PSYCHOLOGY AND THE CHURCH

Even I have fallen prey to the world’s methods and language. The world tells us many have various “addictions” but the Bible calls them sin. According to Titus 3:3 “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, “ENSLAVED TO VARIOUS LUSTS AND PLEASURES”, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”
Did you catch that? What we’re calling “addiction” Titus tells us is “enslavement to various lusts and pleasures.” What the world is calling–“addiction”, “disorders”, “illnesses”, “diseases” the Bible simply calls sins. You see if we don’t see these things as “sins” we will continue to believe there is a solution somewhere outside of Christ. We may think medication, therapy, counseling, meetings, etc. hold the key when Christ is clearly the only sufficient answer for sin.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. I myself went through a methadone program and had to speak with a counselor but in the end it was only Christ who set me free! So, I’m not saying some of these things aren’t helpful, I’m just saying they aren’t the answer. Anything that keeps us believing we are forever trapped in these “addictions” or “disorders” is a lie! Jesus Christ offers us true freedom. He even promises us a “Comforter” and “Counselor” of our very own who actually takes up residence within us. The Holy Spirit moves in and is on call 24 hrs. a day 7 days a week!
Will you start receiving His counsel today?

Ron:  “Healed is a done deal! You do not have to be treated for your addiction…ailment..(SIN) your whole life.”

Gary: “How about the sin of football?”

Kathy: “Absolute truth, my friend.”

Kathy: “I certainly wish my degree program could see it this way. All it takes is ONE BOOK and ONE RELATIONSHIP”

Kathy: “Wow !! In my studies today, I have discovered that Dr. Benjamin Rush, in 1784, “medically confirmed observations about the progressiveness of episodes of acute and chronic drunkenness.” He referred to this behavior as “a disease induced by a vice.” He offered a “medical” speculation about the causes of this disease. This is where the “medical” field stepped in and attempted to replace the “sin” of addiction with a “medical definition” of “disease” that somehow is caused by a malfunction in God’s creation. Imagine that. It’s all God’s fault according to the sciences. However, what they are not saying is that the continual consumption of drugs or alcohol lead to the malfunction of God’s creation. As you stated, it is “sin.” Plain and simple. Carry on.”

Louie: “Nice! Thanks Kathy It’s interesting to me the Docs name is “Rush”.

Kathy: “This guy also is credited with providing the first recommended treatments for “chronic drunkenness” based on a “disease concept” to call for the creation of a special facility called a “sober house” to care for the drunkard.”

Louie: “We might call it a “church”, huh?”

Kathy: “I find this quite humorous that this is my material to study today.”

Kathy: “It gets better…In 1825, a sensible Reverend came on the scene and delivered a sermon that stated, “The drunkard is addicted to the sin – an evil habit fueled by an insatiable desire to drink. In the 1830’s, Dr. Samuel Woodward described drunkenness as a “physical disease which preys upon the drunkard’s health and spirit, making him a “willing” slave to its appetite.” Wow !!”

Louie: “Romans does tell us we are either a “slave to sin” or a “slave to righteousness.” It does boil down to our will in the end.”

Kathy: “In 1864, New York state founded the Inebriate Asylum to treat alcoholism as a “mental disorder.” A liberal move away from God on this one.”

Mary: “Amen, Louie. Found that to be true with my eating disorder. Was not a disease! Was part of the old man that died. Still have food allergies and sensitivities but free in Christ from the addiction! Yay!”

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DEALING WITH ADDICTION ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE

While the world may see those deemed addicts as unique or different from everyone else, God’s word doesn’t make such a distinction. While not everyone struggles with alcohol, drugs, sex or food in the same way we do all have something that will rule over us if given the chance. Jesus in fact said, “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” So, in other words, we all come into this life with a problem the Bible calls sin. Whether you ever choose to label it addiction or not is entirely up to you; but we do know without Christ we will all remain “addicted” or a “slave to sin.”

Recently Tracey and I had a visit with a lady whose son has become hooked on alcohol. Like plenty of us he had some bad things happen in his life and he turned to alcohol for comfort resulting in an inability to stop drinking. She told us when he drinks “he talks out of his head and doesn’t make any sense.” When he’s sober he’s just as quiet and sweet as ever. She said, “When he’s drunk he tells me he hates it, and yet he can’t seem to stop.”

Whenever we, or someone we love, is struggling with some particular sin or fleshly habit and can’t seem to gain victory the analysis begins. We’ll start trying to diagnose the problem in order to come up with solutions. Sometimes we over-analyze things with hopes of finding the root of the problem. While I agree we do need to get to the root of the problem; the root is much deeper than a dysfunctional family, alcoholic parents, lack of education, lack of money and so on. While all of these make considerable contributions to the pain and suffering there is yet one even deeper problem the Bible addresses.

