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Hi, My Name is Amber, and I’m a Recovering Sinner.

I know this may seem strange for some people, but there are times were I find myself addicted to my past. Unable to let go of the sins that God has already forgiven me for; running back to my vomit, and I don’t know why I expect anything to feel different than the last time. Has anyone else felt this way? Like no matter how deeply I know I’m forgiven, I keep looking back to that time and reliving the hurt? God gave me a word about that and I thought I’d share it here with you this morning.

For me, I’m going to have to look at myself like I’m in a recovery program. Almost like a rehab for Christians who have a hard time letting go of the past. So I’m going to slightly adapt the Twelve Step Program to work for the Recovering Sinner: Sinner’s Anonymous.

1. We admit we were powerless over sin—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I will admit that only God has the power over sin, and that my life is a mess when I try to do His job…

2. Come to believe that God can restore us to sanity.

I will to stop doubting that God can and will do a miracle in my life.

3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

I chose to turn over all of my past, good and bad, to God. Trusting Him with my life and my well being.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I will take stock of all the junk I keep picking back up and hold it up to His revealing light.

5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I will finally confess that I have a hard time forgiving myself of my past and I will find someone I can call on to help me to remember that I’m a forgiven child of God.

6. Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I will be open and cooperate with God as He heals my heart.

7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.

I will acknowledge that I am flesh and ask God to remove the thing that is in me that causes me to doubt His forgiveness.

8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

I will make a list of all the people my repeated doubt has hurt and apologize, as well as try to make things right.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I will be aware of anytime my doubt hurts someone and immediately apologize and try to make things right.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I will continue to be aware of my feelings and doubts, asking God to forgive me as soon as I do.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

I will continually seek God’s will for my life and the power to carry out His will through prayer and meditation on His Word.

12. Have had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to sinners, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I will grow closer to God and Jesus through this process and reach others with His message of hope for the lost, and I will continue to practice these steps throughout my walk.

I have to believe that I’m not the only one who feels this way, so if you’re struggling with this too, know that you’re not alone. Reach out and quit trying to do this by yourself. That’s what the kingdom is all about, a support system. Lean on other strong Christians so you can grow strong enough to be leaned on one day…
x,
Amber

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“The Female Friendship Crisis” by Karen Swallow Prior

Friends are an indispensable part of growing in Christ. So why do many of us have so few?

Women drive me nuts.

Some years ago, following an act of civil disobedience, I spent several days in a makeshift jail with hundreds of women protesters. Before long, a couple of them approached me where I lay on a hard Army cot, trying to get comfortable enough to read the copy of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa my husband had managed to deliver. What better opportunity than jail time would I ever have to read the longest novel in the English language?

It was not to be. Instead I was asked to step up as a leader to address the squabbles and discontent arising among so many women of diverse personalities in such cramped conditions. Suck it up, ladies! I wanted to scream. But I didn’t. As requested, I played the role of diplomat.

I emerged from jail with greater gratitude for God’s creation of two sexes than I’d ever had before or since. To this day, I avoid to just this side of causing offense nearly any event preceded by the label women’s: conferences, Bible Studies, retreats, Home Interior parties. I was even a bit skeptical at first about writing for a women’s blog.

My difficulties with women go further back than this experience. Because I married young and went directly to graduate school from college, I had a hard time finding real peers. The other women in my graduate program were hostile toward Christianity, something I was ill-equipped to handle gracefully. And while my church included other young women who worked or were going to school, most of the married women did not. I spent a lot of time declining invitations to jewelry and kitchenware parties and softball games, not because I wasn’t interested in those activities, but because I felt stressed and guilty about spending time on anything besides writing papers and reading books and journal articles.

I wanted women friends, badly. I tried to find them. I prayed for God to bring me to them. And, in his time, he did.

Of course, in all fairness to God, I didn’t make it easy for him. I am pretty picky. On the other hand, in making friends, I seem naturally to follow the advice of Socrates: “Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” I don’t form friendships quickly or often, but when I do, they stick.

Friendships come in many forms, but nothing can replace friendships with true peers. Because we are both physical and spiritual beings, I see as a true peer one with whom we share both of these aspects, physical and spiritual, of our being—in other words, people of the same sex and of the same spiritual identity and belief. While certainly one can be good friends with members of the opposite sex, or of different beliefs and values, such differences tend to be a barrier to the sort of kid-gloves-off treatment necessary for iron to sharpen iron. In fact, I’ve often noticed that those who resist deep friendships with true peers—women who say they simply “connect better” with men (well, duh!) or with people not their age or religion—tend to be avoiding the unique accountability that genuine peers offer.

