May 26, 2017

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – Maintaining Momentum (pp 204 – 239)

Choice 7:

Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to KNOW God and His will for my life, and to gain the power to follow His will.

John Baker introduces this next choice simply writing, “In the last six chapters, you’ve been learning about coming out of the dark and exposing your problems to the light of God’s love. At whatever level you’ve been able to accomplish this, God has been healing the hurts, hang-ups, and habits that have messed up your life. Many of you are already experiencing some of the amazing changes in your life” (page 206).

Through the comments on our Facebook page, the changes are happening in the lives of those who are sharing this journey. For some, the changes have been small; but for others it’s been mind-blowing. It’s not about comparing where you are with another person but on a personal focus on your growth. This will be an on-going process, not something we attain and stop doing. If you are not alert and intentional with your Christian walk, you can (and will) relapse into the old habits and thought patterns that brought you to this study in the first place. Obviously this is not our goal; but rather we hope to give helpful information to encourage you to maintain the momentum towards God and His will for your life. Baker tells us to “Celebrate any victory, no matter how small, and do it on a daily basis” (pg 214).

This week we’ll discuss the causes of relapse, and how to prevent relapse by introducing NEW habits into your life. Unlike those we’ve been shedding over the past 6 weeks, these habits are good for us and will only serve to strengthen and refine us even more as we draw closer to Him. By the week’s end, we’ll introduce “praying the Scriptures” to bring encouragement to your prayer life.

Seeing the choice for this week, I will be the first to admit that I know I should have a daily quiet time with God. He desires to spend time with me, to hear my voice speak to Him as if in conversation with an old friend, and He wants to bless me with His wisdom and love. As a parent, I know how much I love to have time with my children, so I can only imagine how much He wants to spend time with me! But I’m running ragged with a full time job, volunteer responsibilities, church activities, and of course, family obligations (aren’t we all?).

Every time I hear a message on having this quiet time, I immediately offer up the excuses—“I’m too tired after work…I can’t get up early because my body requires sleep…I’m reading devotional emails so that’s something…I listen to praise and worship music at my desk so I’m constantly ‘focusing’ on Him…I’m reading this book or that book that talks about God and gives Scriptures…I take notes at church.”  There’s nothing inherently wrong with what I’ve said, but it still doesn’t address His desire to spend time with me—quality one-on-one time.

Yes, I’m tired after work; but He has promised to give me strength (Philippians 4:13).  Yes, getting up early is a challenge; but there’s no better way to start your day (Psalms 59, 65, 90, and 92…just to name a few).

Ps90_14

While reading the devotionals and books, taking notes during a sermon, or listening to music will reinforce the messages and keep our minds more focused on Him, these are not substitutions for personally reading His word and finding the applications for my life.  So the challenge for me this week is to put aside all of the plans to do it, and (like Nike) JUST DO IT! I’m convicted by this week’s choice and need to put my head-knowledge of knowing a lot about God in to a solid heart-knowledge of truly knowing God.

 

Reading Assignment for Week 7: Chapter 7 of Life’s Healing Choices
Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 7: Growth Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss the Causes of Relapse
Wednesday: Kim will discuss Preventing Relapse
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week

 

Music has always been an emotional connection for me (in good ways and bad). Christ speaks to me more through music than most other media. One song that’s been a strong encouragement and reminder to me over the past couple of years is “Captivate Us” by Watermark.  I want to close out today with the link to the song. I’d also like us to use the lyrics as a prayer—to bring the encouragement and the desire to be captivated by God in the coming week. Read the lyrics, and then play the song. While it plays, close your eyes and use this as your prayer to draw closer to the Father who wants to spend time with you.

http://youtu.be/7JtXa9pBOHI

Captivate Us – by Nockels, Nockels, & Hall

Your face is beautiful
And Your eyes are like the stars
Your gentle hands have healing
There inside the scars
Your loving arms they draw me near
And Your smile it brings me peace
Draw me closer oh my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee

Captivate us, Lord Jesus
Set our eyes on You
Devastate us with Your presence
Falling down
And rushing river, draw us nearer
Holy fountain consume us with You
Captivate us Lord Jesus, with You

Your voice is powerful
And Your words are radiant bright
In Your breath and shadow
I will come close and abide
You whisper love and life divine
And Your fellowship is free
Draw me closer O my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee

Let everything be lost in the shadows
Of the light of Your face
Let every chain be broken from me
As I’m bound in Your grace
For Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light
You’re full of wisdom, power and might
And every eye will see You

Have a wonderful & blessed week!

A wonderful pocket-sized (28 page) booklet that talks about our walk with Christ is “My Heart Christ’s Home.” It’s available HERE  as a 5 pack for a small price. It speaks of allowing Christ into our home and how we care for Him as our invited guest. Does His presence require spring cleaning, or a light dusting? Do we lock doors to certain rooms, or give Him full access?

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If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 6 Review (pp. 166-186)

■Realize I am not God

■Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, that He has the power to help me recover

■Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control

■Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust

■Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character

■EVALUATE ALL MY RELATIONSHIPS. OFFER FORGIVENESS TO THOSE WHO HAVE HURT ME AND MAKE AMENDS FOR HARM I HAVE DONE TO OTHERS, EXCEPT WHEN TO DO SO WOULD HARM THEM OR OTHERS.

■R

■Y

LHC_Chapter6

How much or how many times do we have to forgive?  Let’s take a look at the story where Peter asked Jesus the same question.  Jesus told Peter about the story of the man who owed the king a large sum of money.  The king wanted to settle the account, but the man could not pay. The king showed compassion and forgave the man’s debt.  This same man went out to someone who owed him money, much less of a sum than what he owed the king, and tried to choke the man, demanding he pay upThis is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart Matthew 18:35.  Those may seem like harsh words; however, having unforgiveness in our hearts hinders our relationship with God and others.  When you think about it, that then hinders our following the first two commandments: Love God, love others.

