Healing In Hard Times, Pt 1

Coping with grief seems an oxymoron. The idea of coping with deep emotional pain seems similar to a house coping with a hurricane.

It’s not so much coping as hoping to survive.

man on bench

The Deepest Pain

The most painful emotions are those associated with loss, as with losing someone you love, but there are other painful losses as well:

  1. Position-Profession
  2. End of a friendship
  3. Spouse by divorce
  4. Your reputation
  5. Your health

But Death

But death eclipses them all. The two most traumatic types of grief are losing a spouse or a child.

Coping?

The closest I’ve come to “hurricane level” grief was a stillborn child. He died in delivery and would have been our first child.

What Doesn’t Help

Caring people will offer their help. But they often make things harder through their unaware and unintended mistakes.

Here are three things that people did that didn’t really help us. These are things not to look for if you are looking for help with your loss and grief.

  1. People Who Wont Listen: they only want to tell you their story, to talk about their loss. They don’t listen, don’t really support you, they just assume that you will feel better by hearing about their pain and misery.
  1. People Who Ask To Help: This one is hard. Many people asked, “What can we do to help?” When someone is coping with loss, they can’t think, they aren’t thinking, and asking the question is just a burden. They don’t know what you can do. The people asking have the best of intentions, but ultimately, it’s a fruitless gesture. If you want to help someone grieving, take over food, go mow their grass, take their kids out for pizza, go do some cleaning if you know them well enough.
  1. The Wrong Messages: People will way things that are difficult to hear. Again, the mean well but often don’t really think about what is being said. Here are a few examples:
  • “God loved your baby so much that he just had to have him for himself.”
  • “Whatever you did to cause your baby to die, I’m sure you won’t do it again.”
  • “Don’t worry, you can always have another one.”
  • “You are young, there’s still time for lots of babies.”
  • “God is testing you, to see if you are worthy.”
  • “It’s time to stop grieving, get on with life”

To Close

Here is some advice about coping with grief.

Identify one good friend, someone who will listen and not weary of listening. Who will pitch in without asking what’s needed. Who refrains from empty words and cheap, hurtful advice. They will hold you when you cry, understand when you are sad, and make you laugh when you need too. They won’t judge you. They will just love you.

To be continued…

Life In Parentheses

A key to better living is learning how to manage the parentheses, the brackets, the time-outs known as transitions.

Regular Life

When life bumps along at regular speed, with predictable days and smooth, easy living, well, life seems pretty sweet and easily managed.

But when it doesn’t?

Irregular Life

When life is lived at a jagged pace, with unpredictable events and curve balls interrupting the flow of happy days, well, I don’t like that as much. It’s unwelcome, but unavoidable. 

Interruptions come. Some are annoying; others are painful, and some are filled with grief, while others offer exciting changes and opportunities. 

Interruptions burrow into our lives, creating seasons of difference and moments of change. We experience them with faith, sometimes gritting our teeth, and when appropriate, with gratitude.

For Rick And Danielle

For the past eight years, we have commuted to church, 22 miles each way. The fastest route takes us on two freeways with two toll booths. Average drive time is 32 minutes going and 40 minutes returning. During the 8 years, both freeways have been under construction. Stop and go traffic is normal and at least twice a week are accidents resulting in further delays. Welcome to Houston. 

Atlanta_75.85
So We Moved

We made a change, to have a parenthesis, to live in the brackets. We sold our house, packed up, and moved into our dream home. We are so happy!

Oops. Sorry, that’s not what happened. Nope, the dream home slipped through our fingers. So we put everything in storage and moved into an extended stay hotel. Man, has that been fun!  I wish we could stay forever, not.

That was five weeks ago. But we found a house and we close tomorrow morning. Brackets, parentheses, and moments of change.

We Are So Exited

We are enthused to be on this side of town. Our drive to church requires no freeways, hi-ways, or toll roads. It’s awesome.

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The Real Trick

But the challenge to living a happy life isn’t managing the exciting things, it’s managing the other stuff.

So stay with me over the next few weeks. I will be blogging about some steps and guidelines for managing the mind fields and for coping when life isn’t easily lived.

For today: I offer you the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. Live well. Be joyful. Find beauty and comfort in someone or something around you. Honor God with your life.

