Every week!

You’re thinking, “Unless something more important comes up?”  No. That IS more important. Out of 52 weeks we manage about 50 dates. What’s more important? A funeral. Christmas. But we almost always still have the date, just on a different night. We are flexible on the time, not on the appointment. Why? Because 75 and 70… 

  1. we are still in love;
  2. we have much to talk about, our dreams, needs, problems, kids, grandkids, prayers.
  3. we think generation, not family. We pray for our great-grandchildren who don’t yet exist, because God promises to bless godly parents four generations out. We want each generation to be stronger than the last. You get to the fourth, and they are stopping cancer cold and impacting the culture.

We discovered early on that if Dad and Mom ain’t happy, the kids ain’t happy. They take their cue from us. If we live at odds with one another, that is what they will learn about marriage, family, and us. That does NOT prepare them for their future as partners and parents.  When we are happy, it gives them an “excuse” to be happy. So our dates help our parenting!

A little story that has now become epic in our extended family: Granddaughter Becca in the back seat, Grandpa Phil is driving and Grandma Margaret riding shotgun. They express words with each other that show a small level of tension, nothing close to a shouting match, which has never happened. Two minutes later from the back seat, four-year old Becca says, “We not sad, we happy, wight?” She read what was going on, and it made her very uncomfortable, and that was with grandparents. With parents, it goes to the next power. She was ready to intervene and break up the “fight,” and it was a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale. Imagine what kids go through when they regularly hear a 7 or an 8. Rips their hearts out.

All our kids know we were serious about date night–and still are. Guess what? They all do the same. We are often watching the grandkids so Dad and Mom can have time together alone.


  1. You keep the home fires burning. How high would you rate that for importance?!
  2. You don’t let anything creep in by way of competition. We have all seen it too many times. We are shocked when a mature couple decides to call it quits. It is not sad–it is tragic. Some kids NEVER get over the divorce that may have come because they did not manage their marriage.
  3. One of the best ways of staying close to the kid(s) is by staying close to the spouse.
  4. Karen and I are sometimes surprised when one of us shares something and the other person says, “I had no idea. So glad you shared that.” After 44 years, we are still learning about each other.

How do we do dating?

  1. We go out to eat so we can look at each other face to face. Important!
  2. God told me years ago, “If you spoil her, I will spoil you.” It has happened. 
  3. The whole night is for the two of us. Once in a while, we will share the dinner-time with one of our children and his or her spouse. Always fun! But then we still have plenty of time to ourselves, often watching  a favorite comedian or a great movie–alone. I love Karen. We’re 44 years in and it’s getting better all the time!


When a boy living at our home ran in a relay race at his high school, he passed the baton too late.  Though I was one hundred yards away, I could see the outburst of anger. When I talked with him later in the morning, he was deeply disappointed in his performance, as is understandable, and I shared his pain.  But that emotion never converted to working harder. Instead, he got more lazy and even cynical regarding track.

By sharp contrast, godly sorrow (literally “sorrow toward God”) produces abundant fruit.  Let’s look closer at 2 Corinthians 7:8-11:

EARNESTNESS.  It is just the opposite of laziness. It is the picture of intensity, action, quick response.  Paul uses it of Christians who must exert themselves to maintain unity (Ephesians 4:3). Rather than leading to passivity, closer to fatalism than faith, godly sorrow brings an exertion of energy, appropriate for the gracious offer of God. 

EAGERNESS.  The NIV says “what eagerness to clear yourselves” (2 Corinthians 7:11). Godly sorrow produced in them communication with Paul rather than withdrawal, a typical response to regret.  They had been distant, and it had broken Paul’s heart, but now the letter he risked writing produced words and actions.

INDIGNATION, anger resulting from injustice.  It is possible to be so passive that we are incapable of appropriate anger.  Some things are worth getting angry about, and the immorality and disunity in the Corinthian church were two of them.

FEAR.  The NIV says “alarm.”  The word is phobos, from which we get phobia.  Fear in meeting a bear in a forest leads to necessary action, a change in direction.  The Christian community in Corinth needed a jolt, and Paul’s letter gave it to them. Fear, especially a fear of God, needs to be present lest we take a complacent outlook regarding iniquity and fall into the trap ourselves. 

