Deborah Tyrell

‘So if you remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God.’ (Matthew 5: 23-24)

My marriage has provided me with many opportunities to apologize. In fact, I’ve had so much practice that now when I realize that I have acted ‘less than loving’ towards my husband, I usually am aware of my behavior at least as soon as he is. There are still those times when he has to point out my offensive behavior.

However, now instead of defending myself, I apologize that he had to show it to me before I saw it. I ‘own’ it and apologize that he had to deal with it.

I have not always had so much grace in this area. There were times in the past that I used an apology to manipulate. If I recognized that my behavior was about to reap an unpleasant consequence, I would rush to apologize. My message was, ‘Please don’t get angry. I have apologized so now you should not hold me accountable.’ My apology was an attempt to control his mood.

At other times, I would demand an apology from my husband. I came to realize that an apology extracted in this way is worth little. His apology to get me off ‘his back’ did not indicate sorrow for his behavior. I learned it only meant he was afraid of my disapproval and criticism if he refused my demand. A false apology has no redemptive meaning or value.

An apology is very personal. By it, your loved one knows that you are distressed by your harmful behavior. It demonstrates genuine sorrow and accepts responsibility for your actions.

One of the steps to maintaining a healthy lifestyle that is promoted in many recovery groups is to ‘continue to take daily inventories and when wrong, promptly admit it.’ Consider making this a daily practice. If you do, you will create an opportunity for closeness as well as a commitment to avoiding further harm. But no matter how the one you have apologized to responds, God honors a contrite heart and He will accept your sacrifice.

God, give me the courage to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Remind me that it is through the door of humility that I have a chance to reconcile with those whom I have offended. And through Jesus Christ, I have a guarantee to reconcile with you! For ‘the Holy One says this: I live in that high and holy place where those with contrite, humble spirits dwell; and I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts—I will lead them and comfort them, helping them to mourn and to confess their sins’ (Isaiah 57:15). Amen.

Receiving the Gift that Heals: Forgiveness

Brad Stenberg

- Read: Psalm 103:2-4; 8-13; Isaiah 44:22; 1 John 1:9 -

We all wish there was a delete key for dealing with the past so we could forget the hurtful things we’ve done. But our memory gets in the way of forgetting the pain our sin has caused others. The only way this pain can be truly removed is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the basis of our life in Christ. The Christian life is a forgiven and forgiving life. Jesus taught us to pray, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. We cannot give what we do not have, so forgiving is a function of having first received forgiveness. Thus, we live and relate to one another in the forgiveness of our sins.

What does it mean to receive forgiveness? Does it mean what we did is approved of, excused, or denied? Not in the least. Does it mean the hurt we caused is forgotten and not taken seriously? No. Does it mean we’re exempted from any consequences of our behavior? Not at all. Does it mean we’ve fully reinstated into the relationship we damaged as if nothing happened? Usually not.

To be forgiven simply means having our debt canceled. The forgiver, while blaming us for the serious, wounding wrong we did to them, gives up their right for vengeance and extends mercy instead.

Receiving forgiveness is experiencing grace ‘ receiving a gift we don’t deserve.

We all have difficulty receiving forgiveness and feeling it because we have difficulty receiving unmerited favor. We would prefer to have to work at it. Grace goes against who we are because we don’t feel like we deserve love when we’ve messed up. But deserve and love don’t go together. Gift and love go together. If we have to deserve love it’s not a gift; it’s a wage we have to negotiate. Forgiveness is a gift from the forgiver.

Receiving forgiveness is a process that requires several things. First, you have to be guilty of wrong doing. Some of us have difficulty accepting the fact that we did something wrong. We resist being in the ‘I am wrong’ position and owning the fact that what we did caused others to experience serious pain and to suffer the resulting, and often prolonged fallout of this. But you cannot receive forgiveness unless you own up to, take responsibility for, and truly feel remorseful of your wrong doing.

Then you must confess it in specific terms. Proverbs 28:13 says, He who conceals his transgression will not succeed, but He who confesses and gives them up will find mercy. Some guys admit they sinned in global terms, but not in specific, personal terms. They admit they’re weak in sexual sin like every other guy without naming and identifying with the specific wrong they’ve done. We are to be specific. General confessions do very little to convict of sin, convince the one offended of your seriousness, or to bring healing.

We are then to turn away from our sin; remove it from our thoughts, and resolve in our heart that we will not do it again. Isaiah 55:7 says, Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. God knows the difference between those who are sincere and those who are trying to temporarily ease their conscience. He is not mocked or deceived. If you come in sorrow, humility and sincerity, His grace is abundant. However, He has little patience for those who would abuse His mercy. Search your heart for true repentance, and seek the Holy Spirit’s power to make the necessary changes.

