Start afresh

Image: Marc Torfs, Pixabay


His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:22; NLT).

1. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By turning from my selfish ways,
And taking up my cross.

2. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By spreading patience, joy, and love,
Whilst welcoming each loss.

3. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By thanking you for all you send,
And praying without cease.

4. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By seeing you in everyone,
And living in your peace.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past
(Isaiah 43:18; NIV).

 


References

1. Then he said to the crowd, “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).

2. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).

The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21; NLT).

Always rejoice (1 Thessalonians 5:16; NIV).

I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake (2 Corinthians 12:10; NLT).

3. Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

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

4. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18; NLT).

Start afresh


His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:22; NLT).

1. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By turning from my selfish ways,
And taking up my cross.

2. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By spreading patience, joy, and love,
Whilst welcoming each loss.

3. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By thanking you for all you send
And praying without cease.

4. Lord,
I want to follow you,
So may I start afresh today
By seeing you in everyone,
And living in your peace.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past
(Isaiah 43:18; NIV).


References

1. Then he said to the crowd, “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).

2. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).

The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord! (Job 1:21; NLT).

Always rejoice (1 Thessalonians 5:16; NIV).

I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake (2 Corinthians 12:10; NKJV).

3. Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

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

4. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18; NLT).

Every breath

Image: Karsten Paulick, Pixabay


Lord,

1. You give me every breath,
From birth, throughout my life,
Till death,

2. So may I never cease to pray,
Rejoice, and thank you
Every day

3. Beneath the shelter of your wings,
Almighty God,
My King of kings.


References

1. The breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

The Lord gives both life and death (1 Samuel 2:6; NLT).

2.  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).

3.  All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7; NLT).

I am Almighty God (Genesis 17:1; NKJV).

He is Lord of lords, and King of kings (Revelation 17:14; NKJV).

My action plan

Image: BUMIPUTRA, Pixabay


Introduction

On 19.8.20. I posted an article called “My dilemma”. It described the inner conflicts I face each time someone behaves unacceptably towards me. As a Christian, should I speak out, or should I say nothing? Jesus used both of these approaches at different times in his life, so I have never been able to reach a conclusion about how I should respond.

Unfortunately, this uncertainty means that regardless of how I handle each individual situation, I ruminate for months afterwards about what happened, and whether I reacted correctly. My endless self-questioning generates a constant sense of guilt, worry and dread, which I find impossible to shake off, and which can easily lead me into depression.

Since writing that article, I have spent a lot of time praying, reflecting, and talking this issue over with others. From the insights gained, I have put together an action plan to follow next time a hurtful situation arises.

Rather than seeing my response as a straight choice between speaking out and staying silent, I am now treating it as a series of stages, each of which is open to reflection before taking any further action.

1. Withdraw, pray, reflect

So, from now on, when someone behaves unacceptably towards me, I will withdraw to sleep on what happened for at least one night, taking time out to pray and reflect before responding. This will prevent me from reacting in the heat of the moment, with a high risk of damaging both the other person, and our relationship.

2. Decide whether or not to speak out 

A. If I decide it is pointless, or inappropriate, to speak out to the person concerned, I need take the matter no further. Instead, I will work on forgiving them, and praying for them.

B. If I decide to tell the other person how their behaviour has affected me, I need to think carefully about how best to approach them, perhaps by email, text, a phone call, or by arranging a meeting. It’s important to remember that they may have had no intention at all of upsetting me, and may therefore be taken very much by surprise when I raise the subject.

3. Speak out briefly, and lovingly

If I decide to give the person feedback, I will do so as briefly and lovingly as possible. My aim will simply be to remind them of what they said or did, and to be honest about how it has hurt or disturbed me. Anything beyond this is superfluous, and risks generating angry retaliation.

4. Wait to see if there is a response

A. If the other person doesn’t respond, there is no need for me to say any more. The matter is finished, and I will let it go. Each of us is responsible for our own behaviour, and I can’t expect everyone to respond as I wish. Instead, I will focus on loving them, forgiving them, and praying for them.

B. If the other person contacts me, I will take time to consider how best to reply, depending on what they say:

i. If they take responsibility for their behaviour, and apologise, I will accept this immediately, reassuring them that I have completely forgiven them. We will be reconciled, and the whole matter will be closed.

ii. If they react hurtfully, I will withdraw, considering the matter as being finished. Anything else is pointless, and risks generating more damage. Of course, I will still forgive them, and pray for them, but I can choose not to expose myself to further hurtful behaviour, in order to protect my own mental health.

