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Archive for March, 2013


Father,

I refuse to learn the lesson I’m being taught.

It’s who I am, or—at least—the way I’ve become.

Undaunted, You turn the pressure up further,

And I wince at the discomfort

But still will not yield—not yet.

I still have so much fight left in me.

I cannot submit; I will not submit.

 

Journal: Write about your stubbornness and what it required to get you to yield your will to God.

 

If you choose to follow your own path, you will have to deal with the painful consequences of your actions in your own way. To help cope with the results of a poor decision, you may choose to medicate your pain with alcohol, inappropriate sexual relationships, prescription medications, pornography, or overeating. Each provides a temporary, satisfying escape; but none of it works well—or for long. In the end, all you will have accomplished is the acquisition of an additional problem with no solution to the original one.

Question: In your life, what were the self-defeating behaviors you used to medicate your pain? Being perfectly honest, do you still resort to them? If not, on a scale of 1-to-10, how tempted are you to return to them?

 

In the aftermath of spiritual abuse, your eyes become opened. You see things differently—with much more clarity and far less naïveté. It’s like the blinders have been removed, and you realize the direction you’ve been traveling will not take you to the place you believed you were going.

Journal: Write about what it was like when you had the blinders removed from you.

 

Then, when their prayer isn’t answered in the way they expect, which it usually isn’t, they chafe and question whether God really cares about them at all, wondering if He is really active in their lives.

Question: Does this sound familiar? If so, it’s a problem that occurs routinely, creating significant faith problems for many. The problem is that the mindset behind whining, plaintive prayers isn’t consistent with God’s methods. On a scale of 1-to-10, how plaintive are your prayers. If you answered 5 or above, you have some work to do.

 

Over the years, in a very subtle, insidious way, we have become unwilling to stand firmly in the face of a culture that has grown increasingly hostile toward Christianity, choosing instead to wring our hands in despair. Wanting to appear enlightened by accepting the beliefs of others—regardless of what they might be—we have allowed our convictions to be trumped by the political correctness of our culture.

Journal: React to the paragraph above, either positively or negatively, listing at least three points to support your position.

Jack Watts

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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.

 

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.

—C. S. Lewis

Many Christians have the mistaken notion that we are okay the way we are, regardless of how we act, how we treat others, or what the state of our mind may be. We want to believe that being wishy-washy is acceptable to God and to everybody else. We want to be strong believers, while at the same time making certain we don’t offend anyone with our beliefs. In this way, we are more culturally Christian than committed believers.

If this was as bad as it was, it would be one thing; but it’s actually worse. Over the years, in a very subtle, insidious way, we have become unwilling to stand firmly in the face of a culture that has grown increasingly hostile toward Christianity, choosing instead to wring our hands in despair. Wanting to appear enlightened by accepting the beliefs of others—regardless of what they might be—we have allowed our convictions to be trumped by the political correctness of our culture.

As men, we’ve lost our gumption and, as women, we’ve lost our focus. We blame the liberals for the decline in our society, while never taking a good, hard, penetrating look at ourselves. We share emails, Tweets, and Facebook posts by the thousands, reminding us about the “good old days,” while never considering that we are more responsible for the societal decline we lament rather than the liberals we repeatedly castigate.

Perhaps we should look back to the behavior of our Founding Fathers. During the Colonial and Revolutionary era, they routinely held days of fasting and prayer to try and determine the leading of Almighty God. That really happened, and there were also days of repentance, which would never be acceptable to today’s lukewarm Christians, who have convinced themselves they are fine just the way they are. Although repentance might offend the politically correct crowd and some weak-willed Christians, it never offends the Lord, and it is definitely what He desires from us.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the Last Days that you have stored up your treasure! (James 5:1-3)

Jack Watts   We Believe: 30 Days to Understanding Our Heritage

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Refer to Step 9: I humbly ask God to change anything He desires.

 

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.

—Phillips Brooks

When a seemingly insurmountable difficulty comes into your life, what do you do? If you’re like most people, especially Christians, you pray about it. That’s a given but, what exactly do you pray for?

Most pray for God to spare them from what’s about to happen—either from the consequences of their actions or those of others. That’s the natural human response. People want the Lord to rescue them from whatever unpleasantness is about to occur. When they pray, they ask, whine, and even beg, as they plead their case in deprecatory tones before the Almighty God.

Then, when their prayer isn’t answered in the way they expect, which it usually isn’t, they chafe and question whether God really cares about them, questioning whether He is really active in their lives.

Does this sound familiar? If so, it’s a problem that occurs routinely, creating significant problems of faith for many. The issue is that the mindset behind whining, plaintive prayers isn’t consistent with the way God works. As a general rule, He doesn’t deliver people from trouble; He guides them through turbulence instead. There’s a big difference between the two.

If He delivered you from difficult situations, as you wish He would, then you would never grow up and reach maturity. You would remain a perpetual child—without resiliency, weak in character. That’s not what God wants for your life. He wants you to have childlike faith, but He doesn’t want you to be a perpetual child. Almighty God answers prayers, but He is not a co-dependent rescuer. It’s okay to pray like that, but you must realize God is far more interested in your growth than He is in sparing you from life’s heartaches.

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:5-8)

Jack Watts

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Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted. I recognize that God is not the abuser; rather, people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

There are two kinds of people:

Those seeking the truth 

And those afraid of it.

—AA slogan

In the aftermath of spiritual abuse, your eyes become opened. You see things differently—with much more clarity and far less naïveté. It’s like the blinders have been removed, and you have an epiphany, realizing the direction you’ve been traveling will not take you to the place you thought you were going.

