Meeting Jesus

Acts 26

 

I find Paul’s defense for his actions in this chapter so compelling. He is brought before King Agrippa because of accusations made by the Jewish leaders. Paul was preaching about Jesus, which made the Jewish officials furious because they thought he was preaching against the law of Moses, the Jewish faith. The sad part is that the Pharisees and Paul believed in the same God and shared the same faith. How could they be so opposed, and the Pharisees so angry that they wanted Paul to fry?

Paul grew up in a devoted Jewish family. He was highly trained in the Jewish faith. He studied so many years, and in such great depth that he became a leader in the faith, he was a Pharisee himself. The difference between Paul’s faith and the Pharisee’s faith in Acts 26 is that Paul met Jesus. We say it in this blog all of the time, but Jesus changes everything!  Paul’s story in Acts 26 is a perfect example. Paul was doing everything he could to oppose the very name of Jesus as the rest of the Pharisees did also. He sent Christians to prison and condemned them to death for their faith in Jesus. Until he met Jesus himself, Paul did everything he could to follow the Jewish law.

Paul was on a trip for official business when a light from heaven shone down on him and he heard a voice speaking to him. Jesus asked Paul why he was persecuting Him. Paul asked who was speaking to him and Jesus replied that He was the One that Paul was persecuting. Jesus told him, “ I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. I am sending you to open their eyes, so they may turn from the darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.” This interaction with Jesus changed Paul. He made a one hundred-eighty degree turn. Instead of persecuting Christians, he began teaching about Jesus and helping people to become followers of Jesus. This abrupt change after Paul met Jesus is what I find so compelling. This one hundred-eighty degree turn had to have been what grabbed people’s attention. When a known persecutor starts teaching how to be come what he persecuted yesterday, people want to know why!

Paul goes on to explain to King Agrippa that after his change in teaching, some Jews arrested him and tried to kill him. Paul tells Agrippa that, “God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest.  I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen-that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”

The difference between Paul’s faith and the Pharisee’s faith was Jesus. After meeting Jesus, Paul understood that Jesus was the fulfillment of Jewish prophesy. The conversation with Jesus on that road to Damascus opened Paul’s eyes so he could see that Jesus was God and not someone to fear or feel threatened by. The Pharisees were stuck clinging tightly to what they had been taught instead of being willing to consider who Jesus really was.

After hearing Paul’s defense, Agrippa asks Paul, “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” Paul responded, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.” I pray that everyone reading this post today might become like Paul, changed by Jesus.

Jesus is for Every One

Acts 10

Acts 10 speaks with great detail about God’s clear message delivered to multiple people that Jesus’ sacrifice was a gift to all people. God wants to be certain that people of every race and religious background hear of his great gift. God makes it very clear in this chapter that He shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. Jesus is Lord of all and He sees no differences between any people groups. In Acts 10:42 Peter tells us that “Jesus ordered us (the disciples) to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all-the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”

Since we don’t really face the same cultural stigmas today between Jews and Gentiles as the people living during the time when this chapter was written, I think we need to ask ourselves how this teaching applies to us and why it is included in God’s word. He clearly wanted us to get this message…why? God knows our hearts. He made us with human nature and He knows how we think. My guess is He knew that people throughout time would struggle with judging each other. When we make assumptions about others by how things appear and then adjust our actions accordingly, we are forgetting that Jesus is for everyone. When we shy away from pursuing conversations because of fear, we are ignoring that God shows no favoritism. Do you relate?

 

Matthew 7:1 (paraphrased by Sarah Young) says, “Come to me and rest. Give your mind a break from its habitual judging. You form judgments about this situation, and that situation, this person, and that person, yourself, even the weather-as if judging were your main function in life. But I created you first and foremost to know Me and to live in rich communication with Me. When you become preoccupied with passing judgment, you usurp My role.”

