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Entries in Addictions (4)

Thursday
Oct262017

When Tempted: Do Something Else!

In this Choices UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson explains how a simple weight loss tip helped her get a grip on habitual overeating and a lot of other addictions!

Maybe it will help you. . .

It was ridiculously simple. I was talking with the Lord about my food program, and I almost missed a quiet "suggestion."

The truth is, I wasn't praying as much as COMPLAINING.

  • "Lord, I can't do this."
  • "Lord, I think about chocolate all the time."
  • "Lord, I always want more, more, MORE!"

Somewhere in my complaint, my words turned more desperate.

"Lord ... HELP!"

And then I heard this little voice deep within my soul.

"Do something else."

"Do what?"

"Some... Thing... Else!"

"Like eating potato chips instead of chocolate?" (I wondered if the Voice was amused?)

"No. Do something else entirely. Switch your focus."

Though I'd been struggling for months, I instantly understood what "switch your focus" meant.

Stop focusing on food. Stop focusing on stuff. Stop focusing on getting "more" of everything.

Look elsewhere. Get busy elsewhere.

Anywhere but the refrigerator and the mall.

The more I thought about it, I knew there were three ways to re-focus my attention.

1. I needed to Focus on my faithful OVERCOMER.

Instead of focusing on how overwhelmed and powerless I felt, I could gaze on the One who died to give me hope and victory over my flesh.

The first and best things I can do when tempted is to "watch and pray" (Matthew 26:41) and read or quote (memorized) scripture that applies to my temptation (Psalm 119:11).

The enemy would like me to receive and live by DEVILISH LIES: You can't win ... It's hopeless ... You're doomed to failure ... You're too weak, etc.

The truth of scripture is, "...walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" ... "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Galatians 5:16; Romans 13:14)

Yet there is an element of truth in one of Satan's lies. I AM too weak!

Without the Lord, I can do nothing (John 15:5), but with Him, there is victory, because nothing is impossible with the Lord (Matthew 19:26). My Faithful Overcomer conquered Satan and sin, and lived a sinless life. I can be victorious because I am hidden in Him and can live by faith in Him (Colossians 3:3; Galatians 2:20). 

I don't need to make "provision" for my flesh (Romans 13:14), but rather, I can "clothe myself" with Christ and consider some ways I might make "provision" to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in changing me—to "put off" some things that belong to my old sinful life and "put on" new things that align with a renewed mind and heart (Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 12:1-2).

And that's where I move from grounding in theology to practical outworkings.

2. I needed to Focus on freeing OPTIONS.

Instead of focusing on all the things I CAN'T have and do, I could dig a little deeper and hone in on positive, healthier, life-building choices.

Dig a little deeper? How?

  • I could LOOK for recipes that would nourish my body and not contribute to ill-being.
  • I could SEEK new ways to exercise that I actually enjoy.
  • I could FIGURE OUT how to restructure my personal spending and time management (with better stewardship of my mind, emotions, body and spirit in mind).
  • I could THINK ABOUT things that bring God glory and bring me God-blessed pleasure—things that don't burden me with guilt or negative consequences. (God's original design in giving us "appetites" was good; because He wants us us to honor and enjoy Him and His blessings.)

As a simple tool, I recently created a "Do Something Else" list with ideas to help me "get up and get busy." I use it to:

Get out of the pantry;

Get off the couch and stop stuffing my face; and

"Get" (understand) what is good for me (Philippians 4:8), and pursue those things with passion!

On my list (below, right) are simple things under four headings: HOME, HEART, HEALTH and HELP.

Some are quick five- or ten-minute distractions with benefits. Others might take a little longer, but believe me, that's good when the call of the flesh is loud and strong!

I included simple things like:

  • Sort Bob's (my husband's) sock drawer. 
  • Organize the spices.
  • Start a "giveaway box" (for my local help-the-homeless ministry).
  • Try on at least 10 clothing items and make a quick decision: keep, mend, give away, trash.
  • Memorize a scripture verse. (I'm working on Galatians 5:1 right now.)
  • Pull weeds out of my garden.
  • Take in the waist on my black slacks.
  • Dust my bookshelves.
  • Organize around my washing machine and dryer.
  • Look for a low-fat, low-sugar holiday cookie that actually tastes good.
  • Write my friend with cancer who isn't going to make it.
  • Wash out my dog's water bowl.
  • Put seed in the bird feeder.
  • Pray and search the scriptures over a pressing question.
  • Wash my brush and comb.

Your list willl be different than mine. But make the list.

Then you'll have a "GO-TO" list for when you're tempted to GO TO your favorite addiction. Or to return to whenever you're distracted from making wise, godly and healthy choices. (Strive for excellence, not perfection)

3. I needed to Focus on fresh OPPORTUNITIES.

Instead of always focusing on obstacles—which actually boils down to focusing on "me, myself and I," or what Satan uses to sidetrack me—I could instead envision opportunities to do what might bless others.

I could become more sensitive to the Spirit and allow the Lord to lead me into greater love, service, ministry and encouragement. I could lift up my eyes beyond my wants and my desires to others' needs.

And then, I could ACT!

We can't do everything to deal with the world's needs. But we can all do SOMETHING.

And it's best not to wait. We don't know what tomorrow may bring. Life is short. We need to get busy, gather our resources, and "occupy" until the Lord returns (Luke 19:13).

We need to redeem the time and buy up opportunities as they come (Ephesians 5:15-16)— especially when the Lord asks us to act. (Consider James 4:12-17.)

What is God prompting you to do?

Obey quickly. Completely. Joyfully.

Since I've altered my focus, my perspective has changed. My choices have changed.

Even my bathroom scale shows the difference "do something else" can make.

Which of the "focus points" might help you today; and what would be on your "Do Something Else" list?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Thursday
Jun292017

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Victories

Victories don't just happen. In this Victory UPGRADE, Dawn shares five ways to set yourself up for some fresh victories!

When I met Joni Eareckson Tada, I was overwhelmed with the sense that this woman is not a victim, in spite of her quadriplegia. She is a victor! Likewise, Nick Vujicic, a man without limbs, has the mindset and makes the choices that set him apart as a victor in Christ.

I can't tell you the times I've nearly wept, realizing how petty my struggles are compared to theirs. But the same truths that have enabled these victors to rise above their trials are available to me.

As Nick says, "If you can't get a miracle, become one."

I've always loved that exciting moment when runners "set up" in their lanes at the starting block to run a race. To be a victor, we need to intentionally set ourselves up for the victories we so desire.

Here are the five ways I'm learning to set myself up for fresh victories.

1. Set Your SPIRIT

The first thing to acknowledge is our utter incapability to fix ourselves.

Without Christ, we are lost and struggling sinners. But in Christ, the possibilities for change are endless! The Father is making believers like His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit!

To pursue victory, we must first set our spirit on the Spirit.

Knowing we are "crucified with Christ" and that now Christ lives in us, we determine to "live by faith in the Son of God." And how do we do that? We learn to "walk in the Spirit"—to keep in step with Him—so we will not gratify our fleshly desires. We "sow" to the Spirit if we want to cultivate a life of victory over sin.

We lose many battles because we forget our struggle is not a simple flesh-and-blood skirmish. It's a tough, spiritual war. We struggle against powerful forces of evil, and we must go to battle with spiritual, God-supplied weapons.

2. Set Your MIND

Paul told the Colossians to set their minds on "things that are above, not on things that are on earth."

A focus on eternity can help us make better decisions and live a more victorious life.

Sitting in a revival conference many years ago, the evangelist's words stirred my heart: "There are only two things you can take with you to heaven," he said. "Only two things pass from this world into eternity: the Word of God and human souls."

Those words greatly impacted my perspective and priorities. When life is boiled down to those two things, it's remarkable how some choices are simplified and others eliminated.

Christian victors have an eternal perspective.

David Ring, who has cerebral palsy, explains it this way: "I'm still in the oven. God's still in the kitchen, and God's still cooking on me. And when God is finished cooking on me, God is going to pull me out of the oven, and God's going to say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"

David is an example of a believer whose perspective is being transformed by the "renewing" of his mind. Just as we are to walk in the Spirit, we're also to set our minds on the things of the Spirit.

A person's mindset colors responses to life's circumstances.

While we may legitimately be victims of others and need to learn new ways to respond to our pain, in many cases, our victimization comes from within. We may be labeling ourselves as victims as an excuse not to change, or to receive pity from others.

Our focus makes a huge difference. For instance,

  • Victims focus on losses, while victors realize the "gain" possible in tough circumstances.
  • Victims see people conspiring against them; but victors realize we are all sinners and we're likely to wound each other as we rub shoulders--so they learn to forgive and give grace.
  • Victims wear themselves out trying to achieve elusive approval and contentment. Victors have learned to live for an audience of One.

So set your mind on heaven and the things of the Spirit, and you'll escape a lot of "victimhood."

3. Set Your AFFECTIONS

It's not only the mind that needs setting. While charging his son Solomon to build the temple, King David told the leaders of Israel, "Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God" (1 Chronicles 22:19a).

David, who had a heart for God, took time in the fields as a shepherd boy to develop his heart relationship with God; and God used these experiences to develop David's character and leadership skills. Though he made foolish choices in his later life, he always deeply honored and loved the Lord.

Jesus encouraged His disciples to set their affections when He said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...." It's a choice.

4. Set Your BODY

Along with setting our mind, Paul, in Rom. 12:1, appeals to believers to "present" their bodies to the Lord as "a living sacrifice." He also speaks of yielding our bodies as tools of righteousness. That's an intentional decision—to set our bodies before the Lord and allow Him to use us.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies, and bring Him glory with our actions in the body.

5. Set Your GOALS

When we have given God our spirit, mind, affections and body, we are ready to set some goals.

The Bible gives us a balanced view of goal-setting. We're to make plans, but to plan with humility and seeking God's wisdom and will.

When making any goals, be sure your priorities are biblical. Don't worry; seek and trust the Lord

We certainly don't honor God with laziness. He expects us to use His wisdom and be diligent so we be can be successful. That doesn't mean we can be presumptuous either! James says it's better to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Set your goals, but know the Lord is sovereign and He may change your plans.

We live in a fallen world. We will not be perfect until heaven. But we can't make excuses and coast spiritually.

Intentional, biblical choices will encourage more and more victories!

So, are you all "set" for victories? Which of these "sets" needs a little tweaking today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Morguefile.

Thursday
Feb162017

Are You Really Addiction-free?

Surviving and thriving after numerous trials, Yvonne Ortega speaks words of wisdom to women who hurt and struggle. In this "Choices" UPGRADE, she encourages women to break free from their addictions.

Yvonne asks, “When you think about addiction, do you imagine a drunk person, who slurs his words, stumbles, and smells of alcohol? Perhaps you visualize a drug addict in a questionable neighborhood selling family possessions to buy illegal drugs."

Because I (Dawn) have faced few "addictions" of my own—like obsession with food—I know addictions can overwhelm anyone. But I also know from experience: we can break free!

There truly is hope!

Yvonne continues . . .

You may think that if you don’t drink or smoke, you are addiction-free.

  • However, you may be addicted to food, such as sugar.

Can you make a meal out of candy, cookies or cake? Do you stop at the store, buy a half-gallon of ice cream, and eat it in one sitting? You may be obese. You eat when you worry, get bored, or can’t cope with grief or some other pain. Rather than talk with a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor, you eat.

Philippians 3:19 addresses this problem and says, “Their god is their stomach” (NIV).

  • Perhaps you go shopping to cope.

Your father verbally, physically or sexually abused you as a child. You held in the anger and pain of that abuse, but turned to shopping to cope. Now if someone hurts you, you go shopping.

Until you face that pain, you will stay addicted to shopping. 

  • Maybe you’re a slave to perfectionism.

If you invite guests to your home, your house will be in perfect order inside and out. You’ll probably clean the windows too. You’ll serve a homemade meal and wear the perfect outfit and have every hair in place.

Your addiction to perfectionism won’t allow you to relax, enjoy your guests, or life for that matter.

  • If you choose unhealthy relationships, you might date an alcoholic, a batterer, or a gambler.

As one woman said, “My boyfriend doesn’t have a job, but he has a motorcycle. He’s exciting.” As she talked about the different men she dated, she said, “My parents never liked any of them, but they were fun—even the one who ruined my credit.”

She was addicted to unhealthy men and wanted to help them. She needed help to improve her self-confidence.

How can you BREAK FREE from addiction?

1. Admit that you use an escape mechanism to avoid reality.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

It’s not enough to admit the addiction to yourself.

Do so to a pastor, a Christian counselor, or to a Christian recovery group. Confession and prayer will help you. 

2. Establish accountability.

The devil wants you crippled with guilt, shame, and secrecy.

Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (NIV).

When you meet weekly with your pastor or counselor, you set up accountability. This is comparable to a sponsor in a 12-step group. 

3. Know who you are in Christ.

Find Bible verses about your identity in Christ, such as Ephesians 2:10 (NIV):

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Each day repeat those verses often.

Once you believe with your heart and soul who you are, the relief from addiction won’t entice you.

What will you do this week to break free from addiction?

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (both in paperback, Kindle) and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), all available at amazon.com/books. She not only survived but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer, and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Learn more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of TeeTasse, Pixabay.

Tuesday
Sep152015

Make Time for God

Poppy Smith ..... 

“I have a bad habit I’m trying to break,” Popppy says. “Instead of cozying up to God first thing in the morning, I cozy up to my computer, filling my head with what’s temporary rather than eternal.”

Oh, I (Dawn) sooooo understand this. There are so many "temptations" to keep us from seeking God first, aren't there? I check email early because I work for people "back east" and want to see if there are assignments, but after that, I try to not get distracted and spend time with the Lord. Believe me, it takes intentionality!

Poppy continues . . .

You’d think that King David had his spiritual life all together—but clearly, he didn’t.

 David says, 

"My hearts says of you, 'Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek" (Psalm 27:8).

He acknowledges his longing for a greater closeness to the Lord, but he also recognized that deliberate choices were needed in order to experience what he desired.

His response to the stirring in his spirit required a decision of his will.

It takes more than inner yearning for us to enjoy God. It takes a conscious decision of our will to follow through on the words, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” 

For God to work inner transformation and produce a deeper sense of His presence in us takes time and some level of self-discipline. But it is possible. We can discipline our bodies and our time.

I’ve seen the Holy Spirit change me in many ways, but on a recent Sunday I decided more self-discipline was desperately needed. I especially wanted to see if I could break my addiction to checking email. 

Instead of merely not looking at my inbox for the day, I determined to not even turn the computer on.

I’d been responding like Pavlov’s dog every time my email pinged, so I deliberately fasted—I gave up one thing to give time to another.

That’s my definition of fasting, whether it’s food or anything else that has control over me.

As the hours went by I was amazed. By committing my little exercise to the Lord, I discovered that I could control myself and spend more time in His presence. I learned that I don’t have to allow email, or any other habit, to gobble up the hours in my day.

For someone who isn’t naturally self-disciplined, this was a major victory.

How about you? Is there a habit, attitude, or hard-to-break behavior that needs kicking out of your life? It won’t happen by magic, but it can be overcome if you ask God for help and follow through with personal discipline.

Paul urged Timothy to “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (l Timothy 4:7).

As you gear up for fall, here are ways to respond when your soul echoes David’s cry: “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

  • Pray for Spirit-given discipline to put a higher value on seeking God’s face before other activities.
  • Pursue daily intimacy by thinking about how Jesus treated people, spoke to them, noticed and cared for them. And ask that He would live that kind of life through you.
  • Practice being alone with the Father to talk to Him, to quietly listen for his direction and correction, as well as encouragement and love. 
  • Persevere in the race God has set before you, inviting the Holy Spirit to change your daily choices to what matters most to your best self.

We all have the same amount of time each day. What will you take time from in order to spend it in God’s presence?

Poppy Smith is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. A former Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader with a Masters in Spiritual Formation, she is a multi-published author who speaks widely, challenging women to make their lives count by looking at their choices, attitudes, and relationship with God. Find more about Poppy on her website 

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.