I am very grateful for people that offer prayer in times of trouble. Knowing that prayer changes things, I want prayer to be in the center of my existence. Yet, I struggle often with prayer. That is, struggle to begin. I may pray the first thing each morning, I regard that as vital to the day, and that should not be the end of it. Conversation with God throughout the day brings the Divine into every encounter, every action, and into every thought. Bringing the Lord Almighty, El Shaddai, Abba, into every moment of every day draws me into tight relation with Him, and builds my faith, to utter trust in Him.
I see much of the problem is self, and of course, busyness. Then there is outside influence. That is having to focus on work, or conversation, etc. And there is also an enemy that seeks to separate me from my Abba, with his constant harangue of my past and how I am too busy to pray. Oh yes, there is a real devil, working real evil. Do good, think good, live to serve God and others, and you'll believe in his reality. (But this is not about him.)
Jesus, in Luke 18, taught on prayer:
"Then he spoke a parable to them that men ought always to pray and not lose heart. 'There was in a certain city, a judge who did not fear God, nor regard man." (the judge didn't care what you or God thought) Now there was a widow in that city that came to him saying; "Get justice for me from my adversary."
"And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself; 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her CONTINUAL coming, she wearies me.'"
Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said, "And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry out DAY and NIGHT to Him, though He bears long with them?"
"I tell you, He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (vs 1-8 NKJV)
This passage says volumes about success or failure in praying. For one, the woman in the parable didn't ask once, like a bulldog, she wouldn't let it go. The arrogant judge caved and gave her what she wanted. God is not unjust and will hear and answer those who pray with diligence, or even those who are determined to pray until God answers. Our failure, without doubt is not asking, or not believing, or our unwillingness to be diligent in asking.
Prayer is a habit. It is a habit that alters everything. First of all, it changes the one praying. Pray for those you do not like, and you will see them differently. Then by praying, you stop wishing foolishly, that things will improve. Relentless prayer puts God into action...quickly.
I cannot tell you how often I have watched people new to recovery from addictions, asking God daily for help, and His responding, their life changing in dramatic ways. You don't believe in God? Say this every day for a week or two, "God, if you do exist, show me you are real." You will be contacted by the home office.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
If you have been following my posts over the past year and a half, you know I think everyone is religious, whether they are devout in church attendance or atheist. Religion is a belief system defined, but to me, it is what you believe enough to stake your life on....or even your eternal existence on. Atheist in recovery meetings, namely AA, i give cudo's to. They know prayer to God is a part of AA meetings, but they come anyway.
Now for the religious reading this, don't jump to my conclusion yet. If you are in recovery from substance abuse, porn addiction, gambling, or if you are codependent attending al-anon, you need your meetings to stay well. (or improve) Thinking your weekly attendance to church, or once per week at Celebrate Recovery will "fix" you, think again. That hour or so in fellowship with other believers is great and necessary. However, you are moving toward relapse, unless you are doing church business several times weekly. Even then, you are in a dark place in your head.
It is like taking a child to church on Sunday, letting the Sunday school teacher give them everything spiritual, and never mentioning God at home. The child will not learn the "whole counsel of God" in 52 hours annually. Neither will the alcoholic or any of the above mentioned learn how to live free from their addiction, once per week in church.
I gave my story at Celebrate Recovery Friday night. Old memories from my early days in recovery returned. I heard how important meetings were, and told I should try to do 90 meetings in 90 days. I did that and more because I wanted to stay sober. I listened, learned, and listened even more. I am grateful for the advice, so I'm passing it on to you. If you want your life to change, really get better, don't allow anything to keep you from meetings.
Getting to your children's activities, or going on a date to see a movie, or a sport event, even church, must come second to you getting well. That doesn't mean put God second, just church service. If you do not make meetings a priority, your children may a not have a dad, your spouse a mate, your parents a child, your church a member. Take sober living seriously. Think of your addiction like diabetes, and meetings your insulin injection.
It wasn't my talk Friday that jolted my memory. A man who attends on friday wasn't there for the fourth week in a row. He attended the local high school football game instead. He only goes to that one meeting normally. After spending a term in rehab, living in misery for years prior to that, he's willing to take a chance on losing this gift of recovery, unbelievable, risky.
And then a man with twenty plus years called me yesterday, wanting to talk about a problem. He attends meetings regularly, even with twenty plus years in recovery. How does religion mix with recovery? Your religion doesn't very well. Try making a religion out of your recovery by doing what you hear others do religiously.
Please understand, your relationship with God is everything. Your religion is your religion. Don't mix the two, even if you think they are the same. Religion or recovery, which do you choose? Recovery will enhance your belief and dependence on God. Your religion may separate you from both.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!
