Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2013


God’s Will and Your Next Move

 

 

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

 

 

You’re afraid of making mistakes. Don’t be. Mistakes can be profited by.

—Ray Bradbury

In America, we have the notion that “flawless people” are the ones who should be in charge, which means that our elected officials and religious leaders are those who have no negative “check marks” next to their names. Somehow, being without blemish—at least outwardly—is a sign of being worthy to lead. Those who have experienced difficulties have a negative check mark against them, which makes them less desirable, whether as a political candidate or as a religious leader.

In God’s Kingdom, where all have sinned and fallen short of perfection, the exact opposite is true. It’s the people who have sinned much that have the capacity to love the most. They understand the value of being forgiven, of being restored, and of being used by God.

Once a person has been broken of his or her self-will and self-serving ways, that person has a far greater capacity to seek God’s will. Brokenness produces character qualities that God esteems in men and women, particularly as we face the daunting task of rescuing Christendom from narcissistic religious abusers. This is also true for anti-Christian political leaders who promote traditions diametrically opposed to the ways of our Founding Fathers. We need God’s help more than ever as we attempt to wrestle control of our nation from those whose self-will and worldview is consistently at cross-purposes with God’s will.

Now that you have gone through the difficulties associated with religious abuse, can you begin to see your value? Can you understand why it was important for the abuse to occur? Do you understand why you are far more important to God than you were before your difficult experiences?

Now that you’ve experienced substantial recovery, you are in a unique position to help the myriads of others who have had debilitating experiences equal to yours. Recognizing that, does the necessity of having gone “through the wringer” make sense to you now? If so, you are in a position to thank God for everything that has happened, and you can say, “Father, what do you want me to do next?”

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear, and will trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

Jack Watts

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


You Are Where You’re Supposed To Be

 

Refer to Step 8: I share my experience with a trusted friend and confess to God the exact state of my heart.

 

Persons with any weight of character carry, like planets, their atmospheres along with them in their orbits.

—Thomas Hardy

I had an interesting and instructive experience recently at my small group Bible study. A young couple in the group had spent the preceding year in Boston where the wife worked on her master’s degree at Harvard. Before they went, as a group we prayed about whether or not it was God’s will for them to go.

As our group sat and enjoyed a meal, during the couple’s spring break visit, she said that it was not God’s will for her to go through this program because it had been so difficult for them in nearly every area of their lives. She believed this was especially true because they were without the nurture of those who knew and loved them so well.

Several minutes after she spoke, I said, “I think you’re mistaken. I believe it was God’s will for you to go.” Looking at her and then her husband, I continued, “You’re stronger—both of you. I can see it and so can everyone else. Your heart for the Lord has been strengthened by this experience, as well as your heart for one another. That’s what God wants, and He will allow you to go through as much sorrow and pain as necessary to produce it. It creates character, which is highly valued by Him and beneficial to others.”

As I reflected about the incident, I remembered two years earlier when I went to their wedding. She radiated as a young bride and was very beautiful. Two years later—to the day—she also radiated, as tears streamed down her cheeks. But this time the beauty was stronger and more pronounced because it originated from inside. The strain of the experience had produced a likeness to Christ that was undeniable.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17-18)

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »


Discipline Is God’s Way of Coaching

 

Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted.

 

Lord, help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like you.

—Mother Teresa

For prospects, training camp in the National Football League can be very stressful. Coaches “get after” each player repeatedly, frequently chewing them out, being no more than two inches from their face when they do it. It can be quite intimidating, but most players are grateful—that’s right, grateful. That’s because when the yelling stops, the player knows the decision has been made to cut him from the squad. Players realize that as long as they are being yelled at, they are still on the team. When it stops, they will not be part of the team much longer.

In a way, it’s the same with you and me in our relationship with the Lord. As long as He is “making things warm” for us, as Mark Twain used to say, you can be certain He has something important for you to do. It’s His way of coaching, and it’s quite effective. His voice isn’t as harsh or as rough as a coach’s, but His disciplinary hand is much firmer.

If everything is going well and there is no stress or conflict in your life, there’s no way for you to grow. Stress produces an opportunity for maturation. Without it, you would become stagnant and cease growing.

You’ve heard the expression, “No pain . . . no gain.” It’s not in the Scriptures, but it’s certainly what most of us experience in life, isn’t it? If you can keep this in mind, it will make it easier to accept unique and difficult situations, which is the tough stuff of life.

Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal. (Job 5:17-18)

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »


 

Father,

When I came to You in my distress,

All I wanted was for You to “make everything better,”

To nurse my bruises like my mom used to do

When I was a little boy and hurt myself—

To tell me I would be okay and my pain

Would vanish and soon be forgotten.

But that’s not what You did nor what You wanted.

Instead, You made it crystal clear that

I could not nurse my wounds in solitude,

Nor enjoy the bitter fruit of self-pity.

Instead, You insisted I “suck it up” and be a man,

You stretched me far beyond my comfort zone,

Insisting that I be more open and vulnerable

Than I had ever been in my entire life.

You guided me, leading me to do

The next right thing, regardless of the consequences,

Regardless of what the outcome would be.

Despite my fears and my desire to run away and hide,

Which I masked with a disingenuous smile,

I obeyed, doing what You made clear for me to do.

I know following Your will is never a mistake,

Even when being obedient makes me look weak.

You know what You have planned, and I do not.

I can’t see the future or understand it—none of it.

But I know that by following my conscience,

Even when it would be easier to simply walk away,

Something of value is being created within me,

Which never existed before—but now does.

