When I Don’t Feel Like Trying Anymore

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Photo from cnn.com

I was one of the millions of people blown away by Mandy Harvey’s inspiring performance on America’s Got Talent. Mandy, 29, explained to the judges that she had been singing since the age of four, but due to a connective tissue disorder, she lost her hearing at age 18. As an amateur musician and avid music lover myself, I well-comprehended the devastation stemming from the loss of this irreplaceable sense. Mandy told the judges, “After I lost my hearing, I gave up, but I want to do more with my life than just give up.”

After sharing her story, Mandy opened her mouth and sang (watch the full video by clicking this link). Her clear, pitch-perfect voice, soared through the hall, to jaw-dropping astonishment.

She sang. I cried. 

I know that feeling she sang about—the feeling that you are giving it your best and your best is never enough; the feeling that no matter how hard you try, you keep on getting knocked down.

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Is Your Parenting on Cruise Control?

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Parenting is inconvenient.

Yes, I just said that.

Once you have a child, your life will be forever changed.

You will be humbled. Humiliated. Screamed at. Loved with abandon. Squeezed with unimaginable strength by those little arms. Amazed. Shocked. heartbroken. Overwhelmed with love. Filled with a newfound awe for your own parents.

Unfortunately, once the baby phase is over, we parents hit burn-out: Continue reading

Why The Resurrection Matters

IMG_3051Some may ask why the resurrection is essential to our faith. Why can’t we just believe Jesus was a good teacher and follow His teachings? Why does it matter whether He had divine power?

If there was no resurrection, what do we have beyond this life?

If there was no resurrection, our Savior has no power to save.

If there was no resurrection, being a Christian is downright crazy.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:17-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus’ disciples walked with Him for 3 years. Show-stopping miracles were a regularity. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The lame walked. Demons fled. The disciples bore intimate witness to His divine power.

And yet, as Jesus was led away by an angry mob, they ran for their lives.

The disciples, like most humans, feared death. Like the rest of the Jews, the disciples believed Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel to earthly power. When He died, their misguided hopes died with Him.

Dark despair hung over the disciples as Jesus’ body reposed in the shadowy tomb.

Sunday morning, the sun crept over the horizon, softening the earth with its gentle warmth and light. At that same golden moment, a brighter, more glorious Son, rose from the realm of death.

Hope crushed despair.

Love conquered death.

Jesus overpowered Satan.

After Jesus’ resurrection, we see the apostles boldy preaching the gospel in the face of inevitable persecution. From the depths of prison to a dusty, blood-strewn road, their voices rose in praise. Death no longer frightened them. Fear no longer controlled them.

What changed?

What made them embrace death without fear? What made them choose lives of sacrifice?

The Empty Tomb.

The Living Savior.

The Resurrection.

When Jesus revealed His resurrected self to the apostles, all doubt vanished. Why fear death when your King has demonstrated His power to vanquish it?

The resurrection is crucial.

Without the resurrection, we have no hope.

Without hope, joy is lost.

Without joy, life is meaningless.

But Jesus has risen, hope is assured, and our lives overflow with joy inexpressible.

Our hope is not in this world or this life. Our living hope is the resurrected Christ. We take up our cross daily, crucifying the old man of sin, dying to self until he returns or we go home.

Today, and every day for the rest of your life, treasure this gift from God. We have an unshakeable hope because Jesus rose and Jesus lives.

This Love Won’t Let You Down

This is the final post in the series “God’s Love is the Greatest Love.” To read the previous post, click here.

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For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
    then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
    within God’s house we walked in the throng.

~ Psalm 55.12-14, ESV

Next to grief, betrayal is the most lingering pain.

Some betrayals—like adultery—stagger us in their severity. Others are “microbetrayals,” slowly poisoning a relationship until it is beyond healing.

We are a faithless society. The sense of duty has been drummed out of our collective conscious in favor of passion. Passion is fickle by nature. If we love only when we feel like loving, or act only when we feel like acting, then our relationships will never have any staying power. This is why divorce is rampant, patriotism is passé, and “organized religion” is repugnant. If we tie ourselves down too deeply, we will feel the pain too profoundly.

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You’re Not As Alone as You Think

This is part 4 of the series “God’s love is the Greatest Love.” For the previous post, click here.

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“But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?”

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Loneliness has a way of seeping into the soul uninvited, slowly sapping our stores of joy until a gaping emptiness remains. Loneliness assaults us in the dead of night or kicks us in the gut as we jostle our way through the madding crowd. It metastasizes through our hearts and minds, increasing our susceptibility to temptation.

“I just wish someone understood…”

“Not a single person has walked in my shoes.”

“I don’t have anyone to talk to…”

“Even my wife doesn’t get it…”

“Everyone I see on Facebook is out having a good time, but I don’t have any close friends.”

“Since my husband betrayed me, I can’t trust anyone ever again.”

“I don’t think God hears my prayers anymore…”

Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Have you ever felt misunderstood or forsaken? Continue reading

The Greatness of Sacrificial Love.

This is part 3 of the series “God’s love is the Greatest Love.” For the previous post, click here.

 

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We mortals make much ado about our sacrifices in the name of love. I’ve heard countless people say they would take a bullet for Jesus or their family. On the other hand, they don’t want to give up Sunday sports to go to worship or put down  their iPhone to have a meaningful conversation with their kids or spend a little less on themselves to help a brother in need.They say they would give up their life, but they are unwilling to make even small sacrifices for others. They would die for others, but not necessarily live for others. Real love does both.

