Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Soul Detox L5 - Uncovering our Hidden Sins w/ Robbie Sedgeman

Uncovering our Hidden Sins

Ever been caught in a little white lie?  How about a big black one?  We all have because we are all human.  But our natural tendency is to deny what we have done.  Even if our action was a mistake and done in innocence, we still deny it.  The irony is that making a mistake is not necessarily sinning, but once we lie to cover it up, we enter the sin-world first introduced by Adam and Eve.  Genesis chapters 2 and 3 reveal that God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree in the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  So, of course, they ate from the forbidden tree.  When they realized what they had done and they heard God coming to talk with them, ‘they hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden’ (Genesis 3:9).

I bet anxiety first made its way into the human heart during that time.  Adam and Eve knew God had told them not to eat from the tree, but they ate anyway and already they sensed changes going on in their minds and the world around them.    Uncertainty and a negative kind of change entered the world.  Perhaps their thoughts were something like this:
Oh, no, we’re naked!  We weren’t naked before we ate the fruit of that tree.  Look – the animals are naked, too!  But, but…I think that’s OK.  I don’t think it’s OK for us to be naked, though.  Quick, let’s sew some fig leaves together to cover ourselves.  What is going on?  What is happening to us?  Remember how God said we would die if we ate that fruit?  What does it mean to die? What will happen?  I don’t like this.  And this feeling…this awful gnawing in my stomach at the thought of what God will say when he sees us.  Where did this awful feeling come from?  Wait!  Do you hear that!  Oh, no, it’s God!  He’s coming to see us!  I used to love it when he came to see us, but now…well….quick, quick, hide…there in trees.  Maybe he won’t see us.  Maybe he won’t know what we’ve done.

We think we are covering it up, but God knows.  Numbers 32:23 says “You may be sure that your sin will find you out.”  That’s exactly what happened to Adam and Eve.  God asked them, ‘What is this you have done?’ (Genesis 3:13)  He knew what they did, but was giving them an opportunity to confess.  Instead, they started blaming everyone but themselves.  Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.  Trying to hide the sin and then blaming someone else for it only makes a bad situation worse.   Adam and Eve did not make their sin less harmful when they tried to hide it and when they blamed others – they extended their failure.

Perhaps they thought their lies would smooth things over and God would overlook their disobedience.  Don’t we do the same?   We don’t want to make others, or ourselves, uncomfortable.  We wait for it to ‘blow over.’  Perhaps it is the easiest route in short term, but it does not get the best results.  We are left with an underlying uneasiness because we know what we have done.  And the lie will come out in the long run, be it now or on judgment day.  It hangs over our heads until the lie is exposed.  So, for our own good, God commands us to confess – to stop the ‘con’ and ‘fess’ up – to ourselves, God and others.

Confess to Self
The hardest step can often be admitting our failures to ourselves.  There are a variety of reasons we choose to stay in denial, but here are the primary ones.
  1. We do not want to stop what we are doing.  Sin feels good.  There is an appeal to it.  After all, we are not tempted to eat a bowl of dirt.  But that double chocolate chip brownie is a different story.  If it wasn’t appealing, we wouldn’t be tempted.  And our culture does not promote delayed gratification.  Instead of thinking of the long-term impact of our actions, we focus on how we feel right now.  In one of his sermons, Pastor John MacArthur said that he sometimes denies himself dessert in order to practice self-denial and not to gratify the desires of the flesh’s every whim.
  2. We do not want to feel the pain we are numbing.  In many instances, we are using the pleasures of the moment to numb the pain.  No one starts life thinking they are going to be a drug addict.  The drug makes them feel good for a moment, forgetting the pain of loss or rejection or shame or harm done to them.  The more we take the drug, the deeper the pain recedes.  We may even believe the pain has dissolved along with the drug.  But it doesn’t, which is why we need an endless supply of the drug in order to keep the pain away.  Keep in mind that the drug is anything that temporarily elevates our sense of well-being:  food, shopping, adventure, pornography, work, attention from others, tv, reading.  Satan in clever and the list is endless.  The desire to numb the pain can be so strong that we may blind ourselves to the destructiveness of our behavior.  It often takes another person to point out to us the harm we are doing in our lives.
  3. We cannot bear to admit who we are.  We are human and will make mistakes, but we have a hard time admitting it.  Sometimes our pride is driving us.  At other times, we really do believe we are ‘lower than worm sweat’ and that our mistakes prove our shame and guilt.  Most times it is a combination of both.  But Satan’s lies that we are ‘a mistake’ or ‘not good enough’ often overrides the truth that we all mistakes and are still of infinite worth in God’s sight.

One sobering thought is that God says we are calling him a liar if we do not admit our sin.  1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”  How easy it is to confess some of our sins and change those things we would like to change.  But Jesus, who calls himself ‘the way, the truth and the life’ in John 14:6, calls us to live truth in all areas of our lives.

