Category Archives: Guest Posts

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.

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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.

Grace Hopes With God’s Promises! Guest Post by Nancy Kay Grace

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 Grace Impact Cover“I’ll be there. I promise.” And the person is a no-show.

“You can count on me.” And the word is not kept.

“I’ll do that for you tomorrow.” And the promise is forgotten.

Promises can be made through quiet words spoken with fingers crossed behind the back or by statements of conviction sealed with a firm handshake. Which do you trust?

When a promise is made, we expect it to be fulfilled. When fulfilled, the person receiving the promise is valued. If the promise is broken, the words are empty, leaving us disappointed and hurt. The person speaking it is discredited and the person receiving it is devalued. Broken promises are like glass shards in our hands, painful and sharp, leaving scars behind. We can live in the aftermath of broken trust for years.

How can we trust promises once we’ve been hurt? By turning to the source of solid promises, the Word of God. In 2 Peter 1:3-4 we read:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

It is mind boggling to imagine sharing in the holy nature of God, but that is what grace allows us to do. It does not mean we becoming god-like, but rather we can have a relationship with God through the promise of Jesus Christ. God reveals more of Himself to us, undergirded by His grace.

The grace of God helps us learn to trust God in a deeper way. I remember a time when an employer promised many good things—pleasant work conditions and regular pay increases. I believed they would come to pass. In reality, the opposite happened and things went from bad to worse. I knew I had to trust God even in the midst of the miserable situation. Turning to the Bible, I remembered God’s faithful character in the past, which then encouraged me to trust Him again. God’s promises gave me hope, changed my perspective, and directed my prayers.

The promises in the Bible are solid words of hope for the believer, like anchors to which a rock climber clings for life. Abraham received the covenant promise from God and grasped it until its fulfillment. David humbly accepted God’s word that one of his descendants would be on the throne forever. Mary believed the angel and gave birth to The Promise, Jesus Christ. The power of God’s grace enables the fruition of His divine promise. In other words, grace flows through God’s character to secure His promises. Because we have seen the declarations of God consistently completed in the past, we can firmly believe in them for today and the future. God is faithful to bring about the culmination of His promises.

God is faithful and true to His word. He sees the big picture, not just the day-to-day- struggles of life.

Do you need to strengthen your spirit today? Here some promises to encourage you.

  • If you feel vulnerable, rest in the assurance of God’s protection “I am your shield.” (Gen.15: 1)

  • If you don’t know what to do, seek the Lord for His guidance. “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Ps. 25:9)

  • If you need empowerment to carry on, God pledges inner power and assures provision. “I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isa 41:10)

  • If you are weary, He vows His rest. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

  • If you are lonely, believe the promise of God’s presence. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)

Through focusing on God’s unchanging nature and believing His word, our trust in Him grows. Realigning our attitude with God’s promises can bring order to a chaotic heart. We can inner stability when uncertainty shakes our world. By the grace of God our hope is restored through His promises.

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In a few months, Nancy will be hosting an online Bible study using The Grace Impact. If you are interested in more information about this opportunity, please sign up for her GraceNotesnewsletter at http://www.nancykaygrace.com.

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2 Responses to Grace Hopes With God’s Promises! Guest Post by Nancy Kay Grace

Church Shopping?

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Should Sheep Shop?

Guest Post by Pastor James Emery White

I was recently asked by another pastor how he should feel about all of the sheep swapping going around in his city.
 
In the Bible, those in Christ are often referred to as “sheep,” and pastors as “shepherds.”
From this, there have come all kinds of catchphrases in regard to church life, most notably “sheep swapping,” which is when people move from one local church to another.
So, is that ever a good thing? 
 
Always a bad thing?
 
Something in between?
 
Yes.
 
Five good reasons to shop around:
 
1.   Teaching veers away from historic orthodoxy.
2.   Leadership consistently lacks integrity.
3.   Community is infected with habitual disunity.
4.   Mission has no focus or clarity.
5.   Finances lack necessary accountability.
 
These are good for one reason: they are substantive issues.
 
Five bad reasons to shop around:
 
1.   You don’t like long check-in lines and parking/exit hassles.
2.   You don’t like capital campaigns for buildings.
3.   You don’t like the influx of new faces and new staff.
4.   You don’t like finding your favorite seat taken.
5.   You don’t like having limited personal access to the pastor.
 
These are bad for one reason: they are all about not liking growth.
 
