Redemption

Has God Abandoned You? Premium Content

Has God Abandoned You? Do you believe that He no longer loves you or cares about you? Have circumstances become so dire that there is no hope at all? I have been there too - in that dark night of the soul. The pit is so deep, so black, the walls so steep and slick that there seems to be no way out.

The times I have felt so lost, alone and totally abandoned by God were so dark I believed there was no hope. I honestly thought that God no longer cared about me. But looking back I can see that I was like a 3 year old whose mother had gone out of the room I was in. There I was all alone. It was as if I spilled milk all over myself and did not know what to do. Where was mommy?

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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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"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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Homelessness and Addiction RecoveryPremium Content

Every substance abuse counselor has probably at one time or another pointed to the "skid row bum" and said, "You don't have to be like him to be an addict or alcoholic! " While this type of person may represent only 5% of all addicts, Christians who are in recovery have a lot more in common with him than they may think!

A drive through the streets of any major city reminds us that the "skid row bum" has not disappeared. Alarmingly, he has been joined by hundreds of thousands of people now called "the homeless. " Who are they? 18-35 year old men, women who are 16-30 years of age, and single parents with children now represent the bulk of the homeless population. Most are minorities and local people, not transients, who have been homeless for one year or less. On today's "skid row" we find people who are dependent on a variety of drugs, emotionally dysfunctional, mentally ill, and medically at-risk, especially for HIV/AIDS. A high percentage of them have been sexually and physically abused.

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Biblical References for the 12 Steps (Short Version)Premium Content

Note: all quotes are from the King James Version (KJV). If you have difficulty understanding the KJV we strongly recommend that you get a copy of a more modern language Bible such as The New Life Version Bible, New King James Version, New Revised Standard Version, Today's English Version, The Message, etc.

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and dysfunctions and that our lives had become unmanageable.

--For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:
for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is
good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil
which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not,
it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. --Romans 7:18-20

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Helping Recovering Addicts Reconnect With ThemselvesPremium Content

Previously, we discussed the addict's need to reconnect with God. Now, we turn to another important issue, the addict's need to reconnect with himself. By this I mean gaining a new level of self-awareness that leads to positive change. This means knowing how he feels and why. And, importantly, it means recognizing his own needs. There are four essential areas of self-awareness that all who wish to succeed in living sober and healthy lives must have:

A. I am powerless over alcohol and/or drugs – This does not mean, "I am unable to avoid using alcohol or drugs." This recognition focuses on what happens when the addict uses his/her drug of choice (which may be ethyl alcohol). This is the clinical definition of powerlessness -- the admission (both intellectually and emotionally) that even in the most limited use of alcohol or drugs results in an outcome that the addict cannot predict. They need to see drinking or drugging as playing Russian Roulette with a gun. Just as every chamber does not contain a bullet, not that every using experience ends up in days of out-of-control use and behavior. But, eventually they will lose control.

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A Christian Philosophy of Addiction and RecoveryPremium Content

There's a long standing debate in Christian Counseling circle as to whether addiction is a sin or a disease. I have addressed this issue in a previous article. What I want to say here is simply, any rescue mission, Salvation Army ARC or other Christian ministry that works with alcoholics and drug addicts must establish an official philosophy of addiction. This is best done at the level of the board of directors. How we approach addicts from a philosophical and theological perspective will ultimately guide everything we do. Certainly, it will serve as the framework for our counseling approach. But it will also influence whom we hire, the curriculum we develop, and the expectations we have for the people in our programs.

For potential use with your program, and to serve as a framework for developing your philosophy, I offer the Philosophy of Addiction and Recovery I developed for New Creation Center, the residential treatment program I led in Atlantic Mine, Michigan for over ten years. Feel free to use as much of it as you wish.

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I Just Ain't Got the Time (Do you want to be healed?)Premium Content

A Study of John 5:1-16

The city of Jerusalem was in full bloom, for it was a religious festive day. Its streets were full of excitement as pilgrims from all over the known world, came to perform their religious duties. Many were in awe as they viewed the majestic temple of that era. I can hear, a parent saying to their son, "My child, the great I AM resides in that building!"

But as the mesmerized masses were focusing on the wondrous

Work build by human hands. God incarnated (John 1:1-4, 14) was entering through the back entrance of the city appropriately called the Sheep gate, for this is where the livestock were herded into the great city. We are told that near this gate was a pool of water called Bethesda (House of Mercy). And it was at this pool that laid a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered. For it was believed that an angel of the Lord would at certain times stir up the water; whoever then first after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well

It was there that Jesus noticed a man who had been ill thirty-eight years.

One can only imagine what was going through this mans mind, when Jesus entered into his little world of shattered dreams. Over the years he had come to terms with his lot in life, and there was no reason to believe this day would be any different from the previous ones. But God has a way of changing one's world in a twinkling of an eye and this day would prove to be the greatest moment of this man's life.

We read that, When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him. "Do you wish to get well?" John 5:6

INTIMACY
Let's not forget that this man was just one of a great multitude, but when Jesus saw him He knew (aware of the truth) that he had been stuck in this

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Opening Our Souls to God - The 4th StepPremium Content

Psalm 139:23-24 KJV
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if [there be any] wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

The 4th Step, taking one's own inventory, can be quite intimidating. But like many other things in our lives as Christians, it should be approached first and foremost in prayer.

By literally getting down on our knees and praying, much in the same way as the Psalmist did above, several things happen.

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Strength through Confession (a Prayer)Premium Content

Father….

I come to You this day with my head down. I claim You as Father because You created me in Your image (Genesis 1:26). I claim You as my Daddy (Romans 8:15). And I claim You as Savior (Jude 1:25) and as Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

I come to Your Throne boldly because I know grace is there (Hebrews 4:16). And right now Lord, I really need Your grace (John 4:6). It comes to me free from You (Ephesians 2:8,9) and I sense the stirrings of that grace within me. That grace makes me want to put on the attributes of Your Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) in a way that others can see You in me (Matt 5:16).

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