Can negative thoughts become idols?

Years ago, in the heat of my battle with negative thoughts, the Lord revealed something to me.

1 John 5:21 (AMP) says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)—[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life].”

Negative thoughts become our idols when:

  1. We believe them more than we believe God and His Truth
  2. We continually think about, ponder, and entertain them instead of thinking about, pondering, and entertaining God and His Truth
  3. We act out our life by adjusting our behaviors towards others or ourselves according to our negative thoughts
  4. We act out by choosing behaviors to fuel them (make them stronger) and affirm them (prove and confirm they are true to us)

One definition of worship in the dictionary is “showing devotion to”.  We “show devotion to” something by setting ourselves apart for it.

By believing, constantly thinking about, and acting out our negative thoughts we are worshiping them and not God.  We find ourselves in the middle of idol worship without even realizing it.

In John 5:5 (AMP), we are told the story of a man who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for 38 years.  In John 5:6 (AMP), Jesus notices the man lying there helplessly.  Jesus knew the man had been there a long time in that condition.  Jesus asks the man, “Do you want to become well?  [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]”

We must ask ourselves the same question.

2 John 1:4 (AMP) says, “I was greatly delighted to find some of your children walking (living) in [the] Truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father [Himself].”

We, too, are to live in [the] Truth.  Our victory depends on it.

You are not forgotten by God.

Abandonment can be one of our most hurtful experiences, especially early in life.

When a child either perceives they are abandoned or actually is abandoned by one or both parents they may never feel wanted or secure again. Their sense of belonging can be destroyed. Many of us grow into adulthood living as the abandoned child we feel we are.  It can take a long time to be healed from the effects of abandonment, unless God enters our life’s story.

The God of Jesus Christ is omniscient; having infinite knowledge, knowing all things.  Explore 1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 139:1-6, Psalm 147:5, Jeremiah 1:5, Hebrews 4:13, and 1 John 3:20.

He is also omnipresent, present in all places at the same time. “There are not parts of Him spread out in every location. Rather, everything is immediately in His presence. This should be a constant source of comfort, His presence may be experienced at any time or any place. No one can escape God’s notice.” (www.blueletterbible.org)  Explore Psalms 139:7-12, Jeremiah 23:23, 24, Proverbs 15:3, and Hebrews 13:5.

So what does this conclude?

We are never unknown, unseen, or abandoned by God. He is always working to meet our every need.  He always pursues us because He greatly desires that we be in a relationship with Him.  He adopts us into His family through our belief and faith in Jesus Christ.

May the following prayer from the word of God help you find comfort and heal.

(From Lesson 23, Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ)

You, O God, are a father of the fatherless, a judge and protector of widows. You have now placed me in a family, Your body, Your church, for all of the times that I have felt and still feel lonely, deserted, or ruined. (Psalm 68:5-6)

You are the helper to the fatherless, and whether I truly may have been forgotten and abandoned by my mother and/or my father or if I only perceive and feel that I was forgotten and abandoned by my mother and/or my father, (Psalm 10:14, Psalm 27:10) I now trust that You are able to now take me up, and adopt me as Your very own, You offer me adoption through my belief in, my trust in, and my reliance on Your Son Jesus. (John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 2:19)

I thank You, God, that You have given me the opportunity to be led by Your Spirit and to be Your child.  Help me believe, trust, and feel how dearly You love me. Thank you, God, that the Spirit I receive from You is not a spirit of slavery that puts and keeps me in bondage to fear—no! You have given me the spirit of adoption to receive—by which I may cry Father! Father! (Romans 8:14-16, Galatians 4:4-6)

Show me, help me to remember all those whom you have placed in and throughout my life to help and to care for me when I was in pain, sorrow, or need (James 1:27)—even if it seemed they were there by “chance” and just for an instant, for I now know that there is no chance with You because Your eyes are in every place, and I have never been hidden from Your sight because You fill the heavens and the earth. (Psalm 139:1-12, Jeremiah 23:23-24, Proverbs 15:3, Hebrews 4:13)

You tell me in Your word that You will not in any way fail me, nor give me up, nor leave me without support, You will not, You will not, You will not in any degree leave me helpless nor forget me nor let me down—You will not relax Your hold on me. (Hebrews 13:5)

Therefore, I desire that my mind, my will, and my emotions be transformed now, by the power of Your Spirit comforting and encouraging me. I desire to confidently and boldly believe and to from now on confess that You are my helper (Psalm 121 all); I will no longer be afraid and I now choose to be more willing than ever to forgive all those whom I have felt abandoned by that I may truly be set free.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have you ever thought of leading a support group?

