Turn to God

Image: Geeshan Edirisinghe, Pixabay


🍁

Turn to God
(Matthew 3:2; NLT).

1. Father,
May I turn to you
When I am feeling low.

2. Jesus,
May I turn to you
As I receive each blow.

3. Spirit,
May I turn to you
In sorrow, fear, and pain.

4. So, Lord,
May I turn to you –
Again, again, again.

Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them
(Isaiah 55:7; NIV).

🍁


References

1. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey his voice (for the Lord your God is a merciful God), he will not forsake you (Deuteronomy 4:30-31; NKJV).

2. They spit on him and took the staff and struck him on the head with it again and again (Matthew 27:30; NLT).

He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman Soldiers to be crucified (Mark 15:15; NLT).

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there [and] Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:33-4; NIV).

3. They will turn to the Lord and he will respond to their pleas and heal them (Isaiah 19:22; NIV).

4. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord my God (Jeremiah 31:18; NLT).

Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again (Revelation 3:3; NLT).

Forgiveness

Image: Victoria_Borodinova, Pixabay

🖤

Whenever you pray,
forgive anything you have against anyone.
(Mark 11:25; GW).

1. It can take all our life
To forgive those who hurt us –
A parent, a partner,
A stranger, a friend;

2. But that’s why we’re here,
Though it’s such a big challenge –
To learn to forgive, and let go,
In the end.

3. It can take us a lifetime
To love those who hate us –
To bless them, do good for them,
Pray for them, too;

4. But that’s why we’re here,
Though it’s such a hard task –
For we can’t be like Jesus, our Lord,
Till we do.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing”
(Luke 23:34; NLT).

🖤


References

1. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you (Matthew 6:14; NLT).

2. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:15; NLT).

3. To you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27-8; NLT).

4. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him (1 John 3:2; NLT).

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NIV).

Jesus died and rose again

Image: geralt, Pixabay


🧡

1. Jesus died,
And rose again.
He shares in all our fear
And pain.

2. Jesus died,
But now he lives.
He saves us, heals us,
And forgives.

3. Jesus died,
Yet loves us all,
Though he is great,
And we, so small.

4. Jesus died
For everyone:
Our way, our truth, our life:
God’s Son.

🧡


References

1. Christ died and rose again (Romans 14:9; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19; NIV).

2. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God (Romans 6:10; NLT).

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; NLT).

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies (Psalm 103:3-4; NLT).

3. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us (Revelation 1:5; NLT).

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less (John 3:30; NLT).

4. Jesus died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them (2 Corinthians 5:15; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

This is my dearly-loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him! (Matthew 17:5; NLT).

Your cross

Image: Ruth Kirk


❤️

Lord,

1. Your cross
Is part of me,
And I am part
Of you.

2. It’s always with me,
Day and night,
In all I think, and say,
And do.

3. It gives me courage,
Comfort, peace,
When I am anxious,
Or in pain –

4. Reminding me
How Jesus lived
And suffered,
Died, and rose again.

🌺🌺🌺


References

1. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

2. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

3. I am full of the courage that the Lord’s Spirit gives (Micah 3:8; NET).

I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever (John 14:16; KJV).

Peace I leave you; my peace I give you (John 14:27; NIV).

In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

4. The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction. But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18; NLT).

“The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead” (Luke 9:22; NLT).

When we cannot walk by faith (with thanks to David)

Image: Mareks Steins, Unsplash


🤎

We walk by faith, not by sight
(2 Corinthians 5:7; NKJV).

1. When we cannot walk by faith,
The Lord is with us:
We are safe.

2. When we cannot see his light,
Jesus guides us
Through the night.

3. When we cannot praise, or pray,
His Spirit pleads for us
Each day;

4. And even when we lose all trust,
He’s still holding fast
To us!

Your strong right hand holds me securely
(Psalm 63:8; NLT).

🤎


References

1. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me (Psalm 16:8; NLT).

You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Psalm 4:8; NLT).

2. If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God (Isaiah 50:10; NLT).

I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life (John 8:12; NLT).

