Dear Younger Me

I wanted to share this short poem written by a man I met recently. He is one of the fortunate ones, still alive and by God’s grace recovering in a rehab facility. I hope you take a moment and read his heartfelt words to his younger self and his promise to Jesus, his Savior, to finish his life well in Christ’s service.

Dear younger me
I did not see,
What my whole life
Was meant to be.

All the heartache
All the pain,
The guilt and hurt
And all the shame.

The things I did were all in vain,
All wasted now yet I remain.
So I can see my purpose now,
To You Lord Jesus I will bow.

Now I see what I’m to do;
Just follow You, only You.
You will lead me down a path,
Help me to forget my past.

I will tell them of Your love,
And of forgiveness from above.
Thank You Lord for saving me,
What You have done to make me free.

Your true love and sacrifice
Has given me a better life.

Kevin Long

What If?

I think about this question every year, so I thought it good to ask you, the reader to think about and answer if you wish. Give it thought, serious thought. See if you know how much our world has been affected by Advent.

What if Christ never came into the world; what would the holiday season be like?

My thoughts:
There would be any holiday season for one. That means any Santa, Christmas carols, family gatherings, school “winter celebrations,” no shopping or gift giving. There would be no paid days off, no football Christmas Day, no big meal other than the normal daily dinner.

If Jesus had not come to redeem mankind, wipe the slate of our sins clean with the shedding of his blood, there would also be no Easter either. There would be no ACLU fighting to remove religious artifacts from stores, or secular judges ruling that the displaying of the manger scene is unconstitutional, citing the separation of church and state, (which, by the way, does not appear in the constitution).

The words, “do unto others”…would have never been heard, as well as, “For God so loved the world”…and “judge not, lest you be judged.”

What else? How about anytime since the church of Jesus began, the flood of giving aid to victims of disasters? How would education be affected? Slavery? The arts? Literature? Science? Invention? Even Christians have no idea how Christ’s birth affected these.

Think about that as we all enjoy the blessings and benefits of His atoning grace this season. And just so you know…there is more, much, much more.

Remember Not to Forget

This year Memorial Day seems more real to me than in times past. Perhaps the reason is personal research regarding twentieth century events, and watching the American Heroes Channel whenever docs on war are on the tube. In every conflict throughout the twentieth century, more lives were lost that in all known wars on record.

I honor every person who has served our country and lost their lives, and those who served at all as well. God bless their memory, may their sacrifice never be forgotten.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
Winston Churchill

I have this foreboding sense of days to come and potential looming wars to come. Anger and hatred are newsworthy, networks or media from various sources bombard us with possibilities of conflict, their escalation daily. Within our nation there are conflicts just shy of turning deadly violent, but not portrayed as such. We really learned zero from history though warned not to do so.I believe pride has told us we are too smart to repeat historical mistakes, which I believe is laughable.

Keep the memory of the fallen alive by refusing to allow politicians and leaders at any level to stop giving away guaranteed rights our men and women gave their life for. Freedoms are in jeopardy, mainly, religious freedoms, freedom to bear arms, not to forget freedom of speech, which seems only to apply to the press anymore. The rest of us must be politically correct not offend anyone.

We seem to drop all of our differences and prejudices in times of national threats, i. e. 9/11/2001. We come together across multicultural lines as Americans, grieving lost American lives, you know, our family. I would love to see that togetherness thrive in our country, but I don’t foresee that ever happening.

Politicians, ethnic leaders, and media outlets are determined to keep unity at bay, increase their personal power, fanning the flame of discord without impunity. I believe their speech doesn’t match their actions, they want us to forget those who lost their lives for freedoms they freely give away, pointing out opposition’s faults to conceal their own.

Globally speaking, there are many conflicts alive and well. This is not a surprise however. Foretold a couple thousand years ago:
Jesus, questioned by his disciples about the times of the end said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation shal rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places”…. Matt.24:6-7

World-wide conflicts have always been. Yet from the twentieth century until now, never has so many soldiers and civilians died from such. Through in ethnic, political, and religious purging by Mao, Stalin, the killing fields of southern Asia, etc. The numbers are incredible. don’t forget to remember, not just on memorial day, but when you pray, when you vote.

Now, how do you say this…Happy memorial day? Have a nice holiday? How about REMEMBER.

The Key to Solid Recovery

Don’t think I come up with everything I write about regarding recovery from drinking and drug use  Much of what I post comes from what I hear from successful people in recovery meetings. I also ask God’s help to express thoughts to the reader. The purpose of this post is the latter statement, God’s help.. Time after time I have heard the recovering admit that praying to God was key to their recovery. I totally agree.

The issues of addiction to drug and alcohol are regarded as a spiritual malady. Don’t doubt that for a second. even if you do not believe in God, or agnostic. I have witnessed several who had no spiritual belief remain clean and sober as they followed THE program. Yet those who rely on God through prayer have much stronger recovery, my personal observation. If our addictions are indeed a spiritual malady, the remedy must come from the spiritual plane. We could not use physical to fix the spiritual no more than putting a set of wings on one’s back would cause one to soar among the clouds, defying the physical law of gravity.

Simply put, physical laws cannot alter the dimension of the spirit. However, spiritual law can, and has, altered the physical and mental realms. This isn’t arguable in this reality we dwell in, and only realized by having faith in such. With that in mind, the practice of daily prayer to God for help to remain clean and sober is the key to solid recovery, and much more. As individuals follow what has worked for millions in AA, praying for God’s intervention to help just today a clean and sober day, their faith in His reality grows. They find God loving and ready to help them though at first, praying seems foolish, a waste of time. With days passing, their faith grows to ask for His help for other issues, until prayer develops into dialog, a relationship.

I have been asked about what God’s will is by several over the years. Why I was asked in most cases was I had been the individuals sponsor, not from having been in seminary.  Sometimes I answer that with a question….”do you know what God’s will isn’t?”

The answer to that is that they do not use drugs or alcohol. That’s a given. Also, I believe God’s will is obvious to the one asking…He wants you free of addiction, He wants you changed entirely, body, soul, and spirit.  That normally means, everything about the individual needs to change. Recovery from addiction programs are programs of “self reduction to others minded.” You may enter a rock star, but aspire to be a servant. (God’s will leads to real life in spite of how that may sound to your ears).

In truth, most that want to know God’s will having underlying reasons. In most cases, the hope of side-stepping consequences, or wanting to have someone agree with what they think. Others really want to know what I feel God wants them to do. That may cover many things, relationships, how to work their recovery out when opposed by family or friends, or for a desire to know God. For me, I find answers in scripture first of all. One particular place I look is in the “poetry sections,” Psalms, Ecclesiastes, mainly the book of Proverbs. These books are crammed with workable, godly advice like an atlas insert for my personal locality.

To be honest, I still hit walls often. though I look for spiritual answers through prayer and Bible readings, that doesn’t make me a spiritual know-it-all. Example being that I was absolutely sure a my last relationship was God’s will. For me, God had to be my priority in life in. Second, I knew whatever I wanted must come second to my mate’s needs and desires. Right priorities make perfect relationships…right? Not even close. The other individual has a say too. They may agree verbally, but hold to different priorities. If so, that does not mean the relationship is wrong or doomed to fail. But it may require more effort by both.

Though we agreed at the onset, and marital bliss seemed unending, vigilance was required daily. Even though I prayed before, even had solid counsel throughout, it ended badly. God, how did I miss Your will? That way of thinking can devastate one’s recovery if help is not immediately sought. My expectations, God’s will, her will, and enemy attacks, etc., all converged to where I could not see God’s will at all.

In retrospect, I remembered I had a check inwardly, but disregarded it thinking, “get behind me devil!” (Only comical now). God wanted to keep me from trouble, but my desire for a relationship held sway over waiting for His perfection. Ouch! I don’t know what hurt worse, the broken relationship, or being wrong at this stage of spiritual recovery, or…at my age.

In conclusion, pray for God’s help as a daily priority. This is the priority for solid recovery. Do meetings, get a sponsor that isn’t so cool but has a real spiritual side, do what you hear the successful in recovery have done. If you miss God’s will for whatever reason, He isn’t mad, ask Him again and talk to your sponsor about it.

Working Through Problems

We all have problems. No one is exempt. When individuals enter recovery from addictions, problems from past actions can be overwhelming. Often, the recovering try to tackle big problems first, which can be a costly mistake. When the attempt proves unfruitful, some give up entirely thinking their situation is hopeless. I advise everyone I can to start with the small problems and work their way to the big ones.