LONGING.  Desire that goes to seed produces a longing that can lead to action.  Longing is a cousin of passion, a necessary ingredient to pursue one’s destiny.  Regret puts us to sleep, while godly sorrow lights a fire.

ZEAL.  The NIV uses the word “concern” to translate “zalos.”  That seems too weak for the context. The Greek lexicon says it means “zeal, ardor.”  The Corinthians were shaken out of lethargy and became zealous to connect again with Paul and to deal with the problems in their church.   

PUNISHMENT.  The KJV uses the word “revenge.”  The NIV says “readiness to see justice done.”  It is used of the widow who receives justice after many requests (Luke 18:7).  Justice goes two ways: the release of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty.  Parents and leaders need to know the difference between mercy and indulgence.

The inaction of the leaders in Corinth to gross immorality was creating an unhealthy climate–toleration of evil.  But now godly sorrow was producing good fruit, taking them from regret to repentance, from inactivity to Spirit-led response.  One look at this list can tell us how desperately godly sorrow is needed in the body of Christ, especially where grace has lulled people into sleep rather than action, where mercy means permission rather than forgiveness.

My final exhortation: stay away from regret and live in repentance!


The word “regret” comes from an old English word “greet,” which means “to weep.”  The “re,” meaning “again,” suggests ongoing weeping. Webster defines regret as “sorrow or remorse over something that has happened, especially over something that one has done or left undone” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). At first glance, regret seems hardly dangerous and certainly not deadly. But on closer examination, we can see the folly of regret and the potential to feel its crippling impact. Regret sentences us to live in the past.  It can bury us in remorse and keep us from investing in the future. The ‘re’ of regret tells us that it often hangs around longer than it should. Regret often includes the words “if only:”

“If only I had passed my test.”

“If only we had not broken up.”

“If only they had not forgotten to pay the bill.”

“If only I had taken that position instead of moving.”

Why is regret dangerous?

  1. Unlike repentance, regret doesn’t have a terminal point. Repentance leads to forgiveness, and forgiveness deals with the past effectively.  Forgiveness brings release and usually a lifting of the sorrow. Regret hangs on like a cloud, darkening the atmosphere with an ambiguous gloom.
  2. Regret can lead to repentance, but often it doesn’t.  It is a poor substitute for repentance because it doesn’t bring the same relief.  

It is possible to regret something appropriately.  When we are unable to attend a friend’s graduation, we can say politely, “I regret that I cannot attend.” Not something to repent over. And that kind of regret doesn’t camp out in our soul.  But it can, and sometimes it does, putting a haze over the present and shielding us from the future.

Paul wrote, “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it.  Though I did regret it–I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while–yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.  For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done” (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).  

Paul examined the fruit of two kinds of sorrow: regret and repentance. Regret leads to death, while repentance brings a wealth of potential fruit.  He calls the two sorrows worldly or godly. Worldly regret includes such emotions as anger, self-condemnation, discouragement, depression, and blame, and those emotions do not convert to positive change. (Part 2 will show us what godly sorrow produces).


On a scale of one to ten, with ten being healthiest, how would you rate your relationships?  I once asked church leaders in California how they’d rate their church. Most elders gave it a seven; I would have said four. I am sometimes humored when I ask couples how it’s going.  He says, “Fine;” she answers, “Struggling.” She’s not smiling. Doctors diagnose to determine physical health. Here are clues to relational wholeness:


Dysfunctional systems major in pretense.  “Honesty is the best policy,” but insecure people don’t want it. Pretending overshadows facing hard truth. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” but fragile relationships can’t handle it. Can you?  Can others risk speaking truthfully with you? Not if you’re unhealthy. Have you grown to the place where the truth (light) is not a threat but a promise. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Satan says that if we are honest about our failures, we will be shamed and rejected. John said that we will be loved and forgiven. We will experience koinonia and the lifting of shame.


The Bible lays out processes for peaceful resolution. Some have neither the desire nor the know-how to close books by making the columns balance.  They would rather build up a deficit in the emotional bank account. When a relationship with his spouse deteriorated, Jerry viewed quitting as an easier option than confronting.

Tension doesn’t mean that something is wrong; it means that something is happening. But if we learned to treat tension as threatening, we react instead of saying, “My relationship with you is not up for grabs. How can we deal with this misunderstanding?” The light on the dashboard is our friend. It tells us that something is happening in the engine that needs our attention. If we cover it over and pretend the car is fine, get ready for a bigger problem.

When a friend in a difficult marriage went to in-law gatherings, he listened to people staying on the surface rather than dealing with painful issues. Unhealthy people avoid confrontation or do it recklessly. You need to have made investments into the relationship if you plan to make a big withdrawal, such as lovingly confronting someone. Otherwise the check bounces.


People who live by principles more than by the Spirit will tend to return evil for evil.  They want to be even-handed. People of grace are radical. They return the opposite spirit, responding to God rather than reacting to people, one mark of maturity.  A Spirit-empowered life is required to overcome evil with good. Our sense of justice kicks in when insulted, and we may choose to nurse the offense rather than forgiving the offender. Wounded people who hold onto injuries keep getting wounded. Like a sick person with no immune system, they catch everything that comes along. Healthy people have emotional immunity; resentment doesn’t stick to their soul. They don’t have emotional baggage buried deep inside, like hostility or resentment, so they don’t operate out of past hurts. They stay current and up-to-date, rather than holding onto past wounds and remaining in reaction mode. Unhealthy people don’t even know why they are reacting so much. Healing of the past could free them in the present and enable them to respond  to a spouse rather than continuing in reaction mode. And a healthy partner will give them time, space and grace to heal and will be a good forgiver!


Healthy relationships combine grace and truth in a way that builds us up. We leave the encounter encouraged.  Unhealthy relationships are often filled with sarcasm, dumping, complaining, innuendos. No investment is being made for the future.  If anything, money is drawn out without new deposits being made. Bankruptcy is not far away.

I once mentioned in the hearing of my daughter Karis, then six, that I was short on money.  She encouraged me to write out a check for some easy cash. I explained that I had to put money in to draw money out.  Unhealthy people will overdraw and go from crisis to crisis. They must learn to make good deposits in the lives of others. Love is the answer.

How are you are making good deposits into the account of your spouse? Can you be positive simply for the reason that it builds up your spouse. I did it recently when I thought a suggestion might be more appropriate. Thank God I had a good moment and poured on a few compliments when I considered a correction. Am I glad I did? Karen first texted me a wonderful response, then came into the room choked up by love. If you don’t know what to do, love is probably the answer. Like a great man once said, “Love never fails!” I have failed too many times with good advice. This time I succeeded–with love. I think I’ll try it again!



  1. I identify the stronghold. The whole culture of the upper American Midwest has been impacted by a Jante spirit.  Acknowledging a stronghold, a habitual and unhealthy way of responding to life, begins the process of deliverance.  
  2. I confess my attachment.  I acknowledge that I have been influenced by lies more than the truth, by laws of the flesh rather than laws of the Spirit.  I have been held back by a false humility, by passivity, by a spirit of lethargy, by cowardice. I have operated as if the lies were the truth and I was bound to them. I am not.
  3.  I renounce the lies, their impact on me, my family, and my heritage.  Instead of clinging to the lies, I expose them and resist them actively. I refuse to let these laws influence my life anymore.
  4. I forgive others.  Where I have been wounded because of a Jante spirit, I forgive  anyone who has hurt me, including pastors, the church, my heritage, my parents, and friends.
  5.  I affirm the truth. Clinging to lies invites the devil to work me over.  Standing in the truth invites the Spirit of truth to work in my life.  I make the choice to move in the opposite spirit. I walk in boldness rather than in timidity. Dr. Gary Sweeten wrote the Law of the Spirit to counter Jante Loven (the law of Jante). I confess these truths as who I really am in God:
  • I am a person of worth, created in God’s image.
  • I am as good as anyone else because God says so.
  • I have the wisdom of God’s Spirit.
  • God has gifted me to be a winner.
  • I am filled with the knowledge of God.
  • God honors me as much as anyone on earth (especially as I choose to honor Him).
  • I have God’s destiny and plan for my life.
  • What others think or do will not control me.
  • God loves me and so do His people.
  • I have a teachable spirit.
  1.  I receive deliverance.  We pray (for ourselves or for others):  “In the strong name of Jesus I command the Jante spirit and any spirits associated with it to leave.  They have no power or right in my life. I lay claim to the freedom that is in Christ Jesus. I lay hold of the inheritance that belongs to me as a child of God purchased by the blood of Christ.  I break off the influence of an unhealthy inheritance. I cling to Jesus as my true stronghold.”
  2.  I ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  I reject all wrong spirits and I invite the Holy Spirit to fill me.  I rely on the power of the Spirit to overcome the negative impact of the Law of Jante in my life.  I learn to walk in the Spirit day by day, moment by moment, yielding my life, my destiny, my time, my choices to Him.  I make decisions that keep me open to Christ’s work in my life. Deliverance is both an act and a process. I must establish new thought patterns and resist old ones and do this as God gives me grace.




