Spiritual Anorexia

thH4SLUD00Today I would like to cover a difficult and emotional subject:  The issue of Eating Disorders; more specifically, Anorexia and its spiritual correlation.  While this is not one of the issues I have had to overcome, it is still one that hits very close to home and, as a result, this post may be much longer than most.

Several years ago, I led a recovery program, and one of the precepts of the program was the separation of men from women when it came to the more personal aspects of recovery work.  While I maintained overall responsibility for the program, I had a female Co-Leader to focus on the ladies while I focused on the men. Unfortunately, this caused me to not pay close enough attention to one of ladies who attended on a regular basis, but tended to remain on the periphery of the organization.  In hind sight, I should have realized this was because she struggled with an Eating Disorder and all of our meetings had some form of food-related fellowship time.  Unfortunately, this gender separation led me to miss her symptoms in time to take appropriate steps to get her the professional help she needed, and she ultimately starved herself to death.  This really hit me hard, and is something that I still second guess myself about quite often.  How did I miss the signs? Why didn’t someone tell me what was going on? Why……?  The song “Courage”, by SuperChick, has been a great help to me in understanding how those dealing with Eating Disorders learn to hide their struggle from those around them.

Anorexia can be, simplistically, defined as:  A serious disorder in eating behavior primarily of young women in their teens and early twenties that is characterized especially by a pathological fear of weight gain leading to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, and usually excessive weight loss – or – an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.  However, according to the Mayo Clinic, while Anorexia may be more common in girls and women, boys and men have been increasingly developing eating disorders, perhaps because of growing social pressures. And, unlike my previous experience, I want to ensure I push out a warning to all concerning the dangers of Spiritual Anorexia and ensure everyone knows of the treatment/help that is readily available to all…

In general, we all share an innate desire/need for physical food.  Similarly, if we are honest, we have a similar Spiritual need and, in Scripture, we see that God desires to feed and sustain us spiritually, “And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’.”  (John 6:35 NKJV)

But how did those dealing with Eating Disorders get into that situation, and why do they continue in their destructive behaviors?  It usually starts with a need for control and running from pain; the pain of being unloved, of shame, of self-hate, and of abuse.  They develop a lack of self-worth, an unrealistic body image, and a fear of intimacy.  Eating Disorders are unique, with behaviors ranging from daily binges and excessive exercise, to starvation and vomiting. They use their bodies to create an illusion, a false sense of self-worth.  Meanwhile, Satan exploits these weaknesses to drag them further into bondage and to continue these destructive behaviors through which their relationships, health, jobs, morals and values are jeopardized and they are left physically and spiritually bankrupt.  And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  (Luke 22: 31 & 32)

Some people see the issue of Eating Disorders being called out in Scripture, where we are told some will eat and not be satisfied.  This equates to an emotional dissatisfaction that manifests in the form of anorexia and/or bulimia (as well as compulsive overeating): “When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.” (Leviticus 26:26) In a similar vein, placing such a focus on one’s outward appearance is akin to idolatry, and in Micah 6:1-14, Scripture lays out the cases against those charged with idolatry (self as an idol in this instance) and, as punishment, their food shall not nourish them: “You shall eat, but not be satisfied,” (v. 14) either because the food won’t digest or the appetite will be made insatiable.

But why do we do these things, when we should know better and, seemingly, desire not to continue down these paths?  Romans 7:15-25 tells us of the war that is ongoing within us; a struggle for control over our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls; and control of self; is at the heart of both Eating Disorders and spiritual anorexia.  However, there is a solution presented in this passage as well, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”  (Romans 7:24 & 25)

On the spiritual end, we can tend to either extreme, we can ‘feed and feed’ on great quantities of God’s Word, only to purge it all away through disobedience and failure to act on the knowledge we had gained: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  (James 1:22) – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap for he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”  (Galatians 6:7 & 8)

