What are you hiding?

eyes

As the old Eagles song says,

You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes And your smile is a thin disguise I thought by now you’d realize There ain’t no way to hide your lyin eyes

Do you ever try to hide your true feelings? Do you ever hide what’s going on inside. It might be harder than you think. In the same way, you can’t hide your lying eyes, we can’t really hide what’s going on in our hearts. The reason for this is revealed through the words of Jesus.

Jesus said in Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Have you ever said, “What are You looking at, What’s Your problem, or What’s wrong with him?” Do you roll your eyes, give an exaggerated sigh, or respond cynically to bad or unfavorable news? Do you tend to complain and argue? Are your friends or co-workers likely to categorize you as a pessimistic person? How about your family? Are you over all negative, critical, and judgmental?

Here is what you need to know. You have a heart problem and you can’t hide it. Out of the over flow of our hearts, our mouths speak. Think of it like a bank. You can only withdrawal what you put in. If what you are paying out in your attitude is negative, critical, and judgmental the ugly truth is that’s what’s in your heart.

You know the guy at the restaurant who is loud and obnoxious? He ruins your whole dinner and is blissfully unaware of how he is affecting others. Many of us are the same way. We are pessimistic, negative, critical, and judgmental and we don’t even realize how bad it is. The painful truth is that everyone else sees it all too well.

The good news is that we can change all of that. Like the old computer programming saying goes, “You put garbage in you get garbage out.” It is time we stop accepting negative input from the world around us. The culture says that you are only valuable if you drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood, and have the right job. The culture says you are only valuable if you look a certain way, and act a certain way. If we don’t fit into these cultural molds we are outcasts.

We also have to stop accepting negative input from others. We have to give up the notion that we must meet the standards of others at the expense of our God given dreams. A person might never meet the expectations of their earthly parents and still be in the center of God’s will. No one else can live our lives for us and we must be careful not to put too much weight on the expectations of others.

We also must be careful about the input we get from ourselves. We are sometimes guilty of negative self talk. We will tell ourselves things like, “I’m such an idiot, I could never do that, or I’m so crazy.” These lies pour garbage into our banks. When it comes time to interact with others we find ourselves paying out some pretty ugly stuff.

I recently posted an article about Positive Affirmations.  It is far better to make a practice of positive input. If you are a believer in God or follower of Jesus Christ, why not fill your heart with the truth of God?

According to the Bible:

I am blameless and free from accusation. (Colossians 1:22)

Christ Himself is in me. (Colossians 1:27)

I am firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up in Him. (Col. 2:7)

I have been made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)

I have been spiritually circumcised. My old unregenerate nature has been

removed. (Colossians 2:11)

I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ. (Colossians 2:12,13)

I died with Christ and I have been raised up with Christ. My life is now hidden

With Christ in God. Christ is now my life. (Colossians 1:1-4)

I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life. (Colossians 3:4)

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved. (Col. 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4)

I am a son of light and not of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

I have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I have been saved and set apart according to God’s doing.

(2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5)

Because I am sanctified and am one with the Sanctifier, He is not ashamed

to call me brother. (Hebrews 2:11)

I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling. (Hebrews 3:1)

I have the right to come boldly before the throne of God to find mercy and

grace in a time of need. (Hebrews4:16)

I have been born again. (1 Peter 1:23)

I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house.

(1 Peter 2:5)

I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a

People for God’s own possession. (1 Peter 2:9,10)

I am an alien and stranger to this world in which I temporarily live.

(1 Peter 2:11)

I am an enemy of the devil. (1 Peter 2:11)

I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by

Which I am a partaker of God’s divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

I am forgiven on the account of Jesus’ name. (1 John 2:12)

I am anointed by God. (1 John 2:27)

I am a child of God and I will resemble Christ when He returns. (1 John 3:1,2)

I am loved. (1 John 4:10)

I am like Christ. (1 John 4:10)

I have life. (1 John 5:12)

I am born of God, and the evil one…the devil…cannot touch me.

