PART 9 WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
You are a Christian, now what?
What is the Christian life all about?
●How Do I Deal With Regrets That Keep Haunting Me?
How Do I Deal With Regrets That Keep Haunting Me?
The word regret means having a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, or disappointment.
We could extend this definition by saying that the word regret could also mean:
●To have sorrow for something that we have done or should have done, but didn’t.
●To have sorrow for losing something that we wish we hadn’t or losing someone as in a relationship, because of a bad decision made on our part.
●To have sorrow because of a disappointing decision that we or someone else had made which has significantly impacted our life.
●To relive memories that we aren’t proud of whether the realities of such were committed when we were a believer or an unbeliever.
I can remember when I was about eight years old; my mother took a prize out of a cereal box and gave it to me. Believe it or not this prize was a little book. When I opened it up I couldn’t believe what was in it. It contained old United States stamps. These were quite unusual. This spurred my interest in wanting to know more about what is called stamp collecting. I asked my mother if she would take me to a nearby coin and stamp store, which she did. While there I noticed a book that contained pictures of all of the US stamps which had been issued up to that time. I asked her if she would buy me this book and she agreed to do so. This was the beginning of my stamp collecting days.
When I got home I began transferring the stamps from the little book to the US stamp album. There was one stamp however that when I looked it up in the US stamp book I couldn’t find its picture. So I decided to remove it from the little book anyway. When I attempted to do this the little green glued hinge that was still connected to the back of it caused the stamp to rip in half. I decided, because of its condition to throw it away.
This stamp was of an upside down airplane. That’s all I remember. Could it have been the rare Inverted Jenny stamp of which only 100 were made and only 94 have been accounted for? It’s possible, but I can’t say for sure. One of these stamps is said to be worth today anywhere between $100,000.00 and $900,000.00 depending on condition. Even if this wasn’t the stamp, I have never seen another inverted center airplane stamp. Maybe I had a 1/1.
All of us have regrets. If I had gone this way instead of that way maybe the accident would never have occurred and someone who I cared for would not have lost their life. There are some that have regrets in regards to the person they married and eventually divorced. In one of the earlier chapters we talked about addressing those past decisions where we have hurt others. This is a step in the right direction. But what about those mental images of regret that continue to linger. How can we address these thoughts?
In my early days of ministry I attended a church that advocated the idea of forgetting about our past. I’m sure that there are many Christian churches today that would say now that you are a Christian you shouldn’t dwell on the past full of failures, heartaches, and disappointments. This sounds all well and good. It is true that we are a new creation, whose mind is learning how to be renewed by the word of God. By forgetting those things that are behind in our past this should assist us in our progress toward spiritual maturity, right?
One of the verses that is used to support this view is taken from the book of Philippians 3 which says:
…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
This verse does say that we should forget those things which are behind.
But what are those things that the apostle Paul was referring to here?
Let’s go to Philippians 3.
Forgetting those things which are behind:
Suggested Reading: Philippians 3:1-16
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
What Paul was saying to the believers at Philippi was that they should watch out for those, who have confidence in the flesh. Those, who like he was like, before he came to know Christ. He stated that was born as a pure blooded Jew, being circumcised on the eighth day, born of Jewish parents, of the tribe of Benjamin, became a Pharisee, which is the strictest sect of Judaism, observed the formal rules of the Law, without fault, and with zeal persecuted the church.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Paul goes on to say that all of those things that he confided in, which he considered gain in self-righteousness, he now considered loss (rubbish, which can mean food scraps or dung) in relationship to the righteousness that is in God, which can only be found through faith in Christ.
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
His gain now was to know (a personal knowledge, gained, not by hearing or reading, but by direct personal communion with the Lord) Christ and the power of his resurrection (the same power that raised Christ from the dead working in him).
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
So that he might someday attain the resurrection from the dead, the state of perfection which will occur when he goes home to be with the Lord. In the meantime Paul was pressing on to fulfill the purpose for which Christ won him on the Damascus Road, that he might become spiritually mature, Christ-like.
He realized that this goal of perfection (spiritual maturity) was an ongoing process. However, his past attempts, when he was an unbeliever, a Jew, trying to gain in self-righteousness favor from God, was the very thing that he was to trying to forget (looking back ends in going back). Becoming righteous before God is based on repenting to him and believing in his Son Jesus Christ, and not on any adherence to the tenets of the Mosaic Law. Going on to maturity is not based on doing this or doing that, but putting on the mind of Christ.
Therefore, these verses were not talking about forgetting or not dwelling upon the past full of failures and sins, full of heartaches and discouragements, full of disappointments and thwarted hopes and plans, but were talking about not going back to religion, trying to please God by rules and laws.
So with this in mind how does a Christian address those regrets that keep haunting their mind?
Please go to the book of 1 Peter.
