The Key to Solid Recovery

Don’t think I come up with everything I write about regarding recovery from drinking and drug use  Much of what I post comes from what I hear from successful people in recovery meetings. I also ask God’s help to express thoughts to the reader. The purpose of this post is the latter statement, God’s help.. Time after time I have heard the recovering admit that praying to God was key to their recovery. I totally agree.

The issues of addiction to drug and alcohol are regarded as a spiritual malady. Don’t doubt that for a second. even if you do not believe in God, or agnostic. I have witnessed several who had no spiritual belief remain clean and sober as they followed THE program. Yet those who rely on God through prayer have much stronger recovery, my personal observation. If our addictions are indeed a spiritual malady, the remedy must come from the spiritual plane. We could not use physical to fix the spiritual no more than putting a set of wings on one’s back would cause one to soar among the clouds, defying the physical law of gravity.

Simply put, physical laws cannot alter the dimension of the spirit. However, spiritual law can, and has, altered the physical and mental realms. This isn’t arguable in this reality we dwell in, and only realized by having faith in such. With that in mind, the practice of daily prayer to God for help to remain clean and sober is the key to solid recovery, and much more. As individuals follow what has worked for millions in AA, praying for God’s intervention to help just today a clean and sober day, their faith in His reality grows. They find God loving and ready to help them though at first, praying seems foolish, a waste of time. With days passing, their faith grows to ask for His help for other issues, until prayer develops into dialog, a relationship.

I have been asked about what God’s will is by several over the years. Why I was asked in most cases was I had been the individuals sponsor, not from having been in seminary.  Sometimes I answer that with a question….”do you know what God’s will isn’t?”

The answer to that is that they do not use drugs or alcohol. That’s a given. Also, I believe God’s will is obvious to the one asking…He wants you free of addiction, He wants you changed entirely, body, soul, and spirit.  That normally means, everything about the individual needs to change. Recovery from addiction programs are programs of “self reduction to others minded.” You may enter a rock star, but aspire to be a servant. (God’s will leads to real life in spite of how that may sound to your ears).

In truth, most that want to know God’s will having underlying reasons. In most cases, the hope of side-stepping consequences, or wanting to have someone agree with what they think. Others really want to know what I feel God wants them to do. That may cover many things, relationships, how to work their recovery out when opposed by family or friends, or for a desire to know God. For me, I find answers in scripture first of all. One particular place I look is in the “poetry sections,” Psalms, Ecclesiastes, mainly the book of Proverbs. These books are crammed with workable, godly advice like an atlas insert for my personal locality.

To be honest, I still hit walls often. though I look for spiritual answers through prayer and Bible readings, that doesn’t make me a spiritual know-it-all. Example being that I was absolutely sure a my last relationship was God’s will. For me, God had to be my priority in life in. Second, I knew whatever I wanted must come second to my mate’s needs and desires. Right priorities make perfect relationships…right? Not even close. The other individual has a say too. They may agree verbally, but hold to different priorities. If so, that does not mean the relationship is wrong or doomed to fail. But it may require more effort by both.

Though we agreed at the onset, and marital bliss seemed unending, vigilance was required daily. Even though I prayed before, even had solid counsel throughout, it ended badly. God, how did I miss Your will? That way of thinking can devastate one’s recovery if help is not immediately sought. My expectations, God’s will, her will, and enemy attacks, etc., all converged to where I could not see God’s will at all.

In retrospect, I remembered I had a check inwardly, but disregarded it thinking, “get behind me devil!” (Only comical now). God wanted to keep me from trouble, but my desire for a relationship held sway over waiting for His perfection. Ouch! I don’t know what hurt worse, the broken relationship, or being wrong at this stage of spiritual recovery, or…at my age.

In conclusion, pray for God’s help as a daily priority. This is the priority for solid recovery. Do meetings, get a sponsor that isn’t so cool but has a real spiritual side, do what you hear the successful in recovery have done. If you miss God’s will for whatever reason, He isn’t mad, ask Him again and talk to your sponsor about it.

Ask For Help

When I first entered into recovery for alcoholism, I found it nearly impossible to ask for help for any reason. I would ask God to help me without thinking twice. But not people. What I did not know was how God used people to help me in response. I still struggle to ask others for help for things in general, even when they offer to help. This is a real character defect I must deal with.

