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Handling Your Personal Hurricanes

This newsletter is about spiritual growth as well as healing so this week, let’s glean some lessons from Hurricane Katrina to help us benefit from the storms we all face in life.

Spiritual growth is essential if we’re to have a wonderful life. Everything that doesn’t grow shrinks everything that doesn’t improve gets worse. Four key words, properly understood, form the foundation for our spiritual growth. If we consciously integrate these key words into our personal ‘natural disasters’ we can actually grow better because of them. We won’t just survive we will thrive. Even the struggles can improve us.

The four keywords that can help us grow are knowledge, wisdom, healing and discipleship. Four similar keywords describe their effect: information, reformation, transformation and formation. Against the bitter backdrop of Katrina, let’s see how these keywords help us.

Knowledge and wisdom seem synonymous but they aren’t. Head knowledge alone can’t save us, wisdom can. People on the Gulf Coast knew a horrific hurricane was imminent yet over 100,000 people unwisely stayed behind. This folly cost many their lives. Knowledge, the Bible tells us, is the beginning of wisdom, but to depart from evil is understanding. Knowledge must be coupled with wisdom so we can act wisely on our information. Without wisdom, we may be brilliant but dead.

Wisdom interacts with all the facets of our soul. God is a trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and so is our soul. It’s comprised of the intellect, emotions and will. People learned of the hurricane through their intellect, and then processed that data through their emotions, which led them to choose a course of action. Most people were sufficiently afraid to flee. Some didn’t heed their fears and remained. Some processed the data poorly, fearing that someone was trying to take their property. They risked their lives to keep what could never save them and still lost their property. They misused their information, and it didn’t lead to reformation - a positive decision to transform their lives. Such ignorance isn’t bliss, its misery. Thousands died.

Our other key words, transformation and formation, took over in the wake of the storm. That’s where healing and discipleship can improve us during the inevitable hurricanes of our lives. We all face adversity; no one is immune to its unwelcome intrusion. How we handle it determines our destiny, whether we become better or bitter.

Tragedy can actually help us by revealing to us what’s really important. It separates the chaff of trivia from the wholesome wheat of what’s valuable. Before Katrina, some people felt that designer duds defined them. Afterwards, any clean dry clothes were a treasure. Before the storm, many were at odds with loved ones. In its awful fury, all they cared about was finding those who meant the most to them.

One of the ugliest aspects of the disaster is the dreadful way some politicians have tried to use it for political gain, setting political parties against each other and, worse, pitting racial and economic divides against our people. In sharp contrast was the touching story of a white father and son. They drove their RV hundreds of miles to Mississippi to donate it to a black family who had lost their home, giving them a safe, clean place to rebuild their shattered lives.

Here’s a perfect example of how God’s Kingdom works. Kingdom living is righteousness in action. It always trumps the empty talk of mean spirited self-righteousness. The tragedy helped privileged people reexamine their priorities and sacrifice to help a less privileged family. Both families were permanently transformed by this tragedy. Giver and recipient were equally blessed. Here’s healing in the midst of catastrophe, transformation at its best.

Which brings us to that fourth key word: discipleship, or what I also called formation? Notice, the father took his son with him on their foray into the disaster zone. This advanced course in life will transform that boy forever.

Isn’t this ultimate parenting? Doesn’t it remind you of Jesus inviting His followers to leave their work and homes to become ‘fishers of men?’ Can you imagine that the twelve guys he ‘adopted’ could ever return to their mundane lives after watching their Master teacher heal the multitudes, deliver demoniacs, confront corrupt religious leaders and feed the masses? Jesus knew that discipleship is better caught than taught; that true education isn’t learned at a desk or from a book but from real life. The greatest teachers don’t lecture us; they teach us how to live by letting us watch their life. Those twelve guys were transformed by living with Jesus. That formation allowed them to change the world like no other men in history.

Knowledge, wisdom, healing and discipleship. Information, reformation, transformation and formation. Eight words that describe a life that is growing into a life worth living.

Here are some journaling questions to help you personalize these key words:

1)    What storm is forming off the coast of your life?

2)    How can it help you?

3)    Where does it intersect your need for healing?

4)    How can it make you more like your Master?

Journaling on these questions can shape how you handle future storms in your life. It could even help to transform you. That’s true spiritual growth. Remember, faith means having real eyes to realize where the real lies.

Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at  The Ultimate Breakthrough "


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