Named!

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Your name is who you are. It’s that unique combination of words that encompasses your identity.

A couple months ago, I had a birthday. My wife and our Sunday night small group surprised me with a cake. Inscribed on the cake were the words – wait for it, you’ll never see this one coming – “Happy Birthday Doug!”

(We won’t go into the other décor on the cake such as the number 50 or the little rocking chair that was perched atop it – they’re a real humorous bunch, that group).

About three days later, while getting a cup of coffee, I decided to have a sliver of cake. As I opened the box and looked at the remnants inside, I noticed all that remained was the piece that my name had been written on. My name was wholly intact, but everything else was gone.

In that moment, God whispered, “I’ve kept your name intact. Not the name you’ve striven for. Not the name you tried to build for yourself. Not the name you thought you had established. But the name I gave you.”

And I knew it was true. Through the trials and the turmoil, bad decisions and their consequences, hurt I caused, hurt others caused, gossip, rumors, temptations, struggles, failures, exposed ugliness…through it all God had kept my name intact.

But the important thing is which name He preserved.

You see, God isn’t interested in the name we build for ourselves. He’s interested in the name He has given us.

The Doug who was striving to be significant through credentials and performance was not actually the Doug that God had blessed since the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

The Doug who caved in to temptation, hurt people, and sank into the mire of guilt and shame over those failures was not the Doug He had known before He formed me in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5, Galatians 1:15).

Even the Doug that tried to serve and encourage and counsel as a pastor was not the Doug that He declared to have plans for (Jeremiah 29:11).

Those Dougs may have at times been living out some aspects of the Doug God created, but it wasn’t him.

That was someone trying to build the labels that he thought necessary to make him valuable.  But the truth is God had already declared him valuable!

Stop for a moment and think about where you are today. Are you striving to check boxes so that you can be the person you think God wants? Are you working your tail off so that you can somehow attain acceptance with God and make a name for yourself?

If so, stop! God gave you a name before you ever entered this world. You don’t have to make a name for yourself, because the name that is important is already firmly a part of you. Each of us is already “complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). Live out of your true name.

Or, are you carrying around labels resulting from past failures? Are you allowing your inner voice, or accusations of others, to define who you are? Are you resigned to thinking that you have to live the life of an addict or loser or convict because of your past?

If so, enough! Those failures were certainly not part of God’s plan for you. But that doesn’t mean they change who you really are in God’s eyes. Don’t get caught up in thinking that failure inevitably leads to continued failure. Live out of your true name.

No matter what you have done. No matter what others have done to you. No matter how wildly successful or miserably unsuccessful you think you’ve been, your true God-given name has not been enhanced or tainted one iota. He has preserved it just as He intended, and will continue to do so.

Put all those false self-imposed or others-imposed names behind you and live out your true name. Live redeemed!

Our Inner Testimony

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We talk a lot about it as believers.

As we should.

We are Christ’s ambassadors, and the image we project as we represent our King is important. We cannot represent a compassionate God with outward shows of irresponsibility, corruption, hypocrisy, intolerance, and other subpar behavior.

But there is another aspect to our testimony that is more subtle, and extremely enslaving and limiting.  I call it our “inner testimony”.  It’s those weaknesses and struggles that remain in our private lives and never see the light of day.

At some level, we all have something that we wrestle with privately.  Maybe yours is big or maybe it’s trivial. Maybe no one knows about it, not even those closest to you. If that’s true I’d venture to guess it’s not because you’re leading a double life, but because you’re ashamed and embarrassed for anyone to know (that’s the case more often than not).

So we dig in and we fight alone.

As valiant as we might be, there are days when we come limping off the battlefield dragging our sword behind us and nursing a gaping wound.

In time, those occasional losses start to wear on us, and we become more and more prone to giving up the fight.  Sure, we still go through the motions.  We beat our chests and rattle our swords and let out the most intimidating cries we can. But deep down, we’ve resigned to the fact that this is what we are and we can’t win.  In other words, we start to believe the labels and the lies. Then comes compromise and bad habits and deeper and deeper levels of shame and thoughts of “Well, I surely can’t talk to anyone about this now”.

