Isn’t it true that addiction may look harmless?
Yet anything that enslaves you harms you. Thank God, He empowers you to overcome an addiction.
Hard work helps. Workaholism harms.
Eating good food — satisfying. Bingeing for comfort — sad.
Clothing your kids in cute outfits rocks. A shopping addiction hurts.
Driving her minivan to the mall, Karrie* told herself she’d buy only one outfit for her seven-year-old daughter. She had made this promise last week and broke it. “I can do it this time,” she pep-talked. Three hours and many shopping bags later, she collapsed on her couch and cried. “I can’t do anything right.” (*not her real name)
Her challenge? Overcoming an addiction by loving God most of all.
What’s an Addiction?
An addiction is a bondage of the heart and body to something that produces immediate pleasure or relief. This bondage becomes increasingly destructive over time. It rules the heart, promising the sensation of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
Addictions have an object, such as:
- Ingested substance like food, alcohol, or pills;
- Possessions like a home, car, and even shoes.
Indulging in addiction brings short-term pleasure. But in the long term, the soul and body experience pain and decay. Relationships suffer. Bank accounts shrink. And the lie of “just one more” deceives.
If you think Christians are immune to addiction, think again Click & Tweet! . When our craving conflicts with Scripture, we don’t always live according to what we say we believe. Karrie says “Jesus is Lord” at church on Sunday, and on Monday she itches to shop. Her husband says he loves his wife yet views pornography.
This disconnect is described in Scripture. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul says,
“We all know many things about God and his law, but we suppress those truths when they interfere with our wants and desires,” writes Ed Welch in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave.
“As a result, it is as if we practice two religions. We believe one thing, but really believe another. . .(that) we can make the laws we live by, not God.”
When you or I reject Christ’s rule, we become enslaved to something. We exchange the wonderful for the unholy because we want self-rule. The created thing enslaves us. We become cold to God.
How to Get Free
Most important to overcoming an addiction: Invite a stronger power to rule. Consider Jesus’ question,
Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? Matthew 12:29
Here are two more important ways to overcoming addiction:
1. Pray to be mastered by nothing but the Lord and pursue knowing Christ.
2. Confess your sin and repent, or turn away from addiction. You cannot go half-way. You need to totally eradicate it.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 1 Peter 1:3
Yet spiritual battles cannot be won alone. Addictions like to stay private. God invites people dealing with addictions of any sort to share their struggle with the church of Christ. The church is people who say Jesus is Savior and are growing in their love for God and one another.
Yes, the church is full of sinners. Yes, some churches have significant problems. But a Bible-believing group of believers will welcome the hurting and help them.
And some people struggling with addictions want the advantages of biblical counseling too.
If you’re interested in someone coming alongside you, listening to your story, and helping you find hope in Christ, please contact me or one of the vetted biblical counselors listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20.
Blessings of hope for your heart,
Who doesn’t have ugly thoughts, at least once in a while? Good news: You can replace ugly thoughts with truthful thoughts and renew your mind. Here’s a tool for you.
So today you learn how to:
1. Identify an ugly thought you believe that’s true about you or your circumstance.
2. Recognize the link between your thoughts and your feelings and replace your ugly thought with a new thought.
3. See change in your emotions and actions as you renew your thoughts. A helpful tool is my Transform Your Thoughts Journal. See it here. Click & Tweet!
What’s better, this process has helped hundreds of my counselees renew their thinking. It is based on scripture verses like Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Step 1: Identify
First, on notebook paper, set up your categories like this:
UGLY THOUGHT. . .EMOTIONS. . .ACTIONS
Then under “Ugly Thought” write your current or recurring negative, ungodly thought. Then jot down the resulting emotions under “Emotions.” Now, list your behaviors under “Actions.” Here’s an example.
UGLY THOUGHT: “I’m stupid”
EMOTION(s): Anger, depression, loneliness
ACTION(s): Yell at the kids, slam the door, eat a bag of chips
Step 2: Replace
Now write three new categories. Under “Truthful Thought” replace the ugly thought with a biblical truth or a scripture verse. Then write the likely resulting feelings under “New Emotion” and likely behaviors under “New Action.” On your notebook paper set up your categories like this:
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT. . .NEW EMOTIONS. . .NEW ACTIONS
Here’s a corresponding example.
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT: God says all his works are wonderful, so this means I’m an okay person and He’ll help me.
NEW EMOTION(s): Contentment, courage
NEW ACTION(s): Hug the kids, smile, complete the job application
Step 3: See Change
Lastly, chart the ugly thoughts you believe, your emotions, and your actions daily. As soon as you recognize an ugly thought, replace it with a truthful thought. Click & Tweet! And ask God in prayer to help you believe his truth. As you stick with it, you’ll begin to see a change in your emotions and actions as you replace ugly thoughts with the truth. Please be patient and persevere.
You didn’t develop poor thinking patterns overnight. In fact, they may have begun in childhood and are ingrained in your thinking. And so it’ll take weeks, sometimes months, as you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of your mind. Have hope. You CAN do it with God’s help.
Question: What is truthful thought you’d like to have in place of an ugly thought?
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
Don’t like journaling? No problem. Draw or doodle bits of your story. I’ll give you a prompt in a sec.
Did you know writing and drawing are healing? All you need is a pen or pencils and paper. Remember you’re writing only for yourself, your healing.
