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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Friend Called Adversity

 "We needed to lose." So said the assistant coach of the baseball team I work for. They had been on an eight-game winning streak and seemed to be doing everything right. Then they lost a game they should have won; then another, then another, and another. The last one being a 13-2 blowout. It was disheartening to everyone. And yet, in spite of the disappointment,  I kept hearing this message from both the players and the staff: we needed to lose in order to get back on track. Just prior to what ended up being a decisive win and turnaround for the team, one of the pitchers told me, " That was our rock bottom last night - that 13-2 loss. We needed that so we can get back in our groove." A few hours later after he told me that, the losing streak ended…and against a team that they had not beaten but once in two years! The players' attitude propelled them to success.

 This series of events got me thinking about how this is a great example of life. Often, when things seem to be going right for us, a time of testing is waiting just around the corner. In a season of prosperity, it seems crazy to realize that suffering will happen. And when it does, disrupting our seemingly ideal life in the process, we fight it because we like the easy road. We like winning. We like success. But what we don't get is that such times of testing are the paths to maturity. 
 In the past, I tried to fight adversity. It was my enemy…or so I thought. I hated the idea of having to go through tough times in order to grow. But gradually I began to realize that often, this is how God teaches stubborn human beings the hard lessons He wants them to grasp. Rarely does He impart such truths as humility, trust, faith, courage, belief, and aspects of His character when we are in a time of prosperity. Rather, He drives these lessons home to us when we have nothing else to hold on to other than Him. There is something to be said for the attention we give to Him when all other things have failed us. We realize how inept we are at doing anything truly worthwhile apart from Him. Adversity suddenly becomes our friend. It becomes a means for God to speak to us and help us know more about ourselves and about Him.    
 Perhaps sometimes God is like the assistant coach: knowing that we will become too full of ourselves if the success continues, He knows that some suffering will do us good…and He allows things to happen that will turn our gaze heaven-ward and will redirect us back to where we belong: at the foot of the cross. In life as in sports, hitting rock bottom isn't always a bad thing. Like the pitcher pointed out, there are times when we need to experience failure so that we can have a healthier approach to success. 
 Our attitude to these seasons of testing determines how and if we grow from the things we face. It is easy to want to avoid the pain of life. Nobody likes walking through a valley of suffering. And yet, once we realize that this is God's primary means of creating positive change in our life, perhaps we will learn to embrace the losses we encounter. Then, when the success returns, we can look back, remembering where we've been and, in so doing, thank Him that He never lets us rest on our laurels but will always do what is for our good…even through the adversity that comes our way. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Jesus is looking for more than words of belief; he's looking to see how those words are lived out in your life."
                         - Kyle Idleman

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Prayer of the Day

" Help me to honor Thee by believing before I feel,
for great is the sin if I make feeling a cause of faith."
- from The Valley of Vision

Friday, June 26, 2015

Quote of the Day

" The saddest thing of all is if a human being goes through life 
without discovering that he needs a God."
- Soren Kierkegaard

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

 "At the timberline where the storms strike with 
the most fury, the sturdiest trees are found."
- Hudson Taylor 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Quote of the Day

"In our sufferings, we need to be more concerned about our duty than our deliverance. We should seriously consider what it is that God desires in our present dispensation. There is no condition or trial in the world but we have opportunity to exercise some special grace or duty. To desire deliverance alone is self-love and quite natural to man. In affliction man seeks to be delivered and released from his burden. Men make more haste to get their afflictions removed that to be sanctified in them. Men should sit down, consider their ways, and make new resolutions for better things. 
                          - Thomas Case in Voices From the Past

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prayer of the Day

I often marvel that Thou, O Lord, have so led my path that I would one day be able to look back and understand why Thou so directed. The longer I journey Thee, the more evidence I see of Thy Sovereign hand. There were times when I questioned Thee, yea even doubted Thee, and called Thy hidden workings undesirable. Thou hast been gracious to forgive my misunderstanding and my foolish ways, and Thou hast replaced them with a heart that wants to trust Thee in all things. Let me never turn away Thy goodness out of ignorance and unbelief but instead, let me accept all things from Thee as being destined for my good.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

"He who stands upon his own strength will never stand."
- Thomas Brooks

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quote of the Day

" When all our possibilities have been exhausted and we've been reduced to nothing, the One who creates out of nothing does His proper work."
                                       - Tullian Tchividjian

Friday, June 19, 2015

Quote of the Day

"God brings us to the utter end of ourselves in order to give us this experience: Grace, Grace, and more Grace!"
                                 - Tullian Tchividjian

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

" Do not fret over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty mercies."
                                        - Charles H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Quote of the Day

" Ultimately our story doesn't have to be a story about loss; it can be a story about how we respond to the loss."
                           - Kyle Idleman

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Quote of the Day

"God gives you mountains to climb, because until you
make it to the top, you will never know the greatness
He has in store! Keep climbing!"
                     - U. S. Marine Zerbin Singleton

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

"In Christ I have nothing to hide, nothing to prove,
nothing to fear, and nothing to lose."
- Hananya Naftali

Friday, June 12, 2015

Quote of the Day

" You don't know what you'd be capable of if you truly believed you were fully loved."
- Tullian Tchividjian

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Quote of the Day

" Nothing changes me more than being around people who love me rather than trying to change me."
                    - Tullian Tchividjian

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Nothing is so desirable in this world as a faithful friend, to whom we may at all times unburden ourselves, and make all our secrets and grievances known."
- Ezekial Hopkins in Voices From the Past

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Quote of the Day

" The only way to be filled with the Spirit is to empty myself of me. When I empty me of me, it provides space for the Holy Spirit to fill me. The more He fills me, the less room there is for me."
                    - Kyle Idleman

Monday, June 8, 2015

Quote of the Day

"It is when we have come to the end of our own resources or, rather, come to see that we never had any at all, that we are willing to accept the fact that we can do nothing and let God do everything for us." 
                                          - Frances Ridley Havergal
                                               in Seasons of the Heart

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Always More Grace

"He giveth more grace when the burden grows greater:
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun. 

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!"
- Annie Johnson Flint

Friday, June 5, 2015

Quote of the Day

"May I never forget, on my best day, that I still need
God as desperately as I did on my worst day."
- Hananya Naftali

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Grace is never more grace then when besieged with temptations. The battle draws forth that fortitude and bravery which in time of peace lay chilled in the veins for lack of opposition and exercise. Tribulation worketh patience."
                                 - Thomas Case in A Treatise On Afflictions

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Quote of the Day

"You can't say yes to Jesus without saying no to yourself."
- Kyle Idleman 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Prayer of the Day

"Father, glorify your name; and if, in the counsel of your will and the course of your providence, it cannot be otherwise than by my suffering or sorrow, or death itself; yet, Father, even in this, glorify your name. Out of my very ruins, erect a trophy and monument to your praise. Be hallowed and sanctified, although at my cost, and with the loss of all."
                                - Ezekial Hopkins in Voices From the Past

Monday, June 1, 2015

Quote of the Day

" In our prosperity we are full of our own wills, and usually give God counsel as if we could tell God how it might have been better. We dispute our cross, when we should take it up…Pride naturally runs in our veins, and it is nourished by ease and prosperity. [But] by trouble we come to know our own heart."
                                - Thomas Case in Voices From the Past