Monthly Archives: May 2017

The 8 Be-Attitudes & 12 Steps of Change in Christ

Week 6(May 28 – June 3)

Sunday – Principle 6

Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

Scripture Reading: “Happy are the merciful.” Matthew 5:7 “Happy are the peacemakers.”   Matthew 5:9

To show mercy and be a peacemaker is about sharing forgiveness.  In the midst of our brokenness, in the midst of our recovery from our brokenness, and yes, throughout our lives as we hurt one another we must forgive one another.  The greater the hurt, the greater forgiveness is needed.  As a part of that forgiving there may need to be amends done to aid in restoring relationships.  But, there are times that to do so would be greater harm in life together.

Pastor’s Pondering: What is the connection between being merciful and a peacemaker and forgiveness?

 

Monday – Step 8 Amends

We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Scripture Reading:  “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

Step 8 is the first part of principle 6 in that as we make a list of people we have hurt it is to be willing to make amends to each one.  It is realizing that for each one on the list we should treat as we would hope people would do for us if they had hurt us.  It is the word of God given to us through Christ that should be the standard on how we treat all people.

Pastor’s Pondering: What makes it hard to want to make amends to all people we have hurt?

 

Tuesday – Step 9 – Forgiveness/Grace

We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Scripture Reading: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

Step 9 is offering forgiveness and grace in making amends and sometimes it is to withhold direct amends when it would hurt them or others in doing so.  It is so important that Jesus teaches that if we are in the process of showing our love for God and remember an issue we have with a brother or sister that has broken our relationship then we are “first” go restore that relationship before offering our gift to God.  Offering forgiveness to one another demonstrates our understanding and appreciation for God forgiving us through Jesus Christ.

Pastor’s Pondering: How does Christ’s teaching challenge us in our making direct amends to one another?

 

Wednesday – Hurts

Scripture Reading: Genesis 23:17,18

As we look to grief in hang-ups, it also has a place in the hurts.  As we find in Abraham’s story, once the place is procured to bury Sarah, her body is laid to rest.  It is in a place that we read that all can see, “in the presence of the Hittites, in the presence of all who went in at the city gate.”  As all can see the grief shared in Sarah’s burial, they may all share in the hurt of that grief and the comfort of that shared love together.

Pastor’s Pondering: How can our relationships together bring comfort in our hurts?

Thursday – Hang-ups

Scripture Reading: Genesis 12:20

As we return to the story of Abraham, Sarai, and the Pharoah we find the last thing that Pharoah does after seeking forgiveness for what he did (even unknowingly) he made amends to them by sending them on their way with all that he had given them.  As they leave, I am sure they are feeling the victory they had not in themselves but what God had done even in their lack of faithfulness.  Even in the midst of our hang-ups like co-dependence, God can change, restore and recover couples into being couples who truly love and support one another.

Pastor’s Pondering: How is making amends/forgiving in grace needed to recover from our hang-ups?

 

Friday – Habits

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 12:24,25

After being restored to God, David finds he must be restored with Bathsheba.  Consoling her may not just have been about their son’s death but also seeking forgiveness for all he did to her through adultery, murder, and the death of their child.  In this then they were blessed by God together with the birth of Solomon.

Pastor’s Pondering: What all might be needed to be dealt with when our habits damage our relationships with God, ourselves, and each other?

Saturday – People

Scripture Reading: John 21:15-19

When Jesus questions Peter about Peter’s love for him, it is providing Peter a chance to repent by confessing his love three times countering his three denials and to make amends by “Feed my lambs/sheep.”  Action is a part of forgiveness, it is not just to say, I’m sorry” but to show it by making amends, taking action in love sharing forgiveness and grace with people in our lives (even when they may not deserve it).

Pastor’s Pondering: How should we “Feed my lambs/sheep” out of our love for Jesus?

The 8 Be-Attitudes & 12 Steps of Change in Christ

Week 5(May 21 – 27)

Sunday – Principle 5

Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.

Scripture Reading: “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” Matthew 5:6

To have our greatest desire in life to be doing what God requires is to submit to God’s word and Spirit and allow God to change us even if our heart may not desire that change.  The hardest part of sanctification/transformation/change is when our mind says we need to change but our hearts want to hold onto our old ways.  It is then that we must in our attitude submit and pray to God to make that change in us in action, in mind, and in will.

Pastor’s Pondering: What all is required to “voluntarily submit” to what God requires?

 

Monday – Step 5 – Confess

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.

Scripture Reading:  “Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.” James 5:16a NIV

Step 5 is the same as principle 4 in that after our moral inventory we are to confess our sins to God, ourselves and another person we trust so that we may pray about it while God works on it in us.

Pastor’s Pondering: How does confession bring about prayer and healing?

 

Tuesday – Step 6 – Ready

We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Scripture Reading: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10 NIV

Step 6 is the same as principle 5 and we must be ready for God to remove all these defects of character by humbling ourselves and allowing God to lift us up.  We also must be ready for this to happen over time/our lives and not all at once.  This is a lifelong process.

