Failing, To Succeed

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“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

Wow! Those are encouraging words for me today. And perhaps for you, as well. Seems like, at this point in my life, I fail far more than I succeed. But the Bible says that when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) Through our failures, God yields His strength to us. And, in these cracked, clay vessels, our

imperfections allow God’s light to shine through. The imperfections are still there. Yet they serve the greater purpose of allowing others in this darkened world to see God’s glory radiating through us- failures and all.

Like Michael, let’s keep on trying!

2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 12:9,10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)

God’s Tapestry of Grace

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“’Every day, in every situation and life circumstance, God is doing 1000 things you cannot see and do not know.’ These words by John Piper encouraged me earlier this week as I’ve been struggling with pain. Oh, what a wonderful Day it will be when finally the underside of the embroidery will be flipped upright and we will see how every painful thread fit beautifully into God’s tapestry of grace. So join me in persevering, friend!” – Joni Eareckson Tada

I often find much uplifting and inspiration in the words and illustrations of Joni Eareckson Tada.  Sometimes life can be overwhelming as it bears down upon us.  And those of us who battle chronic pain, fatigue, or illness understand that it can make life’s challenges seem multiplied ten fold.  But God is always in control and He is faithful to finish the work He began in each of us.  By His Spirit, we have the power to accomplish whatever service He has called us to do and whatever task He has set before us!  I love Joni’s illustration, “God’s tapestry of grace”.  It is God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit that enable us to keep going, even in difficult circumstances and despite all obstacles!  Praise the Lord!  Be blessed today in HIM!

Lamentations 3:22-24: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,  “Therefore I hope in Him!”
 

Stand in the Bright Spot

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Looking back over the year 2013, I must admit it was a year of seemingly relentless difficulty for me.  Perhaps you can relate?  As soon as one trial had passed, another would quickly follow.  And often there were multiple trials all at once which became an almost insurmountable struggle.  One day, in a moment of weakness, I was praying and literally crying out to the Lord to ease my load, feeling as though the darkness might soon completely overtake me.  I longed for a reprieve from the seemingly endless barrage of attacks from the enemy- a breakthrough!  Then, softly and intently, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Angela, stand in the ‘bright spot’.”

I cried out in desperation, while in the middle of a particularly bad flare, “What bright spot, Lord?”, overwhelmed and struggling at the time to see the tiniest glimmer of light outside His immediate presence.  Surely, in the midst of all the trials- a year-long whirlwind of family chaos and turbulence, the effects of chronic pain and fatigue, months of difficulty getting resettled after a necessary summer move, nearly three months of fighting not to succumb to depression, and not to mention the current ice storm with thirty-two hours of no power, no heat, and no running water at home- I thought surely, there wasn’t a beam large enough for me to stand in.  “You’re all the light I see, Lord,” I said.  “Where would You have me stand?”

And then, like a vision, it came to me.  Though the circumstances that weighed so heavily upon me were like walking through dark shadows that seemed to engulf me, I began to imagine beautiful rays of light as they broke through the clouds of darkness.  In those rays of light- the “bright spot”- there was hope, warmth, even joy, and renewal.  So I asked the Lord, “Father, where is the bright spot in all of this?”  I longed to see it and to feel it’s warmth flood my spirit. Then I felt Him saying to me, “Look around you to those things where I am and you will find it.”

It was a week before our Christmas Musical at church and I so wanted to sing for the Lord and bring glory to His name.  Singing is one of the things that brings me joy and gives me inspiration.  I so enjoy singing with our Praise  Team and worshipping our Lord together.  And for nearly three months, I had longed to once again find the ability to connect with the passion and inspiration I knew God had placed within me for His ministry.  So, in that moment, and for that very time in my life, singing in the Christmas Musical became my “bright spot”. For a little while, I was able to bask in the rays of light from my “bright spot” and felt God’s warmth pour over me as His joy began to renew my spirit.  Making an effort to attend weekly practices and listening to my performance CD at home and in the car, I had been looking forward to singing with my sweet Sisters on the Praise Team and to the program God had inspired our Music Minister to lead.  But my basking wouldn’t last long.  The next morning I awoke with a scratchy throat.  And, by the following morning, it had turned into the worst sore throat I could ever remember having.   This time the Holy Spirit led me in a different way.  But I’m certain it was His direction which prompted me to call and make an appointment with my doctor, something I usually don’t immediately do.  A visit to the doctor is certainly not one of my favorite things!  But this time was different- I knew I needed to get to be seen as soon as possible and suspected it was strep.   Sure enough, the test confirmed I had strep throat!

