God Cares – We Care
By Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.
Part I - Our Healing Comes From The Lord.
Illustration: We saw your smoke signal.
There is a story told of a shipwreck survivor who washed up on a deserted island. After he had been there a few days, he built himself a hut and prayed to God for rescue. Each day he anxiously looked out over the horizon as he waited for God's deliverance in the form of a passing ship. One day, after returning from a hunt for food, he discovered that his hut was consumed in flames. He was devastated and believed it to be the worst thing that could have happened to him on the island; everything he had was gone. The next day however, a ship arrived and the captain said, "We saw your smoke signal."
Sometimes, when it seems our whole world is crumbling, it is difficult to believe that God is at work on our behalf. But just when we think all is lost, God unfolds His plan and teaches us that He had it under control the whole time.
“Friends, God's ways are not our ways, His thoughts are unlike our thoughts; His plans are so much bigger than we could ever imagine or dream. Let Him work in His unique way and watch as His beautiful plan is revealed in your life.”
“Keep praying, but be thankful that God's answers are wiser than your prayers!”
THE PRIVILEGE OF SUFFERING – Joni Eareckson
Joni Eareckson’s story is now well known to us both through her books and the movie about her paralysis as a teenager and her amazing fight back to a useful and productive life of ministry through her art.
This incredible person paralyzed from the neck down transferred her talent of painting with her hand to painting with her mouth. The talent and the gift were still in her head. She just transferred the means of painting.
From the preface of Joni:
“Isolated, by itself, what is a minute? Merely a measurement of time. There are sixty in an hour, 1,440 in a day. At seventeen, I had already ticked off more than 9 million of them in my life. Yet, in some cosmic plan, this single minute was isolated. Into these particular sixty seconds was compressed more significance than all the millions of minutes marking my life prior to this instant. (This statement is an excellent example of Kairos - a time in history where life changing decisions are made.)
“So many actions, sensations, thoughts, and feelings were crowded into that fragment of time. How can I describe them? How can I begin to catalog them?
“I recall so clearly the details of those few dozen seconds—seconds destined to change my life forever. And there was no warning or premonition.
“What happened on July 30, 1967, was the beginning of an incredible adventure which I feel compelled to share because of what I have learned.
“Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.’ To rephrase his thought, I suggest there are likewise only two joys. One is having God answer all your prayers; the other is not receiving the answer to all your prayers. I believe this because I have found that God knows my needs infinitely better than I know them. And He is utterly dependable, no matter which direction our circumstances take us.”
“In the Psalms (Psalm 32) we’re told that God does not deal with us according to our sins and iniquities. My accident was not a punishment for my wrongdoing—whether or not I deserved it. Only God knows why I was paralyzed. Maybe He knew I’d be ultimately happier serving Him. If I were still on my feet, it’s hard to say how things might have gone. I probably would have drifted through life—marriage, maybe even divorce—dissatisfied and disillusioned. When I was in high school, I reacted to life selfishly and never built on any long lasting values. I lived simply for each day and the pleasure I wanted—and almost always at the expense of others.”
Now, Joni has been used and is still being used by God to bless thousands, even, millions.
God introduced me to her through The Billy Graham Association who promoted her book. I was really having a hard time adjusting to chronic pain and knowing that I would have it the remainder of my life. Added to that was the knowledge that it would get worse and worse. I was still in seminary. Her story helped to put the pain in God's perspective.
Struggling with Heroin Addiction - Ellen's Story
This week I received a call from a beautiful 21 year old lady. I saw her a few years ago when she was just a teen. Her mother encouraged her to call me. Since I last saw Ellen (fictitious name), she has moved from pot & alcohol to becoming a Heroin addict. She and her one year younger sister, another Heroin addict, had moved back from California to her mother’s home on the east coast. She came back “home” to detox and to free herself from the grip that Heroin had on her. Before calling me, Ellen had been one week without Heroin or other drug. As far as suffering through the withdrawals, she had already done that. The first 24-72 hours are usually the toughest time of detoxing from the drug. She was well through that.
