THE STRUGGLE WITH OBEDIENCE Part​ 2. “Making Myself the Lord of my Life.”

I have attempted to control God and His leading and to be honest; I’m making a mess of everything.

What were the results of attempting to act as the lord of my life? I believed my plans were more significant than God’s design for my life. I struggled to fulfill my purpose instead of resting in the direction of a holy and sovereign God. I was unwilling to trust God’s purpose for my life, so I pursued my own course. When I placed myself as the lord of my life, I put myself in a position of authority over God. I decide what was best for myself and I determine what the best course of my life was. I sought my pleasure and will over God’s authority. The problem with making myself the lord of my life was I relied on my selfish desires to guide my choices. The choices I made were far-removed from what was actually best for my life.

When we make ourselves lord over our lives, we ultimately reject God’s authority.

It is essential at this point to stress that God has given us free will to choose how we live our lives. God has given us the ability to reason, to determine the courses for our lives and to make sound judgments. These are God-given qualities; He has placed within each of us.  However, when we choose to make ourselves lord over our lives, we misuse these God-given qualities to meet our selfish and self-centered desires. We use what God has given us to further our agendas and ambitions. We seek to fulfill our destiny and find the best course for our lives with little regard for God or for others. Our pursuits become all about me, all about what I can achieve and accomplish. We do not consider the effects our actions have on others. When we make ourselves lord over our lives, we ultimately reject God’s authority. We place God in a subordinate role and establish ourselves as the supreme authority of our lives. We resist God; we overrule God’s guiding principles and make our desire the guiding principles of our lives. We seek our pleasure over Godly principals; fulfilling our ambition becomes the sole purpose of our lives. This seeking leads to frustration, hopelessness, desperation and lonely existence that centers on pleasure, this is a direct result of having a low view of God.

A low view of God permits us to use God in a self-centered and self-promoting way. 

A low view of God is a view that God is just like us; he is our buddy, our friend, our companion, someone to hang out with and someone to go to when we are in need. A low view of God says “I can do this on my own, but just in case I can’t, I know you have my back.” A low view of God implies He is just another friend and not the one with complete authority over our lives. When we hold such a low opinion of God, we fail to see God in all of his Holiness. We fail to recognize the supreme power and authority of the creator God. A low view of God allows us to mold God into our image and to use Him as a means to our end. A low view of God is one that does not convict us of our sin. A low view of God allows us to live our life the way we want to live. A low view of God gives us the authority to bend God to our will and use Him to accomplish our desires.  A low view of God permits us to use God in a self-centered and self-promoting way. Instead of viewing God as our final authority over our lives, we see ourselves as God, and we follow our desire, using our power to guide ourselves. A low view of God gives us the freedom to live our lives the way we want to, without worrying about the consequences of sin. We neglect the Scriptures, we ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and we disregard God’s sovereignty over our lives.  A low view of God lets us take control of our lives by relegating God to the role of a cosmic genie. We see God as the one who gives us favors, who will grant us our wishes. God becomes for us the fairy godmother who shows up at just the right time to save us. A low view of God permits us to place Him on the sidelines of our lives. We leave Him in reserves until we need Him to solve a crisis and once our crisis is over, we place him on the sidelines to wait for the next crisis. These are the actions of a self-centered and egotistical low view of God. We value our experiences over God’s leading. We pursue our desires over God’s desire for our lives. We appreciate what we can accomplish on our own, over what God can achieve through an obedient and surrendered life. However, the picture of God and His Holiness in Scripture is vastly different than the low view many have of God today. God’s Holiness is profoundly higher than anything we can imagine or perceive.

To be Continued

Fear Not, For I Am With You

it is well Click Picture to Play Video

Sung by Michael Eldrige:  www.acapeldridge.com

Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a lovely family – a wife, Anna, and five children. However, they were not strangers to tears and tragedy. Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. On Nov. 21, 1873, the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Although Mr. Spafford had planned to go with his family, he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem. He told his wife, he would join her and their children in Europe a few days later. AS he planned to take another ship.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with the mighty, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Suddenly, all of those on board were in grave danger. Anna hurriedly brought her four children to the deck. She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie, and Tanetta and prayed that God would spare them if that could be His will, or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them. Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down, spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. He pulled her into the boat, and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband a message which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?”

Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down. It was then Horatio pinned the words to the hymn “It is Well With My Soul”  http://staugustine.com

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV

My dear friends, in the very depth of our heartache and in the midst of life’s most difficult moments we are assured that we are not alone. We can count on the truth that God is ours, and he will strengthen us and help us in all of our troubles. Therefore, we do not need to live in fear or be overtaken with dismay, for we have one who will lift us up with His righteous hand. We accept this as truth while all is going well. However, it becomes a significant hurdle when we are crushed in spirit, lost in our pain and facing the deepest darkness of our lives. But the truth of this verse does not change with our circumstances. What is true in the good times is true in difficult times. We all want to go through life without hardship or brokenness, but we all know that it is an impossible task. Part of life is learning to live, trust, have faith and walk in courage while facing the deepest darkest moments of our lives. My friends in your darkness, I encourage you to find rest in God and to seek His peace. Why live a life full of despair, hopelessness, and defeat when we have a God who will watch after us. Trusting in God does not mean we escape the hard aches of this world, it does mean, however, that we do not have to experience these heartaches alone.  We can find Peace for our souls so we too can say “It is well with my soul.”

If you are seeking Peace with God and you want to enter into a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, please check out this site. Finding Peace With God

 

CAN I REALLY SHARE MY HURT?

God sincerely wants us to share with Him all of our burdens, concerns and cares. He patiently waits with open arms to take us and shelter us in His love.

“I’m lost in my own silent world; I wish I could simply tell someone what is going on in my head. I wish I could let people know the fears I face each day. My doubt and worries overshadow any peace I may have. My struggles, my hurts, and my pain are always before me. I desperately wish I could share with someone how I feel.” These are the thoughts we often feel whether we suffer from PTSD, anxiety, self-doubt or any numerous reasons that cause us to remain silent. There are so many times we wish we could just open up and share our doubts, struggles, despair, and fears. But we keep them to ourselves; too scared to share them with anyone, lest we are ridiculed, mocked, dismissed or attacked for the way we feel. How desperately lonely it is to live a life trapped inside our pain and be silent to all who wish to help bear our struggles. How agonizing it is to live feeling as though no one cares about our feelings.

So what is it that we can do to find relief?

How do we find the courage to step out and open our hearts to others and share the pain we suffer deep inside? In Psalms 62 King David is facing a rebellion that is being led by his son Absalom. David’s counselors and advisers have turned against him. The people have also turned against David and support the rebellion. David flees the city of Jerusalem with just a few loyal friends and family and hides in the hills. David is rejected and cast aside, he is no longer the ruling king and his son has usurped his power. What is David to do? Where does he go and to whom does he turn for help? Psalms 62:5-8 gives us the answer.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times you people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.

These verses reveal to us the amazing perspective King David has, in the midst of his struggles, heartache, rebellion, lies, and conspiracies David finds rest. What an astonishing thought! How does one find rest in such dire circumstances? David finds rest in God who is his hope, his rock, his salvation and his fortress. How can this be? How does David not turn against God and declare He is unjust and vengeful? Yet instead of being hateful and angry with God, David states with all confidence that He will not be shaken. He is entirely and openly relying on God as his rock and refuge. How can David demonstrate such faith? At this point in David’s life, he has experienced the amazing hand of God in his life. David has experienced deliverance, forgiveness, rescue and found safety in the shadow of the Almighty. By this point in his life, he is able to say without a doubt that God is his refuge. Thus, he is able to advise us to trust God at all times and to pour out our hearts to Him, for He is our refuge.

We seek God’s emotional and spiritual safety, yet we never pour our hearts out to God.

I remember early on in our marriage, how desperately I wanted to share my struggles and doubts with my wife. I would wake up in the morning with all the intentions of talking with her about the way I was feeling. But when the opportunity presented itself instead of sharing, I would remain silent. I would argue with myself. Sometimes I would convince myself to say nothing and other times I would convince myself to talk with her about my feelings. I can still remember the hopelessness I felt when I desperately wanted to speak with her, yet somehow I could not even get a word out. I would tell myself “Do it now this is the best time, she is not doing anything.” But then I would reply to myself and say, “Just wait for 15-minutes then talk to her.” This would go on an entire day and by the time I went to bed, I still had not found the courage to talk with her. This is what we do with God; we go day after day withholding our pain and hurt from God. We seek His relief and seek the emotional and spiritual safety that He offers to us, yet we never pour out our hearts to God. We find ourselves trapped behind our fears and doubts and never take the step to cry out to God. How can we expect to pour out our most profound struggles, uncertainties, and pain to others if we cannot pour out our hearts to God?

 God sincerely wants us to share with Him all of our burdens, concerns, and cares!

