Archives For July 2010

Ok…I’m posting without a photo. It will be clear why in a second.

Here it goes…An Old Testament proverb says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness” (Proverbs 26:11).  Rather than post a photo of that image, let me say, “Woof, woof.” More times than I wish, I feast on my own foolish puke—figuratively speaking. And it always leaves me (and sometimes others) with a bad case of heartburn.

So what gives? Why do we struggle with addictions? They always end up making life worse. You would think we would learn our lesson.

Sadly, the fallen tendency to sin is still alive and lurking in all of us (Romans 7:23). And simply trying really hard to manage an addiction of any kind with more promises to stop and sheer willpower is generally a recipe for more foolishness on our part.  All of us can keep our addictions in check for some period of time, but it rarely addresses the root issues in our hearts that draw us back again and again. In fact, only trying to manage our foolish tendencies only makes resisting urges more difficult than what it already is.

We need to change our approach.

Often the best way to beat an addiction is to get close to Jesus. Instead of working at corralling our addiction, we need to pursue Him daily and give Him regular access to the unsettling issues of our heart.

I know that can sound so simple, but it’s hardly easy. The easiest (and most unhelpful) thing to do is to bury (often with our addictions) those things that haunt us and just get on with life—whatever that means. The hardest thing (and most helpful) approach to take is to regularly face our issues (especially our deepest wounds, failures, and the lies we’ve come to believe about ourselves, others, and God)  and invite Jesus into it.

It’s painful and humbling work . But it’s so freeing!


Allison Stevens —  July 19, 2010 — 1 Comment

We all need affirmation. We need to know that others around us approve of us and that they enjoy us.  We need to hear “Hey, good job!” once in a while.  From time to time, we need a pat on the back.

But we don’t always get the affirmation we want or need. Sometimes it seems that everyone around us is against us or simply ignores us.

Well, for those of us who need a big hug today, let me give you one.  I found it in the Bible. It’s actually from Jesus. He said in Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

God has a plan for your life and mine. Before you were born, He knew your name, what family you would be born into and even the number of hairs on your head! You have value in God’s sight, just because He created you.   

Even King David wondered how God, who created all the planets, galaxies, the universe, could take a personal interest in us.  “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:3-5)

If you’re feeling down today and need a boost, like I did yesterday, remember that God cares about you. He is interested in all you think, do and say. He notices you and takes great pleasure in you.  He’s a very personal God who knows us by name and is glad when we seek Him out. And He will bless us when we ask for more of Him.

“For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.”   He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh no pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.     Psalm 147:4, 10-11.

In July of 1965 the band The Rolling Stones had the number one song in America—I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.

How right they were. As the song says…no matter how hard we try and try and try—satisfaction seems to slip through our fingers.

But is it true that satisfaction is impossible to find in this life?  Could it be that we tend to look for it in the wrong places? Maybe the true source of satisfaction is right under our noses but we don’t see it, or better said, see Him, because we are trying so hard on own to get it.

Speaking for the coming Messiah, consider these words from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah:

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,  and your soul will delight in the richest of fare”
(Isaiah 55:1-2 NIV)

Souls delighting in the “richest of fare.” Hmmmm…sounds pretty fulfilling to me.

Jesus would later illustrate it another way when he spoke these words to a woman who had a history of turning to men to find satisfaction:

“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life”
(John 4: 13-14 NLT).

Where are you looking for satisfaction?

On Saturday, July 10, 2010, President Obama announced in his weekly radio address that the VA is implementing a streamlined process for helping veterans get the much needed help for what has been identified as “the signature injuries of today’s wars”–PTSD and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Vets will no longer be required to document a specific traumatic event as “the cause” of their battle with PTSD. This change gives weightiness to the reality that almost all vets from past and current wars have been well aware of–you don’t have to be engaged in a firefight with the enemy to endure the trauma of war. War leaves a mark.

Lt. Col. Dan Nigolian, a 26-year USAF retired chaplain, agrees. Nigolian came home after 5 deployments–3 special opps, 1 in Iraq, and his last in Afghanistan–and was shocked to be diagnosed with both PTSD and TBI. He’d never considered that being shot down in an airplane and blown up in a convoy as events that left invisible wounds where there were no obvious physical wounds. Nigolian shares about the “buddy care” training that all military personnel get prior to a deployment. He reminds vets who come home that the war isn’t over and you’re not done caring for your buddies just because you back on US soil. “You are as responsible to take care of your buddy at home during the PTSD war as you were overseas during the shooting war.”

And the same is true for family members of returning vets who see the red flags of PTSD in their loved ones. Things like sleeplessness, depression, drinking too much, angry outbursts, can’t hold a job, relationships are suffering, isolating himself or herself from the world, reckless behavior, not taking care of herself or himself . . . to name a few. They need help. And you need to help them get help.

