A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
At some point during the recovery process we re-examine our most fundamental beliefs. A long process of sorting, examining and questioning takes place. And, in that process, our relationship with God is challenged. It is possible that our relationship with God will deepen and strengthen in the process. But it is also possible that we will find ourselves pulling away from God. We may find ourselves angry with God, or afraid of God, or unable to believe in God at all. This can be a frightening experience. It can feel like the very foundations of life are being shaken.
In times like this, we need many things. But at the top of the list is our need for friends who will accept us even if we turn away from God. We need friends who will not minimize our struggle or discount our feelings. We need people who will not be shocked when we are full of rage at God. We need friends who are able to hear the deep pain behind our words and who know that this, too, is part of our healing. We need people who can see beyond the immediate pain to the healing that can come.
Even when we forsake the fear of God, we need friends who understand, who are committed to us for the long haul, and who plead with God on our behalf.
Sometimes I feel agnostic, Lord,
I just don't know anymore.
Sometimes I want nothing to do with you.
Where were you when I needed you the most?
Sometimes I despair, Lord.
Sometimes I can't seem to hope.
I need friends who will not abandon me, Lord.
I need friends who will be patient and grace-full with my anger and fear.
I need friends who will stay with me as we wait for you to show yourself once again.
I need friends, Lord, who will give me courage to hope again in you.
Send help, Lord.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
I had the opportunity, last night, to hang out one on one with my son while my wife went to a women’s bible study. Like always, it is fun to play with him and have a “boys only” club while mommy was away. When mommy is gone, we do cool boy stuff like build forts, play indoor basketball on his toddler hoop, and eat nutritionally unbalanced meals.
Yesterday, I became the resident horse and was ridden around the house until my arms felt like jello. After this experience, I needed to rest and Josiah decided he was going to play by himself for a few minutes. I took these few minutes to check my email.
After a moment of being on the computer, I began to sense that he wanted to play with me again. My main clue was the mountain of toys he decided to pile in my lap while I was typing. He had taken the time, one by one, to place every stuffed animal, puzzle piece, and book he could find in front of me to instigate me to play with something.
I laughed, because I felt like I was drowning in a sea of toys. After he had done this, he did something interesting…he wanted to climb on my lap too. There was obviously limited real estate on my lap so I had to clear everything off to accommodate him.
This situation made me think about my relationship with God. In my times of prayer, I always feel like I pile heavy burdens and relatively insignificant pleas in His lap to the point of overload. “God probably gets tired of hearing the same prayers”, I think to myself.
The truth is actually quite the opposite. God wants us to pile our burdens, requests, fears, doubts, and anger on His lap. He wants to hear from us on a regular basis. His lap is infinitely large. He enjoys hearing our voice and guiding His children.
This is only part of His nature though…because even though He enjoys when I pile everything on His loving lap, there is something He wants even more…all of me.
Climb into God’s lap today…rest in His care.This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. You can find his original post with comments, here: http://other-words.net/2013/05/20/his-lap/
I was talking to a gentleman at a bar and he made an interesting comment. "You know Sam that goes to your church? You should talk to him. He used to be one of the meanest men I've ever met." He proceeded to tell about some of Sam's antics. Some of Sam's antics were funny, some were off-color, and some were downright mean. I knew Sam came to our church but I didn't know him very well.
So, next Sunday, I found Sam after church and stopped him for a moment. I told him that I met a man earlier in the week who told me about him. I started to tell him a bit of what I heard and he interrupted me. What Sam said next startled me. He said, "Dale, I'm a Christian now. I am so ashamed of what I used to be. I was not a nice man. I cannot talk about it." Sam said this in such a manner that it was obvious that I had really hurt him. I quickly apologized to him and he excused himself.
Sam taught me an important lesson that day.
Do I take sin seriously?
Do I take my sin seriously?
On another occasion, I was having lunch with a friend who was a new Christian. In the midst of our conversation, he made this interesting comment, "As I grow in my faith, I learn how my past behavior, though forgiven, was shameful and wrong."
That's one of many reasons why I love hanging out with new Christians. They don't have all those defenses that "mature" Christians have.
My new friend taught me an important lesson that day.
Have I taken my sin seriously?
Am I truly repentant of what I have done in the past?
I'm not saying that I need to wallow in my past sinful behavior.
I'm not saying that I need to live a life full of guilt.