Obviously, Ellen was serious about quitting drugs and to move on with her life. As a therapist, I began searching for some belief, some value, some mental-spiritual higher level resource within Ellen. If I could find a high level mental frame, I could assist Ellen in applying that resource to the mental anguish that drives her to want drugs. I was hoping to find that Ellen had faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for He is by far the most powerful healing resource that anyone can have. I asked her if she believed in God and, more specifically, if she believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I remember when I first met Ellen some years ago, that she did believe. Ellen simply responded, “No, I do not believe in God. I use to but I don’t anymore.”
My plans were to come back to her spiritual beliefs but to start at a little lower belief level hoping to pace her to the faith she once had. I inquired about what was the most important thing in her life. Ellen paused for a moment and then she asked me, “Do you want the truth?’’ I said, “Yes, I do for that is the only way that I can assist you.” Ellen then said, “The most important thing in my life is to get high.” Obviously, this wasn’t what I was hoping to find. Ellen spoke of how much she craved that feeling.
I began to inquire about her family and future dreams. She stated that she did highly value her sister and that she wanted to get off drugs believing that if she got off the drugs, her sister would as well. I followed up on this belief making suggestions to her about valuing her sister above her getting high.
From talking about her sister, Ellen started talking about how she use to go to church with her family. They went to several different type churches – Baptist, Pentecostal Holiness to Catholic. The she mentioned that some time back while in a depressed state, she started remembering a passage in the Bible. Ellen starting quoting the passage and I recognized it. Ellen was quoting from Psalm 32. Though not quoting it exact, she remembered enough of it to make it meaningful to her. It seems that this was the only Biblical memory left in her burning out brain. In times past God spoke to her through the words of the Psalmist and in her struggle to move from a life of Heroin addiction to a life defined by the words of King David in Psalm 32.
Psalm 32 is one of many Psalms attributed to King David. Here David gives instruction to the reader out of his own experience with the guilt of sin because of his transgression with Bathsheba and with his subsequent pardon. David experienced the mighty wonderful grace of God. Here in this Psalm we get very close to the New Testament witness of Jesus Christ. Let’s read it:
Psalm 32 (TMsg)
1Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—
you get a fresh start,
your slate’s wiped clean.
2Count yourself lucky—
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.
3When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans.
4The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.
5Then I let it all out;
I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”
Suddenly the pressure was gone—
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.
6These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
we’ll be on high ground, untouched.
7God’s my island hideaway,
keeps danger far from the shore,
throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.
8Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:
9“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
that needs bit and bridle
to stay on track.”
10God-defiers are always in trouble;
God-affirmers find themselves loved
every time they turn around.
All you honest hearts, raise the roof! (Print in parenthesis is my added commentary.)
I looked up the passage in the Bible and I began to discuss with Ellen the truths found in that passage of the glorious healing that the Lord Jesus has for her. Suddenly, Ellen said she had to hang up. She asked if she could call me later. I had a time available the following morning and I asked her to call me at that time. Three days have now passed by and Ellen hasn’t called.
(A week has now past and I just heard from Ellen's father-in-law that Ellen has gone back to California. In speaking with me, she spoke of wanting to go back to California where it was "easy to get high". I pray that she has not gone back to using heroin. I will post any news that I hear.)
Please pray for Ellen, her sister, her mother and her step father who are friends of mine. May the Lord Jesus bring this story to a glorious end.
Ellen tested high on the IQ test when she was in elementary school. She obviously has a very quick mind. How sad for her to reduce all that mental potential to "just getting high".
