I normally anticipate getting to church on those Sundays I don’t work. In fact, every long weekend I get, I plan for church, recovery meetings, and visiting grandchildren. Saturday’s plan is to do all of the household chores and shop for food and necessities. This being spring, outside windows and screens were scheduled, mowing for the first time, etc. Judy and I rolled up the sleeves and went after the work with gusto. We worked, really worked hard to get everything done…but didn’t.
Peter gave his first message about the risen Christ in Acts 2, citing the book of Joel:
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see
visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both
men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will
prophesy.” Acts 2:17-18 (Joel 2:28-29) NIV
I had this thought this morning: All people God? How is that possible when all people are not in the household of faith in Christ? I mean, how, without Your Spirit living within them could they prophesy, have visions, or dream dreams of You, and spiritual in nature? I was puzzled to say the least because that goes against my personal belief that God works through those that are in Christ, not unbelievers.
When I entered into recovery, I learned to disregard much of my “religious” thinking. I heard the phrase inside myself, leave your religion at the door Keith. It is all about Jesus, knowing and pleasing God, and living a life full of and directed by the Holy Spirit within you. Religion is worthless when religion is judgmental. Following that holy internal nudge, I began to hear for the first time, God speaking through the broken in recovery meetings.
I sought to understand this Joel/Peter message. My mental boat was rocked into a spiritual reality. As the Gospel went forth following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus; a light came on in the world, bringing salvation to whoever believes and repents to follow Christ, and an outpouring of unexpected favor of God toward all people. The active presence of the Holy Spirit in the world, opened up the darkened minds of mankind to more discovery, invention, and exploration.
The Light, as it was delivered to men through the preaching the Good News of reconciliation to God, came on. Even those rejecting the Truth, benefited from the Creator’s presence in the world in the Holy Spirit. (I realize this to be arguable, as prior to this time, discovery and invention existed, the pyramids, the gardens of Babylon, the water/sewage systems of cultured cities, the Roman roads throughout their empire, etc.)
The dry seasons come and go. If you are like me, you know the time and effort put into blogging has apparent little reward. Yet, we write, we take the time hoping someone reads our words and rhymes. The further hope is that by God’s grace, the reader’s life is changed. I aim this toward the bloggers writing in relationship to Christ, of recovery from addictions, of Christian conduct, values, and of matters of spiritual maturation.
I write every day but have only posted a couple of times this year. Work and personal issues have kept me fairly well side-lined the past year. I did question whether I would continue writing at all, unsure my feeble attempts had any effect on readers. I based particular thoughts of ending my short writing career on: 1) I am not a schooled writer. 2) The book I wrote that gave me this alter-ego; mister-know-all- things-recovery-spiritualityman…well the book didn’t fly off of the shelf. 3) The battle onslaught from the dark side is horrendous if you are helping others, writing and working in recovery groups namely. I cannot allow these things to move me. The Greater One lives inside of me. These things are temporal and will pass.
NOW HEAR THIS
Do not misunderstand my direction here. I am grateful for the opportunity to write and truly enjoy the challenge. The thought of giving writing up was not, and is not my way of pouting God-ward, asking Him what the big idea was...”You trying to make me look stupid or something, dear Lord.” No, no, a thousand times no. It was truly time and issues that gave me the notion to do something different.
I have total faith in what is written in the “Bigger Book,” having confidence that it is inspired, showing the generations to God, and to living purposefully. I also have faith in AA’s, NA’s Big Books, and CR’s four lesson books, all teaching the addicted proven methods on how to recover. The programs associated to these writings have proven methods, directing people how to recover, discovering life’s wonders with each addiction conquered. The Bigger Book, or better, the Bible is the reason for the others existence, believe it or not. This is not the topic, however.
A farmer plants seeds with faith crops will grow. A manager has faith workers are doing their jobs. The worker has faith he will be paid for his labor, etc., etc. Everyone has faith.
Faith comes through hearing, or for someone deaf, hearing by teaching methods. We hear instructions and the proof the instructions are tried and tested to be correct. Our minds believe because of the proof, and presto!, we have faith. When we put the faith into action, finding the instructions we heard were correct, our faith grows.
People coming into recovery must develop faith in what they hear at meetings, or see results in others. Some see it right off, some struggle to “get it.” Sadly, a good majority, whether they believe it works or not, go back to their “thang” without a second thought. From experience, I have witnessed that those who get it quick, are in daily attendance. They hear it and believe it, expecting the program will work for them too.
“True faith is never found alone; it is accompanied by expectation.” C. S. Lewis
I hear people say too often…”I don’t have faith.” They are mistaken. Everyone is born with faith. Faith grows. Whether you agree or not, if you want to grow faith to recover and achieve, then listen, see the proof, take time daily to read up on the great military leaders, business tycoons, or world leaders. These all had faith in what they believed because they believed what they heard from teachers or family.
When I sobered up through AA, I knew it was God’s doing. He led me to AA, AA helped lead me back to God. I saw Him in a new light and He turned the Lights on for me to see His loving hands guiding me, and protecting me throughout my life.
Epiphanies came often through recovery meetings. My views on religion were shattered. I suddenly had clarity and a truer view of life’s meanings. I had wants and needs lifelong that brought everything but happiness. Thought’s like; If only I had money, if only I was born into wealth, if only she was my woman, if only….
Nothing satisfied. What I needed, I did not want. What I wanted, I thought I needed. As time passed and I acquired things, went places, and became friends with those who might boost my name and reputation, emptiness resulted. I ended up broken, divorced, and a daily drunk, grasping for more, needing and wanting the truth to show up. That truth I sought was that I was right. I was an empty shell that arrogantly knew better than everyone else. How foolish.
Epiphany That Removed The Scales From My Eyes
In recovery, you hear a lot of crazy things. You also hear God speak through others. My moment of clarity came in a meeting one day, crushing my beliefs, my supposed needs, and selfish wants. It may have been an AA member speaking, but it was Jesus’ words screaming at me:
…”let the greater among you become like the younger, and the one who rules
like the one who serves…I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22:26-27
Did I want joy, peace, and love? No, I needed them. Did I want to know my purpose in life? I needed to know, I needed to know that my previous thoughts of purpose was twisted as well. Did I want to know my life, in the end, was not a total waste? NO, I had to know.
If I want purpose, and the benefits of love, joy, and peace that accompany, I had to go second in life, everyone else go first…I had to serve.
Here was real life, total satisfaction, a path leading to the Master Servant’s mysteries, secrets known but hidden. Pointing others to find their need to know how to want the real Truth is all I will ever need, all I want….hang the rest.
I hope my thoughts here are helpful to you. I hope you discover it is about you, how you see life through people, places, and things. The Greatest Servant who ever lived, died, and rose bodily from the dead, still serves as your personal attorney, thwarting the accusations from the evil one. Look at what you want and need. If you want and need to know your purpose with all of the perks, retain Christ Jesus as your lawyer. He will work out the details.
Shalom to all.
If God is God, why doesn’t He just save everyone? Why is it necessary to pray to Him if we aren’t sure He is listening…or if He even exists? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why should I believe in a God that allows so much misery?
This is my first post in 2015. I understand there are a half million bloggers in the US. Thanks if you landed here by accident or on purpose. I’ll try to be brief and give you a few ideas to help you along in 2015.
For those in recovery from addictions and follow my blog, take your recovery serious this year. Treat recovery like a person with diabetes. If they don’t take insulin, they’re a goner. If you do not pray, get to meetings, help others, and follow Good Orderly Direction (GOD), your recovery is subject to failure.
IDEAS For 2015
1. Hold on loosely. People, places, and things change. Gripping hard leads to disappointment.
2. Tell God thanks for grace and what you have. More comes to the grateful…the truly grateful.
3. Smile, for no reason. Even when you are alone.
4. Trust God only. People fail us. Don’t doubt that.
5. To move up, accept where you are as though you will always be there. That is surrender. Surrender opens doors to change.
6. Pray for your enemies. Do that everyday, pray for them first. Cover your loved ones in prayer. If you don’t…who will?
7. Choose to go second, or be last in line.
8. Finish well, in every endeavor.
9. Serve with fervor.
10. Give. Not just money. Time and effort are more valuable than your money at times, most of the time.
11. Read something worthwhile, no one. Let them feel they are not forgotten.
12. Listen, learn, love, live to know God better. That intention if serious will lead to devotion. That devotion will lead to understanding. That understanding will lead to knowledge of the Holy. That knowledge will lead to God imparting His wisdom to your life, leading to joy, peace, and love.
Daily prayer for 2015, from Psalm 19
Let the words of my mouth, the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. I am grateful to You for everything you have given me, the things both good and bad that You used to teach me, and what You have in store for me today to grow closer to my being like You.
Prediction of the year 2015
I predict that Jesus will be the God-man of the year, as He has been for two millennia plus. He is also prepared to come to your house if invited.
Wow, 2014 flew by! I can hardly believe 2015 is knocking on the door.My thought about 2014 is…goodbye, good riddance. I want to warn 2015, “don’t you come in here thinking you are going to run rough-shod and knocking things over like 2014 did!” That may be how I feel, but I know I cannot talk to a year per se, but I can be prepared.
If you are in recovery from any addiction of any kind, gird up your loins, get ready to rumble. That is not having the expectation of bad things in store for 2015. It is all about being ready to battle, if necessary, while eagerly expecting the many good things as we recover, one day at a time. Are you ready? Have you laid out a plan of action?
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Franklin/Hamilton (both old Ben and Alexander are given credit for that quote)
God has a plan for you that is fabulous and exciting, brilliant in design, but hard for the finite mortal mind to accept. People love to quote their favorite passages from scripture. I certainly do. Here is one of them, now popular due to the masses addicted to dope and drink these days. This is a promise of hope:
“For I know the plans I have in mind for you, says Adonai, plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future.” Jer.29:11 (Complete Jewish Bible)
God is not against you and I. He is for us. He is for YOU! But I want to tell you there is more to that scripture than our getting a fuzzy feeling and knowing God is not against us. There is instruction for us to prepare to receive God’s plan:
“When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly; and I will let you find me, says Adonai. THEN I will reverse your exile.” Jer. 29:13 (CJB)
It is wonderful to know God has us in mind, and has plans for us. Do we have Him in mind, and plans for Him? Is God the center of your plans in 2015? He is sure recovery from addictions. He is the Rock we build our spirituality on, Whose plans never fail us, and keep us steady.
2012 was a hard year. 2013 was even harder. 2014…ouch. Through it all, God kept me sober and growing, aware that each trial is a learning experience. Some may have been avoided. I know often my spiritual guard was down, the enemies attacked with glee, I wanted to cry “UNCLE!” dozens of times. That is not in God’s plans or mine.
Think, Act, Plan (TAP)
Think about the year ahead. Act by talking to God as to how you want 2015 to be different for you in relation to Him and your life. Plan by writing down things you want to address and overcome, changes you feel you need to make, and how, a year from now, you want to see yourself body, mind, and spirit. Will you be able to say, “2015 was a great year?”
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.
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?
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.