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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Resolutions: Navigate Your U-Turns Effectively

It is hard to believe that we just ended 2013! This has been a remarkable year of blessing for the ministries I’ve worked in. There has been a lot of new growth opportunities and even though I had to go through the pain of experiencing some losses-- I’ve been healthy and financially secure. And I praise God for that, because I know that could all change in a blink of an eye. How would you describe your past year?

For those of us that aren’t facing any major life crises we’re probably finding ourselves looking optimistically to the New Year. Oprah said New Years is another chance for us to get it right. Lots of people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits. It's a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make, and a time to resolve to follow through on those changes. Eric Zorn said, “Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self-assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.” I’d venture to say that more than half of you listening are resolved to make some big changes or resolutions.

What New Year’s resolutions did you make? Would you say it’s time to turn your life around?

It’s been said that New Year’s resolutions are like babies: They’re fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain. Each January, roughly 1 in 3 Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. You can probably guess what the top resolutions tend to be: to lose weight & get fit. That's the #1 resolution. So get ready to be hit with tons of ads for diet products! The other top commitments are to save money & pay off my credit cards, not worry so much, quit drinking & smoking, spend more time with family & friends; help others, and read more. And millions of people will resolve stop some kind of addicted behavior.

But sadly, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, it is also a time when these people set themselves up for failure and disappointment. The publication cited a study in which 60% of resolvers admitted they’d failed to make a change last for six months. But that means that 40% were successful—or either liars!

What about you? Are you a fan of resolutions because you too feel the pressure to change something about you? If you're anything like me, you probably feel overwhelmed by all the changes you'd like to see in your life. In looking back, it seems like the more I resolved to change, the more dissatisfied I was with my results. Therefore, I usually didn’t follow through.

Let’s talk about why don’t New Year’s resolutions don’t work. My answer is: For the same reason willpower doesn’t usually work. We may stick to our resolutions short term, but our human nature is to return to our vices. The temptations are just too great. The assumption is that by exerting willpower and trying hard in our own strength, we can change. I used to think I could quit my bad habits with mere willpower, but I was wrong. Perhaps you’ve promised yourself you’ll lose 10 pounds & exercise more, or read the Bible more, or relax & talk to your kids when you get home from work, or quit spending so many hours on Facebook, or stop obsessing about food and exercise.

The problem is even though willpower can produce short-term change, it also creates constant internal stress because the root cause hasn’t been dealt with. And when you do fall, those nasty feelings of shame rise back to the surface again. The change doesn’t feel natural, so eventually you give up and quickly revert back to old patterns. Sound familiar? But I still say—give yourself credit for making an effort to make a U-turn. Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful you were in making changes, you deserve an A for trying.

So we’ve just established that willpower will probably not work. What will work then? God, the Creator of all things, reveals this great secret in the Bible: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Rom. 12:2) If you want to change your actions, you have to start by changing your mind, by renewing your mind. We do that through bible study. Goal setting begins first in the mind and then leads to action. If you can control the focus of your mind, you can control your actions—that applies to everything in life.

To listen to this message in its entirety, you may download the podcast on 1/1/14 at Every Body Matters on BlogTalkRadio

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas: God Had the Last Laugh

Every year Christmas comes. It strikes both the Christians and non-Christians. Suddenly nativity scenes of baby Jesus are everywhere. Do you think if we were to have stopped people at random at the mall yesterday and asked them what they wanted most for Christmas, how many do you think would have said, ‘All I need is Jesus.’” I mean, after all, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of THE Son of God, Jesus Christ!

On that wintry night in some obscure cave the humble baby Jesus was born. He was naked and helpless; yet he was God—and he allowed US to get close to him –to get to know him intimately. He chose to enter our broken world and limp through life with us. The world was changed by Christ. When he entered human history God shattered all previous conceptions of who God is and also what man is supposed to be like. The Jews envision that the messiah would a great king and leader. He’d fit into the culture and reign in majesty. While, the Greeks envisioned that the messiah would be a great philosopher—greater than Plato! He would lead mean to contemplate order and harmony of the universe.

God had a different plan for Christians. The plan was counter-cultural. God’s plan for Christians is to live a life much like the one Jesus lived. He chose to be born into poverty. In doing so he ignored conventional expectations. Jesus was a stumbling block to many of his contemporaries. The Jews rejected Jesus Christ and the Greeks considered him a fool and laughed at him. They thought that no way could he be the king of the Jews—after all, he dressed in rags and hung out with sinners. That was an insult to the intellectual and law-abiding.

The apostle Paul preached the craziness of the cross—the message of the crucified Christ who is the power and wisdom of God. He said, 1 Corinthians 1:21, the message version: Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation. And guess what happened? Countless Jews and Greeks laid aside their prejudices in order to be swept up into the power and wisdom of the cross.

When Jesus was born over 2000 years ago—HOPE was his gift to the world and everything else—the meaningless--would fade. Jesus brought light to the world. Jesus brought into the world the Kingdom of Freedom. His love would set millions of people free. I was one of them.

You may or may not be familiar with the biblical story of Isaac’s birth in the OT. Let me recap. Abraham and his wife Sarah had always wanted a baby but had given up because they were well up there in years. Scripture says that God said to Abraham: “I will give Sarah my blessing. You can be sure that I will give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations. Kings of nations will come from her.” Abraham fell with his face to the ground. He laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man who is 100 years old? Will Sarah have a child at the age of 90?” (Gen. 17:15) Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself (Gen 18:11-16)

Well I think God had the last laugh… she had a son whom they named Isaac which means laughter in Hebrew. He was born at the exact time God had promised. This was Sarah’s first baby—so can you imagine the emotions—especially at her age! Not only did her despair turn into laughter, but God promised that her son would the father of nations! So why do I bring this story up on Christmas Day?

Isaac was a prophetic foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s last laugh. I don’t say that to be disrespectful. Laughter it is an expression of a number of positive emotional states, such as joy, humor, happiness, relief. It is medicine for our bodies and souls. Laughter is also a reaction to absurdity. Nothing could be more absurd in the Hebrew tradition, as it is in our tradition too, than for a virgin to have a baby. Can you even begin to imagine what it must have been like for Mary? Seeing an angel up close and personal is one thing, but to have that angel tell you you’re going to have a baby when you’ve never been with a man. Boy that would be unsettling. A virgin having a baby . . . and not just your average baby either. The angel told Mary she would be pregnant with a miracle. She would give birth to THE Son of God! Did she laugh like Abraham and Sarah, or did she quake in her sandals?

The question is still asked among us today . . . is this possible? We’ve come to believe that if there isn’t a scientific data to support such an absurdity, then it can’t be true. Despite that fact God’s angel said that nothing is impossible with God! I love Mary’s heart . . . and her example. Though she didn’t understand it . . . she accepted it. Though her future was unsure . . . she chose to believe. When the angel reminded her that with God nothing is impossible, he encouraged her faith. Mary responded, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). And so, this precious virgin girl gave birth to a son, and they named him Immanuel, which means “God with us.” And remember, God didn’t choose Mary because she was special. Mary was special because God chose her.

Maybe you need a Christmas miracle. Maybe you want to conceive a baby so badly that you cry yourself to sleep at night? Maybe you need a job desperately. Or are praying for relationships to be restored? To have your dreams restored. Or Hurts healed. Or Hearts comforted. To see God in a real way—you want the hope of the impossible. Mary too contemplated these things in her heart. Never forget that to God you are very special. He is truly with you and wants to birth a miracle in your life. He birthed a couple in my life. I can almost hear Mary saying to us, “blessed is she who has believed!”

A song by Christina Rossetti: 'Love came down at Christmas; Love all lovely, love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Stars and angels gave the sign.'

God entered human history when he came down to us. Jesus’s mission was to save us—yet we can only be saved through faith—to an unwavering connection to the person of Jesus Christ. Think about all the things you do every day by faith. You have faith your car will get you to work and home. You have faith the airline pilot will get the plane to your destination safely. You have faith your child will get to school and back home every day. You have faith your bank is protecting your money. Why do we find it so hard to have faith in the message of Christmas?

Christmas is a faith experience that enables us to see beyond the darkness or tragedy in our lives. It is a reminder that we need the laughter of God to prevent us from taking this world too seriously. When Jesus Christ is born IN ME—hope begins to burn brightly—everything else that seemed so important, starts to fade. A dramatic winter storm may hold us hostage for a few days, our car may get rear-ended, we may not get that anticipated Christmas bonus, maybe our fair weathered friends have decided we’ve gone off the deep end with Jesus and have rejected us—maybe…BUT even so, despite the difficulties and disappointment--the beauty of Christ remains glowing within us.

How we view and experience Christmas is a billboard for how much passion we have for Jesus. The insensitive and superficial will eat, drink, overindulge and drool over all the latest gadgets they receive as gifts. Then there will be the defeated—who will be haunted once again by ghost from Christmas past. We already have everything, but many of us don’ t know it—therefore we don’t experience it.

Everything we NEED has been given to us by God the Father in Jesus Christ. Maybe not everything we DESIRE—but he meets every one of our God-given needs. The best gift we can open this Christmas is to let ourselves be loved by Jesus! When we let him reside in our hearts and minds—like I said before—beauty himself comes to live inside of us. Our attitudes about ourselves—our choices—all begin to change positively—Jesus shines out through our faces and bodies. That’s the definition of beauty!

