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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Love

This is the message you heard from the beginning:
We should love one another.
1 JOHN 3:11 (NIV)



Real love is an action – a selfless, sacrificial giving. The greatest act of love anyone can perform is to give himself or herself for others.


Sometimes it’s easier to say, “I’d die for you” than it is to say “I’ll live for you. Let me think of your interests before my own.” I think we would all agree that living sacrificially is a real death to self. It’s a killing of your selfishness, your own desires.


To die for others, to live for others, is a gift of love that can only come from God. Why only from Him? Because it takes superhuman strength to live – I mean really live – for others.

JONI EARECKSON TADA



Dear children,
let us not love with words or tongue
but with actions and in truth.
1 JOHN 3:18 (NIV)



On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, Love

For God so loved the world
that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,
but have eternal life.
JOHN 3:16 (NIV)



Babe Ruth is to baseball what John 3:16 is to the Bible. If you know just one baseball player, it’s probably the “Babe”. If you know just one Bible verse, it’s probably John 3:16.


God so ached for the return of this lost world that He gave up His only Son to bring it home. I have to tell you honestly, I can’t understand that. I can’t fathom why He would do that. Jonathan is my only son, and there’s no way I would give him up. Or Tiffany – my only daughter. Not for anything. Not to get my arm back. Not to play baseball again. Not for the world.


And yet …


And yet that is why God gave his Son – for the world. For you.



God showed How much He loved us
by sending His one and only Son into the world,
so that we might have eternal life through Him.
This is real love – not that we loved God,
but that He loved us and sent His Son
as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
1 JOHN 4:9-10 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Love, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

But while Joseph was there in prison,
the Lord was with him;
He showed him kindness and
granted him favor …
GENESIS 39:20-21 (NIV)



Falsely accused and subsequently jailed, Joseph was (again) the victim of a terrible injustice. His plight was like the cancer victim abandoned by her spouse or the man permanently disabled by a drunk driver. He was innocent!


But what is remarkable about Joseph’s life isn’t the series of injustices he endured, but rather how he responded in the face of those terrible trials. He never blamed God. He never turned away from God. He never lashed out at those around him. Regardless of the situation, Joseph’s relationship with his Lord never changed.


God does not give his children a “hall pass” to skip out on the negative effects of living in a sinful world. He gives us something much better … his own sustaining, encouraging presence.



You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
PSALM 16:11 (NLT)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN & DAVE DRAVECKY

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Love, Trust, Words of Endurance

“… I will be with you.”
GENESIS 31:3 (NIV)



When I was diagnosed with cancer my prayer wasn’t for God to take the cancer away. It wasn’t a demand for an explanation. It was simply my heart crying out to God in total helplessness.


I needed a strength beyond my own to deal with what was ahead. The disease that had invaded my body could cause me to lose the things in life that were most important to me and I was powerless to change it.


So my prayers gave voice to my deepest needs and longings – to hold onto life and to keep on being a husband and a dad and ultimately to know that God really did care for me and would be with me.



My health may fail
and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever.

PSALM 73:26 (NLT)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
DAVE DRAVECKY

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Discovering Who I Am, Grace, Love, Words of Endurance

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—
nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic,
today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—
absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love
because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
ROMANS 8:38-39 (THE MESSAGE)



As I was on the path to discovering who I was, one of my major roadblocks was accepting and believing God could really love me. No that is not exactly right. I believed He could love me; I just always struggled with how could He love me – even in spite of my sin and my failures…



It is one thing to accept truth intellectually – it is quite another to get it into your heart. I knew that God is God and He is who He says He is. I knew what He has done for us through the death of his Son. But I struggled to connect with this affection that God insists He has for me – I struggled to understand and accept His unconditional love.



Thank God for the one thing that helped me to bridge the gap between my head and my heart – my love for my own kids. It was not an exaggeration to say that I loved my kids so much that I would die for them. I hate to think what I would do to the person who tried to harm them. I could not see how I could ever exchange one of his or her lives for the life of someone else – yet that is exactly what God did for us.



“For God loved the world so much
that he gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish but have eternal life.”
JOHN 3:16 (NLT)



When I thought about that and about what Scripture says of the love of God for me – it became easier to accept that He really does love me. If I can love my own children with such passion then how much more was He who is perfect able to love me?



