is celebrating people who have:

  • stopped the mouths of lions

  • quenched the power of fire

  • escaped the edge of the sword

  • seen their loved ones resurrected

and then, in the same breath, commends those who were:

  • mocked

  • flogged

  • stoned

  • sawn in two—among other tortures.

The writer concludes, “And all these…commended for their faith…”

All these commended for their faith! Not just the ones who were rescued. Those who appeared to have lost the battle, too.

This tells us something very important:

Earthly outcome does not define eternal success.

It’s clear in this passage that those who didn’t “get the victory” were heroes of faith as surely as those who did. Which is great news for you.

It means you can still be victorious, even if what you earnestly pray for doesn’t come to pass.

It means you can still be a hero of the faith.

Remember the three Hebrew boys in Daniel? They wouldn’t bow to the king’s idol, though threatened with a fiery death.

We know the end of the story –but keep in mind, these young men have no idea how things will play out when Nebuchadnezzar challenges, “And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Yet their answer is sure – the one true God.

“…he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Do you catch how their answer covers both possible scenarios?

He will deliver us … but if not…” These Hebrew lads are willing to lay down their lives, because they know something the king doesn’t.

What God doesn’t deliver us from, he brings us through.

Either way, he won’t abandon us.

Either way, our faith ultimately results in victory.

It’s not happy outcomes in this life that make us a hero of faith. Rather, it’s childlike, unshakeable trust in God – no matter the result – when we face hardship.

You may not feel like much of a hero.

You’re just taking one step at a time, worshipping when you don’t feel like it, praying when you have the strength, offering thanks as a sacrifice in the middle of a long, hard fight.

Some days, all you can do is cry, Help!

Know this, friend: No fiery trial can touch your eternal reward or God’s pleasure in you.

You are his prize, his delight. He’s proud of you.

You’re a hero of faith.

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2 Responses to How This Defeat Could be Your Victory in Disguise ~ Guest Post

  1. Thank you Susanne! I needed this encouragement today… For myself and for dear friends that are experiencing “a walking through” rather than “deliverance from” trial. Help us grow in faith Lord!

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SEVEN WAYS SORROW AND STRUGGLE SHAPE US

SEVEN WAYS SORROW AND STRUGGLE SHAPE US

Rejected WomanWe all experience loss. If you’re human, you’ve struggled with something, somehow and somewhere. Even the happiest person on the planet knows the angst of sorrow.

Honestly, given the choice, most of us would not choose pain. When faced with the opportunity to laugh or cry, we consistently choose the path of joy. It’s in our nature to pick the easy way or at least the route of least resistance. Only a masochist finds sick pleasure in physical or emotional suffering.

Shaped Struggle BW

However . . .

Is it conceivable that struggle shapes us into someone better?

Is it possible that the good qualities or characteristics we possess become forged through the heat of hardship?

Is it imaginable that sorrow and struggle mold us into men and women of faith?

Shaped AbrahamWould Abraham be the “father of faith” had he not wrestled with doubt? Would another Abraham (Lincoln) be considered one of our greatest presidents if he had not experienced so much loss and failure? Would you be you without the scars and lessons learned the hard way?

 

So how does sorrow and struggle shape us?

  1. As fire purifies gold, the dross in our hearts is revealed and removed in the fire of adversity.

  1. As we suffer, we develop empathy for others in their suffering.

  1. The never-ending presence of Emmanuel becomes a greater reality in the valley of the shadow of death. In fact, we discover that God does some of His best work in the dark.

  1. We learn to say no to sin (if our suffering is sin related) because the consequences of our choices can make us wiser.

  1. Shaped close-up-chiselLike a chisel, suffering chips away at the rough edges of our souls and reveals a deeper beauty previously unknown or unseen.

  1. We mature in our God-confidence (i.e. faith) as we choose to believe even when we cannot see and do not understand.

  1. The struggles of life teach us to persevere.

Perhaps, rather than resist the trials, we should embrace them and be thankful. Maybe we need to have a different perspective on our difficulties?

Shaped Struggle Flower

I’m not suggesting that we look for trouble, cause problems, or just roll over and take it. Of course, there is a time to resist and press forward. But I wonder are we are missing something bigger and better that God wants to do in and through us in the midst of our pain?

You don’t need to look for rainbows or silver linings. You don’t have to try to put a positive spin on something that sucks. And I’m not asking you to just grin and bear it either.

But do grow.

Decide now that no matter what may come, you will see the struggle as an opportunity to cultivate your faith and to mature. You will practice hope even when it seems that all hope is lost. You will celebrate in seasons of suffering and struggle because you believe you will be a better you in the end.

The alternative is to wallow in your misery and become resentful, but that never ends well.

I pray you’ll choose to become better instead of bitter.

Shaped Better not Bitter

 

We celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know

that when we suffer we develop endurance,

which shapes our characters.

When our characters are refined,

we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness.

Romans 5:3-4 (VOICE)

 

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8 Responses to SEVEN WAYS SORROW AND STRUGGLE SHAPE US

  1. Thank you for sharing this Pastor Kurt…your words have given me the strength I needed today to work through my struggles. God Bless!

  2. Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Sacrifice: the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage. I think both of these statements agree with you Kurt, that we should expect some trials, tribulations, and difficulties in our lives. If we keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus through it all, then maybe, just maybe, we will be stronger on the other side of the problem simply because we have gained the strength and wisdom of God to some small measure. Asking Jesus/Holy Spirit/God into our hearts, minds, and souls, heals us. Be healed, and know that He is God. Love you, Kurt!!! Thanks for YOUR words of wisdom and strength.