He patiently waits with open arms to take us and shelter us in His love, acceptance, forgiveness, and salvation. Crying out to God is the safest way to open our hearts and reveal our most profound struggles. For God is caring, loving, full of grace, one who gives peace and one who liberally pours out His mercy to all who seek Him. Once we learn how to pour out our hearts to God, it becomes so much easier to begin to share with others and to trust those around us. Pouring out our hearts to God gives us the courage to start sharing with others. We can start small and learn to trust. We can experience the relief that comes when we share with others, and they respond with compassion instead of conflict. Once I finally discovered I could share my deepest fears, heartaches, struggle, and doubts with my wife, I entered into an entirely new relationship with her. I now find comfort in her understand, her compassion and her encouragement and I no longer fear to share my heart with her. This is the relationship that God wants to have with you. He desires a relationship where you do not dread opening ourselves to Him, but you seek to share your struggle with Him daily. God wants to give you peace, comfort, and hope. He wants to be your shelter, your rock, your salvation and your refuge. The only thing that stops you is you yourself. Right, this minute you can call out to God and pour out your heart to Him, He will hear you and respond to your cry.

What is keeping you from doing so this very moment?

HELP! I HAVE ANXIETY AND DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

anxiety-quote-hp-4-1

With so many ways for reducing or beating anxiety why do we still suffer  with anxiety?

What do I do with my anxiety? It is a burden that is heavy and drags me down. I wake up distressed by my worries and cares so much so, I can barely face the day. I end the day overwhelmed with all that has happened. I faced the day where once again my fears and anxiety has thrown me into emptiness and despair. I long to sleep, hoping that for a few restless hours, I may find some peace for my weary soul. But as I fall asleep, I am reminded that when I wake, I will once again face another day, just like the one I had today. Burden on backThese are the thoughts of living with the weight of anxiety and dread. Our hearts cry out for some relief, no matter how small it may be. We desperately seek some sort of reprieve from our worries and cares. We hope for just a few hours of truly restful sleep and somehow dare to imagine a new day without our anxiety dragging us down. So what do we do with our stress? There are many suggestions on how to control anxiety; there is meditation, the practice of grounding, practicing mindfulness, deep breathing and of course the many medications available to help reduce anxiety. A quick web search of the topic of lowering anxiety yielded these results. 22 quick tips to change your anxiety forever, 7 ways to calm your anxiety, 10 relaxation techniques to reduce stress, 15 easy ways to beat anxiety, 16 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety, 9 ways to reduce anxiety right now, 7 simple tips to ease anxiety, 19 natural remedies for anxiety and 36 simple ways to quite your anxiety. With so many ways of reducing or beating anxiety why do we still suffer so much with anxiety?

Here at Healing the Storm, we believe that the primary way of handling our anxiety is found in casting our anxiety and cares upon God. Psalms 55:22 tells us “Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” and 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” While the many different techniques for handling anxiety may be helpful, we believe the essential and decisive way of handling our anxiety is to cast our cares upon God. The word casting is a verb, and when used with an object such as anxiety it denotes to throw, hurl or fling, to throw off or away from, or to cause something to fall on something else. The Scripture tells us to throw, hurl or toss our anxiety, to throw it off or throw it away by causing it to fall on something else. So what is it we are to throw our anxiety on? Both the Psalmist and Peter tell us the object we are to cast or throw our anxiety on is God. Black-People-300x169We see in these two verses there are three benefits of casting our anxiety on God. The first is that God will sustain us; He will support, hold up and bear our burden and anxiety for us. He will endure without giving in or yielding to the weight of our distress. He will carry and embrace our anxiety, so we do not have to carry it ourselves. Secondly, we see that God will never let His children be shaken. He will never allow us to become dislodged or fall under the weight of our anxiety, as He is the one who carries our burdens for us. He will not even allow us to tremble, move or sway under the weight of our anxiety. For we no longer have to struggle with the overwhelming weight of our worry. Lastly, we see we cast our cares and anxiety on God because He cares for us. God does not carry our burden of anxiety because He expects some sort of compensation from us. He does not place an unmanageable demand on us in exchange for taking our load of anxiety. God does not hold us to an impossible standard we have to maintain for God to carry our burdens. He bears our burden simply because he cares for us, God cares for us unconditionally, He is deeply and personally concerned for our well-being. He carries our burdens of anxiety because He intensely loves us and wants us to have peace in Him.casting

I want us to notice that by casting our anxiety on God, that our worries are not gone forever. For we will always be troubled by the worries of this world, our trauma and struggles will always be a part of our lives. But what we do see is that God carries the burden of our anxiety and worries for us. So we can walk in His peace so we can rely on His strength to carry those things that we cannot carry ourselves. My friends are you carrying your own burdens today? Are you falling under the weight of the burdens of your anxiety? Do you find yourself in a place that you are crushed under the heaviness of the burden of dread? Then I urge you, my friends, to cast all your cares upon God this very moment because he cares for you. All you have to do is be honest with God share your burdens with Him and ask Him to carry your troubles and anxieties. If you do not have a relationship with God where you can cast your cares upon Him. I want you to know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has made a way, for you, to enter into a relationship with God the Father. I encourage you to follow the link below to learn how you too can have a relationship with God and find the peace you are seeking.

