Jan 102013
 

[I read this blog post from Ann Voskamp:  The Grateful Christmas Project: 7 Ways to have more Grateful Kids this Christmas and I liked it so much that I had write about it on my blog too :-]

What’s does Jesus get for His birthday? Have you ever thought of that?  Don’t we have this whole Christmas thing wrong? It’s Jesus birthday and we go out and buy everyone gifts except Him.

What if on my birthday or your birthday, every family member went out and bought every other family member a gift except me or you? I would probably be down right angry!

Perhaps we need to re-think Christmas? What if Jesus and His birthday were the primary focus of Christmas? What if giving Jesus gifts was part or the whole of our Christmas?

Ann talks about how her family started doing this about a dozen years ago or so.  How instead of giving each other gifts, they…

“It happens after breakfast, each day for the last two weeks of Advent, selecting one gift for He who is Christmas.”

… give Jesus a gift by selecting one from the various catalogs linked below:

Compassion Catalog … World Vision Catalog… Samaritan’s Purse… Partner’s International Catalog

Gospel for Asia Catalog… Mennonite Central Committee Catalog …

giving

giving giving

Our family tried this this year. We still gave gifts to each other, but we also picked a couple of gifts from these catalogs to give to the One who celebrates His birthday at Christmas.

I would really love to hear from you.  Have you ever tried what I describe above? How did it turn out?

Hurting?

 Hurting  Comments Off on Hurting?
Jul 282012
 

“The ropes of death surrounded me; the floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face.” — Psalm 18:4-5

Sometimes when I’m hurting, I don’t even know why.

Perhaps the worries and cares of this life have overwhelmed me; perhaps I have been going and going and going without a break; perhaps I haven’t spent quality time with my Father.

Whatever the reason, hurting and pain seem to be integral parts of life in this world.

The question becomes, “What do I do with my hurts and pain?”

Do I just keep going and allow them to affect every part of my life? All my relationships – my spouse, my kids, my co-workers, my boss, and all others?

Do I just keep going and try to balance out the pain in my life with illicit pleasures and other stuff – work, food, TV, relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.

How do I deal with my pain in a healthy way?

This morning, I was hurting, without even knowing why.  I seemed to have forgotten how to deal with my pain.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/hurting-helena-wierzbicki.html

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/hurting-helena-wierzbicki.html

Then, I read this quote from Beth Moore:

“Intimacy with God is that I can come in with the honesty of my heart, tell Him how much I’m hurting.”

Then, I remembered.  The light bulb came on.  Why don’t I take my pain and hurts to the Lord?

So, that’s what I did.  I did the same thing that King David did in Psalm 18:6:

“But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help.”

Did he hear me?

“He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.”

Did he respond to me?

“Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. 8 Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. 9 He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. 10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being,[a] he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. 11 He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. 12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals.[b] 13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. 14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused. 15 Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. 

16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. 18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. 19 He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.”

Aug 112010
 

Everyone has issues — although many of us are either totally unaware of them, don’t want to admit them for whatever reason, are afraid to admit them for fear of dredging up the past, or think that repressing or suppressing them is the Christian thing-to-do and that by doing this they will somehow just magically resolve themselves. 

The truth is:

  • admitting the issue is the first step of recovery.
  • dealing with the issue head-on is the only way to obtain victory.  Yes it will be painful, but God will help you through it.
  • there is nothing Christian about choosing to live in bondage when Christ died to set you free.
  • repressing or suppressing the issue will only keep it from being healed and will keep you in bondage.  It WILL rear its ugly head from time-to-time and cause you continual pain until you deal with it.
  • the problems that you are currently experiencing in life may be rooted in unresolved issues from your past.  Unless these root issues are dealt with appropriately, you may never live in the freedom that is yours because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

The following principles of recovery work for ANY hurt, hangup, or habit that you may experience.  Some issues include:  fear, anxiety, depression, pride, unforgiveness, anger in general, anger towards God, self-hatred, co-dependency, pornography, lust, drug or alcohol addiction, or ________ (fill in the blank). 

They are best worked in a (small) group setting such as Celebrate Recovery, Recovery for Life, or Alcoholics Victorious.