(1 John 5:`8)

I have been redeemed. (Revelation 5:9)

“Then you will know the truth and truth will set you FREE!”

 

 

 

Addiction and the Brain

brain

Addiction and the Brain

Dopamine is our brain’s natural fell good chemical.  We get a normal dose of dopamine when we do things that are pleasurable such as eating, playing, talking with friends, and making love.  When we use drugs, gamble, and binge eat, or view pornography we get an inordinate amount of dopamine.

When we use drugs or act out compulsive behaviors our brain remembers the circumstances surrounding the powerful rush of dopamine. The people we were with, the places we were and the things surrounding the compulsive behavior all get wrapped up and filed away together by our brains.   The next time our brains are reminded of the people, places, and things surrounding our compulsive behaviors our brain also remembers the powerful rush of dopamine.  Our brain then begins to say, “Go get that dopamine!”

Have you ever went to a movie and as you walked in the door you were assaulted with the smell of popcorn and immediately were thirsty for an ice cold Coke? The reason this happened is you have enjoyed a coke with popcorn before.  Your brain recorded the pleasurable event as a memory.  When the memory of the popcorn was triggered by the smell, the memory of the coke also fired.  Your brain immediately began saying, “Let’s do that again!” The same thing happens surrounding our compulsive behaviors leading us back to our addictions.

Now that we understand in part how our brains work in addiction, we understand more than ever the importance of avoiding triggers.  A great deal of recovery focuses on this vital step.

Often triggers are placed into three categories People, Places, and Things. A fourth more abstract category is also necessary.  I simply call this category, “Feelings”.  In the, “Feelings” category I place harder to define triggers like hunger, boredom, anger, anxiety, and depression.

Here is what’s going on in our brains during compulsive behaviors and or drug use:

#1. Pleasurable activities stimulate the VTA to make a normal amount of dopamine (Our brains natural pleasure, or feel good chemical).  Binge eating, Drug use, Gambling, Pornography, and other Compulsive behaviors produce extreme levels of Dopamine.

#2. The Nucleus Accumbens (Ventral Straiatum), pleasure center of the brain created to feel pleasure within normal ranges feels extreme amounts of pleasure when abused.  Excessive abuse causes, “Excitotoxicity” (Nerve cell damage from overactive receptors).

#3. Serotonin and GABA (Your body’s natural calming ability) are decreased.

#4.   Hippocampus: Remembers the details and context of our memories, the who, what, when, where, why, and how.”

#5. Amygdala: Connects emotions to memories.  The stronger the emotion (Good or bad) tied to the memory the more vivid it will be.  Also reinforces good memories and says, “Let’s do that again!”

#6. Locus Ceruleus: Alarm center of the Brain. Responds to Stress or Danger.  Tells the body to have a physical reaction if it does not get the dopamine rush.   (Believes we need the drug like we need food, water, air)

Matt Bulkley from starguideswilderness.com states, “When one uses drugs like cocaine, these pathways are tricked into releasing uncommonly high levels of dopamine in our brain without us having to do anything for it. The reaction of these pathways to viewing porn is exactly the same. These ‘pleasure’ pathways become permanent as the porn addict continues to go back to the activity – watching sexually explicit images – to experience the release of dopamine.”

 

On June 28 2012 counselingalliance.com stated, “The odd thing about chronic pornography users is that they generally began using porn as a result of the pleasure it brought them (dopamine’s role as discussed above). With continued use however, pleasure diminishes. The trap of pornography is that pleasure becomes an elusive prize. The more the user searches for pleasure, the less he/she finds it. Here’s why:

The repeated high doses of the “chemical bath” associated with orgasm result in the brain’s inability to process and enjoy those chemicals at the same level it so desperately craves. What was once like a jolt of electricity surging through the central nervous system is reduced to a point it is no longer satisfying. Addicts often report symptoms of depression, relational problems, and a general sense of the joy of life having been lost. Why? Because the natural balance and function of the brain’s neurochemicals have been replaced by frantic search for another “fix.”