It’s like Todo has pulled back the curtain and revealed the fraud you thought was the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. Realizing that your religious leader is narcissistically self-interested, you feel like a fool to have been so gullible. Once you realize this, at that exact moment you become cynical and jaded, which is embittering. Nothing spiritual seems real or legitimate any longer.

When this happens, you can either fritter away many years of your life, nurturing anger, bitterness, and rebelliousness; or you can redouble your efforts to develop your relationship with God, knowing He is real and can be trusted. He is not abusive like some of His misguided people.

Having your eyes opened is a good thing—despite the disillusionment that accompanies it. Nothing good comes from blindness. In order to be of maximum use to yourself and others, having your eyes opened was necessary.

Now, what you need to change is your perspective. When you realize God allowed your abuse to take you to a better place—a place where you could trust Him and not your self-serving narcissistic leader, you can bow your knee and be thankful. When you look at it from this perspective, you can learn to think positively about your experience. By changing your perspective, cynicism will leave you, and you will be far less likely to ever be fooled again.

And Jesus said, for judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind. (John 9:39)

Jack Watts

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Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

I was taught that the way to progress was neither swift nor easy.

—Marie Curie

When you experience something very difficult—like religious abuse, divorce, or an unexpected death—you come to an important crossroads. It’s where your relationship with God will either become more important to you or less. It will not remain static. You will either become more mature or remain “stuck” in some key areas of your life.

When this happens, you know you’ve come to a place where God is seeking your attention. Using pressure from your circumstances, God prunes you, which is never pleasant when it’s occurring. When your situation becomes too intense to handle, you’ll either pay attention to the lesson you are being taught, or you will not. The choice is yours; it’s always yours.

If you choose to follow your own path, you will have to deal with the painful consequences of your actions in your own way. To help cope with the results of a poor decision, you may choose to medicate your pain with alcohol, inappropriate sexual relationships, prescription medications, pornography, overeating, or another addiction. Each provides a temporary, satisfying escape; but none of it works well—nor does it work for long.

In the end, all you will have accomplished is the acquisition of an additional problem with no solution to the original one. Furthermore, you’ll destine yourself to repeat the problem in one way or another until you finally learn your lesson. No matter how hard you try, there’s no getting around it. That’s why I believe Groundhog Day is so philosophical. Its message is simple: If you don’t learn your lesson the first time, you’ll repeat it until you do. That’s why it’s smarter to pay the price now rather than wait to pay it later.

Jack Watts   My Story

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Father,

I’m praying because I know I should,

Not because I really want to.

I can do things for myself.

I always have—always will.

I don’t need Your help—not really.

“Bring it on,” is my motto.

In my heart, this is how I feel

Nearly all of the time.

I’m not trying to hurt anybody,

But I don’t really trust many either—

Not even You, Lord, not even You.

Gritting my teeth obstinately,

I boast that I can handle anything.

Worst of all, in my heart, I believe it.

Then, You allow adversity to reign over me.

Fighting You every step of the way,

I refuse to learn the lessons I’m being taught.

This is the person I am.

At least, it’s the person I’ve become.

Undaunted by my willful obstinacy,

You turn up the pressure substantially,

And I wince at the discomfort.

But I still will not yield—not yet.

I still have too much fight left in me.

I cannot submit. It’s not even a consideration.

Then, You double the pressure, redoubling it once again.

Finally, when I can stand no more,

I break—just a little, and in bewildered distress,

Cry out, “Lord? What have I done?”

As if completely innocent, I ask, “Why is this happening?”

Revealing Your purpose, You allow me to know

Just how much my world needed shaking.

Finally, coming to the end of my stubbornness,

In submission, I acknowledge what I should have earlier;

Do as You please with me. Your will is my will.

Jack Watts

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Father,

As I recoil from my wounds,

I call on Your name, but You are not close;

At least, I don’t feel Your presence.

I didn’t want to fail, Father.

You know that I didn’t—but I have,

And I can’t change the outcome.

Many doors are now closed,

But my life is not yet finished,

And other opportunities will eventuate.

When they do, help me learn

All the lessons I need to know.

Question: Have you ever felt like this? Do you feel like this now? What lessons have you learned so far from your abusive experience?

The person who doesn’t buy into the abuser’s program is not only rebuked, but his or her relationship with God is also called into criticized. To question the leader is perceived as questioning God, making the person who disagrees have flawed character qualities. Routinely, those who are in opposition are depicted as “carnal”—as purposefully going against God’s will.

Question: Was this your experience? What was said about your relationship with God that isn’t true?

The sooner you stop defending your right to be offended, the sooner your healing process can begin. If you insist on maintaining that you were right and they were wrong, you will remain stuck. You can’t move forward to a peaceful life while you throwing stones at your tormenters. There’s no way to become stronger while you languish in the rut of self-pity.

 

Question: Are you still stuck? If so, admit your situation to God and yourself, asking Him to help you break the binding chains in your heart.

As anti-Christian political correctness batters the foundation of our belief system from within, and radical Islam attacks it from without, the fabric of our core values are being severely stretched, and few Christians are prepared to stand firmly in the breaches against the assault that is certain to increase.

Unless something changes to reverse this situation, this generation of poorly grounded Christians—who spew a materialistic worldview that repudiates the self-abnegation of the New Testament work ethic—will be the death of what our forefathers fought so diligently to establish.

 

Journal: React to this paragraph, either positively or negatively.

The pendulum that has swung toward evangelism and away from discipleship for decades has produced an abundance of low-lying, marginal fruit. Now, there are more Christians, but with fewer of them knowing much about what they believe, which means the pendulum needs to swing in the other direction toward discipleship.

 

Journal: React to this paragraph as well, giving at least three reasons for either agreeing or disagreeing.

Jack Watts

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