Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Small Victories of Life are Found in the Journey, not the Destination

This is a guest post by Ailie Baumann

Some years ago, a TV series was aired on our local TV channels called Going Nowhere Slowly. I didn’t watch much of this series because I was still a teenager entering the wonderful world of adulthood, so my interests were not really on the pleasures of a slow life.

Quite the opposite really. Up until just recently, I have always being frustrated with the slowness of life and the length of the wilderness moments in life. I couldn’t wait to get to the destination of whatever it was God had for me. I was one of those people whose happiness hinged on the next big thing: I’ll finally be happy when I’m married or My marriage will rock when I have kids and so on.

I found that the pain of waiting was greater than I wanted to bear. I suppose that’s typical for most of us. Waiting for God to bring us into all that he has for us or to bring that breakthrough we’ve been fighting for brought to the surface all those insecurities and doubts that we have towards God and his goodness.

We begin to doubt that he really heard our prayers or actually cares about what we are going through. We often miss the reality that God’s best for us, while different, will exceed our imaginations, hopes, and dreams. In fact, His best is going to be better than anything we could have wanted.

The small victories of life

As God took me on a journey of inner healing and encountering his goodness and heart, he began to show me that the small victories of life are the key to understanding his kindness and goodness. If we are constantly rushing to the destination, we don’t get to savor the scenery of our surroundings, so to speak. We whiz past the one our hearts are crying out to. Those acts of kindness, grace, and mercy that are disguised as small victories of life go unnoticed while our dismay and disappointment arise from a hope that has become deferred.

What if, we slow down and change our focus? 

Maybe, God doesn’t really care as much as we do about the destination because it’s a given.  He is going to lead us right to that destination and victory because he is a good Father and we are willing to work with him.

To me, the destination is the future. Although God is eternal and outside of time, he is a God who is present in the here and now. He is here with you, today. Today becomes yesterday and tomorrow becomes today. So, our lives become a book of sequential small victories of life woven together into a glorious story of testimony, success, and wonder. The book is the destination, but it’s the small victories of life that make it so wonderful.

Encountering God in the small victories of life

Although I can’t tell you much about the TV show, Going Nowhere Slowly, what I can tell you is that the main presenters would get in a car and cruise around the US (I think that’s where they were based). We need to do that in life.

Let's slow down. It's time to take our mind off the destination and look at what God is doing today.

How did God answer you, today?

What acts of kindness did you experience, today?  

As you slow down and focus on the present, you’ll begin to see God has been ushering in a whole series of small victories. Like a lover romancing his beloved, the Lord is using the small victories of life to woo you into a deeper level of intimacy and encounter with him. This is his heart and his goal.

Fun exercise to become aware of your small victories

If you are struggling to identify the many small victories that God has brought your way, the following exercise may be helpful to you: 

Take a pen and paper. Think back over your life for the past five to ten years. Write down where you were then and what has changed for the better since then. Ask God to show you how he has been working in your life from then till now. 

Next, write down where you would like to see yourself in the next five to ten years. Include the promises God has given to you.

You can write your answers or you can create a life map with a picture of yourself in the center, your past to the left, and your future towards the right.

How has God proven himself faithful and good in giving you a list of small victories throughout the past few years?

Hi there, I'm a passionate lover of Jesus, wife, mom of three boys, and author of Pen Paper Paint ( I love to share my life and love for Jesus with others in the hopes of inspiring them toward a deeper relationship with him. I want to share the realities that Jesus is intricately involved in our everyday life. I love chocolate, drawing, music, and sushi. My goal in life is to love others wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

3 Stories of Captivity and Pursuing Victory in Christ

Meet Kelsey

Kelsey stopped asking a long time ago. She knew if she told him she’d like to go to church, her husband would say something unkind like, “Only losers need Jesus.”  She once needed Jesus. Did that make her a loser? Sometimes she felt like she still needed Him, but over the years had learned to suppress such thoughts and feelings. It was just easier that way.

She discovered that if she stayed busy enough, her yearnings seemed to quiet themselves. Kelsey was on the verge of over-committing herself with fundraising, children’s sports, and school activities. She felt as if she could barely breathe through the weightiness of her schedule. In fact, she was supposed to attend a purse party with a friend the night before, but something else came up and she forgot to call and cancel. She wished she could muster enough emotion to feel bad about letting her friend down, but time was moving too fast.

