Monday, October 31, 2016

Fear Versus Faith


Faith is big when we speak of all things God; it’s a key element. And we may nod our heads in assent to that reality. Or maybe, we can feel intimidated, discouraged or baffled about the issue. I know I’ve gone around and about it myself, questioning if, indeed, I had the right kind of faith or enough of it.

I discuss it in my book:

“As I plowed through the Bible, I found a Scripture that summed up who I was and what I was going through.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24:

That was me! I knew I couldn’t be enough, love enough, believe enough, and have faith enough unless God helped me.

            When I began to feel that I wasn’t hell-bound after all, I experienced an opposing tug in this battle. Another thought popped up: “How do you know you even believe in God, or want to believe in God?” This scared me. My life showed me repeatedly that I couldn’t trust my own heart. Maybe this desperation for God was a new lie.

            I decided to fight as hard as I could, not because I was nobly seeking after God, but because I was scared to death of my life without Him. I had to find this story of Jairus’ daughter, but more than that, I had to find God Himself.

            The guilt and shame over my past took a backseat to my new urgency in finding God. Some days, I felt like I was saved and on my way to a wonderful life with God. Other days, I left the lights on and slept clutching my Bible for dear life, like a child clutches a teddy bear. I cried. I laughed. I shouted. I cowered. I whispered and whimpered. But through it all, I kept praying, “God, be real to me, be real.” And I kept reading the Bible.”

 Indeed, as cliché as it sounds, actually reading God’s Word has helped me come to terms with my faith. And part of that process was recognizing that having perfect, problem and question free issues regarding the matter was not the same as having faith in the first place. Indeed, again, according to scripture...

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

You have faith; I have faith. And, it’s a living organism, constantly being developed in some way. That may mean it is going through some awkward stages. But we’re never to fear, including the tricky process of our faith development:

"Don't be afraid; just believe."

Mark 5:36

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.”

Proverbs 3:25

So, I guess we’re back to the close connection between the presence of faith as the antidote, however imperfect, dwelling in us, to the fear issue.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:1

 Our fears, running amuck, do nothing good for us.

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

Proverbs 29:25

Yes, the world can be a scary place. But again, that’s where faith in God comes in:

"Don't be afraid; just believe."

Mark 5:36

Ultimately, is the world, in all of its threats, lies and arguments, subject to God’s Power or not? Check out Matthew 8:26:

“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”

Are you intimidated by the faith issue, feeling only your fears are calling the shots? Remember an acronym to the word, “fear:” “false evidence appearing real.” Fear appears real, but God IS real- and He is really there, helping you now!

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

Challenge your fears and what you perceive to be your weak, less than, faith- With God’s gift of Jesus Who, indeed, is…

“…the author and the finisher of our faith…”

Hebrews 12:2

Have your faith, believe in its development and live, freer of any fear!!!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse


















The One Group...

Halloween Safety Tips For Pets...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Loved, Even With The Anger Reality


I’ve had experience with the “or else” fear mentality of anger. Coming from abuse, it was difficult to feel anger and love coexisting simultaneously. Years later, as an adult, it’s still been a challenge to untangle the two.

And, in my eating disorder recovery, I’ve frequently encountered individuals who have also been plagued with the struggle of anger versus love. Most of the time, in talking with young girls and women, if there’s ever been a disagreement, they often view it as me “hating” them, all of a sudden. Not true.

 Even if/when I’m angry about something, it’s not hatred. But, because of the importance subscribed to approval, unless there is an overjoyed, enthusiastic “yes response,” rejection, hatred and all manner of negative conclusions are viewed to be the only result.

We have gotten the anger thing quite twisted. Scripture tells us anger will come. How we respond to it is the greater issue:

“Be ye angry, and sin not…”

Ephesians 4:26

Easier said than practiced, I know. But I think a key to it is recognizing anger does not equal hatred/loss of love. We can be angry and love fiercely at the same time.

Someone once said the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. Good point.

After all, how many love relationships gone sour have had individuals who are unaffected by them? There’s usually some revenge fantasies, some desire to hurt the other party. We, as our base natures, want to hurt the one who hurt us. Not exactly lovely and noble, but human? Oh yeah! There’s tons of humanity oozing there!

