Sure Recovery

Every meeting I attend has changed of late. It is not the structure, the topics, nor the methods that have changed. It is me. So many that attended have lost their lives to either returning to their misery, or have passed away from sickness of some sort. Each meeting gives me pause to wonder who may not make the next meeting. That is not in my control. No matter how I feel, my sure recovery requires me to suit up, show up, give what I have been given. This is my reality from attendance to meetings. There I learned I cannot fix anyone. I can only trust God, serve others, and keep my side of the street clean.

My struggle to meetings does not matter as long as I continue on, in disregard of my personal feelings and misgivings. Sure, recovery for me is based on the understanding I have of self-forgetfulness. How I feel, what I want, or what I think is not as important as what recovery meetings have etched in my thoughts….“meeting makers make it.” Without that understanding, in time, I would be back doing what landed me there in the first place. Thank God for His grace to understand my personal realities.

Many of you that read this are either in recovery, or are tearing through every site offering info on clean and sober living for a loved one’s sake. For the one looking for yourself, you are on your way to restored sanity and recovery. You want help and are looking for a way out. This is where recovery begins. Those looking for another, I can only tell you that “recovery is for those who want it, not for all who need it.” Not trying to bust your balloon, but they should be the one looking, not you. Don’t stop, by any means! As you go through  page after page, you will learn how not to help them and enable their lifestyle.

Sure recovery is possible. I have known several, whose lives were like an elevator mechanic, up and down, sober, then drunk again. They eventually “came to believe” they could make it, and did! It is possible, they discovered, when their determination and desperation finally developed faith to believe their need to accept their plight, others help, and finally follow direction. By listening to others story and suggestions, the most important truth of recovery…God’s reality, His grace to help, mercy to forgive, and direction to change those hungry to be free.

“I know the thoughts I think about you, says The Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you hope, and a future.” Jer. 29:11

“…casting all your care on Him, (God), for He cares for you.” 1 Pet.5:7

I have been through horrific problems lately. I know these problems would have crippled me without God’s indescribable grace that rests on  my life through faith in Christ. These problems could add several paragraphs to this page. I will not honor them by giving them that space. That is not sure recovery at all.

Sure recovery is hope, turned into faith, turned into trust that when these problems pass, I will be able to look back and see God’s hand, pulling strings, and manipulating situations to bring me through. Victory is sure for me if I fight on, and credit Him, humbly acknowledging His will is done. Keep fighting, follow directions, get into meetings until they get into you.
God’s peace to all.

You Can’t Fix Them

My heart goes out to those who have children, a spouse, parents, or close loved ones in the throes of substance abuse and alcoholism. I know  that you who do, have tried everything you can think of to help them. The many tears and fearful nights, lying in bed waiting for that “call,” sends chills down your spine. It appears that you want them well, but they don’t. You may want to look at a different approach.
“If you are going to pray, then don’t worry. If you are going to worry, then don’t pray.” C.S. Lewis 
Family Help?
I can’t tell you how many have asked me if I would be willing to talk to their loved one with a problem. I am willing. When they do not call me, however, I know that they probably agreed to call me so you would let them be. That is no different than the many times they have told you they would change….but did they?
Ideas that will help.
One major step for you to take is to get help for YOUR addiction. What? Yes, you have a problem. You are co-dependent with your loved ones problem. You are playing hide-and-go-seek. You deny it to the world, HIDING behind a facade of pride, that your spouse, your chilld, or your loved one could possibly have problem….then you SEEK help for them quietly, desperately.
What will people think?
Don’t worry, they don’t think. They may be worried about the same thing. If, God forbid, you get that call in the middle of the night that your loved one has overdosed and in the ER at a local hospital. You will not care what everyone thinks then, so you better not now. 350 people die everyday from heroin overdose. Shout it from the housetop if need be. Come out of your denial, be honest. How you look to people doesn’t matter more than their life, does it?
Here are a few ideas that may help you:
You can be heroic. (These are suggestions, not legal advice)
1.) If this is your child, when you introduce them to someone say, “This is my son/daughter, who I love dearly, and they are an addict.” (no more denial) This will shock your child, and frighten them. They sense you are done playing.
2.) Get the help for your addiction. Go to Celebrate Recovery, or al-anon, and seek help from co-dependency. When you stop enabling them, you may hold the keys to the beggining of their recovery. Many people in these programs can help you, they’ve been there.
3.) Learn all you can about their addiction. Seek to understand. There is nothing abnormal about your loved one. WE are all fallen, sinful, and habit-ridden.
4.) Most important. Give this to God…then let go of the steering wheel of their life. You have no control, with each suggestion you offer, they will agree to, then ignore. You have to let go…and that is very hard. Follow this advice:
“Give all of your worries and care to God, for He cares about you.” 1 Pet.5:7 NLT
Believe me, once you give this to God, and let go, you will experience peace. How will you know if you have truly let go? If you have, you will catch yourself before you advise them, and skip the advise. You will stop helping them get high by not handing them money for gas, food, etc. Let them see you mean busuness. God has control now…and let them know that.
I hope this helps you. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Play, FF, RWD, Pause, Stop

Prevention may make intervention unnecessary.  I am not convinced that had my parents sat me down from time to time and explained the dangers of drinking, taking me to the scriptures and pointing out the importance of following God with all of my heart would have kept me from living as a derelict for nearly two decades. Sadly, we didn’t get it back then. Just get them to church, they will learn by osmosis  and besides, when they are old, they will come back to God, the Bible says that, the minister said so.
Play the Tape.
You hear this in recovery meetings quite often. It is a warning to all that if they are thinking about relapsing, play out the scenario, and what will happen if they do go back to drinking or drugging. As bad as their life was upon entering recovery, things will be even worse by returning to that way of life. Nonetheless, that insanity will set in if you ignore the warning and stop doing the right things, start thinking about the “good” feeling and the fun of doing things you want to do. Your control of self is deadly.
Definition of insanity: Doing the same things that have not worked, using the same methods, expecting different results. “Keep doing what your doing and you’ll keep getting what your are getting.”
Rewind
Look where your way of doing things put you. Sitting in  jail cell, or at a recovery meeting may give you a sense of remorse, of gut felt sorrow for your past. Do not forget. Remember the pain you felt arriving into recovery. Having a good vivid memory of how you lived while in the depths of misery you chose, may save your future. Yet you cannot allow remorse to weigh you down and stunt your spiritual growth. By realizing Christ has freed you, and as you work the steps, those past failures will merely be warnings that keep you moving forward.
How do you feel right now? Remember because you will feel that way again.” AA saying
Hit Pause.
Think about recent actions. Are they good or bad? Are you moving toward sober living, or away from it? How are you viewing your past? I hope you aren’t playing the blame game by accusing your family from not teaching you to stay away from dope and booze. I hope you aren’t placing yourself in a dark place over past mistakes either.
All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” Prov.15:15
While you have the tape on pause, look where you are today, clean and sober. You should be overjoyed. Take a moment and thank God that you aren’t at the bar trying to get over last night’s drunk, or looking for that fix, not to get high, just to feel normal. Take the opportunity to think, when was my last meeting? Did I pray today?
FF
Don’t project into tomorrow, stay in today. That is the advice you hear in recovery groups. Good advice. You must plan anyhow. If you have to return to school, taking a new job, or getting ready to face a judge, you need to prepare. That means projecting ahead. More advice. Do this with your sponsor, or accountability partner. Don’t worry about these if you can help it, but do not take important matters with a grain of salt. The past proves we only lived for today and had no ambition, no goals, and the life we lived led to self gratification. So planning is important, looking into the future, but not to just look at tomorrow, and wondering how you can make through without using or boozing.
Stop
Don’t hit this button if you are moving forward. Hit it hard if you are complacent or thinking relapse. If you are practicing the principles of sober living and serving where God leads you, you can only see the beauty of life in serving and having the relationship to Jesus. Life can be lived well. In time, you may even smile at the past, no matter how terrible, because you know Who holds your future and beyond this life. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Book release Tuesday the 28th of August!