Jesus represents the gift of hope—it’s an undeserved gift of peace…but it calls us to make a decision—in faith—to trust the giver. Hope says I no longer need to feel defeated, or caught up in the superficialness of the culture. The questions change from: Can I do this? Am I pretty enough? Will I be accepted? TO Is Jesus able? Can my savior revive my sinking spirit and transform me just as he transformed the world through his birth in Bethlehem?

If you want to hear "the rest of the story" or don't want to read this, you can listen to this show: Every Body Matters on BlogTalkRadio, and download the on-demand episode [scroll down the page]. Be blessed!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Image Matters

Psychiatrist Dr. Gerald May said, “How we view ourselves at any given moment may have little to do with who we really are.” Think about that? So this begs the question: Do you know who you really are?

About 2 years ago, one morning I was sitting quietly alone, studying, when I heard this loud BOOM. The pets were startled and I thought it came from outside. I live in the country so we’re always hearing loud booms and guns going off, so I ignored it. Then I decided to go upstairs and as I approached the bathroom I saw pieces of a shattered mirror all over the floor—in the hallway and covering the entire bathroom. Yep—the mirror came loose and fell off the wall. As I began to sweep up the broken pieces I saw a splintered image of myself in those pieces.

This made me think. We try to get a good view, an accurate image of ourselves, but because the mirror of our lives is lying in pieces what we get is a shattered image. It’s no use trying to put the mirror back together. Even if you could, the mirror would produce a disjointed and disturbing image.

Let’s talk about our image. Think about the last time you introduced yourself to someone. Did you say something like, “Hi, my name is Sally. I’m a nurse.” Or have you noticed that when someone meets you for the first time they say, “What do you do?” You answer, “I’m a so and so.” I noticed that in the church the first thing women would ask me was how many children I had. That was always awkward for me because I don’t have any natural born children.

Our society tells us that our identities are wrapped up in our jobs, more specifically our roles, even in our appearances. Essentially, we are what we do or what we look like. There are dangers in this thinking: 1) At some point you’re going to fail at what you do—then who are you? And…You’re going to get older and lose your youthfulness; and 2) At some point who you truly are (God’s child) is going to conflict with what you do—and then what do you do?

Another term for our shattered image is the “false self.” The false self is the constructed, patchwork image we’ve created to deal with the world. I say, that we’ve become pros at wearing what I call our Cover Girl Masks. We’ve bought into cultural messages in order to give us a personal source of meaning—of identity. Is it possible the reason we pursue money, glamour, sexiness, the perfect body, recognition and status, that it may all be in an attempt to enhance our self-importance? I believe so. I think we’ve become a culture of people who have a distorted view of entitlement. We’re encouraged to be narcissists. Not everyone is-- but many have a high level of self-love. This is a false self-- because below the layer of superiority lies a deeply rooted sense of worthlessness, fear and hidden shame. The false self fears having her weaknesses and inadequacies exposed.

Sadly, what our culture creates is ONLY AN illusion of success. I know. I speak out of experience—not condemnation. For decades this is what I did. Even after I committed to follow God, for 14 years my life continued to be all about me. I continued to wear my carefully crafted Cover Girl Mask. We all experience tension between the false self and our real, true self. The false self is our fleshly, human nature. It tends to be defensive, self-protective and selfish, which makes intimacy with God and others difficult.

On the other hand, the real self is the image of God within us. Genesis 1:26-27 says God made you and me in HIS image and in His likeness. That is the CORE of our true identity. God’s image makes human beings capable of interacting with other people, of thinking and reflecting, and of willing and choosing freely. This is our real self—which has the ability to think abstractly, reason, to direct ourselves towards that which we know is good and right and authentic and truly beautiful.

When God our Creator gave us the remarkable title of “the image of God” he was in essence saying every body matters--every body has dignity and value. This is why God forbids the taking of a human life. Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”

Dr. Maxwell Maltz said, “Accept yourself as you are. Otherwise you will never see opportunity. You will not feel free to move toward it; you will feel you are not deserving.” Think about this: when you receive a beautifully wrapped gift, what do you do? You may sit and gaze at the pretty packaging, but it’s only for a moment. If you are like most people, you unveil the gift inside by taking off the wrapper. Our outside wrapper is not representative of the real person we are, the one God created.

If you want to hear more on this subject, join me on Wednesday the 18th for the Every Body Matters show on BlogTalkRadio; live at 11:30 pst. If you can't login for the live show you can always download the on-demand episode [scroll down the page]. Be blessed!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Do I Eat This Way?

Yesterday on facebook I saw an image that said: "Dear Santa: this year I want a fat bank account and a tiny body. Please don’t mix them up like you did last year." Obviously a female created this because this is how so many of us think!

How many of your recent conversations in your mind have been about food, dieting, body size, or exercise? Too many to count? From movies and television to magazines and online advertisements, it’s impossible not to be bombarded by messages and images glorifying the unattainable skinny bikini body. It’s very hard to NOT think about what we see & compare these images to ourselves.

When these messages tell you repeatedly that you’re not good enough unless you lose 20 pounds, you start to believe it—because your thinking begins to conform to these subtle messages. It did sure with me. In this culture, the pressure to shed fat—at any cost, and the compulsion to compare our bodies to models and celebrities is great. That’s when the negative thoughts start snowballing for many of us.

I spent 2 decades of my life in and out of obsessive dieting and disordered eating. I stole food, snuck food, I worshipped it, I binged on it & then threw it up, and I hated food. Food, which was created by God for good— it was the enemy. Funky dieting was my only defense—because it was what I could control. Does that sound familiar? Welcome to the party! I found a better way to live, and you can too.

Eating can be a highly emotional event. The act of eating requires making food choices which comes out of our thinking. The types of diets we choose actually reflect the state of our minds and the function of our bodily organs. Therefore, if we make a habit of thinking in a new way, our diet choices will change, and so will our lives.

Join me on Wednesday the 11th for the Every Body Matters show on BlogTalkRadio; live at 10 pst, to get the scoop on this very interesting discussion! If you can't login for the live show you can always download the on-demand episode [scroll down the page]. Be blessed!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Power of Our Beliefs

Did you know that your beliefs change you--mentally AND physically AND even spiritually? Our brains have an amazing ability to adapt, rewire and change based on what we believe and the choices we make. And get this—also based on the God we worship. Christian psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Jennings said in his book, The God Shaped Brain, “Although we have power over what we believe—what we believe holds real power over us—power to heal and power to destroy.” Medical literature is chock-full of case reports of patients dying—not from actual illness, but from believing they were sick—from the fear they were going to die.

This is an exciting topic which I'm covering this week on my BlogTalkRadio program, Every Body Matters. Click on the link. Scroll down to "on-demand" episodes and click on the shows link. I'll be going live today, Wednesday, at 10 am PST.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Dopamine Makes Me Do It!

“Get out of my way! I need my fix of cupcakes!”

Ever had cupcake withdrawal? It’s a battlefield out there. Scripture says, “All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly” (Romans 14:20, MSG). It’s hard not to be addicted to something. The pull is powerful. Why does giving it up hurt so much? I’m not a scientist so I’ll give you the “Food Addiction for Dummies” version.

If you eat a hyperpalatable food —sugary, starchy, fatty or salty food, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Most people walk away satisfied. But for some the desire to repeat the pleasure is too strong to resist. Neurotransmitters are responsible for inducing euphoria. One of them is dopamine. This chemical fires up the brain when we do something exciting or rewarding. It produces a feeling of exhilaration or pleasure—the “I’ve got to have it” feeling. We get immediate gratification and find our favorite thing hard to give up, which is a good definition of addiction.

When God created the dopamine response it was for survival. Activities like eating, drinking, engaging in sex, and working, contribute to the survival of the human race. Therefore, our brains are programmed to encourage these behaviors by making them highly pleasurable (see Ecclesiastes 2:24-25). Is sugar as addictive as heroin or cocaine? Is a cupcake comparable to ‘crack’ to a susceptible brain?

According to scientific data food products can hijack the reward system in much the same way as drugs do. Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “When a person is addicted, they get conditioned like Pavlovian dogs.” Ninety percent of the dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain become stimulated when we prepare to eat. The more dopamine released, the more the person wants the food. Addiction develops when dopamine continually floods the brain. Eventually, it takes more and more food to feel normal. This explains why it’s more difficult to stop after a couple bites.

Most people, however, don’t see food addiction akin to substance abuse. Not only do drugs and alcohol alter brain chemistry, but so do the wrong foods. Speaking about “cravings” Dr. Volkow claims that when people are exposed to their favorite foods but not allowed to eat them, a tidal wave of dopamine surges. They hungered for their food fixes, yet they weren’t hungry at all. This is similar to what occurs in the brains of drug abusers after they watch a video of people using cocaine.

Food can act on the brain as an addictive substance. Certain constituents of food, sugar in particular, may hijack the brain and override will, judgment and personal responsibility. Animal studies reveal that hyperpalatable diets, sweet ones in particular, are more rewarding—and potentially more addictive—than intravenous cocaine and heroin. Dr. Mark Gold, chief of addiction medicine, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, stated, food addiction is “eating despite the consequences, being preoccupied with food, feeling guilty about your eating habits, and overeating in the face of various health concerns.”