Some refer to sex addiction as the ultimate attention deficit disorder (ADD). Like ADD, the addict is continually scanning and searching for a new and novel experience. One way this search for new and novel experience plays out in the lives of users is that their search leads them to web sites and areas that they would normally have no interest in. For example, some who consider themselves straight and traditional in their sexual preferences will find themselves looking at gay porn or sado/masochistic websites in an effort to discover something new. It is the brain’s search for novelty, and for a chemical fix that leads the person to such sites. This, coupled with the fact that the high resolution video often available in today’s Internet porn is more graphic and more violent than what was available even a few years ago, leads the user deeper and deeper into the trap of seeking a novel experience. The overall result is like the preverbal “carrot on a stick.” The satisfaction one seeks is always just out of reach and so the efforts to capture the experience continue on and on.”

I’m reminded of the age old story of Satan in the garden tempting Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. The ancient serpent promised the first man and woman that they would be like God. He sold them the lie that there is something far greater for your life if you just partake of this forbidden fruit. For Adam and Eve of course the deception distracted them from a healthy pursuit of love, joy, and peace. They became discouraged, and dominated by their sin which lead down a path of destruction.

The same is true for us today. When we believe the lie that there is greater love, or joy, or peace in our addictions or compulsive behaviors the deception distracts us from a healthy pursuit of love, joy, and peace. We become discouraged as the high is never enough; we can never replicate that original euphoria. Our behavior begins to dominate more and more of our lives until we are ultimately destroyed. These are 5 D’s of Addiction.

Identity and Addiction

identity1

In my recovery groups we have been talking about the lies we believe that lead us to and keep us in our addictions. These are the same lies that most of us believe from time to time.  Although they don’t lead us all to addiction we can see the exact same pattern of destruction in all of us.

This morning I have been thinking about how our identity directs the course of our lives. The way we identify ourselves leads us toward or away from healthy choices, and our addictive and or compulsive behaviors.  It also occurred to me that our identity is not always consistent.

Let me explain. A friend of mine is a marathon runner.  She is not only built like a runner and trains like a runner, but she thinks like a runner.  Because she identifies herself as a runner there are certain things she will do and other things she will not do.  For example, most mornings she will go for a jog before work.   For lunch she will often eat some green leafy thing that doesn’t look all that appetizing to me.  She rarely eats sweets and never drinks coal.  All of these choices are directed by a single force, her identity.

Someone who is trying to maintain an image of a tough guy will make different choices. He will say and do certain things to sustain this tough guy identity.  Conversely, there will be things he will never do.  This guy wouldn’t be caught dead at a day spa having his nails done.  You will never find this guy crying over a particularly sad movie.  Why?  Because it goes against the way he identifies himself.

The challenge comes when two worlds collide. What happens when a person who previously identified himself with the drug and criminal lifestyle suddenly decides to get clean?  Let’s say this guy goes through recovery and is making some real progress.  He is minimizing his exposure to triggers and is using the tools he has learned to help him work through the challenges of life.  When he gets out of prison he is right back at his mother’s house, the place he grew up, and the center of his previous life of drugs and crime.  All goes well until a few of his old friends stop by.  Suddenly the new man is confronted with his old self.  Who is he going to be in front of his old friends?

Are we ever tempted to be one way in front of some people and another in front of others? This is a problem with identity.  In recovery and at meetings he may act one way and when he is with his old friends he may act another.  The truth is not that he is necessarily putting on a show.  He may just be struggling with his identity.

If we desire to live clean and sober lives we need to solidify our identity as clean and sober individuals. When we are secure in our identity we are free to be ourselves 100% of the time.  If you find yourself struggling with this here is a word of encouragement.  It takes time and it takes intentionality.  In other words this isn’t something that will just happen.  We need to work on it.  We need to draw the line in the sand today and say, “I am clean and sober.  This is who I am.”  When temptations come we need to remind ourselves that those choices are not consistent with who I am.  In the same way a runner would not eat ½ of a chocolate cake an hour before his or her run, we would no longer give in to the temptation to return to the drug and criminal lifestyle.  That is simply not who we are any longer.