If we’ve come from a background of abuse and perfectionism, it’s especially difficult to remain neutral. We are affected all over the place! We become sensitive to any perceived slight or rejection, all because we determine love must be constantly approving of us, be perfect and never hurt, especially if we’ve been abused. There is a premium on the “love as action” element. And, it’s further complicated if we cannot separate OUR “who” from our “do.” We want approval for every action, forsaking the reality that love approves of us as human beings, but not necessarily of every human action.

God loves us unconditionally. There’s nothing we can do to get Him to “un-love” us.

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

Isaiah 43:4

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.”

Isaiah 41:9

 “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

Yep, there’s a lot of love going on. There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us less- or more. He loves, beyond our finite understanding of the word and the experience.

But does that mean that God is absolutely thrilled with everything we do? Of course not. In some instances, God may even be peeved with us. But He never hates us. He just isn’t always happy with our choices.

Some of us, however, may have encountered abusive experiences in which love was conditional, carrying perfect expectations and wrathful violence if a standard was not achieved and maintained. The “or else” sense of dread can paralyze and confuse us; we never know where we stand.

And, if that’s how it is with human relationships, how much more powerful is this dynamic with a perfect ultimately powerful God?

But there’s no “or else” to God’s love for us, regardless of how He feels about our choices. He loves- constantly…

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

In fact, He got there first…

“We love him, because he first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

And, because of that “first love,” He gave us Jesus, even while we were imperfect, sinning, careless and, perhaps even, unloving?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

Let’s face it. If God had to wait until we got our perfectly loving act together, He’d STILL be waiting for it to happen! Again, I repeat this scripture…

“We love him, because he first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

He loved us while being pleased, frustrated, hurt by, concerned for, aware of, merciful and gracious with us. And yes, during that whole love fest process, God has been angry. An angry God is scary. We’re taught about “the fear of the Lord” in scripture (Psalms 19:9; Psalms 34:11; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 10:27; Proverbs 14:26; Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 19:23). But that has to do with respecting Him, not being afraid of Him.

Nevertheless, we need to remember God’s attitude to His anger…

“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Psalm 30:5

We’d benefit tremendously to adopt this perspective in our own lives, in relating to God and others. Scripture tells us to “let it go,” in fact…

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”

Ephesians 4:26

If our relationships don’t reflect that, they need to be examined and corrected; they may be abusive and toxic. If our view of God or even ourselves runs counter to Ephesians 4:26, it’s self-destructive; it’s not God’s chosen best for us.

Isn’t it time to free ourselves from the stifling conditions we place upon love? God loves, anger or no anger. He never takes that love away.

Whatever your experience has been with love and anger, please rest in God’s love being more powerful, more eternal than any temporary and/or inaccurate situation you’ve encountered.

God loves you.

Here. Now. Forever.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse








Trauma changes us...

Givers and Takers

Let yes’s and no’s be that

Choice is an often used word today. Let’s face it; we have a lot of choices at our disposal.
Experts say, on any given day, we think 60,000 thoughts daily, 48,000 of which are negative. We choose to do that.
Scripture tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21).
And, while it’s dangerous and foolish to believe we’re all powerful, it’s just as dangerous to believe we’re all power-less. Yet how many of us do that?
Each day, we think 60,000 thousand thoughts. Things like, “I’ll wear this,” “I’ll drink that,” “I’ll believe or doubt this bit of information,” “I’ll have this attitude.” The choices span the mundane, to the extraordinary, to the life- altering variety.
Yet each thought has this in common: it has a yes or a no possibility attached to it. That’s no small thing. If we say yes in one particular thought, we also answer no, and vice versa.
Recently, I had a situation in which a collective family opinion did not accept my unpleasing “no’ of an answer. That’s not surprising. After all, how many of us enjoy being told “no,” especially if it’s in regard to something we REALLY want?
Yet, for those of us in recovery, blurred boundaries, conflict avoidance and healthy self-mage are all challenging for us. We want to be pleasing, be a rescuer and be considered a “nice person.”
But that’s not always the healthiest choice for us; it’s not the best choice.
Scripture gives us the permission to say “yes” or “no.”
“Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:37
There are results from either path. And we need to accept that. Our thoughts will produce something. Is it something we really want in our lives? We need to think about that carefully.
And, make no mistake about it, there are no free passes when it comes to the results of our yes or no decisions. Something will happen. We, therefore, cannot choose both options simultaneously. To do so is to be “double minded.” And let’s see the results of THAT choice:
James 1:8
We are to be good stewards, not perfect stewards, of our lives. God has given each of us free will. Will we choose well?
Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse

The Hungry Hungry Hippo Approach


When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was “hungry hungry hippos.”

