Archive for January, 2014

Do You Hate Your Weaknesses?

I  have been trained to hate my weaknesses. One of them is White Coat Syndrome. This means that my blood pressure soars when I get it read in a doctor’s office. Yet, when I take it at home it is normal.

How scary and how embarrassing it is when the nurses and doctors express their alarm to me, though I know their concern is bogus. I really don’t have the problem that they think I have.

Nevertheless, I am taking several steps to try to rid myself of this weakness. Yet, I wonder if this will be my “thorn in the flesh” the rest of my life (2 Corinthians 12:7).

I was reading an article this week about a well-known pastor and his struggle with anxiety and depression. He has been fighting these afflictions for years and has come to the realization that God is using these weaknesses to do great things through his life. He concludes with the following statement: “And so I join Paul in boasting of my weakness, for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

So, does God allow us to have weaknesses in order to make us strong?


God told Paul that he allowed a weakness in his life just to keep Paul from pride and trying to muscle his way through life in his own strength. God said to Paul, “[My] power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul was greatly used by God, but it wasn’t because he had no weaknesses. “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4).

Thus, the blessing of our weaknesses is that they can motivate us to depend on God for the strength to do what only he can do. Otherwise, we may be suckered into making flesh our strength and turning away from dependence on God and his power (Jeremiah 17:5).

I have seen people that I thought were too strong in human strength. They did not have the natural weaknesses that so many of us have. Yet, their lives were shallow and they lacked supernatural strength.

So, how are we supposed to respond to our weaknesses? Just roll over and accept whatever hand we have been dealt?


Like Paul, we need to seek God for his strength to overcome our weaknesses. “Concerning [my weakness], I entreated the Lord three times that [the weakness] would depart from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8).

Yet, sometimes God will say to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Thus, he sometimes leaves human weaknesses in our lives so that we will become stronger supernaturally. We need to view our weaknesses as opportunities to be transformed by God’s strength.

May we become more like Paul who said, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).


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I was really bummed out yesterday when I heard the news. In some ways I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that my book publisher had gone out of business a few days ago taking $6,000 of mine without giving me anything in return.

Why did God lead me to the publisher anyway? Did I miss God’s will? What do I do next?

I soon did what I have slowly learned to do over the years- I took the confusing mess to God to help me sort out what my next step was.

So, why does life sometimes throw us curves?

One of the first things we need to realize is that God either caused or allowed it. “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen” (Job 37:13).

It seems that God does not see the curve as a curve but part of his plan of bringing us into a more intimate love relationship with himself by transforming and empowering us. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8). And “He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

God also throws curves at us sometimes to check our hearts. He wants no person or project to be our first love. “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

Like Abraham was tested by God to see if he loved his only son more than he loved God, God sometimes tests our hearts to see if he is still Number One (Genesis 22).

So, what do we do with the curve that God throws our way?

One thing we can do is to ask God questions like, “What do you want me to do in this situation? What does it look like to be godly in this difficult circumstance?”

We may also ask him why this happened. But often he will not tell us for he wants us to learn to trust him even without understanding why something happened (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Another thing we can do is to face the curve squarely. We suffer when we choose to deny or run from the pain. We need to feel the full impact of the curve and seek God’s comfort and encouragement. “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

And finally we need to wait and listen for God’s response. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

We may continue on the path we have been on until we hear from him, but we are alert for his response, which can come to us in a variety of ways. Some of the ways include through his Word, through other believers, our thoughts, and circumstances.

So, what curve has been thrown at you? May I suggest that you take that curve to God today and ask him for understanding and wisdom in dealing with it.




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There seems to be confusion among some Christians regarding the purpose of spiritual disciplines. Should the disciplines of Bible studies, going on retreats, having quiet times and doing ministry be the focus of our Christian lives?

The answer is NO!

Disciplines are not to be the focus of our relationship with God. They are things we do to cooperate with God in living in an intimate love relationship with him.

However, they can become the center of our spiritual lives if we resist relying on the Spirit in practicing them.

As a young Christian, I believe that I did that to a large extent. I thought I was growing myself by memorizing Scripture, doing Bible studies and listening to good teaching.

But I learned over time that our practice of the disciplines only opens the door for God to work in our lives. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Doing disciplines do not grow us; God does.

Yet, the disciplines are important for us to practice. The Holy Spirit is the one who grows us as we practice the disciplines that he leads us to do.

God is not going to do all the work. He wants us to take on his light yoke, which includes being obedient in practicing the disciplines that are tailored to our needs and capabilities (Matthew 11:28-30).

Spiritual disciplines train or retrain us. Any influence that forms habits into our spirits can be considered a spiritual discipline. So, disciplines go beyond doing Bible studies, listening to sermons, and praying.

They also include such activities as “putting off the old and putting on the new” (Ephesians 4:22-24), learning to rely on God’s love throughout the day, and learning to experience the presence of God more. “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).

Practicing spiritual disciplines is not something we do without God. They are not a way to earn points with him. God has to act or we won’t understand the Bible, or have the power to live it.

Some Christians seem to think that all that we need to do is to know truth and then we will do truth.

But this is not the way to escape the inner corruption and bad habits that we all have. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

Spiritual disciplines help us to be retrained in doing the truth that we know.

For example, I may know the truth that I need to love my wife as Christ loves the church. But I have come to realize that I do not have the power to always do it.

I need to practice the daily discipline of asking God to enable me throughout the day to see and do what it takes to truly love her. I can’t just stop at knowing what I am supposed to do. I need to practice the daily discipline of asking for help in order to love.

Disciplines are not ends in themselves, but are means to allow God free rein in our hearts- if that does not happen then practicing the disciplines is a man-centered effort and we will fail to grow.

I admit that practicing spiritual disciplines can be a tricky business. We can go to two extremes. We can put too much confidence in ourselves, or we can error by depending on knowing truth as the only thing necessary for living truth.

May God help us to find that healthy balance between relying on his gracious work in our lives and depending on practicing the disciplines to cooperate with him.

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