Choosing Where to Live

It is nice to live in a place where the climate is always suitable, the neighborhoods are friendly and crime free, and of course, everywhere you look you see beauty. That would be ideal, a Shangri-la, I suppose. That is totally non-existent, I believe. Where we live in this physical world may not be our choice, but how we live in our environment mentally, is a choice, mostly. That is, even in captivity from our enemies, and placed in prison, we still have a choice to dwell there in tranquil state of mind.

I know that is really a stretch. I say this living in a “free” country, in my home (the banks home), with electricity and running water, and gratefully healthy and mentally stable…I believe. I can refer to the stories of men and women imprisoned for their faith in Christ, for POWs, et al, coming through extreme difficulty, or ending in a martyrs death, yet through it all, had peace, had joy.

From my own experience, I have known great difficulty since arriving in recovery from alcoholism. Some of these experiences may have mentally crippled anyone, including myself, if not for God’s grace. Whether those who I mentioned, or myself, or others in similar situations, our choices now are paramount to survival and sanity. Preparation is key in any case. Prior to self-incarceration in our mind’s prison, or imprisonment from war, or beliefs, or whatever, filling the mind with good, with knowledge and understanding, can make us free in chains.

There is a place in the that may cripple the strongest of wills. That place is knowing truth, then for pleasure’s sake, rejecting truth, ending up in spiritual confusion, an unholy bondage.

By the rivers of Babylon we wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. Psalm 137 (regarding Judah’s captivity in Babylon)

Many people arrive in recovery from addictions, find hope and recover. They find, as it were, a new life, a new song, moving to into a new neighborhood in their hearts and minds. They learn to live in gratitude…a truly lovely place. They begin to see beauty in nearly everything, as God takes them each step forward. They still face major obstacles and unbearable situations. The choice to leave the old neighborhood of self-service, where crime ruled and misery pressed every thought, brought liberty and order.

Others prefer their captors chains, for now. The song-less life in darkness, hung up on the “good old days” misery, trying to recapture the feeling of that first high, their first drunken experience, and sexual experience. It never returns, forget it. There, joy and peace are exchanged for drama, for turmoil, phoniness, hoping for the next buzz to “get right.” The songs there point to rebellion, or to  enlargement of self thinking, “Now everyone will know who I AM.” 

Before evil raises it’s ugliness, make the choice to move to that neighborhood of wonderment where God creates new things just for you. Refuse the self-way preferring His way. Fill your mind with God, your actions be Christ’s, your direction of His Spirit, guiding you to discover living free of chains in your neighborhood. There is no limit in where He will take the surrendered will.

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Announcing: A New Book

Under the InfluenceThis is the cover from my book soon to be released, mid summer I hope. I hope it really helps many. It took a year to write and a year to go through the publishing process. It took 18 years of addiction to drink and drug use for the experience, totalling 20 years in the making.

God lets nothing waste. He uses everything, even our waywardness and sin when we become willing, when we accept our condition, when we are broken enough to say, “not my will…only Yours will do.”

Alcoholics and drug addicts are the focus of this daily guide, but anyone with any addiction can apply this principles of this book. Everyone has an addiction, no one is exempt. The addiction may not be physical. You may be hooked on worry, lying, anger, controlling, etc. Or your addiction could be shopping, gambling, porn, or anything you focus on…even your children. God wants you free of any and all idols because they enslave you. Selah.

The one important event in everyone’s day that is the focal point of the day is awakening from sleep. Those first moments are the moments that direct our actions and attitudes for the rest of our waking hours. For those desiring to stay clean and sober, they have to ask God’s help to stay sober, and then fill their mind with good, remembering where God has brought them out of. This is key in living free. Each day’s devotional takes a few moments. Anything that may take longer would not be for most in recovery, given our short attention span. I hope you get the opportunity to check it out, it should be available soon. God bless you all!

Understanding Grace?

I don’t think I have any right to judge without expecting the same judgment in return. I really want to see people through God’s eyes. I know that isn’t possible, if for one moment I could see the worst person who ever lived through God’s eyes, my life on earth would be useless. His eyes see through grace that transcends the greatest love I could have for another human. If God allowed me to see any person with His eyes, the rest of my time on earth would be devoted to that individual’s needs. His love doesn’t compute in our brains. He loves all 6+ billion people on this planet, that is multi-tasking!

We can forget the questions of evolution, age of the earth, or if there was a big bang, and why these unanswered questions cause people to doubt God’s existence. His love for all could make many doubt, because it doesn’t seem possible.

The love of God is greater far, than any tongue or pen can tell.                         

  It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell.

Those days or moments in our lives that make us seem so far from God, because we don’t feel we live up to His expectation of us, or because we blew our testimony, doesn’t dent the grace He shows us. He never stops reaching for us with unconditional and unmerited favor. Grace is received by faith, totally free, totally incomprehensible. Acceptance of this free gift is realized the moment we believe, and forgotten the moment we become religious.

When I, the believer begin this line of reasoning, I need to pray more, I need to read the Bible more, I need to get closer to God, I need to ask God to be with me today, I need to get to church more, and so forth, religion has set in, I move into the realm of the spiritually dead, and rigor mortis sets in, spiritually speaking.

That is hard to accept for me. I figure that somewhere along the line that there is a price to pay. I know that I have to “work out” my salvation…the Bible says so. I have to work for it. In a short time, my spiritual numbness becomes my spiritual dumbness. Then I can take my place in the pew with all of the rest of the religious atheists, praise God at church, give Him my whole being, and then take control back immediately after the service. I forget just that quickly…don’t WE.

I don’t need to pray more, study the Word more, visit the sick, imprisoned, or serve more. No siree, uh-uh, I WANT to! Grace is free received, freely given, I cannot earn this gift. Because of grace received, I desire to know God and crave any knowledge I can devour regarding Him. It is the goodness of God that led me to repentance, He was good to me before I ever knew Him. Now I want to defend what is said contrary about Him by ignorance and unbelief, those things different than what He says of Himself in the Word. I don’t have to say God, just be with me today, or just be present in service tonight…O please, that’s ridiculous. He is Jehovah Shammah, always here, there, now!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Is.55:8-9 (NKJV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph.2:8-9 (NKJV)

We cannot work our way to salvation, nor heaven. We cannot clean up our “act” to become acceptable to God, then repent…that’s the dead religious thinking that many of us knew before Christ, you know, that thinking that we can help poor old God out. No, forget understanding it, just receive, it believe, it then give it away to keep. Oxymoronic, paradoxical, baffling, isn’t it. I keep it by giving it away. I lose it by figuring it out, or trying to with religious thought. If we just accept this unmeritted favor from God, and remain grateful for it’s freedom, we will not fall into religion, but develop a relationship that will give us a hint of the mystery of God’s goodness.

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