Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’re looking for specific resources, be sure to check out the topics in the column to the right. Otherwise, feel free to look around! ~ Kerry

Friday, November 20, 2009

Real, Not Ideal

A couple of weeks ago, I was reviewing the possible outcomes of a current situation in my life. I could only think of three options. And to be completely honest, none of them seemed appealing. As I thought through each possibility, I had the exact same thought, “Well, that option is definitely not ideal.” My thoughts were quite discouraging. I have to admit, I went to bed that night grumbling at the Lord.

The next morning I was reading The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay, a devotional book divided into 40 readings. That day’s section was entitled “Get Rid of the Ideal, Go for the Real.” Holladay said we can make an idol out of the ideal. What a sobering truth! Immediately I realized that was exactly what I was doing—longing for the “ideal” and thinking it would bring contentment and fulfillment.

Holladay challenged his readers, “The circumstances of your life are not perfect. You are not perfect. The people you love are not perfect. But God is perfect. So instead of trying to perfect the imperfectable, choose to focus on praising the one who is perfect. And then, bolstered by that praise, choose real love.”

Needless to say, I had to repent for the grumblings of my heart. I have spent way too much time trying to perfect the imperfectable. When my thoughts simply focus on the ideal, I fail to enjoy the good in the real circumstances of my life. It was such a good reminder that our circumstances and relationships on earth will never be perfectly ideal! So with gratitude in my heart, I am challenged to embrace the real instead of demanding the ideal.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Surrendering All Expectations to God

I recently read a thought-provoking article* in Gary Smalley's e-newsletter. I thought--I've gotta share this with my friends! It fits perfectly with the principles in the Secrets book!

So here it is...

"A few years ago, God broke through my hardened heart and began to transform my attitudes. The first thing I realized that had to change were my expectations. I had to face up to the fact that my own sense of how things ought to be had come to rule my life and my emotions. It wasn’t that the expectations themselves were wrong—we all have expectations; they’re a natural part of life—but my expectations were all Gary-centered rather than God-centered.
I believe that God had me start by surrendering all my expectations to Him because my unfulfilled expectations were the cause of much of the stress in my life, and they were distracting me from my relationship with God. God called me to let go of all my aspirations so that I could focus on Him.

"God promises that He will meet all of our needs 'according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.' It doesn’t say He’ll meet some of our needs; it says He’ll meet all our needs. I had read this verse countless times over the years, but I wasn’t living according to what it promises. I was driven by my own agenda, my own goals, and my own good ideas. When I started to trust God fully, and really believed He was faithful, I began to experience true peace. This, I believe, is what caused my stress levels to drop so dramatically. --Gary Smalley"

So what about you? Where are your expectations centered today? Maybe now is the perfect time for a moment of surrender . . .

*"Surrendering All Expectations to God," an e-newsletter by Gary Smalley (October 22, 2009). http://www.garysmalley.com.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness—it is something we all know we need. When God forgives us, He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west—never to be remembered against us again (Psalm 102:12). Jesus helps us understand that if we really grasped the depth of God’s forgiveness, we would forgive others (Matthew 18:21-35). He even tells us that if we don’t forgive those who have offended us, our Father in Heaven won’t forgive us (Matthew 6:14,15).

But what does it look like for you and me to forgive those who have hurt us?

Many wrong ideas influence our thoughts about forgiveness, ideas like:
1—I don’t have to forgive if the person who has hurt me doesn’t ask for forgiveness.
2—If I forgive them, it will condone their sinful behavior.
3—Forgiveness means that the relationship is restored and trust is rebuilt.
4—Forgiveness means that I don’t remember the pain or have any negative feelings about the person who has hurt me.

Have you ever been confused by these ideas, or by your feelings? I know I have. Several years ago, someone hurt our family. I knew I needed to forgive them and I prayed fervently for the Lord to help me. But I wasn’t sure how to know if I had really forgiven them. When I saw them, I would get an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Those feelings would cause me to question if I had actually forgiven them.

Rick Warren describes forgiveness in a very tangible way, in the 40 Days of Love videos. He says forgiveness is three things:
1—relinquishing my rights to get even,
2—responding to evil with good, and
3—repeating those two things as many times as necessary.

Warren also helps us to understand that forgiveness happens in a moment, but trust must be rebuilt over time. And in order for there to be a healthy relationship, the offender must also make some changes.

I have come to understand that the choice to forgive says a great deal about the spiritual condition of the person. George Wood in his newest book, Living in the Spirit, says it this way: “When you ‘bump’ a genuinely Spirit-filled person, you will get love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, and self-control. But when you ‘bump’ a person who professes to be Spirit-filled but doesn’t have the evidence, out will come meanness, nastiness, bitterness, and hostility.”

It is so helpful to understand these truths about forgiveness. These choices have nothing to do with our feelings. Of course we will remember the pain of hurtful situations. And human relationships change when a person intentionally hurts us. But we can be obedient to the command to forgive. Remember, when you choose to give up your rights to get even, you are forgiving. When you are depending upon the Holy Spirit to respond to evil with His goodness, you are obeying Jesus’ command to forgive.

Be encouraged—when you choose to obey, your feelings will eventually come around. Someone recently said to me, “You can never feel your way into right behavior, but you can behave your way into right feelings.”