Life isn't a contest in which everyone is trying to make it to the finish line with the least number of sins.
It doesn't work that way, and gratefully so, because most of us have accumulated an embarrassing portfolio of personal blunders. Well today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll describes how to overcome the mistakes we've made. It's the seventh and final message in his series called Restoring Your Family's Foundation, which concludes tomorrow. Ready to forget the past and move boldly into the future?
Chuck titled today's message, Getting Past Yesterday's Failures. As always, our Father, when we come before you, we acknowledge you are the potter, we are the clay. You are the master, we are the servant.
You are the vine, we are the branches. You are the Lord, we are merely learners along the way, disciples who wish to follow your teaching. Remind us this day, our Father, that though silent, you are never absent, though unseen, you are always here, and you care.
You care especially about those in need, and that would be every one of us. May we today realize afresh and anew that you want us to be free of guilt and shame. You want us to walk in joy, confidence, and assurance in your strength, operating our lives for your glory, releasing our will to yours, and remembering that you are our guide and we are here to follow. Some strong words will be declared today, may we be willing to hear them, accept them, and adjust our lives to them. Thank you for working while we wait and wait and wait, how long we have waited for there to be a change. You led in the provision of that change as our Supreme Court made a decision, unpopular among many, but in honor of the unborn.
Thank you. Thank you, Father. We pray, Lord, that you will remind all of us that we are your children, and we are here for the purpose of glorifying your name.
We are penniless. We are broken people, which is why Jesus paid it all, and all to him we owe. Today, we acknowledge that as we find fulfillment in you and in our Savior Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. And finally, Father, I pray that you will use this message to bring healing in families where there is hurting and offense. I pray that you will speak through your truth, cut through all of the things that have held us back, so that we give ourselves to your will, doing it your way, in your time, for your glory. Through Christ, our Redeemer, our Lord and Master, we pray these things. And all God's people said, Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To dig deeper into the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now let's resume the message that Chuck titled Getting Past Yesterday's Failures. What do we do about the sins of our past, the failures of yesterday? How do we handle them today? God certainly doesn't want his people to live under the haunting presence of guilt and submerged in shame. Let me begin with three painful realities of our humanity. First, we are all imperfect people. That includes our children.
Those who grow up and become young adults marry and have their children. We are all imperfect, sinful people. Romans 3.23 is usually used in addressing the subject of salvation. I want to use it as it relates to our imperfection as parents. In the New Living Translation, for everyone has sinned, we all fall short of the glorious standards of God.
We all have sinned. We all fall short. A big part of falling short is simply living with imperfections and inadequacies. The inability to perform at the highest level of accomplishment, we can't achieve it.
We may want to, we don't. It is therefore self-defeating for imperfect people to beat themselves up with guilt for failing to accomplish what we were never capable of achieving. We are imperfect.
So are our kids. Second, we cannot change the past. It is set in stone. What was done was done. There it is.
For whatever reason, there it stands. Someone as great as Paul the Apostle wrote in Philippians 3, 13 and 14, this one thing I do, I focus on this. Forgetting the past and looking forward to the future, to what lies ahead, I press on.
What a great, great way to live. Oh, what a wonderful way to carry out our lives. But we don't do that. We dredge up the past. We remind others of our past. We often live in the past. And as a result, there it is again, guilt and shame, guilt and shame, dogging our steps, stealing our energy, robbing us of joy. We're facing three realities related to our sinfulness. We're imperfect. We cannot change the past.
Here's the third. We are personally responsible for our own wrongs. It is not only a waste, it is unbiblical for us to rationalize around our wrongs, to excuse our wrongs, or to blame someone else for our wrongs. When we do wrong, we are responsible. These three realities may seem a strange way to deal with our guilt and shame, but these are starting points. These will break down our pride, humble us, drive us to our knees as a starting place before our God. For the rest of my time, I want to address getting past all the guilt and all the shame so we can focus our life on recovery and renewal. To get there, here is what won't help. Please hear this well. Two things. First, it won't help for you to misinterpret the scriptures.
Basically, here's what I'm saying. Guard against always and nevers. Guard against making promises airtight. For example, when the Lord says in Proverbs 22 6, train up a child according to his way and when he was old, he will not depart from it. But the verse does not say that will happen in 100% of the cases. Every child will come back to the Lord.
No, they won't. Some die in their sin. Remember, you're dealing with damaged goods and you yourself are damaged. This makes it complicated. Be careful about the always and nevers in God's word.
Rarely do we have the freedom to use those words in his promises. If you are faithful to do what you should do in the rearing of your kids, more often than not, good will occur rather than bad, though there are always exceptions. Doesn't mean it's your fault. For the next few moments, I'm going to read for you from a book titled Parents in Pain by Dr. John White, a physician, British physician, who writes about common sense. He writes this. Bear with me.
It's a bit lengthy, but it's worth hearing. I have a feeling, he writes, that when doubts and anxieties assail us, common sense is the first thing to go. We long for easy answers, unambiguous assurance. The doubts and guilts drown our minds and make us not want to think rationally, but instead to cling to any bit of ideological driftwood that comes along.
The last thing we want to do when we are drowning is to think logically, yet think we must. Then he writes, as a recently graduated doctor, I was given major duties in surgery too early. Within a year of completing my medical training, I was frequently responsible at night for all the emergency surgery in a large city hospital, as well as in a smaller hospital on one of Britain's major highways. During the days, I was often given my own operating list, and less than a year after that, I was doing gastrectomies.
Understandably, things sometimes went wrong, seriously wrong. In the operating room, a wave of panic would occasionally begin to rise in me, as with horror, I would see that the operation was getting into a deeper and deeper mess. An unconscious patient's life depended on me. The anesthetist was competent in his or her own area, but could offer me no help.
Senior surgeons were an hour away. With the panic came a sort of freezing in my brain. My movements were hurried, but pointless and repetitive.
I would stare at the circle of the eyes of the assisting team around me, but all eyes would be looking silently back at me. Under such circumstances, the only thing I could do was forcefully will myself to think slowly and deliberately. I discovered that being a Christian, I had been sending up panicky prayers. Like, oh Lord, help. Oh Lord, don't let it go wrong. Lord, don't let me get into a mess here.
Don't let her die. They were muttered incantations, not prayer. I'd not been aiming at communicating with God, but was simply expressing panic in parrot talk.
Stay with me here. God, of course, was merciful. He was there. But I saw that I had to stop and think.
On a spiritual level, I had to talk to myself rather than to God. God is here. He doesn't need to be badgered.
He does care. Now, take it easy. What's my immediate aim?
What should I do first? Slowly, as I did this, a mental clearing came. My mind unfroze and I found myself, if not relaxed, at least able to be deliberate and calm.
Slowly, with a sense of growing confidence and relief, I found my way through the difficulties, successfully completing what could have been a tragically botched operation. I've no doubt that God's Holy Spirit was behind it. He was behind it all, but what was demanded of me in each crisis was to force myself to stop the panic spiral and think. I don't know where you may be as you read these words, a parent fearing the future, a parent relaxing a little after a crisis, or one in the midst of one, but in our association together, you as reader and I as writer, I must insist on this ground rule that at times you force yourself to think. Even when you do not feel like it, which brings us back to where we started, common sense. Whether you are a Christian or not, you need plenty of it in dealing with yourself, your family, and the child who causes you so much pain. And I say again that common sense says that all the blame does not necessarily lie with you. If one of your children goes badly wrong, it may, but it is rarely so simple. So those two things must be kept in mind, men and women. We must guard against misinterpreting scripture, and we must maintain good thinking with common sense as we deal with the subjects related to the family. Now let me continue with a couple of things that won't help.
Let me continue with what will help. Two words, true repentance. True repentance. In Isaiah 58, which I read earlier in the scripture reading, there's a strong rebuke from the Lord for people who went through the empty motions of religious activity instead of exhibiting heartfelt repentance. The subject in Isaiah 58 was fasting, and rather than fast with humility and a genuineness, they got busy about religious activities. And he says with a hard question, do you think the Lord was pleased with any of that?
And there is a bold answer, no, no. So now let me apply these verses to your life and to mine, and I'm going to be very vulnerable in doing so. There are five guidelines I find in Isaiah 58 that will help you and they will help me as we come to terms with a family that lacks harmony, that is becoming dysfunctional, if not altogether. We must begin by humbling ourselves.
That's verses seven and eight. Pride is often the major culprit in family squabbles and family problems. Often it's the pride of parents. So I'm not surprised that the Lord begins with humility.
For some of you, this is foreign talk. You were reared, I'm the parent. I don't humble myself before my children. I'm sorry you were told that.
That's stupid counsel. You humbled yourself before anyone before whom you have been proud. If you ever want to break the syndrome, he begins by emphasizing humility, removing the chains, sharing, giving, not hiding from family members. And you will find the wounds will begin to heal. So start with humility. I'm going to get more specific. Pray.
The end of verse nine. I would suggest while praying, you would be wise to write down the offenses you have caused and connect the offense with a name. It's right. Go back and remember where the offense occurred. See it as such. Call it as such. Name the one you offended in the act.
In prayer, ask for guidance to remember the names and to identify the offense. Don't be easy on yourself. Talk straight.
Think. Don't hide. Verse three.
I should say verse nine refers to removing the yoke. So I would say cease all blaming. Stop all finger pointing. If you had not so and so, I would not.
None of that. And for sure, refuse to gossip and spread rumors about how bad your kids have turned out. That doesn't help them and it doesn't help you.
This is a private matter between you and the one you've offended. This is insight for living. We're midway through an intensely practical message for moms and dads. Chuck Swindoll, our Bible teacher, titled his talk, Getting Past Yesterday's Failures.
If you'd like to know more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. And then by all means, make sure you listen to the last message in this series, because Chuck will share a transparent illustration from the Swindoll household. It's a rare opportunity to hear how Chuck and Cynthia dealt with unresolved issues with their adult children. In addition, that program represents the very last message of Chuck's brand new series called Restoring Your Family's Foundation. This seven part study embodies the culmination of Chuck's wisdom on the family accumulated over the decades as a husband, dad, granddad and great granddad. I'm pleased to remind you, Chuck wrote a helpful book on this topic as well.
Actually, it's a classic. His book is called Marriage from Surviving to Thriving, and you can purchase a copy when you go to insight.org slash store or ask for Chuck's book Marriage from Surviving to Thriving when you call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Bear in mind that your gift to insight for living, large or small, will help cultivate healthy families. There's hardly a day that passes when we don't hear from a grateful couple, a relieved husband or a forgiven son or daughter.
Biblical wisdom is timeless and lives are changed when we learn to apply what God taught us long ago. To join us in this mission to help families and make disciples of Jesus Christ around the world, we invite you to give generously. By donating today, you'll be doing for some young family what someone once did for you. So give us a call.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online at insight.org slash donate. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun. All in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.
Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.
When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444 or learn more at insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll presents his final message in the series about restoring your family's foundation. That's next time on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Getting Past Yesterday's Failures, was copyrighted in 2022 and 2023, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2023 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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