Dealing With Your Past

I'm not sure I've done something like this, but this week, I wanted to share an incredibly vulnerable message that my father recently preached. The subject of dealing with our pasts through a lens of faith, no matter how mundane or traumatic they were, is imperative if we're to grow into emotional maturity. I actually thought it was good enough, that I've transcribed the entire message below as well.

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It is good to be back at church Sunday, Cindy and I have been gone for a couple of weeks and, it's just great again to be back with you. I just want to express my gratitude, Dan, for the work that the work that you're doing with our worship team and Logan and Justin for the work you do and Kate. I'm just always grateful for how these things come together. It doesn't just happen, you guys. It's a lot of work. So thank you. Admittedly, I've told people that when I speak, especially in front of people I know well, I get a little nervous and I'm reminded of this story that I heard once about a guy who was graduating from seminary and he had an opportunity to speak before a new church, to interview for the job of becoming their lead pastor.

And so this young guy shows up at the church and he's greeted by one of their board members who pulls him aside and says, "Hey, listen, I know this is your first job interview and that you'll probably do just fine with your sermon, but I'm guessing may come a time in your sermon where you may forget what you're going to say. So if that happens, let me just give you a piece of advice..." And the young pastor says, "I don't think I'm gonna lose my place. I'll be fine." "There's no, just listen to me. He says if you lose your place is take a step back and then say, 'Behold I come' and when you walk to the pulpit, the Holy Spirit will remind you of everything you prepared." And so the young man again said, "thank you for your wisdom and advice. I'll take that into consideration, but I assure you I will not forget what I'm going to say today."

So of course, the service goes on and it comes a time for him to present the message and he walks up to the podium. He doesn't have any notes because he practices really well and just as he grabs the microphone, nothing... He cannot remember a thing he's going to say. He's starting to sweat. He's getting nervous. This is this job interview. And so he decides to remember at that time he remembers what that board member said. So he takes a step back from the pulpit. He says, "Behold, I come" and he walks to the pulpit and still nothing. He still couldn't remember a word he was going to say, so now he's really getting hot under the collar. He steps back twice and it says, "Behold, I come" approaches the pulpit and he still has nothing to say. So finally, in desperation, he takes three steps back and says, "behold, I come!" and this time, as he approaches the pulpit, his foot hits the microphone cord and he falls and lands in the front row of the, of the pulpit or of the congregation.  He hits this old lady, knocks her on the ground and he's just appalled and he jumps up and he helps her to her feet and says "Ma'am, I am so sorry. I'm so sorry." And she said, "young man, don't you worry about a thing. I mean, after all, you warned me three times." That's what my son calls a dad joke. I do have a lot of anxiety about this morning that I'm just going to admit it. So, would you pray with me just a second?

Lord, we just thank you for letting us come together this morning and just to worship you and, um, just to hear from you. So that's my prayer this morning, Lord, that your Holy Spirit will be in me, um, that you'll be upon those of us that are in this auditorium, that your spirit will come upon us and speak to us in a special way this morning. Let us hear from you today. In Jesus name. Amen.

I did have a chance to listen to Paul sermon from last week and I thought he did an excellent job of opening up this sermon series called Practicing the Way of Jesus. And, I'd like to just for a second kind of recap what it is that he said to us. And he introduced two important words that I think that we need to remember as we go throughout this series, this idea of, of, of flourishing, that, this ideal that we have of a life in Christ, is that one of flourishing. That we're to live in abundance and really rely on the grace of the Father and the mercy that's been bestowed upon us and have the peace of Christ within us. The problem is that we often languish and that's the other word that he introduced, that we find ourselves either stuck or really not experiencing that ideal played out in our life. We never really experiencing the fullness there. And so, Paul asked us a question. He said, "is this the kind of life that you're experiencing?"

