Choice 2: Getting Help


Series: Life's Healing Choices

Speaker: BJ Chursinoff

In last week’s message we learned that no matter how hard we try to keep everything under control, we are powerless to control our tendency to do wrong, and that makes our lives unmanageable.

In this week’s lesson we’ll talk about moving out of the role of playing God and into the role of receiving God’s power into our lives. We will also gain a vision of the hope and help God offers us.

Finally, we’ll get to hear from a member of Gospel City Church, Gem, as she shares a little bit of her story with us.

Transcription (automatically-generated):

Bob lived in a small valley town where it almost never rained. That is, until one day when it did, and it rained so hard for so many days that the entire valley town got submerged underwater. The flooding was so bad that a reporter was sent by boat into Bob's neighborhood. The reporter found Bob's wife Susie sitting on their roof watching large objects floating by. So he climbed up on the roof to interview her. As the reporter questioned Susie, he saw a barbecue float by and then a large golden retriever on top of its dog house go by. And then even an SUV was floating by. A few minutes later, he saw a hat float by. But after it floated about 20ft past the house, it started floating back upstream. When it got about 20ft on the other side of the house, it started floating back down again. The reporter watched the hat go by seven or eight times, and he finally asked Susie, do you have any idea how that hat is floating up and downstream? No, that's just my crazy husband Bob. He said he was going to mow the lawn today come hell or high water.

The problem is with many of us that we're still focusing on the lawns while our house is floating away. We have this crazy notion that we're in control. In our message last week, we learned that no matter how hard we try to keep everything under control, we are powerless to control our tendency to do wrong and that our lives are unmanageable. In this week's lesson, we begin moving out of the role of playing God and into the role of receiving God's power into our life. We'll also gain a vision of the hope and the help that God offers us. But first, we're going to take a look at two of God's blessings in disguise and one major roadblock that prevents us from moving forward down the path towards healing. The first of God's blessings in disguise is grief. Grief is a blessing, believe it or not, because grief is God's pathway to comfort. All of us have broken areas in our lives, things that bring us deep grief and pain. In fact, the things we carry around with us can be downright devastating. And when we carry a hurt for a long time, it's possible that we'll eventually find our identity in that hurt and become a victim.

Or we may try to escape our pain using drugs or alcohol. Or we may try to control all those around us with anger. The list goes on and on. As we work through the eight choices in this series, we will come face to face with truths about ourselves and our lives that we have tried to hide or hide from perhaps our whole lives. We begin to experience hurt and a sense of loss. This is the process of mourning. In the end, God meets us in our grief and he leads us to his comfort if we'll just trust Him. As the beatitude for this choice says, blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. So write this down. It's going to be the first film on your outline. We mourn our past mistakes as you do the work of the eight choices in this series, you may begin to grieve over your past and find yourself filled with regret. You might say or think things like I wish I hadn't made those dumb decisions. I wish I hadn't responded as I did. I wish I hadn't done what I did. I wish I wish, I wish and it starts to dawn on us that we've hurt people and we've been hurt by others.

Go ahead and fill this into on your outline. We mourn our loss of control. We mourn our loss of control, even though we were never really in control. We thought we were. Facing up to that fact brings a sense of loss. Now, to be clear, we don't mourn the fact that we lost the control that we thought we had. We don't mourn our loss of control the way we mourn our loss of a loved one when they pass away. When a loved one passes away. We're sad that they're taken from us. We wish we can see them again, either in this life or in the one to come. We miss them and we want them back in our life. That's not the way we mourn our loss of control. We don't want our control back. We mourn the fact that at one point we actually thought we were in control. And we mourn the damage we did by trying to control ourselves and others. We mourn the sinfulness of our actions towards God and others. That being in control led us to. Sin is what happens when we're in control or when we think we are.

That's what we're mourning. Mourning is what happens when we finally face the truth of choice. One admitting that we are powerless to control our tendency to do wrong and that our lives are unmanageable. So go ahead and write this down on your outline as well. We discover God's pathway to comfort. We discover his pathway to comfort as long as we don't get stuck in the morning process. Morning can serve as a pathway to comfort and to the help and hope that God has ready for us. The same promise that God gave his people of old, he gives us today. God promises in Isaiah 61 three to provide for those who mourn in Zion, to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees planted by the Lord to glorify Him. Mourning leads us to the comfort we so desperately need. That's why grief is a blessing in disguise. And so we're experiencing some grief over the sin in our life and that grief has us on the pathway to receiving comfort, but on the path to healing wholeness and blessing, we often encounter a roadblock that will hinder our forward progress.

It will actually stop us dead in our tracks if we don't address it. This isn't the roadblock that's put up by God or by the enemy. We're the ones who put this particular roadblock up. I'm going to give you a hint to what this roadblock to recovery is. Here's the hint. It's not just a river in Egypt. Denial. Denial. Denial is a roadblock to receiving God's power to help. The denial roadblock is frustrating because it's like an invisible barrier on our road to healing. Like if you're driving down the highway and then all of a sudden your car hits something that brings you to a screeching halt, you can't see it. It's an invisible wall. You can try punching the gas, but your tires just spin and you won't go anywhere until you can see what's impeding you. You can't deal with it and get back on the road towards your destination. Until you see your denial for what it is, you will not be able to move any further towards your destination, to healing for your hurts, hangups, and habits. Let's take the invisible cloak off of denial so that we can see it for what it is and so that we can continue on the road to recovery.

Now, I've borrowed the information I'm about to share with you from a recovery resource called Freedom Session, created by a man named Ken Dick. It's a recovery resource that's been used in quite a few churches in the Tri Cities and around the world, and I'm pretty sure that some of you have participated in the program before. Ken does an incredible job of addressing the topic of denial, and I want to share some of his insights with you here. We're going to look at eight typical forms of denial. Eight ways that denial can show up in your life. And most of us have a primary form of denial and a secondary or a backup form of denial. And the common factor in all denial forms is this is justification. Here's a caution. As we look at the various forms of denial, it's very important that you look at and ask God to identify in your heart the ones that show up in your life, not the ones that show up in the life of your spouse or your kids or your parents or your friends or your pastors. You just take care of yourself. I'll worry about the ones in my life.

We'll all worry about the ones in our own lives. So eight typical forms of denial. Here's number one. Your next feeling on your outline. It's just simple denial, and this is pretending my problem. Or painful memories don't exist. And that tends to show up in different ways. The first way is a refusal to believe the truth. It's very difficult to admit having a problem that we don't have control over or know how to fix. So a lot of us just simply don't believe the truth. Francis Bacon was an English philosopher in the late 1005 hundreds, early 16 hundreds. And he is credited with the following quote it's so good. People prefer to believe what they prefer to be true. That quote has aged really well. Sometimes we're not only unwilling to believe the truth about ourselves, sometimes we're unwilling to believe the truth about someone else, someone we want to be loved by or esteemed by. We don't want to admit that we're wrong about someone. It's difficult to admit that we've been betrayed. It's difficult to admit that I didn't realize this person didn't really care about me. And so it's easier to convince myself that it might not be true.

Simple denial could also be a refusal to admit the truth, even though we know what the truth is in a situation like that, we are living a lie and we know it. We have little self respect, and we carry a heavy burden of shame, and it's a very painful and lonely way to live. But it's a better way to live, we would say, than having people find out the truth about us and know what's really in our hearts and what's really going on in our lives. And we also think it's less painful than having to experience the consequence of our actions, decisions and behaviors. This would describe people who engage in secret behaviors, addictions, or habits they're ashamed of. Now, here's a question. If we showed a video of your life up on the screen of this past week, would there be any scenes that you feel shame in? You know what the problem is? You actually already feel the shame. It's just suppressed. The shame is already there. It's not exposed. And you think by stuffing it, you won't feel it or it won't affect you, but it actually does affect you. It might not affect the rest of us because we don't know.

It would also identify people who carry deep secrets in their hearts from the past. Typically people who have been abused or people who have terminated a pregnancy. Carrying suppressed pain is dangerous because the painful emotions are actually not gone. They're just suppressed deep in our hearts, and they will eventually erupt. Which is exactly why some of you, when something happens in your life today, you react way over emotionally than what was called for, because all those emotions are there just some type of event that causes you to feel similar and you respond out of years of pain and things that you have stuffed. This area would also describe people who carry the family secret. Now, a family secret is that something that everybody in the family knows about but no one talks about? It's a family rule. It might be an affair, it might be a drinking problem. It might be Mom's gossip. It might be Dad's porn addiction. It might be a suicide years gone by. It might be anger issues. It could be a wedding date moved up. Almost every family with incest or sexual abuse has a family secret. Is yours? What would it be?

So all of that is under simple denial. Number one. Here's the second form of denial. Write this down. It's minimizing. Minimizing. Minimizing is acknowledging a problem behavior or hurt, but refusing to see or admit how deeply it impacts me and those around me. We attempt to convince ourselves and others that what we're doing is no big deal, often via comparison. You think I'm hard to live with? You could have done a lot worse, you know. I was just a few beers with the guys. It's not like it's cocaine or something like that. It was just a movie rental. I mean, there's worse on TV. It's not like I went to a stripper bar or anything like that. This also shows up and we offer excuses for people who hurt us. He didn't really assault me. Maybe I led him on or my mom did the best she could given the home she grew up in. Well, maybe your mom did do the best she could, but how did that help you when you were nine years old and all your girlfriends were having birthday parties? But your mom was so self absorbed in her issues that she didn't even plan one for you?

How did that help you when you were nine years old, that she did the best she could? It didn't. And there are wounds there and you're minimizing that because you love your mom. And I get it. But it's minimization. And this isn't about dishonouring our parents. It's about facing the pain in our hearts that Satan uses to control our lives today. And we minimize the extent to which our past wounds affect our relationships today. That was years ago. I've dealt with it. It has nothing to do with what's going on in my life today. Really? If that's you, if you said I've dealt with the stuff in my past, how exactly did you deal with it? What does the dealing with it mean? Because for most people, I tried to forget it and move on. Number three, form of denial I want to write this down. Is rationalizing. Rationalizing. This is giving reasons or making excuses to justify my unhealthy behavior or my attitude. I'm not going to deny the behavior, I'm just going to defend it. I couldn't sleep last night. I needed something to relax the tension. Or Nobody cares about me, nobody understands me, therefore this is acceptable.