Kelsey knew she had a good life, but this sure isn’t what she dreamed of.

and Terri

Terri gave her heart to Jesus when she was 10 years old. All through middle and high school, she followed hard after Him. She felt a deep connection to the Lord through worship and daily quiet time and sensed a call to full-time ministry. Then, in her first year of college, she discovered her mother’s string of extramarital affairs and Terri turned to the sex, drug, and alcohol scene to dull the pain. She wondered, “Where was God? Why wasn’t He there for my mom?” and her heart began to harden toward Him.

Now in her married life, she and her mom had worked out a few things and she was attending church with her husband and kids. Away from church, though, it wasn’t unusual for her to have inappropriate thoughts about men. They had no idea, of course, so she kept her thoughts on simmer until she could log into those Internet sites privately.  

and Beth 

Beth was an early bloomer. She grew up in a strong Christian home but was one of those girls who had her first baby while still in high school. She married her high school sweetheart and they were now parenting four additional children and serving the Lord at their local church. Beth most loved missionaries and often reached out to those overseas to encourage and offer prayer support via email.

When their busy days quieted and she crawled into bed each night, Beth wondered, “Is this all there is?” Their family routine felt like drudgery and Beth often felt an emptiness she couldn’t describe. She did her best to decorate their home to designer magazine standards. She kept herself and her kids well-groomed and fashionably dressed, but her husband only complained about the amount of money she spent.

Even church was becoming unfulfilling. She used to believe she could feel the presence of the Lord there, but now she wasn’t so sure. Yet when she watched others in their church experience emotional worship, she felt she was missing out on something more. 

What do they have in common? 

Kelsey, Terri, and Beth all have something in common. They feel a deep and seemingly unexplainable sense of longing. They dream of an abundant life - not necessarily in material things, but an abundance that will satisfy what feels like a hole in their hearts. They long for something to placate their constant sense of discontentment. They’ve grown weary of settling for the mundane, yet can’t put their fingers on what seems to be missing.

What they may fail to recognize is that they are thirsty for something that only Jesus can satisfy. They are hungry for the victory of discovering deep soul satisfaction through the active involvement of God in their lives.

The freedom they once experienced in the Spirit is buried by dashed hopes and unmet expectations. God’s care and involvement seem absent. Victory feels elusive as if God intends it for everyone but them.

These are common heartaches. Many of us feel them personally or can closely identify with those who feel stuck in captivity.

Through nearly two decades of teaching, mentoring, coaching, and ministering to women, I’ve met some who couldn’t see triumph in their lives because they feel trapped by disappointments or held captive by past heartache. One woman once told me that she could never share her story with others because there was no good in it. But there’s good in every story. And we don’t have to allow our past to keep us from finding that good.

Finding Victory

Victory comes when we recognize that God is actively moving in every situation, including our own.  Knowing that His protection of His children is unwavering and constant helps us know and understand that His love is real and personal. We are victorious when we recognize and embrace the best that God has for us.

By learning to take negative thoughts captive, practice gratitude, expend effort and time needed to build a meaningful relationship with God, we can embrace His victory. We can all learn to recognize that through and even because of our trials and disappointments, we can find triumph.

To embrace victory, we must cling tight to the truths of Scripture and let the Word of God fill our hearts and minds. As disciplines develop, when we regularly study the Bible and begin to delight ourselves in the Lord, He molds our desires and reshapes our longings, fashioning them to match His will for us.

As we continue this blog series on victory together, I encourage you to take another look at the five faith building practices we covered in our Back 2 Basics series last month. If you, like Terri, Beth, and Kelsey, are longing for something that will fill the emptiness you feel inside, consider asking Jesus Christ to be your source of satisfaction. Re-visit the disciplines of prayer, time in God’s Word, worship, Scripture memorization, and even fasting.  Choose one and dive in. Give it your full attention then after a few weeks, evaluate the thirst you now feel and whether God is in the process of quenching that thirst.  

Jesus can and will meet you in your emptiness and fill you to overflowing with a sense of fulfillment and meaning. The kicker is that we have to invite Him into our lives and allow Him to lead us. Jesus proclaimed in John 7:37 “If anyone is thirsty he should come to Me and drink!”  Let’s take Him at His word and walk in His victory!

* Kelsey, Terri, and Beth are figments of my imagination. Any resemblance to actual people is neither intended nor implied. 

Your Turn

Share a time when you felt "stuck", discontent, or as if there were a proverbial hole in your heart. Have you experienced victory in Christ? How did you overcome?