Ever played it? The goal was to have your hippo, one of four, devour as many of the marbles, positioned in the center of the game, as possible. By the press of the handy dandy levers, each player could control his/her own hippo head and chomp away as the feeding frenzy started.

Fun and games, gluttony and appetite...

Playing that kid’s game started me thinking more and more about these hot button words. They drive disorders and addictions. I know that as someone who’s in recovery from eating disorders of all types, they certainly were giant hippo heads chomping at my life.

Gluttony’s definition lists itself as an “excess in eating or drinking, greedy or excessive indulgence.”

And let’s not forget about the fun word, “appetite,” describing itself as “an instinctive physical desire, especially one for food or drink, a strong wish or urge.”

So, with that, we’re off and running. Chomp away!

Yet we rarely recognize exactly what we’re doing until it’s too late.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”

The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

This would probably be a great time to mention I broke OFF one of my hippos’ heads while playing the game as a kid.

Ideally, the game wasn’t supposed to go like this. We children were supposed to play nicely, reasonably chomping for marbles. But inevitably, I got impatient and carried away. It was world domination time. And so, my chomping became faster and harder, snapping for every white marble, bashing heads with another hippo. The loud clatter made my mother come out of the kitchen, just to make sure we weren’t destroying the furniture.

So, the fury intensified until one head bash or marble chomp too many launched my hippo head through the living room. I was now headless and powerless, all because of my marble-hungry attitude.

But there’s nothing new under the sun, according to Ecclesiastes. Once upon a time, just like the kid’s game, there were some clear instructions provided on how to play:

 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying,’ Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’”

Genesis 2:16-17

But then temptation came in. It may or may not have even been triggered by trauma. Nevertheless, it was influenced by dissatisfaction, greed and a large dose of cluelessness...

 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ And the woman said unto the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’ And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’”

Genesis 3:1-5

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Genesis 3:6

Eating the apple or obsessively playing a game? Same thing driving it- the “gimme more” demand.

So, now we have blurry guidelines, impulsive decision making and confusion...

 “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”

The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

Wonderful. We go after our cravings, compulsions and addictions and we lose our way.

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

Isaiah 53:6

We just keep chasing our appetites, no matter that doing so brings ruin...

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

James 1:15

And lookie here, we get still more confused...

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”

Romans 7:15

Just like Adam and Eve, we also eventually decide to blame God or someone/something else...

Genesis 3:12-13

Now we get it ALL wrong! If there’s any confusion going on, it is not coming from God.

 “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

1 Corinthians 14:33

We’re the ones who bring the disorder; we choose to recklessly play Hungry Hungry Hippos until our heads come off and our life game breaks.

We don’t fully get we are in a battle, especially if our chosen war toy is something notoriously irresistible, like drugs, alcohol or food. If something remotely looks like a fun or a soothing option, we tend to stick with it.

But, make no mistake about it, according to Romans 7, we are at war.

“But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”

Romans 7:23-25

However, the answer is found within that war, even in spite OF the war: God.


He’s not intimidated or blindsided by our struggles. He knows what’s going on.

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Psalms 103:14

And, just like how He responded to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-19; Genesis 3:23-24), He still chooses NOT to pulverize us.

Does that stop us from encountering some consequences? No. Does that mean we’re hopeless? No, it doesn’t. It means we need to turn our hunger, even our hungry hungry hippo hunger, in a different direction: to HIM.  

“For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

Psalms 107:9

There’s a temptation to do a serious eye roll here; it seems too Pollyanna to be true. I know. But let’s stick with the scripture for a second, even in the middle of our battle weary, out of control selves.

And one more thing about battle...the battle is God’s...

Proverbs 21:31 is an often quoted scripture, especially when it comes to trials: “the battle is the Lord’s.”