Casting all your care:
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
We are to surrender to God all of our concerns, whether spiritual or temporal. When we do, on His part he responds to us in four wonderful ways:
●He gives us the courage to face our cares honestly and not run away.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)
●He gives us the wisdom to understand the situation.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:5-6)
●He gives us the strength to do what we must do.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)
●He gives us the faith to trust Him to do the rest.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5)
No matter what pattern of thoughts are trying to bring you into subjection by reminding you of your: wrong doing; inconsiderateness; lack of remorse; etc. go to God the Father and ask him for help. If you haven’t confessed (admitted to wrongdoing) of whatsoever it is that you are being reminded of as sinful behavior (e.g. thoughts, words, actions) to God the Father, then confess this to him in prayer. If you haven’t confessed of whatsoever you are being reminded of as sinful behavior to someone you have hurt, then confess this to them.
If you are still being haunted by regret after confession, then go to God the Father again in prayer and ask him to provide you with his perspective in this area. From whoever or however God discloses this to you, hide (memorize) this perspective away in your heart. Declare it to yourself when you wake up in the morning, meditate on it throughout your day, and thank God for it when you lay down to go to sleep.
Please go to 1 John. 5.
This is the victory that overcomes the world:
1 John 5:4
4a For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:..
We, as believers, were born of God at a point of time in the past having been made a partaker of the divine nature with the present result that we are continuing to be partakers of the divine nature. As such we are now in a continual battle to gain victory over the world system of good and evil, the sin nature, and the principalities and powers that tries to ruin our life and testimony.
How do we become victorious in this continual battle?
By our faith.
4b …and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
"Our faith” conquers the world by clinging to the eternal realities".Faith is acting on what God says, because it is true. Faith singles out an individual experience, when we meet temptation with victory by applying God’s perspective.
Regrets, regrets, regrets, oh how I long to be relieved from regrets.
Each regret can only be resolved by means of having the only perspective that counts, that being God’s. The word that God would have us to abide in along with any type of response that he would have us express are to be in accordance with his plan and will for our life.
Here is an example of what I am talking about.
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. (1 Corinthians 7:12)
Let’s say that soon after you got saved, you began to get more and more involved in a particular Spirit-filled church. Your wife at this time, an unbeliever, doesn’t want to have anything to do with this involvement. As you return home following a great message you realize that there is no outlet to share what God has communicated to you with your unbelieving wife. Even though she approves of living with you, you decide that you don’t want to stay in the marriage anymore so you get a divorce. I am going to assume that you have not heard any instruction concerning the allowances of divorce between a believer and an unbeliever.
When the divorce has become final, you now consider yourself single. Over time you meet a single Christian female. Eventually you marry again. Then there comes a time when while attending the church assembly for worship you hear a message on marriage that talks about the conditions for allowing a believer to get a divorce from an unbeliever, and you realize that your decision to divorce your first wife was wrong. You are not sure what to do at this point. Regret about this has become a continual preoccupation in your mind. You need help. Hopefully you will ask the pastor to meet with you so that you can receive the divine prescription for this particular situation.
It’s likely the pastor will tell you that your decision to get a divorce was wrong, even though it was made out of ignorance. He might further counsel you to confess this to both God and your ex-wife. You might also be asked if there were any children involved from your prior marriage and if there was what were the conditions for financial support? As you follow through on the pastor’s advice you still find yourself harboring regret concerning this matter. What can you do to find peace in this area of your life?
There is a verse in Romans 8 that provides the proper perspective concerning this circumstance. And here it is.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
This verse states that all things, afflictions, trials, etc. continually contribute for the ultimate good, promoting love, joy, and peace, for those who keep on loving God by trusting and relying upon him in every step of the way. This includes confessing sin when necessary and recovering from this earthly perspective. Your responsibility therefore is to memorize this verse along with the additional description of it that was provided so that now you will know with certainty that this situation will contribute to your spiritual welfare.
If I were to ask you, is there one regret that at various times rears itself in your mind to which you have been unable to address by means of the word of God?
I have had my own for many years. After my conversion to the faith I became involved in a Spirit-filled church eventually being asked by the head pastor if I would consider going on staff and serve as an outreach coordinator, to which I said yes. After a few years another door opened for me. The President of an affiliated bible college wanted me to attend this school and obtain a degree in Christian education. He gave me a full scholarship. The only expenses incurred by me would be housing and food. So off I went with my wife and son. I signed up to obtain a two year degree in Christian leadership of which I successfully completed having graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Soon after graduating a pastor, who oversaw an affiliated branch ministry, asked me if I would consider relocating and working in a Christian day school that he oversaw. Apparently he was aware that I had obtained a four year teaching degree in mathematics prior to my conversion to the faith. I thought this was the next step on my spiritual journey and replied yes I would love to work in the school. So off we went.
After a period of a couple of years this pastor suddenly decided to leave the ministry for personal reasons. One of the church members was appointed pastor and took over. During this time the Christian day school was having financial difficulty in paying staff. Discussions with a nearby church resulted in this school being relocated to their facility. I was retained to work in the day school and at times interacted with this pastor. Eventually my wife and I attended one of the worship services. What I noticed in the teachings was a clear difference as to how doctrinal perspectives were formulated in contrast to the church I was involved with.
At this time I was conducting a bible study in one of the believer’s homes. I was asked by those hosting the bible study if I could teach on a particular biblical topic, the teaching upon which they were having difficulty understanding. So I decided to teach this topic from opposing perspectives, the perspective of the church I was currently attending and the church I was now working for. When I arrived at the study to my surprise the pastor of the church I was currently attending had showed up. I proceeded to mention what the teaching was on and taught it from opposing views. A question and answer period followed after which everyone went home. Everything seemed to have gone well.
On the following day I was asked by the pastor to meet him at this office. I did as he said. He told me he was disappointed that I had taught on this topic from opposing views as this intimated there was more than one way to look at this topic. I was told not only that I was no longer allowed to teach bible study, but that I had to move out of the housing which was being provided by the ministry. I have to admit I was shocked at this pronouncement. I told my wife of the news and we began looking at alternative housing. However, within a couple of days another bomb shell fell.
The school year had just ended. The pastor of the Christian day school called me and wanted to meet up with me. I arrived at his office and he said that the financial arrangement that he had made with me had changed. Initially when I was hired I was asked if I wanted to receive financial compensation over a 10 or 12 month period to which I said 12 months. Another word the financial amount I would have received over a 10 month period would be spread out over 12 months thus receiving a lesser amount each month, but the same total amount. He told me that things had changed and if I wanted to be retained to work in the Christian day school the following year I would have to work for his church for the remaining two months. I told him that I had already secured employment for the summer and would be unable to commit to his request. And so my teaching job for the following year would no longer be made available to me.
So here I was, not only did I need housing for my family, but also a reliable year round full time job. Here was my regret. I thought about calling the President of the bible college letting him know what was going on and seeing if he had any suggestions. There were three reasons why I didn’t. The first was that the ministry was being sued by a former church member in regard to embezzlement and it appeared that they were going to lose the case and have to declare bankruptcy, which they actually did, and leave the premises. The second was that I had a change of mind concerning some of the teachings of this church. This caused me concern, because I knew of some pastors, who after completing bible college went away on their own to start a new branch ministry church somewhere else. Over time some of the teachings they espoused were different from the doctrinal teachings they received at the bible college. They were told to either change their views or consider themselves as no longer being affiliated with church headquarters. The third reason was that I wasn’t a pastor so I thought why would the President want to take the time to talk to me especially in the midst of his own intense situation?
I decided to mail out 100 resumes to various public schools in the state concerning seeking a teaching position as a high school math teacher. Soon thereafter I received a call from a public school asking me if I was interested in their vacant high school math teaching position to which I said I was. After being interviewed twice by them I was offered the job and so we left church housing and went on our way to teach at a public school that was located on an island, the only way to get to such was either by plane or ferry.
It was hard for me to comprehend all that had happened. Here I was in a ministry that I thought I would never leave, and here I was having left.
Could I have done anything differently?
I believe so. I should have called the President of the bible college and if by chance I was able to get a hold of him let him know about my current situation and ask him to pray with me about it. I’m sure that if it was God’s will for me to stay in this ministry then something would have opened up.
Every so often I wondered that if I had made the telephone call and something had opened up where would God have used me and the gifts of the Spirit he had given me to edify the body of Christ.
Where am I now in relation to being involved with a Spirit-filled church? Currently I am not attending any local church on the island as all of them have a religious persona. For my own spiritual growth I purchase audio/visual tapes from certain pastors. Sometimes I will also listen to live audio/visual teachings that are offered by means of You-Tube.
As far as God using me on this island, at times I have and will continue to present the gospel to unbelievers. At other times I have been writing about varied doctrinal teachings some of which have been presented from opposing views in the form of books, articles in the local newspaper, or articles on-line.
So how have I overcome this regret?
There are two verses which come to mind.
The first one says that godliness (Godly reverence) with contentment (be at peace whether in favorable or adverse circumstances) is great gain (eternal gain).
But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)
The second one says that we are to be content [to be satisfied with God’s providence (with what he has given us)] knowing that he will never leave (not cease to sustain and uphold) us nor forsake (not care for) us.
We are where we are. Sometimes this means that we are right where we should be, because we are operating in God’s plan and will for our life. It could also mean we are in a place that was not necessarily a part of God’s plan for our life as a result of us making a decision based on selfish motives or self-direction. However, if this was the case, then we need to confess our decision to God as sin and go forward in the plan he has for us at this time in our life knowing the Holy Spirit will work out all things together for our good (welfare) as long as we are continually seeking after God the Father’s love.
Whatever your major regret is confess it to God. Make an apology to someone if you have to. Make restitution to someone if you have to. And remember to reflect upon those verses that allow you to realize that the Holy Spirit cooperates with us working on our behalf when we continue to seek after the love of God the Father.
In the next chapter we will take a look at some of the characteristics of those churches that will inhibit us in our walk with God along with looking at some of the characteristics of those churches that will enhance us our walk with God.
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How do I deal with regrets that keep haunting me?