Leading the Drunk to Water

More than likely, you have heard the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” No matter how many times I have heard the adage, and have used it, I sometimes think that I can make it happen. Not the saying above, rather the message of leading others to a life, clean and sober, of following Christ, and serving others selflessly, I try to convince with conviction.

What makes me think I somehow am the measure of what is the right? I am not. What I do know has merit from experience, study, and spiritual practice. What I have experienced isn’t what brings others into a life of sober living, nor convinces an unbeliever to see Jesus as the Savior of the world. It is not my job to argue with others in AA or NA meetings that they have a distorted view of God, when they say something completely unholy regarding Him the way I personally know Him to be. I do not have a degree that makes me a word cop. I also must remember, who’s talking, where they are in recovery, and where they came from in life.

It happened again in a small meeting a couple of nights ago. A man I felt was highly educated, and certainly has a dynamic message of his coming into recovery, with the help of, and by the grace of God, made some false statements regarding the Bible. I didn’t oppose him in the meeting, but tried to “kindly” correct him afterwards. No argument ensued, but neither did I convince him of his error, and the ripple effect on others hearing him tumbling into total disbelief because of his blunder. The reason for no argument…God, I’m sure. To argue with him could kill any future opportunities with the thirsty, wanting to find the water hole.

“The main reason people in recovery do not grasp the message, is they don’t reach for it.”  Author

AA’s Big Book warns members not to play the evangelist to those still actively drinking. Doing so may hinder any chance of helping those you are targeting to share your new life with. I believe that goes for attempts to exhort others in the program to drink deeper, raise their standards of behavior to a greater height around all of those watching them in their recovery.

In other words, maturing in their sobriety, become a real example. That’s change, what we hate the most. Fear of losing friends in recovery is at risk to the ones bold enough to accept and change. Sadly, most get just enough water to make them not want to drink, (booze or use dope). That is, the water being God, and the grace He bestows that leads them to recovery. There is more.

What should I do or say to get the horse to keep drinking? Talk and pray. God didn’t ask me to be His personal sheriff in recovery. If I trust Him, I say what He gives me to say in meetings, or to sponsor-ees, and nothing more. For those spreading a distorted view of God, I am to do two, no, three things: say nothing, love them, and pray God will enlighten them, bringing them into a deeper understanding of the incomprehensible power He has to change lives those no one imagined could ever change.

The warning to me, and to you if you are viewed as a leader in recovery, perplexed by what you hear in meetings, If we truly trust God to use what we give, do not forget His purpose in us is not to judge, but to serve. We only correct, or redirect if asked for help. If I try to play the know-it-all, and believe me, I know little, (that isn’t false humility, I learn as I go, how little I know), I will ruin any chance of influencing others to follow me to the streams of Living Water, the main Message of man’s existence, and living above addictions with God’s help.

Finally Getting It…after many failures

Resolution to Stop Drinking and Doping…finally, I Will, I Think
Why resolutions fail may be answered by experts offering generalized pat answers from polling questions, or case studies. Unless you read their articles, their advice is moot, you will set yourself up for another year of failure to accomplish desired goals. The problem with resolutions is they are future goals, based on self-reliance, or willpower. Future goals are just that, the future, putting off trying because you are not ready yet. Willpower may work in some ways for you, but not in all things, or for what your resolution is aimed at to accomplish.

Insanity Defined and Sanely Accepting
You have heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, using the same methods, and expecting different results. All of the different things I tried to stop drinking came to nothing because I tried to do this by willpower. I am sure AA, NA, CR, rehab, or church would not have helped me then, or now, if my intent was to do it my way. What worked for the masses in getting clean and sober, in living for Christ, in any endeavor, would work for them, but not me. I am, (I used to think), unique, above the under-the-bridge-drunk, or the back-alley-addict.