The Biblical Twelve Steps

Starting with a Decision

1.  We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)

2.  We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

3.  We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

Searching for Defects

4.  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)

5.  We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

6.  We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)

Stepping into Discovery

7.  We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

8.  We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

9.  We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

Sticking with Discipleship

10.  We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

11.  We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Colossians 3:16)

12.  Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

[This unique version of The Biblical Twelve Steps is from Dr. Paul Hardy’s excellent ministry entitled Recovery for Life.]  

Bookmark and Share

Help! I Constantly Feel Guilty!

 Condemnation  Comments Off on Help! I Constantly Feel Guilty!
May 012010
 

“THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.” — Romans 8:1 AMP

Many of us hear a sermon or read something and feel guilty because we feel that we don’t measure up to the standard that is being presented.  Perhaps we need to repent and make a change in our lives, which is legitimate conviction.  However, many times, what we feel is NOT conviction at all, it is condemnation.  We feel that we are a failure and that there is little hope for us ever changing.  At least this is how I have felt on many occasions.

What’s the difference between condemnation and conviction?

Condemnation comes from Satan and is meant to destroy us.  It points out what a failure we are and how badly we have screwed up.  It focuses on the problem (the sin, the past, and our failures) while avoiding the solution.

Conviction, on the other hand, is referred to in the Bible as Godly sorrow.  The scripture tells us that Godly sorrow is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Condemnation tells us, “You are such a failure! You’ll never change!” while conviction tells us, “Come to me and I will forgive you!”.  Conviction gives us the solution to the problem (the Blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin and failures).

How do I tell the difference between the two?

Many times we feel guilty but it is unclear as to whether we are being convicted or being condemned.  Jesus said that He was not sent to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17).  Therefore, Jesus (God) will NEVER tell you how much of a loser you are, how much of a failure you are, or how much of a screw-up you are ( So, if you hear any of these statements, it is either Satan, yourself, or others telling you this).  Instead, as a loving Father with a soft, gentle voice, Jesus (God) invites you to come to Him and receive His forgiveness.

What do I do when I’m feeling guilty?

When I’m feeling guilty I now ask myself , “Is this God convicting me or is this condemnation from myself, others or Satan?”  If I’m still not sure, then I pray and ask God to make it clear to me.

Remember the following (an excert from Jeannie’s Journal):

“God loves you so tenderly. He loves you exactly like you are, with all the unsanctified thoughts and deeds you do. He has a plan to change you that is slow and steady and full of peace and joy. His plan will prevail. YOU ARE PREDESTINED FOR IT. And it’s not you that will do it…it’s all Him. You don’t have to work. God does the work. The Christian life is not too hard. It’s not hard at all. It’s about cuddling up in the arms of the father who loves you. The father who accepts you just as you are today. He isn’t disappointed in you. That’s the lie of the accuser. The Lord wants you to quit listening to those lies and take back your inheritance – the peace He purchased for you. It’s yours.

You are acceptable to God.”

Bookmark and Share

Apr 202010
 

        Many of us (myself included) have cursed God, blamed Him, and / or taken His name in vain in our hearts for something that didn’t go our way. For example, I once blamed God in my heart for not getting a good night’s sleep. Was it His fault? No, it was my own fault for drinking strong coffee too late in the evening. 

       Many times we do this unintentionally because we as Christians know that it is sin to blame God (see Job 1:22).  Yet, in our unconscious mind, we truly believe that it is God’s fault.  So, what is the solution?

       We need a revelation of God’s goodness.  We need to experience His goodness.  Psalm 1o3, in my opinion, is one of the best illustrations of God’s goodness.  However, unless we have a revelation, unless we truly experience His goodness firsthand, these may be just words on a page without real meaning.

         When we find ourselves cursing God, blaming Him, and / or taking His name in vain in our hearts we should first confess it to God as sin and receive His forgiveness.  Secondly, I believe that it is helpful to renew our minds by looking at examples of His goodness in the Bible.  Psalm 1o3 is a great place to start.  Finally, let us pray that God would give us a revelation of His goodness and that He would allow us to experience it directly.

        Prayer:  Dear Father in heaven, thank you for being a good God.  One who loves us, accepts us, has mercy on us, and forgives us.  Please forgive us for cursing You, blaming You, and / or taking Your name in vain in our hearts.  I pray that You would reveal to each of us your goodness today in whatever way You choose.  Whether it is through a kind, loving friend, Your Word, in prayer, or some other way.  May each one of us experience your goodness so that any beliefs that we have to the contrary may be burned away.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Bookmark and Share