The other extreme is a total disregard for, or even aversion to, the teachings of the Word of God.  “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  (1 Corinthians 2:14) In a similar disposition are those who do not spend enough time reading the solid and unchanging Word of God; they are unable to chew it, digest it, or gain the use of the spiritual nutrients available through making this a regular practice: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”  (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

In 1 Timothy 4:1-6, Paul warns of those who will fall away “from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (v. 1).  Amongst these false teachings is the forbidding to eat certain physical foods for nourishment to the body, but we are admonished to remain in the faith and follow sound doctrine to ensure we are fed spiritually, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”  (v. 6)

First, one needs to decide, “Do I WANT to get well”?  Am I finally ready to give up this weakness of character and any related sin?  We see this reflected in Scripture when Jesus speaks to the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda, “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’”  (John 5:6)

To find the willpower to gain recovery, we must first desire to be made well, righteous, and free of addiction(s).  God will be faithful and true to help in the ensuing battle.  You must provide the WILL, others will ENCOURAGE, and God provides the POWER: “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.”  (2 Corinthians 13:9) – “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:10) – “Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.”  (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3)

May we all follow the advice of the ancient Psalmist, who wrote, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”  (Psalm 34:8)

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Are You Building Sand Castles or a Secure Structure?

Sand CastleIn recovery, like construction of a new building, a good-solid foundation is required if any structure or progress is expected to survive and last. When we build, it is important to choose not to build on sand for a foundation. In recovery, we need to ensure our efforts are built with the Solid Rock as our foundation. “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 62:6 NKJV)

The chaos and loss of control experienced from addictions leads those in recovery to thrive on routine and structure as they seek to get their life back on track. But what is structure?

Structure can be defined as: A building or other object constructed from several parts; or the quality of being organized. While there are a number of synonyms that can be used in place of structure (e.g., construction and organization), one of the listed synonyms is ‘framework’ or support, which brings us back to foundations, of which I want to briefly touch on three: Bones, Belief system, and Organizational structure.

Bones: Are essential as a support system for life (skeleton). However, as we read in Ezekiel 37:1-14, even dead, dry bones can be brought back to life through the restorative power of, and infilling by, the Holy Spirit. Bones can also be equated to the structure and Foundations of the Earth, making this a VERY sound and secure base on which to build. “You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever.” (Psalm 104:5 NKJV)

Belief System: A foundational belief for Christians is that our bodies are to be temples, dwelling places for the Holy Spirit, and we need to treat them as such. ”Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Organizational Structure: While many people equate the term ‘church’ with a building, it is the aspect of ‘The Church’ as an organizational structure that pertains to this discussion. The Church is a gathering of likeminded Believers with the purpose of exhorting and edifying one another in our faith, victories, and struggles. Scripture records that Jesus not only established the church on the foundation of The Rock (Himself) (Matthew 16:17&18), but it instructs us not to forsake gathering as The Church: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

These ‘systems’ require solid Bible-based teaching as a foundation. The Church, and our own lives/faith/recovery, must be built on a solid foundation, one that is based on the full Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. Such a foundation is spelled out in the “Apostles’ Creed” where the concepts are distilled into a short, easily remembered statement:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. (Lutheran Service Book)

Without this foundational teaching to build on, the structures of the Church and our personal lives are prone to building on the ‘sand’ offered as security in the world today. However, when the storms of life hit, sand shifts, sinks, and washes away; leading to damage and collapse. A concept specifically called out in Scriptures when Jesus talks in Matthew 7:24-27 about the ‘wise man’ and the ‘foolish man’ who built their houses on rock and sand, respectively.

Society today places so much importance on the ‘security’ of things and minimizes the importance of ensuring the eternal security of our souls, a concept that is epitomized in the song, “American Dream”, by Casting Crowns (Casting Crowns), which speaks to the empty pursuit of ‘things’ rather than concentrating on building a sturdy life on a firm and true foundation: “All work no play may have made Jack a dull boy, but all work no God has left Jack with a lost soul.”   While this song serves as a warning, it also encourages us to reach for the better things when it concludes, “I’ll take a shack on a rock over a castle in the sand.”

