Archive for July, 2011

Regrets Holding You Back?

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NRSV

The past is past. It is over and done, gone and forgotten.

….Or is it?

Does what’s in the past actually stay in the past?

What’s in my past stays in my memory. Then, when I least expect it, those memories sometimes pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. So the past is never really gone or forgotten.

MP900396104[1]That’s a good thing, especially when the memory is something I am proud of. Memories of accomplishments, awards and shared family moments all leave me feeling good about myself.

MP900401567[1]But not all memories are pleasant ones. Some of the most painful are those of failures and shortcomings. Those leave me with regrets. When they pop up, I find myself looking back, thinking how I could have behaved differently, responded more lovingly, used more wisdom, or been more patient.

Still, no matter how much I wish I could go back and make changes, I can’t. What I can do is to turn to Jesus Christ, and ask for his forgiving grace. His sacrificial love washes my heart clean, redeems my past, and frees me from the bondage of regret.

Yes, the past is in the past. But the past follows us, and continues to impact how we think, feel and behave. Only Jesus Christ can wipe our slate clean, free us from past regret, and give us new life and a new future.

Today’s video  chronicles some of the regrets many of us carry, and reminds us of the one who came to bear our burdens and set us free. To view the video please click here.

MP900401002[1]Then allow Jesus to heal your past, transform your present and set you on the path to eternal life!

 

Born To Love

Beloved, let us love on another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1John 4:7-8 NRSV

Every birth is a miracle. But every birth follows a basic principle: What was becomes what is. A woman gives birth to a child. A dog gives birth to a puppy. A sheep gives birth to a lamb. In each case, the newborn becomes what the parent was. If you want to know what the parent is like, just look at the child.

We not only inherit our physical characteristics, we are endowed with a spiritual inheritance too. When we experience rebirth into the new life offered by Jesus Christ, we inherit some of the basic characteristics of God’s nature.

If God is love, then we will love too. What God is, becomes what we are.

So be who you are. Do what you were born to do. Love!

 

Born

Love Like Jesus Loved

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 NRSV

MP900399820[1]A week or two ago I was talking to a colleague about ways I could help a student in one of my classes. The response from my colleague was, “Be careful, no good deed goes unpunished.” I had never heard that phrase before. Do good deeds end up being punished?

Good deeds often involve acts of mercy. Merciful acts can be quite loving and beautiful acts of charity. Jesus’ self-sacrificing decision to come to earth, so that we might live, was certainly a great act of mercy.

MP900400146[1]Still, it did not go unpunished. Instead of being welcomed, Jesus found himself the target of religious hatred, and the innocent victim of humankind’s depraved indifference to God. His good deed was punished by death.

Knowing how it would all turn out, did Jesus turn away from God’s calling? Of course not. He continued to follow God faithfully, even to the cross.

The problem is, we are not Jesus. When faced with an opportunity to show mercy, we sometimes shy away from paying the price. We would rather avoid the problems and pain that come with love. We take the road that is less rocky, and less difficult.

Jesus warned against putting our hands to the plow and looking back. For those who would follow Jesus Christ, our call to love must trump the sometimes painful and difficult sacrifices that come with living like Jesus lived. Doing what Jesus asks of us isn’t always the most logical decision, or easiest thing to do. But it is the wise thing!

MP900178883[1]I am not Jesus. But like you I want to become more like him. Why not join me in asking God for the wisdom and grace to love more like Jesus loved, no matter what the consequences may be.

What’s Freedom For?

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5 NRSV

42-15649637July 4 was more than a week ago. The booms and bangs of fireworks have faded. The picnic suppers have been cleaned up, and the patriotic songs put away until next year. But that’s okay, because we paused to remember and celebrate the precious freedoms we have, and the many blessings our country enjoys.

Perhaps the greatest freedom we enjoy is the freedom to believe in God, and to pledge our allegiance to Jesus Christ! So after the fife and drums are packed away, we have to take our hand off our heart, and put it in the hand of the Good Shepherd. Then, and only then, will we be able to fully enjoy the freedoms our country affords. Then, and only then, will we be truly free!

Today’s video illustrates that message through a father’s prayer for his son. Click here to view it. Then pledge your allegiance once again to Jesus Christ!

Do As I Do

“I give you a new command, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  John 13:34 NRSV

Jewish torah scroll in coverGod gave Moses ten commandments. Then Jesus said that loving God with your whole heart soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself was the greatest commandment. Finally, near the end of his ministry,  Jesus adds something new. He not only tells his disciples to love, he tells them how far they are to go with love. Jesus lets them know that they are to love in exactly the same way that he has loved them. They are to go as far as he goes to show love!

Do what Jesus did.

As Jesus says this, during the intimate moments of the Last Supper, he is keenly aware that in just a few short hours he will be taken away. Jesus knows that he is about to die, be raised up and then ascend into heaven. He also knows that where goes, his followers cannot follow.

So what are they supposed to do when he leaves? Jesus makes it clear: They are supposed to love one another with exactly the same kind of love that Jesus has loved them with!

MP900431741[1]This means that they are to love with a love that is patient and kind. They are to love with a love that is not envious, boastful, arrogant or rude. They are to love with a love that is not irritable or resentful. They are to love with a love that does not insist on its own way. They are to love with a love that does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the truth. They are to love with a love that sacrifices and forgives. They are to love with a love that hopes all things, believes all things and bears all things. They are to love with a love that lasts until death, even when it means a death on the cross.

Love like Jesus loved.

This is the love that Jesus loved them with since they began walking together. This is the love that will show the world that they are in fact his disciples! Yes, with this kind of love the world will come to know Jesus!

MP900438973[1]Love is the defining characteristic of Jesus Christ, and it is the identifying mark of his disciples! So, let’s do what Jesus did, let’s love! Let’s spread some kindness. Let’s believe the best about each other. Let’s rejoice in each other’s successes, and faithfully bear each other’s sufferings. Let’s hope together, and believe together.

A commandment is not a suggestion or a principle. It is a command. Every Christian is called to do Jesus’ work, and we are to follow his command!

Why not show the world how much you love Jesus? Go ahead and love his children. Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Share the love that he gave to you with everyone you meet!

Do Love, Today!

Prayer:

Loving Savior, I want to love others the way you love me. Make me a servant who welcomes instead of rejects,  who loves instead of judges, and who builds up instead of tears down. Make me more like you!

Amen.

Loving

Knowing Precedes Going

I run the way of your commandments, for you enlarge my understanding. Psalm 119:32 NRSV

MP900409394[1]Many people turn to professionals for advice and counsel. As a psychologist, I have seen numerous people at the end of their ropes, who just didn’t know what else to do. I imagine they hope that I will have the answer they need. But what usually happens is that the more we talk, the better they come to understand their situation. That insight opens the door to identifying effective solutions.

Even though many of us will never seek professional counseling, I wonder if the one of the most common prayers we pray is, “What should I do, which way should I go?” We all know that having God’s guiding hand at work in our lives can make all the difference. So we wisely turn to God, and ask for God’s guidance and help.

MP900321197[1]But knowing what to do and where to go isn’t just a matter for earnest prayer. The psalmist discovered that knowing what way to go also depends on understanding God’s commands. The more we understand about God’s nature and will, as revealed in the Scriptures, the easier it becomes to discern the way our lives should go! Insight precedes solutions.

Not only that, but the more we enlarge our understanding, the less we depend on urges, impressions and intuition. Knowing God and understanding God’s ways opens our eyes, grounds our minds in truth and sensitizes our hearts to the Spirit’s work. When that happens, we are in a much better position to recognize the roads God wants us to travel.

MP900400642[1]The psalmist runs the way of God commandments, because God has given him understanding. For him, knowing precedes going. That tells me I need to spend more time, not just seeking God’s will, but enlarging my understanding and gaining insight. How about you?