SO NEXT TIME IS BETTER THAN LAST TIME: Part 1

Some of you would describe your reboot – not in terms of a world-wide phenomena – but in terms of a very personal, very difficult – even shattering experience that you may still be healing from. And now you have to start-over. And you’re anxious to start over! There are some start-over people I’d like you to meet – and three really important start-over lessons.

THE COOKIE MONSTER MUST GO!

We all know that some websites that we visit in our digital world leave cookies. Actually, they’re more like cooties because they contaminate our spirit our soul and our attitudes… and our relational skills. Think of some cookie cooties that may need to go. Like entitlement, like prejudice, like the culture of complaint mentality, like greed, like the need for attention – just for example, of course! This stuff contaminates the grateful, kind and generous person hiding in us – living on cookies! 

THE LESSON IN STARTING OVER… AND THE TEST

If you read through the Bible – or even skim through it – it is a quick history of the reboot… before that was even a word or a concept.  The phrase we are familiar with is, starting over. The fascinating thing about God is that He seems to always engineer a reboot or a start-over for the persons who lead people through them.In one major season of the redemptive history, He did that with an entire nation. The lesson was a spectacular show of power. The test? Actually, it was a miserable failure. Most failures are based on three myths – and the assumption that God is as committed to our comfort zone and happiness as we are. In reviewing all these reboots and start overs, it’s pretty clear that God originated the reboot – not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates!

KNOW WHERE YOU ARE… Before You Pack
the Car!

Disorientation is the one thing we have in common with the 7.7 billion people coming out of this pandemic. We have new words to use, new common experiences to refer to like, masked, double-vaxxed, social distancing. As guard-rails come down and restrictions are dropped life seems more… normal! Some think, the test is over-lesson learned! But what if COVID was the lesson – and how we act and what we do now is the test?  For 18 months the pandemic changed how we travel, how we shop, how we bank, how we work, how we communicate – and especially – how we relate to people! Where to from here? What lessons have we learned?  Good question! Let’s figure out where we are – what’s changed – and what hasn’t! 

THE DEVIL’S CAMPGROUND… AND FORGIVENESS

When we’re kids, our parents tell us, “Only 5, or only 10, or only 18 more sleeps until… Christmas, your birthday, vacation. In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us to not let the sun go down while we’re still angry.  That if we let the devil – or the person who hurt us – camp there, it will create huge problems! So, the question is legitimate and really important; “How long will you drag your past into your future and let your bitterness taint and contaminate your life?” That is, in kids terms – how many more sunsets – sleeps – will you drag your pain behind you?

FORGIVING GOD?

There is a saying that you never really get to know or fully and deeply  experience love for someone unless they’ve hurt you!  And because God is a person – as expressed in Jesus – here will be a time when He will likely hurt you. Not because He does something selfish or cruel; no, our hurt with God usually has to do with what He doesn’t do, what He doesn’t give us and when we don’t know how close He is – or feel His love. We think, “He could’ve” …or “He should’ve,” or “If He really loved me, He would’ve!” And we blame God for our lot in life, our circumstances, our lack of… something! And if we hold a grudge or carry resentment – then we need to forgive! To just let it go!

FORGIVING YOURSELF

There is a saying that you never really get to know or fully and deeply  experience love for someone unless they’ve hurt you!  And because God is a person – as expressed in Jesus – here will be a time when He will likely hurt you. Not because He does something selfish or cruel; no, our hurt with God usually has to do with what He doesn’t do, what He doesn’t give us and when we don’t know how close He is – or feel His love. We think, “He could’ve” …or “He should’ve,” or “If He really loved me, He would’ve!” And we blame God for our lot in life, our circumstances, our lack of… something! And if we hold a grudge or carry resentment – then we need to forgive! To just let it go!

FORGIVENESS AND FIXING BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS

One of the huge questions that always comes up on the issue of forgiveness is… does forgiving someone mean that you should be good friends again? In our relationship with God, he offers us forgiveness, but there is no reconciliation without repentance. And sometimes we are never restored, in this lifetime, to what we once enjoyed. You could see it like this; forgiveness – always. It’s not optional for followers of Jesus. Reconciliation, living in peace – hopefully. But it takes two to make it happen. Restoration – where everything is as it was before? It’s the rarest of the three – and it depends. See, you can’t earn forgiveness – but you must earn trust, and trust is hard to earn… but unbelievably easy to lose!      

I KNOW I SHOULD FORGIVE, BUT…

There are always some sticky questions around forgiveness. Yeah, most of us can agree on the generic, everyday kinds of forgiveness necessary.  But what about when an offense is so horrible you can’t forget? What about justice being done – I mean, is forgiveness just rolling over? And shouldn’t people be held accountable for stuff? And, what if they never even come close to saying they’re sorry or even acknowledging that they’ve hurt you. I mean, is God expecting that we’re just going to jump right back into the place of trusting them again? What if you try and try and try… but you just can’t do it!  Great questions! We’re going to do our best to answer them!