 

I am confident that if we live in rich communication with Him we will struggle less with judging others or trying to gage their openness to God, and we will lovingly move to sharing Jesus with who ever God places in our path. When we spend time getting to know more of God’s heart, we start to see others the way He sees them. It is not for us to decide how God’s message will be received. Our reputations do not factor in to God’s command to share His message with everyone. When we see others with the lavish love that God has for all of His creation we can’t help but let them know about His offering for them. Let’s watch for the opportunities that God puts in front of us today to share His story.

Remain in Me

 

John 15-16

I’ve spent the better part of this week reading a book written by a Christian woman named Jackie Hill Perry. Her words have been challenging me and simultaneously filling me with awe as I have taken in her story and watched how God’s word has affected her life. As I read John 15 and 16 today, I was reminded of Jackie’s obedience when she read or heard God’s word. John 15:9-10 say,

” Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

To remain in God’s love we need to obey the commandments that we know God has given us. As we continue to read scripture and learn more of His commands, we need to obey those also. Our lives should look different as we learn more and more of God’s commands. I don’t know about you, but I find struggle in this. Some commands are easier than others for me to choose to obey, but when I am honest, I have to admit that I have stalled out on change in some areas of my life. My aim is to continue to change and obey more, but I stumble and in some areas, I get stuck in the mire of temptation to continue on in my sin. Jackie says this about temptation, “Just because we are tempted does not mean that we ARE our temptations. We are what the cross has declared us to be: forgiven. Temptations have a voice but so does the Living God. The Scriptures-God breathed and eternally profitable-have the final say on the identity of the saint.” Powerful words for sure, but the beauty of Jackie’s story is that she actually made the change. She doesn’t let temptation win and she chooses to obey God’s commands.

John 15:11 goes on to say, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” God doesn’t want us to obey Him because He wants what he wants. He wants us to obey His commands because He knows it will benefit us. He loves us and wants His best for us. He made us and knows what is best for our lives and what will bring us joy and fulfillment. Jackie’s explanation of obeying God is this, “Christianity seemed in the beginning to be a religion of just duty. I’d met to many disciples who preached more of sin than joy, whose eyes were stuck in a constant state of solemnity, clenched teeth and an endless fascination with holiness. Why hadn’t they ever mentioned the place happiness had with righteousness, or how the taking up of the cross would be a practice of obtaining delight? Delight in all that God is? Even their Savior had this kind of joy in mind as He endured the cross. So why hadn’t they set their focus on the same? In their defense, they were not to blame for my unbelief. I just wonder if they would have told me about the beauty of God just as much, if not more, than they told me about the horridness of hell, if I would have burned my idols at a faster pace. I was able to want God because the Holy Spirit was after my affections just as much as He was after my obedience. Sin had had my attention because it had my heart. In it, I did not merely put up with sin but I loved it. Delighted in it. Adored it. But this ability to love was not given to me in vain. Lest someone believe that to be sinless one should be loveless. The intention behind my ability to love at all was for it to be lavished on the loveliest One alive and in Him that love was safe. Through the Holy Spirit, not only could I see God and His glory with a smile on my face, but I could also see sin for the liar that it was.”

 

I am trusting today that this woman’s explanation challenges and encourages you to remain in God as it did for me.

Light

 

John 1

Is the dimness of this world weighing heavily on your mind? Is the darkness of politics and injustices filling you with fear and anxiety? Do the unfairnesses you see worry you for the future? Are our circumstances surrounding the virus at this point in time seeming never ending? I had a discussion with one of my kids last weekend and they were asking me if I have ever lived through a darker time in my life than what we are currently facing. The question made me evaluate and think on some pretty heavy topics. I didn’t expect to still be thinking on the question days later so as I prepped for this post and read the first 18 verses of John 1, I unexpectedly experienced peace and calm wash over my troubled spirit.

