Regeneration

The Ultimate Therapist

I came across a humorous post on the internet:

"Someone's therapist knows all about you."

It made me laugh… and think. I thought back to many therapy sessions I engaged in, talking about certain individuals and their impact of my life, disorder and state of mind. I talked about my mother, my dad and my childhood bullies. Believe me, I had A LOT to say. So, yes, even though my therapist never met them, she knew all about these people.

But this humorous post touched on something bigger. It wasn't just about the acquired knowledge a therapist gained when his/her patient ranted about their issues. It had to do with God - the ultimate therapist-and His role in our lives as we struggle, hurt and encounter recovery.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12>

Cue the heart, therefore:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

But this heart issue is not a passive thing, ignored by God. Quite the contrary, in fact.

"…the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

In other words…

Beyond the 12 Steps

note: there is a worksheet at the bottom of this article

I have spent a lot of years struggling with drug addiction and alcohol abuse. At one point the drug addiction had completely taken me over. I began trying desperately to stay clean but every time I got a little taste of sanity the world would come crashing in and I would crumble under the weight of it all. Before I knew it I was escaping the pain or responsibility of life by using drugs. I had been through the court system, rehabs, 12 step programs, counseling (behavioral and substance abuse), and many psychiatric visits for medications. Nothing seemed to stick very long. Most of the people trying to help me eventually threw their hands up in defeat and passed me off as a hopeless case. I got to a point I started to agree with them. Nothing seemed to work for me. I was living in constant commendation from the world and in my own mind. Every mistake seemed magnified. I would beat myself up in my head over and over until my only relief was escape.

Through divine intervention I was given a book named "Freedom From Addiction." It captivated my attention because it was such an honest account of the thoughts bombarding an alcoholics mind. Not only an alcoholic but a Christian. Now I have to say that believing Jesus Christ died for my sins did not automatically make me Christ like. I was continually going against God. The shame I felt about knowing what was right but not being able to live it was more shame than I could bear. But then this book was placed in my path. As I read it something started to stir deep within me. There was a message of hope written on those pages that spoke to my innermost heart. The message was not about what I have done as a sinner (that already plagued my mind enough) but a message of who God says I am as his child. I started hearing a message telling me he doesn’t see what the world sees when he looks at me.

When I looked at myself and compared myself to the world’s expectations of me I saw all of the bad things I’ve done and how I just didn’t measure up. I owned my bad behavior as my identity but that’s not the truth. God says I am precious,

Reclaiming What Satan has Stolen from You

Satan has managed to convince many unbelievers, that he is not real, even though he has been influencing their every day lives abusively, in all manner of ways. Satan is a material, emotional, mental, and spiritual abuser. And if you have experienced abuse on any or all of those levels, he is at the root
cause.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the
gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4

Confronting and facing up to evil, is never easy. As humans we are inclined to go into denial, rather than confront evil for what it is. This is why so many addictions, addictive behaviors and systems continue relentlessly; enabled by ordinary every day people, until the pain brings them to their knees.
I find it a little sad that we humans still need the use of pain and suffering, to remind us to worship the living God!

Those of us who have experienced abuse and addiction, can testify to the truth of the Bible, that Satan and his demonic influence are indeed real, because we have experienced and witnessed his effects in our lives.

I have found it helpful

Compassion Fatigue

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live
by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody
that stands right, and stand with him while he is right,
and part with him when he is wrong. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Compassion is defined as "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."

Compassion fatigue is a form of burnout that manifests itself as physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Clinically it is defined as a more user friendly term for Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder which is nearly identical to PTSD, except it affects those who are affected by the trauma of another, perhaps a family member, friend, acquaintance or client.

Caregivers and therapists/practitioners who serve others are particularly prone to this condition. In the broader picture, I believe that many of us are experiencing compassion fatigue as it relates to the world at large. We are assailed by the news
of war, crime, disease, famine and natural disasters. Reportedly, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of innocents are being raped, kidnapped, brutalized, tortured, sold into slavery or the sex trade, forced to leave their homes and livelihoods, renounce their religions or be crucified and as is becoming more common, beheaded.

What happens when we sin?

If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.1 John 2:1

From time to time we hear - sometimes even in the secular media - of some prominent Christian who has fallen into scandalous sin. I remember when Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart very publicly got caught in sin, and they were neither the first nor the last people to endure those circumstances. When we see such famous people - famous, at least, in Christian circles - fall into sin, many questions can come into our minds.