Pastor’s Pondering: Why will it take a lifetime if we are entirely ready for God to remove all these defects of character?

 

Wednesday – Step 7 – Victory

We humbly asked him to remove all our short-comings.

Scripture Reading: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV

Step 7 reminds us that we must live our lives in victory and not in defeat.  With our character defects, it is God that is working in bringing about the change.  So, as we are changed when we fail, we are forgiven, when we succeed, it is the Spirit working in us bringing to reality what Christ has offered to us as an inheritance.

Pastor’s Pondering: What does it mean to live our lives in victory even as God is working on the changes that are not yet?

 

Thursday – Hurts

Scripture Reading: Genesis 21:15-23

Hagar is hurting because of their break-up with Abraham and feeling isolated and helpless, weeping unto God finds God hearing her and caring for her and Ishmael.  She finds the victory in humbling herself to God and having God lift them up with a well and life in the wilderness where Ishmael thrives and gets a wife from Egypt.  Confessing her hurt to God, being ready to take action according to God’s plan brings them the victory in life even in the midst of a broken and bad relationship.

Pastor’s Pondering: Why can covering up the hurt in our lives keep us from knowing victory and developing scars in our life?

 

Friday – Hang-ups

Scripture Reading: Genesis 23:12-16

Even though Ephron offered the field for free, Abraham requests to pay the fair price for the field.  This prevents anyone from having hang-ups later on about Abraham receiving the field and cave for their burial place.  No one from Ephron’s family would feel slighted.  No one from the Hittites could get upset about the unfair treatment given a foreigner.  No one from Abraham’s family would have to worry about losing their burial place because it was given to them.  God gives Abraham the way to have peace about a place to bury their family in a foreign land.

Pastor’s Pondering: What are the ways that there can be victory in our grief?

Saturday – Habits

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 12:15-23

David finds that voluntarily submitting to the changes that God is bringing can be hard in that we still must suffer the consequences of our actions out of our habits.  David prays and fasts seeking God’s mercy on his son.  When the child dies, he recognizes his fault for this, humbles himself before the Lord by washing, anointing himself and then worshipping God.  He then goes home to eat trusting that God will lift him up and we find in the rest of the story that David gains victory over his sex addiction.

Pastor’s Pondering: How might we have to suffer great loss before we can gain victory over our habits?

The 8 Be-Attitudes & 12 Steps of Change in Christ

Week 4(May 14-20)

Sunday – Principle 4

Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.

Scripture Reading: “Happy are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

To be “pure in heart” is to have all sin removed.  This only happens when we confess our sins seeking forgiveness with ourselves, God, and someone who holds us accountable in our lives so they can help us truly repent which means to turn away from the sin/problem and in so doing being better able to “see God.”  Just as sin continues to creep into our lives so we must constantly be examining ourselves and confessing our faults so that we may continue to experience the changed life where Christ is central and God is clearly seen at work in us through the Holy Spirit.

Pastor’s Pondering: How does confession bring about the “pure in heart?”

 

Monday – Step 4 (Sponsor & Moral Inventory)

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Scripture Reading: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” Lamentations 3:40 NIV

To examine our ways and test them is to make a moral inventory of ourselves figuring out which are according to God’s good purpose and which of those that are not and “return to the Lord.”  Returning is confessing to God, asking for forgiveness and committing to change our wills and ways so that we may not sin again.

Pastor’s Pondering: How is examining ourselves required to return to the Lord?

Tuesday – Addictions

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 12:1-15

Even though David has not examined himself to return to the Lord, David has Nathan in his life whom God uses to confront David about his sinful path he is traveling.  We are to have that one person we can trust not to just to listen to us confess but also, if need be, to confront us so that we will confess to God, ourselves and that one person when we fall so that we may be restored.

Pastor’s Pondering: How important is it in our addictions to have that one person we can trust to help us examine and confess when we fall?

 

Wednesday – Co-Dependency

Scripture Reading: Genesis 12:19

When Pharoah confronts both Sarai and Abraham, it is as the one they should trust because God revealed to him what they are doing.  They then must confess their faults to God, each other and to the Pharoah.  Especially as an Addiction/co-dependent couple we need that person we can trust that would not only listen to our confession but also confront us to confess when we need it.  It can be the same for both or a different one for each.  Co-dependent’s need someone to give them the wisdom and courage to do what might be needed to be done.

Pastor’s Pondering: How might co-dependents need someone to help them see God’s purpose and will for them?

 

Thursday – Divorce/Relationship Scarring

Scripture Reading: Genesis 21:8-14

In the midst of God’s wondrous work in Abraham and Sarah’s life with the birth of Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael once again become an issue.  Sarah’s request forces Abraham to examine himself and in “distress” confesses to God and himself his feelings about it.  It is then that God reassures Abraham that He is at work, will care for, and has plans for Hagar and Ishmael.  Oftentimes, when we are in the midst of divorce/relationship break-up we will be distressed – we need to confess it to God, listen for God, and follow God trusting in what God is doing to keep from being scarred in life.

Pastor’s Pondering: How might confessing our distress to God, ourselves and someone we trust help keep us/heal us from being scarred?

