Thursday, January 31, 2008


Faith is a refusal to panic. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Hebrews 12:2
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Might as well jump...

Isaiah 55:6-13
Seek God while he's here to be found, pray to him while he's close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work," says God.

"For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, so will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them.

So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines—monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God."

What's holding you back? Choose to commit all of your life & your will to Christ's care & control today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Say it!

Take out of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so called problems
Better put them in quotations
Say what you need to say

Walkin like a one man army
Fightin with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead
If you could only
Say what you need to say

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for getting older
You better know that in the end its better to say to much
Than to never to say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open
Say what you need to say

Say it to God and to a trusted friend...

Psalm 32
Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate's wiped clean. Count yourself lucky— God holds nothing against you and you're holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out; I said, "I'll make a clean breast of my failures to God." Suddenly the pressure was gone— my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we'll be on high ground, untouched.

God's my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck. Let me give you some good advice; I'm looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight:

"Don't be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track."

God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around. Celebrate God. Sing together—everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Breathing Underwater III: Give Up To God!

Let’s be real with ourselves, others & God.

I saw this on someone's Facebook site yesterday: Living life trying to keep my head above water.

Series recap: 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."

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” Thomas a Kempis

I hope that we are becoming a people who have entered into mercy and allow others to enter it, too.

If you haven't got time for your child's pain, make the time; you can pay (attention) now, or you can pay (the consequences) later. Heath Ledger dies at 28. Six prescription drugs were found.

The longer we postpone our pain, the further recovery gets away. The longer we deny it, postpone it and say, “It’s no problem, it’s not a big issue, I can deal with it, I can handle it,” the fewer the days we have on this earth being all God meant for us to be.

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."

Pain is the doorway to healing. Listen to the pain.

“All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” James Thurber

Nothing is ever really suppressed. It just leaks out somewhere else.

Bill Hybels experience. Not addicted to anything? Christian crack-coffee, cigarettes, exercise, affirmation, _? Don’t think you’re at the end of your rope?

Do you really want to see how much is left? More than ½ of marriages end in divorce. Sickness, job loss, financial ruin, trouble with kids.

“I’m fine, really.” No you're not...

Philippians 2:13
“For God is at work within you, giving the will and the power to achieve his purpose.”

God says, “Your willpower is not enough. Good intentions are not enough. What you need is My will and My power to help you change. I will give you the willpower.” You might say, “I don’t even know if I want to change. I’m scared to death of change.” Then you say, “God, I’m willing to be made willing. I don’t even know if I want to change.”

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Someone emailed this to me about last Sunday's service: "It would be a relief if God took a day off once in a while and maybe rested on the Sabbath but that didn’t happen yesterday." It brings us smack dab to Step Three:

I choose to commit all my life & my will to Christ's care & control.

"It is a foolish sheep that makes the wolf his counselor." John Ray

Matthew 11:28-30
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

A climber falls off a cliff & half way down he manages to grab a branch. He’s hanging on for dear life. He looks around- one hundred feet down & one hundred feet straight up. He cries out, “Somebody help!” He hears the voice of God, “This is the Lord, trust Me, let go and I’ll catch you.” He looks back down at the bottom; he looks up. “Is there anybody else up there?

God is the last resort. I’m afraid to let go. Some of you are hanging on for dear life by that branch and saying, “This isn’t that bad. No problem, really, I’m fine.”

What is freedom? Freedom is choosing who controls you. Remember the myth of control- it’s really an illusion.

Conversion is our movement towards God and it is a process of disenchantment with our ego, (what the Bible calls ‘the false self’) recognizing how truly afraid and poor we really are. The only way we can ever be freed from our fears is to be freed from ourselves. There is a relationship between the amount of fear in our lives and the amount of attachment we have to ourselves. The person who is beyond fear has given up the need to control or possess. That person says, ‘I am who I am in God's eyes—nothing more, nothing less. I don't need to impress you because I am who I am, and not who you think I am—or who I think I am’.

What keeps us from making that step towards God? We’ve talked a little about control & denial. But there’s more….

Guilt and shame. They are closely related but have a couple of profound differences. A feeling of guilt tells us that we’ve transgressed an ethical principle. Guilt happens to ‘good’ people who do bad things. Shame is a little different. It is the monster behind our control.

Shame feels like guilt, but in feeling shame it is not necessary to have transgressed an ethical value. If we just make a mistake, a small error of any kind that shows we’re imperfect- that we’re human, an overwhelming feeling of shame, of feeling less-than worthless, can come over us. Shame is often a pervasive feeling that can be activated by another feeling: I might get angry with my kids and then experience shame about my anger because I was told as a child that ‘good’ people don’t get angry.

