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!”

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Family and Fellowship

This past weekend I had the privilege of being involved in my church’s 100 yr celebration. I also had the pleasure of the weekend off from work.  My parents, now 85, flew up from Florida for the event and I was blessed to have them stay with me, along with my sister Karen, whom they live with. I had a great time seeing, and of fellowship with people I never thought I would see again. The music was awesome, the praise and thanksgiving was moving, to say the least. Many members and staff deserve honor for the hard work. What a family! What a fellowship!

This weekend had a message for the recovering alcoholic and addict, that reflects the statement heard often in meetings; Meeting Makers Make It. My take is this; fellowship with like-minded people, with life-like problems, and realize recovery taught in the “Big Books” and the Bigger Book, the B-I-B-L-E. (Yes, that’s the book for me)

Our recovery hinges on truths we know works for everyone mentally able to understand. Those who think they are unique, able to willpower sober living, (the insane), or one of these days they will suddenly sober up and start attending, miss the greatest blessings ever by misunderstanding the importance of fellowship and family. I laughed more, loved more, and renewed my desire to DO more this weekend than a year of partying at the local bar.

I made it to one NA meeting, and two AA meetings as well as Sat and Sun meetings at church, to see both side of the family! I am grateful for the riches of God’s mercy and kindness, allowing me to be among His family again….what I thought would never happen and certainly do not deserve.

The weekend consummated with a gathering of my parents, sister, children and grandchildren gathering at my home to say farewell to mom and pop. Grateful even more, this would have never happened had I remained entangled in addiction to self-serving. The message to you feeling hopeless is don’t quit! Keep working the steps to recovery, get the sponsor, pray, and by all means….get to meetings and fellowship. This is key in your spiritual fitness and restoring relationships with your birth-family.

Think about who you hang with, your friendships or fellowships and family. Do these build you to live without use?, do they nag you to stop using?, do they enable your using?, do they even care? Come and join the family! Hope is found in meetings of AA, NA, CR….Eternal life with God’s family. If you are a user of dope or alcohol, of porn, gambling, etc., don’t kid yourself, you need both desperately. You come looking to receive, you will in ways you cannot imagine.

Eyeballing Death, with Joy

“People living deeply have no fear of death.” Anais Nin
“Reality means you live until you die…the real truth is nobody wants reality.” Chuck Palahniuk
I can say, without reservation, I have never seen so many people within my sphere of friends and acquaintances, passing away with such frequency. What is happening? It isn’t the elderly, that would be expected. People under retirement age, most less than 60 years, are entering into eternity long before the average age of a man or woman to live. Working with alcoholics and addicts would cause one to think that isn’t so odd, you deal with that often. It is not people with addictions leading this parade of sorrow. Sickness disease, and accidents are the causes of late, and my mind is thinking darkly, “who’s next?”
Death can have different effects on different people. When an acquaintance passes, I normally have little emotional reaction to their passing…at first. It usually smacks me in the face a couple of weeks later. I have this sudden realization, they’re gone, lost to the ages! Memories of times we talked, or were together in school or partying fill my thoughts. I then see how frail life is. Questions come into my mind of what their final days were like, or after they were diagnosed, how did they react?…how would I react?
I have so much gratitude to God for the grace He has shown me through Christ. That grace extends over all of my life, casting those fears of death and living, that could give me a paralysis to think and act in joy through sorrow that is personal, knowing my end is the beginning of life. Those passages spoken at funerals, the 23rd Psalm, Paul’s writings in 1 Cor.15, open up thanksgiving within, amid weeping and grief around me.
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “death is swallowed up in victory,” O death where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” 1Cor.15:54-55
Faith, hope, and love in Christ is the internal knowledge that eternal life awaits those who trust in the Lord Jesus, that we who trust in Him shall stand in the sunlight of His presence on that day the sun never again sets. There is no pipe dream, no explanation to be given to the unbeliever. This reality of what will be is born in “new birth” as we put all our hope and dreams in Christ. The joy, however, comes with the revealed presence Who is present in us now in our sorrows and grief, knowing that He has taken the sting of death, the darkness of the grave away, and shepherds us, bearing our sorrow and grief for us.
Hear me well here. No other belief system, no other god of man, no educational reasoning, none, offers what Jesus offers when you ask Him for mercy, and forgiveness, and to enter your heart as Savior and Lord. He has no rejection, never says no to that request. If you want to eyeball death peace and joy, make the request. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

“Never”

Lessons in life always come with a price. Cheap, exspensive, or priceless are words I use to describe those events that taught me through pain, normally, how to, or not to conduct my existence. Of course, the cheap lesson would reflect a lesson without pain. An exspensive lesson is reflective of learning through monetary consequence like, I should have slowed down through that speed zone, I hope the fine is not more than $500!” The priceless lesson, however, is always a doozey. That’s the “big one” that can cost you everything short of death. Who would think that a simple statement could possibly turn your world upside down?

“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Prov.21:23 (NKJV)

I have observed and experienced how a statement can do just that. When I was younger, I was very involved in a particular church group, teaching, working with youth, asst. music “dude,” janitor, deacon….and arrogant. I had the “works” down pat. I didn’t think I could fall from grace because God “needed” me. Observing worldly behavior of the unbelievers, I made this foolish statement, How do they live like that? I’ll NEVER BE like them! I could NEVER LIVE that way! That’s the short of what happened. It began with words, and ended in actions that were “priceless.” Eighteen years of debaucherous living ensued.

“You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth.” Prov.6:2 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1Cor.10:12 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Prov.18:21

My observation of others in recovery with a “never” problem, have made this statement, I said I would NEVER be like my parents, all they knew how to do was scream and yell, drink and party, and my life was not going to be like that! Yet, there they set in a recover meeting, just like their parents, broken, desperate, lives completely unmanageable. As I work with others in recovery, one of the first things I try to instill in their thinking is to consider changing the way they talk.

I really don’t care how people talk in society. Seeing the perceived “intelligent” speak with foul, offensive words is bad enough. But when their words are mimicked by society at large, because of their status, or they’re so “cool,” those words become an infection that does irreparable damage to their admirers. However, I do not want to make the mistake of saying, I’ll NEVER talk that way. No siree, that’s too “priceless” of a statement for me. In fact, I try not to judge that person either. To even think I’m above that way of speaking causes me to stop and alter my thoughts immediately.

I have to say that the statement I made all of those years ago, along with my pride, took me down a long road of “hard living” for myself, and caused loved ones much pain. But today I am able to see how God uses every event in our lives to His glory, even our sin. This must be clear, He did not tempt me, nor open the bottle for me. He did not cause my sin. I chose that path. He cared enough to allow me to walk that path and now, as I relate this priceless lesson, the one, or the many heading down that treacherous road, may change direction. I pray that would be the case.

“Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” Prov.17:27

Think about words you speak. There is an ripple effect to every action, and every word spoken to others…and to ourselves. Self talk, self-affirmations are good, or at least okay. But I have learned how to use them in light of God’s Word, or in this manner using the word never; with God’s help I will NEVER.

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