I have attended AA meetings for some time now. I do not have words to describe how God has used this program to help me, as well as scads of others. It isn't just the help to stop drinking that makes the program so great. The people in AA have had a powerful influence on me. Personal growth through "spiritual fitness," were words I heard so often by recovering attendees at meetings. Those words seemed obscure to me at first, but I soon learned, that term was the key to sober living.
People who reject the idea of going for help and do not want to hang-out with a group of drunks and dopers surely do not understand what is behind the door in these "rooms of recovery." Some think AA, NA, CR, and the like are "cults." (Not really, they just use that as one of their many excuses for not attending) If one is court ordered, they may attend, but they often leave their minds and hearts in the parking lot. They have no intention of listening to what an old drunk has to say.
Short disclaimer: Many come to AA, NA, etc. through the courts and get sober. Judges should be required to send everyone to recovery meetings that are appearing before them as a result of drinking and/or drugs use. This would save the states millions if the perp gets the message.
Hopefully, they will get the message in time. Don't reject AA because of the term, "spiritual fitness." You do not have to be religious or a church regular to get well, and stay clean and sober. There are many professed atheists in AA. But, you must have willingness. If you are willing, your life will improve in many ways. Both you, and your loved ones will benefit. The question to you is this: Do you want a better life? I would wager your spouse and children do. I would also wager the local tavern, or dealer doesn't.
AA Is For Quitters
Cute statement. I have only heard that a few thousand times. It is true. We are quitters. We have quit losing homes, cars, loved friends, because of drinking and doping. We have quit thinking about where we were at last night, or if we spent the entire paycheck again. We have quit wondering if we ran over someone on the way home from a good old bender. We have quit losing, having gained a spiritual fitness through willingness and admission of our broken estate.
As I stated, you do not have to be religious, or even believe in God. But come and you will believe that hope is found there. Like many of us, you can be a quitter too!
"The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord lift His countenance upon you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and give you peace!" Numbers 6:24-26
Thanks for reading!
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Ps. 116:15
Wanda, my sister-in-law passed away yesterday. She had suffered most of her life with bad kidneys, and had been on dialysis for some time. My wife, Judy, is broken, but does a good job of hiding the hurt. Nonetheless, the hurt is real, she loved her big sis. Her grief must be dealt with, but not now. There is a time to grieve and this is that time. Wanda's suffering is over. She did not have a quality of life any of us would choose, these past few years. She also did not have quantity, being only in her late forties.
That passage above uses the word precious. In modern vernacular the term means sweet, cute, or dear. I use it to describe the grandchildren, and it fits them perfectly. In the Hebrew, the word is yaqar, one meaning being "costly."(If you want to pronounce it, make a y sound and clear your throat) It cost God to lose a voice in the earth. When one of His own is no more down here, that is costly to us all. Yet the word has other descriptions as well. Precious is one of those words. It is also God's delight to welcome them home, to indescribable peace, joy, and sights and sounds our mortality could not contain.
As a late comer to the family, I do not share the hurt my wife is experiencing right now. Her mom and dad are full of sorrow, not expecting they may outlive a baby they held in their arms. No parent wants to deal with that. Her siblings are hurting too, as well as many family members that loved Wanda. It is very difficult to witness knowing I don't have words that would help, or they would hear. This is the fourth death this family has had to deal with in three years. All of those were way too young to die.
If Only I...
One thing I heard yesterday, before the plug was pulled was, "I'm sorry, I wanted to tell her I'm sorry." But, who isn't? We all wished maybe we had said this or that, gave her more attention, or looked in on her from time to time. Some of the family thought, "why, if they are so concerned, didn't they come and see her while she was alive?" Or this classic, "Why are they boo-hooing like they lost their best friend?"
Just love them...and yourself
Well, they are here now. They cared for her, and are sorry she has left us. Most of their grief is from their personal failure for "not being there." And to, it's only natural for families to take that attitude of where were they? You really point to shift attention away from what YOU didn't do. Just forgive yourself, forgive and love them, and remember good times with Wanda. She was a real corker, with an hilarious side seldom people are blessed to have.
This is for everyone who has lost someone dear to them.
One more little thought. Grieve now, be filled with sorrow today, for a while. But be sure to deal with that grief, get help if necessary. Nothing can rob you of peace and joy as well as living out the rest of your days remorseful, blaming yourself for what you could have done. I know of a few that have never gotten over the death of another....it is tragic, I won't explain.
Give attention to one another, express love, don't argue over meaningless issues. Let the other guy be right. Don't allow pride or bitterness rule the day, ruining your relationship. That pleases God, and gives you a host of admiring family and friends.
Que la joie guide votre voyage!
Fare-ye-well Wanda, we all will see you soon....and tell Jesus we all said hey! Never mind, I'll do that myself right now, I know you're way too busy!
In my book, Under The Influence, I wrote of the importance of doing the little things consistently. By doing the small daily tasks, the larger things become smaller and easier to do. That is, we learn diligence by doing something, even small and seemingly insignificant, as opposed to doing nothing, yet still expecting something to happen. When nothing is acted upon, small or large, something does happen, we sink deeper into sloth, procrastination, and self-loathing.
