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.

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.

Ordering the Miracle

Have you placed your order for the miracle you want? Do you have enough to pay for it? Maybe you didn’t see the price tag when you requested it. Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about…which I’m sure you don’t. Let me explain.

 Miracle defined:
An extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

Everyone wants to see a miracle. None more than those who have tried everything to get clean and sober from addictions. They know nothing short of a miracle can free them from the enslavement. It would have to be a miracle of biblical proportion, an act of God. Alcoholics and drug addicts that land in AA, NA, or CR, often give up way too soon before the miracle happens. Their reason may be they don’t believe in God, or if He does exist, He wouldn’t help them anyway. After all they have done too many wrongs, He would never help them anyhow.

 “If there were no God, there would be no atheist.”
“It isn’t that they cannot see the solution. It is that they cannot
see the problem.”
G.K. Chesterton

Most who give up aren’t ready recover yet. They haven’t experienced enough pain, nor inflicted enough on others. They will, bank on it. Those who do hang in until “it” happens knew their estate before they arrived broken and beaten by substance abuse, whether the drink, or drugs. They also realized the price to pay for their miracle. I have seen men and women come into AA meetings with their chins on the ground, whipped, hopeless, and even facing consequences enough to choke a horse. They stayed, lingering long enough until the light came on. Then the miracle happened.

Having tried everything, or thinking we have, there was a constant committee meeting going on in the gray matter. They yak constantly, the majority telling us multiple reasons we could never give it up. A few brain committee folk are saying, think about your spouse, kids and family, your friends and your job. It is maddening.

Yet the individual remained, the committee adjourned, and they faced their consequences, working the program in total surrender of their will to continue self-serving and quit. The impossible happened, their chins were no longer dragging the floor, even their countenance changed. Some go even further and continue meetings giving back what they were given, long after the miracle of sobriety happened.

For these, gratefully remaining to help others, see things return to their life that they thought never to experience again, a home, new car, money in the bank, the return of friends and family, and a deep spiritual relationship, in many cases. There are some side-effects from recovery, too. Laughter, a song in the heart, and return of having feelings and thoughts of how to actually decipher right and wrong, truth and lies, and wow, what a difference. I know, by the grace of God, I am one that stayed for the experience. Life is far from perfect, troubles still come and go. The trade off, however, is worth the price.

You may have given up yourself. Perhaps someone you love threw in the towel long before the miracle arrived. If they swallow pride, or if you do, life will return, finally asking God’s help to do for you what you could never do for yourself. Miracles do happen, God is real, come and find both where hope is really realized.

How to Enjoy Christmas

How does one enjoy Christmas? For many Christmases in my life, I was fed up by the hustle and the bustle of the holidays. Sometimes I was outright angry at secular disbelief, insisting how offended they were by “religious symbols” or live nativity scenes invading their darkness…the true Narcissists of modern times. A few times at Christmas, I loathed my inability to lavish unnecessary gifts on my children and family members. And finally, often, the holidays passed while I boozed through them.

I should never judge how people see the Christmas season, but pray they get the point. I never want to be disappointed that I will be working and not with family, missing the family gathering and meal, watching the children beam when they open their gifts. That is precious, and should burned into thoughts or memories forever…with gratitude. That isn’t the point. So, what is the point?

The point I see today, as a follower of Christ, is the purpose of His visit, my gratitude and acknowledgement of that. I am transformed by believing in Him, His virgin birth… His life and teachings… His sacrifice on the cross… His blood destroying my sins past, present, and future… His resurrection guaranteeing mine from eternal death… and His continual intercession as advocate, defending me from accusations by the evil one. I am lifted when my belief turns to gratitude as I see the real Gift of Christmas, He gave Himself.

The point is seeing entire world is different because of His coming. Invention, exploration, and discovery may have been a part of mankind’s history, yet because of His coming and commission to His disciples to “go ye into all the world,” was catapulted as the Gospel spread, especially through the nations that accepted the message.

In fact, within modern history, from the past 150 years, technology has grown exponentially. I’m filled with gratitude, knowing He is the reason for this, His Spirit, Jesus promised, would come in His stead. The Holy Spirit brought the light of understanding and knowledge to people for invention, exploration, and discovery where His message is freely expressed and received. Where the message is rejected as truth, There is practically no invention, and the people would be living as people lived a millennium or more in the past without the discoveries from others.

How Christmas can be truly good, even wonderful, is refusing to allow the holiday to be about all you have done for others. You may have worked hard to cook, get everyone together, and to find that perfect gift for family and friends…and they don’t offer thanks for your toil. Think about what He has done for you, and be grateful by not expecting accolades…just give.