I knew I was alcoholic, but refused to bow to “How It Works,” rebelling, desperately looking for the easier, softer way of getting free. Others who refuse to comply to what works, do so feeling they have crossed the line, have went too far for God’s grace to reach them, or for anyone to want to help them get well. No matter if you feel unique or unworthy, there is hope, you can resolve to stop, and achieve a sober life. Here is how.
(Two things: One, many say AA or any 12 step program doesn’t work for them because they do not want to get well yet. They are looking for your pity, hoping for another hand-out, or just trying to get you off their back, making you hopeless in their ever being normal. Second, this can work in many, even most areas of making resolutions, not just overcoming addictions.)

Finally Getting It
The experience I had to get sober is echoed throughout recovery groups. We all need to understand what WE means. Everyone who finally get it readily admit they needed help. Where the majority started, or first action, was looking for help from God. Some do not remember until time passes and they come out of compulsions fog. Eventually in their growth, suddenly they remember a most trying desperate moment they said…O God, please help me!
They may have thought the prayer went unanswered because it was much later, that the answer did come. It wasn’t God’s timing, you often hear so many say. It was a sincere prayer alright, but the intention was…help me out of this jam right now. You weren’t finished experiencing and dishing out pain on yourself and others. Yet, He heard your cry, and began pulling strings and manipulating situations. Perhaps you ended up incarcerated, hospitalized, or homeless, before you finally came to, but you did, because He did what you asked, helped you…just not how you expected.

Willpower has a distinct odor. A stench, actually. Anytime someone says they quit by willpower years ago, I nearly want to puke. Good they quit on their own, but their life is a dry-drunk existence. They didn’t experience growth in life from others help, maturing into seeing life in an adult manner knowing it is not all about them. I know of some that merely traded drinking for greed. They leave in their wake, a terrible message…”you don’t need to do anything but just quit like I DID.” SHOO-WEE, that stinks!

Prayer is the first action to a sober life, help from others is second.
We pray, God leads us to AA, NA, CR, OA, GA, or any of the many step programs where we receive help from others….and the program in turn, leads us back to God. We learn how to succeed from humbly following their direction, after all, it worked for them. In time, we find an individual we feel can mentor or sponsor us, so the recovery process goes to a new level, in most cases.

The next action in finally getting it is realizing I screwed my life up, I am unmanageable to stop the madness of addiction, and everything else in my life. The drinking wasn’t the problem, but turned on the light for what the real problem was...ME. When I saw this reality, I ACCEPTED my inability to change on my own. I CAME TO BELIEVE my need for help from others, by God’s grace via those place by Him in my path. They show gratitude for their recovery by giving back what they were given. (If you have benefited from your recovery program but do not give back in any way, you are ungrateful, living in the danger zone. I thought I ought to let you know.)

The last thing I want to add isn’t the last action in recovery. There is no last action. Don’t let that discourage you. The action is awesome, the challenge is life-altering, taking little-ole-me-and you into a new, higher dimension in life. We enter the cony-island way of life. Life, when we submit to God’s ways, in sober livings steps, may be like a merry-go-round, or roller coaster life, full of ups and downs. But we learn to enjoy the ride with enthusiasm, and actually remember it. The last action; MAKE A DECISION to turn your will and life over to God.

The worst mistake many in sobriety make is they only want enough of God to stay sober, get a job, a mate, a car, a home, etc. They only want Him as their personal genie, to fix their junk and their life reflects it. They only want to practice sobriety principles in some of their life, not in all their affairs.

Choosing Not to Finally Get It
Tonight is New Years eve. Many may see this post and save it for later, after tonight’s bash. Others may not see it until they are hungry for change tomorrow. Whatever the reason you do read this, whatever day your eyes fall on this page, know this: You do not have to follow the advice on the way to finally get it, written here, or from experts explaining resolution failures, or from anywhere anyone offers to help you SEE. But ask yourself this, how has doing things your way worked for you so far?

ADDED bonus for reading 
To summarize; I have been praying this prayer that I think may help you if you struggle with how to pray, or what to pray. It also covers what I have covered here, which are steps 1-3 in AA’s Big Book:

  ‘God, please help me stay sober today, I am helpless without you, my life is unmanageable. I believe you can return my sanity. I turn my will and my life over to your care, your will. Amen.”