Or I'm not trying to control her, it's for her own good. She'll thank me someday. Or My wife's been sick a lot lately. What am I supposed to do? Become a monk? Or for the sexually active young adult, christian young adults, you'll often hear them say it's okay because we love each other. We're having sex, but we love each other. And besides, we're married in God's eyes anyway. Really? In God's eyes? Could we challenge that a little bit? It's a way of explaining, in a way is rationalization. Number four. Write this down. Fourth form of denial would be blaming. I've already warmed you up, so you're probably ready for another top notch dad joke. But just prepare yourselves. How do you spell the word blame? Be lame. I warned you. When we blame others for something we did, we are being lame. Blaming is where you recognize a problem or a hurtful memory, but you maintain that the responsibility for your current pain lies with someone else and certainly not with you. We love to blame other people. It's like a national pastime. Addressing this denial method is tricky because sometimes it's true. At one point, the pain in your life was the responsibility of someone else.

But that's not true today. That other person might not even be alive today, and they're certainly not worried or thinking about you today. Today is actually your interpretation of past events. It's your interpretation or the lies you believed as a result of those events and an unwillingness to deal with them. That's what's destroying your life. Some of us blame God. Some of us blame ourselves. But most of us prefer to assign blame to someone else around us as the primary cause for our unhappiness today. Here's number five. And for the religious among us, those who've been in the church for years and yet find an annoying hole in their hearts, this denial form might describe you. It's spiritualizing. Spiritualizing. It's using Scripture as an excuse to bury my past hurts rather than deal with them. At some point, you've likely heard in the church, if you've hung around the church for a while, you've likely heard someone quote the Apostle Paul and declare from Philippians, chapter three, verse 13 but the one thing I do forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, forgetting what lies behind. And there's some very good, well meaning, longtime church people who actually use this verse to discourage others from dealing with their problems.

And they use it as an excuse not to deal with their own problems either. They mean well, trying to put the past in the past and not dwell on it. And that's all great, except they forget one very important truth. The apostle Paul was not in denial. The Apostle Paul had dealt with his failures. He had dealt with his sins, he had dealt with his shame. He had dealt with all of that. In fact, in one Corinthians, chapter 15, verse nine, he writes, for I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God. And later on in his life, he described himself as the very least of all Christians. And at the end of his life, he described himself as the worst of all sinners. Paul had come to terms with his role in the torture and killing of innocent people. And get this yet the apostle Paul felt absolutely no shame because he also wrote in Romans, chapter eight, verse one, therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Can you say that? Can you say that you've processed all the pain, all your mistakes, all your sins, and you've processed them and faced them and yet you feel absolutely no shame?

Because if you stick with us, you'll be able to. And that is an amazing place to be. Number six, the 6th form of denial, write this down on your outline is diversion. Diversion. And this is a big one, which basically involves diverting the attention and focus off my problems, issues or behaviors and onto you, someone or something else. Humor based diversion is the easiest to identify. For example, when someone's confronted with an issue that they don't want to talk about, they make a joke instead of actually dealing with the problem, changing the subject. Diversion is a little bit trickier, a little more common. It's got a number of forms. Someone might say in a relationship, your anger bothers me. And the other person says, well, your weight bothers me. Wait a minute, does that mean that I shouldn't be bothered by your anger? It doesn't even make sense. It's a diversion tactic. Or now you know how I feel when or you do the exact same thing. Let's just park on that one for a minute because it's so common. Let's suppose after a home group one night, someone in my group comes up and shares with me BJ.

When you're facilitating the group, you spit when you talk and I say, well, you do the same thing. Does that make the people in my living room any drier? Of course not. It's totally immature way of getting the tension off me and, and back onto you or someone else so that I don't have to deal with it. Rather than think through that. Maybe what you're saying is actually true. It's also destructive because I've successfully avoided dealing with something that I need to probably deal with. Then there's the attention diversion. This is all under number six. Attention diversion is whenever you begin to begin to feel unpleasant emotions, you make yourself busy, very busy, if you need to be. It might be work, it might be a hobby, it might be taking care of others, or it might be a new focus, it might be a wardrobe, a vacation, or even a new romantic relationship. Anything to avoid feeling the pain. Then we've got the if only diversion, one of our favorites. And this is a very ineffective way. It's actually a fantasy diversion, where you live life looking through a rear view mirror, looking back at your life.

If only we hadn't been poor. If only we dad hadn't walked out on our family. You're always looking in the past. If only there hadn't been the divorce. If only I'd gone to college after high school. If only I hadn't gone to that party. If only I hadn't been raped. Even if onlys of the past is a subtle form of simply blaming. And there's the if onlys of the future too. It's like living life looking through binoculars, looking at what could be, what might be. If only I was married, I wouldn't have to watch porn. If only I was single. It's interesting how married people say if only I was single, and single people say, if only I was married. If only I was more attractive, if only I was more talented. If only I had more money, if only I had a better job, if only I was out of debt. And one of the worst parts of living, the if onlys of the past or the if onlys of the future is that if you you ignore the present. And the present is the only place you can make any changes that are going to make a difference in your future.