Check out the PTSD portion of the website for helpful video and written resources that will get you and your loved one on the path to healing the invisible wounds of war. Our DVD, The War Within, has been a source of help and encouragement to many who have been reluctant to get help. Don’t wait, and please don’t struggle alone.

God has reassured us repeatedly throughout His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). In the same manner, we are called to love one another the way God has loved us (John 13:34). Be there for your spouse, parent, brother, sister or friend who has brought the war home with them. Stand with them and see them through this healing journey with the hidden wounds of war.

If this has been helpful to you, feel free to post a comment and let us hear your story of bringing the war home and how you’re getting or giving help.

More on abuse

Allison Stevens —  July 12, 2010 — 14 Comments

I hope you don’t mind that I continue to blog a while about abusive marriages.  It’s just that after I read some of the responses, I wanted to say more.

First, thank you for sharing your stories. It’s so important that we have a safe place to talk about what is happening.

Many mothers worry about how a divorce will affect their children. It’s so important to know that living in an abusive home can be more damaging and hurtful to a child than living through a divorce, if the divorce protects the children as well.  Children are emotionally and psychologically hurt when they live in a home of domestic violence. If you pursue a divorce, find an attorney who will do all he or she can to also protect the children.

If you choose to try and work things out with an abusive spouse, please understand that you have chosen a long and difficult path.  Part of the difficulty is that an abuser may try to rush and jump through all the hoops just to get back into the home.  Often, he puts pressure on the abused wife to take him back. If he’s doing that, he’s not ready to come back home. Putting pressure on a spouse, no matter what it looks like, is manipulation and has been one of the ways he’s controlled you in the first place. He must get a grasp of what his manipulation looks like and why he’s doing it. Repentance means that he understands fully what he’s done, he’s broken up over it and he has a clear picture of the damage he’s done. Therefore, he will know how much work it’s going to take to rebuild your relationship and he won’t rush the process.

I see a lot of women feel obligated to take back a man who says he’s sorry. He cries and tells the pastor how sorry he is. He brings you flowers and tells you it will never happen again. You are not obligated to walk back into abuse. You and your children should feel safe in your own home. Without safety, you have no home; just four walls that can soon feel like a prison.

No one should make you feel that getting out of an abusive marriage is the wrong thing to do.

In my time with God the other morning I came across this verse in Eugene Petersen’s New Testament translation The Message :

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God-he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

What a powerful way to put it!

Are you wavering in your faith? Go to school on the life of Jesus. It’s more than a feel good story. His life, death, and resurrection will inject some major adrenaline into your heart.

Many marriages have normal conflict. The spouses get along mostly, but there are times when they argue or disagree. And it can get pretty heated. Some may not speak to each other for days because they’re so upset.

But there is another kind of marriage that is really no marriage at all. It’s the abusive marriage. It’s wives living in fear of their angry, cruel husbands. It’s husbands fearing the tirade and abuse of their wives. It’s a living nightmare for the children.

It is a marriage where one person consistently uses a variety of means to control and instill fear in his or her spouse. The abuser hits, calls names, belittles, ignores, withholds affection or money, isolates, and is honestly a tyrant to live with. The abuser will use any means to bring down the other spouse. And the other spouse is truly afraid.

It’s so far removed from what God intended in the union between a man and a woman. There is no freedom, therefore no love. There is no respect, therefore no joy, peace; no feeling of being safe. The injured spouses feel trapped, alone, and terrified.  The shame for an oppressed spouse often is too much to bear, so he or she does everything to hide. His pain goes unnoticed. She suffers alone, silently.

Followers of Jesus can come along side and give comfort to the abused spouse.  We can help them get to safety. We can pray for the abuser to come to his or her senses. Abuse assaults our dignity and no one can tolerate it, nor should we.

Freedom from Sacrifice

Jeff Olson —  July 2, 2010 — 1 Comment

As another July 4th approaches, I’m reminded of the costly sacrifices that bought unprecedented levels of freedom we currently enjoy in the United States of America.

Freedom always comes at a cost. Freedom from goverment tyranny cost many fine men and women their lives. Freedom from financial debt requires us to make spending sacrifices. Most of us who are 40+ years of age won’t enjoy freedom from a bulging waisline without making healthy sacrifices in our diet. Of course, freedom from the penalty and power of sin and the evil one came from the greatest sacrifice of all–the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

As the tag-line from the trailer of the film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King puts it:

“There can be no freedom without sacrifice.”

What freedoms do you enjoy as result of your own or the sacrifices of others?