Happy New Year, to you all! Thanks for reading. And if any of you go ahead and booze it up tonight, be careful, and I pray you have the worst time you ever had, the worst hangover, and puke your guts out…but also that God protects and keeps you alive, giving you one more chance. To you, it’s a crap shot, but He knows the end from the beginning, gracious to all!

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!

Relief for Holiday Depression

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Right. “Maybe for you, but not for me. I can’t even afford presents for my children. We plan to have a bowl of corn flakes and toast for Christmas dinner.”
“If my husband would just quit drinking for the holidays, then we may be grateful.”
“How can the holidays be happy when your child is clinging to life after an overdose? Christmas will never be the same.”

These are some of the laments of families facing personal problems during the holiday season. I empathize with them. My heart goes out to those suffering depression brought by outside forces, or household divisions from addictions. I also have sorrow fro the lonely, those who have no one to enjoy the season with. The unmarried, widowers, orphaned children in foster homes that do not celebrate, etc.

There are also people so caught up in their work so deeply, or in so much debt, they cannot see celebration or purpose in Christmas. This form of depression hides itself from its victims, and renders killer-stress eventually. Where is relief for the many problems?, how can we celebrate and get free of depression during this time of year?

Pat answers are many in number; be grateful for what you have, pray, get counsel, go to an AA or NA meeting, (for those in recovery), etc. But none of these seem to help at our darkest moments, which may compound around this time of year. I want to offer something different to the mix of answers. This will take minimal effort but I know this works.

Many families read the Christmas story found in Luke 2 as an annual tradition. Try this, read around that story. Luke 1 is the story behind THE story. The angel appearing to Mary with the message of her selection, being the mother of the Promised One.
…”let it be to me according to your word.” was Mary’s response in verse 38, and the angel had said to her in vs. 37, “for with God NOTHING shall be impossible.”

These two passages are two sentences, as a person believes them, and speaks them, have tremendous power to affect the attitude with faith, in replace of the inward fears resulting in  depression. The pit of depression is a place of hopelessness. Saying prayers may seem unthinkable to the depressed and hurting, having tried to pray already, getting no results. But praying what is written, what the Word says, causes faith to rise and fear to run.

Here are two short passages, read them aloud every day until Christmas. Along with that, read aloud, or even better, pray aloud the Magnificat, Mary’s praise to God in vs. 46 through vs.55. Make it personal, saying to God in prayer:

“My soul magnifies You Lord, and my soul rejoices in You, my Savior. For You have regarded my lowly state, and from now on, people will call me blessed…You are mighty and have done great things for me”….

Continue this praise to God through verse 55, and do this aloud until Christmas Day. Get alone by yourself, sit in your car, or in a secluded place in your home. Take this serious, do it in praise and thanksgiving to God in your dark moments, in spite of the problems you face, or the challenges ahead that seem impossible…nothing is too hard for God. Scripture reveals the heart that is broken or fearful, will be liberated as that person praises God. (i.e. 2 Chron. 20, Nehemiah 1)

It is okay to doubt this. God is not angry at you for doubting. You’ve tried everything else, things of physical, or mental in nature have not worked. Let’s move over to the unseen, the spiritual things, bringing The Savior into your situation. Whether you doubt or not, put praise to God in your day and He will invade your world with life, joy and celebration.

Let today be the day you have the courage to believe in Christ’s purpose, and find your purpose. One more thought; read more of the stories around The Story, chapters 1-2 of Luke. The whole story is great and faith-building.

How to Have Faith…(when you feel faithless)

Something I hear often in recovery meetings or in conversation with others is, “I don’t have faith.” I can respond from my personal experiences and understanding gathered from study, but seldom do. The reason is that people have their mind made up regarding how they view self, religion, life, etc., and mostly unwilling to listen to any answer until their pain is great enough to want change in life.

The truth is, we all have faith. We are born with a bit of it. But faith has to develop, grow from a seed into a thriving tree…even an entire forest. How that occurs is through the ears, hearing…to understand. An example seen in recovery meetings is the newcomer.

