Featured Stories

Weary Words

by Paula McBride

   The fourth-grader, Jason, scrunched his eyes closed and licked his lips as he concentrated on finding just the right word to describe the amazing game his Little League team played the night before. He was writing an essay for his English class, and there was a poster on the wall that listed words that he and his classmates were not allowed to use EVER! His teacher called them weary words, words overused and weak in descriptive effect. These were words like big and little, hot and cold, or good and bad. Jason was to find words like gigantic and miniature, scalding and freezing, or terrific and awful. He knew he couldn't write that the hit to right field was good. It was spectacular!

   Jason's teacher loves words and wants her students to enjoy the color, texture, and tone of different words and their meanings. I love words too, especially meaningful, descriptive words. Perhaps that's why I was bored with my newest assignment. Along with teens and other adult leaders, I was to memorize a set of Scriptures to use on a mission trip to Mexico. Trouble is, the verses were all weary words to me. I'd memorized these verses in Sunday School a million years ago! So what could I do? I decided to memorize them in Spanish. Oh, the beautiful shades of meaning when you get into another language!

   The first verse I memorized was Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It was easy since I knew most of the words and it translated nicely, but one word was new to me, the word “privados”. Privados is the word my Spanish Bible uses for the English “fall short”. In Spanish, sinning is more than falling short, or missing a mark on the target of God's purpose. The translation of privados (from Google Translate) that burned its way into my heart is bereft or deprived. All of a sudden, the familiarity of Romans 3:23 faded, and blazes of truth flooded my mind. I am bereft (left with nothing) of the glory of God if I remain in my sin! My sin has deprived me of the glory of God! I felt like Isaiah when he cried, “Woe is me! I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5).

   Imagine how the followers of Jesus felt after the arrest and crucifixion of their beloved rabbi. Bereft, empty, deprived of the hope that begun to root out their despair. The glory of God was gone, but the end of the story was not yet told. Death was defeated by the resurrection, glory restored, and hope renewed because Jesus is alive!

   After being overwhelmed by Romans 3:23, I went on to memorize verse 24 so the complete wonder of Christ's work could lodge in my soul. Again, it translates straight across, reminding us that because of the grace of God, we are justified freely by the redemption Christ performed that agonizing day on the cross. We are not bereft of the glory. Let's not let the familiarity or the weary words of the Easter story bore us this season. Let's immerse ourselves in the glory and wonder of the amazing grace that lifts us from our sins and translates us into everlasting life with Christ.

  The Greatest Purpose

by Seth Halpern


   Most of us have asked the question, at one time or another, “What is my purpose?” As believers, we might feel that we have to do something BIG for God to be instrumental in His Kingdom. We may feel that surely the pastor, teacher or evangelist has a purpose. But what about me? I especially hear this from people who have significant trials, whether physical, financial or relational. In their suffering, they often feel useless to God and without purpose.

   Recently, while spending time with the Lord, I got an answer to that question that changed my thinking on the purpose of trials and suffering. I believe God spoke to my heart saying this:

   “I am the one who allows the devil to cause you problems. Sometimes it is not my doing, but your own choices. Sometimes it is the sin in this world. Yes, I can stop it but just as I allowed it with my servant Job, I allow it with you for this reason: So that Satan can see my Glory through you. You are the best of my handiwork and while the planets and ocean may reveal my glory, nothing compares to the Glory displayed when my child continues to worship me, with joy, through their trials. The Enemy absolutely hates it because he sees My Glory in you and he hates ME more than he hates you! Your trials are not arbitrary, but serve the two-fold purpose of strengthening and growing your character, while also hurling a blow to Satan’s ego when he sees that I receive your worship even in difficult times. Your resistance causes him to flee and gives Glory to Me. There is no greater purpose you can have than to display MY Glory to the evil one!”

   This is of course a paraphrase of what I heard from the Holy Spirit. I was in too much awe to write it down verbatim in the moment. Yet, I want to encourage you, if you are experiencing doubt, anger, or discouragement due to trials, and you’re wondering why God is not using you. Fear Not, He IS! And He’s using you for His most glorious purpose!