It makes me stronger and wiser than I have ever been.

For this I am grateful, knowing my growth comes from You.

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »


Father,

Lord, my days are in Your hands, and You alone know

When the time for my deliverance will come.

Until that time, I know what I must do.

I must relentlessly press forward

And never, never, never, never give up.

Question: Is this how you think? How quickly do you give up on your dreams, calling them unrealistic and unattainable? Is this an area of your life that needs improvement?

Adversity is a way of life in recovery—a constant that needs to be recognized and accepted. An easier, softer way just isn’t in the cards. The trick is to look at life from a growth perspective and not as an end result. You may never win the game, but you can always be a winner in the process—if you keep at it, taking life one day at a time.

Question: When apprehension becomes overwhelming, say to yourself: “I’ll do the next right thing—one day at a time.” Will you make the effort to do that?

When you first believed, God gave you a spirit of love, power, and of a disciplined, sound mind. It resides just below the surface of your troubled heart, waiting for you to do the work necessary to appropriate the inner power that rightfully belongs to you—just as it does for all of God’s children.

Question: Do you rely believe that God has given you a sound mind? Is this a real, tangible promise or just a noble idea?

 

If I can be there for you, reaching out to you with words of encouragement and exhortation, it makes my abuse worthwhile. There’s so much pain and suffering—so much dysfunction—in the lives of nearly everybody I meet that experiences such as mine can and should be very uplifting.

Journal: React to the paragraph above. Write about how you feel about it and about how it might apply to you.

We’re in trouble because Christianity has more weak, Scripturally ignorant, morally corrupt, worldly-minded materialists than those who will stand by their convictions, regardless of the price they have to pay for doing so. To make matters worse, those who appear to be strong are often so self-righteous and judgmental that they turn off more people than they influence.

Journal: Write about this paragraph as well, making sure to either agree or disagree with it, naming your reasons.

Resources

Read Full Post »


Why Christians Have so Little Influence

 

 

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.

 

 

I slept, and dreamed that life was Beauty;

I woke, and found that life was Duty.

—Ellen Sturgis Hooper

Every Sunday morning, you can go to thousands of churches across America and listen to a diatribe about what’s wrong with our nation. During some times of the year, it would be difficult to find a church where “Jeremiads” are not being preached. Nearly all of these messages place blame upon liberals, progressives, political correctness, and increasing godlessness in America. It’s rare for a church to cast the blame where it belongs—upon Christians like us, but I believe that’s where it resides.

We’re in trouble because Christianity has more weak, Scripturally ignorant, morally corrupt, worldly-minded materialists than those who will stand by their convictions, regardless of the price they have to pay for doing so. To make matters worse, those who appear to be strong are often so self-righteous and judgmental that they turn off more people than they influence.

For society to transform, something has to change, and we are the ones who need to change—not hedonists and liberals. They never change. We’re the independent variable, not them.

We bemoan how far America has strayed from our noble origins. That may be true, but it’s the strength of Christians that has changed—not the influence of non-believers. If righteousness is to return to America, Christians must be the ones leading the way, but we have to do it from the inside out. Self-righteous condemnation of others will not get the job done. Neither will increasing church membership with people who haven’t a clue about who Christ really is and what He expects of His disciples. We already have enough of them.

The fruits of our lives— individually and collectively—must exemplify love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, and other positive character qualities of Christ’s followers throughout the centuries. If we do this, a plethora of leaders with renewed minds will arise out of our midst. If not, we’ll continue to spit in the wind at the liberals with predictable results.

He has told you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »


Recognizing the Value of Your Recovery

 

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.

 

 

God taught us to laugh again, but God, “Please don’t let us forget that we once cried.”

—Recovery Slogan

For your recovery to have value, you must to be willing to share your experience with others. Helping other abused people look at life honestly—without medicating their pain or revising reality—is what made my experience worthwhile. I’m firmly convinced it’s why God has allowed my painful experiences in the first place. In my head, I keep hearing the Lord’s voice—as gentle as a zephyr, saying:

It is for such a time as this that I have brought you to this place. If you look to Me and not to your circumstances, you can help many—perhaps millions. Be strong; be fearless; be transparent. This is your destiny. Accept it with dignity, helping all who ask, regardless of their situation.

So, that’s what I have tried to do. If I can be there for you, reaching out to you with words of encouragement and exhortation, it makes my abuse worthwhile. There’s so much pain and suffering—so much dysfunction—in the lives of nearly everybody I meet that experiences such as mine can and should be very uplifting.

If you are willing to work for your recovery, there is a life of abundance waiting for you, regardless of your situation. I know this is true; I’m not guessing. In America, millions live in fear of the truth, carefully concealing what’s really going on in their lives, believing exposure will make them look weak. But that’s an illusion. Freedom—true freedom—comes from being honest with yourself and with others. It releases you to be the person God intends you to be—a person who lives life to its fullest—as it’s meant to be lived. There’s power in this freedom as well.

It’s also why writing about your experience is critical. Putting it all down on paper will help you see your situation more clearly. If you want to become a complete person, transparency and vulnerability are required; they are not optional. There is no other way. You have to let the truth cleanse the wounds left to fester in the dark places of bitterness and resentment.

Be courageous and strong, understanding that being this vulnerable is not a weakness; it’s a profound strength. Only a strong person can stand the scrutiny transparency brings. Weak people have to mask reality because they don’t own enough of themselves to withstand the external examination of others.

 

Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; do not destroy his resting place; for a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity. (Proverbs 24:15-16)

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »