Just for Today

Today

I woke up this morning feeling less than enthusiastic about going to work, or even getting out of bed for that matter. My feet still hurt from the uncomfortable dress shoes I worked in all day yesterday. I was feeling cranky in part due to the lack of sleep I got the past few nights, and I wasn’t looking forward to going back into an environment that can be extremely negative.

I reluctantly rolled out of bed, and started my morning routine. That’s when it all changed. The thirtieth chapter of the book of 1 Samuel records an event where King David and his men returned from battle to find that there town had been plundered and their wives and children had been taken captive. The Bible says that the people were bitter in soul and even thought of stoning King David. Remarkably, when all seemed lost, and David was in this great distress, the Bible tells us that David encouraged himself in the Lord. That is what I decided to do this morning.

AA has a wonderful saying. It is, “Just for today.” The idea is this, “Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt I had to keep it up for a lifetime.” al-anon.org

The Lord taught a similar principle in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, “God give me today, what I need today, to get through today. Then I will come to you tomorrow and pray, “Give me today my daily bread.” I love how the NLT translates Matthew 6:34 where Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

With these thoughts in mind I began to encourage myself by praying something like this, “Father in Heaven, when you called the Apostle Peter out of the boat to join You as You walked on water, You were calling him to join Your holy presence for a miracle. Despite the circumstances of the wind and waves around him Peter stepped out in faith and did something no one on earth had ever done. May I have the same faith to step out today and join You for the miracle that You have planned for me today! Just for today I choose to put all of the negativity behind me and focus on the good that You desire for me. I pray you bless this day according to Your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. I pray in Jesus Name, Amen!”

I’m not going to say that my face shined with the glory of the Lord the way Moses face did when he came off the mountain having spent time in the presence of God. I will say that I faced the day with optimism and a renewed sense of the presence of God having acknowledged Him and prayed for His abundant blessings. May each of us continue to acknowledge the presence of God in the everyday situations in life and choose to live, Just for Today!

Advertisements

The Lies of Strife, Infidelity and Divorce in a Christian Marriage

marriage

Originally Published by: THE CHRISTIAN POST

By Brian H. Fontaine | Sun 11 Mar 2018 10:03 EDT

Strife, infidelity, and divorce are not uncommon even among those who profess to be Christians. According to Professor Bradley Wright in his book Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced. Although this is lower than the national average it points to the fact that Christians are not immune to marriage trouble.

 

To far too many the pain of a broken marriage, infidelity, or divorce is very real. Although Christ came to set us free from the power of sin we still live in a fallen world and are susceptible to the works of the flesh. The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:19-21a, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these.” Many of our homes are not void of these poisons. How many marriages have been sacrificed on the altar of jealousy? How many families have been destroyed by uncontrolled anger? How many couples have been torn apart due to sexual immorality? How many homes were broken by drunkenness?

 

The good news for us today is there is hope, healing, and a future. Several years ago I officiated a wedding for a couple at our church. The husband had an interesting hobby. He flew remote control airplanes. He enjoyed going out to the RC airstrip to fly his plains and watch as other hobbyist flew theirs. He explained that it can be an expensive hobby and that a lot of people get discouraged because they can spend hundreds on an airplane only to crash it on its maiden voyage. He also told of the wise old men that would hang out at the airstrip. They would happily take home the broken pieces of crashed airplanes that had been discarded by newbie piolets. The old men knew how to make beautiful new aircraft out of all of the broken pieces. The Lord is a lot like those old men. He knows how to make beautiful things out of the broken pieces of our lives much like an artist takes broken and sometimes shattered glass and fashions together a stained-glass masterpiece.

 

Like those in broken marriages, Jesus was all too familiar with the pain of being misunderstood, abandoned and betrayed by those He loved. He suffered alone in the Garden of Gethsemane as His friends fell asleep, unaware of His pain. He suffered alone as He was tried and then beaten and whipped. Christ alone died on the cross for the whole of mankind and was placed in a tomb all by Himself. In the Bible Luke recorded, “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus,” Luke 24:1-3 (ESV). Angles appeared to the woman saying, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

 

Jesus suffered greatly. There is no way we can minimize the pain he felt. Yet, by the resurrection power of God the Holy Spirit Christ rose again from the grave. He exchanged His death for life, His pain for promise, and His shame for glory! The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:4b, “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” There is hope! Yes the enemy comes into our lives, our marriages, and our families only to steal, kill and destroy but Christ came that we might truly, literally have an abundant life. I believe God is more than able, and is in fact longing to pick up the pieces of your life right where you are and begin to make something new and wonderful.