The first of eight principles of recovery based on the beatitudes from John Baker’s Celebrate Recovery is based on Matthew 5:3 (GNB) “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.”  The first principle is stated as follows:  “Realize I’m not God.  I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.”

We need to step out of denial.  But how do we step out of denial if we don’t know there’s a problem?  You can use the following as a guideline to determine if there is a destructive behavior in your life you are not dealing with:
  • Compare your behaviors to the bible – examples:  do you gossip to feel better about yourself, do you stretch the truth in your favor, do you watch shows you feel guilty about watching?
  • Inconsistent behavior – examples:  you act one way on Saturday night and another way on Sunday morning; you have two sets of friends for two kinds of activities; you curse when you are alone but not when you are around other people
  • You struggle to control yourself in specific areas, such as spending, eating, drinking, always working
  • You conceal your actions – lying about where you went, throwing away all the candy or food wrappers before your spouse gets home, hiding your reading materials
  • A behavior keeps ‘eating at you’  You may have recognized and dealt with a specific behavior or word or action, but it keeps recurring.  God’s small, still voice keeps bringing it back up again.  There may be more going on than appears on the surface.  We need to be alert and discern between false guilt and God’s conviction.  But if it keeps coming to mind, something needs to be dealt with, even if it is the false guilt.
  • Someone has confronted you with your behavior.  Although we need to be discerning because not everything someone confronts us with is truth, we should be open enough to listen and to consider their position.
  • Some area of your life is unmanageable.  I’ve known many alcoholics who claim they do not have a problem because they can hold down a job and take care of the basic necessities of life.  But their emotions and relationships with others were in shambles and they could not resist the bottle.  Those areas of their lives were unmanageable.

One motivation for being honest with yourself is to consider those you may be harming by your behavior.  None of us live in a vacuum.  Our behaviors impact other people.  Here are some examples.  The addicted often spread havoc in the lives of their loved ones.  And codependents rob the addicted of the dignity of making their own choices and taking care of themselves.  The lie you tell to ‘keep the peace’ is preventing another person from making a well-rounded decision based on all the facts.  Your family doesn’t want the extra birthday presents you buy them with all the money you are making from your overtime.  They rather spend time with you.  The list could go on and on.  The bottom line is that our actions do have an effect on others.

Consider taking an inventory of your behavior.  Spend some time prayerfully and thoughtfully considering what you do and why you do it.  Talk to a trusted friend and ask them if they see any destructive pattern of behavior in your life.

Or perhaps you are on the other end of the spectrum right now and feel a prompting to confront someone else about their destructive behavior.  Obtain wise counsel on how to approach the person and prayerfully consider what you will say.  No matter how they respond, remember that you are lovingly giving them an opportunity to change for the better.  These are Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 after he confronted the Corinthians with their negative behavior:  “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it.  Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.  For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

Confess to God
After we admit our negative behavior to ourselves, we can then admit them to God.  Ironically, he is the one prompting us to admit them to ourselves, but he still calls us to confess our sin to him.  It is important to do so because we need his forgiveness and open communication with him, which leads the way to a more intimate relationship.  Also, in order to follow him and his ways, we need to agree with him and his ways.  Can you imagine closely following someone you don’t agree with?  It would not be possible to live in harmony or peace with that person if you were always at odds about ideas, actions and concepts.

Repentance is the biblical term for agreeing with God that our way is the wrong way and his way is the right way.  But it is more than sorrow for getting caught.  And it is deeper than grieving for the consequences of what we have done.  The ‘re’ in repentance means to ‘turn back’ and ‘pent’ refers to ‘that which is highest.’   We are to turn back to God’s way of living, which is the highest and best way of living.  According to that definition, we may even be called to repent for actions that seem to have a positive outcome.

While requiring full disclosure, God also reminds us that nothing we have done will separate us when we repent and follow him.  From the smallest to the largest of sins, Micah 7:19 reminds us that “you will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”  God so deeply desires an intimate relationship with you that he will ‘hurl’ your sin into the sea!  And he does it for his sake, so that he can be close to you.  “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers them no more.” Isaiah 43:25

Confess to Another
Confessing to another person is an often-overlooked important step.  Sometimes it is deliberately overlooked because it is difficult to admit our failures to another person.  Sometimes it is overlooked because we do not realize God tells us to confess to each other.  Or perhaps we simply do not realize the benefits of doing so.  We often experience a break-through that can only be received by confessing to another person.  James 5:16 says to ‘confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’  Confessing to God brings forgiveness.  Confessing to another person brings healing.  In his book Soul Detox, Craig Groescel, says it this way: 
“You might be tempted to think, ‘I can just confess my sin to God – that’s all I need to do.’  If your goal is forgiveness only, then you are right.  But if you’d like strength and encouragement to overcome falling into the same sinful trap, remember our loving God loves to work through his people.  As I implied earlier, if you are trapped in a habitual sin, chances are good you need God’s help through his people.”

