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Ten years ago, few of us would have considered chemical dependency, sexual addiction, or eating disorders suitable topics for polite conversation within the church community. These were among the "silent issues" in the church. Today, however, addiction, compulsive behavior and abuse are widely recognized as problems of enormous personal and social significance. Consider these statistics (Washton, Bundy, Willpowers Not Enough, Harper Perenial, 1998).
- At least six million Americans are addicted to cocaine.
- Between five million and ten million are addicted to prescription drugs.
- Ten million Americans are alcoholics.
- More than 50 million Americans are addicted to nicotine.
- Countless more are addicted to television, shopping, exercise, sports, and even cosmetic surgery.
- It is estimated that every addict directly affects at least ten other people.
- Divorce impacts Christian families as often as secular couples.
- Abortion is the choice in 1 in 5 pregnancies, since 1973 Roe vs.Wade over 25 million performed.
The Christian community is not immune to these difficulties. Many life-long Christians struggle with addiction. In addition, many people come to Christ hoping to find freedom from the bondage of addiction. Often these new Christians expect their problems will immediately disappear as a result of their conversions. Eventually, however, many discover that true healing requires a lengthy process of righting the wrongs of their past. Some of these people who suffer from addiction, compulsive behavior, or abuse find it difficult to be part of a church community. They may find that within their church, self-defeating behavior is denied, ignored, or minimized by those who use religion to shield themselves from life's realities
Pastors and church leaders are becoming
In Colossians 1:9b-14, Paul says the following glorious prayer for the faithful believers at Colosse:
"We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins." [NLT]
What brings me great joy in sharing this prayer is the knowledge that it is for each and every one of us who love the Lord Jesus, and for every one who decides to reach out and take His hand and invite Him into our hearts!
What an awesome God I have! For if not for Him, where would I be? These past few days have really shown me more than ever the power of my Lord to raise me up above my own self-will-run-riot.
I recently came across a souvenir my mother received from her British pen pal in the 1950's. It's one of those trick images of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip; who you see depends on the angle of the portrait.
It brings to mind the following scripture:
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
And it made me think of my distorted image issues:
"...I stood in my bedroom, in front of my three-way mirror. I’d seen so many versions of myself. I’d been fat and thin, feeling both unworthy and worthy. Yet I was never satisfied..."
(Excerpt taken from Cruse's book, "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder")
Images and mirrors don't delve into great detail about each trauma, milestone, issue and phase of our lives. They don't accurately depict things as they are. Smudges and warps can alter what reflects back at us. And these images and mirrors certainly don't predict the future or explain the Most High completely.
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong... I Corinthians 1:26
During the weekend of the Fourth of July last, I attended one of the most remarkable conventions I ever expect to attend. It was a gathering in St. Louis of about five thousand members of the movement called Alcoholics Anonymous. The occasion was the celebration of their twentieth anniversary, and the turning over freely and voluntarily of the management and destiny of that great movement by the founders and "old timers" to a board which represents the fellowship as a whole.
I am astounded by the number of young people who approach me with such intense self-loathing. I frequently hear them say things like...
"I hate myself; I'm so ugly, disgusting and stupid."
"I hate myself. There's nothing good about me."
When I ask them, however, why they feel that way, I usually get this response:
"I don't know."
For what I am doing, I do not understand..." Romans 7:15
"One in every 200 girls between 13 and 19 years old, or one-half of one percent, cut themselves regularly."
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1
Gaman is a Japanese term of Zen origin which means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity". The term is generally translated as "perseverance" or "patience."
And, within Scripture, this principle is, indeed, a faith focal point.
... we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Romans 5:3-4
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36
I don't know about your physical education experience when you were a kid, but my class always participated in the annual presidential physical fitness test.
Is anyone out there groaning yet?
As part of that test to assess kids' fitness levels, things like pushups, sit ups and pull ups were measured. But the thing which caused me the most dread- and the least success- was the 600 yard run.
Now, is anyone out there groaning?
If you're not familiar with
The English Dictionary defines *SELF* as...
A person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one's own self; a person's nature, character, etc.: his or her better self; personal interest; Philosophy, the ego; that which knows, remembers, desires, suffers, etc., as contrasted with that known, remembered, etc. the uniting principle, as a soul, underlying all subjective experience.
I came to an understanding a while ago that my *SELF*, has many different hats so to say. For instance there is my Family-Self, (represented by my surname and genetic inheritance) My Work-Self, my Cultural-Self, my Social-Self, my Happy-self, my Sad-self, my National-self, my Lower-self
and my Higher-Self (which equals my Higher Power or Spirit- Self). I have a body-self, a mind-self, emotional-self. I also have an Addict-Self, and a Co-dependent-Self...etc...
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23
I recently came across this little inspiration ditty circulating on social media:
"God uses People Who Fail (No other kind around)."
That's become more of a revelation to me in the last few years, especially within the context of recovery. It's not a one-time, flawless thing. It's day in, day out, with some days being better than others. It doesn't sound glamorous or rewarding. Nevertheless, it is reality and embracing the process of life itself can be liberating if we, perhaps, give ourselves permission to fail. Part of that requires we not disqualify ourselves at the first -- or the one thousandth -- mistake; God doesn't.
"I have chosen you and have not cast you away." Isaiah 41:9
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
I often encounter people who are perfectionists -- and I get it. Among all the things I'm recovering from in life, perfectionism is, indeed, right up there. And, again, in the recovery context, it is
"As your days--so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25
One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life, is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day--but the bit of God's will for that day. If we do that well--we have absolutely nothing else to do.
Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day--had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty--for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be--if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering--if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.
We do not understand how great
Do We Sit With Our Hearts?
I admit it. I have a difficult time being still.
I like background noise, action and movement. This probably explains why I am pathetic at relaxation exercises, Tai Chi and yoga. I just can't seem to settle down. The room may be completely quiet, yet my thoughts, "to do" lists and anxieties are often at record-setting decibel levels.
And this noise is often a part of the addiction package. Why? Because it's distracting. And anything that promises to provide escape from reality is tantalizing.