Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Soul Detox L8: Emotional Detox - FEAR



SOUL DETOX
        TOXIC EMOTIONS – Fear Pollution

Unlocking the chokehold of fear – pic of some sort here

“I have never known more than 15 minutes of anxiety or fear. When I feel fearful emotions overtaking me, I just close my eyes and thank God that He Is still on the throne, reigning over everything, and I take comfort in His control over the affairs of my life’. ~ John Wesley

How many of us here can say that?  WOW.. awesome! 

Have any of you struggled with irrational fears?  Or.. developed rituals as a result of fears you has as a child or even have today?  What were you afraid of as a child?  The dark, spiders, snakes, thunderstorms, someone is under your bed, someone’s in the closet? What were your rituals to keep yourself safe or to ease the fear?

What about some of our adult fears?  Losing our job, getting sick, death and dying, running out of money – financial, divorce, being betrayed by friends or family members, rejection, and the list goes on….

The more fear we allow into our lives, the more we struggle to grow spiritually.. what?  Yes… It’s like, to quote Pastor Craig Groeschel “trying to plant an apple orchard in downtown L.A. The smog and air pollution is going to rob the saplings of the precious oxygen they need and contaminate their water supply. Fear poisons us a little each day if we don’t face it head-on and nullify its power.

The choice for each of us:
FEAR = Forget Everything And Run or.....
= Face Everything And Rise!

Pick your equation.. which would you prefer?

Interestingly, when babies are born- they have only 2 fears – natural fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. What does this mean to us?  Well.. it means that every other fear we have are learned fears or fears we have accumulated through experience.

There are typically 4 categories of fear

1.    Fear of Loss
2.    Fear of Failure
3.    Fear of Rejection
4.    Fear of the Unknown

1.    Loss – takes many different forms. If married – thoughts of losing their spouse. Almost every parent at some point, has dealt with the fear of losing a child or that something bad will happen to them. Financial – job loss, investments. Losing control – losing their mind..  What do you fear losing right now? These fears can grow and be so consuming they control our lives especially if the fear has been supported by past experiences. Lost a spouse before? A job? Fianc├ęs? A friend? A childhood?
2.    Failure – As a believer who is doing ministry… what do you think this fear would sound like? I don’t know that I have been severely plagued with this one but.. it certainly does cross my mind on occasion. I do not want to disappoint the Lord.. I do not want to fail Him in any way. However, I know that I do sometimes.. L   hate that.. don’t you?  What about risk taking? Anyone here ever ‘not’ do something because they were afraid they would fail? Even some of the simplest things like trying a new hobby, sport, or something more serious like a business, going back to school, pursuing a particular relationship, reaching out to someone to care and share the love of Christ – we fear we will not do things well.. or do them right.. we will fail, therefore we choose to ‘not’ do them. What a loss!!! Fear of failure can paralyze us from starting any new endeavor – we are not absolutely sure we can do it, so… we never even try.  What are you afraid of failing at?
3.    Rejection – Including abandonment. If so.. you may be controlled by a people-pleasing mindset or tormented by the fear of the possibility of being rejected by someone you are very close to/ love – a spouse, a friend, family member. Are you ever afraid that people might not like you just as you are?  So… you try to figure out what would/ is acceptable and likable to them and become that or…think these thoughts: ‘I better go or they won’t like me. I don’t want to upset anyone if I don’t have to so… I’ll ____, What will he think if I don’t agree, Wonder if she’ll like this that I am wearing.. or how my hair is, etc, etc…’
4.    The Unknown – I heard that this is the #1 fear of every human being next to public speaking.  Which by the way, which category does that one go in?  Rejection.. Failure maybe?  This category of fear is full of the ‘what if’s’.   What if I ___ or ___ or ___.... 

Let’s talk briefly about some healthy fears.. if we want to even call them that..  things that we fear that can actually motivate us to stay on track, etc?
For those recovering addicts: the healthy fear of going back into our addiction.. how can this be good?  Other things.. ideas?