Friday – Grief

Scripture Reading: Genesis 23:7-11

As Abraham, in the midst of his grief, shares with the Hittites the place that he would like to have for Sarah’s burial place, he must have been thinking, examining himself, his family, the Hittites and how his request might impact everyone to find that one place.  In that examination, he had to think about not just the place but the people and the relationship that they had together as a foreigner living in their land.  He must have considered who they had good relationships with and no faults between them.  This meant they would have confessed, amended and trusted each other in their lives together in the land.

Pastor’s Pondering: How are our relationships in life oftentimes reflected in our relationships in grief?

 

Saturday – Others

Scripture Reading: John 18:15-27

When Peter denies knowing Christ three times before the cock crows, it is with the crowing that Peter is convicted of his denials.  Even though he remains close to Jesus, out of fear, he separates himself from Christ and with each denial gets further away in his separation from Jesus.  The gospel of John doesn’t mention Peter again until he runs to the empty tomb of Jesus.  I imagine he stood there confused and alone like we are before we examine and confess our brokenness.

Pastor’s Pondering: How is our brokenness our denying Jesus Christ in our life?

The 8 Be-Attitudes & 12 Steps of Change in Christ

Week 3(May 7-13)

Sunday – Principle 3

Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

Scripture Reading: “Happy are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

To be meek is to humble ourselves to something greater than us.  It is to recognize that to truly be happy/blessed is to make Jesus our Lord in life.  That means we must consciously choose to submit “to Christ’s care and control.”  It is only then that Christ can give to us our inheritance as Children of God which is to become children of God through salvation and transformation.

Pastor’s Pondering:  What is the connection between humbling/submitting to Christ and “inherit” a life in Christ?

 

 

Monday – Step 3 (Turning & Action)

We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

Scripture Reading: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV

Step 3 is making the decision, knowing of God’s love for us, to offer up our whole lives to God.  Worship is sharing our love with God through what we think, say and do.  To truly worship God, is to give our whole lives to God, leaving nothing out which would mean allowing God to remove those things that are not pleasing to God… whatever that may be.

Pastor’s Pondering: What is the connection between our worship and our commitment/decision to “turn our lives and wills over to the care of God?

Tuesday – Addictions

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 11:6-27

Instead of truly being committed to his life as God’s king for Israel and worshipping God instead we see David trying to cover up his addiction and consequences of his addiction which means he sins even more.  When he can’t trick Uriah so that he will think the child is his, David has him killed in battle.  David’s adultery leads him to become a murderer.  Even with this, he still hasn’t reached the point of mourning to come to God.  The power of addiction is so strong that it keeps David from turning to God and even leads him further away from God.

Pastor’s Pondering: Why do addictions seem to lead us away from God?

Wednesday – Co-Dependency

Scripture Reading: Genesis 12:17

As this passage points out that God still can work even when co-dependents aren’t doing their part in recovery.  That is because both people have to be recovered.  Just as God will work with the one with addiction so God will work with the co-dependent in both direct and indirect ways.  In this case, it is with the Pharoah that he will return Sarai to Abram.  In so doing, God is working with both and their lack of faith in God.

Pastor’s Pondering: How can it be more difficult working with both addicts and co-dependents?

 

Thursday – Divorce/Relationship Scarring

Scripture Reading: Genesis 16:10-16

Before Hagar returns to Abram and Sarai, the angel(messenger) of the Lord reveals the future of her baby.  She even names the angel and the well where it happened for people to remember and know the Lord appeared to her.  She returns to Abram and bears Abram a son, Ishmael.  She has committed her life to God and follows God’s plan as a  life of worship of God.  At this time, it restores her relationship with Abram.

Pastor’s Pondering: How difficult might it be in cases of divorce and seeming relationship break-up to be humble and commit to God?

 

Friday – Grief

Scripture Reading: Genesis 23:3-6

In grief, we find the first shock is having to make arrangements for the burial.  Abraham finds himself in the predicament of not having a burial place for they are not in their homeland but in Canaan – a foreign land that God brought them to live.  In faithfulness in life, Abraham and Sarah followed God and now in Sarah’s death, Abraham must follow God to find a place to bury Sarah.  He approaches the Hittites to secure a burial place. It must have been out of obedience to God’s leading as Abraham is still in the shock of Sarah’s death and most likely is in the auto-pilot stage of grief.

Pastor’s Pondering: How does having committed our life to God help us in dealing with the mechanics of burial in the midst of our grief?

 

Saturday – Other

Scripture Reading: John 18:10,11

When Peter lashes out with the sword and cuts off the high priest’s slave’s ear, it is out of his own understanding of the situation and not in Christ.  Though his intention is to protect Jesus, he is reprimanded by Jesus for getting in the way of God’s plan.  There are times when what may seem right to us is contrary to what is in God’s plan.  We need to consult Jesus in all things before taking action to receive Christ’s care and control and for our lives to be our spiritual worship.

Pastor’s Pondering: How important is prayer for our lives to be spiritual worship of God?