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The Love of our Heavenly Father

This is part 2 of the series “God’s love is the Greatest Love.” For the previous post, click here.

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One of the greatest tragedies for a young child is to grow up without a good father. For one thing, fathers provide protection, establish balance, and are often essential to a child’s understanding of how men and women should behave toward one another.

Fathers are a vital part of the family unit.

In ages past, fathers often treated their children as though they ought to be seen and not heard, rarely showing affection and often remaining aloof. This explains why many of the old preachers and pastors framed God as wrathful and distant. In our current culture, many hear “God is our Father” and do not believe He actually exists or cares because their own fathers are likewise absent or uncaring.

How we view earthly fathers directly affects how we relate to our Heavenly Father. Continue reading

8 Habits of a Forgiving Heart

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How do we heal from those wounds for which no restitution can be made? How do we extend true forgiveness when we don’t feel like forgiving? How do we ease that burning in our hearts for justice?

Forgiveness is one of the most challenging commands given to the Christian. Sometimes complete forgiveness takes more than a day, a week, a month, or even a decade. What we feel on the inside must not dictate our actions on the outside. We must make a conscious effort to obey God externally while fighting the battle internally.

In the previous post, we discussed Peter’s flawed question of how many times we ought to forgive. Today, I hope to encourage you to develop a mindset of forgiveness, particularly for those hurts which run deep.

Forgiveness is not merely an action, it is an attitude we must develop and nurture until we return to dust. Continue reading

What the World Needs Now

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Some songs make me cringe.

It’s not necessarily the lyrics—although cringe-worthy lyrics abound. Often it’s the style of singing or instrumentation. Sometimes it’s an associated memory. For instance, whenever I hear Andy Williams’ voice belt out, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I can’t help but groan inwardly. I associate it with disgruntled black friday shoppers and unhappy ugly-Christmas-sweater people. I don’t know why…. it’s probably related to some lame commercial. Then there’s Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now.” The words aren’t bad, it’s just the way it was sung or the melody or… something. Think “nails on chalk.”

And yet… Continue reading

Help! I need somebody, not just anybody… (Day 25 of the #encourage marathon)

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I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121, ESV

Welcome to mile marker 25 of the #encourage marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is struggling alone. (At least, they feel alone…) It might even be you.

If you’ve ever heard the Beatles’ song “Help!” You’ll recognize their lyrics in the title. We do need help from “somebody,” and not just “anybody.” We need help from the Lord.

When life gets hard—it does, and it will, if it hasn’t already—we find ourselves in a state of loneliness. Our eyes and heart look down, our feeling of isolation grows, and we cast desperately about for support. The danger is in looking for help in all the wrong places—drugs, alcohol, friends, weapons, etcetera. Hills may offer high ground and hiding places, but they are incomparable to strongest helper of all—the Lord.

How is the Lord a strong helper?

He made heaven and earth.

There is a tendency to gloss over this point. Consider, for a moment, the vastness of the earth and the far more incomprehensible reaches of the universe. Yeah, the God that I serve made all that. Now, flip that around and consider the invisible atom or the microbes that can only be observed under high-powered microscopes. The God I serve is so observant, that he knows the number of all those trillions of microscopic entities. No problem of ours is so great he cannot tackle it, nor so minor that it escapes His notice.

He doesn’t sleep.

When the prophet Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and defied the prophets of Baal, he had a good laugh when they made futile supplications to a non-existent God. “Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18.27)

Our God never has to be roused to hear our prayer. He knows what we need before we ask Him; He just waits for us to bring our troubles. While we are asleep, God is still working. He never sits idle.

He is our keeper.

A keeper is, by definition, a guardian or caretaker. God is our guardian. The remainder of the Psalm emphasizes some of the ways in which God guards and cares for us. He watches our goings and comings and is concerned with every moment of our life, and the lives of the billions of people around us. Warren Wiersbe writes,

“In writing about the sun and the moon, the psalmist was saying several things. To begin with, in that part of the world, the burning sun is menacing (2 Kings 4:18-19Jonah 4:8), but at night, the sudden drop in temperature is both uncomfortable and unhealthy, if you lack warm covering. Day and night, our Father is with us to shelter us from that which could harm us. The Jewish people followed a lunar calendar (81:3), so the writer was also referring to days (the sun) and months (the moon). From day to day, from month to month, from season to season (Gen. 1:16-18), from year to year, our Father is with us in the many challenges and changes of life.(To read more, click this link to visit Bible Gateway.)

Are you seeking help from God first or do you come to Him only at the end of your tether?

Go to the One who is all-powerful, all-seeing, and far wiser than any human who has ever, or will ever, live upon this earth.

It could be today you feel alone and helpless. No mountain is too isolated, no storm too strong, no prison so impenetrable that God cannot reach you.


It’s almost over! Tomorrow we reach the finish line of our 26-day #encourage marathon! I hope you will join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner as we reach the end.

Feel free to download and share the graphics of these verses/passages on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage), or email them to a friend who needs encouragement.

Make some time to copy down these posts. Some of them are a bit long, but it only takes a few minutes. Ask your kids to do it with you. Don’t just be encouraged, encourage others!

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list. All these posts will be available here under the #encourage tag. You can also type #encourage in the search window at the top of the page.

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