God’s word is the only place that provides the answer to the real problem and it’s sin. You see one thing we all have in common according to the Bible is we all come from a sinful forefather. “Through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” You see all of us were in Adam when he sinned therefore he wasn’t alone in his guilt. While that is bad news thank God it isn’t the final word. There is some good news “For as through the one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One (Jesus Christ) the many will be made righteous.”

When you find yourself listening to someone attempting to figure out why they or someone they love does what they do just remember we’re all in the same boat. Just because you may not drink, do drugs or gamble to soothe your conscience doesn’t mean you’re any different. Sin has a way of cropping up in our lives in many ways and just because yours appears a little different than mine doesn’t mean it is any different at the root. This is what the Apostle Paul is telling us in Romans 6 &7. He tells us in Romans six “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death.” You see God knows we can’t be fixed so he has us joined to Christ in his death and burial in order to raise us back to life in Christ as a brand new creature! We have been crucified with Christ therefore we are to walk in newness of life. That my friend is the answer for you and the addict in your life. Just like all of us we must be born again of God’s Spirit by being joined in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

While alcohol, drugs and every other life controlling issue you can name is painful, costly and even devastating at times it doesn’t have to have the last say. Since Jesus Christ died, went into the grave, and came out victorious on the other side, we too can overcome anything sin throws at us. The key is to recognize God created us human beings to be powerless in and of ourselves. He doesn’t mean for us to be without power though but he means for us to receive Him by the Spirit so he is the power in and through us. Once we see this we will join with the Apostle Paul when he said, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…”

Louie

 

 

ADDICTION REQUIRES SPIRIT LEVEL HEALING

Even though I know addiction is a huge problem sometimes I am still surprised how rampant it really is. While not everyone is addicted to drugs, alcohol or other substances there are many who have things in their lives they simply cannot get over or stop doing. What is the real solution?

When someone doesn’t understand addiction there is one thing that is sure to give it away. They almost always start by getting caught up in the details of the situation. What I mean is they spend an unnecessary amount of energy trying to figure out why the addict does what they do. Over the years our society has been inundated with psychology which always brings with it the “Something must have happened to them in their childhood to cause this problem” statement. While I would agree that many may have had something bad happen to them in their childhood this knowledge can’t really fix their problem. While dealing with past hurts or how we feel may have some value the root problem lies much deeper.

The Bible tells us that we are not just a “soul/body” but a “spirit/soul/body” therefore dealing with the psyche (soul) level is okay but it is still only on an emotional and intellectual level. The spirit level, on the other hand, is the level where we contact God, and we all start out with a problem in our spirit that only God can do anything about.

I am no expert on addiction or psychology, but I do know from being an addict that it was only after I found myself at an altar telling God “You have to do this” that my life was changed. It was only when all of my energy and trying were exhausted that I poured myself out to God but it was then that everything turned around. It’s as if God wants to come into our lives and straighten them out but he will only do so if he is invited. Our problem is the invitation will only come after we have tried everyone and everything else first.

Most of the time addiction is only broken when the person’s life has become so out of control they find themselves cornered. As long as the fear of coming into the light is greater than the pain of staying the same no change will happen. The nature of addiction is hideous and demonic at its core. It is going to take more than medicine, therapy or self control. I am not saying there is no benefit in medicine or therapy even the Bible tells us we have to have our minds renewed. What I am saying is ultimately it is only when the Holy Spirit comes in and drives out the unclean spirit that real healing takes place.

I pray for all of you struggling with an addiction whether you or a loved one has the addiction because it is really everyone’s problem.

“Lord I pray you would open the eyes of those that are hurting and tired from the fight tonight and show them you are indeed the only answer to their problem. I ask that you would grant wisdom to all those that love the addicts in their lives and point them to the help and advice they need to pull through this to the peace and victory that you have for them.”    Thank you Jesus!

Written by Louie

WATCH YOUR AIM

Tracey and Louie Christmas 2012
Tracey and Louie
Christmas 2012

When I use to use drugs I never realized what was really going on. I mean, why did I want to be high? When I first started getting high I think it was simply a curiosity and it felt good; no more and no less. As the years passed, and I became addicted; it turned into something different. It was no longer about curiosity or feeling good it became simply about feeling normal.

For anyone who hasn’t been addicted to substances let me just say eventually the substance becomes needed in order to just feel normal. It stops being fun and it stops getting you high but without it you become sick. This is why it is so difficult to break out of the cycle of addiction. As much as an addict wants to stop he can’t because the excruciating discomfort associated with withdrawal seems too much to bear. Of course the answer, at least in the short term, is to do more of the substance; so it creates a vicious, turbulent cycle of trying and failing, trying and failing, until it seems hopeless. This hopelessness can turn out to be the best thing to happen because it may be the very thing that finally drives some to seek help. After all, when someone isn’t quite done from the trying they will somehow find more energy to give it a good try again, right?

