Why I Make Resolutions

Revelation 21:5 
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.

new-years-day

What a GREAT feeling to wake yesterday (January 1st) with the energy to JUMP out of bed and greet the New Year with enthusiasm. Filled with a sense of a clean slate, new promise, renewed hope, motivated with goals and action steps defined.

It didn’t hurt that New Years fell on a Sunday so the occasional feeling of “ugh, not this morning, I’ll just listen to the sermon online tomorrow” was nowhere to be seen. I was excited to go greet all my friends, true friends. The brothers and sisters that know my story and struggles from years of serving along side them and knowing many of them intimately from the various seasons of Life Groups, men’s conferences and other events we share together.

And I was my best self, encouraging, filled with the Spirit and engaged in listening to where others were that morning. I took notes at the service, cried as the Holy Spirit used the sermon to touch a deep place of hurt and shame over my shortcomings as a dad and felt the grace that reminded me that God is the one who will restore what the locust have taken and that I need to let go of the many “yesterdays” and PRESS ON into the now-ness and new-ness of TODAY.

On New Years Eve I shot my sponsor what I felt was a good New Years resolution list. In response he reminded me to KISS (keep it simple stupid)

AA Step 11.JPG

And it hit me – we are to do this daily, not just once and consider it done.

We don’t just say the Sinners Prayer and then get back to living life the way we decide.  We are called to FOLLOW HIM.

Psalm 81:13
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways

Jeremiah 3:19
“I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me.

Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Matthew 8:22
But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

John 12:26
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

And this is not an exhaustive list!

I’ve heard many so-called experts in psychology say we shouldn’t set unrealistic New Years resolutions because it only sets us up for failure and further self-condemnation when we inevitably fail again. And there was a time when I stopped setting resolutions because I agreed with that but I woke this morning with a question.

What – we should drop our God-sized desires for losing 100lbs, or stopping a bad habit, releasing a stronghold or overcoming an addictions, we should stop striving for that promotion or new job, saving for the down payment on the new house, stop praying to beat cancer or get married or restore broken family relationships and crush generational curses?

I suggest we should hang on to those God-sized dreams and…

WAKE EVERY DAY LIKE IT IS NEW YEARS DAY

Every morning re-affirm the healthy God-honoring desires of our hearts and PRESS ON!

We need to double down each morning and even morose when the apathetic and lazy voice of the Liar starts whispering “it’s too hard” rebuke that with God’s word which says

HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW

Goals.JPGThe world tells us we need to cater to our feelings, find our self-worth through power, wealth, fame and materialistic gains. But God can see the best version of ourselves and it is that which He desires for His glory and our growth.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

What if Nehemiah gave up on rebuilding the wall

What if Moses gave up on leading his people to the promised land

What if David changed his mind on Goliath

What if Ruth chickened out in confronting the king

What if Jesus felt the cross was too big of a burden

If you have a God-sized desire in your heart then PRESS ON EVERY MORNING with the same zeal, focus, enthusiasm and commitment that you did on January 1st.

Prayer For Today

Father God, You are the center of it all. Help us to remain inspired and filled with hope, determination and committed to the causes with the knowledge that if the deepest desires of our heart honor You then You will bring that dream to reality. We are more than conquerors when we first seek Your will for our lives and then pursue each step through Your power. I know that You desire us to be healthy physically, desire for us to be connected deeply to others, empower us to break generational curses and relinquish strongholds, that You can inspire one person to lead a movement that will redeem a broken social condition, that You can feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the cold, heal the sick. You will do those things through us Father God by your grace Lord may our deepest desires revolve around glorifying You. May this be our prayer and vision every day and may we not grow weary in pursuit of the works You created us for. In Jesus precious name we pray…

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50 Days of Promises (46): Do you have a little “g” god?

1 John 4:4

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

My last conversation with my recovery mentor was not so much a conversation but more of an outpouring of my own lamentations;

… My son is 18 and we rarely have significant life-affirming conversations

… My position as IT Manager of the last 16 years has been eliminated at my company

… the career changes now taking place are cutting into my time serving in various church ministries and will likely get worse not better

… I’m nearly 53 years old and have never been married

… my emergency fund would only cover 30 days, not several months as they should

… I have chronic health issues which the doctors have basically written off as “fatigue”  as they can find no underlying medical problems

And my sponsors response? “You have a little “g” god.

