April 24, 2017

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – Maintaining the Momentum (pp 220-239)

Choice7_LHC


PRAY
John Baker provides so much amazing information in this week’s Make the Choice section. He begins by giving examples on how we can pray using Scriptures, and how a prayer familiar to most of us (The Lord’s Prayer) relates to the choices we’ve been learning. I will be using portions of Baker’s examples for you today.

Scripture: Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name…
Choice 1: Realize I am not God
Choice 2: Earnestly believe that God exists

Scripture: Your Kingdom come…
Choice 8: Yield myself to God to be used

Scripture: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
Choice 5: Voluntarily submit to God’s changes

Scripture: Give us our daily bread…
Choice 3: Consciously choose to commit…to Christ’s care

Scripture: Forgive us our debts…
Choice 4: Openly examine and confess my faults

Scripture: As we have also forgiven our debtors…
Choice 6: Evaluate all my relationships

Scripture: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…
Choice 7: Reserve a daily time with God

WRITE –
Through the week’s study we have looked at ways to prevent relapse of our bad habits by creating a new habit of evaluation. This week’s “Write” choice is about evaluating four areas: physical, emotional, relational and spiritual.

Physical: What is your body telling you?

Emotional: What are you feeling? Use HEART to help you express what you are feeling.

H – am I hurting?
E – am I exhausted?
A – am I angry?
R – do I resent anyone?
T – am I tense?

Relational: Am I at peace with everyone?

Spiritual: Am I relying on God?

SHARE –
Share what you’ve written with your accountability partner. Work to develop a plan to recognize and resolve problems more quickly, to be aware of them sooner and take appropriate action.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of how I tend to react emotionally, based on the feelings that a situation brings rather than the facts before me. Instead of looking rationally at a situation, I have the knee-jerk reaction and most often spout out something I later regret. And, when I’m tired, it’s even worse. On good days, I can recognize this before I open my mouth and I pause to consider the other person and what might be prompting them to act as they are. I try to remember that those around me are not “out to get me” and may just be having a bad day. It’s the basic lesson—it’s not about me!
But on my bad days , I am feeling unappreciated or taken for granted in an area of my life, and anything someone says that may bump against my views for the day will result in a conflict. How dare they say that to me…act that way towards me…assume that about me, and so on. In a flash, I resort to the negative thoughts, the relational strongholds that I’ve been working to rid myself of. And, it’s during those moments that turning to a trusted friend helps keep me grounded in the here and now. When you have the right person alongside you, they will point you back to God through Scriptural reminders and truths. They will help you focus on your identity as a child of God. They will call you out when you’re stuck in negativity and hold you to a higher standard. Sure, it can be uncomfortable because we want to feel what we feel just because we want to! But life has so much more to offer us. God wants so much more for us than to be ruled by our emotions.

Take time to reflect on the pattern of relapse with your partner: complacency, confusion, compromise, and catastrophe. Where do you get trapped most often?

For me, it is complacency; and Baker couldn’t have explained it any better, “We get comfortable. We’ve confessed our problem, we’ve started dealing with it, and we’ve made some progress. Then we get comfortable, and one day we stop praying about it and then we stop working at it” (page 207).

When the immediate need to fix something has been addressed, the urgency to continue working on it dissipates. It’s no longer urgent, and slowly the comfort settles in. But Jesus reminded us, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38 NLT).

Even Paul tells us, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). So it’s not a situation that wasn’t expected to happen, but it is a situation that can be prevented.


Let’s Pray
Lord, we thank You for loving us so much that You gave the greatest example of forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus. As we focus on creating dedicated time alone with You, let us remember to be still and know You. Timothy tells us that Your Word is “useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” Allow us to keep this focus and to develop a desire to know You even more. This journey to recovery from our habits, hang-ups, and hurts has not been easy, but we feel Your grace, love, and gentleness more each day. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 7:
1 Corinthians 10:12
Matthew 22:37-40
James 1:22
Colossians 3:16
Psalm 46:10
Psalm 107:15
2 Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 12:1



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 7 – Maintaining Momentum (pp 205-208)

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.

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So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
1 Corinthians 10:12

This week we are going to focus on maintaining momentum on this road to recovery.  If you don’t keep your guard up, and allow God to be in control, you could relapse.  Many think the word relapse is only for the alcoholic who has taken a drink or the drug addict who went back to the street drugs.  Relapse simply means to fall or slide back into a former state.  This could be anything – anger, guilt, depression, overeating – whatever your hurt, habit, or hang-up is.  Chapters 7 and 8 help us to live out our recoveries for the rest of our lives.  It is time to look back at the previous weeks and see that we are no longer in denial…we have made our inventory of the hurts, habits, and hang-ups in our lives…we have done our best at making amends…and now we have the desire to grow closer to Jesus Christ who has brought us through the fire. Sit back and realize the growth you have each made in the past weeks and the healing God has done.  Be proud of how hard you have worked and the freedom you are beginning to feel.