The reason for this approach is with each small issue resolved, the individual sees success, or progress, actually making headway. Each problem is a personal victory removing the impossible bit by bit. Their confidence grows, hope becomes faith, and through diligence, all of their past will be just that…the past. Many times, those attacking from this method experience self confidence for the first time in their life.

I go a step further by reminding them, (and myself), to ask for help from God. I have listened, over time, to scores of people in recovery meetings, that have given personal testimonies, how their prayers were answered. The trick here was asking. Humbly asking God for help eliminates personal pride and control, proving to self our inability to manage our life.

There are many others that never attempt to amend past problems.
“It’s no use, I’ll never get through this garbage, there are too many things and people blocking me.”

True as that may be, this failure to launch will lead them downward. They do not try, nor ask God’s help from looking at the giant as too great. God’s specialty is the impossible. David, in the Bible had so much confidence in God that when he went out to battle the nine and a half foot Goliath, he ran out after Goliath, trash talked him and took him down, then took his head off.
Israel’s entire army feared this monsterous man. When young David struck the giant down, the confidence poured out of David onto the soldiers…and they soundly beat the opposing force.

Not attempting to amend the past is fear based. Unwillingness to recover from not wanting recovery at all. There is nothing that can be done for the unwilling, but for the  individual, daring to go to any length and try, asking God’s help,  will get through problems. And like David’s story, their story will invoke hope in others. Others will hear, receive necessary faith to fight their problems away too.

If this is you, or you have a loved one willing but having no confidence, take this approach. List out your problems or consequences. Don’t leave anything off if possible. What is the least important? Then go to the next least, the next, etc., all the way to the major issues. Once that is complete. Go to a place you can be alone, humbly ask God…

Please God, help me remove these problems from my past. I cannot do this alone, even though I caused them alone. Nothing is too hard for you. Please help me. Amen.

One more thing. As each problem is resolved, thank Him, don’t take all the credit. Share your successes with others as each victory is achieved.

Ask For Help

When I first entered into recovery for alcoholism, I found it nearly impossible to ask for help for any reason. I would ask God to help me without thinking twice. But not people. What I did not know was how God used people to help me in response. I still struggle to ask others for help for things in general, even when they offer to help. This is a real character defect I must deal with.

My understanding changed as so many in AA reached out to help. I knew then that I needed what they had to offer. Even greater was the understanding of how my prayers were not wasted words. God really cared, really heard my petition, really loved me. Today when I pray to Him, I know He will answer.

I read accounts in the Bible regarding prayer. Two in the Old Testament stand out in my mind. The passage in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, gathered the nation to ask God’s help as they were besieged by a massive army. In Isaiah 36-37, Hezekiah, king of Judah sometime later, had a similar experience. Read these awe-inspiring stories. Both give direction to praying in unity, in desperation, in faith that God can and will rescue if we only ask.

Some may say, that was then, or think, what a nice fairy tale. So perhaps an event in recent history may be more convincing. Have you ever heard about the story behind the story of Dunkirk, during WWII ? The British army, numbering nearly one-quarter of a million, along with french allies, were backed to the sea, with eight hundred thousand German soldiers closing in for the kill. Hitler was bent on annihilating the Brits.

Winston Churchill earlier, had called for a national day of prayer. I heard a woman, then a young girl account how the people responded, though unaware at the time how dire the army’s situation was.

“I remember my mother and I walking to town to the church, to pray, asking God’s help for our nation, the military, and our leaders for guidance. When we neared the church, I saw people kneeling on the sidewalk outside of the church, and along the sidewalks, for all of the churches were packed with praying people.”

No one knows why, and this is still being discussed by historians, Hitler suddenly decided to halt his charging army, and give the soldiers a little R and R…highly uncharacteristic. Simultaneously, a British leader had a flashing thought…let’s gather every boat available, no matter how small, to rush across the English Channel and rescue the soldiers.
Please don’t insult God and say, “what a coincidence!” The two events were a result of a people asking God’s help in unity, like Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did, as well as accounts throughout scripture.

We all have an army of problems and mountains of impossibilities facing us in life. We do not have to fight alone, often not at all when we call to God for help. We have to ask. James 1 says, ‘you have not because you ask not’…or ask selfishly, (amiss). Jesus said ask and you shall receive, or say nothing and receive it.

So that’s it. Drinking was prolonged from my resistance to ask for help. Life and freedom came from humility enough to ask God and others. Great victories are realized when we have the courage to humbly ask God to fix our situations. Start asking, watch for results, be open to receive help from others.