Does this strike a nerve? How do you know if you’re addicted to food or something else? Do you feel out of control? If you try to stop what does it feel like? Hell? Withdrawing from sugar produces the same symptoms as withdrawing from a chemical. Behind every craving is a compelling urge to pursue pleasure—to feel terrific while avoiding pain, physically and emotionally. The problem isn’t with having cravings, but rather what we crave. What our souls really hunger for and craves is to know God and to become intimately connected to Him. He can help us break unhealthy eating patterns. God is in the business of changing lives. Turning to Him empowers healing and transformation!

For more-- listen to today's Every Body Matters episode on BlogTalkRadio "The Hunger Fix."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Help! I'm A Slave to Food and My Body!

I'm so excited to announce that beginning today I'll be hosting a new online show every Wednesday for women, Every Body Matters. To be consistent, I'm going to be blogging on the same topic each week. I know many listeners are visual learners, so this should be a plus.

You may remember the story of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard who was kidnapped in 1991. Abducted from a school bus stop, she went missing for over eighteen years. During this time Jaycee had two daughters by her abductor. Most people wonder why she simply didn’t run away when she had the opportunity. Psychologists have a term to explain this phenomenon: the Stockholm syndrome.

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response that occasionally occurs in people who’ve been abducted and held hostage. The abductee doesn’t resist and actually shows signs of loyalty or caring for the person who took them. They do so despite the dangerous and harmful things the abductor does to them. Instead of hating the abductor, the person befriends and, at times, actually believes the captor is protecting them instead of harming and dominating them. Some people believe this may have happened to Jaycee.

We can use this term, Stockholm syndrome, to understand how a person becomes abducted by addiction. Using an eating disorder as the example, the disorder takes hold of the person’s mind and won’t let go despite the fact the eating disorder is harmful, even potentially lethal. The abductor (eating disorder) makes the person do many things: starve, binge, purge, take laxatives, or exercise until exhaustion. In return, the abductor offers her a false sense of protection.

The woman held captive believes she controls the power of the eating disorder because she chose it. As a result, she befriends the eating disorder and creates an identity around it. She’ll even defend it when other people show concern or try to medically treat her; similar to the abused woman who defends her abuser. Over time she actually believes the eating disorder is helping, not hurting her. It gives the message, “If you’re thin, all your problems will disappear. I’m your savior!” It promises life, but ultimately robs you of your very soul.

There’s a good chance that right now you feel stressed. You promised yourself you wouldn’t engage in a negative or self-destructive behavior. But somehow the abductor baited you with those familiar promises. The liar it is, it starts the process of churning out negative self-talk. You find yourself doing what you don’t want to do. Sin deceives. It whispers, “The abductor will give you what you want. It will take care of you. God won’t. He’s angry at you.” The abductor promises to relieve your pain and fill your soul-hole. Christians have a name for this captor, Satan—and his goal is to silently seduce us, infect our minds, and destroy our lives.

Someone said humans have a tendency to crucify ourselves between two thieves: the regret of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. The good news is healing and transformation often occur smack in the middle of life’s adversities. God knows the lessons we must learn—lessons of patience, submission, and self-denial. When we vent our heart to the Lord, He uses our pain to draw us closer to Him.

Many times our prayers aren’t answered immediately. The Bible tells us not to lose heart (Luke 18:1). Keep praying—don’t cease. Sometimes God fulfills our desires. Sometimes He asks us to wait. Sometimes He says no so He can give us something better.

Do you have an abductor? Describe your abductor. What do you find so compelling about it? What promises it has made you. What precious gifts has it stolen from you? How have you been deceived? Pray and think carefully: What do you really want? What are you actually seeking?

This is an excerpt from the 2nd Edition "I’m Beautiful? Why Can’t I See It?" by author Kimberly Davidson

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Scars and Stories

There is a saying that goes, “Scars are like tattoos—with better stories.” I tell my stories, those stories that produced scars of all lengths and depths, to help others avoid the same dicey and destructive path I traveled. God tells us he will use what was meant for evil for good and he does through our stories—our scars. But as new creations in Christ our stories will change when we change our choices. Here are five ways you can begin to create new stories by facilitating change and growth:

1. Bring God into everything you do. The ongoing presence of God can strengthen and heal as he nurtures your mind, body, spirit, and cleanses your soul. No addiction has a chance of survival. Work on continuously communicating with him until it becomes a regular habit. Set aside a specific time each day to immerse yourself in God’s Word, even if it’s only a couple of verses. He will provide the light so you can understand (see Psalm 119:130).

2. Practice solitude and self-examination. Find a still quiet place where you can meet with God to pray and examine yourself. Ask him to help you answer these questions as you move forward. Take your time and scrutinize your motives.

• What do I think will truly make me happy?
• What or who do I believe fills the hunger of my soul?
• What deep needs am I trying to fill?
• Do I fear God’s plan for my life is not what I really want?

3. List the personal traits you want to change first. Go back to your answers from the “Pre-Study Exercise.” Pray over the areas in your life where you feel enslaved. It helps to focus on changing one area at a time. Ask God to reveal the area he desires to begin working on first.

4. Be patient and give yourself time to heal. God’s timetable will most likely be slower than yours. Depend on God for the power to change, but don’t expect him to miraculously change your personality and behaviors. Changing engrained traits takes time.

5. Keep directing your energies toward growth and healing. Get a routine going, and an adequate amount of rest and sleep. Scripture tells us that rest leads to restoration, “The LORD…makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3).

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Don't Have Time for That!

Diagnosed with terminal cancer at thirty-three, Carly worked to maintain a joyful spirit. Weakened but hopeful, she asked her girlfriend Beth to go shopping with her for a new dress. After selecting a few dresses she called Beth into the dressing room. Donning a smart royal blue jersey wrap, she pointed to herself in the mirror and asked, “Do I look fat?” Beth shook her head and grunted, “You don’t have time for that!”

This story kicked me right in the gut. I realized whether we’re ill or not, in the kingdom of God we don’t have time for “that”—for worrying about our weight, or whether we’re admired, or covering up the pain with a substance or activity, or… You know what your “that” is.

Jesus had something to say about this, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25). I regularly remind myself of this woman’s wise reply and Jesus’s words. My desire is for my heart to be focused on the kingdom of God, not on myself—on my body size or wardrobe. As a child of God these things no longer identify me.

Through prayer and Bible study, God will put up a mirror and we’ll begin to see our attitudes, beliefs, and motives from a very different perspective—his. One of the purposes of Scripture is to show us the truth about our own human nature. Self-examination is a light shedding process; the light of truth penetrates and exposes deception. Jesus said the truth will set us free (see John 8:32).

God gives us our experiences so we might be able to examine them under his light. We learn that his fingerprints have been on them our entire life…even before we were born. Even the worst chapters of your life are full of his presence.

God promises he will “bestow on you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3). Can it get any better than that?

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lured into a Web of Idolatry

Whatever feels good, what seems to give us an immediate experience of life, we decide is life; we decide it is food for our souls, and we chase after it with all the excitement of a street person in the back alley rummaging through the fine restaurant’s garbage. –Psychologist Larry Crabb

Hard, cold facts reveal that we tend to set our sights on godless promised lands and people who assure us of every good thing. In what’s been called “the parable of the rich young ruler” (see Mark 10:17-31) we find Jesus about to leave town. One man knows it is his last chance to ask his question to Jesus face-to-face. The young man kept all the commandments, but still sensed incompleteness. A picture of urgency and humility, he ran up to Jesus and fell on his knees before him. He asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus addressed the young man’s real point of need, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Scripture then says, “At this the man’s face fell, and he went away very sad, for he had many possessions.” Imagine how devastating Jesus’s words were to this young man. The young man clutched an idol. Money and processions can be horrible masters.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Let the idol go and follow me. My desire is for you to join me, but I will not force you. Of all the people who came to Jesus, this man went away worse than he came. The thought of giving up his possessions, his way of life, his security and status—his pleasure, was too much. He declined Jesus’s offer. The hole in his soul would remain eternally unfilled.

When we repeatedly worship worldly treasures instead of God, they become an obsessive addiction. This explains why we can’t “just stop.” This is idolatry: the practice of ascribing absolute value to things of relative worth—things other than God. Idolatry elevates pleasure in things or people above pleasure in God, which God considers a sin. He doesn’t want to share his throne with anything or anyone else. The idols in themselves are not actual sin, but can lead to sin. The danger of idolatry is it usually goes undetected. At first the idol seems exciting and it makes promises. Before we know it we’ve become its slave.

Anything we use to soothe our stress or pain, and boost pleasure, may potentially be made into an object of our devotion. Pray: “Lord God, You are God Almighty. Yet, sometimes in ignorance and arrogance I try to take your place. I ask for your forgiveness and submit my life to you. I acknowledge that all glory, honor, and praise belong to you alone. In Jesus’s name, Amen.”

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Image Management

If I asked you, “What image do people have of you… or more importantly, what image do you want people to have of you?” how would you answer? Today personal image often centers around our own mental images of success, power, youthfulness and accomplishment.

Psychologist Mary Pipher says, “Girls become ‘female impersonators’ who fit their whole selves into small, crowded spaces. Girls stop thinking, Who am I? What do I want, and start thinking, What must I do to please others? American culture has always smacked girls on the head in early adolescence.”

For decades my main concern was my own image management. Scripture says the person who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives (1 Tim. 5:6). My soul was dead. There was nothing to me. If you were to take off my mask, there would be no face. A person without a face is indifferent. I didn’t care about others. I used people. It was all about me—me working tirelessly on my image.