FINDING PEACE WITH GOD

Cast your cares upon God for He loves and cares for you.

 

 

Lost in Loneliness

One of the most challenging parts of dealing with trauma and the effects of PTSD is the overwhelming sense of loneliness that one continually faces. The isolation that is brought on by the thought “I am the only one who feels this way.” A loneliness that is brought on by the thought “No one understands what I’m going through.” The loneliness that is brought on by the belief “I have to be strong, so I can’t ask for help.”

loneliness femaleA loneliness that is brought on by the feelings “I can’t trust anyone.” The loneliness that is brought on by the belief people will see me as a “monster or evil.” These feeling invade our very soul and the view of ourselves so much so that we find ourselves living a lonely, isolated and friendless life. Desperate for how things used to be, but never having the courage to break free from our loneliness. Thus, we never find a new acceptance for who we are now.

I found this poem on poemhunter.com written by Mohammad Skati, and I think it sums up what many of us feel as we deal with our loneliness.

                                                                 I Feel Alone

“There is nothing pretty like my loneliness Simply because I feel alone and lonely anytime, anywhere, and everywhere… There is no doubt that I am alone in every direction I turn to and I am lonely in the opposite direction… The more I look forward to encouraging myself, the more I find myself greatly alone and lonely… I can explain some parts of my loneliness, and I can’t explain some other parts fully… It’s not bad to be alone for a while, but It’s bad to stay alone forever and ever… I feel as if I am lonely in this world Simply because everyone looks for one’s benefits… To be alone and to be lonely Mean to suffer greatly Simply because one needs others to listen to any time… I feel alone… I feel alone… I feel alone” https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-feel-alone-10/

As I read this poem, I was reminded of Job’s cry over his frustration in not finding God.

“But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:8-12
 

This cry is also echoed by David in Psalms 21:1-2.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

There is no crueler feeling than to feel we are abandon, that we suffer alone, and  feel secluded from all others.

lonliness maleThese thoughts are often the cry of our hearts. We face so much pain and suffering, we proclaim we suffered “more than our fair share.” We cry out because our hearts are lonely and we feel as though God has abandoned us. There is no crueler feeling than to feel abandoned, that we suffer alone, and feel secluded from all others. One of the things I learned from my inpatient treatments is no matter how I feel, I’m not alone. While my experience may be different from others and the circumstances of my trauma is unique to myself, the effects of trauma are the same for all of us. I struggled with wanting to know where God is, why God allows evil and suffering and why people die in war. My struggles are no different from the struggles Job, and David faced as they asked the same questions of God. What I find interesting is Job never receives an answer to his questions on why he was suffering and in the midst of David’s trials he had to wait patiently upon the Lord. I know what it is like to stand in the darkness of trauma, to be confronted with the questions of why, where and how and yet never seem to find the answers to these questions. I know the experience of the blackness that loneliness brings into our lives, the hopelessness that ensnares and robs us of even our desire to live. I also see the peace one can find in knowing God has not abounded us. Job says that while he is unable to find God, God still knew where Job was and the paths he takes. David finds peace knowing that in his anguish God still exists and He is enthroned as the Holy One.

Finding Peace with God

I wonder where you find yourself today? Are you lost in your struggles? Do you feel desperate? Are you living without hope? Is your loneliness so great that your only hope now resides in taking your own life? Is suicide your only remaining answer? My friends, I want you to know there is hope! You can find meaning and acceptance of who you are now. You can turn away from your suicidal thoughts and behaviors just as I turned away from my suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Where does this ability come from? It comes from many different places, individual and group therapy, it comes from family and friends, it may even come from medication. It certainty come from within when you make a commitment to seek healing for yourself. But ultimately, real and lasting healing only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Here at Healing The Storm Ministry our belief is when all is said and done. It is our relationship with Jesus Christ that will deliver us from the life-controlling power of our trauma. The Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” If you want to know how to cast your cares upon Christ and experience the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to check out Billy Graham’s website “Peace with God” https://peacewithgod.net

 

 

Accentuating The Positives

Many Thanks

I have notice I have a tendency to focus on the negative while ignoring the positives in my life.