Take some time to decide exactly what you need to confess.  Not every little detail of every action requires confession.  If this step is especially difficult for you, write out your confession and simply read it aloud.  Choose a quiet, private place where you will not worry about being overheard.  You can also set some ground rules, such as asking the person to whom you are confessing to refrain from making comments or asking questions.  This is your confession.  Confess in a way that makes you feel most comfortable.

Most important, be discerning in who you decide to confide in.  Not everyone needs to know everything.  For your own well-being, prayerfully consider your options.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
  1. It this person judgmental and critical or empathetic and caring?
  2. Has he/she gone through the process of confession themselves?
  3. Are they safe and able to keep confidences?
  4. Would confessing harm them in any way?

You may also be prompted to apologize to someone who was harmed from your actions.   In this instance, it is especially important to consider the well-being of that person.  If further harm will come to them from your confession – do not ask for their forgiveness.  Seek Godly counsel and be especially diligent in prayer about this situation.  Remember, ultimately your actions are between you and God.  He has forgiven you.  You do not need the forgiveness of the person you have harmed.  Seek it only when clearly directed by God to do so and when doing so will bring a benefit to them.

If you feel stuck in a destructive behavior and have not gone through the process of confessing to yourself, to God and to another person, consider doing so now.  God’s Word says that you won’t regret it!

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but he one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13

  1. Discuss a time when you made a mistake or sinned and didn’t want anyone to find out.  What did you do to try to hide it?
  2. Discuss your primary reason for staying in denial:  (1) you simply want to continue in your sin (2) you do not want to feel the underlying pain your sin is numbing (3) you are ashamed of who it will reveal you to be or (4) other.
  3. How do you typically handle constructive criticism?  Are you open to it or resistant? Explain.
  4. Is there someone you need to confront with a destructive pattern in their life?  What steps will you take in preparation for that discussion?
  5. What value do you see in confessing your sins?    Discuss any resistance you may have to confessing your sins to another person.
  6. Is there someone you need to ask forgiveness from?  Are you willing to do so?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Soul Detox L4 - The Power of Words


Listen to audio for details...
The Power of Words – pic

“Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” – Mother Teresa

Sticks and Stones

….. may break my bones but words will never hurt me”… NOT!   Maybe it should be more like Craig G says “sticks and stones can bruise your body for a few days, but words can scar your soul for life’.. I think that is more accurate.  Cuts, scrapes and bruises will heal in days or weeks.. even a broken bone. But words….some can stay with us for a life time.

My 6th grade story…
Like a bomb that annihilates human life, words can devastate. Our body may remain unharmed, but our heart suffers the deadly shrapnel of painful phrases/ words. King David wrote in Ps 64:3 “They sharpen their tongues like swords(A)and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.(B)”

Everyone in this room can probably recall the pain of someone’s harsh words scalding your soul. Maybe many of us still hear messages from years ago, playing an endless loop in our minds… our minds are like a computer.. they are like a recording device.. however, nothing that goes in, ever gets removed/ deleted.  Oh how I wish we had a delete button for memories and hurtful words!

Picture here

Words/ statements like:
-         you’ll never amount to anything
-         I wish I never had you
-         You’re nothing like your brother
-         I’m sick of you
-         I never loved you
-         You’ll never change

Even tho we cannot hit the delete button for these statements… we CAN offset them by words of truth, hope and love. The right words at the right time can be helpful, healing, and life transforming. Prv 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death,(A)and those who love it will eat its fruit.(B)

Words are powerful beyond imagination… What has your experience been in offering encouraging, hope-filled, complimentary words of blessing these last few weeks… What has the impact been on those around you?

God created the world – how? With His words! God said, “let there be….” And there was…  Words have power. Godly words can revive, heal and change our lives. Ungodly words have the power to bind, imprison, hurt, damage, literally destroy.

From Soul Detox:

Creative words create
Destructive words destroy
Hurtful words crush
Helpful words build up
Toxic words poison
Soothing words heal
Faith-filled words bring life
Faithless words bring death (death of hope)

We have choices every day. When we hear the words of others, we can choose to ‘receive’ them as truth or reject them as lies – shield of faith we discussed a couple of weeks ago – create the image of plexus glass in front of you. – guard your heart.

Every time we open our mouths to utter a word, we have the opportunity to speak life or take it.. rob people of hope.. rob them of their dreams.. rob them of truth..  How are you doing?

Thumper pic - “Like Mama always says.. if you can’t say somethin’ nice.. don’t say nothin’ at all”. (paraphrase)

Both Sides of your Mouth
Prv 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords,(A)but the tongue of the wise brings healing.(B)
What are reckless words? They are the ones that as soon as they come out of your mouth you wish you could take them back.