I hate it when he says that!

But at the same time I’m always incredibly grateful for his laser guided convictions that cut through the noise in my head and leads to the same place that all truth leads; how’s my faith?

God never promised an easy life. Much to the contrary actually.

Luke 9:23 
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Luke 14:33
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

2 Corinthians 6:4
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;

2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Thessalonians 2:9
Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

2 Timothy 4:5
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Hebrews 12:7
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

Revelation 2:3
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

For probably everyone reading this, our daily struggles are borderline pathetic compared to the very real persecution, poverty and suffering that our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing around the world. When we ruminate on our trials we are succumbing to prideful arrogance and entitlements that dictate somehow we should be above hardship.

This is Satan’s oldest ploy since his reign over earthly things began

Genesis 3
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God until Satan planted the seed “you are missing out on something better”.

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

When we drift away from reading the bible daily, when we find it harder and harder to squeeze in times of solitude and prayer, when we forsake meeting with other believers, when we return to leaning on our own understanding and power to get through the challenges and hardships of this life; it will always open us up to the voice of the Evil One who seeks to implant a feeling of self-pity.

Self-Pity is defined as a self-indulgent dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes


When we have a little ‘g’ god our troubles overwhelm our thoughts and feelings and we no longer are focused on how we can be a light to those around us but instead fearful that the darkness may overtake us.


This is why it is so critical to stay rooted in God’s word and be constantly reminded of WHO I AM IN CHRIST.

prayer

It is HE who has overcome, is overcoming, and will overcome. Satan doesn’t know that he has already lost and that his lies are powerless to the one with a Big “G” God.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer For Today

Father God, forgive me that I relegate You to a vending machine at times as I whine about how things seem unfair and the trials seem beyond my ability to not only endure but overcome in a mighty way through Your strength and power. The price You paid through Your Son is beyond comparison throughout all of time and creation and yet I indulge in self-pity? Today Lord I gratefully lay down my small burdens and instead press into the rebirth of gratitude and hope and purpose and calling. You are a mighty God, all powerful and worthy of our praise. Let there be no doubt in Your children this day that we are not burdened with the need to generate the light but instead simply reflect the light and hope that You alone produce Father. We pray for our eyes to be opened to the needs of those around us and that You will provide the desires of our hearts, the direction of our feet and production of our hands for Your glory this day Lord. In Jesus name I pray…

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50 Days of Promises (45): Called & Equipped

John 14:12

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

being-prepared

I can’t believe it has been another 4 months since I’ve “made” time to post. God is constantly at work in the lives of the forgiven and redeemed and I actually feel the need to apologize to my readers for not more consistently sharing the insight, struggles and joys found in our Lord and Savior each day.

As I pray over this verse for direction this morning I find myself reflecting upon the year which is rapidly coming to a close. I didn’t create a formal “goals for 2016” list that I can refer too to see if I met or fell short of them however if I was to now pick a kingdom based reflection point I would simply ask myself “did I feed His sheep & tend His lamb”.

John 21:16
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

My answer would be “yes… but…”

… but I’ve been so distracted…

… with career choices & challenges

… money

…recovery

… difficult relationships

…feelings of rejections, unimportance, unworthiness, failure and weakness.

I believe God has been revealing to me lately more than ever how desperately I need to stay rooted in the affirmations of who “I am” in Christ because the enemy in the form of my “inner voice” is constantly reporting that “I’m coming up short, the sky’s are cloudy and life is hard”.

But that is NOT the voice of our Redeemer. His gospel message is that of Calling and Power.

Ephesians 2:10
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

John 14:25-27
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

What did Jesus mean when He said “we will do greater things”?

Obviously we will not physically raise the dead or give physical sight to the blind, however…

His actual ministry was only 3 years long and his outreach was geographically small footrpint. We however once awakened to the Truth of the gospel have access to the entire planet. Whether through cyberspace or physically through planes, trains and automobiles (love that movie… sidetrack, sorry). We have access to a greater audience than He ever had in the flesh in His time on earth.

And yes, I believe we can raise the dead just as He raises us who are dead in transgressions, by watching people come alive through the Gospel. And I believe we can give sight to those those blinded to the Truth of God’s healing and redemption which is made available to all who will call on Him as Lord and Savior.

We need only ask and rely on Him for the words and power in the PRESENT MOMENT and stop worrying about what happened yesterday or fear what might or might not happen tomorrow.

Jesus is the great I AM, not the I WAS or I WILL BE.

John 14:13-14
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Father God I thank you for the desire in my heart to spend time with You this morning through this venue. I thank You for the reminder that the times that I spent this last year truly engaged with others with the sole intent of revealing You to them through my time, treasures and talents is great victory brought about by Your calling and power in my own life. I thank You for the redemption that offers me new choices each and every moment of every day where I can choose to trust and be empowered by You. And Lord I pray for forgiveness for the multitude of times that I leaned on myself and fell into a state of fear, weakness, anxiety, depression, anger, judgment, pride and outright sin. 

Father God, I pray that those who know You and are in pursuit of You will realize the amazing gift we are given, no only through the discovery of our purpose and calling, but in the freedom that comes from Your Cross which you willing took upon Yourself for the redemption of our sins… and our sin’s go deep Father which only magnifies Your grace and power.

Thank you for the year behind us Father with both it’s struggles and victories and lead us in the year ahead. Help us to quiet our own thoughts and put aside our selfish ambitions so that we may more fully become the fruit bearers You created us to be.

In the precious name of Jesus I pray… 

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The Cost of Being a Disciple

Luke 14:28 28  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?

discipleship

I don’t know what I thought being a Christ follower would be when I dropped to my knees over 5 years ago and cried out for a transformed life. In fact, I don’t know that I was looking forward at all, I just knew I hated where I was and where I had been.

Sure I was a rock star in my career earning rewards and bonuses, I had long term friendships and a son who I’ve always been so incredibly proud of – but I was dead inside living a double life as a porn addict and alcoholic. There was a hurt that nothing could reach.

That morning was simply the deepest place of brokenness and surrender I have ever experienced in my life. After 45 years of dong it my way I was done and I’ve often shared in my testimony that if I would have had a gun in my hand instead of a bible that morning I could have easily used it instead for relief from the pain and misery.

I started out incredibly zealous. I saw God moving all around me and as my eyes were opened to what I never noticed before I was amazed. Like the crowds following Jesus watching Him do miracles of healing the sick, resurrecting the dead and feeding thousands of hungry people in a single sitting… well how could they NOT be mesmerized; He was the best show in town.

In that first year I think I had this Pollyanna view of Christianity that if I was just patient enough God would fix my relationships & finances and use me to change the world.

And as I waited, I professed over and over “I’m all in Lord” through tears of joy in my newfound relationship with an all powerful and holy God.

And in my new freedom I gained a new level of self-control and my health was restored through a commitment to healthy eating, exercise and working with my doctors. I lost 80 lbs, got off all meds and after just 10 months my doctor paraded me through her waiting room as a testimony to a life physically transformed.

I also went all-in at church by volunteering as an usher, got plugged in to Celebrate Recovery, and began consuming the bible with a hunger to know more of Him and His Word. And I grew spiritually, all the while continuing to profess “I’m all in Lord”.

Through CR and other men’s bible study and recovery groups God began to reveal the source of all those years of alcohol, drug and lust addictions. As an only child raised in a Godless home with a father who was a rageaholic and a mother who was a suicidal alcoholic and being physically, emotionally and sexually abused by several people both inside and outside the home my inner self was deeply confused, wounded and fighting ghosts of my past.

I have come to learn that Satan had written a narrative on my soul that I didn’t even know existed.

The more I realized how much I was governed by those thoughts and beliefs outside of my conscious awareness I got down to work in letting God restore what the locusts had stolen with a continual profession – I’m all in Lord.

I pressed into Christian counseling and got even more involved in church and recovery groups. A seemingly endless stream of workbooks, deeper relationships and rivers of tears boiled over uncontrollably as I bravely looked into the face of evil.

Not only by rightly placing ownership of the evil that was done to me as a child on the perpetrators that committed those acts; but what was becoming more prevalent in my awareness was the pain I had caused others through my own misdirected self-preservation through addictions and isolation.

And through those first few years when I wasn’t even looking I found myself pressing toward my calling. As I discovered the power of forgiveness and making amends I found a new purpose in the midst of the hurts. I had discovered I could encourage other men to lean into Christ for direction and healing on our shared journey of redemption simply by openly sharing my journey, the good and the bad.

