Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Answer Key for Life

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105
Every week, my son's 7th grade math teacher emails me the answers along with that week's homework assignment. John is supposed to do his work as best as he can and then we check his work based on the answers the teacher mailed me.  We can quickly see what he understands and what he needs to work on.  Knowing the right answer is quick and easy.  If he gets a problem wrong, he figures out his mistake, fixes it and moves on.  Lesson learned.

I believe God intended the Bible to be the answer key to life.  It is a cheat sheet to understanding how the world works, the right way to live and why both good and bad things happen. God wants us to know the answers even before we have to do the assignment.

Psalm 119 explains how God's Word helps us know what to do.
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11  Knowing God's word keeps us from the damaging consequences of sin.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105  It is impossible to find the right way to go if you can't see where you are going. God's Word illuminates truth for us and keeps us from stumbling.
"Great peace  have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble."  Psalm 119:165

One of Satan's most effective strategies for keeping us from abundant life is to devalue God's Word. In the Garden of Eden, "He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” After she answered Satan's question, he replied, “You will not surely die.  Satan's strategy of devaluing God's Word, hasn't changed over the years. Jesus said "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10.  We need to be on guard against Satan's suggestions that God's commands are keeping us from having the "good life."

This is ironic because Satan's distortion that God is keeping something from us, is the opposite of the purpose of God's commands.  In giving His people the Law, God gave them a cheat sheet to understanding the benefits and why they should follow the law- blessings would abound.  They didn't have to figure things out for themselves. They just had to copy the right answers in their words and deeds.  “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God" Deuteronomy 28   God also explained that if they didn't follow the law there would be consequences.

Both ancient and modern societies and even other religions have figured out the truths that have been spelled out for us in the Law.  The basic ideas like "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal" are found in some form or another in most cultures throughout the world. God wanted to make it easy for His people to blessed lives. Sharing God's Word from Genesis to Revelation is a way to give other people the answer key to life's biggest questions.

As Christians who are not under the law but under grace we can quickly forget that God gave the law as a blessing to help His people understand the right way to live so that they would live abundant lives.  The Hebrew word for peace "Shalom" captures the idea of everything being perfect and at peace- conflict and stress come when our relationship with God or our relationships with other people are lacking peace.  Following God's law results in life in abundance.  Devaluing God's law results in destroyed relationships with God and other people.  Here's how following God's commands affects us, "Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did." 1 John 2:4-6  To know God and show our love for him requires obedience.

God wants us to have an abundant life.  This requires using God's Word as the Answer Key to life. Make a goal to seek God's Word as the starting point for your tough questions. If deep down you don't want to follow God's Word, a minute to evaluate your heart and ask yourself the following questions.  

-What do I want more than God's blessings?
-Do I see obedience to God as keeping me from "fun" stuff and the "good life" or as a means to abundant life? 

Pray and ask God to change your heart so that you can exclaim with the Psalmist, "Oh how I love your Word, I meditate on it day and night." Psalm 119:97

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Blessing of a Smile

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

Sometimes, I can't help myself.  I stick my nose into other people's business.  I ran into Target to pick up an online order and return an item. There was no line at the customer service desk.  Jackpot!  As I was walking up, I caught the last bit of a conversation between the cashier who was at the customer service desk and the photo processing girl.  The cashier had gotten negative comments from customers about her attitude.   In an aggrieved tone she said to her co-worker, "I am not the one with the bad attitude.  The customers come in upset and angry.  They are the ones with a bad attitude."

Though it was none of my business, I had to join in her conversation.  I looked her in the eye and said, "I bet you mirror people and don't even realize it."  I could tell she was listening carefully.  "Everybody responds to body language and facial expressions but some people are like mirrors, they are more sensitive and do it more.  So if they see a smile they automatically smile in response.  I bet you are a mirror."  As soon as I finished speaking, I smiled at her in my happiest smile and she immediately smiled back.  She couldn't help herself. I almost laughed when I pointed out how she had smiled back at me without even thinking because I smiled at her.   As she processed my returned item and I wrapped up the transaction.  I smiled two more times and her beautiful smile flashed back at me.  Each time I pointed it out and reminded her, that she had to be intentional about smiling at customers and they would smile back.   Though customers were coming to the customer service counter grumpy and upset she could break through their feelings with a smile.

Here's a quote from a Psychology Today article about the power of smiling "There is a lot of evidence of body language mirroring. We automatically copy the facial expressions of others. We reciprocate and in social groups it can be contagious. People respond to, and evaluate, those who smile differently and more positively than those who do not. “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone.”  

