The work week is finished, time to party!
The memories I have of those Friday afternoons, or any day that preceded a day off, are vivid to my mind. I know that as much as I looked forward to partying all weekend or day off from work, my enthusiasm eventually turned to a forboding, knowing what the next day off would bring. The fun eventually ceased, misery encased me. All I had was a few bucks and a bottle of liquor...or two, then hours wishing I had listened to those warnings from inside my heart. By the time the stupor sat in, stupidity followed, my thoughts turned to the many failures, melancholy thoughts about "if only," and to bitter disdain of the successful and achievers. "Why did they succeed?" How did I sink into this low estate?
"Who has woe? Who has sorrows? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly." Prov.23:30-31
Seeing those good old beer commercials, that ice cold mug and the golden hue are designed to entice the watcher to drop whatever he is doing and head to the refrigerator or corner market, and start throwing down a few refreshing suds. It works. The warning in Proverbs about the sparkling wine, (or beer, whiskey, etc.), is not at the end of the commercial. The warning from the beer maker is "drink responsibly." Well that really works...for them. When the law suits from the deaths this weekend from all who will lose their loved ones from alcohols effects on themselves or some drunk driver reaches court, the potion provider will say, "We had the warning on every ad, every case of beer. " They do, and they are truly not responsible. No one forces you or me to drink. Drink responsibly...geez! Tell that to the millions of alcoholics in this country, and they think that means don't drink and drive without your seatbelt on.
"In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 'They hit me,' you will say, 'but I'm not hurt. They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can have another drink." Prov.23:32-35
This 3000+ year old harbinger, is giving the alcoholic ample warning of this weekend's actions they will experience. Would I have listened when I was boozin' and loosin'? No. But the warning is there nonetheless. Few would say "thanks for the warning," and do an about face. Most wouldn't. I can say this is your forcast for your weekend. You have a little change in your pocket, nevermind debts or obligations, "let's drink!" Monday rolls around; and if you were one of the fortunate ones that did't wind up in jail with huge fines and lawyer fees, or you didn't lose your life on the highway, or take someone else's life, or even have a nice "shiner" as a reminder of the fun, you at least get to go into work remorseful from how you feel and what you failed to do. "Oh I forgot, this was my weekend with the kids!" There, you did it again. "Oh well, they don't love me anyhow."
Before you start your weekend, take a look at your life's direction. Don't think for a moment there is plenty of time, that you are young. I use to think that way, and missed God's best for my life, and hurt those closest to me from my self-seeking way of living. Those little children are in this world because of you and will follow your example lifelong. Choose to look for help. Ask God to help you now. Your sincerity is real if you read this far, go a little further. Asking for God's help, finding a group to support your decision to live sober, and choosing right, will take you places you never dreamed of going in life. That is my being a harbinger of what will be to the one choosing to do the "next right thing."
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
Prevention may make intervention unnecessary. I am not convinced that had my parents sat me down from time to time and explained the dangers of drinking, taking me to the scriptures and pointing out the importance of following God with all of my heart would have kept me from living as a derelict for nearly two decades. Sadly, we didn't get it back then. Just get them to church, they will learn by osmosis and besides, when they are old, they will come back to God, the Bible says that, the minister said so.
Play the Tape.
You hear this in recovery meetings quite often. It is a warning to all that if they are thinking about relapsing, play out the scenario, and what will happen if they do go back to drinking or drugging. As bad as their life was upon entering recovery, things will be even worse by returning to that way of life. Nonetheless, that insanity will set in if you ignore the warning and stop doing the right things, start thinking about the "good" feeling and the fun of doing things you want to do. Your control of self is deadly.
Definition of insanity: Doing the same things that have not worked, using the same methods, expecting different results.
"Keep doing what your doing and you'll keep getting what your are getting."
Look where your way of doing things put you. Sitting in jail cell, or at a recovery meeting may give you a sense of remorse, of gut felt sorrow for your past. Do not forget. Remember the pain you felt arriving into recovery. Having a good vivid memory of how you lived while in the depths of misery you chose, may save your future. Yet you cannot allow remorse to weigh you down and stunt your spiritual growth. By realizing Christ has freed you, and as you work the steps, those past failures will merely be warnings that keep you moving forward.
"How do you feel right now? Remember because you will feel that way again." AA saying
Think about recent actions. Are they good or bad? Are you moving toward sober living, or away from it? How are you viewing your past? I hope you aren't playing the blame game by accusing your family from not teaching you to stay away from dope and booze. I hope you aren't placing yourself in a dark place over past mistakes either.
"All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast." Prov.15:15
While you have the tape on pause, look where you are today, clean and sober. Take a moment and thank God that you aren't at the bar trying to get over last night's drunk, or looking for that fix, not to get high, just to feel normal. Take the opportunity to think, when was my last meeting? Did I pray today?
Don't project into tomorrow, stay in today. That is the advice you hear in recovery groups. Good advice. You must plan anyhow. If you have to return to school, taking a new job, or getting ready to face a judge, you need to prepare. That means projecting ahead. More advice. Do this with your sponsor, or accountability partner. Don't worry about these if you can help it, but do not take important matters with a grain of salt. The past proves we only lived for today and had no ambition, no goals, and the life we lived led to self gratification. So planning is important, looking into the future, but not to just look at tomorrow, and wondering how you can make through without using or boozing.
Don't hit this button if you are moving forward. Hit it hard if you are complacent or thinking relapse.If you are practicing the principles of sober living and serving where God leads you, you can only see the beauty of life in serving and having the relationship to Jesus. Life can be lived well. In time, you may even smile at the past, no matter how terrible, because you know Who holds your future and beyond this life.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
I'm not going to relate the story of Job from the Bible, hopefully you are aware of it already. After he lost all of his children and everything he owned, instead of pointing an accusing finger to heaven and asking, "why have you done this to me God!", he did the opposite. He tore his garments in grief, fell to the ground, and WORSHIPPED. When he later had oozing, painful boils on his body from head to toe, and his wife said to him, "curse God and die," Job said, "though He kills me, I will still trust him!"
Could you do the same?
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." Hab.3:16-18
Jehoshaphat king of Judah, was told of invading armies from three countries, coming to wipe Judah off the earth. Jehoshaphat assemble the people, and made this statement to God in prayer:
..."we do not know what to do; but our eyes are upon You!"
The God spoke to the people through a prophet and said:
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. The battle is not yours but Gods." 2Chron.20 (read this entire chapter, it has more spiritual principle than any chapter in the OT...my humble opinion.)
The battle was ready to begin, and Jehoshaphat placed who in the front line? his best men? himself? No, he placed the singers and the worshipers ahead of the army. They began to praise God in the splendor of His holiness...and God sent ambushments against the invaders, they thought they were being betrayed by each other, and they killed each other!
"Let all who take refuge in you be glad, let them sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous, You surround them with Your favor as with a shield."
As Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the people were praising Him, throwing palm branches before the small donkey he rode. The religious people said, "make these people stop giving you praise!" Jesus said:
"I tell you...if they keep quiet, THE STONES will cry out." Luke 19:40 (Not the ones from England that roll)
If the people who love God refuse to honor Him in praise, the rocks will. God will be praised!
"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens." Ps.8:1
"I call to the Lord who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies." Ps.18:1
"Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness." Ps.29:1-2
No matter what you may be going through today, what has happened in your past, make praise a priority in your life. Things may be going downhill fast, nothing to eat, no money for gas, or you may have a child on dope, no matter what is going bad in your life right now, begin to do as Job, and king Jehoshaphat did, praise the Lord, sing praises, psalms, make up a new song! God will do battle for you against your opposition, and give you favor. When you praise Him, it is like a child crawling up on their daddies lap and saying, I love you daddy, you are the best daddy in the world! What would you do for your child if they did that in sincerity? Abba means daddy. Lift your hands to him in surrender as a child and say, "Abba, pick me up, I need Your help!" and He will. Don't allow the rocks to do your job.
"Wash your face every morning with praise." Charles H. Spurgeon
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
February gives us pause to reflect on our historical past failures as a nation. Yes, America the beautiful has a tainted past that we should never forget. The dark present, however, is what my focus is on, and how it is affecting our future. Harriet Tubman was a woman of great courage that helped many slaves find their way to freedom in the nineteenth century. The following words she spoke of and what could have been, as she reflected on the ones she lead to freedom, and the slaves she wanted too help but could not help.
"I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if they only knew they were slaves."
Interesting. She knew something about the slaves having no understanding of their plight, how they were generations into slavery, unaware they were anything different than what the "owners" told them they were. Brain-washed and uneducated to believe they were nothing more than property of the superior white folk. The travesty, and the indignity suffered by these poor innocent people, was not overlooked in the eyes of Justice. The price to be paid by the high and mighty white superiors, who were mostly apathetic in the north, and ignorant in the south, came in the 1860's Civil War, where over 600,000 Americans lost their lives. There is always a recompense for evil. Write that down and review it daily. Don't think for one second that you can commit any act, good or bad, that will not return to you with payment.
Why I think her words are prophetic is that today, millions of our young are enslaved to alcohol, drugs, porn, and to everything we have once considered to be immoral. Our country is full of me-gotists, doing their own thing, because it feels right to them; and they have no idea that they are slaves of darkness, headed for their reward unwittingly, thinking there is nobody to answer to. This is not exclusively the young people, many have fallen prey to self-indulgent living. Our leaders, those who are devising curriculum in public education on every level have no moral compass it seems. They have omitted any reference to values and principles, replacing those with subjective/objective truth; if it is right for you, it is right. Really? In California, they ask seven year old children, what do you think you are, male or female? (gender orientation) Victims of crime are ignored, a Presidential sexual act performed in the place many prayerful decisions were made in the past, is lauded in the work-place, "I don't blame him," was heard by workers. Those seeking justice, and a return to morality are looked at with disdain. May God have mercy on us. We call good evil, and evil good.
This month is National Recovery Month as well as Black History Month. I can only propose that we honor the past by changing the direction of our future. In Ms. Tubman's words, we don't know we are slaves. We must pray and repent as a people, that is, for those in this country who follow Christ. I cannot speak for other religions, I only know that in Christianity, some still believe in this passage:
"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2Chron.7:14
No direction of man's good intention, no legislation, no attempted explanation of the "educated," will improve the method of turning a people away from eminent judgment. The historians would argue my point, and stand by the succession of the southern states had little to do with slavery, but the blood of those who died has an uncanny historical echo of the price paid for unjust action by a nation too arrogant and greedy to repent. Today, in this month of reflection, take note that we need to see Christ abolished slavery of every sort 2000 years ago. One day, if we observe and do what the passage above says, February may be called, "Freedom Month."
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
I am convinced that people who have never had the grand pleasure of being addicted to drug use, alcohol, gambling, porn, overeating, etc., or have had mental health issues, or have had no family or friends with any of these issues...yet, could care less that February is National Recovery Month. In the same respect, people outside of the African-American community, have little interest in Black History month, unless they are history-buffs. There are many other months that the government recognizes for people of various heritages, Irish, Hispanic, Jewish, Filipino, et al, that I had no idea existed. This is the way we Americans celebrate various cultures in our country, ignoring them. Awareness has become, and is becoming more important to me as I grow in recovery, and in Christ. The reasons for this importance is the three tenses, past, present, and future.
"Study the past if you would define the future." - Confucius
"Those unable to catalog the past are doomed to repeat it." Lemony Snicket, The End
I love history. There is little of the past that doesn't intrigue me. Americans have this tendency to be so busy racing to the end of life from the time of their adolescence, until in their late forties, when sensing their mortality, and slamming on the brakes of time, and calculating how fast things happened. Just a few years ago, when the kids were little...we pause in reflection of how good the past was, those warming memories of loved ones passed, prices in grocers and restaurants, old TV shows, and the like. If we can look at the importance of the past to teach us the treasure of living one day at a time, we would never be in the zoom-zoom mode, and see the past for what it truly is...a professor of now, and tomorrow.
Black history is important. As a society, we should never want to see happen to a race of people that happened to them. The history of how slavery of African peoples came to be, must be viewed as diabolical, the greed and treachery of men, never to repeated at all cost. But my view today is not to remember the how, but the why, and look how this culture has risen out of their low estate, to prominence. The focus today should be on the history and the admiration of a people's rise from ashes. The contributions of African-Americans, both noted and unknown, can help every American see that all people, all cultures are important to society. One more quote:
"I don't want a Black History Month. Black history is American history." -Morgan Freeman
To believe that slavery ended in the nineteenth century is error. I am not referring to the 27 million slaves in the world today, but the millions of Americans addicted to substance abuse, those chained to fears and mental illness, and to love of self, desiring more and more things that have everything but happiness included. Recovery month is obscure to most Americans, mainly because of apathy, some ignorance too. We don't know, and we don't care, until directly affected. Get involved, don't wait for others. Find ways to be a part today, and if nothing else, pray daily for the nation.
The actions I take today has a great effect on my tomorrows. Making decisions early each day to give God the first acknowledgement ahead of what I want to do, has a profound influence on the rest of the day. Each one of us who have been graced with the gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, as well as those of us with the gift of sobriety, should be deeply aware of the danger of ignoring the past, get our spiritual battle gear on, and fight the good fight against slavery to addictions in the realms unseen, the real battlefield. Now, today, the present is the day of salvation. Time is short and even Jesus said we should pray for laborers to enter and work.
"In an acceptable time I have heard you. and in the day of salvation I have helped you," Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2Cor.6:2
"Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into HIS harvest." Matt.9:37-38
We all want the future to be an improvement. The Black history month, Irish, Hispanic, Jewish months, are months we reflect on the past of suppressed peoples, living and contributing in our society today. Through prayer, awareness of this new slavery to substance abuse, and the old ploys of the enemy, using fears to drive greed, hatred, racism, and all other forms of evil, these can be shaken, and strongholds he has built up into the minds of individuals, even entire communities can be toppled. Forgiveness is key, allowing the light of God's Word to infiltrate those dark areas we have placed bitterness, and allowed it to fester, rejecting other cultures and their contributions, can be banished. We must make the conscience decision to love. It is Christ alone that can bring us as a people, to accept and unite. The government cannot, secular education will not. It is spiritual in nature, only by understanding the plan and purpose of God can we say, "I once was blind but now I see."
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep us all.
Everyone seems to want their life to get better. Maybe some are satisfied with status quo, they are happy right where they are and don't want things to change. Moving up a level is the story for those determined to stay clean and sober, and should be for the followers of Christ. Change requires courage and sometimes getting out of the comfort zone, doing what we would rather not do. Surrender is what hurls us into the next level, but I see many have trouble understanding what surrender is. I surely have struggled with it. Recovery meetings are what God used for me to "get it," and "give up." Acceptance of what I had become, my inability to change myself, and realizing God would have to be the center of my universe, not me.
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable." Big Book of AA, pg.59
UP not DOWN
it's hard to believe that someone God has relieved of addictions would complain about anything, and would do everything within their power to never return to that way of life, but they do forget, they often fall. It begins with the thoughts of how hum-drum or boring their life has become, and they lose their gratitude, failing to see the awe in life, the beauty of creation. This is the self-examining time that gets overlooked. Those who do look in the mirror when things are going south quickly, can take necessary steps to alter their direction. Staying in the rut of complacency is a relapse in motion. If they don't see their lack of meetings, prayer, serving others, and gratitude, a feathers worth of trouble will knock them out of recovery and back on the barstool, or back to the dope-house, the racetrack, or whatever it is they are recovering from.
These bad behaviors and actions were decisions made without notice, the victim completely unaware they were in relapse long before they return to their vomit like a dog. These down-turns in attitude happen to everyone throughout our lifetimes. We need to be aware of even the slightest yielding to thoughts of boredom. This is going into enemy territory alone and unarmed, our own mind will think how nothing seems to go our way, nobody likes us, we don't get to do anything, we don't have what others have...a level down, then another. When these thoughts are formed into words and pour from the lips; then we are so far from recovery, moved away from God's grace, and wondering where is He?
Make the decision to level up! Shake yourself, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get to the needed help before it's too late. Don't run from God, run to Him. Find yourself a place of solace and break open the Psalms, read them aloud. Worship through praise and thanksgiving for what you do have! If you live in an apartment and want to live in a house, thank God for that apartment, be willing to stay there if He wants you to. This is real surrender, understandable and workable. Ask God to put someone in your path that you can help, and get to church, or a meeting. The next level awaits you and I. Let's go up.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!
"People living deeply have no fear of death." Anais Nin
"Reality means you live until you die...the real truth is nobody wants reality." Chuck Palahniuk
I can say, without reservation, I have never seen so many people within my sphere of friends and acquaintances, passing away with such frequency. What is happening? It isn't the elderly, that would be expected. People under retirement age, most less than 60 years, are entering into eternity long before the average age of a man or woman to live. Working with alcoholics and addicts would cause one to think that isn't so odd, you deal with that often. It is not people with addictions leading this parade of sorrow. Sickness disease, and accidents are the causes of late, and my mind is thinking darkly, "who's next?"
Death can have different effects on different people. When an acquaintance passes, I normally have little emotional reaction to their passing...at first. It usually smacks me in the face a couple of weeks later. I have this sudden realization, they're gone, lost to the ages! Memories of times we talked, or were together in school or partying fill my thoughts. I then see how frail life is. Questions come into my mind of what their final days were like, or after they were diagnosed, how did they react?...how would I react?
I have so much gratitude to God for the grace He has shown me through Christ. That grace extends over all of my life, casting those fears of death and living, that could give me a paralysis to think and act in joy through sorrow that is personal, knowing my end is the beginning of life. Those passages spoken at funerals, the 23rd Psalm, Paul's writings in 1 Cor.15, open up thanksgiving within, amid weeping and grief around me.
