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Love and Giving

god growth progress Apr 18, 2021

One of the most popular verses of the Bible is John 3:16. Some of us remember the guy with the rainbow wig holding a John 3:16 sign in the end zone at professional football games. Until I became a believer and read the Bible, I didn’t know what the sign meant but then found out that it is this somewhat famous verse:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis added).

I am emphasizing the connection between love and giving that is evident in this verse and many others, including this: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).

True love will involve giving, which seems plain enough. The problem comes from my tendency to pair giving with another word: receiving. Giving and receiving. When I give, what will I receive? This...

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Relationships are Challenging

god progress relationships Feb 06, 2021

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...

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Thoughts - Part 1

god thoughts Feb 03, 2021

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.

God's thoughts versus our thoughts

“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...

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God Sees What He Wants to See

god salvation Jan 19, 2021

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...

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Expectation, Disappointment, and Acceptance

god healing progress Jan 15, 2021

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...

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Underestimating the Enemy

enemies god temptation Jan 10, 2021

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...

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Salvation as a Gift

god salvation Dec 29, 2020

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).

“For...

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Three Aspects of Peace — Part 3

god healing progress Dec 20, 2020

Part 1 was about peace with God, which is the result of being reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Part 2 was about the peace of God that comes in response to making requests to Him with thankfulness and giving our cares over to Him.

This post is about a peace that rules in our hearts, a ruling peace. It turns out that this has been the most difficult aspect of peace to write about. I pictured an armored sentinel at the door of my heart keeping everything out except peace. She would be peace personified. I was actually daydreaming about this as an analogy—until I got cut off in traffic and she disappeared. But I persisted in this line of thinking until I found myself standing in a FedEx location frustrated with the clerk about a lost package. I know, just little things, but how quickly my peace went missing!

After taking another look at the passage, I realized that my analogy wasn’t very good.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to...

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Three Aspects of Peace — Part 2

god healing Dec 06, 2020

In Part 1, we talked about peace with God, two enemies being reconciled to each other. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). If you don't have this peace, then be reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. How can you have peace when you are not sure of what happens to you after death?

The Peace of God

The second aspect of peace is the peace of God. The peace of God is the comforting tranquility that God gives in the midst of life’s storms, trials, and heartaches.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Notice the assumption that we shall have tribulation in this world; it is a given. It is unrealistic to think that we will not have problems, trials, and sorrows in this life. So much of our life expectations are geared toward comfort, ease, and...

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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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