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Chuck Kralik

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Everything posted by Chuck Kralik

  1. “…‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’…” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). Pastor George Matheson once prayed, “My God… I have thanked you a thousand times for roses, but not once for my thorn.” Matheson’s point was that sometimes God allows us to suffer the prickly and painful things in life, but it can be these very things that God uses to bring us closer to and make us more reliant on him. You see, God has a way of twisting the tragic into the triumphant. This, I think, is why God doesn’t remove every thorn or calm every storm of life. The Apostle Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh. While we aren’t for certain what Paul’s particular thorn was, we do know that, whatever it was, it did what thorns do. It irritated him. It nagged him. It hurt him in some way. And Paul wanted it gone. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8, NIV), Paul states. Still, God did not remove Paul’s thorn. But here’s what God did say, “...‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’…” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). God was giving Paul something greater than relief from his thorn. God was offering Paul grace. It’s as if God was saying, “Paul, you have to take this thorn in your flesh, but I took the nails in mine. And because of that I can give you grace.” The grace of God, purchased by Jesus at the cross, is sufficient for each of us. And while we may fall victim to the thorns that hurt us in this life, we have a certain victory through the wounds of Jesus. We have eternity in Heaven that awaits us. So, I thank God for the thorns in my flesh, but even more so, for the nails in his.
  2. “(Jesus) went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around…” (Mark 5:39-42, NIV). Great things are accomplished by faith. Sometimes, however, we must dismiss the doubters. Jesus was approached with the news, first that the synagogue ruler Jairus’ young daughter was sick, then that she had died. It had all come about so quickly, and Jesus, it would seem, was simply too slow to respond. “…‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’ ” (Mark 5:35, NIV) the family and friends of Jairus asked. But, Jesus told Jairus, “ ‘…Just believe’ ” (Mark 5:36, NIV). When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, a crowd had already gathered there. These mourners were inconsolable and grief-stricken. Then, when Jesus told them that the little girl was only sleeping, their cries of grief turned into rumbles of laughter. “What a foolish thing for Jesus to say!” they thought. As Jesus entered the room of Jairus’ daughter, only the girl’s parents and Jesus’ disciples were invited. The others – the doubters and disbelievers, those who had mocked Jesus and laughed at his words – had already been put out of the house. Their doubt would not be allowed to interfere with the miracle that was about to take place. Soon, the little girl would be healed. There are several lessons to be learned from this story, but here’s one angle. At times, we too, must dismiss the doubters. Otherwise, their second-guessing, their cynicism, and their skepticism will not allow us the room to do what is needed. Our ambition and our dreams will be undermined by the nay-sayers if we allow them to stick around. So, just who are the doubters in your life? Who are the whiners, the wailers, and the laughers that you need to put aside? I’m not saying that you need to make a complete break from them, although sometimes that can be the case. But maybe they do need to be put out of ear-shot. Don’t let the doubters deter your dreams. And don’t let the foolish sway your faith. Just believe!
  3. Hi, Kirstie. I'm so glad you liked my post. Thank you for your response and encouragement!
  4. Chuck Kralik