Shalom

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The Forgiveness Chart

I’m struggling with Jesus this morning. 

Taking Issue With Jesus

I don’t like Jesus sometimes. I love him. But I’m not always good with certain teachings.

Here’s one:

“Not seven, but seventy-seven times.” As in, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother, up to seven times,” asked Peter?

Sure

Sure. That’s going to happen. I get Peter on this. At least he’s being honest, mostly. He wants a limit. He needs a line. Actually, he wants a law that protects him so when he’s forgiven his brother seven times, he can then righteously punch his lights out, or hold a lifetime grudge, or something. I like it. Seems fair. Yep, I’m with Peter on this one. In fact, I think I’ll offer a practical “Forgiveness Measure Chart.”

Each type of offense should receive a certain number of forgiveness’s, and then…!!!

The Rick Fyffe Forgiveness Quotient Chart: (FQ)

  • HURTING YOUR FEELINGS: a three-FQ
  • INSULTING YOUR FAMILY: a two-FQ
  • BACK STABBING YOU: a 1- FQ
  • GOSSIPING ABOUT YOU: a 2-FQ
  • WEARING SOMETHING TACKY: a 6-FQ
  • GENERAL SNIPPINESS: a 4-FQ
  • NOT SUPPORTING YOUR TEAM: a 4-FQ
  • NON-SPECIFIC OBNOXIOUSNESS: a 7-FQ
  • NOT RETURNING YOUR LAWN MOWER: a zero tolerance-FQ

So after allowing the full number of FQ’s per type of offense, you are permitted, and protected by law, to do to them as they have done to you, or worse, because you should get a little extra for having been patient in the first place.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping good records.

Seems Fair?

This seems fair to me. It’s carefully measured and will help everyone be more consistent. The whole eye for eye thing remains intact, but now it has appropriate guidelines and policies we can all live by. Besides, forgiving people up to 77 times, or 70 X 7, was never going to happen. Theres just no way anyone would ever practice that level of forgiveness.

 

 

Man-at-cross

Shalom

Serving or Selling?

Good Morning Holy Spirit. How can I serve you today? Is there anything you want me to do? Anyone you want me to help? Anywhere you need me to be?

Holy Spirit, my heart is open, my spirit is willing, and my mind is available. Use me as you will, send me as you need, fill me with your presence. I am here and I belong to you. Help me make today a joyful and fruitful day to your glory. Amen.

This is my prayer for today; but is it everyone’s? Will some have a different perspective?

A Different Perspective

Selling the faith. Making a profit. Marketing Jesus. Exploiting believers.

Paul mentioned those who saw Godliness as a means to financial gain. Its Christianity for sale and the Christians can be easy prey for the wolves.

There’s A Good Profit Margin In Sales

  1. Jesus Loves You ash trays
  2. Jesus Loves You beer koozies
  3. Anointed Prayer Cloth for miracles
  4. Anointed Prayer Beads for miracles
  5. Anointed Prayer Rug for miracles
  6. Holy Spirit Blessed Anointing Oil
  7. The Peace of God Vacation Time Shares
  8. Somebody somewhere is selling something that is fake and empty.

Our Lord said that the people of the world were more shrewd than were the people of the light. Was he right?

He also said that his kingdom was not of this world.

At Southeast This Morning

I’m speaking on the new birth. Specifically, the lesson will contrast the faith of one person with the faith of others.

One will see the Holy Spirit as an opportunity for power, fame, and personal wealth. The others will see that having the Holy Sprit will cost them everything: influence, respect, and even their livelihoods. Will it be worth it?

A Target Rich Environment

True faith begins in the heart and spreads into all aspects of life. Except for the charlatan, the profiteer. He exploits the faithful for selfish motives, he is not of the faith. 

Some will gain the joy of the Holy Spirit. One will lose his faith and nearly be destroyed by  sin and bitterness. It’s an interesting contrast.

Come join us at 8:30 or 10:45, or join the live stream with our e-campus members at: www.southeastonline.com

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Southeast Church of Christ, 2400 Bay Area Blvd, Friendswood

I’ll be looking for you!

Finding Old Treasures!

Looking forward to what’s behind us. That’s the interesting part of places that feature reclaimed stuff.

Not A Thrift Store

Thrift stores have their value too. But I’m talking about vintage items that are highly prized.