This sets up a virtuous cycle for the smiler and a viscous cycle for the non-smiler. Thus in sales, hospitality and negotiation situations the person who first smiles increases the possibility of the other person(s) smiling which increased trust and liking and therefore “co-operation” and helpfulness. Smiling helps bond people together.

There is also physiological evidence that smiling has specific biological consequence. This is even truer of laughter and is evidence of a feedback loop. Smiling has hormonal and physiological consequences which make us feel better and want to smile more. Smiling self medicates and heals."
This psychological concept is a concrete example of the cycle of blessings and curses. The author of the Psychology Today article even used the phrase "virtuous cycle."   Last week's blog was about the Biblical concept of the curse. I explained that the meaning of the word "curse" is summed up as devaluing, demeaning and disdaining something. In contrast a "blessing" sees and ascribes value to something or someone. When God blessed creation and said that "It was good," He was acknowledging the intrinsic value and worth in all of creation.  My cashier was dealing a bunch of grumpy people who weren't feeling blessed or valuable when they headed up to the customer service desk.  They felt devalued because their time was being wasted, frustrated they had bought the wrong item and they were concerned they wouldn't get something of value, their money back.  My cashier instinctively mirrored their body language and facial expression because that is what people instinctively do.

To break the cycle of feeling devalued and demeaned, all she had to do was to help them feel valued. Here's what Jesus told his followers, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  Smiling, listening to them and treating them with respect would  naturally result smiles and respect.

This is easier said than done. It is hard to break an intrinsic human cycle.  When people are mean to us, human nature is to escalate things and respond in kind.  A bad morning gets worse, frustration at work spills over into a fight at home, feeling devalued and demeaned by a friend leads to overeating or drinking in excess. This is human nature but it isn't our destiny. If we find ourselves in a pattern where people treat us poorly and we self-sabotage, it is valuable to ask ourselves, "Am I reacting to a lie that I am not valuable? Am I feeling less than? Am I feeling demeaned?"  To break this cycle, we have to remind ourselves that we are valuable, and then be intentional about what we give to others and how we respond to insults.

This week, practice proactively giving smiles.  You will bless the people you smile at and set them up for further blessings since they will feel valued. Start a virtuous cycle.  Let me know how it goes. 

If you find yourself in a negative thought pattern or behavior, look back over the past couple of days to see if you felt devalued or demeaned.   Take that unhealthy thought captive and replace it with a blessing. You are valuable, loved, beautiful, and you have every spiritual gift in Christ to bless others. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Understanding Curses

But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you Deuteronomy 28:15

With Halloween just past and scary movies still playing at the Movie Theater, I thought it would be a good time to write about the Biblical concept of the curse. The idea of a curse is rather simple. Two words that can help us understand it are "consequences" and "value."

Blessings and curses go hand in hand in the Bible and as I have been studying blessings for the past couple of years, I have also been learning about curses. There are several scriptures that link both these key ideas together like the promise to Abraham- "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you."  Deuteronomy 28 contains a list of blessings for those who obey the law and curses for those who disobey it.  

The most important word to understand when reading about blessing and curses in the Bible is value.  The meaning of the word "curse" is summed up as devaluing, demeaning and disdaining something.  
In contrast a "blessing" sees and ascribes value to something or someone.  When God blessed creation and said that "It was good," He was acknowledging the intrinsic value and worth in all of creation.

Understanding the link between "value" and the curse even explains why we consider some words "curse" words.  When you call someone a curse word, you are devaluing them. Demeaning and devaluing people is an insult to their Creator.  

When someone values God, His creation and His word, they will receive value and blessings will come into their life.   Blessings create a virtuous cycle.  When we bless God, we will be blessed, when we value others we will be valued. 

When someone devalues God, his Word and His creation they will be devalued or cursed.  A simple example of this is if you value God, you will value his command to not commit adultery and you will value other people who are God's creation and not have sex outside of marriage.  In contrast, if you devalue God and His Word, you wouldn't obey the commandment to not commit adultery, devaluing His Word leads to devaluing marriage and frequently can lead to broken hearts, divorce, STDs and abortion.  

These are logical consequences. The consequences of the cycle of blessing and cursing is so obvious that even people who have never read Deuteronomy understand this principle.  They call it karma or tapping into the power of positivity, they explained it as "He got what was coming to him" and "What goes around comes around."  

