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Archive for Saturday, April 16, 2005

Faith forum

April 16, 2005

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How can God help us overcome our addictions?

Jesus came to free us by removing the shame

The Rev. Darrell Brazell, pastor, New Hope Fellowship, 1449 Kasold Drive:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me . . . to preach good news to the poor . . . to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).

Jesus first public statement proclaimed his mission: setting captives free. The reality is that we are all captive to something. For some it is addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, food or gambling. For others, it is control, religion, relationships or shopping.

The path to freedom is difficult, and far too often religion keeps us from it by saying "You must measure up" or "You must get it right." Jesus, however, said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" (Luke 5:31).

I know freedom personally because Jesus removed the oppression of addiction from my life five years ago. Since then, he has allowed me the privilege of walking with others as they also find freedom. How? There is a journey of becoming honest with ourselves, God and others about the junk in our lives.

True community is an incredible weapon against addictions. In our groups for addicts, we have found that the one thing we must do is be brutally honest about our sin. Addictions run on the fuel of shame. Shame dissipates when shared in a community of grace. "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

"Walking in the light" requires transparency, the most terrifying and yet most liberating thing we can ever do. Those who truly follow Jesus are not shocked, dismayed or repulsed by addictions. Instead, they see an opportunity for Jesus to set the captives free.

Send e-mail to the Rev. Darrell Brazell at newhope@prodigy.net.




God helps us when we surrender to his power, love

The Rev. Nate Rovenstine, lead pastor, Lawrence Wesleyan Church, 3705 Clinton Parkway:

Author Philip Yancey says, "There is nothing you can do that will make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do that will make God love you less."

This is not an excuse for destructive behavior but a statement about God's incredible love.

By sending Jesus Christ, God displayed his love toward us. Christ came, not to condemn the world, but to save it. His death and resurrection provide the avenue for us to experience relationship with God. His teachings provide the resources to find fulfillment in life.

In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), Jesus made some radical statements about blessings. He proclaimed that those who are broken by life are the truly blessed ones. We often assume that being blessed by God is a direct result of being right with God. Jesus said the opposite: I have come to bless those who are not "right."

God has given us the power to overcome our addictions. He did this by sending Jesus Christ to show us the love of God.

Our role in this healing is to acknowledge our inability to overcome our addictions. Instead, we should acknowledge Jesus as our higher power.

Finally, we should read the Beatitudes in a different light. Read them as a demonstration of God's love to you. Understand that you are blessed because God loves you. You do not have to earn his favor, only accept his love. When we accept his expression of love, Jesus Christ, then God empowers us to overcome our addictions.

Life is full of pain. We have a choice when it comes to resolving that pain. We can use our strategies of addiction, or we can surrender to the expression of God's love, Jesus Christ.

Send e-mail to the Rev. Nate Rovenstine at info@LWChurch.net.

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