Sunday, March 29, 2009

Healthy regret ...

Sometimes pop culture can be fun.

Take, for example, the hit television show "American Idol." Ok, yes, I admit ... I'm a fan of the show. And yes ... ok ... alright! ... I have even been known to text in a vote for a favorite singer! Hey we all have our flaws!

But like I said, sometimes pop culture can be fun.

And sometimes, it can be quite destructive.

Take for example the very, very popular maxim, "no regrets."

What could be so bad about a little two-word motto? In fact, on the surface, it actually sounds like a great way to live life. Shouldn't we live fully, doing the best we can, and have a life of no regrets? Sounds nice, but it doesn't quite work that way in a broken world.

My concern is that this popular little pop culture motto has ingratiated its way into the minds of many who actually do apply the message to their lives. But here's the problem: "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23, NLT).

We all have had some time in our lives where something that came out of our mouths hurt someone else; that something we did, some action we took, harmed another person. For such things we should, indeed, regret our behavior. If we don't, we pretty much have ice running through our veins.

We are imperfect people living in a broken world. We will have times in our lives where we have thoughts, say things, or act out in ways that we never should have ... things that are regrettable. We and/or others would have been better off if we had not thought, felt, or acted the way we did. Those are regrets.

Even God has regrets! In fact, the mega regret ever had is probably one of God's as recorded in Genesis 6. Take a read at this!

"The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry He had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke His heart" (Genesis 6:5-6, NLT).

In fact, God so regretted creating humankind that He completely wiped out all of humanity ... except one family. God's love for us, and grace toward us, was greater than His regret, and He spared a fellow named Noah and his family.

Talk about regret! If a perfect God who made a perfect creation can experience regret, how much more so for us broken humans?!

So the maxim "no regrets!" sounds nice, but isn't realistic or even healthy for us, spiritually or emotionally. It's important that we come to a place where we realize there have been times where we have really blown it and wish we wouldn't have gone there. Regret helps us get our values back in order. It helps us to dislike the sinful things we've done, and motivate us toward the way God would have us go. The key is to not get "bogged down" in regrets, but to confess them, repent of them, and move on, leaving them behind buried in the forgiveness we have in Jesus Christ.

Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 7. He had sent a rather severe letter to the Corinthians addressing some issues with them. Initially, he regretted sending the letter because it hurt them, but when he saw the outcome of sending the letter, he no longer regretted his action because it had resulted in the Corinthians regretting their misbehavior and correcting it! 2 Corinthians 7:10 caps off this issue as Paul writes, "For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death."

The pop culture maxim teaches us to not even have worldly sorrow ... simply blow through life, do your thing, and if anyone gets hurt in the process, oh well. That is a life of no regret. But if we take a look at our lives, and are sorry (regret) for the sin we caused, that will lead to repentance and salvation ... and for that kind of sorrow there really is no regret!

So regret can actually be a healthy thing for us ... have a few! But then move on ...


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Well ... are you?

A few weeks ago, on my way home from a Sunday evening Bible study, I turned the radio on in the car and was captivated by a special news report.

The story was about a unique non-profit organization that assists soldiers who are battle weary from their time in Iraq and Afghanistan to re-assimilate into life in the States by taking them fly fishing, and slowly bringing them back to a different time and place. It's a phenomenal organization I'd like to learn more about.

But what really captivated me was a 23-year-old medic telling the story of how, in the intensity of one battle, he came upon a terminally wounded 18-year-old American soldier who, when seeing the medic, looked up at him and asked, "Are you going to do anything?" and then died.

The first thing that impacted me was the 18-year-old dying for his country. Eighteen years old! I don't know anything about this young man. Maybe he went into the Army because he came from a patriotic family; maybe it was to earn a college education after a hitch in the military; or maybe he was getting into trouble and needed to shape up. I have no idea. But I do know at eighteen you're not that far into life, and I would imagine going into the Army was his first ... and last ... great adventure after getting out of high school. But there would be no more adventures.

The medic said every night the words of that young soldier haunt him. I can understand that. Imagine what he must have felt when a dying 18-year-old looks him in the eye and asks him if he is going to do anything!

I couldn't help but catch the parallel, though.

As human beings, we are in the midst of a spiritual battle that will not end until Christ returns. All around us are those who are terminally wounded by sin. The question, then, falls to us: "Are YOU going to do anything?"

We're supposed to! You know the words, that Great Commission that Jesus gave His followers before departing this world: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you ..." (Mt. 28:19-20a, NLT).

Those are marching orders. We're to minister to those dying in their sin around us by leading them to the One --- the only One --- who can give them life, give it abundantly, and give it everlasting.

So the question falls to each one of us: "Are you going to do something?"

Well ... are you?


A diamond from Dino ...

How best to begin a Sunday morning than quiet time over a mocha at Starbucks.

Mmmmmm ... mocha!

Anyway, I'm deep into penning something not so earth-shattering in my journal when the background music pierces through and I really hear the words ... Dean Martin singing, "... find somebody to love ..."

What a powerful Sunday morning message ... and from Dean, of all people!

Those words struck me as the basis for intentional Christianity ... you know, living out our Christian walk "on purpose."

So often, we approach Christianity very unintentionally. We show up at work knowing we should be a light to a lost world because the preacher reminded us of that just yesterday. So, if I get a chance today, I should be a witness for Christ. It's break time, and the water cooler is a real white-knuckle moment because chatting might lead to an opening to share something "Christian." When it doesn't we nearly (if not literally) breathe a sigh of relief and hustle back to the safety of our cubicle. Dodged another bullet!

Hmmm, we'll never impact anyone, much less the world, trying to live out our Christian life like that. Instead, we're called to be like Jesus Christ, who was very intentional about diving into the lives and needs of others. You might say Jesus was always looking for "somebody to love" and He did so on purpose. He didn't wait for the lost, hurting, needy, dying world to come to Him, He went to them. Jesus sought us out on purpose.

How much more could you and I impact the kingdom of God if we did the same?

Tomorrow is a new day, a new week. Let's go "find somebody to love."


Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's about time!

Finally I have ventured into the world of blogging! After writing in a variety of avenues over the years, I'm excited about using this media to share thoughts on extraordinary living.

Living the Christian life is not an ordinary thing. Who we once were exists no longer ... we have died to self, have been buried with Christ, and have risen to walk in newness of life. That's an extraordinary thing!

But living out that new life in Christ is where both adventures and challenges begin, and is something Jesus really wants us to experience fully. In fact, Jesus said that He had come so that we may have life and experience it abundantly.


We're to live differently. God calls His people to stand out, to be different. Yet, on any given Sunday you'll hear much the same conversation among Christians as you do co-workers around the water cooler ... challenges of life, difficulties of living, problems faced, challenges and testings.

I think we're missing a lot of the joy God intended for us to experience as His children. And if we are, it's our fault! God doesn't promise us a life of ease. In fact, Jesus said in this world we will most definitely have some troubles. BUT, then He added something we so often overlook ... he said, "But take heart, for I have overcome the world."

Extraordinary living isn't about a life of ease. And it doesn't mean that life is easy ... although I think it's often easier than we make it. But regardless of the circumstances we face in life, we decide how we respond to all of life's good and bad times.

I look forward to sharing about life with all who want to come along, and join in on, this adventure in extraordinary living. Your comments and insights are always welcome.