I’m big on positive affirmations, and positive self talk. Why not choose 10 of these statements from the list below and write them down, or print them off.  Then read through them on a daily basis.  I have this list printed out and hanging up in my office right by my desk.  It only takes a minute or two to read through all 60 statements.  After reading through them I always, always feel better, more confident, and it solidifies my identity as a successful, confident, and powerful person who is at peace with God, myself, and others.

  1. I am a person of immeasurable worth, inner greatness, and have unlimited potential.
  2. I am enjoying life free from the bondage of addiction.
  3. I am increasingly happy and healthy.
  4. I am calm, confident, and in control.
  5. I am deeply loved and I love deeply.
  6. I feel joy and contentment in this moment right now.
  7. I awaken in the morning feeling happy and enthusiastic about life.
  8. I can tap into a wellspring of inner happiness anytime I wish.
  9. By allowing myself to be happy, I inspire others to be happy as well.
  10. I have fun with all of my endeavors, even the most mundane.
  11. I look at the world around me and can’t help but smile and feel joy.
  12. I find joy and pleasure in the simple things in life.
  13. I have an active sense of humor and love to share laughter with others.
  14. My heart is overflowing with joy.
  15. I rest in happiness when I go to sleep, knowing all is well in my world.
  16. I expect to be successful in all of my endeavors. Success is my natural state.
  17. I easily find solutions to challenges and roadblocks and move past them quickly.
  18. Mistakes and setbacks are stepping stones to my success because I learn from them.
  19. Every day in every way, I am becoming more and more successful.
  20. I feel successful with my life right now, even as I work toward future success.
  21. I know exactly what I need to do to achieve success.
  22. I see fear as the fuel for my success and take bold action in spite of fear.
  23. I feel powerful, capable, confident, energetic, and on top of the world.
  24. I am a problem solver. I focus on solutions and always find the best solution.
  25. I love change and easily adjust myself to new situations.
  26. I live in the present and am confident of the future.
  27. I have an intention for success and know it is a reality awaiting my arrival.
  28. I approve of myself and love myself deeply and completely.
  29. I am unique. I feel good about being alive and being me.
  30. I have integrity. I am totally reliable. I do what I say.
  31. I act from a place of personal security.
  32. I fully accept myself and know that I am worthy of great things in life.
  33. I choose to be proud of myself.
  34. I find deep inner peace within myself as I am.
  35. I fill my mind with positive and nourishing thoughts.
  36. Every cell in my body vibrates with energy and health.
  37. I am completely pain free, and my body is full of energy.
  38. I nourish my body with healthy food.
  39. All of my body systems are functioning perfectly.
  40. My body is healing, and I feel better and better every day.
  41. I enjoy exercising my body and strengthening my muscles.
  42. My world is a peaceful, loving, and joy-filled place to live.
  43. I sow the seeds of peace wherever I go.
  44. I surround myself with peaceful people.
  45. My work environment is calm and peaceful.
  46. I breath in peace, I breath out chaos and disorder.
  47. My home is a peaceful sanctuary where I feel safe and happy.
  48. In all that I say and do, I choose peace.
  49. I release past anger and hurts and fill myself with serenity and peaceful thoughts.
  50. Peace descends all around me now and always.
  51. Calmness washes over me with every deep breath I take.
  52. Every day I am more and more at ease.
  53. Being calm and relaxed energizes my whole being.
  54. All the muscles in my body are releasing and relaxing.
  55. All negativity and stress are evaporating from my body and my mind.
  56. I breath in relaxation. I breath out stress.
  57. Even when there is chaos around me, I remain calm and centered.
  58. I transcend stress of any kind. I live in peace.
  59. I am free of anxiety, and a calm inner peace fills my mind and body.
  60. All is well in my world. I am calm, happy, and content.

