Loving Your “Enemies” A Sunday Snippet

Jesus stunned His audience by saying, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

What if Jesus was speaking to an audience of adults with divorced parents?
Maybe He would have said something like this:
Because of your hurt from your parents’ divorce, you love those who love you and hate those who’ve hurt you. But I say to you,

girl releasing balloon mural-1347673_1920 pixabay

Pixabay

 Love your mother who left the family for a coworker,
 Bless the woman that “stole” your father from your family,
 Do good to the stepparent who never treated you as one of the               family,
 Pray for the judge that put you with Dad when you wanted to be           with Mom, 
 Do this that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
 
Love them? You don’t understand!!
I’ve heard of enough stories and talked to enough frustrated, hurt, disillusioned, and apathetic-toward-their-family adult children of divorce to understand this sentiment. Also, as one with divorced parents, I, too, have periodic struggles. But Jesus was speaking to an audience whose “enemy” was the Roman government. One that abused people, killed them at will, and regularly took advantage of them. A few years after Jesus’ crucifixion and raising from the dead, Romans were literally feeding Christ-followers to the lions to be killed. So, Jesus’ audience would also say, “Love them? You don’t understand!!”

Love covers a multitude of sins
We are often unlovable, yet God loves us. God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). With so great a love available to you and me, how can we hold back our love from those who wounded us? Here are some beginning steps?

christ statue in Rio-pixabay cropped817998_1920

Pixabay

  1. Accept the love and forgiveness God offers you through the sacrificial death of Jesus for your sins. The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:9-10,13). Click here for more information on this wonderful gift.
  2. Forgive your ‘enemies’ for their offenses against you. Easier said than done? Listen to a radio program I recorded on forgiveness when dealing with divorced parents by clicking here.
  3. Enjoy the freedom, peace, and joy that comes with obedience to God’s word.

Loving as Jesus commanded may not change your ‘enemy’, but it will certainly change you!

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Will You Roll the Stone Away? – A Sunday Snippet

On that first Easter morning when the women found the stone rolled away, the tomb of Jesus was empty. He had risen as He said, and crushed the sin which separates us from God.

Many adult children of divorce have a stone in front of a tomb filled with unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, frustration, hopelessness and fears.

Parental divorce can produce all that and much more. One can easily add regret, sorrow, disillusionment, depression, anxiety, and more divorce to the list. The stone is lodged tightly so nothing can get in or out. Many of us like it that way. Keep all that ugly stuff behind the stone.

The smell of hurt
Why we do this was explained at another tomb. Earlier Jesus went to raise his friend Lazarus from the grave. Martha, the deceased’s sister, protested because it had been four days and “by this time he stinketh.1 Love the King James version here, but Martha was correct. Stuff buried for four days, four months, four years, or four decades stinks.

We know this because, occasionally we (or a loved one) get a waft of the stench when we react poorly to a stray comment a parent makes, or our spouse doesn’t meet a need, or a friend “betrays” us, or our fears are triggered by something and we lash out, or we’re anxious with no tangible reason to be so. Our tombs leak.

It’s time to roll away the stone
When Jesus rose from the grave He overcame man’s greatest enemy—death. But if He could beat death, isn’t it reasonable that Jesus can help us overcome our hurts and all the stuff behind our stone? The Bible encourages us to “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”2

But that’s a big step for many of us. God knows that, and He is not going to force you to do anything you’re not ready to do. But He does want you to know He loves you enough to want healing in your life—true healing, not Band-Aid healing.  He wants to take away your anger, hurt, and fear. The question is, will you let Him?

In our time
Maybe because I’m a guy it took years before I allowed God to help me. Guess it’s like asking for directions. But to my surprise, He didn’t move the stone all at once. He’d pull it back a little and we’d deal with whatever smell came out—maybe the smell of bitterness. Then back it went. Eventually, we moved it away from the tomb door, but it took quite a while.