I think that's a question that really throughout this series we need to keep asking ourselves: Are we are experiencing life in its fullness I have a, you know, everybody remembers little things that for the oddest reasons. I had this little thing in my head from when I was a kid, A Christian artist, and Barry Mcguire. He did these great concerts and during one of his concerts he was talking about how when he was a new Christian that everybody around him is, you know, they're all singing "This little light of mine." Remember that one? Who Remembers that one? Anyone? He said, yeah, I didn't have a little light. You know, the. I didn't really have that in my walk. It wasn't exactly lining up with what everybody else was experiencing so that just always stuck in my head that I didn't have a little light. Paul then last week talked about how we then flourish. He said that there's kind of a three-step process. The first is we have to believe that it's possible,

and then secondly that we have to realize that we languish when we rely on our own willpower, our own strength, instead of relying on the grace and peace that got us here. And then he said, lastly that we need to begin living out this new way. And so that's really what this series is about. It's about living out this life in Christ. And so over the next few weeks, we're going to start building a map for how we're going to learn to live out this life and the way that God intended it for us. Now, I love examples and as I began to introduce one of these pathways to living this life in Christ, I think it's really a much simpler for me if I use my story as an example. I could tell you easily other stories that I'll sprinkle some other examples throughout today's message.

But think the more clearly able to illustrate this pathway if I give you really my story and because I do have a, a tough background. I was born in Woodward, Iowa. I'm the youngest of four siblings. So there's three, there's four of us. I've got this picture that I have at home of my family. It's my mom and dad sitting on a couch. My mother's holding me as a baby and my siblings are flanking the picture. And if you saw that picture today, you'd say, "wow, that's a really great looking family. It's a good family, right? " And honestly it was, and it was, it was a really messed up family at the time. A lot of the problems my parents experienced in their relationship happened way before I was even born.

But I learned a couple of labels that affected me as I grew up. I became a child of divorce. Psychologists will give you that as a term that has affected people throughout their life as they try to function as adults. I was a child of divorce, in fact twice my, my parents’ divorce when I was a very young, under three. My mom then raised four of us for a while on her own and she didn't make very much money, so we learned what poverty meant. We lived in poverty for a time there, but my mom and my dad divorced primarily because they were alcoholics. So, I got another label. I was a child of an alcoholic or alcoholics. In fact, there's a support group that you're all aware of, Al-Anon that's designed just for people who have been through families that have parents that are alcoholics.

But the other things that I experienced, so my mom married again and then she divorced again. And during my first 14 years of life, I experienced a lot of really terrible things. I saw physical abuse. I saw my mother hurt. I saw situations that were that no child should see. I was abused sexually when I was in sixth grade by a little league coach that someone I should've trusted, had been able to trust. But the biggest impact on my life as I look back was the neglect. Especially I can tell you there's a time in my life when I was in the sixth and seventh grade where I essentially was alone almost all the time. My mom didn't come home at night. My other siblings had kind of gone their own way. And my one brother who was still living with me never came home at night.

He was running around doing whatever he wanted to do. And so I had a time where I was able to write down some of the losses that I suffered in my childhood. And I'm just going to read a small list for you. The things I really did not get that I lost out on because of this lifestyle. So I didn't have financial security, I didn't have emotional security. I didn't have parents that were healthy. I didn't have adequate food and clothing at times. I didn't have sober caretakers. They were often struggling with their addiction. I had some violent spankings. I was witness to physical abuse. I didn't get to have healthy parenting. My parents didn't teach me about boundaries or about how to interact in proper relationships with people. My father was missing in my life., mostly until I was about 14 and then I moved in with him.

And so I didn't have that healthy adult in my life. He wasn't healthy anyway, but I didn't have a father figure in my life. And so I had difficulty with relationships as a kid as well. And moved a lot. It was really just a really rough, rough childhood. I didn't know that; I learned to make the best of things. I was blessed with some athletic talent, I was a runner, my older brother was a runner, so I ran a lot and I played basketball and got some success in doing those things that made me feel good about myself. I also learned early on that good grades were a good thing, So I, I studied hard and got good grades and so I was able to, even at a young age, learn that if you did some good things that would result in good things happening to you.

And so when I was 14, everything just kind of came to a head in my mom's life. She hit rock bottom and I moved in with my sister. I lived with my sister for six months. My mother just really couldn't care for us. She was living with her sister at the time and so Kathy, my oldest sister, she's 10 years older. She was married, she had a new baby. They had just become Christians within about the last year. And so, I moved in with them and my brother-in-law - this guy was fun. I mean, he was a lot of fun to hang out with. He was a jock and we'd play tennis all the time. We played basketball all the time. He owned a and ran a Christian outreach that was a pool hall. And so after school, I'd go to this, this pool hall for six months.