Pic of toothpaste being squeezed out

They are the words that are filled with bitter, painful, cancerous messages that leave people sick and wounded.  Prv 15:4 “The soothing tongue(A) is a tree of life,(B)but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.(C)

Pic of redwood tree

The redwood tree can grow over 300 feet tall, and live for over 2000 years--but it cannot stand alone. Beneath the surface of every redwood is a vast, intertwining root network that connects each tree to its neighbor. When the storms blow against the redwood, it is able to survive and will continues to thrive because it relies upon the strength of the whole forest. TOGETHER, we are stronger! The beauty of God's message through nature!

Positive words plant seeds for beautiful trees. Deceptive words poison others like weed killer.

Some of the phrases that impacted us negatively were not necessarily done with malice.. For example “Did you mean to do that that way?” “WOW.. who did your hair?” “You’re not married yet – why not?”  “Hmmm.. I thought you would do much better than that”.

With all the negative, joy depleting words we have all rec’d.. my hope and prayer is that we can also remember some of the life-giving words that God provided just in the right moment.. to help us hang on… maybe from a teacher, a coach, a friend, a friend’s parent, a neighbor… healing, uplifting words like: “I believe in you”. “I am so proud of you”. I am more thankful for you than you could ever know”. “If I had the chance to choose all over again, I’d still choose you”…….  Healing, supportive words spoken at just the right time…
Words that are gracious words like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones… like it says in Prv 16:24.

Right now.. I hope there are people in your life whose words keep you going – those who remind you who you are and what you have in Christ. When others criticize you, they bless you with words of life and encouragement. We have to make a conscious decision to reject the toxic words of people and embrace God’s affirmation by His Spirit – His truth – His word.

Pic of gal being wrapped in God’s word

When someone says something to or about you, train yourself to categorize the words the same way we train our kids with the game – truth or trash.

Slide that says truth? Or trash?   Trash can and a Bible maybe????

Analyze the message and source before swallowing and digesting what someone else wants to feed you.

Are their words true? Go before God and ask for confirmation..
Are they based on God’s word?
Is what they are saying supported by data over time?
What do you sense the person’s motives are in sharing this with you? – do you believe they have your best interest at heart? – they genuinely care about you and your personal growth?  Or… do they have something to gain?  It’s more about them and how they feel rather than the opportunity for your growth.

When I talked about this 2 weeks ago, I talked about allowing people to speak into your lives .. asking those close to you to challenge and confront you.. hold you accountable. There are those that will come your way that want to do this that have not been invited by you to do so… that does not mean that you discount or disregard what they are saying to you.. it simply means you need to take the questions above and put their comments to the test. 

There are times when God will use people very unexpected to convict us but more often than not, it will come from those we have respect for and those we know genuinely love and want God’s best for our lives.

Choose Life..
The last few weeks I have asked all of you to bless others with your words. When you think something good.. say it. Bless others and even yourself for that matter with positive words all day long. Make a quick call.. send a text or email… simply saying “I was just thinking about you”. Say I love you’s… I appreciate you.. I miss you…I admire you.. I adore you..  of course.. be careful you’re sending these things to the right person.. LOL!  Can you imagine your boss getting a text from you saying.. “just want you to know how much I adore you”.. ha..     We can NEVER offer TOO MUCH encouragement!

Everyone here probably knows someone or maybe it is you.. who is struggling in a relationship. If so.. I guarantee you.. it is filled with toxic words – maybe even to the point of being verbal abuse.
Words matter… either they are taking life or giving life.  Choose LIFE!

As we consider our self-talk we need to understand that what we say to ourselves could literally be limiting our future. The words we speak to ourselves can become our self-fulfilling prophecy.

Pic of basketball player
 It is a proven fact that…An athlete is more likely to make the shot after visualizing making it… and more likely to miss it after visualizing a miss. Our words – external and internal are absorbed.. and they have the capability of shaping our future!  So.. start giving life-giving words to yourself – even out loud! Speak God’s word out loud!

Mark 11:23 says “23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.(A)
Then.. a pic of a mountain

Notice how Jesus emphasizes the power of what we say, In this case, to a mountain. Talk to the mountain – maybe it’s time to stop talking ‘about’ the mountain and talk ‘to’ it!  What’s your mountain?

Biblical Example – David – remember Goliath?
1Sam 17:45-46 “45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,(A) but I come against you in the name(B) of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.(C) 46 This day the Lord will deliver(D) you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses(E) of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world(F) will know that there is a God in Israel.(G)
If we are facing a giant or a mountain in our lives right now… maybe it’s time to tell our opposition, “You are not bigger than my God, with God’s help I WILL defeat you”…     Possible exercise here

Homework:  Pastor CG gave this assignment to a man who came in for pastoral care and counseling who was suicidal… I think we need to take the challenge but I will go easy on you:

This week – write down 50 reasons why you should live – not just exist – but really LIVE!   Pastor CG had the guy write 100 reasons… several months later the guy moved and he lost track of him.  Many years passed and 1 day the man walked up to him after church with tears in his eyes thanking him for that assignment.. reaching into his wallet handing him the list of 100 expressing the fact that he did not need the list any longer.. God had written hundreds more reasons on his heart.

