Overcome Addiction Recovery Guide

Fear & Courage

Unraveling – Lesson 13 of the “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide

Fear is healthy and natural at times.  A little bit of fear will keep you alive and humble.  In the same way that a little bit of electricity can keep you alive while too much of it can end your life.  While not usually aware of it, fear influences us and affects our interpretations and perceptions of the possible occurrence of events.  To surmount this obstacle, knowledge is primary but does not operate in isolation. We must act on this knowledge and engage in actions that rewire the brain, which in turn feeds our knowledge and the cycle of gaining and applying continues to deepen, like the root of a tree. Learn more about overcoming fear in recovery, and moving forward with courage in this lesson of the “Overcome” addiction recovery guide.

When discussing fear, we are not simply talking about phobias like coulrophobia (the fear of clowns), dendrophobia (fear of trees) or even pogonophobia (fear of beards).  We are generally addressing fears such as separation, rejection, humiliation, disappointment and failure. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t briefly touch on the fear that surpassed death as the number one American fear: public speaking.  I have had to speak to audiences quite frequently over the past few years and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I absolutely dread it. This fear of public speaking, though, reveals something hidden inside of us, questions about the unknown and how will we be received.

Before we dig too deep, let’s explore the physiology of fear for a moment.  Fear starts in the brain, in the amygdala.  This region is responsible for experiencing emotions, emotional processing and is part of the limbic system.  An easy example of this would be to imagine yourself walking out in the woods and you hear a rattle. What is your first response?  The most curious thing though about the amygdala is its role in memory formation. If the component of the brain that is responsible for experiencing fear also has a main role in memory formation, what does that say about the concept of fear?  By all accounts, it would have to be based on an event that has occurred in the past, with a possibility of happening again in the future.

Since our main focus is recovery, we will now shift course to look at some of the fears that keep individuals in the bondage of addiction.  Starting at number one and working consecutively down the list they are: the fear of not having the willpower to do it, boredom, possibility of relapse, fear of change and lastly, the fear of feeling.  If fear affects your decisions, it controls you.

… through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Hebrews 2:15B

The reason it appears that we are doing so much work on the front end of this topic is that we have a simple, two-letter promise that comes from scripture that requires our full attention.  And I do not want to be providing supporting information once we get to where we are going. When speaking about this promise an initial feeling will arise, that of courage. Courage is choosing to act even though you feel fear.  Courage is a resolve.

Culture of Fear

As of the time of writing this post, we have been living in a culture of popular fear for quite some time now, in America.  Y2K, the Mayan Calendar, school shootings and 9/11 come to mind. However, as we age, our definition of fear changes as do the responsibilities.  When we were little, depending on how your home life was, there may not have been a huge source of fear, which would usually result in trips to the emergency room due to jumping bicycles off the roof.  But, if your childhood was traumatic, fear could be produced from doors slamming, heavy footsteps or hearing arguments in the other room. As we age though, the fear of the boogeyman gives way to fear of losing a job or a loved one.  It may come in the form of a trip to the doctor for a routine check-up. However, one fear usually travels with us as we get older: the fear of consequences.

The word we use tonight for fear comes from a Hebrew word that is pronounced “aw-rats” and means dread.  And how we either react or respond to that word is what takes its power away or reinforces it all the more.  Fear can and will render you useless, if you do not approach it with courage to overcome the mental inertia required.

Courage on the other hand comes from a Hebrew word pronounced “aw-mats”, meaning to be alert, steadfastly minded and established.  This word isn’t about tiptoeing on the line of being self-assured or arrogant. Its power resides in a measure of trust in God and having faith in Him and what He is capable of.  Courage is a product of obedience to God and an understanding of his faithfulness and his character.  We understand courage based on our understanding of His love.

Promises

Now that the framework is constructed, we have one verse and one word to focus on.  The context of this verse is once again the Israelites and they have previously left Egypt.  Their leader, Moses has died. After wandering about in the wilderness for forty years, they are now being commanded, by a new leader named Joshua, to go into a land that is occupied and take it for their own.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

We could have chosen any other single word or concept to focus on for the remainder of our time; strong, courageous…  However, I want to point out one word that I am almost sure has been overlooked because of our ability to allow it to go undetected.  This word is a promise, the word is.  The word the Lord chose to use was not maybe, sometimes, possibly, was or might be.  This word is so important that I wanted to point it out in one more verse:

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Deuteronomy 31:8

Is, is a promise.  An active choice and a description of God’s character.  If you are seeking after what God wants you to do, if you profess Jesus as your savior, then cling to the promise, is.  If sobriety or doing without makes you sick to think about it, if making apologies or seeking to reconcile or trying to do right when no one wants to encourage you makes you want to give up, if you are scared of failure, be courageous.  Fear is especially powerful when you feel alone, like you have no one to help you. Which leads us into our application…

“Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide
Application – Enlist

So, maybe courage for you is understanding you will and can get through the day without giving in to the temptations of addiction.  Maybe it is choosing to raise your hand when the pastor gives an altar call. Maybe it is reaching out or simply being available to another in their time of need.  It takes courage to do these things, do not let fear stand in your way of better. Enlist the help of others. You are not alone on this journey. Satan loves to separate you from the herd.  Reach out for support. Accept the fact that the next chapter of your life with the confidence that God is with you.  

Or you may be on the other side of the fence.  God has strengthened you and called you to help others.  He wants you to encourage and help others to seek Him. Be available for them, even if no one on this planet was available for you.  Do not allow the fear of rejection to be an obstacle for the soul of another person. You would be surprised how many people that are active in church are afraid to invite someone else to church.  Be courageous and break the complacent mold.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18

The “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Addiction Recovery Guide series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

Captivity & Freedom

To Turn Around – Lesson 12 of the “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study

 

The word captivity insinuates that someone or something has control over you.  It could be from a battle lost and you are now hostage or the act of slavery. The majority of time, whatever it is that holds you captive could care less about your well-being.  You jump when it says jump. You go when it says go. Shackled and in chains. Learn more about obtaining freedom in this lesson of the “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study series.

Throughout this post, I will be using some old testament, churchy sounding words; sin, sacrifice, confession, repentance and glory.  I will attempt to describe them in such a way that the essence of them is illustrated and clear up some of the fog that may be surrounding them.  Understanding these words is crucial for grasping a hold of the concept of being a slave to sin or walking in the freedom of Christ. I honestly believe that if we can get this down, it will be a turning point in our lives, both presently and eternally.

I have humbly accepted the realization that there is nothing I can say or do that will affect what someone believes, unless I act like a madman and then they may believe I am all sixes and sevens.  Which thankfully for you and me, trying to change what another person believes is not my job. My job is to illustrate, as clearly as I can from my own point of view what I myself believe, and to reflect that in my outer words and actions, although I do fail often.

At some point in each of our walks, beliefs move from a point of struggle to fact.  From my own experience, whatever seems to be the loudest in my life, gets all of my attention and without thinking about it, I soon start shifting my beliefs.  Ignoring or acting like the following three facts are not true does not make them any less factual, the same way that gravity does not require your belief.

  1.  We all sin.  We almost always err to the side of our humanness.  Humans are notorious for sinful behavior. Sin essentially means you are actively choosing to go against what God has said.  Sin is rooted within the self of each of us. Sin does not consider the cost or weigh the outcome. Put simply, it means chasing your desires regardless of the damage it will create.
  2.  Sin will always lead to suffering.  That suffering may take form of spiritual, physical, mental or emotional slavery and separation from a Holy God, from family members and from friends.  Sin hurts, sin is deadly and the debt it incurs has to be covered somehow, just like in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve first sinned. When they sinned, they recognized they were naked and God sacrificed an animal to cover their nakedness, their sin.
  3.  We, ourselves, cannot heal the sin and suffering in any lasting way.  The best we can hope for is to find a distraction. In other words, we cannot reach success when attempting to work our way into freedom.  When we attempt to do this, we are trying to justify ourselves based on the law. The law is not meant to save, but rather to judge. The law is meant to condemn the accused.