So, let’s review the week:

Monday: We discussed the three reasons why we should forgive others. Because God has forgiven you, because resentment doesn’t work and because you’ll need forgiveness in the future.  That through our accepting the fact that Jesus came to earth, suffered and died on the cross for our sins and was raised to sit with our Father, we then have to believe He said, “It is finished.”  Meaning it is finished for each one of us.  We do not need to worry, carry resentments of others or unforgiveness in our hearts!  We can let go and let God!!  Imagine the peace and freedom that comes with that.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

Tuesday: Leslie talked with us about the 3 R’s in the book: reveal your hurt, release the offender, and replace your hurt with God’s peace.  To reveal our hurt is the easy part, but release the offender?  As Leslie said, “Yeah right, I need to forgive someone who hurt me so badly? They are the ones who had broken my heart in so many ways and did not care at all about it, why should I forgive them?”  How exactly do we do that?  We have to love our enemies, pray for them, and bless them.  Finally, we have to turn it over to God.  By doing so, He will help us to forgive and love them.

With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.
Mark 10:27

Wednesday: Kim discussed how we must stop looking inward and start looking upward.  “It’s been about us for so long. It’s time that it is about someone else or Someone Else. It’s time our lives reflect Whose we are.”  Yes it is.  We need to spend time in prayer and ask God to show us who we need to make amends with and how we make those amends – whether in person, via letter, or the ‘empty chair.’  Our hurts, resentments, and sins are in the past; aren’t you ready to leave them there? Love this: Freedom is yours. Let Him lead you into deliverance. You’ve changed from victim to victor!!

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.
Hebrews 12:14, 15

Thursday: Amy takes us into praying, writing, and sharing about what we have worked through so far.  By asking God to help us both forgive those who have hurt us and make amends to others, we will find freedom because He will guide us in releasing the resentments we have built up for so long.  Writing about these issues helps us see them as real.  It helps you see your responsibility clearly when you write them down and review.  Finally share about it.  It is very important for you to share your inventory with a trusted accountability partner.  This will help you develop a safe plan in making your amends or offering forgiveness.  One thing to remember when making amends or offering forgiveness is that your part is to take your forgiveness or amends to the person.  You cannot control their response.  Freedom comes when we step out in faith to free our hearts from the hurts or offenses we have had.  God will honor that, and give you peace and freedom.

This step is vital in the peace and freedom God has to offer each one of us.  I know I keep saying this but He does want to give us the desires of our hearts and in abundance.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. Psalms 145:17-19

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Let’s Pray: 

Father, we are so thankful for the grace and love You have given to each one of us.  You are an amazing God and we give You all the honor in what You have done in our lives.  Lord, we are asking now that You lead us through this step of offering forgiveness and making amends.  Help us to forgive those we need to and let go of the resentments we have held onto.  Give us the words to say when we make amends to those we have hurt. Father, I ask that You also heal those we have hurt and go before us in making a way for reconciliation.  Heal the hurt hearts of each one reading this, Lord, and give peace and freedom in their life.  We do love You, Lord, and stand in awe of what You have done and what You are about to do.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!!

Your Assignment:  

Continue praying that God will guide you in offering forgiveness and making amends in a manner that will give freedom to you and those you speak with.  If you have made amends and would be comfortable, please share your comments below.  Pray for all those in this study as we take these steps together.

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If you would like to send a private message to Laurie in regards to this blog, please email her at Laurie@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 6 – Make the Choice (pgs 182-186)

MAKE THE CHOICE: Repairing Relationships


“Today is a new day. Starting today, you can refocus your life on doing God’s will in your relationships” (Baker, 180)

I think we would all agree with John Baker’s assessment that broken relationships are the root of much of the pain we experience. The action steps this week allow us to move towards forgiving those who hurt us, and making amends with those we’ve hurt. Let’s explore how we can live unashamed, forgetting our troubles, full of hope and blessed (Job 11:13-10)

WRITE –
Throughout this study, we’ve taken a lot of time to write about our experiences, our actions, and our pain. I believe that writing gives us the opportunity to clearly see the thoughts that run through our minds, but by using both the thinking & writing tasks, it becomes more real to us. We take an active approach to the thoughts. We see it in black & white (or purple & white if you were to see my journal), and it’s no longer something hidden in the back corners of our lives.

Start out this week’s exercise by writing down a list of people who have harmed you in some way, and their relationship to you. Now, I’m not talking about the guy who cut you off on the road. It’s not the petty little stuff we’re dealing with here. Go back to your inventory lists from Chapter 4 if necessary. We are creating our Forgiveness List.

Once you have the list of people, or maybe just one person, describe what they said or did to hurt you. How did it make you feel? Dig deep and find the descriptive words for your feelings, don’t just say “angry” or “hurt”. Do you struggle with finding words to describe how you feel? You’re not alone! I know in counseling sessions, we were given charts & lists to help us as a family learn to communicate our feelings more clearly with one another. I found these links that might be helpful if you struggle in expressing words for your emotions:

http://www.professional-counselling.com/list-of-human-emotions.html

http://www.ami-tx.com/Portals/3/EmotionsFlyer.pdf (this is great picture chart for children!)

Now, let’s move to the Amends List. Write down names of those you’ve hurt or offended, and their relationship to you. As we did with the previous list, write down what you said or did to this person. How do you think this person felt? Why are you sorry for hurting this person? Do you stop to think about how your words or actions affect another person? So often we can point out every little offense of other people, but we dismiss what we did as nothing.

Baker gives a list of questions (p. 184) to help jump start your thinking if you’re struggling to think of those you have hurt:

  • Is there anyone to whom you owe a debt that you haven’t repaid?
  • Is there anyone you’ve broken a promise to?
  • Is there anyone you are guilty of controlling or manipulating?
  • Is there anyone you are overly possessive of?
  • Is there anyone you are hypercritical of?
  • Have you been verbally, emotionally or physically abusive to anyone?
  • Is there anyone you have not appreciated or paid attention to?
  • Is there anyone you have been unfaithful to?
  • Have you ever lied to anyone?

SHARE –
Our accountability partners will be crucial in this process. We do not want to run to someone who hurt us and put ourselves in a vulnerable position where we can be hurt again. In some instances, we will not actually face (or contact) the person we are forgiving because the risk of further harm is too great. Your accountability partner is there to talk with you, serve as a sounding board, and help guide your steps. Share your Forgiveness List with this person BEFORE you go to the one you are forgiving.

Heb10_24

Also share your Amends List with your accountability partner, and work together to develop a plan to make amends with the people you have listed. It’s not about running out to accomplish all that we can as fast as we can. There will be an appropriate time, location, and way to manage this step. Your partner knows you and will help guide you to the best way to accomplish your task.