How rewarding it is to walk with others through their recovery journey!

We wanted to share some helpful information about leading a support group based on our study guide, “Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ.”

What are some characteristics of great groups?

• Focus remains on the subject
• Conflicts are managed as they arise
• Everyone feels valuable and comfortable when participating in discussions
• Members become a small community to support and encourage one another
• Members feel they share group ownership
• Members are able to respectfully hold each other accountable—when this is requested

What are some traits of great facilitators:

• Are committed, dependable, and love people
• Know the material well enough to apply to self and others
• Can be flexible, patient, friendly, and enthusiastic
• Are able to guide, model, encourage, and support
• Are great listeners and not afraid of silence
• Are able to stay on topic, enforce the Discussion Guidelines, and handle conflict
• Are able to encourage safe environments and harmony

We encourage facilitating rather than teaching, so what is the difference?

  • Facilitating consists of: more active listening, lots of questions and discussion, leader participation and guidance, keeping the group as a whole the focus, and smaller number of members.
  • Teaching consists of: the leader doing most of the talking, more lecturing and giving information, the leader is the focus, and larger number of members.

How do adults learn best?

• When they sense a need to cope with real-life situations
• When they take charge of their own learning through questions and discussing

Behavior is most likely to change when:

Adults can test and apply new knowledge and skills in their learning environment. This is why it is a good idea to practice Step Work whenever the group is willing. Step Work includes: identifying wrongs in the Step 4 inventory, sharing inventory in Step 5, doing the Soul Tie Breaking Prayer, Exercise for Confessing Sin, and Healing Memories in Steps 6 & 7, and practicing the Daily Personal Inventory in Step 10.

Be aware that:

• Adults approach new concepts with prior knowledge that may be unique to them. This knowledge can either help or inhibit new learning—sometimes we need to “un-learn” in order to learn.
• People make life choices based on how they receive and process information, how they feel, what they have experienced, and what is important to them. It is always wise to guard against making judgements.

Final thoughts:

• Group Facilitators are not expected to have the answer to every question!
• Our office is here to support and assist you. You are not alone. Feel free to contact us at lonnie@christian12step.org or renee@christian12step.org or call (352) 732-0877 with any questions or comments.

The Truth

The Truth

In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells us,

“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In John 14:6, during the last supper with his disciples, Jesus tells Thomas and those listening,

I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”

As an “overcomer” through Jesus, I am reminded of the days in my addiction when I willingly lived a lie.  An addict plays a game in their own mind, changing reality to suit their own addicted fantasy. This game allows them to remain in their addiction, living in complete deception.

Living a lie produces nothing except a deeper rut that will eventually become a grave.

The One who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is also the One who said, “…And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus does not say that the truth may set you free.

He says that the truth will set you free.

Jesus tells us the way to both gain and retain the truth.  After his last supper with his disciples, Jesus was crucified and buried, but that was not the end.  He rose again to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

In John 16:12-13 Jesus tells his disciples before he leaves the earth, “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…”  Jesus had to leave so the Spirit of truth could come (John 16:7) to dwell within us.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for your Holy Spirit who guides and leads us to the real, genuine TRUTH…JESUS, our protector, provider, and healer of our addictions, bad behaviors, and anything else that interferes with our relationship with HIM.

Updated Materials Available January 2017

During the months of August and September 2016 we had 628 inmates request our study guide, “Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ.”  Friends, this is entirely because of the testimonies of men and women within correctional facilities to each other.