Over the last several years I have come to understand that drugs and alcohol really are not the problem but rather a symptom of a deeper problem. It is a way of coping with feelings that life throws at you. It takes the edge off of the reality of existence. I think there was something deep inside of me that knew our lives are being lived on a very thin ledge. As a lost man if you stop very long and see how fragile life really is you will become frightened and immobilized; so rather than do that you just continue in the distracting behavior until something forces you to stop.

For some it takes a funeral to shake them enough to awaken them. While no one likes to lose loved ones sometimes that is the only way we are jolted enough to think about our temporal state. The big question then is what happens after you die? We are suddenly interested in something other than what’s going on right here and now.

So you see those things in life that, on the front end, seem so horrible may be exactly what we need to jolt us from our zombie like state of existence. You know what I’m talking about the repetitive nature of everyday life. It’s those things you do everyday without fail to the point that it lulls us off to sleep. You get up, take a shower, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch a little T.V., go to bed and start all over again tomorrow. Is that really all we were created for? Is this why we were created in God’s image? I say no! We are here to shine the light of the glory of God so others will see and be changed from their drab, monotonous existence to one that bears fruit for their creator.

My prayer is that as we travel along in life we don’t get too distracted by the temporal things. I hope we can learn to see through the visible to the invisible and start to reevaluate our priorities in light of eternity. Please take a moment to think about what is most important to you. What do you place value in? Jesus said it like this “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven…not on the earth where it will rust, break, get stolen etc… Seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.” C.S. Lewis once said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

Written by Louie

JESUS CHRIST IS THE HIGHER POWER

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Google Images

Today I was thinking about addiction, sobriety, 12 step programs, medicine and other things that are involved in recovery and what it really takes to get clean and stay clean. There are a number of people involved in 12 step programs that don’t acknowledge Jesus Christ as their “higher power.” I understand the reasoning behind the “Higher power” talk in a way, but ultimately I believe it is only Jesus Christ that can make someone whole or sober.

My thought process went something like this. If Jesus Christ is the only real power that makes it possible for sobriety how are those that don’t acknowledge him doing it? I mean, I know there are plenty of people that are deeply involved in recovery programs that appear to be doing well without naming Jesus Christ. What’s the reason behind that?

As I pondered these things a story found in the gospel of John came to me. A story I haven’t thought about in a while. You probably know the one; it’s the one about the man that had been crippled for 38yrs. Jesus found him laying by a pool that was said to have healing powers in it but this man never could make his way into it in time. Jesus walked up to him and just asked him “Do you wish to get well?” Then he told the man to “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” As soon as he did so he was made well, picked up his pallet and began to walk.

It just so happened that this occurred on the Sabbath so some of the religious Jews questioned the man about his apparent illegal pallet relocation saying, “It’s not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” The man said, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’ Of course they then asked him who the man was. This is where I was going with this whole thing. The man didn’t know who Jesus was. All he knew was he had been made whole. Later on Jesus introduced himself to him and told him “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The main thing I want you to notice is the man was made whole and didn’t even know who Jesus was.

So, for me I think the answer to how some seem to be sober without naming Jesus Christ is the same way this guy was whole without knowing him either. God loves us so much he will do things like this in our lives even without us acknowledging him. This is like when someone is ill or has surgery and becomes healed. You may thank the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and so on but if you are really healed it is only Jesus Christ that has done it. Doctor’s may operate or treat someone, but God is the only one that can heal you.

We may live for a long time as a sober or healed person and yet not give God the credit he deserves. To me this is just how good God is and proves to me how much he truly loves us. I heard once that God loves us so much he even lets us live our lives as if he doesn’t exist.

I for one am not advocating we stop thanking and acknowledging God but I’m just saying, he is so good and at work in our lives long before we ever think about him. He is patiently waiting for us to come to the place where we see and recognize his presence, but He’s God and he’s good even if some never do.

Written by Louie

THE ENEMY IS TOO GREAT

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For some reading this I know addiction hasn’t been your story but it has been mine therefore I tend to be touched by it quite frequently. I had the opportunity to pray with a guy who is in the thick of this battle and he has apparently had an addiction to pain pills for quite some time.

My pastor prayed first and then asked me to pray. As he prayed the tears came, and I was reminded of the darkness that is addiction. There is an unbelievable sense of guilt that comes with it not to mention the conflicts with spouses and family members. Oddly enough the same sense of helplessness and hopelessness is the very thing that ends up driving us to Christ who is the only one who can truly set us free.

