Daily Devotions

Worth the Effort

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Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

 

 

Jill and I were having a nice dinner with Ken and Sue Arentson the other night and had a great time. Over seafood and a great dessert we talked, laughed, and got caught up on each other’s lives. At one point, while savoring my Creme Brûlée, I felt such warmth and joy. Cherished friendships are special and spiritual gifts from God.

 

Brad Stulberg offers a fascinating article entitled, “The Incredible Power of Friendship.” Stulberg laments, “Online relationships simply cannot replace real, live, in-person connection. There’s just something special and irreplaceable about being physically present with another human being.” I remember when my daughter was still dating, she would bemoan the new “rules of dating” that included getting to know one another through tweets, before making a face-to-face date. At the time I wondered, “How many good matches never materialized because two people didn’t connect on a smartphone screen?”

 

Social media is easier and quicker, but real friendships, any relationship for that matter, requires commitment, sacrifice, and face-to-face time. Stulberg continues, “There’s something irreplaceable about being physically present with another human being. And no, there’s not — and I can’t imagine there ever will be — an app for that.” Our society is working more hours per week than it has in decades. At the same time, we have more diversions than ever before. The 150 cable channels is even passé, with the competition coming from internet streaming sites like Netflix, Vudu, Amazon, Hulu, Crackle, YouTube, Sling and many more. Don’t even get me started on the evolution of gaming.

 

Many people are finding it easier to just ignore or give up on the concept of friendship. But that would be a terrible mistake. Science tells us that those without close friendships have significantly higher incidences of depression, and those individuals even die earlier. Friendships are foundational to life itself. God developed relationship with humanity, slowly becoming ever more relational. By the time of Jesus, God had become flesh, and the first thing Jesus did when he started his ministry was to call friends to share ministry with him.

 

Today, take a few moments to reflect on the friendships in your life. Are they strong or too shallow? Are you taking necessary time to nurture the friends in your life? Is your relationship with God as strong as it should be? A mature and joy-filled life can only exist when we thoughtfully prioritize our activities. Review and commit to renewing meaningful friendships in your life.

The Dark Side of Regret

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For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

 

The word “regret” has always been a challenge for me. I have many things that I have the right to regret, looking back on my life. Yet, I find myself experiencing many “regrets” that I shouldn’t take responsibility for feeling. Too many times I’ve taken on regrets that were probably not mine to carry. I have enough of my own, why am I carrying others as well?

 

To provide an example, while my mother was a wonderful person, the last years of my mother’s life, she made it clear she wished I’d have been in a profession that made more money. She was frustrated that I couldn’t take the family on trips, when we were paying for our daughter’s college. She made comparisons with what her friends’ children were providing their parents. This was a regret I refused to accept. I love being a minister and feel blessed to have been called by God to the ministry. Even more importantly, God has blessed my family abundantly. We were able to provide our daughter a good home, an education, good healthcare, enough food, good clothes, etc. I am humbled by the abundance we’ve had in our lives.

 

We all have enough regret in our lives that we’ve earned, for one reason or another. With God’s help, work through those regrets so they do not cripple you spiritually or emotionally. We all have enough regret, without taking on the regret others would like to place at our feet. Others would have us feeling regret for their issues. None of us are so emotionally and spiritually healthy, that we can take on extra, unearned regret. Think through your emotions and memories. What regrets are swimming around in your heart, that aren’t yours to regret? Evicting those unearned regrets from your mind will be incredibly freeing and renewing. Start today!

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