5. Start again

Finally, if, despite doing my very best, the situation doesn’t work out as I hoped, or turns out badly, I will resolve to put it behind me, and start again. Every time I find myself ruminating about what happened, I will remind myself that it’s finished. There is always more to learn in life, and I can refine my action plan in the light of each new experience.

Conclusion

Throughout my life, when anyone hurts me, I’ve never known whether I should be honest with them, or say nothing. When I say nothing, I am left with a burden of powerlessness and distress. When I speak out, and the other person reacts angrily, I am left with a burden of guilt and dread, believing that I have sinned, and that the breakdown in relationship is all my fault.

From now on, when someone hurts me, I will remind myself immediately that I always have choices about how to respond, and that I have an action plan to follow. My overall aim will be to keep a careful, Christian balance between being honest, preserving relationships, and protecting my own mental health.

Image: Mustangloe, Pixabay


Acknowledgement

My warmest thanks to all those who have engaged in discussing this issue with me, especially Alan, Dianne, and John. Your contributions have been invaluable.


References

Introduction

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NIV).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV).

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7; NLT).

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

1. Withdraw, pray, reflect

Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16; NLT).

The Lord of Hosts […] is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance (Isaiah 28:29; NKJV).

Harsh words make tempers flare (Proverbs 15:1; NLT).

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back (Proverbs 29:11; NLT).

2. Decide whether or not to speak out

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).

When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25; NLT).

3. Speak out briefly, and lovingly

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

4. Wait to see if there is a response

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).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV).

NB Matthew doesn’t mention whether the person has to say sorry or not:

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:20-21; NLT).

5. Start again

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-9; NLT).

I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly (Ecclesiastes 1:17; NLT).

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord (Lamentations 3:40; KJV).

Conclusion

Be angry but do not sin (Ephesians 4:26; RSV).

I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say (Psalm 39:1; NLT).

Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

To acquire wisdom is to love oneself (Proverbs 19:8; NLT).

Hidden with Christ

Image: Free-Photos, Pixabay


1. Father,
May I sing forever,
Hidden with Christ,
In darkness.

2. Father,
May I rest forever,
Hidden with Christ,
Anew.

3. Father,
May I pray forever,
Hidden with Christ,
In silence.

4. Father,
May I live forever,
Hidden with Christ,
In you.


References

1. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:7; NLT).

Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV).

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

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10; NLT).

3. Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

4. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings (Psalm 61:4; NLT).

You died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3; NLT).

My dilemma

Image: 412designs, Pixabay


Introduction

Two people have hurt me badly in the last few weeks. In both cases, after some thought, I was honest with those involved, expressing my response as lovingly as I could. However, they both reacted with anger and blame. Sadly, offering to meet for reconciliation has brought no response.

Since then, I repeatedly go over all that happened, which generates a constant, painful, and exhausting sense of dread.

The crux of my anxiety is that when someone hurts me, I don’t know whether I should speak out, or say nothing. Each approach has different consequences.


What did Jesus say and do?

As always, I look for guidance in Jesus’ teaching and example. However, he taught, and displayed, both outspoken and silent ways of responding to hurt and injustice, which I find confusing.

Until his arrest, Jesus always spoke the truth in love when people criticised or insulted him. He was, in fact, very direct. His honesty made him a lot of enemies, and contributed to his death.

After his arrest, Jesus said very little, no matter what he was accused of, and how he was treated. This puzzled his captors, perhaps antagonising them even more.

Over the years, I’ve tried both approaches. What happens when I follow Christ’s example in these two, very different, ways?


A. Speaking out

When I “speak the truth in love”, it almost always backfires. The person I’ve been honest with turns on me, angrily blaming me for what I said, even though it was their own hurtful behaviour towards me that I spoke about. I then react to their hostility with my characteristic chronic dread.


B. Saying nothing

When I say nothing, I simply allow the other person to hurt me, absorbing the pain and damage, just as I did with my emotionally abusive mother. Without feedback, of course, there is a risk that they may continue to damage me. This makes me feel helpless and powerless, worsening my chronic depression.

Either way, I can easily end up feeling as if life is not worth living.


Forgiveness

Fortunately, Jesus is absolutely clear that whether we speak out or say nothing, we should always forgive those who hurt us. This applies even if they never recognise what they have done, and never say they are sorry.


Conclusion

When people hurt me, I ruminate endlessly about how I responded, and what went wrong. Whether I speak out or say nothing, the outcome is equally damaging for my mental health.

