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.

Watergate’s Gift to Us

The events of 1972’s Watergate scandal left a dark stain on American politics…putting it mildly. The truth is, that incident ruined political careers, sent men with unblemished records to prison, pressured Richard Nixon into retirement. Believe it or not, something wonderful came out of that dastardly affair.

Chuck Colson was one of those men that ended up in prison. He passed from this life in 2012, but not before the second part of his life shook the gates of darkness good, really good. He became a follower of Christ feeling the weight of the scandal, his spirit broken, wanting answers, or wanting to die.

That conversion was followed by his starting prison ministries and angel tree which is a program for the children of prisoners. He authored many books, held a daily radio commentary, began the Colson Center…to name a few of his accomplishments after coming to faith in Jesus. (There is more to say, but I’m trying to shorten posts for readability.)

What Satan meant for evil for Colson, God meant for good. Who knows the mind of God? Like Paul wrote in Romans 11:33; God’s ways are past finding out! And Isaiah 55:8-9, God declares His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Mortal minds could never conceive of a plan like this. Thousands upon thousands of lives have been changed by….Watergate?

It really is not that scandal transforming lives, but rather the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of one willing to give their gift, risking embarrassment and scorn, falling on the grace of God in total surrender.

 How does this relate to recovery from addictions to drink and drugs, or anything else?You can allow your past to entrap you for the rest of your life if you feel God couldn’t or wouldn’t possibly use your story to bring hope to others. Chuck’s story is a lesson of hope for you. God may have used Chuck’s prominence, but throughout church history, God has taken ordinary people and done extraordinary things. Be recklessly willing to give your brokenness for God’s glory and perhaps someone may be writing about you.

Merry Christmas.

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 no holiday season for one. That means no 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.

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.

Song of the Captives

Life’s lessons come at a very high price at times. Seldom does anything make us a better person by osmosis but rather experience. I have found that giving serious regard to the lessons of history can steer me away from having to experience very bad things. Parents warn us about what may be if we do wrong, and we may comply. I can say I was not that type. If my parents told me it was bad, I may have believed them but found it necessary to check it out. Shoplifting and skipping school seemed to be the right wrong things to do, so I did. I was a real rebel. The price paid was painful, very painful.

Wising up didn’t appeal to me until I was out of my teens…er, twen…thirt..into my forties when I began to sense my mortality. To keep it short, I have found lessons in scripture, of Israel’s history to be the story of me…of us all. We have choices to make as Israel did. Life or death, blessing or cursing, freedom or captivity, and the directions that take us to the choices are laid out elaborately so we know how to choose right. In short, Israel chose to reject God, and captivity resulted. So did I.
Deep into my rebellion I became so self-indulgent that led to alcoholism and drug use. I was a captive. The joy of life, my hopes, ambitions or dreams were gone. There was no song in my heart, no reason to sing. I was a slave to self-service. Those close to me eventually wondered, what’s wrong with him? I had no song to sing about this strange land I was living in.
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“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, ‘sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ 
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”  Ps.137: 1-4
This passage and the entire message of do right and all will be well with you, or don’t do right and the consequences of wrong will follow, rings true to us all. Addictions and self-indulging behaviors we live out now have placed us into a captivity that has removed any understanding of a joy-filled existence. What seemed like fun, or felt good at the time was deceptive and led to a compulsion to revisit a feeling that never seems to return. The fun we knew left with our refusal to say, “this is wrong, I cannot do this.” But now we are captive to our desires, the music died.
In time, God had mercy on Israel once more. He returned them to the land He promised them. That story is powerful. That story is for us to see the truth in as well. God has provided a way for you and I to return to freedom in life. No more addiction to dope, no need for another stiff drink that turns you into a stiff. This lesson is the lesson you can agree is really the truth for all once experienced, and kept. It is the freedom that comes from dying to self, to the norm of what we think is acceptable today, choosing to believe in Christ’s redemptive blood for your sin. Just ask God for that gift. He will not refuse. Then stand strong, stay free, and sing.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Gal.5:1
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Prosperity Gospel

There are many controversies of late within the Christian faith. One major issue is the so-called “prosperity gospel,” and those opposed to it. The opposition view that message as anti-gospel, apostacy among believers. Their war against the name it and claim it teachers are reasonable, but not entirely correct. You see, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of prosperity for the body, soul, and spirit of all who believe.