My understanding changed as so many in AA reached out to help. I knew then that I needed what they had to offer. Even greater was the understanding of how my prayers were not wasted words. God really cared, really heard my petition, really loved me. Today when I pray to Him, I know He will answer.

I read accounts in the Bible regarding prayer. Two in the Old Testament stand out in my mind. The passage in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, gathered the nation to ask God’s help as they were besieged by a massive army. In Isaiah 36-37, Hezekiah, king of Judah sometime later, had a similar experience. Read these awe-inspiring stories. Both give direction to praying in unity, in desperation, in faith that God can and will rescue if we only ask.

Some may say, that was then, or think, what a nice fairy tale. So perhaps an event in recent history may be more convincing. Have you ever heard about the story behind the story of Dunkirk, during WWII ? The British army, numbering nearly one-quarter of a million, along with french allies, were backed to the sea, with eight hundred thousand German soldiers closing in for the kill. Hitler was bent on annihilating the Brits.

Winston Churchill earlier, had called for a national day of prayer. I heard a woman, then a young girl account how the people responded, though unaware at the time how dire the army’s situation was.

“I remember my mother and I walking to town to the church, to pray, asking God’s help for our nation, the military, and our leaders for guidance. When we neared the church, I saw people kneeling on the sidewalk outside of the church, and along the sidewalks, for all of the churches were packed with praying people.”

No one knows why, and this is still being discussed by historians, Hitler suddenly decided to halt his charging army, and give the soldiers a little R and R…highly uncharacteristic. Simultaneously, a British leader had a flashing thought…let’s gather every boat available, no matter how small, to rush across the English Channel and rescue the soldiers.
Please don’t insult God and say, “what a coincidence!” The two events were a result of a people asking God’s help in unity, like Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did, as well as accounts throughout scripture.

We all have an army of problems and mountains of impossibilities facing us in life. We do not have to fight alone, often not at all when we call to God for help. We have to ask. James 1 says, ‘you have not because you ask not’…or ask selfishly, (amiss). Jesus said ask and you shall receive, or say nothing and receive it.

So that’s it. Drinking was prolonged from my resistance to ask for help. Life and freedom came from humility enough to ask God and others. Great victories are realized when we have the courage to humbly ask God to fix our situations. Start asking, watch for results, be open to receive help from others.

One other thing. The times seem extremely dark, our nation is totally divided and double minded concerning right and wrong, politics, education, et al…A mountain of troubles are in view. We need to pray for our nation as never before. Please do so everyday.

5 Things to Help Your Recovery

Being around the recovering crowd can be difficult at times. Mainly because most topics used for discussion, are often a moaning session. For obvious reasons, as you may guess. If someone happens to say something positive, the whole room may go silent from shock. The groups aren’t used to that. If they say too many positive words, it has an adverse effect, they think the individual is a lunatic.

I understand, as do all who attend meetings of recovery, that it is tough to stay positive with the many consequences we have to eventually deal with. But if we are bent on freedom from the sickness that enslaves us, we listen to what works, take it to heart, and do what it takes no matter how hard or how long. The positive may be elusive at first. But a little effort can produce positive results leading to the freedom desired.

Here are some simple suggestions to help you in recovery. These are not written in recovery literature, per se, but will help when used in collaboration with such.

1. Read, just a little, but read. This may be the most difficult for most in recovery. I have an idea as to why, but that idea is an entire essay. Many people here in the USA have little gratitude for the gift of reading. They state how they hate to read. Globally, illiteracy is staggering. People do not have any education because there is none available.They would give all they have to be able to read. Some are in areas of the world that suppress education. Here, in the US, we have the opportunity and the ability, but “just say no” to reading. Read anyway. Start with a small paragraph and build from there. Oh yeah, read recovery literature, not a romance novel.

2. Exercise. I know, I’m 0 for 2 in likable things to do to help your recovery. There again, do just a little. Merely getting up and walking to the mailbox, or down to the corner and back. Get your blood flowing and your mind works better. You can get positive results in a short time.

