Archives For February 2013

Several years ago, I remember how I first reacted after learning the controversial news that there was a possible link between the overexposure to aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease.

As it turns out, further studies have not been able to confirm this link.

At the time, however, the news grabbed my attention. My doc had told me that I was already at risk for this disease (because I suffered a severe concussion as a young child). So once I understood the potential risks, it was relatively easy to cut out aluminum.

I didn’t care how well it kept my body odor from stinking up the joint, there would be no more deodorant containing aluminum for me.

Oh, that it would be that easy when it comes to stopping an addiction! But anyone who has ever battled an addiction knows that it’s never that easy.

One of the maddening things I’ve noticed about addictions is that we can’t seem to resist them, even when we know that they threaten to ruin us (and others). And it’s one reason why we absolutely need Divine help.

Over the years, I’ve noticed something else. Most of us start seeking God’s help for an addiction by asking Him to take away the urges. But what if that’s not the best place to start?

When the urges come, what if it’s best to start with the simple, yet profound, recognition that we can’t resist them without Him (John 15:5)?

Humbly surrendering to God and admitting our own powerlessness as a starting point keeps us from going down the well-worn path of trying to resist our addictions in our own strength. Ironically, the more we struggle to break free on our own, the more entangled we become. But as we stop trying so hard and accept that, in and of ourselves, we lack the power to resist—well, that is when we start to tap into God’s power to resist.

Perhaps this is what Paul was getting at in his own life when he wrote: “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:19).

When we come to this point of appropriate helplessness, that’s when we see how much we really need Jesus’ help (Romans 7:25). Or, as Paul would put it in another place, it is when we acknowledge our weaknesses that Jesus is strongest in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

There is much more involved in walking away from an addiction, but we won’t get very far until we first surrender.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know most of you nor do I know your children or your children’s friends. So based on that confession I know what I am about to say is COMPLETE conjecture and is in no way meant to disparage the character or call into question the worth of any person or persons living or dead. But…my kids have the BEST friends in the world.

I’m serious. They really do and I love them – all of them. They are funny, loud, smart, and at times just plan silly. I love being around them. They challenge me to think well and live life to the fullest. Amy and I love to have them in our home. They are so much fun!

Until recently I have never really considered what my role in their life ought to be. But the more I am around these kids the more invested I feel, and I can’t help but wonder if I am representing well the rule and reign of Christ in their presence.

If I am called to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16) and if I am called to represent Christ in the everydayness of my life (Colossians 1) then how can I be a better example of Christ’s love toward my kids friends? How do I, “parent other people’s kids?”

We’ll unpack these statements over the next couple of weeks but test these thoughts with me. My kids friends don’t need me to be their dad but they do need me. They need me to…

  • be available and present…
  • provide a safe and loving environment…
  • listen well before speaking…
  • tell them stories not give them lectures…
  • value them as image bearers of God…

So what do you think? Is this what kids need or do they need something else? Are all of these points equal in importance? How do we encourage and love our kids friends without overstepping your bounds?

I can’t wait to talk with you about this!

When I’m talking with someone who has been deeply betrayed by a friend, a family member, or a coworker, they often ask, “How can I ever trust him again? He said he was sorry, but how do I know if he is truly sorry about the damage he’s done or if he’s just sorry he got caught? I don’t want to get burned again.”

Those are tough questions, because there’s a lot at stake for both the betrayer and the betrayed.

Rebuilding trust in a relationship after a bitter betrayal almost feels like an insurmountable task. No one in his right mind would dare trust a spouse who was unfaithful, a coworker who stole his good idea, or a friend who lied about him behind his back. Would you?

But what if that person apologizes? Then what? How can you know if someone has truly repented?

As Jesus’ followers, we talk about repentance—that radical change of heart and mind that alters one’s perspective and reshapes behavior patterns to look more like Jesus.  It’s been a part of the Jesus story from the beginning. John the Baptist referred to it as “producing fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8).

Testing repentance is vital to rebuilding trust in a broken relationship. So what are some of the signs of a repentant heart?

