Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Codependency: Yes Somebody Cares

On my old blog I often wrote about codependency and how having an alcoholic parent was what defined my
Foster sisters by Phillip Richard Morris
life well into adulthood. While trapped by my mom's addiction I found that the best way to cope was to suppress my very negative and destructive feelings out of fear of what might have happened if they were to reach the surface of my being. Yet, as much as I thought I could hide, I still became angry and sad over something inside that I was unable to describe. Fortunately a recent post by a fellow codependent has opened my eyes. The writer, a fellow codependent, has confronted me with that which I did not want to admit to myself.

Talking or writing about the past is difficult for most codependents. So it must have taken quite a bit of courage to write “The Effects of Alcoholism Through the Eyes of a Child,” (posted on allprodad.com). I am not sure who wrote the post but can definitely relate to the experiences. The writer speaks of finding his mother dead in her room, reminding me of the phone call from my brother telling me of my mother’s death. As with the writer of the blog post, I was shocked but not surprised. But I never came to terms with perhaps the most destructive part of being a codependent, a truth spelled out in the post’s final paragraph.

In my own words: Being a codependent means living with the fact that your parent, or some other family member, loves alcohol more than they love you.

Playing second fiddle to an aluminum can destroyed my self esteem. And while I wanted to take responsibility for my own life, I found no real reason to care about myself if the one who should have cared most did not. Instead I have lived with a lot of hidden anger refusing to believe in anything but a negative view of myself. This is where I was until I discovered the truth.

If you are a codependent or if you have bought into the lie that nobody cares, I would like to share one truth with you: Somebody cares! A lot of people care, starting with our Creator who demonstrated His love on the cross where He died for you. Stop listening to that lie that tells you otherwise. There are many who care about you and who want to overlook your codependency. In short: you are loved.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Did We Elect A Moses or A Pharaoh?

Is President Trump ordained by God? Among his supporters are a number of Christians who believe, or at least claim to believe, that Trump is the man God wanted behind the Oval Office desk. And while we may debate the theological significance, the simple fact is Donald J. Trump did win the election. Personally I think the question of who God wants in office is not nearly as important as the question of, “Why?” Why is Trump sitting in the Oval Office?

I ask this thinking of two very different leaders introduced near the beginning of the Book of Exodus. First we have Moses. From his birth to his adoption by Pharaoh's daughter to his burning bush experience, we are left with no doubts as to the fact that Moses was destined to be a hero. Exodus tells us how he answered God’s call and lead the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Moses stood as a chosen leader, and intercessor between God and the people. No one doubts Moses’ role in Exodus but did Pharaoh serve an equal role in revealing God’s glory?

In his role as leader of Egypt Pharaoh was seen as being closer to the gods than any other man. He believed himself in a position where he did not have to listen to anyone (man or god). He refused Moses’ requests, questioning the authority of Moses’ God (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh is the bad guy in Exodus, seemingly standing in the way of the will of God. And yet the Bible tells us that Pharaoh’s role was part of a bigger plan, appointed by God to serve a purpose as we learn in the ninth chapter.

In Exodus 9 God sends Moses to confront Pharaoh before the seventh plague. God declares that He raised up Pharaoh, putting him in a position of authority that he might serve to help demonstrate God’s power (Exodus 9:16). Each plague represented God’s power over areas thought to be under the control of one of Pharaoh’s idols. With each defeat God’s power was revealed. As a result the confrontation between Pharaoh and God resulted in the Lord’s name being declared in all the earth. This was the will of God and Pharaoh successfully in played his role as evidenced when Israel reaches the wall of Jericho (Joshua 2:10).

Based on Romans 13:1 every world leader and every U.S. President was granted authority based on the will of God. This applies to President Trump as it did to President Obama before him. It was true of George W. Bush, William Blythe Clinton, and every president back to George Washington. All served God's purpose but not all were his children. The question in each case is, “What does God want to achieve?” Why is Donald Trump the current President of the United States? Is our current president serving a purpose similar to that of Moses or have we elected into office someone who will serve God in a similar fashion as did Pharaoh? Only time will tell. Either way the next four (or eight) years should be interesting.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Obama Presidency: Only Now Can I Enjoy History

Picture By Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

I just couldn’t do it. In 2008, faced with the opportunity to join in making history, I could not bring myself to
vote on the basis of race. Instead I did what I would in any other presidential election. I took the time to read and study, voting for the candidate I thought would do the best job. Not that I was oblivious to the opportunity to change the face of the nation but I saw a lot more than history at stake. And so I could not vote based on the candidate’s race nor could I enjoy eight years of history while the White House was occupied by its first black first family.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see a minority in the White House. At the same time I feared what might happen if the first black was the wrong black. The president lives under a very intense microscope with his every move examined and documented. I figured a black president would find the optics focused to a much higher intensity, facing scrutiny like none other before. A misstep here or an embarrassing gesture there and the entire race would have been labeled by those who believe  minorities lack what is needed to run the free world. And so in 2008 I looked for the right person for the job knowing that the first black, if he were not fit, would close the door on the possibility of another holding the office in the future.

With his two terms in office now behind us I can say that President Obama and his family exhibited a very high regard for the office, conducting themselves in a manner that serves as an example to anyone of any race. Did I agree with all of his actions? No, but I have yet to agree 100% with anyone. Even while disagreeing with the president I was able to respect the man. So now, in 2017, I can finally enjoy the historical aspects of having had our first black president. Only now can I celebrate knowing the Obamas have left us with a historical record for which the entire race...the entire country...can be proud.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Should Moses’ Experience at the Burning Bush be Called Prayer? Part III

Prayer changes lives. And yet by definition, perhaps even by practice, prayer is reduced to us simply asking God for things. Moses experienced so much more than a question and answer session when he turned to investigate the burning bush. His prayer session became an opportunity to be changed by God. As he was changed Moses would have the opportunity to get to know the God of his childhood. Should this be an expectation when we pray today?

Handshake picture By Rufino (hermandad - friendship) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Part III: God Introduces Himself
Exodus 3:6

Though adopted by an Egyptian, Moses was raised by his Hebrew mom (Exodus 2:1-10). While serving as his nurse, Moses' mother most likely taught him about God. We are not told what Moses believed before the burning bush but clearly he shows reverence as God introduces Himself.

This introduction was an important start to Moses' lifelong conversation. It was an opportunity for Moses to get to know the God of his childhood, an opportunity that continued as he learned of God's desire to end the suffering of the people of Israel. As He did with Moses, God uses prayer to introduce Himself to us today. We need only to show the same reverence and desire to listen as shown by Moses as he hid his face.

"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:13

According to Jesus prayer is an opportunity to see God glorified in our lives. I believe His intent was to encourage a conversation where we desire more than just receiving answers to our requests. In fact the context of chapter 14 is how we can see the Father today and can go to a place prepared for us in the kingdom where we will be with Him forever. In answering Phillips' question about revealing the Father, Jesus talks about answering prayer. In this context prayer is about God revealing (being glorified) to us.

The Bible encourages to make our requests known to God. But if all you expect is to receive things or to have your own way, you are missing out. Prayer is about seeing the glory of the Father.You should come into prayer with the expectation that, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," will reveal Himself to you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Should Moses' Experience at the Burning Bush be Called Prayer?

How do you define prayer? The dictionary definition says that prayer is, “Making requests known to God.” And while there is a biblical basis for this definition, what we see at the burning bush turns the definition around completely. Moses did not make his requests known. Instead it was God who made the first move, getting Moses’ attention so that he would turn away from his daily routine (Part I). And then it is God who makes His request known, calling Moses to humble himself in preparation for something much bigger than his chosen life as a shepherd.
Sarbel [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Part II: Take Off Your Shoes - Exodus 3:1-5

"Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."

God is holy and by nature fallen man cannot enter into God's presence without first being properly prepared. I suspect that had Moses moved any closer to the burning bush with his shoes on, his story would have come to an end right then and there. We likely would never have known a thing about the Hebrew-Egyptian shepherd. If the Bible mentioned him at all it would have told of how, in his pride, he forfeited his opportunity to become a great leader of the nation of Israel.

What did the sandals represent?

Moses’ sandals were likely covered in whatever he walked on (or in) while he worked as a shepherd. They carried the dirt of ground which was not “holy” representing what we would now call the things of this earth. They were a physical manifestation of the fallen state of man which would have tracked the stain of sin upon the holy ground of God.

By taking off his sandals Moses left the stain of sin behind him. His bare feet allowed a direct connection with ground that was holy, working much like the promise Jesus made to Peter while washing his feet (John 13:6-10). With his sandals on I suspect Moses would have remained separated from God, like Peter would have had he refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet. With sandals removed Moses was ready for a conversation with God, one that involved him being “cleaned” in preparation for walking on holy ground.

In order to come before God Moses had to be changed, a change represented by his taking off his sandals. He could not come before God with an expectation of God being changed. Likewise when we come before God we should do so with the expectation that we will be changed, not that God will change to bend to our will. If we expect our petitions to change God we are still wearing our sandals. Real prayer involves God changing us that our list might be made in alignment with His will. Only then will our prayers be accompanied by the power that comes with asking in His name.

Making our requests known is not the end all of prayer. In fact it is not even the first step. The first step involves having our hearts, our minds, our very beings bending and being molded according to the will of God. Prayer begins when we “take off our sandals.”

So, what’s on your feet when you approach God in prayer?