3. Change the station(s). Something I noticed from myself and reinforced by statements in meetings is; songs, TV shows, gaming, and movies, may have a dramatic effect on the addicted, to trigger a relapse. Especially, the music you listened to when using. Nobody likes silence, but try music you find tasteful, or tolerable. Try games to exercise your brain, documentaries on the tube, and movies…skip. All of these aren’t permanent changes, maybe they should be. But for a time early in returning from a relapse or new to recovery, try this.

4. A short inventory. This is not listing a 4th step, nor doing the 5th with your sponsor. This is a list, or maybe a name of someone you carry a resentment for, you cannot seem to forgive, or you need to ask forgiveness for a wrong. Take the name, or names, and pretend you are with them, and practice what you need to say to them. If that is uncomfortable, write them a letter expressing how you feel. Don’t hold back…let er’ rip! Do it again but pretend God, (Jesus), is there mediating the event. This may be a game changer to some who may be talking to awol parents, spouses, the officer or judge that sentenced them.

5. Fix your language. Really, seriously, start talking like an adult. You are wanting to recover from your addiction, right? Recover from your gangsta way of talking. Can you? F-bombs fly out in meetings and have become the accepted way to talk, some say. But if you are sitting in an interview for your dream job, I am sure you won’t use foul language in that meeting, will you?
It isn’t that your way of talking made you an addict, but that was the way you talked when you were using and boozing. Change that, bring dignity and honor to your life for being different. People will notice.

Give these thoughts a shot along with meeting attendance, daily prayer, service work, the steps with your sponsor. You may be the positive lunatic in the meeting, or the one who brings some shock and awe to the group where you attend. Just do it.

“Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites ruin.” Prov. 10:14

Leading the Drunk to Water

More than likely, you have heard the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” No matter how many times I have heard the adage, and have used it, I sometimes think that I can make it happen. Not the saying above, rather the message of leading others to a life, clean and sober, of following Christ, and serving others selflessly, I try to convince with conviction.

What makes me think I somehow am the measure of what is the right? I am not. What I do know has merit from experience, study, and spiritual practice. What I have experienced isn’t what brings others into a life of sober living, nor convinces an unbeliever to see Jesus as the Savior of the world. It is not my job to argue with others in AA or NA meetings that they have a distorted view of God, when they say something completely unholy regarding Him the way I personally know Him to be. I do not have a degree that makes me a word cop. I also must remember, who’s talking, where they are in recovery, and where they came from in life.

It happened again in a small meeting a couple of nights ago. A man I felt was highly educated, and certainly has a dynamic message of his coming into recovery, with the help of, and by the grace of God, made some false statements regarding the Bible. I didn’t oppose him in the meeting, but tried to “kindly” correct him afterwards. No argument ensued, but neither did I convince him of his error, and the ripple effect on others hearing him tumbling into total disbelief because of his blunder. The reason for no argument…God, I’m sure. To argue with him could kill any future opportunities with the thirsty, wanting to find the water hole.

“The main reason people in recovery do not grasp the message, is they don’t reach for it.”  Author

AA’s Big Book warns members not to play the evangelist to those still actively drinking. Doing so may hinder any chance of helping those you are targeting to share your new life with. I believe that goes for attempts to exhort others in the program to drink deeper, raise their standards of behavior to a greater height around all of those watching them in their recovery.

In other words, maturing in their sobriety, become a real example. That’s change, what we hate the most. Fear of losing friends in recovery is at risk to the ones bold enough to accept and change. Sadly, most get just enough water to make them not want to drink, (booze or use dope). That is, the water being God, and the grace He bestows that leads them to recovery. There is more.

What should I do or say to get the horse to keep drinking? Talk and pray. God didn’t ask me to be His personal sheriff in recovery. If I trust Him, I say what He gives me to say in meetings, or to sponsor-ees, and nothing more. For those spreading a distorted view of God, I am to do two, no, three things: say nothing, love them, and pray God will enlighten them, bringing them into a deeper understanding of the incomprehensible power He has to change lives those no one imagined could ever change.

The warning to me, and to you if you are viewed as a leader in recovery, perplexed by what you hear in meetings, If we truly trust God to use what we give, do not forget His purpose in us is not to judge, but to serve. We only correct, or redirect if asked for help. If I try to play the know-it-all, and believe me, I know little, (that isn’t false humility, I learn as I go, how little I know), I will ruin any chance of influencing others to follow me to the streams of Living Water, the main Message of man’s existence, and living above addictions with God’s help.

Ordering the Miracle

Have you placed your order for the miracle you want? Do you have enough to pay for it? Maybe you didn’t see the price tag when you requested it. Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about…which I’m sure you don’t. Let me explain.

 Miracle defined:
An extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

Everyone wants to see a miracle. None more than those who have tried everything to get clean and sober from addictions. They know nothing short of a miracle can free them from the enslavement. It would have to be a miracle of biblical proportion, an act of God. Alcoholics and drug addicts that land in AA, NA, or CR, often give up way too soon before the miracle happens. Their reason may be they don’t believe in God, or if He does exist, He wouldn’t help them anyway. After all they have done too many wrongs, He would never help them anyhow.

 “If there were no God, there would be no atheist.”
“It isn’t that they cannot see the solution. It is that they cannot
see the problem.”
G.K. Chesterton

Most who give up aren’t ready recover yet. They haven’t experienced enough pain, nor inflicted enough on others. They will, bank on it. Those who do hang in until “it” happens knew their estate before they arrived broken and beaten by substance abuse, whether the drink, or drugs. They also realized the price to pay for their miracle. I have seen men and women come into AA meetings with their chins on the ground, whipped, hopeless, and even facing consequences enough to choke a horse. They stayed, lingering long enough until the light came on. Then the miracle happened.

Having tried everything, or thinking we have, there was a constant committee meeting going on in the gray matter. They yak constantly, the majority telling us multiple reasons we could never give it up. A few brain committee folk are saying, think about your spouse, kids and family, your friends and your job. It is maddening.

Yet the individual remained, the committee adjourned, and they faced their consequences, working the program in total surrender of their will to continue self-serving and quit. The impossible happened, their chins were no longer dragging the floor, even their countenance changed. Some go even further and continue meetings giving back what they were given, long after the miracle of sobriety happened.

For these, gratefully remaining to help others, see things return to their life that they thought never to experience again, a home, new car, money in the bank, the return of friends and family, and a deep spiritual relationship, in many cases. There are some side-effects from recovery, too. Laughter, a song in the heart, and return of having feelings and thoughts of how to actually decipher right and wrong, truth and lies, and wow, what a difference. I know, by the grace of God, I am one that stayed for the experience. Life is far from perfect, troubles still come and go. The trade off, however, is worth the price.

You may have given up yourself. Perhaps someone you love threw in the towel long before the miracle arrived. If they swallow pride, or if you do, life will return, finally asking God’s help to do for you what you could never do for yourself. Miracles do happen, God is real, come and find both where hope is really realized.

Finally Getting It…after many failures

Resolution to Stop Drinking and Doping…finally, I Will, I Think
Why resolutions fail may be answered by experts offering generalized pat answers from polling questions, or case studies. Unless you read their articles, their advice is moot, you will set yourself up for another year of failure to accomplish desired goals. The problem with resolutions is they are future goals, based on self-reliance, or willpower. Future goals are just that, the future, putting off trying because you are not ready yet. Willpower may work in some ways for you, but not in all things, or for what your resolution is aimed at to accomplish.

Insanity Defined and Sanely Accepting
You have heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, using the same methods, and expecting different results. All of the different things I tried to stop drinking came to nothing because I tried to do this by willpower. I am sure AA, NA, CR, rehab, or church would not have helped me then, or now, if my intent was to do it my way. What worked for the masses in getting clean and sober, in living for Christ, in any endeavor, would work for them, but not me. I am, (I used to think), unique, above the under-the-bridge-drunk, or the back-alley-addict.

I knew I was alcoholic, but refused to bow to “How It Works,” rebelling, desperately looking for the easier, softer way of getting free. Others who refuse to comply to what works, do so feeling they have crossed the line, have went too far for God’s grace to reach them, or for anyone to want to help them get well. No matter if you feel unique or unworthy, there is hope, you can resolve to stop, and achieve a sober life. Here is how.
(Two things: One, many say AA or any 12 step program doesn’t work for them because they do not want to get well yet. They are looking for your pity, hoping for another hand-out, or just trying to get you off their back, making you hopeless in their ever being normal. Second, this can work in many, even most areas of making resolutions, not just overcoming addictions.)