Around year 3 of my new walk with Christ I felt a call to move to a new area but I didn’t know exactly why. Yes it was closer to my son and there was a pastor I was drawn too but I otherwise had no idea what this new season would bring.

Within a few months (long story short) I found myself helping my new church launch a men’s recovery and discipleship ministry. Simply by giving my testimony at a Saturday men’s conference it helped spur over 50 men to sign up for Every Man’s Battle and Pure Desire workshops.

Me of all people – just a broken man plucked from the ashes by a gracious Savior – with nothing but The Blood and a testimony in my arsenal now found myself at the core of a new ministry and men were responding.

And all the while I continued to profess “I’m all in Lord”.

It is now coming up on 2 years since that ministry started and men continue to respond to the call to go deeper.

There is a battle raging in our homes, communities and even our churches and Satan is winning the street war. Men are hurting, broken, weakened, silenced and medicating. Workaholism, addictions, anger, fear, materialism, adrenaline junkies; the tools are endless that Satan uses to kill, steal and destroys our relationships and to distract us from our true calling as Disciples of Christ.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog this morning and the struggles in my heart and soul. With all the successes on the front lines of men’s discipleship and recovery ministry I realize my own soul has become desolate and thirsty again.

My hope has been waning, my body is tired, my spirit grows weary as I look around and realize that unless Christ returns soon I will not witness with my own eyes a time when the need isn’t far outweighing the workers.

Along with 3 weekly groups and working 50-60 hours a week at my day job, every free moment in between is filled with my son or meeting with men one-on-one either in person or on the phone to encourage and counsel.

The hurts the men (and women) have are VERY real. Satan is good at what he does and marriages are suffering, addictions are destroying and even taking lives, fear is crippling and silencing and idols are distracting men from their God-given calling and purpose to be spiritual warriors in their homes, workplaces, churches and community.

And I now find myself all of a sudden 5+ years into this journey realizing that this is what all-in looks like, this is what I have been professing all these years.

I had been saying the words “I’m all in” but I now think inside I was still waiting for the relationships and finances to be fixed so I could get on with my own life.

Luke 14:25-26 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

I am realizing that my physical exhaustion is very possibly not because I’m taking on too much but because somewhere along the line of doing the right stuff I lost sight of the right reason.

My journey started out in awe of God. My toils were in pursuit of relationship and healing.

As a spiritual newborn “all in” simply means to bravely face the brokenness of our past by following, listening to, believing in and trusting Christ.

But as we mature eventually we must graduate and “all in” means we give up everything to serve Him by loving all of His creation sacrificially. It becomes our responsibility to respond to the equipping and calling God places on our lives.

Am I willing to do that?

Are you?

Revelations 2:3-4 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 2:23b  …and all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Excerpts from AA “How It Works”

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

2 Timothy 1:9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble


Father God I thank you this morning that you reveal Yourself in bite sized pieces. I don’t know if on that morning of January 3 2011 if You had shown me the depths of where you wanted to take me I would have been so eager to surrender, but now I confess just as Peter responded in John 6 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

I believe on that morning I accepted You Jesus as my Savior but I now realize my struggle remains to make you my Lord. I still have one foot in each world seeking comfort, pleasure and freedom from hardship yet as I look at the men and the world around me and realize how my testimony IS my equipping and You are my strength that I here and now continue to profess “I’m all in Lord”.

Please Father continue to reveal the idols of selfishness, pride and fear which dictate to me that I need to do more or I need be different and simply allow me to just be content in serving You with all that I am and bravely continue to face those areas of my life that need repentance. I know that I am justified by the blood, help me to be OK in the journey of sanctification; to know it is YOU who will bring to completion what YOU began as I continue to discover what it means to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. 

To you alone be the glory in all things and in all ways. In Jesus precious name I pray…

Posted in 12-steps, Addiction, alcohol, bible study, Celebrate Recovery, conviction, drugs, encouragement, faith, God's story, hope, Jesus, love, my story, pornagraphy, Recovery, Salvation, sex | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attitude Check: Am I A Pharisee

Matthew 5:8
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.

pharisee

My heart is heavy this morning. It has been for quite some time. There are concepts in God’s word that I’m just not mature enough to understand fully – and they create internal conflict.

Matthew 7:21 [True and False Disciples]
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

We will never amount to anything more than being sinners saved by grace. We can’t get good enough to deserve or earn heaven. We will never have access to the Father without going to The Son.

