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Archive for the ‘addictions’ Category

why is it so hard to be honest with our sins, struggles, addictions, missteps, and transgressions? well, for many reasons, but surely at the top of the list is our culture. we live in a culture that refuses to admit weakness, brokenness, or short comings of any kind. jon becker had a great quote sunday morning when he said, “if dependance on God is the goal then weakness is an asset.” 

i was struck by something else i heard on sunday, and that is that this is the first year the united states has included itself among nations who are fighting human trafficking. it has always been “other countries” that have a problem, not us. forget the fact that over 36,000 people are trafficked across our boarders a year to be domestic slaves, sex slaves, and to be used as forced labor in our fields. 

as the quote below demonstrates, it is encouraging that we have finally acknowledged our issue because now we can begin to take real steps to tackle the root of the issue. Here is a blurb from the beginning of the story from NPR:

The State Department’s annual report on human trafficking covers countries around the globe. This year, the U.S. decided to rate itself, too. Activists say by admitting it faces this issue, the U.S. has a powerful diplomatic tool to encourage others to help tackle modern slavery.

this is great news as i pray the Lord is pleased to use our government to end such atrocities as human trafficking, both in the united states and around the world. hopefully we will see some tangible results. time will tell. for now, check the story out HERE

and take time to examine your heart and life. are there areas you could be honest with yourself in? areas you could benefit from admitting weakness? the global community will benefit from our honest assessment. is there a way your community could benefit from your honest assessment of yourself? the first step to solving your problem is admitting you have one.

in the gospel of Jesus we have nothing to hide, nothing to lose, and nothing to prove. let us live like it.

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throughout my short span on earth i have been overwhelmed by many things- a dysfunctional family, consequences of personal sin, God’s amazing forgiveness, the joy of marriage, a growing family, the suffering of this world, vocational transitions, among others. new to this repertoire is realizing my personal limitations in a new and fresh way.

i am experiencing anew an amazing grace, the fact that i cannot control everything, cannot be everywhere i would like to be, as deep in every relationship as i want to be, and as affective in my ministry (both vocationally and familially) as i would like. in short, i am overwhelmed by the grace God gives me in being limited. 

limitation is God’s design from the beginning, right? i mean, we are created to rest daily, neutralizing from the outset those thoughts of, “man, i wish i had ten more hours in my day.” guess what, you do not, and that is by design and is a grace. i can tell i am struggling with this design when i am having trouble sleeping due to anxiety. along with our daily rhythms God has built in weekly rhythms of rest, what Scripture calls “sabbath.” a day to set aside for worship, reflection, re-creation, and restoration. this is Divine design, the fact that we are created to stop. rest. trust. sleep. not be in control…

with this there is the reality that there is only one of me. i cannot be everywhere at once, i am only here in the “place” where God has put me. i am, in every way describable, limited in my presence. i can only be where God has put me. before this past month these realities really chaffed me. i hated not being in control and having to operate within my limitations. in short, i hated not being God. that is the root of it when i am honest, right? wanting to be God, that is.

as i have wrestled in prayer with the Lord over my anxiety, poor perspective, and desires for “productivity” i have experienced his grace in being content in my creatureliness. that is to say, i am not God, the Creator, but his creature- and that is OK. in fact, it is great. with Paul i have heard, “my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” and that is what i want, the Lord’s power to be made perfect through me. 

the implications of this are multi-fold but for now i will say i am learning to bask in the grace of being limited, to boast in this weakness, and to trust. in the process i am putting in check the unhealthy priority i put on your opinion of me and the idols of status and productivity. and that is freeing. 

God’s mission is much bigger than what i can do, and if i limit what i want him to do to what i can be a part of and where i can be then that would be tragic. what a wretch i am, wanting to put God in my box! but what a great God we have. our God is the One who called gideon and his army of 300 into battle with lanterns, jars, and torches.  lanterns, jars, and torches, somewhat of a set of limitations when fighting a nations army. the result? a victory for the Lord, where the Lord got all the glory! is gideon remembered as a great general, a great strategist or organizer of men? nope. gideon is remembered (among other things) as a guy who reluctantly operated within the limitations the Lord gave him by trusting the calling, leading, and provision of God when the scenario did not make much sense. 

i am grateful for the grace of experiencing my limitations and am finding myself more and more willing to grab a lantern, a torch, and a jar to have a front row seat to watch the Lord grab glory for Himself. bring it on!

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It is tournament time! Take a gander through this year’s bracket and then take some time to fill it out (even non-sports fans have fun with this). Coming soon, Matt & Mitchell’s final four picks. A hint- Matt will NOT pick Kentucky to win it all! (IF you want a printable bracket go here: http://a.espncdn.com/i/ncaa/10mens_bracket.pdf)

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This week Lisa shared her story in Emmaus. Part of Lisa’s story was her struggle with an eating disorder. Lisa spent time talking about her addictions, their casualties, and how the Lord met her in the midst of them and brought her freedom. The picture from Scripture she used was from John 11 where Jesus raises Lazarus from the grave, calling him from death to life, darkness to light, and sickness to health. This has not been a fun or easy part of Lisa’s story but it is a part the Lord has brought redemption to and is using for his purposes (2 Cor 12:8-10). Throughout Lisa’s journey it has been a challenge to be honest with herself and others, let people in to walk with her in her brokenness,  and allowing herself to experience the Lord’s redemption and forgiveness through the midst of it all. But by the grace of God Jesus has brought healing, wholeness, hope, & restoration. Thanks be to God! 

The reality is that far more of us than would like to admit struggle with an addiction. We begin medicating to get through the brokenness of our pasts, stress of our present, unhealthiness of our families, and perceived failures. We develop unhealthy patterns of relating to substances and before we know it we look up and are in bondage. Addictions are real and they are damaging. Addictions manipulate you for their purposes and rob you of the dignity the Lord intends for his creatures. Addicts begin to have their lives revolve around their addiction (whether with food, sex, substances, affection, acceptance, work, entertainment, or other) and before they know it the pattern they develop has a hold on them that is extremely difficult to break. 

But there is HOPE in the gospel. Part of the work of Christ is to “Set Captives Free” (Lk 4:17-20) and if you have ever been brought freedom from an addiction you know there is a literal application of this in our lives! The difficult part for us is to admit we need help. If you or someone you love struggles with an addiction I want to encourage you to get help. Make an appointment at CPC, talk with Mitchell, Lisa or someone else you know who the Lord has brought through an addiction, let people who love you into your life, share your struggle with friends you trust, and allow the community of the people of God to pray for you. When we put our struggles in the light, sharing them with those who love us and want to fight for redemption with us, our addictions lose their power (1 Jn 1:7). Our lives are not designed to revolve around anything but God and when we put something in the center of our world that is not God then everything gets out of whack. Let us fight together for and with one another to restore the dignity of those in bondage, free the captives in our community, apply the forgiveness and healing of Risen Jesus, and be the vehicles for one another to hear the voice of Jesus calling to us in our graves- “Come out!” There is freedom in Christ as “it is for freedom Christ has set us free!” (Gal 5:1)

How can we be more honest with ourselves concerning what might have too strong of a hold on our hearts and habits? How can we be more affective as a community in fighting for restoration in one another’s lives? Thoughts? (click the comment line and fire away!)

Suggested reading on addiction- http://www.amazon.com/Addictions-Banquet-Finding-Resources-Changing/dp/0875526063

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