So you just go with it and try to ‘make up’ for it in other areas of your life. You sacrifice that fight and hope you can win everywhere else. If only you can be the very best Christian (with just this one weakness that no one has to know about…) it will all come out in the wash, as they say.

Here’s the truth:

If you indulge that secret weakness – pornography, sexual misconduct, sneaking hits of your drug of choice, ducking into the casino or strip club with that little bit of money no one knows you have in an area where no one you know will see you… you could very well get by. You could conceivably get by your entire life.

In theory, your outward testimony could remain intact.  After all, when you indulge you’re either by yourself or you’re completely surrounded by unfamiliar faces. ‘You’re not hurting anyone else,’ you reason (though actually, you are). And you can’t show a bad Christian testimony to people who don’t even know you’re Christian. So maybe – maybe – you get away with it.

Now, I could launch into a sermon on Numbers 32:23 (“and be sure you’re sin will find you out”). But the truth is, some people do manage to go to their grave with that secret sin tucked away safely (not because they “got one over,” mind you, but because in His divine wisdom God chose not to expose it).

But even if your outer testimony is never impacted, your inner one will be.

Because these things reinforce our chains.  They undermine our confidence, create cracks in our foundation, and on subconscious levels make us insecure and unable to fully engage. You can be effective, and to many it may look like you’re doing great things. Others may see something a little off, but something they can’t quite put their finger on.

Either way you won’t be living up to your potential. You won’t be able to live out the freedom God has for you and impact others the way He intends.  Because when your inner testimony is tainted, your whole is out of balance.

So if you’re in that place right now, where you’ve allowed yourself to be resigned to compromising your battle plans – convinced you have to give ‘this’ ground so you can hold ‘that’ – snap out of it. Find an accountability partner, resolve to win the battle on every front, and watch how your outward life can be transformed by a solid inner testimony!

Storytime

Brick Textures 040Having just completed a book filled with many personal testimonies, I was reminded of what God has been emphasizing to me for some time:

Each of our stories is valuable.

This was not a ‘Christian’ book. It was intended for a more universal or agnostic audience. Yet the stories repeatedly attested to the way God delivers people from the deepest, darkest places – even when they don’t specifically recognize it’s Him doing the delivering.  

If people who do not acknowledge the one true God can reveal His faithfulness, how much more the believer who knows exactly Who is behind every good thing in our lives (James 1:17)?

Granted, our stories can be ugly and painful.

Sometimes we are left wondering if things can ever be fixed, but in those cases God gives us the grace to press on.

Sometimes what we thought was unfixable is redeemed and becomes more beautiful than it was even before we screwed it up.

Sometimes it’s never fixed, but we later realize the ‘fix’ wasn’t what was needed after all.

Whatever the case with your particular story, it is worth sharing. It may be the encouragement someone out there desperately needs. So be faithful.

Too often we let the enemy convince us that our story isn’t useful. That it won’t do any good. It’s too ugly, too embarrassing, too mundane, or too common to be beneficial. His arguments against telling our stories seem limitless.

But there’s a reason Jesus said he was the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Whatever discouragement he is whispering to you, it’s simply not true.

He’s probably whispered a few more lies to you even as you are reading this:

God can use you without your story.”

If you don’t tell your story, no worries – somebody else will come along.”

Maybe your story is worth telling, but you’re not a good storyteller. Good story or not, it will sound dumb.”

People could use your story against you.”

Why are you reading this guy’s blog anyway? All this ‘feel-good’ talk is just setting you up for disappointment.

Lies! Don’t believe them.

Stay faithful. Be willing to speak. Let God take it from there.

Our trials and struggles bring two universal benefits to this life: our own personal growth and the encouragement of others. If you’re not willing to share your story, you completely nullify that second benefit.

One caveat: be careful of “suicide by transparency.” As I’ve cautioned previously, there are places for your full story and places for discernment. Different settings call for varying degrees of transparency.

Eighty years ago, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous got it right when they urged alcoholics to share their story with other alcoholics who may be helped but use discretion in public forums for their own well-being and that of their loved ones. This was wise advice then, and has stood the test of time as part of the most successful recovery program ever established. 

Sometimes face-to-face story-telling needs to be tempered with caution and restraint. 

Sometimes a full disclosure of your story needs to be done with a level of anonymity.

And sometimes, in the rare occasions when you know you’re face to face with someone who can relate and will benefit, the storytelling needs to be bloody, raw, and painfully transparent.

If you trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you will know which situation is appropriate in the moment.

But don’t let Satan steal your voice. Never let him convince you that your story isn’t worth telling. Share what God is doing in your life. Take the risk, and make a difference.

 

 

 

Perspective

 

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;  and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.  So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36)

Jesus and a group of Jewish believers had a pretty deep conversation here concerning freedom.  The dialog culminated in one of the foundational verses of this ministry: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

But sometimes we can focus in on one aspect of the truth so keenly that other vital elements get lost.  It’s good to re-center ourselves on the big picture once in a while.

Recent blog entries here have been about openness from both sides – the need to approach someone and be open, and the need to be approachable in order to facilitate openness and healing.  

It’s important to remember, though, that just talking about it isn’t the entire solution.  If we’re not leaning on Jesus and living obedient lives, all the talk in the world isn’t doing any good.  Openness without action doesn’t free anyone – on one extreme it essentially turns us into habitually sinning conversationalists (which amounts to empty religion), on the other it promotes wallowing and self-pity (keeping us in chains).   

Jesus said “whoever commits sin is a slave to sin.”  So even if freedom is recognized, we can still find ourselves enslaved to sin when we don’t reside in Christ.

Compare also Galatians 5:1 (“It was for freedom that Christ set us free”) and 5:13 (“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh”).

You see, freedom is core to the gospel message, but it is not spoken of without the counter-balance of obedience.

If we’re not doing something about it, we’re not taking it seriously.  

Now here I will differ from some who say that if you are still struggling and stumbling with a certain sin you haven’t truly repented of it.  I think that inaccurate at best, destructive and disheartening at worst.

True, Paul did write to the Romans “our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (6:6-7).  

But just a few paragraphs later Paul wrote “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” (7:19-20).

So, if Paul was teaching in Romans 6 that truly repentant people are completely over the sin they repented of, then he obviously wasn’t truly repentant himself based on his admissions in Romans 7.  

The distinction here is not the scorecard, but where your heart-focus is.  Maybe you still slip once in a while. Maybe the same old weakness creeps in and pulls you into sin that you turned away from.  But it’s the overall battle that’s our true indicator.  

Don’t dwell on a moment of failure, and fear that you’ve lost when you’ve had a thousand moments of victory.  But  also don’t dwell on a momentary confession and repentance and take pride that you’ve won when you’re not fighting the day-to-day fight.

Perspective is key – a perspective that sees things from eternity’s view.  In Christ we are freed from the chains of sin and death.  But in Christ, we also are motivated to live a life of obedience and victory.  

That’s what eternal life is all about.  And eternity starts today!

 

Self-Forgiveness

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I have been told that the concept of forgiving one’s self is not in the Bible.

And admittedly, you can’t find any variation of the phrase ‘forgiving yourself’ in scripture. But I have to differ with those who state that because it isn’t called out specifically, it is not a valid concept. I believe that argument comes out of a misunderstanding of biblical forgiveness.

Let’s examine.

First, we should revisit Mirriam-Webster’s definition of ‘forgive’:

“to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone): to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)”.

Forgiving means releasing the debt. As has been said, it’s not about ignoring the hurt, denying the pain, or excusing the offense. It’s about accepting reality, and then choosing not to hold it against the person who hurt us. It’s not about absolving the offender from guilt – only God can do that, as Jesus acknowledged in Mark 2:5-12. But forgiveness from our perspective is about releasing the person from the responsibility of having to make it up to me for offending me. And hence, breaking the chains of bitterness that unforgiveness brings.

I also can’t give that release to a person on behalf of someone else. I cannot on behalf of Frank forgive Bill of an offense against Frank, and declare he doesn’t owe anything to Frank – only Frank can do that. And Frank needs to do that, because it’s his heart that is in bondage given the alternative.

I hope that made sense. Because all of that is important to understand before we get to the next question…

What happens when the person who has offended me is me?

When I make poor choices that I have to live with, when I have put myself in a bad position and caused myself pain and angst – in a very real sense, I have offended myself. Given this, I can choose two avenues: (1) I can live my life in regret for that thing that I did and continue to hold myself (the offender) in bondage to self-loathing and remorse, or (2) I can choose to loose myself (the offender) from the responsibility of having to make it up to me, and break the chains.

When we think of it that way, option 2 is obviously the biblical response.

This in no way excuses what I’ve done. I can’t say “I’ve forgiven myself and so everything is okay now.” It also does not absolve me from accountability – only God can do that. (However, I can claim 1 John 1:9 that says very clearly that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us.”)

Neither am I forgiving myself on behalf of others who were offended by the same act (just like I can’t forgive Bill on behalf of Frank, I also can’t forgive myself on behalf of someone else who I hurt).

You see, it all comes down to forgiveness being a matter of healing for the hurt person, an avenue of freedom to the offended. That’s the biblical concept.

So, whether the term self-forgiveness is or is not in scripture, if one has the proper understanding of what forgiveness is about, it can and should be applied to anyone who offends us…even ourselves.

Always a Victim, Never a Victor

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We’re all victims.  None of us got to where we are without being subject to someone else’s decisions and things that are out of our control.  Maybe it was being lied to, gossiped about, taken advantage of.  Maybe it was abuse.  Maybe it was betrayal of a friend, or the enemy who did something you wouldn’t even expect an enemy to do. Or possibly rather than a person, it’s where you grew up, or a physical trait, or a propensity toward something that you or society sees as broken.

You are a victim.  You’re not exaggerating or imagining it.  You’re certainly not outside of your rights.  The evidence is in, it’s verifiable, you were a recipient of consequences you did not control.

Congratulations, you are an official member of the human race. We are all victims to some extent.  I don’t say that to make light of your situation or to say “oh just get over yourself.”  Your feelings are valid, and are actually a good thing because we can’t address what we don’t recognize.

But, before stepping into the world with your victim banner flying, let’s examine some truths.

Being the victim limits our freedom, and obstructs victory.  You are allowing someone or something else to define you, which brings with it heavy chains.

Breaking out of those chains requires action on your part.  David is a good example.  In Psalm 7, he spends the entire chapter pleading with God for deliverance from his enemies (who had, you guessed it, victimized him).  But then he ends with “I will praise the Lord…” (v 17).  He was still as much a victim when he wrote verse 17 as he had been in verses 1-16.  But it was that resolve to take action (the act of praising God) that brought David repeated victory. Action on your part is required.

If it involves another person, you cannot wait around for that person to come lift the victim label off of you by apologizing or seeking forgiveness.  They may never even realize or acknowledge that they wronged you, let alone seek reconciliation.  And you seeking reconciliation with them may not be possible or productive either.  But forgiveness is possible, and freeing.  Unforgiveness gives them power, reinforcing the victim label.  The act of forgiveness takes away that power.

If it involves something in the environment or your personal makeup, acknowledge it as reality.  But also acknowledge that you don’t have to be controlled by it.

Denying the reality reinforces the victim label (I refuse to acknowledge this part of me and so it rules my life, through secret indulgence or constant striving to keep it down – or often both).  On the other hand, living it out also reinforces the victim label (it’s just the way I am and I can’t do anything about it).  Either way, I am a victim.  Either way, victory is out of reach.

So this label of ‘victim’, whatever its source, has tremendous potential to define you, and to steal your ability to live victoriously and free.

But don’t you allow it.  You have a choice.

Nothing to Prove

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    I have two dogs.  An 85-pound Black Lab and a 17-pound Jack Russel Terrier.   

