Do You Have a Bag of Regrets?

How many of us can look back on our lives and say that we don’t have any regrets?  I most certainly cannot.

I had a friend that wrote a letter to me about 10-12 years ago, and one of the statements that she made was, “I have no regrets in my life.”  Wow.  This is a woman that I went all the way through school with.  She married, had children, owned a business, and was an elder of her church.  How can someone go through life and look back and say that all the choices he or she made were the correct ones – no regrets? 

I regret things all the time.  I seem to have a whole bag of them.

1)      the tone of my voice when I’m irritated and take it out on someone else;

2)      not making more friends;

3)      having too much pride – causing me to hold back an apology that is due someone;

4)      not giving enough of myself to the needy;

5)      denying God when He’s asked me to do something that was out of my comfort zone;

6)      not getting involved in a particular mission that God has laid on my heart for 13 plus years. 

I believe there are different kinds of regret.  Some are regrets concerning decisions we’ve made in our lives that didn’t help us out personally.  Other regrets concern decisions we’ve made that didn’t better someone else.

My regrets revolve around the decisions I’ve made that didn’t make someone else’s life a little better or a little easier.  I’ve been somewhat selfish in that regard, and I’ve regretted that tremendously.  But that is a regret that can be eased from the burden that I drag around with me.  It doesn’t need to be over my shoulder, weighing me down.  I can move forward in life and work on helping the next person that comes along that is in need of Christian grace and love.  I have His love because God has blessed me with it abundantly.  So why not share it with those who need it most?

I have no regrets for me personally.  I don’t regret poor decisions that I made that hurt or hindered me.  I don’t regret decisions that I made that didn’t prosper me.  I give thanks to God that He used my decisions to grant me experiences in order that I can help someone else who needs the same grace that I received from God.

I can move forward, making my future decisions better, based on the experience from my past.  God doesn’t want us to have regrets after we have been forgiven.  He wants us to live from this day onward for the better – looking forward to the goal – of being like Jesus Christ and looking forward to the prize– of being with Jesus Christ, not looking back and holding onto regrets. I’ve dropped my bag of regrets……with no regret!

13… But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13

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Message of the Beatitudes – Eight – Persecuted

 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.”  Matthew 5:10-11. 

When I met Earl, he had already been in the ministry 12 years, he had 3 children (10, 12 & 14 years old), and was pastoring as an abandoned single parent in a church that had about 10% of the city residents, (600 of 6,000).  I was in my mid 30’s he was in his early 40’s.  I had 2 children of my own (10 & 16 years old).  But I didn’t think twice about dating and eventually marrying a pastor.  I had been a Roman Catholic growing up, became a Baptist at 28 and didn’t see any issues with becoming a Presbyterian when I married Earl at the age of 36.

After 13 years of marriage bliss – 🙂 – I have since discovered how life in the ministry can be.  My husband has had all of the 8th beatitude negatives hurled at him at one time or another in his ministries, from insults to persecution to loss of larger church calls because he wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, and to having all kinds of evil said against him falsely on account of his belief in the Jesus as presented in the Bible.

I remember a church that would have called him, but told him that he would have to leave all his controversial sermons in his filing cabinet.  Needless to say, he didn’t take the call.  Over the years, I too, have had derogatory and untrue comments said about me.  Those have really hurt especially since I have been very actively involved at many levels in every church that we have served. 

     I would highly recommend to all church sessions, leaders, staff and church members, the book, “What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew” by Denise George.  This book says it all and then some. 

     If you take the time to read the book mentioned above, you will actually see the real world of a pastor’s life and the far-reaching effects upon his family.  Jesus warned that all those who made the decision to follow Him would be persecuted, they would be afflicted, and they would be oppressed.  In  1 Thessalonians 3:4-7, Paul writes that he advised the church that he was going to suffer affliction and then by verse 7 he states, “In all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith.”

