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This past October, we once again had our Man-Up Retreat. During this event middle school-aged guys and their father figures, are invited to spend their weekend together having fun and studying biblical manhood. It’s always a blast and all usually leave exhausted! During this year’s main session, we looked at the story of Theodore Roosevelt traveling down the River of Doubt in South America. The purpose of digging into this perilous journey was to look into how a believer should approach and trek through challenges. Each of the students was asked about one of the most challenging things they’ve ever been through. The answers were what you would expect from guys that have only had 11-13 years of life experience.  There were a few sincere answers—like a challenging season in school, and some silly ones—like making their bed. After these answers, we asked the men that were present. Then the answers were from a much more wise perspective and were able to set up the next question—What was it like to make it through those challenges? We talked about strength gained, lessons learned, and how relationships with God were shaped. As we sat around the fire we were all able to listen to these stories and experiences and gain for ourselves the wisdom that they earned. The Bible instructs us to lead, grow, and invest in others. Sharing our stories is an invaluable way of building up others around us and glorifying what God has done for us.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve ever been through?

Whatever it is, you made it through and you grew. The lessons we learn through life have been valuable to us, but there is a value that we may not have fully realized. We all have stories to share that can be a blessing, an encouragement, a warning, a moment of insight to others around us. You’ve seen God work in your life through many challenges, and we have many younger people in our church who could gain so much from what you can share.

I’d encourage you to think about how God has brought you to where you are today. Think about those around you who may be just approaching their most difficult seasons and think about how you can build them up.

A big part of “manning up” (or “womanning up” depending on who’s reading) is to be able to face a challenge—or a trial—and be able to “count it as joy.” With this, we can help bring others along.

Posted by Alec Erhart with
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The Unexpected

Recently, a severe, unrelenting cough sent me to Urgent Care.  My plans for that day were to get something for my cough, take my great-granddaughter Summer to the park, then to the library, then come home and do laundry, and then plan and prepare something great and wonderful for dinner.  My plans!!!

The technician at Urgent Care took my blood pressure and then said he was going to do an EKG.  He completed the EKG and said, “I’ll be right back.”  Suddenly the room was filled with people and I remember thinking, “This is probably not a good thing.”  One of the senior people did another EKG with the same results apparently, and she said, “You are in AFib. We will have to send you by ambulance to the hospital because we are not equipped to treat you here.”  I had some vague idea that AFib was not something you wanted to have but did not have a clear picture of how serious it can be.  She said, “AFib is quite serious, it can cause a stroke, and you need to be treated right away.”  They kept mentioning all of the symptoms I should be having—I had none of them!  All I had was a bad cough (which they later told me could have sent me into AFib).  I was dumbfounded! This was so not in my plans!!!

They brought my husband Bob and Summer back and made Bob aware of the situation.  (Summer’s comment was, “After we go to the hospital, then can we go to the park?”)  I was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and I was just sure they would take a look at me and send me home.  After all, I just had a cough.  No, they kept me and began treatment.  In addition to AFib, they discovered I also had a touch of pneumonia.

The next morning around 3:30 a.m., the night nurse stuck his head in the door and asked, “Are you awake?”  Of course I was since the hospital is not a place to sleep.  He said, “I just wanted to come and tell you that your heart is out of AFib and back in a normal rhythm.”  My answer was, “Praise the Lord.”  Suddenly there was almost a sense of time standing still, everything was very quiet, and I sensed the presence of the Lord with me.  God let me know that He had gone before me, protected me from a stroke, and made me aware of the need to seek medical help since I have a history of not going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. I am very grateful and thankful to God for making me aware I needed to seek medical attention, for the medical care I received, and that no medical procedures were necessary to restore my heart to a normal rhythm. 

When Bob first learned the hospital was going to keep me, he had brought my Bible and one of my devotionals.  Later that same morning, I turned to the Scripture for that day and it was Psalm 16.  Verses 1-2 state:  “Keep me safe O God, for in you I take refuge.  I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing.’” Once again, God was further reassuring me that He was in control of the situation and He held me in His hands. 

Life is full of unexpected events, but Christians do not have to fear.  Our all-knowing God knows everything that has happened or will ever happen to us.  We can rest in His promises.  In Joshua 1:9, God tells us:  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   In Isaiah 52:12 we are told:  “But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” 

God is always with us, always goes before us, and is always our rear guard.  When the unexpected comes and when our plans don’t work out as we thought they would, God already knows all about it, He is right there with us, and we can stand on the promises of God.

(P.S.  We did eventually take Summer to the park!  Great grandparents need to keep their promises too.)

Posted by Dee Schneider with

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