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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When Plans Go Awry

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.

I figured after church Sunday, I would be able to see the grandchildren, then finish our work. We were exhausted. I showered, laid down nearly comatose, and aches and pains with restless leg syndrome paid me a visit. I had to get up and take ibuprofen to sleep. It worked.
I awoke Sunday morning too late to even attempt to get ready for services. Guilt, my arch-enemy’s favorite tool, paid me a visit. I also saw that someone with a serious issue had tried to text me when reviewing my messages. For about an hour we talked over his problem. God gave me words to help him and I believe he was helped. I figured that since the day’s plans were already ruined, I would get back on the chores, so she and I went back at it.
As we were doing work, our neighbor, and elderly gentleman in poor health was riding his mower on a slant about ten feet behind us. We waved and yelled hello, as he did our way. Simultaneously, Judy and I saw the mower’s wheels tip, and the neighbor’s eyes flashed a big uh-oh. We darted over Judy grabbing the back, I holding up the front of the huge mower, the neighbor slid off of the mower, killing the engine.
He threw it in neutral and the three of us steered the mower to flat ground. I believe he would have been killed or permanently maimed in that short tumble had we not been there.
We went about our work. I didn’t get to see the grandchildren, go to the NA meeting, or the evening AA meeting. I sat on the bed thanking God for the great weather and apologizing again for missing services. The thought immediately came to my mind, “had I accomplished my plans today, my friend would not have received the help, my neighbor, well, I believe his wife may be making his arrangements today.” 
God is good all of the time, never doubt that. After God energized me to recognize His presence always, and guilt slithered away from me, these passages came to mind:
ADONAI directs a person’s steps and He delights in his ways. Ps.37:23 
A man’s steps are ordered by ADONAI, so how can a person understand his own ways? Prov.20:24
A person may plan his way, but ADONAI directs his steps. Prov.16:9 
                                                                                (Complete Jewish Bible)
My plans and every intention I have may be good, but good for who? Me, ultimately. You may have the same good intentions, but you find yourself on a complete opposite path, a different job, suddenly moving or in a different church, or even in a bad place you didn’t plan. Stop, thank God for where your feet are that moment, then listen and think with your heart. This is the place your spirit may see God’s goodness in Christ, you surrender, and healing comes to your body and mind.
Don’t stop going to church, recovery meetings, or planning. But when plans fail, remember He is present with a better plan for you.

Visions, Dreams, and Prophets

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.)

Furthermore, the argument of the Dark Ages and lack of anything new but plagues and wars after the light came on. So, these arguments I acknowledge, yet I realize the Light had an enemy that was a sore loser, and did all he could to destroy wipe out the way and darken men’s minds through the religious hoarding Truth from the world. Not all of the religious were in favor of controlling the minds of the unlearned and ignorant.
The monks of Ireland, for example, began universities throughout Europe. Through education and literacy, the age of the Enlightenment, His Light continued to shine into the New World, where the Puritans began public schools we have today so their children could learn to read the Bible. Within a couple of centuries, the people of Europe, and of the now United States becoming literate, slavery was abolished on both continents. That evil which displeased God removed brought an end to clouded ignorance, and much intolerance. God granted favor once again, giving the Spirit freedom to inspire invention and discoveries, which to this day have been off of the charts in number. Mankind is no longer crawling, but racing to the consummation of all things. Time is drawing to an end.
Men and women today are visionaries, they have dreams then find methods to achieve them. Also, people are learning the words they speak are self-fulfilling prophesies. Words that are positive have positive results. Negative words have negative results. It is, I believe, another dimension of the presence of the Holy One in our world. I do not discount Joel/Peter’s words not to mean God’s Spirit bringing God’s will through a special spiritual gift. The point is, these are the days spoken of in scripture.
Don’t doubt that. Man has undeniable abilities to do once impossible feats, yet this does nothing to grant anyone believer-ship. The spill over of those who believe in Jesus has a world-wide ripple effect. The light is on, but many of the people who benefit, many that discover, explore, and achieve, remain personal darkness, denying Christ, and opposing the Gospel. Pride of personal achievement leaves the achievers ungrateful to God, praising self and mentors opposing Christ’s sacrifice.
Here is the message; These days we live in are the days aforementioned in scripture. The evidence is obvious on every level spirituality, mentality, and physically. The warning bell has sounded for the believers to awaken, unite, and live their faith out in word and deed. In Noah’s day, people were living out their daily routine, eating, drinking, getting married, etc. They had no idea what day the rain would start, judgment be executed.
So it is with many of us today. The only thing that matters for us is getting and personal comforts. We have no time to teach and tell our children the Word at the risk of their eternity. Hopefully when you read this you shake yourselves to the reality of the day’s evil, and the promised return of Jesus. To ignore this has a ripple effect opposite of receiving it.
Who, of your family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors have you decided to lose to the ages?

