Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada

Words from Sebastion

February 19, 2019

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada with a quotation that you are going to like.

Well, maybe you won’t like it. We’ll see. The quote originates with one of the early church fathers, Saint Sebastian, who helped guide the fledgling church back in the early 200s. Yikes, that is going back a ways to a time when persecution against Christians was hot and heavy. Back then, our brothers and sisters in Christ were heaven-bent on standing strong in the midst of life-threatening suffering; they set their face like flint on the hope of heaven, committed to hold on until the end, until they saw their Savior and heard those wonderful words: “Well done.” But, as you’d guess, there were others. Others who collapsed under the weight, caved in, threw in the spiritual towel and recanted their faith. For them, suffering for Christ – that is suffering as a Christian – was just too hard.

In the midst of all this, Sebastian spoke wise and stirring words to his congregation. He said, “When we get to heaven, we will not regret that we suffered; we will regret that we suffered so little, and that little, so badly.” His words were intended to shame those who were quietly intending to renounce or disavow the blood of Christ over their lives. With that brief sentence, Sebastian was inasmuch saying: “Don’t you dare forsake, don’t you dare abandon your Lord in these trying times. Yes, life is hard and our adversaries are vicious, but God's reputation is riding on the back of your response to these times and these trials. Don’t give your neighbors reason to think that your God isn’t worth it; isn’t worth staying the course. That His grace is insufficient; don’t let them think that He’s not strong enough to sustain you, because He is. He is your ever-present help in any and every trouble.”

That was good advice for Christians many, many hundreds of years ago and its great advice for you and me today, because we, too, need to be heaven-bent on standing strong when trials hit us hard. We, too, need to set our face like flint as we set our minds and hearts on things above where Christ is seated, where Christ is watching and yes, even interceding for us to stay the course and remain faithful to His name. Can we believe, will we believe, that God's grace is indeed enough for our problems? I pray so. Because I do not – and I don’t think you – want to be numbered among those who shame the reputation of Jesus. Like Hebrews says, “None of us have suffered to the point of shedding blood.” I mean, no one in your American cul-de-sac is being martyred today, right? So stay strong. Live well. Hold fast to the One who is holding you fast. Because you don’t want to be known as less in the kingdom of God (that’s right, the Bible speaks clearly of those who will considered lesser in the kingdom, just as there are those who will be great). Friend, don’t diminish or jeopardize the richness of your eternal destiny by caving in, or by throwing in the spiritual towel.

Suffer well. Suffer faithfully. If you need prayer, if you are faltering; if you think you need help, then let us know at Joni and Friends, because we get it. We understand how hard hardship can be. So, leave your prayer request on our Facebook page, connect with us through our website, send us a text, or post your request at joniradio.org. We care and we’re here to help those who hurt with words that have been encouraging Christians like you, since the ancient of times. Let me hear from you today on my Facebook page or you can always post a comment on my Blog at joniandfriends.org.