3. The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; RSV).

4. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Psalm 22:1; NLT).

Your strong right hand holds me securely (Psalm 63:8; NLT).

I belong to you (#2 of 2 linked prayers)

Image: Manfred Richter, Pixabay


❤️

1. Father,
May I praise your name,
Serving in all I do;
Then I will see your face, at last,
For I belong to you.

2. Jesus,
May I face each day
Bearing my cross anew;
Then I will share your joy, at last,
For I am part of you.

3. Spirit,
May I hear your voice
Teaching me all that’s true;
Then we will reunite, at last,
For I am one with you.

❤️


References

1. You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him (Luke 4:8; NLT).

Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; NRSV).

You and I both belong to God (Job 33:6; NLT).

2. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Share your master’s joy (Matthew 25:21; CSB).

Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? (1 Corinthians 6:15; CSB).

3. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth (John 14:17; NLT).

Then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NLT).

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one (John 17:21; NLT).

The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17; NLT).

I belong to you (#1 of 2 linked prayers)

Image: Bronisław Dróżka, Pixabay


🤎

1. Father,
May I praise your name,
Serving in all I do;
Then we will share my exile here,
For I belong to you.

2. Jesus,
May I face each day
Bearing my cross anew;
Then we will share each heavy load,
For I am part of you.

3. Spirit,
May I hear your voice
Teaching me all that’s true;
Then we will always live in love,
For I am one with you.

🤎


References

1. You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him (Luke 4:8; NLT).

You and I both belong to God (Job 33:6; NLT).

2. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? (1 Corinthians 6:15; CSB).

3. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth (John 14:17; NLT).

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).

For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8; NLT).

The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17; NLT).

Inner space

Image: 3211043, Pixabay


🤎

Christ lives within you
(Romans 8:10; NLT).

1. My inner space
Is a shining shore,
Where Jesus listens
While I pray.

2. My inner space
Is a forest path,
Where I can talk with him
Each day.

3. My inner space
Is a mountainside,
Where Jesus helps me
Face each test.

4. My inner space
Is a desert cave,
Where I can sit with him
To rest.

When you pray, go away by yourself,
shut the door behind you,
and pray to your Father in private
(Matthew 6:6; NLT).


Image: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay


References

1. He hears my voice (Psalm 116:1; NLT).

2. God talks with man (Deuteronomy 5:24; DBY).

3. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NIV).

The Lord God helps me (Isaiah 50:9; RSV).

4. Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28; NLT).

Dealing with hurt

This blog is about dealing with hurt feelings. In three short articles, it charts my learning over a period of several months.


 1. My dilemma – written on 19.8.20.

Image: level17-design, Pixabay


The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me
(Job 30:27; NIV).

Introduction
During the summer of 2020, two people hurt me badly, on separate occasions. I decided to be direct with them, and did so as lovingly as I could. However, both reacted to my feedback with anger and blame, and neither was willing to work together towards reconciliation.

My dilemma: Should I speak out, or say nothing?
This breakdown in two significant relationships left me ruminating for many weeks about all that had gone wrong, generating a constant sense of dread. Sadly, this was not a new experience. Dealing with hurt feelings has posed a serious dilemma for me throughout my life: is it better to speak out to those concerned, or to say nothing?

What did Jesus say and do?
As always, when I don’t know what to do for the best, I looked for guidance in the teaching and example of Jesus. However, he taught, and displayed, both outspoken and silent ways of responding to hurt, criticism, and injustice, which I have always found confusing.

For example, on one occasion he stated: If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them (Luke 17:3; NIV). 

Yet he also said: If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; NLT).

So, what happens when I try to follow each of these two apparently very different approaches?

Speaking out
Experience has taught me that when I speak out directly to someone who has hurt me, it almost always backfires. In response to my feedback, they turn on me with anger and blame, or end our relationship. I then react to their hostility with my characteristic endless sense of dread.

Saying nothing
On the other hand, when I say nothing, I allow the other person to hurt me without protesting, absorbing the pain and damage, just as I did with my emotionally abusive mother. This makes me feel powerless, worthless, and depressed.

