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Archive for January, 2015


Renewing Your Purpose

 

Sobriety is a journey, not a destination—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

The darkness has lifted—

Darkness permitted by You

To refine my character,

Purging each of my foolish ways

And making me more like

The man I’m supposed to be—

The man I’ve always wanted to be.

In the midst of my despair,

When at night I longed for the day,

And in the daytime desired it to be evening,

When sorrows made it difficult to breathe,

You were always there beside me,

Even when I was certain You were not.

As fear relentlessly rattled every part of me,

You continued transforming all that was needed.

Ever mindful of my frailties and weaknesses,

You purged, pruned and cleansed from within.

 

Then, one day, as I awaited my overwhelming gloom

To return, which had become my daily routine,

It was gone—vanished like it had never been there—

Leaving me stronger, more resilient, and far wiser.

My purpose returned to me, along with my smile.

I embraced life with renewed enthusiasm—

No longer chained to my heartache—

No longer imprisoned by my distress.

Now, being elevated to a new plateau,

I can thank You for making me a new person—

A greatly improved version of myself,

Amen.

 

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)

Jack Watts

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When Fear Paralyzes You

 

God will never give you more than you can handle—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

Sometimes I’m so afraid

That my skin grows cold

And I can hardly breathe.

I feel so helpless and all alone.

I’m afraid of so many things—

Of people, of places, of isolation,

Of death, and of economic insecurity.

The list seems endless, and I am powerless

To calm the fears that rob me of my serenity.

Without Your protective shielding,

I fear that imminent devastation

Will be my destiny, destroying my life.

I am so consumed with fear that

I can’t hear Your reassuring voice.

In my heart, I know that You are

My refuge and my source of strength.

My only hope is to rely on You completely.

In You, I am safe and sheltered from storms

That threaten to destroy my future.

Help me to be calm and confident,

Regardless of my circumstances—

Never shrinking away but standing firm.

Help me dwell in the safety of Your strength.

Guide me and protect me each day of my life,

Amen.

 

Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us O Lord! Thou has put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:6-8)

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Restoring Purpose to Your Life

 

If God seems far away, who moved?—AA Slogan

 

Father,

Sometimes, life can be so complicated.

Doing the right thing seems easy enough,

Until it comes time to do it,

When the dread of adverse consequences

Becomes an overwhelming nightmare.

My heart’s desire is for my life to become easier.

What makes me so special that my journey

Is constantly filled with so many difficulties?

Why can’t things go smoothly—just for a while?

Why me, Lord? Why me? Why? Why? Why?

 

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining,

But I know that I am. I’m complaining because

My shoes are too tight, while others go barefoot.

I know I should be more grateful,

But I want a respite from my travail and anguish.

I want to be far from despair and sorrow.

The “Be warmed and be filled” crowd of Christians

Smile and offer meaningless, glib platitudes,

As I try to nurse wounds that I fear will destroy me.

I want to serve You with gladness and joy,

But I have no sense of hope within me—

Nothing that can sustain for more

Than a few moments at a time.

I don’t want to be a disingenuous automaton,

Pretending everything is fine and joyous,

When I know things are dreadfully wrong.

My days, which are numbered by You,

Are passing before me, and it all seems

Like such a terrible, meaningless waste.

Intervene, Lord, and allow me to know

Joy and gladness once again.

Fill my days with peace and purpose,

So that I can tell other of Your fidelity.

Don’t leave me in this dismal situation forever,

Lest my sorrows overwhelm me,

Amen.

 

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5)

Jack Watts

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The Value of Forgiveness

 

The flip side to forgiveness is resentment—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

Now that I have opened myself up completely,

Being as honest and forthright as I know how to be,

Having also admitted my faults to another,

I want to ask You as humbly as I can

To change anything in me that You desire.

You are Almighty God; and I am not.

I am weary of trying to walk a path,

Which has not been intended by You.

As I continue to purge my soul

Of all the toxic emotions that remain,

I know I need to go one step further.

