Archive | April, 2013

My Addiction

26 Apr

It begins with a single thought that flows into a recurring, rippling stream of desire. Finally, the current of my thinking forces me to the refrigerator. I’m not actually hungry; I’m bored, depressed, need a break, or maybe a nap. What I don’t need is food, but I tell myself it will give me the energy I need to finish my project. Exercise might do that, but food won’t. I know that, but then binging isn’t rational.

For two or three generations, my family’s addiction of choice has been alcohol. In some cases that meant devastation and even death. In other cases, it meant second chances, recovery, and new life. I’m very proud of family members who continually choose life over addiction. They credit Jesus Christ and the twelve-step program for their victory. Their accomplishment blesses family and friends who once dealt with broken relationships, stolen property, wrecked cars, jail visits, and lawyers—for most, a dim memory.

You may say my food addiction doesn’t have that kind of impact. You’re right—no theft, no wrecks, no jail time. Neither am I obese, “just” overweight. Then why be concerned? We could start with gluttony as one of the seven deadly sins, but it’s more than that.

Food can become an idol. I’m defining idol as anything in life that replaces God. It can be a job, possessions, sex, relationships, power, or control. What helps us forget our troubles, feel good about ourselves, or fill a void? Do we run to God or the refrigerator, the liquor cabinet, a soap opera, an affair, or the corporate ladder?

There’s another reason my addiction concerns me. First Corinthians 6:19-20 says this, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (ESV) Our body is the only vehicle by which we may worship God and share His love.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1–2 NIV).

If I want be a living sacrifice and help others recognize God’s will as good, pleasing, and perfect, then I need to think differently about food. God created a wonderful variety of food that delights our senses. I’m free to enjoy food without thinking about it all day or making it my escape. I want to say with Job, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12b NKJV).

I suppose this is a confession and a willingness to be held accountable. It’s bit frightening and perhaps irrational to make such a public commitment to healthy eating and exercise—especially since it’s not my first effort. I’ve found freedom in so many areas of my life, but this seems to be one of my most formidable strongholds. I’m ready to break free.

Perhaps some of you feel the same way and may choose to join me. Do you need words of encouragement or have success stories? Your words can make a difference. I’d love to hear from you.

We Need Supernatural Help

19 Apr

Most of us have felt alone and hopeless at some point in our lives, but that lie can lead to disastrous life-changing consequences. Jesus never intended His followers to live without supernatural help, that’s why His last words on earth were “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). I find that extremely encouraging and I pray you do too.

Even though Jesus isn’t with us in bodily form, His Spirit lives within all believers just as He promised in John 14:16–17. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper,* that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (*Helper can also be translated Counselor, Advocate, and Comforter.)

Please consider several biblical truths that demonstrate how God loves us and offers His help, counsel, support, and comfort.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV).

There is no sin or situation beyond God’s love. The Bible records God’s forgiveness for every type of sin: murder, adultery, theft, gossip, prostitution, lying and more. The problem is no longer sin, because Christ died for all sin.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8 NASB).

The question becomes “Will you accept God’s love and forgiveness available in Jesus Christ?”
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV).

God doesn’t wait for us to get ourselves straightened out or cleaned up. He accepts us where we are. Jesus takes our sin and replaces it with His love and power. Even in pain and trouble, He gives us hope.
“. . . hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5 ESV).

1 John 4:8b tells us that “God is love.” Although 1 Corinthians 13 describes how we are to love to one another, it seems reasonable to assume God perfectly demonstrates all these loving characteristics. Try personalizing these verses. In other words, God is patient and kind with me.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7 NIV).

And finally…
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38–39).

Perhaps you feel hopeless and need to renew your mind with the truth of God’s love and forgiveness. Or perhaps you can share how you overcame feelings of hopeless. Let us hear from you.

Who Am I Going to Believe?

13 Apr

Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).

I’ve been a Christian for many years and still fall short of what God intends for me, including my choices and thought-life. Maybe that’s not true of you, but I know many people who struggle to be Christ-like.

In spite of my failures, it’s my desire to handle God’s word accurately as it says in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (NKJV).

The word handling in the Greek means “to lay down a way,” “to build a road; also “to open a way.” That’s what I hope you’ll help me do on this blog—open a way of understanding, a way to live life with wisdom and joy.

The Bible says this about itself. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17 NIV).

So here’s my dilemma. Is it my place to choose which verses are believable and worthy of obedience? Am I going to set myself up as the authority over God’s word? Each person has to answer that question individually. But I look at it this way, if I can’t believe all Scripture, then I can’t believe any of it. Who wants a god who would deceive, mislead, or play tricks? Not me. Additionally, we have archeological proofs, personal testimonies, and historical evidence that the Bible is true. Therefore, I choose the inspired Word of God above personal experience or opinion.

Years ago, I decided my responsibility was to discover what it means to “have the mind of Christ.” That’s where we’ll start with the next blog.

How about you? Where are you in your belief of Scripture? How did you arrive at your conclusions? For additional study, you might want to read Josh McDowell’s Answers to Tough Questions or Know Why You Believe by Paul E. Little. If you would like to share your thoughts or other resources, click on the link below.

We Have the Mind of Christ

5 Apr

1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has known the mind of the LORD, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (NASB)

Last blog I asked some questions: What does having the mind of Christ mean? It’s in the Bible, so it must at least be a possibility. Could it be a promise?

It took a life-changing crisis to help me understand the truth of 1 Corinthians 2:16 (above). In the midst of heartbreak and confusion, I sought help from Hud, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who came highly recommended. An ordained pastor and PhD, Hud had a biblically based counseling practice. He taught me to think about my thoughts, a process scientists call metacognition. It was new to me, but elementary students now learn the concept. I learned to become aware of my thoughts and their impact on my feelings and behaviors. Hud gave me tools to do what Romans 12:1-2 calls renewing your mind and therapists label cognitive therapy.

Presently, there is exciting brain research to support what the Bible has taught for centuries. We will talk later about how renewing you mind is an identifiable process, but the short answer to our question is, “Yes, we can have the mind of Christ.”

Years after my sessions with Hud, I willingly devoted the time and study it took to became an LPC. I wanted to help others as Hud had helped me. That’s the purpose behind this blog. When I personally applied the truths Hud taught me and later led my clients to do the same, I saw remarkable growth in their lives and mine.

As we mature, we continue to find additional areas that need renewal. But please be patient; God won’t finish with us this side of heaven. He is committed to molding us into the likeness of Christ one step at a time.

My prayer is that you desire to know God in Christ Jesus, and that you have the courage to get to know yourself. As we dig deeply into Scripture, you’ll discover you’re an amazing child of God, blessed with everything you need for the life God’s set before you. He’ll wrap you in His love and cover you with His mercy and grace. You can win every battle when you rely on God’s Spirit who lives within you. He will be your strength, your courage, your mighty warrior. He will lead you into all truth and teach you all you need to know.

Can you identify one area of your life that needs renewal or a place you want to start? I invite you to begin a journal along with this blog. Would you like to share a little about your struggle or share what you want to accomplish? Do you have a question or comment on what we’ve covered so far? If so, please respond by clicking on the link below.