Sunday, July 31, 2016

Proverbs 25:2 comes to life...

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."
Proverbs 25:2

I felt this scripture come to life this weekend. Discovered a box, filled with rare old family photos, some of which I have never seen...

The Most High is so good; He knew how much finding these photos would mean to me!

Hallelujah!!!







Saturday, July 30, 2016

Someone’s Therapist


 

I came across a humorous post on the internet:

“Someone’s therapist knows all about you.”

It made me laugh…and think. I thought back to many therapy sessions I engaged in, talking about certain individuals and their impact of my life, disorder and state of mind. I talked about my mother, my dad and my childhood bullies. Believe me, I had A LOT to say. So, yes, even though my therapist never met them, she knew all about these people.

But this humorous post touched on something bigger. It wasn’t just about the acquired knowledge a therapist gained when his/her patient ranted about their issues. It had to do with God- the ultimate therapist- and His role in our lives as we struggle, hurt and encounter recovery.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

Cue the heart, therefore:

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

But this heart issue is not a passive thing, ignored by God. Quite the contrary, in fact.

“…the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

 In other words…

“Someone’s therapist knows all about you.”

But, again, there is not a passive nature to these realities, if we choose to participate.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalms 139:23-24

 “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”

Joel 2:13

And we do have that choice to make.

 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

John 14:1

How does the old saying go? Admitting you need help is the first step.

“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.’”

Matthew 9:12

And, hey, guess who is our help?

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalms 46:1

 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

“Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.”

Hebrews 7:3

A/K/A, someone’s therapist…

“Someone’s therapist knows all about you.”

Yep, get ready for some truly intensive therapy should we, again, choose to accept it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalms 139:23-24

God knows about our issues, our pain, our triggers, our histories, our families- everything. He knows exactly why, where and how we are the way we are in life. Nothing gets past Him.

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.”

Psalm 139:2

Yes, someone’s therapist does know all about you: the good, the bad and the ugly.

And, rather than be frightened by that, we can choose to embrace it and find true comfort IN it.

That sounds quite therapeutic to me.

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

 

Need This Attitude Today...





Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Overcoming Self-Loathing


 

Featured in July 27th’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse discusses the vulnerability of young people, especially concerning the negative self-image they often absorb in this culture.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Marco Polo


 

 

When I was a child, I once had a nightmare which sent me sleepwalking…all the way outside. That’s right, even though I had no memory of doing so, I got up in the middle of the night, put on my coat, mittens and boots (Minnesota winter, mind you), opened my front door and walked down to the barn. From there, while still in my dream state, I hollered for my mother, convinced I was completely alone, in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, my mother came outside, wondering (and yelling back) what all of the fuss was about. That finally woke me up to enthusiastically respond to her voice. At last, at long last, I was reunited with my familiar surroundings. I was no longer hopelessly lost.

Middle of nowhere. Anybody out there feel that’s where they are?

When we’re kids, we often play the game, Marco Polo. It’s basically a game of tag, with the “it” person” left to wander, without their sight, seeking the other game players. Tag, you’re it; that’s the objective. It’s often played in swimming pools. And originally, the game started from the chronicles of Mr. Marco Polo, himself:

“And I was swept down by the mighty torrent. I was snagged by a fallen tree a ways downstream. My father and uncle could not see me, as the morning fog had not yet lifted, and I could not see my hand when directly in front of my face. Then I heard a faint whistle in the wind, ‘Marco! Marco!’ I heard my father crying. I responded with the only thing I could think of, ‘Polo!’ I shouted. He then walked the bank of the river and found the tree I had been snagged on, climbing out to save me." - Marco Polo, from, “The travels of Marco Polo, Volume 1.”

So, it also was concerning my bad nightmare. I was shrieking Marco Polo for a rescue from my lost condition.

And how many of us play Marco Polo with God? I suppose that game goes all the way back to “in the beginning” kind of stuff. Genesis 3:8-9 tells us about a hide and seek game involving Adam, Eve and God. The only problem was Adam and Eve didn’t want to be found.

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called…‘Where art thou?’”

 It gets worse from there, as, in Genesis 3:10-13 a blame game replaces the hide and seek.

And, after distributing some consequences (Genesis 3:14-19), God kicks them out of Paradise (Genesis 3:23-24). Wonderful.

Marco?

Eviction.

And we’ve heard about the lost sheep parable…

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Luke 15:4-7

 That’s a better end than the Eden eviction, I suppose. But still, when it comes to answers for our lives, what about you and I? Are we playing a game of Marco Polo with God?

Life, inevitably, causes each of us to go off course, to get lost…

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way...”

Isaiah 53:6

 Again with the sheep? Great. It’s not looking too bright for us, is it? Are we destined then to only be lost and hollering “Marco,” while getting no answer of “Polo” from God? Is it hopeless?

After all, scripture tells us we don’t know what we’re doing…

“…the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”

Jeremiah 10:23

More great news. So, are we left to fend for ourselves? No. God’s faithful enough to remind us of His guidance:

 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”

Psalm 32:8

What if, however, our experience doesn’t show evidence of that? Maybe we need to ask ourselves, “who’s saying ‘Marco’ and who’s saying ‘Polo?’” Maybe God’s waiting on us.

 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

                                                             Jeremiah 31:3

Feeling drawn? If you’re searching for answers to your life, then, yes, I’d say you’re feeling drawn by God. God’s asking you, “Marco?”

            “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’...’”

Isaiah 6:8

What’s your response?

“...Here am I; send me.’”

Isaiah 6:8

Is that it? Or is it more like “my way?” instead of ‘Polo?”

We like our own way, don’t we? But scripture lays out the whole issue when Jesus taught us to pray…

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:10

Somehow, we don’t jump up and down with Marco Polo enthusiasm about that concept. We tend to often want our will done instead of God’s.

Remember…

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way...”

Isaiah 53:6

Great. Again with the sheep! How’s a sheep supposed to play Marco Polo with God in the first place?

Answer? Perhaps by letting the shepherd be the shepherd? The 23rd Psalm says it best. Check it out:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.”

It’s God’s response to our lost state, our stress, our confusion. Will we let the Lord be our shepherd or not?

What do you say? Marco? Or Polo?
 

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 


 

 

 

 

Under Construction


 

Ta-Dah!!!! Finished!!! Nothing more to be done; I’m perfect. Sounds great, doesn’t it? How many of us out there strive for this end all, be all perfection? How many of us get such tunnel vision in the scrutiny of details that we forget to give ourselves a break of grace in this process called life? See yourself here? Do you see yourself under construction or under oppression?

God has told us that it is He who will perfect the things concerning us (Psalm 138:8). We, therefore, don’t need to have every issue, every second, every single thing of our lives figured out. God tells us that His thoughts are not our thoughts anyway (Isaiah 55:9).

Right now, are you obsessing, or rather, WHAT are you obsessing about? Who you are, what you’re grappling with in your life is not all there is to the story. You and I are under construction. Part of that construction process involves the truth that God’s Grace is needed because we are imperfect and will blow it, sometimes, big time, during our lives. But these mistakes don’t overwhelm God at all. He takes even our mistakes and works incredible things from them. Check out Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

While you’re under construction, whatever that may mean to you, remember, God’s the Architect, the Master Designer of it all. His plan is never to leave you as a broken road or bridge; you are created to be His incredible victorious child of purpose. And so, the construction continues. Go about your life being under construction, not under oppression; you’re worth God’s process in you!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, July 22, 2016

Perseverance: The Race Set Before Us


 

Featured in July 22nd’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse discusses the mentality of persistence we need to incorporate within recovery, resembling that of a personalized marathon.

Narcissus (Falling Into the Image)


 

“...Keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

1 John 5:21

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter, renowned for his beauty. According to the legend, he was walking in the woods when Echo, a mountain nymph, saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?" Echo repeated "Who's there?" She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He, however, immediately rejected her. Talk about an old tune. Therefore, heartbroken, she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her.

Meanwhile, Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned about this situation and decided to punish Narcissus. (Ah, yes, vengeance). She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection; not understanding it was only an image, he fell in love with it.
 
 (Typical, huh?)

However, he eventually realized his love could not be addressed and died.

“As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.”

Proverbs 27:19

And you thought you had issues.

I’ve given much thought to Narcissism over the years. And nothing puts it more into focus than recovery from my disordered eating and body image issues.

Since childhood, I’ve had an intense love/hate relationship with the mirror and my own refection staring back at me. I’ve rejected that image, critiqued it, admired it and observed things about it which weren’t even there in the first place. When I was at my lowest weight from anorexia, all I could see was a distorted pot belly stomach, even though my ribs protruded and my waistline was twenty inches.