Let’s speak to our mountains.. let’s speak truth over our lives.. and let’s support it with reasons to LIVE!  Not settling for mediocrity any longer… let’s choose to really LIVE!  We have the power to create life through our words…  Let’s do it!
“I have all that I need. Christ is my sufficiency”
I have all the faith I need for this. This giant will be defeated by my God!
Today.. God will give me victory!
God is my source of joy and peace!  Etc etc etc etc….


SOUL DETOX – The Power of words

Toxic words are words that wound and distort truth. Which relationships have been sources of toxic words in your life? 
Parent    Teacher   grandparent   sibling   friend    pastor   son  daughter    boss    colleague  neighbor  spouse  extended family member   other…

Of the above, which stand out the most to you? Pick 3.. then share at least 1 with the group – what were the toxic words and what is the impact those words have had on you?  Take the time to work through the rest this next week.

Share a time that you were given healing words that changed your life.

What are some other phrases etched in your memory that have shaped your life?  Good and bad…

Possibly Do the handout exercise this week as homework and the 50 list

Friday, October 12, 2012

Soul Detox L3- Septic Thoughts with Robbie Sedgeman

Septic Thoughts

How well have your thoughts served you over the years?  Have they given you peace, joy and rest?  They probably have at times.  But if you are like most of us, your thoughts have produced more turmoil than peace, more confusion than clarity and more worry than contentment.  Our minds are powerful and exert great control over our lives.  Our thoughts turn to actions, sculpting us into who we are.

Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be. 
                                                Henry David Thoreau

Do you struggle with some of the following thoughts?
·        I can’t do anything right
·        Nobody really cares about me
·        Why are people always picking on me?
·        I will never be as happy as I was when……
·        I can take care of myself.  I don’t need anyone.

There are a myriad of other negative thoughts you might be wrestling with, but one thing is certain:  they are not from God.  God’s thoughts are as different from our thoughts as heaven is higher than the earth (Isaiah 55:8-9).   God’s thoughts bring life, but our thoughts can bring destruction and sin.  The false beliefs we hold onto bring chaos and havoc into our lives.  We need to identify and expel those false beliefs and start thinking in ‘God-speak’ – start thinking the way God does.  Then we can become all we were meant to be.  We can’t escape the truth in Proverbs 23:7 which says, ‘For as a person thinks in his heart, so is he.’  Are you satisfied with who you are and what you are doing?  If not, take a long, honest look at your thoughts.  And remember the words of Joyce Meyer:  “You will not change your behavior until you change your thoughts.”

An Honest Look
Taking an honest look at our thoughts can be a difficult process, especially at first.  Many of us have never considered thinking about what we’re thinking about.  We let our thoughts wonder and go where they will, but God says to ‘carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life’ (Proverbs 4:23).  Joyce Meyer’s best known book is called The Battlefield of the Mind.  Many others have also written about this struggle that engages us daily.  It’s a struggle we’re in whether we like it or not and whether we acknowledge it or not.  It’s in our best interests to actively engage because this is where the main battle takes place for not only our thoughts, but what our thoughts lead to:  our actions, our character and the course of our lives. 

First we need to identify some of the strongholds the enemy has in our minds.  Take an honest look at your thoughts – be willing to question, probe and contemplate them.  Only through an honest evaluation can we identify the thoughts that are harming us.  That is the first step to change.

It will not be easy, though.  We’ve lived with our way of thinking a long time.  It’s comfortable, it’s natural, and it’s normal to us.  New thoughts, like new adventures, can be scary because they are unknown.  2 Corinthians 10:5 says, ‘we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.  Those are fighting words!  Let’s look at some of the specific words in this verse.
·        demolish – take down, pull down, destroy, overthrow; implies force and strength and an exertion of energy
·        arguments – thought, reasoning, imagination, speculation
·        pretension – high thing, proud obstacle, lofty thought; lofty opinion
·        captive – forcibly detained

We are to proactively identify and destroy thoughts that are not of God and to forcibly capture, detain and retain in our minds thoughts that are from God.  Are you ready to fight some thoughts?  Here are some common negative thoughts to be on guard against.

The glass is half empty instead of half full.  Life never goes your way and ‘murphy’s law’ always applies.  There is nothing to look forward to or strive for when we are pessimistic.  Satan can sit back and watch us destroy ourselves with this type of attitude.  We don’t have any drive to change or fight back because we have no hope. 

Anxiety & Worry
What will happen next?  Does she think I said something stupid?  Will I be able to make it to my appointment on time?  Why aren’t they home yet – maybe they were in an accident.  What will I do if I get sick?  I don’t think I can get it all done.  He is not going to like this.  What if my car breaks down?  And on and on and on.  The topics for worry and anxiety never end.  From life changing worries like illnesses and job loss to every day anxieties like how my hair looks, the never-ending list drains our energy to such an extent that we barely have enough strength to get through the day.

Bitterness & Resentment
A smoldering fire burns in your heart and mind, resenting someone’s success or popularity or looks.  You know they’ve done nothing to deserve or earn what they have.  In fact, they may have done some pretty bad things yet they are living the good life.  That shouldn’t be!  It’s not fair and we feel anger, perhaps even hatred, in our hearts.  We aren’t happy for others and see only the negative in them.  This is a miserable way to live and it is often tied to unforgiveness.  We can’t seem to let someone ‘off the hook’ for what they did, so now we are going to make them pay by resenting them and treating them poorly.  The problem is…the other person may not even know what you are doing.  In the end, it’s us who pays the price by continually being unhappy and angry.

I could be happy if only I were married…or single.  I could live the good life if I was thin.  I wish I had children, then I’d be fulfilled.  If only I didn’t have to work so much, I could go on vacation and get a bigger house and enjoy life a little.  I’d be happy if….you fill in the blank.  Discontentment makes us think something is wrong with our lives and with us.  It discounts the people, circumstances and things that we currently have and could be enjoying today.  It removes the possibility of enjoying the current moment and drives us into a fantasy-land of unreality.

Criticism can be expressed in words and thoughts:  Why in the world did he say that?  Don’t they know that will never work?  What a stupid thing to do.  This is so boring.  Where have all the high standards gone?  But it can also be expressed non-verbally:  a deep ‘you’re so stupid’ sigh, a disapproving shake of the head, obviously turning your body away from someone or raising your eyebrow or rolling your eyes in disgust.  However we express it, our disapproval is heard – loud and clear.  It pushes people away from you and leaves you with a negative mind-set that is not able to appreciate the people and things around you.

A few others
In her book, Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer lists a few other negative states of mind that you can explore:
·        Always wondering and wandering
·        Confused – and trying to reason on your own
·        Doubtful & unbelieving
·        Passive

Get out of that pit!
Once you have identified the thoughts you struggle with, you can start combating them.  The best way to combat your negative thoughts is to replace them with God’s Word.  We are made in God’s image, so I think we are safe in assuming that God not only speaks his Word, he also ‘thinks’ his Word.  Reading God’s Word and believing it is like thinking his thoughts.  And that’s exactly what we need – God’s thoughts to replace our own ‘stinking thinking,’ to quote Joyce Meyer.  Let’s take a look at a few key verses to help us combat our negative thoughts.

Destroy ungodly thoughts
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

Our culture – throw their thoughts back!  You don’t have to accept every idea, conclusion or reasoning that our culture embraces.  Don’t be politically correct – instead be in step with the word of God, wherever it takes you.  Be aware of what you are accepting into your thoughts when you watch a movie, read an article or see an advertisement on the side of the road.  Satan has a cultural worldview that he is advancing for the furtherance of his dark kingdom.  Identify it and you’ll begin to see how it is creeping into every facet of our lives.

Other’s opinions – be discerning.  Choose carefully who you will listen to and whose words you will accept.  Look with new eyes at their actions.  Do they strive to live a Godly life?  Do they value God’s words and seek out his ways?  If not, be very careful in what you will allow yourself to internalize in the course of your relationship with them.

Start thinking God’s thoughts
Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. 

You may need to do a little investigation into the definitions of noble, pure, lovely and admirable.  Read his Word and learn His thoughts on life.  How did Jesus handle daily life and relational situations?  Who is praised and who is chastised in the Bible?  Doing a little investigative work will not only make the Bible more interesting, it will ensure that what you are reading stays in your mind.

A few thoughts to keep in your mind
Changing your thoughts is a long-term process.  Here are a few things to keep in mind.
·        Make a decision to change.  Renew that decision often.
·        You will change little by little, step by step, in your everyday life.
·        Don’t give up!  James 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
·        No condemnation or discouragement.  Keep positive – Romans 8:28 says God will work all things together for good
·        Satanic attacks – Satan is threatened by your change and will try to defeat you. Don’t let him!
·        It’s the Holy Spirit, not you, that will change your mind.  Submit to Him.

And, finally, practice, practice, practice.  Thinking God’s thoughts won’t come without effort.  Sometimes we need to force ourselves to stop our current train of thought.  And sometimes we need to say or think God’s word over and over to get us through a rough spot.  Having verses handy on sticky notes or scrap pieces of paper can be very useful during those times.  Take steps to ensure that you have a Bible verse ready to combat any destruction thought that comes into your mind.  

The mind of God
Make a study of the mind of God and decide for yourself what a having a Godly mind-set would look like in your life.  I suggest the following are some aspects of having a Godly mind:
·        Able to stay on topic – not continually flittering to and fro
·        Quiet enough to hear the still, quiet voice – not continually talking to ourselves or hearing the voices of TV, radio, etc.
·        Calm and serene…thinking on good things
·        Planning in anticipation and joy, not anxiety
·        Alert – not fearful but alert to the realities around us

We can do this because we have the mind of Christ.  Ephesians 4:23-23 says we are to be made new in the attitudes of our minds.  The more we fill our minds with what is good, right and noble, the more easily we recognize what is harmful and destructive.  And the less tolerance we have for those types of thoughts.  Changing our thought patterns can be difficult, but the more we work at it, the easier it becomes because we lose our appetite for our own thoughts.  Praise God for that!

“I want to know all God’s thoughts.  All the rest are just details.”  Abraham Lincoln

1.    Discuss 2 Corinthians 10:5 and the definitions of the words in the verse.  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”
2.    What thoughts do you most struggle with – pessimism, worry & anxiety, bitterness & resentment, discontentment, criticism or another type of negative thought?  Provide an example.
3.    Identify and discuss the source of your negative thoughts – the culture, another person and/or your own ideas.
4.    What steps will you take to start destroying your negative thoughts and start thinking God’s thoughts?
5.    Describe what having a Godly mind-set would look like in your life.

Soul Detox 2 - Deception Infection

Listen to audio to hear stories, illustrations & added materials.

Homework from last week – continue into next week when we are going to look at the power of words –Any time you think something positive, say it. Don’t keep those positive statements to yourself… that robs others of a blessing. So… speak out and bless others this week.

Deception Infection

The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible. ~Hannah Moore

 American idol video
Funny but extremely sad at the same time… we have to wonder how someone could be so out of touch with the truth/ reality….totally unaware of their lack of musical/ vocal abilities.  How can they be?  People telling them lies… not wanting to hurt their feelings.. parents – The lie: ‘you can be anything you want to be’…’you can become anyone you want to become’   friends and family support and perpetuate the delusion…

We all have blind spots… we talked about this last week…

Jer 17:9 
NIV…The heart(A) is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.    Who can understand it?     (NLV) Who really knows how bad it is?

pic of distorted mirror
No matter how objective we hope to be or think we are, our viewpoint is always distorted to some degree. The longer we view ourselves thru a distorted lens or look at ourselves in a distorted mirror, the more likely we are to believe a distorted truth. The longer we lie to ourselves, deceive ourselves, or remain in denial, the more likely we are to base our decisions and actions on this false belief system..  80% of our decisions/ choices are based in the subconscious..  discuss.
So what do we do?  Time for taking an honest look in the mirror – one that is not distorted….regular mirror - full length
We don’t know.. what we don’t know. Sometimes.. we don’t want to know. I trust you do and that is why you are here in this class.  God wants to reveal to us in His word and by His Spirit the things that are polluting His plan for us… including our shortcomings and defenses we may have placed around them.
In order to see into and expose our blind spots, we must use different mirrors held at different angles. We are going to consider some of those mirrors that are needed

Time to look at some self-generated toxins & why we can’t see them:
Ps 36:1-3  I have a message from God in my heart
    concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:[b](A)
There is no fear(B) of God
    before their eyes.(C)
In their own eyes they flatter themselves
    too much to detect or hate their sin.(D)
The words of their mouths(E) are wicked and deceitful;(F)
    they fail to act wisely(G) or do good.(H)
Have we lied to ourselves so much… flattered ourselves so much that we don’t even detect our sin?

How many of you battle self-deception?  How many of you know someone who is self-deceived?
It’s really hard to be objective about ourselves…  We have a willful ignorance at times….
We have a distorted reality—we…Deny, suppress, minimize (define)
If we never identify the lies and the deception and replace it with truth, we will forever crave the same old thing.. the same old unhealthy lifestyle – a diet of poison giving us a toxic soul and keep wondering why we are sick…

Time for a check up!  Breaking through our distorted realities about ourselves, the world, others is going to take ruthless self-examination! (4th Step work)  Step 4: “With the power of the HS, we take a searching & fearless moral inventory of our lives.”

pic of a tick - head lice - bed bug  What do you know about these bugs?  How do you get rid of them?  What happens if you miss just 1? Or… you miss an egg?  Or.. with the tick.. you only pull out part of its body from your skin?
    Time, energy, attention – very focused attention, re-checking, checking those around us

We must take the time to examine our lives for toxic behaviors – anything that cripples our spiritual effectiveness or distracts us from our eternal mission & purpose. We must look for toxic emotions – any deep feelings that have possibly been buried or currently exist that lead us away from God’s truth. Things in our past that need to be resolved. We must look at our unhealthy consumptions – toxins from the world… the media we consume, the sites we surf, our relationships - the people we hang with & the condition of all the relationships we have. We must evaluate our thought life – toxic thoughts lead to those toxic behaviors and emotions.

