More Than a Conqueror

By Linda Tancs

There’s no shortage of famous conquerors in world history, like Napoleon—renowned for his strategy and command of the battlefields of war (until Waterloo, that is). For most of us, there’s a different battle brewing. It’s in the mind, where nagging thoughts often plague and condemn us that we’re not where we need to be, not up to the task, not able to navigate life successfully, and so on. When the mind wages war we need to remember that we’re more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). What does it mean to be “more than a conqueror?” It means that, unlike Napoleon, there is no battle and, therefore, no need to conquer. We’ve already won. Through Christ, we are ready for anything and equal to anything that comes up in life (Philippians 4:13). Victory is assured; you needn’t worry about meeting your Waterloo.

Young at Heart

By Linda Tancs

Do you consider yourself “over the hill?” Maybe you can relate to King Solomon’s description of aging in Ecclesiastes 12:3—the body grows feeble, your teeth decay and your eyesight fails. Don’t be discouraged. The Psalmist promises fruit, freshness and flourishing in old age (Psalm 92:14). Indeed, some of the greatest heroes in the Bible were advanced in years. Moses got the call to deliver Israel when he was 80 years old. Isaac died full of years at 180 (Genesis 35:28), as did Jacob at 147 (Genesis 47:28). King David reigned until the age of 70, and Anna the prophetess was anywhere from 84 to 103 years old when she served in the temple at the time of Jesus’s birth (Luke 2:36-38).

Think of age as just a number. It worked for our heroes in faith. As the song Young at Heart says, it’s worth every treasure on earth to be young at heart. Remember, you can do all things through Christ who is your strength (Philippians 4:13).

It Came to Pass

By Linda Tancs

The renowned artist Auguste Renoir was an Impressionist painter, best known for his paintings of bustling Parisian modernity and leisure in the last three decades of the 19th century. He suffered terribly from arthritis in the last decade of his life but continued to paint. When asked why he continued working in such agony, he replied, “The beauty remains. The pain passes.”

That quote reminds me of the Bible phrase, “it came to pass.” It occurs with great regularity, especially in the Old Testament. You might be tempted to just brush it off as a transitional phrase, a way to mark the passage of time in a story with a flourish. But this simple phrase has the potential to mean so much more. Imagine applying it to your difficulties—a job loss, financial reversal, broken relationship, health challenge, or whatever it may be. The problem, or event, didn’t come to stay; it came to pass. Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes teaches this principle of coming and going (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In every storm of life, the pain will pass but the beauty (the ultimate good) will remain. In other words, as Paul reminded the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV).

Sticks and Stones

By Linda Tancs

An old childhood rhyme begins, “Sticks and stones may break my bones.” In the Bible, stones (and clubs) are often depicted as obstacles, even instruments of death. For instance, we’re reminded of stoning as a punishment for sin in the story about the adulteress brought before Jesus for sentencing (John 8:2-5). Also, Jesus reacts disappointedly to his arrest with the use of swords and clubs, as if He were a robber (Mark 14:48; Matthew 26:55; Luke 22:52). And then there’s the imposing stone placed before the entrance to the tomb following Jesus’ crucifixion (Mark 16:3).

What are your “stones” in life? Age? Infirmity? Anger? Resentment? Fear? Don’t let them break you. There’s no stone so big that He can’t roll it back. Focus on building a better foundation based on the One who is the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11).

Unbroken

By Linda Tancs

Ernest Hemingway once said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” What does it mean to be strong in the broken places? Everyday life is full of examples. In woodworking, some forms of joinery add toughness and flexibility to a project. In the medical field, a concept known as Wolff’s Law is used to explain why a broken bone seemingly grows stronger after it heals. Think of other instances when the brittle, compromised place becomes strong—“un”broken.

You may be heartbroken over an event in your life: the loss of a companion, a job, an opportunity. The Psalmist reminds us that God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Even when there is no change in outward circumstances, the Scriptures remind us that through God’s grace we have the strength to “keep calm and carry on.” For instance, Paul suffered from a “thorn in the flesh” (an unknown malady that might have been of physical or psychological origin) that Paul prayed to be cured, but the Lord reminded him that His strength and power rested most powerfully in Paul’s weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Adversity builds character when we lean on God for direction.