    Shadow, the Labrador, has nothing to prove.  She doesn’t get worked up about much of anything.  If we pass a barking dog while we’re out walking, she doesn’t feel the need to respond.  She may stop and stare for a minute, but then will just move on leisurely.  As we’re walking, she is content to mosey along at her pace, with no ambitions to take the lead.  Shadow is secure in her ‘doghood’ and doesn’t feel like she needs to prove anything to anybody.  The other day while we were out walking a poodle got loose, ran up, and began to jump and nip near Shadow’s ear.  Shadow stopped walking and waited patiently until the other dog’s owner came and got her.  No attempt to  nip back, protect herself, or establish dominance.

    Maggie, the Jack Russel Terrier, on the other hand, is a little Napoleon with a major ‘alpha dog’ complex.  She retorts at any animal that dares be vocal toward her.  She has to be in the lead and will literally choke herself pulling on the leash until she secures the forward position.  It’s always a competition with Maggie, and she has to be winning.  Maggie has everything to prove.

    As my wife and I walked the dogs the other day, amused at this dynamic, it occurred to me how representative that is of our freedom in Christ. 

    When we are striving and working in an attempt to gain freedom, we are like little Maggie.  We are relentlessly putting one foot in front of the other, responding aggressively to every threat, straining against the chains to get in front of the pack.

    Contrast that to when we are resting in Christ and relying on what He says: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).  When we trust Him at His word, we no longer have anything to prove.  

    Just take a moment to review Ephesians chapter 1: Jesus says you are blessed (1:3), chosen (1:4), without blame (1:4), adopted as a son/daughter (1:5), accepted in the Beloved (1:6), redeemed (1:7), forgiven (1:7).  He says He is the guarantor of our inheritance (1:14), and backing us up is the power that raised Christ from the dead (1:19,20).  With all of that on our side, why should we ever feel the need to prove ourselves to anyone on this earth?

    So when the ankle-biters of life run up on you – whether they be poodles or accusers or gossips or Pharisees, or your own guilt and shame – you don’t have to push back.  Rest in Him and know that we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Temptation Does Not Equal Transgression

One of the most clever ploys of the enemy is blurring the lines between temptation and transgression.

Let me set up a scenario.  Say you have had an issue with lust.  You’re in the grocery store picking up a few things.  You walk past the magazine rack.  Inadvertently, a certain magazine cover catches your eye, and there staring back at you is one of the most beautiful bikini-clad ladies, or speedo-clad men, you have ever beheld.  Your eyes linger.  You feel that all-too-familiar stir within you as admiration quickly begins to turn to lust.  You want to pick up the magazine and see more, your mind wants to go racing to other images in your memory banks, or you want to go home and get online to find some ‘old haunts’.  But what you choose to do is lift it up to Jesus and ask Him to take it away.  You turn your eyes from the magazine cover, walk a little faster down the aisle, block out past images, douse the budding flames of fantasy, and vow to definitely not turn on the computer when you get home.

Yet you come away from this situation feeling dirty, wicked, sinful.  Why?  You did everything that you could have done to walk away from the temptation.  You had no control over what crossed your field of vision, and that initial lingering gaze was more automatic response than conscious choice.  Realistically, you reacted well.

But here’s the deal: Satan is very adept at convincing us that temptation is equivalent to transgression.  Especially when it comes to things we’ve struggled with in the past.  He has drawn more people back into sin patterns with this tactic than we’d care to count.  He leverages labels that we have assigned ourselves – pornography addict, drugee, alcoholic, relationally dysfunctional, sexually deviant, uncontrollably angry – and an in-the-moment urge toward that habit or lifestyle suddenly becomes a reason to say “this is the way I am.”

But this is not the way you are.  Paul says you are “beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:7).  Peter says you are a “His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9).  And John says whoever “is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4).  You are not destined to be defined by your weaknesses.  You are destined to be “more than conquerers through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

From freedom’s perspective – being tempted is never the same as transgressing.  The determining factor regarding victory is what you do with the temptation, not that you were tempted in the first place!  Don’t let the lure become the lie that reinforces the label. Stand in His truth, and live free!

The Warrior’s Freedom

Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”

That is the tagline of this ministry.  It is the core idea that everything in Freedom Rising Ministries is built around.

Rising into freedom means understanding that our freedom does not come from our win/loss record.  Our freedom comes from God’s declaration that we are free.  From there, the fight commences from a position of freedom, not from a position of trying to gain freedom.

