One day, a very discouraged man visited Norman Vincent Peale. He told the good Reverend he had nothing to live for.
“Everything is gone, everything is hopeless. I’ve lost the heart for living.”
Norman Vincent Peale got a piece of paper, drew a vertical line in the middle, and said, “This is your life. Let’s write down a list of the things you’ve lost on the left side, and the things that you still have on the right side.”
The man shook his head, “You won’t need the right side. I have nothing left in my life.”
Norman Vincent Peale said, “When did your wife leave you?”
The man was shocked. “My wife didn’t leave me! She’s right here with me. My wife loves me!”
Norman said, “That’s fantastic! Let’s write that down as number one on the right side of the paper: ‘Wife with me’. Now tell me, “When did your kids go to prison…”
“Prison?” the man asked in “My kids are right here at home!”
“Fantastic! Let’s write it down here as number two: ‘Kids not in jail.’”
Norman continued asking similar questions, and the man got the point, and began to smile. He said, “I guess my life isn’t so bad after all!”
Perception Is Everything
Your perception of reality is your reality.
Your life has always two sides–a left side and a right side–the bad stuff happening and the good stuff happening.
A lot of people spend the whole day looking at the left side–the side where they list everything that’s wrong with their life. 24 hours a day, they think about it, meditate on it, analyze it, mull over it. That’s why they’re miserable.
Friend, make a decision to spend the whole day looking at the right side of your life.
I know. This is very difficult.
Especially when you fail.
There was a man who failed big time in the Bible…
You’re Like Peter
Peter was the Number 1 Apostle, the top man, the leader of the pack. And he prided himself as the bold one.
While everyone in the boat was terrified by the storm, he walked on water. While everyone couldn’t say who Jesus was, he proclaimed out, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”
Yet at the critical point, he failed.
When his loyalty was most needed, he turned chicken. He became a coward. How? He denied His Master three times.
When a maid said, “Hey, I know you. You’re with that guy Jesus, right?”
Peter said, “Je.. Je… Who are you talking about? Never heard of him. Sorry, wrong number.”
She said, “No, you’re the one. I don’t forget faces. I’m sure you’re the assistant of that guy Jesus who’s being tried right now and will most likely be crucified tomorrow.”
Peter cursed, “Heck, you’re mistaken, girl. I don’t know him!”
Imagine how terrible he felt after that night.
Imagine the guilt that ate up his soul.
Here’s my bet: For days, Peter was too hard on himself.
Like all of us, we are our own most cruel critic.
From my experience, our most toxic relationship is with ourselves. We are our worst enemy.
When we fail, we emotionally beat ourselves endlessly.
We label ourselves a “big loser”.
We curse ourselves to fail forever.
If Jesus Wasn’t Jesus…
Days later, Jesus rose from the dead.
And Jesus had this incredible conversation with Peter that showed us how God deals with our failures…
I love this scene!
Because Jesus didn’t focus on Peter’s failures.
If Jesus wasn’t Jesus, He’d say, “Peter, let’s talk about the night when you did that shameful thing of running away…”
“Oh gosh, Lord, I… I… I…”
“Tsk, tsk. I thought you were brave. Peter, you were a big, fat, 100%, unadulterated coward.”
“(Gulp) Well, uh, there was a lot of pressure that night, and…”
“And I thought I could count on you, Peter. I thought you were a loyal and faithful friend. Sheesh, was I mistaken.”
“I’m so sorry…”
“Shame on you, Peter. You don’t really love me.”
“Uh, I guess I don’t.”
“And my goodness, you denied me not once, not twice… but three times! What a weakling. What have you got to say for yourself?”
“I’m ashamed, Lord.”
“Oh, you better be….”
Jesus didn’t say those words.
In this conversation, Jesus focused on Peter’s love for him. He asked him three times, “Do you love me?” And when Peter answered yes, he said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Jesus didn’t believe that Peter’s denials defined him.
What was Jesus doing?
He wanted to tell Peter, “Hey, I know you really love me. I don’t focus on your failures. I don’t look at what you did wrong. I look at what you did right.”