By: Joni Eareckson Tada

© Joni and Friends

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Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I am a sinner. I don’t mind saying that one bit. I don’t just sin; I am a sinner. But I’m a redeemed sinner, thanks to Jesus, and He has saved me from the penalty of sin and the power of sin (there’s always grace to overcome sin), but He has not saved me from its presence. I live in a fallen world and you do too. We still wrestle against the flesh, the sinful nature, this body of sin and death as the book of Romans calls it, and it’s not easy. Because one of the most cunning aspects of sin is that it will try to deceive you. It wants to say to you: “Oh, you don’t lie; you only fudge the truth and that’s not so bad, everybody does that.” Sin will deceive you into thinking that you are not a prideful person when, in fact, you really do cherish inflated ideas of your own importance; you really do think you are a paragon of virtue. But sin really pulls the wool over our eyes when it convinces you it can be acceptable, that there are lots of gray areas, forget about things being black-and-white! You’re not so bad. In fact, you’re not bad at all. You’re pretty good, all things considered. I call that an effort to housebreak sin, to domesticate it. If there’s anything that proves we are all sinners, it’s that we are always trying to tame our transgressions and make them look respectable. And it’s fair to ask, what sins have you housebroken? What secret, small transgressions have you tamed to make your own? A private fantasy that you keep replaying, a daydream you've shielded from the scrutiny of the Spirit. I had a friend in college who enjoyed gossiping with one particular classmate. She wasn't loose with her tongue with anyone else, she was strict about that. But oh, did that classmate get an earful! My college friend thought she had housebroken her gossip, and made it respectable just because she only gossips with one person. The major problem with our minor offenses is that we tend to whitewash them. We think that they are not all that offensive to God. If you are harboring small sins in an attempt to housebreak them, tenderize your heart, would you, with this advice from one of my favorite theologians, JC Ryle. Bishop Ryle wisely says: “We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself in its true colors. Never when we are tempted will we hear sin say to us, ‘I am your deadly enemy, I want to ruin your life.’ That's not how it works. Sin, instead, comes to us like Judas with a kiss. Sin is deceitful. It comes to us like Joab with outstretched hands and flattering words. Sin, in its beginnings, seems harmless enough—like David walking idly on his palace roof which just happened to overlook the bedroom of a woman. You and I may give wickedness smooth-sounding names, but we cannot alter its nature and character in the sight of God.” You know, we don’t like to talk about this sort of thing nowadays. And we hardly hear many pastors preach on sin. But the book of Hebrews is clear. Sin entangles us. It hinders, it trips us up. It’s why the Bible tells us to throw off today (not tomorrow) but today any sin that entangles, or deceives, or tries to appear housebroken and respectable. Do not minimize your sin by making excuses for it. Ask God to help you see your transgressions, great or small, as things that deeply offend the Lord Jesus. For the sake of Christ, let’s disentangle ourselves from it and never get entangled again. When you have a chance today, drop by joniandfriends.org. By: Joni Eareckson Tada © Joni and Friends
February 18, 2019
You are listening to Joni and friends. Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada. Last fall, I took one of those strength assessment tests alongside my coworkers at Joni and Friends. It’s the kind of test where you learn if you are a support person (on the scale, those people are colored blue) or if you are a detail person (that’s green) or an assertive person (that’s red). Well, my husband Ken Tada and I work with six other women in our department, and everybody was mostly a support person colored blue. I was the only one who came out red. Don’t jump to conclusions, red on this assessment test means many good things. But it also means a few not-so-nice things about who I can be as a person. Like some of that assertiveness can come out as aggressiveness. I also can be very stiff-necked, very perfectionist, and very stubborn. I thought about that test recently after I committed a stubborn, willful sin (I’m not going to go into details here), but I knew what I was doing when I resisted the Spirit’s caution. But guess what, I didn’t care. The “red” in me was coming through, and I knew I was being stubborn. It was one of those “it’s my way or the highway” sort of things, you know what I mean? Well, about two or three days afterward, I sensed the distinct withdrawal of the Holy Spirit’s power in my life. It felt awful! It wasn’t until I cried out to God while reading Psalm 51, “[O Lord,] take not your Holy Spirit from me” that I once again sensed His nearness and approval… and for me it was an even better lesson than taking that strength assessment test! In fact, I looked at all the bad aspects of my “red” character