What about a healthy fear of God? 
Matthew 10:28
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

When we feel afraid…  ‘fear not’ or something similar to those 2 words is found in the Bible 365 times.  That’s 1 per day. When we fear, and by the way.. we will fear – we are human beings.. and fear is an emotion that we will all have… Psalm 56:3 NLT
But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you… it says ‘when’…   So.. when we are fearful/ afraid, we need to acknowledge God’s truth – God, our all-knowing, always-present, all-powerful Father doesn’t give us fear. As it says in 2tim 1:7  NKJVFor God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
If He is not the one giving us fear – who is?

God says:
Isaiah 41:10  NLT
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Proper interpretation of many of the ‘fear nots’ in the Bible – listen to audio – thunderstorm – child story

Why can we dispel fear? Because…
1 John 4:18 NIV
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Who loves us perfectly?
If we believe that then….. we as the psalmist in…
Psalm 112:7 can say..
They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.

Romans 8:38
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Important insights about Fear…
Ever heard it said: the opposite of fear is faith? Pastor Craig disagrees and so do I… fear actually relies on faith – it’s simply what you are putting your faith in. Are you putting your faith and focus on ‘what if’s’ or… ‘God is’? Fear is created when we allow our minds to wander down a dark road and we are eventually taken captive by the ‘what if’s’ and the only thing that binds us and holds us there is our own imaginations.  80% of what we worry about never happens.. I wonder what the percentage is of the fears we have that never happen.- probably pretty close – what a waste of emotion, time, energy that could be directed more positively.

Bible Example of someone who struggled with this:  Moses
God called to Moses from the burning bush… hmmm. I think that would get my attention and I would do ‘whatever’… agreed?  Well.. not Moses.. he went right into the ‘what if game with God’. In Exodus 3, God reveals His entire plan and Moses’ role in the plan, even assuring him that God Himself would be with him. In the very next chapter, Moses responds by saying “God, what if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, The Lord did not appear to you?’ Same game most of us play.. right? Especially when God calls us because He wants to use our lives to do something significant.

So… we don’t really believe that God knows what He is doing right? We roll out the big long list of ‘what if’s’. All motivated by fear.  What if I can’t do it? What if my kids get hurt? What if we get in a car accident? What if we run out of money? What if I get sick? What if I just don’t know what to do?

Our what-ifs do matter…actually, they matter because we need to analyze them. If we do, we will get the added insight we need to get rid of the fear. Vital insights we can gain:
-         what we fear reveals what we value: many of which are important and we should value them – these fears will show what we prioritize in life, however, focusing on them too much can lead us down a path of worry rather than leading us to positive action of some sort – using it to motivate us – like the healthy fears we discussed earlier.
What we fear reveals where we trust God the least – when we have a persistent fear in a given area, it can be an indicator that we are not depending on God in that area. We are not trusting and allowing Him to handle it – be in control. Remember the definition of being a ‘fully devoted follower’ of Jesus Christ? This type of fear and worry reveals that we don’t really believe that God’s plans for us are good..in fact, it may reveal that we don’t believe God is good. It is quite possible that we really fear in the area of provision. We really can’t trust God to provide/ take care of us and yet, the truth is found in Matt 6:25 – 34 NLT.. God’s word to us is this:
 25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[d] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
The way out of worry and fear is to face them. We must face our greatest fears in order to reach our greatest potential. Face the fear, destroy the fear! However.. God must lead us. He must be the one to lead us there and give us the victory over it.  It will take faith..  Hebrews 11:6 says ‘without faith, it is impossible to please God’. We must act, believe and speak in faith. It is not our faith that changes anything.. but… it is our faith in the One who can and will change things!  Speak to your fears with faith in the fear-destroyer – our Lord!  Especially when we find ourselves in the midst of something that we always feared.. it is then that we really need to believe in God’s goodness and power!

