Complacently Proud

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

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

Relapse: Powerless Grad School

What causes anyone to return to misery and pain they had found freedom from, I may never figure out. I know addiction has power over the addicted, so I am not finger pointing. I may never know why, but I do know how it happens for many. Some people have what is called, “chronic relapse syndrome,” that they seem to have no control over. “I was in line to pay for my fuel, and I saw the cooler and my favorite beer, and then that was it,” you may hear them say. I really do not believe that.
When does it Einstein?  
I believe relapse happens long before the drink, before the drive past the old dope house and being dragged inside from the addiction. The day the one recovering thinks they do not need a meeting, don’t feel like calling their sponsor, have no intention to help another needing help, forgets to pray, the return to hell is on. The little things we did to get clean and sober, somehow becomes unnecessary to us, so we taper off a little here, a little there, then, oops! Those vital “little things” become a major task when we see doing them as work, not seeing each of these are blessings from God to teach us how to live again.
Think, Think, Think
Remember when you arrived? How you felt? When hope was found? When family and friends began to trust you again? No? You don’t remember? …That is the beginning, forgetting. You were eager to get to a meeting….now you find them monotonous. You were surprised strangers wanted to help you….now they bug you with their little “sayings” and advice. You were shocked that when you asked God to help you stay sober each day, it really worked….now, it’s been days since you even thought about God, or asking for His help.
These are a few of the many reasons for relapse, yet what caused the complacency is no longer avoiding known “triggers” that influence your thoughts. Hanging out with the old crowd to show them how tough you can be but not drinking is a danger zone. Isolating yourself because you can’t be around people right now, is another. Getting into the nightly TV rut, listening to the music you always drank to, compromising your boundaries, a couple more reasons.
How can I get it back?
Here’s a few short ideas. I am no different than you. I have struggled myself with all of these simple little daily to-dos, so don’t feel you are unique.
1) Have a morning program. The first conscious moments ask God to help you stay sober today. Have a reading regimen, putting wisdom and positive thoughts in your mind before starting any tasks. Find 3-5 things you are grateful for each morning. Reflect in meditation about where you are now, and where you came from.
2) Go to a recovery meeting as often as possible. If you are in a funk from the same meetings, change up, go elsewhere. This is the place where you discover those little “things” you do have a major effect on your recovery. Being around like-minded people brings the notion that you are not the only broken person needing help. I am so grateful for every meeting, and sorry I didn’t get to more of them.
3) Be available to help another. Ask God each day for an opportunity to help someone, anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone in recovery, maybe an elderly neighbor. You will never understand what serving others does for you and your recovery until you get involved. “I don’t have time,” is a way of saying, “I don’t want to.” If you asked God for someone you can help, He will provide the time.
If you are complacent with your recovery, take that as serious, as serious as though you have already used or drank. In reality your mind is already uncomfortably back doing what earned you a seat in recovery.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

How to be Comfortably Numb

To rest on our laurels is to position ourselves for utter and complete disaster. Complacency is a place of seeming peace, but in truth a place of darkness. That is where I see myself way too often. I have a good job, a place to live, food, clothing, a vehicle to beat around in…all is well. I am grateful to God for all of His provision and remember times I had those things but not the gratitude. When I feel comfortable, I need to make myself uncomfortable, or I’ll become numb to others around me, and my spiritual fitness.
It is too easy to lay back for several days in a row, not even having the slightest hint of returning to old thoughts and ways of living, and wind up smack-dab in the middle of the old ways. Too tired to pray, to busy blogging to read the Word, and I had a tough day, I think I’ll skip the recovery meeting, or church service, I convince myself. I suddenly become interested in things I could care less about like primetime TV, and reality shows that waste my time.
I used to walk 2-4 miles several days each week. When I began writing my book I walked a couple of times weekly. In time I was so busy with my book, recovery meetings, and mentoring, I quit completely. It shows and I feel it. Getting back to that form, and losing the 10 lbs, (all abs), I gained with complacent living is really tough. It is the same way spiritually for me. I am not legalistic regarding how much time in prayer or Bible reading I do daily. Truth is, I know when I skip a day of devotion to the very One I care the most shows, and I feel it.
I may live long without walking those miles daily, or doing 100 pushups each day, but the quality of my life is affected greatly. I remain a follower of Jesus whether I spend X amount of time in His presence daily or not, but the quality of my spiritual life and conduct is affected…ask those around me at work, and at home. If I do not notice that, they do. I have become comfortably numb.
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” Matt.15:8
I can play the part of spiritual goodness and understanding, but in the quietness of my home, alone in thought, I’m thinking, why have I allowed myself to become complacent…again? I enjoy relaxing, that must be it. So I try to justify my actions, and the next thought enters, well, I’m always or normally at meetings or doing stuff for others, I need some me time. I know then that I have fallen into resting on my laurels and need to shake off the numbness, and attend to others, beginning with God.
Do you have these times of sitting back in comfort because of all those things you do and have done for others? I hope you don’t. I hope that this is something unique to me, but i’m sure that’s not so…you have them too. Or maybe you do nothing for nobody except your family or friends. This is the danger zone. This is the place where new addictions can easily formulate in your thoughts, and turn into action. Porn, gambling, adulterous affairs, are easily accessed via the internet, and can take you down a road of complete dispair and misery. Run for your life.
Run to God if you’re in this predicament. Find others to help. Read a good book, the Good Book. Spend time with loved ones and family members. Be wary of becoming comfortably numb…its like a drug, ready to destroy you and me.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith