You’ve heard the questions. You’ve probably asked them yourself. “Is it a sin to drink alcohol?” “How far can I go with my boyfriend (girlfriend) sexually before it becomes sin?” “If I get a divorce, am I sinning?” Our human nature sometimes struggles to know if something is right or wrong.
When I was a tween I went through a period of being overwhelmingly concerned about my standing with God. Every night I’d religiously write down every wrong thing I had done so I wouldn’t forget to ask God or others for forgiveness. I kept a notepad hidden near my bed, and would cross off a “sin” once I had appropriately humbled myself before God or anyone else involved.
I’ve grown up a lot since then. It’s not that I’m any less committed to seeking forgiveness when I do something wrong, but I have a much deeper understanding of what God is after. And frankly, His “list” is a lot longer than mine!
But God’s list has much more to do with matters of the heart than it does with outward behavior.
Sin in the Bible
Religious people and institutions have a tendency to come up with lists of outward behaviors that you’re supposed to do and not do. The Jews in the Old Testament were very good at that, and God did not look kindly on that behavior: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).
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One of the most common sentiments I hear from married people is, “I feel stuck in this marriage.” Yes, you’re miserable. You’re needs aren’t getting met. There’s little or no intimacy or sex. Your spouse doesn’t get you.
But I’m here to tell you, you’re NOT stuck in this marriage!
Perhaps if you’re reading this from some middle-eastern country that might be true – sort of. But even there we regularly hear stories of women who refuse to be stuck. Some may be whipped, imprisoned, or killed for trying to leave – and that’s NEVER NEVER ACCEPTABLE! But the point is you always have options regardless of your gender.
That also illustrates that your choices have consequences. In most of the world you have the choice to get a divorce, to leave the marriage. That choice may involve financial difficulties, trauma to your children, emotional and spiritual baggage, and a change in the way others see and treat you socially. But that is a choice you can make.
So get it out of your head and your vocabulary that you’re stuck. Remember the maxim that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results? It’s time to do something different if you want a different outcome. Now that we’ve illustrated what may be the extremes, let’s consider some of the various choices you have if your marriage is not the way you’d like it.
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Anxiety is uncomfortable. You’re keyed up inside. You wonder if you can trust your thinking. And your body may experience any number of miserable symptoms. But anxiety may be useful.
There are times when anxiety signifies a medical condition, or it may be a response to something in your past or your present that is beyond your ability to manage. When that happens, dealing with the physical, emotional, and spiritual factors involved can lead to real freedom.
While anxiety always feels unpleasant, it is not always only negative. Sometimes anxiety can be very useful. If you understand that, you can extract the significant value anxiety may provide on the way to a better future.
Here are two times when anxiety can be very valuable.
Anxiety provides Necessary Emotional Fuel for Change
What you’re doing now may be killing you – literally or figuratively. You may even be miserable, exhausted, and in significant pain. But you’re actually quite comfortable. Your misery is what you know. You’re used to the food you usually eat, the thoughts you usually think, the schedule you usually keep, the things you usually say to those around you, the things you ignore and put up with. In important ways your sickness or addiction or dysfunction or pain has become normal for you.
And to make a significant and lasting change you will have to get even more uncomfortable.
Research showed that among a group of people who experienced significant and lasting change as a result of some form of therapy, fully 75 percent of those interviewed said a willingness to experience some anxiety along the way was a critically important part of their success.
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It’s the day after Christmas. The presents are unwrapped. The Christmas decorations may still be up. Christmas dinner leftovers are still in the refrigerator. If your Christmas was wonderful, you may be feeling a little letdown already. If it wasn’t so great, you may be glad the holidays are nearly over – and wishing you had some leftovers to worry about.
If you’re feeling a little undone, here are a few suggestions for how to make the day after Christmas work in a positive way for you.
Express gratitude for what you received.
Children are well known for being disappointed if they didn’t get a particular gift they were hoping for. You’re a little more grown up – or at least you should be. Your Christmas probably wasn’t what you hoped it would be in some way, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t receive any wonderful gifts.
If someone gave you anything – however small – tell them Thank You again. If you learned something about yourself, about others, or about the true meaning of Christmas, express gratitude. If you recognized the Christ child in a special way this year, tell God Thank You once again for sending Him.
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How do you find freedom from compulsive sexual behavior? What does it look like? What does it take to get there?
I’ve been overwhelmed by your response to my post last week about Dealing with Masturbation and Pornography as a Christian. I’ve heard from men and women all over the world who are crying out for freedom. And I’m here to tell you that God has a way out! There is a pathway to freedom! And that’s what this post is about.
This is not for you if you wonder whether what you’re doing is wrong. It’s not for you if pornography and/or masturbation is not your struggle. It’s not for you if you think maybe you should “cut down” on your consumption of compulsive sexuality.
But if the Holy Spirit has put His finger on this part of your life and said, “This right here; it needs to stop. Let Me have this!”, then this post is for you.
This is for you if you’re sick and tired of the bondage, the hiding, the shame and the guilt. It is for you if you’re ready to do whatever it takes to find freedom. It is for you if you’re ready to fight with everything in your being to experience Christ’s victory in this area of your life.
You cannot be successful in this journey by going half-way. If you’re not all in, you’ll fail. Jesus has freedom available for you, but you cannot do your own thing in one area and expect to win a battle with compulsive sexual behavior.
This means war!
So pick up your sword, get furiously angry at your bondage and the one holding you there, and get ready to do the work ahead of you. As Mel Gibson when he played William Wallace, find the scream in the bottom of your soul and cry out with all your might,
7 Steps to Freedom
Here’s what it takes to get there.
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