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Previous Message From Virtual Church

STARTING OVER

John 16:16 - 24 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. (NIV)

Have you ever started something, and for whatever reason, had to start over? Of course, all of us have had to start over. All kinds of things happen in our lives and we have to begin anew. By starting over, I am not referring to some kind of hobby or small project in the garage. What we are going to look at today is the time in our lives when we really do have to start over, as in starting a new phase in our life.

If you are like most then you will probably have a traumatic starting over event occur in your life. You may lose a job, lose a business, lose your life’s savings, lose a partner, lose a close friend, lose a child, lose your home, lose your health, lose the health of someone you depend upon, and this list of starting over events could go on for pages. Remarkably, there are some people who get through life without any significant losses, but these people are few in number. The normal state of your world is that you will probably have a starting over event or a loss, perhaps a tragic loss, that will seemingly change everything in our world. Even though the world still spins on its axis, causing the sun to rise in the east and set in the west…even though everything in the world might seem normal to everyone else…your world is radically changed when a starting over event or a loss occurs.

When you are faced with a loss, when something has happened that turns your world upside down, and turned you inside out, there are things you can do. What is most striking for most of us is that the losses most difficult to take or handle, are the losses that are not so visible. Your visible house or home destroyed by a tornado or hurricane can be rebuilt. Your life that has been devastated by a personal loss can also be rebuilt but not as easily as we can rebuild a house.

Starting over in life requires hard work. The hard work required is the kind we have to do with our heart, mind, and soul. Here are some guidelines for you as you work through your starting over time.

Pray

When you are forced to start over, you need to talk to God. When you talk to God in prayer, He will answer. The answer God gives you is designed to help you and be of benefit. The answer He gives will help you be strong instead of weak. When you are forced to start over, you need all the strength and power you can get so talk to God. You may not feel like praying or talking to God. In fact, you may be angry with God because you may hold God accountable for the losses in your life. You may feel God could have prevented a loss and that God turned His back on you when you needed Him most. These are normal feelings and expectations about God. Not only do we have to sometimes start over in parts of our lives; sometimes we have to start over in our faith in God, both at the same time. No matter what your attitude is toward God, you still need to talk to Him. With God, you need to be honest because God knows more about you and what you are going through than anyone, including yourself. If you believe that God does bad things to people, then this belief will need to be undone because this belief is in error. God is love. God is there to help you through the tough times, not hurt you as you struggle. The power of darkness inflicts the pain on you, and this power tries to destroy parts of your life as well as the lives of everyone on earth. God, or the power of love, is there to build you up and strengthen you. The more you pray the better off you will be because prayer puts you in contact with God. It is important for you to remember that when you do not feel like praying that you should tell that to God. Sometimes you may not have prayer words in your mind or heart to say to God. When these times come, just go to a place and think about Christ being with you. Eventually, His touch will heal you enough that you can begin to speak. If there is one important message God tries to get through to you at this time in your life, that message is that you are not alone.

Use Your Spiritual Eyes

When the dark times come and you have to start over, you need to open your spiritual eyes and take a good look around you. It is normal for you to feel alone at this time in your life. When life cuts us off from someone or something important it is as if we go spiritually blind. The pain of the loss is often so great we are distracted and it seems we are only half-conscious of what is going on around us. When you open your spiritual eyes, you will see many other people who are going through the same deep water you are in. Their circumstances may be different, or their loss may be different, but the inner core of their life is as wounded as is yours. When you open your spiritual eyes, you can also see that God is still working in the world. You can also see that God is still alive and working in you and others. When you open your spiritual eyes, you can also see that other people in the world need you, perhaps more than you need them.

Get Up, Get Out, Join In

If you are physically able, you need to get up and get out. No matter how difficult it may be for you, you need to avoid being a recluse. Even if you are working and around others all the time at work, you can still draw back into a shell. It is normal and natural for you to want to be alone and being alone for a time is OK. However, being alone all the time is not good. When your starting over times come, you need to avoid the temptation of shutting yourself off from people. You need to get up and get out with others. Taking these first steps can be extremely difficult. Many people feel embarrassed to ask to be part of a group of some kind so they do not ask. This is very unfortunate because if we do not have contact with others when we are starting over, whatever happened to us begins to eat away at us. There are support groups of every kind just about everywhere. Joining a group, whether it is a support group, a dance group, a hobby group, a party group, a condo group, or any other kind of group is one of the healthiest things you can do. You do not have to go through the tough times in life by yourself unless you want to be by yourself. If you are not much of a joiner or much of a social person then you can do volunteer work if your time is not caught up in other activities. If you do not attend church on a regular basis, find a church now. A church family can surround you with love and caring now and in the future. A church family can be of enormous support when you have to start over.

