Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Where are you God?: A Crown, a Shepherd Boy, and a Handful of Torches

From 2008:

I don’t know about you, but as a writer, I have found that my character’s spiritual journey often mirrors things that are happening in my own life. 

In Blood Covenant, the main character, Paige, feels far to small for the task God is calling her to do—something I can certainly relate to at times. Throughout the course of the book, she comes to the realization that if she is going to survive, she will have to admit her weaknesses and fears and rely completely on God’s strength.

Paul has some powerful words in II Corinthians 12:9-10 that have to do with our weaknesses.

“…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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NIV)

Paul is telling us that it is through our weaknesses that we are made strong because of Christ’s power. I don’t know about you, but those words sound pretty incredible to me. And there’s more. At the greatest moment of weakness, according to the world’s point of view, Christ’s death on the cross brought victory, allowing God to enter into a relationship with us through that sacrifice. He loves us that much.

Still thinking you’re too small? Think again. 

Today, we're facing things we've never had to think about before. Our world looks different than it did just a few short months ago. And in the middle of the crisis, it's easy to feel overwhelmed, weak, and lost. 

There are numerous examples in the Bible of men and women who God called to serve Him in an extraordinary way through His power. Gideon was victorious with only three hundred men, a handful of trumpets, jars, and torches. Esther became queen in order to save her people from the threat of death, David was a shepherd boy who became king of a nation, and the list goes on and on. 

So what does that have to do with you?

God calls us in the middle of our ordinary, run-of-the-mill, take-out-the-trash-and drive-the-kids-to-school routine. So stop and ask yourself this one question. How do you see God calling you to make a difference in your world?

You might feel inadequate to follow God’s call as a writer, a parent, student, or whatever your situation might be, but never forget that the God who created the universe loves you and wants to be your strength. He’s the one who will give you the strength to do what He has called you to do.

Be blessed today!

Lisa Harris

Friday, May 01, 2020

Behind the scenes of Port of Origin

Lynne and I recently took some time to chat about Port of Origin and what's it's been like to write a book about a pandemic and then experience one in real life!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Where are you God?: The Beauty in Sacrifice

New mother with twins
One of the things the ECHO Project has been doing over the past few years is identifying those who are struggling physically. Often this means a grandmother who is raising her children, or a young mother with twins who can't provide enough milk.

We've also seen the sacrifice a number of women in particular who have taken on additional mouths to feed even out of their own poverty. They bring in the orphaned, those sick with HIV/AID, and the homeless and care for them in their homes.

This is the beauty in sacrifice.

They are not giving not out of their excess, but in spite of their own needs. And in that they show Christ's love.

It reminds me when Jesus was watching people give to the treasury. The rich threw in large amounts, but it was a poor widow who caught Jesus' attention. She put in two very small copper coins that were only worth a few cents. And yet Jesus said she put in more than all the others. They had given out of their wealth. It didn't hurt them to give, or make them uncomfortable financially.

But the poor widow put in everything she had to live on.

Today we are faced with a worldwide pandemic and Jesus is calling us to be different.

Not just to say we were following him, but to truly live each day as a beautiful sacrifice. That is why these are the women who challenge me everyday. They challenge me to get out of my comfort zone and not to just give of myself when it's easy. But when it's uncomfortable, which it hurts, and when I have to sacrifice my own needs to minister to those around me.

Because that is how He calls us to live.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Where are you God?: Endurance

If you’ve ever thought that God doesn’t know you, or doesn't have a plan for your life, think again. Even in the midst of the chaos around us He has a plan for you.

Learning to open our hearts to God’s will can be difficult, but as we learn to persevere through life and let trials strengthen our faith, we will be able to find intimacy with God.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
                               ~II Corinthians 12:9-10

Be encouraged today, for He is faithful!


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Where are you God?: Expectations

From July 27, 2012

How often are expectations are the source of our discontentedness?  

We expect things from our family, spouse, children, employers, employees, and friends. When they fall short of our expectations, we react.

We get upset at our children because of unreached expectations.

We divorce over unmet expectations.

Employees are fired over unmet expectations.

Relationships are strained or broken through expectations not met.

Expectations can be realistic, unreasonable, or even false.

Sometimes we fail without even knowing we’re not meeting expectations.

And now, we are facing even more loss. Graduations and trips are cancelled. We're stuck inside, worried and anxious about tomorrow.

Sometimes we have to raise our expectations. 

Sometimes we have to be patient with our expectations. 
Sometimes we have to change our expectations.
David, in the book of Psalms, tells us to 'Wait and hope and expect the Lord.' (Ps 27:14)

When all else fails and expectations around us are not met, He will never fail us.

When disappointment reigns, He is still there.

When we are afraid, He is there.

Wait and hope and expect the Lord.

Be encouraged today.


Friday, April 17, 2020

Where are you God?: Is doing the impossible, possible?