Newbies come to AA or NA, unsure if they will be helped at all. They hear how others with similar issues or problems, kept coming back until they found hope, got clean and sober, and their life improved beyond their dreams. The newbie finds that hope and returns again and again until their faith grows a belief worthy of total trust.

Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Rom. 10:17 ESV
(To amplify this passage, I like to say, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing, and hearing…)
Jesus said: Have faith in God…”I say to you, whatever thing you ask when you pray, believe you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:22, 24 NKJV

Faith goes in through the ears, into the heart and mind, then out of the mouth. This is a fact for belief systems, no matter what the belief system is. Even the atheist has faith in no God by the same method; they hear atheist teaching, their mind accepts those teachings as truth, and their mouth speaks their faith in there being no cause for life, it just happened.

What if I am not in Recovery? How can I get faith?
Here are a few suggestions to grow your faith.

1. Pray, whether you believe in God or not. A simple, “God, are you for real? If you are, will you please help me believe? I really want to know.” (You will be contacted…I have faith in that fact.)

2. What are you listening to right now? Turn it off. TV, music, negative thoughts bouncing around in your head, or a negative friend or relative-do-nothing griping there is nothing to do. Sit down and read this post aloud to yourself. Or, read Mark 11, Romans 10 aloud to yourself. Read a devotional or the Big Book of AA. Allow something positive to enter the ear and lodge in your heart.

3. Affirm aloud to yourself, “I belong to God”…or, ” I’m getting better every day, my life is improving as I hear truth, I believe.

This is just a start to cultivating the greatest resource, or spiritual tool we all have. Faith is essential for recovery, for learning, for every endeavor attempted by mankind. Invention, exploration, and discovery are all born of faith. Be savvy to this as well, doubt and fear are the arch-enemies of faith. These little imps produce questions in spite of proofs, tear down the most powerful of dreams and hopes.

Choose faith over fears. Take this final passage with you into next week and personalize it saying it aloud to yourself:
…Be strong and courageous, don’t be frightened, don’t be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!”

When Plans Go Awry

I normally anticipate getting to church on those Sundays I don’t work. In fact, every long weekend I get, I plan for church, recovery meetings, and visiting grandchildren. Saturday’s plan is to do all of the household chores and shop for food and necessities. This being spring, outside windows and screens were scheduled, mowing for the first time, etc. Judy and I rolled up the sleeves and went after the work with gusto. We worked, really worked hard to get everything done…but didn’t.

I figured after church Sunday, I would be able to see the grandchildren, then finish our work. We were exhausted. I showered, laid down nearly comatose, and aches and pains with restless leg syndrome paid me a visit. I had to get up and take ibuprofen to sleep. It worked.
I awoke Sunday morning too late to even attempt to get ready for services. Guilt, my arch-enemy’s favorite tool, paid me a visit. I also saw that someone with a serious issue had tried to text me when reviewing my messages. For about an hour we talked over his problem. God gave me words to help him and I believe he was helped. I figured that since the day’s plans were already ruined, I would get back on the chores, so she and I went back at it.
As we were doing work, our neighbor, and elderly gentleman in poor health was riding his mower on a slant about ten feet behind us. We waved and yelled hello, as he did our way. Simultaneously, Judy and I saw the mower’s wheels tip, and the neighbor’s eyes flashed a big uh-oh. We darted over Judy grabbing the back, I holding up the front of the huge mower, the neighbor slid off of the mower, killing the engine.
He threw it in neutral and the three of us steered the mower to flat ground. I believe he would have been killed or permanently maimed in that short tumble had we not been there.
We went about our work. I didn’t get to see the grandchildren, go to the NA meeting, or the evening AA meeting. I sat on the bed thanking God for the great weather and apologizing again for missing services. The thought immediately came to my mind, “had I accomplished my plans today, my friend would not have received the help, my neighbor, well, I believe his wife may be making his arrangements today.” 
God is good all of the time, never doubt that. After God energized me to recognize His presence always, and guilt slithered away from me, these passages came to mind:
ADONAI directs a person’s steps and He delights in his ways. Ps.37:23 
A man’s steps are ordered by ADONAI, so how can a person understand his own ways? Prov.20:24
A person may plan his way, but ADONAI directs his steps. Prov.16:9 
                                                                                (Complete Jewish Bible)
My plans and every intention I have may be good, but good for who? Me, ultimately. You may have the same good intentions, but you find yourself on a complete opposite path, a different job, suddenly moving or in a different church, or even in a bad place you didn’t plan. Stop, thank God for where your feet are that moment, then listen and think with your heart. This is the place your spirit may see God’s goodness in Christ, you surrender, and healing comes to your body and mind.
Don’t stop going to church, recovery meetings, or planning. But when plans fail, remember He is present with a better plan for you.