Finally Getting It
The experience I had to get sober is echoed throughout recovery groups. We all need to understand what WE means. Everyone who finally get it readily admit they needed help. Where the majority started, or first action, was looking for help from God. Some do not remember until time passes and they come out of compulsions fog. Eventually in their growth, suddenly they remember a most trying desperate moment they said…O God, please help me!
They may have thought the prayer went unanswered because it was much later, that the answer did come. It wasn’t God’s timing, you often hear so many say. It was a sincere prayer alright, but the intention was…help me out of this jam right now. You weren’t finished experiencing and dishing out pain on yourself and others. Yet, He heard your cry, and began pulling strings and manipulating situations. Perhaps you ended up incarcerated, hospitalized, or homeless, before you finally came to, but you did, because He did what you asked, helped you…just not how you expected.

Willpower has a distinct odor. A stench, actually. Anytime someone says they quit by willpower years ago, I nearly want to puke. Good they quit on their own, but their life is a dry-drunk existence. They didn’t experience growth in life from others help, maturing into seeing life in an adult manner knowing it is not all about them. I know of some that merely traded drinking for greed. They leave in their wake, a terrible message…”you don’t need to do anything but just quit like I DID.” SHOO-WEE, that stinks!

Prayer is the first action to a sober life, help from others is second.
We pray, God leads us to AA, NA, CR, OA, GA, or any of the many step programs where we receive help from others….and the program in turn, leads us back to God. We learn how to succeed from humbly following their direction, after all, it worked for them. In time, we find an individual we feel can mentor or sponsor us, so the recovery process goes to a new level, in most cases.

The next action in finally getting it is realizing I screwed my life up, I am unmanageable to stop the madness of addiction, and everything else in my life. The drinking wasn’t the problem, but turned on the light for what the real problem was...ME. When I saw this reality, I ACCEPTED my inability to change on my own. I CAME TO BELIEVE my need for help from others, by God’s grace via those place by Him in my path. They show gratitude for their recovery by giving back what they were given. (If you have benefited from your recovery program but do not give back in any way, you are ungrateful, living in the danger zone. I thought I ought to let you know.)

The last thing I want to add isn’t the last action in recovery. There is no last action. Don’t let that discourage you. The action is awesome, the challenge is life-altering, taking little-ole-me-and you into a new, higher dimension in life. We enter the cony-island way of life. Life, when we submit to God’s ways, in sober livings steps, may be like a merry-go-round, or roller coaster life, full of ups and downs. But we learn to enjoy the ride with enthusiasm, and actually remember it. The last action; MAKE A DECISION to turn your will and life over to God.

The worst mistake many in sobriety make is they only want enough of God to stay sober, get a job, a mate, a car, a home, etc. They only want Him as their personal genie, to fix their junk and their life reflects it. They only want to practice sobriety principles in some of their life, not in all their affairs.

Choosing Not to Finally Get It
Tonight is New Years eve. Many may see this post and save it for later, after tonight’s bash. Others may not see it until they are hungry for change tomorrow. Whatever the reason you do read this, whatever day your eyes fall on this page, know this: You do not have to follow the advice on the way to finally get it, written here, or from experts explaining resolution failures, or from anywhere anyone offers to help you SEE. But ask yourself this, how has doing things your way worked for you so far?

ADDED bonus for reading 
To summarize; I have been praying this prayer that I think may help you if you struggle with how to pray, or what to pray. It also covers what I have covered here, which are steps 1-3 in AA’s Big Book:

  ‘God, please help me stay sober today, I am helpless without you, my life is unmanageable. I believe you can return my sanity. I turn my will and my life over to your care, your will. Amen.”

Happy New Year, to you all! Thanks for reading. And if any of you go ahead and booze it up tonight, be careful, and I pray you have the worst time you ever had, the worst hangover, and puke your guts out…but also that God protects and keeps you alive, giving you one more chance. To you, it’s a crap shot, but He knows the end from the beginning, gracious to all!

