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Archive for April, 2010


Refer to STEP 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with God, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

Have you ever had someone say to you, “Just be patient? God will work it out.” I certainly have; and whenever I hear it, it makes me want to scream. Because it doesn’t mean anything—not really; it’s seems like one of those sappy Christian platitudes that appears to address a person’s needs but doesn’t. It’s like telling a blind man he’ll be able to see in heaven. It just doesn’t work.

At the same time, patience is one Fruit of the Spirit of God. You know the list: Love, joy, peace, patience, etc. The kind of patience that comes from God, however, is not the sappy, sentimental “best wishes” of those who try to help but have no clue about how to do so. Instead, it’s robust confidence that God is in charge and will work everything out eventually. It’s the kind of confidence in God’s sovereignty that would say, “Yea though He slay me; yet will I trust Him.”

That is what real patience looks like. It is the absolute assurance that God has you in the palm of His hand, and nothing—neither life nor death, nor any created thing—has ultimate power or authority over you. You are a beloved child of God and nothing can change that—not now, not ever.

If you know this is true, then whatever befalls you, you can say with confidence, “I know that God is in charge and will take care of me in His good time.” That’s patience; and it’s not a wimpy sentiment. It’s absolutely the most difficult character quality to obtain; but if you can obtain even a small measure of it, your world will never be rocked—not by anything.

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Refer to STEP 11: I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

As I see it, the pendulum toward evangelism versus discipleship has produced an abundance of low-lying, marginal fruit for several decades. There are more Christians, but few of them know much about what they believe. The pendulum needs to swing in the other direction toward discipleship.

The largest church in America is not Roman Catholicism; it’s lapsed Catholics—those who have left because they see no value in attending. There may be as many as 30 million lapsed Catholics.

The largest Protestant church isn’t Southern Baptist, it’s lapsed born-again believers—those who have abandoned their churches in favor of secular activities. There are at least 20 million of them.

These two groups, lapsed Catholics and lapsed evangelicals, could be as large as 50 million people; and there is nothing being done to reach out to these people—nothing, nada, zip.

Why do you think that is?

It’s because it’s easier to go after fresh, new faces than try and reconnect with those who have been abused and offended. The Scriptures say it’s easier to overtake a walled city than a person offended. When there are millions of them—and there are, something needs to be done to restore them.

The Great Commission is not being fulfilled in our generation—not even close. It’s like we paint the front of the house every month but never paint the back. It looks good from the street but, upon careful inspection, much of it is uncared for and rotting.

If you want to help your church, your community, and America get stronger, reach out to an offended Christian. It’s thankless work for a while; but over time, it will strengthen the core of who you are. Plus, there is nothing that will help your recovery more.

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Refer to STEP 11: I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end if the age (Matthew 28:18b-20).

At the time of the American Revolution in 1776, how many people do you think were church member—members not attendees?

  • 5 percent
  • 25 percent
  • 35 percent
  • 55 percent
  • 75 percent

Before you answer, think about that generation of Christians for a moment. This group of early Christians influenced the founding of this nation and the Constitution that established the laws of the land. In many ways, we still live in the wake of their blessing twelve generations later. Their influence has been that powerful.

Currently, more than 50 percent of Americans are church members, and our influence is pitifully weak—not just in politics but in service to our nation and to the world. If 50 percent can’t get the job done today, it must have taken 75 percent in the late-18th century, right?

Well, not exactly.

Only 5 percent were church members—5 percent. That’s right, just one out of twenty, but being a church member in that era was far different than it is today. Those Christians were strong, resilient men and women, whose faith was the most important aspect of their life; and they had the proven character qualities to prove it. In their day, making disciples was the emphasis—not evangelism. It’s not that way today?

In our generation, the emphasis is getting myriads of marginal believers to say they are members, and there is practically no emphasis on making them strong men and women, filled with God’s love and purpose. This shift in balance has weakened our impact upon society dramatically, and not for the good.

Christians in the 21st century like to blame sinners and liberals for the state of affairs in our nation, but these people never change. They are the constant variable. What has changed is the quality of Christians? We have dumbed down, while telling ourselves we are Okay. The worst of it is that we believe it.