http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781620241035 this is the link to Tate publishing, where you can get a copy for that loved one trying to stay clean and sober. You can also get a copy from kindle or nook, beginning Tuesday. If you are the one that is struggling to stay sober, this is a helpful tool that works! You to my site and order your copy, and I’ll pay your shipping. If you are outside of the USA, the book will be sent to you for $23. plus tax..I will cover shipping. This offer is good for those ordering at my site only, http://www.skeithbarnes.com and for ordering through WP to my personal site. Two days from now is the release date, so go today to http://www.skeithbarnes.com and get your copy today!

Giving and Asking for Help

When working with addicts/alcoholics, you should always remember the importance of help you are giving. For one, is it effective? Am I sugar coating so I don’t offend? or am I being too harsh, they’re beaten bad enough? For each success, there are failures. I have often felt as though it were my fault when someone I work with has a  relapse…and their death if they do not survive.
I really know better. Nonetheless, it still leaves you wondering. It is my responsibility to give them what I’ve been given. I am responsible to stick my hand out in fellowship, to instruct them to follow the steps to sobriety, to show them gratitude in action by serving wherever possible. I have known many who successfully complete the 12 steps, then relapse. None of us have a guaranteed sobriety.
Prayer, serving, and meetings are the glue that holds sobriey’s steps together. Those steps cannot be altered or ignored. You can either work the 12 steps, or your addiction will work you over, until you’re finished. Know this, it is up to the individual to accept do what is necessary to stay clean and sober.
When I came into the AA fellowship, I wanted to do my program. I soon realized that I needed to work the program the right way. I got a sponsor and began to work the program. The sponsor didn’t call me, he didn’t make sure I was doing ok, he didn’t shove me through the steps, no, that was my job. I asked him to sponsor me. It was my duty to call him, to ask his help working the steps, to ask for advice and help when I needed it. The same goes for help from God. If you ask Him for nothing, that’s what you get from Him. It is our responsibility to ask for help in life, from God, from parents or family members, from mentors, and pastors.
Silent pride is fear, fear of rejection.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?”  Matt.7:11 (NAS)
I am responsible for my prayers to God. I am to pray asking for help, for my needs, for direction, without thinking God is too busy for me. I’m responsible to know that, not thinking that He may feel really sorry for me and eventually get around to my request. Where is that “Bible verse, the Lord helps them who helps themselves?” It’s NOT IN THE BIBLE! I’m responsible for knowing that too. Twinkle, twinkle little star is not a prayer. A stitch in time saves nine is not in Proverbs. I’m reponsible to know these things.
When the pastor gives the sermon, it’s for the hearer to live the message. When the high school gives my diploma to me, it’s up to me to take that education and use it to make a living, or further my education. When the mentor gives the follower every bit of knowedge, it’s up to the follower to apply and develop that knowledge further. We must see our responsibility in everything. If we do not, the government will be glad to be responsible for you…at a high price, your soul. The government will fill your soul with their belief system…I mean unbelief system, that will teach you to rely on uncle Sam for help with addiction, child rearing, religious education, religious de-programming, medicine, etc, etc. Just ask China, N. Korea, or any socialist nation, they know government control.
Ok, I could really go with a thousand directions with this topic. I still struggle with responsibility. Today however, I understand the importance of being responsible, and passing that understanding to my children, or those I help in recovery. Give this some thought, see if you are responsible, and if you are, pass it forward.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

