Archives for: November 2014


Permalink 08:07:49 am, Step(s): 03 "I will co-operate...", 461 words   English (US)

"let him deny himself"

Speaking to Jesus, "Peter insisted. 'Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!'" (Matthew 26:35). But, early the next morning, "Peter denied [knowing Jesus] in front of everyone. 'I don’t know what you’re talking about,' he said.... Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. 'I don’t even know the man,' he said... Peter swore, 'A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!'..." (Matthew 26:70,72,74)

I find it very interesting that the Greek word translated "deny", which Matthew used to describe Peter's denial of Christ, is the same word that Jesus used, when He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24) (Mark 8:34) (Luke 9:23).

Rather than a smooth elevator ride to Heaven, Christianity involves a battle -- against self -- a denial of the clamors of my flesh, in surrender to my omnipotent, loving Heavenly Father. Jesus gives us more-than-ample examples of this process in His own life.

Consider Jesus in Gethsemane when He said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death... And he... fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt... He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." (Matthew 26:38-39,42). He didn't have to go through with this plan, but He chose to deny Himself and accept the will of His father.

When He was taken captive by the angry mob, He had the power to set Himself free and destroy them all. But He denied His divine power, only using it to heal an ear of His enemy.

When He was sentenced to be purged with the Roman Scourge, He could have said, "Enough! No more!", and set Himself free, but instead He denied Himself and was beaten, near to death.

When He was nailed to that old rugged cross, He could have called ten-thousand angels destroy the world and set Him free, but instead He denied Himself, trusting in His father to make all things right, and good, in the end.

Yes, denial of self can be painful and very hard, but it's also true that, "The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent… Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you. As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings" (Christ's Object Lessons 332-333).

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." (Step 3)


Permalink 07:21:18 am, Step(s): 02 "God can...", 348 words   English (US)

Abiding In The Vine

Jesus said (in John 15), 1-3 "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

4"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me."

5-8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples."

9-10"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love."

11-15"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father." (John 15:1-15) Quoted from "The Message" Bible.

"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2)


Permalink 07:33:53 am, Step(s): 01 "I can't...", 159 words   English (US)

When I Am Weak...

My human tendency is to consider myself well-able to handle whatever life brings to me. I want to be in control, but when I consider the awesome power and goodness of God, I can't help but resonate with the Psalmist, when he said, "Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah; for I am withered away: O Jehovah, heal me; for my bones are troubled." (Psalms 6:2).

It is a central paradox in the process of sanctification, that admission of powerlessness is key to receiving victory in Jesus. The apostle Paul said it this way: "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).

My choice is plain and simple. I can continue to hold onto (wishful or imaginary) control of people and things, or I can admit my weakness, let go of my control issues, and allow God to work in me, and through me, to will and to do according to His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13). I need to consider the resultant stress-level of each of these choices. Shall I continue to fight for control, or would I rather let go and let God give me peace and joy?

"We admitted we were powerless over our problems, that our lives had become unmanageable." (Step 1)


Permalink 07:26:53 am, Step(s): 12 Ministry and Practice, 357 words   English (US)


"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" (Matthew 28:18-19)

When I was a teenager, and well into my 20s, it was common for me to feel guilty for not distributing Christian literature or participating in other church functions that required me to witness to others. I've never been a great outside salesperson and it was frustrating to feel shamed for not participating in this type of activity. It seemed like I was being told that it was my duty to do these things. But it was drudgery for me.

Looking back to those days, from where I am today, I understand better why it was such drudgery. I was trying to do witnessing when I hadn't even come to the realization that I was powerless over my problems.

Today however, having had a spiritual awakening, I am grateful to realize that an integral part of my recovery process is in witnessing to others what great things God does in my life, as I choose to cooperate (trust and obey) with His loving leading.

I can now appreciate what the apostle John said: "they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony..." (Revelation 12:11)

I could not overcome, if it were not for Jesus and His infinite sacrifice for me, and His total willingness to save me from my sins. Out of love and gratitude for all He does for me, I now feel compelled to testify to others of God's amazing grace. And not only that, but as I consider all those I have harmed in the past, it makes me all the more determined to do all that I can to help as many as possible now and in the future. And not only that, but by the word of my testimony I become less and less likely to re-enter my past harmful behaviors.

That is why I strive to bring these messages of hope to the hurting and why I choose, through the power of God, to practice these Gospel principles in all that I do -- trusting that my loving Higher Power will be with me always, "even unto the end of the world. Amen."

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)


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