I am sure I am not the only one who ignores the positive to focus on the negative. It seems many of us who live with trauma maintain our focus on negative beliefs and feelings. We tend to look at the “what’s not going right” instead of “what is going right” in our lives. We are quick to declare our treatment and recovery process too slow or not working at all. When in reality, many things are going right for us. So during Thanksgiving day week, I set out to post on Facebook, three times a day, to share what I am thankful for. It was an enjoyable experience to spend the last few days thinking of the positive things in my life. So here is a list of some of the things I am thankful for.

 Things I am thankful for:

  • I am grateful for Mr. Robinson a teacher who always told me “Kevin, I expect great things from you.” I’ve strived to not let him down
  • I am thankful for U.S. Army Chaplain Jim King, who was a great mentor and an outstanding pastor. He helped shape me as a Chaplain.
  • I am thankful for Therapist Dr. Carrin Harper who literally kept me alive and would not let me give into my suicidal ideations.
  • I am thankful for the LA Baptist Rescue Mission. I was able to preach every Saturday during my first year of Bible college in 1986.
  • I am thankful for all the Godly men and women who invested their lives into our lives so we could spend our life in Christian ministry.
  • I am thankful for those who developed Cognitive Processing Therapy and for those who took me through the painful process.
  • I am thankful for Candice, Samantha, and Jacob, our young adult children who still want to spend time with us.
  • I am thankful for the Pastor and the congregation of Oswego Baptist Church for sponsoring my ordination in 1986.
  • I am thankful for “Train a Dog, Save a Warrior” for providing training and certification of my service dog Delrin.
  • I am thankful for my beautiful bride Elizabeth who has stood by my side in the darkest moments of my life. Love you, Honey!
  • I am thankful that I had the honor of serving in the United States Army for 21-years.
  • I am thankful for LTG Funk for giving me the freedom to minister to his Troopers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.
  • I am thankful for my Cardiologist in Danville, NJ for discovering my heart anomaly and for the surgeon in Morristown, NJ who corrected the problem with open heart surgery in 2010.
  • I am thankful for the Wounded Warrior Program and the leaders of the Male Odyssey retreat who helped me realize I am not “unfit” to live my life.
  • I am thankful for Paster Jared at  First Baptist Church New Braunfels for letting me lead a small group Bible study.
  • I am thankful for the great memories we have as a family while we enjoyed family vacations together.

This is by no means even close to a complete list, but it is a good start. Why not start your own list? You can start by sharing in the comments below what you are thankful for. 

 

 

 

Finding God’s Peace in the Midst of Hurricanes

At this this very moment there are millions of people experiencing the very real despair and pain of living through the hurricanes over the last few weeks.

As I began to write this morning I wanted to see when I last posted and in doing so I decided to take a peek at my stat page. What I found surprised me and caused me to pause. I enjoy seeing what countries people are from as they read my blog. What I saw this morning surprised me, I have had some people reading my blog from the Caribbean and the Virgin Islands in the last few days. At first, I was a bit puzzled why people were reading my blog posts from the Caribbean and the Virgin Islands nations, especially as many are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Irma. I wondered why people who are recovering from Irma would take the time to read my blog about my PTSD. However, I notice the blog posts they were reading was not about my PTSD experiences or struggles, they were reading the posts I had written about God’s grace and healing in the midst of our storms. they were reading my post on “God our refuge” “Our hope is found in Christ” “Caught in the storm” “The Psalms 91 Crisis.”

At this very moment, there are millions of people experiencing real despair and pain of living through the hurricanes over the last few weeks.  For some, they are just now beginning to experience the emotional and spiritual storms that inevitably result from living through a traumatic event. Over the next few days, weeks and months people will start to seek answers to their questions, and some will look to God for some kind of peace and deliverance from their storms.

IN THE MIDST OF THESE GREAT NATURAL DISASTERS GOD HAS NOT CEASED TO BE! atlantic-ocean-hurricane-irma-jose

My message for those who have experienced the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Katia over the last few weeks is that God has not forgotten you. He has not forsaken you nor has He cast you aside. God understands your anguish, pain, suffering, brokenness, and hopelessness. In the midst of these great natural disasters God has not ceased to be, He has not and will not turn His back upon you.

Continue reading “Finding God’s Peace in the Midst of Hurricanes”