Addicted to Lies

Lies

The first of the 5 D’s of addiction is Deception. Deception describes the lies we believe that lead us to and keep us in our addictions. The truth is we all believe lies. These lies are sometimes called, “Negative Core Beliefs.”  It can’t be overstated how dangerous it is to believe these lies. The lies we believe can have an absolutely devastating effect on our emotions and can lead us to or keep us in our addictions, ruin our marriages, and destroy relationships.  It is so important we discover and combat the lies we believe.

Belief

Earlier we discussed the fact that out of our beliefs come our emotions and out of our emotions come our actions.  When we look at the equation in reverse we can follow our emotions back to the beliefs that caused them.  By discovering our negative, or lie based beliefs we can begin work on healthier thinking leading to healthier emotions and actions.  One way to identify our lie based, or negative core beliefs is to discover the way we internalize things.  Internalization is the beliefs about ourselves based on the things we experience in life.

How we internalize both the negative and positive things we experience in life, directly affects the way we interact with people in every relationship. This means that the way we internalize things affects our marriages and families.  It effects our relationships at school, work, and in the community.  It affects the way we treat everyone from the gas station attendant to the police.  It affects the way we feel about people we see every day and people we may only meet once.

Perceptions, Emotions, and Internalization

To discover how we internalize things we must first understand our perceptions and emotions. When negative things are said, or done to us, and when we go through a negative experience we have certain perceptions, we respond emotionally, and often internalize the event in some way.

Let’s look at this simple example. Suppose you called a good friend or family member on the phone and invited them out to lunch on the following day.  Your friend or family member replied in a harsh tone, “You know I don’t have time for that!”  What would your perception of your friend or family members comment be?

Your perception could be one of many things. You might simply think that they are busy and don’t have time.  You might think perhaps they are having a bad day. It is important to note that our perception may or may not be right and true.  We might perceive a person’s harsh response to our simple question as a personal dislike for us.  The truth may be that the person is just having a real hard day.  On the other hand we might think they are just having a hard day when in fact they really don’t much care for us.  The point I’m trying to make here is this, our perceptions are not always accurate.

When bad things are said or done to us our perception might be one of the following statements.

They think I’m an idiot.

They think I’m not good enough.

They think I’m worthless.

They think I’m garbage.

They don’t respect me.

They don’t obey me.

They don’t listen to me.

They don’t understand that my way is best.

They are trying to control me.

I deserved that.

I had it coming to me.

I should be better so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.

Emotion

How we feel about what was said or done depends on our perception. Let’s go back to the example of a loved one being rude on the phone.  How would that make you feel?  If your perception was that he or she was just having a bad day and it was nothing personal you would probably feel OK.  If your perception was that they really do think you are pretty stupid for even asking such a question knowing that they are so busy you might feel a bit angry or upset.

Some of the emotions we might feel are:

Anger: Raise my voice, Punch something, Throw something, Swear, Put the person down, Flee the situation in rage.

Anxiety (have Fear or Worry):  Fear the worst, What if this is the end?  What if I can’t make it through this?  What if I die?  What if they never come back?  What if they think less of me?  What if I fail?  What if they don’t respect me?  What if they laugh at me?

Depressed: Things are never going to change.  It will never end.  It will always be this way.  It is absolutely hopeless.

Internalization

This is the area where we can really get ourselves into trouble. When trying to discover how we are internalizing something it is helpful to ask ourselves a couple of questions.  Ask yourself, “How did what he said or did make me feel about myself?”  Another question you can ask is this, “By what he said or did he was basically saying what about me?”  This will help us discover how we have internalized what was said or done.  Here are some examples of how we sometimes internalize things people have said or done to us.

I’m worthless.

I have no value.

I’m a piece of garbage.

I’m out of control.

If I’m not in control I can’t have peace.

I’m tainted.

I’m too polluted to be any good.

I’m so dirty after what I have done or what has been done to me that I don’t deserve anything good.  I’m ruined, stained, and defiled.

So why are these so dangerous and what’s the answer to all of this? As stated previously, out of our beliefs come our emotions, and out of our emotions come our actions.

If you believe you are worthless you are likely to feel angry or depressed. If you are feeling angry or depressed you are more likely to turn toward an unhealthy pursuit of love, joy, and peace such as addiction and compulsive behaviors.  You are also more likely to mistreat others.  That is why these negative core, and lie based beliefs are so dangerous.