God’s Focus Is Different From Ours
For so long, religion used to make people feel bad about themselves.
But that doesn’t come from God!
This message is very close to my heart.
Once upon a time, I used to call myself a failure.
Because I would focus on my weaknesses.
I would focus on my sins.
And the more I focused on my sins, the more I did them.
Until I became addicted to my sins.
You see, there are two kinds of guilt…
o Demonizing Guilt
o Detoxifying Guilt
The first guilt demonizes you. When you sin, demonizing guilt says, “You’re bad. There’s nothing good in you.”
The second guilt detoxifies you. It separates the sin from the sinner. When you sin, detoxifying guilt says, “This isn’t you. You’re better than this. Stand up. Move on!”
Demonizing guilt depresses you. It pushes you to sin even more. It’s the guilt of the addict.
Detoxifying guilt lifts you up. It pushes you to become who you really are.
Tell me now.
What kind of guilt do you have?
The World Likes Focusing On Your Weaknesses
One day, two women friends were talking…
Friend #1: “May balita ako sa ‘yo. Magaasawa na si Peklat kay Duling!” (I have news for you. Scar-face will get married to cross-eyed!)
Friend #2: “Talaga? Akala ko pa naman, ang magiging asawa ni Duling eh si Taba!” (Is that so? I thought Cross-eyed will get married to Fatso.)
Friend #1: “Hinde ah! Hindi mo ba alam na si Taba ay magiging pare in two years?” (That’s not true. Didn’t you know that Fatso would be a priest in two years?)
Friend #2: “Hah? Diba si Pango yung magiging pare?”
Friend #1: “Lumang balita na yan. Si Pango ngayon ay boyfriend ni Daldal!” (That’s old news. Flat-nose is now engaged with Motor-mouth!)
The Root Of Our Personal Problems
The world taught us to focus on our weaknesses.
And that’s why we like to focus on our weaknesses.
We hear this “voice recording” in our minds, saying…
“You’re too small.”
“You have too many pimples.”
“You’re nose is too big.”
“You’re not bright enough.”
“You don’t have enough talents.”
“You’re a mess.”
“You’re too weak.”
“You’re too poor.”
I’ve met a lot of people who don’t have a good opinion about themselves. And believe me, this is the root of most of their personal problems.
This is the root of why they have relationship struggles.
This is the root of why they’re trapped in mediocre living.
Your opinion of yourself is the most important opinion you’ll ever have.
Why? People will see you the way you see yourself.
Your Weakness Is God’s Redirection
Don’t be too hard on yourself because of your weakness.
Your weakness isn’t God’s rejection but God’s redirection.
Being weak in one area means that’s not where God wants you to serve. A weakness means you’re supposed to serve in another area.
I remember the story of this jobless man who applied to work as a janitor of a huge company.
After the HR manager interviewed him, he said, “You’re hired. Just give me your email address so I can email you the application form to fill…”
The man said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have an email address. I don’t know how to use the computer.”
“Then I’m sorry too,” said the HR manager, “if you don’t have an email, that means you don’t exist. And someone who doesn’t exist won’t get a job.”
The jobless man walked out of room totally discouraged.
He only had P300 in his pocket. That was all the money he had. He remembered his little daughter at home. He imagined her going hungry and decided to do something.
He went to the market and bought a box of tomatoes. He then went door to door, selling the tomatoes. In three hours, he was able to double his money to P600. He repeated the operation 3 times that day, returning home with P2400.
The man realized that he can survive this way!
Shortly after, he bought a cart, then a truck, and after a couple of years, he had his own fleet of delivery vehicles.
Ten years later, he was a big-time food distributor, a very successful and wealthy man.
At that time, a friend sold him life insurance.
When this wealthy man was filling out his insurance application form, it asked for his email address. He told his friend, the insurance agent, “I don’t have an email address.”
The friend said, “Wow, you don’t have an email, and yet you succeeded to build an empire. Can you imagine what you could have been if you had an email?”
The man thought for awhile and said, “Janitor.”
How My Weakness Showed Me How To Serve God
Because he had no email, he was rejected.