These three facts are the basis for understanding the severity of our situation.  As Romans 3 says “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Once we begin to reach a level of awareness and maturity, these facts lead to two actions: confession and repentance.

Confession of one’s sins is when we take responsibility for what we have done.  We do not hide the sin any longer. We go to God and acknowledge our wrong doings, our trespasses, and ask His forgiveness.    We do this because He is a just God, full of mercy, as scripture says, “He is faithful to forgive.”

Repentance is a Greek military term that means to turn around.  Imagine a squadron is marching due east when the captain bellows “Halt.”  The procession comes to a screeching stop. The captain then yells out “Repent” and the entire squadron spins on their heels and begins marching to the west.  In our spiritual lives, repentance means that we will stop going in the direction that is rebellious to God’s command and walk in the opposite direction.

If you are free…

Right now, if I were to ask you, are your thoughts, beliefs or actions were most influential, what would your answer be?  I am convinced one of these are the most powerful for each of us. If something gains control over you, it can affect how you handle situations, react to bad news, even what you would choose to kill for or die for.  One of these keeps you in slavery or releases you into freedom. One of these will most commonly make your decisions. One of these will be your yoke.

For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Now, suppose I asked you what freedom meant to you, could you answer it?  As a teenager, what did it feel like when you got a little taste of freedom from your parents and their rules, even if for an hour?  We sowed our wild oats and learned about the real world, stuff you can’t learn under your parent’s roof. We get our first speeding ticket, for example, and hopefully learn not to speed again.  Notice at the end of the verse above, Paul says “…and do not submit again…” Again.  But for whatever reason, we enjoyed the thrill of it.  Went back to school and relived the entire moment over for our friends.  However though, there is a cost associated with this example, our insurance premium has now risen, which means we will now have to figure out how to cover the cost.

This is a fairly harmless example, but within it exists a core concept.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.” Jesus has established this freedom for us.  Our responsibility is to not submit again. Resist. If the desires of your heart are constantly leaving you to pick up the check, if our thoughtless habits are dictating our very existence day to day, or if the belief that God is angry and distant, we have to wipe the sleep from our eyes and realize we are bound in slavery to something other than God’s truth and plan.

“Overcome” – Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study

Application – what are you doing with your freedom?

At any given moment during the day I am submitting, the only variable is whom I am serving.  Am I serving myself; my desires, my selfish pursuits, my fame or fortune? Or am I serving a loving God that has supplied me with talents and gifts to build His kingdom, something that is everlasting and not temporal?  I feel that too many times, we prescribe to the thought that the Christian walk is something that is devoid of freedom or joy. God did not set out to make little replicas of the exact same person. No, He shows His creativity and handiwork because of our differences.  We each are unique, with our own personalities and special gifts. This leads us to our concluding thought, it’s not so much the question of what we do, but why we do it. The following two verses illustrate this concept, the first verse addressing the what, and the second facilitates the why:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:5

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

When we are in slavery, we are unable to truly love God with all of our heart, soul and might.  Choosing to be a slave to sin impedes our decision to walk in freedom. We may want to be free, but our actions say otherwise.  Consistent choices dictate what we really believe. The second verse is where we find our freedom, in whatever we do in the name of Jesus.  If you are a single mother, a factory worker, a school bus driver, a struggling artist; do it with the intention of bringing glory to God alone.  This is the why behind why you do what you do.  So, I ask you, if you are free, what are you doing with your freedom?  Are you going back to patterns that encourage a lifestyle of slavery to sin or are you walking out your freedom through a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Can you say about every decision and thought, whatever it is, that it will be done in the name of Jesus for God’s glory? If you knew you were free, what would you be doing right now that shows that you have accepted and honored that freedom?