Replace

In recovery we must learn to replace the lies we believe with the truth. Jesus said that the truth will set you free.

My prayer is that if you are reading these words you won’t be put off by my use of God and the Bible. Here’s why.  I’m not talking about the God of Judgmental Christians who say you are going to hell because you use drugs.  I’m not talking about some fairy tale, or some old outdated book that has no relevance for today.  I’m talking about the Creator of all things.  I’m talking about the message of the cross that is foolishness to so many but to me is the very power of God to free me from addiction, compulsive behaviors, and sin habits.  I’m talking about the God of all grace who looked down on me in all my fears and failures, and when the whole world sees me for the terrible things I have done God sees me through the eyes of grace and for the man He is molding me into.  It is the God of grace and mercy, the God of power and renewed purpose for our lives of whom I speak!

The truth is you were created for God’s pleasure and for His unique purpose. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together,” (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV). You were created by God and for His pleasure and purpose!

The truth is God thought so highly of you that even before you knew Him God knew a relationship with you was worth giving His life for. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him,” (John 3:16-17 ESV).

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV).   A relationship with you was worth God giving His life for!

The lies we believe lead us to and keep us in our addictions. The truth brings freedom!  Let’s focus on and celebrate the truth.

Addiction Recovery an incredible Journey

free

A good friend of mine once said that there are 5 ways the enemy assaults us.

  1. Deception
  2. Distraction
  3. Discouragement
  4. Domination
  5. Destruction

My eyes went wide and I’m pretty sure my jaw literally dropped. “That’s the cycle of addiction!” I responded.   Having worked with addicts and led step groups for years I recognized the downward spiral toward destruction immediately.

One morning as I was thinking about the 5 D’s of addiction I drew the chart you see below. Beneath it I wrote the 5 D’s followed by the 5 R’s of recovery.  Over the next several months I created a recovery program I called, “Freedom Christian Recovery.”  Since then I have taught the program to several groups and am currently teaching the program (In a secular form) in prison.

The longer I have studied the 5 D’s and the corresponding 5 R’s the more I realize their scope goes far beyond addiction. The principals taught in this program apply to marriage and family issues, challenges at work, and in the community.

Freedom Christian Recovery is based on the 5 D’s of addiction, 5 R’s of recovery, and this simple diagram below.  (Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved)

Deception is Replaced with the truth.

Distraction is Redirected toward God’s best plan for your life.

Discouragement is replaced with Relationships.  

Domination turns to Renewal as we discover God’s purposes for our lives.

FCR CHART

 

Let’s examine the various elements of the FCR Diagram.

Vision Goals and Dreams

Whether you know it or not you have a vision, goals, and dreams.  Your vision may not be written down, categorized, or prioritized but you have one.

Love Joy and Peace

                In the big picture all of goals and dreams have to do with these three things love, joy, and peace.

Let’s take a look at the first category love. Many of our goals in our lives have to do with relationships.  We desire good relationships with our families, friends, co-workers, and with God.  We desire to love and to be loved.  We desire to feel valuable.  These goals fall into the love category.

The second category is joy.  Many of our goals have to do with finding joy or pleasure.  We want a better car.  We want nice cloths.  We want new toys like electronics, house hold appliances, tools, clothes, purses, shoes, boats, motorcycles, campers, sporting goods, and the list goes on and on.  We want to surround ourselves with the good things in life because we desire pleasure.  These goals fall into the joy category.

The third category is peace.  We desire a sense of security.    We would like to have the assurance that life is not totally out of control.  We desire physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.  These goals fall into the peace category.

 

Anger Anxiety Depression

                Whether or not we realize it we all have some sort of vision or goals for our lives.  Those goals fall into the three categories we have discussed.  The challenge comes when situations in life threaten our ability to find love joy and peace.