     A pastor and his family know that according to the Scriptures, ministry is going to be difficult.  Jesus promised that it would be.  That is part of God’s call, and I am not really complaining.  But Christians need to recognize that sometimes they can be used, usually without their awareness of it, to damage a good ministry and to discourage someone who has been graced by God to shepherd and benefit the church.  With this knowledge and with a lot of prayer, forgiveness, and the strength of God, a church family and a pastor’s family can be victorious through all kinds of trials.  We can all bear much more fruit for Jesus Christ when we stop insulting and discouraging pastors and start praying for them and supporting them and respect the fact that God may be working through them.

When I read God’s Word, I am in awe of the prophets who have stood in time past and had been persecuted.  I never compare my life with theirs, but I can understand just a little better some of the dynamics and trials of their lives.  To be persecuted because of your belief in Jesus Christ is like a badge of honor because when this happens to us, Jesus reminds us of His promise, “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”   (Matthew 5:12)   At least when we are persecuted on account of Jesus, we know that we are on the right side!

One of the most important and holy acts of kindness a church family and shepherds can do is to be in continuous prayer about their shared ministry together.  Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Churches that have done exactly that have seen the positive results of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those who have had a God-change of heart.  Blessings abound for all involved when we do as Jesus directs rather than taking matters into our own hands and reacting cruelly, hurtfully or in an un-Christ like manner.

Unlike many minister families who may be experiencing more severe issues, Earl and I are doing relatively well.  I did not write this blog to imply that we are always experiencing persecution.  But some pastors and churches are going through such trials that we should not only be praying for them, but also teach and proclaim that it shouldn’t be the church that persecutes its own – even if the world does.  Many times churches and shepherds can experience great love, prayers and support for each other.  And this is how our witness should be to our culture.  But in this ministry as a pastor’s wife, I have learned what God’s call upon my life is.  As Earl ministers to our church family, I am to minister to him.  For his days are long and hard out in the ministry field.  The very least that I can do is to minister to him and attempt to make his divine call as easy to bear as possible.  We are in this ministry of Jesus Christ together – for better or for worse.

Our Son – Birru Maran

Reach out and touch another human being with your heart and soul….how hard could it be?

Earl and I have sponsored a Compassion International child named Birru Maran from India for the past 6 years, he is 9 years old now and his birthday is July 4th, 2002.  I carry a picture of Birru in my Bible as a bookmark and pray for this dear, sweet boy.

Each year we exchange with him several letters and birthday and Christmas cards.  We send him pictures of us and little stickers that kids like and anything else we can find that lay flat in an envelope.

Recently we received the following letter, and I want to share it the way he expressed himself.

“Dear loving Parents,  Yours son Birru Maran is writing with thanks.  I am safe here, and I hope that you are also safe there.  I received letter from you.  I read the letter and felt so happy.  Sometimes I look into sky and says Hello.  We also celebrate Thanks giving festival here every year.  I am learning verses daily in the Project, and growing in the way of God.  Now we are in March month.  It is summer season.  Now I am preparing for my annual examinations.  I praying daily for you.  Yours loving son,  Birru Maran”

This young boy brought me to tears.  One small act of compassion has brought new life in Christ to this young one in India.  We have brought him love, and he in return, gives us his love. 

I have seen pictures of our son Birru when he was but a skinny malnourished child to now a child with a young boy face and a healthy and vaccinated body – from a son who drew pictures of his favorite animals to a young lad who writes that he loves us and is growing in the way of God.

Jesus Christ is the very picture of compassion.  He always reacted to the children with compassion and love.  And He defended them strongly by warning, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”  Matthew 18:6

All the little children of the world are God’s children, and each child should be loved and held and taught about Jesus.  We are but their caretakers while here on earth and that responsibility that God has given us is to be taken with all seriousness.  The gift of children is a gift to treasure. 

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Our children are all grown up, happy and healthy, and they all believe in Jesus Christ.  We have grandchildren that we pray will someday know our Savior too.  But being able to do so now, we touch another child with our hearts in a depressed area of India with his parents and siblings who also are hearing the Word through our son, Birru.

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