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Principle Four

Moving Passed our Difficult Past

Share Time

Most Recovery programs incorporate Share Time as a way to allow participants to release, or let go, of the power their secret (and some times not so secret) hurts, habits or hang ups have over them. By speaking them aloud in front of others in the safety of the anonymous confidential Share Time environment it takes away and frees us from some of the burden these secrets have over us. The Bible tells us to confess our sins to each other, and pray for each other so that we may be “healed” (James 5:16 NLT). There is something powerful about the weight that is lifted off oneself when you’ve confessed something that you’ve kept secret, either for reasons of guilt, shame or fear, or all of the above.

These Share Time sessions are an incredibly important part of the process of restoration and recovery as they allow us to not only release the power these secrets have over our lives but they also help us to realize the connection we all share as sinners. The lies of the enemy tells us we are the only ones struggling but the truth is we all share struggles and the bondage of addiction has much in common with the burden of bitterness and anger. It may not seem like it at first but once you start hearing the stories you will realize that sin is sin, hurt and pain are common to all mankind and we are all on the same journey, just different stages.

The typical session will involve a review of guidelines so everyone understands that Share Time is meant for sharing and not for conversations. Communication is one way and although we sometimes will speak a word of encouragement to another, we are not going to judge each other or try to fix each other. That is for God to do through the power of His Holy Spirit who works in these moments to open our hearts and minds to the grace and mercy that God has for each of us. 

I’ve witnessed strong men break down to tears after hearing someone else share their heartfelt sincere feelings and deepest struggles. God has used those moments to bring Glory to His name when a brother shares of his victory over temptation as well as moments of sad confession of failures. If we step back and allow the Holy Spirit to take control we will see amazing growth through these moments. 

It’s important to understand the value of these Share Time sessions taking place after a teaching lesson. The teaching lesson helps us to focus our thoughts on the principles and steps that a Biblical recovery program will follow. These lessons equip us with the tools that help us to use Biblical principles, fellowship of believers and a structured format of steps that will lead us to restoration and recovery. 

I’m nearly all 12 step programs they will stress the “one day, one step at a time approach and God’s word is no different, it is a “Lamp upon of feet” and not a spot light down the trail. We learn to trust God and give Him control over our lives I the early lessons and progress forward through the well established program. 

If you’ve never been to one of these programs I would encourage you to visit one today. You’ll be surprise how much you can learn about yourself and your fellow man. 

Remembering Who I Once Was

We often so easily forget our past, and all that God has done in our lives. I used to read those stories in the Bible where God had just parted the Red Sea, not long after the 10 plaques, and suddenly the Israelites were complaining about not having meat and wanting to return to Slavery, and I’d be thinking how on earth could they have forgotten all that God had done for them? How after preforming miracle after miracle could they so quickly forget? Were they not grateful and appreciative for all that God had done in their lives?

And then I realized I was just as forgetful, and perhaps even ungrateful. The struggles of every day life can draw my focus onto my circumstances and off the promises of God and rob me of the joy, that as a believer I should be experiencing. It wasn’t that long ago when I was in disparity and God rescued me from the pit, saved me from my own self inflicted agony and set me free from a life of sin and death. Should that not be reason to celebrate and rejoice, shouting out praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? 

Remembering who I was and being thankful for who I have become, and am becoming. It was only five years ago when God changed me. When he set me free from a life long addiction and gave me complete freedom over my old hurts, habits and hang ups. My life was radically changed and although it has been a process and I still face difficulties, I am a new creature in Christ Jesus and the old me is passed away. 

I am so grateful that God loves me enough that even though I did not deserve it and could never earn it, he paid the price for my sins and set me free from the penalty of death. I am thankful for the power of God’s Word and how he speaks to me through it. How the Holy Spirit can work through me to help others who might struggle with the same sin’s I struggled with. 

While I am eternally grateful for all that God had done and is doing in and through my life, there is still work to be done. This journey is far from over and I still have areas of my life that I struggle with. God’s not done yet so I pray that I can walk His path and follow His commands all the days of my life. 

