Tag Archives: how do I overcome my addiction?

What Do You Need From God?

“Hello, is this Pastor Mike Klassen?”

“Yes,” I responded.

“My name is Christine and I need help getting out.”

“Getting out of what?” I asked. After an extended pause, she finally answered.

“I’m, uh, uh…I’m a hooker. I live in a house with about a dozen other people. The girls in our house work the streets and the guys in our house sell drugs.”

Then she said something that sent chills down my spine.

“I’m part of a Satanic cult. If they know I’m leaving, they’ll kill me.”

“I’ll do whatever I can,” I replied. “How can I help you?”

“Meet me at the bus station at 11:00 tonight.”

“Okay,” I answered. “One other question, though. How did you get my phone number?”

“Somebody downtown handed me your business card.”

The next week or so was one of the strangest of my life.  At 11:00 that night, my wife, a friend, and I picked her up from the bus station and drove to my church office. I expected to meet someone along the lines of Julia Roberts’ character from the movie Pretty Woman. I quickly learned that the “happy hooker” didn’t exist. The young woman I picked up was obese, unkempt, and smelly. She hadn’t showered in days, if not weeks.

After telling me her story about running away from home as an adolescent, we delved into her involvement with the cult.

“The demons talk to me,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Would you like to make the demons stop talking?” I asked.

While explaining about the power of Jesus, she screamed in pain and jumped on the top of the couch.

“What touched me?” she said.

I looked around the room to see if a bee had flown into the room and stung her. I looked under the coffee table in front of her.

“I don’t see anything,” I explained. “What do you think it was?”

“That’s it!” she cried out, pointing to my right hand. “Keep that away from me. It burned me when it touched my leg.”

Believe me, I’m not making this up.

In my right hand I was holding a Bible.

The next hour or so, we addressed several demons that were harassing her. But we spent a good deal of the time quoting Scripture because we had witnessed its effects on her. That night I learned the true power of the word of God.

It’s no coincidence that God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “‘Is not my word like fire,’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'” (Jeremiah 23:29)

The apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, also understood this.

Two weeks ago I started a Friday study on the book of 2 Peter. I believe the book has unique relevance on our society today.

At the beginning of his epistle, he writes:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4

Followers of Jesus were suffering persecution at the hands of emperor Nero. They were afraid to depart from the popular emperor-driven cult at that time and acknowledge their faith in Christ. Popular opinion was becoming increasingly intolerant of people who believed in ultimate truth, sin, and salvation through Jesus Christ.

So Peter, who knew Jesus, who had listened to nearly every sermon he had preached during his three year ministry, wrote that we already have everything we need for life and godliness. We don’t need to seek outside help. If we’re following Jesus, then Jesus lives in us.

But how do we access this power?

Through “his very great and precious promises.” And whose promises is Peter referring to? God the father and his son Jesus (the verse immediately preceding this passage says it). The Bible is the record, a testament, of those promises.

I don’t want to offer you a formula, but the word of God is powerful. It gives strength to our souls, encourages us when we’re down, and it burns the powers of darkness.

If you’re discouraged, spiritually hungry, or feeling powerless, I encourage you to feed on the word of God. Don’t just memorize it—meditate on it and let it nourish the deepest place in your soul. Peter writes that through them–God’s promises in his word–we  “participate in the divine nature.” The word “participate” means literally “fellowship,” “partner,” or “commune.” Through the precious promises we connect with God.

And nothing in heaven or on earth that opposes him can stand up to him.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s still amazed by the power of God’s word.

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The Secret To Overcoming Your Sin

In 1899, a famous healing evangelist named John Alexander Dowie founded a Christian city north of Chicago, Illinois named Zion City. His desire was to create a modern-day Utopia by removing every temptation that could lead the city’s inhabitants astray.

In fact, in the city charter he outlawed sin. Really!

Zion City eventually grew to 6,000 people under Dowie’s leadership, but they were never able to achieve their goal of eradicating sin. Zion, Illinois exists to this day, but it resembles any other city.

The season of Lent tends to direct our focus to our sin. And why wouldn’t it when our sins were the reason Jesus was nailed to the cross on Good Friday? Traditionally, Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. So yes, Lent does expend a significant focus on sin.

Like all of you, I have spent a lifetime trying to rid myself of my earthier side. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much energy I expend, I often find that my efforts only make things worse.

Obviously, none of us will completely rid ourselves of our sinful condition until we pass through those pearly gates, but there is a better way to fight the ongoing battle with sin.

Abide in Christ.

Sounds overly simplistic, but it’s true.

The Best Way To Identify An Idol
When I make the focus of my life the eradication of sin, I make sin my focus. I’m actually abiding in my flesh—that part of me which craves sin. So it’s no surprise that I become further entrapped by it. Whatever we abide in, we become.

If I’m struggling with lust and trying not to think lustful thoughts, what am I focusing on, or abiding in? My lust.

Whatever I focus on becomes an object of worship. An idol. If I make finances the focus of my life—maybe I’m not making enough, maybe I just want to make more—then finances become my idol.

Ironically, it works the same way with love. If I focus on becoming a more loving person, who or what am I focusing on or abiding in? Ultimately it’s myself. And in the  end I simply become more self-absorbed and more frustrated because I’m not becoming a more loving person.

Jesus said, “He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).

Anything good, anything fruitful that comes out of us isn’t the result of our efforts, but because Christ did it through us. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—is the fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives. In other words, you can’t produce the fruit of the Spirit on your own.

Stop Working On Your Sin!
So what part do we play? It doesn’t come by struggling with sin or trying to be more loving. Making laws outlawing sin like Alexander John Dowie did with Zion will never be successful.

All we can do is abide in Christ.

The word “abide” means to remain, stay, live, or dwell.

Abiding is not a matter of reading your Bible and praying nor does it mean white-knuckled obedience. It’s a matter of being. Believing.

To abide means to make your abode, your home with Christ.  To live with Christ. You don’t have to always say something to Him. But you know He’s there. You acknowledge Him. You enjoy fellowship and communion with one other.

Abiding in Christ means I take my mind off myself and my problems and onto him.

Steve McVey writes in his book Grace Walk, “The Christian life is not about Christ. It is Christ. It is God’s purpose to bring every Christian to the place where he no longer lives for self, but where Christ is allowed to live His life through us.”

That’s the paradox:  You can’t become more loving by trying harder to love. You can’t become patient by trying to be patient. You can’t overcome your addiction to porn by focusing on overcoming your addiction to porn. You don’t become like Jesus by trying to become like Jesus. You might as well throw away that WWJD bracelet.

We become like Jesus by being with Jesus. By communing with Jesus. By allowing Him to live His life through us. Loving through us.

And that is what Lent is all about.

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