One day Peter had a question for Jesus that applies, as does all of Jesus' teachings, to us today. (I'm amazed that documents two milleniums old are still so relevant) "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?"
"No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven."
So everyone gets four hundred and ninety forgivings from every Christian, right? No, the point is, an infinite amount of forgiveness is given to the offender. Afterall, how much were you and I forgiven for? Did we forget?
That last question is so easy to answer. Yes, we have forgotten. In reality, My family shouldn't even speak to me for the years I reigned in terror over their lives. I wasn't violent toward loved ones. Their terror was the thought of arguing with a self-indulging idiot, to drunk to converse with. But the good news is that they have been transformed by God's grace, and extend it my way.
AA's Big Book says, "Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else." (pg.64) No statement could be more accurate. We have to remember OUR offenses any and every time we are offended. The statement that is a knife to the throat of anyone in recovery for anything is, "I forgive them, but....
Jesus didn't forgive me, but..., that isn't how it works with Him. Because of Jesus, and my choice to believe in Him, God removes my sins forever from His memory. He sees Jesus when He looks at me. Because of this great fact, He requires no less of me than to forgive others in the same manner. I can because He lives in and through me.
Okay, I know we are not perfected just yet. Offenses are not forgotten. Jesus didn't say forget, He said forgive. Wisdom also comes from God. We should be wise enough to not allow ourselves to be offended in the same way, by the same person. Use that offense, and your godly wisdom to rememberyour past. Then take a moment to thank God for forgiving you. Also, read that passage in Matthew 18:21-25. This passage can show how we easily forget our forgiveness.
My heart goes out to those who have children, a spouse, parents, or close loved ones in the throes of substance abuse and alcoholism. I know that you who do, have tried everything you can think of to help them. The many tears and fearful nights, lying in bed waiting for that "call," sends chills down your spine. It appears that you want them well, but they don't. You may want to look at a different approach.
"If you are going to pray, then don't worry. If you are going to worry, then don't pray." C.S. Lewis
I can't tell you how many have asked me if I would be willing to talk to their loved one with a problem. I am willing. When they do not call me, however, I know that they probably agreed to call me so you would let them be. That is no different than the many times they have told you they would change....but did they?
Ideas that will help.
One major step for you to take is to get help for YOUR addiction. What? Yes, you have a problem. You are co-dependent with your loved ones problem. You are playing hide-and-go-seek. You deny it to the world, HIDING behind a facade of pride, that your spouse, your chilld, or your loved one could possibly have problem....then you SEEK help for them quietly, desperately. What will people think? Don't worry, they don't think. They may be worried about the same thing.
If, God forbid, you get that call in the middle of the night that your loved one has overdosed and in the ER at a local hospital. You will not care what everyone thinks then, so you better not now. 350 people die everyday from heroin o.d. Shout it from the housetop if need be. Come out of your denial, be honest. How you look to people doesn't matter more than their life, does it? Here are a few ideas that may help you:
You can be heroic. (These are suggestions, not legal advice)
1.) If this is your child, when you introduce them to someone say, "This is my son/daughter, who I love dearly, and they are an addict." (no more denial) This will shock your child, and frighten them. They sense you are done playing.
2.) Get the help for your addiction. Go to Celebrate Recovery, or al-anon, and seek help from co-dependency. When you stop enabling them, you may hold the keys to the beggining of their recovery. Many people in these programs can help you, they've been there.
3.) Learn all you can about their addiction. Seek to understand. There is nothing abnormal about your loved one. WE are all fallen, sinful, and habit-ridden.
4.) Most important. Give this to God...then let go of the steering wheel of their life. You have no control, with each suggestion you offer, they will agree to, then ignore. You have to let go...and that is very hard. Follow this advice:
"Give all of your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you." 1 Pet.5:7 NLT
Believe me, once you give this to God, and truly let go, you will experience peace. How will you know if you have truly let go? If you have, you will catch yourself before you advise them, and skip the advise. You will stop helping them get high by not handing them money for gas, food, etc. Let them see you mean busuness. God has control now...and let them know that.
I hope this helps you. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
Hello all! I want to thank all of you for following my post so faithfully. When I first began blogging, I was hoping to promote my book more than become a regular blogger. I have more of you reading my posts than I have had purchase my book! So I thank you for that. Today I am placing a link to Thinking Life Today for this short post "Simply Ask." www.thinkinglifetoday.com
Sorry for not posting more often...but I have not had the time of late. Please keep me and Judy in prayer. The book needs to get into the hands of people wanting to be free of substance abuse, namely to inmates nearing their release. They are fearful of relapse. The book is very helpful in keeping them free, one day at a time, while growing in their walk with Christ. Thanks!
