Redeeming the Thorns; Staying Close to Gods Heart

Victor Tarassov

Have you ever wondered why we sometimes just can’t seem to overcome our battles by shear will power? We do the same things over and over even though we don’t want to. I know I have been wrestling with that question. It is hard if not impossible to overcome or deal with a thorn by yourself. And I think I am finally coming to grips with the fact that the Christian’s life is totally impossible to live unless’ Keep reading.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians in chapter 12:7-10, (NIV) describes the thorn that he has, asks the Lord to remove it three times, (how many times have we asked) and yet the answer Paul is given is, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” v.9 Hmm. That goes against every addict’s or persons thinking in recovery that wants to be self-sufficient or do it in their own way. Actually there is an implication here that says we may have thorns in our life, but the Lord may chose not to remove them but give us the grace to deal with them.

I have struggled with loneliness, depression and other difficulties. I have asked the Lord to remove them but what I am finding is that these thorns can be an invitation and gift from the Lord for intimacy and deep fellowship. I believe that this is true and when I don’t go to Him I lose life. Maybe some of us need to reconsider the thorns in our life and see them not as a curse but a gift to make us dependent on the Lord and a call to intimacy with Him. I know that I have had to come to this place even with all I know, my education, experience, etc. I still cannot overcome my pride and other issues by myself. My pride can kill my spiritual walk. Ask yourself how are you doing in this garden of thorns

We do the same things over and over
even though we don’t want to.

In John 15:5 Jesus says apart from Him we can do nothing. I think it is impossible to live the Christian life with out our complete radical dependence on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So this passage points out again that it can’t be done alone. We will have to choose whether we will move to numbing or escaping pain i.e. addictions and acting out which leads to death or dependence on the Lord, which leads to life. In the book of James chapter 1:2-4 we are told that we will not escape trials/temptation. But if we do stand up to them and make healthy choices that depend on the Lord for help we will receive a crown of life v.15. We need the Lord but we also need community/people to help us handle our thorns. We may have put the thorns in our life, but to be in recovery means I can’t do it alone I need the Lords and the Lords people to help me. I just want to make sure that no one thinks it’s just the Lord and me. God created community and gave us the church so we can heal and recover from the consequences of sin. This is done in fellowship with the body of Christ the church.

God created community
and gave us the church
so we can heal!

May we see our thorns, whatever they may be as a gift to grow closer to the risen Lord and experience His grace?
Some action steps:

1. Admit we have them and identify them.

2. Talk with the Lord about them; we can ask Him to remove them but if they are there let’s see them as opportunity to deepen our dependence on Christ.

3. Share with others in a small group or support group setting as well as a close friend or pastor.

4. Allow for time with Gods grace to begin to strengthen and change your character you so you can respond in new healthy way that leads to life and not death.

5. Prayer as a constant chat with the Lord and a constant connection to Him in your mind.

6. Clean out our garden where there are thorns. What do we watch on TV? Where do we go with our free time? Clean house.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas and pray that the thorns in your life will drive you to the passion that brought Christ (Emanuel) on earth for us.

Get Busy Living

From what movie is this quote?
If you’re not busy living, you’re busy dying.’

Answer: Shawshank Redemption.

Spiritually, we are busy dying when we continue to feed our sexual addiction. You know that. And we can easily testify up close and personally, it is the nature of the flesh to war against the things of the Spirit. We know that God intended us for relationships. God has ordained us for love and passion. Lust is the perversion of that God intended desire. Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, lust of the world. Lust becomes the substitute for not having that legitimate God-given desire fulfilled. It is the counterfeit for what God intended and becomes overpowering when we haven’t found a way for God to meet us at our deepest needs.

Sexual lust is one of the most destructive forms of the garden varieties of lust. For sure, it has been the week of weeds in my garden! It is destructive and can end up controlling our lives. The personal pain, shame and humiliation, and the devastation it causes ourselves and our loved ones is a tragic reality.

The more we succumb to this activity, the weaker and more defeated we feel. The sense of hopelessness and despair from this sin can be crushing. That has led to more than one brother, myself included, to such a sense of despair that it seemed easier to give up and quit than to keep going. I even had thoughts of walking away from the Lord altogether. To chuck this Christian gig and concede defeat, to quit and accept spiritual death. Enough said. That was then, this is now.

O.K., so now you have read the book Every Man’s Battle, you’ve been working the program, and you are beginning to experience some periods of sobriety. There are days and maybe even breakthroughs and you are gaining victory over this area of your life. There are some breakthroughs and you are feeling that maybe overcoming this activity that was ruining life is a possibility. Sexual purity becomes a happening thing. The tools from the book and if you went to the workshop the action plan developed are beginning to translate into a lifestyle that is leading to sexual purity and a sense of self-respect that is gaining momentum. So now what? How to go to the next level.


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There is more
to sexual sobriety
than not acting out.
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As you are beginning to move through the stages of recovery, it becomes more evident that there is more to sexual purity than just turning away from the old sin; you need to replace it with something more fulfilling and truer to God’s original design. There is more to sexual sobriety than not acting out.

Now that you are gaining some momentum, you may be ready to start looking towards the hills and mountains of God’s kingdom again and need to redirect.

Let me ask you a question. Do you know what God’s purpose and calling is in your life? What is God’s path for you now, at this time? What adventure has God set before you?

This is a common theme of many of the men that I have worked with and been a part of my break-out groups at EMB. Once the sexual sin has taken hold and the destruction takes place, if you have a sense of calling, of dreams that God has placed in your heart they’re can be shattered, becoming a casualty from the lost battle.

Even though the destruction has occurred, the war has already been won by our Lord so do not despair. There will come a time, maybe now, when it is indeed time to renew this important piece of our lives again. It may be that this brokenness and reconciliation is all a part of God’s larger plan and a major piece in your calling from here forward.

It certainly has been true for me.

After my fall, I was certain that God would not use me again. I thought I would have to resign myself, that I had blown it sufficiently enough that I would have to be content with the back of the line, in the basement of the Kingdom. No more Christian goodies for me, only menial tasks like taking out the garbage or changing toilet paper rolls for the body of Christ. I had blown it. I had ruined God’s perfect plan for my life. God would never trust me again with anything important ‘ so I thought. I had lost sight that God uses everything, nothing gets lost, nothing is wasted. So do not give up hope. God can use this weakness to make you strong. What we view as failure can be used mightily by Him. That is His job you know!

So pick up your cross, get back into the mix. Talk to the Man, check it out. God, where do you want to take me with this from here? Which way to the mountains. You might be surprised. Get busy living!

If you haven’t already attended Every Man’s Battle, what’s keeping you? See Every Man’s Battle and register for the next weekend!

Sam Fraser

Your True Nature

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou can not then be false to any man.”
– Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’

“I can’t help being who I am!”, my client screamed. We were in the middle of our third counseling session together, and he was contemplating his decision to stop using pornography and prostitutes. His sexual behavior had become such a primary part of his life, though, that leaving it behind felt impossibly unnatural. “It’s my nature as a guy to want this,” he argued. “If I stop, aren’t I just trying to be somebody I’m not?”

As a Christian man struggling with sexual temptations, you may be asking the same question. You may, in fact, be considering a complete abandonment of the faith instead of abandoning your behavior.

The immediate payoff for such a decision is gratification. You will no longer be denying yourself the “right” to do what seems natural to you. And that may really seem more important to you than Christianity itself.

But then, what is your concept of Christianity? Did God promise you that, having been converted, you would be finished with personal struggles? Was there anything in Christ’s teaching implying total fulfillment in this life? Is Christianity a religious form of therapy designed to ensure the happiness of its followers?

Does it make you angry to even ask these questions? If so, you may have forgotten that the core of our faith is the Person Jesus Christ, and the expression of our faith is a life of service to Him, not ourselves. Jesus made this clear: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24).

The core of our faith is Jesus Christ. The expression of our faith is a life of service to Him. Regarding our attitude toward this primary but overlooked aspect of Christianity, Francis Schaeffer, in his book True Spirituality, comments: “It is not a matter of waiting until we no longer have strong sexual desires, but rather, when we are surrounded by a world that grabs everything, we are to understand what Jesus means when He talks about denying ourselves that which is not rightfully ours.”

Ironically, then, abandoning the faith in a quest for personal happiness may well be the way to sabotage that very quest. Remember, if you are a believer, you have experienced the rebirth described in John 3:16, which is not easily shrugged off. You were given the seed of God Himself: ‘Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God.’  (1 Peter 1:23).

That being the case, it is questionable whether you will ever be happy in a back-slidden state. The dissatisfaction you will feel apart from fellowship with Christ may well outweigh whatever dissatisfaction you’re experiencing now as a struggling Christian. I am who I am, I can’t be at peace unless I’m true to myself.

You might argue, ‘But I am who I am. That’s my nature, and I can’t be at peace unless I’m true to myself.’ I would argue the same point, changing the noun. You are indeed who you are, a Christian. That’s your nature, and you can’t be at peace unless you’re true to yourself.