Children of Alcoholics

The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:24
Children of Alcoholics

Alcohol abuse is a huge problem in our world today. Let me give you a feeling for how big a problem it is? Over 18 million Americans have alcohol problems. More than 9 million children currently live in homes with an alcohol-dependent parent. And more than half of all American adults have a family history impacted along the way by alcoholism.

The last statistic is worse than it sounds. Half of all American adults have alcohol abuse in their family history. That’s important because alcohol abuse isn’t an individual problem. And it doesn’t end when the alcoholic passes away, leaves, or even sobers up. Alcoholism affects both the alcoholic and everyone who loves him or her.

But, there is hope. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Adult  Children of Alcoholics, and Celebrate Recovery, are all designed to help family members along with the alcoholic. Seek help if your family has been impacted by alcoholism.

Remember, within each of us lies the capacity to grow and alter the way we act and feel. And that doesn’t mean that God will give us peace from the storms of life. He will instead give us peace in the midst of the storms of life.

– Steve Arterburn

“I do not want the peace which passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”– Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Silencing Unholy Sounds

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

Silencing Unholy Sounds

You don’t need to look very far to find that our culture is bombarded by words–billboards, radio, email, text messaging, internet, television, telephones, the list goes on and on. Some messages are, of course, better than others. Nevertheless, there comes a time when we all need a break from the constant bombardment.

But how do you find refuge in a world as frenzied as ours? You can’t just set up your life in a way that you avoid everything coming at you. Yet it will be good for you to find a way to carve out a time and a place for silence in the midst of the frenzy.

The Bible tells us to sit still and be silent, and know that God is God. Take a break from the constant chatter of the world. Sit quietly and attentively in God’s presence.

Try it. See if this spiritual discipline doesn’t break the power of fear and anxiety in your life. See if it doesn’t heighten your awareness of God’s presence. See if, in this silence, you can learn to pay less attention to the noise of the world and more attention to what God is trying to say to you.

Set aside some time this week. Read Psalm 46 slowly and carefully, then sit quietly and let your heart rest in the comforting truth that God is God, and you’re not!

– Steve Arterburn

There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.” – Minnie Aumonier (1865–1952)

Releasing Past Failures

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5–6

Releasing Past Failures

Some people go through life excusing their shortcomings because of some disadvantage they’ve had stacked against them. Others have grown up in great families and circumstances of great advantage and privilege. They’ve had less in their lives to overcome and less occasion to stumble.

If you’re one who hasn’t had these benefits and you’ve had a disadvantage or two to overcome, you may feel angry, resentful, and even ashamed as a result. If so, I have two  important things to say to you: first, your feelings are certainly understandable. Second, despite the fact that your resentful feelings may be justified, you simply must let go of them–those feelings will slowly eat you alive.

Letting go is so simple and at the same time so hard to do. Daily, we face the same challenge . . . a challenge to surrender. Surrender your will, your power, your bitter, angry feelings of resentment to God. Empty yourself so His Holy Spirit can come and fill the void.

See if God won’t respond to your surrender.

– Steve Arterburn

The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” – William Booth (1829–1916)

Words of Medicine

And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:10

Words of Medicine

Recently my friend was taking a walk with her two children in the park. As they approached the pond, they came across a sad sight: a small duckling, dead, lying by the edge of the pond. Her two-year-old daughter said sadly, “Mommy, this ducky is dead. He needs medicine.

Medicine doesn’t help when you’re dead, sweetheart,” said Mom, “There’s only one person who could help that little duck now, Jesus.” The little girl asked, “Does Jesus have medicine?” To this her five-year-old big brother answered, “Yes, his words are medicine.

Boy! Out of the mouths of children! What a profound statement. Jesus’ words do indeed bring healing.  If you’re struggling with doubt, fear, loneliness, or anything else, I encourage you to seek the medicinal power of God’s word.

– Steve Arterburn

“Some things never make sense, but neither does God’s love.” – Patsy Engle

In Times of Grief

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. Philemon 1:7

In Times of Grief

When someone you know is grieving, you want to express your love and concern. But, how do you know what to say? Sometimes there just aren’t words. But it’s important that you spend time with your friend or family member. What’s as important as anything is just showing up.

What do you say to someone who is suffering? Some people are gifted with words of wisdom. For such, one is profoundly grateful. But not all are gifted in that way. Some blurt out things that don’t really make sense. That’s o.k. too. Your words don’t have to be wise. The heart that speaks is heard more than the words spoken. And if you can’t think of anything to say, just say, “I can’t think of anything to say. But I want you to know that we are with you in your grief.”

Or even just embrace. Not even the best of words can take away the pain. What words can do is testify that there is more than pain in our journey on earth to a new day. Of those things that are more, the greatest is love. Express your love. How appallingly grim must be the death of a child in the absence of love.

Sharing in someone’s grief is no time to worry about your own discomfort and uncertainty about what to show. Believe that God will give you the words, the touch, the hug that will comfort. And you’ll be glad you shared in the moment and gave strength to a hurting soul.