Wants and Needs

When I sobered up through AA, I knew it was God’s doing. He led me to AA, AA helped lead me back to God. I saw Him in a new light and He turned the Lights on for me to see His loving hands guiding me, and protecting me throughout my life.

Epiphanies came often through recovery meetings. My views on religion were shattered. I suddenly had clarity and a truer view of life’s meanings. I had wants and needs lifelong that brought everything but happiness. Thought’s like; If only I had money, if only I was born into wealth, if only she was my woman, if only….

Nothing satisfied. What I needed, I did not want. What I wanted, I thought I needed. As time passed and I acquired things, went places, and became friends with those who might boost my name and reputation, emptiness resulted. I ended up broken, divorced, and a daily drunk, grasping for more, needing and wanting the truth to show up. That truth I sought was that I was right. I was an empty shell that arrogantly knew better than everyone else. How foolish.

Epiphany That Removed The Scales From My Eyes
In recovery, you hear a lot of crazy things. You also hear God speak through others. My moment of clarity came in a meeting one day, crushing my beliefs, my supposed needs, and selfish wants. It may have been an AA member speaking, but it was Jesus’ words screaming at me:
 …”let the greater among you become like the younger, and the one who rules
          like the one who serves…I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22:26-27

Did I want joy, peace, and love? No, I needed them. Did I want to know my purpose in life? I needed to know, I needed to know that my previous thoughts of purpose was twisted as well. Did I want to know my life, in the end, was not a total waste? NO, I had to know.
If I want purpose, and the benefits of love, joy, and peace that accompany, I had to go second in life, everyone else go first…I had to serve.

Here was real life, total satisfaction, a path leading to the Master Servant’s mysteries, secrets known but hidden. Pointing others to find their need to know how to want the real Truth is all I will ever need, all I want….hang the rest.

I hope my thoughts here are helpful to you. I hope you discover it is about you, how you see life through people, places, and things. The Greatest Servant who ever lived, died, and rose bodily from the dead, still serves as your personal attorney, thwarting the accusations from the evil one. Look at what you want and need. If you want and need to know your purpose with all of the perks, retain Christ Jesus as your lawyer. He will work out the details.

Shalom to all.

Hide and Seek

We played the game as children. In fact, I play it with my grand children when they stop over. I always try to make them think I’ll never find them. “Where are you,” I’ll say, their little giggles gives them away. Hide and seek with “pappy,” they call me, will always be a good memory they will retain.

The cares of life have often caused me to continue to play hide and seek. I hide when in a crowd, a group, or even a family gathering. I hide my troubles and feelings most of the time. That isn’t stressful to me. I do not turn the problems inwardly hiding them, hoping they will disappear. I found a hiding place. If I stay within that hidden place, like my grand children, when the storms of life gather with intent to discourage me or even destroy me, I can giggle.

“For He will conceal me in his shelter on the day of trouble, he will hide me in the folds of his tent, he will set me on a high rock”…Ps.27:5 CJB

“You who live in the shelter of Elyon, (Most High), who spend your nights in the shadow of Shaddai, (Almighty), who say of Adonai, ‘My refuge! My Fortress! My God in whom I trust!’ -he will rescue you from the trap of the hunter and from the plague of calamities: he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge”…Ps.91:1-4 CJB

The rules of this hide and seek I speak of, allows the player to hide and seek at the same time. We humans are always looking for some hidden treasure of sorts. Most often, that treasure turns out to be gravel, not gold. The person we were sure was the one, is more like two, or three. The one good quality they had came with two or more bad qualities. The car we just had to have was a lemon, the dream home turned out to be a nightmare, that drink turned into a life of drunkenness, etc., etc. So we may learn to look before we leap into a search to realize dreams and hopes that are mostly unrealistic.

