Archive for February, 2009

Can I Really Do Things “My Way?”

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit,
which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

There are a lot of books and movies and songs “out there” that declare our lives belong to us and we can do whatever we want with them. The problem with that popular concept is that it simply isn’t true, particularly if we have received Jesus as Savior and are trusting Him to one day get us into heaven.

I know. As Christians we say we don’t buy into that sort of all-about-me thinking, but do we live our lives accordingly? When circumstances or situations or various facets of authority get in our path and dare to suggest (or even demand) that we take a different direction, don’t we often react with an it’s-my-life-and-nobody-can-tell-me-how-to-live-it attitude? I must admit that’s sometimes my first reaction. But then I stop and ask myself, Do I really want to come to the end of my life and exit this world singing Frank Sinatra’s song about doing things my own way?

No, I don’t. I want to step into eternity and hear the Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” If I’ve lived life my own way, calling my own shots as if I owned my life and had to answer to no one but myself, I’m not going to hear those wonderful words of welcome. The Scriptures tell us we do not belong to ourselves because we have been “bought at a price.” That price was so costly that our finite human minds can scarcely begin to wrap around the enormity of it. The sacrifice was beyond measure—and it was paid by the One who owed us nothing. Every scourge of the whip, every taunt of the jeerers, every pounding of the nails was willingly and lovingly endured to buy my pardon—and yours. Had the price not been paid, this world and everyone who ever lived on it truly would be hopelessly and deservedly heading for hell in the proverbial hand basket. And there would be nothing we could do about it.

May that great price that bought our freedom, our redemption, our reunion with the Father be at the forefront of our thoughts and deeds this day, as we serve the One to whom we truly belong, making our choices according to His will and purposes, and not our own.

Macias
Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Are You Tending Your Garden?

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Recovery is much like tending our own garden. A garden needs water, fertilizer, sunshine, good soil and a lot of attention by the gardener. We, as Christians and recovering people need:

  • the water of prayer, meditation, and communing with God
  • the fertilizer of fellowship
  • the Sonshine of resting in Him (letting go and letting God)
  • the rich soil of God’s Word in which to firmly anchor our roots. Not only must we read the Word but we must *understand* it and *actively apply* it to our own lives. Roots must be anchored in the soil, they must take up the nourishment and then send it to the entire system of the plant so it may flourish.
  • a lot of attention by us, as our own gardeners, to remove all weeds that appear.

Working the 12 steps, being accountable to ourselves, God and others, confessing it when we blow it and repenting (coming back to God wanting to change ourselves for the better) is all part of the gardening process. It is only while we are actively watering, fertilizing and weeding that we can expect an abundant harvest–to reap the rewards of our faith and recovery.

Gardens also go through seasons and the changes related to them. We grow more quickly or more slowly depending upon how we are planted, if we are getting enough Son-light, etc. Everything grows in its own season and both the beautiful flowers as well as the pesky weeds will continue to come back year after year. This means we must continually do the maintenance routine.

The weeds in our lives look so pretty at times. How often I have been fooled by those “pretty” flowers in my garden. With 20-20 hindsight

I see my foolishness. But at the time temptation got the best of me. Even the devil himself can appear as an angel of light. When we tend to our garden, we have to keep our gardening manual (our Bible) out for cross referencing and identification! Those weeds (once identified) are a lot easier to pluck out when they are small. Once they grow, they develop deep roots, and. they are next to impossible to remove. We can tear away the heads of the weeds but the roots remain only to develop a new head.

Each time we ignore those little thoughts that enter our mind, we are giving them the opportunity to take root in our souls. Satan says, “Its OK, these are just thoughts!” but Jesus says, “If you even lust after someone in your heart you have already sinned.”

I used to have a huge vegetable garden. In the spring we would till the soil, clearing it of all weeds, carefully plant the seeds, water them, do the weeding and all went well until about July when the weeds would come in with a vengeance. The speed with which they grew and literally took over the garden was incredible. It took so much hard labor and sweat to try and keep up with it. But at the end of the day when we would go out and pick things for dinner it was all worth it.