Five really bad reasons to shop around:
 
1.   You want to gravitate to the “next, next” thing out of spiritual insecurity.
      And then the “next, next” thing after that…and after that….
2.   You are fleeing the community after being exposed and admonished for serious, unrepentant sin.
3.   You voted on a non-doctrinal, non-substantive matter and it didn’t go your way.
4.   Your toes were stepped on in regard to a lifestyle or obedience matter that, in truth, the Bible is clear on.
5.   You got “offended” by someone, but never practiced Matthew 18:15 to try and resolve the offense.
 
These are “really bad” for one reason: they are rooted in sin, or at least immaturity.
 
Five “gray” reasons to shop around:
 
1.   Your new address makes it too far to drive.
2.   Your teenager wants to go somewhere else.
3.   Your age group or “stage of life” group is under-represented.
4.   Your philosophy of ministry is different, or has changed.
5.   Your passion in ministry isn’t offered or enabled.
 
These are gray for one reason: sometimes they are legit, sometimes they are not. Sometimes they should be “catered” to, sometimes they should not. In truth, most of the time “not.”
 
Five reasons used most often for shopping around:
 
1.   I’m not being “fed.”
2.   I’m not being “fed.”
3.   I’m not being “fed.”
4.   I’m not being “fed.”
5.   I’m not being “fed.”
 
So is being “fed” good, bad or gray?
 
Yes.
 
In most cases, it’s bad. The apostle Paul talks about those who still want to be “fed” as akin to a middle-age man sucking on a baby bottle. Most of us already know more at this moment than we will ever act on. We don’t need to be fed more – we need to live more. And if anything, feed others.
 
Being “fed” is often a euphemism for any and all disagreements that desire a spiritual smokescreen for departure. The irony is that I have dialogued with many of the leading teachers of our day – those who write books, have radio programs, have hundreds of thousands of podcasts downloaded (the teachers of the teachers) – and even with their qualifications the #1 reason people give for leaving their church is “I’m not being fed.”
 
Go figure.
 
The bottom line is that continually shopping around as a sheep, as a rule, is not best. What is best is to find a church home, be loyal and committed to it, and to work to make it all that it isn’t with a servant’s heart.
 
There will always be more
 
…convenient churches
…hotter churches
…newer churches
…better stage-of-life churches
…hipper churches
…larger churches
…smaller churches
 
But there will only be one that is your church.
 
Like a marriage that goes the marathon, there is a depth and sweetness to staying in a community year after year, decade after decade.
 
Knowing the stories, the people, the milestones.
 
There are people at Meck who have been with us since the earliest of days. Some since the very first year. Some since the very first service.
 
To a person, they would tell you that it is among their most precious investments and realities.
 
Why? It’s their church.
 
The one that God called them to.
 
That’s not something you shop for and buy.
 
It’s something you make.
 

Note: This is a guest post, used by permission, of pastor and author, Dr. James Emery White. To read more of his blogs, go here.

PIAD Front PanelIf you’d like to read some things Kurt wrote regarding the Church and faith, please check out his recently released book: Perfectly Imperfect.  

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10 Responses to Church Shopping?

    • Actually, Theodore, I would encourage you to go back and review this passage, in context, and to take a closer look at the early church history. It says in Acts 2:46, “They worshipped together at the Temple each day…” and they met in homes to share a meal and the Lord’s Supper. Your suggestion that this somehow encourages “church hopping” is biblically and historically incorrect. Church shopping/hopping is a relatively new experience in our modern culture that is the result of a consumer mentality far to prevalent in the Church. That being said, thank you for sharing and adding to the conversation.

  1. Giod article. I think it’s easy for us to think that this is the church “we chose” to go to, and give less importance to the fact that God has placed us there. When we realize that, (assuming all doctrine and teaching is Biblically sound) church becomes a much more special place.
    David knew that God had chosen him to be king of Israel, but it took time, a lot patience and faith and trust before he took his position. But he knew it was Gods plan. Finding your place in a church can be much like that. It’s an amazing thing when we are able to trust God’s will, and not assume we need to fit His will into our plans. God always blesses faithfulness.

  2. Really good entry. People are fickle, for sure. A few weeks back I shared a bit of my story of considering “shopping” last summer. So this all fits the thoughts I had. Mostly the bad reasons and gray! Lol. And the “not being fed”. But the irony about that is that mostly I wasn’t being fed cuz I wasn’t showing up. Truth. I’m home at Eastpoint. They love me and I love them. It’s my church.