Relief for Holiday Depression

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Right. “Maybe for you, but not for me. I can’t even afford presents for my children. We plan to have a bowl of corn flakes and toast for Christmas dinner.”
“If my husband would just quit drinking for the holidays, then we may be grateful.”
“How can the holidays be happy when your child is clinging to life after an overdose? Christmas will never be the same.”

These are some of the laments of families facing personal problems during the holiday season. I empathize with them. My heart goes out to those suffering depression brought by outside forces, or household divisions from addictions. I also have sorrow fro the lonely, those who have no one to enjoy the season with. The unmarried, widowers, orphaned children in foster homes that do not celebrate, etc.

There are also people so caught up in their work so deeply, or in so much debt, they cannot see celebration or purpose in Christmas. This form of depression hides itself from its victims, and renders killer-stress eventually. Where is relief for the many problems?, how can we celebrate and get free of depression during this time of year?

Pat answers are many in number; be grateful for what you have, pray, get counsel, go to an AA or NA meeting, (for those in recovery), etc. But none of these seem to help at our darkest moments, which may compound around this time of year. I want to offer something different to the mix of answers. This will take minimal effort but I know this works.

Many families read the Christmas story found in Luke 2 as an annual tradition. Try this, read around that story. Luke 1 is the story behind THE story. The angel appearing to Mary with the message of her selection, being the mother of the Promised One.
…”let it be to me according to your word.” was Mary’s response in verse 38, and the angel had said to her in vs. 37, “for with God NOTHING shall be impossible.”

These two passages are two sentences, as a person believes them, and speaks them, have tremendous power to affect the attitude with faith, in replace of the inward fears resulting in  depression. The pit of depression is a place of hopelessness. Saying prayers may seem unthinkable to the depressed and hurting, having tried to pray already, getting no results. But praying what is written, what the Word says, causes faith to rise and fear to run.

Here are two short passages, read them aloud every day until Christmas. Along with that, read aloud, or even better, pray aloud the Magnificat, Mary’s praise to God in vs. 46 through vs.55. Make it personal, saying to God in prayer:

“My soul magnifies You Lord, and my soul rejoices in You, my Savior. For You have regarded my lowly state, and from now on, people will call me blessed…You are mighty and have done great things for me”….

Continue this praise to God through verse 55, and do this aloud until Christmas Day. Get alone by yourself, sit in your car, or in a secluded place in your home. Take this serious, do it in praise and thanksgiving to God in your dark moments, in spite of the problems you face, or the challenges ahead that seem impossible…nothing is too hard for God. Scripture reveals the heart that is broken or fearful, will be liberated as that person praises God. (i.e. 2 Chron. 20, Nehemiah 1)

It is okay to doubt this. God is not angry at you for doubting. You’ve tried everything else, things of physical, or mental in nature have not worked. Let’s move over to the unseen, the spiritual things, bringing The Savior into your situation. Whether you doubt or not, put praise to God in your day and He will invade your world with life, joy and celebration.

Let today be the day you have the courage to believe in Christ’s purpose, and find your purpose. One more thought; read more of the stories around The Story, chapters 1-2 of Luke. The whole story is great and faith-building.

He Went Where?

The Pope sent a message to every leader of every Christian sect worldwide. “Meet with me in Washington. I have wonderful…and disturbing news for you all…God has given me a message for you all!” They gathered, every Christian leader in D.C., awaiting the news. The Pope rose to the podium. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have news, both good and bad…”Christ has returned to Earth!” He has not come for judgment at this time.”
A Baptist minister stood up and asked, “If Jesus is back, what could possibly be the bad news?”
The Pope responded, “He called me from an AA meeting in Ohio.”

Jesus, if He attended an AA meeting, would not be there to treat alcoholism. Don’t think I am trying to be irreverent. When He returns, He will come as it is written, and for the purpose He said He would return…and that appears to be the next major event on the prophetical date book.

