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Salvation is Binary

god salvation Dec 03, 2020

I am complete in Jesus Christ. When I strip away all of the religion and formality and the church, I still have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even when my body perishes, my soul will still be united with Him and I will be safe in His actual presence. When I am absent from my body, I will be present with the Lord.

When I was born into this world on October 24, 1958, much of my makeup was established without my efforts: my physical features, my nationality, my native language, my family, my basic temperament, my place in history. All were established, not because of my will, but because of my parentage. I could have been abandoned, rejected, or disowned, but the DNA doesn't lie. I have parents and was born.

A similar thing happened when I was born a second time on April 6, 1984, shortly after 1:00 pm on a Friday afternoon in a parking lot at Monroe Community College. I simply believed the gospel and received Jesus Christ by faith and was born again. Not like a noun, a “born...

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When 5 Percent Becomes 100

getting started progress Dec 01, 2020

In my experience, couples counseling is fraught with danger. Often it is just a formality before a breakup or divorce. The counselor is there to be an objective observer that can help us see though the emotional clouds of our conflicts. They will be the one to help us examine and correct our own contributions to the relational problems.

That is the ideal. But what if one partner has already given up on the relationship and is just going through the obligation of counseling? What about the situation where one party wants the relationship to work and proposes counseling—but the other person doesn’t see the need and attends reluctantly?

The natural consequence is that we each seek an ally in the counselor. We want them to help us “straighten out” our partner. Certainly, they are the problem, or at least most of the problem. So we lose the benefit of the counselor’s observations and objectivity and focus on our partner’s part of the blame.

It’s...

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Do It For You

getting started Nov 28, 2020

“Why are you here?”

“I have a problem with [fill in the blank] and my spouse found out. I don’t want to lose my marriage.”

We can be thankful for “getting caught” if that is the beginning of recovery and freedom. Many of us actually wanted to get caught because we were tired of hiding and living a double life. Some of us were so burdened with our secrets that we confessed before getting caught.

But there is a subtle danger here. Getting sober for someone else is not going to lead to lasting change. Doing it for that reason is going to lead to disappointment because your focus is on the consequences of the behaviors and not their root causes.

Not only that, you have another problem on your hands. While the discovery has given you a temporary sense of relief, your spouse has been traumatized by the betrayal and deceit you have inflicted on them. You are relieved while their world has been turned upside down.

There is another potential trap:...

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Three Aspects of Peace — Part 1

god healing progress Nov 25, 2020

Being at peace in my heart is something that I am more aware of as I continue in recovery, growth, and healing. Having a clear conscience and inner peace is foundational in my relationships with others. There are three aspects of peace to consider:

Peace With God

Think of two enemies at war with each other and they decide to reconcile; they make peace with each other. This is what happened to me over 36 years ago.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1, emphasis added).

It's hard for many people to believe that they are enemies with God, but that is exactly what the Bible says. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works...."

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Romans 5:10, emphasis added).

Peace with God comes from reconciliation to Him. He did His part through the death,...

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The Folly of Tomorrow

getting started progress Nov 22, 2020

Earlier this year, I got on the roof of my house to install brackets for an awning. When I was up there, I noticed that the asphalt caps on my roof were cracked and decayed. Months have passed since I looked at them so I am not sure of their current condition. But one thing I am sure of: the condition of the shingles hasn't improved.

Entropy is a fixed law of nature. When things are left alone, they break down and decay. It's true of things in nature and our physical bodies. It takes energy and effort to maintain or improve them. Our non-material lives are no different; without work, they don't improve, they decay. Things left alone won't be better tomorrow. They will be worse.

You may be facing an uncertain future. Perhaps you have been caught in your addictive behavior and suddenly realize that your life has become unmanageable. You have awakened to the fact that meaningful relationships are on the verge of breaking up. Or maybe you have confessed to your spouse and feel that a...

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Getting Help From Others

If you are an addict, you need help. If you are an addict, you think you can do it all on your own without help. That is a big part of the problem. You may recognize that you need God's help and earnestly ask Him for it. But then you want Him to answer on your terms and with your preferred method. "Please heal me directly, in private, and without any human intervention." That is a prayer or wish that is not likely to be answered.

If you break your arm, you can pray for healing and God can certainly heal you directly. In the meantime, head to the hospital and let a doctor set the bone and put a cast on.

The truth is that God uses means, especially people, to heal us and provide for our needs. I can remember praying for rent money as a young believer and receiving a belated birthday card from my grandmother. It took me awhile to see the correlation between my prayer and the check from grandma that covered my need. I guess I expected a more "divine" answer like an angel showing up with...

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Break the Acting Out Pattern

getting started progress Nov 17, 2020

Recovery is a process not an "event." Growth doesn't happen, it is happening. We have gotten so used to the acting out cycle of thrill then disappointment, creativity then shame that the new paradigm of recovery is difficult to adapt to.

We want sobriety and recovery to be a quick fix: get in, find the magic cure, and then get out. We crave fast food and not a healthy, slow-cooked meal. But it's time to put away the thrill-seeking and false comfort and instead seek for clarity, understanding, and wisdom. These are the things that last and bring growth and healing.

The good things come slowly and deliberately. We have to actively seek them with the same energy that we sought our drug. We can't expect instant gratification because there are years of negative patterns and chemical connections that have to be transformed. Renewing of the mind takes time but it will happen. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."

Sobriety and...

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Why Won't God Take it Away?

12 steps healing questions Nov 01, 2020

"God, I am sorry for falling again. Please take this away from me! Please heal me!" I prayed prayers like this so many times when I was up to my neck in my addiction. And I really meant it! But those prayers were never directly answered and I often wondered why. Didn't God want me healed? Didn't He want me to stop the behaviors that were surely displeasing to Him and destructive to me and others?

Then I discovered a missing piece to the puzzle when I compared two Bible passages that speak of confession.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

What are the results of a direct confession to God? Forgiveness and cleansing, which I definitely needed and wanted. But nothing here about healing. I was forgiven and cleansed because of the blood of Christ, but still not healed.

Let me make one thing clear: I believe that God can and does heal in direct, immediate answer to prayer. I had seen and heard...

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Step Four: The Moral Inventory

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The picture is painful. The homeowner and insurance adjuster walking around a tornado-ravaged home, assessing the damage and loss. The insurance man has done this before and feels sympathy for the homeowner, but he doesn’t know the extent of the loss and damage because much of the debris has been scattered for miles. But he can be an expert and gentle guide in making an inventory of what was lost and damaged.

We recovering addicts have to do the same thing: take a thorough inventory of ourselves.

This is the step where we go below the symptoms—the actions of the addiction—and look at what drives and feeds the addiction. This is the dirty, painful step, where we look at things like selfishness, pride, anger, bitterness, lying, and deceit. Then there are the more subtle things that we hide behind: denial, blaming, and rationalization. There is the realization that we have sinned against a holy God...

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Step Three: Surrender

Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

I stood in the parking lot of our local community college over 35 years ago, listening to a preacher gently urging me to receive Jesus Christ as my Savior. Life was good at the time: I was doing well in school, I had stopped using alcohol and drugs, and I was engaged to a beautiful, loving woman. But there was unrest in my soul that I knew was deeper than circumstances and human relationships. And what this radiant believer was telling me was being met with agreement deep in my soul: yes, I was a sinner; yes, I deserved judgment and punishment for my sins; and no, I did not want to die and go to hell. And most important, Jesus Christ had died to pay for my sins, not just the sins of the whole world. So there on April 6, 1984, I repented and received Him as my Savior and was born again.

Surrender

What really happened on my part? I surrendered. I gave up. I couldn’t save myself...

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