 

Are you in the midst of a broken marriage? Are you the victim of infidelity or have you yourself been unfaithful in your marriage? For healing to begin we must combat these five lies.

 

#1 Lie: I can do this on my own.

 

The truth is that the enemy uses this lie to lead us to and keep us in our brokenness. We were never created to go through life alone. We were in fact created to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2 (ESV). Let others in. Seek help from your pastor or Christian counselor. Find a support group or Bible study where you can learn and grow together. Healing doesn’t happen in isolation. Humble yourself enough to allow others to walk this journey with you.

 

#2 Lie: My mess is beyond healing.

 

The truth is that strife and infidelity are not always a death sentence to a marriage and even divorce is not a death sentence to a believer. The Profit Isaiah wrote, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,” Isaiah 59:1 (ESV). You are never outside of the presence, potential or power of God. I know a couple who not only survived over a decade of infidelity they have grown to become one of the most rock solid examples of a Christian marriage I’ve seen. There are countless others who have gone through the agony of divorce whom God lovingly picked up and place back on their feet to find a renewal of the supernatural love, joy and peace of God by the power of God the Holy Spirit.

 

#3 Lie: God will never forgive me.

 

The truth is that God does not overlook, brush aside or otherwise wink at sin. God is perfect holiness. Timothy richly describes Him this way, “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see,” 1 Timothy 6:14-16 (ESV). This holy, sovereign, immortal King lives in unapproachable light! Sin has no place before Him. There is but one power in heaven strong enough to deliver us from the assured sentence of death that our sins require. There is but one power in heaven strong enough to wash us clean from the filth of our sin and present us holy, new and acceptable before the one true, great, and awesome King of kings, and Lord of lords, God Almighty. This one power is the shed blood of Jesus applied to our hearts by God the Holy Spirt! Make no mistake. We are all deserving of death, eternal separation from the living, and most holy God. Yet by the work of His matchless, amazing grace He forgives. By the work of His mercy He gives pardon. Sin is ugly and sometimes consequences of the choices we have made are saver and long lasting. Still as the modern song says of the love of God, “His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” 1 John 1:8-9 states, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We are not always faithful, but thanks be to God that He is faithful and just, and forgives us of our sins!

 

#4 Lie: I just have to wait for God to change my spouse.

 

The truth is that you must willingly participate with God to do your part to be the person God created you to be. Times of trials offer wonderful opportunity for self-reflection. The Bible tells us that, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him,” 2 Chronicles16:9 (ESV). I love the picture here of God searching diligently throughout the whole earth looking for those whose hearts are completely His, who are fully devoted to His purpose, and plans. When He finds them He becomes to them an anchor in the fiercest storm. We love the idea of God being our anchor in the storm, our strong tower in the face of our enemies, and our shelter in the storm. Yet God’s promise is for those whose heart is blameless toward Him. Too often we wait around for God to change others wholly unaware of the work God has yet to do in us before we can fully realize His amazing promises.

 

#5 Lie: There is no future for me.

 

The truth is that God knew the choices that you and your spouse would make before time began. As the Psalmist said, all the days ordained for you were written in His book before one of them came to be. God still has a plan for you as He did for Jeremiah, it is a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, it is a plan for a future and a hope!

 

Let me leave you with a final thought. Jesus taught a kind of, “Day by day,” principal by which to live. In the famous Sermon on the Mount He taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words we might pray, “God give me today what I need today to get through today.” Later on in the same sermon Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” The NLT simply puts the verse this way, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” If you are a child of God struggling with strife, infidelity, or divorce I’d like to encourage you to live life a day at a time. Each day make it your aim to live not according to your flesh, which is your natural instincts, but by to the will of God, according to the Word of God, through the power and direction of God the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul encouraged us in Galatians 5:16-17, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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.”

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.