Reconciliation

The Breath of Life: How Do You Feel About Yourself?Premium Content

Do you like yourself? How do you feel about yourself? How do you view yourself? In the eyes of those around you? Your peers? Your family members? Your employers and the other authority figures in your life? In the eyes of your Lord Jesus Christ?

Personally, for as long as I could remember, I had dwelt beneath a shadow of deep inner shame. Shame that whispered in my ear, tortuously accusing me with words such as, "You are dirty; you are worthless and deserving of punishment; you are unlovable and warrant no merit in this world."

Proverbs 23:7 teaches us that, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [Amplified Bible]. Like the leper in Luke 5:12, I knew (or so I thought) that I was unclean. However, unlike the leper in Luke 5, I had no idea that Jesus could make me clean, and that He desired to do so. I was lost in a deep ocean of deceit with the waves of false belief tossing me against the sharp and slippery rocks created by the lies of the enemy - Satan - along with many falsehoods from my past without God. Furthermore, I was being dragged beneath the dark surface by the undertow of lack of knowledge:

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Problems with Our ParentsPremium Content

Proverbs 17:6 NRSV
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their parents.

My grandmother became a Christian in her 60's. I still have the Bible my mom gave her, her cramped notes in the margins. I can remember her telling my mom her regret for waiting so long before she surrendered to the Lord.

It's never too late.

It seems that the number of people my age (and younger) who have "problems" with their parents has risen dramatically. Even before my grandmother was saved, my parents (both of them) had a wonderful relationship with her and a decent relationship with my grandfather (who probably was never saved). It wasn't an easy relationship, but both sides worked at it and made it work. Sometimes I think, particularly those of us who are believers, that we demand too much and forgive too little. And we are the losers because we need our families!

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"Whosoever Will" is God’s Christmas Gift to the WorldPremium Content

John 3:16-18 NRSV
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Today is Christmas, the day traditionally that Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord. Surrounding this tradition are such things as nativities, Christmas pageants, Christmas carols, family celebrations, gift giving, and the like. But as a Christian, I believe that it’s very important that I not so focus on the Child in the manger that I fail to see either the Savior on the cross or the King returning in the clouds.

The Christmas story is one of amazement and wonder. Music and stories sometimes reduce to the story to actually less than it is (and was):

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head:
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay;
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

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Twelve Steps to FreedomPremium Content

The Twelve Steps originated with Alcoholics Anonymous in the mid 1930's. Besides being used to help alcoholics and drug addicts, the Twelve Steps have been used in support groups for family members, over-eaters, compulsive gamblers, and even for those desiring to escape from sexual addiction. These Steps formed the basis of treatment and counseling activities at New Creation Center where I served as Executive Director for ten years in the 1980's.

In the past few years, a movement recognizing the power of the Twelve Steps has sprung up among evangelical Christians concerned with those struggling with various addictions. Some believers worry that they bring secular concepts to the Christian counseling field.

From where do these Twelve Steps derive their power? The answer is very simple; from the Bible! Although following the Steps does not always bring an alcoholic (or other sufferer) into a saving relationship with Christ, they do work in overcoming addictions. This is shown by the millions of people who have found sobriety since AA's beginning. In some ways, it is very much like the businessman who succeeds financially when he makes spiritual principles the basis of his business practices.

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When Loved Ones Resent Your RecoveryPremium Content

It is not uncommon for those who start a new life in recovery to encounter resentment from their spouses, loved ones and/or friends. If this is the case, you will be put to the test by those who care for you most. This can be confusing because those who should be encouraging you in recovery are actually making it more difficult.

Your spouse may become resentful because you are spending more time at recovery meetings and less time with them. Stand strong and lovingly explain to your spouse that you need to take time for yourself in order to get your life back on track. Suggest that they come with you to open meetings where the loved ones are welcome so they can better understand your recovery process.

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More Than a Feeling

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind;

Paul has just concluded the introduction to this section with the words "...have not love, I gain nothing." In fact, he uses Jewish parallelism to make his point:

    If I speak . . . but have not love, I am just a sound.
    If I have . . . but have not love, I am nothing.
    If I give . . . but have not love, I gain nothing.

I think (and this is simply my own thoughts, not the Word of God) that Paul is trying to say this: Without love, the Christian simply... isn't a Christian. There is no Christian without love.

Setting Aside Our Will

1 Corinthians 13:5a RSV
[Love] is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way...

  • Love is not arrogant or rude.
    • The KJV translates this phrase: "Charity (love) doth not behave itself unseemly." This certainly isn't a phrase that we use much anymore. In fact, to be honest, we're not very concerned at all about behaving in a courteous or seemly manner in our society. To behave "seemly" is to conform one's behavior to standards of conduct and good taste. As our moms used to say, it means simply to behave properly and according to good manners.

      So the scripture here is actually more than just not being arrogant or rude, though I truly believe that rudeness is motivated by arrogance, the idea that it's "my way or the highway." When we are arrogant, we do what we want and say what we want without regard to the effects that it might have on other people. In other words, we simply don't care about anyone else (at that moment), only about ourselves, our rights, our opinions, our own actions.

Restoration Through Making Amends (Part 2)Premium Content

See: Part 1

In his book, Staying Sober, Terence Gorksi shares a simple exercise that creates a workable “road map” for the process of making amends. On a sheet of paper, draw lines to make three columns. In the left column, list those who were hurt by my drinking/drug addiction. In the center one, list how they were hurt in very specific terms. And, in the right, list what must be done to make amends with them. A final step in the process is to determine who can and cannot be contacted and to develop a chronological list of those who will be contacted.

The second half of Step 9 offers a warning – there are certain people to whom we should not attempt to make amends. This is because doing so could actually be more harmful than doing nothing. In Step 8 the focus in on a list of all those to whom one is willing to make amends. Step 9 involves talking real action to restore relationships. This requires much more discretion. Here are things to consider from the Serenity New Testament:

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Restoration Though Making Amends (Part 1)Premium Content

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23, 24)

A rescue mission counselor asked me to talk with a man who had returned to their recovery program for the third time. Despite completing their program twice, he was unable to remain sober for more than a few months. Not too far into our discussion, I recognized he had not been able to develop the healthy sort of relationships essential for continued growth in recovery. Fearful of becoming too involved with others, he could not experience the joy of meaningful, fulfilling relationships. I asked him, "Have you ever done the 8 & 9 Steps?” His answer of "No” made perfect sense. Like many newly recovering people, he still carried a load of guilt and remorse from unresolved past relationships. Thus, he could not move forward with confidence to make new intimate relationships. He needed to clean up the residue of his past first.

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Adultery Bible Study (Part 2)Premium Content

See: Part 1

Sexual immorality is a temptation we all must face on a daily basis. God doesn't forbid sexual sins just to be difficult. God knows its power to destroy people's lives physically and spiritually. God wants to protect us from damaging ourselves with immoral desires. Sex outside of the marriage relationship always hurts someone. It hurts God because it shows that we care more about our own lustful and selfish desires than Him.

The key to faithfulness is putting Christ's principles to work in our life and trusting in the Holy Spirit within us with our temptations. When we have temptations and ungodly thoughts we need to put our trust and faith in Jesus Christ. We have to communicate our burdens to God through prayer. Only when we put our trust in Him will He help us.

Basing Our Lives on Own Understanding and Wisdom

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