Suffering Can Build Strength

Child in medicine maskThere are times of suffering in my life that I thought was about to destroy me. I’ve not experienced a life-threatening illness, but one my kids has. I’ve not had a life-threatening injury and been air-lifted to a trauma center, one of my kids has. I have also had some personal suffering that has rocked the foundations of my world. I have been speechless and silent before the Lord. I have screamed at Him for help. I have screamed at Him in anger. He has NEVER wasted my times of suffering. He has NEVER left me when I was in the middle of suffering. I’m sure I’ve left Him a few times, but quickly realized the stupidity of that. I don’t always understand suffering, but I trust Him. I don’t understand why He doesn’t prevent it in the first place. I don’t understand why He doesn’t “swoop in” and save the day. During my suffering, He’s taught me to trust His heart even when I can’t see His hand at work.

Paul was a passionate follower of Jesus, a teacher & preacher. He started churches and served them and poured his heart and soul into them. They still didn’t seem to get it. He made his case again to them about his journey with the Lord through suffering. He wasn’t going to quit and he made that clear. He had suffered much but he wasn’t about to quit. Check this out….

24 Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; 27 toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. 28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 CSB)

Suffering can make you bitter or better – it’s up to the sufferer.

Suffering can give you new perspective.

Suffering can give you purpose.

Suffering can help save.

Out of my pain came my purpose…His Purpose for me. My purpose on this earth is to live to honor God and make Him known. I can’t stand during suffering without His strength. I remember another verse by Paul….

13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 CSB)

….and another:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 CSB)

This topic brought to my mind a song I heard years ago after suffering from a job loss….

His Strength Is Perfect by Steven Curtis Chapman

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

___________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Know It All

I really try to not come across as a “Know It All” on any subject. I believe that I can learn from just about everyone. I learn from some people to not hang around them after one conversation. But I’ve also learned that I can learn a lot from others who are much younger and less experienced that me. I’ve said before that I want to be a life-long learner. I don’t ever want my pride to keep me from learning.

I do want to keep learning the Word of God as it builds my confidence in the Lord. The Word of God gives perspective to my life and my daily decisions. I want to keep learning about the Lord’s heart and His plans for me.

Paul writes to the church at Corinth about eating food that has been sacrificed to idols. I remember when a man in the church I was tithed off his gambling winnings to give to the student ministry that I was leading. I first thought that this was not money I should use. The minister I worked with said: “The devil has had that money long enough!” I think some of these type subjects will land on the side of opinion. There is some great truth tucked inside this discussion. Check this out…

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds upIf anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. But if anyone loves God, he is known by him.

About eating food sacrificed to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him. (1 Corinthians 8:1-6 CSB)

I really want to increase my capacity to love and serve others. I’m learning in my day job to serve people’s needs and my needs get taken care of. I’ve learned to have humility always because the Lord loves a humble heart. After all I’m nothing without Him in my heart.

Today I will keep learning from others.

Today I will keep growing with others.

Today I will keep serving others.

Today I will keep loving others.

It’s all because of Jesus that I can learn, grow, serve or love. I’m continuing to let Him direct my path and my decisions every day. I don’t know everything, but I know the Lord and anything else I know pales in comparison to knowing Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Perspective

 

Mountain ViewThis is an interesting word to define. As I look up this word in the dictionary, the definition has little to do with how I use the word. I’m thinking of perspective as the position of my view on something. My angle or my point of view is my perspective. My perspective of life has been changed as I live my life over the years. My view of life looked a lot different at age 25 than it does at age 55. My perspective of The Lord has changed as I’ve walked a lot closer to Him in the last several years. The writings of Psalms often give me perspective with the Lord. I want to follow Him and walk with Him all the days of my life.

Praise the Lord.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:1-7 NIV)

Proper perspective can lead to being righteous.

Proper perspective can lead to the light.

Proper perspective can lead me to generosity.

Proper perspective can lead me to confidence in the Lord.

Proper perspective gives me great strength.

Proper perspective gives me calm during bad news.