I got to, you know, wear the keys to the machines and open them up and give people their money back. It was fun. We were blasting Christian music over the sound system. He had these big reel-to-reel tapes, you've probably never seen those. But you know, it was a really, really exciting time in my life because my sister and my brother-in-law sat down with me and introduced me to Jesus. And you know, with what I just described for you it wasn't a hard sell. OK? I really embraced the message of Jesus Christ, this ideal that, that Paul talked about last week and that we read about in scripture. I mean, if you think about the good shepherd in caring for the flock and that you needed to, you know, a man needs to leave his mother and father, that was easy to do in a heartbeat!

And, I had this loving God that was gonna care for me and that he was going to bless me and that I could be an heir with Jesus and in inheriting all the benefits of being in the Kingdom of God? So you guys, it was a radical time in my life and it was what really attracted me to become a Christian. Candidly, I had a lot of time on my hands. I didn't know anybody. I was in Rogers, Arkansas, didn't know anybody. and so I read my Bible every day as an eighth-grader. I was in eighth grade and it was tremendous. I learned a lot about that. I really, throughout my high school years - that was the competition for me - to know the Bible. I wanted to know it better than anybody for some reason.

And so it was really kind of the early stages of what I became accustomed to in terms of really understanding that if you did something you could obtain knowledge or obtain an achievement that would help you succeed. And so, before I even knew what personal development was, I was doing it as a, as a high schooler. Well, I moved in with my dad in Des Moines about six months after that, because, financially, it made better sense. And so, kind of lived in my high school years with my dad, who was also an alcoholic. And that's a whole 'nother story that I'm not gonna talk about today. But, nonetheless, at 18 years of age, decided to leave their home and I got married. I went to Bible College for a year and I decided that that was a route I was going to pursue and I just had to turn my back on my childhood and I was just going to forget it and move ahead.

And unfortunately, the sins of my mother and the sins of my father came to haunt me. In Exodus 20:4-6, Part of the 10 Commandments says, "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the Earth, beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them. For I the Lord your God am a jealous God. Punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." You see my dad's dad was an alcoholic. And there was divorce and my mother's side of the family. And about a year into my marriage I started to backslide. For whatever reason, I couldn't hold on to that ideal and started to make really bad choices.

I drank for the first time at 19 and I started messing around. I ended up really being married for about two years even though on paper it was three and a half and I got a divorce when I was 21. I also had an OWI at 21 and that was a huge wake-up call. I sat with a secular counselor who said to me: "if you don't change your ways, you're going to end up like your dad." And that was the very last thing in my life that I wanted - to end up like my dad. So I stopped all that stuff and I met Cindy at that time. We both were kind of in similar situations in terms of where weren't really walking with the Lord, but we both knew that we should. And honestly, that was a huge thing that brought us to each other.

And by the age of 25, we'd gotten married and had my first child. So I had two stepchildren, Cindy had two from her first marriage and now I have three kids. I will tell you that I thought at age 25 that I had really had an awakening in my life. We started to go back to church. I dedicated my life to Christ. A few years later, I started working with youth and youth ministry and did that for 15 years. And I really thought at 25 I had matured. I really did. And I love this quote from John Maxwell that says, "many people say maturity comes with age. I've learned though that sometimes age comes all by itself." And, and really that's what was going on with me. I thought on the outside, through all my desires for personal development, I was a husband or father, I was reading books about personal development, about Christian development.

And I really was trying on the outside to do all the right things. I was trying to achieve this fullness of Christ and what that walk looked like. Really what happened, and it was really embarrassing to me, is that I started to lead somewhat of a double life. The first me was the guy that was trying to be a good husband to Cindy. I had accountability partners. I was reading books on marriage. I was trying to be a good dad. I was doing the things that you do there. I was reading my Bible I was trying to remain in and have a good prayer life. I was working on my character and I was trying to be a good provider and just check all the boxes that I was "good" by what I was doing.