Sadly, the real truth of their argument seems to be that the popularity of the prosperity message is more popular than the message those opposed to it preach, and they don’t like it. They seem to be envious more than concerned about believers falling into folly.

As a follower of Jesus, I realize that not every day is a zip-adee-do-dah day. I realize that those that live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution, and to know Jesus in the power of His resurrection is also to share in His sufferings. But I also realize the joy, peace, and love fills my life by following Jesus far out-weighs the suffering. According to the Peter, the man who walked and talked to Jesus on a daily basis, belief in Jesus is very profitable.

In 1 Peter 2, Peter gives us a brief look of the prosperity message he preached:

  • we are living stones built into a spiritual house
  • we are a chosen generation
  • a royal priesthood
  • a holy nation
  • God’s own special people, called from darkness into light

(vs.5, 9-10)

Sure, he speaks of hardships we go through as we live for Christ. So does Paul the apostle, who goes even further speaking of such hardships he personally suffered. But Paul too, expressed the glory of God in the life of the believer when he said in Ephesians 2:1, we are made ALIVE in Christ! The writer of Hebrews also brings our attention that as a result of the sacrifice of Christ, shedding His innocent blood for our sin, we are reconciled to God and may walk right into His throne room and boldly ask to have our needs met. Does this sound anything like a gospel of poverty?

I know that everything we experience in our life of serving Christ is not so glorious on the surface. But in the realm of the spirit it is. Jesus said there is nothing that we give, money, land, goods, even ourselves that isn’t repaid a hundred times in this life and a bonus of eternal life beyond. But the real clincher is this; by our belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit supernaturally comes into, and abides in our hearts…forever! Think on that. A member of the Great Holy Trinity…in our hearts! True prosperity.

All of these things are foreign and totally impossible to the unbeliever. No MRI, x-ray, or CT scan can see into the spirit of man. Sorrowfully, the unbeliever has no conception of man having a spirit and any of what is written above is only fantasy. Even more tragic is that we who are called into this life of prosperity refuse to accept its reality. Some say the gifts of the Spirit passed with the apostles. Others argue that our power is only in the written Word. We divide on issues of grace, free to all. With the division we keep the unbeliever in unbelief, and stifle and grieve the Holy Spirit.

You can bet there are charlatans preaching a different Christ, an unscathed life for those who follow Jesus. And they do it for money…your money. But if you think the Gospel is anything less than a message of prosperity, read what the Word says without allowing the nay-saying unbelieving “minister” to tell you how to believe. Read it and believe it is for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the truth to you and keep you from falling into folly.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep, and prosper you all.

A Change of Focus

There are endless words to help people trying to recover from addictions to, well, everything they struggle with. People in general do not like the truth that they have a problem, but we all do. When they do become aware of their problem, they want to fix it by willpower or continue to deny or ignore it all together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Dads…and Being One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Time for Tearing Your Clothes

In my last entry, I wrote about mixed messages people hear from Christian leaders. The war within the body of Christ is raging, while the world is spiraling downward. Christian leaders want to throw stones at Joel Osteen and the “prosperity message” as though that message is destroying people’s salvation, and they are the holy hammer intent on stopping this heresy. Poppycock. Before I entered into recovery from drug use and alcoholism, I stumbled onto a TV show, (Joel), and heard the message that God loved me, He wasn’t angry with me, and I wept, and repented.

I shortly thereafter went to recovery and returned to the Father like the prodigal I was. I also heard someone at my home praying the “sinner’s prayer” while watching that program, and gave their heart to Christ. Many I have talked to have done likewise. Like Joel O or hate him, people come to Christ through his ministry, and he does not talk against his accusers.

My message to these men who feel they have the whole council of God and feel “led” to steer us away from prosperity preachers is…just preach the Gospel, not your gospel.

I also receive dozens of emails that point out America’s fall from grace. These emails want to correct this country spiritually, steer us back to the way it began, godly and moral. I see the point and truly believe God directed the founding and the morality of the countries fathers. The problem is that they were not all godly and some owned slaves, and we don’t want to return to that way, ask any African-American.

These emails also end with the fear of what will happen to you on judgment day if you don’t forward the email…“if you are not ashamed of Christ, you’ll forward this,” they warn. I delete them. My salvation is not based on passing emails nor am I ashamed of Jesus. Many are, so the emails continue on.

The Great Provocation
Why America is on a moral downward trend has more to do with Christians than our godless government. Christians have arrived at the same place Israel arrived at when the spies returned from the land of promised and made this statement:

“But the men that went up with him (Caleb) said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” Numbers 13:29 KJV

Okay, God had delivered Israel out of Egypt with showing His power. God opened up the Red Sea and drowned the pursuing army trying to return them to slavery. So they are afraid of those people in Canaan? They must have decided that God was leaving the rest up to them, no longer helping them.

I want to tear my clothes in grief over how we provoke God by doubting He has become limited with age. He no longer heals or prospers. Confessing the Word is heresy and will not bring you favor. The gifts of the Spirit passed with the apostles, we have the Bible today. God is neatly packaged and very predictable. Paul wrote for us to covet earnestly the best gifts, but rather that we prophesy. But that is over. I wonder, if God withdrew these gifts, did He withdrawal salvation too? I really wish He could make up His mind.

I want to respect everyone’s beliefs. Sorry if I sound cynical, I don’t know it all. I have had it with our chasing after prosperity ministers and uppity know-it-all preachers. We only need to see Jesus, love Him, serve people He died for. I choose to believe nothing is too small or too great for God. I certainly do not want to provoke His anger by saying He can’t or He no longer will.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

O’ Leader, Where Art Thou?

You want to go to a great leadership seminar but don’t have the money? Well, I can’t float you a loan, but I can give you some advice in a few short minutes that saves you from three days of training. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not being an arrogant know-it-all. This advice comes from scripture and from training I have received over the decades in sales and church ministry training.

The first thing
If you are having success in a certain ministry, does it make you feel good to be recognized? Really, who doesn’t appreciate recognition for a job well done? Putting hours on end into service, and then dealing with those difficult “children of the Lord,” ought to be rewarded with at  recognition if nothing else, right?
WRONG!
Paul had to write the Corinthian church, reminding them they were still “carnal” because of the report he received that the church was dividing itself by boasting about which “big time evangelist” baptized them.

…”one of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’, still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?”…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel-not with human words of wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be EMPTIED of it’s power.” 1 Cor. 1:12-13, 17 (read the whole passage 10-17)

Die to applause, don’t worry about who gets credit. You are only leading by God’s grace in Christ. Needing praise for your “ministry” is “you centered” and will cause a power outage in your spirituality. “But it is my ministry, what God gave me to do.” you say. Really?

“All of me, none of God. Some of me, some of God. None of me, all of God.” anon.

The number two reason
Leader: Here is what we are going to do.
Helpers: I don’t know about that.
Leader: This is not subject to discussion.
Helpers: That’s messed up…that won’t work, I think I’ll find another church to attend.

Why have leaders that have no part in the ministry? Here’s why. You need them to lead the groups to follow YOUR agenda…WRONG. If you are here, return to Go, directly to go and do not collect $200. (monopoly players get that) It is not about you. If you think it is, resign immediately and get to celebrate recovery for your megotistic approach.

“For waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.” Prov.24:6
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Prov.27:17

Please hear what I’m trying to say. Give your ministry a real nice burial. Take what God has given you in talent as a seed to plant in others. The idea is to multiply your talent, magnify Christ, glorify God, and the Holy Spirit will lead people to what God is doing in your group. You plant, another waters…and God gives the increase. Paradoxically, you give praise away, God increases you.


We give nothing that God does not honor, when we give it to, or in honor of Him.

I hope you give these two reasons some thought. There are others, perhaps for another time.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.