To Authors, Poets, and Bloggers

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 write this post with you, the writers, poets, authors, musicians, students, and everyone thinking about quitting what they sense God has laid on their hearts to do in His kingdom. God knows how to speak to me and I felt it necessary to attempt to convey this to you. Reading Galatians yesterday, (that is His way of getting me the message), Paul’s words reminded me that I, and you, need to fulfill our calling. Check this out:
“Live creatively friends…..make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then SINK YOURSELF INTO THAT. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” vs. 1, 4-7 (MSG)
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued in doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get a chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” vs.9-10 (MSG)
The dry seasons come and go. These times are where we learn and grow. We learn little on the mountain top experiences, singing, dancing, and all. Like the passage says, live creatively, put your all into Christ, and He will give you all you need to accomplish your ministry. Don’t be concerned with FB likes, Twitter re-tweets, and comments on your posts. Remember who you work for and Who is working through you.
Now get out there and…just do it, in Jesus name.

How to Get Faith to Recover

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.

There are three things very important about having faith to recover. One, everyone has faith. Two, faith comes through hearing. Three, without faith, you cannot recover…or achieve anything in life. Think about it. Faith is required for any achievement and action forward in life whether secular or religious.

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.

How you begin comes from hearing how from the experienced. Get to meetings and listen with everything in you. Your faith will grow. If you still doubt, ask why. Just as you hear of growing faith to recover, achieve, and attain, not believing what you hear destroys any hope of growing into faith. It is your choice.
Do you believe it?

Wants and Needs

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.

Why Bother Praying?

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?

These are the normal questions that fuel the fires of disbelief in the unseen. The thing I find curiously interesting is that those questions remain questions because people who ask them seldom try to find out the answer. If they decide one day to research their doubts for answers, they are seldom disappointed.
. Free will, God wants our fellowship, He wants us to trust Him enough that we ask Him, because we have given allegiance to self-will and darkness, are the short, short, incredibly short answers to the questions. Each question would be a 3000 word essay, which you wouldn’t bother to read.
What makes me think you wouldn’t bother to read it?
 It’s too difficult for one asking to read. It is the asking that prevents the discovery of spiritual matters.That is true even with science. Asking requires the individual with questions to cease asking and look for the answers. Looking, by the way, isn’t reading a few pages and saying, “now I know.” (You may actually read a 3000 word essay, but statistically most people seldom read a post longer than 600 words.)
 Do you really want to know if God exists? Keep in mind, if you find that reality, your life today is done for good. You will have a change of perspective on how you view God.
Do you want to know?
Okay, that brings us to this post’s title. Why bother praying? If you do not believe in God, I want you to do something completely stupid, but do it sincerely. Make sure no one is around you. When you are sure you are alone, quietly say these words….
….”God, if You do exist, would You make Yourself known to me?”
I have watched many people’s lives change in recovery meetings by using this simple prayer. Those entering recovery intent on finding hope of freedom from addictions, would do anything to know that there is a transcendent God that cares for them, not angry with them, and will help them. I am one, and have personally witnessed God change others too. No questions to us any longer. We were desperate, and so are you, but maybe for different reasons.
Give it a go. Those questions are waiting for you to find the answers to. Start first by asking God to reveal Himself. You will be contacted.
“When you call to Me and pray to Me, I will listen to you. When you seek Me, you will find Me, provided you seek for Me wholeheartedly, and I will let you find Me, ” says ADONAI.
Jer.29:12-14 (CJB)

Ideas For 2015

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.

Devotion, Recovery, and 2015

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?”

Watergate’s Gift to Us

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.

 How does this relate to recovery from addictions to drink and drugs, or anything else?You can allow your past to entrap you for the rest of your life if you feel God couldn’t or wouldn’t possibly use your story to bring hope to others. Chuck’s story is a lesson of hope for you. God may have used Chuck’s prominence, but throughout church history, God has taken ordinary people and done extraordinary things. Be recklessly willing to give your brokenness for God’s glory and perhaps someone may be writing about you.

Merry Christmas.