I recently visited the Houston Historic Salvage Warehouse. Its full of reclaimed things from vintage bathtubs to ancient tongue and groove flooring; from solid hardwood doors to ancient light fixtures. If you like rummaging through items old and older, well there you go. I discovered treasures at all kinds of prices.

I bought a board.

Here’s The Thing

I can find cool, old stuff; I just don’t know what to do with it. That takes someone with instincts and I don’t have any instincts, I just stink. At least I do when it comes to incorporating the old with the new. 

Jesus Had Vintage Instincts

He assured his listeners that he hadn’t come to trash the Law of Moses. In fact, his aim was to respect and support even the smallest piece of Mosaic Law. And he did, from the greatest to the smallest; he fulfilled everything.

Consider This

The challenge of the old is that it needs to blend with the new. How can a hard wood door, decades old, work in my new house? How can a vintage chandelier work with modern décor?

Jesus didn’t ignore the old; he championed it.

But I have struggled to do so:

From: “Jesus Our Messiah”

*“Over time, it seemed to me that the Old Testament was more than just missing; it had become something akin to a worn-out lawn mower. In my family, when the lawn mower wore out, we bought a new one. The old one was kept out back behind the garage. But why use a worn-out mower when a new and better one was sitting in the garage?”

Some Encouragement

On this Saturday morning, let me encourage you not to think of your Bible as 2/3rds ancient and deficient. Your Bible is inspired and essential from Genesis to Revelation.

Closing: Find the beauty of the old and the new, they blend beautifully! 

Shalom

Book

*Page 14

http://www.rickfyffe.com 

It’s Friday, Hallelujah!

It’s Friday. Actually, it’s early Friday morning, but I’m excited because exciting things are happening.

FRIDAY

F is for Fun-I don’t know that I’ll have any.

R is for Recalcitrant-I have an obstinate attitude towards discipline.

I is for Iridescent-explains the luminous colors radiating from my joy.

D is for Disingenuous-not being candid or sincere about the fun part.

A is for Abstemious-not self-indulgent regarding food and eating. Maybe.

Y is for Yada Yada Yada-I could go on but do you really want me to?

Other Friday Things

  1. Today is the last day of the first week of school. Lots of happy kids.
  2. Tonight is the first HS football game for thousands of schools: good luck.
  3. Friday is the last day of the workweek, have a good weekend.
  4. Friday is date night for lots of couples, have a romantic evening.
  5. Friday is family night for millions of families, have a great time.

Here’s A Thing

Many believe that Jesus died on a Friday. I’m guessing that none of my Friday acrostic had any relevance to his Friday experience. Perhaps he exceeded my abstemiousness, as it’s likely he had nothing to eat or drink in the last 24 hours of his life

Just before he died he tasted some wine vinegar from a sponge. He must have been dehydrated, bleeding out, blood running from the thorns on his head, bruised and battered from the soldiers, the seeping wounds in his hands and feet. Was he still bleeding from the scourging? A drink of water would have been welcome. I don’t think he got any.

* “Imagine that the source of Living Water had nothing to drink. Jesus offered Living Water to the Samaritan woman and offered it to anyone who would come to him and drink.

 Ezekiel envisioned the Holy Spirit as a river of life, transforming everything it touched Even Moses was able to get the water and quench the thirst of those he led in the desert.

But the imagery is gut wrenching. Jesus walked on water and turned water into wine. He had the blind man wash in the Pool of Siloam.  

But there was no water for the giver of life.” 

Closing

I hope you have a glorious Friday. Have fun, finish work, enjoy your families. Be safe.

And don’t forget to say thank you to Jesus. Thank him for your forgiveness and your salvation. But also tell him thanks for giving up his Friday to die for you.

That was awfully nice of him.

Shalom

* “Jesus Our Messiah” Pages 231-232

Book

http://www.rickfyffe.com

To Whom Shall I Turn?

Trust Defined

  1. A confidence in the reliability of others.
  2. A willingness to rely on the actions and integrity of another.

Examples of Trust

  1. Sharing something deeply personal.
  2. Sharing information that could be damaging or embarrassing.
  3. Confiding in someone you believe will keep it confidential.

Can I Trust You?

