Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘mistakes’

5 Steps for Handling Life’s Frustrations

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

Many of our biggest mistakes in life can be traced to handling disappointment in unwise ways. In times when we’re emotionally low, it’s easy to slip back into the habits that wreaked havoc on our lives in the past. Sometimes, we just need better coping mechanisms!

Here are five simple steps for dealing with frustrations in your life, based on the Bible.

1.  Ask yourself, “Did I cause it?”

The Bible says, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NIV). Many things in life frustrate us because we brought them on ourselves. We don’t have anybody else to blame.

It’s frustrating to run out of gas on a trip. But if you didn’t stop to get gas before you left, or decided to push your luck, who’s to blame?

2.  Ask yourself, “What can I learn from it?”

Use the irritation as an opportunity to grow in character and become more like Christ.

How does God produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life? He places you in the opposite situation. If God wants to teach you love, he will put you around unlovely people. If God wants to teach you peace, he will put you in a situation of total chaos so you can have inner peace.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him . . . ” (NIV). There are many bad things in the world, but all things work together and even the negative God can turn into a positive if we will let him.

3.  Thank God in the situation.

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks” (NKJV). You don’t have to be thankful for a bad situation. But you can be thankful in a bad situation. That frustration, that irritation, that inconvenience, that interruption, may be a blessing or an opportunity in disguise.

The apostle Paul wanted to go to Rome to preach, but God took him to Rome to be in prison and write the letters that formed the New Testament. Paul was frustrated, but God saw it as an opportunity to make him sit still long enough to write the Bible.

4.  Turn the frustration into a funny, humorous event.

The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine”  (Proverbs 17:22 NIV). A sense of humor is God’s antidote for anger and frustration.

5.  Ask God to fill you with his love.

Why? Because 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, [Love] is not easily angered” (NIV).  Love is self-giving, not self-serving. We get irritated because we think everyone and everything has to revolve around us. Love concentrates on the other person.

Jesus faced constant frustrations in his life, but he always made time for people. We get so preoccupied with our own things; we forget that people are the priority in life.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).

You Don’t Have to Live with Guilt

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.”(Proverbs 28:13 TLB)

God is always ready to give you another chance. That’s a bedrock piece of Christianity. We’ve all been irresponsible. We’ve all screwed up. The Bible tells us,“Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT, second edition).

God doesn’t want you living with a heavy guilt trip about all the irresponsibility in your life. Guilt destroys your confidence, damages your relationships, keeps you stuck in the past, and even hurts your health. I read a report a few years back that said 70 percent of people in the hospital could leave if they knew how to resolve their guilt.

God wants far better for your life than that. You don’t want to live with guilt. And here’s an important truth to always hang on to: You don’t have to.

God wants you to live with a sense of promise and hope. God can even bring good out of the stupid decisions that you’ve made in your life if you’ll give those failures to him.

How do you do that?

Admit to God you’ve made a mistake. It doesn’t surprise him. And it won’t change his perception of you. I hope you’ll take this step today. When you do, here’s what you can expect from God:

  1. God forgives instantly. The very moment you admit your sin to God, he forgives you.
  2. God forgives freely. You don’t need to earn it, and you’ll never deserve it.
  3. God forgives completely. He wipes your sin absolutely clean.

If you’re mired in guilt and shame, you’ll likely perpetuate whatever problem you have. You’ll tell yourself that you blew it, so you’re bad. Since you’re bad, you believe you’ll blow it again. It’s a nasty cycle from which we often can’t seem to escape — at least not on our own.

You need a power beyond yourself. You need a Savior. You need Jesus.

Post-Wedding Regrets: “What have I done?”


So you wake up soon after your wedding day—maybe it was a couple hours after the wedding, maybe a couple weeks—and say, “What have I done?”

There are many painful things we experience in life. This one weighs in as one of the most painful.

You feel as though you have just received a life sentence or (maybe) a death sentence. Ironically, though recently married, you feel more alone than ever.

Aloneness in marriage is just the worst.

Your temptation is to reboot the system. You made a bad decision, now you want to take it back. You consider seeking an annulment (I know people who have tried it). You figure that God doesn’t hold us accountable for stupid decisions, so we can leave the marriage.