Often we can see the pattern of devaluing people and dismissing God's commands that travels back through a family history.   The first step to break this pattern is to accept Jesus as your savior.  Jesus became the curse to set us free from the long term consequences of sin.  Every day we have the choice to bless those who curse us (devalue or demean us) and break the cycle of consequences.   "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28

Regardless of the poor choices made by us, our parents, or our spouse we do not have live with the consequences.  Grace sets us free.  By intentionally blessing those around us, we will unlock the pattern of blessing in our lives and in the lives of the people around us. 

How have you experienced grace and freedom from the consequences of poor choices?

How do you break the cycle of the curse by blessing God and others?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Lifetime To Do It All

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
Proverbs 31:25-26

I went to my friend's funeral last week.  Funerals rarely capture the nuances of life, neither joy of a life well lived or the grief that comes from a life of poor choices.  I sat in the service hoping for a glimpse of her heart and the joy that she effortlessly brought to so many people.  My heart was filled as the minister began to read Proverbs 31:10-31.  My friend Joyce embodied this in her life. She was born the year that women got the right to vote and she never took this right for granted.  She started working for her Dad's business during World War II and balanced a career and raising four kids.  She managed her finances and investments, gave generously, maintained friendships and joyfully reminisced about cooking pound cake and Oyster casserole for New Year's day.  

Joyce embodied the Proverbs 31 woman. Depending on which translation of the Bible you are reading, this well known passage is titled "Description of a Worthy Woman in the NASB version, the ESV titles is "The Woman who Fears the Lord", the NIV titles it "Epilogue:The Wife of Noble Character."  

For many of my friends and me, reading Proverbs 31 can be intimidating and a reminder of all that we aren't doing right.  The NASB titles this passage "Description of a Worthy Woman" but often reading this can instead make us feel unworthy and like we don't measure up. This scripture was written by a mother to a son in a male dominated society to encourage him to value his wife and all that she can and will do, not to make us women feel inferior.  But we don't read it as such, and rather than encouraging and motivating us, it highlights all the areas our lives aren't successful.  

Many years ago, after I shared with an older woman, who had raised her kids and was expecting her first grandchild, how I was overwhelmed with insecurity every time I read this passage, she encouraged me to keep in mind that we don't have to do it all at once.  As Ecclesiastes reminds us, "There is a time and season for everything." 

I now see her wisdom and perspective. When I was younger, I couldn't imagine making clothes for my family, buying real estate, getting up while it was still dark to provide food for my family, or having kids and a husband that called me "Blessed" but I didn't have to.  I needed to go to work and do my best at that time with the responsibilities I had and not get worried about what I wasn't doing. Soon after having my first born son, I was getting up "while it was still dark" every three hours to feed him. I have since moved on to carrying out modern versions of "she puts her hand to the distaff, she hold out her hands to the poor, and she dresses herself with strength."  

Too often as women, we feel the pressure to do it all.  Have a career, raise kids, keep our house perfect, be a good manager, a wise investor, a perfect wife, a good cook.  These are all good things but they are just too much all at once.  Instead, we need to give ourselves grace and understand that just as my friend had 97 years to become a "Woman Who Fears the Lord" each of us have a lifetime whether is is 17 or 97 years to grow and use the gifts that God has given us for His Glory and to bless all the people around us.  Rather than being intimated by the Proverbs 31 woman, I have come to embrace her as a model of how to live well as a woman one step and verse at a time.  Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman should be a joy-filled validating process that lasts our entire life.

Do you feel pressure to do it all?
How do you manage your expectations and society's expectations with your responsibilities?
Do you have a scripture that you lean on when you feel the pressure to perform?

An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[b] with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[c]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Heartbreaking Hope

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:24 ESV
This week has been hard.  A part of my mind is distracted, filled with whys, what ifs and should ofs, you see one of my best friends died this week on her 97th birthday.  I know that 97 is a long time to live and she had a wonderful life.  I know that when you are friends with someone who is twice your age the odds are good that you will outlive her.   Yet I was socked in the gut when I got the call.  My kids and husband hugged me tight and told me that she knew I loved her and that I was a good friend.

My youngest asked me, "Why do people die?"  In my shock and grief, I hardly had an answer. Thoughts about our bodies giving out, sickness and disease raced through my mind.   "I don't know. I guess everybody will die."  But my response was unsatisfactory to both of us. Why did she die this week?  After beating cancer, heart problems and other sickness, I didn't know why my friend had died.  Age didn't seem to be a good reason to me or my son, especially because he knew about my pregnant friend who just went to the Dr. last week and couldn't hear a heartbeat.