  • An appearance of humility which is in fact pride
  • A passive rather than an active faith.  Fatalism replaces faith
  • A lethargy difficult to overcome
  • A lie which engenders a false religious spirit
  • A uniformity rather than true unity; unity requires diversity
  • A stifling of courageous leadership
  • A resistance toward doing good works
  • A legalism that opposes grace
  • A spirit of judgment and suspicion rather than of Christian fellowship
  • A cap on emotions, making a person feel emotionally restrained
  • A climate in which true prophets are not welcome


The Law of Jante neutralizes what is positive in the Viking spirit.  It levels everyone off, so that no one shines above the others. It creates a democratic spirit, the strong side of which encourages the rich to share with the poor, as they do in Scandinavia but the negative side of which keeps people from feeling special to anyone, even God.  So to hear how freely God loves them for Jesus’ sake is good news, although some find it too good to be true and prefer sticking with their own feeble efforts.

The Law of Jante stands in contrast to God’s assessment of His crowning creation when He said that it was “very good.”  It says, “I’m not okay, and you’re even worse.” So it makes people reluctant to affirm others, to show honor where honor is due, to live with positive attitudes toward themselves, and to exercise faith. God blesses people; I just don’t happen to be one of them.  Of course, God loves the world, but I’ll never play on His first team.

Of course, all of us are prone to this sinister outlook. We need to fight it in ourselves, our children, and those we love.  The spirit of Jante creates a heavy legalism that makes people uncomfortable with a spirit of celebration and where duty overcomes delight.  Sober living is deep in the Scandinavian soul. They laughed at the jokes I told in sermons, but they let me know that their pastors do not tell jokes when they preach.  I could get away with it, because I was an American. All of which means that peer pressure is a big factor in the Christian culture and in the community. Pastors fear more than they do in America becoming mavericks, disappointing their bishops, creating waves, and stirring up opposition. One can fall off the horse on either side.  Where you find the legalism, it will be followed by license. Both operate in the flesh rather than the spirit. Legalism creates license, because legalism resists grace, condemning people to pull off holiness and resist sin by their own effort, which is impossible. So the Pharisees were out-of-control sinners, although they hid their wickedness behind a vale of religion.  

Dr. Gary Sweeten, an American pastor/leader who did much teaching and ministry in Scandinavia,  took people at the retreat through an eight-step process of deliverance prayer. “Amazingly,” he wrote, “after all this teaching, discussion, confession and repentance, there were still many leaders who were confused about why the Law was wrong.  It had become so much a part of each person’s mental map that change was almost impossible. Thus, that very night I did another complete teaching, confession, small group sharing, burning of the vows, public confession and repentance and burning of the Law of Jante” (part 3 next).



Scandinavians are as far from Italians as Scandinavia is from Italy.   A famous Norwegian author once wrote, “Every joy you have you pay for with sorrow.”  Many Norwegians think it’s from the Bible. They take it seriously—and I mean seriously.  They, and most Scandinavians (and I am one), tend to value even-keeled emotions rather than the highs and lows more prominent in Mediterranean cultures.  Expressions of affection and praise tend to be guarded. When a gifted girl asked her mom why she didn’t affirm her, she responded, “We didn’t want you to get proud.” That is all too typical.

Many children grow up wondering if they are valued, which they then pass on to their offspring. Not vastly different from any other place in the world, but maybe more pronounced because of their disposition.  Garrison Keillor helped us laugh at some of these cultural patterns. Sometimes they aren’t funny.