Obviously we wonder whether these people are actually Christians - a legitimate question, though we have to be careful not to condemn on partial evidence, for what would someone think of us if he had no more hard facts than we receive through the media? There is also the question of what happens to such people if they are in fact truly regenerate. Sometimes it might seem that a sin is so public, and so egregious, that surely the person involved must have lost his salvation if he ever had it.

Of course to create doctrine based solely on our reason is dangerous - our minds are as fallen as any other part of us, and are as subject to malfunction as our hearts or eyes. We simply don't think clearly in this world - the most brilliant preachers and theologians in history (I think offhand of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and J.I. Packer - with a little work I could extend the list a long way) have not been as brilliant as they would have been had there never been a fall. Every one of us, from little children just born to certified geniuses, suffer from the effects of the fall on our minds. This is one reason why we must always derive our doctrine from the Scriptures, and subject our doctrine to the Book, for there is no human mind capable of infallibly reasoning its way to the truth.

And when we think of the

Help My Unbelief

Our beliefs can either work for or against us.

Years ago, a life altering point in both my eating disorder recovery and my relationship with God involved the scripture, Mark 9:24:

"Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief."


It punctuated the state of my life. I didn’t think I could believe in who I was, in life and in God. My faith wasn’t "enough."

Through my eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, I believed God hated me and was going to send me to hell. My perfectionistic thoughts had obliterated His grace. Increasing amounts of shame from my behaviors, which included theft and lying, made me reach a point of no return. I was "un-save-able."

So, when I encountered Mark 9:24, it validated my struggles with doubt. That ninth chapter in Mark, uttered by a man, centuries earlier, sent the reassurance I needed. I was not the only person to ever think this way. And before Mark 9:24’s zinger, there was the set up scripture of the twenty-third verse:

Jesus said unto him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Ordinarily, this would have caused me to despair. If Jesus was telling me it was solely up to me to "believe right," then, let’s face it, I’m a goner.

But again, centuries ago, He responded to another doubting person. Mark 9:24 was this man’s only comeback.

Building Healthier Relationships

Hang my locket around your neck; wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing - it sweeps everything before it. Song of Solomon 8:6 Msg

My journey into the mystery of love B.C. (Before Christ) was fraught with rejection, repeated failure, pain, nagging doubts, confusion, dashed hopes, withdrawal, shattered dreams and broken relationships. I even at times explored in my mind the so-called benefits of the life of a recluse; which my twin brother actually chose.

I made a multitude of mistakes while attempting to re-build significant and lasting relationships. At that point, enduring joy and peace were not on my relational radar! Dys-function and Dys-grace were a more common theme in my relational reality. Patient trial and error became non-negotiable in my journey toward hope-filled, healthier relationships.

But as the mystery of the love discovered in Christ has been unveiled within my inquisitive soul, I have taken the bait again and encountered myself risking and unmasking! Slowly and surely, the rewards of function and grace have provided impetus for timid, albeit safer forward motion relationally. Over the course of forty plus years I am experiencing more and more relational success.

Anorexia: Our Hummingbird Ways?

I love hummingbirds. And here’s an interesting little factoid about them:

"Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight."

I immediately thought of my anorexic experiences.

I recount my mindset, offered in my book, "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death Of An Eating Disorder."

" ...I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I still kept going. I had to. Progress—just a few more pounds, then I’ll be done. So I’d continue every morning: six hours of boot camp torture on little or no food or water. I had gotten to the point now where I feared drinking water would make me fat.

Every morning, my heart and pulse would pound and race. I could feel throbbing from veins that were sticking out on the backs of my knees and the crooks of my elbows. Every morning, I would stand up, shaky, dizzy already, only to then have everything go black. And then, I’d wake up, lying on the floor. Passing out was now a regular part of my day.

How are Praise, Surrender & Worship Connected?

Perseverance for me is essential because the alternative is defeat and loss of faith. Defeat and loss of faith is totally different from surrender.

Surrender] is knowing that God is Lord of lords, King of kings. It is knowing that I must and need to depend on Him totally and completely at all times.

\0/ praise .....
it is so easy to praise God when all is going well in our lives. We are happy, joyous and free but then the you know what hits the fan and our lives become unmanageable. We find ourselves totally powerless. fear creeps in and anxiety rules.

It is time to ....
/0\ surrender

Each of Us is that 100th Sheep

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace." Jeremiah 50:6

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and the passage about the good shepherd.

Flock of sheep. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:3-7

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

And most of us have seen the matching artwork, the depiction of a loving, attentive Jesus holding a lamb in His arms.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... Isaiah 40:11

Yet, there seems to be a disconnection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loves us; He's our good shepherd. But do we REALLY personalize it? And what exactly would that mean to us?

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