  3. This is a really great article. Whenever I start to feel “I’m not being fed”, I really have to search my heart and ask God to reveal my discontent, which turns out to be my issue, not the church, nor God’s. So, now the first thing I do if I have the urge to “wander” is to ask myself “has God shown me a reason to leave”….Nope…God still has something for me to learn and something to give at EP. 🙂

  4. Great article Kurt. I am back for the summer, or at least most of it. I will see you Easter Sunday. I have watched sheep shop, settle, then shop, then settle, then shop instead of asking God where to join, be and own.

    The only times I have “shopped” have been when I changed communities and had to be placed in a new fellowship. Now is difficult for me as I do not have my earthly life partner with me and I am not sure where I live except where my 5th wheel is parked at the time. Anyway, God sustains me and always brings the fellows into the ship with me, or places me into a “ship” with other fellows. See you sunday.

    gary

Slaying the Debt Dragon ~ A Guest Post by Cherie Lowe

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Cherie rsz_final_cover_of_bookBeing in debt is a lot like being in the dark.

I’m not talking about bedtime dark, where you can still see a stream of light from the moon or the gentle glow of a night-light in the hallway. No, being in debt is like sitting alone in darkness so pitch-black, so completely devoid of light, that you finally squeeze your eyes tightly shut, praying when you open them there will be some glow, even if it’s just the faintest illumination.

Then there is the isolation. When you feel hopelessly in debt, lies like these creep into your head:

No one could have made this many mistakes.

No one else could feel this out of control.

No one could have been that dumb with their money.

No one else could have let a credit card balance spiral dizzily beyond reach (even though you were using it only for emergencies). No one else could have felt the pressure to keep up with others by spending money that was not her own. No one could feel this scared about not having a secure future. No one else could be under this kind of pressure.

So lonely. So in the dark.

You are not the only one struggling to escape the darkness of debt, even excessive debt. A great number of people have shared their lonely stories with me—either on my blog or in person—over the past five and a half years. A lot of them are slaying debt dragons right now or at least trying to figure out what weapons to use to begin the battle. And some have fought and won their battles already. There is actually a large community of people who make hard choices to get out of debt and spend less than they make every day.

But back to those feelings of darkness. When those “no one else could have” statements float around in your brain, you begin to believe the lie that you really are the only one who has this nasty debt problem. Then the gloom you’re stumbling around in creeps into your very soul, along with its partners in crime, shame and guilt.

That darkness will keep you from sharing your story, preventing you from getting the help you need to get out of debt. It will also hinder you from offering hope to others who are on the same path, feeling just as alone as you do. Darkness is an evil fiend—a dragon, if you will—that casts some sort of spell paralyzing us all.

In the beginning, it was difficult for my husband, Brian, and me to “go public” with our story. I mean, come on—we haven’t always been the people who have paid off $127,482.30 in debt. Back in April 2008, we were the people who had $127K+ of debt. It’s much easier to share your story when you have kicked a few debt dragons in the teeth than when you have one (or twelve) breathing fire down your back.

And that’s why I committed to continuing to tell our story, even after there was victory. Because I know what it’s like to feel alone and in the dark.

You are not alone. Cast out the darkness and tell your story. Be honest with yourself and others about your finances so you can begin the path to victory over debt. Get the help and hope that you need to begin defeating your own debt dragons.

You see, the first step to getting out of debt doesn’t involve elaborate spreadsheets. Honestly, it isn’t about cutting up your credit cards, either. It’s not even establishing an emergency fund. No, the first step is simply to lift your eyes up and believe that the dragons can be beaten.

Slaying the Debt Dragon provides the proverbial hope and the practical help your finances need this year. There is a way out. You are not alone. Pick up your sword and begin battling your foe.

Cherie Author HeadshotBio:

Since 2008, Cherie Lowe has been confidently wearing a plastic crown and encouraging others to dream big dreams.

Together with her husband, Brian, Cherie paid off $127,482.30 in a little under four years. She scribed the ups and downs of their debt-slaying journey on her popular website, www.QueenOfFree.net.

A graduate of Asbury University, Cherie strongly believes that something can come from nothing and that there is always a way for her readers to simplify their lives and their budgets. More than anything, through speaking and written word, Cherie longs for others to know that there is hope for getting their finances under control. Her family’s story has appeared in the Wall Street JournalYahoo FinanceRedbook magazineAOL Daily FinanceNBC News, and more. Cherie and Brian reside in Greenwood, Indiana, along with their daughters, Anna and Zoe.

Join the court of the Queen of Free on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest to find practical, money-saving tips and daily inspiration to slay the debt dragon.

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