So….
1.    Identify Your Fears – admit them.
2.    Surrender them individually to God – commit to trust Him to give you the power to overcome. Allow Him to give you strength, wisdom and courage in defeating your fear once and for all.
3.    Trust with every bit of faith you have that God will be faithful – He will be faithful to see you through, help you endure, provide a way for you, a way to victory!
4.    Remember David and Goliath – time to kill your giant! Follow as David did… name your fear and say.. even though I am afraid, I am choosing to trust in You. Say it out loud.. over and over if you need to: I believe your Word, the truth, God. I am choosing to trust in You. Because of You, I can choose to NOT be afraid’.
5.    Praise & thank Him for the victory even before it comes.
6.    Seek the Lord – pursue deeper relationship with Him.. ask that you might know this perfect love that casts out fear.  Jer 29:12-13 NLT 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Seek Him in prayer. Seek Him with your friends/ brothers & sisters in Christ, ask them to pray with and for you. Ask for prayer that God will reveal Himself to you even more than He already has. That He will show you the path to overcoming all of your fears. Don’t stop. Day and night – keep asking and seeking! Every time you think of it – pray.

Every time we have fear – we must remind ourselves.. this is NOT from God. Don’t accept it. Don’t give in to it. God has given us power, love and a sound mind. Seek him and fear not, for the Lord is with YOU! He is with US!



SOUL DETOX – TOXIC EMOTIONS – FEAR POLLUTION
GROUP WORK
Group Check time again: 
·        I’ll know this group is still a safe place if you…
·        It really helps me when.. 
·        I tend to withdraw when…
·        In our discussions, the best thing you could do for me is:________
1.    Of the four categories of fears, in which do you find the most of your fears?  Loss, failure, rejection, unknown
2.    The first step in getting the victory over our fears is naming them – identifying.  Share any that you might have that you feel God is pressing upon you to face.
3.    What thoughts or emotions are you aware of when you consider the possibility of moving toward your fears rather than running from them?
4.    What are some healthy fears that you currently have besides the ‘fear of the Lord’?
5.    How will you seek/ pursue deeper relationship with the Lord this week so you can experience His perfect love?


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Soul Detox L7 - Geen with Envy by Robbie Sedgeman



Green with Envy

“Envy is the art of counting another person’s blessings instead of your own.”  Harold Coffin


It could be argued that envy started with Satan.  Isaiah 14 says that Lucifer envied God, rebelled against him and was cast out of heaven.  Perhaps Eve was feeling envy toward God, wanting his knowledge, when Satan tempted her into eating the forbidden fruit.  Envy has been with us throughout our human history and will continue to plague us until Jesus comes again to establish us anew.

The literal meaning of the Latin word ‘invidia’, from which we derive the word envy, is “to look upon with malic or resentment.”  Craig Groeschel,  in his book, ‘Soul Detox’ states it this way:  “envy is when you resent God’s goodness in other people’s lives and ignore God’s goodness in your own life.”

Let’s take a closer look at envy’s impact on our lives.

Envy’s Fruit
James 3:14-16 tells us that envy breeds evil practices of all kinds:  “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Envy festers in our hearts, bubbling up in evil actions of all kinds.  The Bible provides many examples.  In Genesis 4, Cain envied God’s acceptance of his brother’s sacrifice and eventually killed him.  King Saul tried to kill David when he became popular with the people of Israel (1 Sameul 18).  Joseph’s brothers were envious of their father’s love for him and sold Joseph into slavery.  And the religious leaders of the day envied Jesus’ popularity and had him crucified. 

Proverb 14:30 says that “a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”  And Socrates gave us a graphic description of the harm that envy invokes:  “Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of murder and revenge, the perpetual tormentor of virtue.  Envy is the filthy slime of the soul, a venom, a poison which consumes the flesh and dries up the bones.  It rots us like cancer from the inside.”

To escape the destructiveness of envy’s grip, we must first recognize when we are envious and then take steps to remove the envy and replace it positive attitudes. 

Recognizing Envy
The first step in overcoming this stronghold in your life is to recognize your areas of envy.  The list of things to envy is practically never-ending, but one helpful way to identify our tendencies to envy is to look at various categories of envy:
  • Material  – newer cars, bigger houses, better shoes
  • Technological – more robust computers, smaller phones, bigger TVs
  • Appearance - thicker hair, slimmer bodies, more muscles, fewer wrinkles
  • Relational – desiring a spouse (or a better one), wanting a best friend, being closer with your children
  • Life Circumstance – wanting a different or better job (or not to work) or to live somewhere else
  • Spiritual – wanting someone else’ biblical knowledge, spiritual mentor or closeness to God


The advertising world reinforces all of these items.  Advertising would not be nearly as powerful a sales tool if we did not desire what others own.  And if advertising is not capitalizing on our envy, the communication industry is filling in the gap.  Movies, TV shows, books and magazine not only advertise, but the underlying themes often tap into our desires for a different life with different things or as a different person.



