Monthly Archives: May 2015



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31 Million Watch on Bench

            It sounds like a lot of time, thirty-one million seconds, but it’s not. It’s all you have in any given year to live and make a difference. Before you know it, millions of moments are gone forever. At some point, the wrinkled face looking back at you in the mirror with its wear and tear might surprise you. It may feel like you’re looking at the “ghost of Christmas future” and you’re haunted with a prospect that scares you. Does my life count and have I used my time wisely?

            I’ve lived for almost two billion seconds (you do the math), and I’ve decided I don’t want to squander one more moment on anything that’s meaningless or empty. Life is too short to waste it.

            I had a dear friend, Carol, who was once the epitome of beauty. Young, slim, with dark hair and eyes, and a smile that seemed both enchanting and a little devious. At only twenty-nine she had accomplished so much that she was the envy of her co-workers and friends. It seemed to all who knew her that she was destined for greatness. Then came the diagnosis that changed everything, “You have stage four cervical cancer,” and within a year she was gone.

            Thirty-one million seconds are priceless, especially when there’s no guarantee you own the next one. Carol is still remembered for a lot of things, but most of all, I remember her for the utter surprise I faced when she died. Apparently, life really is short—much shorter than some of us realize.

13 Million Expired Eggs

            Most of my life, I’ve lived aware that we all have an expiration date. Being exposed to death at an early age made me prematurely aware of my own mortality. I was seven or eight when a classmate in school died of leukemia. Of course, I had no idea what leukemia was or why it took the life of my friend, but I do remember thinking, “Someday, I will probably die of something . . . I just hope it doesn’t hurt.”

            Forgive me if this all seems a bit morbid. My intent is not to scare or depress you. I certainly don’t want anyone to fixate on death. However, it is my deep conviction that only those who are aware of their limited time on terra firma will live the kind of passionate, intentional, and epic life God intended for each of us. You need not live in fear of the inevitable, but you must not waste the gifts you have, especially the gift of time.


            Honestly, for at least a few years, I’d pretty much been living life on cruise control. Routine and risk-avoidance had become the new norm for me. I hadn’t quit on life; I just wasn’t as fully engaged as I had been most of my days prior to turning fifty.

            By fifty or so, I’d experienced a measure of success. Capable people surrounded me at work and didn’t need or require micromanaging. I had a nice home in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors. I’d been all over the world, and travel was becoming more inconvenient and less exciting. There wasn’t much, if anything, left on my bucket list. Life was good. So I hit the cruise button, sat back, and relaxed.

31 Million CC PINIT


            When I got cancer at fifty-four, it jolted me back to a purpose driven life. In fact, during that battle God spoke to my heart, “Kurt, you ain’t dead yet!” At that moment, I saw how comfortable I’d grown, and I realized that my path of ease was an enemy to a life of radical faith. God challenged me to reengage and to make sure that I lived all 86,440 seconds of each day with intentionality.

            Some of you are young, and you’re finding it hard to relate. For you, life is fresh and new and exciting. You’re convinced that something awesome is around the next corner. I applaud your zest for living. Hold on to that passion for life. But trust me on this, things change; life can wear you down, and we are all at risk of letting our days become little more than a boring routine. We all tend to drift toward getting stuck in our comfort zones.

            Others are a bit perturbed with me right now. You like your comfortable, lazy-boy life of wasting hours mindlessly in front of your big screen. The closest thing you know of to adventure is watching Survivor. You may not say it out loud, but you often think, “I’ll leave any bold undertaking to the young.”

            Of course, you’ve got reasonable excuses:

            I’m too old.

            I’ve got too many responsibilities.

            I have health issues.

            I’ve worked hard for what I have . . . it’s time to chill on a beach somewhere.

            Besides, at my age, you must be careful; risk-taking can kill ya!

31 Million Old Car

            Perhaps, however, something is stirring in your soul. Maybe there is a growing realization in your mind of this truth: God’s not finished with you yet.

            Here’s a little thought-provoking insight: We all have the same amount of time. Regardless of your age, thirty-one million seconds are the same for everybody. I know it seems like time passes more quickly with age, but it doesn’t. Maybe it just feels faster because you waste more time in your self-made rut of boredom. Yesterday looks a lot like today because it is, for you, so the days blend together like white noise in your soul, without any distinctive moments of adventure. You’ve forgotten how to dance to the music of life because it’s easier not to dance.


             Most of my life, I’ve shown up early to everything. In my opinion, if you’re not early, you’re late. (On the other hand, being late to my grave is just fine with me.) In the meantime, I hope to make every day and every moment I have count for something way bigger than me, something eternal.

            The only thing that separates life from death is one heartbeat and one second, but there’s a whole world of difference between living and dying, so live well. Live your life on purpose. Live with passion. Live with a commitment to make every one of those thirty-one million seconds and beyond count for something eternal. If you don’t, you’ll lose far more than time. Living life on cruise control is for the crusty, and God has so much more in store for you.

31 Million Clouds PINIT

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  1. I heard Adrian Rodgers once say that “A man has not yet begun to live until he is prepared to die”. That was confusing at first, until I realized that this life is a gift from God, and since He counts the hairs on my head (fewer now so less counting) I believe He has ALWAYS had a purpose for my life. And since I have been living on borrowed time (thrown out of an Econoline Service Van on the freeway and only had minor injuries) I came to realize that God, in His infinite wisdom, cares about me and loves me, and is keeping me around for some purpose. Finally accepting Him and His gift, has given ME a sense of purpose. We will all leave this life at some point, but living with God as our “boss”, gives me a purpose and a direction. Robert Heinlein once said “if you want to enjoy the flavor of life, take BIG bites”. I so love the challenges and wonders of the life God brings me, and attempt to make each day/hour/minute/second meaningful. I serve others, think of others, and that keeps me involved and attentive. Jesus said we are to love God, and our neighbors, and ourselves. Ourselves being #3 in the priority list and with that attitude, it seems to me it keeps me from being self centered. Thank you so much Kurt for your words of wisdom that I know and believe come from God. Love you!!!

  2. Hi Kurt. Met you at Inland NW Writer’s Conf. Thanks for today’s post. Appreciate your passion for writing and living and serving God.

    I am having some blockades and gaps in my writing and needed a two by four and reality check. Love your quotes. I collect them, but this time, what I would have copied under Life Quotes, is going in my Writing Quote file.
    Haven’t yet read one of your books but plan to.
    Thanks, Kay Anderson

  3. Hey Kurt,
    I enjoyed your article! When I was growing up we had a worship leader at our church named George Bubna I was wondering if he was you father? The church was Calvary Baptist in St. Louis.

    • Good morning, Bob! Yes, for about 3 years my family lived in St. Louis and my dad was the worship leader at Calvary Baptist. Wow! Small world. I have many fond memories of that time. How did you find my blog? Were you in the youth choir that traveled to Florida? (I was, as the youngest kid, I think.) Blessings…

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

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

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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.

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor


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5 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!

  2. Jesus told ALL of us that there would be troubles, but He said He would be with us always, even unto the end of the age. He will not forsake us. He LOVES us. He created us. “All who believe in Jesus will have everlasting life”…or a close proximity to that. Isn’t that what FAITH is all about??? Be at peace.

  3. I agree with Jim. God said he will never leave nor forsake us. He also said life is filled with heart ache because of sin. We need to praise God in the good times and hard times because He is bigger than any problem we have. He is who He says He is. He is faithful in His will for us. Great post Suzanne. Thank you. Blessings.



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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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  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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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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