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it (John 3:17). He didn’t want people to feel bad about themselves. He wanted people to feel loved by God. Jesus wanted people to find freedom from shame and self-condemnation, not get stuck in it.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Let that that earthly, cultural image go and follow me. My desire is for you to join me, but I will not force you. If we’re honest many of us are afraid of the what will happen if we obey Jesus’s words: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely” (Mark 8:34, TLB).

I think too often this is one of those biblical truths which have been misapplied. Taken out of context it results in a narrow and faulty doctrine that basically says, “If you really want to follow Christ you must give up your comfortable life to suffer and be miserable. The more you suffer, the more God will love you.”

Jesus meant we must accept the death of our own self-directed life. As Pastor Lou Giglio says in his book I Am Not But I Know I Am, “It is nothing more than the doorway to a life filled with the matchless wonder of all that God is.” Jesus is our model. He willingly left glorious heaven for dysfunctional earth in order to be in God’s redemptive story. As a man, he was willing to fully give of himself so that the ultimate glory would be given to his Father. He knew there was greater glory to come. All Jesus did was give of himself so others, including you and me, could be privy to a great relationship with God—now and forever.

The Bible define the Christian disciple as one who models Jesus Christ’s lifestyle; one who will “deny himself and take up his cross” and follow Christ (Mark 8:34). Jesus too knew that embracing smallness and crucifying the flesh is something we have to do every moment of every single day. In the process we must be willing to face whatever physical, emotional, or social harassments ensue—being ridiculed for our beliefs and losing certain friends (they were probably not real friends to begin with), turning off our Internet connections for a couple of hours and serving the homeless, or giving up things that have no eternal value.

This is what exchanging our old image and selfish life for a new image and selfless life in Christ looks like. Far too many Christians are living a life they weren’t meant to live. They assume that if they do something they don’t like or feel comfortable with, it is what God wants. They don’t understand that God desires for them to live an abundant life. Someone once said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself; it’s about discovering who God created you to be.” As we discover our God-given purpose and live in accordance with that, joy is imminent.

It is hard to deny ourselves what we truly desire with temptation banging at our door each day, maybe every minute. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can learn to let go of insatiable desires. To do this we must grow in the spiritual virtue of attachment—attachment to God alone. As we receive nourishment from him then our minds and heart begin to change, and we begin dying to self.

Brennan Manning prayed, “Dear Jesus, gift us to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in our lives fade away, to accept our limitations, to cling to the gospel of grace, and to delight in your love. Amen.”

Monday, September 30, 2013

Move Closer to Love

If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream. –Pastor Francis Chan

A drowning boy struggled to survive in a river as his mother stood watch, gripped with fright and grief. A well-built man walked up seemingly indifferent to the boy’s fate. “Save my boy. Sir please save him!” cried the terrified mom. But he made no move. Losing strength, the boy’s thrashing began to diminish. He rose to the surface, weak and helpless. Then the man leaped into the river and brought the boy in safely to the shore. “Why didn’t you go after my son sooner?” cried the mom. “Madam, I couldn’t save your boy as long as he struggled and thrashed around. He would have dragged us both down to certain death. But when he grew weak and ceased to struggle, then it was easy to save him.”

To struggle to save ourselves is to hinder Jesus Christ from saving us. Why does God allow us to struggle in these mighty rivers? I believe he does this to overwhelm us with our own sense of inadequacy. He permits trouble and perplexities to ensure we fill ourselves with him and accept his grace.

In the Gospels, a picture emerges of the close communication Jesus had with the Father. God the Father was always available, supportive and affirming. The Son sought his Father’s approval, trusted him instinctively, and knew he could count on him to meet his deep needs.

When you’re in a rough place, God desires you hold on to him. He won’t drop you! As you get to know God through the Bible, you will find he is a strong rock, a sustainer, a rescuer, and refuge for the weak. No doubt this is why he brings us to the edge of the raging river.

Reflect on It:
• What do you feel in your heart God is telling you to do right now to begin moving closer to him?
• Take an inventory of how much time you’re spending with him (called worship)—in prayer, reading his Word, participating in church services and studies. Are you including him in every part of your day? If not, set three goals and write them out. Then stick to them. For example,
1. I will get up 20 minutes early each day to pray. I will read and meditate on a few verses in my Bible.
2. On my way to and from work, I will shut off the radio in my car and imagine the resurrected Jesus Christ sitting in the passenger seat. He wants to know what’s on my mind and I will tell him.
3. I will start attending church regularly and seek to get “plugged in.”

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm Gorgeous Inside

“I’m Gorgeous Inside.” Realtors commonly put this sign in front of a home they want to sell. Could this sign apply to us as Jesus followers? This is a vivid metaphor for how we should present ourselves in the world. Are you bold enough to wear a "I'm Gorgeous Inside" t-shirt? It may sound arrogant, but it requires humility to invite others to take a look at our insides. The truth is we are gorgeous inside. How can we not be if the perfect and beautiful Jesus Christ lives within us? Sadly, the t-shirts we wear often say things like, "needs work", or "depressed," reflecting self-condemnation, rather than celebrating our true gorgeousness!

It’s been said that the average woman will spend nearly one year of her life trying to decide what to wear. What exactly does the Bible say about inner beauty? Romans 8:6 says, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Paul speaks of a mind that is controlled by life and peace. He told the Galatians that when we let the Spirit take charge of our inner being he will build in us the “fruit of the Spirit:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22). These are the qualities that make us gorgeous inside.

The Bible says, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). This is where authentic beauty resides. Righteousness [virtue, morality, honesty, decency, uprightness, blamelessness] in our hearts is the beauty and qualities that makes us gorgeous. Real beauty isn’t found in seeking to look a certain way, or to be praised or great. It’s in the heart.

What is the state of your heart today? We cannot spend day after day in this world without it affecting our minds, our hearts, and our souls. They become unguarded. Our hearts start to shift away from God. And the ironic thing is the harder we work to become free, the more freedom we seem to lose. It is no surprise King Solomon advised, “Above all else, guard your heart [or affections] for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, my emphasis).

“Lord, I pray that through the work of Your Spirit dwelling within me I will be transformed into a grand display of the fruit that will attract others to You and reflect glory back to you.”

Monday, September 16, 2013

Heal Your Hungry Heart

I've been on hiatus in order to complete the 2nd Edition of "I'm Beautiful? Why Can't I See It?" The book is done and I'm back to blogging!

Let me ask you: How many of your recent conversations have been about food, dieting, body size, or exercise? Too many to count? There is one common obsession women have: to lose weight quickly with the least possible physical activity and pain required.

From movies and television to magazines and online advertisements, it’s impossible not to be bombarded by messages and images glorifying the unattainable skinny bikini body. When you’re told repeatedly that you’re not good enough unless you lose 20 pounds, you start to believe it. I did. In this culture, the pressure to shed fat—at any cost, and the compulsion to compare our bodies to models and celebrities is great.

Did you know you don’t have to be anorexic, bulimic, or a compulsive overeater to be an emotional eater? While millions of people are struggling with diagnosable eating disorders, many more are trapped in a “disordered” eating pattern. If you’re on a roller coaster with food, dieting, exercise, weight and body size, or are just an occasional binger or purger, then keep reading.

Typically emotional eating disorder means that a pattern of disorderly eating develops. For instance, a person may jump from one fad diet to another without ever stabilizing her weight or learning healthy eating habits. She typically learns to use food to soothe uncomfortable emotions.

A negative body image is just one aspect of the problem. Food is not the real problem either. Unhealthy eating behaviors and addictions get their nourishment from feeding off our God-given needs and desires for love, acceptance, and dignity.

There are many causes. Major life changes can trigger an eating disorder. Emotional eating is complex and may require psychological, medical, and nutritional treatment. The healing process can be long and hard, and some professionals contend that emotional eating disorders are not curable. This doesn’t have to hold for you. I’ve seen God heal the wounds of food addiction and negative body image that man thought could never be healed. As the angel said, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

I found a better way to live, and you can too. The choice to “come out” and change was mine, but the actual transformation was something God did in me. You don’t have to be held captive. You’re not alone in your struggle and pain. Once you realize the magnitude of God’s love, it will build up your self-image and confidence. You can receive a new life and experience spiritual peace, joy, and contentment. This is hope and the key to healing.

On the next blog I'm going to speak to the anchor of hope we have. Have a super-blessed week!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Need My Love Tank Filled!

We all seek an answer to, “Am I worthy of being loved?” When the cry of our hearts is ignored or abused the potential for any addiction or distressful behavior springs up because it distracts us from the pain of feeling unloved. Love makes us vulnerable to being hurt. The word passion comes from the Latin root passus, which means “suffered.” We have all experienced the suffering which comes along with love.

Perhaps you now realize you’re trying to cope with prolonged and unresolved feelings stemming from your need for love and affection. Since love is learned by being loved, it is difficult to experience it if you’ve grown up in an environment with barriers to giving and receiving love.

Those feelings may have started as a child because a parent or caregiver was absent for any number of reasons. Or, it may be a spouse who is uninvolved in family life. It may be a divorce or a death. Or, perhaps the heartbreak of a shattered love relationship. It may be the effects of a rape or emotional abuse.

Many of us deal with these kinds of losses by detaching. For decades, unconsciously, I put up barriers to letting others in so I wouldn’t be rejected, hurt, or abused. I blocked my capacity to love and be loved. I turned my back on God, avoiding his subtle nudging to love him. Yet, he never gave up on me. He patiently waited because he loved me so much. We can continue to repress our desire for God but it will haunt us. God’s cry is, “Need me! Choose me!”

There are many in the mental health field who refer to our need for love as a need to fill our love tank. Love tanks help us understand our basic love needs. When our love tanks aren’t filled, life tends to be a struggle. There are several entities required to fill the tank.

1. Spiritual: We are designed to be satisfied by connecting with God. Only then can he fill our love tanks. God wants to be loved by you! Our tanks fill up when we worship and serve him. Though there is little research on how God fills the hole in our souls, it has been found those who believe they have a relationship with a stronger, wiser nonphysical deity report higher levels of happiness.

2. Parental: We are designed to be filled with love and support from our parents. If the parents aren’t keeping each other’s love tank replenished, they usually can’t fill their child’s tank adequately. For many women, their father didn’t fill their love tanks. Consequently, these women spend their lives searching for the missing love. Since none of their male relationships can sufficiently fill the parental part of the love tank, the search is doomed. They often become “addicted to finding love.”

3. Romantic love: We are designed to be loved intimately and tenderly by another person for a lifetime. From the time we’re little girls we have our hearts set on finding our Prince Charming. Yet this kind of love can be one of the most painful to endure.

4. Family, community, and peer support: We are designed to connect and be loved by other people. If we choose to isolate we can’t be filled sufficiently.

5. Self: We are designed to love ourselves (not as in narcissism). Loving yourself isn’t selfish because love, truly expressed, isn’t selfish or self-serving. Rather, loving yourself serves as a model to love others. It is to take care of your God-given needs and desires.

Every person’s heart cries, “Love me and never leave me.” It is not uncommon for our love tanks to be running on empty. It is no wonder we feel like dying plants on a vine when our relationships go wrong. We cannot make each other 100 percent happy. Only God can. The Christian story is about God coming into our lives and filling our love tanks with his unconditional love and grace.

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I'm too messed up for God to love!

Maria greeted her family with a smile and tried not to show how much she hurt inside. Today, the doctor told her, once again, to lose weight. She is putting too much stress on her heart and joints. But she loves the comfort that rich foods bring. I know I’m fat. At least my doctor is honest with me. Everybody else just tells me what a pretty face I have.

By day Kim is an outgoing sales manager on the move. By night she hides in her apartment and goes on uncontrollable feed- ing frenzies. Kim learned she could eat everything she wanted and still lose weight with self-induced vomiting. She has lived with bulimia for eight years and swears she’ll stop. Today is the last day. But she can’t beat the cycle.

Anna, a mother of two, loves to cook for her family, but her family barely notices that she doesn’t eat her own cooking. Anna is determined to stay thin at any cost, which includes restricting her daily diet to three hundred calories and abusing substances like diet pills, diuretics, and laxatives. Daily her small frame weakens, yet she wants to be thinner. If I just lose five more pounds, then I’ll be truly satisfied and happy. Katrina looks in the mirror and sees “repulsive,” “fat,” “stupid,” even though friends tell her she is one of the most intelligent and beautiful girls in her college. If I’m so beautiful, why can’t I see it?

Jasmine gets up at 3 a.m. to exercise for three hours before school. She feels extremely guilty for missing a workout despite recurring injuries. Perhaps you see yourself in one or all of these women. I did. I did all I could to hide the secrets and my character flaws from friends, family, and God. Yet God knew everything about me already. He knows everything about you. You may erroneously assume that He feels about you the way you feel about yourself. If we hate ourselves, we assume God hates us too. I contend then that you really don’t know him.

Like any other person, if we do not take the time to get to know our heavenly Father then we will most likely find we are not able to see ourselves as His child and trust Him for our healing or future. That is why we are going to talk about God’s character first. The apostle Peter said, "Do you want more and more of God’s kindness and peace? Then learn to know him better and better. For as you know him better, he will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us!" (2 Peter 1:2–3, TLB, my emphasis). It’s time for change. It is time to open our eyes and minds and prepare for big changes. God will provide the encouragement and patience to persevere and enable powerful transformation. He is a safe Person.

This is an excerpt from the book "I’m Beautiful? Why Can’t I See It?" by author Kimberly Davidson

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Woman Who Was Healed By a Touch

When life is confusing and tumultuous, when fears, shame, and guilt run rampant; when circumstances and people threaten us, we want relief. We want access to the merciful physician. Mark 5:25–43 speaks of a mystery woman in the crowd who had been slowly bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal and spent everything she had. She was desperate. She heard that Jesus was coming.

As the crowd gathered, she thought, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. (Notice she goes to Jesus; she does not wait around for Him to find her.) Jesus was near. She touched His robe. “Im- mediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (29).

Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” The woman stepped up. Trembling, she knelt before Him and told her story. No one listened before. But when this woman reached out to Jesus, He said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (34). These words represent hope!

Jewish law considered her unclean, unsocial, and she must have been weak from anemia. She spent all her money on doctors but nothing worked. Jesus called her “daughter.” This is the only time when Jesus calls a woman “daughter.”

Jesus gave her a name when no one else did—a name worthy of a child created in the image of God, equal in value and giftedness. A precious daughter of the King, she became royalty. A princess, just like you and me! After her encounter with Jesus, I’m sure feelings of shame, inferiority, and low self-esteem began to decrease.

This story offers us encouragement. We can all count the ways we personally relate to her. The hand that touched that woman can touch you. Scripture says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). When Jesus walked this planet, He gave dignity and worth to every person.

One woman told me, “The messages I got from my family were always negative. I never felt love or acceptance. Then I touched Jesus and realized that God loves me just the way I am!”

What insights from the bleeding woman story can you apply to your situation? In what ways can you personally relate to her?

This is an excerpt from the book "I'm Beautiful? Why Can't I See It?" by author Kimberly Davidson

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Could I Really Be Addicted to Busyness?

We have come to believe in this culture, and in the church, if we’re not busy then we’re not significant. See how important I am because I’m so busy! Busyness can too be an idol.

What lies behind busyness apparently isn’t simply ambition and drive; it’s the dread of what we might have to face in its absence. This is because “busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance and hedge against emptiness.” It fills the soul-hole—temporarily.

• Are you addicted to busyness, feeling you need to be constantly doing something?
• Do you do it all: work, run the house, raise the children, take care of the finances, volunteer at the PTA and the church, go to Bible study?
• If you lose electrical power to your home do you feel you will go stark raving mad because your activities have been subverted?

If we choose to spend more of our time looking to God, most likely we’ll soon forget our idols. The starting point is here, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge” (Proverbs 23:12). God’s holy Word has the power to transform the human personality and fill the soul-hole.

Pray: “Lord, your Word says to guard myself from idols. Search my heart and help me to understand the intent of my thoughts. You know the idols in my life which compete with you. Show me and help me to turn from them and serve you only. In Jesus’s name. Amen.”

It's better to be busy than bored; but being too busy to pray is a clear indication our schedule is no longer under the Holy Spirit's control. Jesus interspersed periods of intense activity with seasons of withdrawal, carefully guarding His spiritual and emotional well-being. What has a hold on your heart today? Are you living separated from God? Answer these questions: What am I living for? Who am I living for?

"[God]He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul."~ Psalm 23:2-3

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Bible is Full of Errors and Unreliable!

No doubt you’ve heard this said before. We live in a world of unbelievers, and even some Christians believe the Bible is full of errors. I read a very good defense written by Norman L. Geyser in his book titled Reasons for Belief. As Christians we need to be ready to defend our faith and our Bible. Let me summarize what he said about so-called errors in the New Testament (NT). It’s very interesting!

First we need to say that if the New Testament is unreliable, then our beliefs about Jesus—his birth, life, death, and resurrection, have no basis in fact. Atheists and agnostics charge that the NT copies differ in so many places that there are too many too count. The fact is these statements are not true. Geisler contends that o understand how errors are counted we should consider that, for example, there is more than one way to spell the name Ann. Let’s say someone used that name in an original manuscript. The time passed and the next scribe hand-copied the text [there were no printing presses]. This scribe spells the name Anne. Then as time goes by, suppose 3,000 copies get made based on that change. Do we say there is one error or 3,000 errors (page 100)?

What we need to keep in mind is that of the several “types” of errors they do not affect our beliefs. Geisler gives a few examples (page 101):

1. Spelling, grammar, or punctuation that got changed or updated.
2. Out of date phrases or words divided differently.
3. A letter or word that was omitted or copied twice. Similar letters that were confused. Did Solomon’s stables hold 4,000 or 12,000 horses (see 1 Kings 4:26; 2 Chronicles 9:25)?
4. Some texts refer to the “Lord Jesus Christ,” others the “Lord Jesus.”
5. Some texts refer to “the twelve,” others “the twelve disciples.”

Geisler writes, “As it happens, the first edition of Bart Ehrman’s book (Misquoting Jesus), which reportedly was 100,000 copies, contained at least sixteen errors. If we applied the same method to determine the number of errors,, we’d have to say Misquoting Jesus contained 1.6 million mistakes, even though not one “error” affected his intended message” (page 101) Tis true. My books have spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors, yet the message is still clear.

Okay, this is the point. Not one supposed error impacts the meaning of the text or accuracy of a doctrine. No Christian belief has been altered because of these errors. According to Geisler, we can accurately reconstruct beyond question more than 99% of the original text. While some other texts are very accurate, the NT is the most accurate text we do have from the ancient world (page 103). Think about this: if we can’t trust the Bible, then we can’t trust other ancient documents and accounts.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Who Do You Want to Be Like?