One other thing. The times seem extremely dark, our nation is totally divided and double minded concerning right and wrong, politics, education, et al…A mountain of troubles are in view. We need to pray for our nation as never before. Please do so everyday.

Remember to Not Forget

Giving thought to where my mind was when I had thirty days sober is hard. I cannot remember those days but remember things from kindergarten, many years ago. I do remember there was a committee meeting going on in my head. Decisions were difficult from the endless chatter. Only people in recovery know what I mean.

It was a man in Friday nights lead meeting, a young man received his thirty day token, causing me to think about receiving mine. My early recovery wasn’t as difficult as I felt it would be. But that’s God’s grace helping me do what I could not sure for myself. Memories should be embraced no matter how arduous and painful. That last drunk, the isolation, the lack of fulfilment in life are things I must remember vividly. Otherwise no lesson was learned, history repeats with forgetfulness and ingratitude.

Someone may read this post and relate. I am guessing perhaps a reader may be in the struggle they have never experienced. Life without booze or drugs is great, but everything seems mundane and lifeless. Of course your sponsor can give all the cute adages AA is known for. They can give you great advice too. But nothing helps. What do you do?

Remember. Think about how it was, what happened, what it is like today. Furthermore, remember times before in life, when you had dreams of what you hoped you may become. Think about what hobbies that caught your interest, places you’ve always wanted to see, even local to home. Often the reason for the boredom alcoholics and addicts fall into, is forgetting.  Make it your aim to shoot for something to shake the useless thoughts of yourself. For certain, if you aim for nothing you’re bound to hit it.

If I were your sponsor, I would certainly encourage you to pray and find someone to help. That is anyone, not just others in recovery from addictions. To me, nothing can improve your overall demeanor or outlook like helping someone else. All of us in twelve step work are aware how we trade struggle to thrive with confidence when serving. Yet, I know there are times when you need self time to fill your spiritual fuel tank, and see enthusiasm return to life.

Take time to remember, to look inside yourself for renewed past ideas and new possibilities. Also, don’t forget to remember the dismal way your life was going, before you came to believe you could get well.

Sure Recovery

Every meeting I attend has changed of late. It is not the structure, the topics, nor the methods that have changed. It is me. So many that attended have lost their lives to either returning to their misery, or have passed away from sickness of some sort. Each meeting gives me pause to wonder who may not make the next meeting. That is not in my control. No matter how I feel, my sure recovery requires me to suit up, show up, give what I have been given. This is my reality from attendance to meetings. There I learned I cannot fix anyone. I can only trust God, serve others, and keep my side of the street clean.

My struggle to meetings does not matter as long as I continue on, in disregard of my personal feelings and misgivings. Sure, recovery for me is based on the understanding I have of self-forgetfulness. How I feel, what I want, or what I think is not as important as what recovery meetings have etched in my thoughts….“meeting makers make it.” Without that understanding, in time, I would be back doing what landed me there in the first place. Thank God for His grace to understand my personal realities.

Many of you that read this are either in recovery, or are tearing through every site offering info on clean and sober living for a loved one’s sake. For the one looking for yourself, you are on your way to restored sanity and recovery. You want help and are looking for a way out. This is where recovery begins. Those looking for another, I can only tell you that “recovery is for those who want it, not for all who need it.” Not trying to bust your balloon, but they should be the one looking, not you. Don’t stop, by any means! As you go through  page after page, you will learn how not to help them and enable their lifestyle.

Sure recovery is possible. I have known several, whose lives were like an elevator mechanic, up and down, sober, then drunk again. They eventually “came to believe” they could make it, and did! It is possible, they discovered, when their determination and desperation finally developed faith to believe their need to accept their plight, others help, and finally follow direction. By listening to others story and suggestions, the most important truth of recovery…God’s reality, His grace to help, mercy to forgive, and direction to change those hungry to be free.

“I know the thoughts I think about you, says The Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you hope, and a future.” Jer. 29:11

“…casting all your care on Him, (God), for He cares for you.” 1 Pet.5:7

I have been through horrific problems lately. I know these problems would have crippled me without God’s indescribable grace that rests on  my life through faith in Christ. These problems could add several paragraphs to this page. I will not honor them by giving them that space. That is not sure recovery at all.