The Struggle of "Substance Addiction" and "Anorexia Bulimia" - Adriel's Story
Adriel's (fictitious name) story is the story of thousands upon thousands who struggle every day with a substance addiction. I met with another client today (01/22/2008) who had an alcohol addiction for many, many years. I have worked with Adriel off and on for several years. Added to this addiction was the eating disorder that was gradually robbing her of her health. Her security was in her being in a relationship with a wealthy man. And, to insure this "security", she always had another man "on the side" so that if the present relationship failed, she could go to "Plan B". The eating disorder insured that she would be "skinny and sexy" making it easier for her to have a man.
Due to the alcohol, the eating disorder and a life filled with partying after partying, Adriel lost custody of her young son. It thrills me to report that Adriel is now free of the alcohol addiction and has been for a full year. It isn't even an issue in her life. And, she has control of her eating habits making sure that she feeds her body healthy food and in the proper proportions. She is gradually gaining some weight and it is not "freaking her out" to see her body putting on more weight. (She is still quite slim. She needs to put on even more weight which she is doing.)
Determined to live her life in such a manner that the judge will feel free to give her much better terms in the relationship with her son, Adriel now thinks not just of the pleasure for the moment, but she thinks of the future and how today's decisions shapes tomorrow's life. Adriel so much wants to spend more time with her son. Presently she can only visit him for four hours a day, two days a week. The court requires that someone from an agency be with her during the visit to insure she isn't drinking. (To complicate matters, Adriel has moved 2000 miles away from her son. She is flying back regularly to see him. So, being able to have her son visit her for a few weeks or even months, is very important to her and she is working hard to make it happen.)
How was Adriel able to say "no" to alcohol after being addicted to it for so many years? How was she able to say "no" to getting high? From where did Adriel get the strength to say "no" to that substance that offered her a brief reprisal from the awful emotional pain she suffered? In short, Adriel discovered the truth of the statement that "greater is He that is in you then he that is in the world" (I John 4:4). In working with Adriel, we discovered early on that she has a deep belief dating back to her childhood of a God that loved her unconditionally. And, it was this belief that enabled Adriel to heal those old memories from childhood abuse that had haunted her and controlled her.
Adriel discovered that her highest value was for her to "be one with God". She knew that the way to this oneness was through the precious blood of Jesus Christ who died for her pain, her struggles, her addiction and her severe loneliness and insecurities. Gradually, Adriel gave up those old childhood "Bitter Roots" to the Lord Jesus. As these unconscious hurts found healing and as Adriel framed her life with the determination to build a life cleaned of alcohol and all the partying, she continued making great progress.
Adriel has learned how to mentally enter into the presence of the Lord Jesus and experience the warmth, joy, happiness, comfort and relaxation in being with her Lord. While in that state, Adriel knows how to apply her faith to any hurt or challenge that may come her way (Applying one state to another state is what we call meta-stating. This model is excellent for bringing the Lord to bear on our "Bitter Roots".). Instead of alcohol and not eating controlling her mind, she now runs her own brain under the direction and empowerment of the Lord Jesus.
In a session today Adriel told me about getting into an argument with her fiancé and she lost her temper. This bothered her intensely. She hated getting into that "old" state. She knows that at her core she is above such a state that is contrary to her experience of being "One with God". So, I had her enter into that anger state and feel it as much as possible. She experienced the anger as being a suffocating feeling around her neck. While in that state of anger, I asked her to go back in time to the birthplace of that anger. Ardriel traced it back to when she was three years old. "What was going on in your life at that time?" I inquired. "Mom and dad were separating. Dad was leaving. I told my mother that I was going to go live with my father. I ran out to the car where dad was. He told me to remain with mom for the present time." Adriel went back to her home where her mother was mopping the floor as if her father's leaving was "normal". Then her mother told her, "If you had been close enough, I would have slapped you when you said you wanted to go with your father." This infuriated Adriel. Her mother making that statement while Adriel was experiencing so much emotion gave birth to the "Bitter Root" of anger.
