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No Regrets

“Would’a. Could’a. Should’a.” Have you ever found yourself saying something like, “I would have done that, but I didn’t. I could have accomplished such-and-such, but I didn’t try. I should have spent more time with my kids, but I worked too much.”

As a palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware served patients in the final weeks of their lives. In a remarkable article called “Regrets of the Dying,” she shared the five most common regrets given by the patients she served:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. (“Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made.”)
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. (“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others.”)
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. (“Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.”)

There is a myth to improving one’s life: Spend the bulk of your time trying to fix your problems. Should you work on solving your problems? You bet. But the way to improve your life doesn’t come from primarily focusing on what’s wrong but by increasing what’s right. In fact, according to the Apostle Paul when we place the bulk of our attention on what is right, we begin to discover ways to improve what is wrong at the same time.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

“Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

If you allow the demands of the present to interfere with your hopes for the future, you are letting your thoughts be overrun with what isn’t instead of what can be. Daily pressures should never outweigh future dreams. Yes, we live in reality, and we do have responsibilities in the moment. But we can also create moments that lead to a better future.

Chip and Dan Heath put it this way, “In life, we can work so hard to get the kinks out that we forget to put the peaks in” (The Power of Moments, 258).

Perhaps one of the best ways you can work on your problems is by putting in more peaks. Stretch yourself. Be creative. Practice courage. Stay connected to Jesus and others. Create moments of elevation that help you break the old script and move beyond past patterns and habits. If you practice these things, then maybe you will discover how to live a life of no regrets.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

When Lenten Traditions Miss the Point

Whether you splurged on Fat Tuesday, observed Ash Wednesday, or vowed to live without a particular food, drink or bad habit for the next 40 days, Lent began this week. It’s the period in the church calendar commemorating Jesus Christ’s temptation by the devil in the wilderness, his subsequent crucifixion, and the celebration of his glorious resurrection.

But what if the focus on all of the secular activities distracts us (and non-Christians too) from understanding the real relevance of what a life surrendered to Jesus means? People think of living a surrendered life in terms of sacrificing something during Lent, or moral purity or having to go to church every Sunday.

Now, a surrendered life can include those things, but they can also cause us to miss the point. Lent is not merely about surrendering to lists of do’s and don’ts, to mere moralism, to religion. If that were the case, then Christianity would be no better than an ethical system of right versus wrong. Christianity is not a philosophy of behavior modification. When people think it is, and act like it is, it leads to some people feeling pretty good about themselves, and everybody else so turned off that they wouldn’t touch Christianity and the church if their lives depended on it.

But what if surrender had a good connotation? Like surrendering to love, or surrendering your guilt and shame? In that sense, surrender is a good thing. When I surrender something bad, I’m letting go.

And this is exactly what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 16: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26, ESV)

So, what does living a life of surrender look like, not just during Lent? In the passage above, the emphasis is on the Person you’re following, not the cross you’re bearing. Denying yourself (submission) and taking up your cross are not ends unto themselves. They are means to the end. The end is following Jesus. The point is following Jesus. We are submitting to a Person, not a thing, not an ideology, not theology, not a religion, not moralism.

When we submit to Jesus, it’s because we want to come after him. We want to follow him. We are so grateful for his love and how he has rescued us from the clutches of sin and a life of pain, that we willingly surrender to him.  And when we do that, we’re on the path to freedom. It all boils down to this—what’s the destination of the road you’re on? What’s the end game?

It’s not, “Join Jesus’ team, and you’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise.” Here’s the message: follow Jesus, and your life will never be the same. You will have a purpose in your life to help change the world, and the more you take the focus off your centered self and put it on what Jesus calls you to be and do, you will find the peace that surpasses all understanding. Actually, that peace will find you.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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