Parents ask their kids this question. Friends ask their friends. It’s the question we ask when we need help, advice, or a listening ear. “Can I trust you?”

friends-talking-on-a-bench

Bearing Burdens

Shouldn’t our personal matters stay private? Are there things that shouldn’t be shared? Just the same, we often feel the need to confide. Are we weak? Shouldn’t we be mentally/emotionally strong enough to just handle it ourselves, keep it inside?

What Paul Said

Paul encouraged believers to carry one another’s burdens. I like that idea.

But remember that God is always at our fingertips, when our fingers are laced in prayer, our hands folded humbly before him. God bears our burdens too.

humility in prayer

Some Of Us

Some of us share our lives freely. But some of us don’t. Some of us find it difficult to trust. Maybe we’ve been betrayed. Maybe our confiding was met with disdain or disinterest. Maybe we shared too much, or too soon? Maybe some of us are just full of pride.

A Few Thoughts About Trusting

  1. Always take it to God first.
  2. People in authority aren’t automatically the best confidants.
  3. Don’t confide in those who are too eager to hear your secrets.
  4. True friends care more about you than the information you share.
  5. Don’t use sharing/confiding as a way to make new friends.
  6. Don’t share the burdens you’re already carrying for someone else.
  7. If you have to ask if they can be trusted, then don’t.

Closing Thoughts

I recently was feeling burdened with something serious and heavy. I really wanted to talk about it, to share it. But whom could I trust?

As a minister, preacher, pastor, and all around holy man, confiding doesn’t come easy. People confide in me, a lot, all the time. But I thought about it, and decided to trust a friend, a really close and good friend. But it was still hard to do. I needn’t have worried; my friend listened, understood, and encouraged me. My burden will go no farther.

Preachers need to stay close to God. 

ManPraying

But they need friends too.Thanks friend.

broken-friendship-quote1

Shalom

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The Believer’s Party!

Not all events are celebrations; most, but not all. Celebratory events are:

  1. Weddings
  2. Birthdays
  3. Anniversaries
  4. Retirements
  5. Promotions
  6. Victories (big wins)
  7. Commencements

We plan, prepare, and pray over weddings. We spend every dollar we can. The ceremony isn’t the rub; it’s the reception that launches costs over the moon. Just ask a father of daughters, or a single mother.

Big wedding anniversaries are amazing events. We get dressed up and marvel at two people who are still in love after 50 years. It’s fabulous.

High School, college, and grad-school commencements are celebrated. Big promotions at work, professional advancements, are reasons to celebrate. We rejoice and lift our voices in honor of another’s success.

But Not All Events

Not everything is a party. Not every event is happy. But they are no less significant, and no less important.

  1. Funerals
  2. Memorial Services
  3. Going away parties
  4. Loved ones in their final moments of life
  5. Divorce proceedings, especially in court

These aren’t the bright and happy experiences; none are sought nor celebrated. But they are no less significant, and no less important.

What About Believers?

What about the significant events for a believer? How important is the new birth? Should it be celebrated? Is the moment of being raised to live the new life something to be lifted up and honored?

Some Thoughts

Over the past four weeks the ministry at Southeast has experienced significant responses to the New Birth. I’ve had the pleasure of joining 22 adults with Christ, and 4 young people have also experienced the believer’s immersion.

I’ve seen grown men cry uncontrollably. I’ve held them as the guilt, fear, and doubt were lifted from their hearts and souls. I’ve witnessed adults, ages thirty to eighty, come seeking the cleansing of the Lamb of God and then watched them go on their way rejoicing.

Some Observations

Weddings are about two becoming one. There is an ending of separate individualities and a joining of two into one flesh. For that there is a party.

Funerals honor the life that was and rejoice at the life that will be. There is an ending of life on earth and a beginning of life in glory. For that there is a dinner of honor.

In The New Birth

The sinful individual joins with Jesus in the New Birth, there is a death and a new life. For that shouldn’t there be a party?

Most of us enjoy  weddings. Jesus is the husband of the church, his bride. The bride’s dowry was paid with his own blood. The New Birth is the wedding ceremony between the believer and the head of the church, it’s where the two become one. For that shouldn’t there be a celebration?

cross_jesus_wood_236183  baptism-image-only

Let’s Finish

Events both happy and sad happen everyday, and with them the emotions and resources appropriate to the occasion.