But as an addict in recovery who battles daily for adherence to the tenets of love as presented in God’s word and more often than I’d like to admit coming up far short of that mark… how can we differentiate our heart from that of a Pharisee?

I propose that the Pharisee were under the impression that just because they “knew” the law that truly believed they were “living by” the law.

It was a deep-seeded blindness to their own hearts that amounted to nothing more than arrogant hypocrisy.

Jesus constantly was trying to reveal to them their own wicked hearts but they were ignorant to their own behaviors. They would preach the Word then do the exact opposite.

How much in our own lives do we do the same thing?

I can preach about the evils of gossip then complain about family members or co-workers with a tone that indicates I see myself as “better than” them. As if pointing out their faults to a 3rd person under the guise of concern is anything less than gossip.

Or I can talk about the need for personal time in prayer and meditation with the Lord and in His word necessity of taking time to hear His voice in the quiet still places yet spend 2 hours playing an IOS game or surfing Facebook and then complain “I don’t have time for God”.

Or I can exhort the brothers in my men’s groups about the evils of lust, idolatry, jealousy, anger and pride and then on the drive home from church look at the other cars on the road and wonder why I have to drive such a junky car. And at the same time admire the summer outfits barely on the ladies and then drive through nice neighborhoods in route to my studio apartment with no kitchen and find myself filled with lust and jealousy all the while daydreaming about how my job doesn’t pay me enough to live the life I deserve and feel resentment toward my employer.

What sets my heart above those I profess to love and pray for? For those who I wish would wake up because “they” are the ones who are messing up their own lives with their bad attitudes and behaviors and then wonder why my life is such a struggle.

How am I any different?

Matthew 7:13-14
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

I feel like God has been showing me that I abuse my head knowledge of the gospel and recovery materials to make myself feel worthy and deserving of salvation and blessings.

Shame and lack of self-worth issues are the heart of the narrative written on an addicts soul and “religiosity” and “teaching” can be the most dangerous form of idolatry and hypocrisy.

It’s like a medical doctor who is 300 lbs and smokes. It would clearly indicate he doesn’t believe his own advice to others. Yes his advice may be sound, and his prescriptions may save lives; but what happens to his own body in the end? And how much is his message diminished when looking at his condition?

And so it is for the Christian, especially those in leadership who can teach and preach a good message but then in the next breath outside of the limelight cave in to fleshly desires.

Galatians 5:19-21
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We are justified by faith but is not sanctification a partnership? Don’t we have a role to play in who we become?

Revelation 2:5
Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.

John 14:21
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

What areas of our lives are we entirely too casually writing off as “human nature” and not surrendering to the authority and power of Jesus Christ to redeem?

What motivations of my own heart am I no different than a Pharisee thinking that just because I understand the concept I am fooled into thinking I’m living by those precepts?


Father God I confess this morning that there are areas of my life that I may profess to be weak in yet I still have no idea the depth of my own prideful and hypocritical depravity that still operates in arrogance to control and justify my behaviors. All I can do Lord as this awareness creeps in is confess and repent and yet again surrender at the foot of Your Cross. I believe my motives are pure but my heart remains deceitful. Only You can first reveal this to me and then by Your mercy and power grant me the faith to run to You alone in those times when I reach for my own value system. You alone Jesus are my redemption and salvation; please help me never believe that I am more than I am and may I learn more sacrificially to walk as Your redeemed. In Jesus’ precious and all powerful name I pray…

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Attitude Check: Control

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

repent

It was a dream just before I awoke this morning that set off this mornings reflection.

I was at the office and was feeling stressed out. The matriarch of our company (family owned business) has been on a cleaning and organizing binge lately (in real life) and she ran across my filing system of folders scattered around the office. She politely asked me to clean them up (in the dream) and I got frustrated with her.

Doesn’t she know I have too much on my plate already? I told her no, that I had too many other critical things going on that I needed to attend too. She gracefully suggested it wouldn’t take me that long but I still refused.

Minutes later the Patriarch (her husband and owner of the company) came over and very simply said “about those files”. I grabbed them up in a pouty manner without looking at him knowing I was going to lose this battle.

I then woke up with a sense of frustration, resentment, bitterness, distaste for my job and obviously recognized how my own desire for control was being exposed.