Second, the basic feeling of shame is one of being bad, defective person or worthless. With guilt we feel like a good person who did a bad thing; with shame we feel like a bad person for being imperfect. We tend to pile up all this pain & shame, cover it up, suppress it, reach for control, manipulate, and sabotage our best efforts through self destructive behaviors, you name it. We get addicted in the end. After a while any addiction quits working and the pain & shame return. When this happens we switch to another addiction, or ramp it up to cover our pain. In the end perfectionism is a real killer!

One of the most common parental sayings to children when they do something wrong is, ‘Shame on you,’ or 'You should be ashamed of yourself.' Even well-meaning parents have dug a shame hole for their children, myself included. & Then there’s the really bad stuff that we do or gets done to us. Denial makes the world go around because we’re too busy covering up our shame!

Our addiction, our control becomes an emotional painkiller. It’s like trying to keep beach balls under water. They want to pop up!

‘You’re as sick as your secrets’ is an old saying. So go and tell someone. Tell God.

The idea of deciding to turn my life and will over to God seemed not only impossible, but also stupid. The notion that I was going to have to take Step Three in order to get well made me furious. I could almost hear God as being those shame and fear voices we talked about- and they sounded just like my parents yelling at me. Roger from Compelled To Control

“No way I’m going to turn my life over to God. He’d ruin me-and I’d deserve it.”

You ought to fire that SOB! You ought to fire him! You’ve got the wrong God for this program friend. The God who operates here is loving, forgiving and gives you all the chances you need to get the program (the 12-Steps); He’s honest and will always be there for you. I had a God like yours when I first came in here, but I had to fire him and get me a new God.”

You know when you hear the stories about a little four year old gone missing & you feel sick to your stomach? You know there’s a whole pile of people looking, perhaps you’ve even joined some searches. If no one was looking can you imagine how you’d feel. ‘Get out there, a little one is lost!

We’re all little lost four year olds in God’s eyes.

Matthew 18:1-7
At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in God's kingdom?"
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me. "But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you if you do.

"God is in love with you. He overflows with compassion for His kids."

When you take this Third Step you give up everything and then you never had it so good. Because God takes what you’ve given Him, He turns it around, He adds new meaning, new significance, new vitality, gives it back to you in a whole new way.

“God I don’t even know what I want to give up but I do know I want my life to be under your control so God here is a blank check. I don’t understand it all but if You’re really real, come into my life. If You can give me a better life than I’m living right now, do it.”

In WWII the strategy used to win the Pacific back was island hopping. The forces would target strategic islands and begin bombarding the enemy forces there. That was called the softening up period.

"Commonly, first we fall and later we see it—and both are the Mercy of God." Julian of Norwich

Many of us are in a softening up period right now. All kinds of explosions are going off in life that are sending fragments everywhere & you're saying, "This isn't working." It's softening up your pride. You are beginning to say: "I need help. I need God in my life. There's too much stress."

“To wait for moments or places where no pain exists, no separation is felt and where all human restlessness has turned into inner peace is waiting for a dream world.”
Henri Nouwen

“Much as I long to be out of here, I don't believe a single day has been wasted. What will come out of my time here it is too early to say. But something is bound to come out of it.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Could Bonhoeffer ever have imagined the impact his written words and lifestance would have more than sixty years after his death?

In the next phase, the Marines would come in & establish a beachhead—maybe it was very small. But they now had a presence on the island. When they had established the beachhead, had they completely liberated the island? No. They had just gotten in.

From there they began to fight the battles. Sometimes they'd win the battle & sometimes they'd lose it. But everybody knew that once they'd established a beachhead—total liberation of the island was inevitable—it was just a matter of time.

In the history of WWII—once the Marines had landed & established a beachhead they never lost an island. It was just a matter of time that the entire island would be set free.

When you take step 3—what's happening is God gets a beachhead in your life. The Bible calls it conversion. It means God has a presence in our life. Does that mean everything in life is suddenly perfect? No—it just means God's in our life, He's got a beach head & the rest of our life He's going to be setting us free, little by little by little. It's a process.

Not only that but He’s allowing us to become a beachhead in the lives of others. In families, neighborhoods, workplaces, places of recreation, we are His hands & feet!

"Lord, you woke me up this morning. It means you have another day for me, a purpose for my life. What do you want me to do with it?"