These attitudes, a part of Scandinavian society for centuries, were reinforced in a book by a Dane who moved to Norway and came across attitudes of negativism and depression. His novel, The Escape from Jante, tells about the dark side of Scandinavian small-town mentality. The term “Janteloven,” which means “the Jante Law” has come to mean the unspoken rules of such communities.  It is a curse, not a blessing, but Scandinavians have owned it as their DNA. Sandemose may have chosen ten laws to give it the seriousness of the Ten Commandments, which interestingly are called the “Moseloven” (or Mosaic Law) in Norwegian.  


Here is the Law of Jante which Sandemose wrote after observing it:

  1. Do not think you are anything special.
  2. Do not think you are as important as we are.
  3. Do not think you are wiser than us.
  4. Do not fool yourself into thinking you are better than us.
  5. Do not think you know more than us.
  6. Do not think you are more than we are.
  7. Do not think that you are good at anything.
  8. Do not laugh at us.
  9. Do not think that anyone cares about you.
  10. Do not think you can teach us anything.

Heresy is truth in distortion, and there is an element of truth in these statements. The Law of Jante, however, takes an inaccurate picture of humility and applies it to others in a kind of pseudo-democratic fashion.  It levels people off so no one feels like rising above anyone else. The Japanese have a saying, “The nail that sticks out is pounded down,” and the Law of Jante has been used for decades to pound people down, so that they question their value to others and even to God.

A Swedish pastor told me it is opposite the American spirit of “rugged individualism.”   “If you ask a Swede if he plays an instrument, he says, ‘Well, not much. I just practice a little bit,’ even if he is a concert pianist.  If you ask an American, he says, ‘Sure, I’m going to release a CD soon,’ even if he only knows two chords.” Both outlooks need the influence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I am not going after Scandinavians. I love my Norwegian roots–and fruits. And I love where God has placed us for twenty-three years, in American Scandinavia, the upper Midwest. As we embrace the culture, we also wish to embrace the healing that comes from Jesus (part 2 next).


The elder brother of the prodigal had them too–and didn’t know it. If you are a controlling person, you probably don’t see it–but everyone near you does. They feel it when you try to control the time, the conversation, the meeting, the phone call.

“The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control.” The more self-control you possess, the less you need to be controlling. The more out of control you feel, the more you may try to control whatever you can. If you struggle with needing to control other people,

1)  You feel entitled to your opinion, but you don’t want theirs. You trust your outlook.

2)  You assert yourself with anger, one of the major methods of controlling. And you are mad when people don’t follow your advice or expectations. The elder brother was like the Pharisees, who were out of control but presented themselves as in control. Controlling others masks insecurity. Think Martha, who tried controlling her sister.

3)  You don’t plan on changing, but others need to. Unfortunately, you are clueless to your control. You just have better ideas and more wisdom, and you want to mentor others and show them how it is done. The Pharisees thought they had things to teach people. In fact, they had nothing right, nor did the elder brother.

4)  You have many relational conflicts, which should be a clue to your problem, but you tend not to see your issues while you point out the flaws of others. The elder brother had a conflict with his brother and with his father. He didn’t know how to do relationships. The prodigal and the father did. The emphasis of controlling people is more on functions than on relationships. The prodigal was mending a relationship. The elder brother had no idea relationships needed mending. He didn’t know his father as a father; he was his boss. Entitlement reduces a relationship with God from father to boss. And their picture of Him is skewed by their wounding, perhaps a demanding mother or father. The elder brother had a good father but but he didn’t know it. He tried telling his father how to run the family, how to control his over-the-top younger brother

If you have read this far and think you might have some control issues, you probably do, and they are most likely bigger than you think. Here are some helps to walking in freedom from the need to be the CEO of the universe:


  • Focus on yourself. Notice Paul calls it “self-control.” You are not required to control others, and you are not as good at it as you may imagine. Every one of your problems has a common issue–you. Quit thinking the world is out to get you. It just wants you to quit trying to manage their life. That is demoralizing and degrading, especially since your life is out of control. Think about it: the more we walk with self-control, the less need we feel to control others.
  • Consider God. He is the most powerful person of the universe–and the least controlling. The father of the prodigal is a picture of God. The son made an illegitimate request–and the father honored it. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe he could see that the son had already left and needed to learn what the world was really like. He did–and he came home to experience non-controlling compassion. So will you.