on those test results and I prayed earnestly: “Oh Jesus, keep me from becoming like that; willful and stubborn, and aggressive.” In short, keep me from falling back into my natural self. The things of the flesh war against the things of the spirit, and I want the Holy Spirit to do war on my behalf. I want him to keep me from being led astray. And friend listening, I want you to join me in asking God to keep you from disobeying when the shorter, easier route is tempting. Keep us in our youth when our passions are strong; Oh Father, keep us in old age when we think we know it all; Oh Jesus, keep us in the valley when we’re prone to complain. God, keep us from hogging the spotlight and failing to give credit where credit is due. Lord Jesus, keep us from constantly talking about ourselves, and keep us focused on the needs of others, rather than on our own. Keep us from nagging, scolding, chiding and manipulating. Keep us from fudging the truth. Keep me from stubborn, willful, stiff-necked behavior. In short, oh Jesus, keep me from overdoing the “red” parts of who I am! The nearness of the Holy Spirit is a very precious thing. You don’t want to risk, you don’t want to jeopardize that closeness with Him. And it’s why it is wise to ask Him to keep you; to fight for you. And Jude 23-25 says it best: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence; to the only God our Savior be glory, and majesty, and power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Did you catch that? God is able to keep you from falling, falling back into the default mode that is your own old nature. So today, please, please ask the Holy Spirit to keep your heart pure, your spirit bright, and your conscience clean, no matter if you are a “blue” support person or a “green” detail person or like me, “red” to the core. God bless you and thanks for listening. By: Joni Eareckson Tada © Joni and Friends
February 15, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a beautiful poem from a good friend. And I’m a big fan of good poetry, especially poems that have been written in the furnace of affliction. I have a friend like that. Her name is Lisa Marie and honestly, she is such an inspiration to me. When Lisa was around 12 or 13 years old, she started suffering from unusual achiness in her joints; she was always seemed tired and listless. Her parents took her to one doctor after the next, but they never got a clear diagnosis. The achiness and tiredness turned into exacerbating pain, and an overwhelming weariness. Brain fog and super-sensitivity to light and sound eventually drove her indoors when she would spend long periods in bed. Finally, it was determined that Lisa Marie was dealing with an unusual form of Lyme’s disease, among other autoimmune disorders. But as her body declined, her heart inclined to God. Her young faith took a beating, but her disease could not defeat her. At the age of 20, Lisa Marie became bedridden. It’s not what any young girl would want, and Lisa Marie kept praying and hoping that things would get better; that they would come up with a treatment for this strange Lyme’s disease gone crazy that relegated her to one room in her house, and a dark room at that, given her sensitivity to light. Get this – that was 20 years ago. And now Lisa Marie is more than 40 years old and she is still in the same situation, living daily with pain that most medications just can’t reach. Yes, and she is still in her bedroom, spending most of her time in the dark. Lisa Marie wears sunglasses when she works on her computer and so this valiant woman is able to write inspirational poems and she posts them on our private pain pal page. Not only that, she prays regularly for each of us in our pain, interceding with great empathy and bolstering our spirits with comforting scriptures. She wrote a poem recently that touched me so much—touched all the “Pals”; I just had to read it for you. She calls it “Cup of Anguish.” And it goes: “Sometimes it all seems too much, This overflowing anguished cup. I say, “I can’t. I’m not this tough.” But then I see upon that tree, The Man of Sorrows slain for me – Unshakable even to death. And though my strength has nothing left, I feel a deep, steadying Breath. For a sacrifice so infinite, May my gratitude be evident. In Your strength, I know I can. So, precious Lord, with all I am. I surrender to Your perfect plan.” Right underneath her poem, Lisa Marie wrote Psalm 119, verse 143, “Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me; yet Your commandments are my delights.” Well, I think you can tell Lisa finds the Word of God her biggest delight; it’s what sustains her day in and day out as she lies on her bed. Hebrews tells us to encourage one another daily, and that’s what I hope Lisa’s story has done for you. If you are troubled and you feel as though anguish has taken over, remember the power and protection, even the delight that is found in the word of God. Because if the Bible, as well as God’s grace, can sustain Lisa Marie, on her bed for some 20 years, He can be your help. By the way, if you’d like a copy of Lisa Marie’s poem called “Cup of Anguish,” just download it off of my radio page at joniradio.org. Or for a hard copy, write to Joni and Friends, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills California, 91376. God bless you today and thanks for listening at Joni and Friends. By: Joni Eareckson Tada © Joni and Friends
