Stumped… The start of reflection on Ecclesiastes.

stumpedstumped2

 

The pictures above show the same area of the back of our property.  These pictures were taken literally only a days apart.  In one picture, you’ll see a beautiful backdrop with a slow moving creek.  The next shows an enormous tree complete with it’s root system blocking that pretty view.

In my mind, the “new intruder” had disrupted my “zen” and I was determined to take the chainsaw to the area immediately and remove it – because I am in control.  This obviously would have required many, many hours of labor intensive work.  This task would have been dangerous and strenuous, but hey! I can do this.  I didn’t, lol.

As you can see in the pictures, this is a relatively small creek.  This tree did not fall from the top of the cliff – it was delivered here by a day of steady rain. Forces that can’t be imagined must have moved this tree and it rested where it was inconvenient to me.  We all realize that wood floats, but this was a live “green” tree with massive weight.  Modern day large ships need a certain amount of water to float.  Can you see enough water? I can’t.

1 Invest your money in foreign trade, and one of these days you will make a profit. 
2 Put your investments in several places – many places even – because you never know what kind of bad luck you are going to have in this world. 
3 No matter which direction a tree falls, it will lie where it fell. When the clouds are full, it rains. 
4 If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything. 
5 God made everything, and you can no more understand what he does than you understand how new life begins in the womb of a pregnant woman. 
6 Do your planting in the morning and in the evening, too. You never know whether it will all grow well or whether one planting will do better than the other.

King Solomon 

 

I’m guessing that if you’re still reading, then you’re ready for a point? Well, I’ve been lazy with my writing, but not my head.  So many things going on down here in this “kingdom”.  Many have asked me why the break?  Great question. I’m struggling – “under the sun”.

*To preface: I am not about to compare myself to King Solomon, however I do try and understand his conundrum and will explain my thoughts. It’s a blog, so you get what you get 🙂

King Solomon (the descendant of David) asked all of my questions and many more – long ago.  He also tried to seek joy in the exact same ways that I have. He clearly states that one won’t find meaning “under the sun”.

What in my mind tells me that I am somehow smarter than he?

If you had to ask God for a blessing – would you ask for wisdom?  Would you include other requests besides wisdom?  Sure!  We all do.

If someone (loved one or stranger – doesn’t matter) asks you for help, say a question, or advise – and you don’t know the answer, do you take it upon yourself to have the wisdom to answer without asking God first?  Or do you answer with an ulterior motive – thinking you know or that it may somehow benefit you?

It has already been determined! 

Psalm 139

God Knows Everything

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

139 Lord, you have examined me
    and know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts before I think them

 

And David’s son:

7  You may be wise, but if you cheat someone, you are acting like a fool. If you take a bribe, you ruin your character.

History tells us that almost every major religious and spiritual guidance works (or writings) at minimum include Solomon and at maximum the Bible states that he was the wisest of all men that ever was and ever will be.  Why not refer to the work he has already done for us? He had everything.  He had money, power, ancestry, women, wine, common sense, etc., etc.  The one thing he didn’t have (at least initially) was the understanding of wisdom.  But he knew to ask without motive:

2 Chronicles 1

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king,12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

How many times do we hit our hand with a hammer before we learn the hammer isn’t the problem?  The hammer didn’t do it!

If you set your sights on a beautiful location or situation: home, comfy chair, park, favorite food, song, drug, alcohol, family, money, place of power… does that make you happy,  peaceful, or content? It’s already been tried – and by the wisest man God put on the planet – under the sun.  Guess what he found out?  Meaningless – under the sun.

Have you reached your pinnacle?

When do we learn to leave that tree in the creek alone and realize that it can be gone in a split second – IF God wants it to – same as you and I.  Solomon (paraphrase) said anything we seek “under the sun” is meaningless.  The wisest person on the planet EVER says  to basically to leave it alone.

Funny, my best friend and I were sitting out on the front porch.  Rain had started and wasn’t predicted to be as strong as it was.  In about a half an hour, that creek in the picture was completely transformed. It became a raging river that we thought would take our entire property away.  No joke. Scary, fast, and powerful.  We could feel it in our feet.  It would have taken me at least a half an hour just to get the chainsaw ready and make my way to the stump.  The next morning our property remained unscathed, but that tree was no where to be seen. We searched.

Everything is predestined.  The stump was there because God wanted it to be.  The stump was gone because God wanted it to be moved. Same with us.

More to follow on Solomon.  Glad to get back to writing.  If this didn’t make sense – I encourage the truth that only comes from the Bible.  Tomorrow I plan to continue.