The journey continues……

submitThe struggle between the flesh and the Spirit is a daily battle for supremacy. My sinful nature will win out every time if I do not make intentional efforts to lay down my life to the Lord. Some time ago I came across and pray of submittal and tape it up on the mirror so that I would be reminded daily of my need to submit. When I choose to submit myself daily to God’s will for my life, my life will have order and peace. But when I forget or allow myself to drift away from His path for my life, chaos is the result. I added my own personal touch and try to pray this prayer daily to start my day off in submission to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Here is my prayer;

God, today I submit my mind that I might focus my thoughts on you. My eyes that I might see the world as you would have me see it. My mouth that I might speak words of life. My ears that I might hear your gentle voice guiding and leading me through this day. My hands that I might reach out to help others. My feet that I might walk in a direction that pleases you. My heart that I might love others as you love me. My whole life to you Lord, use me for your purposes today! Amen

I pray that this pray might encourage someone and help others to seek to submit to the risen King, our Lord Jesus.

http://bible.com/116/eph.6.12.nlt

God Speaks

Lying here in the dark unable to sleep as my mind is filled with thoughts, stressful thoughts about everything from things I need to do today to how to solve life’s challenges. Can’t get my mind to calm down enough to go back to sleep so finally I submit to just lying here in the stillness. 

That’s when my phone blinks and the screen lights up as the notification of the daily verse from the Bible App comes through to my phone. I reach over and these are the verses of the day. 

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews‬ ‭10:35-36‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There are those that do not believe God speaks to us, but you will never convince me, as so many times in my life, God had been faithful to speak to my needs, at just the right time. While I have never heard his audible voice I have surely heard from him and felt His presence at work in my life so many times.

Faith is the first step. One must believe that God loves us and rewards those who seek Him. 

I know I’ve written of this before but each and every time it is as if it is the first time. The joy of His encouragement will never become commonplace. 

For those seeking to hear from God, those struggling with life’s trials, I encourage you to prepare your hearts and minds to hear from God. Seek to know him through His word, read it, study it, meditate on it and be patient. 

Be encouraged and know that God loves you, cares about the most insignificant detail of your life and has planned good things for you. Patient endurance is what you need now. Do not give up your confident trust in your Heavenly Father who has promised you and future and a hope. 

I pray that anyone who reads this will be encouraged and that God will make his presence know in their lives today. That they might endure and press on to all that He has for them. I pray that God’s peace would fall upon them and that they too would walk in confidence through the trials of this life. Amen.

Three Steps to Transforming the Heart


Last week when attending an Abundant Life bible study small group I picked out the above from the week’s lesson. I was struck by how badly we want to have real change in our lives. Whether you struggle with addiction, depression, codependency or anger issues we all want to change. We all know we have issues and unless we are in denial we want to change. God through the power of the Holy Spirit begins that change as soon as we give our lives over to him. Buts it’s a life long process as God transforms us into the image of His Son Jesus. 

The hard part for me and many others is we want the instant fix but God’s plan works on His timing and he prefers to work on building our character in His timing on His terms not ours. 

When I read this I knew this was I something I wanted to keep my mind focused on that could give me hope during those times when I get discouraged or need to be reminded that God also wants to change us. 

I printed this and placed in on my mirror to help remind me each day to ask the Holy Spirit to show me what area of my life needs to change, then to invite the Holy Spirit to change me and fill me with the power to live that changed life. 

Progress verse Progression

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalms 90:12 NLT

I’m reading this verse along with an accompanying devotion that provides insightful examples of people who missed opportunities in life that resulted in regret. Sad reminders that we only get one chance to live this life and how frequently we make choices without regard for the brevity of life. I’ve got my share of regrets gained only by the insight that comes with age and reflection. Some would say there is no value in wasting time looking back at mistakes, we should always keep our focus looking forward, but I believe we should learn from our mistakes and without some emotional connection to those memories how powerful can those lessons be?

For me, I need that pain to impress upon me the significance to take heed that lesson and hopefully transform my thinking enough to cause me to make the better choice when presented with the next moment of importance in life. Perhaps we all have different ways we develop and grow, but apparently I often need some pain to keep my fingers from reaching back out towards that hot stove in life.

This is one of the reasons I am so thankful for God choosing to give us the Bible as his primary instructions for living, his love story for us, his guide to living fulfilled lives based upon the understanding of his love for his creation. I think another title could have been, “How to Live”, from the best-selling author, “God”

It’s so cool that God gave us this powerful tool to turn to, which not only comes to life for us through the power of the Holy Spirit, but also speaks to us as we grow deeper in our study, meditation and wisdom, as it draws us always closer to our creator. It’s taken me nearly 52 years to learn this and I wish there were some way for non-believers to see the truth of God’s word, as well as other believers as so many simply see it as a rule book.