February 14, 2019
Well hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and it’s wonderful to imagine what that garden must have looked like: the first animals, the first flowers and trees. Well, we know that there was the tree of life in the middle of the garden, but perhaps you did not realize there were two trees in the middle of the garden. Listen to Genesis Chapter 2, verse 9, then let me flip over to Genesis Chapter 3, right after the man and the woman ate the fruit. It says, “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the Lord God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to now reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.'" Wow! It’s the old, old story. The serpent beguiled Eve, and she and her husband ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Suddenly they understood the difference between what was good and what was evil, and because they did not obey God, death, sorrow, and disease became a fact of life. Now, some people think that God was unkind in banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden, but not so. God was just, because God is just. From the very beginning, disobedience carried a penalty; fellowship between God and man had been completely severed. So, God was just, but (get this) He was also kind, very kind. Because –listen to this from Chapter 3, "After [God] drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth (now get this) to guard the way to the tree of life." How good and merciful of God to keep diseased and sin-sick Man from eating of the tree of life. The tree of life is a big deal. If you look in the book of Revelation, it’s right there – when we get to heaven, we will eat of the tree of life, and we will live forever. Had Adam and Eve not been banished from the garden to prevent them from eating from the tree of life, it's likely that mankind, in his very sad and sorry state would have lived forever. Yes, in his sinful state forever. That is terrible. Oh my goodness, how awful! Who wants to live forever in a body of sin and death? Certainly not me! So, when you read about God throwing Adam and Eve out of the garden and setting up strong angels to prevent them from coming back, He’s not being unfair and He’s certainly not being unkind. Far from being a story of heavy-handed, cruel justice, the real story in the Garden is one of God's wisdom, compassion and protection. Because like I said, the tree of life not only grew in the Garden of Eden, but it will one day grow in the new heavens and new earth. Revelation Chapter 22, "On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse." Praise God! I’m so grateful that the Lord prevented Adam and Eve in all their sin from reaching for the fruit on the tree of life. But you and I sure can reach for that tree as we reach out for the cross where the Lord of life died not only for Adam and Eve’s sin, but for your sin and mine. Hold fast to that cross, and you’ll experience what it means to really eat and enjoy fruit from the tree of life. Enjoy eating that tree today as you open up the Word of God. When you have a chance today, drop by joniandfriends.org. By: Joni Eareckson Tada © Joni and Friends
February 13, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada thanking God for His protection. And speaking of protection, I love Psalm 5, where it says, "But let all who take refuge in You. [Oh Lord] be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them that those who love Your name may rejoice in You." I love that because when God protects us, it’s great cause for rejoicing, I have a fun story to prove that. Some years ago, as I was getting ready to go to Africa with Wheels for the World, I was stuck with every kind of needle, from yellow fever shots to hepatitis. I took malaria pills. I took immune boosters. And when I left the doctor's office, I relaxed, knowing I had done every responsible thing from my end, and now I was under God's protection. While overseas, I was doubly careful with the food and water, not eating anything from kiosks on the street or in homes (although my friends did). I pretty much stuck to our hotel restaurant. I became doubly cautious when, midway through our trip, everyone else was running to the restroom. They looked at me and kind of went, “uh-oh!” We all knew that if I became sick like that, it would be awful; it would be impossible – I just can’t get up out of my wheelchair and run to a bathroom! In my efforts not to become ill, mealtimes were a challenge. To make things worse, I lost my special spoon again (it’s the one I feed myself with and it has a certain length and an angle so it fits snugly into my arm splint). Well, it got lost. My friend thought she had cleaned it off after breakfast and put it back in my handbag. But we looked and it wasn’t there. I was so demoralized, knowing that someone would have to feed me all the time. We looked at my suitcase, under the bed; we called the restaurant I was at the night before. Nothing! I asked the Lord to show me where that spoon was, but He was strangely quiet on the subject. But right near the close of the trip during our last meal, I was suddenly struck by a crystal-clear thought. I had the strongest impression, as though the Holy Spirit were speaking to me, saying: “Joni, you lost your spoon because it was contaminated. Had you used it, you would have become sick.” Immediately I shared this with my friends at the table. One of them dropped her fork and gasped. She said, "God just told me that exact same thing this very instant." When we talk about it, it was obvious. I mean, other people are constantly handling that spoon with their hands. It sits on tables. Once in a while, people forget to wash it thoroughly; they only wipe it. In Africa that’s asking for trouble. That spoon could easily become full of germs. My friends and I were amazed. God was no longer quiet on the subject. Neither was I. It was just like Psalm 5: “Spread Your protection over them that those who love Your name may rejoice.” Really, I kept rejoicing; I kept praising Him and happy to not only be healthy, but to be able to hear His reasons for “losing” my spoon. We say it all the time. We pray to the Lord, "Deliver us from evil." God answers that prayer with a resounding "I will," yet we cannot see the thousands of ways He does it every day. But He does. Time and again, He is protecting us. In fact, if you have especially observed how God has spread His protection over you, then take a moment, take all day, rejoice. Thank Him and give Him praise. Every day, our great God is delivering you and protecting you. And guess what, I lift my spoon to that! Oh, and by the way, if you have a prayer request, let me know on our radio page and our Joni and Friend staff will lift up your need before the Lord. By: Joni Eareckson Tada © Joni and Friends
February 12, 2019
Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada with a good word from Mark, Chapter 1. That’s the scene where Jesus is walking along the shore and he calls to Simon and Andrew “Come, follow me,” and they obey, leaving their nets at once to follow Jesus without delay. Don’t you love that? They dropped everything and obeyed at once without dragging their heels or second-guessing his call. How compelling must’ve been that call of Jesus! Not only did those men leave their nets behind, but I tell you what, they left their identity. They left their livelihood. They left everything, by which they had been known. They were no longer fishermen; they became fishers of men. To me, that’s inspiring, because that’s the way I want to live. When I hear God’s word, I don’t want to second-guess it, I don’t want to drag my heels, I want to be a doer of it. If I hear a truth from the Bible, I want to act on it. I don’t want to believe Satan’s lies. But so many times I end up believing lies without even thinking about it, I listen to lies like: “I’m powerless; there’s nothing I can do to make this bad situation any better!” Or I’ll listen to a lie like: “I can’t tell my friend how I really feel; it’ll ruin our relationship.” Or I cave in, telling myself, “Sure, I believe in spiritual warfare, but I’d really rather watch “American Pickers” right now and not do any battles; not fight them.” I hate thinking like that. It’s kick-it-into-neutral thinking, cowardly thinking. It’s do-nothing thinking. Because the truth is, I do have power—I have God’s power—to make a bad situation better. And telling the truth is the best path for any friendship. And every spiritual battle is worth fighting, no matter what your emotions insist. When the Holy Spirit whispers to me, or calls me forth into battle, or tells me to rise to some new, yet harder obedience, I need to not only listen, but act on it; actually wrap my hands around the challenge, and put some weight behind it, give it effort; give it honest, spiritual muscle and fight back against laziness or lies. In other words, I have to leave my nets and follow Jesus at once without delay. Spurgeon once wrote: “When God calls you to do something, hasten right then to fulfill it before the holy glow departs from your soul. Leave your nets at once and do not give place to the devil by delaying.” Love that! Perhaps Jesus is telling you to talk about Him to your coworkers; you know, share your testimony and talk up Jesus. It sounds great at first, doesn’t it? You feel courageous as you picture how you’re going to approach that group of coworkers in the lunch area; you see yourself saying this and that, and your heart swells with anticipation. But if you delay in doing it, over time you are going to lose the glow; you start second-guessing what the Lord wants you to do, putting up resistance and saying, “you know, God, I’m not sure I heard you quite right. I really don’t think my coworkers are ready right now to hear my story”. We check and double check what we think we heard God say, until we have convinced ourselves it wasn’t Him who spoke anyway, in the first place. Like Spurgeon says: “When God calls you to do something, hasten right then to fulfill it before the holy glow departs from your soul. In other words friend, leave your nets at once and do not give place to the devil by delaying.” Don’t second-guess God and rationalize away His calling in your life. Listen to His call and join me in being not just a hearer, but a doer of His word. When you have a chance today, drop by joniandfriends.org.