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Refer to Step 10: I believe that God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

If a man is going to do anything worth while, there are times when he has to risk everything on his leap, and in the spiritual domain, Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what He says, and immediately you do, you find that what He says fits on as solidly as common sense.

–Oswald Chambers—

Going through an abusive situation is never something a person plans for his or her life. It’s an unwanted experience—obviously. When it occurs, it’s generally considered a detour, an unwanted bump in the road—unexpected and  undesired.

At the same time, there are no accidents with God. Everything has a purpose, including many unpleasant things—including abuse. If we learn to go with the flow—to believe God still loves us and has a positive plan for our lives—we are definitely on the right track.

It’s normal to go through a myriad of emotions after being abused, including all the stages of grief; but on the other end, we have to come to the point where we are willing to risk it all again. We have to believe God still has us in the palm of His Hand and nothing can separate us from His love and purpose. It doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves back in an abusive situation, but it does mean we have to be willing to take another risk.

God is committed to the idea of us being everything He wants us to be, and developing rich character qualities like love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness is always His goal for us. Knowing God is with you, regardless of the situation, makes trusting Him your wisest option, even after a trusted religious leader has abused you.

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Father,

You have been faithful and generous,

Restoring my soul,

Restoring my confidence,

Restoring my desire to live.

Thank You for reaching down and picking me up.

Thank You for always being there,

For being so gentle—yet so firm;

So clear—yet so patient,

For loving me—in my anger and in my rage.

Help me in my recovery.

Help me be everything You ever wanted me to be.

Give me a heart to help others,

As You have helped me.

Let Your love and kindness flow through me,

As I reach out to those who have been abused.

Let the years that follow,

Be filled with love, with kindness, and with fun.

—Amen—

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Refer to STEP 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with God, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

Christianity is filled with people who want to do great and noble things for God. If you ask them, they’ll tell you how much they are capable of doing. Each thought is noble, altruistic, and grand.

The problem is that God really wants people to do simple, mundane things for others, which are not often noticed or nearly as glamorous. Someone might say, “I’m ready to speak about God’s love to the multitudes,” while the same person would not be willing to run an errand for an indigent person.

That’s the problem. God has far too many men and women who are willing to be exalted, but few who are willing to be menial servants. Many are willing to do grand things, but few are willing to be simple.

In our modern-day Christian Culture, we have a worldly attitude toward service, routinely asking ourselves the question.

  • What’s in it for me?
  • How will this further my ambitions?
  • Will my efforts be noticed by others?

Having been abused, which knocked the spiritual wind out of us, those of us in recovery have begun to learn the simple truth that an act of kindness performed at the right time, for the right reason, may be more meaningful in God’s Eyes than something calculated to bring us notoriety, fame, and fortune. We’ve begun to learn that God  values small things, where nothing is expected in return, more than grand things well publicized.

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Refer to STEP 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with God, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

For your recovery to have a real, substantial, and positive impact upon another, it has to come from attraction rather than promotion. This simple truth runs contrary to nearly everything Christians in America believe. In churches and ministries, the message is promoted far and wide. It’s a methodology that often works, but certainly not for everybody.

For those of us in recovery, including recovery from religious abuse, however, we don’t promote anything. It’s never an option or even a consideration, which is very freeing.

Instead, we live our life simply and unaffectedly, helping all who ask—never asking for anything in return. As we progress in our recovery and our relationship with God deepens, each day we become a little more like the person God created us to be. This means that we are patient rather than petulant, seek to be kind rather than self-serving, and enjoy others—never looking for ways to use or manipulate them.

As our lives demonstrate proven character qualities, the more attractive we become to others—not physically attractive but emotionally attractive. Because others recognize that we are “safe people,” our opportunities to help them are endless.

We know that attraction works—long-term and consistently. Promotion rarely does. It’s like a fast food commercial for a hamburger. What you get never meets the standard of what you’ve been promised.

Once someone works the 11 Steps and begins to live in the freedom of recovery, there will always be people who want and need your help. That’s how the principle of attraction works; and you don’t need to learn any pious platitudes. All you have to do is be real and genuine—never sanctimonious.

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