The New Birth should be lifted up: celebrated, honored, and remembered. It should be recognized as the most important, most significant day in a lifetime of days.

Is this how it is?

Just a thought.

Shalom

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One Of Those Moments

There are moments in life that are difficult, hard, and overwhelming.

Then there’s the other kind, the sweet and wonderful moments, the kind you wish would never end. Yesterday was one of those.

Yesterday my church blessed me beyond what I could have imagined.

SoutheastSM

The Blessing

I’m referring to a book-signing event that was held in our church. I’ve recently had a book published and the church’s leaders publicly endorsed it and encouraged attendance for the book signing. 

Book

A First Timer

A first time author doesn’t know if the book will be good. Sometimes a book isn’t very good but people like the author so they buy a copy anyway. And if they can get the author’s signature, then even better.

I signed a lot of books yesterday.

The Point

It’s wonderful having  great friends. Its even better when they are fellow-church members. My church is brimming over with kind and supportive people, kind and support friends. 

I was abundantly blessed.

I guess all of us like hearing certain things now and then. To hear people say, “Congratulations Rick, we are so proud of you,” was, well, pretty wonderful.

It was a very emotional day.

So Good Morning Holy Spirit

As I rise to start a new day and a new week. I greet the Holy Spirit asking him to bless my friends who are going back to school today. To bless the moms and dads who are dropping off a child for the first time. I ask the Holy Spirit to bless my church, for they stood in line to bless me.

Let’s Close This Out

I am button-popping proud of my Southeast family. They have a sweet and gentle spirit, and they absolutely know how to love and care for their preacher.

I ask the Holy Spirit to bless those that set everything up, and staffed the table, and made the refreshments, and did everything to make the day special.

Yesterday was one of those moments, the kind you wish would never end.

Thank you church.

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The Message

I have misunderstood Acts chapters one and two. For most of my ministry I believed those chapters were about people getting baptized. The emphasis was on the immersive act of being renewed in full water baptism.

It’s true that 3,000 people responded to Peter’s message and were immersed. But that isn’t really what the text was emphasizing.

What’s It About?

It’s about the ministry and presence of the Holy Spirit in connecting people back to God, to bring us, created in his image, back into fellowship with our Creator.

jesus-cross-and-sun

Peter’s arguments and logic

  • God performed miracles, wonders, and signs that were done through Jesus of Nazareth; the people saw the miracles. They recognized that Jesus had divine power. The Messiah was prophesied to be anointed with God’s Spirit. As God’s Anointed One, he would give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleanse the lepers, and even raise the dead. The Judeans witnessed all of those miraculous acts of compassion and healing. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.
  • The people crucified Jesus of Nazareth. God gave them his Son because the Messiah was purposed for death, to be sacrificed for them. God handed him over by his set purpose and foreknowledge. It was prophesied that the Messiah would die for the people. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.
  • The Anointed of God would indeed be killed, sacrificing his life for others, but he would not stay in the grave and his body would not undergo decay. Peter proved to the crowds that Jesus was resurrected, just as it was predicted. He used King David from Psalm 16 and Psalm 110. Peter said that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, and that they, the apostles, were witnesses of the resurrection. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.
  • And lastly, Peter’s greatest argument for Jesus being the resurrected Messiah was the evidence of the Holy Spirit having been poured out on mankind. The sound of the violent wind from heaven, the preaching of the apostles in 16 different languages, the apostles who were unschooled and unordinary. Peter said these things were evidence of Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out his Spirit. The apostles received the Spirit in the upper room on Pentecost. The believers received the Spirit when they were baptized, (Acts 2:38). Peter said that Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, had received the promised Holy Spirit and then he poured out the Spirit. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.

The Whole Message

Peter’s message was a powerful testimony to fulfilled prophecy and to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

It’s too simplified to suggest that Acts 1 & 2 is about people getting baptized. The force of the text demonstrates the amazing promise of God to give his Spirit to all of us. Not just for the repented Jews, but to believing Gentiles too, for the whole world, for as many as the Lord our God will call!

Closing

This morning, at the Southeast Church of Christ in Friendswood, I will be speaking about this very topic, celebrating the Holy Spirit in our salvation.

Come join us at 8:30 and 10:45!

Shalom