One last thought, and this is a “biggie.” You may not have time to go serve at a “drop-in,” or soup kitchen-meal-station for the homeless. Take a moment, pause and say thanks for what you do have. Ask God to bring comfort to the homeless, the widow and orphaned, the addict, the alcoholic, those trapped in darkness. Don’t forget to ask for our men and women serving the country, away from their families. Ask God to protect them from danger, from evil, comforting them in their loneliness…and their family the same.

Bonus thought. While you are asking, ask Him to foil the plans and schemes of the grifter running scams, preying on the elderly and weak. May God protect them all.

Merry Christ-mas to all, God grant you light to see His Truth…for His glory!

He Went Where?

The Pope sent a message to every leader of every Christian sect worldwide. “Meet with me in Washington. I have wonderful…and disturbing news for you all…God has given me a message for you all!” They gathered, every Christian leader in D.C., awaiting the news. The Pope rose to the podium. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have news, both good and bad…”Christ has returned to Earth!” He has not come for judgment at this time.”
A Baptist minister stood up and asked, “If Jesus is back, what could possibly be the bad news?”
The Pope responded, “He called me from an AA meeting in Ohio.”

Jesus, if He attended an AA meeting, would not be there to treat alcoholism. Don’t think I am trying to be irreverent. When He returns, He will come as it is written, and for the purpose He said He would return…and that appears to be the next major event on the prophetical date book.

The humor of the story is that Jesus has to come back to the Earth to do what the religious should be doing first and foremost…but cannot without disturbing their flock, or rocking their place of comfort, or studying to prove themselves right and all others wrong. Down the street, the widow is eating cat food, the orphan is being taught survival by the criminal element in the “hood.” In real life, most churches today have food banks, and emergency funds for the truly needy. They strive to serve the best they can, I believe.
That is good and follows Christ’s commands. But we who sit in the pews only throw a few bucks in the plate to fund these programs. That takes care of our guilt and we move on with our life, satisfied with our goodness. We may go a little further with a moment of silence for people suffering…like that does any good. Really, don’t think something nice, do something human, take action.
Jesus is here today in the person of the Holy Spirit. I sense His grief, I believe, over our division within Christian ranks, our hunger for more of everything that perishes, and drive for self-importance. “If Christ is here, where is He?”, the unbeliever, the cold or lukewarm believer asks.He is where the hurting, the broken, lonely are…AA, NA, and those places and in those hearts looking to serve the needs of all for God’s glory. He is where those who hunger and thirst for knowledge of Him and want His presence. 
Jesus is where darkness is the greatest. It is reported He has appeared in dreams of people in Islamic countries saying, “follow me!” That is from their mouths, those who followed Him at the risk of losing everything, family, possessions, or even their lives. Jesus is exactly where He was when He came to the planet two thousand years ago…among the people looking for a savior, for truth without strings to support scientific facts or educational falsehood of our origin.
He is in the churches that gather to build the spiritual house for Him to dwell. Not those who insist on exclusivity, believe our way or else go to hell. He shuns the bless me clubs that come together to agree on social status, who gets the lead in the holiday program, or individuals serving Him for self-promotion.
Today, it is of extreme importance that we who believe make every effort to test ourselves to see that we truly believe. I feel certain from the direction we are heading, away from anything godly and everything that removes Jesus, days of the end are here. We need to go where He would go, do what He would do, without concern of shame, or fear of mans disapproval.
Like my uncle Don used to say from the pulpit, “get in, get out, or get run over.” 
Blessings.

Recovery Killers, 5 Things to Watch Out For

If you are recovering from addictions and attend meetings on a regular basis, you are aware of triggers that lead many to relapse. Most of the effort used to help those in danger of relapse is focused on individuals new to recovery, or perhaps those going through difficult times at present. For any and all in recovery, relapse is a real threat. Whether that relapse returns us to actually using what ensnared us, or to returning to old thinking and self-service. Recovery is getting your life free from addiction. Sobriety is living life, personal growth, having ambitions to strive for, seeing life with a sense of purpose.

We have all experienced shock when someone with many years in recovery suddenly fell and returned to using, boozing, and doing what landed them in recovery originally. We were sure they were cognizant of what to watch out for, so why did they relapse?

There are many considerations as to why that were obvious, or not so obvious, and some not even considered. Here are a few to give pause and consider…and they are killers.

