Letting Go of Old Identities

identity

Life’s too short for drama and negativity,
Pointing out the problem doesn’t take much ability.
Saturate the day with encouragement and optimism,
It’ll take focus and work, the opposite of passivism.

Only you can go to places that will stretch & grow you,
It will be scary, difficult, but it will reward you.
No one will cheer you, but go there anyway,
Few will understand, it’s the price you must pay.

The sign of maturity is to become less dramatic,
Being the victim has now become anti-climatic.
Energizing those around, you’re no longer a drain,
Hope is your new choice, like the smell of spring rain.

Jesus came to remove the sin of exclusion,
The Pharisees felt threatened like he was an intrusion.
Gandhi was puzzled by the churches prejudice,
He stayed Hindu because there was no difference.

We create our own boxes, it’s time to get rid of them,
We’re far more creative than we can fully comprehend.
So don’t get caught up in main stream philosophies,
The world needs your uniqueness with no apologies.

The only prayer you need is a simple “Thank you”,
Gratitude’s the answer, and miracles are the clue.
Thankfulness leads to joy, it’s the obvious fruit,
Waiting for perfect conditions is a destructive pursuit.

As we grow older we gravitate towards safety,
Talk is cheap, where have you gone lately?
To see justice we must run towards the unknown,
Uncertainty and discomfort, it’s where faith is grown.

His love is unconditional, no grading on a curve,
A stunning faithfulness, it’s not what I deserve.
It’s easy to forget, I strive for perfection,
I’m vulnerable to fail, but grace is my protection.

I have more pants than days in the week,
My 4g is slow, it’s new products I seek.
Lack of sanitation kills, statistics show it,
More people have mobile phones than a simple toilet.

Too many people choosing not to forgive,
It’s become their story, the way that they live.
I must let go of old identities, it’s a matter of will,
I’m canceling the debt, it’s paid in full.

 

Have You Seen Him Lately?

Every Person

When Jesus walked this earth he was seen by sinners, saints, rich, poor, insiders, outsiders, Jews, gentiles, believers and non-believers.

In John chapter one, he records, “The Word(Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory.”

We have seen his glory.

I think of the woman at the well, the shame of five failed marriages, an outcast in her own village, soul parched and empty, going back to tell them about this man she had met, transformed by his gentleness and grace, embraced by salvation’s story, declaring His kindness is better than life and this Samaritan woman sees his glory.

I think of the Prodigal son, ashamed of his past, hopeless in his present and fearful of his future, sitting at the banquet table that was set for his return, overwhelmed by his father’s unreasonable mercy, renewed by his Abba’s love and this rebellious, forgiven prodigal sees his glory.

I think about Zaccheaus, insecure, empty, shallow, crooked, betrayer of his own people, sliding down the lookout tree as fast as he could, generosity springing forth out of his bones, transformed by God’s patience, going home to have dinner with the giver of undeserved gifts and this remorseful tax collector sees his glory.

I think of the woman, ashamed of her past, tears in her eyes, anointing the feet of the one who did not judge her.
And while the religious voyeurs are scoffing and condemning, hearts of stone, the son of man looks deep in her eyes and for the first time there is a man who does not want to take something from her but wants to give her everlasting worth and she is restored by her master’s touch and this abused woman see his glory.

I think of 10 men, full of sores, untouchable, being touched by Emanuel, God with us, no longer exiled, future renewed, dignity restored by Jehovah’s power. And strangely, only one comes back to thank him and this grateful, healed man sees his glory.

I think the same gentleness and grace, the same unreasonable mercy, the same undeserved gifts, the same everlasting worth and healing power is available to every broken, rebellious, wayward, ailing, greedy, lust filled, wronged and mistreated person today when we choose to SEE and RECEIVE HIS GLORY.

Have you seen Jesus and his glory lately?

Today, we see Jesus dwelling among us and glimpses of his glory through the church.