Digging out the roots of envy
Comparison
The quickest and surest way to rip envy and its destructive consequences from your life is to dig up and destroy this one behavior:  comparison.  Envy starts with comparison.  Instead of quietly going about our own lives, we tend to ‘look over the fence’ to see what is in our neighbor’s yard.  In John chapter 21 when Jesus was instructing Peter to follow him, Peter asked, ‘What about him,” referring to John.   Jesus basically told him to mind his own business by saying, “…what is that to you…you must follow me.”  It’s such a temptation to be concerned about what others have and do, but God tells us all to mind our own business in Galatians 6:4-5:  “Each one should test their own actions.  Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to anyone else, for each one should carry their own load.” 
So be on the alert whenever you use ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’ in your thinking about others.

Coveting
But why do we look to what others have or do in the first place?  Any number of reasons can underlie our tendency to do so, such as unmet needs, dissatisfaction, discontentment and hard circumstances.  But the bottom line is that we are prone to covetousness.  That fact is evidenced by the 10th of the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20.  If God felt there was a need to specifically point out covetousness, then we must be prone to it!

The same Hebrew word for covet is translated ‘to desire’ in other verses.  There are certain things that it is good to desire, such as a closer relationship with God.  But there are also things which we should not desire.  God helps us discern between the two in his Word.  Ever since sin entered the world, confusion has spread regarding which things are good to desire and which are not, but God clearly tells us that desiring what is not ours is harmful to us.


Jealousy & Envy
There are a myriad of ideas on the differences and similarities between jealousy and envy.  I encourage you to study the two words on your own, but here are some of ideas I found. 

The definition of jealousy is to seek or desire eagerly.  That is very similar to coveting except that coveting is focused on the thing we desire and jealousy focuses on the person who has the thing we desire.  They have something we want, so we are jealous of them.  Envy takes it a step further and we resent or wish harm on the person because they have the thing we desire.  One source said that ‘envy is the propensity to view the well-being of others with distress.’  It appears to be progressively destructive.  We begin by desiring something that is not ours.  Then we see the person who has what we want and we become jealous.  Then our desire turns into envy and we want to take from them and keep for ourselves, which sounds suspiciously like one of the other 10 commandments (stealing!).  It is a vicious cycle and can overlap on itself.  But in the long run it doesn’t matter what specific word we use to describe our negative emotions – they still bring destruction and chaos rather than life and peace.

In some ways, though, the word jealous has mistakenly gotten a bad reputation.  Jealousy, when defined as ‘eagerly desiring’ is not bad in and of itself.  It is how it is directed.  For example, it is a good thing to be jealous of your good name and character.  It implies that you are actively seeking to maintain your goodness and that you guard it well with your actions.  Another example is God being jealous (Exodus 20:5).  The meaning in this context implies a strong desire or zeal for something positive.  This is similar for a wife or husband’s desire for their spouse – they want no one to come between them because it would harm the intimacy and closeness of the relationship.  God wants an intensely intimate relationship with you – so much so that he guards it against any intrusion that will interrupt that closeness.


Envy Substitutes
A time-tested method for taking us out of ourselves is to focus on the good of others.  Since envy involves almost total self-focus, intentionally doing good for others can help us to climb out of the pit of envy. 

Giving  Here’s an idea that is so opposite of what we want to do when we are envious, that it must be from God.  Who but God would give even more to someone who already has ‘everything’?  Although it might not be true, it often feels like the person we are envying has everything.  Often we envy people we don’t know well, or we don’t know them well in regards to the particular area we are envying.  Most likely, if we did, we would see there is more to the story than appears on the surface.  So get to know the person and find out what they like and need and what they are struggling with currently.  Then determine what you can do to help them.  You may be able to give them time, assistance, a listening ear or a material item.  Any act of giving will help turn your heart from envy to caring.


