Self-Examination

The Fa-La-La-La-La of Holiday Stress?

It's so easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed by all of the holiday treats available now. We give so much power to various "forbidden food." We wonder what the caloric and "fattening" damage may be concerning the buffet that's presented to us. We're so worried about what food is to us, we often don't think much about what we are to God.

What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Psalm 8:4

Yes, there's no sugar coating it (pun intended): the holidays are challenging to us all. We are faced with numerous, unique fears, memories, expectations and simultaneously occurring situations of /joy/terror/destruction. We can, however, take a second and look at another couple of real promises, as we

10 Questions to Ask at a Christmas GatheringPremium Content

Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions. Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met.

At other times we simply don't know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common. Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin.

Here's a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialog gradually to a deeper level. Use them in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.

1. What's the best thing that's happened to you since last Christmas?
2. When was your best Christmas ever? Why?

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What Shall I Bring?Premium Content

Deuteronomy 16:13-17 NIV
Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.

Though the above Scripture refers to the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Weeks, these are not what I was thinking about when I came before my Lord today. In fact, it was not even the Thanksgiving Holiday that so many of my American friends are celebrating today. Truly, it is Christmas ~ the Season that is on so many of our minds despite the fact that we do not celebrate its Eve for another month from today. Why am I thinking about this today? And why did I choose this Scripture on these Feasts to talk about Christmas?

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Obtaining the Warrior SpiritPremium Content

"...and that's when I became a warrior!"

I recently caught this statement trending on social media. It's no surprise why it has caught on. With so much suffering in the world, taking on a fighting perspective can be empowering.

No matter what we've experienced in our lives, God has placed within each of us a warrior spirit. He knows full well of our challenges, setbacks, relapses, pain and loss. He also knows of our mighty purpose as well.

And it is precisely that reason why the warrior emerges. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's that kind of thing which attaches itself to our every breath. It's that thing which does not give up, no matter how many times we feel we cannot go on.

Whatever you have survived in your life - loss, trauma, addiction, abuse, extraordinary pain- God wants you to do something with it, in spite of it.

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

He wants to turn those ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:1-3).

But He doesn't stop there. He doesn't just want you to fight for fighting's sake. He wants to give you the Victory as well!

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

God wants you to experience overcoming that enemy. He didn't say it would be easy, instant or painless. But He has assured us that Victory is ours.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4

And that is often what awakens the warrior within us, often, without our own awareness. Some call it "instinct." But again, it's "that thing" which keeps going when everything and everyone else tells us to give up. It's God given.

And because it is God given,

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Abused? God has victory for You!Premium Content

There are many of us out there who have been bullied and abused.

Whether we've been beaten verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually by a family member, have been teased, thrown in lockers or picked last for teams as kids or, worst case scenario - all of the above - it certainly is a challenge to live through that, let alone, overcome it.

Many of us are underdogs, the forgotten, the least likely.

And that is precisely why one of the things that I love most about God is His viewpoint on that status. God's "M.O." is one of championing the underdog, encouraging him/her, and exalting/promoting that individual, not just in spite of the odds, but quite often, because of them.

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Discipline Or Regret: Which Pain Do We Embrace? Premium Content

I don't know who said it, but there is a quote which goes something like:

"You either embrace the pain of discipline or you embrace the pain of regret."


Yes, I know, it's a festive one.

Nevertheless, it is a reality check, especially for those of us in recovery from any particular thing which has seized our pleasure centers, all in an effort to escape pain. We desire pleasure to soothe, numb or obliterate our pain. We believe the lie it will happen. Furthermore, we also believe there can be no good thing which comes from denying our indulgences for it.

Therefore, as we stumble and relapse, we often choose to embrace the pain of regret concerning our addictions and the harmful consequences which can follow.

It's not to shame anyone. Rather, it's, again, to provide the reality check that none of us are immune from relapse and bad decisions. We are all vulnerable.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

It's acknowledged in the first two Twelve Steps:

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The Silent Voice of TemptationPremium Content

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


Artist, Gerald Moira, creator of the 1898 piece, "The Silent Voice," is a haunting image. In it, we see a young woman with an ethereal creature whispering in her ear.

To me, it calls to mind recovery from addiction as it relates to silence and the voice. Personally speaking, my restrictive abusive childhood discouraged any use of my voice which was considered displeasing. "Children are to be seen and not heard." That's how the saying goes.

And that sentiment had its oppressive hand in my eating disorder development and thought processes. Things "innocently" started out as a desire to lose weight and be thin. But it wasn't long before the disorders, in all of their different forms, became about control and exerting my declaration of independence. In short, disordered eating/image became my voice screaming against the silenced abuse, inequity and toxic environment I endured.

But, just because I've been removed from that confining time and space, does not mean my need to deal with those triggering voices is over. Quite the contrary, in fact. For whispers still come from unexpected corners.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

And these whispers are certainly not affirming. In the context of disorder and self-destructive tendencies, the whispers go more like this instead…

Remember when things used to be so great...

Remember how in control you were...

Remember how much better you looked being thinner...

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Unbelieving Spouse and MarriagePremium Content

I am a Christian but I am married to an unbeliever for almost 7 months. My husband left home about 4 months ago. God wants to restore my marriage?

Marriage Guidance: You’re right. God does want to restore your marriage. So please print this marriage column out and read it with your husband so you both can be responsible for your “part” in the marriage. Let’s start from the beginning.

    * Who Established Marriage For His Purpose?
    * Who Restores Marriage?
    *Who Taught the Principles For Marriage?

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Peer Pressure & Sin

In Haggai 2:12-19, God drives home a very telling point to the prophet. If we place an unclean thing together with a clean one, the cleanness of the latter will not rub off onto the former. If I rub my dirty and ink-stained hands on a clean towel, the cleanness of the towel will not rub off onto my hands: rather it is dirt that is transferred, and the towel becomes dirty.

By this means the Lord made clear to Haggai and Judah that sin is contagious, but righteousness is not. We are not Christians simply because we belong to a good church, a good family, or a fine community. Moreover, a good profession of faith does not make us holy or godly.

Grace Brings Context to Our Lives

The Grace of Jesus brings true context to our lives. If you examine your meaning by any other context, you cheapen your worth. Also, relationships viewed through the lenses of Grace take on an unalterable value. Apart from Grace we tend to use people and love things. Grace implores us to use things and love people!

The Word became a human being; we are his address; he resides in us! He captivates our gaze! The glory we see there is not a religious replica; he is the authentic begotten son. The glory (that Adam lost) returns in fullness! Only grace can communicate truth in such complete context! He is the source of our completeness.

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