1. Forgetfulness
I’m forgetful, you’re forgetful, all God’s children are forgetful…that’s not a song. Forgetting how you felt when you first landed in recovery meetings can do great damage to ones sobriety. Remember that first meeting? Remember those first few weeks, months and learning how to accept what you became. From what may have started innocently, brought you to the bottom. That memory can keep sober living fresh, and you enthusiastic about sharing “how to” with others. To forget is saying to self, I’m really not as bad as I thought, having a drink or two won’t do me harm…I am not a foolish teen any longer.
2. Remorse
No matter how many meetings some people attend, or rehab, or church attendance, they never seem to get over what could have been. They had aspirations, perhaps were well-known athletes, musicians, or brilliant academically, but became addicted, and hit their bottom in shame. They cannot forgive themselves even years later. They dwell on their lot in life until they just give up trying to recover.
3. Personal Pride
This is something everyone needs to be aware of in recovery. Somehow, as time passes, we learn how to speak well in meetings, newbies and others look up to us as knowing our stuff about clean and sober living. Getting free of addiction then having a lack of humility, to a realization that we are leaders, with the most sober- time in the room, is a fall in process. Never take the “what you need to do is”....as though we have every answer to every problem.
There are many unique situations, i. e. mental disorders, difficult upbringings, some grieving from personal loss, etc. Though twelve-step recovery works for all that have the mental capacity, none of us unique, there are unique situations. Have enough humility to listen before suggesting.
4. Criticism 
This is a recovery killer we all may struggle with. I nearly quit attending meetings early on, criticizing, and over-analyzing every thing I heard in meetings. On one occasion, I had enough of hearing one individual’s story in every meeting. The same story took ten precious meeting minutes that I could have used to speak, though nothing I said had value. I knew little.
At the boiling point I told a friend I have had it with this guy, when another came to join our conversation saying, “wow, did you hear that dude’s story…that was awesome! I slowly learned to stop criticizing and to listen with the heart as well as the ears. The change was dramatic. That experience also helped me stop the gossip of others in recovery.
5. Ingratitude
To a point, we all have gratitude, or maybe a sense of relief that led us to be grateful for finding our way to the sober life. When in the depth of addictions, we are grateful for little, and have a sense of entitlement that makes us obnoxious for the most part. Learning the importance of gratefulness for every little thing is a addiction-breaker.
Taking a hot shower with a clean towel, clean clothes to put on, water to drink, food to eat, things we never gave thought to be thankful for become a point of grace to us. In time, we may go from feelings of that’s all behind me now, it comes natural to stop being grateful, feel entitled, after all, we may think, I worked to have these things. But without recovery, help from God and others, you and I wouldn’t have a job to afford the food, clothing, and roof over our heads.

These killers may not top the list in our thinking. Be aware, they are real, and the list not nearly complete. There are many others not mentioned here or in meetings. The idea is to keep the principles and process fresh in your thinking. Don’t allow people, places, and things to be more important than personal growth through sober living, service to God and others. Stay small in your own eyes with gratitude for everything. Forgive yourself because you are forgiven. If you cannot jump that hurdle, seek professional help.

And one last thought, don’t gossip or criticize. Talk others up, especially those who get under your skin. Say good things and compliment them with sincerity will help you mature to see them in a different light. Stay critical and you will face from others what you gave to them.

Laugh as much as you can and enjoy everyday of your recovery, and sober life, remembering your first visit.

Knowing What I Want

Living with one foot in God’s service, the other in mine, doesn’t make life very good. It is easy to live for me in theory. The reality is, living to please myself is pure misery and impossible to overcome by myself, willpower-ing my way to freedom that never will be. My will says “I can fix it,” as though I were a jack-of-all abilities. Being full of self brings out an ego-maniac trying to control outcomes and giving un-asked for advice.

The only thing worse is me with the one-foot in, one foot out of service to God in any capacity, recovery included.That is a lukewarm nonsensical life that leaves me totally wondering if I am on the right path. In this sorry existence, I question God’s will, procrastinate important decisions, fly off the handle at the slightest infraction from another. Half-spiritual, half carnal, fully idiotic, and yes, I have lived there.

“I know all of the things you do, that you are neither hot or cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! ”     Rev 3:16 (NLT)

I know what I want today. Yet like every one that has decided to follow Jesus since the Church began, I struggle to do that “thing.” That thing is dying to self once and for all, no more struggling with recovering from additions, no thoughts of drinking, no more sneaking to smoke a cigarette, eating poorly, crushing my pride to powder, until all people see is Christ, not me. But I know that no good dwells in me, a slave to sin, controlled by….wait, hold it, just stop the rambling here.