Flavor of the Month

By Linda Tancs

You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “flavor of the month.” It means a person or thing enjoying a short period of great popularity. Applied in the negative, it’s the state you’ve lost when your stock drops, so to speak. Depending on your circumstance, it may mean you’re no longer relevant, on trend, winning, and so on—to your family, friends, employer or acquaintances. Maybe you’ve become, as the late film star Katharine Hepburn famously put it, “box office poison.”

Jesus could relate. One day they’re cheering Him in the streets (Matthew 21:1-11) at His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and just days later another throng wants Him crucified (Matthew 27:22-23). However badly you feel about your own situation, His loss of reputation led to a loss of life—that is, until the Resurrection. So take heart. You, too, can arise anew. Life is full of second chances. As another adage goes, everything old is new again.

Excuses, Excuses

By Linda Tancs

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else—Benjamin Franklin.

When you feel called to something, how do you react? Are you reluctant, like Moses (Exodus 3:11)? Are you willing, like Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4)? Or do you feel unworthy, like Isaiah (Isaiah 6)? When you’re called according to God’s will for your life, an opportunity is a wonderful thing to pursue (Ephesians 5:15-17). So why is it so hard sometimes?

Among other things, a fear of failure often leads to procrastination or choosing the path of least resistance (or so it seems). Don’t be afraid to take risks (Proverbs 22:13). Set reasonable goals (Proverbs 20:4) and have an attitude of expectancy, a return on investment (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, cast down your wrong thinking for the kind of thinking that Scripture advocates and you’ll overcome mindsets that undermine your efforts (Romans 12:2).

Who, Me?

By Linda Tancs

“I’m not up to the task.” How often have you felt unworthy or unfit for a task? At least once, no doubt. We often shrink with fear when faced with an assignment that we perceive will test our limits—physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. During those times it’s good to remember how ordinary folks in the Bible were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. Consider the prophet Jeremiah, called by God at a young age to minister to a nation; he thought he was way too young and inexperienced to be effective (Jeremiah 1:4-8). Mary pondered how she, a virgin, could become mother to our Savior (Luke 1:34). Moses felt inadequate to the task of demanding Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 3:11). Jonah was so intimated by God’s call for him to witness at Nineveh that he fled on a ship (Jonah 1:2-3). Gideon thought himself too lowly of a man to deliver Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:11-16).

You get the picture. Yet in each case, God didn’t expect his draft picks to act alone. He promised to be with them. And so it is with us. He’s present in every task, duty, charge, assignment or obligation (Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20). Because of that, you can accomplish anything with the strength that He gives you (Philippians 4:13).

When it Rains, it Pours

By Linda Tancs

You know what it’s like when you’re having “one of those days,” when everything that could possibly go wrong does exactly that. The prophet Habakkuk could relate. He lamented over fig trees that did not blossom, vines that bore no fruit, failing olive trees, fruitless fields, flock cut off from the fold and no cattle in the stalls (Habakkuk 3:17). I guess you could say he was having a bad day.

Do you often get overwhelmed when circumstances seem out of control? Habakkuk did, too, but God reminded him to trust Him in the midst of oppression and destruction. He instructed him, in essence, to create a vision board and stand by it (Habakkuk 2:3). After all, what’s the use in focusing on what is going wrong when you can visualize a better outcome? It’s easy to quit in hard times, the storms of life. Habakkuk resolved to trust God to make his feet like hinds’ feet—in other words, swift and nimble. How swiftly and nimbly do you act when life throws you a curveball?

Go Forward in Faith

By Linda Tancs

What does it mean to go forward in faith? Faith is described in Hebrews as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We hang our hats, so to speak, on faith. It gives us the courage to move forward, in God’s will, with plans for a hopeful future.

Hebrews 11 is a treasure trove of examples of faith-filled living. We’re reminded of Noah, who built an ark in anticipation of a flood that no one could see coming. Abraham moved house at God’s command without knowing how it would work out in his new location. A barren Sarah became pregnant in the face of physiological impossibility. A stammering Moses became spokesperson for a nation. Daniel survived the lions’ den.

Trailblazers. All of them. They relied on God’s promise and prevailed. Imagine what you could do by releasing your faith in God and resolving to take the necessary steps to accomplish your goals. Whatever you feed grows; feed your faith.