Category Archives: Purpose 2

Circles: Who is in the Ring With You?

As I fight the brutal yet beautiful fight to live in grace and allow God to bring me to Christlikeness and to resist sin and addiction, I have noticed that there are three concentric circles of people with whom I must relate. I start with the outer circle and move inward.

The Circle of Concern

Those that hear of your struggles, addiction, battles and are truly concerned. They will call or text, and if they cannot reach you, they’ll begin pinging others who know you to see if they know anything about your condition. Often they feel they need to fix the situation. Many times they are attempting this fix to fix how they feel–ex. so they can feel better they did “something,” at least. Oftentimes, I am tempted to meet with them when their voice their concern, even if I know this isn’t healthy for me to spread my battle this thin. These people were frequently not deeply involved in my life before and perhaps something within me knows they shouldn’t be  in a more inward circle–geography, loose lips, lack of wisdom, or simply because my inner circles are already full of good folks , etc. I need briefly thank them for their concern via text or email and let them know you people supporting you. I feel I don’t owe them long explanations, if any.

The Circle of Care

These are the people who I do talk to much more often. They are typically those who were already deeply involved in my life, maybe before they knew all that was going on or maybe not. I need to let them remain in my life and interact with them, not push them away in shame or embarrassment. Some don’t know how to relate to what I an going through and some do. I need to simply receive their love.

The Circle of Accountability- 1/2 the Bullseye

This, for me, needs to be a much tighter sub-group of one or two people in my circle of care.  In the past I would do my spread my accountability across too broad a group of people. In this way, different guys no different slices of what I was struggling with, but no one really had the “whole pie.” I am know realizing the importance of having a single point of accountability or what some call a sponsor. I need this to be only one or two men. I don’t want them to do it if they are merely doing me a favor or if they feel they don’t have the margins of time to function as in the role well. I am also very selective and have some key criteria for who this needs to be. I feel like God has provided 2-3 people who fit and desire to ask two of them to serve in this role. Spill your guts to these people, the good, the bad and the ugly. Deal with both inner-emotions and outer behaviors.

The Circle of Family- The other 1/2 of the Bullseye

The brutal, bloody fight against sin most definitely impacts and involves my family to a larger degree than anyone else. These are the most important people in my life. While they cannot be my primary accountability, as that is not healthy for me or them, I need to be open with them to foster intimacy, by letting them “in-to-me-see.” I want for them to feel and understand, and me to feel and understand the deep sense of attachment and love I have for them. Be open about what I am learning and listen to them. Love them and receive their love.

I don’t need to confuse these circles or spend the wrong amount of time and energy with the wrong circle. Understanding my circles will be valuable to my journey and fight. This will provide me a clear community map.

A Deep Breaking of Purpose 2: Relationships and Community

Sin breaks down our ability to live out purpose #2: To live in authentic community (relationships), and to multiply that community by including others.

Perhaps one of the most damning things about sin is the fact that no matter how much we feel it to be a private event and struggle, it never is. Sin–even when committed in the most secretive manner–always effects others, particularly those that love us most. The damage done to the relationship might be because they become aware of a sin that deeply wounds them.  But even if loved ones don’t have an awareness of our sin, our sin causes such an inner decay that we cannot relate to them as we should. My sin causes great damage by eroding intimacy in all my relationships, especially the most key–my wife and kids. My sin has deeply altered those relationships. It has always been this way. Sin is never truly private. An individual’s sin always goes communal in its damaging of relationships.

The First Sin

The first sin affected intimacy and affection. Listen to Adam’s tone in terms of his wife. It shifts dramatically post-Fall as he blames God and passes the hot potato of responsibility straightway to Eve.

He [GOD] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
(Genesis 3:11-12)

But that is not the end of the descriptive breaking that sin brings with it.

To the woman he [GOD] said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
    Your desire shall be for your husband,
        and he shall rule over you.”  (Genesis 3:16-24 mouseover)

And so we see the damning relational aspect of sin. Some commentators state this is a sexual/love desire for her husband. But that explanation does not make sense in our given context. Instead, I take “desire”– hqvwt in Hebrew— to mean that sin brought with it a contest of wills, of power, as Eve now tries to ursurp Adam’s leadership to gain his position. And Adam, instead of kind servant leadership, now leads with a degree of tyranny and despotism.

The Second Sin

Sin’s relational breaking effect continues, as Adam and Eve’s eldest child Cain, becomes enraged that his younger brother’s offering is accepted and his is not. The effects of sin, in this case, lead to the ultimate in relational breakdown–murder.