 

“In the beginning the Word (Jesus) already existed. Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. Jesus gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

So Jesus became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”

 

God has always existed. He knows everything from before the beginning of the world. I can’t even make sense of that statement. I can’t grasp that God was before time. Any shred of understanding I can try to apply floods me with relief from the trouble of this world. He was here, He is still here and He will be here in the future. He has seen it all and His life brought light to everyone. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” Our world cannot rid itself of God. Do you feel the comfort and relief that vs 5 speaks into our lives? It is hope! We are not abandoned or alone. He is with us. He understands our fears and anxiety. The One who is with us gives blessing after blessing from His abundance. Our world’s darkness can never extinguish His light. He prevails! I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of this daily!! (Especially if I watch the evening news!) I need to cling to the fact that Jesus shines in the darkness of our world. I need for my kids to know the hope that in the end Jesus prevails. This definitely does not mean that all will go smoothly for us and that our worries are over. Actually I think our world will get much darker than it currently is in the future. But Light shines in the darkness. He is our hope.

Money, Money, Money

Today’s reading is Luke 12

In Luke 12, Jesus spends most of His time teaching about the use and value of money. This is not surprising when we think about the fact that every day we make decisions that require the use of money. Look at your day…watch how many times you mindlessly swipe your credit card, write a check, transfer funds for a bill payment, order amazon, pick up lunch while you are out, fill your gas tank, stop at the grocery store. The list is long for ways we spend money daily and it doesn’t even include the big stuff of life that we plan for and stew over for weeks months or years before purchasing- houses, cars, kids college, retirement, vacation, a new roof, appliances…you get the picture. My guess is that some of us feel nervous and anxious just reading through the list. There is always something in life that we are stressing over because we don’t have the money that it takes to accomplish it, we haven’t saved what we had planned to save for a given event, or an emergency took funds that were allocated for another need. We need money on a daily basis and we spend a lot of our thought time trying to figure out how to make our money stretch to meet all of our needs and some of our wants. No wonder Jesus spends so many verses talking about money and trying to help us understand how we should be thinking about it.

Vs 6-“What is the price of five sparrows-two copper coins? Yet God doesn’t forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

Vs 15-“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Vs 21- “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Vs 22-“I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.” (vs 25) “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (vs 26) If worry can’t accomplish a little thing like today’s food or clothing, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?”

Vs 28-“If God cares so wonderfully for the flowers that are here today and thrown in the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

Vs 29-“Don’t worry about what you will eat or drink, your Father already knows your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”

Vs 32-“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the kingdom.”

Vs 33-“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.”

Vs 34-“Whereever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Vs 48-“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

 

Quite a few of these statements of Jesus are contrary to what our culture and times would advise. Some don’t even make sense on this earth. Jesus is trying again though His teachings on money to help us see that this earth is not our home. Our goal should not be to live our best and most fulfilling lives…our goal and focus needs to be on God and His framework for this “mist” of a life on earth so we can properly prepare for eternity in heaven with Him.

 

So let’s take a few more minutes to read back through Jesus’ words printed above and look at them with a heavenly lens instead of our default earthly lens.

We Matter

 

Today’s reading is Mark 16

 

On Monday, Chet wrote about Peter’s betrayal of Jesus and Jesus’ beautiful example of forgiveness of Peter before Peter even betrayed Jesus. Today I want to look at what happened after Peter betrayed Jesus.

Peter told Jesus “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Peter responded, “NO even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” Then a few verses later in the chapter we find out that on separate occasions, Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times in one night. Peter heard the rooster crow and then Jesus’ words flash through his mind. He was faced with the realization that he had actually done exactly what he had emphatically declared to Jesus’ face that he would never do. He broke down and wept. Does your heart go out to Peter? Mine does! I promise myself and sometimes others that I won’t do or say something, and then before I know it, I find myself doing or saying exactly what I said I wouldn’t. It is bad enough to break a promise to our selves but poor Peter broke a promise to Jesus…and then Jesus was killed! Can you imagine the pain and shame he must have been filled with for the three days that Jesus was gone? Peter had no way to seek forgiveness or reassurance from Jesus because He was dead. I can only imagine how small Peter must have felt before God and his friends. He must have been devastated and broken. Then Mark 16:7 tells us that the angel in Jesus’ grave told the ladies who had come to prepare Jesus’ body for burial that Jesus was risen from the dead. The angel told the ladies to go and tell Jesus’ disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee, you will see Him there. Do you see the forgiveness and redemption in those two words between the commas? The angel said, “including Peter”. God new the shame that was debilitating Peter at this moment in time and He chose to be clear, that Peter was still included in Jesus posy. If this doesn’t display God’s personal love for us, then I don’t know what does. In the midst of our messiest messes he reaches out and offers us help and redemption if we choose to take Him up on His offer. Also proof that we can’t earn His gifts of relationship and forgiveness. He loves us just as we are no matter how broken or messed up we are. The sweet, sweet story of the gospel of Christ!