Teach Us to Pray

I am so impressed to see people praying for the needs of others through social networks, and sites where church members can lay their request out there, and praying people take the requests to God. If you struggle with praying as many do, hook up with these sites and tell others what you need prayer for. Don’t ever think God doesn’t care about the problems in your life. Don’t ever think you have to be perfect to pray, or you are waiting to pray when you get your life together…or you’ll never pray, because YOU will never get your life together. Prayer will put the broken pieces of your life back together.
So many people say they don’t know how to pray, it seems silly. Believe me, it isn’t silly, and if you really want to know how to pray, here it is. Jesus was asked by one of his disciples if he would teach them to pray like he prayed. From that request, Jesus gave them the Lord’s prayer as a guide to pray. Kind of like a “Praying for Dummies,” type of thing. Look at that prayer, use it as your guide. He also told them to be relentless in prayer for a specific need.
In Luke 11, Jesus gave his followers a story about a man who went to his neighbors house at midnight asking for food to be loaned to him to feed out-of-town guests. The man said go away we’re in bed. But Jesus said that persistence would get the man up and he would give the neighbor as much bread as he needed. God responds to us when we are persistent in prayer. Jesus then said these famous words:
“So I say to you, ask, and you shall receive, seek, and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you….if your son asked for bread from any father among you, would you give him a snake instead? If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your HEAVENLY FATHER give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  Luke 11:5-13
Needs are overwhelming for many of us today. There is post galore for those needing help on Facebook, et al. They range from serious to selfish, but all have meaning, and are real to each of those asking. Those we think may be selfish, are from a person who has the courage to at least ask. Take them all serious. Personally, I don’t have to ask for my day to be perfect if I surrender the day to God’s will and purpose for each day. He works out the details, I just want to be centered, or if you prefer, balanced, and focused on doing the next right thing to honor Him.
Finally friends, ask in faith. Believe that He is able to do anything. Believe He loves you enough to have your picture on His mantle. Nothing is too hard for Him. I have witnessed it, experienced it, waited for it, cried over it…it is all about His omnipotent power, unending mercy, and steadfast love for all. Picture your need met, your debt paid, your joy renewed, your health restored, your child free of addictions, your marriage healed…He is able! Then thank Him, over and again. And pray more. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Family Heirlooms

There is much tragedy surrounding families and the loss of their heirlooms, resulting from one of its members addiction to drugs and alcohol. To get a fix, addicts find nothing sacred,the alcoholic is known to be willing to sell his own mother for a drink. Their are many families that have never experienced this loss, and their heirlooms remain intact and passed on to the next generation. Some  heirlooms do not have value to anyone but the family, like portraits or photos of members who have passed. Some heirlooms however, are priceless, and if lost to thievery, irreplaceable.
In recovery meetings, members have a commonality, being our addictions to drink, drug, gambling, over-eating, etc. We become like a family as we recover, trying hard to help each other get better. We really do not have anything of any tangible value to pass to each other, and to the newcomer. What we pass on to each other is an understanding, as well as knowledge on how to work to stay sober and clean. This is priceless, and free. No re-hab can do for the individual that AA, NA, Celebrate Recovery, et al, can do. It is the steps, sponsorship, fellowship, and giving back, as well as the spiritual fitness awareness, that create a willingness to remain clean. These unseen heirlooms are invaluable. Here is an example:
“Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give  freely of what you find and join us.” The Big Book of AA, pg.164 
Of course this is a miniscule example of what you find, AA and NA’s big books, and the legacy of the founders. These programs, as well as the afore mentioned, teach and instruct in life through values, that are founded in spiritual principles. There is yet another family that has heirlooms that can never be taken away. This family is based on a “spoken” seed, unseen but real, and received by anyone who believes.
The seed is the Word of God, aka Jesus the Christ, aka Son of Righteousness, aka Lamb of God, aka Lion of Judah, aka, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is the Head of the family. Through His accomplished work, we are not only adopted into the family from our belief in Him, but we get our inheritance that moment we proclaim His Lordship over our lives. That moment we pass from death unto life, without payment or working for the privilege! All you have to do is this:
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Rom.10:9,13
Well I’m not ready just yet…you’re thinking, now is good, now is the time: “For He(God) says, ‘in an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you’…behold (look) now is the acceptable time, behold  now is the day of salvation!”  1 Cor. 6:2
There you have it, your are welcome into the family that you get to keep forever. The family heirlooms are yours to keep. Peace, joy, love, hope, and faith are just a few of the innumerable heirlooms that are yours to enjoy. The family you belong to now has heirlooms too, only the ones they pass down to you are in the form of misery, hopelessness, darkness, eternal separation from The Light, the Love, and fellowship with the Maker and Giver of every good thing. Come and get you some life!
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Time to Re-focus

There is a time for everything. The ability to be aware of the need to change with the ebb and flow is a spiritual matter, I really believe. One day everything is going perfectly well, I sense this feeling so intensely that I am convinced nothing will ever go wrong again, I have finally figured out how to stay in this particular frame of existence. The next day I wonder what happened, how did I lose this mountain top experience?
There are also days so full of things needing to be accomplished that I seem not to care what frame of emotion I am sensing, or how I am spiritually. This is the most dangerous “place” to be. The continuous onslaught of items needing attention, fills me to the gills, and where I suffer the most is in my relationship to God. Second to suffering in that, the most important of relationships, comes the relationship to my wife, then my children, and eventually, every relationship I treasure takes it “on the chin.” Here, in this most dangerous of places, things quickly fall apart, and I’m left wondering, what do I do now?  This is the time to review and re-focus.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to reap; a time to kill, a time to heal; a time to break down, a time to build up; a time to weep, a time to laugh;  a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Eccl. 3:1-4
I am grateful that I have the understanding, that when the controversial winds blow, in times of heavy trials, and fear…these will all pass. This is an awareness I experience from the indwelling presence of God, to cause me to see that I’m out of balance. You all know what I mean, it is like having one tire that’s bad on your vehicle…it is very annoying, and you get to the point you want to stop driving until it is fixed. I need to re-balance, review, re-focus, and where I begin is with the main relationship, with God. When that is repaired, the others follow smoothly. God graciously causes me to see the time to change, surrender my will and my life to Him, to relinquish my control.
This is my address today, rather this moment. I have really experienced some heavy-duty doubt, frustration, some real emotions of dysfunction, am I where I need to be?  What  should I be doing today?  There is a place I know to go, my hiding place. It is hidden so well, I nearly forgot where it was myself!  I will tell you all where it is…it is in the Rock, not Alcatraz, the One Rock that Lives and never changes.
“For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavillion, in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.”  Ps. 27: 5
I have had many challenges of late. The book business has dominated my waking moments, the thing I am to be doing is self-promoting, getting the book into the attention of my sphere of influence, and the people I know. Then when August 28th rolls around, the book will have already had some play, and hopefully word of mouth will help the national release be even more successful. The publisher has quite a bit of money invested in this project, and desire to re-coup their investment and much more. They would love it to be a #1 best seller. I have really struggled with placing the book on my sites, on twitter, facebook, etc, concerned that people may think I’m prideful and have no humility.
You may not believe this, but some people duck and run, thinking I am going to bug them about buying the book, or talk about it incessantly. There is another factor, there is a number of people that are actually jealous, and do not regard this as an achievement I should be proud of…really? The people closest to me never mention the book, I feel at times like I have a plague or something! But then, God reminds me of the purpose. The book is written to help the struggling alcoholic/addict that follows Christ, stay clean and sober through their focus on Him.
My times of riding the emotional roller coaster, fearing what you think, real or imagined, is put away so that I can return to doing what pleases Him, and gives me purpose, that is helping others. I have to remember that there is a time, a purpose for everything. How I feel or what you think will change with the time.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Tripping Over Me