What I want I have. Yes, I am learning that just as I am sober today, and having to die daily to drinking alcohol, I have to die to the desires of the flesh daily too. Honestly, I struggle in many areas, sin came embedded in my DNA, when I arrived here. As a child, sin was dead to me, not knowing right from wrong as an innocent youth.

Then, someone preached the Word to me. I was nine years old when sin came alive to me that night, and I died. That is, I died to God, separated by my sin from the Holy. The man said, come home to God, accept Christ tonight. I felt dirty inside and began to cry like an infant, spiritually I was. The little nine-year old, tears streaming, prayed that sinner’s prayer, and immediately felt clean, forgiven, unsure why. Discovery came with understanding later on.

I know I lived a foot in, a foot out until grace led me to recovery. God’s goodness brought me home. I discovered having what I really want. It was Jesus all along. The dying to sin is a process we always battle as believers. It is the fighting that counts, not laying down or yielding  ourselves to the ways of this world, that is hurling toward destruction. We need test ourselves whether we are in the faith or not…regularly. We have to know without question. The perks are wonderful, and like dying to self, it happens often along the journey. Each time we die to self, we go deeper in Him, from the “wow, thanks God,” to the “You are beyond AWESOME God!” I want that too.

You may be doing the foot-thing in and out. You won’t suddenly get the danger of your way. If you think everything is okay living full-blown for self, ignoring what pleases God, you become open prey for evil’s grip to tighten. You may not care about that until you want to break free. Today, right now, ask God for help, you will be contacted, and find what you really want.

The Fix That Will Work

An important lesson God has led me to believe is the importance of combining recovery principles with spiritual truths. This has expanded of late to a radical belief that will be foreign to those having no belief in God, and insane to many those who follow Christ. The following are some things I see that may be what the massive influx of people entering recovery may need to change their direction and of this epidemic’s stronghold on our society’s youth.

The Sickness of Addiction
Medically, addictions to alcohol and drugs, of gambling and over-eating, of anger, depression, and all habits we call addictions, are regarded as a sickness. To the Christian circles, most of these are regarded as sin, transgressions against God. I believe when an individual first uses illegal drugs or drinks to get sloshed, sin is the correct term. However, when the use turns into addiction, sickness is the reality. At that point, the user wants free to never use again, but are incapable without help.

…”they will lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16:18b
“His (Publius) father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in
to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had
happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.” Acts 28:8-10

Laying on of Hands
Some churches practice healing by having the sick come forward during services, and have leaders and laypersons lay hands on them to be healed. Why not include the addicted? Admittedly, many if not most return to their pew still sick. Why? I believe it is, as scripture says, ” the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up.” Jas. 5: 15 

“Prayer without faith is a wish.” Anon

We who follow Christ and His teachings should follow that teaching to pray in faith, believing we receive as Jesus taught. The one who is sick would appreciate that. When one is sick, their body is weak, and so is their faith. Don’t bother laying hands on anyone for healing if you don’t believe their healing will happen that moment.

Because of past experiences of practicing this, and success rate being dramatically low, most often the practice is merely a ritual. If you want to use the reason for failure as, “maybe it’s not God’s will to heal them at that time,” then you must believe God wants them sick. Christ took stripes on His back in vain, or redemption doesn’t cover our healing just our new birth. Granted, some healing for some believers may be in the form of an apology they owe someone, or forgiving a suffered wrong. Un-forgiveness stifles the redemptive work of Jesus, and the enemy knows it and takes advantage of a resentful spirit.

The Fix is Faith in..
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to Him must believe that Heexists and            rewards those who seek Him.” Heb.11:6

I say if you believe addictions to be a sickness, then treat the sickness with spiritual fervor in faith that when you lay hands on the sick, Jesus is laying His hands on them through you. Believe it. I want to add this crazy, radical thought. What I feel will bring the constant barrage of new inventions to bring methods of getting high that’s unending, would be a demonstration of God’s power in and among our people.

…The God of the Impossible

          “In the last days, says God, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh”…Acts 2:17
That is in the wings, I believe. Even if by now you think that will never happen, try asking for it. We need the reality of the risen Christ, the healer, the deliverer, as much today as they did in the first century. Naysayers, disbelievers, and many theologians do not believe in that possibility. But God will get our attention His way because of His unending love for mankind.
It isn’t disasters He brings, that is the enemy’s work. God uses it to draw people, however. Ask in faith for a personal visitation along with other praying believers. He hears and answers…and visits the expectant.