Look Beyond the Weakness

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Sometimes we have a tendency to label or pigeonhole people according to our perceived view of their weaknesses or flaws.

Just think of how we identify others at times, either in our thoughts or in actual conversation. We say things like oh, she’s the heavy one, the homely one, the ditzy one, the gossip. Or he’s the string-bean, the nerd, the boring one, the loser. Unfortunately, unless we’ve taken time to look beyond the weaknesses or flaws, we tend to think of them in terms of these not-so-flattering labels.

Even Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, has been remembered down through the ages as doubting Thomas. Yes, he did in fact express doubt when told about the resurrection of Jesus, and that event is detailed in John 20:24-29. Unfortunately, that’s how most of us remember him.

However, Thomas also displayed great courage. When Jesus wanted to return to an area where the Jews had previously threatened to stone him, the other disciples questioned Jesus about wanting to go back. Thomas, on the other hand, said, “‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” (John 11:16b)

Maybe it’s time that we look beyond Thomas’s weakness and notice his strength—and maybe it’s time we do that for others as well. Let’s take time to look past whatever weakness or failure we see at first and look for the best in one another. Let’s be overheard saying things like oh, he’s the brave one, the funny guy, the giver, or she’s the creative one, the kind one, the peacemaker.

Yes, let’s look past the weaknesses. Let’s look through eyes of love. Let’s look beyond.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . .” 1 Thessalonians 5:11a

*What do you hope people see when they look beyond your weaknesses?

*Flickr photo by Flood G., Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: An Invitation to Rest

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Anyone weary today? Anyone need to take a deep breath and rest for a few minutes—or a few hours or days or weeks? Whether it’s rest for body, mind, soul, spirit, or a combination of them all, we’ve all been at that place where we long for deep satisfying rest.

We find the most satisfying rest when we look to Jesus and draw near to him, depending on him to grant the rest we so desperately need.

Here is his invitation to us today and every day. Let’s accept his offer and find true rest in him!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” Matthew 11:28-30

*Is there an activity or a place that helps you find rest in the Lord?

*My photo taken in the Cleveland Botanical Garden

Prisoner of Hope

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“Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12

I am a prisoner—a prisoner of hope. Both professionally and personally I’m in the midst of long waits, and not long ago when I read the verse above where God is speaking to His people Israel, my spirit said, “Yes, yes, that’s me. I’m a prisoner of hope.”

On the professional front, many of you know I’ve been working towards book publication for a long time. Yes, it’s been a period filled with work to help bring the dream to fruition, but even though it’s been an active time, it’s also been a waiting time. Waiting as I develop my craft. Waiting as I build an online presence. Waiting as I network. Waiting for the right time to seek an agent. And now my agent and I work and wait together for the right publishing deal to unfold.

Just a few weeks ago, my publication dream looked like it was finally going to become reality. We actually had a contract. But before we could get it finalized, economic difficulties forced the publisher to withdraw their new contract offers. My book deal disappeared before I could ever announce it.

In the face of this withdrawn contract, hope threatened to disappear as well. But instead, it was time to live out my faith. Time to put feet to my claims of wanting God’s will alone. Time to turn once again to my Fortress, my God, and fix my eyes on him. Time to continue being a prisoner of hope.

On the personal front, my husband and I have been waiting with our kids for years for God to bless them with a child. Like with me and my book publication dreams, this period has been an active time for them as well as they’ve worked towards making their dream come true. But in their situation, the waiting time outweighs active times. The whole experience can best be described as brutal. And we have been standing with them in prayer continually—and hurting with them as well through countless disappointments.

And yes, with each of their disappointments, hope threatens to disappear. Each time we must each one decide to lift our tear-stained eyes to our Fortress, our God, and continue to trust in him. We must choose to continue living our lives as prisoners of hope.

God is worthy of our trust, and he alone is our source of hope. Look at the last half of the verse above—“even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” I believe not only does God want to bless us, but he wants to bless us abundantly.

How about you? Are you a prisoner of hope? Do you need to return to your fortress today and live out your continued trust and hope in God? You’re not alone. Let’s join our hands and walk our faith together.

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Psalm 71:14

*What are you hoping for today?

*p.s. If you would be so kind, would you whisper a prayer for the situations I shared with you today? Thank you!

*Flickr photo by cabodevassoura, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: A Scripture Prayer Asking God to Act

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Throughout our world and within our nation we see atrocities committed, we see the need for justice. The wicked need to be stopped, need to pay for their horrific deeds. Peace-loving, law-abiding people need someone to act in their behalf.

Also around the world and within our nation—and within our very own lives—we see hardship, grief, and pain. We’ve been forced to shoulder burdens that feel too heavy to carry anymore. We need someone to act in our behalf.

Here is a scripture prayer that we can pray in times like these. When justice or relief is needed, let’s cry these words to God:

“O LORD, you have seen this, be not silent.” Psalm 35:22a

*Do you have a burden the rest of us can help you shoulder through prayer?

*Flickr photo by spaceamoeba, Creative Commons License

Say No to Say Yes

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Raise your hand if you have trouble saying no when asked to do something. If your hand shot up, don’t feel bad—I’m willing to bet many others did, too.

Most of us struggle to say no for several reasons. We don’t want to disappoint others or not do our part to meet a need. We may fear that someone will think less of us—we want to fit in or be accepted. Sometimes we just flat feel obligated for one reason or another. Saying no feels like such a negative response so we say yes instead, even when it’s not a good thing for us or for our families.

But what if we began to see saying no as a positive thing? Just think about it. When we say no to a request or an offer, we’re actually saying yes to other priorities or responsibilities in our lives.

That’s right—sometimes we need to say no to say yes. When I say no to extra activities or responsibilities right now, I’m saying yes to the writing life God has led me to. Or when I say no to certain ministries or meetings at church, I’m saying yes to the areas where I’m currently serving. And when I say no to some opportunities for socializing, I’m saying yes to time with my husband or to setting aside time where we’re not constantly pushing. Sometimes we need to say no to build margins in our lives.

Let’s think for a moment about the things we’re saying yes to right now. Are these the things we truly want as priorities or obligations in our lives at this point? If something is amiss, what should we do about it?

It may be time to say no to certain things so we can say a wholehearted yes to others. True, saying no may make us feel uncomfortable temporarily, but when that happens, let’s just remember that we are in fact saying yes. Yes to the right things for us today.

“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” Psalm 48:14

*What have you said no to this year in order to say yes?

*Flickr photo by cheerfulmonk, Creative Commons License