Let’s sit with that for a moment. We matter to the creator of the universe. Our feelings, thoughts and actions are known to the Almighty, and He acts in our stead to save, protect and love each of us. At this very moment He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand listening to us, considering our circumstances and guiding those of us who seek Him. I can think of no better way to be encouraged this morning than to spend some time soaking in the truth that I matter to Jesus…so much so that He gave His life to make a way for me to have relationship with Him, His Father, and The Spirit.

What Are You Willing To Do?

 

Today’s reading is Mark 2

 

The first story in Mark 2 has become one of my favorites in last 10-20 years. The miracle that Jesus performs in this passage is astounding! Jesus completely reverses terrible physical circumstances in a man’s life. While I am awed by Jesus’ handiwork, the part of this story that challenges me and encourages me isn’t as much about the miracle as it is the faith and tenacity of this man’s friends. Jesus was preaching to a group of people in someone’s house. The house became packed full with people wanting to hear what He had to say. The crowd was spilling outside the door into the yard. While Jesus was preaching four men showed up carrying one of their friends who was paralyzed. When the friends realized they couldn’t get the man to Jesus because of the crowd, they literally pulled some tiles off of the roof so they could make a hole in the ceiling of the house and lowered the man on his mat right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus forgave the man’s sins and after a discussion with the teachers of religious law, He told the paralyzed man, “ Stand up, pick up your mat and go home”. The man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked through the stunned onlookers. Jesus changed the rest of this guy’s life by healing him.

This paralyzed man’s friends were willing to carry him to the place that Jesus was speaking. The passage doesn’t tell us the distance that they had to travel to get to the house but let’s be honest here, carrying the weight of a man on rug seems precarious at best and the thought of offering that for even a city block makes my back hurt. Next, when they realize that they couldn’t walk him right up to Jesus because of the crowd, they devise a plan to get their friend the help that they believe he needs most. They are willing to climb up on the roof, damage some guy’s house, hook up ropes to the rug and lower their friend down to Jesus. Don’t you wish you could have been privy to the conversation that hatched that plan? These friends cared about this guy enough to inconvenience themselves, make some physical sacrifices, risk financial cost in damaging the homeowners roof, and give of their time to make this miracle possible for their friend. Makes me wonder what we are willing to do to get those we care about to Jesus.

Several years ago I did a Beth Moore study on the book of Luke. This same story is told in Luke 5, and Beth’s comments on this scenario are what developed my love for this story. I’ve already covered the literal implications for us to consider as we look at what this man’s friends were willing to do to help him get to Jesus, but in the Luke Study, Beth talked about how this story translates for us since we don’t physically have Jesus present. She stated that sometimes the way we can best help those we care about is to “put them on mat” of prayer and “carry them to Jesus”. The concept that stuck with me most from this study is that we can “carry others to Jesus” without their consent or agreement. We have the freedom to set anyone we choose on that mat and carry them in prayer to the One who we know can help them the most. This is powerful! As a young mom I clung to the idea of putting my kids on the mat and sometimes “dragging” them to Jesus when I didn’t know what else to do to help them change their hearts. Since I was gifted this concept or word picture, I have told God in prayer, more times that I can count that I am “putting ______ on the mat, and bringing them to You”.  Can your mind be relieved of worry for someone you are concerned about? Are you at a loss for tangible ways to help someone you care about? Are you beyond your abilities in helping or too far away to help a loved one? We have the option to put anyone we want to on that mat and carry them to Jesus.

Our Hearts Matter

Matthew 15 and 16

 

Looking at Matthew this morning, the theme that repeats over and over is that our hearts matter. The beliefs that we hold, the thoughts that motivate us to act (faith) and the relationship we foster with Jesus are what make up our “hearts”. Jesus addresses our hearts over and over again in these two chapters to help us understand that our actions aren’t as meaningful to Him as our motivation for choosing those actions is to Him. He cares about our hearts and why we chose to do what we do more than the face value of our actions.

 

Matthew 15: 8-9 tells us Jesus’ response to the Pharisees when they ask a question trying to lead Him into a verbal trap so they can appear smarter and more Godly than Jesus does. Jesus quotes Isaiah’s prophesy, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.” Jesus’ point is so simple. The question doesn’t even matter to Jesus…it doesn’t deserve a response because the Pharisees hearts were so far off base. They were looking to elevate themselves over seeking Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want us to be smart rule followers, He wants us to love Him and seek Him. Next Jesus turns the Pharisees underminded question into a learning opportunity for the crowd around. He explains to the crowd that the state of their hearts is what gets them in trouble, not the breaking of the rules of the day. He says that the words we speak come from our hearts and that is what defiles us. “From the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” The ugly actions come after the decision to do wrong is decided in our hearts. It is easy to tell our selves that a poor choice or selfish action just “happened”. We often lie to ourselves in believing that we had no control over a choice. The situation was moving fast and we didn’t have time to think, we just responded. The truth is two fold in these cases. One, if we are seeking God on a daily basis, our hearts are more likely to react as His would in a given situation. Two, there is always a choice made.

 

So lets look at Jesus’ heart in the remainder of the chapters. Jesus knew the heart and faith of the woman coming to Him for healing in her daughter. He told her that her faith was great and granted her request. He saw the hunger needs of the crowd listening to Him speak for three days, and met their physical need of food to sustain them on their trip home. He called out the deceptive and accusing hearts of the Pharisees a second time and then used their selfish hearts as a real life lesson to His group of disciples. Jesus renamed Simon Peter the “rock” that He will build His church upon when Peter voices that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of the living God and two paragraphs later Jesus called Peter “Satan” for seeing the situation merely from a human point of view, not from God’s. It may appear that Jesus is contradictory or hard to figure out in chapter 16 if you only consider His words. His words are contradictory! For a person to go from a “rock” to “Satan” is a 180 degree turn. So we have to look at Peter’s heart, the motivation behind those contradictory words to see the explanation for the abrupt change in Jesus’ response. When Peter’s heart is understanding who God is and what He is capable of, Peter is very much aligned with God’s heart. When Peter is speaking against what Jesus said (with the best of intentions) and saying that circumstances will be different than what Jesus just told them, Peter’s heart is putting himself in authority over God, and Jesus calls it out.

 

Our hearts are what matter to God. What we believe, who we have faith in, the motives that lead us to act and the desire we have for relationship with God is what God is looking at in each of us. He wants us to be His. He wants our hearts to be aligned with His heart.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 149

We celebrated Father’s Day last weekend. Throughout the weekend when I picked up my phone and scrolled through social media, most posts were related to the holiday. Kids were celebrating and honoring their fathers. They were writing words of gratefulness for the selfless acts of their dads and sharing memories of special adventures and everyday routines of love that they appreciated about their dads. Moms were praising their husbands for being awesome dads and posting videos of their husbands in their best fatherly moments. They were listing the reasons they most appreciated their husbands and the acts of service they found most endearing in their partners. I read many beautiful tributes to men from people who felt honored to be in family with great men…people who felt privileged to be able to share with the masses their love, honor and praise for their special man. Many of the Psalms read similarly to these Father’s Day posts. They are praising, honoring and documenting the attributes and acts that the Psalmists appreciate about our Heavenly Father. We’ve read almost 150 of them since the first of the year so we should be well versed in the hearts of these writers. We should be familiar with the words of praise and the honor they ascribe to our Father. The phrase that struck me this morning is “glorious privilege”. It is our glorious privilege to sing a new song to the Lord, to sing His praises with others, to rejoice in our Maker, to praise His name with dancing, to be delighted in by Him, to be crowned with victory by Him, to rejoice that He honors us, to sing for joy as we rest in bed and to let the praises of God be in our mouths! All are our glorious privilege!