I just wonder if I take too many trips down memory lane, thinking about how much "fun" I used to have. Do I take too many fishing excursions, trying to recall my past sins positively?
Do I feel godly sorrow for my past?
Do I feel regret for my past behavior?
These men taught me that a real man faces his past and takes responsibility for his behavior. A real man is sensitive to God's work in his life. A real man doesn't recall past sinful behavior in a positive manner. A real man is a new creation. He adamantly rejects sin.
BE A MAN.
Iron Mike Tyson is one of the most iconic, controversial—and also most jacked-up—sports figures of all time. And I absolutely loved
watching him fight. He had the unprecedented power to knock his opponent out with just one punch. He would send you crying to mama in the first forty-five seconds of round one. And if you weren’t careful…he just might spit in your face and go to town gnawing on your ear! (Just ask Evander Holyfield.)
Even though Iron Mike was unquestionably messed up, I couldn’t help loving him as a fighter and an athlete. Because no matter what else you could say about him, he genuinely had that “Eye of the Tiger.” The dude just loved to hit, scrap, punch you in the face, bite, trash talk, kick your booty, fight—and win!
He simply stubbornly refused to lose.
Hey parents, listen up: We need more Iron Mike Tysons in this world.
Oh, you read that right. What I mean is we need parents who are willing to hit, scrap, punch, bite, and fight for their kids! (Of course, I don’t mean you should hit your kids.)
But here’s who you should
hit: the enemy who’s bent on stealing, killing, and destroying our families. And it’s totally gloves off with that punk. It’s Rumble in the Jungle, Thrilla in Manila, Sting in the Ring, Fight of the Century, all-out war!
But instead of Iron Mike Tyson parenting, what we’re surrounded with today is lazy, apathetic, exhausted, busy, workaholic, God-dodging, materialistic parenting. Mom and Dad, it’s time you turn off that phone. Stuff that To-Do list in a drawer. Turn off the TV. Get your butt up off that couch. Lace up your boxing gloves… And FIGHT for your kids. Five Things Every Parent Needs to Fight for for Their Kids:
James 4:13–14 says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” Make time for your kids today. Nobody’s promising you a tomorrow with them.
Did you know that the largest audience for Internet porn is kids aged twelve to seventeen years old? Understand this: Satan has a dream, a vision, and a coordinated plan to take your kids out. He wants them checking out porn, keeping secrets, rounding second base and sliding into third, plunging headlong into promiscuity! Parents, please
… dig deep and find the guts to FIGHT for your kids’ purity!
Is your marriage on life support? Are you at that point where the doc should just come in and pull the plug? Have you been secretly dreaming about some other person besides your spouse? Have you been having an emotional affair? What about a full-on sexual one? Then let me tell you what happens next: Fight for your marriage! Or risk losing it all—including your kids. It really is just that simple. Sure, it’s tough. I get it. Things are jacked up. I get that maybe you’re not “feeling it” anymore. But one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is modeling for them how to have a healthy, vibrant, passionate love affair—with your spouse!
So, what’s your deal? Are you a yeller? Does your anger cause your kids to walk on eggshells around you? Are you a workaholic? Spiritually passive? Porn addict? Critical heart? You know that’s not who you want to be. So why are you still keeping that old man around? Kick him to the curb! Find out what it really means to be in Christ
, and to have Him in you
. You CAN change the pattern of history that has so far defined your life. Write the legacy that your kids deserve. But here’s the thing: You’re going to have to get bloody knuckles to make it happen. FIGHT!
5. The Obvious.
Fight to keep Jesus in the center of your family. The only thing trying to stop you is the whole world. Don’t let it. Push back. When the cares of this world try to start a fistfight with your family, you pull a knife. When they pull a knife, you pull a gun. Fight! Every day of your life, as soon as you get up, strap on your armor. (See Ephesians 6:10–18 to learn how.) Read God’s Word together, pray together, go to church together, talk about Jesus on the way to school, when you get up and before you go to bed. It's time to RE-UP. Recommit to making Jesus the centerpiece of your life.
This post was taken from the booklet Sex, Lust and XXX: Fighting for your kids' purity in a sex saturated world. BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
We do not take wood or stones and make idols. We do not pray to statues or prepare food for idols to eat.