Thankfulness
First, make the choice to thank God for giving that person what they have and ask him to continue to provide them blessings, regardless of what you think they need or deserve.  Second, thank God for something that you have.  You can even make a list of your blessings (of all kinds) and read the list as a thank offering to God for his care.  As you acknowledge what God has done for you and thank him for what he has done for others, your focus becomes less about yourself and more about God. 


Joy
One of the most extreme Biblical examples of envy versus joy is David’s relationship with King Saul and his son, Jonathan.  When God declared David to be the rightful ruler, King Saul became bitter and envious, hunting down and trying to kill David.  Jonathan, however, had become friends with David.  And even though Jonathan could have claimed the earthly right to the throne as King Saul’s son, he did not.  Instead, he submitted to God’s desire and even helped David to escape from the grasp of Saul.  Romans 12:15 teaches us to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.’  Jonathan rejoiced with rather than envied David.  As a result, King David spared Jonathan’s son and had mercy upon him. 

Who knows the harm Jonathan could have brought upon himself if he had allowed envy to rule his heart.   And who knows what blessings you are bringing upon your own life when you choose joy.  Try congratulating someone the next time they receive what you wanted – whether it be a promotion, a material item or a relational blessing. 

Prayer
As with thankfulness, pray first for the other person and then for yourself.  It’s interesting that the following verse combines prayer, thankfulness and joy:  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5;16-18)   But God also tells us that if we are lacking something, to bring it to him in prayer.  He understands our needs, our desires and our struggles.  Prayer is important because no matter where you are right now – in want or in plenty – God’s greatest desire is to be in continual communication and union with you.  That is where comfort is found and where the peace abounds…in his presence through a never-ceasing discussion with him.


Envy is not an easy emotion to overcome.  Look for the root causes of your envy:  do you have an unmet need, is the person triggering a past hurt in your life, are you dissatisfied and ridden with anxiety?  Work with God to discover the foundation of your envy.  But while you are doing so, try thanking, praying, giving and choosing joy.  The stronghold of envy can be broken and when it is, you will be content with all the blessings God has given specifically and especially to you – because he cares for you.


“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”  Psalm 34:8    






          Questions
  1. Talk about the different types of envy you see working in the relationships around you.
  2. Discuss the differences and similarities between envy, jealousy and coveting.
  3. Do you often compare yourself with others?  Explain.
  4. Share a time when you have envied someone or someone envied you.  How did it impact your relationship?
  5. What do you think is the root cause of your tendency to envy?
  6. Discuss the envy substitutes:  giving, thankfulness, joy and prayer and how you could apply them in your current circumstances.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

SOUL DETOX: TOXIC EMOTIONS – Bitter Roots



SOUL DETOX
        TOXIC EMOTIONS – Bitter Roots

“Bitterness is like a cancer. It eats upon the host.” ~Maya Angelou

Types of Trauma/ wounds
   ‘things’ done to you.. and.. ‘the absence of good things’

Stats:  1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 4 boys suffer some sort of sexual abuse (these are reported – how many more go unreported!)

Pastor C’s story.. my story.. your story… betrayal.. sometimes even greater pain involved with the parent or other caregiver that does not protect you from the perpetrator

Vengeance… Pastor C… my story..

The root of the problem… all of us in this room would agree that my bitterness was justifiable. After what my uncle did and the harm and mess that was created from this sinful man’s behavior. Of course.. we would all like to think that my desire or anyone’s for that matter is not sinful.. right?  Right.  However.. if we allow this desire to continue to be fueled by anger, it turns into resentment and then a root of bitterness. This.. my friends.. ends up poisoning us and eventually poisoning those around us as well. Bitterness never draws us closer to God. It is nonproductive.. and is a toxic emotion rooted from unmet needs. What were my unmet needs? What are yours that keep you harboring bitterness?

