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Archive for May, 2012



Refer to STEP 6: I abandon my desire to spread malice because of my pain and anger, and I chose to relinquish my right to be self-absorbed.

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.

—Charlotte Bronte

Having established a relationship with God through faith, you already have everything you need to facilitate your recovery. It’s inside you. Because you are His child, possessing all the rights that entails, you can recover just as soon as you make the decision to do so.

This isn’t just the power of positive thinking or of putting a constructive spin on your situation. It’s real; you can count on it.

You may feel lost, detached, helpless, and defeated, but you are not. You may feel like you are in the world—without God, rejected, and beyond help—but you are not. You may feel like nothing good will ever happen to you again, but it doesn’t have to be that way. All is not lost—not even close, regardless of how desperate your circumstances appear.

As is so often the case, your recovery depends on how you choose to proceed. If you nurse your wounds and continue to blame your abuser, you can certainly do that. It’s your right, and it’s the path most people choose to follow, especially immediately after their painful experience.

Being angry is normal but, by becoming stuck in your anger, you will only experience one thing—bitterness. When bitterness clutches your soul, it diminishes the quality of your life, insuring you will never become the person God intended you to be. Bitterness can run so deep it becomes as addictive as a controlled substance—a habit nearly impossible to break. Once it takes grip, it becomes part of you, diminishing every positive character quality you’ve ever possessed. It can even alter how you look, producing a sour, defeated countenance, which is certainly not what you want for yourself.

Nothing good comes from it—nothing. If you’ve become bitter, it’s imperative that you make a conscious choice to break its hold upon you. Until that happens, no substantive recovery will be possible.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Ephesians 4:30-31)

Jack Watts

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Refer to STEP4: I recognize that God is not the abuser; people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

One’s cruelty is one’s power and, when one parts with one’s cruelty, one parts with one’s power. When one has parted with that, I fancy one’s old and ugly.

 —William Congreve

 

For religious abuse to occur, an attitude of arrogance, entitlement, and pride is required by a religious leader. If such an attitude doesn’t exist, then most abuse is accidental—not malicious. To be certain what’s really happening, it’s always wise to take a good, hard look at every pastor and ministry leader. Try to discern telltale signs of spiritual superiority. If you spot any self-serving or narcissistic characteristics, move on. It doesn’t matter how profound the person’s teaching may be or how loving he or she appears to be, it’s an illusion. Those who recognize the problem and make a stand for what is right are the ones who will be abused.

Here’s the way it works. Although people have differences of opinion, when one person’s opinion is routinely elevated above others and positioned as “God’s will,” then abusiveness often follows. The person who doesn’t buy into the program is not only rebuked; but by holding his or her ground in opposition, that person’s relationship with God is inevitably called into question. To criticize the minister—”the anointed one”— is perceived as criticizing God, making the person who disagrees have flawed, “sinful” character qualities.

Routinely, those who are in opposition are depicted as “carnal”—as purposefully going against God’s will. This makes the questioning person’s walk with the Lord appear to be defective, which is exactly how it is positioned by the abusive leader. When the abuser says, “I’ll pray for you, brother,” it is usually accompanied by a syrupy smile. When this happens, you can be certain that no prayers will be forthcoming—only character assassination.

The person asking hard questions becomes an “untouchable”—rejected by those who were co-laborers just a short time earlier. This kind of treatment happens routinely in ministries and churches, wounding people beyond their capacity to cope with life afterwords. When the process is complete, there is another person added to the ranks of the religiously abused.

Your boasting is not good. Do you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Corinthians 5:6-8)

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Refer to STEP 2: I refuse to continue living my life pursuing self-defeating behavior.

Troubles come to us like mire and filth; but, when mingled with the soil, they change to flower and fruit.

—Henry Ward Beecher

When you come to the end of yourself—when you’ve bottomed out and feel certain your future will remain forever bleak—that’s when God becomes more real than ever. It’s also the time when He is freest to change you in ways that count. Until a person reaches the end of himself or herself—until someone hits absolute rock bottom—then their self-will, which is always ambitious, has ends of its own to serve.

People can’t help themselves. It is just part of human nature. At the same time, it’s only when a person has bottomed out that God has full sway in that person’s life.

It’s also the place where real, fundamental change in character can be achieved. It’s not an enjoyable place but, more often than not, it’s a necessary place. Being broken is always difficult but, when a person reaches that point, God is always there to meet them. It’s the place where a person is willing to admit his or her faults readily—the place where self-seeking ends and reality begins.

When a person is broken—crushed by abuse and the vicissitudes of life—then change may be just around the corner. For transformation to occur, however, the person needs to embrace humility, while at the same time, repudiating self-pity. The former leads to growth; the latter to resentment, self-defeating behavior, and a wasted life.

Has this ever happened to you? If so, what you do with your situation is your choice. When you hit the bottom, you can do the work necessary for recovery, which is choosing a life of value—bearing worthwhile fruit, or you can wallow in your resentment, which produces the fruit of bitterness—wallowing in self-pity.

For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)

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Because it’s Blog-Radio, people can listen to it all over the world. Since there have been people following Pushing Jesus from sixty-one countries in the last three months alone, it is the best way to get this recovery message out.

I’m broadcasting from Atlanta, GA, every Tuesday from 5:30-to-6:00 p.m. (EDT). You can listen at http://tobtr.com/s/3286251. #BlogTalkRadio. You can also listen to the archived programs whenever you want. To call in: ((347) 326-9949).

Today, I will be go through the 11 steps to spiritual freedom.

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Father,

I feel so broken and despondent.

My body writhes with hopelessness,

Consumed with pain and anguish,

And I have a sense of despair

That I fear will overwhelm me.

When will it end?

I go about purposeless,

Without understanding—devoid of joy,

Which once was mine in abundance.

My grief is ever before me,

Reminding me of my loss,

Robbing me of sleep,

Diminishing my countenance,

Telling me I have failed.

I’m admonished, “It’s all for a purpose,”

By friends who want to “fix me”

And lift the sorrow from my heart.

But it doesn’t help—

Nor does it ease my pain, not even a little.

I can pretend to comprehend my plight—

To know the lessons I am being taught,

But I don’t understand—not really.

My heart is broken, perhaps beyond repair.

I fear my plight will not change,

And I will never laugh as before.

In my languishing despair,

I cry to You, begging for relief.

You hear, but You do not answer.

I beseech, moan, cry and carp,

But You allow my pain to continue,

Each day—long into the night.

Rescue me my Lord, quickly.

Put Your healing hand upon me,

And make me whole once again.

Teach me my lessons so that

I need never repeat them.

Take that which is broken

And mend it so that I will be whole,

Stronger and more resilient than ever.

Empower me so that I may bless

Your name with gladness and allow

My sadness to become a distant memory.

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I haven’t disregarded You purposefully,

But I don’t make You a priority either.

Then, when everything in my life unravels,

When nothing works and everything

That can go wrong does go wrong,

My focus upon You becomes instantaneous,

And I immediately regret my capriciousness.

Question: Has this been your experience? Have you disregarded God, except for times when you needed Him? If so, take as much time as needed to tell Him exactly how you feel.

Although, you may want Him to leave you alone, He will not—not for long anyway. Perhaps you’re smiling as you read this. You know it’s true, don’t you? You’ve experienced God’s subtle presence when you’ve deliberately rebelled against Him. Am I right? When you want Him to “just go away,” why do you think He doesn’t?

Journal: Take as much time as you need with these questions, writing down your answers.

Before their world came crashing down, most of these people thought they had something significant to offer God. They were important; they brought substance to the table. Although they would never admit it publicly, many probably thought they were better than others.

Journal: Before your abusive experience, what was your level of arrogance? Be as candid and forthright as possible, and write down your answer.

Sitting on the bench as a spectator isn’t what the Coach wants from you. For your recovery to have lasting value, you need to put it to good use. God needs you, and He wants you back in the game.

Question: Do you remember when your life had positive purpose and vision? Wouldn’t you like it to be like that again? If so, take a few minutes and tell your Heavenly Father exactly how you feel. Tell Him exactly what you would like your life to be like.

If you care for your fellow man; if you have compassion for those caught in addiction, despair, or any acting-out behavior; if you routinely display love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness; you are walking the walk every day of your life—whether you say anything or not. You just don’t realize it most of the time.

 

Question: Are you “walking the walk” or just “talking the talk?” In your heart, you know the answer. Be honest with yourself and with God, telling Him what you would like for the future.

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

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

—Victor Frankl

How can you tell when someone is “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk?” In recovery, as well as in every aspect of life, it’s an important question—one that requires answering each day of your life.

What you say is important, but what you do is far more important. If you care for your fellow man; if you have compassion for those caught in addiction, despair, or other acting-out behavior; if you routinely display love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness; you are walking the walk—even if you are silent about it. You just don’t realize it most of the time.

If your walk with God is shallow, if your beliefs are simplistic, and if you are unwilling to have your faith challenged or questioned, your recovery will be weak, fruitless, and easily derailed. To become everything you want to be and are capable of being, you must develop a strong relationship with the Lord. There’s simply no other way. You have to own it yourself for your recovery to have value.

Therefore, instead of proclaiming that which is not strong in your life with bumper stickers, tee shirts, Facebook posts, and canned answers, wouldn’t it be wise to strengthen your faith, rather than just drift along aimlessly, nursing grudges and acting like a victim?

Intellectually and philosophically, Christianity is time-weathered, profound, and enduring. At the same time, most Christians in America are unable to handle legitimate questions—questions that recovery demands.

Most of Christ’s disciples were ignorant men, but they changed the world. You can change your world, too. Before that can happen, however, you must strengthen your inner man by spending quality time with God. Without it, you’re destined to have thoughts no deeper than a bumper sticker slogan or a Facebook affirmation.

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)

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