It is not with our hands but with our imaginations that we carve out little gods to worship. Just like those who carve out idols with their hands, we make little gods out of our fear and ignorance. Our fundamental problem is that we imagine a God that comes out of our human experience. We imagine God to be like the people we have known in our lives. If we have been raised with impossible expectations, we may find ourselves worshipping the god-of-impossible-expectations. If we have been neglected, we may find ourselves in the service of the god-who-does-not-care. Since these gods do not respond to us when we call, we work harder and harder to please them. We try to be good. We try to be religious. But, we can never do enough. In this way we trade the 'glory of the immortal God' for the very dysfunctional images which arise from our experiences with 'mortal men'.
The good news is that God is not the way we expect. The one true God, the immortal God, is a glorious God. God is a compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love and mercy.
Lord, you can see how I cling to my little gods.
I have tried so hard to please them.
But, they are harsh and abusive.
I cannot please them.
But I can't seem to get rid of them either.
They are awful little gods, but they are all I know.
I have grown accustomed to them.
I have adapted my expectations to match their smallness.
I am weary to death of the gods who come from shame, Lord.
I long to worship you, God of Grace.
I long to worship You.
You are the God of Glory.
Give me eyes to see you more clearly today.
Give me a heart that hopes in you.Amen.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
If I kicked you in the shin what would you do? This may seem like a silly question but the answer to this may help us understand how we react to pain. In general, it is safe to say that most humans have the same pattern of response to an assault that inflicts pain. The visual display may look different but the reaction has similar foundations. This same response can not only be seen with physical pain but also with the infliction of emotional distress.
As I have been reflecting about the concept of pain, 3 steps (obviously not the only steps) of pain response come to mind that manifest in different ways.
1. Expression of Pain
)- When many experience an unwelcome trespass on their comfort, the natural urge is to make that infraction known. The reflex of expression shows the assailant that harm has been done and that, at the very least, restitution is deserved. Some try to mask this step by acting like everything is okay, but the bottled hurt manifests itself in other areas of life.
When a person comes to terms with the fact that there has been harm done to them, anger or indignation occurs. This anger causes the mind to think of ways justice can be served. “Lashing out” for retribution often occurs. This reaction could be passive, and the individual may seek justice but this justice may look more like “pity” or the infliction of guilt on the opponent.
3. Questioning the Event
- When someone is “kicked in the shin”, as was started earlier; the final response may be to question why they were the one hurt. Often times, if the answer is not adequate to the one harmed a new pattern of pain commences. A new cycle has begun.
Why am I saying all of this? Well, we can see this same pattern in our spiritual lives. Many people have been dealing with deep pain for a very long time. Pain that is unresolved can feed a cycle that leads to deeper anger, bitterness, and even addictions. If we can’t understand why we are hurting, or even refuse to seek an answer (we have become comfortable in our suffering) then doubt, fear, anxiety, or unhealthy relationships have a natural breeding ground.Seek to understand how you respond to pain.God is not calling us to lead a pain free life, but to be a living example of what healing looks like.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. You can find the original post with comments here: http://otherwordsdotnet.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/the-pattern-of-pain/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
BRIEF THOUGHTS ON OBSCENITY
I had a co-worker ask me yesterday why I don’t use cuss words. He said to me, “I noticed that you don’t use any language that the other workers use. You don’t say any obscene words nor do you talk about anything obscene.” This opened the door for me to talk about Christ and how He transformed me when I was 17 years old. I am no where near perfect (just ask my sweet wife) but I do love Jesus and I do long for the Spirit of God to transform me from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). I praise God that He has changed me by His grace (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Why don’t I use obscene language? I have many reasons but I will give briefly just a few reasons why I don’t.1. The Old Man Is Gone
I did use to cuss. I cussed like a sailor. I would use the Lord’s name in swear words and would blaspheme Him. I got so use to cussing that I would often slip up at home in front of my parents and cuss when I was mad or made a mistake. Cussing was a part of who I was. But then Jesus saved and life was not the same. He washed away my sins by His blood (Matthew 26:28) and He baptized me into His kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:13). I became His disciple (Matthew 28:19-20) and my heart was to follow Him wherever He went and do all that He did (Luke 14:25-35). He completely transformed me (2 Corinthians 5:17). My mind was different (Romans 12:1-2; cf. Psalm 1:1-3). My heart was different (Ezekiel 36:25-27). My desires were different (Matthew 6:33). My passion was for the Lord Jesus and for His glory (Philippians 1:20-21). I immediately stopped cussing. To me, cussing was what the old man did. He was now dead. I was now in Christ Jesus and was born again in Him (John 3:3-7). The old man was gone (Ephesians 4:17-24).2. Let No Corrupt Word Proceed Out of Your Mouths
Ephesians 4:29. That was what sealed the deal for me and cussing or any filthy language. What is viewed as obscene words changes from culture to culture and from generation to generation. It is not uncommon for people to say “hate” about all kinds of things or “stupid” to other people. In our home, those words are almost not allowed unless used properly. We don’t watch television in our home so my boys know nothing of filthy talking. I rejoice in that. I want my boys to follow my example and see that I don’t use the talk of the world. My citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). I am an alien and stranger to this land (1 Peter 2:11-12). I don’t want the things this world wants nor do I want to talk like this world talks (1 John 2:15-17).3. Let The Words of My Mouth Exalt You
Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
I want my words to glorify Christ. I am not perfect and I know that I say things that are not always pleasing to the Lord but my goal is perfection. I want to exalt Jesus Christ in all that I say and do. I want Him to be what the One that others see and hear when they see me (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1-2).