Bottom line is bitterness, resentment, anger, unforgiveness punish no one but ourselves.  In fact, bitterness never works alone.. it partners up with jealousy, hatred, anger, disobedience, gossip, contempt and countless other emotions and behaviors. They rob us of our peace, hope, joy and mercy. God’s word addresses the seriousness in Hebrews 12:14 – 15  14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Be on guard for the root of bitterness! It works underground – no one initially sees it or knows it is there. We can really fool ourselves and others for quite some time but eventually…it starts to boil and it eventually poisons our hearts.

Be on your guard. Bitterness can grow from a hurt that hasn’t been dealt with properly. It’s not a sin to have emotions and responses to the wound.. however, if we don’t handle the hurt properly, their sin becomes a catalyst for our own sin. Then.. we won’t just be hurt once.. we will be hurt twice and over and over and over again.

Poison Spreads..
Pic of poison ivy   Ever have poison ivy?
Are you moving deeper into resentment or.. moving closer to forgiveness?
In relationships – the offender starts the problem…. But the one offended, if the offender has genuine repentance and is working toward healing and reconciliation, turns the shared problem/ offense into irresolvable heartache.  Let’s talk about divorce… - what did Jesus say about Moses’ day?

Pic of redwood tree again..

Remember what we discovered about the redwood trees a couple of weeks ago? The roots connect to all the other roots from other trees and plant life surrounding it. All roots, whether those of the redwood or other trees or the roots of bitterness, sustain themselves by what they absorb and the direction they grow. The absorb whatever moisture is nearby into their system. Clean water – strong and health trees. Contaminated water – diseased & unhealthy. Same for people/ us – the more we dwell on the hurt/ we absorb poison into our hearts (contaminated water).

Roots also go deep – some deeper than others. Sometimes the roots go so deep, it would be difficult to remove the tree – not that we would ever want to. But.. the root of bitterness we do.. and there will be times that it locks a person in place and makes it hard for them to move forward in life. The roots can also multiply and suck the life right out of us. In Matt 7:18, Jesus said “18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”   What makes the tree good or bad? The source is often found in the root – a bitter poisonous root. Heb 12:15 in the NLT says “
15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Bitterness destroys. Bitter deacons can split a church. Bitter moms can poison the PTA/ room mother’s association. A few bitter teens can ruin a youth group. Bitterness destroys families. It NEVER produces good results.
Of course, the bitter person can justify and blame. But the bottom line is… bitter people are always looking through the lens of hurt – all bitter people can do is find fault. Unfortunately, they may even celebrate another’s misfortunes. When something bad happens, they simply believe the person had it coming. Some have even written off entire groups of people.. ‘all women are…’   ‘all men are..’, ‘all Christians are…’

Time to root out the root of bitterness…  ever have to deal with dandelions in your yard? Or that weird stinky weed – not sure what it is called but it totally takes over your grass.

Pic of roto rooter/ weed kill

Time for roto-rooter and weed kill that goes to the root! Eph 4:31-32 says, “31 Get rid of(A) all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.(B) 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,(C) forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.(D)

The only way to kill the root of bitterness if forgiveness. Instead of the old saying ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’, lets take it a step further and say ‘treat others as Christ treats you’ – so… forgive in the same way Christ forgives you.
Of course we always want to have exceptions to God’s command. God wouldn’t require me to forgive some so horrible as ____.  Matt. 6:14-15 says “14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.(A) 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.(

Perhaps the first step you need to take is that God would give you the willingness to forgive regardless of your feelings and that He would give you the willingness to at least begin the process.. because it truly is a process..

~FORGIVENESS~

Why Don’t We Forgive?
1.    We believe that a mark of spiritual maturity is to forgive quickly.   If we can’t, we believe:  “I’m defective, not spiritual enough, a failure – so why try?”
2.    Belief that if we still remember the event/offense, we haven’t forgiven.
3.    Belief that if we forgive, we are condoning evil.
4.    We forget how much we’ve been forgiven by God through Christ.
5.    We confuse forgiveness with reconciliation
·        Forgiveness is unilateral –I do it within myself – don’t need the other person
·        Reconciliation is bilateral—it requires both people to be in the process
·        I must forgive—reconciliation is optional