God has high goals for His kids, conforming us “to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). We’re not there. He uses tension to show us our need and build humility that cries out to God. He gives us relationships with people who are opposite us. It leads to friction, creating heat, with the view to character being formed in us. Think overbearing boss, strange relative, or sibling: Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Martha and Mary.

Cain’s approach to life was a long way from Abel’s, and he had some changing to do. God said, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). Instead of taking the warning in, Cain took his brother out. Sad. They could have become great friends, but he did not learn from the tension.

Mary and Martha look like opposites, Mary the relaxed, meditative type and her older sister the hardworking gal. Tension does not mean something is wrong; it means something is happening (thank you, Graham Cooke). Instead of learning from younger sis, Martha complained to Jesus about lazy Mary leaving her to do all the work. Then she ordered Jesus to tell her sister to get u and help, not the smartest thing to say to the Son of God. If Martha could only have stopped and asked, “What could God be teaching me in this frustrating situation?” She might have come up with a different response. Too late–it was out of her mouth. Jesus came to Mary’s defense, an uncomfortable moment for Martha. It appears from later interactions that she had matured through the experience.

Sometimes tension drives us to the opposite response than is needed. Jacob and Esau were poles apart. Big brother (by a few seconds) was a man’s man, with hair on his chest, while brother Jake was a momma’s boy, an insider rather than an outsider. Jacob got over the tension created by the dissonance, but he almost killed himself in the process. Had they seen what God was doing, they might have learned to cooperate with each other earlier than they finally did.

God is relentless in His desire to make us like Jesus. When tension addresses us, we can hopefully say, “I wonder if God has something in mind with the friction I feel right now. Could it be that I need to learn something rather than this person who feels like my adversary?” Cain chose jealousy over humility. Martha embraced a victim mentality. Victims don’t plan on changing, but they want you to change to help them. Jacob could only see a competitor, and deception took over when understanding would have worked better.

Do you find yourself struggling with tension? It is the light on the dashboard communicating an important message. If you can step back, ask what the message is, and respond appropriately, you will grow through the experience and even thank God for it. If you treat the light as an intruder and put tape over the light that says the car is overheating, get ready for a disaster. Maybe you are the one who is overheating, like Cain, Martha, and Jacob. Learn from the tension and grow!


God is shaping us to be like His Son Jesus.  “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good…For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:28,29). What are some tools God uses to make this happen?


God didn’t give parents a trial run before the real thing. Parents are thrust into this daunting task of raising up godly children with no trial run and no detailed manual. The way they learn how to raise kids is to HAVE kids. On-the-job training. None of us grew up in a family with parents who really knew what they were doing. They were experimenting, doing the best they could–hopefully. We were their assignments.


People we grow up with will change our lives–for better or for worse. The tension that shows up in the Bible with brothers and sisters (Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Mary and Martha–to name a few) demonstrate the potential of siblings to compete with one another. Trust God to use siblings–even through the hardships.


Marriage is a killer. God uses it to sanctify us. When I got married, I tried to get Karen to be more like me. Dumb idea. I learned (very slowly) that I needed to die to myself to properly serve her. I am embarrassed that it took me so long to learn. Now we are both working on being unoffendable. Great goal–difficult to pull off, but when even embraced in part, it enables us to walk together and serve one another. Marriage is no piece of cake–but it is God’s idea and oh how rewarding!


The answer some have for a difficult boss is to go to human resources. God has another idea. It’s called suffering. “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (I Peter 2:18,19). Good things happen when people learn to accept the hardship of a cranky boss. Peter says, “This is a gracious thing in the sight of God” (20). Jesus not only suffered for us, but he suffered to show us how we can go through suffering as well–keeping our mouth shut, our heart open, and our conscience clear.


Which hurts more, the failures of others or our failures? Ask Peter. He thought he was finished after defecting. He wimped out under the pressure of a servant girl. Not close to what he had vowed to Christ. He knows it’s all over. But a meeting with the resurrected Christ not to rebuke him but to reinstate him changed his future. There’s a place for failures in the kingdom of God.

I remember when Dan, my partner in ministry, said, “Nothing is wasted.” God’s toolbox proves it. Pain has a purpose. He is doing a good work in you! (If you want to receive my monthly newsletter to pray for us, send me your email: pa@harvestcommunities.org