The “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study  series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

Overcome - Faith Based Addiction Recovery Guide

Deception & Integrity

Moorings of the Web – Lesson 11 of the “Overcome” Faith Based Addiction Recovery Study

There was a quote about a tangled web and deceiving we’ve all heard from our grandparents before.  Deception is a messy game, and I’m not sure of many instances it ever paid off in the long run. When we deceive others, we want them to believe the lie.   When we deceive ourselves, we want to believe the lie. Follow along in Lesson 11 of the “Overcome” – Faith Based Addiction Recovery Study to learn more about deception and rebuilding our character.

Throughout this course, we have been dissecting motivating factors for addiction.  In this post, we will be looking at a casualty of not only addiction, but of sin in general: our character.   Last week we talked about preparing for conflict by committing. Part of that committal is rebuilding integrity.

This lesson could easily be spread over a couple of weeks, but I want to give you a few markers on a map, if you will.  So, we will not be covering deception in great detail. I’m sure we all know what it is and why we humans do it. Instead we will be investigating a single word and idea; completeness.  Because in all honesty, having a lesson that only focuses on deception instead of integrity is like a lawnmower in the desert, not very useful.

So, let’s get this ugly bit of work out of the way so we can move forward.  It’s easy to beat another person up over selfish choices and tell someone what they shouldn’t do.  If you have a conscience, I’m pretty sure you know most of the deceptions within you.

Deception is the absence of truth and originates from the heart.  Motivated by some gain, if you drill down deep enough. We often lie to get what we want or in making excuses.  Often, others are not the only recipient of lies. A prominent and even more detrimental deception is believing you will never be sober or better, that you can not only recover but live a life of recovery, or that you are too bad to come to Christ.  Once you begin the art of deception, it becomes a stray dog that you feed, until you confess and repent.

So, as I said earlier, I would rather spend most of our time painting a picture of integrity through the word complete.  It’s easy enough to tell someone what they shouldn’t do. In this case, it is better to tell someone what they can be. Dwell on the scripture below while we begin to set up our canvas for this study:

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:4

Notice the word complete.  For a moment, I want you to think of the hull of a boat.  When it is free of defects or voids, the integrity of the hull is considered intact.  If that hull has been damaged, it is said to be compromised. The way we describe integrity is with words like honesty, moral, whole, undivided, trustworthy, peaceful, blameless, doing what we say we are going to do, complete.  Integrity describes something, our character. Integrity is seeking completeness via obedience and truth. Where deception exists, completeness is impossible. When the hull of the ship has integrity, we don’t have to worry about sinking.

Rebuilding our Character

So, in efforts to gain integrity, we must begin by rebuilding our character.  Rebuilding our character is a critical stage of our recovery, and in order to do this, we must first see a value in the effort.  The following questions are meant to spur you on to consider the worth of such an undertaking. Understand, I have had to inventory these frequently to make sure that what I am saying and doing actually lines up with who I think I am.

  1.  Right now, when someone hears your name, what do you imagine comes to mind?
  2.  Can those around you count on you and trust you?
  3.  Are you really trying or just trying to look the part?
  4.  What are you going to be known for, when someone is chosen to deliver your eulogy?
  5.  What labels will be etched on your tombstone?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

To fully appreciate this verse, I suggest you read Ephesians 2:1-10 before going any further.  Read these ten verses and ponder the questions above. Let these words and thoughts echo in your mind before answering them.  For me it was a sobering realization that I had indeed lost my way and didn’t have the slightest bit of direction for my life. It was a venture I would have to take.  But in order to engage in this journey, we have to set a true north, re-calibrate our compass if you will, with the following three facts; 

Who we are:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

Who Jesus is:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:‬6

Who God is:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

“Overcome” – Faith Based Addiction Recovery Study
Application – Seek Completeness

The road to rebuilding your character is fraught with obstacles and opportunities.  It is in these aspects that give you the chance to not only develop integrity, but to show others what God has done for you.  Many of you may perpetually be on trial with cynical family members that question your truthfulness. If you peel back the layers, the past suspicion is usually warranted.  Make amends the best you can and let your actions speak where your words fail. Too often we do good for a short period of time, only to run into an obstacle and backslide. That is why this sub-section is titled seek completeness, not obtain completeness.  Completeness will never be obtained this side of heaven.  But He gives us opportunities to walk in good works instead of falling down constantly.  Bad decisions do not require more bad decisions. We have to make the decision and commit ourselves and efforts to the task at hand.