Do secularist really want to see Christianity removed from society entirely? Many people think so. (Secularism is to assert the right to be free from religious rule and teachings.) Perhaps they merely want Christianity changed to something more palatable to their taste. That seems more realistic. Even most atheist and agnostics, (secularists), know that if Christianity was suddenly gone, the effect would be profound. How so?
An example, when catastrophes occur, Christian groups like, Matthew 25 ministries, Operation Blessing of CBN, the Samaritan's Purse, and scores of church groups rally to help victims long before government help arrives. Even people opposed to Christ will gladly receive the help, the prayers and well-wishes too.
Catholic and Protestants alike are responsible for inner-city help, feeding hungry and sheltering homeless. The volunteers needed, and the donations to keep them afloat, come from their members, for the most part. That is fine with secularists. It saves the government money, and non-religious donations can flow to other "charities" like the United Way, that handles "population control" with the greater portion of their donations. (you may chuckle here)
I don't believe they really want Christianity removed to the history books. Some do, it is obvious. Richard Dawkins, author of the "God Delusion," has been leading a campaign in Great Britain, Europe, and now the US, to de-baptize those who no longer believe as Christians. He wants all religions put away. Pray for him, he's in a very dark place.
These who want Christianity wiped out aren't history buffs at all. Christianity, when its followers have been under persecution, has always grown exponentially. It is when all is well in the world, and no one opposes believers, watch out! They become complacent, and tend to blend in with society and non-religious lifestyles.
I say, keep up the good work. Keep attacking religious freedom and proving how intolerant "intelligent" can truly be. Insisting that religious pictures, or ten commandments be removed from public places, claiming it is offensive will back-fire eventually. Those ten commandments are frightening. "Children may see them, and adhere to them, then what?", one lawyer seeking their removal said.
I know that Christians today are hardly identifiable. Fewer stand for their beliefs. Mainly because they do not understand their own belief and its implications. This is not something you can blame on the secularists, the post-modernists, or amoral people. But if they persecute some more, in fact, if they heat up the opposition to Christ. We will all begin to see a revival of true discipleship grace this land.
We who follow Jesus, should not display our disdain for those opposing Him. Leave that to the radio talk-shows. If Christians do their part, and learn what Jesus is about, you can bet secularists will do theirs, we can truly say to all, "Thanks to You, It's Working."
Do you think they will succeed in changing Christianity to their liking?
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
Last evening at Celebrate Recovery, pastor Ray Phillips spoke on Openness. As he was speaking some thoughts came to mind about what needs opened in us seeking recovery from hurts, hang-ups, and habits. Ray did a great job, and the results were expressed by the men in my open-share group afterward.
Open the Gates
God designed us with eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to receive, and a mind to grasp. These are gates into the self. We either open these gates or close them by our will, choosing what to look at, hear, believe, and realize. To recover from addictions, the gates have to open.
"O Lord hear my plea for justice, listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips." Ps. 17:1
Not asking for help keeps the person in need of help sick. Asking for help brings healing. If we have any intent to be well, we need to make this first gate swing open, ask God first. God speaks through people, so you have to ask people for help as well. Honesty is key. The ones who have been through what you're going through have done the same...and God uses them to help you. But you must ask.
"May the words of my mouth, the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight." Ps.19:14
This gate you have to break open. Or the heart is normally broken before it is receptive.
"So faith come from hearing, that is, hearing the good news about Christ." Rom.10:17
Open the ear gate, and listen to learn, not just hear. There is a difference. Listening to learn is what you really remember.
"Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Rom.12:2
Before the heart gate can receive the ability to break open, the gate into your thoughts has to be open. you have to hear then hope, believe then receive.
Openness is surrendering pride, admitting you're beaten, and have opened up to life without the deceptions from addiction's lies.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
Americans have this insatiable desire for more. We want a home large enough for plenty of guests to visit, but no one does. We need an extra car in case the other car breaks, that seems sensible. The car we have may have a full warranty and rental car availability if a breakdown occur, yet, we keep the spare. We have boats, travel-all campers, and motorcycles, filling our driveway, trashing up the neighborhood. And our closets are full of clothing that we may never wear.
To want and to have things isn't bad. We can have things or we can have nothing. In either case, we are never permanently happy because of things. However, we are still convinced that things bring happiness. So off we go to the stores, keeping the economy strong.
A New Store with More!