That is the way it is with recovery. Some days I think, “Oh Lord, I just can not keep up with my weeds!” But then there is the harvest each day, when I have gotten through another 24 hours.

Then it is all worth it.

Copyright 1992-2009 by S. O. Brennan

Gods Cuttlebone

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matthew 5: 13 King James Version

One of the definitions for the word cuttlebone in Webster’s Dictionary is “the shell of a cuttlefish that is sometimes used for supplying cage birds with lime and salts”. If I don’t see my parakeet pecking at his cuttlebone, I tell him to perch on my finger and I keep putting him back on his cuttlebone holder until I see him pecking at it because it is necessary to keep him healthy.

Just as my parakeet needs his cuttlebone to keep him healthy so we need to allow our Heavenly Father to season our hearts with the salt of kindness, forgiveness and unconditional love on a daily basis so that we will stay healthy. If we allow satan to fill our hearts with unforgiveness and bitterness, resentment and jealousy, criticism and sarcasm and hatred, we will not be able to serve Jesus.

Don’t let these negative and hateful things stay in your heart. As soon as you realize these things are in your heart, cry out to God and ask Him to remove these things and make you a vessel fit for His use once again. It would make satan very happy if he could stop you from serving Jesus.

Allow God to fill your heart once again with unconditional love and forgiveness for your family and friends. Have you lost your usefulness to Jesus because of the hateful things in your heart? If you have not forgiven the ones who have hurt you with your heart, you have not forgiven them. God wants us to love one another unconditionally just as He loves us.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joannelovesjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Broken Wing

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

It is quite probable that someone reading my words this moment is fighting an inner battle with a ghost from the past. The skeleton in one of yesterday’s closets is beginning to rattle louder and louder. Putting adhesive tape around the closet and moving the bureau in front of the door does little to muffle the clattering bones. You wonder, possibly, “Who knows?” You think, probably, “I’ve had it . . . can’t win . . . party’s over.”

The anchor that tumbled off your boat is dragging and snagging on the bottom. Guilt and anxiety have come aboard, pointing out the great dark hulks of shipwrecks below. They busy themselves drilling worry-holes in your hull and you are beginning to sink. Down in the hold, you can hear them chant an old lie as they work: “The bird with the broken pinion never soared as high again. . . .”

Allow me to present a case in opposition to these destructive and inaccurate accusers. It may be true that you’ve done or experienced things which would embarrass you if they became public knowledge. You may have committed a terrible and tragic sin that was never traced back to you. You may have a criminal record or a moral charge or a domestic conflict that, to this moment, is private information.

You may wrestle with a past that has been fractured and wounded by a mental or emotional breakdown. Futile attempts at suicide may add to the previous scar tissue and increase your fear of being labeled “sick” or “nervous.” It is possible that you live with memories, covered now by the sands of time, of an illicit relationship or a financial failure or a terrible habit or a divorce or a scandalous involvement. You feel that any one of these things might mar or cripple your reputation if the dirty details ever spilled on the table of gluttonous gossipers.

But wait a minute. Before you surrender your case as hopeless, consider the liberating evidence offered in the Bible. Take an honest look at men and women whom God used in spite of their past! Abraham, founder of Israel and tagged “the friend of God,” was once a worshiper of idols. Joseph had a prison record but later became prime minister of Egypt. Moses was a murderer, but later became the one who delivered his nation from the slavery of Pharaoh. Jephthah was an illegitimate child who ran around with a tough bunch of hoods before he was chosen by God to become His personal representative. Rahab was a harlot in the streets of Jericho but was later used in such a mighty way that God enlisted her among the members of His hall of fame in Hebrews 11.

Still unconvinced? There’s more. Eli and Samuel were both poor, inconsistent fathers, but proved to be strong men in God’s hand regardless. Jonah and John Mark were missionaries who ran away from hardship like cowards but were ever-so-profitable later on. Peter openly denied the Lord and cursed Him, only to return and become God’s choicest spokesman among the early years on the infant church. Paul was so hard and vicious in his early life the disciples and apostles refused to believe he’d actually become a Christian . . . but you know how greatly God used him. We could go on and on. The files of heaven are filled with stories of redeemed, refitted renegades and rebels.

How magnificent is grace! How malignant is guilt! How sweet are the promises! How sour is the past! How precious and broad is God’s love! How petty and narrow are man’s limitations! How refreshing is the Lord! How rigid is the legalist!

There is not a single saint who sits in a single church free from a few things he or she is ashamed of—not one of us! The one who thinks otherwise is worse than all the rest combined. In plain, garden-variety English, we were all taken from the same dunghill. And so we all fight the same fight with the filth of the flesh regardless of how loudly we sing, how piously we pray, or how sweetly we say hello.

When God forgives, He forgets. He is not only willing but pleased to use any vessel—just as long as it is clean today. It may be cracked or chipped. It may be worn or it may have never been used before. You can count on this—the past ended one second ago. From this point onward, you can be clean, filled with His Spirit, and used in many different ways for His honor. God’s glorious grace says: “Throw guilt and anxiety overboard . . . draw the anchor . . . trim the sails . . . man the rudder . . . a strong gale is coming!”

Tears of Happiness

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? Genesis 3: 9 King James Version

Yesterday morning when I was talking to my parakeet, he started chirping and talking while I was talking. He talks and chirps and whistles a lot but yesterday was the first time he did it while I was talking. It brought tears of happiness to my heart and to my eyes. I think Jesus feels the same way about us. He talks to us and we talk to Him but when we talk together and have a real conversation, it brings tears of happiness to His eyes and to His heart. He loves us so much and He so desires to fellowship with us.

There are times when we use our busy schedules as excuses to keep us from fellowshipping with Jesus. Last week, I heard a sermon on the radio by a pastor about excuses. The pastor said “If you have time to eat and read the newspaper, you have time to talk to Jesus”. We get so involved with our families, with television and with sports that we put Jesus on the shelf and only take Him down when we need something. May God forgive us and have mercy on us!

If you will listen with your heart, you will hear Jesus saying to you “Where art thou?” Search your heart and see if you have allowed your family, your friends, television and other things to come before Jesus. Our precious Saviour loves you so much and He longs to fellowship with you. Will you make room for Jesus in your heart, in your life, in your activities and in your busy schedules?

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://joannelovesjesus.blogspot.com/
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Sponsors are Important & Biblical

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Do not overlook the value of Recovery Buddies and Accountability Partners!

Did you know that studies have proven that one horse pulling alone can pull 2,500 pounds. But that two horses pulling together can pull 12,500 pounds! That is not twice but 5 times the amount of weight that one horse alone can pull!

Now think about that in terms of your recovery. You may not be able to overcome temptation by yourself, but you will be more than strong enough if you call on your recovery buddy for a little extra help.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

It is almost impossible to recover unless we have the support of others who are in recovery. They have the strength when we are strong and the wisdom when we are being stupid. When we fall down, they pick us up. When we feel cold and alone, they are there to warm and cheer us up. Alone we are quickly overwhelmed by our addictions and circumstances, but in the company of another we are strong.

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)

As you sponsor or act as a buddy to another person, you will find yourself renewed and strengthened too!

You can ask for a sponsor or buddy in the Message Boards or ask someone in a meeting to sponsor you.

It’s Okay

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. Proverbs 3:25-26 King James Version

The first time I covered my parakeet’s cage at bedtime on the day that I brought him home from the pet store, he became nervous and afraid. I lifted the cover just enough to give him a little light and said “It’s okay, Happy. Momma’s here.” He immediately stopped flying around his cage. I lifted the cover again to be sure that he was okay about ten minutes later and he was asleep. I had given him the assurance that he was not alone and everything was going to be okay.

When we become afraid and nervous due to the frightening and difficult situations that we encounter, Jesus does the same thing for us. He shines His light a little brighter in our hearts. He also sits beside our beds when the night seems endless and we can’t sleep due to our grief and heartaches. He holds us close to His compassionate heart and tenderly kisses our tears away. He reassures us that He is still with us even though we can’t see the light due to the darkness of despair and grief in our hearts.