– Steve Arterburn

Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength.” – Billy Graham (1918– )

Silence

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 1 Peter 2:15

Silence

Have you ever hung up the phone or left a conversation and felt like you said too much? Have you ever wished you could take back something you said? We often learn the hard way that words can cause pain and create problems.

One way to refine your use of words is by routinely practicing the discipline of silence.

Take a day to monitor your conversations. Spend some time in silence to reflect on how you’ve used and abused words. Do you use words to rationalize, lie, deceive, exaggerate, or manipulate? In silence you’ll remember the words you spoke quickly in anger and slowly in apology, arrogantly in accusation and humbly in confession. In silence you’ll begin to hear and you’ll begin to experience his renewal.

Then you can begin to make changes where necessary. People recovering from heart attacks are often counseled to bring quiet into their lives by speaking less often and more slowly when they do speak. Such discipline has been proven to reduce stress and ease tension. And most importantly it can help you use your words in ways that encourage others and please God.

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.” – George Eliot (1819–1880)

Gifts And Gratitude

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Gifts And Gratitude

There’s a real danger in thinking your spiritual gifts are blessings God has given you for your own benefit. The problem with this selfish viewpoint is that you see your use of these as an option or luxury that you neglect or use according to your will alone. That’s a far cry from a biblical understanding, which sees your spiritual gifts as expressions of gratitude God wills for you to use in service to others.

The Bible teaches that God gives us spiritual gifts so we can give to others. We use our gifts to continue Christ’s work on earth. The apostle Paul wrote: A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. His point: your gifts aren’t your possessions. Yes, they’ve been entrusted to you, but actually, they belong to the community of believers. The truth we need to think about is that God has woven a unique design into each of our hearts. And our spiritual gifts are part of that fabric.

So, what are your spiritual gifts? Not sure? Read the Bible’s teaching on spiritual gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. Then ask yourself where you’ve felt the greatest satisfaction serving the Lord. Carefully thinking through that question will go a very long way in clarifying this issue; because when you do what you love in order to show God’s love, you’ll find spiritual fulfillment and renewal.

– Steve Arterburn

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck (1927–1996)

Our Shield of Togetherness

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Facing Up to Our Wrongs

Alone we’re vulnerable to temptation. Together, however, we form a shield of protection for one another. God wants you and I to grow spiritually in a network of mutual commitment and accountability, where we help each other to think and live in new ways.

The apostle Paul wrote, “In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan” (Ephesians 6:16). The shield of faith was likened to the shields carried by Roman soldiers, which were able to cover the entire body. To advance in battle, a group of soldiers would assemble together, making a wall of shields for protection as they moved forward.

Similarly, we’re told to stick together. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other” (Hebrews 10:25). Our encouragement of one another and our shared faith in God and his Word will serve as the shield we need to persevere in tough times.

Who is standing beside you in the everyday battles of your life? Are you alone on the field or do you have trusted friends on each side? If you’re alone, how is that working out for you? Who has God called you to stand beside?

– Steve Arterburn

If I have seen farther than other men, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton (1642–1727)

Parenting With Grace

A wise friend once said to me, “If you give your kids only what they deserve, you will rob them of a healthy life. Don’t give them what they deserve; give them what they need. Just like Jesus does for us!

Parenting With Grace

Jesus doesn’t respond to us based on what we deserve to get. He responds based on what we need. He provides for our needs even though we are undeserving. He died for us while we were still in rebellion against him. He allows us to grow. He doesn’t force us to clean up our act before he comes into our lives. He meets our needs and gives us the grace and the space to grow.

When I thought about how difficult it was to see my young daughter Madeline develop some troubling characteristics, even belligerence and rebellion, I suddenly saw the parallel with our Father God and all of his children. Every one of us is rebellious. We pout. We shout “No!” in our spirits. We sneak around doing what we know we ought not to do. And yet he accepts us wherever we are. He refuses to abandon us or give us what we so richly deserve; he pours great rivers of (amazing) grace into our lives. As David marveled,

He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm 103:10-13)

Thinking about the grace of God will help you become a grace giver to your children. Their imperfections help you to see your own. Accepting them as they are helps you to taste the wonder of how God accepts you as you are.

Excerpted from “More Jesus, Less Religion” by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton

See Also: Raising Great Kids

The Adventures of Parenting

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4

The Adventures of Parenting

I recently heard a story about a couple who brought their two kids with them on a Saturday run to a hardware store. Mom went in one direction and Dad took the kids in another. For just a minute Dad wasn’t paying attention to the kids, he was preoccupied looking at some of the plumbing hardware he came to buy. When he turned around, he was stunned. His daughter was climbing off a display toilet and his son was pulling his pants down to take his turn.

What in the world was Dad suppose to do now? Well, he did what most of us would’ve done, he grabbed the kids, found mom as quick as he could, and laughed the whole way home. And wouldn’t you know, the next time they visited that store, the toilet seats were all taped down.

If you have kids, you know they can be hilarious, embarrassing, tender, and incredibly challenging. And as God’s children, I sometime wonder if he doesn’t feel the same way about us.

– Steve Arterburn

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.”– Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)