Monday, January 14, 2008

Breathing Underwater I

Isaiah 57:15-21
A Message from the high and towering God, who lives in Eternity, whose name is Holy: "I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed, And what I do is put new spirit in them, get them up and on their feet again. For I'm not going to haul people into court endlessly, I'm not going to be angry forever. Otherwise, people would lose heart.

These souls I created would tire out and give up. I was angry, good and angry, because of Israel's sins. I struck them hard and turned away in anger, while they kept at their stubborn, willful ways. When I looked again and saw what they were doing, I decided to heal them, lead them, and comfort them, creating a new language of praise for the mourners.

Peace to the far-off, peace to the near-at-hand," says God— "and yes, I will heal them.

But the wicked are storm-battered seas that can't quiet down. The waves stir up garbage and mud. There's no peace," God says, "for the wicked."

This series will take us to at least Easter- March 23.

We want to move to deeper levels of yieldedness to Christ.

We'll look at spirituality, recovery, the 12 steps, addictions, attachments, denial, control, shame & what it takes to find life in Christ.

My second oldest brother died of an overdose. My oldest brother is horribly addicted. My cousin died of cirrhosis. My other brother is in a recovery group. My biological father was an alcoholic. My step dad lost his marriage & savings on VLT’s. I think I have an addictive personality type.

I was recently listening to a well-known Bible teacher & early in his teaching he made a commitment to only teach what he’d mastered. I reflected on that in relation to this subject that I’m embarking to teach. I haven’t mastered it- I’m a fellow pilgrim. I walk with any who wants to come along.

I built my house by the sea.
Not on the sands, mind you;
not on the shifting sand.
And I built is of rock.
A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Good neighbors.

Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences.
Respectful, keeping our distance,
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always, the fence of sand our barrier,
always, the sand between.
And then one day,
-and I still don’t know how it happened
the sea came.
Without warning.
Without welcome, even
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.
And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbors,
Well-acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors,
And you give your house for a coral castle,
And you learn to breathe underwater.
by Carol Bieleck

Water is used in the Bible in many ways: to represent dying and rising as in baptism; to symbolize judgment as in the flood; Jesus is spoken of as living water; as of quenching our deepest thirst; the river of life in Revelation.

Revelation 22:1-5
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

"Spirit" in Hebrew is 'breath'- How do we learn to breathe with God's spirit while under the water in our life and not drown?

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. Mother Teresa

When is the past past? Perhaps through this some of us will have an answer, or at least hope.

Because of the will and drive to get what we want, we live in a world of disappointment, insufficiency, injury and hurt—mental, emotional, physical and social, with scarred and dysfunctional, pain filled souls and bodies.

Are we in soul denial?

Romans 7:15-17
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

Do you ever stay up late when you know you need sleep?
Do you ever eat or drink more calories than your body needs?
Do you ever feel you ought to exercise but you don’t?
Do you ever know the right thing to do, but you don’t do it?
Do you ever know something is wrong, but you do it anyway?
Have you ever known you should be unselfish, but you’re selfish instead?
Have you ever tried to control somebody or something and found it was uncontrollable?

If your answer is yes to any of those questions, welcome to humanity. We’re all in need of recovery.

The inescapable pull of wanting to be in control. The desire to impress. We want to play God. But we’re not God.

I’ve been a recovering knower for some time. I was/am addicted to knowing. I am slowly learning to be a learner. A disciple.

Jeopardy & Aristotle Onassis.

We want to control our image; other people; our problems & our pain.

“My problem is not that bad.” That’s called denial. The Bible is a book of denial busting.

Hebrews 4:12-13
God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it—no matter what.

Step One: I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.

"Shortly before his changed worldview Lewis began to examine himself seriously for the first time. He didn’t like what he observed. “What I found appalled me: a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions,” he writes in Surprised by Joy. This may perhaps have contributed to a realization of a need for help outside of himself and to his eventual conversion. During the years of his transition he writes to his friend Greeves: “I have found out ludicrous and terrible things about my own character... Sitting by, watching the rising thoughts . . . as they pop up . . . one of every three is a thought of self-admiration... I catch myself posturing before the mirror, so to speak, all day long. I pretend I am carefully thinking out what to say to the next pupil (for his good, of course) and then suddenly I am really thinking how frightfully clever I’m going to be and how he will admire me. . . And when you force yourself to stop it, you admire yourself for doing that.” Armand Nicholi

Admitting that I’m not God means I wake up to the fact that I am:
powerless to change;
powerless to control;
powerless to cope;

James 4:6
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

This series is about closing the gap between brokenness and God's plan.

Brokenness: that’s how the light gets in. That’s how the light gets out, too.

Many people are incapable of true repentance because they are trying too hard. God enters into our sin and redeems it. God loves us first before we can do anything. And from that experience of unearned love, unprepared-for love, comes within us the power to begin again. We end up looking good and getting the credit, but we know better inside!

When you have something to hide, being transparent is feeling exposed; When you have nothing to hide, being transparent is being open.

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. Mark Twain

You are not alone in the pain & never will be.

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

In God’s strength we can confront the realities of our life rather than run from them.

CS Lewis argues that repentance "means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death."

Self-Centeredness - far too often I can think that the universe actually revolves around me.
Self-absorption - I can be so preoccupied with myself to the exclusion of everything else.
Self-willed - I want what I want when I want it no matter what God may want.
Self-Righteous - so easily caught up in thinking that I am intrinsically better than others.
Self-pity - “poor me.”
Self-serving - It is so easy to define or color things to serve my best interests … you know, “I do what is good for you because it serves me.”
Self-Indulgent -I do what I want because I want to … actually, because I deserve it.
Self-sufficient - I don’t need anyone. I’ve got things “wired.” I don’t need to ask directions.
Self-defensive - It is amazing how quickly I can give reasons for my behavior. Also how quickly I can go from there to making excuses.
Self-justifying - I know why I do what I do, and I have a ”valid” reasons for why it was best to serve myself.
Self-… - ok now I’m feeling pretty bad about myself (self-absorption?) and think you get the idea about how bad I am (self-pity?). Doyle Roth

But most of us in our daily lives exist neither in solitude nor in community, but somewhere in between. We sacrifice both form and content of truth. Seldom are we truly alone, and seldom are we truly in relationship to others. This is the vacuousness of mass society and mass education: our lives alternate between collective busyness and individual isolation, but rarely allow for an authentically solitary or corporate experience. In this half-lived middle ground, our solitude is loneliness and our attempts at community are fleeting and defeating. We are alone in the crowd, unable to touch the heart of love in ourselves or to touch others in ways that draw out the heart. Parker Palmer

If only I can somehow get other people to change their ways, life will be wonderful for me. Howard Butt

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Leave your chains behind...


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