We all struggle with being obedient to God and allowing other things to take God’s position in our hearts.  Confess the deception, so conviction can take place. Repent from where you have fallen and get back up. We do this because we believe in what Jesus did for us.  If He was willing to die to pay for our sins, do you think he is going to lead you astray about how you should live the life He has called you to?

In closing, I leave you with a plan and a promise from scripture:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-‬6‬‬‬

The “Overcome” Faith Based Addiction Recovery Study is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Christian Recovery Bible Study  series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

Christian Recovery Bible Study

Turmoil & Peace

Prepare for Conflict – Lesson 10 of the “Overcome” Christian Recovery Bible Study

Focusing on the circumstances of our situations, we can become unsure of our environments and insecure in our identity.  Most of the time, this feeling begins in our early childhood and grows… and grows… and grows into an uncontrollable storm.  And eventually we are as if a tiny boat on a stormy sea. Tossed back and forth from the crashing waves. Being ready for a disaster and prepared for an emergency can be the difference between life or death during floods, earthquakes and hurricanes.  Shouldn’t we also apply that same level of immediacy with our spiritual selves? Follow along to find encouragement for the journey in this lesson of the “Overcome” Christian recovery Bible study.

Throughout this journey of leading groups, I have come upon the conclusion there are two camps of individuals; those who have committed to their recovery and those who have not.  This lesson is for the first group: the ones that have committed to the journey. And a call to be aware of the costs that are involved. A level of consideration and appreciation of the cost and resulting conflict is required for successful commitment.  Jesus even referred to the need for this awareness of the cost:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

Luke 14:28

The Overcome course was essentially built around the anchor verse of scripture we cover in this post, for the reason of what I experienced during my own recovery.  The fact that even though I was committed to following Jesus and pursuing recovery, I had not taken into consideration an important fact: life is full of turmoil, and that turmoil has the tendency to steal your perspective, hope and joy.

I do not have to prod very much to get you to think about the biggest source of your turmoil.  It can range from recovery itself and making it through one day at a time, to the rebuilding of a broken relationship, finding employment, or finding a place to live.  Whatever it is, keep it in mind as we progress through this lesson. Because knowing helps you prepare for it.

Most of the turmoil we face is due to lack of preparation.  Preparation in this respect begins with the acknowledgement that we are a conflicted species.  The history of our existence is messy to say the least. Our existence is defined by how we respond to these conflicts which reveal our beliefs and character.  Conflicts are trials and processes that either bring us closer to God or drive us away from Him. One of the most critical means of having perspective in conflict is embodied in the verse below:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-‬7‬‬

Most of our conflict resides internally.  We are pulled in opposite directions between what is right and what is wrong.  Between our desires and our wisdom. If you are a disciple, a Christ follower, you will always have internal conflict.  The self is its own worst enemy, by making the choice to rebel against proper wisdom and instruction. The key is to think eternally though…

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Romans 7:15, ‬18‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

External conflict is public and relationship based.  This person doesn’t get along with this other person. They don’t see eye to eye.  Many of the struggles we face coming via this avenue are due to our mishandling of reactions.  We must adopt a grander picture of the battlefield and realize these are opportunities for growth:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-‬4

‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬Now that we have covered the easier ones, we must acknowledge the most significant.  One that we take for granted at times, because we do not see it with the naked eye. The spiritual or eternal conflict and the value we associate with it.  If we indeed believe there is a heaven, and that we are not of this world, then technically that should have a direct impact on how we live. There are forces at play that we don’t see that bear a cosmic connotation to this conflict that encourages us to overlook it, much to our chagrin.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

The Gravity of the Situation

The last supper takes place in John chapters 13-16.  While the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke all give accounts of the last supper, only John gives this level of detail.  This was an intimate setting and portrait of Jesus spending His last hours with the disciples. His intent was to prepare them for the difficulties that lie ahead.  He had led and taught these men for the past three years. During this account, He washes their feet, calls out Judas for future betrayal, promises the Holy Spirit, alerts them to coming persecution, His own death and resurrection and that He is going to prepare a place for them in heaven.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Imagine the inner conflict going on in this scene:  Jesus knows that Judas is going to betray him and that everyone will scatter and deny him.  He knows He is about to die a painful and shameful death. He knows the entire plan of God rests on his obedience, even unto death, for the very ones whose sin will place Him on the cross.  As far as literature goes, this is the climax of the story. 66 books of canon and 31,102 verses all pointing to or from this event. This is the culmination of everything that has preceded and will follow.  

He acknowledged the gravity of the situation and did not run from it or ignore it.  He understood what was at stake not only for the disciples but for all who would follow.  You see the effects of this inner turmoil on Him while sweating blood during repeated prayers to “take this cup”.  He shows his obedience by uttering “…but Your will be done.” He knew the gravity of what was going on.

For us, we must acknowledge the gravity of our situations.  He gave us the example of not giving up and being obedient. He acknowledged the brutal reality of life on this world but offered perspective.  For us to stay committed to our spiritual walks and recovery, we must accept this perspective as truth. We stay the course through the turmoil, not running and hiding from it.  Family members may not welcome you back with open arms. Friends may never trust you again. Finding a job may be next to impossible. Which is precisely why He ends this verse with “But take heart, I have overcome the world.”  We do not rely on our strength or temporary victories, we hold on to His ultimate victory, even when it seems like we have lost yet another battle, He has won the war.

“Overcome” – Christian Recovery Bible Study
Application – Contingency Plan

Whatever conflict you are facing right now, you have two options: run from it and try your best to hide or run to God and His Word.  We cannot outrun conflict, but we can seek Him in the midst of it. Be well prepared when the waves start crashing in, not running for sandbags in the middle of a torrential downpour.  The best way we can prepare is to acknowledge the turmoil and seek His word on it. Research the word, find a verse or even a single word to hold on to. Claim it as your own. Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it every day and memorize it.

Many have asked me what I held on to during the early stages of recovery.  I attribute this question to the nautical term the bitter end.  The bitter end is the last link on the chain of an anchor.  In popular terms it means the conclusion of a difficult or unpleasant situation.  During the time I found my rock bottom I had no support system and was out cast and alienated due to my actions. I wasn’t a Christ follower but knew something had to change.  Learning how to live the Christian life while reconciling with no earthly encouragement was one of my most difficult times in life. Everything in me cried out for the old, the familiar.  The early stage of recovery is one of the most vital and most memorable times of your journey. The difficult part is knowing what to prepare for and knowing what your anchor is. For me, the bitter end was the verses below.  What verses do you hold on to when the conflict comes?

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

Luke 15:4

The “Overcome” Christian Recovery Bible Study is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Christian Recovery Bible Study  series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

Overcome - Christian Recovery Study Guide Lesson 9

Disappointment & Contentment

Misplaced Hope – Lesson 9 of the “Overcome” Christian Recovery Study Guide

More.  More. More.  Looking for things to fulfill us is natural.  Some would even say that God created us to consume.  And they would be correct. The problem comes when we begin to look to the things of this world to fulfill us, that are incapable.  We form false expectations that buckle under the pressure and lead to the feeling known as disappointment; something that failed at fulfilling a hope we so desperately wanted to believe in. Follow along in this lesson of the “Overcome” Christian recovery study guide to learn how to move away from disappointment, and toward contentment.