There is a solution that satisfies the seeker. That is, for those are followers of Christ. But anyone who seeks him, like the magi who sought the child Jesus two thousand years ago, are wise to do so. Only he can satisfy the longing in every heart. Seeking is required. But in the discovery of Christ, the individual continues to seek him out…HE always has more to give and that never stops.

“So if you were raised along with the Messiah, (that means your life has been changed from giving you to him), then seek the things above, where the Messiah is sitting at the right hand of God. Focus your minds on the things above, not on things here on earth. For you have died (to self), and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.” Col.3:1-4 CJB

“”When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly, ‘and I will let you find me,’ says Adonai.” Jer.29:13-14

This hide and seek has no loser, you always win with hiding from the insanity of wrong-doing, of a life totally given to self, its appetites and desires. I have used the illustration of Biblical text to show how this hide and seek works. I have used more scripture than normal, that’s good. Here is one more:

“The clever see trouble coming and hide; the simple go on and pay the penalty.” Prov.22:3 CJB (Complete Jewish Bible, it is an excellent resource)

Be assured of this; seek trouble and it is yours. Don’t hide from danger and you will own it. To know what trouble is does not take a twelve year college degree. We know. To those that hide in the “Rock” trouble may hide from you in time. Those who seek God through relationship, along with serving mankind, and pleasing God by actions and attitudes, blessings will not hide from you, favor will follow you, and go ahead of you, everyday.

I pray those little grandchildren I’m so blessed with learn what to seek in life…or rather who. I pray they hide in Chist and hide from following the herd. I pray that you do likewise. Be well.

Failure to Understand the Story

The Big Books of AA and NA have examples as to what happens and causes so many that fail to recover. In recovery meetings, we say they didn’t “get it” when someone relapses. Celebrate Recovery offers explanations as to why the failure, being based on a “Christ-centered” recovery from various types of addictions. If you are taking the time to read this post, you may be a victim of relapse, or know of a loved friend or family member that has been.

I’ll attempt to get to the point. Everyone has this issue. You may not be a drinker, use drugs, be a gambler or hooked on porn…thank God. But you have flaws, vice, or sins that you deal with.

An example being someone who worries. This individual constantly fears what may happen. Because of worry, the nag at their spouse and children because they don’t comply to their repeated advice. They become angry over anything that goes against what they think is right, i.e. the government’s stance on various social issues. Or, they may be paralyzed by fears, ending up in deep depression.

This type of individual needs recovery too. The problem is that few people see worry, nagging, or anger as sinful. They feel above the addicts because they don’t smoke, or chew, or run with those who do. Hint: they need as much help as any alcoholic…they’re hooked.

Jesus taught using parables, or stories. People love to listen to stories. A good orator knows to keep the attention of a crowd, tell a story. One of Jesus’ parables was given with what seemed to be no final result or moral. In Mark 4, he tells of the farmer scattering seed for crop.

Some of the seed fell on the wayside and was eaten by birds. Some fell on rocky soil, sprouted, but the sun burned it up. Some fell among the thorns, which choked the seed, killing it. But some of the seed landed in a fertile loam that grew and yielded many times, perhaps making up for all of the failed crop. The end.

Jesus left the story there, and later, told the disciples the parable’s meaning. The Word is the seed. The scripture may reveal a message of recovery from any addiction, whether substances or emotions. His words explain, in my estimation, why so many fail in recovery, in business, in their faith, and in life. And why some succeed almost effortlessly.

The birds that ate the seed was the adversary and his imps. His aim is confusion and distraction. He is successful through many means, knowing human weaknesses, desires, and sloth. He capitalizes with fears like shame and loss of friends. He loves to complicate the simplicity of recovery by making “doing right” for wimps, totally uncool.