While I quietly listened to my pastor praying a story in 2 Chronicles 20 about a king named Jehoshaphat came to mind. Jehoshaphat was informed there was a large enemy approaching and he became afraid. It isn’t wrong to have feelings of fear but I want you to notice what the king did. He immediately proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Everyone gathered to call on the Lord. After Jehoshaphat prayed and rehearsed the promises of God to his people he made a powerful statement. He said to God “We are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

Recognizing our powerlessness is one huge step toward recovery. When I say recovery I am talking about anything that is keeping you bound up. It may be drugs, cigarettes, fear, peer pressure, religion, others opinions, guilt over the past or maybe it’s your own false idea of who you are suppose to be but either way you simply can’t defeat it on your own. This is the normal human condition. This is the way human beings were designed to work in the first place. We were meant to be powerless and yet house the one and only real power in the universe Christ himself.

Have you ever heard someone say, “God says he won’t put any more on you than you can bear?” That isn’t true. God in fact says the opposite. He looks at our feeble attempts to run our own lives and essentially says “Well, you think you can do it. Go ahead and give it a good try and when the load becomes too much to bear then maybe you will bring it to me.” Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” God doesn’t have to put anything on us we tend to do it ourselves. We have falsely bitten into the lie of self-reliance. We’re like a little child that says, “I can do it!” and then pulls away when you reach out to help them. The fact is it is only when we have come to the end of our trying to carry things that we will really give it to God. There may be many times we attempt to give it to him and yet turn right around and pick it back up only to find it has become even heavier.

When my time to pray for this guy came it was all I could do to form words. I really felt his heaviness and despair. I know victory is right around the corner, and his life will never be the same. He has a beautiful wife and two young children and they are on the brink of a revival. I don’t know when, but I am praying and looking for a major breakthrough in their lives. We really are powerless before the enemies’ addictions and strongholds, but our eyes are on Jesus Christ and he will see us through. The battle is his, but we get to enjoy the spoils.

Written by Louie

HOPE, FREEDOM AND LIFE IN CHRIST

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I heard a story tonight of a man looking at 30yrs behind bars. He said, “My life is over.” The Chaplain who told me this story said to him “Only if you believe it is; if you believe it is over then it’s over.” The young man, looking at all the time, thought for a minute and with a slight look of hope said “Thanks for telling me that.” The point is life isn’t over until it is over no matter what your circumstances may look or feel like especially with Christ. Even in jail and prison you can make a difference in the lives of others.

One of the things recovering drug addicts do is turn around and help others in the same situation. I guess it’s the same with any type of addiction or stronghold. Once you get free you want nothing more than to see others set free also. I suppose it is sort of a calling or mission that drives your life. This is exactly the kind of thing I talked to some men in jail about tonight.

Tonight’s topic was temptation. If we are honest with ourselves we would say we all live with temptation whether we are in jail or not. The Bible tells us it is common to man; so we are all in the same boat on this one. Jesus himself was tempted at all points just as we are and yet without sin. Seeing that Jesus understands the life we are living, temptations and all; he is the perfect one to go to when we are in need. I told the guys tonight we, that have found victory through Christ over addiction, are to turn around and help others that are still struggling because we understand what they are going through. We can relate to them in a way others may not be able to.

The Bible tells us “delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Once I came through addiction I wanted to reach out to others. The main reason is because the Spirit of God had taken up residence within me, and the nature of God is to give of himself for others. He in me wanted to reach out to comfort, encourage, teach and lead others to the freedom that is only found in Christ.

One of the men spoke up and said, “It takes courage to speak to others about Christ, Louie.” I told him I understood that, but what choice do you have? Everyone always likes to say, “We have free will and a choice to make.” While I won’t argue with that I will say the only other option for me was death. I truly don’t think I would be alive today if I hadn’t simply told God “You have to do this; I don’t know how to run my life.” For me the choice was and is a no brainer without Christ I am done for. The Bible tells us we are not our own, we have been bought with a price. We do not have authority over ourselves any longer we are slaves to righteousness. We must do what our master tells us to.

As I was getting ready to leave tonight I quoted Jesus saying, “If you seek to save your life you will lose it but if you lose it for my names sake and the gospel you will find it.” I truly believe it is only when the Spirit of God takes up residence within that you become the person you were meant to be all along. Before coming to Christ we are all pretenders at best. We live our lives trying to be someone we think, or someone else thinks, we are supposed to be. Once you do finally give in and receive Christ it is only then that you become the real you and it is as natural as breathing. This is because God designed the real you, and the real you was always meant to be Christ in you.

Written by Louie