A New Vision

Some people do not need much of a future. Some people only need to see past the next day or two and they can be satisfied and happy. The older you get, perhaps you need less of a future vision than would a younger person. However, when you are starting over, you need a positive vision for tomorrow, a positive vision for the day after tomorrow, the next week, and the next year. Earlier we discussed how you go blind spiritually and become mentally blind when you have to start over. During this period, you may need a new vision of your future because all of your yesterdays and most of your tomorrows were wrapped up in the thing or person you lost. If you are building a house and the house is destroyed, you still need a blueprint to rebuild. If the blueprint is destroyed then you need to get a new blueprint. Even if you knew every inch of the house before it was destroyed, to rebuild you still need a blueprint so you will know where all the unseen lumber, plumbing, and wiring is supposed to go. A blueprint is a visual drawing showing how every board in the house is to be placed. In your life, when you start over you need a blueprint or a visual plan. For our lives, we need something to look forward to. Even when everything in our life changes, we can rebuild and start over, but we need to have a vision of where we are going and what we are going to do. Trying to live day to day is fine but if you have to start over then living day to day can prevent you from rebuilding. Living day to day is not as effective and not as rewarding as having a tomorrow full of activities, life, and promise.

Fill’er Up

In starting over, you need to intentionally fill your life. Intentionally, with forethought, fill your life with prayer, meditation, talks on the phone, walks, shopping, joining in on an activity, reading, or whatever it is you like to do. Just sitting and staring into space while you are in pain is normal for a short while, but eventually you are going to need to start getting busy. You will need to start intentionally filling your time with all kinds of activities. The busier you are the quicker you can deal with your loss. It is important to realize there are some circumstances so devastating to us, we are never able to go back to what we once called a "normal" life. What we then must do is start over and build a new "normal" life that is as full of as many of the things we like to do as we can. Filling up your life is a critical step in the right direction.

Get Help

You may need some help in dealing with your starting over time. Never, never, never, be ashamed to ask for help. Trained counselors can help you through difficult times. If you believe you are not making progress in starting over, or you believe you cannot start over then you might want to consider talking with a counselor. You should also speak with your doctor and your minister. If you are part of a church then you have enormous resources to help you. In your church, you are not only in a group that can help you, but your minister can also help by listening, guiding, and praying with you.

Set Goals

You may never have had to actually set goals in you life. Most people just take each day as it comes and do not think much about goal setting. However, when you hit the wall in life and are stunned, then you should begin to set new goals. If you are in your senior years and have experienced a loss, then you should have a goal for the week, the month, and the year. It does not matter what the goal is as much as you have it and work toward it. It is important to write down what you goal is or get a picture of it and put it out where you can see it just as a reminder.

Get Rid Of The Guilt

Of all the difficulties involved in starting over, the difficulty of carrying needless guilt is the most common. For reasons we do not always understand, persons who are starting over in life, carry loads of guilt with them. In many cases, people needlessly and unnecessarily blame themselves for losing a part of their life. A surviving spouse says, "If only I had done…" when the surviving spouse did everything possible for the deceased partner. When a businessperson loses a business it is common for him or her to say, "If only I had done such and such…" When a parent who loses a child it is common for the parent to think "If only I had done…" even if there was no cause for the parent to carry any kind of guilt. Carrying guilt when you have a loss is needless. Bad things happen in life and few of us are psychic enough to see the future so that we can prepare for every eventuality. To truly start over again you must throw off the needless guilt regardless of its source. Carrying needless guilt serves no purpose other than to keep you miserable. Carrying needless guilt is what the darkness wants you to do because as long as you carry the needless guilt, you are not reaching out and touching and caring for others.

As wrong as it might feel at first, it is OK to have fun, to laugh, to play, to sing, to dance, to actually live again. Not only is it OK to do these normal things, these things are supposed to be part of your life without your feeling guilty about them. So often, so many people never rebuild their lives and never really live again because of needless guilt. If these people have fun, they feel guilty. If they laugh, they feel guilty. If they play, they feel guilty. Not only are all of these guilty feelings wrong, they are also out of place. When you suffer a loss, you are not supposed to lose your life. When you suffer a loss you are supposed to go on living a full, good, productive life. This new life may be different, but because your new life is different does mean you cannot have fun, laugh, play, sing, dance, or live fully again.

Learn To Ride The Waves

When you have to start over you must remember that the pain, grief, loss, worry, anguish, or whatever you are feeling will come over you in waves. One day you will be OK but the next day you will not. Learn to ride these waves. Plan what you will do when you have a bad day. If you make plans to ride out these waves then you will be able to handle the down times instead of letting the down times handle you.

Conclusion

With God, you can live again. With God, you can be alive again. With God, you can make choices again. With God, you can look forward to a new life again. What may seem impossible to you, is no big deal to God.

May God’s love and grace be upon you this week.

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Entire contents copyright © 1999 - 2010 by Rev. Patrick Kelly, All rights reserved.
All content is presented on behalf of Shepherd’s Care Ministries. Shepherd's Care Ministries reserves no right or claim upon content.

Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018