But that was really hard and I didn't really understand. I guess I would argue that maybe I'm a little bit of a victim of being raised in a legalistic and violent environment. I know many of you would probably say that you too were raised in an environment where there's a lot of legalism. So I could blame that if I like. But the truth is, I was really just not making good decisions because there was a second me, there's this "Me No. 2." I was not putting up right boundaries in my life. I was lying to my wife, I was lying to friends. I wasn't in healthy relationships. I was maintaining unhealthy ones and I didn't care for myself emotionally. I just didn't do the things that a person should do, to tell yourself the right things. And I sought acceptance from other people to help make me feel good.

And I had the venue to do that through ministry and through a career I was pursuing. You know, if you look at who I had become, I really was what I've grown to know as an "adult child." I'm going to put a definition up here that there are three ways you can look at this term. I kind of encapsulated two of them. If you put the first one aside, the second one is really from psychology: It's an adult who grew up in a dysfunctional family, especially in the care of a parent or guardian with an addiction. Frequently alcoholism. Bingo, right? That's who I'd become. But truthfully, I embrace more so the second one and adult who retains the qualities or characteristics typical of children, especially one who's not fully developed emotionally or socially.

By Peter Scazzero

You know, when Cindy and I would get into arguments, I would put her down. I would minimize what she was trying to say. I would try to convince her that I was right and she was wrong. I would escalate and shout at her. These are childish behaviors that I brought in even as a, what I thought I was, a mature Christian. As a dad, I made a lot of mistakes that I wish I could go back and change. The most embarrassing part about all of this is that this was a state that I had been in behaving and thinking and living like an adult child. It lasted for over 20 years. You know, we've read a book and they've led a small group over a book called the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. The author Peter Scazzero, tells a similar story about his not being able to interact as a healthy adult for about 17 years. So honestly it was one of the first times I've read where somebody could say they did the same thing.

I'm gonna pause on my story. It gets a little heavy for me. So I'm going to go to today's scripture, and I'm going to talk about the Israelites for just a second. I think you'll find some parallels between what Shannon read and in my story. So the Israelites had been in captivity for 400 years, slaves in Egypt, slaves under the Pharaoh, and they had definitely learned to operate as slaves for hundreds of years. The idea was that they were crying out in their slavery to God; they had hoped that God would somehow deliver them and they never lost that hope. They continued to pray and hope that God would do something to bring them into freedom. And so God sent Moses. We know that story. We know that Moses was born Hebrew. He was raised in Pharaoh's family and one day he realized that he was a Hebrew and he left, got kind of driven out of Egypt and then God sent him back to deliver the people from their slavery.

I'm not sure what I would've thought about that. Here's this guy that we knew who was in Pharaoh's family and he's the one that's gonna deliver us. You know, we'd been crying out to God for all these years and there's been no answer and this is the answer on the surface. It might be very difficult for someone who is in slavery to grasp and believe that was really going to happen. But God did promise them. He promised he takes them out of Egypt. And in fact, he formed a covenant with them. We've talked about covenant and I talk about it too much probably, but it's this idea that God really wanted to marry us right here. It's the kind of language that's used in scripture is that of a covenant of marriage that we would become his bride, so it's a strong, strong covenant. So God demonstrated his power as he sent 10 plagues over a year to demonstrate his strength.

He finally convinced through all the pressure he put on Pharaoh. Pharaoh said, "yes, go ahead and get out of here. Just get out of our, our country." In fact, they even let the Israelites plunder Egypt and take that money or to take everything with them to the promised land. They had that Red Sea experience where they get there and God parts the Red Sea. They get on the other side and watch their captors drown in the sea as the waters come back on them. You see this really exciting story of their exodus from slavery and then they get to the Promised Land. It's within reach. So, they send out these 12 spies and what they see is the land is flowing with milk and honey, in fact, they'd bring back samples of it.

But what they also saw were giants and these fortified cities that were present. And really these, spies did not trust that God could deliver them into that promise and that they can help defeat them because they had this slave mentality. In fact, the most significant report that came back from the spies. They said, "we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes." So it wasn't what they saw when they checked out this promised land. But rather what was most impactful is how they saw themselves.

And so because of this, they didn't get to go into the Promised Land and God sent them back into the desert, and he used that as a time to form the people. The people of Israel did not see themselves as God saw them. Their slave mentality kept them from protecting or from possessing the promised land. And so that brings us to the scripture that Shannon read, where Moses goes up on Sinai to hear from God, and while he's away, what happens? They revert back to their old ways. In Exodus 32, so when the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down, they gathered around Aaron said, "come make us gods who will go before us as for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt. We don't know what has happened to him." And then later he says that the Lord said to Moses, go down because your people whom you brought up out of Egypt had become corrupt.

And then the last part that he said, "I've seen these people, the Lord said to Moses, and they are stiff-necked people now leave me alone so that my anger burned against them." So when Moses gets down, he says, the Aaron says, "What did these people do to you that you led them into such great sin?" And Aaron says, "don't be angry with me, Lord, you know how prone these people are to evil."

You know, honestly, it's not surprising, right? It's not surprising that the people did this because they had become accustomed to patterns in their life that had been ingrained for hundreds of years and so they had to live in this desert for 40 years for God to really bring about the change in them. The Apostle Paul writes that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit who now lives in us. The spirit indwells and lives within us. But just as we saw with the Israelites, the important question today for all of us is how do we see ourselves? Maybe I wish someone would have taught me to ask myself that same question. How did I see myself? Because I saw myself much differently than what God saw in me.

You see, most people even after receiving Christ, continue to believe the voices from their past. They believe voices that are contrary to what God says, that they should believe or that they should know about who they are. Most people fall into the trap of trying to change just like I did through self-help or personal development techniques. On the surface, that provides some temporary results, but rarely do they provide long-term results and so this is what we'll call an outside-in approach to change. God's plan for us, just as we saw in the video, and by the way, I wish we all had that video and watched it daily. It would change your life. I promise ya. That when a person changes from the inside out, that's when you really become one with God. That you really start to see that change.

Paul in Ephesians 4 says, "you were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." We're familiar with Romans 12, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will." So, you see, it seems that every disciple then really has to look at the brokenness and sin of his or her family, culture and past in order to really embrace fully the life in Christ. And that's what I did back in 2010.

2010 was a really hard year for me, personally. It was a very hard year for our marriage. Cindy and I nearly got divorced. We didn't, thank the Lord, but we went through a tremendous amount of healing that needed to happen both in our marriage, but more importantly, inside of me. I had become a very, very unhealthy person. So, going through this process of looking back was critical to helping me get to a point where I would be unstuck and I could start to go forward. The problem is that most of us haven't done that. Most of us have not really taken the time to look back at our family of origin or how we were raised to determine if there was anything in it that might have affected the patterns that you have and how you operate in your life today.

Some of us have had major earthquake events in our lives that we've never really dealt with. This past week, we all got to see the horrible effects of the USA gymnastics, Dr. Larry Nassar and what he did to over a 150 young women who were allowed to give impact statements at that trial. I know that the media has really focused heavily on the positive message that those young women were able to declare publicly about their ability to move forward. But I have to tell you, as a guy who had some major earthquake events, I can't help but think what that did to them - what that sexual abuse did to those young girls and how that's going to affect them in their lives. They've got a long road ahead of them. And I know that as I talk about this, some of you might be saying to yourself, "you know, Jim, this is probably a really good thing for you to do because you had a really poor upbringing and that these earthquakes were pretty severe for you."

In fact, some of you might be skeptical. You might be somewhat cynical about it being a lot of psychobabble or that it's for people who are drug addicts or whatnot. But I'll tell you that I think everybody has issues in their life. It may not be the kind of issues that I have, but you have something probably that's getting in your way.

Going back to examine your upbringing is not just for one segment of society. It's for all of us. I talked about my upbringing and we could talk about drug addicts and alcoholics or anybody who is a special case. But think about a perfectionist, for example, or people-pleasers or workaholics or people who are just extremely critical or judgmental. Why are you that way?

You know, perfectionists are some of the worst people in the world to be around. You can never live up to their standard. Workaholics, lose their marriages have problems just like alcoholics do. Most people accept the perfectionists, people pleasers, and workaholics because that's more socially acceptable than a drug addict or alcoholic. But it is exactly the same thing. It's a behavior that gets in the way of you fulfilling your life in Christ. About 10 days ago, we're looking for something to watch on TV. And Netflix has a documentary on Shonda Pierce. Shonda's a well-known comedian and I think declared is one of the most successful comedians of all time. And I thought we were going to get an hour stand- up. I really was excited about this, but I was surprised because it's actually a documentary.

