Two words to remaining on the outskirts of God’s grace are pride and complacency. Put the two together and you have a person completely sure of themselves spiritually. This is the goal of the enemy for everyone who makes the decision to become a follower of Jesus. We get enough of faith to believe we have enough faith to stop growing or conforming to the image of Christ. We can rest knowing our eternity is secure, our doctrines are correct, so let’s move on to achieving our mission in life to obtain gain.

The evil one is aware that Jesus’ words, quoting from the Song of Songs, about the little things ending our fruit-bearing lives:
“Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Songs 2:15
Little things ignored kill big hopes. But complacency or not feeling like doing spiritual practices in our lives doesn’t always murder our desire to follow God’s plan for our lives. We can be complacent and have the sudden epiphany like the prodigal son…why am I here eating with pigs?
“But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger?” Luke 15:17
Complacency is bad. But one may just fall into complacency from having so much activity that they stop spending time looking to please God, serve others, do the next right thing. They may suddenly say, “Why are things so out of whack?”, then ask the Source for help.
Now add pride to the equation. Thinking I know enough and don’t need to go further even though everything is falling apart, is spiritual suicide. That is the place where humility makes its exodus from our heart. We can fix the problem by sheer willpower and not humbly seek help in prayer or from talking to another believer. The crux of the problem when the two meet is we forget what or where God brought us from. Gratitude, the mother of all virtue is no longer something we think of. Pride says you made it happen…gratitude says it is by God’s grace alone that I stand.
Had God not led me to recovery rooms, I may have never noticed how closely recovery and being a follower of Christ are related. I have seen many with long-term sobriety relapse. I have seen many long-time Christians fall deeply into sin…I was one who did. Maybe you are there now. If you are not able to recall how long it has been since you approached God for any reason, you have arrived in the danger zone. You cannot shirk this off with “I’ll be okay” thinking.
Get with God without delay. Find another believer to talk to. Humble yourself. Don’t swallow your pride…puke it out. If you fear talking to another, know why you fear that. It is pride in its true form. You don’t want to appear weak or un-spiritual. Do not allow the enemy to have this victory. The ripple effect is devastating.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.
There are endless words to help people trying to recover from addictions to, well, everything they struggle with. People in general do not like the truth that they have a problem, but we all do. When they do become aware of their problem, they want to fix it by willpower or continue to deny or ignore it all together.

Rest assured, there are, in every person, dead or alive since Adam, addictions, personal issues, and personal sins. The important thing for each of us as individuals is not to judge one another for any reason. However, judge others if you want, but be willing to suffer the consequences you WILL face.

I want to continue to write about recovery. At times I have such a feeling of inadequacy when I write, knowing I have so many issues I personally struggle with. Ironically, many are the same I blog about to help others. Some would laugh at my struggles saying, “how is that a problem?’ ‘That isn’t even a sin, why are you having such a hard time with that?” The answer is because I write about them, I teach about them.

“Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing we will receive a stricter judgment: for we all stumble in many ways…” James 3:1-2a

Though recovery from addictions has been my focus. My personal conduct, our conduct as followers of Christ has been weighing heavily on me of late. I feel a change of my main focus to write about that issue. It is an issue, a major issue. Of course, conduct of Christians can easily couple into recovery. To live free of an addiction that took you down, that took me down, takes a change of conduct to have any success and ultimately be free to the service to others, to God’s glory.

People are confused about living as a Christian today more than anytime in Christian history. Christians have to carry the bulk of the blame for that. The more I read the New Testament, I feel my personal issues, sins, every action, needs my being aware of the “cloud of witnesses” about me watching every move I make and word I say. WE Christians have brought reproach on Jesus, grieving the Holy Spirit within us, in ways unimaginable before the eyes of the world we live in. That must change.

I want to be under the scrutiny of the Holy One living in my life. He is supposed to be the One guiding, teaching, and revealing spiritual matters to us, bringing us into maturity through conforming to the image of Christ. Spiritual matters can only arrive at our door when we give them preeminence in life. No one wakes up in the morning suddenly spiritual. That is learned behavior from God- hungering souls.

Like recovery, there are requirements in following Jesus that I want to fully comply to. That is not dressing the part, acting holy or pious, and certainly not restrictive from a life of pleasure, as so many think. It is life, it is joy unspeakable, it is living waters flowing from us to share to those dying from spiritual thirst. It is real recovery.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

“I don’t know what God’s will is or what He wants me to do, but I know He must want me to do something or I wouldn’t be here.”
“Something, or someone has kept me alive. There must be something I am supposed to do.”
“Why am I so lucky to have found sobriety and others either died, or are still addicted? It just doesn’t make sense. Why did I receive this gift?”
The above are statements I have heard made in recovery meetings concerning God’s will. I have wondered the same in my own experience. It really doesn’t matter how much religion I grew up around, or how much personal Bible training one has. Knowing God’s will can only come from one Source. Many aren’t really concerned of God’s will until life’s storms really rock our world. Addictions rock our world, as well as those around us.