A couple decades ago, when I sought counseling for a childhood emotional wound, journaling gave me an outlet, a way to put my pain on paper, to write where I hurt. Through writing my real I discovered the lies I told myself — such as, “You’re defective” — and began replacing them with the truth: God values me. I used a journal method like this one.
Once I made three-dimensional art: first a drawing, then I singed the edges of the paper, and finally put it int a Ziplock baggie. Each step of this artsy journaling had meaning and helped me understand my anger and the thoughts fueling it.
Are you ready to try writing/drawimg to heal?
The writing/drawing prompt: What is your “God Chose Me” story? This chosen story describes your experience of saying, “Yes, God. I will serve your Son.”
He snagged me at the library. Where did God first meet you?
A life problem–it could be anything–may bump you hard, tempting you to doubt your own salvation. You may think, Am I really saved? By putting your chosen story on paper, you have a physical reminder that God is with you. You can review your story at any time, bubbling up joy in your heart.
1. Decide if you’ll write or draw your story. If writing, use lined paper or a journal. If drawing, use a plain paper without lines. The size is your choice.
2. Your chosen story has three main parts: before Jesus was your Savior, when Jesus became your Savior, after Jesus became your Savior. Just think: Before, When, After.
Pray and ask Jesus what He wants you to say in word or picture. Don’t worry if it’s good enough. Let him take over the process. And write where it hurts.
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
What if…your worst fear actually comes to pass? Then what? Listed in our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, biblical counselor Suzanne Holland gives real answers to scary questions and provides hope. Suzanne is a premier counselor. Her article appeared first here at BC4Women.org and is used with permission.
“What if it’s cancer? How will we deal with that? I don’t want to leave my husband and children alone!”
“Or what if my car breaks down? I barely have enough money to cover my expenses! How will I get to work?
“And what if the pain gets worse? How will I cope with it? How will I function?”
All of these are legitimate questions asked by believers who are struggling to deal with a circumstance or eventuality that they feel ill-equipped for. There are so many things that can happen in this fallen world we live in. Many of them are pretty frightening.
As I read in Daniel 3 about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I felt certain that they were frightened of that furnace. Who wouldn’t be? Nebuchadnezzar had erected a gold statue and commanded all people to bow to it. These three young men knew they could not do that.
I can imagine what their conversation was like, as it became clear that their allegiance to the One True God would stir up the wrath of this powerful king. Maybe, they asked one another,
- What if we can’t stand our ground?
- What if we lose our nerve?
- And if we do remain steadfast, how will we endure the furnace?
- Where will we get the courage to finish well?
I don’t know for sure if this conversation or one like it took place. However, I am pretty sure it would if it were me and my friends! I would be afraid and anxious about it for sure, at least in my own strength. But these three young men clearly were not counting on their own strength to see them through. They were depending on their God. When they appeared before the king, they spoke these words:
O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)
3 Crucial Convictions in Your “What If”
They express three important convictions in this passage. And we need to keep in mind as we face the “what ifs” of our lives.
1. Remember God Alone Has Ultimate Power
First, they express the fact that the king has no real power over them. In saying, “we don’t need to defend ourselves before you,” they are saying that he is not a threat. They know that the God they serve is far more powerful, and He will be their defender. They let the king know that they have complete confidence in God’s ability to save them out of that fire.
2. Know God Will Deliver You
Second, by fearlessly admitting the possibility that He may not save them in an earthly sense, they are letting the king know that they don’t fear death. Since they worship a God who is the master of eternity, they have a great hope of what lies on the other side of that furnace, should they perish there. In other words, they are telling him that, whether they live or whether they die, their God will deliver them from his hand.
3. God Alone Is Worthy of Worship
Finally, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego make it very clear to the king that nothing he does can ever make them worship any other god. No matter what he threatens, no matter how painful the consequence, they absolutely will not become idolaters.
Answers to Scary Questions
So, what’s the takeaway for us? How can we apply this passage to our what-ifs? Well, I would like to suggest that, instead of saying what-if-this or what-if-that, let’s change it up. Let’s replace “what if” with “even if.”
“Even if it’s cancer, I know that my God can rescue me from it. He can heal me of this cancer, but even if He doesn’t, He will deliver me. We will bring me to heaven, where there will be no more pain or suffering. I am trusting in Him. And I refuse to make restored health an idol. God has cared for my family all this time, and He will continue to do so, with or without me. I refuse to give in to worry.”
“Even if my car breaks down, I will not give into fear or panic. Jesus said that God cares so much for me that He has numbered every hair on my head. It is He who has provided for me up until now. Why should that change? I refuse to give in to fear.”
“Even if the pain gets worse, I will recognize that circumstances will always be changing, but my God never does. He is faithful no matter the severity of my pain or disability. Even if I can’t do the things I’ve always done, He will provide the help that I need. Or, He’ll remove the necessity of the task. I refuse to give in to panic about my pain.”
Think About ItWhat are the “what-ifs” of your life today, friend? Click & Tweet!
Are you fearful or worried about the future? Remember that fear can lead to idolatry if we do not take it captive. Bring those fears to the Lord, remembering His faithfulness and love. Then, proclaim to everyone you know the truth about your great God. Let them see that you will not bow down to the idols of worry and fear about earthly things.
As you go through the fiery trial, let them see Jesus going through it with you, just as King Nebuchadnezzar saw four men walking around in the fire when He had thrown in only three. That same confidence that led them through their fire will lead you through yours.
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Counseling Hope to Your Heart,