While sand may not be suitable to support the main foundation of a building, it does have many useful construction applications when it is used as an ingredient: concrete, grout, etc. Sand can be used as a base when laying decorative items, such as step stones and the like, but would not be suitable for the building itself.

While it may not be suitable as a foundational material, there is another use for sand that can be applied to our recovery journeys: Sand (silica) + heat (adversity) = glass. From glass, we can make a mirror by which we can assess those areas in our lives and recovery needing correction/reinforcement, while the glass itself affords the transparency necessary to allow visibility to others from the outside to facilitate proper accountability.

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns‘n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Defensive Preparations

1971905_8d9d9b26Physical defensive measures and preparations can teach us important lessons when it comes to defending our sobriety gained during recovery. For example, many Medieval Castle defenses included carefully designed staircases that spiraled up to towers, curving in such a way that attackers coming up the stairs had their sword hands (right hand) against the wall, impeding their ability to effectively swing their swords. Conversely, the sword arms of the defenders were away from the wall so they could freely swing their swords in defense as they descended the staircase.

We are certain to face attacks and temptations as we work through our addictions and attempt to maintain sobriety. In order to provide the best chance of success we must have a plan already in place to defend against those inevitable attacks. However, just having a plan does no good unless one practices the plan, like practicing quick-reaction drills over and over until the response becomes second nature; defined as: “A characteristic or habit in someone that appears to be instinctive because that person has behaved in a particular way so often.” Let’s look at some parallels that could be applied regarding our daily jobs and our spiritual/recovery progress:

First, in both situations it is necessary to have a partner; whether it is your patrol partner or the Holy Spirit, they are often the one who gets your bacon out of the fire: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:26 NKJV).

Next, just as we would don protective vests prior to hitting the road, we need to put on the ‘whole armor of God’ (Ephesians 6:11-18) before going out to face the temptations and trials of the world. Additionally, our flashlights are essential for seeing our way and ferreting out danger, and can be equated to Scripture in that God’s Word is, …a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105 NKJV). Weapons proficiency is essential to our physical and spiritual safety and survival. Just as we need continual practice to maintain intimate familiarity with our sidearm, we need to spend regular time in God’s Word to remain proficient with our spiritual weapon, the Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

One last key item essential to our safety and survival is communications. Proper radio procedures/discipline allows us to ensure those who are working with us, and will come to our aid when called, have full situational awareness on our whereabouts. On the spiritual and recovery side, this equates to keeping our channels of communications open with God, through prayer, and ensuring we are open and honest with those to whom we are in accountability relationships.

As the saying goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’. This is definitely true when it comes to our recovery progress; if we do not anticipate temptations, and have a plan in place for dealing with them before they appear, we are likely to fall prey to the attack and relapse back into our addiction(s). One of the best defensive strategies is always avoidance – don’t put yourself into compromising positions in the first place and, if this is unavoidable, have an Escape & Evasion plan in place, to include backup support.

If necessary, and all else fails, install a ‘moat of isolation’ until you are secure/strong enough to resist. Get away and spend time alone with God in prayer and immersed in His Word. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7 NKJV).

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Peaceful Transitions

Let’s face it, most people do not like change, particularly when it comes upon them unexpectedly or is forced upon them against their will. It is bad enough when change is inevitable (age, etc.) and one can potentially prepare. Still, some people never seem to plan for this. Whether this preparation is put off due to denial or sheer procrastination, the impact is still the same; the change will occur.

In some ways, sudden change can be easier to deal with than slow, steady changes where events are somewhat anticipated. This is especially true for those who practice and/or train in such things as crisis response (LE, First Responders, etc.). In these instances, it is the hope that if something should happen, it is merely a matter of reacting to the event/change as practiced. However, there is still the down-time after the initial ‘rush’, and this often constitutes a let-down period and allows time for a better inventory/assessment of what caused the change, what the impacts are, and what long-term responses should be made.