Sure recovery is hope, turned into faith, turned into trust that when these problems pass, I will be able to look back and see God’s hand, pulling strings, and manipulating situations to bring me through. Victory is sure for me if I fight on, and credit Him, humbly acknowledging His will is done. Keep fighting, follow directions, get into meetings until they get into you.
God’s peace to all.

Building Bridges on the Border

This family has a great ministry and could use your prayers and support.

Our Life On The Border

Our medical team lovingly treating the patients Our medical team lovingly treating the patients

One of the highlights of our ministry on the border and the Baja has been our medical clinics in Ensenada. God has used the partnership of Redeemer San Diego and La Nueva Jerusalén in Ensenada to touch the lives of many. It’s beautiful to see the love of Christ poured out through the doctors, dentists and all those that assist and make this outreach possible. We are using medicine to build bridges for the gospel as we show the love of Christ in a real and tangible way.

I put together a short video with the help of my son, David Jr. that will give you a glimpse of what we do on these missions trips.

May the gospel continue to go forth in power in Ensenada. May the Lord’s church extend it’s reach for the glory of God!

In His Grip, Dave

View original post 2 more words

5 Things to Help Your Recovery

Being around the recovering crowd can be difficult at times. Mainly because most topics used for discussion, are often a moaning session. For obvious reasons, as you may guess. If someone happens to say something positive, the whole room may go silent from shock. The groups aren’t used to that. If they say too many positive words, it has an adverse effect, they think the individual is a lunatic.

I understand, as do all who attend meetings of recovery, that it is tough to stay positive with the many consequences we have to eventually deal with. But if we are bent on freedom from the sickness that enslaves us, we listen to what works, take it to heart, and do what it takes no matter how hard or how long. The positive may be elusive at first. But a little effort can produce positive results leading to the freedom desired.

Here are some simple suggestions to help you in recovery. These are not written in recovery literature, per se, but will help when used in collaboration with such.

1. Read, just a little, but read. This may be the most difficult for most in recovery. I have an idea as to why, but that idea is an entire essay. Many people here in the USA have little gratitude for the gift of reading. They state how they hate to read. Globally, illiteracy is staggering. People do not have any education because there is none available.They would give all they have to be able to read. Some are in areas of the world that suppress education. Here, in the US, we have the opportunity and the ability, but “just say no” to reading. Read anyway. Start with a small paragraph and build from there. Oh yeah, read recovery literature, not a romance novel.

2. Exercise. I know, I’m 0 for 2 in likable things to do to help your recovery. There again, do just a little. Merely getting up and walking to the mailbox, or down to the corner and back. Get your blood flowing and your mind works better. You can get positive results in a short time.

3. Change the station(s). Something I noticed from myself and reinforced by statements in meetings is; songs, TV shows, gaming, and movies, may have a dramatic effect on the addicted, to trigger a relapse. Especially, the music you listened to when using. Nobody likes silence, but try music you find tasteful, or tolerable. Try games to exercise your brain, documentaries on the tube, and movies…skip. All of these aren’t permanent changes, maybe they should be. But for a time early in returning from a relapse or new to recovery, try this.

4. A short inventory. This is not listing a 4th step, nor doing the 5th with your sponsor. This is a list, or maybe a name of someone you carry a resentment for, you cannot seem to forgive, or you need to ask forgiveness for a wrong. Take the name, or names, and pretend you are with them, and practice what you need to say to them. If that is uncomfortable, write them a letter expressing how you feel. Don’t hold back…let er’ rip! Do it again but pretend God, (Jesus), is there mediating the event. This may be a game changer to some who may be talking to awol parents, spouses, the officer or judge that sentenced them.

5. Fix your language. Really, seriously, start talking like an adult. You are wanting to recover from your addiction, right? Recover from your gangsta way of talking. Can you? F-bombs fly out in meetings and have become the accepted way to talk, some say. But if you are sitting in an interview for your dream job, I am sure you won’t use foul language in that meeting, will you?
It isn’t that your way of talking made you an addict, but that was the way you talked when you were using and boozing. Change that, bring dignity and honor to your life for being different. People will notice.

Give these thoughts a shot along with meeting attendance, daily prayer, service work, the steps with your sponsor. You may be the positive lunatic in the meeting, or the one who brings some shock and awe to the group where you attend. Just do it.

“Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites ruin.” Prov. 10:14