Bible Studies, General Recovery

How Should You "Run?"

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

It's important that, as wise scholars, we not apply every analogy in the Bible literally (as would be unwise), but that we do ferret out the truth that we might apply it to our lives.

Paul says: "one receives the prize." We know that there will be more than one Christian, so this isn't a matter of competing against each other in order to gain heaven. Thankfully, the Lord hasn't created such a system, but rather offers salvation to any and all who will receive Him, who will believe on His name.

What then is the kernel of truth that we should grasp from this passage? "Run in such a way that you may obtain it (the prize)." The point is that there are those who run but don't obtain the prize, those who will live as Christians, but won't persevere to finally end seeing the face of Jesus as Savior (though all will see the face of Jesus as Lord).

So how should one "run," how should one live her life? What does it take to gain the prize?

"I don't want to do this."

Gethsemane: Code For... "I don't want to do this."

We've uttered that statement frequently in our lives.

This time of year, there's a great deal of emphasis on Jesus. As we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, we read and remind ourselves just how this whole thing came to be: hope, salvation and reunion with God. It didn't just happen.

And a large part of it depends on Gethsemane.

Yes, Jesus is amazing and loving. But He still had a night of decision. Hours away from being crucified, there was a real moment; He didn't want to do it.

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.

How is Your Spiritual Heart Health?Premium Content

God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.

According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15 NIV.

"All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our "eyes and ears" in the spirit. If we discern the "will of God" it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well." "Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You", pg.67, published by Shepherd's House, Inc. revised version 2000.

As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa's will or my true identity and destiny as Papa's beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).

When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.

I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was "called a man after God's own heart."

The single goal of heart healing is to

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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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Are you hearing Him?Premium Content

When I was a child, I had repeated ear infections. My earliest memories are of me, screaming in the car, on the way to the doctor, with a hot water bottle pressed against my painful bleeding ear. Fun.

Years later, the ear ache issue pops up again. I've been told I'm a great listener. People feel they can tell me anything, and often do. I love helping people. But there is a line, all too often, they want to cross. And so, if I'm not careful, I can often find myself with a spiritual ear ache.

Most of us know God is love.

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God...1 John 4:7

But is love always telling someone what he/she wants to hear? No.

But this desire to only hear pleasant things still exists, nevertheless. We like "feel good" affirmations.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. 2 Timothy 4:3

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things... Isaiah 30:10

Ever since the book on my eating disorder journey came out years ago, I've been repeatedly approached by people who are also affected by addictions, disorders and dysfunctions. I am not a therapist; I make that clear from the start. Yet, I often encounter people, who feel that, because he/she is communicating with me, suddenly, it's okay to stop his/her recovery program. Wrong answer!

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Life Doesn't Have a "Re-do" Button

All our steps are ordered by the Lord;
how then can we understand our own ways?
Proverbs 20:24 NRSV

Over Christmas break, the son of one of my fellow teachers was killed in an auto accident. Both of his parents work for our school district and are loving, wonderful people. Their younger daughter was in one of the plays I helped with. It was a devastating loss for our small community.

When it happened, I tried to get my head around it. Oh, not the fact that such a young person had died and the reason for it, but rather simply that it had happened at all. I began to think about games, in particular computer games, and the ability to "redo" a game when the outcome wasn't what I wanted (in effect, when I lost). I began to wonder if his parents wished that they could "redo" those few hours before he died, keeping him at their home rather than allowing him to drive several hours to his house and subsequently dying.

I think that all of us, at one time or another and for one reason or another, wished that life had a "redo" button, wished that we could relive a certain situation in order to change the outcome. When Proverbs speaks of the Lord ordering our ways, some in the Christian community would see this as confirmation that God has predetermined everything that happens to us and that we don't have free will. I personally don't agree with that view. But what I see this as is the Old Testament version of Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes everything to work together" for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NLT)

Matthew Henry writes:

Do You Embrace Everything that is Permissible?

In the past two weeks, I've become aware of two pastors (same denomination, different churches) who are wallowing in self-pity and self-indulgence. Both claim depression and overwhelming personal pain. One used the term "burned out." A Christian who is "burned out?" Who cannot go on in ministry or service for the Lord? Oh . . . my . . . goodness!

On the one hand, I'm angry at these brothers. How dare they, as servants of the Lord and leaders within the Church, be so self-centered as to put their own desires ahead of the desires of the Lord? And, on the other hand, I'm filled with pity for these men who are so deluded in their beliefs that they can justify "crises of faith," doubt as it were, without feeling the least tinge of remorse or fear of God's judgment. (And if they are fearful, not fearful enough to turn back to the narrow path.)

"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

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

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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