Like the changes that come into our lives, Change Agents such as nature, circumstances, people, or ‘things’ can be seen as having negative or positive effects on our lives. Meanwhile, God (often working through Believers), always has our best interests at heart and seeks to redeem our bad experiences and [who] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV).

Regardless of how ‘well’ we were raised, if we start running with the wrong crowd it is quite likely that these negative Change Agents will lead us to ruin, a concept the Scripture warns us of in 1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals (NASB).  It is likely that the addictions and compulsive behaviors so many of us struggle / struggled with are the result of the changes wrought in each of us through the negative influences of these people. These negative effects can be exacerbated by other, outside, influences such as natural disasters, social circumstance, or other items. However, these situations can be rectified if we turn our lives over to God and allow Him to make changes in our lives as He works through the Holy Spirit to (re)shape our lives into a vessel suitable for His purposes: And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make (Jeremiah 18:4 NKJV).

The change associated with turning our lives over to God can often be a gradual transformation as described in Romans 12:2, but it can also come upon us suddenly – precipitated by a crisis – as we see happening in the account of Saul’s (Paul’s) conversion as recorded in Acts 9:1-18.   The process associated with turning our lives over to God is one change we should not resist, even though many continue to do just that for: He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep [withhold] His anger forever (Psalm 103:9 NKJV). Instead of resisting God, we need to focus on resisting the bad Change Agents in our lives: Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7 NKJV).

Oftentimes, change can bring very real suffering and pain and we, as imperfect human beings, can frequently lose sight of the fact that those affected by tragedies are real people with real issues and real tears. Jesus acknowledges the reality of suffering in John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (NKJV). Not only does this Scripture acknowledge the hurts, trials, and issues of this life, it provides Hope for a better future since Jesus has overcome the evils of this world. There is, however, a catch: To partake of this brighter future, we must first repent and receive a spiritual healing from God – Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19 NKJV).

Don’t be afraid of the change God desires to work in you; embrace it and be made whole!

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Lessons From Untangling Yarn

274188732_603e536a16_zMany years ago, when I was around nine years old, my Grandmother taught me to crochet. When I took it up again several years ago, to refresh my memory and teach my daughter, I found it to be quite relaxing. Of late, I have been working on a head-covering for my daughter and decided to try using a lace-weight yarn that came in a twisted skein. I was unfamiliar with this method of packaging and neglected to research the proper method to untwist and use this yarn. Not only did I fail to untwist it properly, I also dropped it in the process and created a huge mess of tangled, super-fine yarn.

Since then, I have been working for quite some time on getting the yarn untangled. Oddly enough, this has also been a rather relaxing exercise as I work to untangle the unruly mass; slowly, bit-by-bit. While working on this project one day, it came to me how this applies to our lives and recovery efforts as we work to untangle the various messes that have developed in our lives. This is particularly true when addicts look to clean up their lives after having spent so much of their lives lying and deceiving others while trying to hide and/or minimize their activities. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

There are likely any number of parallels between the physical untangling of yarn and the efforts required to untangle the webs of lies that have been woven as we struggled to conceal our addictions. However, I am going to focus on just two: The need for good, strong light; and the need for clear vision.

Good Light
Just as light is essential for seeing to untangle yarn, so we need The Light both to see and stay on the correct path, and to point out what areas of our lives require our attention: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV), and “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23 & 24).

Clear Vision
If you have ever experienced blurred vision or had an eyelash in your eye, you know how hard it would be to see clearly enough to be effective, regardless of your project. In Luke 6:41 & 42, Jesus tells us the same is true on a spiritual level, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

As Christians, we need to be especially careful and exercise great discernment. We need to make sure we are untangled from our own webs before trying to help someone else, just as we must take care not become too closely involved with them else we may be drawn into their web, leaving both in an even bigger mess. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1); 2 “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20).

