Faith Builders

The Truth Shall Set You Free - Part 1

My name is Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in recovery.

I would like to think out loud with the rest of you for a while. One of my favorite verses in Scripture is John 8:32: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. It seems, at first, to be a "no-brainer" in terms of interpretation:
(1) It is Jesus talking;
(2) He is the truth; and
(3) we can find freedom in life through Him.

The application to anyone in recovery is also obvious: in recovery we want to be free of our addictions, but we know we need to find a deeper freedom in order to achieve that. It is one thing to stop drinking, drugging, etc., but it is another thing to remain free and also have a life centered in God. The Steps are the tried and true way of helping any of us to find the freedom to be the person God wants us to be. For us as Christians, Scripture is a big part of those Steps. To me, Scripture is just about the one tried and true source of revelation from God. I can state categorically that Scripture is why I have remained sober for 12 years: the study, absorption and application of God's truths for me.

What is Hope? Why Do We Need it?

We often hear people say, "I hope that... " Sometimes it is a sincere hope, like the hope that the money to pay for the mortgage comes in on time so your cheque does not bounce. Sometimes it is the hope of somebody you love getting better and not passing on. Other times it is futile things that don't really matter like, hoping that your next door neighbour invites you to his party or that the bridge isn't too crowded so you have to wait a simple 5 minutes. There is a true hope and there is a futile hope that really isn't a hope at all, just a desire for instant or even delayed gratification.

The Bible is loaded with examples of the word hope. There are many different meanings for the word hope. As a noun, hope can mean the following: achievement, ambition, anticipation, aspiration, assumption, belief, desire, expectancy, expectation and faith. And as a verb, hope can mean: anticipate, aspire, assume, await, believe, cherish, contemplate, count on, expect, have faith, hold, long for, pray, have faith, hold, and long for.

God's Focus is On You

Psalm 89:5 NRSV
Let the heavens praise Your wonders, O Lord, Your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.

I work in a very small, rural community. Often, when my husband and I go to the grocery store, we see students from one of the two school in which we work. The younger students are often amazed that we are there, as if they believe (which I think some do) that we should live our lives only and always at school. That's where they know us; that's where we belong. In their eyes, we are simply teachers with no other roles (such as spouse, parent, or friend) and teachers belong at school. I've even had very young ones run to the nearest aisle and peer out at me, wonderingly, afraid to talk to me outside of my "regular" sphere of influence.

Impenetrable to Temptation

God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble. Psalm 46:1, Amplified Bible

What trouble am I having in my life right now? Lately, I have been struggling with a great deal of anxiety. One of the reasons for this is my lack of intimacy with God and His Word, just being still with Him. I desperately need to take time with Jesus each and every day -- at least once a day -- to just sit with Him and really talk to Him, and then spend time listening. Daily, I read His Word. But it is vital to me that I Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that [He is] God. Psalm 46:10, Amplified Bible. Psalm 46:1 shows me clearly just how beautiful and profound the results of doing so can be! Will you walk with me through what I discovered when I spent some time with Jesus and this verse?

Do You Know the Meaning of "God's Steadfast Love?"

Psalm 89:1-2 (NRSV)
I will sing of Your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that Your steadfast love is established forever; Your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

There is a great deal wrong with our society and within each person (since social ills begin within the individual heart). As a believer who lives in an extremely secular (and sinful) society (California), I could spend my days focused upon how much is wrong with all around me, bemoaning my fate and wondering what shoe will fall next. Or, I can choose with the psalmist to focus instead upon the Creator and Master of all, trusting that God is going to work out and win out in the long haul.

Father God's love is steadfast. The Hebrew word checed translated thus is interesting. Vine's expounded on its meaning:

    "In general, one may identify three basic meanings of the word, which always interact: 'strength,' 'steadfastness,' and 'love.' Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. 'Love' by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet 'strength' or 'steadfastness' suggests only the fulfillment of a legal or other obligation.

Quilter from Texas

Quilter from Texas

When We Run From God

When we struggle with addiction or any other challenge, we may say and do things we wouldn’t normally. We may choose to disobey God as Jonah did in the Old Testament.

When we run from God, we have preferred our own will instead of God's.

The storm will come as it did for Jonah. Our storm may not be a physical raging sea, but it could be raging emotions, a storm in our marriage, rebellious children, financial chaos, loss of a job, or foreclosure of our home.

If our children rebel, we don’t stop loving them. They can still turn to us, their parents for love and support, and we’ll give them both.

In the same way when we find ourselves discouraged or convicted about sin in our lives, we can turn to God. No matter what we’ve done, God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

In speaking of God, 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) says, He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus – Not the Logs!

Sometimes I fail to take time to just stop and be still with the Lord, meditating on just what it means that, "I was sanctified, I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.1 Corinthians 6:1-11 NIV


It is truly amazing to know that Almighty, holy God set me apart for Himself, which is what it means to be sanctified. I am holy – set apart – separated from those who do not know Him; set apart from those who have not been washed clean in and by the shed blood of Jesus.

Why have I been set apart? Not because of anything that I have done or could ever do, but because of the finished work of Jesus on Calvary's cross. When Jesus gave His very life up for me, He had faith that His sacrifice of Himself would pay the price, the penalty, for my sins – past, present, and future! And because someone told me about His amazing atoning sacrifice for me and I believed in this Good News through the God-given gift of faith, I have been justified: I have had my sins washed away by the blood of Jesus! For to be justified means that it is the same as if I had never sinned. To be justified means that I am just, no longer guilty of the wrongs that I have committed; I am innocent before the throne of God! In His eyes, it is as if I had never sinned!

Praise be to God in Christ Jesus our Lord! My Abba! Father loved me so much that He allowed His only Son to suffer an excruciating death for me, for you, for all of humanity, that we might believe and be washed clean in His blood and saved from the eternal death that is the penalty of our sin! And when I accept Jesus' gift of perfect atonement for me by faith, I am granted eternal life, a life that is meant to be lived with abundant love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and, self-control. I cannot help but think of Psalm 27:1:

Can Jesus save... that person, that situation, that problem?

Hebrews 7:21-22, 24-25 NRSV
"The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind,‘You are a priest forever' " -- accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant. . . . He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently He is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Can Jesus save... that person, that situation, that problem, that illness, that sin? Can Jesus save? I think the answer ("yes") is something I believe intellectually, but not always something I believe in faith. I do have the choice of trusting (having faith) or observing (looking at what I believe are the facts) and often I choose the "facts" over faith.

I like optical illusions. But I have to admit, sometimes I don't get them. I look and look and just can't see what it is I'm supposed to see. It's the same with jokes. Often I listen to them and then... nothing. I just didn't hear the humor (while my husband is bent over laughing). Both are, in a sense, illusions for a reason. They take "fact" and twist it for a purpose (to amuse). So, I think, facts are not static. Facts are not, then, the same as truth because facts can obviously be manipulated.

Who is God to You?

Hebrews 4:15-16 NRSV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We know that Father God is spirit. God Himself is an entity whose like we cannot even begin to fathom. He has "appeared" in scripture as a burning bush, as a disembodied voice, as brilliant jewels. John described Him as thus:

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