Joe Robinson, author of the book, DON’T MISS YOUR LIFE, makes a case that one of life’s most dogging of emotions, regret, may just have a beneficial purpose: to prod us to step out and take action. According to Mr. Robinson, "researchers have found that the biggest regrets come not from what you do but from what you didn't do." It's the course untaken, known as the "inaction effect" in one study, which produces more regret than actions that don't work out.
Other research shows there's more intensity to the regret that comes from lost opportunities and that it stays with you longer. Since we “seem to be wired to not leave possibilities on the table,” why then do so many of us fall prey to the "inaction effect?" Robinson explains that it is “because we're wired with some other tendencies, too -- fear, procrastination, cynicism, prior disappointments." These negative psychological agents work hard to hold us back from experiencing life to the fullest. “Life is short,” he concludes, “regrets are forever.”
If the regrets for lost “earthly” opportunities are haunting, how much more the regrets that come from lost “spiritual” opportunities. One of my favorite quotes has always helped me to put things into perspective. It comes from the business world but if you apply it spiritually it takes on a whole new meaning. The quote is: “There is never a missed opportunity, if you fumble it your competitor will get it.”
So don’t allow “fear, procrastination, cynicism, or prior disappointments” to lull you into the “inaction effect” and rob you of eternal possibilities and the ability to make an eternal difference in someone’s life. As Robinson himself concludes, “Life is short; regrets are forever.”
Resolve to make each new day of this new year a day of possibilities.
“So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’" (Hebrews 3:7).
Did you know that the famed Christmas classic movie MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, which premiered in 1947, was originally released in June, not December? That's right. The studio knew that it had a potential hit on their hands, so they didn't want to forgo the extra dollars that a summertime blockbuster could rake in (apparently, holiday blockbusters weren't yet a sure deal back in 1940s).
Producers knew that selling a "Christmas" movie in the summertime could be a bit tricky, so they billed it as a romantic comedy--a love story!--and totally downplayed the film's holiday theme. The marketing department even tailored the movie posters to show the film's "love interest" stars, Maureen O'Hara and John Payne, coyly eying one another, with the film's other stars--Edmund Gwenn, who played Kris Kringle, and then child-star Natalie Wood--tucked neatly and discretely in the background.
In essence, it was a Christmas story pretending to be a love story.
The ploy worked, and the film was a huge success. It has now been viewed and cherished over and over again--not in the summer, but every Christmas, by every generation since.
Did you know that the Christmas story--you know, the real one with shepherds and wisemen and the baby Jesus--isn't just a Christmas story?
At its heart, it is a love story! A love story that just happens to be celebrated at Christmas. It first premiered over two thousand years ago and has been cherished over and over again--not just at Christmas, but every day, by every heart longing to be loved, in every generation since.
This holiday season, don't just rehearse a Christmas story. Rehearse the great love story that is the gift of Jesus.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
At the peak of his power the “king of cocaine,” Pablo Escobar, supplied 80% of the world’s cocaine, smuggling it into the US at an astounding rate of 15 tons per day. This translated into $420 million in revenue a week, making Escobar the wealthiest drug lord in history.
Escobar made so much money he didn’t know where to put it all, so he heaped huge piles of it in open fields, in old warehouses, and even in the walls of cartel member’s homes. Escobar’s brother and accounted claimed that the cartel spent $2,500 a month in rubber bands used to stack and organize the money.
In a 2009 interview, Escobar’s only son, Juan, claimed the his father actually torched $2 million just to keep the family warm while they were on the run. Juan wrote, “Pablo was earning so much that each year we would write off 10% because it had been eaten by rats … or lost.” That 10% added up to a cool $2.1 billion. That’s over 2 billion a year eaten by rats!
What is hard for many to understand is how someone can be in one of the world’s most dangerous businesses, have entire government agencies hunting them down, possess so much money they’re feeding the rats to a tune of 2.1 billion dollars a year, and not quit! Why would anyone keep going? When is enough, enough? Why would anyone cling to this lifestyle?
It just shows us the power of greed. When greed is involved nothing will ever be enough. So stop focusing on material possession and be thankful for what you have. Someone once said, “Being rich isn’t about how much you have, but being content with what you have.”
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
A Chinese woman, surnamed Zhao, while making a connection at the Beijing airport, was told by security that she could not take an expensive bottle of cognac in her carry-on. Since it was too late to access her checked-in luggage, it appeared she had no choice but to leave it behind.