Such reflections also helped me to realize that when my children failed – I didn’t love them any less. When they would go their own way of disobedience – despite what Jan or I would ask – did I love them any less because of it? Of course not! Sure I would get angry with them but my love never disappeared because of their disobedience.



More over, it struck me as I looked at my disobedient son or daughter – I saw myself. I was no different than them – just a bigger, older version! I was not different at all.



So what does that mean? Could it mean that God continues to love us despite our sins just as we continue to love our kids despite theirs? Absolutely! God does not rejoice when I fall nor does He rub His hands and say “Aha! I told you so!” I found great comfort in that.



This revelation was a real eye-opener for me because I tended to get down on myself whenever I sin or failed. I did not want to go to God at those times – I turned away in shame. Yet that is when I needed Him more than at any other time – I needed to turn to Him – bring my sin and failures before Him. And remember that …



But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins,
because we can trust God to do what is right.
He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.
1 JOHN 1:9 (NCV)



I close today with the same prayer for all of you that the Apostle Paul had for the Ephesians …



And I pray that you and all God’s holy people
will have the power to understand
the greatness of Christ’s love—
how wide and how long and how high
and how deep that love is.
EPHESIANS 3:18 (NCV)



and his prayer for the Thessalonians as you endure your journey …



May the Lord lead your hearts
into a full understanding and expression of the love of God
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
2 THESSALONIANS 3:5 (NCV)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Healing, Hope, Love, Pain, Walking Beside the Weak & Wounded, Words of Endurance

Suppose someone has enough to live and sees a brother or sister in need, but does not help.
Then God’s love is not living in that person.
My children, we should love people not only with words and talk,
but by our actions and true caring.
1 JOHN 3:17-18 (NCV)



The above scripture is a foundational verse for the ministry of Endurance – it permeates every policy and program. We believe it is “where the rubber meets the road. Words and talk – although important – are not nearly as important as acts of love and kindness. Words spoken are exactly that but love in action speaks much louder and shows how much we truly care because we are giving of ourselves.



Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this
if you learn all the right words but never do anything?
Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?
For instance, you come upon an old friend
dressed in rags and half-starved and say,
“Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!”
and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—
where does that get you?
Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
JAMES 2:14-17 (THE MESSAGE)



Here are some of our favorite tried and true actions of love that help us walk beside those who are weak and wounded …



• Ask – “How can I be praying for you?’ and then always offer to pray right then and there with your hurting friend.
• Be there – take the time – love in action!
• Send a note card or email when you pray for hurting friends or family members so they know that you continue to pray for them.
• Be there – take the time – love in action
• Call and check in on a regular basis especially before any potentially difficult milestone such as an anniversary of a loved one’s death or an important appointment – it is taking the time to care.
• Be there – take the time – love in action!
• Help with the daily grind of life by preparing meals or helping with the daily duties whenever you can – give a helping hand.
• Be there – take the time – love in action



God chooses carefully those who would bring His message of hope, comfort and love to His suffering children. If you have been chosen to be God’s hands, mouth or feet for your friend – God will bless you richly as you let Him teach you His gentle ways and how to walk in His strength. And remember …



It is not how much we do,
but how much love we put into what we do.
MOTHER TERESA



As you serve and love others in need – count it a privilege and be blessed…

“Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom.
It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:



‘ I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’



“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about?
When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink?
And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’
Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth:
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored,
that was me—you did it to me.’
MATTHEW 25:34-40 (THE MESSAGE)



On the journey with you,
Dave & Jan Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Grief, Hope, Lighten Your Load, Love, Words of Endurance

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith,
let us strip off every weight that slows us down
HEBREWS 12:1



When your journey takes you into the valley of suffering, it is so important to assess the load that you are carrying and discard any needless weight. Needless weight will slow you down and eventually burn you out. I know this from my own personal experience.



I always felt responsible for everyone and everything. I honestly once believed that whatever came across my path – God wanted me to take care of. And up until we entered our valley of suffering I did a pretty good job of juggling and carrying all that life threw at us. God soon showed me how ridiculous that belief truly was.



After Dave’s comeback, the breaking of his arm and subsequent surgeries, he required a large amount of care and attention. During this time, Dave was incapacitated and unable to do anything, I was Dave’s caregiver, the single parent to our two young children and also ran our household alone.



But the load became unbearable when I also tried to continue to meet the needs of extended family, friends and even mere acquaintances. Any request that was made of me I tried to fulfill – I could not say no – I wanted to please everyone. I remember thinking – isn’t this what God expects from me?



