Bible Studies, General Recovery

In Times of Stress and Struggle

Proverbs 17:24 NRSV
The discerning person looks to wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool to the ends of the earth.

These are dire times. In most cases, regardless of the time of life or the circumstances surrounding us, these are dire times. There are few days of rest and relaxation, many days of concern and emotional buffeting. And in those times of stress and struggle, we often wear ourselves out looking for solutions to our problems rather than simply laying those problems at the feet of our Savior. In illness, we search for medicines and doctors and treatments. In financial distress, we search for jobs and loans and money. In emotional distress, we search for friends and relationships and happiness. Scripture tells us that "the discerning person looks to wisdom."

Getting My Eyes Off of Myself

A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 NRSV

We visited a church with our kids on Sunday. The pastor, in trying to make a point about honesty, addressed the dynamic that occurs when friends meet together: "How are you?" "I'm fine." He concluded that often the "I'm fine" is actually a lie because we aren't fine.

But are we?

As Christians should we have any opportunity for griping or complaining, moaning or groaning? Or are we actually stating a truth when we say "I'm fine," a truth that perhaps we really don't embrace but which is a truth nonetheless? Paul wrote:

Should We Strive for Perfection or Effectiveness? Premium Content

As a recovering eating disorder sufferer, I'm keenly aware of the perfectionistic component to the creation, maintenance and challenging treatment of the disease. It's often an uphill battle. Perfectionism, fueled by deep anxiety and pressure, can kill. According to statistics...

  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
  • A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.
  • 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems
    (From South Carolina Department of Mental Health: http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics)

So, the word "perfect" is not just a word; it can be a threat.

The perfectionistic person, in recovery or not, is therefore, left to grapple with its meaning for his/her life. How important is it?

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Listening More and Talking Less

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing personal opinion.


Proverbs talks a lot about, well, talking! I think that we often confirm who we are (whether we want to be that person or not) when we talk. Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." And yet, we still talk. We talk in person. We talk (and text) on cell phones. We talk on the Internet. We talk, talk, talk. And a great deal of the time, we are "expressing personal opinion."

The Need for RepentancePremium Content

...repentance is the ultimate tipping point. It is the mechanism that puts genuine change into action in our lives and in our culture. It is what enables us to move beyond the past-and all of the mistakes of the past-and into the future with bright hopes and new dreams. Repentance is the fulcrum upon which transformation turns.

One of the central messages of the Scriptures is a call to repentance. It is not to predict the future. It is not to offer new moral mandates. It is simply to declare the "words, statutes, and commandments of the Lord" that the people might "be overtaken and repent" (Zechariah 1:6). It is that they might "put on sackcloth and lament" (Joel 1:13). It is that they might "repent and turn" from all their transgressions "lest iniquity be their stumbling block" (Ezekial 18:30). It is that they might "return to the Lord" for "healing and restoration" (Hosea 6:1). This is the constant refrain of hope in the Scriptures:

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Submission or Rebellion?Premium Content

Evil people seek only rebellion,
but a cruel messenger will be sent against them.
Proverbs 17:11 NRSV

Rebellion: opposition to one in authority or (one in) dominance

In other words, rebellion is the antonym to submission.

As Christians, we need to stop claiming who we are and start looking at what we do.

Submission is a huge thing. But I think that submission may be more (or different) than we think it is. And I'm beginning to think that submission is tied to judgment in a way we often don't consider.

The apostle Paul wrote:

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace

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Is Your Protection Truly the Lord?

    Psalm 89:17-18 NLT
    You are their glorious strength. Our power is based on Your favor. Yes, our protection comes from the Lord, and He, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.


How much should we defend ourselves?
Perhaps the question should actually be, how much do we allow the Lord to defend us? Is our protection truly the Lord? Do we allow Him to work in situations and to take care of us? Do I?

I often wish that life would just stop for awhile and let me rest, that I could go through a few days without some kind of crisis. I would love to be able to get up, live the day, come home, go to bed, and simply breathe, rather than having to deal with the problems that come from living in a sinful world. I sure that many other believers have the same desire.

Do You Want to Be Righteous or Right?Premium Content

Do we want to be righteous... or do we want to be right? It seems, these days, that many people have difficulties taking constructive criticism. The fact is, our egos are so sensitive (so self-centered) that we want everyone to approve of us all the time, rather than accepting the kind of sacrificial love that comes from a friend who wants us to be right with God. And, oh my goodness, what turmoil wells up inside us when we are rebuked! We take it as a personal offense, rather than quietly wondering if perhaps it's really true and we should do something about it.

    A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.Proverbs 17:10 NRSV

Friends don't let friends sin. That's the simple fact about Christianity. If we are true to our faith, we understand that everything here is temporal and our focus should be on the eternal. And the eternal is concerned with pleasing God.

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What is Wisdom and How do We Acquire it?Premium Content

We know there are a lot of broken, miserable, angry, sad, frustrated, married couples who are not living their marriage in the "ways of the Lord". Every day they trudge in their daily routine barely able to take another day. When we are going through such issues in our marriage, such as being married to an abusive alcoholic, or married to a unfaithful man or woman we only see as clear as our feelings will let us see. This is not enough to repair damage done to the marriage.

We have to go beyond our feelings and emotions and try to understand what is happening in our marriage so we can do something about it in the spiritual way and not through how we are feeling about it. It's difficult to do but it is what NEEDS to be done. If we continue in our own perspective by "how we are feeling" we truly do not grow spiritually and we stay within our own private little world of emotions.

This is where wisdom comes into the picture. As scripture says, we have to throw off everything that hinders us or lay aside every weight that is keeping us from seeing clearly so we can win the race; this includes how we are feeling, which may be ill will and resentment towards our spiritually sick spouse and other loved ones. Feelings are ok to have, we need to experience our feelings, but we also need to recognize when our feelings become stumbling blocks in our growth with God.

    …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

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"Whosoever Will" is God’s Christmas Gift to the WorldPremium Content

John 3:16-18 NRSV
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Today is Christmas, the day traditionally that Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord. Surrounding this tradition are such things as nativities, Christmas pageants, Christmas carols, family celebrations, gift giving, and the like. But as a Christian, I believe that it’s very important that I not so focus on the Child in the manger that I fail to see either the Savior on the cross or the King returning in the clouds.

The Christmas story is one of amazement and wonder. Music and stories sometimes reduce to the story to actually less than it is (and was):

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head:
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay;
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

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