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Archive for July, 2013


 

Refer to Step 4: I chose to accept as true what God has said about Himself. He is good and can be trusted.

Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He is trying to change your heart.

—Larry Rust

In spite of what anyone might tell you, God is not a blessing machine, ready to dispense material favors for all who ask, without qualification or hesitation. When you review the “Fruits of the Spirit,” material acquisition is not mentioned. What is mentioned are estimable character qualities like love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Each of these character qualities is highly valued by God, and if you want to be a person after “God’s own heart,” you will seek them above all else.

Too often, most of us complain to God because we want material blessings without the slightest consideration of whether or not receiving them is actually good for us or not. What we want is for God to spare us from the natural consequences of our actions. We’ve come to learn that government bailouts are counter-productive, but we never seem to understand that asking God to bail us out may also be counter-productive. We are like children who demand candy from a reluctant parent, never considering what harm it might do.

Because we don’t recognize or understand the bigger picture, we demand that God make our will be His will. Then, we become critical of His treatment toward us when He doesn’t comply. Consequently, to us it seems like our prayers have gone unanswered. When we don’t get what we want, it’s usually because God is working on other, more important, things.

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2b-3)

Jack Watts   Resources

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  • Gail Sanders Walrath: I encourage every person to read this book. It is so well written, packed full of thought-provoking, well-researched, theology and philosophy. It’s a perfect book for Bible study groups. More importantly, it is a perfect book for personal reflection and growth. If our country continues to be hit by the issues we are experiencing today, this book has answers for facing the worst possible destruction together. It may be one of the most important reads of your life. There’s rarely a day that I do not think about certain passages in THE SEARCH FOR REALITY or that I don’t dwell on its soul-saving message! Big THUMBS UP!
    Reality Cover Front Only
    Most books over promise and under deliver, but not The Search for Reality. If you are having trouble coping with your life or what is happening around you, this book is for you. By the way, this endorsement was unsolicited. You may read the first chapter here.

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Refer to Step 1: I acknowledge that my life is shipwrecked and not where I want it to be.

When I live in the past, I live in regret. When I live in the future, I live in fear. When I stay in the present, everything is okay.

—Anonymous

After the pain of our abuse begins to subside, after we realize our life is going to take a very different direction than we desired or expected, we start asking ourselves what lessons we need to learn from our painful experience. Although this may sound like a healthy place to start, it’s not. There’s one step before this, which needs to be addressed:

What do I need to unlearn from my experience?

If you make the decision to begin with this question, your recovery will be deeper and more thorough. Before we become fit and useful to ourselves and to others, we need to unlearn the errors we have internalized as true, while we were enmeshed in our deception. Until we do this, we will flounder, making less progress than we should.

It does no good to simply criticize our abusers, essentially throwing verbal stones at them. It may feel good at the moment, but it doesn’t help the healing process. We need to do more.

We must recognize our deception and make a conscious decision to never be entrapped by the same falsehood again. By doing this, we will be unlearning whatever imprisoned us in the first place. Once accomplished, we will finally get back to square one. Upon reaching this spot, we will be ready to allow God’s Truth to cleanse us and renew our spirits. But make no mistake about it—we have to unlearn our errors before our recovery will have lasting value. If we don’t, we remain vulnerable to the next abuser who comes along.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Being Changed from the Inside Out

Father,

When I come before You,

I obediently pay lip service to

How awesome You really are.

When I repeat these words, I mean it—sort of.

I know it’s true, but I’ll have to admit that

Who You are is not what really interests me.

I’m too consumed by what is happening with me.

I acknowledge Your sovereignty because

I want “things” from You. I want Your blessing

And for You to focus Your thoughts on me.

In my self-centeredness, I want You to honor me—

To make my life easier and to make my will Your own.

My prayers seem to focus on what You can do for me,

And little else. It’s because I’m interested

In Your blessing—not in getting to know You better.

I wish I was a better person than this,

Having more character, but I’m not.

I know Your desire is for me to be honest,

Not only with You but also with myself.

So, there it is. I’m selfishly immature, and self-seeking.

All I want is for You to make my smoother.

Admitting my childishness is painfully embarrassing,

But I must be straightforward and truthful with You.

Father, only Your Holy Spirit can change my heart,

Allowing me to desire altruism rather than self-fulfillment.

Place in my heart the desire to seek Your wisdom,

Rather than just Your benevolent hand.

Help me see beyond my limited world

To what You are doing with others.

Give me a heart to care for someone other than myself.

I know my selfishness; it’s ever before me.