I need to absolve those who have been hurtful,

Forgiving them completely from all culpability.

I have nursed my anger and bitterness

For far too long, and I have paid

A heavy emotional price for doing so.

 

I believed I was punishing them

By my steadfast refusal to forgive,

But I have only punished myself instead.

I don’t want to live like this any longer,

Having to pay a huge price for remaining callous.

I forgive them—just as You have forgiven me.

I release them completely—just as You have released me.

Give me the strength to put away my pain

And my anger, never picking them up again.

Allow me to walk into the future free from

The debilitating emotions that have been so wasteful,

Amen.

 

 

Pursue after peace with all men, and after the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled. (Hebrews 12:14-15)

Jack Watts

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Calm, Strong, and Sane

 

Let go and let God—AA Slogan

 

Father,

In my pain and my anguish—

When my heart was broken

And darkness threatened to overwhelm me—

I felt so lost and abandoned, but I wasn’t.

Despite my anxiety and my trembling heart,

You were there, never leaving my side,

Diligently working within my heart,

Stripping me of all of my pretense,

Scourging me of all of my arrogance,

And revealing each of my self-serving ways,

Which have made my life a wasteland.

For so long, I had no concern or awareness

About anything You desired for my life.

My only desire was to find relief from my torment,

But Your determined pruning ran far deeper

Than anything I ever conceived or imagined.

I thought my anguish would never end

And I would never smile at the future.

In my distress, I revealed the desires of my heart,

Repeatedly asking You to grant my wishes,

But You never would, compounding my sorrow.

What I have gained through my loss,

I now realize may have been

The most valuable lesson of my life.

 

Out of my pain and ennui, You have raised me up,

Placing my feet on solid, immovable ground,

Strengthening me with power in the inner man,

Making me sound at the core of my being.

No longer fearful or timid, I am peaceful and confident.

Instead of filling my hours with fretful apprehension,

My state of mind has become one of strength and resolve.

None of this could have taken place

Had You not changed my heart’s desire—

Irreversibly transforming my perspective.

Without Your loving, consistent attention,

I would never have learned my lesson,

Which would have destined me

To repeat my mistakes endlessly,

Like an unreasoning animal

Rather than like Your blessed child,

Amen.

 

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Look upon my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with a violent hatred. Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in Thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee. (Psalm 25:16-21)

Jack Watts

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Insisting on My Way

Let go and let God—AA Slogan

 

Father,

I want to control the outcome

Of events that impact my life.

You know that the desire of my heart

Is for You to orchestrate circumstances

That would allow me to have my own way.

I pretend to more noble than this,

But I really am not.

When things don’t go the way I want—

The way I want them to be—

Which seems to occur far too often,

I become sulky, peevish, and petulant.

I resent that You don’t conform Your will to mine,

Even though my desires might not be the best thing.

When I behave like a child, I think like one as well,

But I don’t realize how juvenile my thinking has become.

It never occurs to me until my fretful emotions

Have run the gambit and I am spent—

Emotionally exhausted from dictating my will to You.

When I become worn out from stress—like always—

I become humble, contrite and sorrowful,

Realizing that You are God, and I am not.

Forgive me for my waywardness, and restore

A sense of humility to me.

Teach me to focus on my role,

Which is to do the next right thing,

Regardless of what that might be,

Rather than the things I cannot control—

Which are clearly in Your domain.

I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O Lord, but with justice; not with Thy anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:23-24)

Jack Watts

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I Am So Ashamed

Pain is the touchstone of progress—AA Slogan

 

Father,

As I have done so many times before,

I come before You feeling worthless,

Feeling like I can never hold my head high,

Feeling broken, scorned, and devalued.

The Scriptures say You’ve forgiven my transgressions,

Which have been so egregious,

But I can’t forgive myself for what I’ve done.

I can’t divest myself of my culpability.

My sin is ever before me,

Relentlessly wearing me down,

Telling me that I’m not a good person,

Which in my heart I know is true.

Living in a dense fog of despair,

I wander through life purposelessly,

Never free from shame—never able to be myself—

Never able to experience internal peace.

I want to enjoy life and to cast aside

My debilitating low self-esteem,

But I have no power to accomplish my goal,

Regardless of my earnest desire—

Regardless of my determined efforts.

My enemies scold me for my wrongdoing,

Wagging their fingers in mirthful condescension,

Mocking me with disingenuous smiles,

Reminding me of what I have done,

Grinding me to the ground with their contempt.

I doubt I will ever be of value again.

I loathe their reproachful, insincere counsel,

Which constantly reminds me of my failure,

Chipping away at my self-worth, day by day.

 

Help me, Father. I have no other place to turn.

Forgive me and restore me to wholeness.

Help me regain my strength and my sense of wellbeing.

Let my heart know joy and serenity once again.

Teach me to face my enemies with self-confidence,

Knowing that their condemnation no longer has merit—

Not when I have found forgiveness in You.

O God, arrogant men have risen up against me, and a band of violent men have sought my life, and they have not set Thee before them. But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Turn to me, and be gracious to me; oh grant Thy strength to Thy servant, and save the son of Thy handmaid. Show me a sign for good that those who hate me may see it, and be ashamed, because Thou, O Lord, hast helped me and comforted me. (Psalm 86:14-17)

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A Vengeful Heart

 

For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind—Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Father,

As I grit my teeth defiantly,

My anger is so consuming that

Toxic emotions rule my soul.

My fury clouds my judgment,

And the smile on my face has disappeared.

Dark clouds dominate my countenance,

Warning others to stay clear.

I entertain vivid thoughts of being vengeful,

Of making my enemies pay a terrible price

For the injustice they have inflicted on me.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t like

The person I see—the person I have become.

I spend my days feeding my anger,

Amusing myself with hostile imaginations that

Race through my mind in a never-ending cycle,

As their repetition supports my bitterness.

I’m consumed by hateful thoughts of retribution,

They dominate my wakeful hours and also my dreams.

 

I know I’m not ready to forgive—not yet.

While my hostile mindset has dominion over me,

I need Your help more than ever, Father.

Move me through this toxic period quickly.

Heal me from desiring merciless revenge.

Teach me to forgive—just as I have been forgiven.

While my anger consumes my consciousness,

Depleting me of love, joy, peace, and kindness;

Keep me from these four injurious things:

From saying harsh words that can never be retrieved;

From wasting hours, feeding my bitter fantasies of reprisal;

From self-defeating behavior that assuages my pain—

And from desiring Evil to be the lot for my wrongdoers

Amen.

Jack Watts

 

This you know, my beloved brethren. But let every one be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

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I’m Not the Person I Want to Be

 

I have found that the process of discovering who I really am begins with knowing who I really don’t want to be—Alcoholics Anonymous

 

Father,

I’m not where I want to be in life—not even close.

I’m not the person I want to be—

Not the person I’m capable of being.

Even worse, the gap between who I should be

And who I am is increasing, rather than diminishing.

If I’m being honest with myself,

Which I have tried to avoid for so long,

I constantly and repeatedly excuse

My poor behavior and even poorer attitudes.

I don’t like myself the way I am.

I’m a pathetic substitute for what I should be—

For what I know You want me to be, Father.

Nearly everyone who knows me well

Recognizes that my life is shipwrecked.

I may look acceptable to casual observers,

But to those who know me—

To those who know what I’m capable of being,

They don’t like what they see. Neither do I.

My purpose and zest for life have evaporated,

Even though I pretend to others I have resolve.

I know who I am—who I have become from drinking.

 

I want to acknowledge the truth to You, Father.

I want to discard my pretentiousness

And be real—completely vulnerable before You.

You see me as I am, so why pretend?

I have traveled the wrong road for so long

I’m not certain I can correct my path.

Admitting the truth of who I have become

Frightens me and makes me feel insecure.

I have refused to face the truth

About myself for so long that it scares me.

I know I can’t change my patterns by myself.

Without Your help, I have no chance—none whatsoever.

Will You accept me as I really am—devoid of posturing?

Will You guide me on my journey back to wholeness?

Will You take my hand, touch my heart, and forgive me?

Will You be here for me today to strengthen me?

Will You also be here every day, one at a time?

Because, without Your help, I will never make it.

Amen.

 

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with Thee, a sojourner like all my fathers. Turn Thy gaze away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more. (Psalm 39:12-13)

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When a person has been verbally or emotionally abused, feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem are inevitable. There doesn’t seem to be any way around it—at least, for a while. It’s very sad, but it appears that character destruction is often what abusers intend. It’s hard to believe that there can be people who are so mean-spirited, but there are.

To recover from such malicious treatment, the abused person needs to make a conscious, concerted effort to reject the castigating message, which has undermined his or her self-esteem. It isn’t true—even if the person has done some less than honorable things.

If this is what has happened to you, then you need to know God continues to have a plan for your life. God still loves you, and everything can work together for good, if you will allow it. To do this, you need to renew your mind and tell yourself constantly and repeatedly that you have value to God, to yourself, and to everyone you know.

This isn’t simply the power of positive thinking or looking at the glass as half full; it’s the truth. God does still love you, and He does have plans for you. Tell yourself this, repeatedly. Realizing that God’s love is constant, more than any thing, will help you become everything you are capable of being in life.

If you want to renew your mind and be the person God intended you to be, join me in this prayer:

Father,

The wounds from my abuse run deep,

Creating shame, anger, and

An Overwhelming sense of worthlessness

That enervates every area of my life.

With my mouth, I deny that

This is how I see myself,

But in the recesses of my mind,

I wonder if my abusers were correct about me.

Maybe my life has little value, after all,

Precisely like I have been told.

When it happened, I was as angry

With You as I was with them.

Being in a position of spiritual authority,

I assumed that they spoke for You,

Which they clearly indicated was true.

Feeling such pain and humiliation form my rebuke,

It never occurred to me

That Your Son was also abused—

Just like I have been—

By those who were hateful and self-serving.

You allowed Christ’s abuse—just like you allowed mine.

But what His abusers meant for evil,

You meant for good, redeeming Mankind.

Without His suffering, all would be lost.

Please redeem my life in the same way,

And use it for something of value—

Whatever that might be.

Turn my weakness into strength,

And my broken spirit into something

That is strong, substantive, and purposeful.

Amen.

http://sonomachristianhome.com/2014/12/god-still-loves-you-helping-wounded-christians-heal/

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Review & Reflection

 

Father,

Believing that whining and demanding

Will gain You favor rather than genuine humility,

We come before You with hearts

That are petulant and peevish, lacking gratitude.

I understand their perspective completely,

Having spent decades of my life

Coming before You in precisely

The same self-serving, self-centered way—

Never understanding, never acknowledging

That You know what is best for me, and I do not.

 

Question: Could this be you? Is this what your prayer life is like? If so, admit it to God, and ask Him to change your heart.

 

 

If you want to be a whole person—valuable to yourself and to others—you must renew your mind and reject what your abuser has said about you. Don’t internalize it but, if you already have, make a commitment to renew your mind immediately. The way to do this is simple: accept that God loves you and desires your recovery.

 

Question: Have you internalized what your abusers have said about you? If so, know that it will take time and consistency to renew your mind to think differently.

 

 

For your recovery to work the way it should, you must accept the responsibility for your actions and not take the easy way out by blaming Satan for them. It simply doesn’t work, and in most cases, it isn’t true. When a problem manifests itself, you must always look for your part in it, and the sooner the better. If you’re being honest, you’ll usually find it. If you’ve been foolish, admit it. Don’t deflect; don’t rationalize; and don’t project your problems onto another.

 

Question: How often have you done this? Is rationalization a part of your life? If so, admit it, and ask God to reveal how extensive the problem really is.

 

 

Most muddle through life existing in a languid state of mediocrity. Some try positive thinking, meditation, or a myriad of other ways to improve themselves, occasionally going to great expenditures of time and resources to do so. Occasionally, it is helpful, but little of it gets to the core of what really changes a person—at least not fundamental character change. To achieve that, you have to go before the Lord and allow Him to reveal you to yourself. If you don’t go willingly, He will do it for you—guaranteed.

Journal: Write a paragraph or two about who you really are on the inside. Be thorough and completely candid.

 

In an attempt to be palatable to everyone—to get them “saved,” Christians have watered-down Christ’s teachings to be the preferred way among equals—not the only way. In America, God’s blessings are equated to materialism and not the rich character qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. In order to be attractive to the unsaved, marginal church leaders—those more intent on creating large churches than strong churches, have diluted Christ’s words.

 

Question: Have you watered down what you know to be true? If so, admit it to God, and ask Him to give you the strength of character to be true to your beliefs.

 

 

 

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Refining Your Character

 

 

Refer to Step 9: I humbly ask God to change anything He wishes, and I ask Him to heal my pain. Because God forgives us as we forgive others, I forgive my abusers.

 

A spiritually optimistic point of view holds that the universe is woven out of a fabric of love. Everything that is happening is ultimately for the good, if we’re willing to face it head-on and use our adversities for soul growth.

—Joan Borysenko

 

If you ask someone if they want to be a better person, the answer will always be yes. Nearly everybody wants to be a new and improved version of himself or herself. The problem is people generally lack the tools to get from point A to point B. Consequently, most muddle through life in a languid state of mediocrity.

Some try positive thinking, meditation, or a myriad of other ways to improve themselves, occasionally going to great expenditures of time and resources to do so. Some of it is helpful, but little of it gets to the core of what really changes a person—at least not fundamental character change.

To achieve that, you have to go before the Lord and allow Him to reveal you to yourself. If you don’t go willingly, He will do it for you. Trust me about that; I know from experience.

When that happens, you become undone. It’s like you are standing naked, with the essence of your being exposed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. He understands your thoughts and can discern the intentions of your heart, taking your vulnerability far past your comfort zone, revealing the huge gap between Himself and the wretch you recognize yourself to be.

In the aftermath of such an experience, at first it’s difficult to regain your equilibrium. Seeing yourself as you really are—instead of who you project yourself to be—is unnerving, humbling, and ultimately transformational. You start to ask yourself questions, and often you don’t like the answers. Having had such an experience, I asked myself the following:

  • What do I need to do to become the person I was created to be?
  • How can I put the needs of others before my own—and not just say that I do?
  • What areas of my thinking need to change?
  • What beliefs do I have that hold me back?
  • What grandiose expectations hinder my personal growth?
  • What attitudes do I hold that are self-serving?
  • What specific behavior needs to change to get me from point A to point B?

As I moved forward, with my mind and heart renewed, I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to become a better person.

 

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

Jack Watts

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Taking Ownership of Your Problems

 

 

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

 

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: there is no one to blame.

—Erica Jong

 

In the many years I have been a Christian—some walking with the Lord and some not—I’ve noticed that a large number of believers have an incorrect perspective on life. They attribute their difficulties, especially their interpersonal conflicts, to the Devil. They will say something like, “Satan really has a hold on that person’s life,” or “The Enemy has really been coming against me in this situation.”

Because the Scriptures teach that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of wickedness, conflicts assume a cosmic significance, which often isn’t there. Occasionally, there may be some truth to it, but my experience tells me that most of the problems come from the people themselves and not from forces of darkness. It’s easy to blame the Devil for everything. It absolves the person of taking responsibility for his or her own actions.

For your recovery to work the way it should, you must accept the responsibility for your actions and not take the easy way out of blaming Satan for them. It simply doesn’t work, and in most cases, it isn’t true. When a problem manifests itself, you must always look for your part in it, and the sooner the better. If you’re being honest, you’ll usually find it.