I shared with you on Sunday my lesson in forgiving others. This was an action I needed to do, not just because God expects this of me, but because my life & health depended upon it. Harboring the resentment and anger would have caused more harm in my life … my ability to love and trust others, my ability to demonstrate His love to my daughter, and my ability to draw close to Him. But outside of the day I spoke to the court, I did not face my ex-husband to have a personal conversation with him. It would have been inappropriate to do so. I do have fleeting moments today where I think I should write him a letter, but going through this study has shown that it would bring harm to him. I said what needed to be said years ago. To make contact now would only stir up the issues and the emotions. Deep down, the flesh side of me wants to show him how well we’ve done in the years since. But that’s not what God wants. Forgiveness has been given. It was spoken, it was done.

At this time, I can think of one other for whom I need to forgive, and as much as I’ve said over the years that I have forgiven him, this study has made me see that perhaps I really haven’t. If I have forgiven this person for his actions years ago, would it still bother me that I only hear from him on birthdays and Christmas? If I have forgiven him, would it bother me that I don’t often receive replies to emails? If I have forgiven him, would it annoy me that he doesn’t seem to interact with family in ways I feel would be more appropriate? If I have fully forgiven him, would I actually have this list of things that bother me so? Or am I just holding on too tightly to the emotions the memories evoke? Either way, I haven’t fully given the issue to God, and I believe this is the area I need to really explore more deeply.

Power Verses for Chapter 6:
Luke 6:31-37
Hebrews 10:24
Philippians 2:4
Romans 12:17-18
Matthew 5:23-24
1 Peter 5:10
Colossians 3:13
Romans 8:31
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Taken from the Celebrate Recovery Participant’s Guide 3, I want to share with you the following prayer to closer out this week’s activity:
Dear God, thank You for Your love, for Your freely given grace. Help me model Your ways when I make my amends to those I have hurt and offer forgiveness to those who have injured me. Help me to set aside my selfishness and speak the truth in love. I pray that I would focus only on my part, my responsibility in the issue. I know that I can forgive others because You first forgave me. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Week 6 – Repairing Relationships By Making Amends (pp175-181)

I made amends (or attempted to make amends) to someone I wronged, not directly, but by allowing others to do them harm and not stepping up and standing up for what is right. It’s just as wrong to stand by and watch someone you love take abuse at the hands of friends, both of our friends. It was a long time ago yet I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to make peace with her. To apologize for not standing up for her; for not stopping the madness but watching it happen, maybe even enjoying it. It didn’t turn out well—my amends. Venom spewed from her side and I was left with more questions than answers.

The incident was years ago but to her it may as well been yesterday.  Aren’t mamas that way when their children get hurt? But amends aren’t about reactions, are they? They’re about action on our part. It’s about taking responsibility, and actually accepting, admitting what we did was wrong. We hurt someone else, whether sober or not, we did it. God calls us as His children to ask forgiveness from our peers. We may not get the warm fuzzies from the person we are apologizing to. We must not do this for ourselves or our own recognition, like “look how great Kim is for apologizing” or “Kim really has it together!” It’s been about us for so long. It’s time that it is about someone else or Someone Else. It’s time our lives reflect Whose we are. Now that we have established THAT we need to make amends, we have to look at HOW to go about it in a way that most represents God’s way.

Obviously we must spend more time in prayer over each one and let the Holy Spirit really guide and direct us on who we need to contact and how. (Don’t you love the “empty chair” approach and the “fake letter?”) Be careful though not to use these for the ones that deserve actual contact. The book gives us certain situations for which these methods are the only appropriate choice. This is between you and God. Use His guidance. First clear your mind, empty to fill, and let Him speak through you. Your day of freedom is here, deliverance from your regrets and mistakes. You’ve really allowed God to empower you to do the right thing—admit your wrongs.

From this point on, the past is the past and the future is wide open. The baggage of yesterday has been dropped. Oh yes, there will be more amends made along the way, and you will still have to apologize for mistakes to come and wrongs you will do, but the key now is not to hold resentments and to always promptly admit when you are wrong.

If you borrowed, return it. If you need to come clean with the law, do so. If you owe money, pay it. Let’s be who He created us to be and let’s be the light to others around us, who are still in darkness. We can guide others to Him by living our amends. For isn’t that the best way—to live out our apologies?

Let’s be different now and desire different lives than the old one. And most of all, may we desire what He wants for us!  So, how ‘bout that list? Ready to start writing and righting?

Freedom Is Yours

 

Scriptures that apply:

Matthew 5:23, 24

Job 11:13,15 and 16

Hebrews 12:15

Romans 12:18

Luke 6:33

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord Jesus, we praise You.  You never change.  You’re the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank You for empowering us to do more than we ever could without You. Guide us as we make lists of our wrongs.  May we repent and release them to You. Speak to us, remind us what relationships need repairing and then give us the words to speak and when. For You bring healing to all. You make all things new.  The ones who refuse us, Lord, may we hand them over to You.  We love You. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Your Assignment:

Look up these verses and pray them to Him. Praying His word to Him is so powerful. Allow Him to speak through you as you make your lists and follow through with repairing relationships. Talk to your accountability partner about this. Let us know how it’s going! Remember we are praying for you!

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If you would like to email Kim directly in regards to this blog, please email her at Kim@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

 

Life’s Healing Choices: Choice 6 – How do you forgive others and (self)? (pp 171-175)

If someone had told me two years ago that, in order for me to become well and be healed, I would have to forgive someone that I felt helped get me there in the first place, I would have laughed, and shaken my head ‘no.’  That is exactly what I did, too. Yeah right, I need to forgive someone who hurt me so badly? They are the ones who had broken my heart in so many ways and did not care at all about it, why should I forgive them?  …Because the Bible says you can’t receive what you are unwilling to give: I need to forgive because God has forgiven me.

So how on earth can we do this—forgiving others? Baker gives us the three R’s to show us how.

1. Reveal Your Hurt
2. Release the Offender
3. Replace Your Hurt with God’s Peace

I learned something very important a few years ago when I attempted to write my first resentment list. Turns out about 90% of the people on that list were loved ones. So how on earth can I love someone so much towards who I feel a great deal of anger, bitterness, hurt, and resentment? Baker states, “Perhaps it’s because we have a misconception that you can’t love somebody and be angry at them the same time. The truth is, you can.”

