My Scar Stories

Thanks, Mitch. We all find our own reminders that God is all around. And truly, nothing else matters.

Mitch Teemley

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The Final Scar?

To read my previous scar stories, click here.

My two greatest hits are on my neck. Oddly, both remind me of God. I wrote previously about one. The other began with a woman doing her lipstick in her rear view mirror as her car sailed blithely into the back of my tinny Samurai.

Several bulging neck discs made their debut that day. The pain level was acceptable (sort of). However, if more trauma were to occur, I was told, I could end up paralyzed. Not acceptable. So a discectomy was scheduled.

The day before surgery, I was laid on a tiltable table and my spine was injected with glow-in-the-dark goo in order to create a scenic map of My Spine, USA. I was fine with that. Of course, I was on Valium, so I’d have been fine with them cutting my toes off and selling…

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Watch for Hope Prevails Bible Study!

Sometimes we struggle to get through the day. And even as Christians, we wonder if anyone understands.

Rest assured, someone does. Michelle Bengston, author of Hope Prevails carries many titles. Besides wife and mother, she’s also a Board Certified Clinical Neuropsychologist and helps people every day.

But she also understands depression from the inside out. She’s dealt with her own depression and found that no matter how dark it gets … hope prevails. She published Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression last year to rave reviews and is now offering her newest book, Hope Prevails Bible Study, being released October 25th.

Watch for it! You can also follow Michelle and learn more about both books, Hope Prevails and Hope Prevails Bible Study at http://drmichellebengtson.com/.

 

Stop Words That Cheapen Redemption

The value of words is immeasurable. They shape our lives and determine how we see the world around us. Because of their power, we need to monitor what we hear and read—and think. Christians tap into specific words of power and comfort.

Blessed. Redeemed. Forgiven.

Because of the power in words, it’s imperative for Christ followers to be on our guard against damaging words. Satan wants to destroy the lives of Christians, often using our own words against us.

Loser. Unworthy. Ashamed.

Stop the madness! Don’t let these words find residence in your heart. We all have past experiences that helped we’d wish weren’t there, but we can control which experiences define us.

Our redemption is our greatest gift. Not only does it free us from the weight of an eternity of torment, it gives us a vehicle to help others. Continue reading

The Very Best Bible Reading Plan You’ll Find This Year

bible-iphoneIf you’ve followed me for any time at all, you’ve read posts I’ve offered from author (and good friend) Lori Roeleveld. In her latest blog, she challenges the reader to look around them and see all the opportunities they have to excel at being the best Christian they can be. All this, as done in true Roeleveld style, without piling on shame. This post will bless you as well as move your heart.

Take a moment from your list-making and rushing around to read her article, The Very Best Bible Reading Plan You’ll Find This Year.  And treat yourself and follow her blog. Each post seems to be on the mark for what people are dealing with at that moment in time. Continue reading

Jesus and the Beanstalk – A Lesson in Life

jesus-and-the-beanstalkLori Roeleveld has done it again with her book, Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Giants and Living a Fruitful Life. Once again she’s tapped into my person—my being—and wrote thoughts I only dared acknowledge to myself. Reading this book, it’s as if she’s given a voice to my fears and challenges, and allowed them to the surface where I can see them for what they are. Time after time I’d cover a portion of her book, only to stop reading and ponder not only her words but marvel how God has used this person to tap into different areas of my life and address them scripturally.

I particularly liked the section, The Christian You Don’t Know. Affirming and challenging at the same time, only in the way that Roeveleld can do. And her ability to wrap a point in humor is uncanny. Thou Shalt Pray Like Sheldon Cooper is just one example of many of how she offers wisdom with humor.

I can’t wait to read this book again.

Don’t be afraid to start Jesus and the Beanstalk with an open mind. You will not be disappointed.

A Reason to Write Again

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written. Life certainly has a way of getting big, and mine did … in spades! Work, having family visit, us visiting family, and finishing my preparation for a writer’s conference this month have all been pulling at my time. But I have a good friend, you see … and this friend wrote this incredible book … and I had to stop my life’s tempo to share it with you.

sober-mercies

Sober Mercies: How Love Caught up with a Christian Drunk (Jericho Books) is more than a book about the need for recovery. It’s a story about what happens after someone addicted to alcohol lives with recovery. And it’s about how someone who has a relationship with Christ can suffer from addiction.

Heather recounts a conversation with a newbie (a new attendee of a 12-step meeting) in her book (pp. 199):

“I’m a Christian actually,” she said. “I don’t know how I ended up with this problem. I know God. But for some reason that hasn’t kept me from getting addicted to food and alcohol. I can’t believe I’m here.”

My heart went out to her. And I wondered for the umpteenth time if we Christians don’t make the most miserable addicts. Since we tend to think of addiction strictly as a moral failing, most of us try to pull ourselves up by her spiritual bootstraps. We pray harder, repent more fervently, and fight temptation until we’re blue in the face.

When our best efforts proved futile, we feel even more guilty and ashamed. And confused. Don’t we love God enough to quit? Doesn’t God love us enough to deliver us?

Meanwhile, to even admit that we have become addicted feels like a trail of Christ’s work on the cross.

Dealing with addiction as a Christian can destroy not only the person affected, but other aspects of their lives as well. Heather’s honest account of coming clean with the lies and deceit that held her captive for years—all the while working as a Christian writer—is enough to make Sober Mercies a worthwhile read.

But there’s more!

Sober Mercies is also an incredible love story. It’s a story about Heather’s love for her God as well as her Chardonnay. And it’s the strength that she pulls from her love for her husband, Dave, that gives her the courage to dip her toe into the pool of transparency and try to put order to the chaos surrounding her life.

As Heather takes us on her journey out of that chaos, we meet several people who impact her life along the way. We meet Susan, a recovering alcoholic, who shows her that a happy life without drinking is possible. There’s Nicole, a friend from rehab, who for a time is the only person she can talk openly with. Then there’s Kate, her sponsor, who guides her though the minefields of step work. And we see the love Heather has for her children. Even though her damaged life influenced her boys, Noah and Nathan, her example of giving up the need to control lights the way to sobriety.

But most of all, Heather shows the relationship she has with God. Not the condemning or shaming God that has sometimes been associated with drinking to access, but Jehovah Rafah, the God who heals. You will read of one account after another how God offers hope to her along her journey.

Sober Mercies is not just for struggling Christian addicts, it’s for anyone who dares to seek an honest relationship with God. It’s for anyone who loves an addict—recovering or practicing—and wants to understand what types of demons they have lived with. It’s for church leaders who know that recovery isn’t experienced within a cookie-cutter format of healing.

Addiction isn’t just sin. Addiction isn’t just a physical condition. It’s both, and Sober Mercies shares that like no other book I’ve ever read.

Get yourself a copy of Sober Mercies, your life will be enriched by reading it.

Revisiting a Quote

Oscar-Wilde (2)I recently posted a blog that used a quote from Oscar Wilde’s, every sinner has a future and every saint has a past. The blog had a good message, but the quote stayed with me long after I forgot the blog.

I looked into Wilde’s life a bit and understood how these words could have come from the depths of his being. Both parents were successful and he, too, was a success. But the examples his parents offered him were filled with selfishness and narcissism. Reality had little importance; perception counted more than anything. Under their direction, he learned how to deal with living a double life. He was on top of the world until he went to court to save his reputation. He lost soundly and his fall was precipitous, instantaneous, and very frightening.

Wilde was heralded as a brilliant man because of his writing ability. But in truth, his life was tortured. Not because of his homosexuality—although his life style landed him in prison—but because he sought after beauty first and then morality … if seeking it suited him at the time.

I sound like I’m coming down on Wilde, but I’m not. In truth, I’m only using his life for an example. Living for perception or living for truth haunts us all. I remember clearly when I stood at the crossroad of Wilde’s Sinner or Saint. I chose a Sinner’s life: seeking beautiful experiences and possessions. It didn’t take long, however, until I realized my life was lacking depth, and something. It was shallow and short-sighted. I tried to fix it with more experiences and controlling the world around me. Nothing fixed what was wrong and my life was circling the drain.

Then God appeared.

He loved me completely. He loved me because he created me. He didn’t judge me because of my brokenness. Instead, he tended to my wounds. And he didn’t let me skate regarding my past choices. Because he loved me, I still needed to deal with the consequences of my bad choices, but he was with me every step of the way.

I appreciate his love more as each day goes by. I remember my sinner days and am forever amazed how God still loves me. Every sinner has a future and every saint has a past fits us all. Don’t allow your sinner days to own you. God’s waiting for you, too.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39