Or… you avoid compounding what was perhaps a poor decision (to marry) with another poor decision (to leave the marriage), and… you consider your God.

Please don’t think that I am minimizing the challenges in front of you. I have witnessed people going through it and seen that the path can be hard and sometimes long. But I have also seen God’s mercy poured out on willing spouses—our Father is well-known for demonstrating great power in our weakness.

Things are not always as they seem. When people have regretted their decision to marry—and they might have good reasons for such regrets—the resulting humility and calling out to the Lord for help is downright glorious. That alone is beauty out of ashes.

Here are some helpful things I have heard from those who have gone before you.

Ask for prayer and wisdom from someone who will do more than simply commiserate.

This is normal protocol in the Christian life, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally. No one enjoys asking for help, and it is especially hard to acknowledge personal struggles in marriage. But followers of Jesus speak with our Lord about difficult things and we speak with each other. Most people I have talked to have spoken to a wise friend about their difficulties. In doing this they were not tattling on their spouses; they were seeking wisdom about how to go forward.

Be careful about focusing on your regrets, and even be careful about focusing on your marriage. 

Your goal is to grow in the knowledge of Jesus and discover how children of God are to thrive. John 10:10 is still for you: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This full life, of course, is much better than having whatever we want. Your goal is to catch a vision for the contentment that Paul found in Jesus (Phil. 4:11-12). He is telling you a great secret: Jesus is enough.

Bring more scrutiny to yourself than to your spouse. 

You might have to raise difficult issues with your spouse. The only way you can do this is to first develop expertise in putting your own sins and weaknesses under the microscope while you see your spouse’s with something less than twenty-twenty vision (Matt.7:3-5). Ugh. This one might take a miracle.

Search for the good in your spouse.

By the good I mean anything that resembles, no matter how faintly, the true Father of all. When you live with someone long enough you will certainly see the person’s sins, but you will also see things that are praiseworthy. If you can’t see anything good, maybe it’s because you just don’t like your spouse and it is hard to find anything good in someone you don’t like. Consider forgiving your spouse for accumulated wrongs and start over.

Then, after these steps, talk about your marriage with your spouse.

If you are planning to lead with “I wish I never married you,” then you should go back and review the other steps again. Aim to be concrete (what are the top two specific problems). Aim to be hopeful. Those who are praying for you can help you on this one.

No one will tell you that everything will soon be great. Actually, that isn’t quite true. I know some who might because that is their particular experience. Most veterans won’t be so rosy, but they will tell you that the struggle is worth it, and many would say that it was exactly what they needed.

This “try, try again” approach will ruin you.

SOURCE:  Jan Johnson

Try, Try Again?  No.

Maybe it starts when you make a mistake: yelling at someone you love or not doing what you promised to do.

Or it starts when you see someone who seems light-years ahead of you: they grin at people who dismiss them; they praise someone who beats them out of a job. You feel so far behind! Your lack of character really shows.

Then we think: When am I going to get it? When am I going to stop being lazy, stop showing off, quit being depressed, no longer withdraw from the people I love, stop worrying over something that didn’t happen or cease trying to control my co-workers or family members? It’s easy to sink deeper into it: Why can’t I overcome this? Especially if our shortcoming is considered a “big” sin among the people we hang out with.

These questions keep our thoughts spinning and often lead to despair and hopelessness. We believe the answer is: Try harder. We’ve heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try – try again!” No. If I’ve lost my way back to my car, I don’t keep going back to the same space, thinking my car will magically appear. I pause. I stop and think. The saying should be: If at first you don’t succeed, ask God for help. I consider that God will show me a wiser, (usually) gentler approach.

First, we ask God for a “next step,” which doesn’t have to be huge. In fact, a smaller next step usually works better and leads to many more. A wise friend or spiritual director might suggest a better and different next step we haven’t thought of.

But we also look deeper. We ask the Spirit to show us the source of the problem (anger, exhaustion, boredom)? What am I afraid of? What (perhaps wise) caution is blocking me? These questions usually have to percolate with the help of the Spirit. Out of these questions may come a few small “next steps.”

This “try, try again” approach will ruin you.

Such spinning of thoughts is (I believe) a favorite method of the enemy to divert our attention from focusing on the Indwelling Christ. Going over and over our performance (How am I doing?) focuses us on ourselves, not God. When we focus on ourselves this way, we make ourselves the “star” of our spirituality instead of letting God be the “star” of our spirituality. Instead of asking, How am I doing? we ask, What, O God, are you leading me to be? To think? To do? Show me. Walk with me.

True humility involves relying on God all day long, moment by moment. “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me” . . . for the next ten minutes (Philippians 4;13, altered).

My inadequacy in this situation or my character flaw is clear to me and I’m not disturbed by it. I can’t overcome sin. “I do nothing on my own,” said Jesus (John 5:30). So I ask god, What are you leading me to be? To think? To do? Show me. Walk with me.

In humility we accept that growth is about progress, not perfection. Abraham journeyed on by stages (Genesis 12:9; 13:3). Israel was led “day by day continually” (Exodus 29:38). As we also do this, we can embrace the One who accompanies us on this journey, who loves being with us, who invites us to abide in Christ as Christ abides in us.

Learning From Others’ Mistakes

SOURCE:   Cynthia Bezek/Discipleship Journal

Studying biblical characters who failed can protect us from repeating their folly.

David’s affair. Peter’s denial. Noah’s drunkenness. Jacob’s conniving. God’s Word spares no details as it candidly reveals the shortcomings of His children. I’m sure glad He didn’t include my story in His permanent record!

But God had a good reason for recording the failures of His faithful ones. Romans 15:4 explains: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Paul expanded upon that idea in 1 Cor. 10:6, 11: “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did . . . These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.”

God wants us to learn from others to avoid making the same mistakes ourselves. How can we profit from these accounts of failure? One good way is to study them.

A Mile in Their Shoes

To begin, choose a biblical character to study. Perhaps you already have someone in mind, somebody who has always intrigued you or made you ask, “Why did God choose him?” Does it bother you that Abraham lied? That Jonah was a coward? If no one comes to mind, look through a book that catalogs Bible characters, such as Everyone in the Bible by William P. Barker.

Next, use a concordance to locate every reference to that person. Make sure to include New Testament references to Old Testament characters, since these can provide valuable insight. For example, the account of Lot in Genesis mentions little that commends him. But 2 Pet. 2:7–8 describes his inner turmoil: “[God] rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard).”

Now, prayerfully read your character’s story several times. To put yourself in that person’s shoes, consider the following questions.

  • What did the character do right? Wrong?
  • What motivated him?
  • What were the character’s moral strengths and weaknesses?
  • Was there a clear point at which decline began, or was it gradual?
  • What opportunities did he have to repent? How did he respond to these?
  • What could the character have done differently to avoid failing God?
  • In what way(s) am I like this person?
  • What do I need to do to avoid making the same mistakes?

In a spirit of humility, record your observations. Then write a summary that includes a personal application plan. Finish your study with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God for using “jars of clay” to reveal His all-surpassing power (2 Cor. 4:7).

Sample Study: Samson Judges 13–16

What did Samson do right? Wrong?

Samson had godly parents who feared, trusted, and obeyed the Lord. They believed the angel of God who told them their unborn son would deliver Israel from the Philistines. They obeyed all of God’s commands concerning how to raise Samson as a Nazarite. The Lord blessed Samson and began to stir in him while he was still living at home with his parents.

But Samson made his first wrong move when he visited the Philistine town of Timnah. In that city, he met and soon married a Philistine woman, even though God had prohibited marriage between His children and the Canaanites (Ex. 34:16, Dt. 7:3). Later Samson visited a Philistine prostitute. Ultimately he allowed Delilah, his Philistine mistress, to rob him of the source of his strength.

Despite these failures, however, the author of Hebrews still included Samson in his list of the Old Testament heroes of the faith (Heb. 11:32).

What motivated Samson?

Although Samson should have been motivated by God’s extraordinary call on his life, he seemed to be compelled by cravings for sensual pleasure and revenge. Even in the final victory in which he slew more than 3,000 Philistines, he did not destroy the temple because of the idol worship that was taking place. Instead, he asked God to give him the strength to topple the massive structure to “get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes” (Jdg. 16:28).

What were Samson’s strengths and weaknesses?

Samson had unprecedented physical strength, and he acknowledged God as the source of that strength. But Samson was self-willed, impulsive, and impertinent. He told his parents, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife” (Jdg. 14:2). He failed to honor them and the Lord regarding his marriage to a Philistine. Samson had other character flaws as well. He had a blazing temper and could sometimes be cruel. Once he tied 300 foxes’ tails together with lit torches between them. And strong as he was physically, he couldn’t say no to a weeping woman.

Was there a clear point at which Samson’s decline began, or was it gradual?

Samson’s defeat first became apparent outwardly when he visited Philistia and came back demanding a Philistine wife. But I suspect it must have begun earlier than the text records, whenever he first began putting pleasure before God. Why wasn’t Samson’s first priority seeking God for wisdom about how to defeat the Philistines, since that was God’s revealed purpose for his life? Why didn’t Samson respect the desires of his godly parents? Did he think he was above moral failure and compromise?

What opportunities did Samson have to repent, and how did he respond to these?

God graciously used Samson’s sinful alliance with the Philistine woman to accomplish His purposes. “This was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines” (Jdg. 14:4). But Samson never realized that God had used the unholy union to establish him as Israel’s mighty leader.

This pattern of blindness to God’s work in Samson’s life can be seen over and over again: when his wife died, when God’s Spirit strengthened Samson for mighty acts, when God miraculously supplied a spring of water, when God helped him escape entrapment in Gaza, and when He allowed Samson three opportunities to recognize Delilah’s treachery before his ultimate downfall. All of these were occasions of God’s mercy and opportunities for Samson to repent. But he did not. Nor does Judges indicate that Samson ever sought forgiveness for his sins against the Lord.

How could Samson have acted differently to avoid failing God?

Samson could have obeyed his parents, honoring their admonition to marry an Israelite. He could have obeyed God concerning intermarriage, not considering himself above God’s law. He could have made God’s call on his life his first priority. He could have examined his heart and his ways, asking God for wisdom, purity, and an undivided heart to lead Israel. Samson could have asked the Lord to avenge him rather than taking matters into his own hands. He could have avoided sexual immorality of any kind. Finally, Samson could have fled from Delilah when he saw that she could not be trusted.

In what way(s) am I like Samson?

Samson’s most basic flaw seems to be his failure to put God’s will above his own. God was forced to work in spite of Samson rather than with his willing cooperation. I wonder what God would have done through this strong man if Samson had been motivated to honor Him instead of being consumed by his own interests and pleasures.

Too often, I, too, am driven by my own desires. I use my God-given gifts and abilities to further my own agenda rather than God’s. Do I limit what God will do through me because I want to serve Him on my terms rather than His? Does He have to work in spite of me? These are questions I need to continue thinking about.

What action must I take to avoid repeating Samson’s mistakes?

I want to make the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane a regular part of my prayer life: “Not my will, but yours be done” (Lk. 22:42). I will seek to use my spiritual gifts for God’s purposes and not my own and ask the Lord to search my heart and repent of any sins He reveals. I will also pray for my son, that he will wholeheartedly fulfill God’s plan for his life, avoiding the snares of immorality, unholy partnerships, and revenge. Finally, I will praise God that He can use even my folly and sin to accomplish His purposes.

If I Could Live My Life Over

SOURCE:  Discipleship Journal/Robert Boardman

During the early years of the Second World War, a young American Marine named Robert Boardman was beaten up in a drunken brawl in Australia, and wound up spending several weeks in a hospital.   In remorse he turned to prayer and to the pages of the Bible, and soon committed his life to Christ.

Later in the war, in the battle for Okinawa, an enemy bullet pierced his throat, and still today he can speak no louder than a husky whisper. Yet he prayed then that he would be able to return to Okinawa and serve the Lord there.

By 1953 he was back, ministering both to American servicemen and to the people of Okinawa. A few years later he moved to Japan, where he has been the Lord’s servant in leading the nation’s Navigator ministry for more than a quarter-century—years of lessons learned about the truly important things in life.

IS IT RIGHT to dwell on past weaknesses, failures, and needs? It could lead unnecessarily to resurrecting what would best be left alone—letting sleeping dogs lie is often the better part of wisdom. The apostle Paul spoke of “forgetting what lies behind me, and straining every nerve towards that which lies in front” (Philippians 3:13).

But the Bible is history, and it tells not only of successes but also of failures by individuals and by nations—failures that teach us lessons. We are to learn from the past.

So if I can tell you in a positive, constructive way about my own mistakes and failures, and thereby warn and challenge you not to repeat them, this article will be a valid venture. If I can help just one other person avoid one of my pitfalls, then I rejoice.

It is important to remember, however that God in his sovereignty has made each of us different in temperament, personality, emotional makeup, spiritual gifts, capacities, callings, and experiences. My areas of need and failure may be your areas of success. Nevertheless, I believe that many of my listed weak points are those we may have in common, at least to some degree.

If I could live my life again, I would seek to make these changes:

1. I would stand more boldly upon my God-given calling, and not be so fearful.

In September 1943 as a young Marine in the South Pacific, I became a Christian through reading a small Gideons’ New Testament. Six months later, after serving in the battle of Cape Gloucester on the island of New Britain near New Guinea, the God of all grace called me to serve him with my whole life. In subsequent years, he faithfully continued to reveal details of that call step by step, including sending me to Japan as a missionary.

I was not a heroic missionary volunteer to the land of my former wartime enemy, but rather a reluctant’ fearful candidate whom God had to “draft” into his service. I was much like Jonah, who resisted the Lord’s plans to send him to Nineveh, the great city of his enemy. My temptation is to be fearful—of the unknown future, of men’s reactions to certain ventures of faith I want to take, of real adversaries. Nevertheless, the gracious call of God to me in early 1944 has been the anchor of my soul when the storms of circumstances and my own limitations would resurrect the specter of fear.

I know that if my heart were more fully set on this calling from God I would be more Kingdom-minded, and therefore bold as a lion, remembering the admonitions and promise in Isaiah 54:17—

“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.

2. While they were young, I would spend more time with my children in worship, in spiritual disciplines, and in just enjoying life.

I have read that by the time a child enters the first grade, the basic direction of his life has already been determined. What you and I have done or not done before our children enter school has made them what they will be.

My temptation as a young, full-time Christian worker some years ago was to think that what I did with my little children was not so important. I thought when they grew older and could understand better then I would give them fuller attention. So I became busy in a ministry with young adults, waiting for my own children to grow up.

But such thinking is a fallacy. I foolishly took too much for granted, and gave my excellent wife Jean more than her share of the load in the children’s upbringing.

There is some consolation for me in seeing that the twelve disciples had the same limited outlook on the importance of little children. But to this Jesus responded, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).

3. I would ask God for greater blessings and victories, claiming his mighty promises.

Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ is a matter of believing and claiming his word in order to be saved from our sins. The subsequent, progressive steps of life are also a matter of continuing to believe God’s word—a belief that will determine our spiritual growth. Common people become uncommon as they stand on the promises of God.

Today I have mixed feelings as I think of portions of Scripture I claimed in the past that are now being fulfilled. On the one hand, I rejoice and am overwhelmed at how God works and blesses. On the other hand, I ask myself why I didn’t claim more of God’s amazing promises so that he could do more through this unworthy servant.

I came to the Land of the Rising Sun as a result of praying over God’s precious promises. One of these verses I continually claimed was Psalm 2:8—”Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for shine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” As an heir of God and joint heir with Christ I believed I could legitimately claim that portion of Scripture.

With that verse in mind, I learned from Dawson Trotman how to pray for the nations using a world atlas. He and I would kneel in his study and put our fingers on country after country, key city after key city throughout the world, praying, pleading, interceding.

As time passes, our temptation is to rely on our past experiences, on the knowledge we’ve gained, on new methods and ideas—on everything except God’s exceedingly great and precious promises. Yet these promises are as sure as if they were already fulfilled, if we will but claim and believe them.

4. By God’s grace, I would be quicker to turn from temptation and sin.

Our tendency is to play with fire as long as possible without getting burned, even though it puts us in constant danger of destroying all that is beautiful to us, including our own life and family.

We have an extremely clever enemy—much more clever than we are. He knows our weakest point, studies it, and works on it continually in his desire to ruin us. He is a master strategist at knowing where, when, and how to attack.

Each of us has a point of vulnerability, something referred to in Hebrews 12:1 as the weight and sin “that so easily besets us” or “which clings so closely.” It could be the love of money, the lust for power, an uncontrolled tongue, pride, lust for the opposite sex, sowing discord among brothers, procrastination, or just plain disobedience—refusing to do the clearly known will of God. Often, victory is ours only if we resist Satan and flee from our strong temptation, by God’s grace.

The couple who live across the street from us are acupuncturists and shiatsu specialists. Mr. Suzuki is gone in the daytime. One day during a period of extreme pain in my neck, Jean urged me to go see Mrs. Suzuki for treatment. My conscience clearly revealed that I would have risked too much by visiting alone such an attractive woman. It is far better to have a bad neck than a ruined moral life.

I want Jabez’s prayer to be mine: “that you would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

 5. I would be more systematic and single-minded in following a lifetime personal Bible study and Scripture memory program.

God has been gracious in helping me discover in the Scriptures some things about himself, about my own life, and about the needs of the ministry. Yet I feel I’m operating only on the fringes of his word, which is more powerful than any nuclear weapon.

The supernatural word of the living God melts and breaks our hard hearts! “‘Is not my word like as a fire,’ saith the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?'” (Jeremiah 23:29).

There are gaps in my life regarding the rich books of the Bible that I ought to have studied and mastered by now. But the temptation is to procrastinate and not redeem the time—to live and act as if I have all the time in the world.

Yet I am now fifty-nine years old. If the seventy years of a normal lifespan were squeezed into a single 24-hour day, it would now be 8:30 in the evening in my life. It is late; time is slipping by so rapidly.

If I were young, I would work out a tentative lifetime Bible study plan that I would review and revise as necessary each year. If you develop such a plan, make it flexible, so that it fits your lifestyle and ministry calling. Memorizing Scripture and reading through the Bible once a year ought to be a part of the plan. You must take the initiative in it, but get someone to help you.

I will delight myself in thy statutes;I will not forget thy word.

(Psalm 119:16)

6. I would be more determined in my one-to-one discipling ministry.

I would expect and demand more of people under my leadership, those whom I had responsibility for training. The temptation in this ministry is to underestimate men’s and women’s capacities and their desire to grow, to serve, and to accept challenge. Sometimes I have been fearful of offending them by asking too much, yet seldom have I met this kind of reaction.

The Master Challenger of all times, Jesus Christ, never hesitated to stretch men beyond their abilities, and over a period of time to bring them up to their true potential. His dealings with the unpredictable fisherman Peter are an example. It is a work that takes time, tears, failure, faith, prayer, trust, humility, love, responsiveness, perseverance, intercession—and clear objectives.

Waiting for the right time is important. There are various growth stages in a disciple’s life, and what can be taught to him tomorrow cannot be taught today. Jesus knew this: “I have yet many things to say unto you,” he told his disciples, “but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). God can reveal the right timing to the disciplemaker in answer to prayer.

So timing is important; yet in my life I may have been too cautious. We have wonderful promises for the men and women God has given us, and by active faith in these promises we can see God work, bless, and multiply beyond our expectations.

7. I would welcome trials and even failures as mends and as builders of my poor character.

This is in response to the command in James 1:2—

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.

God always has his own special training programs for our lives: a physical injury or disease, a broken heart over a love affair, a potential disciple who becomes an adversary, relatives who harass us, fruit in evangelism that turns out to be false after testings, disunity on our ministry team, our own lack of personal consistency and discipline, financial struggles, career conflicts, and so on. These can bring us a sense of failure and low self-esteem, and a loss of confidence.

In such trials and testings I am tempted to complain, and to not trust in God’s sovereignty. I may want to give up, or to fight against God’s special purposes. I may murmur against my spiritual leader or against others who I feel are conspiring against me. Or I am tempted to think God has forgotten and forsaken me.

But with the reflection that comes from a faith rooted in God’s word, I know he has my best interests at heart. He is a loving Father who chastens me because I am his son. He is purging out the dross, and only the heat of the fire of trials can bring the impurities to the top. So to these trials I must say with fear and trembling, “Welcome, friends!”