You can’t get over hurt until you admit the pain. Have you been able to do this? I have for years been able to tell my therapist, husband, and some family about people in my life who have hurt me. I have “on the surface,” talked about being angry, disappointed, and hurt by them. Truth is, I never really let myself be real and admit that deep pain inside completely to myself. I did not want to explore those feelings that I HAVE tried to cover up by instead replacing with negative feelings. I had become consumed with resentment over the unfairness of my life.

When I joined this ministry, the first thing I shared was my testimony. I have given my testimony at church about my hurts, hang ups, and habits. In my testimony, I spoke of relationships that hurt me deeply, scars and addictions that stayed with me and held me with chains. They affected me in the way I acted, the way I interacted with others, and the way I identified with who I am. But it was different in this testimony. I actually admitted to myself the truth—the hurt. It was wrong, and it hurt me.

In the beginning, it was not easy revealing my hurts. I felt so vulnerable for a while. It was not easy being honest and revealing the pain I have felt in some situations for over 30 years. I had tried to suppress my emotions for so long.  Doing so only made those hurts in me worse and I therefore became very angry inside. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:31, 32.

After revealing those hurts, it was time to release the offender. How on earth was that going to be possible? I had so much anger toward them that my heart was so hardened. I now understand that I can’t forgive them myself…I needed God’s help. With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God. Mark 10:27 ESV.  Not only does God want us to forgive, but He wants us to love our enemy who wronged us and hurt us. Whether the person asks for forgiveness or not, you do it for your own sake. I repeat, you release the offender for your own sake. The truth is there will be a time that you and I will need forgiveness in the future.

Let’s look at some things the Lord and His Word say about forgiveness and love. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44, 45a). Yet Jesus tells us to love as he did.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34 ESV).

John13_34

I would like to share with you how I was able to release my offender: I prayed for them. I had much difficulty doing so, but I prayed asking God to help me to even want to forgive them because honestly I did not want to. I did this for a while, and also added in my prayer that I hoped they would have a good day. I started small, but that was enough. God started chipping away at that anger and bitterness I held in my heart toward them. The more I prayed to be able to want to forgive them, the more I could pray to forgive them. Then honestly one morning I woke up to the most unusual feeling inside (that I now understand is peace). My heart for that person was softened and God replaced the bitterness with love. God gave me peace and allowed me to forgive. He released me from that hurt. It’s just one of the amazing miracles He does for us. When we listen and obey, He helps us to love and heal inside. By blessing those who curse us, doing well to those who hate us, and praying for them He also helps us to forgive and love them. I finally started to have compassion for this particular person because I was able to see that he, too, had been hurt in his life (hurting people hurt each other).

That peace I received on the inside had changed me in so many ways. I felt better, I was so proud of myself after finally admitting to myself the truth of how I felt. And through God, I finally loved instead of hated. That’s what God wants for us all. He wants us to love and forgive;  He will help us to do that no matter what the circumstance may be. We may not ever forget what happened, but we will finally be rid of  that misery of resentment that hurt us so badly and had also hurt God. God is love; it’s not easy for us to fully show Him our love, if we don’t show others that love as well. Let’s show Him the love that He deserves. Let’s ask Him today to help us forgive that offender and replace that hurt with the peace He offers us.

Let’s Pray:
Father God, thank You for forgiveness. Thank You for the forgiveness You give to us and for helping us to forgive others who have hurt us. No one is perfect except You, Father. Each one of us needs forgiveness and we need to forgive each other. Thank You, Lord, for this help today as we do this. You bring peace and love; You heal our broken hearts. You are a God of miracles and we are so grateful and praise You for all You do. We love You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your Assignment:
On a piece of paper, write down the 3 R’s. Start with that one person who has hurt you the most. Be honest and admit what you feel. Afterward, spend time in prayer asking God to help you release that person.

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If you would like to send a private email to Leslie in regards to this blog, please email her at: Leslie@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 6 – Repairing Relationships (pp 167-171)

Choice 6:

Evaluate all my relationships.  Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

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LHC_Chapter6

This week we are going to look back at our inventory and learn how to repair the damage we have seen in our relationships.  Whether the damage was what we have done to others or what others have done to us, there is one way to repair—through forgiveness.

There are three reasons the book discusses why we should forgive others.

  1. Because God has forgiven you
  2. Because resentment doesn’t work
  3. Because you’ll need forgiveness in the future

Because God has forgiven you – Have you truly accepted God’s forgiveness?  I know for so long I felt I was not worthy of His forgiveness.  Have you accepted that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for all our sins? John 19:30 states Jesus exclaimed from the cross, “It is finished.”  No matter what our sin or how badly we have hurt others, God’s grace is sufficient to forgive completely.  Remember the woman who entered Simon’s home while he was having dinner with Jesus? She took an alabaster box of oil, washed His feet with her tears and anointed His feet with the oil.  When Simon criticized her, Jesus told him, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.  But to who little is forgiven, the same loves little (Luke 7:47). Jesus then told her that her sins were forgiven and that her faith had saved her.  This woman knew her sins were great, but also knew the greatness of God’s mercy.  She had accepted His forgiveness and been set free.

Because resentment doesn’t work – This second reason to forgive is all about letting go.  Let go of the pain of the past hurts from others.  If you hold onto those hurts or resentments, they will hold you prisoner.  When you release them, you are free…the doors open and you walk out.

  • Resentment is unreasonable: Resentment can build up into anger.  When we are angry, the only person hurting is ourselves.   We lose sleep, we don’t eat, we overeat, we start becoming more tempted by the addictions that God had removed and we snap out at those around us whom we love.  Let Go and Let God!!
  • Resentment is unhelpful: Can all that we are holding onto really help anything now or in the future?  When we become stressed, it affects all our life—our work, our home, our friends, our loved ones.  Let Go and Let God!!
  • Resentment is unhealthy: The book likened resentment to cancer.  When I read that I went back to when I received the call I had cancer.  I had dropped 30 pounds in 30 days and could barely walk.  After many tests, they had diagnosed me with stage 3 cancer.  That call knocked my feet out from under me.  If resentment is like that I want it to be taken from me, just as God healed me of cancer.

Because you will need forgiveness in the future – There have been and will always be days when we are going to need God’s or someone else’s forgiveness.  When the book stated ‘you cannot receive what you do not give,’ that one statement hit home for me. If I do not forgive other’s I will not receive forgiveness.  So wait, if I do not forgive, I will not receive my Father’s forgiveness.  That is a hard one!  But when you look at it, like all other areas of our lives, we need to take that first step.  If there were 1,000 steps, then yes, God will take the 999 others to get to us, but we have got to take that first step.  To receive salvation, we had to ask.  To receive baptism, we had to believe.  To receive healing, we have to believe.  So to receive forgiveness, we have to forgive.

In my walk out of the alternative lifestyle, I did my inventory and made amends with many people.  You see, as others are making their inventory of how others hurt them, mine was on the other side.  I did much of the hurting.  My choices destroyed my relationships with family and friends.  My choices destroyed four marriages, including my own.  I broke off an engagement at the age of 19, left my husband later at the age of 27, lost custody of my oldest son ( he was 3) at the age of 28…see where I am going?  Although there were those that did hurt me, my laundry list was long.  So the forgiveness I longed for was much greater than any I had to give.

My asking for forgiveness from others was the first, and I had to admit, the easiest.  Sure, there were those that hurt me and I did forgive them, but the hardest parts of forgiveness for me were to accept God’s forgiveness and to forgive myself.  The guilt of my choices was really deep.  I had a difficult time accepting that God had forgiven me.  Through years of destroying relationships with my parents, siblings, friends, ruining marriages—anyone who tried to care was quickly tossed to the side.  After all of the hurt I had caused, how could God forgive me?  I was not worthy; I did not deserve His mercy.

Exactly! Mercy is undeserved merit.  Mercy is not earned, He freely gives it.  We serve an amazingly compassionate God. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16.

His life on earth, death on the cross and resurrection to the right hand of the Father is the reason we receive His mercy for our past and grace for our future.  I had to step up to His throne and boldly receive His forgiveness.  It took some time for me to realize He died for me too.  When He said, “It is finished,” He meant for me, too.  If you are having a hard time accepting God’s forgiveness, try this.  Put your name in front or behind that statement Jesus made. “________, it is finished.”

Once I received God’s forgiveness, He began nurturing me to forgive myself.  Jesus wants an intimate relationship with us.  He wants us to bring all our burdens, hurts, guilt, and shame to Him.  I love The Living Bible translation of this verse, it make this so personal. Come, let’s talk this over! Says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow.  Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!  If you will only let Me help youIsaiah 1:18-19.  ‘Come, let’s talk’–-I can visualize Jesus saying–‘grab your coffee, let’s talk.’  He made the heavens and the earth (in six days), He set the stars perfectly in the sky, He walked me out of the gay lifestyle. He healed my cancer. He gave me two miracles through my sons. He put joy in my life through my brother. He gave me amazing family and friends and He has allowed me to share His testimony of my life with all of you.  How can I not listen and accept His forgiveness?   I urge each one of you to step boldly before His throne.  Take that one step and He will take the 999.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

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Let’s Pray:

Father, we are so grateful to be able to talk with You.  To spend time with You.  Help us to take that one step toward forgiveness.  We admit there are times when it is hard, Lord, to forgive others, ourselves, or to accept Your forgiveness.  Help us to trust You when You say there is no condemnation, and that You will turn our sins as white as snow.  Father, You cannot lie and Your word says there is NO condemnation—we believe and receive that today.  Help us to walk in that, Lord, and be able to forgive and let go of any resentments we are holding onto.

Lord, as we go through this week, guide us to those we need to make amends with—let us talk when we need to and be quiet when we need to.  Open our hearts to hear from You and give us the strength and courage we need to take this step.  Heal our hearts from the hurts, Lord.  We love You, Father.  We give all the glory and honor to You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Your Assignment:

When we are talking of forgiveness, which is hardest: Forgiving others?  Accepting God’s forgiveness? Or  forgiving yourself? (You can also go to our private Facebook page and share there, as well.)

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If you would like to send a private message to Laurie in regards to this blog, please email her at Laurie@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 6 – Relationships (pgs 166 – 203)

Choice 6:

Evaluate all my relationships.

Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others.

LHC_Chapter6

Forgiveness isn’t based on a feeling. Think about it, do you ever feel like forgiving someone? Or do you ruminate over ways to get back at them, or hope they get what they deserve? We keep score. We tally up the wrongs and maybe consider what they did right. We spout out “vengeance is MINE” but we forget the last part, ‘Says The Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
This week in Life’s Healing Choices we’ll take steps to mend relationships. Now, this doesn’t mean we will magically have the Hallmark moments, grand reunions, tears of joy from our reconciliations. But it will bring freedom from the harbored emotions when we let it all go in to His hands.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Colossians 3:13 NLT

Now, if you had asked me at the time what good would come out of my failed marriages, I would have said nothing. Today, I can look back and see God’s guiding hand, bringing me to a healthier place in life. All because of His mercy & love.

When I met my ex-husband, I was ending a bad marriage and an affair … definitely NOT the time I should have been getting involved with anyone else. But he swooped down and took care of me by making me laugh, doing small things to show he appreciated me, surprised me with visits & phone calls. It was the romancing and wooing we all want. Looking back, I should have seen signs that things weren’t going to work out well. Friends joked that he had bad luck, nothing ever turned out well for him, etc. Sometimes he was the brunt of the jokes just because his choices usually led to poor outcomes. But he had explanations for everything (excuses, really), and I wanted the companionship too much to listen. At one point, his mother commented that I was the best thing to ever happen to her son, but she didn’t know what I saw in him. Wow … did I really just hear that from his mom? Hindsight being what it is, I wish I had explored that comment more deeply. Instead, I listened when he told me the relationship with his mom had been strained since his parent’s divorce and he was closer to his dad.

Fast-forward about 4 years and you’ll find us married, raising a new baby, juggling jobs with family life. We quarreled about his excessive time on the computer or role-playing games with friends. He was too distracted to really be a good husband or father. We had just purchased our first home together. Our jobs were solid with promising futures. I had finished a college program; he was just starting one. The bad times seemed justified by the stress around us.

