Tag: hardship

Need some Traction?

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Ever since I heard the word “Paraclete” I have thought of the Holy Spirit as a “pair of Cleats.”

The Holy Spirit gives us traction in our walk with the Lord.

“Paraclete” is the Greek word that translated, is used to describe the Holy Spirit.  It comes from “para” meaning close or beside, and “kaleo” a legal advocate who makes a right judgment; an advisor, or helper.

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It comes to light in a picturesque way in the verse in James 1 where he says “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”

Pair that with 1 Cor 10:13 where Paul is speaking of temptation and says God will “provide a way of escape.”

Now we have a picture of a believer walking with the Holy Spirit, (their “pair of cleats”).  And when temptation comes along and tries to drag the believer away, God has provided these cleats so the believer can dig in and have the traction and power to resist and not be dragged away.  That’s the Holy Spirit!

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With our “pair of cleats” we can go farther, climb higher, get a better grip on the trail of life.  Our “Pair of Cleats” will take us places we wouldn’t be able to get to on our own.

adventure-1850912_640The Holy Spirit will stick by our side no matter the circumstances – through storms, harsh terrain, cold, heat – more literally challenges, temptations of every kind, hardships, even elections and pandemics.

All these things can make our way seem dark and slippery.  But we have a partner on the journey – teaching us, guiding, course correcting, encouraging, strengthening us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

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Praying for you, that you will make use of your Pair of Cleats in your daily walk.  That you will listen to the Holy Spirit and dig in when temptations and challenges come.

That as you walk through life, you will recognize your walking partner’s voice and knowing that you are never alone, you will be encouraged, instructed, equipped, advised, counseled, guided, strengthened and protected.

Where is your Hope?

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I have some friends who are going through some really hard times right now.  Serious illnesses, death of a loved one, prison, financial hardship – almost to the point of becoming homeless.

Some of them are dealing with the stress okay and getting through the challenges with their faith intact.  But a couple are feeling so discouraged, frustrated, and helpless; they are losing hope.  I wonder if you know someone who is losing hope?

When things are going well, it’s easy to show and share your faith.  But when they’re not, it’s easy to wonder where God is.  And as a friend it’s hard to know what to say or do.

Sometimes standing with them and saying “I just don’t know what to say but I’m glad to be here with you” is enough.  Sometimes crying with them, or praying with them, or helping them with whatever small thing you can do is enough.  Or making sure they are connected with whatever professional resources are available can help.

But whatever we can do, we are not the ones they can hang their hope on.  And neither are professional resources able to solve every problem with a happy ending.

Of the friends who are doing okay, and have their faith and hope intact, I have noticed some similarities.

girl-1186895_640.jpgThey pray

They read God’s Word, the Bible

They have acknowledged their need to a small group of friends

They accept fellowship and support from this small group

They continue to focus on trusting God with the outcomes

Of the ones who are not doing as well, I have also noticed some similarities.

They go it alone

They deny their need

They have stopped reading the Bible and praying

They focus on the anger and frustration they feel

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If you have friends or loved ones who are in a hardship or challenge that is too much for them, do whatever you can to be the support they will accept.  When you can’t do any more, or if they refuse your help, pray for them.  Pray for them to turn to the One who has the will and the power to have a positive impact on their lives and circumstances.

Holding on to that faith during a hard season, I wrote this song as God encouraged me to hold on and not give up hope.  Put Your Hope in Jesus

When all seems dark and hopeless Your Word becomes a light

A calming reassurance that dawn will follow night

When your only hope is Jesus, then your hope is strong and true

For He’s the One who is able to care for and carry you

Put your hope in Jesus

You can trust the man on the cross who died for you

Put your hope in Jesus

He’s the One who is able to carry you

When all of life around you is so out of control

There is just One you can turn to

There is just one hand to hold

So take the hand of Jesus and cling with all your might

He’s the One with the power to brighten your darkest night!

kneelcrossPut your hope in Jesus

You can trust the man on the cross who died for you

Put your hope in Jesus

He’s the One who is able to carry you

You CAN survive !

Sailing across the Sea of Galilee was an amazing experience.  When we got to the other side we visited the museum of a 2000-year old boat.

In 1986, two brothers discovered it when a severe drought lowered the water level of the Sea of Galilee.  This boat has been dated to the First Century AD.  It’s about twenty-six feet long and eight feet wide, and has been painstakingly preserved.  It is believed to be the kind of boat Jesus rode in.  It shows us, at least, what boats used for fishing and transportation across the lake were like then.

