Relapse / Stalled Recovery

Is it the ego? Or is it the soul?Premium Content

I recently came across a little gem about the ego and the soul.
It's quite profound. It states things like:

"Ego looks outward. Soul looks inward."

"Ego sees lack. Soul sees abundance."

According to one definition of the word, soul is comprised of the mind, the will and the emotions. So, it stands to reason soul would be quite vulnerable to disease. Indeed, there is a battle going on.

And, let's get real -- a large part of that battle involves the toxic pride factor.

Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

And that pride rubs shoulders with rebellious foolishness.

The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalms 14:1

And yes, that goes for even us Christians.

It's not about being a good little boy or girl in the pews on Sunday. Instead, it has everything to do with the very real, very rebellious, prideful and diseased thoughts which have ensnared us in affliction. Saying "no" when we should say "yes."

As is echoed in the "Ego Versus Soul" post...

"Ego rejects God. Soul embraces God."

Again, profound.

And, while we may nod our heads in agreement with that statement, do we really examine any rebelliousness lurking in our tricky hearts?

After all, we're not above being deceived...

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

For, once upon a time, there was a certain rebel who let some audacious, prideful attitudes rip.

And he said unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:18

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Are you in a prison of hopeless despair?Premium Content

Too many of us have lived our lives suffering in a silent, shameful prison of hopeless despair. When we tried to hope -- our hopes were always deferred. We were heart sick from all our seeming endless deferred hopes (Proverbs). Hope for us was more of a mirage; one which was continually being pushed into an elusive, uncertain and clouded future.

Thus, our lives became defined by disappointment, disillusionment and shame. And like Rowan and Martin, on the 1970's show Laugh In, we regularly awarded ourselves with "the twisted finger of fate," instead of embracing our true divine destiny in Christ.

These three cousins of hopelessness (disappointment, disillusionment and shame) 'mar' the true image of God. I don't recall whose quote this belongs to; but, it goes something like this: "God created man in his image and likeness. Unfortunately, man has returned the favor. We have shaped God into the 'twisted' and 'wicked' view we have of ourselves." Disappointment, disillusionment and shame diminished us!

Not so in Christ! With him in our hearts, "hope springs eternal."

Such hope never disappoints, disillusions or shames us; for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:5, Amplified (my editorial change - deludes changed to disillusions)

Hope enables us to wait patiently for our redemption.

That is why (hopeful) waiting does not diminish us;

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Seizing the Gospel of Grace for YourselfPremium Content

This maybe one of our most daunting challenges; to daily apprehend through faith, the gospel of grace for yourself and others aggressively.

"Aggressively" literally means it will be marked by obtrusive energy and will be strong in effect and intention. Wow! Too daily apprehend through faith, grace strongly and intentionally toward ourselves and others.

Instead, most are passive about their daily faith in the gospel of grace. Whatever will be will be? No! May it never be!

Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects His faith! Ephesians 2:8 (Mirror)

You did not invent faith; it was God's faith to begin with!

It is from faith to faith. Romans 1:17 (Mirror)

He is both the source and conclusion of faith. Hebrews 12:2 (Mirror)

This aggressive grace journey progresses in/by a "mind shift" away from re-penance (faith in the law) to (faith in grace).

"The word 'repentance' is a fabricated word from the Latin, penance, and to even give it more 'religious' mileage, the English rendering became re-penance!" ~Francois du Toit

That is not what the Greek word means at all! The true word that sets the journey of grace, by faith in motion is "Metanoia." This comes from (meta) - meaning together with, and (nous) - meaning to mind together with God's mind; continuously perpetuated by a "radical mind-shift."

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Beyond the 12 StepsPremium Content

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,

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Each of Us is that 100th SheepPremium Content

"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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Do You Have a Pinocchio Nose?

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13

Pinocchio - the adorable little story about a marionette who wants to become a real boy. It touches on this real theme, as well as the power of dreaming and the ability to love.

And yes, there's also the lesson about lying, hence Pinocchio's growing nose every time he tells a fib.

And that reminds me about the often chaotic journey of recovery when it comes to our addictions, compulsions and issues.

A lot of us having growing noses, don't we?

Addiction - related issues are subtle, tricky things which seem to sneak up on us from "out of nowhere." A lot of us may not look "the type." We may not look like such creatures as an alcoholic, a drug addict or a person struggling with eating disorders. We may appear to have "normal" looking noses, so to speak.

Recovery: Practice, Practice, Practice

When I was in kindergarten, I took dance class, with emphasis on ballet and tap. At least once a week, I attended these classes, held in Mrs. Taylor's basement. My strongest memories were the gigantic black bow pinning the back of her bun hairstyle and the 45 records we were given to practice our routines. I especially remember "Alley Cat" and "Practice, Practice, Practice." I spent hours in my tap shoes, striving for improvement on a square piece of plywood. After a while, I grew to dislike that song immensely. "Practice," after all, was tedious, boring and frustrating.

Little did I know, however, so often, would life be as well.

According to the famous myth, the character of Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of hard labor. For a crime against the gods, his assignment was to roll a great boulder to the top of a hill. Each time he completed this task, requiring tremendous effort, reaching the summit, the boulder rolled back downhill again.

Tedious, boring and frustrating...

I recently came across this famous Margaret Thatcher quote:

At the Pleasure of the Savior (A Big Recovery Key)

One of my favorite series I catch on Netflix is "The West Wing." While watching it, I became aware of a standard response regarding the president's staff: "I serve at the pleasure of the President." I don't know if this response really exists or if it was just for dramatic purposes. But I started thinking about the service issue.

When I was thirteen, I served as a waitress for my cousin's wedding. Thank you. Yes, I'm still recovering. Let's just say I was not skilled. I tried not to spill food, break plates and grumble. It was not an easy feat. So, I had a negative view of serving.

But, alas, it's all over the place in Christianity, isn't it?

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." Deuteronomy 6:13

"...what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Deuteronomy 10:12

"If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." John 12:26

What does "Pray Without Ceasing" Mean?

Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 declares that God's will for us is that we

[p]ray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.

To pray unceasingly does not mean spending twenty-four hours daily in prayer. >b>Rather, it means being open continually to God, sharing our thoughts and hopes with Him in mental prayer, and so on. It means, as we face a problem, praying, in a sentence, "Lord, help me with this problem"; or, "Give me patience as I talk with this trying person"; or, "Thank you for seeing me through that mess," and similar prayers.

O. Hallesby years ago wrote, "We cannot breathe in the early morning in such a way that it will be sufficient until noon. Likewise, we cannot pray in the morning so as to suffice until noon."

Continual sentence prayers are simply Christian breathing. They keep us alive and strong.

Laying Firm Foundations in Recovery

Jesus says:
Matthew 7:24-27
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Matthew 7:24-27 speaks to everyone who is in recovery. At one time or another, we all have built our houses on sand. That sand could be alcohol, riches, drugs, sex, food, another person, gambling, anger, abuse, depression, the list is endless. And just like sand, these God-substitutes slip through our fingers, leaving no trace as we desperately grasp at them looking for something firm to cling to. None of these sand-gods provide a firm foundation. Only God Almighty provides a foundation that is unshakable. No matter how bad things get, God is always there. He never fails. Yes, at times we may feel He is distant, but that is a FEELING. The reality is that He is always present and He holds you firmly in His grip, if you let Him.

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