 

 

 

 

 

This writing is to Paul. And…

Paul, I feel you buddy.  I also feel many hearts and minds may understand where I am going with this.  As “experienced” as you may pretend that you are: you are not.  Depression, addiction and alcoholism join together to create a powerful force.  When you sit on a “throne” and command people who are hurting, you take on a major responsibility.  When you hurt inside and force your fix on a group of people that battle different problems, you immediately take on things that you can’t handle.

How many times do we watch people fail and justify that with power.  I feel sadness to believe healing comes from control.

Numbers don’t lie.  The best programs on the planet rely on alumni.  The reason for that is because no one wants to disappoint another human being.  When we have been let down by others, we feel it necessary to combat that with hurting another.  That strategy will never work when we find ourselves responsible for the lives of many.   Life has beaten the very core of others.  Those people are my friends.  I will put this very clear:  if I see or hear of another relapse, I will not stop until the problem is fixed.  Remember my goal:  to help one person.

Have you ever really wanted to be honest?

I have met some great people in my life.  I have met some children who hurt.  Who are confused. Dr. Phil can’t help them.  They have no idea who they are.  Cutting seems “normal”.  I have cut to the extreme.  I explain that to them.  I explain drinking to these kids.  Wow.  What can I do to save them?  They have read my blog.  They see a light.  They relate.  Why and how?  Can I help them?

Try to carry the Message!

 

1 John 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

I had recently spoken to a man named Quaid.  He is an alcoholic and he was trying to determine why he had recently relapsed.  He told me adamantly that he wasn’t a Christian, but that he was actually far from it – he was a Pagan. He continued to say that he respected my views as a Christian and that all religions, in his view, follow the same viewpoints, just from different perspectives.  I intern, respect his views and only desired to hear his struggle with relapse and possibly offer suggestions.  Being no expert on Paganism, I had to do some careful research in order to offer any suggestion.  I did, however, find myself caring and taking it on personally.  I wanted to ensure I didn’t cause confusion which might add to his relapse struggle.

To start, I had to understand what the definition of Pagan was.  I found that it simply means a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.  The synonyms (heathen, idolater, infidel) stir up negativity to me and interestingly enough, “heathen” has Christian roots.  I don’t like titles like that, so I am going to make myself feel better and say that Quaid just holds different beliefs than myself.  Most people do!

Next, I wanted to know if Quaid had realized what brought on the relapse in the first place; the catalyst.  He responded by telling me about his profession and some of the frustrations he has encountered.  He is a caregiver to the elderly, which I find very honorable.  As many of us follow in our parent’s footsteps, he began as a youth after school, sitting with his Mom who was a nurse and in his own words “interacting” with the residents at a nursing facility. Quaid went on to explain that now, as an adult in the profession, he sees situations of abuse and neglect carried out in his field by other caregivers and he is so passionate about the residents that he courageously reports the instances to his superiors.  That is a valiant thing to do – and the right thing to do.  He goes on to say that nothing gets done about it, his complaints are ignored, and it has brought him to the point of disliking and even changing his career path.  So much so that he said, “Oh Gods, I wish I could this instant”.  Quaid finishes by telling me that when he sees something wrong, He tries everything in his power to do something right. He can’t just sit idle, letting things happen. That has NEVER been him. He speaks up despite the trouble it may lead to, but with his alcoholism, his temper flares. He calls it passion.

I haven’t had a chance to talk more with Quaid and I am glad to have the time to reflect on his issue.  This gives me time to study and hopefully offer a decent response to him.

While telling me the beginning of his story, I found a few details curious.  First that he used the words “interacting, passionate, in his power, and Gods”.  “Gods” in the plural sense.  Everything about his story (besides alcohol) screams love. He loves the residents enough to stand up and fight for them.  He loves them so much that in his confused way of thinking, that he is drinking to quell the anger and frustration of mistreatment of people.  Yes, he is only hurting himself, but we all may be guilty of that charge at times.

Myself being a sinning Christian winced at the plural use of God, but dissecting his story to try and establish a root cause, it dawned on me that love was his motive.  That I can relate to with my God.  God is love, so maybe Quaid can take the “s” off of the gods he believes in.  At a minimum, this will make things less confusing to him.  Secondly, a career change at the reasoning of others wrong doings essentially makes the wrongdoers Quaid’s god.  He would be allowing his gods of neglect and abuse to others win and direct his future.  Ironic.  Alcohol is temporarily one of Quaid’s other gods as well.  That’s a lot of gods to juggle.

My God today is love.  I learned the hard way that I can’t have more than one.  If I continue to love – including myself and others – this will be all I can handle and I won’t have time for a relapse.

Love you, Quaid.

 

Comments welcomed.  Have a great Valentines Day!