Alone on an Island of Loneliness

“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.”  Psalm 27:10

 

It’s a feeling that every human will experience from time to time.  Loneliness.  The feeling that you have no one and can turn to no one and that no one notices how lonely you truly are.  I’m there now.  My head knows I’m not alone; I live with my husband, our three children and a house full of animals.  I belong to a church where the people love me unconditionaly and whole-heartedly.  I just spent the whole holiday weekend with upwards of 150 people; worshipping, testifying, sharing, praying with each other.  And yet I still feel alone and abandoned.  My heart just can’t seem to connect with my head and get on the same page.  

I find myself knowing the answer in my head; I’m not alone, God is always there.  Maybe my feelings of loneliness are God tugging at my heart, telling me He wants more time from me.  God approached Adam in the Garden of Eden and said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ not because Adam was lonely, but because he was making a statement about himself. He was saying, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, because one man cannot glorify me by himself.’ God creates an entire race of people to glorify him. . . . The panoply of gifts is essential if the church is to function as God intended. Image bearers are not lone rangers, and we see the great scriptural truth that God has not given us people to complete us, but to complement us as we seek to glorify him together in community.

So how do I connect my head back to my heart and feel connected with my world again?  That’s the million dollar question.  Let me know when you find the answer!  Maybe taking it to God and offering it to him as a gift in worship?  Saying, ‘I’ve tried everything to fix it, and I can’t. I’ve tried filling it with the world. I’ve tried filling it with people. I’ve tried seeking you. I don’t know what to do with it. So I’m just going to offer it up to you. Can you take this ugly thing and make it something beautiful?’ 

Elizabeth Elliot said

“Loneliness is a wilderness, but through receiving it as a gift, accepting it from the hand of God and offering it back to him with thanksgiving, it may become a pathway to holiness, to glory and to God himself.”  

Loneliness, at its root, is a spiritual issue. We don’t need to merely hang out with more friends. We don’t need to merely learn how to speak love languages. We need help. We need a savior. We need an advocate whose name is Christ Jesus. And our heart cry should not merely be, ‘I do bad things because I’m lonely, so someone come keep me company, make me feel better.’ Our deep heart cry should be, ‘I’m lonely because I’m a sinner in a dark and fallen world. God help me.’

We can say with Romans 8:28, that God uses all things for the good of those who love him, even our loneliness. Because our loneliness leads us to our deepest spiritual need, who is Christ. And we can also say with 1 John 3:20, that even when we feel condemned, God is greater than our hearts, and that loneliness cannot separate us from the love of God. We have a solution to our spiritual problem, and if we will submit to the Lord and accept his solution for our deepest spiritual problem, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, God can attack loneliness at its root and overcome the pain of separation in our lives that leads to separation from him, which leads to separation from other people.

Bottom line:  Feeling lonely?  Plug into God and He’ll plug you into where you need to be.  

xoxo,

A

Being Closer With God

 

John Ortberg in his book”God Is Closer Than You Think” shares some truths to help us learn how to recognize and experience God’s presence – right now, every moment, wherever we are. He challenges his readers (and I challenge you) to set aside time every day for the next two weeks to read each of the following guiding principles for practicing God’s presence every day.

  • God is always present and active in my life, whether or not I see Him.
  • Coming to recognize and experience God’s presence is learned behaviour; I can cultivate it.
  • My task is to meet God in this moment.
  • I am always tempted to live “outside” this moment. When I do that, I lose my sense of God’s presence.
  • Sometimes God seems far away for reason I do not understand. Those moments, too, are opportunities to learn.
  • Whenever I fail, I can always start again right away.
  • No one knows the full extent to which a human being can experience God’s presence.
  • My desire for God ebbs and flows, but His desire for me is constant.
  • Every thought carries a “spiritual charge” that moves me a little closer to or a little farther from God.
  • Every aspect of my life – work, relationships, hobbies, errands – is of immense and genuine interest to God.
  • My path to experiencing God’s presence will not look quite like anyone else’s.
  • Straining and trying too hard do not help.

For the next two weeks, think about these principles, pray about them and ask God to open your heart and mind to His presence!

The principle that impacted me the most today as I read and pondered this list was: My task is to meet God in this moment. I find it too easy to get distracted in doing things FOR God instead of just BEING (meeting) with God. I want to live each moment WITH God. I want to have Him be a part of EVERY aspect of my life. I DON’T want to segment my life (which has been a tendency for me in the past). I want God’s presence to SATURATE every moment of my life!

Which of these principles impacts you the most today and why?