February 11, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and yes, I am tired. But I am so happy! We are getting closer to the end of my radiation therapy and I am so, so grateful for the prayers of so many of you who have remembered me, and my husband Ken in your intercessions. We are beating back this cancer with radiation and after it’s over I will be on other medications for a long, long time. But that’s okay. I’ve made it! And Lord willing, my lungs have done okay. In the future, you may hear some gravel in my voice, but hey, my lungs will be doing the best they can, and that is good enough. And I'm using my lungs today to simply express my gratitude to you for your concern and for your prayers. I was sustained by many things over the last few months since my surgery back in late November to remove that tumor. But none was so precious as these first few verses from Psalm 116. Get this: I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry; He heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, but then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” My goodness, that passage describes me to a T, and that I have made it this far after surgery and radiation, I’m going to call on the Lord as long as I live. There’s another thing that really bolstered my spirits, it’s a quote from Charles Spurgeon and when I found it, I cut, pasted, and printed it out so I’d have it with me. This is what Spurgeon wrote, he says: "I know of nothing in which I could hold Pontius Pilate as an example to you, save this one thing; he placed the Name of Jesus on the cross. Writing these words with his own hand, he refused to alter them: 'Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.' Here Pilate, the vacillating governor, for once stuck to the truth, and would not be driven from it. So now whenever you have a cross, write the Name of King Jesus above it and stand to what you have written. He has himself carried a cross far heavier than yours, and His hearty sympathy is WITH you. He is so united to you that all your crosses are His own. Even when the cross weighs heaviest upon you, rejoice that you are honored to suffer with Christ, and are thus be crowned as well as crossed. Write his name on all your crosses!" And that’s exactly what I did. And because I constantly attached the name of Jesus to my trial, it didn’t feel heavy; it wasn’t burdensome. Jesus kept telling me, “Joni, my burden is light, so keep lifting it with my grace.” And what a difference that made. And finally, these words from Mary from Luke, Chapter 1 in a paraphrase called The Message. I just grabbed hold of this and made it my own, because Mary says: “I am bursting with God-news; I am dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened – I am the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before Him. He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.” I love those words from Mary. So friend, whatever cross you are bearing today, write the name of Jesus on it, call on Him as long as you live, and keep bursting with God-News and dancing the song of your Savior.
February 8, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and has this ever happened to you? Okay, here’s the scene—tell me if you see yourself in it, okay? It was just a few weeks ago and I wheeled up to the kitchen table with every intention of spending about a half hour or so in my Bible. Before I had a chance to open the Word, sitting right there on the table, my eyes glanced to a couple of catalogs which had arrived in the mail that morning. Now, I love Coldwater Creek and immediately I spotted this brightly colored blouse on the cover. Under that was a Soft Surroundings catalog and I started thinking about the fitted sheets on our bed, and how the elastic is starting to fray. That’s when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my Bible again. A little stab of guilt made me whisper a quick prayer; Oh Jesus, I know, I know I'll get to my reading, I promise, but I just want to take a minute to glance through these catalogs.” Twenty minutes later, I still had my nose in the magazines. I'm ashamed to say, my time in the Bible was pushed aside. And this is why I have learned to pray Psalm 119:36, "[Lord], incline my heart unto your testimonies, and not to covetousness." Friends, there are days when I don't even want to pick up the Bible. But I know if I succumb to a ho-hum attitude toward the Word of God, my spirit will shrivel, my faith will shrink, and my hope will become dull and dim. Like you, I have experienced those dry seasons of the soul when the Bible holds no interest and you and I know that’s not good! Yes, I confess, I will get sidetracked now and then and yes, by something as innocuous as Coldwater Creek. And that’s exactly why I find myself constantly pleading, "Lord, don't let me get away with this! Put the 'want-to' in my heart, persuade my heart, bring it around, predispose my heart and prompt it. I know you won’t give up on me, Holy Spirit, so please, incline my heart to your Word and don't let me covet anything in its place, especially something as stupid as a clothes catalog!" Another good prayer to offer up is from Psalm 86, "Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name." You know, it’s hard to find undivided hearts these days, even among Christians. Maybe it’s this age of social media or everything on demand; maybe it’s that next shiny object. All these things have lessened our attention span, and our hearts become fragmented, easily distracted, they go every which way. I'm thinking about laundry to pick up, a project to finish for Sunday school, a birthday card I need to put in the mail, a "warning" light on my dashboard that needs to get checked. So many things vie for my heart's attention. I just have to ask God to gather the fragments, pull my heart together, and unite it to fear His name. How about you? Do you have an undivided heart toward the Lord? If, when it comes to reading the word, you find that your heart has gone AWOL, then ask God to go grab it, unite it, incline it, persuade it; ask God to bring it around; give it a good shake so that the King of glory might be the Lord of your heart. Give God full reign to rule it. Invite Him to sit on the throne of your heart. And then, when the Holy Spirit whispers to you, “Put down those magazines, that catalogs (or, turn off that TV, or now’s not the time for a snack, or listening to your playlist, or raiding the refrigerator, whatever), when the Holy Spirit whispers it, you will be inclined, more inclined to obey. And hey, if you need more inspiration, you just have to go to my blog today at joniandfriends.org. Again, that’s my blog at joniandfriends.org.