Of course, I could not sustain that unrealistic load and I collapsed under the weight of it all. In order to be restored and endure this journey, I needed to establish what my priorities were, reassess the load I was carrying and strip off any needless weight.



I was surprised to learn that while my top priorities were my husband and my children, my own personal health was a priority too. I needed to take care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually so that I would be strong enough to take care of Dave and the kids – this was not being selfish but selfless. What a relief – it was OK for me to take care of me!



“…love your neighbor as yourself.”
MATTHEW 19:19



I casted needless weight when I learned the truth that the extra burdens that I had been carrying had not been placed there by God but by me. God did not expect me to take care of every need that came across my path. I had the right to set boundaries and say no to lesser priorities so I would be able to take care of my higher priorities. What a revelation for me – what freedom!



“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
JOHN 8:32



Praise God that He is not the taskmaster that I thought He once was! I learned the complete opposite to be true …



Then Jesus said,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you.
Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
MATTHEW 11:28-30



Praise God for His Truth. He helped me lighten my load and enabled me to endure. Establish your priorities – allow Him to lighten your load so that you too may endure your journey.



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Endurance for the Journey, Healing, Lighten Your Load, Love, Relationships, Words of Endurance

“Carry each other’s burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
GALATIANS 6:2



I always believed, as we are told in Scripture, that we are to “Carry each other’s burdens.” I did my best to help carry everyone’s supposed burdens with a sacrificial love.



A major problem for me was while I so willingly offered my help to others I was unable to receive help from anyone. Even when we entered our valley of suffering, I refused others’ offers of help – I didn’t want to impose – I believed I could take care of myself.



But the truth was that I could not bear my burdens alone and I collapsed under their oppressive weight. Fortunately, I did turn for help to a Christian counselor. Through his Godly guidance and insight, I learned many valuable lessons. Let me share one of his most valuable insights into the Scripture and my life.



My counselor told me in Galatians 6:2 – burden in the Greek translates into boulder; a boulder is something that is too heavy for an individual to carry alone. So yes, we as Christians are to come alongside one another with a sacrificial love and help carry one another’s boulders.



BUT THEN he pointed out that the Scripture also says:



“ … for each one should carry his own load.”
GALATIANS 6:5



Load in the Greek translates into knapsack; a knapsack is something that each individual is responsible to carry on his own. So, there are boulders and there are knapsacks. We are to help carry one another’s boulders but not one another’s knapsacks. When we carry one another’s knapsacks we get in the way of their maturing process.



I’ll never forget what my counselor said to me next – it was a major “A-HA” moment in my life.



He said, “Jan, the reason you have collapsed is because first of all, you would not let anyone help you carry the boulders in your own life – they were too heavy for you to carry alone. You need to learn to receive from others.”



He continued, “And secondly, yes – you helped carry everyone’s boulders but you also tried to carry everyone’s knapsacks. You are not responsible to carry anyone’s knapsack. In order for you to heal and lead a healthy life, you need to learn to discern between what is a boulder or knapsack in one’s life before you offer to help carry it.”



The load that I had been carrying was lightened when I learned that there are seasons in life – seasons to give and seasons to receive. I learned to receive help with the boulders in my life and my load was lightened.



When I stopped carrying others’ knapsacks – a needless weight – my load was lightened even more.



Are you allowing others to help you carry the boulders in your life? Are you carrying others’ knapsacks? My prayer for you is that God will show you the boulders in your life that you need to let others help you bear and that He will also show you the needless knapsacks that you are carrying for others.



“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down,
especially the sin that so easily trips us up.
And let us run with endurance
the race God has set before us. ‘
HEBREWS 12:1



On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Anger, Doubt, Endurance for the Journey, Fear, Grace, Love, Next Steps, Perseverance, Words of Endurance

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses,
for he faced all of the same testings we do,
yet he did not sin.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy,
and we will find grace to help us
when we need it most.
HEBREWS 4:15-56



I have always had high expectations of myself – never wanting to fail – always wanting to be strong – never weak – earning my success in the game of baseball and in my everyday life.



All that changed when cancer entered my life. Oh, I was strong and performed well at the beginning of my journey of suffering. But as the journey took me into the wilderness and the days became long and endless, I experienced a weakness of my being that I had never felt before.