If you’ve been foolish, admit it. Don’t deflect; don’t rationalize; and don’t project your problems onto another. Repudiate the darkness immediately and come to the light. Finally, do whatever is necessary to make amends to the one you’ve offended.

It’s natural to want to avoid the responsibility for your actions, but as a child of God, your behavior must be different. If you’re to become as useful as you desire, looking to the Lord first has to become your engrained response. When difficulties come, as they always do, your reaction is what determines your growth and how valuable your recovery will be.

 

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (I John 1:8-10)

Jack Watts

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

 

A life of kindness is the primary meaning of divine worship.

—Emanuel Swedenborg

 

I’ve learned that what attracts a person to Christ is kindness, mercy, love, and acceptance—not judgmentalism or self-righteousness. Isn’t kindness, acceptance, and forgiveness what drew you to Him in the beginning, along with His love and His mercy?

If He was merciful to you, shouldn’t you follow suit and be merciful to others? In a world full of cruel, condemning people, shouldn’t those who know the Lord practice love and acceptance rather than being so judgmental?

When someone told me God loved me in spite of all my problems and failures, my heart melted, and so did my resistance.

My experience was real when I first believed, but it still required decades for my fruitfulness to develop and become mature. As I was progressing, there were those who thought I should have matured sooner. Because I didn’t, they routinely heaped criticism on me. For a while, it seemed like I would never be free of their misanthropy. Sadly, Christian churches are filled with people who are more than willing to act as your Holy Spirit, condemning nearly everything you do. In Christendom, legalism abounds.

That’s where patience and unconditional love for one another comes in. The Lord has been very patient with me—unlike many Christians. He’s long-suffering with most of His children. That’s because He wants each of us to be everything we are capable of being and, for some, it requires longer than others—occasionally, much longer.

Take a look at Psalm 1. The tree planted by running water yielded its fruit “in its season” and not before. No matter how much an apple is scolded for not ripening sooner, it requires a precise amount of time to be everything it’s meant to be—time measured by God’s clock and not by ours. That’s why we have to be patient and merciful with our Christian friends. Their fruit may not be ready yet, and there’s no way to make it ready until it is. Green fruit is sour and difficult to digest. Ripened fruit, however, is sweet, nutritious, and satisfying.

Jack Watts

 

We are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (II Corinthians 2:15-16a)

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Rattled but Not Crushed

 

 

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.

 

It will not do, my friend, to grant an easy indulgence to natural appetite and desire, for they ever seek to be our masters.

—T.S. Arthur

 

When things go wrong in your life and you’re convinced God has abandoned you, it will shake your faith, regardless of how strong it might be. At the same time, the disquietude that comes from this doesn’t have to be destructive. In fact, it can be very constructive, depending on what you do with it.

When I was a young man, I prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for always being there for me and for not allowing anything difficult to happen in my life. I have You to thank for that, and I do thank You.”

I was thirty-three when I said this prayer, and I meant every word of it. It was true. From nearly that moment forward, however, things began to change. Nothing seemed to go right—except for one thing. My relationship with Christ grew through my adversities—not in spite of them. It wasn’t a steady line, and I routinely fought Him by indulging in anger and self-pity, neither of which helped me mature or resolve anything. As one difficulty after another threatened to overwhelm me, my faith and commitment to Christ increased rather than diminished—not because that was what I had planned or wanted, but because I had no alternative.

He was all I had. After years of wandering in a fruitless desert, I finally understood the line from my favorite Christian song, which says, “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise.” When I was young, that’s all I wanted—riches and praise. Now, such desires seem shallow and vapid. When I was young, I wanted what the Lord could do for me more than for who He was. My thoughts and desires were completely self-serving, and sometimes still are.

For the most part, that has changed, however, and all it required was three decades of pruning. My adversity may have rattled me, but it has also made me stronger—much stronger. I may not be rich, but I definitely have greater value than ever before.

 

 

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5)

Jack Watts

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