To be honest, my tomb still has a pretty strong residual stink to it, but it is so much better than it used to be. Thank God!!! This Easter season, I encourage you to talk to God about cleaning up the stuff behind your stone. And remember that with God all things are possible

 

1John 11:39
21 Peter 5:7
3Matthew 19:26

Images
Thinkstock
Bible with Cross Shadow by David Campbell

Billy Graham and Overcoming the Impact of Parental Divorce

With Billy Graham’s passing at 99 years old, we have lost the Moses of our era. It’s difficult to name someone who has had a broader and more positive worldwide impact than Billy Graham. However, he would be the first to say it is not about him, nor has it ever been.

For nearly 60 years Billy Graham taught true healing starts with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Adult Children of Divorce Ministries is committed to helping those who struggle with the residue of parental divorce, and we agree. The video below shares how anyone can be freed from the fears, anger, unforgiveness, father hunger, and other issues common to adults with divorced parents.

Please grab a cup of coffee and watch this. These few minutes could change your life in a wonderful and eternal way.

Nuzzling in God’s Neck – A Sunday Snippet

Maybe you had onjoanna-sweenye of those conversations with your mom, dad, or stepparent.
Maybe your brother or sister is furious that you like your stepmother.
Maybe, even though everything went well, you’re exhausted from keeping parents and steps and assorted others happy at a family event.
Maybe you’re scared because arguments at home sound so similar to the pre-divorce skirmishes you heard as a child.
Maybe life is just hard.

During these times wouldn’t it be great if you could crawl onto God’s lap, let Him wrap His arms around you, and tuck your head into his neck like a little child? But can we do that? Should we do that?

First, can we do that?
Many people see God as ominous, fearful, and untouchable, but as Christians the Bible says, “You received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.1 Abba Father can be translated “Daddy.” This is God’s perspective of our relationship with Him, but perhaps a picture can help.

One of my favorites is this picture of President Kennedy with his son, John, playing under the presidential desk.

John Jr. isn’t thinking about being with the leader of the free world. He is with his dad. Likewise, God wants us to curl up with Him, Abba Father, in spite of the fact he is the ruler of all creation.

Second, should we do that?
Countless scriptures declare, “Yes!!!

Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.2

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.3

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.4Time for reflection by Hans G Backman

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.  For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.5

Third, how do we do that?
Preferences vary. Some literally crawl onto the couch or recliner and pretend they’re in God’s arms. Others pray. For some people, walking with God helps bring God’s reality in troubling situations.

How we embrace our Abba Father relationship doesn’t’ matter. God isn’t picky. He’s just waiting with open arms for us to come to him.

 

1Romans 8:15, NLT
2Hebrews 4:16, NLT
31 Peter 5:7, NLT
4Psalms 121: 2-3, NIV
5Psalms 103-13-14, NLT

Images
Joanna Sweeny
Time for reflection by Hans G Backman

 

 

 

Why am I Running From My Prayer Closet? – A Sunday Snippet

Forgiveness by Tiffany ScantleburyI try to fit in my daily prayer routine before my crazy days begin. Too often the pressures of my upcoming schedule create a not too subtle urgency to finish so I can start doing the “important” things that are stacked up like planes waiting to land at an airport.

One morning while praying, I was feeling the urge to get a move on when God’s Holy Spirit asked me where I was running from.

Huh? What do you mean, where am I running from?
You’re anxious to start conquering your list right?
Yeah. So?
Where are you running from?
What are you talking about? I don’t get it.Time for reflection by Hans G Backman
You’ve got a full schedule today? 
Over full
Kind of tired?
Exhausted.
Seems like you’re a little depressed too.
Well, yeah.
Feeling like nobody cares or understands.
Well, yeah.
See no end to this crazy season you’re in and want an escape.
…yes.

Okay. Do you believe that Abba Father, the Creator of the Universe, is with you in your prayer closet?
Yes.
Does He listen to you?
Yes.
Does He judge you?
No!
Does He encourage you?
Yes.
Does He remind you of how special He thinks you are?
Yes.
Does He offer you peace now and for your entire day?
Yes.
Does He wipe your tears?
Yes.
Does He offer you strength to make it through your day?
Yes. He says through Christ I can do all things1
Does He give you wisdom for your to-do list?
Yes, very often.
Does He love you?
Yes.
Does He love you?
…yes, deeply.
Does He love you?
…….yes. Unconditionally.