    Crowded Out

    “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV). Lately I’ve been praying a simple prayer that goes something like this: “Lord, please fill me with your __________ and crowd out my __________.” Depending on the day, or even the time of day, those two blanks can reveal different things. The first blank is always something positive and the second something negative. “Lord, please fill me with your Spirit and crowd out my fear.” “Lord, please fill me with your joy and crowd out my anxiety.” “Lord, please fill me with your peace and crowd out my anger.” Regardless of what I pray, I know that God hears me and accepts my prayer invitation. This short prayer, and God’s response to it, has done some amazing things for me. It centers my attention and recalibrates my sense of direction. It helps me focus and calms my anxious thoughts. For I know that where God’s goodness is, there is no longer any room for the negative things of life. Satan cannot reside where God’s Spirit takes up residence. Fear and anger cannot exist within a culture of love. Darkness cannot prevail against the light of God’s peace. So, entertain my request here. Please respond with the two words or phrases (one positive and one negative) to complete this prayer: “Lord, please fill me with your __________ and crowd out my __________.” And then, of course, pray it! You’ll be amazed at how God answers!
  5. Thank you so much, Joeli, for responding to my post. Feel free to read more of my writing at chuckkralik.com. Thanks again!
  6. “…I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, NIV). The foundational doctrine espoused by the Apostle Paul is “Christ crucified”. This is simply the idea that the most impactful moment in Jesus’ life occurred as he breathed his final breaths hanging from a Roman cross, where he secured our forgiveness of sins and freedom from their eternal consequences. Now, one might argue that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead served as Jesus’ crowning achievement, and certainly, the resurrection assures us that Jesus’ sacrifice was complete. But remember. The glory of Easter doesn’t occur without the gory scene of the cross. Calvary is the scene of the most pivotal point in human history. God’s heart, while broken at the cross, was most clearly reflected there. We learn that Jesus “…was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…”, that “…the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). This all occurred, not because God loved Jesus any less, but because God loved us so much that he was willing to allow a part of himself to die, rather than to go on living without us. God understood that the only way to restore the sin-broken relationship separating us from him was through the agony of the cross. Sometimes, we, as followers of Jesus, get hung up on doctrinal differences and divisions. We proudly sport our denominational labels and cloister ourselves from those whose beliefs are contrary to our own. We love our theologies more than our fellow brothers and sisters. What if we, who call ourselves Christians, spent less time focusing on the ministry minutia of things that divide us and gave ever increasing attention to that which unites us? What if we focused less on debate with one another and more on reaching the lost and the lonely? What if we simply loved one another and served together? Could it be that there really is common ground among us? I think the answer to that is found in the message and mission of Christ crucified.
  7. Thanks for responding, John. You have some great insight!
  8. “…Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor…” (Genesis 4:2-5, NIV). I must admit that I’ve always been a little troubled by the Bible story of Cain and Abel. Why, for example, did God look so favorably upon Abel’s sacrifice of livestock from his flock and so negatively toward Cain’s offering of produce? Does it simply have to do with God’s dislike of vegetables, or is there something more to the story? And what does this say to me personally? Perhaps you remember the story of these two brothers, these sons of Adam and Eve. Cain became furious at God’s lack of appreciation with his sacrifice and took it out on Abel, killing him in a fit of rage one day. God would confront Cain concerning his sin, but, although Cain would be punished, God would still offer him protection in the days ahead. So, let’s get back to the question at hand. What was so special about Abel’s offering compared to that of Cain? You may notice that, according to the text, what Cain offered God was essentially his left-overs. We read that Cain gave God “…some of the fruits of the soil…” (Genesis 4:3, NIV). It was as if Cain’s offering was mostly an afterthought. Compare that to Abel’s offering of “…fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock…” (Genesis 4:4, NIV), and you can see that Abel’s offering was sacrificial and given out of reverence for God. Abel’s offering was not necessarily greater in terms of quantity, but it was greater in quality. So, what does the story of Cain and Abel say to me personally? I think it teaches me that God wants my best, my first-fruits of time, treasure, and talents. He desires that I would be sacrificial in how I live and generous in what I give. He, after all, gave me the very best of himself – even offering his own Son, Jesus. How great a sacrifice that was for me!
  9. Thanks, Lynn. I actually wrote this following the ugly incidents in Charlottesville. Thanks for responding!
  10. Chuck Kralik

    Knit Together

    “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV). I can’t say that I’ve ever knit anything, but I can appreciate the artistry and handiwork of the person who has. Knitting requires a great deal of physical dexterity and the use of fine motor skills. It is an intentional act, one that involves persistence and care. Knitting is intimate in nature. It takes time, creativity, and unparalleled patience. This is how King David chose to describe the work of God in creating every human being. Think about it for a moment. The God who speckled the nighttime sky with shining stars and spinning planets, created the dimpled cheeks and freckled faces of human beings. The same God who painted rainbows and sunsets, who colored the wings of butterflies, chose the pigmentation of our skin. The very God who spoke and creation was complete is the God who breathed life into our still bodies. So, what if we really believed these words of Scripture? Would we call people ugly if we knew that they were created in God’s very image? If we truly understood that God created each person’s inner being, would we look there first to see what really matters? Would we see the value of all life if we really accepted the notion that God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb? Would there be such devaluing of human life, such hate and disdain of entire races of people, such pettiness on the part of humans? What if we truly believed that each person is fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who loves them? We may never perfectly grasp God’s intimate work in the creation of mankind. Maybe we’ll continue to hate and dismiss, belittle and hurt one another. Still the very hands that held each of us as they formed and molded and knit us together are the same hands that stretched out on a cross to redeem us from our sin and from ourselves. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and so are all the people on Earth. Let’s start acting like it!
  11. Chuck Kralik


    “In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:4, NIV). I’m amazed when I hear of Christians who, for at least a moment in time, seem to be fearless. The Bible is full of such heroes, individuals whose faith was stronger than their fear. Daniel stood toe to toe with lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego kept their cool, and their faith, even while inside a fiery furnace. A stammering Moses found his voice as he faced Pharaoh. And the boy David took down one giant of a man. Then, there are the Christian martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. The author of Hebrews speaks of those who “…were put to death by stoning… sawed in two.. (and) killed by the sword…” (Hebrews 11:37, NIV). Each of these individuals exchanged the worldly comforts of this life for an eternal reward in Heaven. Even today, there are Christians who put their lives on the line for their beliefs. Some worship in secret places because the Word they share is forbidden in public. Missionaries are called to remote regions with no guarantee that they or their message will be received kindly. All over the world, preachers preach and teachers teach the good news Gospel message of what Jesus has done. Christians throughout the ages have had the courage to stand-up for their faith. May God make each of us fearless as well.
  12. Chuck Kralik

    Death's Sting

    “ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57, NIV). I remember an incident in college that, in my mind, reinforced an important truth. Parked in the driveway in front of the house of my future in-laws, my soon-to-be wife, Sarah and I noticed that a wasp had flown into my car. While I’d like to say that I acted in a brave and chivalrous manner and extracted the pesky wasp from the car, I must confess that I was pretty content to let it buzz around, trapped in the rear window. Luckily for me, my future father-in-law rushed to action and, armed with only a cloth gardening glove, crushed the wasp and removed it from my car. I was a little embarrassed that he was the greater man that day, but was also quite relieved that I hadn’t faced the prospect of being stung. The Apostle Paul spoke of the “…sting of death…” (1 Corinthians 15:56, NIV) and the victory we have through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57). I’ve seen first-hand the hurt that death brings to families and friends of loved ones who have passed-on. Still, our hope and assurance as Christians is that God has dealt directly with the pain that comes from sin. Jesus was loving and man enough to step in and take the real sting of death in his body as he died on a Roman cross, and, while death still hurts, its consequences have been crushed. “…thanks be to God!” (1 Corinthians 15:57, NIV).
  13. Chuck Kralik

    God Cried

    “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, NIV). I used to think as a kid that real men didn’t cry. But then I saw my Dad, tears falling from his eyes, mourning the loss of a friend, and I knew that it was okay to show emotion. Years later, I watched a sports icon, basketball coach Jim Valvano, losing not a game, but a fight against cancer. In a speech at the 1993 ESPY sports awards, Valvano said, “To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think… Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.” Jesus, too, cried, at least once, as recorded in Scripture. In the shortest verse of the Bible we read, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, NIV). One might wonder what sort of things God would cry about. It’s important for us to remember that while Jesus was completely divine, he was somehow, at the same time, completely human. Jesus had lost a dear friend, Lazarus, and it moved him to tears. I’m glad these two words are included in the Bible, because they tell me that God understands and cares about the difficult things that we all go through. The author of Hebrews states, “For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV). God. In. Tears. Because he understands. I find that amazing!
  14. Chuck Kralik


    “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV). There’s a man in my town. I drive past him on a regular basis, too uncomfortable to stop and have an actual conversation. He’s rough looking, unshaved, with skin worn and darkened from many hours in the sun. He appears beaten down and tired from the many miles he’s paced on this particular stretch of road. I imagine he has a story, that he would happily share, if only I would stop and listen, but I have places to go and people to see, who, quite honestly, I’d much rather spend my time with. The man is easy to spot – perhaps you’ve seen him as well – as he adorns himself with two wooden signs, one in front and one behind, tied together with two strands of rope that wear heavily upon his shoulders. The signs contain a crudely handwritten message that I can’t quite make out. He’s a walking billboard, but the only advertisement he’s promoting is his dire predicament. I really should stop, but I’m in a hurry. I’m late for work and people are depending on me. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have the time for a conversation, but if I do, I hope it will be brief and not too uncomfortable. I’ll die if someone sees me talking to this guy! As I drive by, I think for a few more moments about the man. His entire identity seems to be tied to this sign, tied to his body. I wish he could see his real self-worth, that he is loved by God, that he is forgiven, that he doesn’t need to be burdened by his past, his sin, or this sign. Rather, he has been clothed in righteousness by a God who loves him and a Savior who bore a cross for him. These are the words the man needs to hear. And maybe I’m the one who needs to tell him. But today I’m pretty busy. Maybe I’ll stop tomorrow or the next day. That’s what I’ll do.
  15. Thanks so much! I'm glad to be here!

  16. “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV). Recently I took my eleven-year-old son to purchase his back-to-school supplies. As we worked through our list of items, we played an informal game of matching the items from our list with the items on the store shelves. With the store becoming more crowded as we shopped, we wisely positioned our cart at the end of the aisle, leaving it unattended as we searched for our remaining supplies. Finally, we were finished and headed for the check-out line at the front of the store. As the clerk scanned our items, we were distracted by the display of candy and the friendly glances of an elderly woman standing behind us in line. Unbeknownst to us, some of the items being scanned and placed in our shopping cart were not the ones we had chosen. Our bags were soon filled with a combination of school supplies for an eleven-year-old and the school supplies of a grad student. For fear that the friendly glances of the elderly woman would soon turn impatient, we hurriedly paid for our supplies, as well as the supplies of someone else, and left the store. On our way home, we solved the mystery of the mixed-up school supplies. Apparently, about half-way through our shopping trip, I had mistakenly exchanged our shopping cart for the shopping cart of another. In the process, we sacrificed our water-color paints and pink erasers for college-ruled composition notebooks. As I thought more about our mixed-up shopping trip, I was reminded of grace and how God made an intentional exchange with each of us. At the cross, Jesus took all our sin and traded it for his righteousness. He paid in full a cost that we could never pay. As I think now about those pink erasers and water-color paints, the ones I had attempted to purchase for my son, I’m reminded of my scarlet-colored sin and Jesus’ blood-stained cross, and I’m thankful. I’m forgiven, and I’m free. I guess it took a shopping trip and the Holy Spirit to remind me of that!
  17. I am new to this group and excited to get started. You can check out my devotional material at chuckkralik.com.

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