Choices

Falling for the "Bad Guy"Premium Content

"Everyone falls for the bad guy."

Yep, that about sums it up. A lot of you ladies know exactly what I'm talking about.

We see him, the rebel, complete with dreamy bedroom eyes, tousled hair and a certain taboo nonconformity, brooding in a dark corner somewhere; we're smitten.

There's something alluring, dangerous and promising about the bad guy, isn't there? Its intoxicating argument of an exciting, romantic and perfect life, however that's defined, leads us into taking the bad guy up on his offer. We make some choices- and, let's face it, they're not exactly great choices for us, are they?

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I have been divorced a long time. What can I do?Premium Content

I have been divorced for ten years. What should I do?

It is so unfortunate that you felt that your problems were so difficult and unique that there was no way to resolve them. It seems that you are now realizing that most of life's problems are short-lived and that on the other side of them, it is easier to see what would have been the right decision.

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Is Porn the Norm?Premium Content

Several years ago, Faith Popcorn, America's foremost trend expert, hailed by the New York Times as the "trend oracle" and as the "Nostradamus of marketing" by Fortune magazine, declared, "Porn is norm." She was not endorsing pornography, but predicting that media technology would push the limits of what is acceptable and would facilitate a culture of instant gratification; thus porn would be the norm. True to her prediction, pornography has moved out of the back allies of the urban scene and onto the main streets of America.

While most Internet businesses were going bankrupt, the porn industry was raking in huge profits, making it perhaps the most profitable business on the Internet. In the past, one had to travel to sleazy backstreets to find porn; now, it's only a click away on the computer and on the remote control of the cable/satellite TV. Easy, private and nobody knows?except God. At home or in the hotel, porn is private, available and acceptable. Some estimate that as much as 70% of in-room hotel profits come from porn and that over 50% of hotel patrons participate. As people consume it in private, porn becomes the norm and goes public.

Whether it's the infamous Super Bowl incident or the recent Paris Hilton hamburger commercial, porn is seducing its way into the mainstream. The church needs to be on guard against this tsunami of trash. As it inundates our culture, it is also seeping into our churches. Shepherds must be vigilant and use the rod and staff to defeat this enemy and guard Christ's sheep.

A Reality in the Church

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What does it mean to surrender a loved one to God?Premium Content

What does it mean to surrender a loved one to God? Does it mean you turn your back and walk away?

No, certainly not. Surrendering does not mean abandoning. It does not mean you no longer care.

Surrender is motivated out of love -- such deep love for the person that you are willing to get out of the way and let God sit in the driver's seat. Admit it: with us in the driver's seat, things weren't going quite so well. There were just too many things we were powerless to control.

Surrender is choosing to yoke up with Jesus.

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A Really Close ShavePremium Content

A shower and a shave doesn't always make you feel better. Sometimes you have to take a longer look in the mirror.

My thoughts were crowded with recent and intersecting histories of bad decisions, poor choices, and failures. I felt like hell, so I got out of bed, walked into the bathroom, and splashed water on my face to wash away the problems I was facing. Not wanting to face myself after last night’s performance, I forced myself to glance upward into the mirror. I stared for a moment before falling into a dreamlike trance. Was I still high, or was my conscious trying to talk to me face to face?

My face, unclean and unshaven, deep dark circles around my eyes, a network of lines and crevices, reminded me of Rocky Balboa’s face after having gone fifteen rounds with Apollo Creed.

My hair, greased with sweaty palms from the habit of running my fingers through my hair when faced with nervous and jittery decisions, needed to be washed.

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I Surrendered to VictoryPremium Content

I was born with a physical defect that made me learn to be a Fighter. Living in a hospital for the terminally ill for the first 9 years year of my life, I saw many friends die because of their diseases. No one explained that to me. I had to fight for my physical growth during and after dozens of surgeries. I had to fight in order to walk again.