We also need a forgiver. Forgiveness is relational. It’s an interpersonal process, not an intellectual thing, mind set, or some meditative state. It’s something that transpires between two people. Someone has to give forgiveness for us to receive it. The forgiver needs to be a good accuser by making the offense direct and specific. Once we’ve admitted to and taken ownership of it, the forgiver’s words should be something like those of Jesus to woman caught in adultery, Neither do I accuse you. Now go and sin no more.

The wrong that we’ve done is serious, but true repentance and the forgiveness received is more serious still. Wounds are healed, self-respect is restored, hope for the future is birthed, light removes the former darkness, positives replace negatives, and newness of life made possible.

The Pause

Deborah Tyrell

Pauses can be uncomfortable. Think of the last time you were talking in a group of people and there was a sudden break in the conversation. Chances are, someone felt compelled to say something. Silence seems to invite us to break it.

Even as a child taking piano lessons I remember having a hard time with pauses. Back then, I had difficulty with the rhythmic silence of the musical rest. My piano teacher tried everything to get me to hold the rest for the measured time. Sometimes she would shout the count during the rest and other times she would employ the metronome. I especially hated its repeated ticks marking time while I waited to play the next note.

I still have difficulty with forced pauses. Only now, the music separated by rests is the melody of daily living. And the pauses forcing inactivity are even more difficult to read. Especially hard is the state of inactivity forced by sickness, thwarted plans, or loss. No matter what circumstance requires me to hold the next note, I find forced silence disagreeable.

But God is so patient with me. He gently reminds me that the rest will not destroy my song. Although silent, it enhances the beauty of the music.

My challenge is the same now as when I was a child. I still need to surrender to Someone outside of myself to count the time. I cannot rush the rest. It is not a signal that I need to change the key. Although difficult to hold, the rest is never permanent. When I wait the allotted time, I can play the next note with precision and confidence. God always redeems the ‘rests’ in the music of my life. Without them, my song is less rich.

God, You know that I have never liked times of forced inactivity. Give me the grace to hold during those times. Help me to play my song in Your perfect timing. May the rests become the sweetest accents of the harmony as I wait on You. May I learn lessons of your graciousness as I commune with You in the silence. Thank you that You redeem every rest. I give You permission to compose the song of my life this day. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Christmas Hope

Rebecca J. Wever

Christmas-time is often a time when people feel hopeful. As followers of Jesus Christ we are reminded that our Savior was sent to earth as an innocent little baby for us, each one of us. But sometimes even though we have hope in things that are eternal we may still feel hopeless when it comes to the things of this world. Being on the road to sexual purity, and more specifically, restoring a wounded or broken marriage can sometimes feel hopeless.

As the wife of a recovering sex addict I want to give you hope. Many of you have heard David Wever’s story of his fall to sexual sin and the damage it did to both him and our marriage. I was a woman who was stung by betrayal, a woman who completely lost trust in her husband. I remember the days when I couldn’t see past my pain to a day when we would have a good relationship, or even better, a healthy marriage.

As David and I are in contact with couples through the Every Couple’s Desire Conference the thing I hear most from the men is, ‘She’s stuck.’ However, it may not be so much that she is stuck but more that she hasn’t begun to heal. The most wonderful gift I ever received was the gift of healing. As I began to heal and to face both the betrayal and myself in light of the betrayal, I was able to start to move back towards David and the issues that brought us to the place we were. Unfortunately, you can’t heal for her, you can’t make it happen faster and you can’t demand that she does it.

I found that healing can happen as three components come in to place.

First, you must adhere to your battle plan. Your wife will watch you to see if you are for real. She wants to trust you but she won’t allow her heart to be hurt that way again. You have to show her you are going to follow through with the things you say. Meet with your accountability partner, disconnect cable, put a filter on your computer, let you finances be open for her to see, and don’t be defensive when she needs to ask questions or express her feelings. I still ask David questions or express fear or pain – it’s not a one time discussion.

Second, she will need to work through her pain, wounds and issues on her own. She may need individual therapy or a mentor to talk with. Give her the freedom to seek healthy and supportive relationships to do this. Just as it is important for you to have relationships to keep you accountable and strong in the battle she will also need relationships for support and strength.

And third, healing will only happen through the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Acts 3:16 says, ‘By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him…‘ Your wife will begin to heal, or grow stronger, as you both surrender to Jesus Christ.

Pray for her daily. Pray for her healing, her pain, her wounds and her anger. Surrender your wife to your Heavenly Father. Here is the hopeful part’I am a woman who lost any hope for a happy, healthy marriage. I am a woman who never thought her husband could love her enough to be sexually pure. I am a woman who never dared to hope for anything better. But, I am a woman who is living all those things today.

Our Father in Heaven is amazing and He wants for your marriage to be healthy and holy and wonderful just as much as He wants it for David and me. So if things feel hopeless for you this holiday season, as you remember the little baby Jesus, I pray you will find new hope, not only in the things eternal but also in the things of this world.

6 Renewable Resources for your Recovery

New Life Ministries

1. Time: We never feel like we have enough, yet one day turns into a week, turns into a month. Take the first step by setting a short term goal, and do it today. Do not put off till tomorrow’ .

2. Work: God has put you in the work or ministry you are in to serve his purposes. Begin each day by asking ‘What Lord would you have me do today’?

3. Possessions: Learn to hold on loosely to the things of this world, or they will hold on to you. Another question you can ask, ‘What Lord, would you have me to do with this possession?’ It isn’t wrong to have things, it begins to cause trouble when the things have us.

4. Insights: When God gives us insight, it allows us to develop discernment. Don’t ignore it! Write it down or share it with someone. Ask God how he wants you to use your insight to help others, or yourself.

5. Relationships: Sometimes we think others exist to serve us or our purposes. Even if we don’t say it out loud, we experience self-centeredness from time to time. Pray that God will bless your relationships that they would serve to bring him glory.

6. ‘Chance’ meetings: Sometimes we dread meeting new people; parties and potlucks hold us captive to our fear of not measuring up. Begin to look for the opportunity that God provides for his purposes. Connection doesn’t happen without our cooperation.

6 Steps Toward A Richer Spiritual Life!

New Life Ministries

1. Learn to fast. Whether it’s denial of food or some other pleasure for a period of time, deny yourself in order to find yourself in a greater relationship with God. Fasting can satisfy various spiritual needs, not the least of which is as scripture says ‘humble your souls.’

2. Use a journal to note your spiritual journey. Spend a few minutes at the end or beginning of the day to pour out your thoughts to God in writing (or on your PC). By reviewing what you’ve written, you can discover how much you’ve grown or not in your walk with God.

3. Go on a pilgrimage or retreat. Look for retreat opportunities, visit holy places, sacred sites, and spend extended time in prayer, meditation, and conversation with God. Retreats offer time away from our routine, and we can learn new ways to connect with God.

4. Create a place of prayer in your congregation. Designate an area in the building that is quiet and private, that can be an open door to people who are seeking to connect with God. Do the same at home, find a quiet place to meet God regularly.

5. Practice acts of kindness. Look around your neighborhood, read your newspaper about those who are hurting, be alert to the needs of the down-and-out, the poor, the shunned. Then do what you can to help with a kind word, a helping hand, a donation. Commit to do at least one such act a day. In doing so, your focus will be less on your needs and wants and more on others.

6. Read God’s word daily. When you fill yourself with the wisdom of God at the beginning of your day, you don’t look around to other people, things, and activities to fill your life. God will satisfy the needs of your lives if only you will seek him.

6 Tips to Rev Up Your Energy and Feel Good

New Life Ministries

Constantly feel overwhelmed? Not sleeping well? Feel like your battery is drained? Boost your energy every day naturally with the following healthy habits.

1. Take Deep Breathing Breaks.
Proper breathing can help quiet your body and mind while refreshing the spirit and shifting your perspective, says Dr. Monica Myklebust, a family physician at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Here’s how: Sit tall in a comfortable chair with your legs uncrossed. Breathe in air through your nose slowly until your lungs are completely filled, expanding your abdomen. Count to three. Then, breathe out slowly, again through your nose. Count to two. Plan to start your Breathing Break at 2 minute stretches and then work up to 5 or 10 minutes or so. To enhance your time, you may play music.

2. Exercise in the Sunlight! Dr. Michael Terman, director of clinical chronobiology at New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City recommends exposure to early morning light for boosting energy throughout the day. Here’s what to do: Walk outdoors for 30-45 minutes every day. This is especially good right after you wake up. Don’t let the cloudy cover discourage you, because it will provide enough light energy to have a stimulating effect on your brain.

3. Let Good Posture Get You Ready to Move. ‘Good standing posture relies on muscles to let your skeleton support your body,’ according to Andrea Wiener, assistant director of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. Posture that is ready for you to move quickly in any direction is good posture. What to do: Stand in your normal posture. Get ready to jump up and see how your posture changes. Then move to jump forward, then backwards, next to the right and then left. Watch your posture change for each movement.

4. Stretch Away Slouching Shoulders! Release tension and strain that comes from being hunched over steering wheels and computer keyboards causing you to tighten muscles that support your head. The following exercise is based on an aspect of the Alexander Technique, a technique that helps individuals relieve pain by correcting their body’s alignment. What to do: Sit with both feet flat on the front edge of your chair. Be sure your body weight is evenly balanced on your pelvic bones. Clasp your hands and interlock your fingers. Lift your arms over your head, your palms directed to the ceiling. Stretch your back and spine up and keep your eyes looking forward. Relax the muscles of your shoulders, arms, neck, face, and back by exhaling completely, inhaling gently and exhaling again.

5. Receive the Energy and Healing Boost from Laughter! Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness, tells how 10 minutes of belly laughter resulted in 2 hours of pain-free sleep. Whether you find a great, regular TV comedy or create for yourself a laughter kit with comics, videos, or funny books or letters, let a good daily laugh get you on the way to better health.

6. Add Movement, Burn Calories, and Boost your Energy. Take 5 or 10 minutes throughout the day to energize and get fit, bit by bit! What to do: Take the stairs, instead of the elevator, park in the farthest space and walk further to get to your destination. Stand up and move around while you’re talking on a cordless phone. When your computer is downloading or you are at the copier printing, take a moment and stretch your muscles. These ‘fit bits’ will provide you an immediate boost of energy and get your blood circulating at the same time.

Preparing Your Son for Every Man's Battle

Kent Ernsting

I was smitten from my first sight of him. The first time I held my newborn son in my hands the tears began to well up in my eyes. A deep sense of love enveloped me when I looked into his amazing eyes. I loved that little guy with everything within me. I thanked God for him and I pledged him back to God from that moment. I was struck with the tremendous stewardship responsibility that I now had, to raise him to become a godly young man. I knew that I could not complete that task without God’s help and the help of many others along the way.

Now he’s 14 years old, stands 5’8′ tall, and he’s strong enough to fold me into a pretzel. He routinely aces me on the tennis court. He’s a fullback on his freshman soccer team and he feels responsible for every ball that an opponent gets past him and into the net. He’s smart and brave and he wants to show others that he has what it takes to be a man. I will probably not know if I have successfully completed my task of parenting him until he is in his thirties. The indicator will be whether or not he is living a God -honoring life and rearing godly children.

I don’t know about you, but the challenge of shepherding my son through his young adult years with purity as the goal has been a daunting one for me. How can I talk to him about purity when my own sexuality has been complicated? I have had to deal with my own issues on the subject. We all know intuitively that we need to be the one talking to our kids about sex, but how do we do it?

I am an imperfect parent, but I want to pass along some tips and strategies that I have learned from others and have used with my son.

The first is the principle that RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST. As long as I keep the relationship that I have with my son strong, then he will be willing to receive guidance and coaching from me. As Josh McDowell says, RULES WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP LEADS TO REBELLION.

I look for ways to spend time with him. Relationship growth occurs when we do things together like going to his games, working together on projects, playing pool with him, and taking him camping with me. It helps me to relate to my son and for my son to relate to me. Relationships are what life is all about.

I want him to know deeply and intimately how to connect with another person in a life-long committed relationship. I want him to experience it first in our father/son relationship. Eventually he will transfer that into a relationship with his wife.

Sex education is really not so much a matter of providing information as it is a matter of deliberate character formation. The first messages are the most potent; it is far more powerful to form a child’s view of sexuality from scratch than it is to correct the distortions the child will pick up in the world. This is a concept that I picked up from a very helpful book by Stanton and Brenna Jones, entitled How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex. In fact, it was their book that gave me what I needed to know and say to my son when we had our first ‘key talk’ in a local restaurant. After I finished my explanation he asked, ‘Dad, do you eat that green stuff?’ as he pointed to the parsley on my plate.

I took my son camping for a weekend before he entered junior high school. Together we listened to the ‘Preparing for Adolescence’ tapes by James Dobson and we talked about the content of the tapes. Between disc golf and fishing we discussed what would be happening to him in the coming years.

We spent a weekend at a sexual abstinence until marriage conference interacting with various speakers, presentations and youth events. We went to a Promise Keeper rally for youth where the message of purity was presented through music, worship, extreme sports, speakers, and multimedia.

I take him to church regularly and help him plug in with youth groups and their events. Now he is attending Young Life where the message of purity will be reinforced. I want him to know about redemption when he stumbles and about the love of his creator sustaining him throughout his life.

Look for opportunities that will challenge both you and your son such as rock climbing, rappelling, or canoeing. Bathe your son and his future wife in prayer. Let’s talk about how it turns out when our sons are in their thirties.