“In the Christian book market books about Jesus Christ don’t sell.” Huh? What? is what you’re probably thinking. This best-selling author and renowned pastor confirmed what I thought and feared (and it explains my book sales!) One of his points was that we Christians don’t want to be like Jesus Christ. We want to be like our cultural idols. I know teens often think, I wanna be like Lady Gaga…I wanna look like Katy Perry…I wanna be like LeBron James…I wanna rap like Jay-Z…I wanna be Selena Gomez…I wanna be famous! What about us adults?

This pop culture, via the media, has made it quite clear: celebrities (or “celebs”) matter—and we are star-struck by them. The gospel of celebrity is powerful in many Christians lives. As a culture, we are fascinated with celebrities because they appear to live extraordinary lives.

The word extraordinary literally means extra ordinary, as in, way more than average, exceptional. Based on what we read, hear, and see, we believe celebrities live amazingly full lives and get to do extraordinary things—things we’d really like to do. But we must ask ourselves, is that to live authentically, which is to live as your real self, the person God created you to be?

There is nothing wrong with seeking to live extraordinarily. God put that desire in each of us. He has called us to live an authentic life, to shine and rise above the ordinary. Countless teens and adults seek authenticity and the extraordinary. Yet they spend too much time aimlessly looking for value in the wrong places while it is right in front of their face. Obsession keeps us from living an authentic, fulfilling life—unless that obsession is on God. He is much more concerned about what is happening on the inside of us. He wants our passion to be directed toward himself and his Son, Jesus Christ, not a celebrity lifestyle.

2 Peter 1:3 promises: “His [Jesus’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (NIV). We have available to us the kind of power it takes to avert ourselves from idolizing tragic figures of fantasy. We are all weak. But there is Jesus, who is powerful enough to make us strong. We must rely every day on God’s dynamic presence. As our inner life grows and prospers in him, our outward life follows. God wants to make us living letters to the world that shows everyone what he can do with human life. Everyday authentic people, young and old, are doing extraordinary things powered by God.

This world desperately needs authenticity. What our souls really desire is not mere imitation but radical identification. That is, becoming one with Christ as his life becomes enmeshed with ours. The Bible says that God, “In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change” (Romans 2:4, MSG). The trademark of a Christian is the transformation into a new and far more authentic person.

Many today say they don’t want “religion” because it’s too binding and controlling. They’d be right; many religions and practices are. Bob Dylan sang, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.” God even said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15, NIV). Every person has a choice between serving two masters: an icon or Jesus Christ.

In first chapter of A Purpose-Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren writes,"It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose."

Consider the words of the Shorter Westminster Catechism: “The chief end of man is to serve God and enjoy him forever.” In fact, empirical evidence now shows that human beings may be born with a desire for a relationship with a “Transcendent Other,” and that longing begins to reveal itself in children as young as three years old.

God tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV). Our purpose is not to copy or out do the next person or to become famous and wealthy. We shouldn’t be trying to fit in so hard when God has made each one of us an original. Every person has been set apart to do something no one else can do.

The apostle John said, “…in this world we are like him [Jesus]” (1 John 4:17). In other words, as a believer we can be the mirror image of Jesus. The Bible says we have been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). What we see and hear in Christ is what God intended man to be. We learn about the image of God by studying the life and work of Jesus Christ—the divine prototype.The starting point is realizing that developing an authentic relationship with Jesus takes time, intention, risking trust, and may involve traveling on some tough roads—just like any other important relationship. As we come to know Jesus on a personal level and fix our thoughts on him we become more like him and difference makers in this tough world.

The best coaches will tell you that their job is to push each person on the team do what they don’t want to do so they can reach the goals they’ve dreamed about. These people don’t have to do what the coach tells them—they choose to. Basketball Hall of Fame player and coach John Wooden said, “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.” So again I ask you, “who do you want to be like?”

Food for thought: BIll O'Reilly's book Killing Jesus is coming out soon. I will be curious to see how it sells compares to his best-sellers Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. We'll see! Thanks for checking in today!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Denial Trap

Are you captive to bad habits? Truthfully, we all can answer yes. Because the reality of quitting is frightening to us we choose to believe we aren't in that group of people. This is called denial. You may be familiar with the old AA acronym for DENIAL: Don't Even Know I Am Lying to myself.

Most professionals agree: denial is the unintentional failure to deal with pain. Ask any kid—if they know punishment is inevitable they are tempted to lie to avoid pain. It is not necessarily all bad because it can be a coping skill which initially numbs us to changes we don’t wish to acknowledge due to circumstances such as a loss or death or grave disappointment. It can be a buffer to the psyche. In these kinds of cases, denial is usually the first stage of the grieving process.

While we all use denial to a certain extent to cope with pain, we never do so without risk. It tends to catch up with us when we fail to accept the truth. Denial is a powerful tool the enemy uses to convince us we have control of our lives. Scripture says, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

We find it in the workplace: “My job is safe”; in schools: “It’s the teacher’s fault I got an F”; and most often, in relationships: “The reason he hurts me is I don’t show him the respect he deserves.” We hang onto the misbeliefs in an effort to soothe the inner anguish. It allows us to avoid coming to terms with what’s really going on.

Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41). The Message paraphrase reads, “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.”

Never underestimate denial’s ability to cloud your vision. Remember, facts don’t cease to exist because they’re ignored. Take responsibility and say, “I have an issue. I want to deal with it now.” Confess to God. Then tell one safe person. Ask the person if she or he would be an accountability and prayer partner. It is essential to walk in the light of a Christian community.

We can choose to see truth and reality. We can grab God's hand and choose to step out of our comfort zone and begin the transformation process into Christlikeness. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes! Yes! Yes!

This is an excerpt from my book Something Happened On My Way to Hell by Kimberly Davidson.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Drunk and Stupid

Society’s Myth: If I’m feeling anxious or am in pain the only solution is to dull it with a substance.

Friday night…Barney’s Bar & Grill…downtown Cedar Rapids…that’s where you’d find me. Barney’s was my Cheers; a place where I belonged; a place where I could sing and laugh; a place where I could get smashed and not be judged by other drunks. On this particular night a parental figure, concerned for my safety, gave me twenty dollars and told me to take a cab home. He made me promise. Of course I will! Take one guess where the money went.

The lights flickered on and off to the sound of, “We’re closing. Time to go!” I staggered to my car, a brand new Olds Cutlass which belonged to my employer. Unfortunately, unlike many other Friday nights, I located the car, got in, started the engine, and aimed for home.

A light turned red. I failed to stop. Crunch! Bang! I hit the truck in front of me. A man in his thirties emerged and appeared fine. His bumper took the brunt of the impact. However, the entire front end of my new company car was damaged extensively. A police officer arrived on the scene…and he wasn’t in a pleasant mood. He had come from another alcohol related accident which involved a fatality. Sobbing, I pleaded, “I live only two blocks away. You can take me home. …Please!” He didn’t accommodate my request. I went through the usual booking process and was then led to my cell for the night. I cried myself to sleep. When I woke in the morning I met two young women in the next cell who also were charged with DUI. They placated my guilt and shame for the moment. Then the time came to stroll next door for arraignment. Hand cuffed and completely humiliated, I conformed to the rules so I’d be released as quickly as possible. A first time offender, I was riddled with guilt and anxiety—guilt about what had happened and anxiety about my future. Trouble had only begun. A whole assemblage of stressors waited in line ready to wreak havoc.

As I look back to the countless times I drove drunk, I am truly blessed I never killed or severely hurt anyone. God had been very gracious. There is no such thing as karma, luck, or coincidence in the Christian life. If God is in control of everything, then what appears to be karma, luck, or coincidence is really a divine appointment made by God. It is no accident that today I teach and minister to women in a federal prison. My soul-hole was deep and stressed out. Because I chose not to fill it with Almighty God, I continued to live in the dark and in bondage. I drank in a futile attempt to self-medicate. Over the years friends called me on my bad behavior. My response, “I was drunk.” In other words, I’m not accountable for my actions! Addiction alters the brain chemistry affecting the process of thought and decision making. Denial, minimization, and justification are common.

There was no joy, no hope; only fear and self-condemnation. The shame kept feeding every destructive behavior: the bulimia, drunkenness, and promiscuity, which continued to feed the shame, fueling a never-ending cycle over which I had no control. Asking for help meant admitting I failed. People would see me as a phony. It felt safer to wear a mask of secrecy and deception.

The apostle John said, “People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed” (John 3:20, GW). Long term recovery is possible with our great Physician. After surgically repairing my heart and mind, I eventually healed after twenty years of substance abuse (to alcohol, laxatives, diet, caffeine pills). Never give up, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Facing temptation is unavoidable. Even Noah, a God-fearing man, wasn’t immune. We find in Genesis 9:20-25, Noah, the man who walked with God and did all he commanded, laid drunk and uncovered in his tent.

After the account of the Flood and the divine promise given through a rainbow, why did the author include a story of drunken stupor, sexual immodesty, family shame, and a curse? Why didn’t the writer take a red pencil and “x” it out. What I know is, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). There must be a moral and spiritual lesson for us.

In this story we’re reminded of mankind’s heart condition toward dysfunction. God saved Noah and his family, but salvation is not the same as transformation. Believers still fall into sin. We are not guaranteed of instant holiness when we say yes to Jesus Christ. It is the beginning of a journey into spiritual growth and godliness called sanctification.

Noah reminds us that we’re all sinners and mortal. Growing certainly involves an obedient response. But the Christian life isn’t about God barking orders from on high and we dutifully obey…or else. Rather, we choose to be obedient as our hearts and minds are changed by his grace.

Another reason for including the text might have been to highlight the consequences to Noah’s behavior. Noah’s grandson, Ham, and his descendants are cursed for his actions. As my life story illustrates, there are always consequences to destructive actions. We should understand our roots. Some of us inherited our troubles. Alcoholism frequently recurs in one’s children despite evidence that addictive behavior is not inherited. Children of alcoholics, for example, often become alcoholics because their parents modeled addictive behavior. “Monkey see, monkey do.” Many substance and behavioral addictions are passed on from generation to generation. It will continue until the behavior is stopped permanently.

God is the only one “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things” (Psalm 103:3-5).

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Friday, May 17, 2013

Transform Your Thinking

In a recent Huffington Post blog entitled, “Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness: Trends That Could Change Everything,” the author, Flynn Coleman, made a proposal to readers. Coleman, a mindfulness consultant, lawyer, yoga teacher and founder of SAMYA Practice, said, “Mindfulness can change the world.” She went on to explain that by teaching and practicing the tenants of mindfulness in every aspect of life and at every level—personal, institutional, societal and global—the entire world could be positively transformed. That’s exactly what the Bible says: Be transformed by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2).

Whenever people try to make changes in their lives, there is a tendency to start out well but they end up doing exactly what they do not want to do. The apostle Paul experienced this in, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Like us, Paul struggled with his human nature. If we can stop the negativity going on in our heads, we can also stop our negative behaviors; therefore, we are not helpless nor are we captive to our genetics or predispositions over which we have no power. Instead, we have the power to change and stop the cycle of destructive behaviors and attitudes.

When the apostle Paul wrote "be transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2) he knew God would not have told us this if God didn’t give us the ability to do it. To renew our mind is to begin to replace all the faulty thinking, the lies and misbeliefs, with truth—with the Word of God. This is exactly what Paul was talking about when he wrote in Philippians 4:8, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." [It is noteworthy that he wrote this while in prison under conditions that would make any normal person depressed!]

God gives us the ability to think like this. Think of your brain like a snowy hill in winter. Aspects of that hill—the slope, the rocks, the consistency of the snow are a given—like our DNA and family history. When we slide down on a sled, we can steer it and will end up at the bottom of the hill by following a path determined both by how we steer and the characteristics of the hill. Where exactly we will end up is hard to predict because there are so many factors in play.

What will definitely happen the second time you take the slope down is that you will more likely than not find yourself somewhere or another that is related to the path you took the first time. It won’t be exactly that path, but it will be closer to that one than any other. If you spend your entire afternoon sledding down, walking up, sledding down, at the end you will have some paths that have been used a lot, some that have been used very little…and there will be tracks that you have created, and it is very difficult now to get out of those tracks.

We all have mental tracks that get laid down. They can lead to good habits or bad habits. It is possible to get out of those old tracks and start new ones. It can be difficult because once we have created these tracks, they become “really speedy” and very efficient at guiding the sled down the hill. Our usual obstacle is giving up familiarity and comfort. Additionally, stress, fatigue, and not having basic needs met, will tempt us to stay on the same course.

Every day we make thousands of choices. Much of what we do comes from habitual behaviors. Most of our decisions are made by our unconscious. We gravitate towards familiarity; even though it may be unhealthy, it is comfortable. To take a different path becomes increasingly difficult unless a roadblock of some kind is put in the path to help us change direction.

It works this way: You have a thought. Your brain releases chemicals which can be emotionally toxic or not. An electrical transmission goes across your brain. Then you become aware of what you’re thinking. Thoughts stimulate emotions that result in an attitude which finally produces behavior. Allowing our minds to dwell on envy, lust, greed, or revenge only leads to bad behavior. All negative or wrong behavior starts with that one thought. Ongoing negative behavior eventually wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies.

When we become aware of a negative thought, we have a choice: to let it go through or put up a road block. The answer: put up a road block. Where do we get this road block? The living Word of God. It’s the God tool we use to erect a road block.

Eugene Peterson, The Message, paraphrases 2 Corinthian 10:5-6, “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.” The NIV Bible says, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That means we interrogate it and toss it out, or let the thought through.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Identify Insatiable Cravings

Psalm 4:6-7: “Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.” I have God’s more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day” (The Message)

It has been said that to be alive is to be addicted; that life in America is so stressful that it is impossible not to become addicted to some object. One Christian psychiatrist suggests “we are all addicts in every sense of the word.” Behind every craving is a compelling urge to pursue pleasure—to feel terrific while avoiding pain, physically and emotionally. From the brain’s perspective, whatever we do to produce feelings of euphoria, is worth repeating. Ultimately, we end up mastered by those things.

Our objective is to examine everything in our lives that has taken on significant meaning—things we believe give us purpose, meaning and value; things we sense are “a chasing of the wind.” I suggest you start to create a list of your habits. Putting your thoughts to paper will help you see the big picture.

1. Write down what you perceive to be the most frequent negative things you do. Think about the things that have become distractions from God. Note the obvious ones. Discovering the less obvious ones will require time.

2. Observe your habits closely. As you go about your day ask yourself these questions: “What activities take up most of my time?” “What do I think about most of the day?” For example,
• How many hours do I watch television or Netflix?
• How long do I exercise each day (or not exercise)?
• How much time do I spend on the Internet? List the sites you frequently visit. • How often do I check my phone in one hour?
• How often do I eat? What types of foods do I eat?
• What else do I ingest beside food?
• Who do I spend most of my time with?
• How do I handle stress, worry, or chaos?
• How do I feel emotionally most of my day?
• How much time do I spend with God each day?
• What do I think about myself?
• What does God think about me?

This is a good start. If possible, ask your spouse, significant other, close friends, and/or family to share their observations. This requires honesty. They may not want to hurt your feelings. Tell them you desire an honest answer and won’t get upset. Remain calm.

3. Make a commitment to regularly examine those things in your life that tend to take on enormous meaning. Then ask yourself, “Where is God in this?”

4. I suggesting praying and journaling through your emotions:
• What am I feeling? What am I reacting to?
• How am I responding to my interpretation of the situation?
• What are my options? Listen to God and to what others have taught you.
• Weighing all options, I choose to…

5. List the personal traits you want to change first. Go back to your answers from the “Pre-Study Exercise.” Pray over the areas in your life where you feel enslaved. It helps to focus on changing one area at a time. Ask God to reveal the area he desires to begin working on first.

6. Be patient and give yourself time. God’s timetable will most likely be slower than yours. Depend on God for the power to change, but don’t expect him to miraculously change your personality and behaviors. Changing engrained traits takes time.

This is an excerpt from the book "Something Happened On My Way To Hell" by author Kimberly Davidson

Saturday, May 11, 2013

“Fat”--A Fate Worse Than Death: Addicted to Food and Body Image

The reflection in the mirror illuminates a grossly unattractive, unfit, fat person. One night I purge in the restroom after eating an enormous dinner with friends. Later, I sneak potato chips and cookies into my bedroom and eat both bags when everyone has gone to bed, and then carefully hide the wrappers. The next day I starve myself by ingesting only a couple hundred calories. I think constantly about my body and diet regimen. This is a story about a monster that sneaks up on the struggling princess. It covertly and subtly destroys her. It began as a diet and a battle with the mirror. Decades later she realizes who and what the monster is…and who and what her Prince is.

◄► Seventeen years old, at five feet, four inches, and 140 pounds, society labeled me “chunky.” As women, we’re vulnerable to competitive standards and comparisons. We compare ourselves all the time and come up feeling inadequate. After seeing a photo of myself I agreed, “I look like a whale! I’m going on a diet.” From that day forward I chose what I put inside my mouth. I worked towards a goal weight and lost a healthy two pounds per week.

My parents were proud of me. I was proud of me. Boys noticed me. It seemed I had power over others when they’d ask me how I managed to lose weight. Like millions of other dieters, I liked receiving compliments and praise in my search for approval and love. My soul craved acceptance. I didn’t have anything in my life I excelled at. I failed at playing a musical instrument. I didn’t date. My grades were average. I didn’t belong to the popular girls’ group…but I excelled at dieting. This kind of admiration is hard to give up. Soon my weight and number of consumed calories became my identity…and an obsession. I’d wake up each morning looking forward to manipulating that day’s diet plan. And I started smoking cigarettes in an effort to cut my appetite.

Then something snapped. Conscious of our weight, my friend and I felt miserable, physically and emotionally, after gorging on left-overs from her parent’s dinner party. She said, “I know how we can feel better and not gain any weight. Stick your finger down your throat until you throw up all the food.” Nirvana! Now I can eat anything I want and stay skinny! This is bulimia. From that day forward, life spiraled out of control. Eventually I reached my revised goal weight of ninety-eight pounds.

After five agonizing years, I graduated from college and landed a coveted sales position in the pharmaceutical industry. My life looked great on the outside. But inside, the battle with this life-zapping monster raged on. Completely powerless over this parasite, my friendships, my work, my entire life, continued to unravel. I held a secret no one could know.

Isn’t it interesting that the very desires which lead to our ruin start as healthy longings? Pure desires such as the need to feel joy, love, approval, security, to eat and enjoy sex, can become polluted. This is what the power of sin does. We can look at our motives and see bliss, when, in fact, destruction is lurking in our blind spots. Think about your desires. Could they be manifested in some type of harmful behavior?