February 7, 2019
A disability doesn’t have to destroy you – that’s today’s issue on "Joni and Friends". Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and I'll be the first to confess: when you get that bad medical report, when you learn the broken neck means paralysis, when you hear you have some terminal disease, when any of these physical hardships hit you broadside, it can come close to breaking you. I’ve experienced many of these things and Jesus is right when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Because this world is so very broken, and God wired it to be very difficult. Disability is part of it and it is not easy. And it’s the little things that can get you down -- like this battle with cancer you know I'm going through right now? It’s making it harder for me to feed myself with my right arm where the muscles have been weakened where I had the tumor removed. Suddenly something that I had taken for granted for decades has been taken away from me – so for the first time, as I sit at the dining room table with Ken (having to feed myself everything on my plate), well… let’s just say Ken has to help me, and sometimes he has to have the Kleenex nearby, because it’s just so disappointing. But I have learned these many years that embracing God in the midst of a physical affliction involves a lifetime of small choices. And if you are going through a physical hardship right now, I invite you to join me in committing to four simple things: First, give thanks to God for great and small things. I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that in everything we are supposed to give thanks. So as I’m sitting there at the dining room table, I’m thanking God -- but I can’t feed myself as well as I used to. It prevents bitterness from getting a toehold. Next, if you want to learn how to embrace God in the midst of a disability, learn to look out for other’s interests before your own. I often say to Ken: “No, no, it’s your turn to take a bite of your own food.” Philippians Chapter 2 tells us to do that, even though a disability seems to scream for your own attention; even though your arthritis or autoimmune disease can turn your focus inward, learn to resist that temptation, and always think about other’s needs. I’ll encourage Ken ‘Oh, take a break from helping me, you help yourself.’ Another tip: Take responsibility. Galatians Chapter 6 tells us that we need to carry the load that God gives us. Yes, there are many ways others can share your burden, but you are the one who must face your own physical limitations head-on. So as much as possible, manage the needs surrounding your disability. Are there things you can do for yourself? Then do them (I tell you, trying to feed myself with weak muscles is not easy. More food spills on my lap than gets in my mouth). But I want to encourage you as the weeks have gone by and as I am getting near to the end of radiation, I am able to feed myself a lot better and I was never so thankful as when I was finally able to feed myself again with my right arm). Finally, if you want to learn how to embrace God in your hardship, then don’t forget to have hope in your future. God's plans are not to harm your soul, but to strengthen it, to refine and mature your soul. Friend, our cynical world is looking for Christians who will act on their beliefs and exhibit grace in hardship. So I’d like you to join me in this challenge. After all, He does have the final word. God gives it and the word is ‘hope’. Hey, if you’d like to learn how to help people with disabilities like me, then contact joniradio.org and ask for your free copy of “Start with Hello.” Because there’s so much hope available for anyone with a disability, and I should know having had to learn to feel myself all over again. So go to joniradio.org today and ask for the free booklet “Start with Hello.”