Write this down. Number seven is the victimization. Victimization 7th form of denial. This can also be referred to as passivity, and that feeling is justified in my attitudes or behavior because my life has been so difficult. People owe me. Really? Why do people owe you? If you have had a difficult life, it's because you feel like they do. This shows up in settling. A lot of people will say, this life is as good as it gets. That's it. And we settle. My life's been tougher than yours. My problems are bigger than yours. Embracing that belief, justifies giving up. Or we prefer to become a victim of our behaviors. And we embrace the disease theory because we've been told that a lot of our conditions and dysfunctional behaviors are really classified as diseases. I can't quit this. I've tried before. It's bigger than me. I can't stop. I've got no control over this. And it's not my fault. It's the disease. Last one. Number eight. Write this down. Our last form of denial is hostility. And this would include physical or verbal hostility. Using anger, violence, or threats to punish, manipulate or intimidate to silence anyone who confronts my behavior, woundedness or dysfunction.

This would include bullying, and this also includes domestic violence. Sometimes the one who gets away with this denial form wants other people to know that they've got a short fuse and that they shouldn't be crossed is actually a form of manipulation. Or get in your own way. Perpetual anger or hostility is a chosen immature and selfish behavior one uses to get what they want. And if you got a short fuse, just admitting you have an anger problem does not justify you treating people the way that you do. How long are you going to let yourself get away with that. So those are the eight ways denial can manifest itself in a person's life. My hope is that you see yourself in two or more of the forms of denial and see clearly enough that you can recognize when you're falling into them. This week because I'm pretty sure that you want to get well, and I'm pretty sure you don't want to be hurting people in your life. But even after we've had denial explained to us, we can still have trouble come into terms with it. We don't usually step out of our denial easily.

Good thing God has a plan to help us. And it usually involves his second blessing in disguise. Just as grief is God's pathway to comfort, pain is God's antidote for denial. In reality, denial is a kind of sickness, and it needs a powerful antidote. As strange as it may sound, pain is that very antidote. C s. Lewis helps us understand. Here's a great quote from him. He says, and it's on your outline, but he says, God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Pain is God's way of letting us know something is seriously wrong and needs our attention. If your appendix burst and you felt no pain, you wouldn't know that your body needed help. The toxins from your appendix would infect your abdominal cavity, and it could eventually kill you. Pain alerts us to our need for help. Pain is also God's fire alarm. If a fire alarm went off in your house, I don't think you'd say, there goes that stupid fire alarm again. Can someone please just throw a shoe at it and make it stop?

Hopefully, you wouldn't do that. Hopefully you'd do something about it. You'd call the fire department, you'd get out of the house, and you'd get some help. But when our pain alarm goes off, instead of dealing with the source of our pain, we often try to cover up the sound. We try to mute the noise with people, or work, or food, alcohol, sex, and many, many different things. If you ignore the alarm, your house could burn down. An important point needs to be made here. Just because God allows pain to enter your life, it does not mean that he enjoys seeing you in pain. He doesn't. Pain is often a consequence of our poor choices or the poor choices of others. God allows the natural consequences of these poor choices to play out. God loves us and wants to lead us out of our pain and into his healing. The miracle is that he brings good out of our pain by using it to lead us away from our denial and to his comfort instead. With that said, take a look at yourself how's your pain level is god using any pain in your life to get your attention?

To deny your pain is to refuse God's power to help you recover. You will never find healing from your hurts, your hang ups or your habits until you confront your pain. Unless you live the perfect life, it's a sure thing that you have struggled with some kind of issue. But how bad does the hurt relationship, pain or memory have to get before you are ready to face your denial and admit that you can't handle it by yourself? Remember, if you could have handled the problem on your own, it wouldn't still be a problem. If you could handle it, you would have. But you can't, so you don't. Instead of denying your pain, allow it to motivate you to get help to start making healing choices, to face the issue you've been ignoring for 1020, maybe even 30 years. So the various forms of denial we put up are roadblocks to our recovery. But praise God. He loves us so much that he doesn't let those roadblocks stop us from experiencing the blessing that he wants to give us. He does things to dismantle those roadblocks because God loves us. He puts denial busters in our life.

We rarely change when life is cool and comfortable. We change when we feel the heat. We start to change after our marriage falls apart or after our kids go off in the wrong direction. One man said, the acid of my pain finally ate through the wall of my denial. Unfortunately, we don't usually change until our fear of change is exceeded by our pain. Most people never choose to move towards healing until there is no other option. So God uses three denial busters to get our attention, to force us to move into recovery and away from the choices and circumstances that have messed up our lives. Denial buster number one is crisis. And God uses the pain of an unexpected crisis to shatter our denial. Illness caused by years of substance abuse, stress brought on by workaholism, job loss due to inappropriate actions, or a divorce due to infidelity. Denial buster number two is confrontation. God can also use the people in our lives who care for us. People who care enough to say, you're blowing it. He uses people who love us enough to confront us in truth and say you're about to lose your health, you're about to lose your job, you're about to lose your family.

There's an old saying in Texas if one person calls you a horse's rear, ignore it. If two people call you a horse's rear, look in the mirror. If three people call you a horse's rear, go buy a saddle. If three people say that you need to get some help with a hurt, a hangup or a habit, get some help. Denial blesser number three. It's catastrophe when the bottom falls out physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, relationally, god sometimes just steps back and lets us feel the full impact of our poor choices. You want to be God? OK, have. It your way. When that happens, do not ignore your pain. Recognize it as God's denial buster and open yourself up to the hope and the power that he offers you. Choice one says, I admit it. I'm helpless. I'm powerless. Choice two says, there's a power greater than me, and there's hope. There's a power I can plug into that will help me handle things I can't handle on my own. And that's good news. Choice two is all about getting help, and this is on your outline. But the choice is that we choose to earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that he has the power to help me recover.

As we'll see in the remainder of this message, choice two is made up of three magnificent truths about God. And as we begin to understand each of these truths, we'll see that each one leads us to making a choice on our part. A choice to believe and a choice to receive. Unless we make this choice, God's power cannot become real in our lives. So here's truth number one. You can write this down on your outline. God exists. God exists. And the Bible makes it clear that belief in God is essential. It says in the Book of Hebrews in chapter eleven, verses six. Now, without faith, it's impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek Him. Most people acknowledge that God exists, or at least some version of Him exists. Why? Because it actually takes more faith not to believe in a creator than it does to believe in one. In his 18 two book, Natural Theology, william Paley shared what is now a well known analogy about a watchmaker that helps make sense of the relationship between a creation and its Creator.

He describes a person walking through a forest when they stumble upon a watch line on the path. Where did this watch come from? How did it get here? Was it some kind of cosmic accident? A byproduct of random chance? Did all the individual parts of the watch fall from the sky and assemble themselves together on their own in a perfect order so as to become a fully functioning watch without the help of any outside interference or guidance? Think about the individual parts that make up a watch the little screws and the coils and the springs and the metal and the glass. What is the statistical probability that they would be able to randomly and accidentally line themselves up in a perfect relationship to one another in order to become this watch? And who made the individual parts? Or did they come into existence on their own too? Or was the watch the product of a designer and someone just happened to drop it there? Someone had organized it, planned it, and put it all together as an engineer would. In other words, the watch had a designer. And that makes a lot more sense, doesn't it?

And the world that we live in is so much more complex than a watch. Consider all of the ecosystems and the animal kingdom, human DNA, the stars and the planets and all the physical laws that govern this universe. People look at something as simple as a watch and come to the conclusion immediately. Of course someone designed the watch. What? Am I dumb? But those same people would look at the complexity of our universe, which is infinitely more detailed, planned, designed and ordered, and they come to the conclusion it's all one big accidental byproduct of random chance that came from nothing and was designed by no one. Do you see the inconsistency between those two conclusions? Here's the flow of logic. Where there's an effect, there must be a cause. Where there is a design, there must be a designer. And where there is creation, there must be a creator. Romans, chapter one, Verse 20 says, for his God's invisible attributes that is, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen since the creation of the world. Truth number two. Write this down you matter to him. You matter to him. Since most people believe that God exists, the real issue becomes, what kind of God is he?

Do I really matter to him? The reason a lot of us don't know we matter to God is that we don't really know what God is like. And sometimes when we don't have adequate information, we just make up our own. We say things like, God as I understand him, or My idea about God is and you just fill in the blank. But just because we have a certain idea about God, it doesn't mean it's right. Our personal conception of God is not what matters. What matters is the truth of who he is. And sometimes we just don't have the correct information. Our misconceptions about God confuse our picture of Him. Unfortunately, a lot of people think God is like one of their parents. And people who have had abusive fathers tend to think that God the father is abusive. Those whose mothers were distant and unloving tend to think God is distant and unloving. Those who had reason to fear their parents tend to be afraid of God. Until we begin to understand God's true character, we can't completely trust Him. It's hard to trust something or someone would we do not know about or understand.

Fortunately, we have a God who cares about us. You matter to him. Understanding the following truths about God's character gives you hope when you're in pain. Because God knows about your situation. That's the truth about him. He knows. He knows your hurts, your hangups and your habits. He knows the good and the bad. When we've had a tough week or month or life, we may think that no one really cares. We may think nobody knows the pain I'm going through in this marriage. We're wrong. God knows. Or maybe we think nobody knows how hard I'm struggling to break this habit. But God knows. Or perhaps we think nobody knows the depression and fear I'm going through. God knows. He knows it all and he cares, and nothing escapes his notice. King David had plenty of sorrow in his life, and he said of God, psalm 31 seven you have seen my affliction, you know the troubles of my soul. God sees the crisis you may be going through right now. And Jesus said in Matthew six, verse eight, your heavenly Father knows the things that you need before you ask Him. And the Psalmist said of God in Psalm chapter 34, verse 18, the Lord is near the broken hearted.

