The Miracle that Almost Wasn’t

Edward J. Grant

Naaman, a trusted general in the Syrian army during the days of Elisha, was a brave, well decorated soldier. The king trusted his judgment implicitly as he basked in the glow of a decisive victory over his arch enemy: Israel – God’s renegade people.

However, any biography about Naaman would inevitably conclude with one sad note: ‘but Naaman had leprosy.’ Leprosy – that hideous, debilitating, skin disease inspired fear and was viewed by many as a punishment from God. He could never fully enjoy his long list of accomplishments so long as that ‘but’ remained a part of his biography.

Through the testimony of an Israelite slave girl Naaman heard about a prophet in Israel who was purported to have the power to heal his affliction. With the permission of his king and laden with extravagant gifts for the prophet Elisha, Naaman and his retinue made the trip to Israel.

When he finally reached the prophet’s house he was filled with hope and expectation. Both were quickly dashed when the meeting didn’t go the way he expected.

In the sight of his entourage Naaman masked his nervousness as he walked up to the prophet’s door and knocked. A servant answered and announced Naaman’s arrival. Naaman wondered what this miracle working prophet looked like and was visibly upset when Elisha had the audacity to send the servant back to deliver a brief message to the decorated general: ‘go, bathe yourself seven times in the Jordan and you will be healed.’ With that the servant went back into the house and closed the door.

Was that it? His hopes of healing depended on his bathing seven times in the Jordan? Naaman shook with rage: ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord His God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Arbana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ Naaman had traveled so far filled with hope and was within seven baths of a new life sans leprosy: would he simply walk away from it?

Naaman faced two difficulties that threatened to abort his healing: his expectations and his faulty reasoning. ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me” God had a different plan for Naaman, one that involved lessons the general needed to learn that were of equal or even greater importance than his desire for healing. He who was accustomed to giving orders needed to learn to take them from the one true God! Notice also how his faulty reasoning almost sabotaged his healing: ‘Are not Arabana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel?’ If all he had to do was take a bath, why couldn’t he have stayed at home?

Those whose lives have been trashed by addictions usually find themselves at the bottom of a huge pile of emotional rubble. Out of desperation they are willing to try almost anything that holds the promise of help. They make deals with God, promises to loved ones – if any are still speaking to them – and are even willing to attend a recovery group. I’ve seen many of them come through the doors of our church to attend Celebrate Recovery, a Christian recovery ministry used by congregations around the country. Perhaps for the first time in their lives they profess a need for God and willingly admit that their lives are unmanageable. Over the weeks that follow they remain sober, they engage in heart felt discussions with fellow pilgrims, and a flicker of hope becomes visible in their attitude.

But then they are faced with the demands of the third principle: ‘Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.’ Suddenly they flinch: ‘Can God be trusted to control my life? Why can’t I keep some of it for my direction and allow God to just handle my addiction?’ As I like to say to these queries: ‘Your best thinking got you into the trouble you find yourself in.’

Perhaps they get beyond the third principle but get hung up by the fourth : ‘Openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself, and to someone I trust.’ The thought of telling your faults to another person can be terrifying! Why not simply let it remain between you and God?

Remember – God’s healing will always take us out of our comfort zones, forcing us into the realm of faith and obedience. It is there that we meet God and experience His healing on various levels, many of which we weren’t aware we needed!

By the way – Naaman’s story has a happy ending. His servants pleaded with him saying, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, than, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed!” Naaman heeded his servant’s urgent pleadings, bathed seven times in the Jordan, and was completely healed. When you’ve come to the end of your ideas, resources and hope, don’t be surprised that God’s path toward healing is one you never expected!

Need some help in the battle for purity? See Every Man’s Battle.

What Am I Recovering To?

Jayson Graves

Have you ever wondered, ‘Okay God, I know what I’m recovering from, here’but what am I recovering to?’ Ever felt like, in a sense, recovery needs you more than you need recovery (in such a formal, programmatic way)? Well, if so, I say ‘HALLELUJAH!’ The truth is, you are pondering one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of recovery: Vision!

I want to give you a way of thinking about Vision that will pull your recovery from sexual addictions into the future. My heart is to share a few ideas about areas where you can pay attention and with following-through, enrich the process of recovery with greater meaning, radical redemption, and down-right Kingdom authority. I also want to warn you about some common challenges to Vision to help you anticipate how the enemy will try to take you off your God-ordained course.

The bible is clear: ‘Without a Vision, people will perish!’ God wants us to be forward thinkers as a body and as individuals. He has given us each dreams, gifts, talents and passions and He expects a return on His heavenly investment, yes? Well, why is it that so many of us in recovery can’t see past the edge of our 12 step workbooks? The bottom line is it’s not that we can’t’we often just don’t or simply won’t. But that can change and is changing for many. In fact, men all over the world who are getting ‘sexually saved’ are partnering with God to minister redemption in three key areas: Family, Community, and Culture.

Let’s talk about several ways Family Vision can take place. Maybe you have a wife that needs a recovery process of her own. She needs you to work hard on your own stuff first, but eventually, as a result, will be more likely to respond when invited to look at her own issues. (INVITED, being the key word, here fellas!) Perhaps you have kids’they need their father’s shepherding around their sexuality more than any other time. How about other family or extended kinship? Couldn’t they benefit from your openness regarding the process and victory you’re experiencing? You better believe it!

I have a client in Tennessee who shared openly with his family about his past struggle, recovery program, and healing’as a result, his adult children have entered their own healing partnerships with the Lord and a recovery community of their own. In fact, his daughter wrote a compelling story of faith, openness, and purity featuring her dad’s ability to say no to a bunch of peers who wanted him to join them in a visit to a strip club while visiting Las Vegas! Talk about inspiring. Do you think he sleeps easier at night knowing how he’s overcome the enemy’s lies of condemnation and disqualification? I know I do!

What about our Community Vision? How many times have you recognized an individual you work, attend church with, or live near may be struggling? Will you allow God to minister through you to those co-workers, fellow congregants, and neighbors? I know one guy in Reno who was gifted athletically and also suffered from Juvenile Diabetes. When he found out a local girl had the same condition and couldn’t afford treatment, he used his extra time, talent, and treasure (which used to be wasted acting-out) to swim across the frigid waters of Lake Tahoe. He raised thousands for her care in the process. Can anybody get excited about that kind of self-sacrifice? It blows me away!

And then there is Vision regarding Culture. Needless to ask, but can you see where the problem of sexual sin has caused erosion and destitution? My partner on The Blazing Grace Show, Mike Genung sure has’he’s on a mission to put billboards reaching out to the sexually broken in all major cities across the land! Then there’s my client in Ohio who writes and does web-development and served his local sexual integrity ministry by building a much-needed website. Do you get the sense that these guys get excitement and fulfillment form these involvements? Trust me, they’re alive and plugged-in to the Vision they asked the Lord to share with them!

I meet with a Vision and Leadership group for an hour every other week and we discuss these things, challenge one another and take risks. We also anticipate the things that would want to prevent a redemptive partnership with Christ: selfishness, laziness, lack of commitment to our own recovery, being ‘driven’ rather than ‘called,’ pride, arrogance. Listen, these will kill you and steal your dreams so look at them, men! Lay them at the cross, pick up your sword and let’s take back the land!

What are your ideas? I mean, I’m not saying you have to go out and save the world tomorrow’focus on getting better, by all means. But don’t neglect the mandate being given here: ‘seek the Lord while He may be found,’ find out what He means when He says ‘I have plans to prosper you’to give you a hope and a future,’ and ‘they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.’

Ask Him to begin showing you your unique, custom-tailored Vision of redemption and then slowly move into that Vision, one step at a time.

Need some help finding vision and fighting the battle for purity? See Every Man’s Battle.

Shame: A Toxic World of Self-Deception

Jonathan Daugherty

Shame is the underlying belief that you are defective as a person. It is different from guilt. Guilt is actually good because it alerts us to inappropriate behaviors and can be a useful emotion to point us back to truth. But shame is destructive because it doesn’t act as an alarm for wrong behavior. Instead, it chooses to attack your personhood through the deception that screams into your soul, “You are a mistake.” It slides right by the behavior and lunges at your inner being.

This toxic self-deception can create great confusion, frustration, and even despair to the point of seeking relief through addictive patterns.

The entire premise of shame-based thinking is founded on lies. You are NOT a mistake. God took great care and precision in fashioning you after Himself (Gen. 1:26,27; Psa. 139:13-16). But shame wants to cause you to believe that at the core of your being your design is defective. If that were true, then God Himself is defective. Shame lies about who you really are.

But belief is a funny thing, isn’t it? Does the object of your belief need to actually be true to keep you from acting as if it were? No! A good example would be people who believe in Santa Claus. The fact that Santa doesn’t exist in reality (sorry) has no bearing on how people who believe he exists will act. The belief is what ultimately drives the behavior, not the object.

So, if shame has convinced you that you are defective at the core, a mere cosmic mistake, guess where your actions will follow? They will lead you down a path of self-hatred and woundedness because the belief says you should behave in self-destructive ways.

So, where do we form our beliefs? From our thoughts. Do you see the breadcrumb trail we are on now? Starting with your self-damaging behaviors, you wind a trail back to the underlying beliefs of shame, and then you must come to their place of origin: your thoughts. Thoughts are those ideas that we allow to remain in our minds until they become patterns of thinking. Imagine thoughts being to you what cud is to a cow. You bite off an idea you read in the paper, or in a passage of Scripture, a conversation you had with a friend, or from a sermon you just heard. You chew on it for a while and down it goes into your mind library. Over time you bring it back up to chew on it a little more and send it back down, this time even deeper than before. Do this long enough and you form a belief, whether the original idea was true or not.

Shame is toxic because it moves us to embrace false beliefs that affect how we view everything else in life. If you latch on to the belief that you are a mistake and defective at your core, every decision you make in life from that point forward will be tainted in some way by this false belief. This is why it is so important to combat the lies of shame with the truth of God’s Word.

We are told that God’s Word is alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). Now that’s the kind of weapon we need to extract this cancer of shame! As you wield the Sword of the Spirit in all the areas where shame has deceived you, new patterns of thought based on truth will form new beliefs. Your new beliefs will move you toward actions consistent with your true identity and carry you farther and farther from your old, shame-based lifestyle. But in the same way it took time for you to create a belief system built on shame’s lies, it will take time to reverse such a system and develop truth-based beliefs.

The following are some good starting points for building a new belief system based on truth.
Think of these verses as ‘Truth Cud.’

‘ 2 Cor. 5:17 ‘ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

‘ Galatians 2:20 ‘ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

‘ 2 Peter 1:3 ‘ His [God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Start chewing on truth today. As you bring truths such as these listed above back to your mind over time, you will not only develop a new system of belief, but you will also destroy the stronghold of shame in your life. And when shame is destroyed, purity and joy will thrive!

Need additional help in the battle for purity? See Every Man’s Battle.