Questions followed like "Do we have a body in heaven?" and "What happens to babies in heaven?" I tried as best I could but my mind and heart weren't in it. I know I didn't have good answers but logic and knowledge were dulled by my broken heart. Later as the shock wore off, my brain couldn't let go of the question "Why do people die?"  If God loves us, why do we have to go through loss, grief and sadness? As I was talking with my son, he wondered, "Why God had made us if we were just going to die." I realized that at any age, death is cruel and as a result even life is cruel. My answer, "I don't know" wasn't satisfactory but it was all I had.

Finally, several hours later my brain clicked in and knowledge triumphed over my grief.  Death came because of sin! "Remember," I told my son as I was putting him to sleep, "The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Well there was another tree in the Garden.  It was the Tree of Life. God's plan was for us to live forever, but because of sin we were kept from eternal life. That's why death at any age hurts so much. It is unnatural. We were made for eternity but the consequence of sin means that people die because they inherited sin because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve."

As Romans explains "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mene because all sinned—" People since Adam and Eve have faced the consequence of sin which is death. Jesus came to earth fully human and fully divine to break the curse of death so that we could experience eternal life.  Here's how the New Living Translation of Hebrews 2:14 explains this "Because God's children are human beings--made of flesh and blood--the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death."  Because Jesus died for our sins and broke the curse, those of us who accept him as our Savior get to spend eternity with him.

Revelation 21 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  It describes a new heaven and a new earth when sin and all its heartbreaking consequences are abolished.  Revelation 21:4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’b or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”   Though there is pain and grief in this life as the next verse proclaims, 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”   This verse contains my hope.  God's words are trustworthy and true. All will be made new.  My mourning will end and joy will be eternal. I look forward to joining my precious friend at the foot of the throne crying out, "Holy Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is and who is to come."  Revelation 4:8

How would you answer the question if a little kid asked you, "Why do people die?"

None of us know when we will breathe our last breath, so I have to ask you, "Have you accepted that Jesus loves you and the good news that his death, has freed you from the curse of sin and death?  It is a free gift that has been given to you not because of anything good or bad that you have done but because God loves you and wants to spend eternity with you and I do too.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Finders Keepers

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
My oldest son found a soccer ball at a local High School football game.   It belonged to a rival team that must have lost it during a match.  After 12 years of playing soccer, he could tell this was an expensive game ball, not the average ball that even good players have.  It was quite a find and he was pretty psyched about such a great ball.  He was less thrilled when I said he couldn't keep it without contacting the school that owned it.  But as I told him, we can't keep something that we know belongs to someone else- that is stealing. As I wrote in last week's blog on No Regrets, if we aren't supposed to keep something, we won't enjoy it.  Things like this always work out, if we do the right thing even if it is the hard thing.

After a quick email exchange, we worked out the details for the coach to get the ball and I thought the situation was over, until I was telling my younger son about the whole episode of the found ball. We have a couple of kids that carpool with us to middle school soccer games and one of the boys couldn't help but express his shock that we gave the ball back. "I would've kept that ball if I found it," he said.  "I have lost so many soccer balls. People must find them and keep them. Each time I get a new one, it isn't as good as the last one. I figure keeping that ball would be fair since I have lost so many."

I was surprised to hear how emphatic he was. So I asked him, "Wouldn't you have liked it for someone to track you down and give back your lost soccer ball?"  Jesus tells us that we should "Do to others as you would have them do to you."  He explained to me that people just wouldn't return his stuff so he wouldn't return their stuff.  I tried to explain to him that if you treat others the way you want to be treated you will be blessed.  Some people might call this "karma" and explain that "what goes around comes around." Or use the phrase, "Pay it forward." I think this is illustrated by Galatians 6:7  "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." I could tell that I wasn't going to change his mind so I let it drop but I have been thinking about it ever since our conversation.

As I was listening to him, I realized how revolutionary Jesus' statement "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" was because people naturally want to do unto others as they have done. What is even more remarkable about this is that Jesus gave us this command in the context of loving one's enemies. Here is the verse in context of Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

If someone curses, devalues or demeans us, our natural instinct is to put them down, but Jesus calls us to bless them, see value in them and give them grace realizing we all fall short of the glory of God.  Being obedient to Jesus by carrying out his commands to love our enemies, pray for those who mistreat you, and bless those who curse you requires an immense amount of faith and trust.  We have to trust that God is just that He will avenge us, that He will provide for us when we have to give up our coat, shirt and ball and that He is in control. 

Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago to start a revolution.  His followers hoped he would throw over the Roman government, instead his revolution was to take place in each of our hearts.   By following him, we would be able to go beyond our 12 year old instinct to protect ourselves and our stuff and trust that He would take care of us and He has blessings for us that go beyond what we could ask or imagine.  

Our world needs a revolution, one that starts in all of our hearts. We have to stop the cycle of insults, hatred and cursing by turning the other cheek, by showing love instead of hate, by blessing instead of devaluing and by praying for those who mistreat us.  

How have you applied these verses to tough situations in your life? What was the result?
How do you teach them to your kids?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

No Regrets

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

I was trying to share some of my hard-earned wisdom with my boys when they busted out laughing. I made a choice in college to use the motto "No Regrets" as a way to make decisions. I barely got my sentence finished when they said, "No Regerts"  in between bouts of laughter.   I didn't understand what they meant so they explained that "No Regerts" was a phrase tattooed on this tough guy in a Milky Way commercial. I started laughing too.  Some mistakes are harder to undo than others.

"What do you do about regrets?"

First, decide that you are going to learn things the easy way instead of the hard way. It is foolish to always learn things the hard way if you don't have to. I explained that as I was making decisions I would usually pray for wisdom and direction and then evaluate if the choice to see if it could lead to regret. If things didn't work out, would I regret them more because I did something or didn't do it?   During a time of a lot of freedom and choices, these two words gave me clarity on who I would date, how I would spend my time and money, and even my grad school and career choices.

These two words saved me from a lot of regret but over the years since college I still have made choices that led to regret and missed opportunity.  I explained to my sons that I had realized there are two kinds of regret, one is the one that says "I shouldn't have done that.  It was a mistake and I feel bad about it."  The second kind of regret says "I missed an opportunity and I regret that."

When I am faced with the first kind of regret, that says "I shouldn't have done that and I regret it." I switch the focus from my mistake and turn it into a prayer of confession.
               "Dear God, I am so sorry,  I completely blew it in this area and I feel awful about it.   I know  I let you down and myself and hurt someone else in the process. Please forgive me and cleanse me.  Please restore what what lost and heal the hurt in my heart and others."   

As 1 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."  God will purify us and forgive us.  We don't have to live in regret.  God doesn't expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to confess our mistakes. He is in the restoration business we just have to ask him to do it. 

The second kind of regret is the one that realizes "I missed an opportunity and I wish I had it to do over."  I use these types of regrets to learn a lesson and plan to do something differently if given a chance.  My son said he regretted that he didn't go see the black sand beach in Hawaii.   I understood his regret.  During my first trip to Hawaii 16 years ago, I was surprised that there weren't black sand beaches on the island we visited. After my first trip to Hawaii, I made it a goal that if I ever went back, that I would try to see one.  Rather than dwelling in the past and on what I missed out on, I made a plan based on what I had learned.  Click here to see my feet buried in black sand.  I learned from my regret and carried out my plan when given the choice.  

Another missed opportunity that taught me an important lesson involved eye cream. Our church hosted a Salvation Army women's overflow shelter.  Homeless women would spend a week in our church. As I was cleaning up after dinner, one of the homeless ladies who was probably 70 mentioned that she really needed some eye cream for her wrinkles.  As she said it, I instantly thought of a bottle of eye cream I had bought the day before.  I rarely use moisturizer and it was the first time I had ever purchased eye cream.  I had a mental debate; I just bought it and it was twice what I would have normally spent on makeup, plus she had lots of wrinkles and it wouldn't make a difference.  My selfish side won.  I didn't take her the eye cream and kept it for myself.  The truth is I didn't need it. I missed an opportunity and chance to bless this woman who had so little and I had so much.   The eye cream is still sitting in my medicine cabinet because I only used it once.  Every time I look at it I remember the missed opportunity.  I learned an important lesson, if I every get that supernatural urge to give outside of my comfort zone, I need to do it so I won't regret it later. Though I missed out on being his instrument of blessing, I have prayed for God to bless that homeless lady with all she needs including eye cream. I keep the eye cream in my medicine cabinet as a reminder to give when I have the chance. 

My "Regerts" aren't as obvious as a misspelled tattoo but I have had them.  Knowing that God is greater than my mistakes and I am not defined by my mistakes gives me peace when I think about times I have messed up or missed out.   

If you have regret from poor choices or missed opportunities, take a minute to ask God to forgive your mistakes. Purpose in your heart to learn from them. The forgiveness and grace is waiting for you, you just have to ask for it.   God can restore all that was lost, mend and heal broken hearts and replace what was lost so that you can great every day with "No Regrets."

How have you dealt with things you regret?  How has God restored missed opportunities for you?