So when you hurry from your prayer closet, where are you running from?
Well…I guess… from a place where I’m totally accepted, totally loved, totally adored, totally supported, totally equipped, where I can be myself without judgement, where I can talk with God as long as I want and He never tires of me. That’s what I”m rushing from. Guess I’ve got things backwards, huh?
Praying woman hands by Long ThiênYou tell me.
Thanks for the perspective check.
Just doing my job.
Thank you.
See you tomorrow?
You can count on it!
 

1Philippians 4:13

Images
Forgiveness by Tiffany Scantlebury
Time for reflection by Hans G Backman
Woman and Bible – Prayer a Powerful Weapon by abcdz2000

Wishing to Satisfy the Crowd – An Easter Snippet

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”1

Jesus and Pilate Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri800Reading through the crucifixion account I was struck by the phrase “wishing to satisfy the crowd.” Pilate had Jesus crucified even though Pilate knew Jesus was innocent…to satisfy the crowd. Though tempted to condemn Pilate for this,  I shuddered to think how many times I’ve done wrong things because I feared other’s opinions. However, Proverbs 29:25 says, “the fear of man is a snare” and here’s why.

In society, whether it’s bullying, discrimination, how we treat the poor, yielding to peer pressure at work, or believing that divorce is no big deal, “the crowd” is often wrong. One reason is we’re told to “follow your heart.” The Bible says the heart is deceitfully wicked.2 As a result we usually find

 Crowd + Heart = Troublejesus-teaching the crowds freebibleimages.org

However, it’s interesting that Jesus went against the crowd.

  • Love your enemy
  • Die to self
  • Flee from evil
  • You can’t love money and God

But going against the flow has a cost. Jesus found this to be true:

Doing the right thing + Crowd = Death

Jesus never did anything wrong, but was crucified by the crowd. Likewise, if we go against the masses we too may be killed by the opinions of those around us. You deserve to have unforgiveness toward your parents after all they did. You’re a fool for tolerating your unloving spouse. Honesty is for suckers. But on Easter morning (Resurrection Day) Jesus proved that in death there is life.

Doing the right thing + Jesus = LifeUnto Eternity, My Fairest Love by Pnk Sherbet Photography

Jesus said, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”3 Overcoming the adult children of divorce issues we discuss on this site all require giving up something—often a part of ourselves, but when Jesus fills the gap we gain far more than we lose. Stable relationships, fulfilling marriages, peace, joy, self-control, and much more are available through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

When we confess that we’ve sinned against God, and accept that Jesus took those sins from the cross to the grave with Him (Good Friday), God offers us forgiveness and a new life (Easter) and daily strength through His Holy Spirit to overcome the issues we face. True healing starts with Jesus.

When we invite Jesus to be the Lord of our lives we receive the power of God’s Holy Spirit to overcome sin, addictions, and parental divorce issues like anger and fear. Click here to learn how you can have your sins forgiven and receive God’s  Holy Spirit. Make this your happiest Easter ever!

 
1Mark 15:15
2Jeremiah 17:9
3Matthew 10:39

Photos
Jesus and Pilate Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri800
jesus-teaching the crowds – freebibleimages.org
Unto Eternity, My Fairest Love by Pnk Sherbet Photography

Why We Don’t “Come to Him” – A Sunday Snippet

In our last post we looked at how Jesus offered to take our burdens when He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”1 But this week I read a devotion that described why (even as Christians) we often hesitate to go to Jesus. This excerpt is from the book, “100 Days of Grace,” by Mike Genung.

“’Come to Me’ is an invitation to know God. To take up this call is to meet with the Lord as one would a friend: to establish and cultivate a relationship.unworthy woman 1
We bring very little to the table. Flattering words won’t impress Him. Our accomplishments? They’re nothing compared to His. Boasting of our possessions would be like showing off monopoly money to a trillionaire. Good works? They won’t hold a candle to His infinite righteousness. Our best efforts? We can never be good enough to measure up to His impossible standard of holiness. Then there’s the matter of our sin, which we can’t hide because He sees it all.

So what does He want?
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