Problem Solving and Addiction

I didn’t know it was going to start an argument.  I stated what I thought was a forgone conclusion.  Apparently my co-worker didn’t see it that way.  We had been talking about one of my clients who had made some choices that not only got him kicked out of the recovery program but also landed him in segregated housing, or what some call, “Solitary confinement.”  This is a very small room where the client will spend 23 hours a day.

I had told my co-worker that at the root of it all is poor problem solving skills.  My friend vehemently disagreed.  “Maybe years down the line he can begin working on problem solving skills but for now he has much bigger issues to work through.”  He went on to list things like the clients mindset that leads to the drug and criminal lifestyle, possible childhood issues, lying, manipulating, and of course his addictions.

I explained that my theory is that at the root of all these things is poor problem solving skills.  Have you ever been so upset with your child that you screamed at them?  Have you ever been so frustrated in traffic that you yelled at another driver?  Have you ever stolen something from work?  Have you ever cheated in big or small ways in order to get ahead?  Have you ever turned to drugs, alcohol, shopping, pornography, or eating to comfort yourself after a bad day?  Most of us have.

My guess is that 90% of the challenges we have with our children is due to their lack of problem solving skills.  Because they have trouble thinking through the challenges of life and come up with positive solutions they attempt to solve the problems in other ways, such as throwing a fit, manipulating, lying, and so on. When we get older our temper tantrums look a little different than they did when we were kids.  Still, at the root of it all is the fact we sometimes don’t know how to solve our problems in healthy ways.

My client has a problem.  The best solution he came to at the time was to get himself removed from the program.  Are we any different?  Instead of doing the hard work of reconciling broken relationships are we not quick to dispose of them?  Instead of fixing the broken car we rush to the new car lot to take out a loan on a new car that we really can’t afford.  Instead of practicing patience and humility we react with rage when things don’t go our way.  At the root of many of our own challenges is a lack of problem solving skills.

This leads to the question, “How does one obtain problem solving skills?”  The answer, I believe, is twofold. First we need the proper tools.  Second, we need to learn when, where, and how to use these tools.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are credited for writing the song, “All you need is love.”  Although I’m uncertain whether love is ALL we need, but it sure is a good start.  The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth gave a short list of tools needed if we are going to master the challenges that life throws our way without turning to our addictive and compulsive behaviors.   Paul explained that, “Love,” is more than just a warm fuzzy feeling you get but it is something that you do.  As you read through the short passage from Paul’s letter note the tools (In bold print) needed to love.  These are same tools needed to problem solve our way through life.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails,” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a NIV).

I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.  Do you believe at the root of many of our challenges in life lies poor problem solving skills?  What tools are needed for us to navigate the challenges of this life in healthy, prosocial ways?  Reply below.

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Keep in step with the Spirit!

Spirit

Have you ever read through the New Testament account of the mighty and powerful way God moved in the early church and had a sense of longing for that kind of Holy Spirit fire in the church today?  Have you noticed how in the early church miracles were an everyday occurrence and lives were impacted by God through His people in ways that forever changed their lives?  Have you ever wondered why God is not moving in the same way through the church today?

Our Vision at Washington Church is to connect to the heart of God individually, together and in the community.  Sounds good on paper.  Very holy.  Very appropriate!  I’m sure God must be proud.  But without actions they are just pompous empty words.  Without movement and momentum they are just dry and decayed lifeless desires.

Where does the passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people come from?

So what is missing in the Church today?  What can we do to bring life to the vision God has given us to connect with His heart personally, as a church family, and impact the community with the life altering message of the love of God?

If I were to ask you what you want for your life what would you say?  I’d like to grow in my love for God and others.  I want to grow in my understanding and experience of God’s love toward me.  I’d like to grow in joy.  I’d like to grow in peace.

If I were to ask you what is your desire for your Church what would you say?  I’d like our church to… “Grow?”  Likely you would say something like this.  I’d like our church to grow.  I’d like us to grow in numbers.  I’d like us to grow in our love for one another.  I’d like to see growth in the number of spectators getting involved in using their gifts to serve the church and the community.  I’d like to see us grow in our outreach to the community where we are showing God’s love and shining His light.  I’d like our church to grow in spiritual fervor!  May God kindle a fire in us that moves us to action, that we might begin as a congregation to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us!

So what needs to change?  What needs to change in us that we might have that passion needed to move us toward a heartfelt love and hunger for the living God?  What needs to change in us that we might have a passion for the people of this world for whom Christ died?

Where does the passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people come from?

It doesn’t come from our hearts.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

We know that!  We desire to be the people God created us to be but our hearts don’t always follow.  Our spirits are willing but our hearts are so, so week.  We love the idea of loving God heart, soul, mind, and strength but sadly too often it remains only an idea.  We desperately need a heart change.

It doesn’t come from our minds.

We have such a hard time with putting into practice the command from Colossians 3:2 where the Apostle Paul instructs us saying, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Paul says in Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

The question for us today is this: If our hearts are desperately sick and our minds are need of renewal than where does the passion needed to fulfill God’s vision come from?

The answer, as we will explore today is this: The passion need to fulfill God’s mission comes not from our own hearts and minds, but from living in relationship with God the Holy Spirit.

