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Friday, December 5, 2014
We saw this poster in a local church several weeks ago.
"What's Your Excuse?"
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"See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!" (Galatians 6:11).
The other day our hearts were warmed upon hearing Joni's voice on WDAC, our local Christian radio station. Joni is a quadriplegic due to a diving accident in the Chesapeake Bay at 17 years of age. Many of you have probably seen the movie made about her in the seventies or read her book. It was a life transforming event that could have left her bitter and feeling useless. But she overcame her disability with such an incredibly positive outlook on life and has impacted scores of people around the world with the Gospel message she enthusiastically shares. She is now in her mid-sixties and endures a great deal of pain day and night due to her disability. Yet she maintains the spunk and vibrancy of a much younger woman.
We've met a lot of people like Joni through the years, some with visible disabilities, others not so visible. Everett was a part of the church we served in Taunton Massachusetts in the nineties. He's been in that church since the early 70's.
Everett never finished high school and has a reading disorder known as dyslexia. He's had a lot of overcoming in life, yet he sought to provide for his family and is an outstanding "handyman" having a good sense about fixing about anything that's broken. In 1999 Everett was diagnosed with Cerebral Degeneration, a neurological disorder that further hindered him so that he is now retired. I spoke to him last night for an update and he shared how this year he had two strokes but like the Energizer bunny, he just keeps on going.
I recall how he had a burning desire to read through the Bible. Reading was very hard for him and his reading pace is very, very slow and extremely laborious, but he managed to get through it. The few minutes it takes the average person to read a chapter may have taken several hours for Everett. He has sought to live his life for Christ and use the skills that God has given him to make a difference, rather than make excuses for the skills or talents he lacks.
Many Bible students speculate that the apostle Paul had a chronic eye problem. In his epistle to the Galatians he refers to an illness which was a major trial when he visited them. He wrote, "If you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me" (Galatians 4:15). In the daily text he likely refers to this ailment when he concludes the letter in his own handwriting and writes, "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!"
In the case of the daily text it seems that that most of the book was dictated to an associate, technically called an amanuensis. As I examine this passage I consider just how meaningful having the esteemed Apostle's very own handwriting must have been to the initial reader. It was a mark of authenticity but also a very personal expression. (Only the original handwritten document would have conveyed this since as the document was copied it would have all been in the same handwriting and of course no distinction is made in the text type in our printed Bibles.)
In 2 Corinthians Paul speaks of a "thorn in the flesh", which may also be referring to this same physical ailment. He prayed to have this affliction removed, but instead God gave him these words of assurance: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul had this and other excuses to hinder his work but he didn't let them. His negative critics said, "His letters are weighty and forceful, in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing" (2 Corinthians 10:10). So, Preacher Friend, if you're being negatively critiqued, you're in good company!
The Apostle Paul, Joni and our friend Everett, and so many others, including many of you, are faithful overcomers. We all have excuses, but God doesn't want us to lean on them. Rather He wants us to lean on Him, for when we are weak, then He is strong!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Lord Jesus, we are inspired by those very special people that You have called out from among the ordinary. They look to You for physical strength and extraordinary faith to overcome the obstacles that would otherwise hinder their ability to live a productive life. They're living examples of the redeemed who have invited Your strength to be perfected in their weakness. When we are powerless, You are all-powerful and You receive the glory due Your name. So help us not to resent our weaknesses or limitations, for it is in these challenges that we can take no credit but rather give honor to the One who makes all things possible for those who believe. Amen.
Special Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and income. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!
Mike, a friend in one of the companies we serve as chaplains, seeks to be a witness using his "Mike's Old-school twitter feed", a small whiteboard near his work area that many pass by. This is a good thought-provoking message we saw yesterday!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Alone Yet Not Alone" Video Joni Background info regarding the recording of this song: Although Joni is not a professional singer, her rendition of “Alone Yet Not Alone” for the film of the same title won an Oscar nomination. Since her lung capacity is 50% of a healthy person’s, recording the song was no easy feat. Her husband of over 30 years, Ken Tada, had to assist her by pressing down on her diaphragm at the right moments so she could hit the high notes.
Joni Eareckson Tada Shares Her Story Video
"Joni" the movie.
"Theology of Suffering" Video A message by Joni Eareckson Tada (31:20 minutes)
"Take My Life And Let It Be" Video Christ For The Nations Worship
"Use Me" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"No More Night" Video David Phelps
"Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges - An outstanding book for trusting God even when life hurts.
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
"We want to encourage you daily in your walk with Christ!"
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Personal Mission Statement "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version. Other versions are also occasionally used.
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