Thus, whichever approach I try, I generally end up feeling as if life is not worth living.

Forgiveness
Fortunately, Jesus was absolutely clear that whether or not we speak out, we should always forgive those who hurt us. This applies even if they never acknowledge what they have done, and never apologise. Forgiveness gives me something positive to work on during the months of emotional distress which follow each time someone upsets me.

Conclusion
When people hurt me, I see myself as having only two basic choices: to speak out, or to say nothing. Either way, the outcome is equally damaging for my mental health. Not knowing how to resolve this dilemma has plagued me all my life, and remains a serious problem to this day.


After writing the piece above, I began to talk my dilemma over with a few, trusted people for the first time ever. Gradually, my thinking about it began to change, as described in the next article.


2. My action plan – written on 30.8.20.

Image: Jackson David, Pixabay


If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God
(Matthew 5:23-4; NLT).

Introduction
After writing the above article, I spent a long time working out how to improve my ways of relating to those who hurt me. From the insights gained, I gradually put together an action plan to follow whenever a crisis arises.

My action plan
Rather than seeing my response as a stark choice between speaking out and saying nothing, I decided to tackle each situation in a series of stages.

Stage 1: Withdraw, pray, reflect
When someone behaves unacceptably towards me, I will not confront the person involved immediately. Instead, I will simply tell them that I need time to reflect on what they have said or done. I will then withdraw to sleep on the matter for at least one night. Taking time out will enable me to pray, discuss the situation with someone I trust, and think carefully, before responding. This should help to prevent me from reacting angrily in the heat of the moment, with a high risk of permanently damaging the other person, our relationship, and myself.

Stage 2: Decide whether or not to be honest
During the time out, if I decide it is pointless, or inappropriate, to speak directly  to the person concerned, I need take the matter no further. Instead, I will work on praying for them, and forgiving them.

On the other hand, if I decide to tell the other person how their behaviour has affected me, I need to remember that they may have had no intention, or awareness, of upsetting me, and might therefore be very taken aback when I raise the subject.

Stage 3: Speak out briefly, and lovingly
When I decide to give direct feedback, I will do so as briefly and lovingly as possible. I will remind the person of what they said or did, and be honest about how it has hurt me. Anything beyond this is superfluous.

Stage 4: Wait to see how the person responds
If the other person reacts badly, there is no need for me to do anything further. We are all responsible for our own behaviour, and I can’t expect everyone to respond exactly as I wish.  Instead, I will try to put the whole matter behind me, though I admit that I have always found this impossible.

On the other hand, if the other person reacts positively, and apologises, I will accept this immediately, forgiving them completely. We can then be reconciled, and the whole matter will be resolved.

Stage 5: Start afresh
Finally, however badly things turn out, I can try to start afresh each day. Every time I find myself ruminating about what happened, I will remind myself that the matter is now closed, and that it’s time for me to move on.

Conclusion
From now on, when someone hurts me, I have an action plan to follow. My overall aim will be to maintain a careful balance between being speaking out, preserving relationships, and protecting my mental health.


After finishing this article, I made further progress in dealing with hurt feelings, as described in the final piece of this series.


3. My further learning – written on 23.1.21.

Image: Manfred Antranias Zimmer, Pixabay


Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves
(Philippians 2:3; NLT).

Introduction
Despite my hopes, putting together my action plan didn’t make me feel any better about my two shattered relationships. I was still living with constant dread, which drained my already very limited energy. My sleep and dreams were disturbed, and I began to slip into depression. Clearly, my approach to dealing with hurt feelings was incomplete.

Then, one day, I suddenly realised that when I’ve been honest with someone about their behaviour towards me, and they have taken it badly, or stopped speaking to me, there is one more step I can take, in the hope of resolving the situation.

One more step
I can write to the person concerned, saying how sorry I am about everything that has gone wrong between us. I can tell them that I’m praying for them, and for our relationship, and let them know that I long for us to be reconciled. Even if they don’t respond, I will then know that I have done all I possibly can to put things right between us.