"So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "death is swallowed up in victory," O death where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?" 1Cor.15:54-55
Faith, hope, and love in Christ is the internal knowledge that eternal life awaits those who trust in the Lord Jesus, that we who trust in Him shall stand in the sunlight of His presence on that day the sun never again sets. There is no pipe dream, no explanation to be given to the unbeliever. This reality of what will be is born in "new birth" as we put all our hope and dreams in Christ. The joy, however, comes with the revealed presence Who is present in us now in our sorrows and grief, knowing that He has taken the sting of death, the darkness of the grave away, and shepherds us, bearing our sorrow and grief for us.
Hear me well here. No other belief system, no other god of man, no educational reasoning, none, offers what Jesus offers when you ask Him for mercy, and forgiveness, and to enter your heart as Savior and Lord. He has no rejection, never says no to that request. If you want to eyeball dea peace and joy, make the request.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
"God is about reading to give you that breakthrough." the media ministers exclaim. Not one, but many on Christian TV and radio ministries use this expression. I received an email some time back of a skeleton sitting at the computer with the caption, "still waiting for the miracle" below the picture. I thought that was hilarious after hundreds of emails promising a miracle would happen if I would send that email to 20 friends. The miracle was real if I would forward the email. Those 20 people would miraculously end up on a mailing list they didn't want. I learned no matter how cool the email was not to forward it if the mail had a message at the bottom like that. I especially hated the email that said, "if you are not ashamed of Jesus, you WILL forward this." Really? I group those emails with the evangelist's breakthrough promises.
Business as Usual
I am concerned that we, followers of Christ have heard so much rhetoric from religious programming over the years, that we take for granted that what is preached by someone famous on the boob-tube is truth. First of all, God is not a procrastinator. He is not "getting ready" to do anything for you or me. Jer. 29:11 doesn't say "I'm getting ready to have thoughts about you"...it says this:
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." nkjv
He already has a plan for you and I. Before we arrived on this planet, He already had the plan laid out, the perfect plan. It is our coming into conformity with the Word of Truth that brings us in line with His perfect will in our lives. Not the promise of sending in a faith offering to Brother so and so, and keep his faithless ministry going. "Folks, if you don't send in the money we need, we are getting ready to go off the air!" Adios! Tata! See ya! Go off the air then! If God called you into that ministry, it's a shame to think He isn't strong enough to keep you afloat. Quit playing on the emotions of people and misleading them so you get to take the first-class ocean cruise instead of the coach-cruise. Please stop embarrassing the body of Christ in the media, and bringing reproach on Jesus. It is okay to ask for financial help for your ministry, but please stop begging, stop promising a "breakthrough." I do believe 1 Tim. 3:1-9 and 2 Pet.2, is speaking of some of these "waterless wells."
Intentions and Truth
Many of those, perhaps the majority of media ministries are good, wonderful people who love God and have all of the integrity you would expect. But even they can choose wrong ways of expressing their needs for financial help, and people are mislead in a pay-to-play gospel, contorted in their minds by the enemy.The second thing I feel leaves an ugly scar on the body is that, I'm not getting any "breakthroughs" from God. I received THE breakthrough when I accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. According to scripture, I have been adopted into God's household with full privileges because of what Jesus has done through His death, burial, and resurrection, the only breakthrough needed.
Birthing (real breakthrough)
I love to listen to many of the radio and TV broadcasts we are blessed to have today. They are there for edification of the body of Christ, and for God's glory. But the breakthroughs, or answers to prayer, and the conforming to the image of Christ comes from birthing such in prayer in travail, and intercession, in tears and trial, in dying to self and servicing the body. ( I am speaking to me, more than you here) Fasting from ourselves, and from certain foods, or totally fasting with water only, going into the prisons, visiting the sick, and all of the things Jesus spoke of in Matt.25:34-40, is where we birth spiritual fruit into the physical world, not purchased with money.
I am not trying to speak in a condescending manner, or be a spiritual know-it-all. God, in my thinking, does not give us breakthroughs, we birth them in spiritual practices, or through the workings of the Spirit of God in us. We experience breakthroughs through brokenness. I thought of a man watching a TV minister tell the audience God is getting ready to give them their breakthrough if they are obedient and send a "love gift" to his ministry. It really doesn't matter that the man is a critic, a gossip, and verbally abuses his family. He wants that breakthrough so he can be blessed by God. Give it some thought, what do you think?
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!