Excessive dieting, in this culture, is a metaphor for social acceptability. It is also an attempt to manage an uncontrollable life. The root of disordered eating is a need for control, for some kind of order. The person uses their obsession with food as a means to gain back control and order which they somehow feel has been taken from them or lost. It may also be a distraction because they feel inadequate or have low self-esteem or suffer from severe depression, anger, anxiety, or loneliness.

We develop a need to control in order to protect ourselves from pain. If you were abused in any form, constantly rejected, experienced a great loss, or had an addicted and/or controlling parent, you probably felt unable to manage your circumstances. In an effort to curb the frustration and deaden the pain you turned to food, a substance, exercise, or another outlet. I figured since I’d already experienced betrayal, loss, and disappointment, why risk more? A relationship with food or a substance is safer. A personal prison is safer.

We believe we’re calling the shots, but we’re not. Temporary fixes only hide the truth about the source of the pain. When we finally recognize we’re imperfect and desire power over each situation, we can begin to release control back to God. Then we’re less likely to use food, or any other substance or behavior, to plug the hole in our soul. Try it. Pray about it. A huge burden will be lifted off your shoulders. Over time, balance and stability can be restored to your life.

Meditate on God’s Promise: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

This is an excerpt from the book Something Happened On My Way To Hell"" by author Kimberly Davidson

Thursday, April 25, 2013

We Are What We Think

Most people understand the concept that “You are what you eat.” If we feed our bodies processed foods, our brain power and energy levels decrease, while fat increases. The same principle holds true for our minds. As food nourishes our physical bodies and affects our overall health, what we put into our minds affects our thoughts, actions, and behaviors.

I heard a pastor describe a study that measured the impact of what people put into their minds. The subjects listened to a five minute radio broadcast that contained four negative pieces. They found that the subjects were:
1. More depressed 2. Believed the world was a negative place, and 3. Believed that negatives things would happen to them.

Our thoughts are extraordinarily powerful. So powerful that when distorted and led by our flesh, they rob us of joy. Every thought we have sends electrical signals though our brain. They have significant influence over every cell in your body. When your mind is burdened with many negative thoughts, it affects the deep limbic system of the brain and causes problems such as irritability, moodiness, depression, etc.

Now imagine what watching hours of television, facebook, and other media is doing to our minds. By the time a kid is five, he or she has already logged thousands of hours of television watching. The average teenager spends nearly four hours a day watching TV, while the average Christian in this country spends ten minutes a day with God. Studies consistently indicate the negative impact TV has on children’s behavior, correlating it with brain problems.

Why do you think that pharmaceutical companies and Super Bowl advertisers spend millions and billions of dollars on 30 second commercials? We are influenced by their messages! Whatever message is put into our mind has a high potential to influence us to go out and buy the product. It is no secret that advertisers frequently use psychological pressure, such as appealing to feelings of inadequacy or love, which may be harmful.

Advertisements are intended to exploit the desires of a consumer by making a particular product more appealing, and by manipulating the consumer’s needs and wants. We are what we think. Our thoughts become attitudes; our attitudes spawn actions; our actions braid themselves into habits; and our habits determine our destiny. What are you are feeding your mind with? Listen to what Paul said:
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6, NLT)

None of us want to be controlled by our fleshly, sinful nature. Usually the assumption is that by exerting willpower and trying hard in our own strength, we can stop negative behavior. I used to think I could stop my obsessive behaviors with mere willpower, but was wrong. Willpower can produce short-term change, but it also creates constant internal stress because the root cause hasn’t been dealt with. And when you do fall, those nasty feelings of shame rise back to the surface again. The change doesn’t feel natural, so eventually you give up and quickly revert back to old patterns. For many people, the behavior is driven by deeper emotional factors such as, overwhelming helplessness, failure, rejection, anger, depression, abandonment, criticism, anxiety, or even boredom.

Some people do explore their emotions and perhaps discover that they binge eat when they are lonely or have had a stressful day at the office. Yet, they have not asked the key question, “What do I believe?” “What is the source—the thoughts—behind my actions?”
╪ It has been documented over the ages that those who set their minds on Christ, and meditate and memorize Scripture, their minds change. Mind change equals life change. When the Holy Spirit and the Bible take over our mind, there is an explosion of power, called mind renewal. And God has designed it so that our whole being is strengthened.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Addiction: The Greatest Tragedy

Drug abuse is one of the prevailing social problems, and has proven difficult for scientists to tackle over the years. It was reported this week in Digital Journal that doctors can now stimulate one part of the brain with laser light, and wipe away addictive behavior….and conversely turn the non-addicted into compulsive cocaine seekers. I am not a doctor or scientist so cannot comment, except to agree that new methods of treatment are needed because any kind of addictive behavior can be problematic.

With addiction, the desire of the heart is to habitually attach itself to a specific object or activity or person, which harms or deters our ability to function in a major area of life. Impossible to control, the attachment ultimately enslaves the person’s will and masks their true feelings. It can be physical—to substances or food; or psychological—to compulsive behaviors.

Addiction is a form of emotional anesthesia; an escape from responsibilities; even an excuse to blame someone else. Addicted people feel the need to deceive themselves and others. They lie, deny, justify, or cover up their behavior; and rely on confused perceptions and misbeliefs. Life issues which need to be acknowledged and dealt with are not, thereby, enabling them to remain addicted.

Some people insist addiction is a failure of society, or a spiritual weakness called sin, or a state in which people simply won’t take responsibility for their behavior. These moralistic understandings are usually rejected by American society. The most popular theory is addictive behaviors are diseases. What is clear is addiction is a complex interaction of psychological, biochemical, neurological, and spiritual influences.

Like other compulsive behaviors, addiction is driven by deeper emotional factors such as, overwhelming helplessness, failure, rejection, anger, depression, abandonment, criticism, anxiety, or even boredom. You can have all the willpower in the world, be working like crazy to stop, but you can’t stop the behavior. Founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, said, “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”

What I’ve learned is the difference between having a passionate desire towards something and an addiction is freedom. If you have been unsuccessful in your attempts to cut out or cut down on your favorite thing, it may be an addiction. If your favorite thing interferes with your relationships, your work and family responsibilities, or your worship of God, it may be an addiction. If it dulls your awareness of your true feelings, it may be an addiction. If you continue to use it or do it despite negative consequences, it may be an addiction.

The consequences of addiction are estrangement from God, habitual sin, health, and relational problems. Unbeknown to us, the heart of any addiction is the longing for the holy. The only way to heal completely, I believe, is to first fill the hole in our soul with God Almighty’s healing grace made available through Jesus Christ.

This is an excerpt from the book Something Happened On My Way To Hell"" by author Kimberly Davidson

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Living Out and Radiating Our True Selves

Last week talked about how toxic thoughts can reap havoc on our lives, and the importance of not supressing them, but work to overwrite and change them. We are all children of God—valuable, loving, and worthy. This is who we are. Like Jesus, we have the ability to love deeply, make wise decisions, extend forgiveness and grace, and live a joy-filled life.

When we claim and empower our true selves we heal our pain and live the life God destined for us. We believe in ourselves. We embrace our true spiritual roots. We walk with dignity and integrity. We feel joy and radiance. We honor and savor life itself. Celebrating life and love is a gift from God to us, and our gift to ourselves and others.

Here are some affirmation activities you can do:
1. Write down on a piece of paper the ways you would like the important people in your life to describe you as a person. Now look at the list and affirm all those qualities you feel you already possess.
2. List three people you are thankful for and why you appreciate each one. Then do one “random” act of kindness for them.
3. As you study the Bible, either in a journal or notebook, write down all the positive things you learn about yourself. Reference the Scripture verse. For example, “God loves me!” (Jeremiah 31:3). “I am fearfully (which means I’m awesome) and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139: 14).
4. Savior each affirmation. Repeat them often. Say them out loud. Ask God to help you to feel the truth of each one. If it is hard for you to say the affirmation in the present tense, then add the word capable or desire to the affirmation. “I desire to be wonderfully made.” “I am capable of being fully loved.”

In time, the new affirmations become subconscious. The old negative programming is replaced with the new behavior. The more we repeat words of Truth, the more our hearts and minds will believe them and the old beliefs begin to lose their power and eventually disappear. Affirm yourself today!

Lastly, an important part of our journey involves “self-soothing” because it helps our minds and bodies to relieve stress. For example, schedule in a hot bubble bath and meditate on what you have learned this week, take a short walk and use all your senses and take in God’s creative work, watch a funny movie, or put on some self-soothing or upbeat worship music-- sing and dance if you feel like it! Let yourself go!

Here is a list of biblical truths you can begin meditating on right now. Take a deep breath after saying each one.

THIS IS WHO YOU ARE I am God's child (John 1:12) I am Christ's friend (John 15:15) I am united with the Lord(1 Cor. 6:17) I am bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20) I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1) I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8) I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt. 5:13-14) I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27) I am free forever from condemnation (Rom. 8: 1-2) I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil.3:20) I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34) I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor. 5:17-21) I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18) I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6) I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39) I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor. 1:21-22) I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28) I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16) I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13) I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5) I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10) I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1) I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10) I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1: 5) I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child (Eph. 1:5) I belong to God I know now who I am!

AMEN! You may also be interested in reading my Christ-based book: “Breaking the Cover Girl Mask: Toss Out Toxic Thoughts.”