Friday, February 13, 2009
In his book "God's Healing Hope - Breaking the Strongholds of Wrong Thinking," John Livingston Clark of Granger redefines recovery.
The term recovery is usually applied to people overcoming addictions such as alcohol, drugs and pornography. Clark contends, though, recovery can also include overcoming anger, eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem and debt problems.
Clark details his years growing up as a Baptist minister's son in San Diego, Calif. He attributes life-long problems he's had with anger, debt and low self esteem to his childhood experiences and church teaching he received as a child.
He says teachings like JOY - Jesus, Others, Yourself - gave him low self esteem. Further, church teachings on money, he says, kept him from saving money.
All of these issues, including anger and depression, were carried by Clark into his 50s, he says, even when he was a music director for a church in Wapato. He calls these issues "negative strongholds," pointing to II Corinthians 10:4-5 in noting that our struggles are of a spiritual nature.
Clark, a substitute teacher in the Zillah, Wapato and Granger school districts, says he went through a healing process in overcoming and recovering from his spiritual problems.
The change in his life started, he says, in 1979 when he attended seminary school in Portland, Ore. There he got to know Christians who were successful financially. That made him realize it was okay for Christians to do well in life.
During this time, Clark said he also began to see that perhaps God's will is not so limited. Previously, he had been taught that God had one specific vocation for everyone, that it was possible to wander out of God's "perfect will" and no longer be blessed.
Clark says his "road to recovery" has been a process of stops and starts. A pivotal moment was when he had to leave the music ministry to tend to the emotional and anger issues he was carrying.
Finding "God's healing hope," Clark says, includes reading about others and their spiritual journeys, such as Crystal Cathedral founder Robert Schuller.
Clark says counseling helped him and encourages others to seek help.
He also suggests keeping a journal, Christian television shows with a positive message and speaking positive affirmations to ourselves.
Clark believes the best way to "take every thought captive" is to memorize scripture. Among the verses he says have helped him are Romans 8:37, I John 4:4, Ephesians 6:10 and I Peter 1:13.
"God's Healing Hope" can at times read as if the author is blaming the church or his parents for his problems. There are some important lessons here in exploring God's Word for ourselves and not limiting the Lord's will in our lives.
Some of the chapters conclude with review questions encouraging readers to examine their life and/or their past to see if there are any strongholds still keeping them from a full relationship with God, His church and the community.
"God's Healing Hope" is published by Trafford Publishing of Victoria, Canada.
The book is available for $13.95 by writing to Clark at Healing Hope, P.O. Box 616, Zillah WA 98953.