I know these were brief thoughts but I pray that if you use obscene language, run to the Lord and ask Him to give you a new tongue that exalts Him. Acts 2:4 says that on the day of Pentecost the disciples spoke in other tongues. I am not getting into the Pentecostal debate here but there is something to be said about the fact that after the Spirit came the disciples spoke with other tongues. I pray that all of us speak in a new tongue when we get saved. I pray that the filthy talk that once was part of our lives is completely gone as the Spirit of Christ comes to abide in us. I pray that our language is God-centered and exalts Jesus to others. We are not reformed people but we are regenerated people by the Spirit of God (Titus 3:5-7). Let us praise God in all that we say or do.
This post is written by my friend The Seeking Disciple. You can find the original post with comments, here: http://arminiantoday.com/2012/07/10/brief-thoughts-on-obsenity/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The anti-social bad boy
places high value on being tough, thick-skinned and powerful. He wants people to fear him. You may look at that statement and ask, "come on, we could spot this guy a mile away, there's no way he could be a church leader!"
You could be surprised. Who wouldn't admire a church leader who plunged himself into opposing anti-Christian causes that many would rather ignore? A pastor who regularly speaks against the ills of our society with a militant vigilantism? A leader who fears nothing and no one? He is always on the news, internet and/or local paper as the man to go to for a Christian opinion, drawing headlines and attention? This man is attractive, manly and assertive. He draws people thru his strength, his ability to gain followers.
What is he like behind the scenes? Thinly veiled as Christ-like behavior, he is self-reliant, full of energy and hardheaded. Intimidation is his first tool of choice in relationships. The anti-social bad boy uses his powers of debate, exclusion and inclusion, and theological name-calling to express toughness. He loves a good fight (in Christian circles, this is called deep theological discussions). He is very good at thinking on his feet, flying by the seat of his pants.
This bad boy lives by the motto, "I don't get angry, I get even." In church settings this vindictiveness appears under a social mask. He may appear to be very suave, sincere and adult. However, his inner circle (the boards, committees and staff that he intimidates), his confidants, carry out his vendetta. These people don't want to cross him. He claims that most people are devious and punitive and this justifies his own mistrustful, hostile and vengeful attitudes by ascribing them to others. People are not to be trusted until they have proven thru repeated testing that they are loyal.
Manipulation and coercion become his tools of conquest. If acting gracious, cheerful and charming will maneuver and subjugate, he will do so. He may have the motto, "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission" and just does what he wants. If such behavior fails, frustration of his will to power easily turns into furious, vindictive attacks. The people & institutions around him become tools of power. Christianity and its pieties are subordinated to the iron necessities of his personal need to control.
He will kiss those above him and kick those below him. When he arrives at his temporary pinnacle (he always wants a more powerful pinnacle) the people beneath him are there to minister to him. He spends his time, energy and attention in feathering his nest and maintaining his position of power.How can the church deal with the anti-social religious bad boy?
The anti-social Bad Boy assumes he is clever and you are stupid. A frank, direct, unequivocal "no" tells him that you will not be manipulated, maneuvered, or used. Jesus reminded us to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves
in the face of such men. A refusal to be frightened by threats and resistance with gentleness and evenhanded good humor destabilizes him. He needs to learn what Paul Tillich says, "faith in God's love means that we can accept being accepted though we know we are unacceptable."