If we will listen with our hearts, we will hear Jesus saying to us “It’s okay. I’m here. I will walk with you through this dark valley and will bring you through it victoriously. I will put the light of joy and happiness in your heart once again. You don’t have to be afraid because I will protect you.” What a comfort it is to know that the Saviour of the world is with us in the bad times as well as in the good times.

If you are frightened and discouraged today and feel all alone and that no one understands what you are going through, allow Jesus to comfort and encourage you. He will never leave you, not even for one minute. Remember, you are loved by the Saviour of the world. He loves you so much that He died on a cross of horror and agony for your sins. What a Saviour! What a friend, this Jesus of Nazareth! There is no one like Jesus! No one loves you like Jesus loves you. Thank You, Jesus, for loving us and for caring about us.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Twelve Steps of a Recovery Buddy / Sponsor

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

1. I will not help you stay and wallow in Limbo.

2. I will help you to grow, to become more productive, by your definition.

3. I will help you become more autonomous, more loving of yourself, more excited,
less sensitive, more free to continue becoming the authority for your own living.

4. I cannot give you dreams or “fix you up”, simply because I cannot.

5. I cannot give you growth, or grow for you. You must grow yourself,
by facing reality, grim as it may be at times.

6. I cannot take away your loneliness or pain.

7. I cannot sense your world for you, evaluate your goals for you,
or tell you what is best for you in your world, for you have your own world.

8. I cannot convince you of the crucial choice of choosing the scary uncertainty
of growing, over the safe misery of not growing.

9. I want to be with you and know you as a rich and growing friend;
yet I cannot get close to you when YOU choose not to GROW.

10. When I begin to care for you out of pity, when I begin to lose trust in you,
then I am toxic and bad, inhibiting for you, and you for me.

11. You MUST know – my helping is conditional; I will be with you,
I will hang in there with you, as long as I continue to get even the
slightest hints that you are willing and still trying to GROW.

12. If you can accept all of this, then perhaps we can help each other
to become what God meant us to be – mature adults – leaving
childishness forever to the little children.

From Darkness to Light

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9: 2 King James Version

Jesus is our light. Not only is He our light; He is our great light. Our enemy, satan, is our darkness. If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour, we have gone from the darkness of satan and hell into the light of Jesus and Heaven. Not only does Jesus save us from the darkness of our sins and hell, He also saves us from the darkness of depression, fear, turmoil and all of the cruel and vicious attacks of satan.

There is nothing too hard for Jesus to fix. He is able to bring us through every problem and every vicious attack victoriously if we will only reach out and take His hand. I don’t know what is going on in your heart and life today but Jesus knows. He is waiting for you to come to Him and take His outstretched hand. He loves you so much and He wants you to be happy. Reach out and take His hand today. He will pick you up and hold you in His arms of unconditional love and compassion.

He will carry you through all of the dark valleys in your life and will set you once again on the mountain tops of happiness and joy. Allow Jesus to comfort you as only He can. He will wipe away your tears with His kisses as He tenderly whispers to you “I love you. I will never leave you, not even for one minute.”

Tell Jesus how you are feeling. He knows but He wants you to come to Him so that He can comfort and encourage you. It is always safe to trust Jesus. He will never fail you and He will never hurt you. Jesus, thank You so much for kissing away our tears and for reminding us that You love us.

JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Never Again Will I….

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Never again will I confess, “I can’t”
For I can do all things through Christ which Strengtheneth me Philippians 4:13

Never again will I confess lack, for
My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory
by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Never again will I confess fear, for
God has not given us the spirit of fear,
but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Never again will I confess doubt and lack of faith, for
God hath given to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:3

Never again shall I confess weakness, for
The Lord is the Strength of my life. Psalm 27:1

Never again shall I confess supremacy of Satan over my life, for
Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4

Never again will I confess defeat, for
God always causeth me to triumph in Christ Jesus. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Never again will I confess worries and frustrations, for
I am casting all my cares upon Him who careth for me. 1 Peter 5:7

Never again will I confess sickness, for
With His stripes I am healed. Isaiah 53:5

Never again will I confess bondage, for
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty 2 Corinthians 3:17

Never again will I confess condemnation, for
There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1