An Idea
Just as an alcoholic learns that staying sober is a one day at a time commitment, so is understanding what God wants for us personally. Another thought is what I once heard from a “old-timer” minister, Rev. James Cleveland, via an album he made many years before his death, circa 1970. He was performing a song and stopped singing long enough to give this message:

 “The other day, I decided to cook a cake. I opened up the box mix, and threw it in the oven.

 It turned out bad, it was awful. So I got me another box, and read; for the best results,

   follow the directions. If you want to have God, for the best results, follow the directions!”

Here is a recipe with directions for you and I
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ROM.12:2

There is this belief rolling around that we are clean and sober today and that is enough. The thinking is based solely on sober living, by God’s grace, no need to do anything else. In other words, I can do all of the same things as long as I don’t drink or drug. True, but there is more to the recipe for those wanting to know God’s direction and purpose in their life, as stated in the above passage. Staying sober requires a transformed view of reality for many of us. Transformation like that of the caterpillar into butterfly. Thinking, actions, values, and words can keep us stifled entirely from knowing God’s will in life.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor (hate) what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, but be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Rom. 12:9-13

The passage above is as important to those seeking recovery as it is for the follower of Jesus to adopt as their way of living. Knowing God’s recipe is the decision and willingness to follow written directions that give the best results. Though this passage was written to the Ephesian Christians, it applies to all Christians, and works for those seeking recovery too…if believed and applied.

Recovery from addictions has requirements, we all know. Living for Christ is not living unto self either. We do the works of believers, or become complacent, cold, hypocritical, and self-righteous. Do what is written in the passages above, and you will shortly discover God’s will, and leave behind any questions of how to know your purpose in life.

There has to be an inward longing to grasp spiritual things. That can only come through asking God to open your eyes to His Truth. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth”…a passage you already know. If you are sincerely wanting to know God’s will, but sincerely unsure if Jesus is the Door to the will of God, again, ask God. No human can reveal it, only point the way to it.

I am certain of this; like we say in recovery meetings, recovery is for those who want it not for those who need it. Believe that. Believe that goes for God’s will too. Commit to asking God to show you His will everyday, then follow the directions.

Thanks for reading God bless and keep you all.

I am trying to get this into my thick head once and for all; STOP TRYING TO BE HAPPY!People cannot make me happy. Mark Twain’s famous quote,“familiarity breeds contempt…and children,” may be true to a point. Expecting happiness to come from another person is saying your happiness depends on that person meeting your expectations of them. Good luck with that one.

I bought a new Chevy truck, a crew cab, 4×4 Silverado with all of the gingerbread, bells, whistles, and stuff I have no idea how to work. It didn’t make me happy. I also purchased a nice Cape Cod home with all wood floors, manicured lawn, and a back yard that looks like an arboretum. No happiness did I find here either. Things do not provide long-term happiness either.

The thought of going to Europe, the Far East, the South Pacific, or spending the summer in the beauty of America’s great Northwest, or New England in the fall, Florida in the winter should make me, or anyone happy, one would think. Nope, not happening. Although I have not had this experience, I’m sure a week or two outside of home would leave a void and take away the happiness I thought I would find there.

In recovery, I have learned that people, places, and things are unreliable in providing happiness. Those items can put me back on a bar stool if I make them my aim, or give them my worship. Early in sobriety I was taught to shun them like the plague. Going back to old friends, haunts, and doing the same things are ground zero for relapse. The same holds true for followers of Christ. Idolize this world and the belongings that render me immediate sensual gratification, and Christ is removed from my center, only I matter. Selah.

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Ps. 16:11

God sees to the removal of happiness from my life. That’s not a bad thing. It is a wonderful thing because He replaces fleeting happiness with something  permanent…joy. Taking a trip, sitting peacefully in the back yard watching my little dog play, (Kitty’s her name), or taking a drive in the truck, knowing God is the center and the reason for all good things…and present within me, makes me say to myself, “shoo happiness, you deceiver, joy lives here.”

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

“I miss my kids. My ex won’t let me see em’ since we’re split. I was a good dad, I just messed up one time too many. My “best friend” and the ex hooked up…I shoulda never trusted him. But I’ll get even, you can bet on that. I’m a good dad.”

Those words, and words similar, I’ve heard many times in recovery meetings. I don’t question those young, and not so young men saying such. If I sponsor someone that is separated from their offspring, I offer what advice I can to help them. The recovering young men want to get straight so they can be involved in their children’s lives. In my humble opinion is that they have a vague conception of what fatherhood means.

Even “straight” men know little about being a dad, often taking what they see on TV and movie dads as the proper way of rearing children. Some have a twisted notion of fatherhood from what their father did, or didn’t do in their upbringing. You know that story, my father gave me nothing so I’ll make sure my kids get everything. Or, my dad gave me what I wanted, so I have to do the same. In both cases, things take priority, purpose and virtuous living has no place in their thoughts of how to raise children.

I am no genius. I see horrific mistakes I made in rearing my three children. I had many of these same ideas. I really thought keeping the kids active covered a multitude of sin opportunities. Entertainment, sports, and the like were priorities…I thought. There was one right thing their mother and I did. We TOOK them to church regularly in their adolescence, when they are the most teachable. The failure, I think, is my thinking that fifty-two plus hours at church yearly would teach them all there is to know about God. If they turned out bad, at least I did my part. How ignorant.