Keep in mind that when you start this process to detoxing.. the enemy will try to stop you. Spiritual warfare will step up.. and your own sinful nature will try to stop you. If you hear any of the following phrases or things that are similar..you know that you must war against your own soul.

- I don't have a problem with this
- It's really is no big deal. This is one way I cope with eveything
- I'm not as bad as most people
- I can quit anytime I want to.
- this is just the way I am.

Funny thing is… those who are most defensive are often the most unknowingly guilty.

Biblical Example: Peter    He was convinced that he would never fall away from Jesus. With unshakable confidence Peter said in
Matt. 26:33  33  “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  Self-deceived confidence. He really believed what he said. As he flattered himself, he was totally unaware. In the very next verse we find Jesus explaining that before the rooster crows 3 times, he would deny him but Peter still stood his ground – and this was Jesus telling him!!!!  Matt 26:35 “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you”…  And of course we all know what happened.. Peter not only denied Him…  he denied him 3 times!

If someone has been trying to show you something about yourself and you continue to fight it, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that you might just be deceived.

pic -Person laughing – This is no laughing matter.  Since we can’t change what we don’t identify… ask God to show you any areas of your life that may be harmful to you, offensive to the people around you, or displeasing to God Himself.
Pastor Craig Groeschel’s story – crude jokes even from the pulpit..for several years he was challenged by friends, family & congregants – dismissed their concerns believing he was relating well with other people in the culture and the complainers were just stuffy, rigid people. Not him per se’ but.. maybe you have heard things like ‘friggin’ frickin’ ‘pissed’ in a sermon… or just in casual conversation with other Christ followers. It is important for all of us… just as Pastor C did… to do as someone asked of him.. “Pastor, since you are convinced you’re not doing anything wrong, would you ask God to show you if He would have you change?”. He agreed as we should…
So what happened with Pastor C?  Not long after his prayer…daughter Catie, 7yrs old in the service.. about to say something truly funny but not totally clean.. he stopped.. God clearly showed him – he had been crude.  Busted.

Prv 15:31-32 31 Whoever heeds life-giving correction
    will be at home among the wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline despise themselves,
    but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.
We all need to be willing to take a "life-giving rebuke". Receive it then take it before God… He will show you the truth.

pic of someone looking distracted - pre-occupied --- another example from Pastor C – distracted.. needed to improve his people skills.. challenged by his wife once again.  My story…..
I truly love people. I want to be fully present in the moment. I want people to experience and see on the outside what is on the inside. If that is not the case… I need to make adjustments.. I need to change. I have .. but I still have to fight this on a regular basis.

pic - horse with a saddle – The moral of the story… if people are coming to you and telling you .. you are a horse, you are a horse, you are a horse… at some point you have to look in the mirror – see that it’s true and go buy a saddle – admit to God & yourself that what they say is reality. And then work toward change…
1Jn 1:8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

SIN = knowing the Word and not doing what it says – we are in direct disobedience to God – living a toxic life is one that he cannot bless. When God shows us something, we must do it immediately. ‘delayed obedience is disobedience’.

PIC OF the Bible – As we get into the word and spend our time with the Lord.. be sure to ask Him the areas of disobedience and toxins in your life this week.
Quoting Pastor C from Soul Detox: “If the number of twitter followers of facebook friends has become an idol to you, it’s time to tear that idol down until you can manage it in a healthy fashion. If you are consumed with worry & anxiety, call it what it is: a sin – distrusting the promises and power of God. We have to quite sanctifying the sin of worry by calling it ‘concern’ and do whatever it takes to renew the mind with God’s truth. If you believe you are fat but you weigh 107 admit you have a problem – get help.”  And the list could go on and on…. The point: it’s time to get help and realize we can’t change what we don’t see. It’s time to see the truth.

John 8:32
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Deception Infection – GROUP WORK
1.    What part of this teaching had the most impact on you?
2.    When people speak words about you, is what they say true? If so, believe it and embrace it. If it’s trash, reject it. Share about experiences you have had with people drawing attention to toxins in your life in a positive way. (Prv 12:18) – tongue of the wise brings healing.
3.    Share experiences where people have spoken trash over you. What was your response? We have to guard our hearts against toxic words (Prv 4:23)
4.    Take some time to speak personally to one another as a group in expressing your needs while doing this study/ class..
Each person .. complete (verbally) at least 2 of these statements:
I’ll know this group is a safe place if you…
In our discussions, the best thing you could do for me is…
It really helps me when…
I tend to withdrawn when…