It seemed my “bright spot” had vanished. But I soon discovered it had only moved.  Often in challenging circumstances, the Lord’s desire is to inspire our faith to grow as we continue to trust Him and follow His leading.  So I prayed for His strength and the ability to trust faithfully and to keep my focus on Him, instead of on my circumstances.  The circumstances surrounding me were still very difficult.  That had not changed.  But just as He always had, by His mercy, grace, and love, the Lord brought me through.  Each day, as I followed my doctor’s instructions, took my medication, and placed everything in God’s hands, I began to improve.  Slowly, I began to practice using my singing voice a little at a time and was soon able to sing again!  More importantly, God helped me realize that His gift of inspiration doesn’t always come from within.  Sometimes His desire is that we rest in Him for a while and be carried by and become part of the inspiration He bestows to others. I’m continuing to learn, when the dark clouds of gloom and uncertainty loom over me, I only need to ask the Lord to help me look for the “bright spot” and to stand in it!

No matter how dark the clouds looming overhead or the shadows surrounding you, there is always a bright spot- a place where God says, “I am”.  It may be uniquely different, depending on your circumstances.  Where is your “bright spot” today?  Is it the love in your children’s faces?  Is it spending time with your grandchildren, lending them your love and guidance?  Is it something God has gifted you to do that brings you joy?  Perhaps it’s having lunch with a friend, or a phone call to a loved one.  Maybe it’s giving of your time and talents to minister to others.  Or it’s spending time studying or teaching God’s Word.  Maybe it’s a walk in the park or a drive through the country, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Look for your “bright spot” today.  Stand in it!  And the Lord will give you warmth, hope, His unspeakable joy…and He will renew your spirit!

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the Light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (HCSB)

Standing in the Bright Spot,

Angela 🙂

 

The Right Question to Ask on Your Hard Days . . . and the Answer

via A Holy Experience – The Right Question to Ask on Your Hard Days . . . and the Answer.

An uplifting and inspirational message by Joni Eareckson Tada

Screen shot 2013-07-20 at 7.44.17 AM My beautiful friend, Joni Eareckson Tada, has spoken words into my life that have forever changed me — and countless others around the world. Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community, Joni is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Heaven, Joni, Diamonds in the Dust, and her most recent — and beautiful — Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story.

Joni tells a story on the farm front porch today that just — well, you tell me what it does to your heart…

Ken opened wide the front door so I could wheel out to the van.

For a long moment I sat squarely in the door frame, staring and taking it all in:

the shade tree dappling our brick path, blossoms bobbing on the crepe myrtle, and patches of sunlight on dewy grass.

It was the freshest of mornings. Oh God, I breathed, If only I could feel as fresh.

After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I’m tired.

Please don’t think I’m a veteran or a professional when it comes to living in a wheelchair.

I’m not an expert.

My bones are weary and thin from battling everything from pressure sores and pneumonia — to stage III cancer.

My question these days is never “Why, God?”

It’s most often “How?”

How do I keep on going?

How do I care about others when I’m consumed with my own physical challenges?

How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me?

How can I find the strength to face this day?

That morning, Ken had the answer.

“Why aren’t you out by the van?” he asked when he came from the kitchen with my lunch bag. Staring at the splendorous morning beyond the door, I answered him with a deep sigh.

“Wait here,” he said, “I know exactly what you need.”

Soon he was back with a yellow post-it note. With a thick Sharpie, he had simply penned on it the letter ‘C.’ I gave him an odd look.