I also know that You are busy in my life,

Changing me from the inside out,

Helping me to become a better version of myself

Than I have ever been before.

Jack Watts   Resources

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Father,

I know You want me to trust You completely,

And I do—at least, much of the time.

Because of my past wounding,

And feelings of worthlessness,

I still struggle to believe that You love me—

That You accept me just as I am,

Regardless of my circumstances.

Question: How do you feel about yourself? Do you feel worthless or, at least, close to it? If so, be honest and admit it.

So, the next time you see someone going through a horrific situation, especially an abusive one, pay careful attention. The Lord is probably at work in that person’s life—big time.

 

Question: Take a minute and think back. Can you remember someone being in a situation like this? If you can, what changes did you see in their lives a year or more later?

 

Although I was unable to change the outcome in either situation, I was changed when I made a stand, saying, “This is wrong, and I won’t be part of it.” In your situation, is this something you should also consider doing?

Question: When you recognized the abuse, what was your reaction? More importantly, what did you do about it?

The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself, admitting that you are angry with God. Nothing good can happen until you do so. Then, realize that you have to do everything in your power to get back on the right track. Nobody is going to do it for you. You have to do it yourself. One of the best ways to do this is by being honest about how you feel by journaling about it.

Journal: Be specific about what you have done to get back on track. If you haven’t done much, what would you like to do in the future?

Tragically, because people have been wounded so deeply, many come to believe that the best years of their lives are behind them—with little to look forward to. This way of thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, adversely impacting a person’s entire lifetime. Expecting little, their goals are met every time.

Journal: What are your goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years? In writing your answer, it’s okay to dream a little.

Jack Watts   Resources

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Set Your Goals High

 

Refer to Step 11: I make 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.

 

We find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve.

—Maxwell Maltz

Whenever I ask someone to tell me what their goal is for recovering from religious abuse, I’m always amazed by how little they hope for. Some will say, “I just wish it had never happened. All I want is to get through this situation the best way that I can.” Others will say, “If I could just get back to where I was before all this happened, I’d be satisfied. That’s all I want—nothing more.”

Nothing more! Whenever I hear something like this, it’s hard for me to believe that so many people have such low expectations.

Nevertheless, I suppose that’s one way to look at it, and if it’s the best a person can do, that’s okay. Tragically, because people have been wounded so deeply, many come to believe that the best years of their lives are behind them—with little to look forward to. This way of thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, adversely impacting a person’s future. Expecting little, their goals are realized every time.

Although many think this way, it doesn’t have to be like this. Life can be much, much better than simply muddling through. The goals you have may have to alter somewhat, but achieving fulfillment should still be your ambition.

I am firmly convinced that each of us can do better than just aimlessly wandering through life, making it by the skin of our teeth. In your recovery, learn to set your objectives high. You can be everything you ever envisioned yourself to be. Your potential hasn’t diminished. In fact, because of the value of your experience in helping other wounded people, your life can be more fruitful than you ever imagined.

I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Injured Relationships Just Go With The Territory

Refer to Step 7: I will make a detailed, written account of my abusive experiences, as well as my subsequent behavior. I commit to being as thorough and honest as I’m able.

 

We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God. If it does get injured, we must take time to put it right.

—Oswald Chambers

I don’t think it’s possible to GO through an episode of religious abuse without injuring your relationship with God. It just goes with the territory, regardless of which role you play in the situation.

If you have been falsely accused, the pain and hurt from the confrontation causes damage, and you suffer from it. If you have a measure of guilt and have been accurately confronted, pride inevitably rears its ugly head, which always injures a person’s relationship with God. That’s why it’s number one on the list of the “Seven Deadly Sins.”

Although each position in the conflict has its own unique set of problems, each is injurious to the person’s relationship with God. The tendency is to sweep the problem under the rug and proceed with life, as if nothing has happened. Following this strategy is a mistake, but it’s one many people make, paying a heavy price for doing so.

The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself, admitting that you are angry with God. Nothing good can happen until you do so. Then, realize that you have to do everything in your power to get back on the right track. Nobody is going to do it for you. You have to do it yourself.

One of the best ways to do this is by being honest about how you feel by journaling about it. By writing it all down, you will be more likely to avoid denying that the problem exists. Once you’ve written it, you can leave it for a few days or even a few weeks. When you return to it, you might be surprised by what you have written. Most people are. It’s a great “snapshot” of your true emotions, and it can help you be increasingly honest in the future.

Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; Teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Thy compassion and Thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Thy lovingkindness remember Thou me, for Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Psalm 25:4-7)

Jack Watts   Resources

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