In our book, John Baker outlines four predictable patterns of relapse:

Ø  Complacency

Ø  Confusion

Ø  Compromise

Ø  Catastrophe

First, relapse begins when we become comfortable.  When we have talked with others regarding our issues, begun working through them, have made amends and feel we are making some steps forward—we begin to become comfortable.  How many of you have had a cold or flu and received medication for 10 days from the doctor?  After six days you begin feeling back to normal.  So what do we do? We stop taking the medication, we keep on our regular routine and three days later we relapse.  We then wonder what happened?  Why did the medicine not work?  Just as with good medicine, continuing to seek the Lord daily, keeping up with our prayer and Bible reading tim,e and talking with our trusted friend will help us keep our focus on the race, so we can, like Timothy, say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith  2 Timothy 4:7.

If we start becoming too comfortable and do not immediately get back on track, we can move into the second phase—confusion.  We can begin rationalizing and thinking, “Maybe it wasn’t that bad,” or “Maybe I can do this myself.” When I look back at the 35 years I was in the alternative lifestyle, I lost count of how many times I rationalized or tried to walk away on my own.  Either I would rationalize that the lifestyle was not wrong and I could continue, or I would try to walk away with no help.  I did not want to ask for any help and I did not think I needed God’s help.  After all I was an independent, hard-working person that could take care of me.  Wrong!!! Every time I attempted to walk away on my own, I fell right back into the tangled mess.

Then what do we do? Go right back to the place where temptations are the strongest.  We compromise and go frequent the bars, back to the internet, down the cookie and donut aisle, back to the one person or place that was unsafe to our healing.  It may start with little things, oh, just one drink – just one website – just one pull on the slot machine – just one cup of coffee with that one person.  Then before we know it, the snowball becomes an avalanche.  We are spinning into…

CATASTROPHE!! 

The time where we actually go right back to the old hurts, habits, and hang-ups.  The anger, resentments, depression, guilt, and shame come back.  We go back to the old catalyst that was controlling our lives.

Each time I tried on my own to walk away from the lifestyle I would be strong at first.  My anger toward that person drove me to be determined to succeed.  I was in control – I could do this!! I would go to church, because in my heart I knew what I was doing was wrong.  Each time I was at church the message was just for me.  Ever been there?  I just knew all those around me and my pastor knew exactly where I was and what I was trying to walk away from.  I would start feeling stronger, so I would work harder, take care of my boys harder, clean my home harder – all I was doing were actions to avoid really dealing with the root.  I still thought – “I can do this!!”

Then when things started stabilizing and I felt stronger, I would slip away from church, continue to work hard, but not so hard on walking away – just avoidance.  This is when the enemy loves to mess with us.  I would think, “‘Well, maybe this isn’t wrong.  After all society is more accepting.  My friends are still my friends, maybe I will just make one call.  Just to see how they are doing…I mean, I am just showing how I care about someone.”

CATASTROPHE!!

I walked right back into my avalanche.  Next thing I knew, I was full-blown back into the lifestyle I had thought – “I can do this!!”

When life had come to the point that I was tired of trying on my own, I realized I needed help to make this stick.  My desire was to walk away from the gay lifestyle into a life close to God.  How was I going to do that?  First, I turned to trusted individuals who would listen and be strong in keeping me in God’s word.  I had to reserve a daily time with Him.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38

I had to spend that time alone, listening to what the Lord would say to me.  Praying and asking His guidance and direction to stay away from being comfortable. “But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom” Job 33:33.   Daily, I would put on His armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) so I would not compromise or walk back into my areas of temptation.  Finally, as I listened, prayed, spent time in His word and with Him I started seeing the healing He was bringing into my life.  I would then spend time rejoicing with Him and sharing with others the joy He brought into my life.  I am thankful He allows me to continue to serve Him and tell others of His testimony in my life.  As you continue on this journey I will leave you today with one additional scripture:

Romans15_13

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Let’s Pray:

Father, we come to You today so thankful for Your love and grace in our lives.  We admit we have tried so many times to do this changing on our own.  Today we are laying this burden at Your feet, we need Your help, so we do not get comfortable or begin to compromise our lives.  Remind us, Lord, to walk closely to You daily, listen to Your voice, seek Your direction, pray for healing, and rejoice as You bring us through the fire.  Lord, we pray Your word that we may be filled with joy and peace, that we may trust in You, and we thank You for the hope we have by the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Again, we give all glory and honor to You, Father.  In Jesus Name, Amen!

Your Assignment:

Throughout this study we have talked about spending quiet time with Him.  Have you developed that quiet time?  Also, do you take the time to rejoice through the victories, no matter how small?  If so, please share with us how you have done that.

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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