Clearly, “Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ” is having an impact on the lives of incarcerated men and women!

In 2015 we began diligently seeking how to improve our program.  We are thrilled to announce that very soon we will see our first fruits.

In January 2017, our study guide will include:

  • Additional brief, yet effective methods for Inner Healing in Step 7
  • Improved instructions for Bible Study and Biblical Journaling
  • Further explanation of fear as the underlying cause of many of our problems
  • Additional instructions for the Daily Moral Inventory in Step 10

In an attempt to expand our reach outside of Correctional Facilities:

“Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ” would be great as a Small Group study.  A new, improved Facilitator’s Guide will also be available.

We believe this new Facilitator’s Guide is exactly what is needed to remove fear and help a facilitator establish a Small Group for those seeking to overcome any substance abuse, emotional stronghold, or codependency.  Drug and alcohol use are increasing, but so are anxiety, worry, fear, depression, and loneliness.

Life is complicated.  Many are suffering.  No one is exempt.

The answer is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Arise Again

When I was a young preacher, one of my heroes was Vance Havner.  I would like to share a word from his book, Thoughts Along the Way.

A man asked a little boy, “How did you learn to skate so well?”  “By gittin’ up every time I fell down,” he replied.  Moses swelled up once and said, “This is me,” and he fell; Elijah could lock up the clouds and carry the keys in his pocket, but he got scared at a woman and ran as fast as his legs could carry him to the tall timber.  Peter said, “I’ll be the last man to deny you, Jesus,” but before a rooster could crow twice he was cussing and swearing that he never knew Him.

The man who fails is not the man who falls, but the man who lies where he fell.

To everyone in recovery – should you ever relapse, my encouragement is to get back up!  Refuse to lie where you fell!  Through a relationship with Jesus Christ, you have all the strength needed to arise and walk with Him.

“Christ Jesus who died…is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”—Romans 8:34-37

What have we been up to?

During the months of May, June, and July 2016 study guides were requested as follows:

  • 10 to Oregon
  • 50 to West Virginia
  • 10 to Indiana
  • 35 to Oklahoma
  • 25 to New Mexico
  • 25 to New York
  • 40 to Michigan
  • 5 to California
  • 93 within Florida

We received 567 requests for our study guide from inmates and 157 Completion Certificates were issued.

Prayer Request

Please keep the last phase of our ministry branding, our new website, and our study guide revision in your prayers.

You’re Invited, Complimentary Breakfast

Please join us on Wednesday, August 17, 2017 at 8:00 am at Denny’s Restaurant located at 3801 W. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala.  Our Special Guest will be Rev. Michael Beck, Lead Pastor at Wildwood UMC.

Michael believes in the transforming power of Jesus Christ, which he has experienced in his own life.  He has organized several community movements, one of which was Recover Ocala.  At Wildwood and New Covenant UMC, he directs addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, and several fresh expressions of church that meet in places like tattoo parlors and burrito joints.

Come here what we’ve been up to and be encouraged.

 

God–the Author Of Success

God–the Author of Success

I remind those in recovery of these Biblical truths:

  • We have unlimited potential through His Spirit.

“And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you, too, are filled with the Godhead–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…”–Colossians 2:10 Amplified Bible

  • Through Christ, God has made available all the resources we need to accomplish more than we could ever ask or imagine.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…be glory…forever and ever!”–Ephesians 3:20-21

Remember what God told Jeremiah,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”–Jeremiah 1:5

God had a plan for Jeremiah before he was born.  I believe He has a plan for you.  Before our Sovereign, All-Knowing God formed you in your mother’s womb, He had a plan for you personally.

Have you truly sought God about His plan for you?

Step 12 teaches the recovering addict that in order to keep what he has received he must carry the message of recovery to others.  God will not allow you to fail. God will water every seed you sow and see that it grows.