What Forgiveness Is Not
1.    See Above: not to be confused with reconciliation
2.    Forgiveness is not politeness or tactfulness
3.    Not Diplomacy—negotiation, peacekeeping, mediation
4.    Not passive non-response (ignore it)
5.    Does not mean we must tolerate sin – be a doormat to another’s continual sin.  “You can forgive almost anything, but if you tolerate everything someone does to you, you will make matters between you worse.  Sometimes there comes a time when you must say to another – I cannot forgive you while this continues.  It must stop or I must get out so that I can begin to forgive.  We must be intolerant of evil whether it happens to us or someone else!” From Forgive & Forget – Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve By: Lewis Smedes
6.    Withholding it does not punish the other person; actually, it punishes us. 
7.    Not an act that happens instantaneously.

What Forgiveness Is
1.    A process – God forgives in a single swoosh!  …but…we are finite, temporal creatures for whom almost everything takes time.
2.    A deliberate act of the will – purposeful, calculated, planned, considered, intended.
3.    A full pardon – cancellation – let off the hook, absolve, Romans 12:19a substitutional act – surrogate, alternate, replacement
4.    Obedience to God’s Word – agreement, submission, compliance
5.    An act of love – divine love
6.    It is the key to freedom

The Process of Forgiveness – Steps

1.    Ask the lord to reveal the names of the persons who offended you and the specific wrongs you suffered.
2.    Face the hurt and the hate.  If you are going to forgive from your heart, you must let God search the depths of your heart.
Note:  If the word or topic of forgiveness triggers fear or panic in you, you may have to stay right here on Step #2 for awhile – grieve the losses.  Deal with the memories, the feelings.
3.    Acknowledge the significance of the cross.  It is the cross of Christ that makes forgiveness morally right.  Remember its significance for your own sin and forgiveness.
4.    Decide that you will not retaliate by using the information about the offender’s sin against them.  (Luke 6:27-34)
5.    Make the decision to forgive – a conscious choice to let the other person off the hook for specific wrongs suffered release the debt.
6.    Take the list to God and pray the following as He leads: “I forgive _____(name) for ______(specifically--every remembered pain)”.
7.    Destroy the list or do something symbolic (write a letter) that will remind you of the step you took to forgive.  Remember:  your forgiveness is between you and God unless the offender has asked for your forgiveness.  Or……confrontation is involved.
8.    Do not expect that your decision to forgive will result in major changes in the other person.  Instead, pray for them.  Matthew 5:44
9.    Try to understand the people you have forgiven.  They may have been victims also (don’t excuse the behavior – this minimizes the act – the depth of forgiveness).  Try to see the good in them.  Note: understanding them is not always a precursor to forgiving as some believe.
10.                       Thank God for the lessons you have learned and the maturity you have gained by going through this process.  Freedom is the result of forgiveness in you.  In time, you will be able to think about the people who offended you without feeling hurt or anger.
11.                       When appropriate, accept your part of the blame for the offenses you 
suffered.  Confess your failure to God and to others (1John 1:9) and realize that if someone has something against you, you must go to that person (Matthew 5:23-26)
Mark Twain said: “forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the one who crushed it”.
Completed Forgiveness:  When your feelings have been transformed into a desire for the person’s blessing and their change. When you can see the person who harmed you and not feel all you felt before.  When you are more concerned about the person’s well-being and where he/she will spend eternity than about the wrong that was done to you.

Stories – SW – Pastor C: co-worker/ friend suicide



SOUL DETOX – TOXIC EMOTIONS – Bitter Roots

GROUP WORK

Have you ever hung on to anger that turned to resentment and then bitterness?  Share your experience.  Are you wrestling with bitterness right now?  Share.


“In relationships – the offender starts the problem…. But the one offended, (if the offender has genuine repentance and is working toward healing and reconciliation), turns the shared problem/ offense into irresolvable heartache.”  RESPOND – THOUGHTS?

What are some of the ‘wrong’ teachings you have heard about forgiveness in the past?

Was there new information or any ‘ah ha’ moments from the material presented tonight?  Share.  Discuss the importance of detoxing our anger, resentment and bitterness.