September 21, 2017

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8: Make the Choice (pages 251 – 267)

Choice 8: Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived” Galatians 6:1, 2  (The Message).
The action items for Week 8 are short and sweet compared to our past 7 weeks. The focus is on your personal story and how to best share it with others in need of encouragement, support, and hope.  John Baker jumps right in with very little introduction to this week’s Make The Choice segment.

PRAY –
Ask God to bring someone in to your life to share your story with. Be prepared for what you ask, because He will answer! This isn’t someone who will just hear your story of recovery, but who will also hear His Good News, and how His presence in their life can bring about radical changes, too.
WRITE –
After we’ve prayed for God to lead us to someone to share with, we need to make sure we have prepared our story and how best to share it. For some of you, skipping over some of the nitty-gritty details will be appropriate; while others will need to expose a little more to get their story told. I think of our dear friend, Leslie. I don’t know of many who would openly share the experiences with hospitalization and electro-shock therapies as she has during our study. But for her, this is a crucial point of the desperation she felt and how liberating life has been with God. I’ve kept back some of my personal details because it would bring pain to others, but it doesn’t lessen the impact of my story.

Your story is uniquely yours. The ways God spoke to you, led you to see the need for Him, delivered you from the hurts, habits, and hang-ups, and how you will be used for His glory. Don’t compare your experience with anyone else, but praise the life He has given to YOU!

Take this time to write in your journal, (as Baker points out, page 251), a list of experiences that have significantly impacted your life to this day—both the positive and the negative. Indicate the ones you caused, and the ones caused by others. Remember to use the inventories we’ve created if necessary.

  • Write what you have learned about each experience.
  • Write about how God helped you through the tough times, but also how He blessed you during the good times.
  • Make a list of people who need to hear your story.
  • Write out your story. I love Baker’s comment on writing, ‘Remember, thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips to the fingertips. Write it out.” (p 252)


SHARE –
Ok, so you’ve now asked for someone to share with and written out your story.  Share it with your accountability partner. This person has been alongside you as your cheerleader and coach during our study. They know where you’ve been, where you are now, and they have hope for your future. Allow your partner to work with you to fill in holes in your story, add details (or pull back on some), and assist in your humble presentation.
It’s not about saying “look what I’ve done;” but what HE’s done that is our focus.

One last thought…in addition to sharing your story…consider other ways you can say YES to God.

“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching” Hebrews 10:22-25  (The Message).

We’ve made it to the end of this leg of our journey. Note, I didn’t say we’ve completed THE journey, but only a portion of it. I don’t want anyone thinking that the work is done and we can move on to something bigger and better. No, this was just a portion of what God has in store for each of us. Perhaps you will find the need to re-read the book, put more time in to some of the exercises, share more with your accountability partner. Perhaps you’re at a good place now, but will find the need to re-examine some of the deeper issues at a later date. Whatever path you end up taking, remember to always take Him along with you for strength, comfort, wisdom, and unconditional love.


Let’s Pray –
Lord, when we look back to where we started, who we were when we started this study, we stand thankful and amazed by the transformations You have done in our lives. Guide us through the next phase of sharing our experience with others, finding strength in You, courage to open our hearts and lives, and the desire to be lights for Your glory. Thank You for the blessings we’ve seen, the friendships we’ve made, and all of the lessons learned. Amen.

 

Power Verses for Chapter 8
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
Deuteronomy 4:9
James 2:17
Ephesians 4:1
2 Corinthians 3:18
Hebrews 10:24
Romans 12: 9, 13
Galatians 6:1
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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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 8 – Recycling the Pain (pgs 241-267)

Choice8_LHC

Galatians 6:1-2
My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.” (CEV)
At the beginning of this study in January, I had many comments on apprehensions, anxieties, and generalized worries about getting back in to the memories & experiences of the past. As the study progressed, I’ve been able to see transformations in our participants. Some have had small “AHA” moments on how the past has shaped today. Others have had eye-opening revelations. Where ever this study has taken you, God has blessed your life.
We are heading in to our final week of Life’s Healing Choices, but this is not the final week of our journey. John Baker tells us, in the Celebrate Recover Participant Guide 4, “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Instead of the focus remaining on healing your personal hurts, it’s time to consider how others can benefit from our experiences. Baker references “recycling the pain.”
Recycle — to adapt or convert something to a new use
When we faced the events that shaped our attitudes, addictions, thoughts or behaviors, we never would have imagined that good would come out of it. Romans 8:28 states: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)
God truly does have an amazing plan for His children. He does not sit around looking for ways to hurt us, complicate our lives, or bring us pain. This comes from our choices in life. But He does promise to use ALL things for His good purpose. So when I consider the experiences of my past, I need to look to ways my experiences can help others. What did I learn from these events that can be passed on to another, give hope and encouragement?
We’re reminded that God “does His best work through weak people”

2 Cor 12:7 -10 tells us, “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (The Message)
If you had asked me in 2001 what good would ever come from the chaos around me, I would have thrown up my hands and said “Nothing!” I never could have imagined that God would restore my heart and soul to the point of remarriage, blending families, and step-parenting. And, I certainly wouldn’t have ever guessed He would use me in a ministry position like Girlfriends Coffee Hour! But in the midst of everything, I didn’t blame God or accuse Him of doing things to me. I knew He didn’t want me to experience pain, but He promised to use whatever I did experience for the positive.
As a parent, I see the same type of things with my kids. I don’t sit around thinking of ways to inflict pain or hardship in their lives (though they may think otherwise with the household rules!), but I do know that their teenage minds will make decisions that sometimes bring painful consequences. My goal as mom is to help them learn from the experience, give suggestions to overcome, and help them move forward. There is a purpose behind all that we experience, whether we want to admit it or not.

God does the same for us through His Word, our interactions with fellow believers, and in daily prayers with Him. Baker shares that , “people are not helped by our strengths; they’re helped when we’re honest about our weaknesses … the proof that you are truly recovering is when you begin to focus outside yourself, when you stop being absorbed with your needs, your hurts, your problems. Recovery is evident when you being to say, ‘How can I help others?”” pg.242
This week we’ll look more closely at the following questions:

  • Why does God allow pain?
  • How can we use our pain to help others?

A few verses to ponder this week:
Ecclesiastes 4:9 -1 2 NLT
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (The Message)

James 1:22 NLT
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

 

Your Reading Assignment this Week

Monday – Chapter 8 Sharing the Choice – Laurie
Tuesday – Why does God Allow Pain? – Leslie
Wednesday – How to Use our Pain – Kim
Thursday – Make the Choice – Amy
Friday – Recap of the week – Laurie

Let’s Pray:

Lord, we thank You because You are ever-present in our lives. No matter what we experience, You are there with us to give us strength, courage, comfort through each and every step. Even as we look to heal from our past experience, we can hold hope in Your promise to work ALL things for good in those who live according to Your will. As our Heavenly Father, You desire the best for Your children. Continue to guide us as we continue to learn more about trusting You. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 8
Matthew 10:8
Matthew 6:24
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Deuteronomy 4:9
James 2:17
Ephesians 4:1
2 Corinthians 3:18
Hebrews 10:24
Romans 12: 9, 13
Galatians 6:1
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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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