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Posts tagged ‘distorted self-image’

Do I Belong Anywhere???

SOURCE:  adapted from an article by LIVING FREE

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” [Ephesians 1:5 NLT]

When we received Jesus, we became a member of God’s family!

God is our Father.

Jesus is not only our Savior, He is also our brother (Hebrews 2:11-12).

We are a member of the family of believers.

We belong!

A true sense of belonging comes from not only knowing that we belong to God but also from belonging to each other. Many of Paul’s letters in the New Testament offer guidance for successful relationships within this worldwide family. For example, he said, “Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you (Colossians 3:12-13 NLT).

Many scriptures reflect us as belonging and being accepted. Here are just a few:

  • I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
  • I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)
  • I am united with the Lord, and I am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
  • I have been bought with a price. I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
  • We belong to God’s family. (Ephesians 2:19)

Do you ever feel lonely? It is possible to feel lonely even when we are surrounded by people. But if you will look at the mirror of God’s Word, you will see clearly that you belong to God–and to His family. God will always love you and will always be your perfect Father. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you.

In the family of believers, as in any family, there will be conflicts and offenses. But we will always be family. We sometimes need to be reminded by looking in the mirror of God’s Word that we will always belong to one another and need to forgive and love.

You belong to God. He has adopted you into His family. Jesus is your Savior, your friend–and your brother. You belong!

Lord, thank you for reassuring me that I am not alone. I belong! I am your child. And I am in your family. Jesus is not only my Savior and my friend, but my brother. Help me to be faithful to you–and to all my family. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …


Seeing Yourself in God’s Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia
 by Martha Homme, MA, LPC.

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Finding Hope in the Midst of Failure

SOURCE:  Taken from a book by Ed Hindson

The first key to growing through failure is realizing that God is greater than your mistakes.

Second, failure is a universal part of being human.

God wants us to learn from failure. We especially need to learn how not to make the same mistake again. We need to face our weaknesses. Whatever can be changed needs to be changed; wherever we can improve, we need to improve.

If you cannot succeed in a certain area of life, it may very well be that it’s not the will of God for you to pursue that area. You might love to play football, but if the doors aren’t opening for you to play professionally, then most likely that’s not God’s calling for your life. You may enjoy singing, but perhaps your voice isn’t of the quality that’s necessary to be a recording artist. If you aren’t achieving the goals you’d like to reach, that doesn’t mean you need to feel like a failure. It just means that God intends for you to succeed elsewhere.

Don’t let some initial failure cause you to go away discouraged, angry, and upset, or you will never accomplish what you could have had you just kept trying.

What Is Your Definition of Success?

In order to address the problem of failure, we have to start with a question about success. Does God really want us to be successful? There are some pious believers who say, “Oh, the Lord really doesn’t intend for us to be successful. We can be failures to the glory of God. The more everything goes wrong, the more spiritual we can become.” Then there are those who are bent on success at any cost. Their attitude is, “Do whatever you have to do to succeed, whether it’s biblical or not. After all,” they rationalize, “God wants us to be successful. He doesn’t need any more failures.”

But how does God’s Word define success?

Read Joshua 1:8: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” By this definition, success is doing the will of God. We may think that certain things we do will make God happy with us, but that’s not the way it works. Everything we do for God needs to be done according to the Word of God in order for it to be done in the will of God.

By some standards, Abraham was a total failure. Leaving Ur, the greatest city of his day, he went out to the middle of nowhere to the land of Canaan and there lived and died in obscurity. Yet he is one of the most illustrious men who ever lived. Moses led the slaves of Israel out of Egypt into a wilderness and never entered the Promised Land. He died a failure by modern standards, yet he is one of the greatest men God ever used. Christ died on a cross, initially appearing to be a failure, and yet by His death He won us an eternal victory. For in that death, He atoned for the sins of mankind.

Jesus talked about failure and success in the story of the successful Pharisee and the sinful publican, both of whom went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9–14). The Pharisee’s prayer was boastful—unlike others, he had never let God down. By contrast, the publican stood afar off and bowed his head in humility and prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Commenting on this incident, Jesus said, “I tell you that this man [publican] rather than the other [Pharisee], went home justified before God.” The man who appeared to be successful was a spiritual failure. The one who appeared to be a failure was the one who was truly successful. Humility, not ability, is the only true success before God.

When people fail, they usually do one of two things.

Either they confess their failure, repent of it, and get right with God, or they go around making excuses for their failure. Those who confess get back on track and ultimately turn their failure into success. The latter never honestly face their failure. They never solve the problems that led to it, and their lives never get turned around. God wants us not only to repent and erase our failure; He wants us to go on and find real success in serving Him.

The Failure Factor

Understanding Failure Orientation
Failure orientation is that self-perception found in some people that limits not only their self-confidence, but even their ability to trust God as all-sufficient Lord. Individuals with a failure orientation are haunted by a sense of failure, which comes from one of two sources:

1. How we think we appear to others. If we are prone to a failure orientation, we tend to develop “ears” for negative feedback from others. Blocking out or downplaying positive feedback, the failure orientation makes us morbidly sensitive to any negative response we’re getting from others. Unfortunately, we tend to limit the feedback we receive—thereby limiting whatever useful information we might glean from the comments of others. We need feedback from others to help us develop the foundation stones of our value system, self-concept, and understanding of behavior.

Sometimes individuals with a failure orientation have trouble distinguishing between negative feedback directed at them personally and negative feedback simply directed at their behavior. It is important to be able to distinguish between the two in interpreting feedback. “Failure” that may come in the form of a negative response to one’s behavior is usually short-lived and may be overcome. Such “failure” should not be mistaken for a negative response to one’s own person or self-integrity.

As Christians, we may fail, but we are not failures. No matter what others choose to think of us, we are “more than conquerors” through Jesus Christ, who loves us (see Romans 8:37). From time to time, others may praise or ridicule us, but we must never lose our true identity and sense of purpose in the quicksand of struggling to prove ourselves acceptable to others. Scripture describes clearly how we should envision our efforts as we strive to achieve our goals in this life: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.… It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23–24 NASB).

2. How we view ourselves. Frequently, people with a failure orientation have an artificially high, unrealistic, or even perfectionistic set of expectations for themselves. When asked to rate their accomplishments in almost any area on a scale from one to ten, such persons inevitably rate themselves at five or worse. They rate themselves harshly, even when by all objective standards their performance is far above average. These individuals tend to categorically classify themselves as total successes or total failures. They have an “either-or” mentality when viewing their own accomplishments. They see their output as fully acceptable or totally worthless—more often the latter.

Such a sense of failure often paralyzes initiative. These individuals become cautious, diffident, unwilling to take risks their own judgment tells them are perfectly acceptable. Such persons need a comparison group of other individuals who are at a roughly equivalent skill and attribute level with whom they can identify and derive a sense of belonging without either being intimidated or bored.

Overcoming Failure Orientation
How can we overcome failure orientation? Here are some suggestions:

1. Fully analyze and understand our own failure-prone thinking. Analyzing the negative thinking and feelings of failure within us can help in identifying the various areas or aspects of life in which they appear. We need to try to delineate these areas as specifically as possible and look for hidden irrational ideas or unbiblical beliefs that serve to undermine our sense of God-given worth.

Usually we can trace our failure orientation back to various setbacks and misconceptions coming from ideas about ourselves, our friends, job, parents, brothers and sisters, church, or school. Rather than perceiving the world through our mind’s “failure filter,” we need to analyze and approach situations from a biblical perspective. One way to do this is to write down every irrational or unbiblical idea we can pinpoint in our thoughts. Then match it with a passage of Scripture that refutes it.

2. Choose goals and objectives that will improve our self-concept. It is advisable to begin with an area in which we have a reasonable amount of self-confidence. A success-oriented self-concept is contagious within our own personality. When we are able to establish goals and begin to reach them, the belief that “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me” begins to take on genuine reality in our own experience. From one area of success, this attitude of confident capability will snowball into other personal and professional areas of our lives.

3. Break the objectives down into bite-sized components. Once we have begun to take on an objective, it is necessary to approach that goal through a series of small steps. No one can jump from the ground onto the roof of a house, but ten or 12 small steps on a ladder will enable us to get there. By breaking the goal down into a series of smaller bite-sized behaviors and objectives, we simplify our task and heighten our chances for success. These smaller objectives should be undertaken in logical sequence, moving from shortest to longest or easiest to hardest. Here, the wise and thoughtful counsel of a spiritually mature person is invaluable, whether we need advice or just encouragement.

4. Implement a plan of action. This is the trial-and-error step. It will involve developing persistence above all else. It will involve the discipline to be well prepared for a task, and sensitivity to remain teachable and flexible. A change in a personal failure orientation of a longstanding nature won’t happen overnight. Many times, in fact, we will find ourselves taking two steps forward and one step back, but time is on our side, and the outcome is guaranteed. We can be confident, that “he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Turn Your Failure into Success
Many people never overcome their failures because they never really forgive themselves for failing. They continue to punish themselves with self-inflicted guilt rather than moving beyond failure to success.

1. To fail is to be human. All human beings fail. God is fully aware of our limitations: “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 NKJV). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). True success is not avoiding failure, but learning what to do with it.

2. To fail is not be a failure. Studies show that the most successful people often fail. For example, Babe Ruth not only set the record in his day for home runs in a single baseball season—he led the league in strikeouts, as well. However, that didn’t make him a failure. Many Christians who have achieved a number of successes are quick to call themselves failures when they suffer a few strikeouts in life.

3. No one is ever a failure until he stops trying. It is better to attempt much and occasionally fail than to attempt nothing and achieve it. No one learns the limits of his ability until he has reached the point of total failure. Thomas Edison tried over 5,000 different types of light-bulb filaments without success before finding one that would work. His willingness to endure many failures without branding himself a failure gave us the electric light.

4. Failure is never final as long as we get up one more time than we fall down. Fear is much more damaging than failure. If you’ve failed, admit it and start over. Forgive yourself and learn to forgive others. Don’t be controlled by what has happened to you, but rather be motivated by where you are trying to go. Focus on your goals, not your failures. Move ahead with determination, for nothing worthwhile is accomplished without some risk. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). God has given you certain gifts and abilities to serve Him. You may not be able to do everything, but you can do something. Go and do it to His glory!

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Hindson, E. E. (1999). God is There in the Tough Times (62–68). Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.

Demystifying Homosexuality

SOURCE:  Cross Ministry/Tim Wilkins

Recently I visited my family doctor for a routine checkup. While waiting to be seen, I could not help but notice a lady in her thirties, weighing – I suspect- no more than eighty-five pounds. She wore a blouse, shorts, and tennis shoes. Her legs were dangerously thin, her arms a bit larger than a broom handle and I could see her shoulder blades through her blouse. She reminded me of those who died in concentration camps under the control of Adolph Hitler. I struck-up a brief conversation with her, hoping to get a better idea of her condition. We made small talk for a few minutes and then she rose from her chair. She walked to a set of scales in the waiting room. She adjusted the scales for a moment and when I thought she was about to step-up she did something incredible. She reached down, unlaced her tennis shoes, removed them, and then stepped on the scales.

I am no doctor but I believe she was suffering from anorexia nervosa, “a psycho-physiological disorder usually occurring in teenage women characterized by an abnormal fear of becoming obese, a distorted self-image, a persistent aversion to food, and sever weight loss. It is often accompanied by self-induced vomiting, and other physiological changes.” An anorexic looks into a mirror and, although emaciated from self-starvation, sees herself as fat. Why? Because the anorexic has a severely distorted self-image.

Someone has said an illustration is like a window…it lets the light shine in. For that reason, I want to explain the complexity of homosexuality through the illustration of anorexia nervosa, a condition affecting women more often than men. At least three reasons make this condition an appropriate illustration. First, anorexia, unlike homosexuality, is a neutral issue; it has not been politicized. This illustration provides more light than heat, something conspicuously missing in most discussions on homosexuality. Secondly, society in general and Christians in particular are more understanding and sympathetic of this condition. And thirdly, anorexia and homosexuality share a few significant similarities.

A person does not choose to be anorexic, although they do consciously choose not to eat or eat and vomit; she likes food and is often obsessed with food and recipes. The anorexic’s primary problem is a severely distorted self-image, an identity issue. Because the anorexic’s primary problem is not her dislike for food, it is ineffective to tell her “all you need to do is eat.” The anorexic’s conscious choice, a stubborn refusal to eat, even to the point of death, is her feeble, illegitimate, and inappropriate attempt to correct the primary problem…a distorted self-image.

In most cases, a man or woman does not choose to be homosexual, although they do consciously choose to engage in homosexual behavior. The homosexuals’ primary problem is not an issue of sexuality. The homosexuals’ primary problem is a severely distorted self-image, an identity issue. Because the homosexuals’ primary problem is not “how to become attracted to the opposite sex”, it is ineffective to tell him “all you need to date more women.” The homosexuals’ conscious choice, to engage in such behavior, even to the point of death, is his feeble, illegitimate, and inappropriate attempt to correct the primary problem…a distorted self-image. Homosexuality is an illegitimate response to a legitimate need.

I know of occasions where well-meaning family and friends (some Christian) have suggested a gay man find a woman who can “make you a man,” ditto the lesbian. I would make three responses to that ill-advised suggestion. First, exchanging one form of immorality for another is not how God provides healing. Second, since sexuality is not the homosexuals’ primary problem, this advice is off-target. One might as well set an exquisite meal in front of an anorexic. Thirdly and most importantly, the homosexuals’ difficulty is not in relating to the opposite sex, but in relating to the same sex. Because the male homosexual has a severely distorted self-image (a lack of masculinity or maleness), his acting-out is his feeble attempt to import more masculinity into himself.

