Monday, January 21, 2008

Breathing Underwater II: Help Is Closer Than You Think

In Isaiah 57 we discover that God wants ‘to heal and comfort us; to lead us & create a new language of praise for us mourners.’

That is really good news people!

This seriers is all about finding healing & comfort, as well as God’s leading and even a new language for all who mourn.

All of us need this kind of help because none of us are perfect. We’re all in need of recovery. We can all identify with drowning, with ‘going under’. How do we learn to Breathe Underwater?

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

Matthew 5:3
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

We desperately seek to control our lives & the lives of others, often with disasterous results. Perhaps worst of all is that we’re blind to our plight- we're stuck in denial.

We have a will to get what we want, when we want it no matter what.

There is nothing wrong with having a will, but there is something wrong with being self-willed. Since we live in a broken world, the wills of individuals and groups go after what they want regardless of the impact on others or even upon themselves.

Baseball steroid controversy & Congress. New England Patriots had a player suspended 4 games for steroids earlier this year. (Last year Shawne Merriman finished third in voting for the defensive player of the year award in the NFL. Why was he even considered when he missed the first 4 games due to a steroid suspension)? Their head coach was given the largest fine ever for cheating.

Does this make sense? Yes because denial is very active in this case & we live in North America where addictions run rampant!

Denial makes the world go around.

Susan Bergman wrote a book about her family life growing up called, Anonymity: The Secret Life Of An American Family. Her dad Don Heche was a very creative worship leader, but had a secret life as a homosexual. He was one of the first to die of AIDS.

Susan's family disintegrated in the years following her fathers death- her brother died in a car accicent; another sibling passed away suddenly & her mom was in a bad car accident too. Susan herself died a couple of years back of cancer. Her younger sister is the most famous Heche- Anne, once the 'flame' of Ellen DeGeneres.

I think Susan's book would have been better titled, 'Denial- The Secret Life Of An American Family'. Her mom Nancy wrote a book titled, The Truth Comes Out. She wrote of having a series of affairs to fill the void caused by her & Don's dysfunction. “I had chosen lots of substitutes for God’s never-failing love. No one measured up, of course.”

What kind of denial and corresponding lies might you be living?

We feel deficient and live a lie: I am not good enough; I am incompetent; I am inadequate.

We feel deserted, abandoned and suffer under this lie: I do not belong. I do not matter.

We live depressed and in fear and dread: Things are going wrong; life is hopeless; I want to die.

We see ourselves as being forced to take charge of our lives and our world in whatever way we can. Because we are broken we only inflict further injury and disappointment top others and ourselves. Satan tempted Eve. You need to take control. If you don’t take charge you will be deprived.

If I don’t take control I will be deprived. That is a lie.

We are His sheep, but sheep are very stubborn. They have small brains and can only think of one thing. Once they get fixed on one thing it is difficult to get them to redirect themselves.

“Sometimes God’s love letters come in black envelopes.”

God’s antidote for denial is pain.

Deflating inflated egos is so important to God that He offers to help. Max Lucado

Jesus says, 'I will walk with you.' What do I hear Jesus saying to me?

My coming to Christ. I was self-sufficient before. Many times since I’ve become self-sufficient & uninvited Jesus to the party, ala Revelation 3:20,

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Psalm 23: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.’ God is the one being God. It isn’t ‘The Lord is my pet I shall get everything I want’.

Who God is: loving, all-powerful Father, King, Shepherd, and Savior who died. God let the worst happen at the Cross so we could experience His best.

Who I am: an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe. The best thing God gets out of your life is who you become. It’s hard for us to accept, but it is even greater because we sinned. We tend to think that some things are so bad that it is just the end for us. But we fail to see our lives as God sees them. We tend to think that God has not done well by us and so we cannot trust Him. We think that His choices for our lives were not for our good. We get dragged down into the feelings that accompany these thoughts. We must begin to think differently.

What Life is: God has given me good things and/or placed them around me to help me share love with others.

Psalm 100
A Thanksgiving Psalm
On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn't make him. We're his people, his well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.

Paul and Silas are in a terrible jail chained to a wall. At midnight they decide to praise God, to turn their thoughts upon Him.

Acts 16:25
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

This decision to not allow externals to dictate our thinking has been repeated a million times over by Christians in difficult trials. Do you want that instead of what you’ve currently got?

Has there been a season in your life when the hurt was so big that you didn’t know where to turn? Are you living that season right now?

Are you unhappy with the way your life is going?
Do you find yourself preoccupied with the thoughts of escape?
Do you question yourself whether or not you have a problem?
Has anyone suggested to you that you might have a problem?
Do you feel that you are different from others and that no one understands you?

Can you say 'yes' to any of these?
My good feelings about who I am stem from being loved by you.
My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.
Your struggle affects my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain.
My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.
My mental attention is focused on protecting you.
My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.
My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.
My own hobbies and interests are put aside. My time is spent sharing your interests and
Your behavior is dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me.
I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
I am not aware of what I want - I ask what you want. I am not aware - I assume.
The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.
My fear of rejection determines what I say or do.
My fear of your anger determines what I say or do.
I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.
My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.
I put my values aside in order to connect with you.
I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.
The quality of my life is in direct relation to the quality of yours.

A + B + C + D= success/control

No one likes living life out of control, and we despise being ordered around by others. Especially the Beast inside of us:

That’s why we need to acknowledge Step One: I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.

“Lord, apart from you, my life becomes broken, and I don't know how to fix it. Please help me. Do for me what I cannot do for myself.”

Matthew 5:3: "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."

"To be a peacemaker, we must first experience being loved by Christ with a deep, unshakeable love. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? We must be struck by the fact that God loves us! This must grip us and hold us and fill our minds. When you wake up, say 'He loves me.' In the mid-day: 'He loves me.' At bedtime: 'He loves me!'" Dr. Victor Nakah, Zimbabwe,

"Can I allow myself to receive God’s gift to me?"

Will you receive it?

It comes down to this- Are you willing to trust right where you are. Start believing eternal life is not off in heaven, but it’s here right now and I can experience it. If so, Jesus will seat Himself upon the throne of your life. He will reveal the goodness of God to you through His presence and His actions.

1 Peter 1:21
Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Step Two: Believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

“Father, I believe that your Son, Jesus, can restore my soul. Jesus, please be the Physician I need. I invite you to enter my heart and bring healing to any disease you find there. Only you can make me whole. Dissolve all that keeps me separate from you.”

Matthew 5:4: "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you."

It’s not like looking for Waldo. He is here, right now.

In God's kingdom His presence always wins over principles. Many of us are surrounded by denial & unbelief; it's like trying to detox from an addiction when your advisors are all as loaded as you are.

God's desire is that we be transformed into the image of Christ. Yielding to that transforming power of the Holy Spirit is our choice and most often it's a hard one because it requires dying to the old self-image that's keeping you from experiencing more of what you really want. Allowing that old image to really be crucified looks like pain and suffering but what you give up can't even be compared to what you receive in return.

2 Thessalonians 3:5
May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God's love and Christ's endurance.

Can you recall a time of being lost? How did you feel? Have you ever realized that you were lost and in your attempts to find your bearings gotten further off track? How did you find your way back?

God wants to heal you and lead you back to him.

Ephesians 2:7-10
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.


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