Would you give it all up?

Acts 2:45

45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had a need.

 

 

The book continues…  This exert is following a chapter on suicide (a failed attempt) and dual diagnosis.  I can’t give away the entire book, but the suggestions and emails that I am receiving are encouraging to say the least, so I thought I’d post a little more.  There are solutions.

 

…as I look back, I wonder what it would have taken at that moment, to admit myself into a detox.  Clearly, I needed it.  Clearly, I was spiritually dead.  Or was I?  If someone, a stranger, would have approached me and said to come with them to their church service at that very minute, would have I went?  Probably not, however, I would have wanted to deep inside of me.  What would have stopped me?  A couple of reasons that were very true in my sober mind now, and exaggerated in my drunken mind then:

A perceived judgment from others.  At a church? At a 12 step meeting? Yep.

A perceived judgment from God himself. Definitely.

…and lastly, but most importantly: self-imposed detachment from my vodka – my god.

…I once walked into a random church (on a Friday evening) straight from a detox hospital. This particular church had started a “movie night” and I literally had nothing else to do.  I was going to sleep outside that night. I had no food, no alcohol, and no money.  I was in a city that I was completely unfamiliar with.  I had never been there before.  My backpack with everything I owned on my shoulder – and I just kept telling myself that people would think I was a student of some sort. Right! 40 something years old with a 5 o’clock shadow and I could smell myself – a student! I recall walking through the enormous parking lot that had just begun receiving cars.  I told myself that once I got closer to the building, people wouldn’t realize that I had walked.  They would believe I had a car just like everyone else.  I remember being impressed that the church had the city police directing traffic and there were members of the church holding up signs to help point people in the right direction.

I walked in and proceeded down an escalator!  Yep, this place had an escalator.  I had never seen that before.  I continued to follow the crowd and couldn’t believe my eyes, when, near the entrance to the sanctuary (or auditorium) were coolers full of soda, coffee pots lined up with fancy cups (with lids!) and more “members” handing out bags of popcorn and candy!

How did they know I was hungry?  I couldn’t show any eagerness and take these snacks and drinks – could I?  Nope, that would make me appear homeless.  I did get a cup of coffee and thought: this will numb my stomach hunger pangs and get me through.

I entered the massive auditorium and found a seat in the nosebleeds, away from everyone else.  The music started.  There was live music with real instruments.  There were laser lights and smoke machines.  The soundboard was as large as a dining room table and there were professional movie cameras everywhere – one of which was on a telescoping boom that looked like it should be at a professional football stadium.  The music boomed.  The singer’s voices were incredible and sent waves of shivers down my spine.  God was there.  No doubt, no disputes, God himself was sitting right next to me and tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably.

If only the church knew what was going on with me.

Would they help me?

They didn’t ask.

I won’t tell them – and I didn’t.

…What did the 12 Apostles do and say at their brand new churches to convince sinners that Jesus saved them?  Why can’t I feel this way? If I did feel this way, would I stop (or try to stop) drinking? How did they persuade thousands of people to feel the mercy and grace of our Lord?  I had to know.  I don’t want to hang my head down anymore, but people and shame hindered my every move.  Do I quake in fear of being identified with Jesus?  Yes, but why?  Probably in part due to the fear of the same persecution that they encountered.  Maybe the same reason the “big book” added later “as we understood Him” to simply God.  Fear and self will…

Comments and emails invited 🙂

He wept, and I was causing it…

Another exerpt from the book:

 

John 11:35

35 Jesus wept.

…I have walked many miles.  I slept very little last night and I was cold.  One eye open for the most part of the extremely long night. Once the vodka wore off and the night set in, I was scared to death.  The only peace I felt was that I gathered 7 or 8 half cigarettes and I protected those with my life – well, those and my cell phone. Finally, daybreak.  I’ve got to sneak out of this hiding spot and blend in with the city.  I won’t need to use the restroom – I’ve got nothing in me.  First thing’s first, gotta find a cigarette and get my phone charged where there is WiFi.  Now is when I begin to realize how dirty I am – and it is getting hot.  My socks are literally sticking to my feet and I begin to wonder if my feet are medically okay, however, I must keep walking.  To where I have no idea.  I haven’t eaten today and I think yesterday neither. I need a real cigarette.  A whole one – not someone else’s half-smoked butt.  I have too much pride to bum one from a stranger, but if I could just have a whole one, and some vodka, I would be great!  Ahhh, a Mcdonalds.  WiFi and an outlet, maybe a half cigarette.  I can feel the eyes on me.  Am I that rough looking?  Will the manager let me loiter?  Man, the food smells good, will someone please take pity on me and buy me a sausage biscuit?  I won’t dare ask…