He needs to learn the discipline of considerateness. Gentleness can be learned. Gentleness and self-control are two hallmarks of a person who has God's Holy Spirit indwelling.
He needs to learn a childhood lesson that he obviously missed. In anger we are to be as children. Children don't let the sun go down on their wrath. It's only from older people that that children learn how to carry a grudge, how to plan to get even, and how to be vindictive. In our interactions with the anti-social bad boy, gentleness is our greatest strength
. It confuses and ministers to him because it is a different pattern of living. Living the adage, "He who is genuinely strong has no fear of being gentle"
will eventually, with his willingness to let God work in him, bring about the needed change.Many thanks to the deceased Dr. Oates from whom much of this information is taken. His seminal work Behind the Masks should be read by those in positions of leadership in the church.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst."
This quote from C.S. Lewis in his book, Reflections on the Psalms
, addresses an issue in the church that is frequently overlooked by Christians. People who are not Christians have no trouble with this quote and believe it wholeheartedly. However, in the church we tend to overlook bad behavior from our brothers. Are our churches just some sort of fraternity where we overlook these "imperfections"? God's Word states that individuals that wink, to signal that one is in the club
, to get away with something are dirty, rotten scoundrels
. Unfortunately, these men have crept into the church. God's Word describes them as waterless springs
and twice dead.
This week and next we will be discussing different personalities that are in positions of authority in the church. Remember that the individuals in these posts are fictitious.
However, as we go thru some of the behaviors, you will recognize them as actual people that you have encountered in the church. I know. I have met each of these men. You may even recognize yourself in some of these men.
I know that I recognize elements of these men in my own personality and it concerns me. If they are you, ask God to change you. Only HE can give true, lasting change.
Here are some of the men we will be discussing: The Histrionic Religious Bad Boy, The Narcissistic Religious Bad Boy, The Anti-Social Religious Bad Boy, The Passive-Aggressive Religious Bad Boy, The Avoidant Religious Bad Boy, The Overscrupulous Religious Bad Boy
and The Chaotic Religious Bad Boy.
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The back seat of my car can morph into a movie set (they’re usually filming some sort of Lifetime drama
), a competitive arcade (we have more gaming electronics than HH Gregg
), an MMA cage fighting ring (yes, the pastor’s kids know how to throw down
), and even a courtroom (complete with opening arguments, character witnesses, and passionate cross-examination
And all this in the 6 minute ride
from our house to school each morning.
Three kids, two miles, one back seat. As chauffeur, it’s a strange mix of irritating and entertaining. Irrirtaining? As usual, my favorite display will undoubtedly erupt from the 6 year old.
“Emma, watch me blow a snot bubble with my nose.”
“Emma, look at me!”
“Arghhhhhhh…..Emma! Look back here now!!!!”
“Dad, would you make
Emma look at me!”He’s demanding.
Attention. Love. Acceptance. Approval. Laughs. And when big sis doesn’t give it to him, he starts to lose his mind. “Make her give it to me, dad! Make her! Make her
!”As adults, we’re not much different.
Just (well, sometimes
) a bit more discreet. When someone ignores us, disagrees with us, disapproves of us, we absorb it so personally. And out of our deep insecurity we respond with indignation, shaking our fist
(figuratively or perhaps at times Metta World Peace-ably
) in the face of our offender…“Love me!”“Approve of me!”“Respect me!”“Agree with me!”“Accept me!”
The only problem with this approach is that it’s both emotionally exhausting and completely ineffective.
The more we demand love and respect, the less the other party desires to give it to us. It creates distance, not connection.
So here’s a little trick I learned from a good friend that’s given me immense freedom
in this area of life. When someone disagrees with you, shames you, ignores you, refuses to give you what you want – don’t shake your fist and demand it.Smile. Laugh.
Seriously, it’s simple and it’s empowering. Makes you much more comfortable with who you are, and much less likely to absorb the rejection you’re feeling inside
. Sure it stings, but you can handle it. And the acceptance you’re longing for is much more likely to come if you’re respected. No one runs toward a whiny beggar.God doesn’t demand love from us, so why should we try and demand it from others?
It you have to force it (dad, make her look at me!
), it’s not real anyway.Is there someone who’s love, approval, and acceptance you long for? Are you trying to demand it?"
This post was written by Erik Cooper, an all around good guy and pastor.
For the original post with comments, click hereBE HOLY.BE A MAN