It's a full-blown documentary about Shonda's life. And it's sad. It's a sad a documentary to watch because you get to see the pain that Shonda talks about as a 50-year-old woman, as a result of things that happened to her as even as a small child. She talks about this incident where she is in her church as a kid and she's drinking from the water fountain, kind of bent over. Behind her are two older women in the church and one of them says, "you know, that's so-and-so's children." They're from Tennessee, so I'll try to do my best southern accent here. "She's the one that's not very p-r-e-t-t-y. And Shonda, in jest says, "Apparently, they didn't know that I could s-p-e-l-l because she got up from the water fountain and ran to her mother and said, "Mom, am I not pretty?"

Isn't that terrible? That someone would say that about a child at a drinking fountain in a church of all places, where it's supposed to be safe. She also talks about her husband of many years had passed away a few years ago. He was an alcoholic and she talks about how she oftentimes asked herself, "Am I enough for him? Is that why he's drinking? Is that why I'm having all these marital problems is because is it me? Am I not pretty enough, or am I not smart enough? Am I not good enough?"

You guys, we all ask those questions. Thankfully, she, in her documentary, concluded that his alcoholism was his problem and not her problem. But many people don't come to that same conclusion. See, everyone has issues with how they're wired.

Let's go back to Paul's question from last week: "Are you experiencing the true peace and abundance in your walk with Christ?" Do you ever feel like you're stuck in patterns that seem to creep in and out of your relationships that you long to maintain for the long haul, but you can't because of these bad patterns? All of us have old patterns that were stuck in. Even people who were abused and neglected and traumatized, they definitely have these issues. But as I mentioned, there are many other ways that people have them. Maybe you even have your own personal sin in your life. That's creating shame and guilt and condemnation that you're carrying around with you, that you can't really believe that you can be forgiven for those things. You may say it, but inside you don't really tell yourself that.

In Luke 24, this is kind of interesting. Jesus has been resurrected and he's approaching these disciples on the road to me. He says, "now that same day two of them were going to the village about seven miles from Jerusalem. They're talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other. Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him and he asked them, 'what are you discussing together as you walk along?' They stood still and their faces were downcast. One of them named Cleopas asked him, 'are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?' Look what Jesus says, 'what things?'" Why didn't he just right then reveal himself to them? Why didn't he just say "hey, it's me."

But that's not what he chose to do. Jesus knew what happened, but instead, he just let them talk about it. You let them express what it is that it happened and how they felt about it because Jesus knew that their emotional mental state was real and they needed to talk about it. They needed to be able to express it. Then of course, then he reveals himself to them. You know, I think all of us need to talk about some of those things in our life that have had a significant impact on us today.  To do so is not a sign of weakness or an attempt to bash those that were in our life at that time. Some people say, "I don't want to talk about my childhood issues, I don't want it to be a time for me to talk badly about my mom or my dad."

I get that, but honestly, that's not what it's about. It's not about talking about them. It's about talking about you and the messages that you were given and the patterns that you have adopted in your life so that you can learn to make new ones. Let me give you a couple of slides I hope are really practical slides that can remind you of things that would be worth exploring. You know, a human being is equipped to endure, achieve, and become many amazing things, but there are three burdens that no human was designed to carry for very long, especially all alone. The first one is that of trying to be an independent agent, trying to run our own life all alone. So many of us feel like we're capable. "I'll do it". But the reality is, we're creatures that were made and built for a relationship with one another. The second burden is the heavy load of trying to stuff within ourselves all the damage and pain we suffered from the offenses, abuses, and neglect inflicted upon us by others. That should not be a burden that you should have to carry by yourself. And the third burden is the heavy damage done and guilt incurred as a result of our own sins. Crimes, atrocities, betrayals, and the damage inflicted on others through our own inadequacies, ignorance, false assumptions, corruption, selfishness, and profound limitations.

Whenever we believe we have to carry all or any of these burdens alone, we become sick in spirit and soul and in the body. We need to be able to talk and share it with somebody. We need to stop running from the past and learn, instead, to face and accept and admit the truth about the life that we've had and ourselves just the way we were and just the way that we are. In our huddle out there this morning before church, Nate said going back is OK because that's who you are and that is exactly right. We have to come to come to grips with that.

Here's one more. There are six H's that can contaminate our lives if they're not dealt with: hurts, horrors, humiliations, hatreds, hungers, and honors. I'm gonna just pick the last one here. The accomplishments that make you feel that you have to continue to perform well, to be loved and accepted.

So many of us continue to operate in our own ability using our own strength, our own willpower, never really dealing with those things are truly getting in the way of true spiritual transformation in our lives. In other words, we accept the state of being stuck and just conclude that everybody probably is in the same boat. I'm going to tell you, as I've learned, that is a lie. It is the epitome of self-deception. I was a pro at it and for whatever reason, you too have probably allowed yourself to believe that achieving the type of relationship with Christ that you really read about in the scripture is not attainable. It's for other people, maybe, but it's not attainable for you. I'm telling you it is attainable for you as well.

The alternative to staying stuck in that rut is to develop appropriate new wiring and new patterns, repeating them until they're deeply programmed into our mental condition. It takes disconnecting from an old pattern and the installation of a new one to enable a person to truly get unstuck and began growing toward effective recovery. You gotta learn to think in new ways. What you tell yourself is really important because what we've all learned and know is that we only believe what our brain tells us. Whatever your mind comes to know as true? That's the truth. You tell yourself that. A lie unchallenged becomes truth, whether it's true or not. So you have to really learn to think in new ways. I'm pretty simple. If you've come to know me, I'm not a real complicated guy. If you know me closely, you've probably received one of these from me before. It's a calendar. This is a daily calendar that has a statement of truth about your life in Christ much what we saw in the video that was shown before the sermon here.

When you're able to verbalize the things that are really true about your life in Christ, it's amazing how, if every day you tell yourself the truth, then it starts to crowd out those lies, it starts to crowd out the old patterns and allows you to develop new ones. These calendars were developed by a ministry called Christ Life. And I bought all of them. I felt that strongly about people in my life telling themselves the right thing, that I asked them if I could just buy all that they had. And so, I have three of them with me today. I want to give these three away before I leave today. So, if you think you could benefit from them, and I'll even add that if you're a parent in this room, your children need to learn early to say the right things to tell themselves the right truths. So, at the beginning of today, when I started talking, I prayed that God would pour his spirit out on all of you. And as I close here, I'm gonna. Just ask you a couple of questions.

Because I know that some of you probably are carrying burdens that are bigger than you can carry. I know that some of you probably are telling ourselves lies on a regular basis. What you don't maybe realize that it is affecting how you see yourself, how you interact with your spouse, how you interact with others in your relationships that you're in.  It's getting in the way of you really experiencing the kind of life that Christ has for you.

So, I want to ask you just to examine for a second, if you close your eyes with me: has it? Has the Holy Spirit been tugging at you this morning in any way? Is something that has been said today, resonated with how you feel and the challenges that you're experiencing? Do you need to spend some time and go back and look at your background, look at your upbringing so that you can start to go forward?

I talked about telling yourself the truth and that's one step, but you can also find a good Christian friend to help talk this out with. Somebody who is going to be a good listener to you. You could find one of our elders. You guys, we have our structure is that we have a board that takes care of the business of the church and then we have elders who are to take care of the ministry and the spiritual care of our church. So, we have elders who would be more than happy to sit down and talk with you and pray with you about your background and how you talk about these old patterns that you've experienced it. Start to develop new ones. We talked about the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book. Our small group covered did it last year. Paul and Jessica's small group did that last year. Look for a small group that's doing the EHS book. One its sections talks about dealing with your past.

And I want to just let you know that there's a, there is a ministry in town that Cindy and I support called The Ultimate Journey. The Ultimate Journey is a way to help you get unstuck. It's offered in weekly sessions at a number of churches around the city. They also have at their headquarters in Urbandale. They have what they call "turbos." There, You can go for two or three days and intensively deal with some of the things in your past and really look at the blueprint of how your life should look and start to make some changes to get you on track and get you unstuck. If that would be of interest, if what we've talked about this morning, what we've talked about this morning would be of interest to you, come see Cindy and I. We love this ministry because it changed our lives... It saved our marriage. It was a reality that I just didn't know. It was something that people maybe talked about, but it never was real for me until I went through that process. So, I want you to take that seriously today.

Would you pray with me as we close?

This audio was originally published via The Gateway Church