One Small Step : February 19

Disability

All of us have strengths and limitations, but some people’s limitations caused from physical disabilities can be overwhelmingly devastating. Disabilities from birth, disease or accident can create untold hardship and heartache for the individual and their family, but sadly adding to their pain is the stigma and prejudice they must endure each and every day from an uncaring community. Those of us who are blessed with fully functioning bodies could do a much better job at showing love and kindness and respect toward persons with disabilities.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”     John 9:1-3

One Small Step: Don’t avoid, shun, or ignore a person with a disability. Even though our parents taught us not to stare at them when we were young, that doesn’t mean we are to shun them and treat them as invisible. Everyone deserves to be loved and valued. Perhaps God wants to use us in some small way to help display His good work in them or more likely, He wants to use them to do a work in us.

 

One Small Step : February 18

Isolation

There are times I need to be alone with God to get spiritually recharged. But then there are other times I want to be alone without God, or anyone else, for my own selfish desires. God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone.” I believe that God knows when we isolate ourselves; it can lead to trouble. When we are isolated we have a tendency to self-medicate with addictive behaviors.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
 he breaks out against all sound judgment.  Proverbs 18:1

One Small Step: What causes you to go into isolation? Is it a fear of rejection? Does it feel safer to isolate instead of run the risk of being rejected? The next time you find yourself desiring to be alone ask yourself why. Is it out of hurt? Is it so you can imbibe in some sinful behavior or addiction? Instead of isolating, call someone and go have coffee.

Tempted and Tried : Lent 2013

I appreciate the story in the Bible about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. It helps me to know that even Jesus was tempted. Being tempted, feeling the power of temptation is NOT a sin; even Jesus experienced it.

1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are theSon of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully; 11they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

12Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.      Luke 4:1-13

The big difference between Jesus and me is he never yielded to the temptation. He was equipped with all he needed to withstand every one of Satan’s snares. First, verse 1 says he was full of the Holy Spirit. (Jesus tells us in John 14 that we will do even greater things through the filling of the Holy Spirit). The second thing I notice about Jesus’s response to temptation is he didn’t allow his hunger or loneliness to trigger an emotional reaction and take the bait. Instead, he engaged his mind, recalling scripture passages that he knew and quoted them aloud to his tempter. In recovery we learn that we are most vulnerable to temptation when we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT). But if we challenge ourselves to be rational in those moments, instead of overly emotional, and apply the truth of scripture, we can withstand the temptations, just like Jesus. So take heart, friends, through the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Word, we have everything we need.

One Small Step : February 15

CHEATING SPOUSE

The betrayal of a spouse is devastating to a marriage, but it is not necessarily a death sentence. Some marriages have not only survived, but thrived after an affair. But both spouses must be willing to work through it. Both partners will need to get out of their denial and do the hard work together in creating a healthy, happy relationship.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.    Ephesians 4:32-5:2

One Small Step: If you’ve never experienced infidelity in your marriage, be grateful, but do not become arrogant thinking it could never happen to you. Stay alert to your own lustful and deceptive thoughts and behaviors. Show gratitude toward your spouse and cherish him/her as a special treasure from God. If you have experienced betrayal in your marriage, seek godly counsel from a pastor or counselor. There are many helpful resources online, but be sure and review their credentials.

One Small Step : February 14

BEDROOM BLUNDER

While Valentine’s Day is a nice opportunity to express your love to someone special, it can also be a day of pain and disappointment for many others. Even for those who have their special valentine, there can still be painful reminders that life is not a bed of roses. In fact, the bed of roses has been found to harbor many painful thorns. Perhaps your marriage bed has become the very source of pain and disappointment. Our culture has deceived us into expecting perfectly choreographed earth-shaking sex every night of the week. And when that doesn’t happen, (and every married person knows it doesn’t), they begin to think something’s wrong with them or their marriage. But the beauty of being in a committed monogamous marriage is, you have a lifetime to work together in building a trusting, loving, intimate, sometimes humorous yet always satisfying love life.

May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.  Proverbs 5:18-19

One Small Step: Remember, love is seeking and desiring the best for the other person. Seek to fulfill their desires over your own. Love is never self-serving.

One Small Step : February 12

REBELLIOUS KIDS

Having a child who rebels is heartbreaking. Watching our teenagers make choices contrary to how they were reared is painful. But as their parents we must find a way to extend tough love and boundaries without driving them further away.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

One Small Step: Read the entire story of the Prodigal in Luke 15:11-32. It is a powerful story that will encourage you if you have a wayward child. Also, get a copy of the book Boundaries with Teens.

One Small Step : February 11

APATHY

Sometimes when we begin to feel overwhelmed our reaction can be to shut down emotionally and become apathetic. This often occurs in the church when people burn out from a lack of boundaries. The result can be cynicism and apathy. But we are still called to faithfully love God and neighbor. How can we keep from losing sight of our calling and goal?

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:21

One Small Step: Learn when to say “No” and stop shaming others who have learned to say “No” to you. If everyone in the church respected each others’ strengths and limitations, their ministry would be more fulfilling and effective. There would be less burnout and apathy.

 

One Small Step : February 10

LACK OF ENERGY

Experiencing a depletion of energy can mean any number of things having to do with our physical, emotional or spiritual wellbeing. Our culture places a high value on busyness, and we can find ourselves caught up in the “rat race,” using it more as a status symbol than a real necessity. But God made us in such a way that we require rest, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23

One Small Step: Take a nap. If you have a hard time falling asleep, try memorizing the 23rd Psalm. Take note of this line, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” If we don’t lie down willingly, perhaps God will have to “make” us. I don’t know about you, but I would rather rest voluntarily.

One Small Step : February 8

RESENTMENT

Resentment is sneaky. It’s envy and unforgiveness cloaked in indifference. Resentment can only be cured if it’s acknowledged and confessed. To be free from the acidic affects of resentment, one must work through the process of forgiveness.

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.   Mark 11:25

One Small Step: Step 4 requires us to make a list, a moral inventory, of all those who have hurt us. Most likely these people are also on our resentment list. Begin the process of a 12-step program so you can be free, once and for all, from the chains of resentment.