Monday, April 20, 2009

Addictions

Chuckle: "Angels talk all the way while they're flying you up to heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead." --Daniel, Age 9

Good Quote: “That, of course, is the devil's bargain of addiction: a short-term good feeling in exchange for the steady meltdown of one's life.” --Daniel Goldman

ADDICTIONS

"Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you" (Ephesians 5:18 NLT).

People who are trying to become free from an addiction to drugs or alcohol understand an important concept. They know they will always be recovering. The lure of those substances is so menacing that former abusers who are wise know how susceptible they are to being enticed. They must always be on guard. Time and again, people in the public eye seem to be cured, but then have a relapse. This principle is true not only of drug abusers but of all sinners. Those of us who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross are not 'recovered' sinners, but 'recovering' ones. We are just one sin away from falling back into a self-destructive pattern of behavior. That's why we must be so careful to avoid any activity or relationship that will reintroduce us to the sin we hate.

We are tempted when we are drawn toward a sin. It doesn't become a sin until "lust has conceived" (James 1:15). And the more we deliberately expose ourselves to temptation, the less our resistance will be. Because we are all recovering sinners, we need to leave plenty of room between us and sin. If we do, we will be less likely to stumble again. "So get rid of all filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has implanted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls" (James 1:21 NLT).

Sometimes it takes radical action to break a sinful habit. We need to do more than ask God for cleansing each time we succumb to temptation. We must take whatever steps are needed to get addictions and bad habits out of our lives. We must confess our sin and determine to be done with it. Then we must feed our mind with God's Word and do all we can to stay away from the people and places that tempt us to sin. That's what Christ meant when He said, "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out" (Matthew 5:29).

As the apostle Paul addressed the danger of excusing sin under the guise of Christian liberty, he wrote, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything" (1 Corinthians 6:12). His words can guide us in evaluating those gray areas that the Bible does not specifically label as sin.

How can we tell when something legitimate has moved from enjoyment to addiction? When people cling to activities despite negative effects, it generally indicates addictive behavior. Despite eye and wrist strain, and complaints from their families and employers, some continue to spend hours a day browsing and gaming on the Internet. Or there can be an addiction to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Sinful habits can include bad tempers, bad language, and other hang-ups that have flawed their lives.

Has someone close to you spoken about overindulgence in some area of your life? A defensive attitude may indicate that it's time to step back and view ourselves through the eyes of those who love us. It takes humility to admit that our enjoyment has become addiction and to seek God's help to break free. If you're going the wrong way and feel cut off from God, remember, you can return. Respond to the tug of His forgiving love on your heart and come back to Him today. (Most of the above was taken from a One-Place Newsletter. The specific author is unknown.)

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, April 6, 2009

Examine Yourself

Chuckle: Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend. "Did you see the paper?" he asked. "They say I died!!" "Yes, I saw it!" his friend replied. "Where are you calling from?"

Good Quote: "Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see!" --Unknown

EXAMINE YOURSELF

"So if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, that person is guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking from the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup unworthily, not honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God's judgment upon yourself" (I Corinthians 11:27-29 NLT).

Continuing our lesson on the Lord's Supper, our passage instructs us in the "how" we should observe this ordinance -- in a manner worthy of the event we are commemorating. Paul gives specific instructions on how we should conduct ourselves during the observance.

1. As we saw in our last lesson, we should partake in the bread and juice with an attitude of humility and worship. It is a holy and sacred observance.
2. We should take the Lord's Supper thoughtfully because we are proclaiming that Christ died for our sins.
3. We should take it worthily, with due reverence and respect for our crucified and risen Lord.
4. We should examine ourselves for any unconfessed sin or resentful attitude and be properly prepared for the worship experience.

When Paul speaks of taking the Lord's Supper worthily, he is cautioning the church members who participate without thinking of its meaning. In reality, no one is worthy to take the Lord's Supper. We are all sinners saved by grace. This is why we should prepare our hearts and minds beforehand for communion with God through healthy introspection, confession of sin, and resolution of differences with our fellow Christians. Such actions will remove the barriers that affect our fellowship with Christ and with other believers.

We examine ours physical appearance in a mirror before going out, and we should examine our spiritual condition in the mirror of God's Word before partaking of the Lord's Supper. We should examine our relationship with our Lord, our motives for worship, and our relationships with others. Prior to taking the elements, we should use I John 1:9 as our guide, confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, and allow God to cleanse our lives of all characteristics which are contrary to his will for us. Then, and only then, are we prepared to observe the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner with a profound attitude of worship and thanksgiving.

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Heaven or Harvard

Chuckle: "In a school essay on parents, one little girl wrote: 'We get our parents when they are so old it is hard to change their habits!'"

Good Quote: "Good parents are not afraid to be momentarily disliked by children during the act of enforcing rules." --Jean Laird

HEAVEN OR HARVARD?

"And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4 NLT).

Sometime ago, I read a newspaper column by Betsy Hart which I want to share with you verbatim. If you are as impressed as I was by it, please share it with other parents and grandparents.

"I like to say that my goal for my children is Heaven, not Harvard. Now if my kids go to Harvard on the way to heaven, that's fine; But if I so focus on Harvard and success in this world that they miss Heaven, I will have failed them -- and for all of eternity.
It starts with training them in the wise habits of the heart. I was so fortunate to have wise friends in my church -- families mentoring and challenging me, teaching me things like (gasp!), It's the job of us parents to lead our kids. It's not up to the experts, it's not up to the village, it's up to us. So with apologies to Stephen Covey and gratefulness to my many wise friends, I distill it down to the seven essential habits of the successful home, in this case the seven "A's":
1. The culture teaches us that success in the world is what's important. Instead, we parents need to have as a mission for our kids something that will really matter for them, now and forever.
2. The culture tells us that our children are inherently wise and virtuous. But the wise parent sees a child's heart accurately, meaning he understands that the foolish tendencies of his child's heart are the biggest danger facing him.
3. The parenting experts want us to believe that we must "earn" our authority in the lives of our kids, as one such leading expert puts it. Instead, we parents must accept our role of authority in our children's lives for the good of our children. And we must understand that we as parents are under God's authority too.
4. The culture seeks to protect children from every conceivable disappointment or frustration. This isn't the way to build resilient children. This is the way to build children who will be routinely buffeted by life's storms, even the storms God Himself asks them to weather.
5. The world teaches children to ask, "What have you done for me lately?" But wise parents teach their children an attitude of gratefulness.
6. The culture wants our children to believe they are wonderful right now, as is. Instead, our duty as parents is to affirm our children not because they are wonderful today, as crazy as we are about them, but because they are created in God's image.
7. The world wants us parents to be our children's 'friends.' But the wise parent knows that to be a child's advocate, to be on our child's side, means we have to care less about whether our children like us when they are 13 then when they are 30. And that to really be our child's advocate, we need to pray for our kids and wisdom in parenting them.
This list is hardly exhaustive. But whatever we decide are going to be the essential habits of our homes, we parents have to persevere in the moment, even when we don't see the fruits of our perseverance in the moment."

As parents, our most important responsibility is to lead our children to a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This will assure them the best possible life here on earth and an eternal home in heaven.

Love, Jerry & Dotse