    The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:6-9 ESV)

My Sin

When I examine my sin, particularly as related to addiction, I clearly see the damage it causes my loved ones. I see it in their pain and sadness. I see it in my physical absence. I hear it in their voicing loneliness while in the midst of my “presence.” I see it in their eyes. This now haunts me (yet I do possess hope in Christ!). In the midst of living in an addictive state, I  discounted this fact, self-rationalizing that my sin was contained in some kind of deep, inner compartment that didn’t have to affect my family and friends. This is one of the great myths of sin. Part of the engaging in the beautiful fight is looking clearly in the face the fact that my sin does cause relational damage. It cannot be contained. The antidote is to repent, turning again from our sin to the Gospel that in Christ, living in real, authentic relationship is possible, though no guarantee that this will come without struggle. In the classic twelve step world, this is the 8th step and 9th step. In my personal recovery, I have participated in counseling but never a Christ-centered twelve step program. I now am. I know it will be a painful yet joyful journey for my loved ones and me. Yet I am looking forward to God using it to keep me engaged and victorious in the beautiful fight and to undo the damage I have done to my most important relationships.

Lord, thank you for the hope you offer to undo this breaking and establish your purpose for me to live in healthy, transparent relationships. My flesh resists this, seeking the myth of protecting myself from emotional vulnerability and the urge to believe my sin only affects me. Shine your light clearly on this untruth and its ugliness as the enemy’s weapon. Let Truth prevail. Bring healing and empower me to daily surrender to You and to have this surrendering empower within me the passion and ability to be the husband, father and friend that I should have been. I trust this possible in Christ. Amen.


A Deep Breaking of Purpose 1: Broken Fellowship

In the Fall seen in Genesis 3, there was a deep breaking. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they passed on an ugly gift to each of us–a sin nature. For a long time, I viewed sin as something that made God angry–a wrong thought, attitude or behavior. I also clearly understood I had a sin nature as it raised up its head so often in my life. But there was a deeper breaking than this. What I have to consider fully is the degree that sin had broken or distorted God’s three purposes if we are going see victory and freedom.

P1: To fellowship with God in the nearness of His presence.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God appeared in the garden for another walk in the cool of the evening as He had time and time before. However, this time Adam and Eve, in shame, had hidden themselves realizing that they were naked. God asked them  the question that we, too, must answer, “Where are you?” An Adam did what we all tend to do. He pitched the blame like a hot potato elsewhere (Genesis 3:12 mouseover verse). And in doing so

The Fall continues to affect us in the same way. I, like others, tend to hide in shame in when I sin. I tend to make excuses and pitch blame. These actions only serve to make me less aware that fellowship with God that is available to me through Christ. At these times, I find myself being more of a deist, thinking that God is out there watching, rather than a theist, knowing that He is intervening and available. I tend to try to take control of things–attempting to covering myself like Adam in order to please God. I do what I heard a member of my recovery group recently say. I attempt to have a good day and then ask, “God, what do you think of me today?” as  if I were participating in some kind of giant make-it-up-to-you-God exercise. This is of course, ultimately ridiculous and futile.

God’s availability to me and my awareness of the nearness of His presence is only because of Christ and what He has accomplished that I cannot. He has restored the potential of Eden to me and to you as we live in union with Him. More to come on that hope in future posts. For now you and I must continue to dissect what is broken in us if we are able to have victory over our sin, our habits, our hurts, and our addictions.

God’s Original Purpose for Us, Made Simple

God has a purpose for creating us. In the garden of Eden, He tells us that purpose through a narrative of humanity in a perfected state, unstained by sin. This is what our full humanity is to look like. These purposes are what God is moving us towards, even as sin and addiction fights against it. This is what we are battling for  in the beautiful fight.  Many times, we approach Genesis 1-3 as a modern Christians wearing our apologetic sunglasses. Our main purposes seems to be using the text for wrestling with those who are of a naturalistic evolutionary bent. This is a huge mistake, for this is not the prime reason Genesis 1-3 made it into our Bibles. YES, God is Creator of all things. That fact is vital.  (And whether you believe it occurred in six literal days or leave open the potential it happening over billion of years does not matter to me. In fact, for the point I am making here, your view of whether there was one literal Adam and Eve or the first couple were a metaphorical type of humanity doesn’t  matter, though I fall into the first camp.

 God established three purposes for us that are clearly seen in the story of Adam and Eve in Eden.

P1. To fellowship with God as we realize the nearness of His presence.

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day

P2. To live in authentic community (relationships), and to multiply that community by including others.

Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 1:28 …And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…

P3. To rule and reign on His behalf, by bearing and reflecting His image (character).

Genesis 1:26-28

    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
    So God created man in his own image,
        in the image of God he created him;
        male and female he created them.
    And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Throughout The Wretched Saint blog, I will reflect on the 3 purposes and what it means for recovery and the beautiful fight. You can follow this series by clicking on the category drop down category menu at the right. As I reflect on my own brutal yet beautiful fight to be who God desires me to be, I am realizing my processing of what sin–both Adam’s and my own–has done to distort these three purposes AND what God has done, is doing, and will do to restore me to His original perfected purposes is crucial to victory and freedom.