Pastor John Bavere says that the Holy Spirit is the most ignored person in the church today.  Have you ever considered that?  We go through our lives at home, at work, and in the community and for the most part we are in our own little self-absorbed bubble.  Then all of sudden something from outside of our bubble encroaches on our peace, safety, or comfort and we suddenly become very holy.  We begin to pray.  The point is not that we can’t pray in our greatest times of need but that God is with us all the time, in every situation, in every joy, and in every struggle.  He is with us as we are getting ready for our day, on the drive to work, when we are on the phone, and checking email.  He is with us when we are visiting family, enjoying our lunch, or just reading a book.  God is with in everything we do big or small.  Yet for the most part He is largely ignored.

Where does the passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people come from?

“The passion and the power, the motivation and momentum to love God and love His people, to connect to His heart individually, together, and in the community comes from living in relationship with the Holy Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16-26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

When we understand the Holy Spirit is a person :

We walk by the Spirit: Walk by the power, influence, and direction of the Spirit.   Live day by day enjoying His presence, learning from Him, being empowered by Him

We are led by the Spirit: We follow His leading what to say, and what not to say, what to do and what not to do

We bear the fruit of the Spirit: He begins to grow in us and produce fruit that is a blessing to us and others through us

We live by the Spirit: It becomes a way of life

We keep in step: This is a picture of intimacy.  We can only keep in step with someone we are walking very closely with.

We have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires: 1 Corinthians 15:31b “I die every day.”

Many of us today need to die to our:

  • Discontentment
  • Anger
  • Pride
  • Hurt
  • Jealousy
  • Fears
  • Sin

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Walking in the Spirit brings Freedom:

  • In our minds, thoughts, emotions
  • In our marriages and family relationships
  • In our homes, work places, and in our communities

“Let’s begin experiencing the passion and power, motivation and momentum of God working through us in the Holy Spirit!”   

Blessed be Your Name!

your Name

Some of you know about the trials my family has been going through over the past month.  I can’t say enough how much your prayer has meant to us and has encouraged us to press on!  Thank you!  I recorded a personal message that I pray will encourage others who are suffering hardships in this crazy world.  Please listen and share it with others who are going through a hard time.

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All you need is LOVE!

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God’s love is amazing!  But, have you ever considered the fact that we don’t even comprehend it?  Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened that they might see God for who He truly is.  He went on to pray that they might know the Love of GOD that surpasses knowledge in such a way that they might be filled with the fullness of GOD!

Ephesians 1:15-19 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.

Paul prayed that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened that we might know Him.  There is a parallel between this deeper knowledge of God and the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us!

Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul ties the abundant life God desires for us with being rooted and grounded in and comprehending God’s love.

What does it mean to be rooted and grounded in Love?

It has to do in part with how we see God with the eyes of our hearts. 

*** Click Here to Listen to the Podcast ***

His Kingdom Come??

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kingdom

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I confess it can be so hard being the man God called me to be.  I struggle.  Even as a pastor, believe it or not.  Yes, I want to do big things for God.  I want His will to be done and His blessings in my marriage and family, and His blessings in my ministry.  However, I, like the rest of the world can get tangled up in the things of this world.  There are so may things calling out for our attention and devotion it is easy to get distracted.  We may even find that we are building our own kingdom instead of the kingdom of God.

How we build our kingdom: This is where we are naturally prone to invest.  This is the kingdom we are naturally prone to build.  Of course it is our Kingdom, not His.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Lust of the flesh:  ungodly ways to please our flesh such as overeating, drug or alcohol abuse, and sexual encounters outside of marriage.   Numb the pain of the day on the TV, computer, or cell phone, live in the fantasy because it is better than the reality.

Lust of the eyes: Things of this world I believe will make me happy, cars, boats, RV’s, motorcycles, computers and cell phones, gadgets and gizmos, trinkets and toys.

The boastful pride of life:  Seeking acceptance, approval, and adoration from others through our ability, achievements, possessions, or our position in life.

The encouragement for us today is to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirt to invest in and build God’s kingdom.  This requires us to turn our focus outward and invest in others. 

In Matthew 25:14-30, we are encouraged to invest in God’s Kingdom!

“For it,” (The Kingdom of God,)  “will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Did you notice that Jesus said that the servant who had nothing, that is no interest on his investment, was worthless.  Can you imagine if the Lord said that of you or me?  We would be devastated!  Yet the Holy Spirit prompts us everyday to come outside of ourselves and invest, not in ourselves, but in God’s kingdom!

Want to hear more?  ***Click here to hear the Podcast***

God bless you!  And remember, if you wright me I will right you back. 😉

Pastor Brian

 

In His Hands!

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If you are like me you tend to worry and stress about things that are out of your control.  Take comfort today, His is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory!  I realize this is something we know in our minds but don’t always know in our hearts.  In the tough stuff of life we tend to forget that He really does have the whole world in His hands.  The hardships that your are experiencing today did not come as a surprise to Him.  Nor is He distant, or unconcerned. Trust this day into the hands of God and I will do the same.  Together we will get through this day and grow a little bit closer to the Lord as we learn to lean on Him.

I pray this short 2 minute podcast blesses you!

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Don’t wait!

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In this passage the Apostle Paul uses the picture of building on a foundation to illustrate how we are to build God’s kingdom.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

You don’t need permission, or a program to invest in God’s kingdom.  You have been gifted, and commissioned, by God and have received instruction through His Word.  I think sometimes we are under the impression that if we are going to serve the Lord we need to start a new program at church or lead a Bible study or small group.  Sometimes this is the case, but I think more often than not we are to survey the gifts and talents God has given us including our passions and just start doing it whenever and wherever we can.

In this episode you will be encouraged to take what you have been given and begin building God’s kingdom!

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