“It stands for Courage,” he said, “The courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this. I know you can!”

With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.

I glanced at it, then up at him. I can’t explain what happened next, but grace actually entered my heart. His note was a means of grace, like a sacrament through which God creates faith inside us. And it felt so liberating.

A breeze wafted in and my eyes became wet.

“Thank you,” I whispered to Ken and lifted my arm to give him a hug. “Thank you for that.”

He wiped my nose, kissed my cheek, and said softly, “Let’s get this day going.”

I then wheeled out into the morning feeling a fresh wave of strength from my Savior.

Proverbs 18:21 sums it up: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Ken only said a few words, and probably without giving them much thought.

But those words were brimming with power and life. His was a pronouncement, a declaration of the good he saw in meor, at least the good he wanted to see. And God gave me His amazing grace to rise to the occasion.

It’s a hard world. Even the best of Christians are feeling the weight of weariness. Little wonder we are to “Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).

Think of the people you’ll see today… friends recovering from surgery, neighbors dealing with grief, coworkers coping with pain.

Whether you say it in an email, over the phone, or in person, your words have the capacity to change their countenance and character.

And the best word?

The Word made flesh, Jesus — who always has courageous words of life.

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Who is Whispering in Your Ear?

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Sunday Go To Meeting! Who is Whispering in Your Ear?  – by L. A. Marzulli

James 1:12 – 15  “Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

The Fallen One, Satan, the Adversary of our souls, the Accuser of the Brethren, the Dragon, The Prince of the Power of the Air, “Slew Foot,” all are names for the fallen cherub, who along with his dark minions, comes to rob, kill and destroy. He starts with a whisper in our ear, a suggestion, a fleeting thought that goes by unchecked. We entertain it and think about it, and if we do not bring it and hold against the Word of God, and see what it really is, we will believe the lie and as the scripture above states, it will bring forth death.

Sin always starts in our thought-life. When we entertain an idea, a suggestion, or we are enticed. The word enticed means:

deleazō (Greek – Strongs #G1185

1) to bait, catch by a bait

2) metaph. to beguile by blandishments, allure, entice, deceive

Our adversary is a master of deception. He whispers and entices and lures us away from where we should be, into death and destruction. Here’s an example. The teenager who takes the $20 out of the cash register when no one is looking, and justifies it because the store makes too much money. The student that cheats, and tells him or herself that it’s OK because he or she needs a good grade. The husband who watches hours of porn and believes it’s “manly” to do so. The woman who holds bitterness against someone who has hurt her in the past and won’t forgive. In all of these examples if these actions are continued through a lifetime, it will lead to death. Perhaps not physical death, but certainly spiritual death and in my opinion I think this is worse.

Paul tells in 2Cr 10:5 – Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

It may seem to us like a tall order and when I first learned of this I thought the task impossible. Now, after 33 years of walking with Him, Jesus, I realize that by the power of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible and if something slips through, He is faithful to remind me — usually at 2:30 in the morning!

In closing todays Bun: Our minds are our receivers. Our spirit is what interfaces with our mind. It is with our mind that thoughts enter. We can think on something such as a problem or task. Then there is the Holy Spirit’s voice, who we learn to recognize, and then there is the whispering of the Fallen One and his minions. It is important for us to realize what voice we are listening to. It is essential for us to learn to recognize who it is that is whispering in our ears. The first step is to know the word and what is good and required of us. The second is to take every thought captive. The third, when the enemy of our souls starts with “his stuff,” to cast it down and rebuke it in the name of Jesus. Don’t entertain it, even for a second!

Greater is He that is in us, than the “whisperer” who lies, and tries to entice us.

I Wish You Enough

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I Wish You Enough

I wish you Time enough to smell the wildflowers,
Quiet enough to hear creation’s song,
Wisdom enough to drink in all its beauty,
Vision enough to see God’s wondrous design,
Passion enough to feel it moving within you,
And Freedom enough to just let go and Dance!

by Angela Hall Dobbins © 2013