However, when I did some study on the scripture, what I came across was not the word “battle,” but “victory or “safety” instead. Check out some translations.

New International Version:
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.”

New American Standard Bible:
“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD.”

American King James Version:
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.”

Douay-Rheims Bible:
“The horse is prepared for the day of battle: but the Lord giveth safety.”

In all of our fury, desperation, appetites and drives, we still, however, often skip over this one important factor: God. And we could be chomping at the bit at Him!

 ...‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

Matthew 22:37

Furthermore, there’s this little ditty from God to us...

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

Isaiah 43:4

So, the next time we’re hungry, in battle, struggling or resembling a chomping hippo in any way, it might do us some good to remember the winning of the battle has less to do with our performance and more to do with our willingness to let God be God.

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

Romans 8:37

Recovery speak often calls it a moment of “surrender” or “clarity.”

What if we simply called it being hungry for God?

“For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

Psalms 107:9

No hippo heads required.

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Castanets, Anyone?

As we bump along in life, we often misunderstand things, especially concerning our recovery. I recently caught a cartoon which captures that reality.

In it, we see Jesus and His disciples on a fishing boat. One disciple is in a festive mood, complete with some castanet shaking. This prompts another disciple’s response...

“You idiot. He said cast the nets.”

Does this spotlight, once again, our human cluelessness?

Perhaps, rather, it taps into the purposeful recovery-from-addiction meaning in our lives, should we choose to embrace it.

Let’s take a gander at the fishy verses...

“And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’”

Luke 5:3-5

Now, it’s good to be focused; it’s good to be recovery-minded. But sometimes we can get downright myopic about it. The emphasis is on survival, on not dying in some way. It’s all about self.

So, if our selfy selfish selves are running amok, it’s all the more challenging to look to past these self-interests, to consider anyone else’s issues.

And this pesky human nature often drives our whine to God’s request as we navigate our process...

“...‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing...’”

Luke 5:5

I mean, come on, be honest, how many of us utter that last bit of Luke 5:5, one which goes beyond the whine?

“...‘but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’”

(Crickets chirping)

Yeah, I thought so. I’m guilty of it too.

But it doesn’t change the greater work, one residing beyond self to others. It’s wrapped up in some questions, should we choose to answer them.

What if God is wanting us to see beyond our personal recovery to help someone else?

What if, on this spiritual fishing boat, Jesus is directing us to pursue the deep haul of reconciliation?

Before we nay say, right off the bat, let’s first look at the result of following His instructions...

 “He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”

John 21:6

This boat trip is often mentioned within the context of salvation. And yes, that is there. Yeah, we’re fishing for souls.

But what if these scriptures also challenge us to go still further, beyond “saving someone?”

What if we are challenged to continue the ongoing, “other-minded” work of helping someone else, via our own stories of life, struggle and victory?

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

John 3:17

After all, isn’t that what support groups and sponsors are all about?

The word “reconciliation” is defined as:

“the restoration of friendly relations; reunion; reuniting; bringing together (again)”

And we see God is heavily into this principle.

 “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

2 Corinthians 5:18-9

So, you would think we’d be equally enthusiastic about it as well.


Instead, like the castanets, we often only seem to be noisy- and miss the point entirely.

 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Why so noisy?

It has to do with our disconnection to a critical element in this reconciliation equation: love.

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Yes, hippy dippy, warm fuzzy love.

But, in the recovery process, we often get caught up in the doing of things: attending meetings, gathering chips, staying on track. But do we love?

Actual applied, relevant, inconvenient, soul-stretching love which...

...honestly shares our ugly war stories with another, with no thought of how embarrassing it makes us look...

...mentors someone who’s in dire straits, perhaps, even someone who we would not consider as a friend...

...forgives our personal Judas, someone who has lied to, hurt and cheated us...

Is any of our recovery process covering that territory?

This is not to condemn anyone.

Rather, it’s the constant, encouraging challenge to go deeper in God and into our recovery, so much so, we discover the profound meaning to our brokenness: spiritual mending, a/k/a, reconciliation.

We have the invitation to be “about our Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).

When we hear this invitation, how, in fact, do we respond?

The castanets of noise? Or the “cast the nets” of God’s love?

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse