Tag Archives: faith

Training for Trials-Day 18

Trials are the food of faith. –George Mueller

The Olympic Trials will be held this summer. They’re sure to be spectacular events, with young athletes from all over the United States competing for the few coveted spots on the 2016 US Olympic team.  These athletes have endured strenuous training regimens–sacrificing a normal life–all for the chance to compete in these trials.  Some will even make it to the Olympic games.

As believers, we, too, should train for our trials.  Have you thought about how your daily routine of prayer, reading and obeying God’s Word, day after day,  prepares you to stand strong when faced with a trial?  Training for trials prepares you in advance to fight the fight of faith.

Friends, do you love the fight?  Paul calls the fight of faith a “good fight.” It’s been said that we should love the contest of faith in the way an  athelete loves his sport.

I can’t say I love trials.  But there is something invigorating about approaching each day on the offensive, strengthening myself in God’s Word and being intentional about prayer. Thus, the reason for  21 Days of Strength.

I should walk away from my time in prayer and study each morning armed and ready.  Expectant and watchful.  Alert to signs of God at work and opportunities to step out in faith.  Ready to share the Gospel, to meet a need, to take back territory from the enemy.  Prepared to stand strong in the inevitable trials that are part of daily life in a broken world.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).

Let’s reflect on these verses.  We challenged to consider trials as an opportunity for  joy.  The same kind of joy awaits us when we prevail in our trial that the athlete experiences when winning his race.  Another great reason to grow strong and train for our trials!


Our Source of Strength-Day 11

Sometimes the journey to find strength is an uphill climb.  Especially when our hopes keep getting dashed, and we begin to wonder if this desire of our heart is truly from God.  My friend Bethany Kortekaas has watched God do amazing things to restore her strength in difficult places–especially during her hard fought hope of holding a baby in her arms.  Bethany has shared some of the heartaches and joys of her journey.  I believe you’ll be strengthened by her beautiful story of Resurrection Hope on this Easter Sunday!

GUEST BLOG:  Bethany Kortekaas

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). 

“I would love to see Baby K grow into a young and beautiful version of the wonderful people that you and Adam are. We will be seeing you in just a couple of weeks now!” These were the words of the young lady who is giving us the gift of our baby girl.

Strength from the Lord comes in all kinds of vessels. There are no words to describe how I feel about this young mother who is willing to walk the hard road of a full-term unexpected pregnancy. In a time when everyone points to easy solutions, she was determined to bless us with this child regardless of what that meant for her.

See, strength is more than just muscles and a work ethic. Strength is the courage to stand when you want to hide. It is the willingness to walk when the way is not clear. It cannot be measured by outward appearance nor reserved for the privileged. It is turning everyday to something more than what is visible to others.

Adam and I have uncovered this strength in our path to parenthood. God provides Himself as a source of strength to each person. If you are willing to admit that you need it, He is willing to provide it. How do you cope with being single longer than you hoped to be? How do you respond to yet another round of infertility treatments? What do you do once you discover you have a brain tumor? Where do you turn when your adopted embryos die? When you miraculously get pregnant and then miscarry? Do you say yes to adopting a baby?

How do you keep praying, keep thanking God, and keep hoping? Our strength to answer these questions has come from God. He is the almighty, powerful Creator of all we know and the only trustworthy source of strength that can never run dry.

Our family has tapped into God’s strength through three main ways: reading the Bible, prayer, and community:

  1. There is a deep comfort when you pick up your Bible and read Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We read our Bible for encouragement, insight, and to learn more about our Father who loves us and wants the best for us even in the pain. The Bible reveals that there is more to our story than what we can see right now.
  2. Prayer is direct access to God. Because of Jesus, we have the freedom to talk openly with the One who created starfish, Jupiter, and all the synapses firing in our brains. In prayer is where we acknowledge that the world is outside of our control and we need more strength than we can muster up for ourselves. It is safe for me to cry, question, feel, and hope as I pray. Prayer is where we respond in relationship with a God who can provide strength in the waiting and in the wonder.
  3. God created community. He made it clear that it is not good for man to be alone and He reinforced this by how He instructed the people of Israel to work, worship, and celebrate together. Without our friends, family, and the community of believers around the world, we would be lost in this journey.

We have seen others adopt embryos because of our story. We have heard how God provided financially in other adoptions. We have felt overwhelmed by the love at our baby showers. We have even been strengthened by the very words of our future daughter’s birth mom.

God has given us vessels of His strength through promises like Psalm 46:1, through prayer, and through the give and take of community. By His strength, we can walk forward in confident hope toward our next adventure.


Doing Hard Things-Day 5

Welcome to 21 Days of Strength.  Let’s continue to explore practical ways to grow strong in the Lord. We saw how King David strengthened himself in the Lord after a devastating attack by the Amalekites. David first got alone and “strengthened himself in the Lord.  He sought God’s wisdom.  Then he courageously obeyed God’s instructions.

The brave warrior gathered his men and set out to attack the Amalekites–with God’s assurance of victory.  And sure enough, David brought back all the women and children that had been captured, as well as all the property.  He had experienced God’s power in battle before, so he was certain God could be trusted again. Click here to read how David’s obedience resulted in a thrilling victory.

In both Hebrew and Greek, the original Bible languages, the words for listen and obey are virtually the same. So hearing God implies that I will obey His marching orders.  If I want to grow strong in the Lord, it’s vital that I learn to both hear and obey.

But sometimes, God asks us to do hard things. What about you? Do you change your life to conform to God’s  Word?  Or do you look the other way–as I’ve been known to do.  Especially when He asks me to do something that calls for courage and self-sacrifice. Or prompts me to forgive someone who has hurt me.  Or give up my rights. Ouch!

Remember, we have an advantage over David when it comes to hearing God. For one thing, as believers in Christ, we have the gift of His Holy Spirit who dwells in us.  So we have access to God’s voice in a much more intimate way.  And second, we have the entire Bible available to us. Imagine how David would have felt if he had the whole Bible in his hands—complete with his own book of Psalms!

We must give God time to speak to us. A few minutes each day to read and reflect on God’s promises–letting them sink down deep–are nourishment to our soul.  God’s Word sharpens our inner hearing of God’s voice.   Jesus said believers will recognize His voice. “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Has God ever asked you to do a hard thing? Did you say yes? How did obedience to God’s Word help you grow stronger? Perhaps He is asking you to do a hard thing today.


Behind Closed Doors-Day 3

There is strength in getting alone with God. Jesus knew this full well. The Bible tells us He “withdrew often” to be alone with the Father. How much more should we?

So glad you’ve jumped on board for our 21 Days of Strength. There’s no more important task on earth than seeking God. When trouble hits, I’ve learned to go into my room, shut the doorand seek God through His Word and prayer.  

Sometimes God may close doors in our life so that we have the time and space we need to draw close to Him. We get alone to shut God in, and to shut other things—like distractions and discouragement—out. Think about it. Some of God’s greatest miracles have happened behind closed doors:

A man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house. His only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. While Jesus was still speaking to the group, Jairus received word that his daughter had died. Jesus said to him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (Luke 8:41-50 NIV).   When Jesus arrived at the house of Jairus, He did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s mother and father” (v. 51).

In other words, Jesus shut the door. He shut some things—and people—in. And he shut others out. Then Jesus took the little girl by the hand and said to her, “My child, get up!” (v. 54). Her “spirit returned,” and at once she stood up, fully revived.

We see another shut door in 2 Kings 4. A young boy died, and his mother ran to the prophet Elisha for help. When the prophet returned, he found the boy dead on the couch. Elisha shut the door and went in with the mother where the two of them prayed for the boy. The prophet prayed fervently, and the boy was restored to life. Yet another miracle occurs behind closed doors!

So when you are weak, worried or weary and need to strengthen yourself in the Lord, remember to go to your room and shut the door to be alone with God.

For reflection: God has asked that we be quiet for a while, go to our rooms and shut the door. But take heart. Some of God’s greatest miracles occur behind closed doors.


21 Days of Strength-Day 2

Sooner or later, it’s bound to happen. We reach the end of our strength. We’ve played out.  Hit the wall. You know what I’m talking about. When we’re worn out, our state of mind is affected. Even our faith can falter. As someone once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Add to that, the increasingly busy life most of us lead, and you have a sure-fire recipe for exhaustion.  And for the discouragement that follows close on its heels.

So glad you’ve joined us for 21 Days of Strength. For three weeks, our focus will be on strength. How to find it. How to keep it. How to make good use of it. How to receive it from God. I’ll say it again. God is close to us when we’re weak, but He wants to make us strong.

The Bible is honest about human frailty, revealing story after story of men and women who reached the end of their strength. But it also shares secrets of how they found strength in God.

We’ve observed how David “strengthened himself in the Lord after a marauding army of Amalekites raided his village and captured all the women and children.  And how God empowered David and his mighty men to regain all they had lost.

I’ve been thinking back to times in my life when I’ve “hit the wall.” When tough times hit, how do I draw strength from God?  Here are a few simple ways that work for me:

  1. I literally go into my room (or my car) and shut the door. Often I will turn my cell phone and laptop off so I won’t even hear the “ding” from someone trying to contact me.   It was Jesus Himself who reminded His disciples to “go into their room and shut the door” when praying to God (Matthew 6:6).
  2. I take out my Bible and dig in.  I’m alert to promises that speak directly to my heart,  reveal an area of sin, provide wisdom for a tricky problem, add fire to a dream.   Or I may look in my concordance for verses related to the topic I’m wrestling through. As I read, I commit whatever is on my heart to the Lord in prayer. By pouring over God’s Word, I notice promises that shed light on my situation or give me hope.  I can almost feel my faith re-fire. Romans 10:17 puts it this way: “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.”
  3. I keep watch during the day to notice God at work . I look for the tiny ways He may begin to answer my prayers, solve my problem, fill me with fresh hope and strength. I remember to thank and praise Him. Which in turn, seems to strengthen my faith and breathe even more energy into my tired soul. Psalm 5:3 encourages us to seek God daily and to live with expectant hope: “Morning after morning, I lay my requests before You and eagerly watch for the answers.”

So I’m curious. How do you strengthen yourself in the Lord?