If you ask Him He may even tell you the things He’d like you to do that day!

Step Three: I choose to commit all my life & my will to Christ's care & control.

Ruthless ambition can lead one to the very failure and emptiness that is the point of conversion. With God in our life no one ever dies alone.

Any problem we face can be handled, with God’s help, one day at a time. We will either view God’s character in light of our circumstances, or our circumstances in light of God’s character. If we choose the former, we will tend to look away from God and look to ourselves instead.

Matthew 5:5
You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

My will is yours, Jesus. Although my fingers are probably crossed right now, I do want you to make any changes in my life that are needed (especially in my thought life—and the way I imagine you) until I no longer want to be in control of my life. As you prayed in the garden, "Your will and not mine be done."

Might as well jump…

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Potluck today after the service!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The way out of life's frustrations is found not by resenting our limitation but by accepting the place of frustration as the sphere of God's purpose. James Reid

Jeremiah 30:17
'But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.'

Friday, January 25, 2008

are you compelled to control?

"You are controlling my life," Sue shouted at Roger. Her face was contorted and from her eyes shot almost visible beams of hot, red anger at her husband.

"You interrogate me about every dime I spend and then you go out and buy a brand-new set of golf clubs. Every weekend any team of football players over six years old is playing on TV, we have to stay here so you can watch. You don't like my friends who don't like football, so we never see them any more. We only see your friends. You are incredible. You control what we eat by eating only beef and potatoes and making fun of vegetables in front of the children. I suppose you think it is funny when you say that if you want to eat a bush, you can get a plateful from the side-yard hedge."

Sue glared at Roger. Roger stared back in disbelief. What was she talking about? "I am controlling your life?"

His words began to rise. Roger could not believe she was serious. It seemed to him that they always did what Sue wanted. The voice that repeated over and over in Roger's head always seemed to say, "Make your wife happy, dear. Be unselfish and do what she wants and she will love you."

Roger blurted out, "For God's sake, Sue, I have gone where you wanted to on vacation, gone to movies, plays and symphonies because you wanted to, made love the way you wanted and deferred to you about how to raise the kids, including what and how much they can do at each age."

As he spoke, Roger felt a rumbling rage churning in his stomach. This was the second most controlling woman he had ever known, next to his mother.

Sue was saying that he was controlling her life. Roger's face was flushed as he tried to get his voice under control. He said evenly, "You try to control me every chance you get. You have done it through our whole marriage and you are doing it right now. I am sick of fighting with you all the time. I don't know, maybe we should just call this whole sorry marriage off."

Now it was Sue's turn to look at Roger in disbelief. She turned and stalked out of the bedroom, slamming the door.

"And that," Roger told me, "was how the great war was declared that finally brought us to you for counseling." J. Keith Miller

There are many of us who are wrestling with the pain of our lives and are realizing that it is that pain and the control issues that cause it that may lead us to God in a new way.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Trying to make ends meet
You're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the veins meet yeah

No change, I can't change
I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mind
I am here in my mind
But I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mind

Well I never pray
But tonight I'm on my knees yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airways are clean and there's nobody singing to me now

How would you describe your relationship with God in three words? Is it personal, intimate, distant, trusting, suspicious? How is it?

When do you feel closest to God? Is it a special time or place? Or anyplace?

Does God speak to you? When you ring, does He answer? How? Through the Word? Through intuition? Imagination – where you 'just know'? Through people? Through circumstances?

Acts 17:24-29
The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And the problem is this
We were bought with a kiss
But the cheek still turned
Even when it wasn't hit

And I don't know
What to do with a love like that
And I don't know
How to be a love like that

When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do

Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Help them be brave
Where there is misery
Bring expectancy
And surely we can change
Surely we can change

And the problem it seems
Is with you and me
Not the Love who came
To repair everything

Where there is pain
Let us bring grace
Where there is suffering
Bring serenity
For those afraid
Let us be brave
Where there is misery
Let us bring them relief
And surely we can change
Surely we can change
Oh surely we can change

Oh, the world's about to change
The whole world's about to change

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Check with the boss...

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.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rock Hard Denial...

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.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Beast In Me...And You

The beast in me Is caged by frail and fragile bars Restless by day
And by night rants and rages at the stars God help the beast in me

The beast in me Has had to learn to live with pain
And how to shelter from the rain
And in the twinkling of an eye Might have to be restrained God help the beast in me

Sometimes it tries to kid me That it's just a teddy bear
And even somehow manage to vanish in the air
And that is when I must beware
Of the beast in me that everybody knows
They've seen him out dressed in my clothes
Patently unclear It it's New York or New Year God help the beast in me

...They got me pegged, too.