Success with God is continually giving our bodies to Him because of all He has done for you…continually refusing to copy the behavior and customs of this world, and continually allowing God to transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (Romans 12:1-2)  

Embrace God–the Author of YOUR Success

God’s Call

Last night I was reminded through a message delivered at our church that God has a PURPOSE and an IRREVOCABLE CALL on every person He creates. That was quite a challenging open statement to hear. Then the speaker proceeded to mention the call on Adam, Moses, Abraham , Issac, Paul, etc.

 

And of course Jonah became the primary reference of God’s purpose and His call on each of us individually.   Nineveh? Where is that? Some of us can readily identify with Jonah. I for one disobeyed God and the devil convinced me that the call God had on my life had been revoked due to choices I had made. He spared me the experience of the giant fish. However…

 

Many of you know….the rest of the story…   Abbie and I purchased property in those beautiful Smokey Mountains and built our dream house and was enjoying looking across the mountain tops as we rested in those comfortable rocking chairs. But…a letter came saying we need you back in Florida.

 

Yes…we came and for the past 11 plus years Abbie and I have been thrust into a ministry that we never thought about needless to say planned to do. God’s call on our lives had purpose and was irrevocable and I praise Him for the joy and peace we have in service to Him.

 

What is your PURPOSE??? What is the IRREVOCALBLE CALL on your life???

God is good all the time…

 

God is good all the time…

…all the time God is good!!!

 

Do you remember one of the first prayers we learned as kids? “God is great, God is GOOD, let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen.”

Then we were introduced to the song “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He is so good to me.”

In Psalm 100:5 -we read, “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Throughout the Bible we are reminded of the goodness of God. As we study the attributes of God we realize it is His very nature to be good.

Because God is good and full of mercy we receive the benefits of His goodness. Upon our repentance we are not only forgiven but we are granted a pardon, “old things pass away all things become new”. Our pastor recently stated that a born again believer has no past.

In His goodness we have access to Him. We can pray to God and He not only hears our prayers He answers each prayer. Oftentimes we consider a prayer unanswered because God does not do exactly what we ask Him to do.

For me at times the reason He doesn‘t give me the answer I desire is because of His goodness.   He has something better. He see the whole picture from the “beginning to the end“.

Another great benefit of His goodness is the gift of His Holy Spirit to live in us that we may have fellowship with God at all times. The fellowship is realized as a result of His presence. It is a trust relationship that assures us that regardless of what happens the results will reveal His goodness.        

The goodness of God is not always visible to us. Difficult times come and bad situations cause bad things to happen to us.   In these times we face problems.   Disappointments come and we find ourselves in a deep valley. We question the goodness of God. If God is good why am I experiencing bad times?

If God is good why did my mother die of a heart attack at the young age of 63? If God is good why are so many people being tortured and beheaded today because of their allegiance to their faith in God?

If God is good why are we facing such tragedies across our state, our nation our world? Why are bad things happening to good people? Again I am reminded that when God created this world He said “It is good”.

Could it be that God allows valleys so He can build mountains in our lives? Yes, God is in charge. In fact the Bible teaches us that He is the Sovereign God.

The little boy was lying on the floor and he looked up to see what Grandma had in her lap. She was sewing away doing a cross stitch design. The grandson said to his grandma “that is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.”

Grandma invited him to stand up and look over her shoulder. As he looked at the design of the cross-stitching from the top view he did not see the knots and the hanging strands of thread. He quickly stated “Grandma that is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen.”

I am not trying to be pious or pharisaical but it takes some knots and hanging threads, the good and bad things that happens, for God to create the person He knew would make the best person you could ever be. I know it is hard for some of us to believe that God is creating a beautiful person but He is.

If it is not good it did not come from our good God. He alone is the source for good not bad. In His wisdom He allows situations that seem to be bad and from that experience we are molded into an individual that exhibits the goodness of God.

The main problem is we use the wrong standard for goodness. We adhere to the standard of goodness set by the world. Goodness today is measured by what is good for me.    

Let me encourage you to submit to and trust the One that is the source of all goodness. He will never let you down. It does not mean that you will never experience bad things. It simply means that He is able to take the bad things and demonstrate His power to cause the bad to become eternally good.

God is good all the time…

 

                                                All the time God is good!!!