In the opening verse of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says All is vanity.  He is saying everything in this world is futile.  He also uses the phrase striving after wind to further elaborate on this maxim.  Everything. Wisdom, work, indulgence, wealth… and he goes through 11 chapters of this, and in chapter 12 he sums it up in verse 13:

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Faulty Expectations

Most disappointments are birthed from focusing on ourselves and what we feel we deserve.  We confuse our wants with needs. For many of us this is especially true when it comes to acknowledgement for hard work and efforts.  If it is something we have invested in and it doesn’t turn out a certain way, we suddenly lose our sense of purpose. For others it is tied up in misplaced importance in a particular identity or possession.  We idolize these things to make us feel whole, to give our lives meaning. The hunt becomes a harsh and impossible task. Tragically, we tend to neglect the gifts God has given us by focusing on what we don’t have.

When these expectations aren’t met, dissension, anger, depression and self-medicating unfortunately become the only thing we have for our efforts.  When expectations are only temporarily met, it never brings a lasting feeling of joy or fulfillment and we forget about it once it loses its luster.  The beast of time reveals the sad truth that the idols have once again let us down. We nurse our wounds and develop spiritual Alzheimer’s and begin the cycle all over again once we see the next shiny thing, the next conquest, the next adventure.

Addiction for me was knowing I didn’t have what I needed, which was a spiritual relationship with my Creator, but hunting for everything else to fill that void.  Alcohol and pills numbed me. But it was something I was never content with. I became Goldilocks; not enough but too much. All of it was reflective of the emotional rollercoaster, up and down.  In the biography on Rockefeller, he was quoted saying, in business “Fear the peaks as much as you fear the troughs.” I can’t help but think there is a direct parallel to this in our spiritual walks.

Priorities

Our scripture reference comes from the Sermon on the Mount, a little after the Beatitudes.  And ultimately is a call to make sure you have your priorities correct in life. He isn’t saying “Do this and you’ll get that house in the Bahamas and a Ferrari.”  He is saying don’t attempt to find fulfillment in the things of this world. He is saying seek your spiritual relationship with God first. Do not neglect your spiritual development on behalf of these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you

Matt 6:33

I understand this verse as do not find security in these things.  People, professions, possessions.  These things will leave you empty, defeated and imbittered.  The worldly search for fulfillment will only lead to disappointment, whether now or on your deathbed.  Kids will break your heart, your spouse will take you for granted, your friends will use you, cars will break down, you will lose your job, health problems and the list goes on and on.  Where disappointment dwells, contentment disappears.

These things are valid concerns.  They are things referred to as what we need to survive.  Things that we are provided with but may not be up to the standards that we want them to be.  You start to look around and think “I want what this other person has” instead of recognizing what you have been given and asking “Am I being faithful with what I have been entrusted with?”

The “Overcome” Christian Recovery Study Guide
Application – Humble Gratitude

Disappointment serves no other purpose than to distract you with things you don’t have and forget what you do have.  You move from disappointment to contentment by being thankful and grateful for what you have, being humble instead of prideful.  And the best way I have found to do this is by writing these things down as they come to mind.  No matter how little or trivial you may think they are.  After you begin this intentional means of recognition, start to ask the question “How would God want me to use this to build His kingdom?”

The above suggestion will help you appreciate what you have been given, but more importantly understand who has given it to you and why.  We humans tend to take things for granted, like waking up every morning, a sun rise, a pillow, running water. Even the talents and gifts we have been given get neglected and suffer.  It is all too easy to brush this awareness under the rug and continue the primal search that decays us from the inside out; seeking other things, in lieu of that which really matters. 

A Final Note on Seeking

Much has been said on the part of the commitment of individuals seeking recovery from substance abuse.  Many highly educated professionals, well intentioned, state that an individual must want and seek recovery.  Recovery becomes one of these things.  While to some extent I believe this, it is however, foundationally flawed.  True, if the individual is indeed committed to recovery, there is a slight chance they may in fact obtain recovery.  Unfortunately, that is not the inherent obstacle. The flaw in this logic resides in a primary misunderstanding of the issue and progression of recovery.  One that does not take seriously enough the question of when, not if, struggles come and how will they be handled. To which I offer the following alteration to the statement:

You may find recovery if you are seeking for it.  You will find recovery and so much more if you would but seek Jesus instead.

The “Overcome” Christian Recovery Study Guide is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Christian Recovery Study Guide series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Joshua Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book