How can we face the beast that has such a negative impact in our lives and relationships?

Romans 14:17
God's kingdom isn't a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness' sake. It's what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fall into the arms of the loving Father...

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Tears are a sign that we are struggling with power of one sort or another: the loss of ours; the entering of God's. Maggie Ross
I have seen people shed tears over some great joy; sometimes, in fact, I have done so myself. It seems to me that the feelings which come to us from Divine things are as purely natural as these, except that their source is nobler... worldly joys have their source in our own nature and end in God, whereas spiritual consolations have their source in God, but we experience them in a natural way...
If I began to weep over the Passion, I could not stop until I had a splitting headache; and the same thing happened when I wept for my sins. This was a great grace granted me by Our Lord, and I will not for the moment examine each of these favours and decide which is the better... the tears and longings sometimes arise partly from our nature and from the state of preparedness we are in; but nevertheless... they eventually lead one to God.
Note also that distress of this kind is apt to be caused by weak health, especially in emotional people, who weep for the slightest thing; again and again they will think they are weeping for reasons which have to do with God but this will not be so in reality.
Do not let us suppose that if we weep a great deal we have done everything that matters... Let the tears come when God is pleased to send them: we ourselves should make no efforts to induce them. They will leave this dry ground of ours well watered and will be of great help in producing fruit; but the less notice we take of them, the more they will do, because they are the water which comes from Heaven. Theresa of Avila
Crying is one of the things we need to learn from children. Even Jesus wept in John 11:35.
What do you cry about & who do you weep for?
Psalm 56:8
You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What Am I Doing In This Pit?

Two frogs fell into a can of cream, or so I've heard it told.
The sides of the can were shiny and steep, the cream was deep and cold.
"Oh, what's the use?" said No.1, "tis fate - no help's around -
"Goodbye, my frog-friend! Goodbye sad world!" and weeping still he drowned.
But Number two, of sterner stuff, dog-paddled in surprise.
Then while he wiped his creamy face and dried his creamy eyes,
"I'll swim awhile at least," he said, "and try to keep my head.
"It wouldn't really help the world if one more frog was dead."
An hour or two he kicked and swam. Not once he stopped to mutter.
But kicked and swam and swam and kicked then hopped out, via ... butter!
1 Peter 1:6b-9 for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Denial is not a river in Africa....

Matthew 5:3-4
"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 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."

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...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

consolation and desolation

"One principle of the Christian life is called 'consolation and desolation.' The theory goes like this: God works in us through two major processes, namely, consolation (that is, comfort, nearness, joy and peace) and desolation (that is, the withdrawal of conscious presence, a feeling of abandonment and the idea that God has exited from our lives)." Mark Littleton

Why not try the following for one week and see what you notice: each night before you go to bed pray and ask God to go with you on an overview of your day. Then walk through your day twice, slowly and prayerfully, the first time looking for moments of consolation, the second time, moments of desolation. Write down any insights or better yet share them with a friend.

Find God in all things; Listen with a discerning heart; Choose to live for the greater glory of God.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Denial is bliss...

Matthew 11:28-30
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Whose Ambition...

When I watch Jonah now, I can smell my ambition—the drive to do as much as I could with Big Idea as fast as I could. We were in financial trouble actually before we went into production. The movie became about me wanting God to put a stamp of approval on my ambition. And he didn't. He consciously declined my invitation. Sometimes the best way to grow is to lose and to fail—dramatically and publicly. I was hoping Jonah would save my company and keep me on a path to build the Christian Disney. Phil Vischer

Matthew 6:19-24
"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

So What Is A Friend?

Someone you appreciate, someone you enjoy spending time with, someone you are especially glad to see, someone interesting. A friend is someone you come to trust, someone you commit yourself to in some way. It is someone with whom you find yourself sharing who you are, sharing things you might not share with everyone. It is someone you want to do things for, give things to, when you know what they are like. And Jesus wants to be our friend, too.

John 15:11-13
I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Just Stop & Think...

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Daily Choice...

It's quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep.The day is coming. In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose love ...
No occasion justifies hatred; No injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose joy ...
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical... the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problems anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I choose peace ...
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience ...
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose kindness ...
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness ...
I will go without before I take dishonest gain. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose faithfulness ...
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that father will not come home.

I choose gentleness ...
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I choose self-control ...
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ.I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest. by Max Lucado