In General
When seeking assistance in untangling the issues and messes in our lives, we must be careful whom we turn to for help. We need to ensure those who declare to be Christians, claiming to be desirous of providing help or counsel, are fully following God and His Word. In Matthew 7:15 we are warned to, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Likewise, Paul tells us not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14 & 15). We must rely on God, His Word, and His leading us through the Holy Spirit rather than relying solely on the methods and theories of people, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Given enough time, and patient perseverance, even the toughest of knots and the biggest of messes can be overcome through Christ.

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Respecting Authority

picture1Last week I mentioned our attitudes towards/against authority, which can frequently lead to violence and a break down in Law and Order. There seems to be a continuing attitude of disrespect for LEOs and a general disregard for Law and, coupled with this breakdown, is continued violence against, and targeting of, First Responders. This cannot go on forever unchecked without consequence and there is potential cause for cautious optimism for the future. Not only does this potential relief stem from a change of attitude within our leadership, but is also echoed within Scripture: “Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries” (2 Peter 2:9 & 10 NKJV).

Regardless of where one works, those in a position of any authority, expect their subordinates to respect their position and/or authority.  This is particularly true with First Responders, where we expect those we come into contact to respect the authority of our position and to obey our commands/directions [though the more cynical or realistic probably expect quite the opposite these days].  Ironically, so many are willing to disrespect or even disregard those in authority over them, offering various reasons or excuses, all the while expecting to be respected without question.

Hebrews 13:17 tells us to:  “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

This verse brings to mind the “cautious optimism” I mentioned earlier, in that our Government is seeking to implement policies and potential legislation aimed at shoring up existing laws, establishing “tough on crime” policies, and providing a safer environment for those tasked with enforcing those laws.

President Trump has issued Executive Orders charging the Department of Justice with establishing three task forces to examine current efforts and to recommend any necessary changes to legislation and/or funding required to fight drug cartels, reduce violent crime, and reduce attacks against police. There are specific goals for the Justice Department to “enhance the protection and safety” of law enforcement personnel by increasing penalties for crimes committed against officers.

In the meantime, we need to continue to safely enforce existing laws and treat all people with dignity and respect, whether they are our ‘superiors’, co-workers, or the public at large.

Let us also remember to keep our President and Nation in prayer:  “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 NKJV); “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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What Is Your Heart Saying?

heart

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” These words from Jesus, recorded in Matthew 12:34 b (NKJV), are particularly applicable when it comes to addictions and our efforts at recovery. So, let’s take an honest look at what our hearts are really saying about us and our recovery.

Regardless of what the struggle, addicts do not like their activities, attitudes, and actions scrutinized. They prefer to keep their actions hidden, secret, and private to avoid the guilt and shame or other, more severe, repercussions. But this hiding will only last for so long before it is revealed. Again, Jesus tells us, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19 & 20)

However, verbalizing our thoughts is not the only way our hearts speak. You have heard it said that ‘actions speak louder than words’. This saying is particularly true in the life of a recovering addict. While you may be relatively successful at controlling the actual words that come out of your mouth, your actions and attitude will frequently reveal the true state of your heart, and the status of your recovery.

For example, let’s say you have an issue with your Boss or a Department policy, but you refuse to directly address the issue and, instead, stuff your feelings and pretend there is nothing wrong. Sooner or later the bitterness and resentment you are harboring will become apparent, either through your speaking your disdain aloud, or your actions and body language will scream out the issues in your heart. As Jesus states in Mark 4:22, “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.

Instead, we are to continue to “walk in the Light” (1 John 1:7) as we seek to follow God’s leading towards recovery, healing, and a right relationship with God through Christ Jesus. Then it can be said of us, “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:21)

Let’s listen to what our hearts are truly saying, and then take remedial actions as required!

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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