But Zhao was determined not to let a $200 dollar bottle of Remy Martin XO Excellence go to waste, so she drank the entire bottle! Now she faced a new problem. Too drunk to stand, security--out of concern for her own safety--could not allow her to board. Instead, unable to continue her journey, she was escorted in a wheelchair to a room where she slept until a family member was able to come and pick her up.
Some things become so important to us that we have trouble letting them go. Instead, to our own detriment, we cling to them. Of course, we're not referring to expensive cognac. There is a moment in time when virtually everything we hold dear must be relinquished if we are to continue moving forward on our journey. Otherwise, we undermine our own spiritual health and contentment.
As Corrie ten Boom was famous for saying, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
There is, however, one notable exception to this otherwise universal rule. You can never cling too long or too hard to Jesus. In fact, the more life slips away, the more important it becomes to cling even tighter to Him
And as you cling, be assured that Jesus will never leave you, and nothing--absolutely nothing--can ever separate you from the love that He has for you-- something that can't be said of anything or anyone else.
“My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you …” (Isaiah 26:9).
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35).
In a stirring video, the HUFFINGTON POST GOOD NEWS team has created a moving montage of “What it looks like when people truly hear for the first time.” In the video we jump from clip to clip of elated patients—the very young, older and in between—who have experienced the blessing of cochlear implants and are having their devices turned on for the first time. The looks on their faces, as they actually hear the voices of loved ones (even their own voices) range from everything from surprise, shock, elation, awe, and more!
In each case, you see how deeply emotional and liberating the experience can be.
That look of joy and utter amazement, as senses which they thought were dead to them were now coming to life, is a physical glimpse into the expression of the soul the moment it hears--truly hears—for the first time, the words of the Good News of the Gospel message once it is implanted deep within. They give a face to soul of a man whose dead heart, for the first time, experiences the engrafted Word of God and receives new life in Christ.
“…Humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” (James 1:21b, NLT).
Wouldn't you want to see people’s souls look like those faces? Share the Word! There are still so many who long to hear it!
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14, NLT).
The Hesitant Bride
A minister once told of an uncomfortable experience he had at a wedding. Everything was going along as planned until it came time for the minister to ask that all-important question of the bride, "Do you take so-and-so to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
Just then, for some unknown reason, there was an incredibly long and unbelievably awkward silence. No one, at the time, knew for sure if the bride had just zoned out for a moment, or if she was actually contemplating how she wanted to answer. Since the minister was not a close friend to the family he never found out what was going through her mind.
No groom deserves to have a hesitant bride on his wedding day.
This incident made me think of how the Church is the Bride of Christ, and how we can be reluctant in committing ourselves to Him. Just as it would crush a groom for his bride to have second thoughts about her commitment, it must be so disappointing to Jesus when we hesitate in our commitments to Him.
The good news, however, is that He doesn't turn and walk away. He waits patiently--however long and awkward our pause might be--always remaining at the altar, always waiting for us to say, "I do."
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself" (Revelation 19:7, NLT).
Father Responds to His Son’s Rant about the Church
At one point in his journey towards Christ, Nathan Foster (the son of author Richard Foster) was living "a ragged attempt at discipleship." He was afraid to share his honest thoughts about God and his disillusionment with the church, especially with a father who had given his life to serve God and the church.
But one day as Nathan shared a ride with his dad on a ski lift, he blurted out, "I hate going to church. It's nothing against God; I just don't see the point." Richard Foster quietly said, "Sadly, many churches today are simply organized ways of keeping people from God."
Surprised by his dad's response, Nathan launched into "a well-rehearsed, cynical rant" about the church:
Okay, so since Jesus paid such great attention to the poor and disenfranchised, why isn't the church the world's epicenter for racial, social and economic justice? I've found more grace and love in worn-out folks at the local bar than those in the pew … . And instead of allowing our pastors to be real human beings with real problems, we prefer some sort of overworked rock stars.
His dad smiled and said, "Good questions, Nate. Overworked rock stars: that's funny. You've obviously put some thought into this." Once again, Nathan was surprised that his "rant" didn't faze his dad. "He didn't blow me off or put me down." From that point on Nathan actually looked forward to conversations with his dad.
It also proved to be a turning point in his spiritual life. By the end of the winter, Nathan was willing to admit,
Somewhere amid the wind and snow of the Continental Divide, I decided that if I'm not willing to be an agent of change [in the church], my critique is a waste … . Regardless of how it is defined, I was learning that the church was simply a collection of broken people recklessly loved by God … . Jesus said he came for the sick, not the healthy, and certainly our churches reflect that.