My body and my mind’s eye were two different things. I couldn’t see past my idol. Narcissism and its culprit, rampant inferiority, were clouding every kind of vision and perception. Distortion was, therefore, the only result.

I relate to Narcissus, so caught up in the reflection, in the vision of self-defined beauty; it’s an obsession. And, to one degree or another, we’re all caught up in it. How many of us look in a mirror, experiencing a range of emotions at our reflections? We have an acceptable image standard in our minds and we strive to create it as our reality. We preen. We comb, brush, yank, tweeze, apply, conceal, line, highlight, tease and style ourselves into that version of an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

“...it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols.”

Jeremiah 50:38

And that’s just the bathroom mirror; forget about a full length one!

And yes, we’re usually left disappointed with the finished product. Why? It’s because it’s an idol. We give our strength to it and/or gather our strength from it: idolatry. And we’re warned not to mess with it…

“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols...”

Acts 15:20

Somehow, somewhere within our psyches, however, is this drive to be God, to have things fashioned according to our preferences and whims. We want to control. We want to be our own God.

Spiritually, however, there’s this one tiny little detail; we can’t be God…

“...we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.”

1 Corinthians 8:4

That, however, need not squash our value and estimation of our individual worth. Just because we’re not God doesn’t mean we aren’t like God…

“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...’”

Genesis 1:26

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 1:27

Genesis, indeed, guides us into an accurate self-assessment.

We don’t call the shots, but we resemble the One Who does!

That means we need to focus on Him. We already take after Him. But living in in fallen world has taught us lies, and, in that batch, there have been a slew of them about ourselves:

We’re unlovable.

We’re ugly.

We’re worthless.

We’re hopeless.

We’re not good enough.

We’re defective.

We’re the only ones like this; everyone else, however, meets that acceptable standard.

Lies.

So, the school of life has many lessons, if we’re willing to learn them, on revelation of our true selves.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2

No smoke and mirrors, just accurate reflection of God’s glory. Just like the countless hours we’ve spent staring at the mirror, admiring, tweaking and obsessing about our reflections, we, likewise, need to study our true reflection, God’s determination about who we are.

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

This takes work. Don’t get me wrong; we don’t need to work to become valuable, lovable or worthwhile. We are that already. But we need massive lessons in learning how to receive it as unshakable, reassuring Truth.

It’s an ongoing process, but it’s one which tells us we will not find hope in our inferior Narcissism, but instead in God alone.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 62:1-2

Let’s reflect on that then!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Genius Calling Card


 

I’m a huge fan of classic cartoons. The Roadrunner, in particular, always makes me smile.

Recently, I stumbled across an image, featuring Wile. E. Coyote’s “calling card,” which read “Genius.” And it immediately reminded me of a famous Albert Einstein quote…

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

All of us, to one degree or another, have been affected by incorrectly viewing ourselves and our worth. And there are many of us who have experienced this at its most extreme. Traumatic abuse and mistreatment can convey the message we are worthless and stupid because of (fill in the blank with any personal reason given by the abusive person)…

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

This scripture is there to instruct us on the power of words in our lives; they can either heal or wound. And it’s within the wounding where we often internalize the wrong message on our calling cards. We do not see our incredible genius or value; we only see the worst.

But this is not who we are. First of all, we are made in God’s Image…

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 1:26-27

Furthermore, we also need to keep in mind we are created for purpose.

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”

Colossians 1:16

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

John 1:3

“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Romans 11:36

And, because of those two things, we can, therefore, experience the ridicule, the oppression and the rejection of this thing called life.

“…Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy!' Yet they will be put to shame.’”

Isaiah 66:5

After all, look who experienced it first?

“If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

John 15:18

 “You will be hated by everyone because of me...”

Matthew 10:22

 “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

John 1:10-11

Again, it has to do with our self-image. What is on our calling cards? Is it “genius” or “worthless?”

Let’s all be card-carrying members of that first option!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Monday, July 18, 2016

People Who Fail (No other kind around)


 





Featured in July 18th’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse cites various “against all odds” public figures who reached astounding success, even in spite of their personal failures.
 
 
 

Friday, July 15, 2016

On Its Way... "The Wishing Well"


 

Just heard from the editor of “In Recovery Magazine.” They will be publishing my article, “The Wishing Well” in their Summer 2017 issue. The Most High is good to me once again. Thankful.