Anger

                We know anger is caused when a goal is blocked.  Let’s use the illustration of running late for school or work.  You are running late while the guy in the car in front of you is talking on the cell phone to his sweet heart, laughing up a storm, and going ten miles below the speed limit.  You can feel the anger well inside of you.  Your goal of getting to where you need to be on time is blocked.  This causes you to get angry.  Anger is caused when a goal is blocked.

Anxiety

                We know anxiety is caused when a goal is uncertain.  Let’s use the same illustration of running late.  You are running late and it is down to the wire.  You may have just enough time to get to work if that bone head in the car in front of you makes a right turn up here at the light.  You see a train coming but you may have enough time to get through before the gates come down.  You know if you don’t make it the boss is really going to yell.  It is going to be close.  You feel your heart race.  Your arms begin to tingle.  The anxiety is high because the goal is uncertain.  Anxiety is caused when a goal seams uncertain.

Depression

                We know depression is caused when a goal seams unattainable.  Let’s go back to the same illustration.  You are running late for work and it does not look good.  You got stuck by the train.  You are still stuck behind the goof ball on the cell phone.  You have a fifteen minute drive ahead of you and you are supposed to clock in in five.  You begin thinking about how your boss is going to fire you, or how the school is going to suspend you.  You are depressed.  Your goal of getting where you need to be on time is hopeless.  Depression is caused when a goal seams hopeless.

Substance Abuse Compulsive Behavior and Sin Habits

Now we are feeling all of these negative emotions.  We deeply desire love joy and peace but it is blocked by the situations and circumstances of life.  It is in these moments we seek an alternative.  Rather than finding our love (Sense of value), joy, and peace in healthy ways we turn to our compulsive behaviors, and addictions which turn into sin habits.

When we were not made to feel loved or valued in life we turn to addictions which ease the pain.  We sometimes feel acceptance from others who engage in the same behaviors we do.  When we do not have joy in life we seek pleasure from our compulsive behaviors.  As we will learn in detail, compulsive behaviors work in the pleasure center of our brains to flood our brains with dopamine (The brains natural, “Feel Good” chemical).  When life is anything but peaceful we turn to addictions for temporary relief from the chaos of life.  In short, our addiction becomes our love, joy, and peace.

The 5 D’s of Addiction

                All of this leads to the five D’s of addiction which are Deception, Distraction, Discouragement, Domination, and Destruction.

Deception:  At the outset we are deceived into believing we can find our love, joy, and peace from our compulsive behaviors as a suitable substitute to finding them in healthier ways.  As we will discover we also often believe lies about ourselves that effect our emotions and actions.  In FCR we will learn Deception is Replaced with the truth.

Distraction: Our addictions distract us from experiencing true love, joy, and peace.  They also distract us from our responsibilities in life and we find ourselves stuck in a cycle of inefficiency.  In FCR we will learn Distraction is Redirected toward God’s best plan for your life.

Discouragement: The more we use our drug of choice (including addictive behaviors such as gambling, shop lifting, pornography, etc.) the more tolerant our brains become.  We need more and more to get the same high.  It gets harder and harder to simulate the original high.  No matter how hard we try we can’t seem to fill the void for love, joy, and peace.  We become discouraged.  In FCR we learn Discouragement is replaced with Relationships.  

Domination:  What started out as something we could control in an effort to find love, joy, and peace slowly began taking control of certain areas of our lives.  We became dominated.  We became addicted.  In FCR we will learn how addiction works in and affects our brain.  We will also learn how Domination turns to Renewal as we discover God’s purposes for our lives.

Destruction: The final, “D” of addiction is destruction.  We know it all too well.  Addiction has begun to destroy our families, our school or work, and every other area of our lives.  Nearly everyone knows someone or knows of someone whose life was taken because of addiction.  In FCR we will learn that Destruction gives way to Restoration as we begin to restore cracked and broken relationships.

Let’s begin the journey of healing, freedom, and hope, the journey of recovery.

Comment below and let us know your recovery story.  Feel free to send me your questions.

 

 

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!”   

His Kingdom Come??

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

kingdom

***Click here to listen to the Podcast***

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