The group Casting Crowns has a song that I find disturbing yet powerful. “Jesus, Friend of Sinners,” has words that literally cut me to the heart. I often think about the reality Jesus, how that we, His followers do as much to de-christianize our world as to convert it. A portion of the lyrics especially stand out to me:
Jesus friend of sinners the truth’s become so hard to see, The world is on its way to you, but they’re tripping over me, Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded, A plank-eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
O Jesus, friend of sinners, open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers, Let our hearts be led by mercy, help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Jesus friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.
The words may mean nothing to you, they may not touch many who follow Christ. But they really need to be heard, and pondered. I can see how I have been acusing toward people who claim to know Christ, but their lifestyle shows otherwise. It irks me to see these people bring reproach on Christ’s name, I mean, they couldn’t possibly Christians in anything but name. Maybe they think becoming a christian has nothing to do with personal decision, but babtism at birth. And as I type these words, you see my dilemma, I am expressing my thoughts in judgment against people who claim they are Christian. Who do I think I am?
Are my eyes on Christ? No they’re busy watching you. Like the line from the movie, “Mr. Mom,” ‘you’re doing it wrong!’  The whole time my finger is aimed at you and your shortcomings, I’m committing sin by accusations directed at you. You and I who follow Jesus, can become a loaded weapon with having a wee bit of biblical knowledge, and a shallow relationship with Christ. How pititful.
The deeper we look into the eyes of Jesus, the closer our relationship becomes, and the people we tend to point at are seen through His eyes, broken, confused, and needing Him. We can stay in this warped frame of religious thinking, like modern day pharisees, or we can throw off our traditional beliefs, and realize our low estate without Jesus. In Luke 18, Jesus tells a parable  about a Pharisee and a sinner tax collector. Both went up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee, Mr Religion, prays like this:
“Lord, I thank you that I’m not like other men, extorting, unjust, adulterers, or even as the tax collector”….I fast twice per week,  pay tithes on all of my possesions.”
The tax collector prayed in this manner: He prayed and would not  as much s lift his eyes toward heaven, but beat his chest and said, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner!”
Jesus went on to say that this “sinner” went home justified to God, not the other. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
If we are not broken hearted over those around us, we should begin to look to God in humility, and in repentance, until we are touching His very heart, that IS broken for the lost ones around us. He loves that person we want to criticize, as much as He loves you. He died for everyone, not just me. For me, I want to unload the baggage of pride, and the habit of scorn directed at the those Christ died for. With this in mind, we can spend our time getting fixed, not trying to fix others.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

Under The Influence

we have a book…and an ebook.

Hello all! This is just a reminder about my new book now available. I have about a month and a half before it goes public, but you can get it now through my website at www.skeithbarnes.com We are pretty excited, and those who have already received their copies are pretty pumped! This should be a real help to the individual that struggles with drug, alcohol, porn, gambling, well…any addiction. Alcoholics and drug addicts wanting to stay clean and sober, learn a few secrets about doing just that in this book. The truth is, there is no secrets per se, it is how you start each day, live through the day, and reflect at night.

 

It is possible to live every day with purpose, fulfilled through a relationship with God through Jesus, and a grateful heart. Any person wanting to recover and serve the Lord, needs this tool. It works, as we work it. This isn’t a pie in the sky, hope to heaven it works. The book is a guide to staying sober through spiritual focus. If you or a loved one are struggling, get this book, or ebook, you won’t be sorry. I will sigh the book for you, and get it to you asap. Allow 1-2 wks for delivery.

 

The book will retail for $27.99, but you can get it through my website for $23.00 plus tax, and $3 will ship it anywhere in the US. That’s $27.61 total. The ebook is $10.95 including tax and shipping. International rates are a little higher for shipping, but no sales tax is added. That’s it. Thanks for reading, hope you like the book, but more importantly, it helps you grow in Christ and stay sober!