I would like to find a store that sold wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Or how about...an answer store! Awesome! What an idea! Each aisle would have categories like: Aisle 1: Family
Teenagers, Family Finances, Elderly Parents, Inheritance Tricks.
Aisle 2: Life Decisions
Jobs, Banks, Marriage, Divorce, Buying and selling
Aisle 3: Virtues and Reason
Hope, Joy, Love, Wisdom, Happiness, Intelligence (very popular)
Of course, since we make thousands of decisions, there would have to be an aisle in this store that covers everything in a snap, maybe called "Pat Answers." That would be a great store name. All you have to do is walk into this store, grab the decision and...presto! It's done, hours saved, worry free living!
Things are fun. Things bring temporary happiness. I have to admit, I enjoy things until the bills flow me-ward. I slowly develop understanding that I really didn't need, I just wanted it. Hindsight brings invaluable understanding. That makes future decisions much easier. We actually do have something similar to this store. But it isn't named Pat Answers. It's name is Life: Trial and Error.
The truth is that we have an answer book for every decision. The problem is that all of its treasure requires diligence and hunger to find. Not only that, it also lets all know that things are worthless, debt is enslaving, giving trumps getting. Inside this guide reveals wisdom, understanding, and the knowledge of the Holy is real treasure.
People won't see it on you and admire it, you cannot drive it...it will drive you. Where it takes you in this life is far above material goods in value...and free.
Come and get you some.
"So my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 1Cor.15:58
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you
Prayer, faithful attendance to meetings, daily readings, working steps, serving others, are all vital to recovery from addictions. Not doing them are the steps to relapse. You are either moving toward recovery, or you are moving away from it.
No amount of biblical knowledge is of value unless it is personally used as a guide through life, and shared with others. A desire to have God's wisdom and understanding is noble, but only obtained by awesome respect for God's ways, only retained by giving it away. God knows the heart of the seeker.
These treasures are never for hoarding. If you struggle with having the ability to remember the Word you may want to check your motivation. How does recovery and following Christ connect?
Both following Jesus as a Christian and living in sobriety are programs of action. Carrying these messages to the lost or to a suffering alcoholic are battles that can be extremely intense at times, and never ending. Looking to know God better the reason to study the timeless truth of scripture. This is where your motivation should lie.. Working the steps to sober living should be the motivation to change everything that creates the impulse to drink.
Our motives are always seeking change, improvement, and purpose. That is discovered through serving others. Not serving others with self in mind. No "look what I've done for you." Always the motive is, "thank you God, for all you've done for me." This moves you and I toward maturity in Christ, and recovery from self.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
Mom, dad, my wife Judy, holding baby Georgia
How do you explain someone living to be 83 years old, having been diabetic for 47 years? Most people with that disease are fortunate to see 70 years. My mom turned 83 yesterday, and still takes care of herself, her home, and is actively serving others. Happen-stance, longevity in her family, remarkable strides in medicine, living a life smoke free, no drinking? These may all contribute, and are facts of living healthy. But I want to submit this truth to you as well:
"My child, never forget the things that I have taught you. Store up my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying." Prov. 3:1-2
"Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commands you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land your God is giving you." Deut.5:12 (This is the first of the 10 commandments that has a promise attached)
My mom accepted Christ into her heart at 9 years old, and has never looked back. She has never stopped loving God, and serving Him by serving others. She and dad are givers, not just money to their church, but to the needy, giving to spiritual and physical needs. Don't think for a moment her goodness made her this way. It is God's grace alone, and she knows it. To see the two of them, along with Audrey, a sainted woman, so dear to our family, go out and visit the elderly in retirement homes, sing to them, pray with them, and just talk to them, is the radical, furious love of God in action. Mom, dad, and Audrey are aware of this, and do this ministry quietly, without attention.
My mom, honored her parents. She stored up God and His Word in her life, and has been obedient to Him. God has given her long life. Raised poor, but unaware. Raising her children to know God, without question. Serving others, without thought. This is a life well lived and I hope not over for a while to come.
I don't want anyone to think that she is perfect. She gets put out by the lack of manners and kindness of this age. She will never understand weekend sports tournaments that interfere with church attendance. She will tell you what she thinks if you ask, but will refrain if she knows it won't help, or will hurt you. To our family, she is worthy of sainthood. Blessings to you mom, I love you very deeply.
I really believe that her life, dad's too, has been preserved by God from their obedience to Him, their honoring and doing whatever God directs them. I also don't have all of the answers why people like them die younger, and do. But just maybe the difference is action...not just a hearer of God's Word, but doers of His Word.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.