Spurred on by his father's acceptance and honesty and by his own spiritual growth, Nathan has continued to ask honest questions, but he has also started to love and change the church, rather than just criticize it.
It’s so much easier to set back and critic the church but it’s difficult to accept that the church is filled with broken people loved by God and God has called us to make a difference in the life of the church and in the world. Let’s not take the easy route but rather dive into the chaos and start making an impact in the church and in the life of others.
An Unknown author wrote about Fathers:
“He teaches kindness by being thoughtful and gracious even at home.
He teaches patience by being gentle and understanding over and over.
He teaches honesty by keeping his promises to his family even when it costs.
He teaches courage by living unafraid with faith, in all circumstances.
He teaches justice by being fair and dealing equally with everyone.
He teaches obedience to God's Word by precept and example as he reads and prays daily with his family.
He teaches love for God and His Church as he takes his family regularly to all the services.
His steps are important because others follow.”
Fathers truly do teach their children many things. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. So fathers, be intentional about what you do so that your children will grow up to please the Lord.
We get a good example of this from King David, the father of Solomon. In Proverbs 4:3-5 Solomon says, “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, Let you heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.”
Shortly after David died and Solomon became kings, God came to Solomon at night and basically told Solomon that he could ask for anything and God would give it to him (1 Kings 3). Instead of asking for a long life or wealth he asked for wisdom to govern God’s people.
David instilled a character in Solomon that even withstood after his death. Solomon had integrity and a desire for wisdom.
So Fathers what are you teaching your children? Are you intentionally instilling in them a Biblical character? Are you setting them a good example by your lifestyle? Or do you need to make some changes?
The makers of Dove soap asked that question in worldwide survey. To demonstrate the results, they set up signs at the entrances of buildings around the globe. At each location, one door was marked “Average” and the other was marked “Beautiful.”
Across the board, women overwhelmingly chose to walk through the door marked “Average.” In fact, a staggering 96% chose that door. A mere 4% chose to walk through the door marked “Beautiful.” Sure, some stopped and pondered the possibility of choosing “Beautiful,” but all too often they abandoned the choice. The reasons were varied. Many felt that it seemed like vanity to admit that they considered themselves beautiful, while other genuinely believed themselves unworthy of walking through the “Beautiful” door.
One woman from Shanghai picked the average door, saying: “Beautiful, to me, is too far out of reach.”
But one woman nailed it, saying, “I choose beautiful because if I don’t think it myself, no one else will.”
Dove is onto something here. All women are intrinsically beautiful. Sadly, most are hesitant to embrace their true inner worth, either because they don't believe it, or for the fear of appearing vain.
As children of God, we are indeed ALL intrinsically beautiful. Feeling valued is a choice the cross of Christ empowers us to make everyday. God wants us to embrace our beauty—own it. Not the outward beauty of personal appearance, but the inner beauty of a heart and soul redeemed and perfected by the perfect love of a perfect God.
It’s not vanity to acknowledge the value that God attributes to each of us. It’s the truth and it is liberating. Don't balk at the opportunity to behave in a way that reveals your self-image in Christ. For how are we to convey to others their worth and beauty in the eyes of God, if we cannot acknowledge it and embrace it within ourselves?
Unlock the joy and happiness that comes to those who choose beautiful in the eyes of God.
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Mitchell Dillon once told about a time him and his adult son was traveling. During the trip he asked his son to Google directions to their destination. As the voice commands on Google Maps begin to direct them, he became concerned because it had them turn to proceed in exactly the opposite direction of where he knew they needed to go. When he mentioned this to his son, he didn't seem the least bit concerned.
"But what if it's wrong?" Mitchell asked.
"It won't be wrong" his son explained. "Sometimes Google anticipates traffic jams and sends you around them. Go ahead and follow the prompts."
Sure enough, after a short detour, they were heading in the right direction and arrived at our destination.
Clearly, his tech savvy son had a lot more faith in Google Maps than he did. He would have much rather turned in the direction that made more sense to him, to have heeded his own instincts. Of course, doing that would have driven them right into a traffic jam.
All of this raises an important question. Do you have as much faith in God as you have in Google Maps? How do you respond when God suddenly redirects your life, sending you in what seems like the wrong direction? Do you rest in the confidence that every turn is purposeful--that God is taking all things into account as He guides you through life? If Google deserves that kind of trust, how much more should the Good Shepherd?
"The Lord is my shepherd ... he leads me beside peaceful streams" (Psalm 23:1-2, NLT).
"I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me ... They will listen to my voice ...." (John 10:14, 16).