Stumbling Blocks

How can I prevent becoming desensitized to sin?Premium Content

How can I prevent becoming desensitized to sin?

We can do so by seeking with all of our hearts and minds the truth that God has provided. This means reading, studying, and meditating deeply upon God's Holy Word, the Bible. This should be done with much prayer, always seeking God's will for our lives. A good Scripture for us in this regard is:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

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Managing Change WiselyPremium Content

I recall hearing from a wise mentor once that, the definition of insanity was... "repeatedly doing the same thing the same way, whilst also expecting a different outcome." Duh! For me, that was also a good definition of stuborness or willfulness. ROTF

C.onscious approach to daily living
H.opeful that the future is bright
A.cceptance of transitory nature of life
N.on-attachment and non-addiction leads to serenity
G.iving control over to a higher power.
E.xpecting only the best.

1. One of the most useful personal management skills today is that of managing personal change. In times of turbulence, many people are feeling scared and frustrated about their lives for a number of reasons.

2. We live in turbulent times no doubt, which makes managing change an important skill in today's age. It takes knowledge and Work to be able to adapt to changes in life so you can stop worrying and start living more of your life.

3. Virginia Satir, a pioneer of family therapy, developed a Model of how individuals experience Change. The Satir Change Model says that as we cope with unexpected or significant Change, we predictably move through four stages: Late Status Quo, Chaos, Practice and Integration, and New Status Quo.

4. A lot of people don't have goals other than working, errands, household chores and relaxing with family and friends. Of course there is nothing wrong with doing these things. If you are perfectly content with the structure and current direction of your Life, then don't Change a thing.

5. It's not enough that we have to deal with the normal Personal changes that we all go through in life, but these days we also have broader issues to contend with such as the global economy, the domestic economy (job loss, company closures), the environment, technology, and changing cultural values.

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When Our Beliefs are Called into QuestionPremium Content

The Physical, Mental and Spiritual Disciplines

Speaking from experience, Philip Yancey writes, "For nearly everyone, doubt follows pain quickly and surely, like a reflex action. Suffering calls our most basic beliefs about God into question." Suffering often causes us to doubt, to question our beliefs, to wrestle with everything we ever thought we knew about God: about who He is, about what He is up to, about the very nature of His heart. All these doubts and questions can be fertile ground for spiritual growth. Go ahead and out, question, wrestle – just be sure to use this time and out to seek to know him desperately. He will keep your heart open to God so that you can hear the answers to those questions.

How do we keep our hearts open? How do we grow closer to God in our trials, instead of crashing down into bitterness and despair? That is where the physical, mental and spiritual disciplines come in.

The Physical Disciplines

Taking care of our bodies

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

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Have You Forgiven Yourself?Premium Content

I remember the first time I forgave myself. It was about four years ago.

I had sinned greatly. Repented deeply. Did everything God called me to here. But I couldn't escape the torment. The weight of the sin was crushing me. I didn't know if I would survive. I didn't understand why.

I went to a dear Christian girlfriend to confess. She listened carefully, prayerfully, and said, "You haven't forgiven yourself."

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The Adoration of AddictionPremium Content

Recently, I saw of photo of a clouded leopard, lovingly gazing into its trainer's eyes. There was unconditional trust and affection in that gaze. At least, I hope it was and not an entrée selection.

But, looking at that leopard's face, I was struck by that adoration look. It could be unconditional love or a food craving, but the emphasis is still the same. It can be person, place or thing. And that's the thing about addictions; they can also be person, place or thing. But the adoration answer is definitely there somewhere. It's the magic solution to our lives. It's the promised fix of "happily ever after."

That adoration look frequently shows up on Harlequin romance book covers. Someone is in a pirate's outfit; someone's in a bodice and petticoats. But when you look at that the cover, there's that gaze, that kind of "my life is now complete" gaze.

And that's addiction. It's addiction because it is a substitute for God, the spiritually driven hunger for connection with our first love. We may not even know He is just that. After all, God started the whole thing...

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It's the Waiting in RecoveryPremium Content

Recently, I chatted with a young girl I've been mentoring. She's currently in an eating disorder treatment facility- and fighting her treatment. She has flat out refused to eat, drink or take any medication. She's been closely monitored, mainly due to a recent episode in which she swallowed glass.

Yes, you heard me right; she swallowed glass.

I asked her what brought this on and she responded she wanted to feel pain and she was tired of waiting for her recovery. I don't think it has sunken in that recovery is very much a process, not an instant cure.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 1Premium Content

See: Part 2 | See: Part 3

Let's begin with the obvious. The most argumentative, tenacious, illogical and misguided criticism of recovery comes not from other people but from me. When it comes to my own recovery journey, I am the person who resists the most. Like many of us, I have always been my own worst critic. I can think of 50 reasons, easily, why my recovery is just a pop-psychology, navel-gazing, trusting-the-wisdom-of-men-instead-of-God, self-pity-party.

I do not need any external hostility to recovery in order to remind me of how I should be better by now, of how I should be able to just pray about it and trust God, or of how I should spend more time helping others rather than selfishly focused on my own needs. I have yet to find a criticism of recovery that I haven't already internalized in some way. I have recently finished reading a series of books highly critical of the recovery movement and there were few surprises for my personal Inner Board of Critics. This distinguished panel of Judges has left few stones unturned in criticizing my own recovery. I suppose there are some obvious reasons why we resist our own recovery so tenaciously. Let me mention just three.

Resistance to the Truth
First, of course, we experience denial as having such tangible benefits. Denial has a lot of appeal - it always seems like it's going to be less painful than facing the truth. I've gotten along so far without having to face this, why should I have to deal with it now? The truth, by contrast, always seems like the worst possible thing. So, we resist recovery because it is less appealing than denial. This is, of course, why few of us choose recovery just as a kind of personal enrichment activity - most of us don't begin the recovery journey until our pain becomes so intense that we are forced to take measures that in ordinary circumstances we would resist if at all possible.

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It's My Life, Right?Premium Content

It's My Life, Right?

No, it's not.

I love great preaching that spurs me to think differently and dig a little deeper. This weekend Pastor Jeff Lucas offered a new (to me) perspective on idolatry and the 2nd commandment.

You shall have no other gods before me.

"You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:3-6

I knew this was about more than golden calves. I knew idols might disguise themselves as jobs or money or power or anything that becomes first priority.

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I trust in Jesus for my salvation, but why do I still struggle with sin?

I trust in Jesus for my salvation, but why do I still struggle with sin?

After receiving e-mails from thousands of people over the years, we've concluded that all believers have to struggle to maintain their faith. Some folks have to struggle more than others, but generally everyone has some level of difficulty.

It's the people who have no guilt or realization of their eternal state who make the Christian walk seem all the more difficult. Show me a believer who says, "I never have to worry about backsliding," and I will show you someone who is already deep into apostasy. We're all running in a race, and God doesn't care how many times we stumble. The only thing He cares about is who makes it to the finish line.

What Keeps People in Recovery?Premium Content

As I have mentioned in an earlier article, I am firmly convinced that we must help people in residential programs to be come integrated into two vital communities -- the Church and the recovery community. There is life after the residential recovery pro­gram and if we don't spend enough time and energy preparing our clients for it, we have done them a great injustice.

If we are truly successful, the program graduate leaves the mission as a newly so­ber, struggling baby Christian. We must be sure that this new be­liever knows where to find help when he/she experiences struggles, even 2, 5, 10 years and more in the future, no matter where they live.

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