I explained to Adriel that in the argument with her fiancé, it was sufficient to trigger that old "Bitter Root" and she in a split second mentally became that angry child all over again. That is how all Bitter Roots work - something triggers us back to some early pain, hurt, etc and we operate off that earlier memory rather than present reality. And, to make it worse, the roots of the vast majority of Bitter Roots are in childhood. So when we are triggered back to them, we unconsciously operate from the mentality of a child. No wonder we do dumb things in such times.
As Adriel was experiencing this anger, I asked her to "Drop-Down Through" that feeling of anger. "Adriel, now just imagine yourself dropping down underneath that anger. Just imagine yourself "peeling off" the anger and as you drop down through the anger and peel it back, what feeling or thought is there?" Adriel responded immediately, "Relaxation". "That is great. Now, Adriel, drop down through the relaxation and what do you experience that is even better that relaxation?" "Peace and joy. It is a priceless joy and it is very simple. I see my son playing on a playground with other children his age. This feels so good, I should have to pay for it!" "That is fantastic. Now, let's go down underneath that simple peace and joy, what or Who do you experience underneath that?" "It is God." "And, what does He mean to you?" "He is powerful. He is invincible. I am one with Him." "That is fantastic Adriel, now tell me, what happens when you apply the 'powerful, invincible God' to that suffocating feeling of fear?" "There is relief. I am holding hands with God and we are laughing. It is so easy to obtain joy." By accessing and applying her faith in God, the anger disappeared. (Follow the above links to read about Meta-Stating Process as well as the Drop-Down Through Pattern that utilizes Meta-Stating.)
Part 2 - God Cares for Us; Let's Care for Others.
Listen to the Psalmist:
9“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
that needs bit and bridle
to stay on track.”
10God-defiers are always in trouble;
God-affirmers find themselves loved
every time they turn around.
All you honest hearts, raise the roof!
Be an affirmer for God among those whose lives you touch and in loving others you will discover the love of many coming back to you.
Be happy; celebrate God by singing praises to Him. When our lives are focused on Him, His agape love pours out to others around us and from many of them, that very same love will come back to us. Loving God causes us to “raise the roof” because “Truth” is in our hearts. We are indwelt by the Lord Jesus Christ and loved unconditionally. Let’s share that love.
Be Such a Brother
A well-to-do businessman gave a fine car to his brother. One day when the brother went to the place he’d parked the car, he saw a ragged boy looking the car over with great interest. Instead of saying, “Get away from that car, kid,” he smiled at the youngster. The boy was the first to speak. “Is that car yours, Mister?” “Yes, it is,” was the reply. “What did it cost?” was the next question. “Nothing,” said the man. The boy looked at him curiously and said, “You don’t look like the kind of guy who would steal a car.” The owner laughed and said, “No, it was a present from my brother."
The boy seemed disbelieving. “Do you mean to say he gave it to you as a present, and it didn’t cost you anything?” “That’s right.” Then the boy said the most surprising thing of all: “I sure do wish I could be such a brother as yours.” One might have expected him to say, “How I wish I could have such a brother as yours.” The man asked him what he meant, and he explained: “I’ll tell you. My youngest brother had polio and he can’t walk to see all the shops in town and enjoy the toys, at least by seeing them in the windows. How I wish I had a car like this to take him around. Our father died, and we won’t get any presents this Christmas. But at least I can walk along the streets and enjoy the shop windows; my brother can’t even do this. That’s why I’d like to be a brother like your brother.”
Warmth of Sympathy
Henry Ward Beecher, while walking down a street, passed a newsboy shivering in the cold. Being moved with compassion toward him, the great preacher bought up all his newspapers, and when he handed over the money to him, he said, “Surely you are cold?” “I was,” replied the lad with a gulp, “till you passed, sir.”
|Sermon #1 - God Cares - We Care New|
|Sermon #3 - Ray's Struggle For Faith: Answering Objections about our Role in Healing New|
|Sermon #3 - How Faith Answers Ray's Doubts New|
©2008 Bobby G. Bodenhamer All rights reserved.