Clearing Out the Thorns

There will soon be a day when the lock-downs and disruptions of the 2020-21 pandemic will be ended. Unfortunately for many, this has been a traumatic time, and the emotional wounds can linger, causing us to turn in on ourselves and become hopeless, fearful, or isolated. These are like the thorns of Matthew 13:22 that choke our life - but there's hope as we look to Jesus to undo whatever holds us back from the better life He desires!

1. Victimization

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt powerless? Of course you have, because everyone encounters events and environments where we feel powerless - it is part of our lives, and this pandemic is a big example of that. Different people respond in different ways to powerless situations. Some fight. Some take flight. A few freeze. But, God describes a fourth response, and that is trusting in him as our strong Father. The reality is that we are indeed weak, fragile, vulnerable, and powerless without God. But with God? With God, we are strong!

Doug Ellis  Doug Ellis    |   January 24, 2021   |   2 Corinthians 12:9-10

2. Loneliness

Do you know someone who is lonely? Is it you? A lot of previously unlonely people have begun to realize the darkness of loneliness as this pandemic continues. Loneliness arises not simply due to the absence of other people, but the absence of meaningful connection to other people. And, even though we might try to combat loneliness with Zoom, FaceTime, or social media apps, these often do not get us beyond relational shallowness. For many, loneliness tends to develop poor habits that perpetuate loneliness, and feelings of bitterness and jeoulosy can further distance us from others.

God didn't design any human to be alone and disconnected, and at the heart of our relationship with God is a renovation of relationship, overcoming loneliness habits, and helping one another to genuinely connect.

Doug Ellis  Doug Ellis    |   January 31, 2021   |   Genesis 2:18

3. Deception

Truth is important. Truth helps us to find directions for our lives that are healthy, and deceptions can point our lives into hazardous directions. Yet, every day we are overwhelmed with both truth and deception. How do we figure out which is which?

Well, a wise approach is to not merely learn something, but to experience it. Jesus did not merely present us with truth, but he challenges us to put the teachings of the Gospel into practice to verify that they are viable and worthwhile.

Doug Ellis  Doug Ellis    |   February 7, 2021   |   Luke 18:18-22

4. Trepidation

Everyone has fear from time to time. If temporary, fear can be a good emotion because it helps us get away from danger. But, a frequent pattern of fear can sometimes turn into what is called trepidation. Trepidation can result in sluggish movement in the directions of God - it can look like procrastination, or avoidance, or being lukewarm, or even substituting something else for the will of God.

God is powerful. And as he accompanies us in life, he provides courage for us to unglue ourselves from the fear that keeps us stuck in old familiar patterns that pretend to be safe and comfortable, but can be harmful. God “un-fears” us, so that we can begin attaining a new, fresh, and better life.

Doug Ellis  Doug Ellis    |   February 14, 2021   |   Hebrews 12:12-14

5. Addiction

Who wants to have an addiction in their life? An addiction robs us of time, money, relationships, joy - for that quick hit, there is a lot of cost to one's life.

With the word “addiction”, you may be thinking of things like alcohol, drugs, or the nicotine that is in vaping and cigarettes. Yet, there are other addictions that we overlook or minimize - we don't think they are serious because we just don't see their ugliness. These are things like over-shopping, pornography, hoarding, stress eating, or endless hours of TV, gaming, or social media. Spiritually, these are just as costly to our souls as crack, and just as deadly to our eternity as meth.

Whether you struggle with alcohol or chocolate, there are some basic scriptures that describe your pathway to freedom.

Doug Ellis  Doug Ellis    |   February 21, 2021   |   Jeremiah 29:13

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