King David—a man whose deceit betrayed his wife and his nation—said it best: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

One place to begin looking for “fruit” that reveals a deeply rooted heart of repentance is in how the repentant betrayer responds when questioned. A repentant person demonstrates a humble attitude that is neither demanding nor defensive when questioned. There is an openness that replaces deceit, a willingness to be accountable for his or her actions on multiple levels without resorting to blaming others or making excuses for failures.

It’s only through experiencing a consistency in both attitudes and actions that reflect repentance that the betrayed individual will over time begin to take the risky steps towards trusting again.

How much time? As much as it takes.

And the repentant person will humbly wait for as long as it takes, knowing that the celebration over restoration will be a sweet harvest for both parties—a harvest that repentance and forgiveness has made possible because of Jesus’ example.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10).

Unavoidable Pain

Tim Jackson —  February 1, 2013 — 6 Comments

In my role as a father, I’ve always considered protecting my three children from harm and from things that would hurt them as one of my primary missions. Hot stoves. Sharp knives. Power tools. Bikes. Cars. People. All of them have the potential for good or harm. Knowing how to handle each is crucial to minimize the risks of pain.

At times, I’ve succeeded. But all too often I’ve failed miserably. Or at least that’s how I feel when I’m helpless to prevent something from hurting one of them.

On Friday, I felt that helpless feeling again. This time it was a text from my youngest, my baby girl. (Yea, she’s 22, but she’ll always be my baby! You dads know exactly what I mean.)

The text was urgent, simple, and pointed:

“Please pray. One of my friends Micah is in the hospital after passing out in the pool. They haven’t been able to fully revive him yet. Please, please pray!”

A few moments later, she wrote, “He didn’t make it . . . Please pray for his family.”

My wife and I were on our way to meet my son and his wife for dinner. We were anticipating a wonderful time together. Now we were stunned, kicked in the gut. We ached for our daughter, but we felt a deeper grief for Micah’s parents who we’ve never met and who just lost their precious son. (His older sister had been on my daughter’s floor last semester.)

As we parked the car, my wife and I clutched hands and prayed. We asked that God be present with our daughter, and that He would hold and comfort her, her friends, the student body and staff of the Christian college she’s attending, Micah’s family, his roommate, the young men on his floor, and the students who pulled him out of the pool and did their best to revive him. All are reeling in pain from the loss of this vibrant young man.

We prayed that God would surround them with His loving embrace so that they would know they were loved even in the middle of their pain.

Recently I’ve been working through some material on the loss of a child in preparation for an upcoming program. In his book Written In Tears, Luke Veldt writes about the tragic and sudden death of Allison, his 13-year-old daughter. He makes an astounding and terrifying statement: “It took the death of my daughter for me to begin to understand the love of God” (p. 24).

Yikes! I want to know the love of God, but must it require that pain and loss be inflicted on my heart to truly know His love? Luke’s book describes his personal journey through grief and “how I came to know God better, not just despite my loss, but because of it” (p. 25).

Luke goes on to quote A. W. Tozer who wrote: “The Bible was written in tears and to tears it will reveal its best treasures” (p. 22). It’s the journey through grief that often drives us to the God of the Bible for answers. But there are no answers that will bring our loved one back or remove the pain of their absence.

Yet God is there. He’s not silent. And He weeps with us because He loves us. He’s not impotent or uncaring because He didn’t prevent the pain. Even though He’s a perfect parent, God never promised to protect us from all pain. But He’s with us in our pain.

The journey through painful loss was never meant to be taken alone. We need others to go with us, reliable guides who have walked this path and found hope in the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). How Can I Live With My Loss? is a booklet we’ve prepared to help you navigate your journey through grief.

And a request: Please pray for Micah’s family, my daughter Tracey and her friends, classmates, and the staff at Moody Bible Institute as they take this journey through grief together. Pray that the pain of this loss will bind them into a healing community that is empowered by the loving God who welcomed Micah home with joyful celebration.