Hard Stuff

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II Peter 1:5-9 (NASB), “for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”

Life is tough, living in this fallen world isn’t always easy, and we have an enemy who loves to tempt our fleshly nature to take over. On top of all of that, sometimes we are just plain stupid and we do stupid things, think stupid thoughts, and say stupid words. One of my favorite quotes is a John Wayne quote: “Life if hard, it is even harder when you are stupid.”

That kind of stupid can only be fixed by one kind of education, educating yourself, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in the word. Finding out who God really is and how He thinks of you. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a Christian keeps you from living a life that is harder than it has to be.

I Corinthians 10:13 (NIV), “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Sure we all go through stuff, hard stuff, ugly stuff, and unwanted stuff. Stuff happens! We don’t get to choose what we are handed, but we do get to choose how we handle it. I want to learn from my mistakes, don’t you? In fact I would prefer to learn from other’s mistakes and not have to deal with it in a close and personal way, but sometimes I am hard headed and hard hearted and God allows me to go through the fire to get rid of the junk. When I do, if I really surrender to Him, I come out looking, feeling, and living better. The dross is skimmed off of the top and all that is left is the precious metal. Like silver and gold that goes thru the furnace so that it can be purified, I come out stronger, with more faith, and more confidence in the Father.

Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to so that our lives get better. We stand in the gap for a loved one (or an enemy). We do the job no one wants, we work out things in our lives that shouldn’t be there, when the easy thing is to just pretend it isn’t there. We tell others when we mess up, we confess our sin, we repent, turn back to God and move on. I choose to obey God, to follow instructions, to submit to those in authority over me because they watch over my soul.

When I do this I grow up, I mature. My weaknesses are shored up, and my strengths are used for His glory.

Today I will do what others want so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” – Football player Jerry Rice

We all go through the same stuff, but in Christ, we don’t lose our joy over it.

Moving Forward Through Adversity

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Job 23:10-11
“But He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates and pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I shall come for the as refined gold [pure and luminous]. My foot has held fast to His steps, His ways have I kept and not turned aside.”

Poor Job. There his is minding his own business, being a witness, doing good, praying for his kids…and then the enemy enters the scene. With God’s permission! His world tumbles down around him, literally. He is tried and refined in a way that most of us wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies.

Why did God allow it? (He is even the one who pointed out Job to the enemy to begin with!) Job figured it out. After self pity, after anger, after getting rotten advice and false counsel from three so-called-friends.

Only the fire can refine precious metal. Only great pressure can make a precious stone.

We go through what feels like Hell. There is a saying, that I particularly like, and have quoted, “You may have to walk through the valley of death, but you don’t have to set up camp there!”

What would “setting up camp” entail? Self pity, anger at God, SITTING DOWN, or just plain giving up. Don’t drive in a single tent stake. Job said he stayed on the path, that means he kept moving forward. Command your feet to hold fast to HIS path. It leads to life, to righteousness, to Love. Don’t let Satan distract you. I know, Job went through big stuff! But ultimately it was all just meant for a distraction. He was trying to force Job to take his eyes off of God, and put them on his circumstances.

We live in a fallen world, with a real enemy seeking who he may devour. Bad stuff happens to good people. But continue with Jobs story. His ending was better than his beginning. He came out better! Stronger! And he came out Praising God!

When you come out of the other side, when the valley is behind you, tell someone!

Are you going through something hard?
Here are some resources I found helpful (after the bible)
“What To Do When Everything Falls Apart” by Van Crouch
“Throw Yourself a Party” by David Duell
“The In-Between” by Jeff Goins

Book Review for “What to Do When Everything Falls Apart”-non-fiction

This little book by Van Crouch is a must read. It is a book that in very simple terms, shows you how to handle bad situations. I recommend it for every person who follows Jesus. It is simple enough for pre-teens, but is geared for adults. There is a bit of humor in his books, just like hearing him in person. A great gift idea for someone going through hard times, or in a dry place. I give this book a solid 5 stars.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Everything-Falls-Apart-ebook/dp/B006PVA3IC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1377262968&sr=1-1&keywords=what+to+do+when+everything+falls+apart

Pass-Fail

A+ Rubber Stamp on Notebook Paper
I’ve often wondered about “tests” by God. Some religions believe that God “tests the hearts of men” to see if they will be true to Him. I always had a problem with that. God is omniscient; He knows everything, all the time. He knows…all at the same time… the past, present and future. He knows the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts. He knows the beginning from the end. So- He knows our hearts better than we do. He doesn’t just “read” our minds. He knows what we are going to think, before the thought comes into our head! So my conclusion is the “testing” isn’t for His benefit, so He can find something out about us. I think the trials and tests help US to discover things about HIM, (and ourselves). 1 Peter 1:7 says, “These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it-and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.” God knows how much faith I have, so this scripture is telling me that these trials are to show me how much faith I have, or don’t have.
Each trial I have gone through has taught me more about the Father. Coming through financial problems showed me how much He wants to provide for me. When I stumble, I find out how much He loves me and that He is quick to forgive. When I come through an illness, I know Him as Healer. I am so glad that God is NOT grading my “tests”! Just think if He was like a school teacher. I used to give grades to my pupils to determine their grasp or their understanding of the subject, whether or not they have paid attention in class, studied their information, and their effort put forth. If they have done well and mastered the information I give them an “A”! If they didn’t make the effort, or didn’t pay attention, refused to read the information that I presented to them, they earn a lower score, sometimes an “F” for FAIL. God gives us what is known as a “Pass/Fail”. Even if we haven’t really paid attention (in church, or to the Holy Spirit), even if we don’t read our information (God’s Word), even if we don’t study (Pray in tongues, or praying at all) as much as we should, we can still “Pass” the test. Of course some people do fail. They forsake God and turn back to the world for answers.
I love taking Tests in the natural, always have. Love to learn new things. But in the spiritual, if I got to vote, I’d say no to tests. If God had been giving me letter grades, based on my performance, I believe they would have been maybe some “B’s”, several “C’s” and unfortunately a lot “D’s”! I’ve never failed. Praise God for His patience and grace! But I’ve never earned an “A”. Talk about an embarrassing report card! But these tests have “purified” me, helped me to draw closer to Him. To rely on God. I have learned how important it is to listen, pray and read the word. Not as busy work, or as an obligation, but as a way of getting more intimate with God. So…am I “counting it all joy” as James said? Well maybe not all the time, sometimes I just get frustrated. But I am getting better. I won’t be asking God to test me, but when He does, I WILL be paying attention!

Book Review for “Throw Yourself a Party” non-fiction

Throw yourself a party by Dave Duell is a book for everyone.
” How do you react when things don’t go your way?
What do you do when everything seems to go wrong?
In this insightful book, you will learn biblical principles for dealing with difficult situations. As you discover these living truths from God’s Word, you will be refreshed in your spirit and set on a new course of victory over life’s challenges.
Go ahead – throw yourself a party! ”

I have had the privilege of hearing Dave in person and his writing style is as easy as his speaking style. If you are in a hard place, this book is for you! If you’re not, read it and prepare!
Very encouraging, uplifting and inspirational! I give this book 5+ stars. Recommended for pre-teens and up.
You can find the book here. http://www.fmin.org/store/index.php?detail=65&site_id=6
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