We are never going to escape temptation in this life.  We will always deal with the weaknesses of our flesh, though Christ gives us renewed strength for the fight as believers.  There will be bad days, and there will be failures.  When we fight from a position of freedom, we can take them in stride and acknowledge that we are still free because our freedom is based on Jesus’ declaration and not our achievements.

But we must be cautious not to fall into the trap of resigning ourselves to failure.  That is not God’s intent.  There is no growth or fulfillment in that.  If we look further down in Galatians 5, verse 13 says “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

In other words, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to indulge sin.

If you are actively indulging in sin patterns, address it.  Christ’s freedom is not a call to continue on in your sin with a prayer and a shoulder-shrug and a ‘that’s just the way I am’.  Because He replies “No, this is the way you are…free!”

After writing extensively on the subject of the free gift of God’s grace, Paul wrote in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

And later in Romans 6:14-15, we find:  “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?  Certainly not!”

A warrior is free to fight on the battlefield.  The battle will not always be easy (even for the best of us…see Romans 7:15-23).  And the warrior will not always win.  But that doesn’t mean he hoists the white flag at the first sign of setback.  A good warrior, recognizing the position of freedom from which he fights, picks his sword up and charges back into the battle.  So pick up your sword and get back in there…every time!

Think of the particular temptations and struggles that you combat daily.  Are you just letting them win because you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you can’t attain real freedom, or are you standing firm in the promise of Romans 6:14 and Galatians 5:1 and fighting from a position of freedom?  What battle techniques work for you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dealing with Ugly, Part 1

Sin and temptation are ugly things.  Sometimes we try to dismiss or discount them.  For example:

  •      We shrug off lust by saying ‘it’s just the way I am’ or ‘doesn’t everybody struggle with some form of that?’
  •      We reclassify anger issues as justifiable or the other person’s fault.
  •      We excuse an addiction with ‘it helps me cope’ and ‘I can quit anytime I want.’
  •      We write off a proclivity toward gossip as ‘sharing a need’ or ‘something people have to know about.’

But in the end there is no valid way to ‘pretty up’ the temptation or dismiss the sin.  If it doesn’t honor God, it’s ugly – plain and simple.

I speak from experience.  I wouldn’t assume anything I write would be worth paying attention to otherwise.  My issues will not be the same as yours.  My perspective on certain issues will not be the same as yours.  We all travel different paths.  But rest assured my path has been littered with its share of mistakes and hurt.

I will not go into detail on what my sin is, any more than I would care to know the specifics of yours.  Details are often not productive to the general discussion.  Suffice it to say that my faults and failures are ugly and have left deep stains.  Where they began I do not know – and honestly that is irrelevant on today’s battlefield.  With so many things there are large debates of nurture vs. nature.  I don’t discount any side of those discussions, but one thing I do know is that when you’re in the heat of battle, you often don’t really care how the war began.  You are in survival mode.  If your struggle is with alcohol or drugs and you recognize their destructive power, how it got a hold on you is really not relevant – you want to defeat it.  If you deal with unwanted homosexual attractions, it doesn’t matter whether there is a ‘gay gene’ or your desires developed through environment or experiences – you just want victory.  And to different degrees the same can be said of countless other things – addictions, compulsive behavior, domestic violence, and on and on.  Granted, some of these have more proven theories regarding causation than do others.  Regardless, today’s battlefield is where the fight is fought.

So, where does that leave us?  It leaves us in the midst of a fierce battle for freedom, and in need of a battle strategy.  I propose a three-part strategy: (1) realizing the inherent ugliness of our struggles, (2) realizing that we need to deal with that ugliness appropriately, and (3) how to deal with it.

This post has intended to deal with (1).  The next two posts will delve into (2) and (3).  Together, this will hopefully form a solid groundwork for recognizing, acknowledging, and dealing with whatever ugliness haunts you.

Whether it is something in your past that you carry deep-seated guilt about, something recent that has left an open gaping wound, or an ongoing struggle…that ugly thing is being leveraged by the Enemy to hold you down.  It’s time to get the upper hand.