Proper perspective keeps my heart steady – trusting the Lord.

I want the perspective of God that comes from His Word, not just my personal experience and personal perspective. His Word speaks from the proper perspective of God of Creation. He is faithful, loving, grace-filled and strong. His Word speaks truth and from that truth I can have the proper perspective of Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Looking Back

Beautiful young woman smiling and looking behindI am a huge proponent of looking forward. I blogged a while back about how important it is to notice the size of the windshield versus the rear-view mirror. That blog is called The Rear View Perspective. I can learn a lot about where I am today by reflecting a bit on where I’ve been. I get into trouble if I live in the past rather than simply glance back at my journey. I have some good times with the Lord in my past and I’ve also had some very rocky times when I was ignoring Him and resisting His love.  I’ve since learned the stupidity of running from the Lord or ignoring Him. I really identified with Asaph’s writing as he reflecting on some of his past and how he was going to move forward. Check this out…

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. (Psalm 77:11-15 NIV)

I heard the phrase “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. I read it connected to Winston Churchill, but it is attributed to George Santayana. This is a catchy phrase, but not always true. I have learned from my past sins and mistakes and I still repeat them. I get so frustrated with myself when I stumble at the same spot. I will also say that it really inspires me when I look back at my life and see the hand of God all over me. He was with me when I was a kid in High School. He was with me through my college years. He was with me in my early days of youth ministry. He was with me through a hard divorce. He was with me through being fired. He was with me through the transition to real estate sales and service. He was with me when my kind fought and beat cancer. He was with me when my youngest kid fell from a tree and survived. He has never left me – not once. He is not a “fair weather friend”. He is a loyal friend that knows me like no one else. He is faithful, consistent, constant and kind. I need to be reminded of my past journey with the Lord as these memories can illuminate my path today and going forward.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Perspective & Perception

 

Man praying with the BibleI believe that perspective shapes perception. To take it a step further, perception for most people is their reality. There have been times, I confess, that I have formed an opinion based on my perception rather than the facts of the matter. King David seems a bit stressed, but he manages to give me a solid perspective about God from his personal journey. Check this out…

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.

19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
    from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.

28 Summon your power, God;
    show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
    sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
    who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
    whose majesty is over Israel,
    whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
    the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:4-5,19-20,28,32-35 NIV)

God brings Presence to those who are lonely and afraid.

God bears our burdens so that our load is much lighter.

God brings the Ultimate Power to a situation that it totally beyond my ability or my power.

God’s strength and power are beyond my understanding, but I’ve experienced both and I often need both.

My perception and perspective of God comes through my journey in His Word.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

In God I Trust

 

In God We Trust from the dollar billI heard a story about a guy who always stopped to pick up a penny, not because of its value, but because it has the words inscribed: “In God We Trust”.  I saw a penny on the ground a day or so after that and picked it up. It reminds me that I trust in God too. I’ve been through some hard and scary times in my life where trusting God didn’t seem like an option. I was desperate for His help and for Him to settle my heart.

David was running from Saul and desperate for God to protect him and lead him. He often writes from his personal perspective, but it speaks volumes to me about his relationship with God. I can relate to his fear as well as his faith. Sometimes the distance between fear and faith is very close. Check this out…

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life. (Psalm 56:3-4, 8-13 NIV)

My fear is often a result of the present circumstances. When I have a moment to take a breath and get some perspective, it can change everything. My faith has grown deeper and stronger over the years because I was fearful and struggling when the Lord spoke into my heart. He came to comfort me. He brought peace to my very soul. I now have a track record with the Lord. I can’t lean on that because that’s in the past too – just like my stupid choices. I lean on Him today because He’s here with me. He speaks through His word today. My journey with the Lord is more real today than ever before because of my journey in His Word. My trust in God is stronger because I feel like I know His heart even better. I’m thankful beyond words for His patience with me – such grace. I’m thankful for His presence with me – so faithful. He has changed my entire perspective on life. In God I trust today and always.

Pressing On!

Dwayne