The humor of the story is that Jesus has to come back to the Earth to do what the religious should be doing first and foremost…but cannot without disturbing their flock, or rocking their place of comfort, or studying to prove themselves right and all others wrong. Down the street, the widow is eating cat food, the orphan is being taught survival by the criminal element in the “hood.” In real life, most churches today have food banks, and emergency funds for the truly needy. They strive to serve the best they can, I believe.
That is good and follows Christ’s commands. But we who sit in the pews only throw a few bucks in the plate to fund these programs. That takes care of our guilt and we move on with our life, satisfied with our goodness. We may go a little further with a moment of silence for people suffering…like that does any good. Really, don’t think something nice, do something human, take action.
Jesus is here today in the person of the Holy Spirit. I sense His grief, I believe, over our division within Christian ranks, our hunger for more of everything that perishes, and drive for self-importance. “If Christ is here, where is He?”, the unbeliever, the cold or lukewarm believer asks.He is where the hurting, the broken, lonely are…AA, NA, and those places and in those hearts looking to serve the needs of all for God’s glory. He is where those who hunger and thirst for knowledge of Him and want His presence. 
Jesus is where darkness is the greatest. It is reported He has appeared in dreams of people in Islamic countries saying, “follow me!” That is from their mouths, those who followed Him at the risk of losing everything, family, possessions, or even their lives. Jesus is exactly where He was when He came to the planet two thousand years ago…among the people looking for a savior, for truth without strings to support scientific facts or educational falsehood of our origin.
He is in the churches that gather to build the spiritual house for Him to dwell. Not those who insist on exclusivity, believe our way or else go to hell. He shuns the bless me clubs that come together to agree on social status, who gets the lead in the holiday program, or individuals serving Him for self-promotion.
Today, it is of extreme importance that we who believe make every effort to test ourselves to see that we truly believe. I feel certain from the direction we are heading, away from anything godly and everything that removes Jesus, days of the end are here. We need to go where He would go, do what He would do, without concern of shame, or fear of mans disapproval.
Like my uncle Don used to say from the pulpit, “get in, get out, or get run over.” 
Blessings.

I’m Going To…

“As soon as baseball season is over, I am going to get serious about my drinking problem.”
“Sure, I really want to be a Christian, but I need to clean myself up first. When I stop drinking, cursing, and other things I know is wrong…then I will serve God.”
“I know I need to pray and read my Bible more. As soon as the kid’s soccer season is over, I really want to start a daily program.”

The above statements are those of us all at one time or another. For some it is a way of life. Putting off important matters because of being too busy will continue until we see fully what it is we are doing, or not doing. That is, when it is crystal clear the damage inflicted on ourselves and others by procrastinating. I heard a man say in a AA meeting, that procrastination is ultimately self-centered. A chronic procrastinator only does what they “feel like doing.”

Putting off getting ourselves to recovery until football, baseball, or any sport or activity we enjoy season ends, is really saying, “I am not ready.” There is no reason to nag this person in an attempt to get them to see their need. Their mind is made up. The bottom awaits, normally with legal consequences like a OVI/DUI, job loss, divorce…procrastinating until it is too late.

The same is true in statements like trying to clean oneself up before asking Christ to come in to their life. They have the mind-set of playing out their life the way they want, putting Him off to live as they choose. They are not ready, and probably never will be. God will go to any means to get to them, guaranteed.

The parents that think they will suddenly have an urge to get serious about their relationship with God when their kids activities come to an end are only fooling themselves and setting a terrible example for their offspring. Their kids will follow how they are taught, everything goes ahead of spiritual matters, God is somewhere down mom and dad’s priority list. Do you really want your children to place importance on everything ahead of Him? In fact, for me or any believer to say, “I need to pray and read the Word more,” is repulsive. Praying and reading the Bible are both privileges for us, we “get to,” not need or have to.

I’m fairly well convinced procrastination, those five syllables of death, can only be beaten by our seeing it as a problem. Then accepting that we are procrastinators, and asking God to forgive us and help us overcome. Once we have done so, I suggest making a list, from things we know we dodge, from smallest to greatest, then back to pray for help, list in hand, confessing our weakness and inability to “want” to do these things. The realization of our unmanageable ways, the admission, and the desire to stop, lead us to surrendering to Him, the only hope of real healing.

He will help. My other suggestion is to take the list and do the smallest item on the list first. Then the next smallest, etc. When the little things we postpone are accomplished, the bigger issues become smaller, easier to do when handled with prayer. Give it a go, don’t delay.

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.