8. I would be more considerate, kind, tender, and communicative toward my wife, my children, and my fellow workers.

God has given me an unusual and wonderful wife. Jean and I have been married thirty years. Yet it took me the first ten of those years to learn to praise her. In Proverbs 31 we read that the woman of virtue is praised by her husband and her children. If I, as her husband, praise Jean, my children will also. If I don’t, they won’t. They learn from my example.

In the early years of pioneering the Navigator ministry in Japan, there were times when I made major decisions affecting staff members and their families. Sometimes I made these decisions with little consideration for their feelings, and with little discussion. They were not always bad decisions, but the manner in which they were made was not always thoughtful. Looking back, in certain cases I would certainly have done things differently. Scripture admonishes me to walk in my calling “with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2–3).

Over the years the Japanese have taught me much about this kind of thoughtfulness, contributing more to me than I have ever contributed to them in the area of decision-making.

9. I would seek to develop a hobby earlier in my life.

Christian workers are often hard-driving, hard-working people with little recognition of their need to slow down—for a diversionary hobby, for example. I’m not sure anyone could have convinced me in my early adulthood that I needed a hobby, and not until I was 46 did I begin to discover some hidden talent in woodcarving.

Since then I’ve learned that a hobby can relieve tension and pressure by diverting my thinking and attention from the ministry. It also brings out the creativity that is within me waiting to be released, and gives me opportunities to use my mind and hands in a new sphere. It leads to a new circle of friends, and involves the whole family in wider horizons of experience. And it also teaches me much about the wonders of creation and about the Creator—the One who made us, and who is still at work within us; “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).


Scripture quotations are from the Twentieth Century New Testament, the New International Version, theKing James Version, the Revised Standard Version, and J. B. Phillips’s The New Testament in Modern English.

Handling My Mistakes

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article at  Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Since every [one of us] makes mistakes regularly, the categories [in which we can find ourselves] are:

1. Make a mistake, get down on yourself, follow it up with another mistake, don’t learn from either mistake, continue in a minimal growth process imposing a glass ceiling on your potential;

2. Make a mistake, follow it with corrective or atoning action, then learn from your mistake to improve and grow yourself and your skills, and achieve your maximal God-given potential.

Even the most mature Christian’s faith falters at times … we all make mistakes. But this must not be thought of as failure. None of us are perfect … we don’t have the total functioning mind of Christ now.  We will be fully sanctified when we are with Him in heaven. Until then, we will stumble at times … not always believing and acting on the truths we intellectually know are true.

Peter’s faith faltered when he was walking on water, even in the presence of the Lord. When your faith does falter, do as Peter did, reach for Your Lord’s hand. Peter was able to use that situation as an opportunity to draw closer to God … to use God’s lenses to examine his heart … to see where he mistakenly placed his trust instead of in God’s teachings, promises, and character.

So too, when you put your faith or confidence in something other than God … like others’ opinions or approval … your finances or possessions … skills or intellect … looks or status … you will falter. Confess your sin … that in that moment you are worshipping another false god.

Today, receive God’s forgiveness and instruction. Examine how life would be if you put your confidence and faith in God instead of yourself or the things of this world. Growth, peace, and awesome worship of God will be your reward when you seize this opportunity instead of wallowing in shame, self-pity, and wasting God’s power to transform your life. When your faith falters, don’t follow it up with another mistake. Instead, confess your mistake and learn why your faith was in yourself or this world.  Your choice, so why choose to struggle if you don’t have to?


Father God, my Lord, when my faith falters, remind me that I have not totally failed. When Peter’s faith faltered, he reached out to You, Lord, the only One who could save him. When I am afraid, I look to You, my Savior. I take Your hand as You reach out to save me. Thank You, Jesus. Help me remember each second that You are the only one who can really help. I pray that You touch me with Your healing power. Help me, Lord, to maintain my faith when situations are difficult. Help me keep my eyes on Your healing power rather than on my inadequacies or Satan’s masquerading idols. I pray this in the name of my safety net when I stumble, Jesus Christ;  AMEN!

The Truth

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said,”why did you doubt”

Matthew 14:30-31

 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Hebrews 12:2-3


SOURCE:  Oswald Chambers

Matthew 26:46

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair. The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, “Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore.” If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience.

Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, “Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing.” In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.” If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.

Tag Cloud