  3. I was meandering around the internet and came across this post… such a beautifully written piece on such a tricky topic!! My new season is about searching for purpose in the pain, so I appreciate those who have gone before!! In a world that looks for easy comfort, I am learning that we rarely become who God made us to be on the easy short road labelled ‘comfort’ but on the more difficult road of finding deep joy.

    So thank you again from over the Pond!!

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7 THINGS THAT MAKE A GREAT MOM GREAT!

Mom in Israel
My mom in Israel (her 2nd home). Her shirt describes her life! (Live. Learn. Serve. Grow.) No comment on the jackasses.

My mother’s ability to always keep her head above the fray amazes me. She survived raising three boys and one girl (who I insist was spoiled), a marriage of twenty-plus years to a man who had his issues, and major moves to six states with a family of six. She worked full time, kept a busy house relatively sane, and as a pastor’s wife, she had to put up with a thousand expectations of many parishioners. Frankly, I don’t know how she did it all without being driven to drink.

So what makes a great mom great?

Here are seven things I’ve noticed as a son, husband and father (married to another incredible mom).

  •  A great mom is a parent who loves unconditionally. Her affection is not based on the performance of her children. Come hell or high water, good days or bad, she simply loves.

  •  A great mom says what she means and means what she says. You may not always like what she says, but you are rarely confused about her desires or intentions.

  •  A great mom disciplines, corrects, and molds her children with a view to their future. Her unconditional love does not mean unregulated tolerance for unruly behavior. She is committed to growth.

  •  A great mom provides the glue that keeps the family connected and together. She is the one who typically takes the initiative to gather the clan for family time and family meals.

  •  A great mom is a comforter. She seems to know what to say and when to say it to encourage and build up her kids. (And sometimes she doesn’t say anything, but she just holds you close.)

  •  A great mom instills a sense of destiny and God-given purpose in the hearts and minds of her children. From an early age, they believe in a big God who has big plans for their lives.

  •  A great mom loves Jesus with all of her heart, and she models faith and godliness to her children. They fall in love with Jesus because she is deeply in love with him.

Certainly, my list is far from complete, but I know each of these things mark the life of a great woman and mom.

So on this Mother’s Day 2015, I pray a special blessing on the moms. You matter. You are a gift to your children. You are amazing. My momma brought me into this world; she profoundly shaped the man I have become, and I thank God for her everyday.

{Note: a portion of this is a re-post from a previous Mother’s Day tribute to my mother. She’s worth it!}

Laura and Me Falls
The other amazing woman in my life and the mother of my incredible kids!
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WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE NOBODY IS LISTENING

WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE NOBODY IS LISTENING

listeningWe all want to be heard. When it comes to communication, we know how important it is to listen. Intuitively, we recognize that listening demonstrates value. It says to the speaker, “Your words matter to me; even if I disagree with you, I’m listening and trying my best to understand because I care about you.”

When my wife is upset with me over something, she wants to be heard. In fact, about 90% of the time the problem is resolved when she feels truly understood.

When your boss believes you have heard what he has to say, it’s said and done, and everybody can now move on.

When parents speak, they want to be heard, and this is important to them because they love their child.

When a pastor shares his heart, he hopes and prays his people will have ears to hear.

No one wants to be ignored. Everyone wants to experience the connection of healthy and meaningful communication.

So what do you do when you feel like someone is not listening?

Listening NOT

How do you function in a relationship that seems one sided because the other person is talking at you, but not listening to you? Here are some things to try:

  • Be patient. Sometimes a person is not ready to listen. Maybe they need to vent. Maybe they need to calm down. Maybe you need to give God time to work in their heart. Rather than press an issue and attempt to immediately download your thoughts into their minds, give it time. Wait. Your patience might give them time to gain a different perspective or at least give them a better shot at listening.

  • Appeal to them in love. When things have settled down a bit, ask them, “Can I share my heart with you right now? I’d like to discuss this with you, but I want to know if you’re ready to listen.” When this is done in a non-sarcastic and gentle way, it often softens the soul.

  • Dial it down. Hopefully, they’ve had time to chill. However, the quickest way to escalate things again is to make statements that inflame defensiveness. It’s best not to use phrases like, “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” when communicating. Instead of saying, “You made me mad,” say, “I got upset when you said . . .” because it’s better to own your feelings.

  • Ask them to mirror back to you what they heard. Again, in a non-threatening and non-condescending way ask, “What are you hearing me say?” Mirroring back is a surefire way to know if they’ve heard you or not. It also gives you the opportunity to restate and clarify if they got it wrong (and people often do).

Communication is difficult at times. Most of us would rather talk than listen (myself included). But listening is a skill that must be developed, and it’s worth the effort in every relationship.

Listen Relational Road

So when you feel ignored, don’t give up. Keep at it. When we quit on people because we feel like they’ll never listen, we forget that God never gives up on us. Countless times we have ignored the Father, chosen our own paths and turned a deaf ear to Him.

I’m so glad He’s patient with me. How about you?

 

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:

Everyone should be quick to listen,

slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

James 1:19 (NIV)

 

To read more about relationships and relational principles, check out my marriage book, Mr. & Mrs. How to Thrive in a Perfectly Imperfect MarriageMr Mrs Front Panel

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8 Responses to WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE NOBODY IS LISTENING

  1. In Real Estate, it is location, location, location. In relationships, it is communication, communication, communication. A TWO WAY conversation that produces a mutual result. Love, and Respect, are the backbones to meaningful dialogue. I agree with you Kurt, that we should listen first and speak second. We do, after all, have two ears and one mouth. Sometimes, it just does not work out that way. We speak twice, and sometimes don’t listen AT ALL!!! We are human. And, that is what gets us into so much trouble. You make me think, and I love the guidance and wisdom that you share.

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