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"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15
Firmly believing that my times are in God's hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God's divine providence. Whether God appoints for me...
- health or sickness,
peace or trouble,
comforts or crosses,
life or death--
may His holy will be done!
All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus--and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor--that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.
"In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again."
~Lewis Carol, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
The new year: it is a minefield. There can be this weird concoction of hope and discouragement, effort and apathy.
A social media post, once again, caught my attention concerning this point. It was of the literary figure, Alice, from Carol's classic work, essentially binging.
And this was the image's caption...
"I can relate to Alice. She just keeps randomly eating and drinking everything she sees with the hope that it might actually solve all her problems."
Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.
Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I cracked up when I saw this image, stating, "This is me, thinking about Thanksgiving."
When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive. Proverbs 23:1-3
We're in the sea of overindulgence holidays. We're polishing off the Halloween candy; now we're headed into the choppy waters of Thanksgiving. And then there's more fun: Christmas and Hanukkah, followed by the reinvention promise of New Year's.
My raft is overturned.
Admit it, these holidays are raging seas for our appetites.
We often struggle not to drown.
For, we often believe the lie of the satisfied appetite.
Being this long in the game with my own issues, I'm learning that, when it comes to our tricky carnal natures, there's no such thing. When it comes to matter of the appetite, the name of the game is more, more, more! And then some more piled on top of that! There! That'll fix everything! That'll make everything all better!
So, we consume whatever, however and in whatever amounts we desire.But it's all deceptive; the appetite we struggle with seems to act as a spiritual barometer. It registers as our chosen God substitute. And, because it is only a substitute, a counterfeit attempt, at best, it never fulfills us. So, what's the answer we choose if we're not careful? Gimme more!
Have you thought about wrapping up the old year? How about plans for the new year?
It’s that odd time of year when we spend equal time looking to the past and the future. It’s sort of like doing taxes—you summarize the past year while figuring out what needs to change going forward.
One of my internal principles tells me to pay attention when I encounter the same issue in different contexts. I figure someone’s trying to tell me something. Recently I’ve run across a few folks who are asking, “What does God want me to do next?”
In the introduction to "Relentless Grace" I expressed my reluctance to claim that “God told me” to take a particular course. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect I sometimes use “God’s plan” as an excuse to do what I wanted to do anyway.
I do believe that God speaks to us, and I certainly believe in His absolute sovereignty. Nothing is beyond His control; nothing escapes His attention.
"The doctor is real in."
Those words are written on a psychiatrist stand the character Lucy has in the Christmas classic, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"
That got me thinking. We're once again, at that festive time of year, with all of its parties, concerts, kiddie pageants and assortment of other holiday events. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of stuff to go to. And yet, during this festive season, it's more than difficult to get a doctor's appointment. Or is that just my experience?
When I was sixteen years old, I got the chicken pox at Christmas. Ho ho ho! There was not much I could do; there was no doctor I could see, because every single one of them were off for the holiday. So, it was me, the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" (colorized version), some calamine lotion, a couch and itching. Because I didn't get chicken pox like most kids, at age six or seven and because I was this late bloomer, my stint with the itchy stuff lasted about three weeks. It was not a festive time.
And, years' later, I seem to have run into the same dilemma repeatedly whenever I try to schedule an appointment with the doctor or dentist. Most of the time, the doctor is real out. So, what's my option? Where do I go from there?
Well, there's a potential and dangerous choice out there, left unchecked; I could turn to my definition of a panacea. Instead of dealing with the discomfort and pain in the moment, I could choose to numb, escape from and soothe it. Sounds like classic addiction, doesn't it? We try to cope and turn to anything to attempt to make that happen. Those coping methods can include a wide variety of consumption choices for each one of us: food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, just to name a few. And the excuse we possibly use for turning to them? The doctor was out.
note: Members may discuss this workshop in the Message Boards HERE
Welcome to our Special Workshop tonight
"Surviving the Holidays with a Dysfunctional Family" Workshop
For many, the Christmas season is not a time of warm cozy feelings and precious memories. For some, it is a time of reliving the nightmares of childhood abuse and not wanting to return home for Christmas. It is a reminder of broken relationships and children in the custody of “the other parent.” It is a season of struggles to stay clean and sober and out of trouble when attending Christmas gatherings. How can we not only survive, but also thrive during the Christmas season?
Abba...this is a really hard time of year for so many.
Some are experiencing the first round of holidays and feasts without a loved one...
whether through death or a need for reconciliation.
Some are going through serious illness.
Some are experiencing great financial hardship.
Some are locked into bondages and/or addictions.
Abba, please touch each one, especially those who are reading this prayer and their loved ones.
I lift them all up to You, Abba.
You can bring healing...
where no one else can.
You can touch hearts...
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