But that rejection was a redirection.
Let me tell you my story.
When I was growing up as a kid, I had a weakness.
According to my school teachers, I wasn’t very intelligent.
Because I didn’t like reading books.
I wasn’t a fan of books.
I’d rather watch TV and play with my toys.
But at the age of 12, something happened: I had a spiritual conversion. I came to know Jesus in a personal way.
That was when my mother asked me to read a small book entitled, Prison To Praise.
And for the first time, I actually opened the book not from school!
First of all, the book was a tiny, thin book.
Second, Mom said it was filled with exciting “miracle” stories.
That little book was a simple, true-to-life story of a worldly man who lived far away from God, who went to prison, came to know Jesus, and begun to live a life of praise.
The book was so simple, so easy to understand, I was hooked. When I finished it, I wanted to read more books about God. I remember reading Perfect Joy of St. Francis after that. And I never stopped reading ever since.
I realized that I wasn’t allergic to reading books.
I was just allergic to reading difficult books.
Like my textbooks in school.
Difficult books that had long words, long sentences, and long paragraphs. I felt the Authors were so intelligent, I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say.
And Then I Became An Author
When I hit 20, I wrote my first book.
And I wrote the kind of book that I would like to read.
It was a very thin book.
And I wrote using short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. And I told very simple stories.
Today, 19 books later, I still write in the same way.
And guess what? All my 19 books are bestsellers.
You know why I’m a successful author today?
Because I wasn’t too intelligent.
Imagine if I was intelligent.
Imagine if I liked reading difficult, scholarly books.
Then I’d probably write like that too.
Would I be able to reach the audience I’m reaching now?
Would I be able to write 19 bestselling books?
I don’t think so.
I thank God I’m not too intelligent.
Because my weakness has become my strength.
Your Weakness Will Bless The World
What is your weakness?
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
You’ll be surprised that your weakness will be the source of strength for others around you.
Once upon a time, there were two friends named Pok and Nat. Pok and Nat worked as Water Bearers. Each morning, they’d draw water from the well and deliver to their respective little barrios.
But Pok had a little problem. His pail was broken. It had a little crack and was leaking. So by the time he arrived in his barrio, his pail was already half-empty. And Pok had no money to buy a new pail, so he kept using it.
Because of his broken pail, Pok had to take double the trips Nat took. Nat would take 10 trips but Pok had to make 20.
But through it all, Pok kept smiling as he did his work.
One morning, Nat asked him, “Pok, why are you always smiling? I know that your pail is cracked. And you have no money to replace it.”
Pok said, “Take a look at the path I travel everyday. What do you see?”
Nat was shocked. All along the path, he saw a beautiful row of flowers!
“Because I knew my pail was cracked,” Pok said, “I planted flower seeds along the way. Everyday, as I walked this path, my pail watered these flowers. Tomorrow, I’ll harvest the flowers and sell them in the city.”
Why was Pok happy?
Because he found a way to use his weakness.
Friend, I ask you again.
What is your weakness?
What is your limitation?
What is your handicap?
Plant seeds beneath your weakness.
Soon, you’ll harvest them and prosper.
And the world will be a richer place because of your weakness.
Your weakness is a wonderful opportunity for God to manifest His power. The Bible says, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Jesus Takes What Peter Offers
One last thing.
Remember what I said above–about Jesus asking Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
You see, the English language has only one word for love.
The Greek language has four words for love. And two of those Greek words were used in this conversation: Agape and Filia.
Agape means God’s love, perfect and eternal.
Filia means the best of human love.
Here’s how the conversation went along…
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you agape me?”
Peter said, “I filia you.”
Jesus asked him again, “Do you agape me?”
Peter said again, “I filia you.”
Peter was honest. The painful wound of his three denials is still very raw in his conscience. He was telling Jesus, “I’m a mess, Lord. I can’t give you agape. But I’ll try to give you filia.”
On the third question, Jesus asked, “Peter, do you filia me?”
Jesus accepted what Peter could offer at that moment.
And today, he accepts what you offer to him, your weaknesses included.
Offer your life to Him today.
May your dreams come true,
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