If you're still feeling "stuck," I would love to pray for you. Please tell me how I can best do that. 

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28


We feel honored to talk with you. Please share your comments below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.  For more information, visit our website:

Cathy McIntosh is the author of Victorious: Finding Triumph When Hope Seems Lost. When you can’t see God’s activity in your situation, you might begin to feel hopeless. You’re tempted to doubt His care and involvement in your life because He feels so . . . absent. Victory feels elusive as if God intends it for everyone but you.

But God is never absent. He is as involved in your life today as He was when He protected Queen Esther and the entire Jewish nation from annihilation, and He will bring victory.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sweet Victory in Jesus

           I remember like it was yesterday. 

          The day dawned when I said, “enough.” I was tired of feeling defeated by the enemy. Weary from serving the Lord with an underlying sense of timidity. I felt the fatigue of insecurity and self-doubt.

            I wasn’t always this way, I recalled. Once I walked with confidence and assurance in the Lord, resisting the enemy like it was no big deal. Maybe my encounters with him were less significant back then, or perhaps I felt more certain of who I was in Christ. Either way, it seemed, somehow, that in recent years of following the Lord my battles were bigger and my victories were smaller.
            Then that day came and I asked, “Why?” God isn’t less powerful. He promised He’d never abandon me. So why do I feel like I’m less effective for the Kingdom than I did as a new believer?
            The answer came, at last, through prayer: I’d allowed the enemy to camp out inside my head. I succumbed to the temptation to listen to his lies. I believed him when he said I was unworthy and insignificant. I partnered with the fear he introduced and embraced the insecurity he fueled. And here’s the tricky part. It was as if I’d settled into the comfortable sofa of his lies. If I believed them and considered myself incompetent, then there was no need to work so hard. If my efforts were futile as the enemy said, then why should I walk in obedience? My striving didn’t matter anyway. As I became comfortable in defeat I began to walk in my own strength and not the Lord’s. This proved ineffective, gave credence to the lies, and made me even more comfy on that sofa. It was a vicious and paralyzing cycle.

When Truth Reigns

            Truth emerged as it always does. It wasn’t an overnight process. It took time and is still a work in progress, but the fact is - the truth set me free. The Holy Spirit reminded me that I am His. By the truth of God’s Word, He broke the stronghold and I knew I needed to get off the couch.

            In Christ we have victory. He promises it, and what He promises, He delivers. If you have a few minutes, check out these verses for an added dose of divine encouragement:
            Gen 50:20                              1 Cor 15:57
            Ps 18:35                                 2 Cor 2:14
            Isaiah 41:10-14                      2 Cor 4:7-12
            Romans 8:28

What's Next?  

           Today kicks off a new blog series: Victory in Jesus. We’ll examine victory from a few different angles and uncover ways to embrace it when it might not seem obvious. I’m eager to share what I trust will be a hug from God to your spirit, dear one. I pray what you read over the coming weeks will prove refreshing nourishment to your souls which may be weary as mine was.  I have petitioned the Lord and asked that this blog series might provide refreshing rest and spur unhindered joy for you.

First things First            

          But there’s something we need to talk about first. Salvation. Victory in Christ doesn’t come to those who have not acknowledged Him as Savior. Surrendering to Jesus and giving Him our hearts must come first. Below, I share a piece I authored on the plan of salvation.  It’s the foundational element to finding victory, joy, hope, and peace. The Bible says that through Christ we can do all things. What follows describes how to invite Christ to lead us - by His grace - through life that certainly gets complicated.

            You might think, “Yeah, I already know all that,” and choose to skip the rest of this post, but may I encourage you to read it anyway? It might give you a new way to explain the Gospel to someone you meet today. What if what you read is precisely what they need to hear? It’s worth a few minutes of your time, wouldn’t you agree?

God’s Plan of Salvation

How do we find our purpose in life? This is a commonly asked and profound question. When we discover what life is all about, we begin to understand the connection between God, us as His children, and eternity.

The Bible—the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments—is God’s infallible Word written by authors who were uniquely and fully inspired by God Himself (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible is inerrant in the original manuscripts (Ps. 12:6) and reflects the backgrounds, styles, and vocabularies of the human authors. It is the supreme and final authority in all matters of faith, conduct, and doctrine.[1]
Since all Scripture is inspired by God, when the Bible teaches that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them, we trust that as truth. 

When Sin Entered the World

We also learn through the Scriptures that creation was very good (Gen. 1:31). At creation, humans lived in harmony with God and one another. But the evil one tempted Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and the two fell into sin by doing what God specifically told them not to do (Gen. 3:1–6). Because of God’s holy nature, it is impossible for Him to dwell in the presence of or overlook sin.

What is Holy?

Exodus 15:11 reveals God’s majestic holiness: “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” The term holy means set apart or separated,[2] meaning that God is completely set apart from evil. Because He is holy, God hates sin and must judge it. Only by a covering of blood can God continue to fellowship with sinful people.

There in the garden of Eden, God provided the first blood offering to atone for the sins of Adam and Eve, making garments of skin to clothe them. He then sent them out from the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:21–23). Throughout generations, people turned away from God and went their own way. 

Fellowship with God was broken. Because of Adam’s sin, all people are born with a sinful nature. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Beginning in Exodus 25, the Lord established an elaborate, perfectly ordered plan so that He could dwell among people. This plan consisted of the Tabernacle, which was constructed in the wilderness to precise specifications given to Moses by God along with a system of sacrifices to atone for the sin and disobedience of the people.

God's Answer

Even there in the wilderness, the Lord knew that this was not the complete answer. When the time had come, and because of God’s unwavering love for us, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to come into the world as a man and give His life for our sins (John 3:16). The tremendous cost of our sins is death and eternal separation from God. But God provided the immeasurable gift of eternal life with Him through Christ Jesus our Lord (see Rom. 6:23).

Even while we were sinners, Jesus Himself, the one and only Son of God, accepted the punishment that we deserve and laid down His life as the ultimate blood sacrifice. He was buried in a tomb but rose again on the third day, confirming His work on the cross and establishing His power over death.

Jesus paid the price for all our wrongdoing. The work on the cross is finished. But we must accept the gift He provided. We must respond to His sacrifice. The words of Jesus in Mark 1:15 tell us how to respond: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” To repent (metanoeō in the Greek) means to change one’s mind; it involves turning with regret from sin to embrace God’s divine forgiveness.[3] To believe (Greek pisteuō) means to commit ourselves to Jesus and trust that He has removed our guilt and shame.[4] He has freed us from the penalty of wrongs and provided a way for eternal life with Him.

The Bible says that “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom 10:9–10). When we believe in Jesus, we will not be disappointed (Rom. 10:11). Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13).

Next Steps

If you are not trusting in the Lord, will you stop right now and turn from your sin? Turn from your prior thinking and believe in Christ, the only One who can provide freedom from sin and eternal life with Him. What follows is a simple prayer that you can pray to God. These words themselves will not save you—they must come from a heart of faith and trust.

Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and believe that you took the punishment that I deserve. I trust today, through faith, that I am forgiven by the work that you accomplished on the cross for me. I place my trust in you alone for salvation and eternal life in Heaven with you. Thank you for your generous grace and forgiveness. Help me continue to grow closer to you. I pray this in Jesus’s name. Amen.

If you genuinely prayed this (or a similar) prayer today or at some other point in your life, then you find yourself at an awesome place to live with great intentionality and God-given victory.

Will you let me know if you prayed this for the first time today or if you have renewed your commitment to live for Jesus Christ? I am deeply honored to pray for you in your journey. God created us with hearts for connection and community. Together we can enjoy immense victory in Jesus.  

Your Turn:

When might you have felt weary and ineffective in your walk with Christ?
Do you believe you’ve listened to the lies of the enemy and accepted them as truth?
Would you like to talk more about this?  Email me. I’d love to connect and pray I can offer more encouragement to you.

Continue the conversation by leaving a comment below or on Facebook or Twitter. You can see more of our posts on Pinterest or

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Cathy McIntosh is the author of Victorious: Finding Triumph When Hope Seems Lost. When you can’t see God’s activity in your situation, you might begin to feel hopeless. You’re tempted to doubt His care and involvement in your life because He feels so . . . absent. Victory feels elusive as if God intends it for everyone but you.

But God is never absent. He is as involved in your life today as He was when He protected Queen Esther and the entire Jewish nation from annihilation, and He will bring victory.  Click here to purchase.


[1] Purpose Church Statement of Faith, September 2015.
[2] "H6944 - qodesh - Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (KJV)." Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 1 Oct, 2016.
[3] "G3340 - metanoeō - Strong's Greek Lexicon (KJV)." Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 1 Oct, 2016.
[4] "G4100 - pisteuō - Strong's Greek Lexicon (KJV)." Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 1 Oct, 2016.