This insight enabled me to write carefully and lovingly to the two people who had hurt me. To my delight, one responded with great generosity of spirit, though sadly the other did not reply. However, by sending these letters, I finally managed to stop ruminating about all that had gone wrong. In consequence, my abiding sense of dread slowly began to diminish.

The teaching of Mother Theresa
At this point, I believed my action plan was complete. Some weeks later, though, I stumbled on Mother Theresa’s teaching about how to deal with exactly the kind of hurtful situations that had destroyed my peace of mind for so many months.

In  her book, “The Joy in Loving” (Penguin Books, 2000), Mother Theresa offers brief but powerful advice on how to become more humble, and therefore more Christ-like. The wording varies slightly in different editions of the book, so I have amalgamated the most relevant points into a single list which hopefully maintains the spirit of her approach:

  • Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  • Accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
  • Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.
  • Accept insults and injuries.
  • Accept being slighted and disliked.
  • Accept contempt, being disregarded, and being forgotten.
  • Be courteous, kind, and gentle, even when provoked.

Inspired by the simplicity and clarity of these teachings, I began to absorb and practice them. Not long afterwards a friend unexpectedly censured me for something which was not under my control. Feeling hurt, I began to defend myself, but quickly recalled Mother Theresa’s wise words, “Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.” I stopped speaking, and turned away. Overwhelmed by despair, I started to weep. To my friend’s credit, she quickly realised how much she had hurt me. She approached me, apologising profusely. We clung together for a long time in great distress, comforting each other. Eventually I was able to explain how afraid I had been of her sudden anger, and how much her words had upset me. I told her that I loved and valued her, and we were fully reconciled.

Humility, acceptance and courtesy
This was a deeply healing experience, unlike anything  I had previously experienced. Moreover, it was not followed by dread, or depression, which seemed little short of a miracle. I therefore resolved to adopt Mother Theresa’s approach of responding with humility, acceptance, courtesy, kindness and forgiveness whenever someone hurts me.

Conclusion
These three linked articles have described how I resolved my lifelong dilemma about the best way to respond when someone hurts me. I no longer see myself as having a straight, binary choice between speaking out and saying nothing. Nor do I need a complex action plan that relies on how the other person reacts at each stage. Instead, from now on, whenever I am criticised or attacked, I will use the simple, humble approach encapsulated in Mother Theresa’s teaching.

To my delight, this completely resolves my original dilemma, as it is entirely in accordance with the spirit of Christ’s own words: Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also […] Then your reward in heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High (Luke 6:27-9, 35; NLT). 

There can be no finer action plan than this.


Acknowledgements

My warmest thanks to all those who engaged in discussing this issue with me, especially Alan, Dianne, Rosemary, and John. Their contributions have been invaluable. Many thanks also to Ber, whose technical help and personal encouragement enabled me to write and organise this document.

Inner space

Image: Avi Chomotovski, Pixabay


💙

1. Lord,
Please give me inner space,
So I can hear your silent voice.

2. Lord,
Please give me inner peace,
So I can make each vital choice.

3. Lord,
Please give me inner light,
So I can tread your narrow way.

4. Lord,
Please give me inner joy,
So I can praise your name all day.

5. Lord,
Please give me inner truth,
Then I will grasp what Jesus taught.

6. Lord,
Please give me inner love,
Then I will serve you as I ought.

7. Lord,
Please give me inner hope,
Then I will never cease to pray.

8. Lord,
Please give me inner faith,
Then I will trust you, come what may.

💙


References

1. Let me hear your voice (Song of Songs 2:14; NLT).

2. Peace I leave you; my peace I give you (John 14:27; NIV).

I choose to obey your precepts (Psalm 119:173; NET).

3. This light within you produces only what is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:9; NLT).

Travel steadily along his path (Psalm 37:34; NLT).

4. May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise his holy name! (Psalm 97:12; NLT).

5. You will give truth to Jacob (Micah 7:20; NKJV).

6. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT).

7. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11; NKJV).

Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

8. The promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it (Romans 4:16; NLT).

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NIV).