When a man, homeless, broken by drugs, hopeless about the future, shows up to church on a Sunday morning, and instead of being judged is served, loved and given shelter, we see the hands and feet of Jesus, dwelling among us and in a tender, affecting way, we have seen his glory.

When a family, devastated from the loss of their teenage son, receives gentle love and deep care by a group of selfless volunteers called the funeral support and grief share team, amidst the sadness and the tears, we see the hands and feet of Jesus, dwelling among us, and in a heartbreaking, counterintuitive way, we have seen his glory.

When broken couples get fixed, wandering students find direction, empty bellies get filled, tired hearts get renewed, restless souls find peace, guilt ridden lives get set free, and lonely wanderers find a home, over and over, we see the hands and feet of Jesus, dwelling among us, and in obvious ways and not so obvious ways, we have seen his glory.

Tell me some ways you have seen Jesus and his glory lately.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.” ― Teresa of Ávila

The Difficult Journey

addiction

“Sobriety is a journey” E.V. Stankowski

One of the most complex, yet life changing decisions a human being can make is “to do a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves” as Step 4 exhorts in the 12 Step Program.

People who lead 12 Step Programs will tell you that Step 4 is where most people drop out of the program and yet it’s also the step that propels many towards freedom, healing and a new way of living.

In order to take this difficult journey:

1) You will have to go to some dark places

When you are conducting a deep inventory of your life and you admit you are drinking too much, the reality is drinking is not the root problem.

When you admit you have an addiction, the addiction is not the primary issue.

When you admit you have explosive anger, your anger is not the ultimate quandary.

Admitting these things are a good starting point and an important step in the process, but you can’t stop there.

You must go deeper. You must ask more questions. This can lead to some dark places.

What pain am I masking through alcohol?
What hurt am I avoiding with my addiction?
What frustrations or fears are driving my destructive anger?

In order to experience freedom and healing, you must be willing to go to some dark places and it’s in those dark places that you will experience a strength that is greater than your own.

King David sang ”Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

2) You will have to find some safe people to do this with

There is an epidemic of loneliness that is creating inhuman actions.

We will never be able to experience a fulfilling life over the internet.

I can listen to a sermon online, but I can only become fully human by rejoicing and mourning with real people.

The world needs you. And we need each other.

As Desmond Tutu once said, “No one can be human by themselves.”

The only way someone can be fearless with their moral inventory is they must surround themselves with people who will not judge, but will accept, exhort and support.

The truth is that when we are afraid to confess, what we are really afraid of is rejection.

3) You will have to grieve

You will have to give up stuff that makes you feel temporarily good.

The numbing affect of alcohol, the temporary high of an addiction, the adrenaline rush of an outburst of anger, all make us feel good for a short time, yet lead to long term pain.

In choosing to live differently, you will have to grieve the loss of temporary pleasure.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The enemy will try to steal your joy, destroy your dreams and ultimately kill you with immediate pleasures that lead to long-lasting destruction.

4) You will have to be patient

Patience in our culture means, “waiting to live”, not now but one day, I will experience life.

TRUE PATIENCE is the opposite of passive waiting.

The definition of patience is “living fully in the moment”.

PATIENCE means to enter actively into the thick of life and to fully bear the good, the bad, the victories and the suffering within and around us.

PATIENCE is an extremely difficult discipline because it counteracts our impulse to FLEE difficult circumstances or NUMB painful memories.

The great writer, Paulo Coelho says, “Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.”

5) You must believe that God has something greater for you

At the end of the day, we must embrace the fact that when we turn our lives over to God, he produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” in our soul, and nothing can take that away.

At the end of the day, life is grace.
Breathe in deep and enjoy every moment of it.

Stay close to God
Stay close to People who are PATIENT.

Someone very wise once said, “At bottom is the best soil to sow and grow something new again. In that sense, hitting bottom, while extremely painful, is also the sowing ground.”

I pray you choose the way of the difficult journey.

Thank you to all of my “Celebrate Recovery” friends who have shown us that the journey is worth it.