The public school system has over a thousand hours each year to convince our children otherwise. Biological evolution, random chance, meaninglessness, have become the tenets of disbelief we now fight to undo today. Sadly, from what they learn in society and not from their parents, young men and women in recovery rooms worldwide grow up thinking there is no one to answer to for their lives, no principles to guide, no committment to uphold….if it feels good, do it.

Well, it felt good, they did it, they sit in rehabs, jails, recovery groups, and in total confusion of why they are there, how it came to this, and why they cannot see their children. After all, “I’m a better dad than Homer Simpson,” some of them think.

So what should we do? How can I be a better dad? 
(Look in the Book, the Manufacturer’s manual. For the best results, follow the directions.)
“Hear my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” Prov.1:8-9

There is more to say than what I can put here in trying to keep this post short and readable. I will do my best to post again some thoughts I have learned as a parent, both good and bad. For now, think about this; what are you teaching your kids? They will be what you and their other parent are,…is that a good thing? Do you really believe you give enough time in training and teaching them right and wrong? Do YOU know right from wrong?

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

“I can’t give up friends I’ve known all my life. If they are drinking, I will leave so I don’t drink too.”

“I know that there is a lot of drugs there, but that is where everybody hangs out. I don’t want them all to stop being my friend because I don’t hang with them.”

“C’mon, what is wrong with doing this? It keeps my mind off of all of this crap I need to deal with!”

These statements above are statements similar to what is heard when dealing with people new to recovery. It isn’t unusual for them to buck the idea of giving up hanging around friends, going places, and doing things just like they did when they used and drank. Fear of losing old “friends” or being out of touch drives them right back to old haunts, where things everyone does leads to using, boozing, and losing again. 

Nearly every failure I have witnessed by those new to recovery came from ignoring this warning. You will, in time, be able to be with old friends without fear of relapse. You will also feel confident to go to old places, if you are actively doing the work of recovery. Things you love to do, won’t be a reason to ignore doing what is necessary to amend past behaviors, and deal with consequences.

When I first came into the sober life style, by God’s grace, I accepted the fact I was alcoholic. I took the advice given in recovery meetings and determined to stay away from triggers to drink or drug. After around six months, I had a hankering to see some of my old friends. I went to a local bar, had conversations with those I had missed, drank Mountain Dew, and left satisfied that they were still my pals. Had I tried that earlier in my recovery, it would have been a disaster.

I learned much in those six months. I had went to more than one hundred meetings in my first ninety days, at the advice of others who had success living sober. Not going around my friends was hard at first, but that saved me. The places I loved to hang out in seemed foreign, even frightful. 

The main thing was that I listened and believed what I heard. Don’t think it was easy, but it really wasn’t hard either…just different. There is a prize awaiting those willing to accept their addiction, the fact they are powerless, and want to experience life without drinking or drugging. The prize? That is really a package deal of perks that transcends what our pea-brains can contain. 

Everything…everything improves, nothing is lost when we give anything. God in His wisdom returns manifold blessings when we give. That is also giving up things as well. Conforming our will to His will, hearing others warning of staying away from people, places, and things that have brought us to ruin, is returned with new people, places, and things that lead to real life, joy, and peace.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

I can help myself stop thinking about it. I have a job now. I get to see my kids and have a place to stay. Things are better now than they have been in years…why can’t I just stop thinking about using again?

Last evening in a small group discussion, not one, but two men said these words. Others in the group nodded their understanding, going through, or having been through the same thing. The fear of relapse is heavy on them. So heavy, in fact, that they cannot see solutions, hopelessly rambling to relieve some of the pressure. 

“Keep doing what you are doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

I heard this statement early on in my recovery from alcohol and drug use. That goes for recovery as well as using. If you and I keep doing what helped us get clean and sober, we stay clean and sober. If we keep using and boozing, we will keep losing. The one straddling the fence, however, has one foot in the past and one in the future and miss the concept, “just for today.” We only have a daily reprieve, and that is only if we do what is necessary to maintain freedom from addictions.

When most people struggle with their compulsion, they wrestle using willpower, doomed to fail and relapse. Forgetting how we received the gift of sobriety is where relapse begins, and that long before one actually does the deed. For some, they feel it would have been better for them to have never gotten clean, than to go back and do it again, killing their confidence, disappointing their loved ones.

“But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, ‘ and ‘a sow, after washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Pet.2:22

So if you are struggling to stay clean and sober, how did you get sober in the first place? If it came from being incarcerated, or from family insistence, or from most rehab programs, you have little to fall back on to maintain your freedom. If sobriety comes from getting to meetings, prayer, working the steps, serving others, etc., you have something to fall back on. Being diligent goes miles in recovery. 

In short, if you are having a bad time with the compulsions, get to your knees, ask God for help. Get to a meeting, get on the phone to your sponsor…or get a sponsor, get into your devotional readings, get out of self and help another. The word get implies action and diligence. Diligence from the onset of recovery can keep the desire to do it again nothing more than a passing thought. 

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.


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