From December 13, 2012:

I wanted to weep this morning when I finally met him for the first time, we will call him Mike. He smiled up at me with those big brown eyes, a little shy and timid. His parents have died. He doesn’t know how old he is, we guess about 8. His stomach is still swollen from being sick.

The sores he had on his body a few weeks ago are healing from gifts of soap and food, but as I looked at him, I wondered about his heart. Does he feel loved? Does he feel scared at night? Does he feel alone?

Yesterday, the hospital diagnosed him HIV+. I’m not sure he understands what that means, but for one so young, who has been through so much, the road ahead is going to be hard.

And he isn’t the only one. The hospital asked us to help them follow up on those they are trying to work with in the villages, actually pages worth of names. There are many more who are dying. So many who feel lost and alone. They need to know that they are loved. That they aren’t alone. That there is One who created them and loves them.

But it still seems completely overwhelming to me. My mind spins as I try to figure out where to start? Can I really do anything to help?

My youngest and I are reading J. Hudson Taylor’s autobiography. Taylor was one of the first missionaries in to China many, many years ago. As we read together, I find that his story is convicting me over and over. His faith. His prayer life. His passion. His love and faith amazes and humbles me.

All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.” J. Hudson Taylor

It’s not a new idea, but for me it is still profound. I’ve thought about it many times when what I see around me seems impossible. It makes me encouraged to realize that I don’t always have to be strong. I don’t have to have all the answers. All I have to do is listen and follow His call.

Even when it seems impossible.

There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” J. Hudson Taylor

What I see here might seem challenging, but isn’t unique to this part of the world. You don’t have to look far to see people who are hurting. It’s come to the point to where I don’t want to check out the news anymore. There is so much hate, anger, hopelessness, and evil in our world.   

Maybe you are the one who is hurting. Maybe you feel unloved, scared at night, and alone with no answers. We might live in a fallen world, but there is hope.

Which means we as a church must move out of our comfort zone and make a difference. Give even when it hurts. Love the unloveable. Give hope to the hopeless. Share Christ’s message of life.

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize that He is able to carry out His will for me. It does not matter where He places me, or how. That is for Him to consider, not me, for in the easiest positions He will give me grace, and in the most difficult ones His grace is sufficient.” J. Hudson Taylor

Paul said it this way in II Corinthians 4:17. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Be a blessing today,

Lisa Harris

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Where are you God?: Nine Ways to Kiss Stress Good-bye

From June 23, 2012:

The last few months have been exceptionally hectic for our family. Between homeschooling, ministry, building a house, short-term mission groups, writing, and life in general, I sometimes find myself feeling that all I do is run from early morning to late at night.

As I grow older, I've noticed that it is essential to find both quiet and balance in all the chaos. Especially when my 'jobs' are never ending. For example, as a writer, between writing, brainstorming, editing, and marketing, and social networking my job is never finished. And that is just one segment of my life! 

Today we are looking at a whole new layer of stress and anxiety that we have never had to face before. I hope you can find something here that will help you! 

Learn To Say No: Michael Hyatt recently had a blog post dealing with the importance of saying no. We can only do so many things in a day, and as hard as it might be, sometimes we have to say no.

Delegate: Are your kids old enough to take on extra responsibilities around the house? Can you call on a friend to help you out on a project? It’s easy to want to keep that control and do it all ourselves, but there is also a blessing in having others pitch in and help.

Exercise: I always see a difference in the way I feel when I stick to my exercise routine. I feel better, I’m healthier, and more relaxed. Exercise can improve so many aspects of our lives both mentally and physically by improving our mood, combatting disease, and boosting our energy.

Positive Self-talk: I’ve been amazed at how many time the Bible talks about the importance of our thoughts. Paul says in Philippians 4:8 that we should be thinking about things that are true, pure, and lovely. He also says in 2 Corinthians 19:5 to take captive every captive and make it obedient to Christ.

Keep in Tune with the Spirit: In connection with positive self-talk, it is important to look at what are we filling our minds with? If we are filling our minds with constant negativity from the media and television, it’s hard to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and his active roll in our lives.

Remember You’re not Superwoman or Superman: (And you don't have to be.) It’s so easy to compare ourselves with others, and believe that we have to do it all ourselves. We look at others around us and feel as if we fall short when we can't keep up. Putting reasonable expectations on ourselves is essential to cutting out stress. 

Prioritize: Have you ever heard the old expression, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." It means that when you are facing an overwhelming situation that feels too big to handle, you need to take a deep breath and don't panic. My own kids, for example, start to panic when they find out they have to write a research paper, until I tell them not to focus on the overall goal, but instead the mini-steps they will take to get there. Break things down into small pieces. One thing at a time. One day at a time. It really does make a difference.

Laugh more: I have some good friends who send me links to funny You Tube videos because they know how important laughter is. The saying is true that laughter is the best medicine!

1    What about you? I’d love to hear your ideas of what helps you handle stress, especially today.