Wednesday, January 28, 2015

After a Breakup: 10 Things to Heal a Broken Heart

When you break up, it can feel as if the sun has set on your relationship. Goodbye day, hello dark night.

If you or someone you know are reeling from the pain of a dating relationship that has ended or a divorce, I feel for you.

And, I want to offer some hope and encouragement to help you get through it--and move forward into joy. How? Well, here's a good place to start.

Check out this post I wrote on the LIVING SINGLE blog about 10 Things to Heal a Broken Heart. And read the other posts on that blog and this blog, A NEW DAY CAFE. You'll find that you are not alone. You'll find practical help and hope from the One who loves you most, Jesus Christ.

There's hope here.

One day, maybe soon, you will find that the sadness has subsided. The anger is gone. I'm not saying it's easy, but it is truly possible to heal--and, Lord willing, find love again. Only healthier and better next time.

It's time to heal, my friend. The rest of your life is waiting...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

We All Make Mistakes: Finding Forgiveness

Intentional or unintentional, we all make mistakes; no one lives error-free. It is part of the human condition.
A few years ago utility worker in Arizona mistakenly tripped off an electric transmission line and cut power to 1.4 million homes. One small action caused an entire blackout in San Diego—and probably embarrassed the worker.
The thing is a mistake will most often cost you something—your time, your money, your reputation, or something else. If you miss one payment on your credit card bill, your rate will go up considerably. Ignore the fine print on a document, and you may wind up with results you never expected.
We all make mistakes; it’s what we do after a blunder that makes a difference.
We can wallow in regret. We can run and hide. Or, we can choose to learn from the mistake.  

Failure can turn to triumph when we ask God for forgiveness, receive it, and learn to discern the ways of wisdom. Certainly, we need wisdom to do things differently and make better choices, but first we need forgiveness. 

The mistake you made could have been a small oversight. On the other hand, it could have been willful disobedience, and you need to call it what it is: sin. It’s not a popular word today, but a wrongdoing against God is an offense toward him. Sin separates; it disconnects us from God. So in order to be right with God again, to reconnect the relationship, we need forgiveness. 

When we ask God for forgiveness, he extends it and opens the door to right standing with him again.  

First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” That is very good news. 

Even when we mess up, God keeps right on loving us. He is constant and faithful, a loving God but also a God of justice.  

So when you feel like you’re being disciplined, it’s for a reason. Because he loves you, he wants things to be made right.  

After you’ve asked for forgiveness and he has given it, don’t keep beating yourself up emotionally. You may have done something bad, but you are not a bad person. God loves you—always. He may be hurt by your actions at times, but restoration is possible. That’s why grace is so amazing. In addition, when God forgives you, it paves the way for you to forgive others.  

Forgiveness is a gift. We need to receive his gift of forgiveness—to walk in it, to let go of the past, and to move forward.  

And, it you’ve hurt another person by your mistake you can ask God for the integrity and courage to say you are sorry and to ask him or her for forgiveness. 

Don’t keep mulling over the mistake in your mind. God forgives and forgets; we need to do the same by forgiving ourselves, walking in the truth, and thanking him for all he has done. It may take some time for your heart to catch up with your head and feel forgiven. But whether you feel it or not, the fact remains that God has forgiven you. The feelings will follow. 

Remind yourself how loving and gracious God is; he does not treat us as our sins or mistakes deserve. He treats us infinitely better. Read Psalm 103:8–12 for a good reminder about God’s compassionate heart.
Prayer for Forgiveness
Lord, I have messed up. I have sinned against you and others in making this mistake. What a mess. I was wrong, and I am sorry. Thank you for your faithfulness and that you never turn your back on me. I ask for your forgiveness. Help me to receive it, to walk in it, and to move forward by faith. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The JOY of Serving Others

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “The best way to cheer your self up is to try to cheer somebody else up."  

Whether you’re going through a relationship breakup, or bummed about something challenging in your life, it helps to take the focus off yourself and your her own problems.  

My friend Barbara did that. She was going through a breakup and wanted to move her perspective from self to God—and make a difference for His good purposes.  

Barbara said, “It felt right, and it gave me purpose.”  

Despite her circumstances Barbara found that when she was blessing others with acts of service and kindness, God blessed her with joy. Instead of waiting for another man to come around, she could “wait on” or serve others. “Like a waitress who serves other people, I can wait on God while waiting on God.” she concluded. Whatever we do for others, we essentially do for Jesus Christ. (Matthew 25:40).  

I have to remember that my life is not just about me. God created us for Himself and part of that is serving other people. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)  

The reason we serve, though, is not because good works will save our souls. No, God gave us grace for that. It’s not to earn points for favor with God. We serve others because God asks us to, and because He has done so much for us.  

It is out of a heart of delight, not just duty that we choose to serve others.  

So we go across the ocean, not just to tell, but to demonstrate love to a ten-year-old boy in the Czech Republic who has never heard of God’s love. We show up on Saturday mornings at the rescue mission to serve food to those who don’t have enough eat. Or even, like my friend Anne, we offer to drive our non-churched friends to church so they can hear the truth about God’s love and forgiveness and be forever changed.  

"If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10) 

Think of the Christian life as a two-sided sponge—the yellow spongy side absorbs the water and the rough, green side scrubs. Likewise, we absorb God’s truth (through reading the Bible, hearing a speaker, or reading a book, for example) and then we go out and serve.  

First the Word, then the work.  

You may be surprised at the divine appointments God puts in your path as you open your eyes to the needs around you. It doesn’t even have to be an organized service project. Serving can include something as simple as being kind to the woman behind the counter at the dry cleaners. When you take the time to say “hello” and smile, even when you think you are in too much of a hurry, it can make a difference in one person’s day.  

Dwight L. Moody once said "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do."
What are you willing to do to serve God by serving others today?
You may just end up being, as C. S. Lewis said, “surprised by joy.”