The seed burned up by the sun is those who accept the Word with joy, but the moment any sort of persecution, or trouble arises, they move on or back to their old life.

The seed choked out by the thorns is those that hear the message, but the cares of life, the deception of fame or wealth and living the life of the glamorous is their desired choice.

The one who hears the message, accepts it, and surrenders to do what it takes to find real life, is where the seed fell into the soil and took a strong yielding root. The Word thrived in these individuals and not only fed them, leading them to a life of joy and freedom, but also yielding so much crop, potentially feeding masses.

The teaching Jesus brought in this open-ended parable gives the religious a lot of ammunition to condemn those hearing but non-conforming. My suggestion to the religious is to unload your weapon. That goes as well for those who judge others in recovery as they hold court on the relapser. Stop and think. 

The message Jesus taught is true, the listener has heard, the seed is sown. We do not know where the seed falls in every person. Think and pray for God’s best. Expect that wayward Christian to return, the fallen addict, alcoholic, or any addicted to anything to give up and return broken, ready to comply. When they do, show how deeply the seed landed in you…accept, love, and help them.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Seeing Where I Walk

I was looking at a coyote sitting still, possibly drawing a bead on its next meal. It was around three in the morning when I first noticed the animal’s presence. It was very dark that night, and visibility was limited, but I looked its direction, curious as to what it was stalking. The night hound stayed completely motionless and I became impatient. I shined my flashlight in that direction only to see the coyote was actually a tree stump. I was convinced it was a living creature I gazed at for that hour or more. Darkness can play tricks on what my eyes tell my brain I am seeing.

So it is in my spiritual life. It takes the Light to help me see ahead. Being pressed within my desires and needs will cause me to look away from the light and focus on personal fulfillment. What I see in the dark I call God’s will, but it is a deception of my spiritual eyesight, telling my heart I see the path correctly…go that direction.

So I walk that way. My desire for the Holy begins to fade. The hunger to do good is then obscured by experiencing personal pleasure, good food, good fun,...”good Lord, where have You gone? Why have You moved away from me?” I question. Thinking I know God’s will takes a broad turn when what I thought I saw goes awry and I feel removed from doing anything right.

I to trip each step, getting further from having the ability to see spiritually at all. The path is no path at all. I am fully among the thorns and the briars and see no way out of this trap. I need  light to see.

“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun that shines ever brighter till the full light of day.” Prov.4:18

You have been there too, I’m sure. God doesn’t move away from us. We move away from Him, looking for that which is not. We always tend to think our eyes aren’t deceived, or we can’t be wrong…we are followers of Christ, we are clean and sober and free of addictions. This is the home of constant error, the arena of spiritual defeat from arrogant pride, not leaning on the Eternal and trusting Him. We are restless, bored from doing the “norm.”

I experience pain from not looking at the lighted path ahead and winding up swamped in the quick-sand of sin and ignorance because I think I see spiritual matters so clearly. The only way to remain in the light and see trouble ahead is to reject the notion I have arrived and have the answers the world seeks.

Prayer gives me sight.
Prayer isn’t tossing up foolish repetitive words toward heaven hoping they stick. Praying with purpose brings results as Paul says he prayed for the Ephesians:
“I pray that He will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which He has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance He has promised His people.” Eph.1:18
This type of praying in faith moves God into action for us and far transcends “now I lay me down to sleep”… Even though Paul prayed this for others, pray that for yourself.

The Word gives me sight. 
“Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Ps. 119:105
If my focus is on God’s precepts, totally convinced His Word is truth and my steps are ordered by His decrees, I will stay in the Light of truth, unable to fall. But I don’t, we don’t. We all tend to stray from the Light from time to time. The Word, however, implanted in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, brings to our attention that we are drifting away. This is why we need to give time to the Word daily.

My moments with the phony coyote were comical. I also laugh at myself after I am drawn back into the Light spiritually as well. The truth is, I seem to spend too much time off of the path until the pain is unbearable. God’s mercy and grace is awesome! Like Jesus said, He comes looking for me, the lost sheep, misguided by self. Thank You God for the Light.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.