learning through challenges

I am sure every person, in one way or another can relate to this illustration…

Every one of us faces challenges. Some are big and some are small. Challenges that I face, might not be as difficult for you to navigate. Setbacks you encounter might derail you, where with another person, they are more easily managed. Some of us are magnificently equipped to handle a variety of challenges while others of us have to continually seek out help and leverage what resources, skills or talents we currently possess.

The way in which we respond to the challenges we are faced with in life speak powerfully about our character and the values of our heart.

And we could easily turn to a quick fix, or perhaps a quick search…

One could read all the “how to” books and articles and still not experience that change of the heart and mind that is required of someone to endure the challenges of…school or work, parenthood, anger or fear, floods and earthquakes, annoying neighbors, obnoxious friends, a lack of employment and financiers, sickness, disease, or even death. You name the challenge and it will always require perseverance on our part.

The reality we probably have to embrace is that the way in which the world around us responds to challenges, well it might not be our best model to pursue.

In fact, I believe there is a better model…

Jesus, and only Jesus should be our example that we look to as we face challenges. And, God is breaking into our lives, our challenges and all of experiences, to help us learn through that moment

And perhaps you do. Perhaps you cry out to Him in prayer. Perhaps you turn to the Word of God for direction and hope. Perhaps when faced with a challenge you have a whole network of physical and emotional support that you can mobilize.

But when you’ve done this, when you’ve grieved, confessed, prayed and sought help, what have you learned as a result? What has God taught you about His character and your identity being rooted in Him, regardless of the challenge and its outcome?

Often we see our challenges as hurdles or road blocks preventing us from living, from loving and from doing all that God has placed within our reach. As we face challenges we need to build into our spiritual problem solving methodology the ability to stop and ask the right question.

Jesus had twelve disciples who followed Him and learned from what He had to say. The word ‘disciple’ literally means ‘learner’. It is a passion of mine to be a Disciple of Christ who makes Disciples for Christ who can go and make Disciples of Christ. That means that we should be very focused on learning how to listen to God and to seek to learn what He’s telling us in every experience, in every challenge.

To help us with this, you can use a tool called the “Learning Circle.” I have been using this in my journey with the Lord and it has profoundly impacted my life.

The “Learning Circle” helps us, especially in challenging time and during set-backs or loss, it helps us during those experiences and challenges to identify when God is speaking to us through a “kairos moment” – a moment in which God is breaking into our lives, our challenges and all of experiences, to help us learn through that moment.

We all face challenges and we all make mistakes. We can either learn from them, or ignore them and watch them happen again and again. Using the “Learning Circle” has helped me move from observation to action.
learningcircleI have learned that most effective way to start applying the “Learning Circle” to our lives is to learn it from somebody else. I believe in this tool and I’d love to partner with you in apply it to your life. But for now, the next time you have a kairos moment, why not share it with somebody you trust. Ask them, “can you help me take this around the circle?”

To help you more now, here is a simple outline of each step of the circle…

FIRST – OBSERVE: To change our lives, we need to observe where we are. This means taking note of our reactions, emotions and thoughts.

SECONDLY – REFLECT: This means asking ourselves why we reacted or felt the way we did. If a real change is to take place, we must be honest with our answers. 

THIRD – DISCUSS: Through discussion, and by sharing our thoughts with a group of trusted friends, we begin to discover more clearly what God is doing in our life. It can be hard to share your thoughts and struggles with someone else but it will help you grow and change the way God wants you to. 

FOURTH – PLAN: After reflecting and discussing, the next step is to plan. This always involves considering the Kingdom of God first. Pray, discuss, and consider the best move or action that will glorify God. 

FIFTH – ACCOUNTABILITY: If your plan is going to happen, there needs to be at least one person holding you accountable. Ask someone to pray with you and keep them up to date with how you’re going. And pick a person who is the “real-deal” as well – someone who won’t sugarcoat their responses but who care enough about your growth and success that they will be honest.  

AND SIXTH – ACTION: Once a plan has been established and shared, the next step to take should be is to act on it. Real faith is courageous. Real faith trusts in God and what He has said. Real faith always surfaces as action. Thoughts and intentions that remain within the mind and are not acted upon, however fruitful, is not faith.

You can learn more – and I would HIGHLY encourage you do just that – you can learn more about the “Learning Circle” by connecting with me directly, or by reading “Building a Discipling Culture” by Mike Breen, or by visiting the 3DM website directly. The “Learning Circle” image is from a shared resource.

When we face challenges we can learn from them and we can look to Jesus with complete confidence that He wants us to learn and grow through all of life’s challenges.

God is breaking into our lives, our challenges and all of experiences, to help us learn through that moment. How will you respond? And He is faithful, He will not waste any of the pain we face. He is with us in every season, and through every experience, looking for us to become more like Him and experience more of His peace.

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Be Unashamed

What truly matters to you?

What are you passionate about?

As followers of Christ, as fully devoted and fully committed disciples of Christ we are called to boldly proclaim the Good News about Jesus Christ.

3d3b44d7ab943d5f5e60bbacf4938c00Romans 1:16-17 says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”

The Apostle Paul was proclaiming a message about a Messiah who had reconciled humanity with the Lord through the cross – and this message, His allegiance, it was a scandalous offense to those around him. And even though the Jewish people of the day longed for the Messiah to come – they took offense with what He was proclaiming. The Jews, the Greeks and even the Romans had these things that truly mattered to them, items and people that they placed their hope and allegiance in for this is what they were devoted to. And all of it, was never a bold confession and devotion to the Lord. If any of them were to do what Paul did here in this truth, declaring that Jesus is Lord, it would be at the risk of their very lives and they could not comprehend that.

But Paul did – do you? As a disciple of Christ in our community, do you get what you are called to do with your life? And, are you actually doing it? If you believe you have been doing this – then what does the fruit of that work look like in your life? Paul boldly proclaims that he was not ashamed to declare that Jesus is Lord. He had been a leader to the Jews, an influencer in the world he was surrounded by and he even held Roman citizenship – but His journey as a disciple of Christ dramatically changed all of that and he radically, boldly and powerfully declared: I am not ashamed…!

Does a statement like this reflect your heart?

Does saying, believing and acting this out matter to you?

What Paul declared, also matched with what he was doing for God. This is very important for us to grasp. We must be fully surrendered to the Lord and fully devoted to doing God’s work. Stop thinking your busyness is the Lord’s work. If we are truly living as disciples of Christ, making more disciples of Christ then this community of believers we live among, it would be seeing more and more people coming to salvation in the Lord. We are called to be His disciples and to make more disciples for Christ and we do this when we are unashamed in what we proclaim about God and when we live out our faith in such an authentic way that it faithfully declares to those around us that we belong to God and that we long to see Him redeem and transform their lives.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ can hold its own against any challengers. Do not live in fear of what your friends or family might say or do when you boldly and faithfully live a Christ like life in this present moment. Clarence Bence said: “Although there are strategies for countering the criticisms of the skeptics, or compensating for the failures of less-than-perfect believers, or coping with spiritual adversaries, faith is the key to experiencing the good news of salvation in one’s life.”

Does your faith in the Lord reflect your belief and action as His beloved, as a truly devoted disciple of Christ?

Paul was fully committed to making sure that with the rest of his life, with all that he had, that those he encountered would know the Good News about Jesus Christ.

Does proclaiming this message, that Jesus saves, does it truly matter to you?

Are passionate about sharing with others God’s plan for Salvation – how God has saved you and how He has transformed your life? 

What has the impact of being unashamed for Christ’s on your life – on your family – your marriage or other relationships – what has that impact been and how has it changed you?

May you cultivate in your discipleship journey an overwhelming confidence in God’s power to redeem a lost and hurting world. May this motivate you to use every aspect of your life to share with others the gospel message that Jesus saves. And, may you be unashamed to proclaim, in your words and actions, that Jesus is Lord of your life and that you want others to surrender to His lordship for their lives!