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So this boat is 2,000 years old.  Yet it survived!  It had not simply sunk, but had been buried in the sea floor – safe from where the minerals, plant and animal life and the erosive effects of the water’s currents could take its toll.  But why this boat?

Evidence suggests that it had a hard life – broken timbers had been reused; lots of repairs and patching were observed.  Yet it survived.

The use of twelve different wood types, and the types of repair jobs, suggests that its owner was a fisherman of meager means.  Yet it survived.

This vessel carried simple fishermen.  It took them where they needed to go.  It kept them afloat.  It provided a base from which they worked.  And it survived.  It may have even been used by the Jews in a battle against the Romans in 67 AD.  Yet it survived!

Think about it:

How many of us, like this boat, have had a hard life?

Been batted about by the waves of life.

Faced storms?

How many of us have experienced brokenness?

Been patched up?

Maybe we even have scars from past battles.

We too, are vessels.  As Christians, we are vessels of the Holy Spirit.  We too, may have been damaged and repaired.  We too, may be of “meager means.”  Yet we can be like that Ancient Galilean boat.  We too, can survive!

It wasn’t the fancy boat of a wealthy man.  It wasn’t a boat made of the strongest wood.  It wasn’t the biggest.  It wasn’t the best.  Why did it alone, survive?  Because it was a boat that God had a purpose for!

Do you know God’s purpose for you?

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He tells you in Jeremiah 29:11.  He knows the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Because God has a purpose for you, you can survive!

 

Whatever you are facing now, you can survive.

Whatever you have faced, you can survive.

Whatever you are about to face, you can survive.

Against all odds, because God has a plan for you, you can survive!

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Are you F-I-N-E?

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When my Mom died, then my Daddy, then my own breast cancer came on the heels of a challenging auto-immune disease, these were times I remember saying I was “fine” but I really wasn’t.

I don’t think it was because people didn’t want to know or weren’t willing to listen. It may just have been because I didn’t even know how to ask for help.

 

In saying “FINE” to others, on the inside I was really saying:

“F: Frankly

 I: I

N: Need

E: Everything

but don’t know how to ask.”

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Once a pastor pointed out that when wheat grows, the topmost part of the stalk called the head, becomes larger and heavier as it matures and ripens.  When the head of the stalk is so heavy it is bowed down, it is ready for harvest.

 

People grow and mature also.  But what makes their heads bow down is when they have a lot on their mind or on their heart.  Just looking for that prompts me to ask how they’re doing.

Then when they look up, I can see in their face if they look tired, worn out or discouraged.  Often their posture and face will give away what their words do not. So now when someone tells me “I’m fine,” I take time to go deeper.

I may offer something specific, like bringing a meal, or babysitting, or going out together for a cup of coffee.  But even if none of those seem to be a good fit, I can call on God to meet their needs in ways I cannot.  So I always ask “How can I pray for you?”

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And then I do. 

You could too.

“Carry each other’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2

Where do your tracks lead?

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Walking around the lake in winter is very different.  Things that are easily noticeable in most seasons may be covered in snow.  The plant life that is visible looks barren.  There are fewer types of wildlife, and those that remain behave differently.

Circling the lake today, I was amazed at how many tracks were clear in the freshly fallen snow.  Mine were the only human footprints, but there were many solitary and group trails that led in one direction: toward the water.

The path the ducks and geese took to get to the water was made plain in the snow.   I had never wondered about the specific route these birds take to the water, but with tracks in the snow, it was easy to follow their exact steps.

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I wondered if the snow was a hardship for the birds.  Were their feet cold as they stepped through the wet, frigid moisture?  Did they hurry to get to their destination?

 

 

Did the slips I could see on the steep slope into the water upset them?  Did they squawk when they slipped?

Many people would agree that regarding weather, cold and snow are a hardship.  In our lives though, there are many kinds of trials to be endured.

Oddly enough, like those ducks leaving footprints in the snow, we leave the most visible trails when our paths take us through hardship.  Others can see our actions and our path more clearly when they trail through hard times.

It presents a challenge to be more careful of our steps.  As a Christian, my real help comes from God.  But is that the first place I go in difficult times? Or do my footprints show confusion, heading in many different directions?

Like the ducks, in fair weather, we can do many things that don’t leave a trace.  But in difficult times, our every step leaves a clear trail for all to see.

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What do your steps show?  Where does your trail lead?  If others follow it, will it lead them to God?

Whatever your hardship, God is your very present help.  Turn your steps heavenward.  And lead on!