I’m so thankful that I am finally starting to see the power of each simple verse and how deep and rich one single sentence can be as it opens a world of thought and understanding through reflection and meditation guided by the Holy Spirit. This verse, it’s meaning seems so obvious and yet so often it is the opposite of how we behave as humans. We so often drive forward focused on our goals and objectives without giving thought to such large and significant realizations that impact our lives so deeply. I’m not even sure how I would make it through a day if every action was preceded by careful thought rather than thoughtless motor skills moving us about like robots.

Am I the only one who functions this way? So much of my day to day life is a result of auto-pilot verse choices made. I recognize that I personally am drawn to developing daily routines that allow me to accomplish specific daily goals without forgetting to do them by way of my systematic life.

Wow, is that sad or a positive character trait? I’m not sure it isn’t both. By way of routine I teach myself good habits like spending time reading God’s word every day, like brushing my teeth, praying for others, and providing my boss with daily information needed to run the business. All of these are good things and may require thought to accomplish them, however the act of making sure I accomplish them is a result of self-taught routine rather than intentional moment by moment choices. Living this way has helped me to function. I’m just not sure if that is my way of coping with some mental deficiency or some positive character trait that helps make me successful. Someone else will have to answer that someday because for me it’s just how I’ve always functioned.

Let’s not misunderstand though that my life is not simply a series of routines. I still make daily changes, alterations and choices to test myself, or try new experiences. My routine today is far different from what it was 5 years ago, or perhaps even 1 year ago, while some elements have remained the same my entire adult life.

 

The greatest enemy of good

We must never forget that evil’s greatest enemy is good, and that justice must be tempered by mercy.

The above line is front the Hope for Today reading plan. When I read it and the referencing scripture, I could not help but reflect on the my recent challenges at work. My co-worker, gets so angry and frustrated, as do I when our installers fail to comply with our rules, or meet basic requirements for quality and professionalism. He on the one hand wants to sentence them to death (professionally of course) while I prefer to show mercy. It frustrates him because he sees my actions as weak, but I am only seeking to “tempter” justice with mercy. Preferring to recognize my own need for mercy and reflect the love that comes from appreciating the price Christ paid to show me that mercy.

It’s so easy for us to be legalistic, like the Pharisees for those self righteous like me and my co-worker. We both try hard to follow the rules and be people of integrity. The difference is that he fails to recognize his own weaknesses and the hopeless life of thinking you can earn your way, verses needing grace and mercy for our own sins. It’s hard to recognize our own sins when we are so self righteous because we so easily see the hard fact type laws, but become blind to the laws of love and mercy.

It’s my job to try to teach my subordinate to apply justice through the lens of mercy but I too struggle with the frustration of their failures or disregard for the basic rules and policies. Thankfully the Holy Spirit reminds me of my own sin, provoking me to consider the mercy and grace God has for me, before I act to dispense justice myself. Helping others to see the value in seeing things this way is a challenge I cannot say I myself have overcome, but I must continue to reflect the love of Christ in hopes that he too will have that revelation of mercy.

I pray that God will continue to teach me and guide me when faced with the choice of mercy verse legalism and that I will always choose mercy, as Christ choose mercy for me when he gave his life on the cross for my sins. I thank God for opening my eyes to his grace and pray that I will pour out endless grace to those who offend me or come before my judgement in the course of my assignments at work. May His love and mercy be reflected by my actions as I live out my life on this earth and strive to be his faithful servant.

“So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”  James‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/jas.2.12-13.nlt

Rear View Mirror

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/php.3.13-14.nlt

This verse is such an important message for us to get. So many of us struggle with the pain or consequences of our past mistakes that it makes it difficult to move past our past. We get hung up on self condemnation thus robbing ourselves and others of what God has called us to become.

It takes an intensional purposeful action to not allow one selves to focus on our past, but rather to keep our eyes focuses on what God has in front us. Its the only way we can we move forward into what God has called us info.

If you spend too much time looking into your rear view mirror eventually you’re going to run the car off the road and end up in a ditch verse where you were headed. God wants us to learn from our pasts and move forward. He doesn’t want us living there because we can only find freedom when we move beyond our past into the future God is calling us into.

This doesn’t mean you’re never going to reflect upon your past but it does mean that your never going to allow the emotional baggage of the past to pull you back into its pain. Just like driving, take a quick glance at what is behind you and then quickly refocus on what lies before you and then you will reach your intended destination.

This requires hard effort for some of us to develop this in to a habit, while others are more naturally incline to do it, but do not give up hope, as you too can overcome your past and move forward into all that God is calling you into that lies ahead of you today. Just keep looking and moving forward, one step at a time and into the destination to which God has called you.

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