Each day I say in morning meditation and prayer “your will not mine be done Lord” but then instantly begin planning out my day and setting expectations on the plans “I” make.

2 Timothy 1:9

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

There are many instances in the bible that speak to the need for dying to self, to surrender our plans, to be expectant on what the Father places in our path and quit pinning our well being on our plans.

James 4:13-15

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

The need for self-reflection is so incredibly critical. But we must be prepared to change our attitude when God graciously reveals to us what He’s known all along.

A man’s heart is wickedly selfish, prideful, arrogant, controlling and sinful. We must constantly be in a state of repentance and gratitude that Jesus paid the price that tore the veil and we are afforded the mercy to live for Him yet another day in spite of our evil nature that hates God and others.

1 John 4:20

20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

I am so grateful for the growing insight into the triggers that set my heart against God and others. Just as in the dream, our plans can be delayed or completely derailed by the actions and desires of others; but that does not give us liberty to cop a bad attitude.

1 Peter 4:9-11

9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.


Father God I thank you for the humbling, even through a dream. I could so easily claim “it wasn’t real” however I cannot deny how easily my frustration arises each day as my agendas are continually challenged by people, places and things beyond my control. Serenity will only come Lord when I step into each day being fully aware that this is Your world, and my life is to be surrendered for Your glory. Forgive me Lord for my well meaning yet selfish ways that so childishly continue seek to make me the center of my universe. I surrender this day to Your plans and purposes and ask for a continual attitude of gratitude so that my heart and motives remain pure for Your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray….

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Attitude Check: Blessing or Burden

Jeremiah 17:9

“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

gratitude

What am I feeling?

That is the first conscious thought each morning. Mind you this is not in an effort to gauge what kind of day it is going to be, but it’s the first step in properly assessing which Armor of God I’m going to need to wield the soonest.

Addictions are simply an effort to numb emotions and being in recovery is the daily struggle to embrace them. For me, allowing emotions to have their moment is so incredibly difficult.

In the past I would wake with a feeling of anxiety or depression and do what is called “wake and bake”, to start the day with marijuana or pornography just to “get a head change”.

After 5+ years of recovery I am coming to realize that my emotions still want to steer the car of my life. Just this morning I woke with a sense of dread, Monday morning blues as it were. Another week begins, “time for the grind” passed through my thoughts.

It was in that moment I realized my desperate need for a heart check: Is my life a burden or a blessing?

As God’s word shows us, it is so important to properly self-examine our own motivations – to test our own thoughts.

1 Corinthians 11:28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
 

Psalm 139:24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

 

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

 

Job 13:23 “How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin.

 

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.

 

2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?

 
Psalm 4:4 Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
 

Psalm 77:6 I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, And my spirit ponders:

 

Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.

 
Psalm 119:59 I considered my ways And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
 

1 Corinthians 11:31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.

 

Galatians 6:4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

For more than 30 years before Christ I have worn the burdens of life like a curse and felt trapped by the multitude of daily responsibilities; job, family, car maintenance, dishes, laundry, meal prep; a relentless never-ending todo list that burdens my time.

But then I realized that many in this world don’t have a car, home, family or food and what I so selfishly and from a place of entitlement not only take for granted but curse; others would literally die for.

The plight of the homeless, the refugees, the persecuted, the sick and the starving. Who am I to sleep in my air-conditioned home, wake to my coffee pot, refrigerator and shower and feel anything less than blessed beyond anything that I have earned or deserve.

It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we have anything in life; and even if that something that we have in the physical world may be a tiny portion; our faith in The One who gave his life for us and the ability to offer Him praise and worship is only hindered by the condition of our own heart – not our bodies.

Am I victimized by my circumstances or blessed and called by my Creator?

Philippians 4:12

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Father God, I thank you for the humbling realization that my emotions will continue to lie. My old narrative continues to voice the struggle of life and see your many blessings as burdens. The Liar is a thief wanting to turn our hearts away from You Lord but gratefully the Armor of God is ours to adorn each day. Faith, Spirit, Truth, Peace, Salvation… this is the Gospel Lord, these are the weapons and promises you give to those who call on You not only as Savior but as Lord over all. Thank you for revealing my heart of discontent and allowing me to repent yet again and offer up this morning a heart of praise and worship. To you alone be the glory Father. In Jesus’ precious name we pray…
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