Lost your sense of Belonging?

There is something that is inside each one of us that pulls away from belonging. Instead of identifying with a common thread in a group setting, whether it be at work, at school, at church or at family functions, we look for ways to distance ourselves from the group. We think ‘I’m the only one who doesn’t have a job, or I’m the only one with kids that act like this, I am the only one who doesn’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend.’ We are not focussed on things we have in common, things in life we can identify with and therefore we do not feel unified with the whole.

It is satan’s great plan to distract us and separate us from each other and God. When we are distracted, we try to answer questions no one is asking.. and we lose focus and drive and motivation to move forward in life and recovery. But lets be clear, in terms of heaven and hell, they are real places on opposite spectrums but satan and God are not equal, God still has victory over satan, so no matter what we go through, what conflict we need to work through or addiction we need to kick or pain we need healing from, God is still victorious and we can also be victorious when working in line with him!

When we invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts and everyday lives, He goes to soul to soul to soul, transforming our lives. We cant do community ourselves. It is more than mere friendship, we are redeemed and redeeming, transformed and transforming, loved and loving, Jesus asks that we do to others what you would have them do to you…so what does dealing with people really look like biblically? How are we to BE community and not just DO community? How do we be recovered and not just go to recovery? How do we not feel so alone with our problems? How can we have a transformed life and contribute to a fruitful, transforming community?

Here are four key concepts that make for a healthy community.

1. Progress not perfection.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22, 23 NLT)

Note how it is the Holy Spirit that produces this fruit in our lives. I think we get tripped up by not feeling good enough, we see this list and remember all the times we felt impatient. All the times we gave in and had no self-control, felt fear and not faithful, we focus on the have nots instead of practicing the haves in partnership with the Holy Spirit. We do not need to be perfect before we join a group or volunteer somewhere…we are not going to be a kinder person if we never practice being kind. This means we need lots of practice…and Im not talking the be kind to your friends kinda practice…I mean God put jerks in our lives for a reason!! The people that just get under your skin and annoy the heck outta you- yeah, they are there for us to practice patience and peace and joy. The more we are in relation to Christ, the more we can be containers for the Holy Spirit and the more that happens, the less work we actually have to do to be who we want to be.

2. Give up your right to be right.
When we can get to a place of humility where the team success is more important than my opinion, we are working toward a healthy community. I see this all the time in meetings. When two or more people who all need to have the last word try to accomplish something, they just talk in circles and don’t actually accomplish anything. How much wasted time has satan distracted us with petty judgments or arguments? Give up your right to be right.

3. Don’t be afraid of conflict.
Many times we don’t know how to deal with conflict properly, so we avoid or deny responsibility. This leads to gossip or unresolved resentments that get built up in a community. Ever hear of ‘Minnesota Nice’? Nice to the face but cold as ice? Yeah. It is real. And it is unhealthy. The bible is quite clear.

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 NLT)

4. Principles before personalities.
Don’t be afraid of feeling betrayed. If we think in terms of principles before personalities, we gain tolerance, peace and understanding of people who are different than us. When we think of principles before personalities we tend to take less conflicts personally, we do not get offended so easily when we focus on principles before personalities. We are also less distracted by satan so we focus on the importance of building community, not building walls.

We are promised transformed lives and with that we can have a transforming community! And God promises to help us.

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. (Isaiah 41:13 NLT)

What principles do you think make for a healthy community?

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Keeping it Real

People are looking for a formula to their problems, pray the right prayers, do the right things, don’t do the wrong things, we are looking for excellence in our lives and while the 12 steps of recovery helps us do that, helps us to know how to line up our works with God’s will…we sometimes miss the point…in becoming more self aware, which is totally a good thing, the focus stays on us and not up.

So how do we move from inward to upward so we can share outward?

Once we are [re]born of the spirit, that is our life’s breath. We must try to never doubt and worry, but follow where the life of the spirit leads. The point of it all is Jesus. The point of it all is understanding the relationship between father and son and our role in that. Our relationship with the father son and Holy Spirit. What habits or routines do you have in place that keep the focus on your relationship with God? What habits and routines keeps you distracted?

step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16

There are all kinds of different in the world. What practices that keep me close to God may not work for you. I love going on hikes. The fresh air and beauty of creation, the birds, the sounds, the feel of walking rough terrain, they all remind me of God. To others though, these things may be a big fat distraction. Bugs buzzing, over stimulation of leaves and trees and rustling of branches. Taking a walk in the woods may be hell on earth for you.

For a few years in my childhood, my parents and I lived in the woods of northern Minnesota. We spent a brief season in a tiny log cabin that had no insulation (you could see it snowing through the cracks in the logs), no running water and no toilet. We did not even have an outhouse.

I was getting potty trained at the time, it is amazing how quick you learn how to squat over a log when you are scared a skunk is gonna come and spray you. It is worse in the summer when mosquitoes are biting you…or when you find a nice, secluded, lush, green spot to do your business, perhaps you find some great leaves to clean up with. And then you find yourself in a field of poison ivy. Yes, take it from me, there are fields of poison ivy. I even once squatted over a tick nest (unbeknownst to me) and had woodticks everywhere…I’m talking EVERYWHERE!!!

I think we take for granted running water. I think we take for granted flushing toilets. I think we take for granted being able to wipe our butts with toilet paper, even when we have to buy the cheap scratchy thin kind; we get so caught up in our circumstances, we keep our focus in and when we are so focused inward there is no room for the sunlight of the spirit to shine outward.

Keep in mind that regardless if we feel blessed or punished in our circumstances, we often are not rooted in truth. Stay focused up. Practice being in relationship with God, not the things he gives you.

The feeling of safety, of all things being right in the world, when you are at peace and contentment when you feel safe and warm and loved, God wants us to feel that way about him. He wants us to put our trust in him. Not the money in the bank account. Not the relationship with the guy or girl, just him. To trust in the knowledge that the all powerful, all knowing, everlasting God loves us and desires an abundant life rich with peace and serenity and goodness! It is these truths we can meditate on.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:9, 10 NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9 NLT)

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT)

Heavenly Father, thank you so much that you have created us to rule over earth. You are such a gracious God, you give us rest, you give us peace, you are our comforter and our strength and guidance. I pray that whatever we each are going through in life, that we can lift that to you Lord, please bless us today with wisdom and discernment for our circumstances. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. In Jesus name, AMEN!

As you pray, keep it real and focus up. Your circumstances will change because your heart will change. Even if your only quiet time is in the bathroom (or out in the woods)…use that time and connect with God!

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Migration

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Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Eagles are considered spiritual messengers between gods and humans by some cultures. There is an eagle that has taken roost near my home. I get to see him on my daily hike and I don’t know if I am conditioned because the eagle is the national symbol of freedom or if it is sheer size or their predatory nature, but they are fascinating creatures to me. Seeing them soar down river or upstream, I always feel a sense of God’s presence and peace. An eagle’s majestic nature stops me in my tracks and I am able to stop, stare and revel in the present moment. Whatever worries or challenges or stress of the day melt away when the eagle flies my way.

When we stop our busy lives for even just a moment, we are open to hearing from God, from gaining clarity over a situation, peace around a problem, hope for our future.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:26, 27, 34 NLT)

What causes you to stop and pause?