At this point a legitimate rebuttal would be, “This theory of a distorted self-image sounds good from a clinical, psychological perspective, but can you back it up with Scripture?”

CREATION

 Gen 1:26-27 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Is it not striking that God uses the Hebrew words tselem, translated “image” three times, and demuwth translated “likeness” once in three verses?Here man’s moral and spiritual image is created; man’s physical image is footnoted in Gen. 2:7 “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Sexual distinction is also created; contrast “in the image of God he created him” with “male and female he created them.” (v. 27) Genesis 2:25 states “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Note that while no shame concerning their nakedness occurs before the Fall, fear, shame, alienation from God, and embarrassment occur after the Fall.

DISTORTION

 Genesis 3:7-10 says “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made covering for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” Dr. Guy Greenfield writes, “Sin has produced a hesitancy and reservation about sex among the biblical characters and writers as compared with the lack of shame in the Garden of Eden.” (Holman Bible Dictionary, p. 1251)

Note that before the Fall, or as Vance Havner used to say, “before Adam and Eve ate us out of house and home” only the male/female relationship existed; after the Fall came myriads of immoral relationship (adultery, polygamy, incest, prostitution, and homosexuality, to name a few).

Notice a shift in whose image we are created! Genesis 5:1-3 says “This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man.’ When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” Verse one reiterated that man was created in God’s “image.” Yet two verses later the writer records that Adam had a son named Seth who was in Adam’s, not God’s “likeness” and “image.” (Note that the same words for “image” and “likeness” are used here as in Genesis 1:26-27.) What I believe the writer is doing is contrasting the family of God with the family of Adam or put another way, he contrasts God’s family with the Adam’s family?

The question is often asked why freedom for the homosexual takes so long. I believe Scripture can answer that question; more specifically, the arrangement of Scripture answers that question. What God created in Genesis 1 & 2, man quickly distorted in Genesis 3. Although the distortion of God’s creation occurred quickly, the restoration/transformation of God’s creation takes time. We must look from Genesis 3 all the way to Romans 8 before we get a fuller understanding of transformation.  But, struggler be encouraged.  By knowing the real issues associated within same sex attraction, freedom can be accelerated.

RESTORATION

 Romans 8:29 reads “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” During the summer of one of my college years, I served as a music evangelist through a denomination agency. My team of three students conducted ten revivals over ten weeks. At the close of a great revival in a rural church, a saintly, elderly lady stood to share a brief testimony. She began, “My goal is not heaven.” I was struck with bewilderment; why would she say such a thing? But she continued, “My goal is not heaven. God’s promised me that. My goal is to be more like Jesus.” She was right; our goal is to become more like Christ. As I struggled with my own homosexual feelings, I realized that my ultimate goal was not to develop opposite sex attractions. My goal was and remains Jesus Christ, who is not a means to an end. He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 22:13)

First Corinthians 15:49 says, “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man (Adam), so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (Christ).” Second Corinthians 3:18 reads “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory…” Colossians 3:9-10 states “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Satan is a liar, he is a liar, he is a liar, he is a liar. In fact the only time you can believe Satan is when he says, “I am a liar.” Jesus said of Satan, “for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) If Satan can distort or destroy our perception of who we are, he has accomplished much. Even Christ was tempted to doubt His Deity, both at the Inauguration and Culmination of His Earthly Ministry.

The Inauguration of His Ministry

Matthew 4:3 reads, “The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” Again the tempter says, “If you are the Son of God…throw yourself down.” (Matt 4:6)

 The Culmination of His Ministry

When Christ was dying on the cross, four people-groups tempted Him to doubt His Deity. (The people-groups are in bold print while the verbal temptation is italicized.) Matthew 27:39-40 says, “Those who passed by hurled insults at him…saying, ‘Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’” Luke 23:35 reads, “and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’” Luke 23:36-37 states, “The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’” Luke 23:39 records, “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’”

One could rightly say that all sin originates from a distorted self-image, but just as there are degrees of darkness, so are there degrees of deception. Homosexuality is dark deception and the person deceived by it rarely responds to a glib, “all you need to do is repent.”

What I am is not based on my feelings or experience.  What I am is based on God’s Word.  God’s Word says I was corrupted by sin, that Christ died in my place on the cross and if I accept Christ, my sins are forgiven.

I am redeemed!


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