Please see Preparing Your Son for Every Man\’s Battle.

Five Keys to the 'Packed-Life' Puzzle – REACH for a Balanced Life

Brenda Allison

Hang On

We’ve all heard the term, mid-life crisis. But what about a mid-year crisis? I’m in the middle of one. Just as in a mid-life crisis a person finds themselves in a place and wonder how they got there. I’m finding myself in such a place and I don’t particularly like it. Why? My life feels out of balance.

So what’s the remedy? I’m using the REACH principal. It’s an acronym to help me remember to ‘REACH for a more balanced life.’

R is for Review. I’m reviewing the past year. Where did I get off track? It started innocently enough. Last summer I moved to a new house. That’s where packing out my life started. As I packed my house, I also started packing my schedule, telling myself it was temporary. I thought I had to ‘pack it all in’ to accomplish everything and at the same time move my household.

E is for Evaluate. I’m evaluating how packing for my move and telling myself it was ‘only for a time’ bled over into the rest of my year. My evaluation revealed some truly great and worthy endeavors were in the mix. It started with packing my schedule with training for a marathon, reading through the Bible in 2003, various training programs at work, and getting involved in lay ministry at Church, along with maintaining my graduate school schedule and normal weekly functioning. Yikes!

This brought me to the point of A, in my REACH for a more balanced life acronym. I need to Admit that even with all the worthy endeavors, now a year later, I am ‘packing in’ vacation. If one family vacation is good, then two must be better, and pack in a graduation trip with my daughter in between the two vacations. Wrong. This is insane. Even something as worthy as vacation has gotten out of balance in my life. I need to admit I am missing the point of vacation. The ‘routine panic’ of my life has even permeated vacation planning. I need to admit the truth that my soul, my spirit need a rest. I need to be recreated; and vacation that is not a time of recreation is a missed vacation.

I am also admitting that I am packing in the food because there’s not time to plan wisely. Besides with a packed out life, there’s no time, no energy, no motivation for planning good food choices. Even the best-laid plans for exercising can go awry when one has no mental, emotional or physical energy reserves left to function on.

So if I’m going to review, evaluate, and admit these things, the next logical step in the REACH acronym is C for Care. I must care enough to make change happen. First I must care enough to get back to the Bible reading habit of 2003. After finishing the Bible, the habit has slipped from its place of priority. I need to get back on my small group Church schedule of reading and journaling. I needed to care enough to cut out the training classes at work and at church. For the time being, enough is enough. Although my work is in the fitness industry and I have been training to teach fitness classes, I need to care enough to admit that in the process of all the training, I am losing the joy of my own personal workouts.

So this leaves me with only the H in REACH for a balanced life, Hang On, while having the courage to change. Now is the time to cancel the second vacation, cut back, scale down and do what is balanced and meaningful. I must listen to my inner voice, the one that has been told time and again, ‘this is just for a short time.’ I’m admitting it has been a year now; a year of packing out my schedule. I’m admitting a packed out life is no fun.

I encourage you to taste the joy of a mid-year evaluation. I’m cleaning up my life and it feels great. Just the thought of it lightens my step, and opens up the room. I can breath easier now. The weight is off my chest. I’ve admitted what my inner voice has been telling me. My life is too packed and it has become a habit. Wish me luck. I may need it. Old habits die hard, you know.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. [Proverbs 16:9]

Has your life become overpacked?  You can find the right balance when you join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Guarding Your Heart and Mind

James Hutchison

One of the biggest struggles men have is living in a world where temptation is so constant. The life that God wants us to live as men of integrity puts us at odds with Satan. The Bible never tells us to attack the forces of evil, because we are not equipped to fight in the supernatural world. Instead we are called to protect ourselves from attack.
The good news is that God does not leave us defenseless.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:11 (NIV) says, Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand.

We are called to protect our heart and our mind, in Proverbs 4:23 we read, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life,’ 2:11 says discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you, 4:13 says Hold on to instruction because it will guard your life.

So if you have not looked at the plan that you developed at Every Man\’s Battle, now would be a good time. The plan is your goal! Reflect on what you have been able to keep and what needs more attention. Don’t get discouraged by the things that continue to stop you from reaching that goal. In the book of James, he tells us that when bad things happen, not if, but when they happen that we should consider it pure joy, because whenever we face the trials of life God is testing our faith to develop our perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we may become mature and complete not lacking anything.

Get together with your small groups, have some clean fun, and don’t get slimed.

If you haven’t attended Every Man\’s Battle yet, please click here for some information.
If you are married and have attended Every Man\’s Battle, we encourage you to attend our next New Life Weekend with your wife.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries