Friday, June 26, 2015


FATHER'S DAY:  What a great day to talk about reconciliation!  Our relationship with our fathers is probably the most significant relationship we will have, at least in terms of early influence, molding and shaping personality.   A father's influence (for good or bad) is huge.   And when there's a rift in that relationship, it can be huge.  And painful.  Fortunately for us, we have a Father-God who values relationships, understands pain and separation from His children, and has the answer to reconciliation at the deepest level.

This was a really special Father's Day for me, because for the first time in a long time I got to celebrate it with my daughter Beth (and as a bonus, I got to hold my new granddaughter Emma during worship!)    During the service, I was thanking God that there is no rift existing between me and either of my children.  I am really, really blessed that way.  I also thought about my own father, who died several years ago.  We had a difficult relationship, but at the end of his life, God gave us an opportunity for reconciliation.    We reached that reconciliation because (1) God gave me the grace to offer forgiveness to my dad, and (2)  God gave me the courage to make the first move.  (Something I seem to remember Caz talking about....)

Caz said something Sunday that I thought was really important:  to achieve reconciliation in a relationship, you need to first reconcile any rifts in your relationship with God, and then approach reconciliation with the other person.  He mentioned that the order of doing that is important.  That makes a lot of sense to me.  In my life, it's only been because of my relationship with God, the perfect Father, that I had the grace and love in my heart to reach out to others who had hurt me.  That order is also important because, as you probably know, attempts at reconciliation don't always work.  You can do everything "right" and still not be received well by the other person.  Once again, we have to remind ourselves that our only responsibility in such cases is to be obedient to what God has asked us to do, and then leave the results up to Him.   Otherwise, we may hold on to hurt and resentment, which has terrible consequences on our life  Don't think that person deserves your forgiveness?  Or that that hurt is too big to let go of?  Consider this thought that I read recently:
The only One who is absolutely pure, who has the absolute right not to forgive, chose to forgive you.   

God desires restoration and reconciliation-- and letting go of any bitterness you might have in your  heart towards another person--- because He wants what's best for you.   And because He is the one perfect Father, we can trust Him to be everything we need to fill in the gaps left in our lives by others.

Pastor Rick


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

there's no feelings in a flood!

Relationship Rifts Part 2

I love how Caz’s sermons are always so focused on what our real life is like, and this series is no exception. His explanation of different traits and how they manifest themselves hit home.  That very day I saw some of the traits come out in Ben, and some in myself. For those that weren’t there, Caz described how there was a flood in the house (I’m not sure if it was real or hypothetical) and he was giving directions and Camie said “Can you say please?” Caz described his surprise and said “There’s no feelings in a flood!”
            What a clear picture of the differences between people. How much stronger would our relationships be if we had a better understanding of others, and their strengths? There are always floods, and there are always feelings. There is a time to just grab towels or an oar and not ask questions. And of course there are always feelings, despite the inconvenience. If feelings are bulldozed, there is a slow leak that can over time lead to a flood much harder to escape.
            I encourage everyone to review Romans 12 and think of it in light of our own strengths as individuals. It is freeing to realize that we don’t need to try to be someone we are not.  And even when it causes conflict, it is good to realize when we are drawn to someone with strengths we do not have. Romans 12 offers such a comprehensive approach for dealing with conflict, and how to keep ourselves in check.  Caz talked about how we need to try to get revenge. I think this applies to not just really obvious measures like gossip or deflating someone’s tire. But how tempting is it to get revenge by sulking and pointing out when we are right? How does this strengthen a relationship? It is so incredibly hard to let go of the need to be right. Who are we to even the score? We so easily forget our own sins. God has given us so much grace. Let’s give grace to each other as we navigate our relationships and our lives.
Beth Kropf


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Healing relationship rifts


CONFLICT is something I think most of us like to avoid.  I do.  Especially when I come home-- I want everything quiet and peaceful and serene.  And for the most part, it is-- I'm blessed in that way.   But there are still conflicts to face.  I'm always finding people that don't understand that it's all about me...  so we have conflict.

Seriously, isn't most conflict between people because one of you isn't getting what you want?  Or because you need to be right and win the argument?    And when you became a believer, did all of that stuff go away?  Maybe not as much as you thought it would.  As Caz pointed out Sunday, conflict is real and sometimes unavoidable.  If you believe that conflict among Christians can be avoided, you need to go back and start reading the New Testament more carefully.  There was a lot of conflict in the early Church.  And of course, Jesus was often in conflict with the religious authorities of his time.  So since we can't avoid conflict, we need to figure out how to handle it in a way that both honors God, and brings out the best in ourselves so that we can be the person we want to be.   One of my goals in handling a situation the way I think Jesus would want me to is that I know that's how I'll feel best about myself.   I never want my anger to make me act like someone I don't like.    Caz mentioned a couple of really good, simple guidelines in dealing with conflict that bear repeating:

1.  Handle conflict directly.  That's the biblical model.  It's also what works best.  Think how often situations have escalated (in a family or a work environment)  because the person feeling wronged or wounded talked to everyone except the person they feel wronged by.  Go to the person and explain how you feel about what happened-- not what they did wrong.  Give them a chance to talk about what they feel and how they saw the situation.

2.  Give up your need to be right.   This is key.  Especially in marriage!   I can be pretty stubborn sometimes.  I think if I keep talking, I can convince someone that I'm right.  I've had to learn to ask myself:  What do you really want-- to be right?  or to heal the relationship?   When we realize that our standing with Jesus is based entirely on GRACE, that we live continually in grace and love, it should help us let go of our need to be right.   

And if you don't need to be right, it'll be easier for you to take the other step that Caz mentioned:  to be the one to make the first move towards healing.  Jesus made the first move towards you.  Let's try acting more like Him the next time conflict comes up.

Pastor Rick