 

As I read back over the list of praises described in this Psalm, I am overwhelmed by God’s love. I still, after almost 50 years of relationship with Him can hardly believe that the Creator of the universe delights in me. As I try to accept this one truth, my heart is filled with praise, gratefulness, wonder and awe. Out of 9 verses of truths and 150 chapters of truths in just this one book of the Bible, one sentence has the power to melt my heart and show me the value that God places on my life. Which truth undoes you?

 

My hope is that this past six months has changed the way we see and relate to our Heavenly Father. I trust that soaking in His praiseworthiness for so many days has renewed our sense of wonder and awe for who He is, how He relates to us, and what He has done for us. I hope we are more readily relishing in the glorious privilege of being His. I hope we are more grateful and aware of the good gifts He lavishes on us. I trust that praises of Him are running in our mental ticker throughout our days with less conscious effort on our part. I hope that spending this much time in one book of God’s word has made us different.

Regrets

Psalm 137

 

Do you look back over your life and feel any regret over choices you’ve made? Do you wish you had done anything differently? Do you pine over careers other than the one you chose? Do cities, states or countries other than where you live call to you for adventure and lifestyle? Do you wish you had met God sooner in your life? Can you think of specific circumstances that would have changed the trajectory of your life if you had consulted God and followed His guidance? Psalm 137 is a song of pain and regret. The Israelites mourned their choices of idolatry and disobedience to God while their lives were safe and good. These selfish and dishonoring choices landed them a humiliating march from their homeland to Babylon and forced captivity by cruel captors. Loved ones were killed. They lost almost everything they owned. The city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. They mourned the loss of their pleasant and blessed pasts. They were suffering, in pain and they were full of regret.

It is easier to see the good when we are experiencing the not so good. Sometimes we take good things for granted and assume they will always be good. It isn’t until those good things change or go away that we notice how much we enjoyed them, valued them or appreciated them. I recently read Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s book, “Where the Light Gets In” that tells of her experience living through her mom’s battle with a rare form of dementia. Kim was being emotionally and mentally knocked down every time her mom had an incident or lost another skill. Kim and her therapist came up with a new way of thinking for Kim to help her through the slow loss of her mother’s personhood. “Don’t look at what you’re not getting from your mother. Look at what you are getting.” Through the difficult circumstances of her mom’s deterioration she decided to view the “hard” as “not only an opportunity to love unconditionally, but her mom’s situation allowed her to practice being comfortable with what is uncomfortable. To grieve and also embrace what is broken. To know that some days she could receive who her mother is now and some days she struggled with it. She wanted things to be the way they were. Letting go of what used to be was the hardest act, and yet the most liberating.” While the pain and sadness in Kim’s life came from disease, not as consequences of disobedient choices she made, she responded with practical and Godly wisdom that applies to so many difficult circumstances that we may be facing because of poor choices or just tough circumstances.

~Instead of focusing on what we have lost, or what we     regret, look for the ways that God has protected, saved and preserved.

~Focus on loving others unconditionally instead of looking at what you have lost.

~Grieve the losses and let go of what used to be so you can move forward with healing and repair.

 

(It goes without saying that if we are in tough circumstances because we made poor choices, the first step needs to be asking for forgiveness from God and changing our actions from sin to right living. If we don’t make right our relationship with Him there will be no repair.  If others were wronged because of our poor choices, we will need to ask forgiveness from them also before steps can be taken to change our focus.)