I became an addict to speed (Meth) because it enabled me to fight. I would shoot and get shot playing in the Underworld. I thought I had to fight for everything. Then I found carny life for a decade. Meth was the only way for me to work 48 hr.+ days. I fought to move steel that weighed more than I did. I am 4 foot 6 inches tall (6 feet 4 inches after smoking a gram or so). I had to fight to keep my job.

Then the Judge sent me to a rehab. A Christian rehab.

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The Adoration of AddictionPremium Content

Recently, I saw of photo of a clouded leopard, lovingly gazing into its trainer's eyes. There was unconditional trust and affection in that gaze. At least, I hope it was and not an entrée selection.

But, looking at that leopard's face, I was struck by that adoration look. It could be unconditional love or a food craving, but the emphasis is still the same. It can be person, place or thing. And that's the thing about addictions; they can also be person, place or thing. But the adoration answer is definitely there somewhere. It's the magic solution to our lives. It's the promised fix of "happily ever after."

That adoration look frequently shows up on Harlequin romance book covers. Someone is in a pirate's outfit; someone's in a bodice and petticoats. But when you look at that the cover, there's that gaze, that kind of "my life is now complete" gaze.

And that's addiction. It's addiction because it is a substitute for God, the spiritually driven hunger for connection with our first love. We may not even know He is just that. After all, God started the whole thing...

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Addiction and BoredomPremium Content

When was the last time you said, “I’m bored”, and when was the last time you used drugs because of it?

Everyone gets bored sometimes; it’s only natural. But let me tell you something about boredom, and the dangerous apathy that creeps into the minds of men. Man is the only one of God’s creatures who is capable of being bored. No other living thing can ever be bored with itself or its environment.

Boredom is one of the sure ways to measure your own inner emptiness. Like mercury in a thermometer, it accurately measures just how hollow your inner spirit really is. Each person who is thoroughly bored is living in a vacuum, and nature requires that all vacuums be filled. Like “what goes up must come down”, it is one of the unfailing rules of the universe. But it is entirely up to us how the vacuum is to be filled.

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 1Premium Content

See: Part 2 | See: Part 3

Let's begin with the obvious. The most argumentative, tenacious, illogical and misguided criticism of recovery comes not from other people but from me. When it comes to my own recovery journey, I am the person who resists the most. Like many of us, I have always been my own worst critic. I can think of 50 reasons, easily, why my recovery is just a pop-psychology, navel-gazing, trusting-the-wisdom-of-men-instead-of-God, self-pity-party.

I do not need any external hostility to recovery in order to remind me of how I should be better by now, of how I should be able to just pray about it and trust God, or of how I should spend more time helping others rather than selfishly focused on my own needs. I have yet to find a criticism of recovery that I haven't already internalized in some way. I have recently finished reading a series of books highly critical of the recovery movement and there were few surprises for my personal Inner Board of Critics. This distinguished panel of Judges has left few stones unturned in criticizing my own recovery. I suppose there are some obvious reasons why we resist our own recovery so tenaciously. Let me mention just three.

Resistance to the Truth
First, of course, we experience denial as having such tangible benefits. Denial has a lot of appeal - it always seems like it's going to be less painful than facing the truth. I've gotten along so far without having to face this, why should I have to deal with it now? The truth, by contrast, always seems like the worst possible thing. So, we resist recovery because it is less appealing than denial. This is, of course, why few of us choose recovery just as a kind of personal enrichment activity - most of us don't begin the recovery journey until our pain becomes so intense that we are forced to take measures that in ordinary circumstances we would resist if at all possible.

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What Do You Think Jesus Wants You to Do?Premium Content

"My Yoke Is Easy."

What do you think Jesus wants you to do?

I'm not thinking of specific choices like whether to have pizza or turkey for lunch (I don't think He cares). But in terms of overall life choices and directions, what do you think He wants? There are probably a lot of answers to that question, but I'm thinking of one right now that I'll bet nobody else mentioned.

I think He wants me to quit. (It's okay if you're surprised.)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The scripture above is one of the most well-known passages in the bible. It's a source of comfort to folks who are buried under the weight of illness, despair, and impossible expectations. But it's even more comforting when we understand the historical context.

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