February 6, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni with an interesting observation about the apostle Paul. You and I both know that Paul has got to be one of the best examples in Scripture of what it means to follow Jesus, and follow him closely. Yes, you are very much like Paul when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit; when you are out there doing great spiritual conquests, when you are energized by the Word, and you just can’t stop talking, you can’t stop singing, you can’t stop witnessing about Jesus. All this makes you feel filled with God’s power, and even your faith seems enlarged, like anything is possible. That’s like Paul because he is just like that in the book of Acts. The golden days of Paul's ministry are recorded in Acts. It seemed no effort for him to be wide awake at midnight in a jail cell, earnestly praying despite his weary, aching body feeling weighted by chains. Even then, especially then, he was singing hymns at the top of his lungs. Scripture tells us the jail doors flew open and everyone's chains fell off. Prisoners applauded him, and the jail keeper, whom God saved instantly, even invited him to his house. Things were looking up! There were countless spiritual victories; miraculous healings and huge advancements on the mission field. This new fledgling church was growing and Paul’s preaching kept bringing more and more into the fold. No wonder Paul was filled to overflowing with joy. But then, time goes by and if you look closer at his last epistle, you see a different, a softer side. Sure, Paul was in jail again when he wrote Second Timothy. But this time there was no loud singing, there was no miracle, there was no escape. Winter was approaching and Paul felt old and tired. Deserted by his friends, he struggled against sickness. Even his companion Trophimus was sick, yet Paul couldn't do a thing to heal his friend. He couldn't even heal himself! Yet the old apostle didn't allow discouraging circumstances to get him down. Things were not the same as the "golden days of old," yet he hung on courageously to God, sharing honestly with his readers about his need for prayer. He isn’t too proud to admit that he is in dire need of spiritual support, for he writes in his 2nd epistle in the 4th chapter, "For I am being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, but do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me." You can almost hear the weariness and even a little bit of loneliness in his words. And there’s a lesson from Paul’s life for us. Because some days you feel like life is on the up-swing, and other days it's totally flat. Sometimes you sense the miracle in your life, and other times everything seems very ordinary. Are you energized today to meet a challenge head-on? Or do you feel tired and trapped? Life's circumstances can make you feel like a yo-yo, can’t they, but don't allow the "ups and downs" to get you down. Learn a lesson from the apostle Paul at both ends of his wonderful ministry. Don’t look at your situation; just keep looking at your Savior. Just keep committing to God to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep up the faith no matter what your age might be. Let us hear from you today on my radio page at joniandfriends.org.
February 5, 2019
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In Isaiah God tells us that he created us to make him famous, but how do suffering and weakness fit in? Throughout Scripture God deliberately uses the most unlikely characters to complete his work so that when the mission is accomplished all the glory goes to him. Hard times drive us to our knees, and through desperation we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and his strength is revealed. If we never face fear, how can we know courage? If we never had to weep, we would never know the beauty of having a friend wipe away our tears. God took a teenage girl’s poor decision and turned it into a 50-year mission of love and justice in his name and for his glory.

About Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope is a broadcast ministry of Joni and Friends committed to bringing the Gospel and practical help to people impacted by disability around the world. Joni and Friends has been advancing disability ministry for over 40 years. Their mission to glorify God, communicate the Gospel and mobilize the global church to evangelize, disciple and serve people living with disability answers the call found in Luke 14 to “bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame… so that my house will be full.”

About Joni Eareckson Tada

Paralyzed as the result of a diving accident at age 17, Joni Eareckson Tada envisions a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ. As the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, she is known worldwide as an author, speaker, disability rights advocate and radio personality. Her 10,000 radio programs are broadcast across the country and around the world, inspiring listeners to realize that there is hope in every hardship.
Joni Eareckson Tada is an esteemed Christian stateswoman and respected global leader in disability advocacy. Although a 1967 diving accident left her a quadriplegic, she emerged from rehabilitation with a determination to help others with similar disabilities. Mrs. Tada serves as CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization which provides programs and services for thousands of special-needs families around the world. President Reagan appointed Mrs. Tada to the National Council on Disability, then reappointed by President George H.W. Bush. During her tenure, the ADA was passed and signed into law. Mrs. Tada served as advisor to Condoleezza Rice on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department. She served as Senior Associate for Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The Colson Center on Christian Worldview awarded Joni Tada its prestigious William Wilberforce Award, and she was also inducted into
Indiana Wesleyan University’s Society of World Changers. 
Joni Eareckson Tada has been awarded several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humanities from Gordon College and Doctor of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. She is an effective communicator, sharing her inspirational message in books, through artwork, radio, and other media. Joni Tada served as General Editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition published by Tyndale for people affected by disability. Joni and her husband Ken were married in 1982 and reside in Calabasas, California.

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