Suddenly, in a flash, it all came crumbling down around me. In the blink of an eye, I learned of lies, inner demons, addictions, and secrets that he had been keeping from me … from everyone, really. This changed everything about my life without my knowledge, agreement or consent! But for the first time in my life, I didn’t blame God. I didn’t curse at Him, demanding to know what I had done to deserve this fate.  I turned to God. I cried out to Him with a desperation I had not felt before, because I knew He was always there for me.

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.

He freed me from all my fears.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;

no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  

Ps 34:4-5 NLT

During this time, I was embraced by a church community. I learned what God’s “peace that passes all understanding” truly feels like (Philippians 4:7). I learned to lean on Him. I learned to accept help from others around me. I learned to trust again. I learned to love again. I learned to forgive.
I read once that harboring anger, resentment and an unforgiving heart only hurts us. The other person goes on with their life, without a care in the world, completely oblivious to the fact we’re fuming and miserable. We may be angry, but it doesn’t affect their life any anyway. So until we learn to let it go, it continues to eat away at us, hardening our heart more and more with each passing day.

It wasn’t an easy process, I assure you. And, I can’t give a date when it happened. I just know that through the following years, my heart softened as I learned more about my identity in Christ. I accepted more that he needed God’s love more than I needed to hate him. At one time, his dad asked if I could help find a Bible for him. They were not believers or church-going people. Rather than tell them what to buy, or ignore their request, I went out and bought one myself. Yes, I bought a Bible for my ex-husband even after all the pain he caused. I realized that I didn’t want to face God one day and have Him say, “all I wanted you to do was give him a Bible, and you said no.” I was being asked to do a simple task, and I answered His call.  People ask me how I could forgive him for what he did to his family and friends. How could I not knowing the lengths God went to in order to forgive me? Romans 3:24 CEV

But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.

I stood before a judge and gave my testimony, something called a “victim’s impact statement.” I shared the details of that fateful day. I recalled the excuses and lack of responsibility my ex-husband displayed. And, I shared that I forgave him and how it was by God’s grace that I could stand before them that day. It was the last time I saw my ex-husband face to face. I will never forget the past, and there are days when the pain is still felt and the sorrow washes over me. But the good news is that I don’t harbor the resentment, the animosity … the hatred that initially consumed me. All credit for this transformation of my heart goes to God, and God alone.
This week, we’ll explore more on making amends.

Reading Assignment for Week 6: Chapter 6 of Life’s Healing Choices
Monday: Laurie will discuss Principle 6: The Relationship Choice
Tuesday: Leslie will discuss How do you forgive Others (& Self)?
Wednesday: Kim will discuss Repair by Making Amends
Thursday: Amy will discuss Make The Choice
Friday: Laurie will bring it all back home with a recap of our week

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Let’s Pray:
Lord, we cannot begin to thank You enough for the gift of Your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. To know You gave Your Son on our behalf gives us strength to extend grace and mercy to those who have offended us. It’s not an easy task, but it is something we strive for through our healing process. We know that letting go of the pain and resentment is necessary so that we can become more like You. Bless all who read and follow our study this week. Amen.

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Power Verses for Chapter 5:
Luke 6:31-37
Hebrews 10:24
Philippians 2:4
Romans 12:17-18
Matthew 5:23-24
1 Peter 5:10
Colossians 3:13
Romans 8:31
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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If you are interested in joining us for the “Life’s Healing Choices” online Bible study, click HERE to sign up.

Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to email Amy in regards to this blog, please email her at:

Amy@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 Review (pp 129-148)

  • Realize I am not God
  • Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, that He has the power to help me recover
  • Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control
  • Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust
  • VOLUNTARILY SUBMIT TO EVERY CHANGE GOD WANTS TO MAKE IN MY LIFE AND HUMBLY ASK HIM TO REMOVE MY CHARACTER DEFECTS
  • E
  • R
  • Y

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Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.
Matthew 5:6

This week as we moved into allowing God to make changes and transform our lives, I was constantly reminded of His armor in Ephesians 6:10-18. Now you may ask why?  Once we say “Yes, Lord, I am ready for you to take control” the enemy will try to change our minds or put hurdles in the way.  So, ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes’ Ephesians 6:10, 11.

Monday, we discussed where our character defects came from.  Biologically or through our chromosomes we inherited traits, good or bad.  Some of these traits spun us into our addictions, hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We then looked at how our environment shaped some of our behaviors. Finally, we realized although we cannot change our chromosomes or some of the environmental factors, we have made choices that have driven us into our addictions or habits.

Aren’t we thankful He has made us a new creation—it’s like Play Doh.  Remember when you were younger and made different objects with Play Doh? Catch this visual: God taking your old person and squeezing it—squishing all the imperfections out—then carefully and graciously He creates a masterpiece out of the same clay, but with His hands, as He wants us to be.

Tuesday, Leslie brought it with her testimony of staying wrapped up in her defects because they were comfortable.  It is scary to look at the world outside our comfort zone.  So as we look at the question, “Why does it take so long to get rid of our character defects?” the real answer: (please listen very carefully, ladies…) SATAN IS A LIAR!!! There is no truth in him. Well put Leslie!!  So, let’s counteract that with Jesus’ words, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  Yes, when we turn our control over to the One who has control of the universe, it will set us free!!  Free from our character defects, free from our confusion, free from satan’s lies!

Wednesday, Kim talked with us about cooperating with the changes God is going to bring into our lives.  Our addictions, hurts, habits, and hang-ups are only a symptom—that there is something much deeper we have to allow Him to come transform within us.  But we first have to get to know Him.   She explained to us her need to find out who she truly was without the addiction.  God sent her a dear friend to help her through; He will always be faithful!  We also have to be faithful, focus on Him, pray and read His Word.  Kim said, “A simple prayer that has become a daily for me is this: ’empty me of me so that I can be filled with You.’”  Finally, Kim reminded us that our character defects cannot be improved; we have to allow Him to remove them.

Thursday, Amy took us to pray about it, write about it and share about it.  We need to remember that things cannot be fixed or changed all at once.  Ask God to show you where to start.  Pray that He will transform your mind and heart and begin to change those defects—as the book says, “one bite at a time.”   Then along with writing in your journal put some Scriptures around that have helped you through this journey.  When you are reading the Scriptures make them personal and apply it to your life as an affirmation.  Finally, how is your progress going with an accountability partner?  Have you shared your inventory with them? If you have, then begin sharing that one defect that God showed you to begin with.  Be open, honest, and trust that through your sharing He will bring you much freedom.  Remember through this process: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another Proverbs 27:17.   

Today, I was going to end here with the review, but last night my son and I decided to go to a different church service. Sometimes I still try to control things. After all I have for so many years, I turn it over to God, then I pick it back up and I play ‘ring around the rosie’ with Him for a while. At church, after an amazing praise and worship time, the kids were dismissed to their group and the pastor began speaking. Here is the title of his sermon:  Trusting God to Overcome Obstacles.  Really?!?  Ok, God I am listening!!!  He spoke about David and Goliath, about the Goliaths in our lives, whatever they may be. Whether they are marriage difficulties, financial issues, children with difficulties, alcohol—no matter the subject…they become our Goliath.

1 Samuel 17 tells us that David looked at this 9 foot 9 plus inch giant, took a sling and 5 smooth stones and told him “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (verse 45).  He then told Goliath “this day the Lord will deliver you into my hand” (verse 46). He then put a stone in his sling and defeated Goliath.  In the beginning of 1 Samuel 17 Goliath is called a champion.  With one stone, not 2, 3, 4 or 5, but one stone a shepherd boy defeated a ‘champion.’  Not because of his strength, his ability, his mind, his size—but because David trusted God would overcome his obstacle.  Sometimes we look to others for help or for approval in how we are trying to live our lives.  Other times we feel defeated before the battle is even started.  There is only One that we need on our side.  It doesn’t matter who counts us out…as long as Jesus counts us in.  Trust God for the Victory—believe He will change those defects and allow the freedom to begin filling your life.

GCH_2Cor5_17

Let’s Pray:

Most loving and gracious Father, we come to You today with open hearts, willing and ready to allow You to change the defects in our lives. Father, we know we cannot take this journey alone—please guide us, strengthen us, and transform our hearts and minds. Heal those hurts we have been hanging onto, remove the habits and hang-ups we have dragged along with us and fill those empty places with You.  We want so much, as Kim said, to be empty of ourselves and filled with You.  Lord, give us the courage to share these changes You are making in our lives.  Let us each be that light to another person for Your glory.

We thank You for preparing us for these next steps.  Help us to stay focused on You with open hearts and minds, willing to take the steps You show us.  Keep the enemy at bay through this, Father, and help us to stand strong. We love You, Lord, and praise Your Holy Name.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!!

Your Assignment:

Continue sharing with your accountability partner and in our private Facebook group, how the Lord is changing your hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

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If you are interested in joining us for the online Bible study, click HERE to sign up.  Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to send a private message to Laurie in regards to this blog, please email her at Laurie@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 – Make the Choice (pp 144-148)

MAKE THE CHOICE

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.  The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.  They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT)

Have you ever had something just “fall into your lap” and wonder why it appeared when it did, the way it did?  Last month, the February 2013 issue of “In Touch,” a magazine from the ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley, arrived in my mailbox and I dropped it in my bag to read when I had the time.  Preparing for this blog, I pulled it out and decided to peruse for anything that might be helpful.  Turns out this issue is about grace, about a deeper relationship with God, about seeking Him during our trials.  I doubt this is a coincidence.

I think we can pick up a few good tips from this little magazine today.

“God is willing to provide what we need in our darkest moments.  Like a spring, His provision never ceases to flow, but we must seek it.” (Hughes, 10)

Dr. Stanley writes, “Too many believers approach the Christian life on a behavioral level.  They go to church, read their Bibles, serve others, give generously, and try to be as good as possible, thinking that they’re doing what God wants.  Although all these practices are beneficial, they’re not enough.  He desires more for us than knowledge and good behavior.  He wants us to know Him experientially—person to person.” (22)

But, Max Lucado brings it home in such a simple way, ‘Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.  ‘Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”  (31)

Recognize those words?  Amazing Grace!  For me, this chapter has been screaming about grace.  Not just about His grace towards me, but being gracious to myself.  God gives us a free gift (grace) to forgive every sin we’ve committed, and even those yet to be.  All we have to do is accept His gift.  It’s our choice.  Pretty simple, right?

So why is it easy to accept His grace for us, but we cannot extend the same gift to ourselves?  When I look back on the experiences that led to my heartache or bad circumstances, it’s been due to my choices.  I ended relationships, or started ones that were inappropriate.  I left jobs for no other reason than boredom.  I said things that hurt other people.  And, even though God has forgiven me and washed me clean with the blood of His son, Jesus, there are days I cannot look at myself in a mirror without thinking I’m a wretch.  I yelled at my kids.  I grumped at my husband.  I didn’t use His time wisely, or manage money effectively.  I trashed my body because the bad food sounded so good.  My hair’s out of control.  My waist is too thick.  My complexion is too splotchy.  I find every little fault possible with my life, my character.  What does this say to God?  Am I grateful for His creation?  His design for MY body, my character, my life?

While a symptom of my heart’s protective nature, it’s also a sign that the father of lies, Satan, is trying to keep me from thinking the truth.  If God has forgiven me, I need to let it go and stop beating myself up.  I’m not a bad person.  I’m just a person who made bad decisions.  This negative thought system is one of the biggest issues I need to overcome.  I need to stop checking off the endless list of things ‘wrong’ with this woman God created.   It affects how I view myself as a wife, a mother, a worker, etc.  And, rather than focus on my short-comings, I need to (1) focus on His Word & Truth about my life, (2) focus on not comparing myself to others, (3) focus on finding gratitude for each day and circumstance, and (4) focus on letting it go.  Hmm, there’s that control thing again!

We’re told in Ezekiel 36:26, 27: 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My Laws and be careful to do what I tell you.  (NLV)

He will give us a new heart and a new spirit.  Will you reach out and accept this treasure from The King?

PRAY –

Take the time this weekend to write a prayer to God.  Acknowledge your shortcomings, character defects, areas you wish to change.  Tell Him what you would like to see instead in your life.  Be specific.  I once read that while God knows our prayers before we speak them, He wants to know that we have thought through the requests and really zeroed in on what we’re asking for.  I think it makes for a much more personal prayer than the rote memorization we learned as children.  Show God your gratefulness, even in difficult times, and as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, thank Him for everything (good & bad) in your life.  Ask Him to show you ways to change, and lessons to be learned from the experiences you have.

WRITE –

List  areas you have been able to turn over and surrender to Jesus during our study.
Are there areas you still need to turn over, attempting to control on your own power?  Remember, we make progress by focusing on one defect (or task) at a time.  Not by trying to attack it all at once.

Sometimes it’s not easy to see the positive changes in our lives.  What changes have you seen in the past 5 weeks?  Have you been able to celebrate and find joy in these steps?

Check out Life’s Healing Choices for an excellent note card exercise to help you focus on His Truth regarding your character and life.  I have a list of verses at my desk that I can see at a glance, but this exercise gives a more hands-on approach to keeping the Word close to your heart.  I have listed some of the verses from this exercise below.

SHARE –

Share the one defect God has guided you to focus on changing first.

Share the progress God is making in your life in changing this defect.

Share about your efforts to act yourself into a better way of feeling.

As I was writing this blog, this song came on my Pandora station.  I think it’s another God-moment.

 

Power Verses for Chapter 5:
Psalm 37:5

Matthew 5:6

Romans 12:1, 2

Philippians 1:6

James 4:10

1 Peter 1:13, 14

1 John 1:9

2 Thessalonians 3:3

 

Verses from the Note Card Exercise:

2 Corinthians 5:17

Psalm 9:10

Proverbs 3:5, 6

Proverbs 16:3

Matthew 11:28

Philippians 4:6, 7

Hebrews 11:6

 

Pray this with me:

Lord, show me Your will in working on my shortcomings.  Help me not to resist the changes that You have planned for me.  I need You to direct my steps.  Help me to stay in today, not get dragged back into the past or lost in the future.  I ask You to give me the power and the wisdom to make the very best I can out of today.  Amen. (prayer taken from Celebrate Recovery Participant Guide 3, p. 36.)

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If you are interested in joining us for the amazing online Bible study, and would like to join our private Facebook Discussion Group, click HERE to sign up.  Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

 

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 5 – How to Cooperate with God’s Change Process

Let’s go ahead and admit that we KNOW we need change or we wouldn’t be in this group right now, right? We wouldn’t be going through this painful process of reliving our past mistakes and confessing it all to a friend, right? I remember when I came to the end of myself and realized I definitely had a drug addiction problem, I was addicted to painkillers.

It was Spring Break 2001 and I was home with the children; we were supposed to be enjoying each other. I had planned all these fun activities yet I couldn’t function. I had taken the last four pills that morning and my body was screaming for more. I did not have any and I had to think quick. That is how insane my life was then—before surrendering to Jesus. I spent all my time thinking about it, driving to get it, lying to doctors, lying to family, sitting in waiting rooms; all the while knowing this isn’t what God created me for.

In this chapter we read a lot about our thoughts becoming our life. What you think about most will become your god. If that’s true—and it is—why not place our thoughts on Him? Read and study His word and know what His plan looks like for our lives. I remember being extremely frustrated that I couldn’t will myself back into a healthy way of life. I remember thinking that I had lived my life before without drugs so why is it so hard to get back there? I had to have help.

When I came back from treatment, the only thing that had changed was the drugs. I came home to the same place, the same people. and the same problems. Which proves what the author says, that the drug is only a symptom of a bigger problem. It starts with something; for me it was self-esteem. I never felt good enough. I didn’t believe His truth about me, that I was created in His image, and that I am just as I am supposed to be. His masterpiece. I had everything physically going for me, a huge house, nice car, 4 children, a husband that loved me, physically fit, and when I looked in the mirror, I liked what I saw physically. But spiritually there was something missing.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. We did not get here overnight and we will not heal overnight, but little by little as we change our focus from inside us to Jesus, we will be transformed to who He created us to be.

I needed help to learn to live again and He sent me a close friend who literally gave her time every day for 9 months, except weekends. She came from 8 am-4pm and held my hand as I learned to do the simple things—washing clothes, keeping a tidy house, cleaning out the clutter, cleaning out my car, taking care of my children’s needs and my husband’s, making beds. It may sound crazy to you but I had never focused on running a home like Jesus wanted me to. My friend made me a schedule and I followed it. She changed my life, and the life of my children. Don’t you see? God sent her to me! He answered my prayer and physically guided me through her. He can do anything if you ask.

Our God is a selfish God. He wants all of you, not just most of you. He must be your focus. I remember a time in my life when my prayer list was all petitions for me and my life. I thought I was focusing on Him by prayer, yet my prayer life was all about me. You have to be careful not to become selfish in your prayer life. Praise Him! Thank Him! Worship Him! A simple prayer that has become a daily for me is this: empty me of me so that I can be filled with You.

This chapter gives you steps to changing your focus. Make sure you read them, study them, look up the verses that are in each step and keep them in a safe place. And lastly, make sure you allow Him to be your pilot.  We’ve proven that our willpower is not enough to change our behaviors, but He is. So let’s allow HIM to continue the work He started in us when He created us. Let’s walk so close to Him that we can touch His garments.

Character defects, my friend, cannot be improved, they must be removed and He alone can do it.

I leave you with some words from your God:

The Lord said, for you must go wherever I send you, and say whatever I tell you and don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you, I, the Lord, have spoken.  Jeremiah 1:7, 8

You will always reap what you sow. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest consequences of decay and death- But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.  Galatians 6:7, 8

Please try His way. You can always go back to your way if His doesn’t work for you, you know? It’s your choice.  I choose Him.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, we praise You and love You and worship You today. Lord, you are our Stronghold, our strength, our tower, our Creator and King. You are perfect and Your ways are amazing. You provide our every need, even in the desert. You are our Living Water and with You we will thirst no more. I pray for each one of these precious ladies in this study…You alone know their hearts and You know their needs. Please reveal Yourself to each one today in an amazing way; let them feel Your presence, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Your assignment:

Read through the steps listed in this section and write the verses in your journal. Tell us your favorite one or the one that spoke loudest to you. Praying for you always!!!

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If you would like to email Kim regarding this post, please do so at: Kim@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com