I had a fear of death – I doubted – then felt shame for my lack of faith. I experienced frustration over my weakness and my failure to overcome. This resulted in anger – rage-filled fits – then extreme guilt over my sin. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, my inclination was to run from God and hide.



BUT … running and hiding from God was not the answer– in order to endure, I needed to run to Him and receive His grace even though I felt I had not earned or deserved it.



But God loves who we really are – whether we like it or not.
God calls us, as He did Adam, to come out of hiding.
“Come to me now,” Jesus says.
“Acknowledge and accept who I want to be for you:
a Savior of boundless compassion, infinite patience,
unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs.
Quit projecting onto me your own feelings about yourself.
At this moment your life is a bruised reed and I will not crush it,
a smoldering wick and I will not quench it.
You are in a safe place.
BRENNAN MANNING (ABBA’S CHILD)



God’s grace is an incredible source of fuel for endurance. It encourages us to keep going even when we stumble because we know He understands and knows our weaknesses – yet He still loves us. HE LOVES US EVEN ON OUR WORST DAY!!! This was a huge source of fuel for me to continue walking on my journey with Him knowing …



“If we have only the will to walk, then God is pleased with my stumbles.”
CS LEWIS



Sometimes we are so sick and tired of stumbling that we don’t want to walk anymore. What a blessing it is to realize that all we need to have is the will to walk with Him, and God is pleased with us – even when we stumble. That’s an incredible expression of grace. That is a tremendous motivation to endure.



The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
PSALM 37:23-24



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Faith, Grace, Love, Relationships, The Treasure of Relationships, Words of Endurance

Next to God Himself, we need each other most.
A.W. Tozer

The Treasure of Deepened Relationships

Michelle Dacus considers the time spent with her mom during her long and difficult recovery from life-threatening surgery* to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “The treasure of spending that enormous amount of time with my mom impacted our relationship for the rest of our lives. Her selflessness was amazing. I never would have known the depth of her love without this experience. One of the greatest treasures God showed me in the darkness was to spend quality time with the people you love, to invest in those relationships and not to take them for granted.”



Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7



The Treasure of Grace

Karen knew about grace, but she didn’t realize what a powerful treasure it was until her best friend’s family was shattered by divorce. “Every time a family member would call, all I could do was pray under my breath for grace. I didn’t have answers, and they didn’t want them. I couldn’t share wisdom because I didn’t have any. Each family member’s faith was shaken. What they needed – the only thing I could give them – was grace. Until I walked through this devastation, I had no idea how powerful grace is or how quickly God could send grace to you and through you to nurse the wounds of the brokenhearted.”



And God is able to make all grace abound to you.
2 Corinthians 9:8



The Treasure of Learning How to Love

For more than half of their 32 years of marriage, Rick Rood cared for Polly as she battled a degenerative illness. Rick came to realize “that the burden we had been handed was also, in some mysterious way I could not yet understand, a ‘gift’ from the Lord…Five years into Polly’s illness it dawned on me what God was doing in my life…When Polly became ill, God enlisted me in a life-shaping process. Part of this process involved His gently and patiently chipping away at qualities that He knew needed to diminish in my life. The other part was gradually instilling in my heart the qualities He wanted me to acquire…the most important was love. I loved Polly before, but God used this illness to transform my love for her.”



Love never fails…and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:8,13



The Treasure of Seeing Others Grow in their Faith


“I wouldn’t give up one thing I have been through,” Joanie Thompson, who suffers from a chronic lung disease, explains, “if it meant my children would not know what they know today and would not have experienced what they have experienced…I watched them plead with the Lord to heal me…I’ve seen them allow the Spirit of God to empower them…and that probably is the greatest thing that compels me to keep going.”

I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good.
2 Corinthians 12:15



The Treasure of Compassion


Before she became a quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada, president of a respected and influential ministry to the disabled, confesses that she “could have cared less about people in wheelchairs. But when God awakened me from my spiritual slumber with an ice-cold splash of suffering in the face, my thinking changed real fast. God used my pain and my heartache to cause me…to care about other who are hurting.”

He (God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4



The Treasure of a Testimony


A pastor once told his congregation, “Your best argument for your faith is your testimony: how God met you, changed you and continues to impact you daily.” Michelle Dacus would agree wholeheartedly. “My greatest tool and treasure for reaching the lost is my testimony. For the rest of my life, I’ll be using it. It’s a treasure I will pull out every day…a gift God gives me to share.”



Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.
Psalm 66:16

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