Worse still, I also feel guilty for having “caused” the other person to strike back angrily at me, and to hate me from then onwards.

So, when someone hurts me, should I speak out, or say nothing? I still don’t know the answer to this question, which has plagued me all my life. All I can do is to pray for those who hurt me, asking God to guide and heal us all.

Image: Himsan, Pixabay


References

Introduction

Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me (Psalm 41:9; NLT).


What did Jesus say and do?

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NIV).

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33; NIV).

The leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise (Mark 15:3-5; NLT).

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).


A. Speaking out

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV.

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


B. Saying nothing

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7; NLT).

You have taken away my companions and my loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT).

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me (Psalm 42:7;NIV).

Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child, like a baby who never lives to see the light? (Job 3:16; NLT).


Forgiveness

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).

When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25; NLT).


Conclusion

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)

The Lord of Hosts […] is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance (Isaiah 28:29; NKJV).

He will heal us (Hosea 6:1; NLT).

Image: czu_czu_PL, Pixabay

God is fire

Image: Couleur, Pixabay


1. God is fire,
Blazing in darkness.

2. God is light,
Showing the way.

3. God is peace,
Reigning forever.

4. God is truth,
Helping us pray.

5. God is strong,
Knowing our weakness.

6. God is good,
Cleansing our sin.

7. God is kind,
Sharing our sorrows.

8. God is love,
Waiting within.


References

1. God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV). 

2. God is light (1 John 1:5; NIV).

3. The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT).

4. The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

5. God is mighty (Job 36:5; NLT).

6. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good (1 Chronicles 16:34; RSV).

7. How kind the Lord is (Psalm 116:5; NLT).

8. God is love (1 John 4:16; NIV).

The Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

The Kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

Dread


Image: Italy Melo, Pexels


When they came to the place called The Skull,
they nailed him to the cross,
[and] Jesus said,“Father, forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing”
(Luke 23,33-4. NLT).

1. My anxious brooding
Generates this dread, Lord:
My mind goes through what happened
Without pause –

2. My friend, the one I trusted,
Turned against me,
Attacking me, and wounding,
Without cause.

3. Every time I think of him
Please prompt me
To pray: “Lord, bless my enemy
With good”,

4. Then leave him in your hand
For my protection,
Whilst you, Lord, heal us both,
With your great love.


References

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

2. My close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me (Psalm 41,9. NIV).

They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause (Psalm 109,3. RSV).

3. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6.28, NLT).

Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (Matthew 5,44. NLT).

4. In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind (Job 12,10. NIV).

My God is my rock, in whom I find protection (2 Samuel 22,3. NLT).

By his wounds you are healed (1 Peter 2,24. NLT).

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15,13. NLT).

When someone hurts me

When they came to the place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross [and] Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:33-4; NLT).


1. Lord,
When someone hurts me,
Please help me to forgive,
To love, and bless, and pray for them,
However long they live.

2. Lord,
When someone harms me,
Please help me to be glad,
Thanking you for what they did,
For you bring good from bad.

3. Lord,
When someone wounds me,
Please help me to hold on,
For you bring hope from everything,
Although my hope is gone.

4. Lord,
When someone grieves me,
Please help me to rejoice;
Then peace will be my watchword,
And your way of love, my choice.

To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Ephesians 3:20-21; NIV).


References

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

Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27; NLT).

2. I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, prosecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10; NLT).

Should we accept only good from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6; NIV).

Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NLT).

In all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28; NIV).

3. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise (Hebrews 10:23; NLT).

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11; NLT).

The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone (Acts 27:20; NLT).

4. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us to develop endurance (Romans 5:3; NLT).

Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15; NLT).

Follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 14:1; NIV).

Like Christ

Those who say they live in God
should live their lives as Jesus did
(1 John 2:6; NLT).


1. Father,
May I follow Christ,
And, like him, take your narrow way.

2. Father,
May I worship Christ,
And, like him, talk with you each day.

3. Father,
May I live in Christ,
And, like him, serve through all I do.

4. Father,
May I die with Christ,
And, like him, reunite with you.

When Christ appears, we shall be like him
(1 John 3:2; NIV).


References

1. [Christ] is your example, and you must follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NLT).

Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us (Ephesians 5:2; NIV).

2. Worship Christ as Lord of your life (1 Peter 3:15; NLT)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35; NIV).

3. Just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him (Colossians 2:6; CSB).

Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you (John 13:14-15; NLT).

4. If we die with him, we will also live with him (2 Timothy 2:11; NLT).

The Father and I are one (John 10:30; NLT).

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