He saves those crushed in spirit. God is with you in your pain, and he is able to help you overcome your hurts, your hangups, and your habits. Nothing is beyond his love. Nothing is beyond his compassionate gaze. He is with you, and he is aware of everything you've gone through and will go through. Job said of God in chapter 13, verse 27 you stand watch over all my paths, god's watching over you. Nothing escapes his eye. Sometimes we wish God didn't have to see all of the poor choices that we make. The fact is, nothing is off the record with God. Psalm 60 in verse is god, you know my foolishness and my guilty acts are not hidden from you. God's not shocked by your sin. Believe it or not, he knew it was coming long before you did. He knows why you did it, even when you don't. He knows your good days and your bad days. He knows your foolish decisions and all your secrets, and amazingly, still loves you. God cares about your situation too. Not only does God know about your situation, he cares all about it and you. Psalm 103, verses 13 to 14 says, as a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

For he knows that what we are made of, remembering that we are dust, god made us so he knows what we're made of. He knows that we're frail creatures, and God wants to be the Father that many of you never had. He is tender and sympathetic toward you. He says in Jeremiah, chapter 31, verse three, I have loved you with an everlasting love. He cares about us when we serve Him and when we don't, when we're right and when we're wrong. But how can God love and care about us when our lives are so messed up? He can, because his love is not like the kind of love that we have for people. Praise God, it isn't. God's love is so much better than our love. God's love for us is completely unconditional. It's not based on our performance. We don't have to measure up to earn his love. He gives his love to us freely as a gift. God's love is not based on our character, is based upon his character. In the Book of First John, chapter four, he says God is love. Love is his nature. He can't do anything, but love is who he is.

The Bible teaches us about God's love by comparing it to our love. In Romans chapter five, verses six to eight, the Apostle Paul says this for while we were still helpless at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person, though for a good person, perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proved his own love for us in that while we were still sinned, Christ died for us. This passage from the Apostle Paul tells us that you might demonstrate sacrificial love for a person of high standing in your life. Someone that you value. You might love someone so much that you would die for them. You might do this for your child, or your spouse, or one of your closest friends, or a family member. You might love one of those kinds of people with a sacrificial love. But would you give up your life for one of your enemies? Would you trade your life for an addict, a prostitute, a criminal? Or someone living on the street? Would you die for a scoundrel, a snitch, or a backstabber? Would you die for someone with a broken, jacked up human sinful nature who didn't love you back?

Would you die for a person like that? Would you die for a person like you? Let's be honest, you wouldn't, and neither would I. But do you know who would? Do you know who did it's? Jesus. When Jesus demonstrated his love for you by dying on the cross for you, he wasn't dying for a good person. Good people don't need a savior to die for them. Good people are okay. Good people don't exist. We learnt last week that every single human being has a sinful nature in them. Our wonky internal compass points us away from God. We are the ball rolling down the mountain, away from God at the top. We naturally reject him. We naturally don't want him. We naturally turn away from his word, his truth, his instruction, his commands. We naturally run to other things of this world for meaning, comfort and purpose. We naturally treat God like trash. And we value the trash in our world like it's God in our human broken nature. To do that. We are naturally enemies of God. So the question again comes up so why would God love us? Because it's in his perfect nature to do so.

Because God is love. God loves sinners unconditionally. He loves us even though we were unlovely when he found us. He demonstrated that love by sending His Son to come and die for us when there was nothing good in us. He did that because he loves you, and there is no greater love than that. So does God care about the situation you are in? Yes. But he cares about so much more than that. He cares about you. He loves you with the kind of love that is not of this world. Truth number three. Write this down god has the power to change you and your situation. This is great news because we can love someone and want to help them with the problem that they're facing. But our finite power is not enough to help them with the problem that they are in. Just because we love someone doesn't mean that we have the power to help them. But this isn't true of God. God loves us, and he actually has the power to help us. His power is infinite. Sometimes God changes you, sometimes God changes your situation, and sometimes God changes both. He's got the power to do that because the magnitude of his power is so hard to comprehend.

The Apostle Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus to be given understanding of this love. In Ephesians, chapter one, verses 18 to 20, he says this he prays I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of his calling? What is the wealth? Of his glorious inheritance in the saints? And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe according to the mighty working of his strength? He exercised this power in Christ by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at his right hand in the heavens. Let me ask you, if God can raise Jesus Christ from the dead, don't you think he has the power to raise a dead relationship in your life? If God can raise Jesus Christ from the dead, don't you think he has the power to set you free from any addiction? If God can raise Jesus Christ from the dead, don't you think he has the power to take away all of your guilt and shame? If God can raise Jesus Christ from the dead, don't you think he has the power to help you close the door on the past so those memories stop haunting you?

God has the power to change us and our situation. The Bible goes on to say that nothing is too hard for God. Luke, chapter 18, verse 27 says, what is impossible with man is possible with God. The situation you are in right now may seem hopeless, but it's not. In fact, I personally know of many people who are impossible situations. I'm one of them. They could not change these situations on their own power, and they never thought in a thousand years that they or their circumstances could ever change. But they did. At the end of this message, I'm going to invite Jim to come up and join me up front, and you'll get to hear her share some of her story with you. A story that shows how God's power helped her change as she walked through some of the stuff that we're learning here in this message. Tonight, through the second choice, you're going to be blessed by what she shares. That's going to be in just a few short minutes. But for now, we're going to look at what you can do to make God's power a reality in your life. Because that's the key.

You don't need more of your own power in your life. Remember, we admitted last week that we're actually powerless to change. We don't need our power. We need to get plugged into God's power. His power is where your help and your healing are found. There's a verse in the Bible that talks about God's triple power surge. Two Timothy, chapter one, verse seven says, for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. Power, love, and sound judgment, or some translations use the word self control. This is God's triple power surge. The very three things that we need in order to be healthy, happy, and a whole, because we need power to break the habits we can't break on our own. We need power to do what we know is right, but we can't seem to do by ourselves. We need power to break free from the past and let those memories go. We need power to get on with the kind of life God wants us to live. But we have found that we cannot change on our own power. We need a power much, much greater than ourselves.

We need to plug into God's power, and we need real love. We need to be able to love people and have them love us back. We need to let go of the fear of getting hurt by the ones that we love. We want the ability to establish deep, meaningful, authentic relationships rather than superficial, hurtful, selfish relationships. We need the kind of love that God demonstrated when he sent his son to die for us. We need that love in our life, in us, and working through us to the people in our lives. And we also need self control. But we can't have self control until Christ is in control of us. When Christ is in control, we understand, perhaps for the very first time, what it means to get it all together. When we're not trying to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we'll find that Christ will stand us on our feet. You can have access to God's triple power surge if you will just get connected and stay connected to that power source. So how do you get plugged into God's power? Simple. Believe. And then get ready to receive it. First, believe the three truths that we shared about God earlier.

Number one, believe that God exists. Believe that you matter to Him. And three, believe that he has the power to help you. And then get ready to receive him into your life. We're going to spend time next week looking at what's involved in receiving God into our life. But for now, we're going to move one step closer toward the willingness to make that decision. You do that by using a simple yet powerful four letter word help. It takes courage to say this word, but it's your connection to power. Help. God, I need your help. I need your power. I need your presence in my life. Receiving God's help can be frightening because we know that it means change. I don't know if I want help to change. You might say I'm scared to death of change. Well, you might not want to change until your pain exceeds your fear of change. But when you're ready to receive God's power, all you have to say is, god, make me willing to change. Then he will give you the will and the power to plug into him. Philippians 213 says, for it is God who is working in you both the will and to work according to his good purpose.

And when you do call for help, God will respond. He promises to Isaiah 43, verse two. When you pass through the waters, I'll be with you, and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you. Where are you hurting today? Are you going through some deep waters? Do you feel like you're going under for the last time? Are you going through the fire? Is the heat on in your life? Do you feel like you're stuck in a rut and just can't find the power to change? Do you feel powerless? God's power is available to you as just a choice away. All you have to do is believe and get ready to receive Him. With that said, it's time for me to invite my friend Gem to come up and join me. And we're going to chat a little bit and you're going to get to hear a little bit of Jim's story. Thanks for doing this, Gem. Awesome to have you up here.


You're welcome.


So I want to ask a few questions, Gem. Here is the first one. Is there an example that you'd be willing to share of how God used pain as his megaphone to alert you to your need for help? How did God use crisis, confrontation or catastrophe to try to get your attention?


I had a hard time deciding on this one. Every list of things BJ spoke of today in family, pain and consequences, I think I've lived them all. But the one I thought that what I'd speak of today was about 13 years ago. I guess I was a Christian. I was saved. I was not surrendered to Jesus. I wasn't in the word. I was doing my own thing. And I had lots of unrepentant sin still in my life. But I went through a season where God stripped me of everything. All my identity, all my coping mechanisms, he took them all. I first, my son got into drug use and drug selling, and our relationship ended at that point. Then I developed fibromyalgia, which came with, yes, a lot of physical pain, but also depression, anxiety, fatigue, and probably the worst for me was brain fog and loss of intellect, loss of ability to communicate verbally. And that led to me losing my job, which I loved. I was a Starbucks manager, loved my job, I was good at it. I was high achieving with everything in life. I was perfectionist. Yeah. So I felt like my entire identity was gone.

I then turned into dog rescue. I founded my own Dog rescue, which eventually was also stripped for me when my board of directors secretly met and decided to oust me for my own rescue due to my religiosity that I had put into the website. So that was gone. Next, I woke up and my husband of eleven years had left in the middle of the night, packed his clothes and flew back to the United States, never to be seen again. He left me with all in my name, tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt. My credit rating was destroyed and I lost that income. My daughter and I were living on $800 a month, couldn't keep our home, which meant we had to rehome my beloved dogs and move out of town to a dumpy little basement suite. So my identity of high achieving, living the good life was gone. I was now broke and poor and living a rough life. At that point, my bulimia that I'd coped with with life for a long time went crazy. My depression went off the charts. Definitely suicidal. Yeah. So there I was.


Wow. In what ways did you try to ignore or deny your need to call out to God for his help? What kind of effects did denial have in your life?


I tried everything. Drugs, alcohol, sex, everything. Food addiction, of course. But I was going to church thinking I was doing fine. I went to my church every day. I was in every activity, every volunteer job there was, I did it. But I wasn't listening to God. I wasn't in the Word, I wasn't praying, I wasn't hearing his voice. I was just in for the community and the free WiFi and the free heat, free coffee, free cookies.


What was the moment you recognized you needed God's help and you called out to Him? What led you to make that choice?


Funny enough, it was an automobile. Yeah. Once Tasha and I had moved to this little basement suite out of town, my van broke, and that was $2,000. Bill ended up selling that for scrap metal and grocery money. That was the last straw. My friend loaned me money to buy another car and it broke. And that's another story. But at that point, I was flat on my face on the floor, bawling, crying out to God how I think maybe Job prayed, just wailing like, God, how much more? I can't take it anymore. I can't do this anymore. You got to help me, because I'm done. I'm lost.


What did you come to learn about the character of God through calling out to Him for help. How did calling out to the Lord for help impact your relationship with Him?


Well, that was the story about this vehicle. My friend had offered me use of her car for a month when my van broke. So that was great. And then another friend came up and said, I'm going to lend you $500 to buy a little beater car, and then you can get yourself to and from. So that was wonderful. So I bought a little old Volvo and started thinking, okay, I'm starting life again. Here we go. And then on Friday, my secretary friend had sent me. She called me and said, do you need a car still? And I said, no, I'm all good. I fixed another problem. I got a car. And she said, Jim, are you sure you don't need a car? And I thought, well, that's really weird. Like, no, I've got a car. Thanks. Whatever I'll see on Sunday. Because we were going to meet up that Sunday for church, and then I think it was, I don't know, some concert, whatever. So I get up Sunday, go to go to church, start my new little Volvo, and bang, gone. That car is dead, too. So that's when I lost it. That was it.

What more can happen? So I laid on the floor and cried, prayed and cried some more, and prayed tomorrow for hours. And like I said, God, you got to fix this. I'm done. I can't do it. So after that, I got myself together, and I called my friend and said, can I still borrow that car? I need a car. And she said, Gem, sit down. So I sat down, and she goes, on Friday, an anonymous couple walked into the church and said, we have a financial gift for a single mom in the church who needs a car. And they met with the elders, and the elders all said, That's Jim. So she called me and said, Jim, do you need a car? And I said no. They told the couple, nobody. She doesn't need the car. So they looked for someone else to give the car to, and there was no one. So they were going to meet on Monday morning to reallocate this gift, and my car blew up. So when I called them, they realized, okay, she can have the car, which would have been given away on Monday. So I was given $5,000 from people I'd never met in order to buy a car, and it ended up with $900 in the church account for any future problems that car would have made.

So I found a beautiful little cute car, called it my God car. And it enabled me to be able to drive back and forth into town to find a job and to actually restart my life. But more importantly, it gave me a story. I've told that story many times of how God saw me in my deepest need and blessed me. It was such an amazing thing. And I later found out that this couple, they hadn't been wealthy, it wasn't extra money they had sitting around, they've been saving for years for their first holiday. And God told them, no, this money is for this specific reason. Give it up.


Wow, that's awesome.


Yeah, that's awesome.


Last question for you her, Gem. What kind of encouragement would you give to someone who's stealing the weight of crisis, confrontation or catastrophe and is trying to find a solution or relief without calling out to God for his direction and help? What would he say to them?


Oh gosh, don't do it. Don't even try. I wasted so much time when God was whispering lovingly to me and I ignored it when he was tapping me on the shoulder lightly and he ignored it. I waited to be smacked over and over again with his two by four because he didn't want to leave me in the life I was in and just turn get into the word abide in Him. Ask him for help. He has such good gifts waiting for us if we'll only just ask.




Don't be stubborn, don't control things, just turn it over to Him.


Gem, thank you for doing this. So awesome. Laying down your denial and trusting that God will give you the power may be a daily exercise for some time, but God's power is real and it's amazing. And day by day as we plug into that power, we're going to learn to trust Him more and more and what that looks like. Our job is to cry out for help and know that he will keep his promise to hear our cries and to help us. So I want to invite you to pray with me. And as I pray if these words resonate with you, where you're at right now, then go ahead and pray these words in your heart with you, with with me. Make these words your own words. And as I do the worship team, you can get up and get ready to lead us in worship. Dear God, please help me not to ignore this pain you are using to this pain that you're using to alert me to my need for help. In the past, Lord, I've ignored the denial busters that You've allowed in my life. I've actually refused your help. I'm sorry for this.

And I ask your help in facing the truth and trusting you to care for me, you know, and care about all the pain and hurt I have in. My life and today I need your help. I can't do it on my own. I've tried and I keep coming up empty. First, I pray for Your power in my life. I need your power to break habits I can't break. I need your power to help me do the things that I know are right but I can't seem to do on my own. I need your power to break free from my past. I ask for your power to get on with the plans that you have for my life. Next, I pray for love. I want real love, God. I want to be able to love people and have them love me. I pray that with Your love I can let go of paths, hurts and failure so that I can tear down the walls of fake intimacy. God, I ask you to help me have a genuine intimacy with you and others. Help me to not be afraid of really loving and really being loved. God, please grant me Your power, your love and self control.

Help me to continue making healing choices in Your name. Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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