I have recently struggled hard with many issues in life. Of late, I have not taken my own advice and avoided many of these little issues. That is a dark place for anyone who is a recovering addict or alcoholic.
Making a to-do list before lying down at night is relatively simple. Asking God to help me stay sober each morning, turning my will and life over to Him each day is a snap. Taking five minutes to read a short page from a devotional isn't difficult either. Each small task can become a monumental task in my mind. That happens only because I stop making these life changers a habit.
Every time I see someone in relapse-mode, or actively back doing what destroyed them before, I think, "why are they".....you fill in the rest of the sentence. I want to jerk them up by the hair if available, and say, "what's wrong with you!" But inside myself I get a "spiritual jolt" saying, "they stopped doing those little things they did to get sober...just like I am doing now." My immediate anger for their downfall turns into gratitude for the little reminders God sends me.
Think, Plan, Act
Maybe you are there now. Take a moment to examine your recent actions, think about recent thoughts or confrontations with others. When you were actively working on your recovery, thoughts and actions controlled your temper. Spiritual fitness was your daily aim. Are you still there? Think about where you are now. Plan, your next meeting, pray for God's help right now. Act on your thoughts and plans. Return to humility, remember how you came to sober living.
Or maybe someone you know has stopped going to recovery meetings and you notice a change in their behavior. What action should you take? Walk the razor's edge. Don't start up a conversation that directly points out their obvious slide downhill. The way of wisdom would be to ask them about how they got sober in the first place, or ask them what recovery meetings are like. Use a little imagination.
In most cases, they will appreciate your interest. People like to talk about themselves, and they will probably say something like, "I need to get to some meetings, I have been skipping and slipping lately." If you are really concerned, ask them to take you to an open meeting. Showing genuine interest is a motivator, and by your taking a few moments and having real concern, you may save them from full-blown relapse.
Little reminders are of major importance. If you are struggling in sobriety, do a check-up from the neck-up, a run for help today.
Another little reminder. You can get my book, "Under The Influence," at amazon, nook, kindle, and from Tate publishing, author: s.keithbarnes. If you do not have a Christ-centered devotional, this is it!
(there are sample pages to read before you buy it...but buy it, you'll be glad you did.)
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
Greeting new babies into the world remains one of the pleasures of life. To think after I leave this life, my posterity continues. Yet, joy can be interrupted by questions as to what will become of them, what they place importance on, what they will think and believe.
With government shutting down, through their leadership of finger-pointing, name calling, and with major gaps in philosophical differences on how this nation should be ran, my concern for their future is grave. What their parents teach them now will determine their values, and dreams.
(my grandson Rowen, beautiful, happy)
"My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don't neglect your mother's instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace, and be a chain of honor around your neck."
"My child, never forget the things I have taught you....never let loyalty and kindness leave you...write them deep within your heart...Then you will find favor with God and people, and you will develop a good reputation. Prov. 1: 8-9, Prov. 3: 1a, 3b, 4
My concern is not about the parents ability to provide food, clothing, and shelter. My concern is directed by my own short-comings in how I raised my children. Hindsight is 20/20, I have a clear view how emphatic I was to see the kids raised to be popular, or athletes, maybe even famous, was in error.
It was my entering into recovery from alcoholism, by God's grace and the help of so many in AA, that helped me see the importance of integrity, and thinking about purpose, not having a constant party. I see the necessity to raise children with a foundation base of morals that guide them to good living, as the passages above teach.
We all can hope they find their way. We can trust that the parents will see that they must be responsible enough to see society's slide into immoral thought and actions, and direct their children away from secular thought,"if it feels good, do it." If it feels good, it is probably wrong. We also may hope that parents pay close attention to what their kids learn, and question the education constantly. All areas of a child's rearing needs directed, not taught by osmosis, as previous generations have learned. Daily teaching a child is tedious, but necessity in today's world.
Will They Know the Reality of God?
This disturbs me the most. The majority of my baby-boomer generation, were raised in church. Ensuing generations have gradually become less and less interested in God, and especially in church attendance. Why? Lay the blame where you wish, but the reality is what is believed and taught in their home. I know not to expect a church, or a school to feed my children a proper diet. That is not their job. Parents are to provide food. In the same respect, the parents should provide their spiritual food, and teach them about God. Will they?
I could go on, but I won't. I don't even know if this post matters in the mind's of most readers. As my generation was well "churched," they were also riddled with drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, and the generation that stopped taking their children to church. What a legacy.
Prayer is needed. Pray daily for your children, but pray that you can have enough spiritual stamina, and understanding to teach them integrity ahead of materialism, as well as other virtues that guide them to a good "God-centered" life.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.