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I woke up the other morning in quite a bit of distress. I had expected a night of tossing and turning, but actually slept well; but I was just postponing the inevitable fear and anxiety. I was in a situation where I felt like I had painted myself into a corner. Except that the paint was battery acid and I had bare feet.
And of course the stress was all about a couple of particular relationships, specifically my clumsiness in navigating them. I can do almost anything when it comes to building and house repairs, I have done plenty of brake jobs, and taught myself how to write computer software. I am physically fit for my age and can easily knock off a Saturday 50-miler on my bicycle. I am proficient at a lot of things and am confident in most of my abilities.
But this relationship stuff is hard work for me. Being in an addiction and basically in isolation mode for the majority of my life has really taken a toll on the way I relate to people. I am not sure which is the cause and which...
The physical world runs on the principle of entropy, which basically says that things proceed from a state of order to disorder. If I leave a piece of wood outside in the elements, it will eventually rot and decay. There is a lot of evidence that our entire universe is “running down” and will eventually arrive at “heat death.” Our own physical bodies are heading for death and decay.
The spiritual world is quite different and has a bias for change in the other direction. According to Romans 8:29, believers are “predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.”
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16, emphasis added).
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2, emphasis...
I titled this web community “Thoughts on Recovery” on purpose. The thought-life of every human being is absolutely critical to the lives that they live. It will determine how we live and the quality of life that we will experience. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” is the absolute truth. The success or failure (or combination of both) of sobriety, recovery, growth, and healing will largely be determined by the thoughts we entertain.
This begins a series of posts on the mind, thoughts, and thinking; specifically, what the Bible says about them. As we will see, the Bible says quite a bit about them and they are quite important in the life of every person.
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly...
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
There is a great principle here: in Christ, there is simplicity, but Satan traffics in complexity. He uses subtlety to hide simplicity and instead makes things complex and complicated. For a majority of people, complexity leads to confusion.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
It is clear that God is not the author of confusion, so who is behind it? If Satan's goal is to corrupt the simplicity that is in Christ, then if follows that he would promote confusion and complexity. And his primary way of doing this is through religion.
Does this surprise you? It really shouldn’t because Christ’s biggest enemies during His time on earth were the religious people of the day. And it is certainly subtil to...
Almost every time I hear the “D” word in a 12-step meeting, I cringe a little bit. Someone will mention the word disease, usually preceded by the words “our” or “my.” I guess I am never quite sure what they mean by “disease”—is it some condition that they have, or even inherited, that somehow lessens their responsibility for their actions? I am not comfortable even thinking about my addiction being a disease that I somehow caught and am not responsible for.
However, I am slowly coming to grips with the fact that my addictive behavior caused me to be very sick. It is probably because of my liberal use of the word “healing,” particularly in these posts. Strangely, it has taken a while for it to sink in, mainly because I want to be clear that I am accountable for my actions. But our Lord Jesus Christ did say that they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick, referring to sinners needing repentance....
Did you ever go to a funeral and think you made a mistake? You hear the minister waxing eloquent about the deceased and how wonderful he was. You want to look into the casket to make sure you are in the right place. Is he talking about the same scoundrel that you knew when he was alive?
I suppose it is understandable that we do this. After all, the person is dead and loved ones are grieving so there is some utility in painting a rosy, albeit exaggerated, picture of the departed. He may have been “a cheating s-o-b that broke my heart” but let’s honor his memory with the few good things he managed to do.
I want to show you how our Lord does something very similar with His people. Here is a small snapshot of their time in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt.
“And when the people complained, and it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost...
It is said that expectation is the root of all disappointment and that is usually a true statement. The trouble is that life is full of expectations and most of them are very reasonable. I am at the bus stop and my app says that the bus will be here at 6:21 am. It is 6:20 so I expect it to be here very soon. I have an appointment to get my teeth cleaned at 8:00 am and expect to be in the chair shortly after.
If the bus doesn’t come or I have to wait a long time at the dentist’s office, I can be disappointed. I had an appointment—I expected something to occur at a precise time and it didn’t so I am dis-appointed. It’s funny how words make sense when you break them down.
Where expectations get tricky is when they are not about a fixed, agreed upon appointments, but in more nuanced things like relationships. I expect something from someone else and when things work out differently, I can be disappointed or even devastated.
Disappointment, then, is a useful...
Life has its ups and downs. And its flat spots. Peaks, valleys, and plateaus. Life moves through time so I don’t think of these as static positions but movements along a line. Sometimes rising, sometimes falling, and sometimes flat.
There can be multiple lines: rising success at work and play, but a decline in morality and the private life. A rise in recovery and healing and yet a decline in some relationships. Sickness in the outer life and growth in the inner life— “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Life can be complex.
But the fact remains, we have to navigate the peaks, valleys, and plateaus and still maintain sobriety and recovery. I think the first key is to be aware of them, realize that they are part of life and that everyone experiences them. We want to think we are “special” and that our experiences are quite unique. But there are cycles in nature like the four seasons and the waxing and waning of...
I haven’t taken spiritual warfare seriously enough. And I have been trying to figure out why. I think it is a hesitancy to assign blame for my failures as a believer, husband, and father, and my long struggle with addiction. I want to believe that it is “all on me.” And if I own the failure, then it is all on me to fix it. With God’s help of course.
In the 12-step program, we talk about our character defects and that these are the root causes of our addiction. Thus, the goal is not just sobriety, but recovery by addressing the deeper issues. As we deal with character defects, we focus on progress, not perfection.
I am trying to add two more components to sobriety and recovery: growth and healing. I want to continue to grow in all areas of life including relationships, work, and health. I want to be filled with the Spirit and live a life pleasing to God that is not hampered by my past addictive behavior. This expectation for growth and healing is motivated by...
Ask a person that believes in the afterlife where they will go when they die, most will say heaven. Ask them why and the majority of the answers will relate to their religious activities or good works. In other words, “salvation” is something that is earned by them.
The thinking goes like this: if there is a judgment, hopefully my good will outweigh my bad and I will make it into heaven. Besides, I have been baptized, attend church, am a member of a religious organization, give to charity, etc. Even for the non-religious person, there is the idea that being “a good person” is enough to earn salvation.
But what if salvation is not something that is earned at all? In fact, the New Testament describes salvation as something that can’t be earned; it is called a gift.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9, emphasis added).
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