The master plan: Somehow, once again, I have to swindle my sister to wire $20 to the nearest Western Union.  This will be after a psychotic amount of texts and phone calls. I am so mad at her for not responding quickly to my texts!  My cell phone battery is about to run out and the only hope I have is that I have bothered her enough or laid on enough of a guilt trip that she will surprise me with a confirmation code.  Maybe she’ll send more than $20 I think.  Doesn’t she realize what a great guy I am for only asking for $20?  Doesn’t she realize how hungry I am!  She must feel sorry for me.  I promise her that I will buy food with the money – and I mean it this time because I am so hungry.  I know; I’ll tell her how much I love her!  That always does the trick.  “Kill her with kindness.”  My phone dings!  My heart races and I am somewhat afraid to look at the text because it’s a rejection.  How could she reject me!  I am her blood brother and I would do the same for her!  The last time (two days ago) that I got money from her, she gave me a sermon about getting my life together.  She yelled and yelled.  I kept my responses meek and humble.  What right does she have to yell at me! She does wrong things all the time.  Oh, the hunger pangs.  Where am I anyway?  She responds with a confirmation code!  Life is okay.  I check maps on my phone for the Western Union and it’s only a 4-mile walk, but I now have the energy I need to get there.  It’s located in a little mini-mart gas station about a mile from Wal-mart.  I’ll get the $20 and walk to Walmart, buy some food, snap some pictures and text them to my sister.  This will prove how responsible I was with her money and she will be so happy.  I should get a pack of cigarettes while I’m here.  Maybe one tall can of beer. The rest I’ll spend on food.  I buy vodka, beer and a pack of cigarettes. Life is good.  Two dollars left.  That’s enough for a coffee and a sausage sandwich – tomorrow morning…

 

I received a lot of feedback from yesterday’s post, thanks!  Feel free to keep the comments coming, or send me an email.  Have a great Tuesday.

One dollar in the basket…

“…I also believe in God.  Yes, the God that is in the Bible and in heaven and in my heart.  I also believe in trees, but no tree was ever described in such masterful detail as God is in the Bible.  God made trees!  It says so in the Bible.  God made people and people make groups, light fixtures, and door knobs.  That is also explained in the Bible…”

I have been asked to author a book and haven’t been able to blog lately, but here is an excerpt from the draft:

…we spend more money on tennis shoes in this country than we do on recovery.  We put one dollar in the basket at an AA meeting while wearing $100 Nike shoes.  We have probably worn those shoes in the hospital detox or rehab facility.  I know that I have.  The brand Nike alone in 2017 was worth 29.6 Billion – that’s just for the name!  Annual revenue for the company exceeds 34.4 Billion

The annual revenue for all U.S. treatment centers was around 25.6 billion

…what is one person’s voice, opinion or even conveyance of facts worth?

One U.S. apparel company: $34 billion.

14, 500+ U.S. addiction facilities: $26 billion.

Churches in the U.S. rack in 1.2 trillion.  If that doesn’t scream that people are searching for a higher power, God or spirituality, I’m not sure what does.  “This number is more than the combined revenue of the top 10 technology companies in the country, including Apple, Amazon, and Google.”…

“If you’d like to spend your time in dispute, arguing, or resenting the info – feel free to do so if it helps you.  My guess is that it won’t do much except entertain the Devil and grieve the Holy Spirit (which I also believe in).”

Just something to chew on!  Have a great Monday!

Courage to change the things I can…

images (1)

 

 

I haven’t been able to write for a few days due to the fact that we’ve been traveling. During our travels, we encountered an animal rescue.  We have been on the search for a dog or puppy lately and we refuse to buy one when there are so many  “free” or discarded dogs already available.  We passed the rescue and went about our daily plans, but we couldn’t stop thinking and talking about the rescue and maybe we could find the pup we’ve been looking for finally.  We decided that we would make time to go back there and look around.  There began the problem.  We noticed that almost all of the dogs were malnourished and unhappy.  I am not a dog whisper, bud they all seemed sad.  It would make sense if a couple of them were skinny, but not most of them!   When I enquired about the condition of the animals, I was not given any suitable reasoning, and in fact, the fella in charge seemed to not care at all.  We left angry.  In my drinking days, this anger would cause more drinking!  Today, I don’t, but I still have the fierce determination to make things right.

We recite the Serenity Prayer at most 12 step meetings.  Do we ever break it down and reflect on what it means to us?  What do we do when we need to stay sober and a major personal issue affects us so deeply?  Let it go? Fix it?  Can we?

Breaking down a problem and solving it sober, politically correct, Christian like and not self-serving:  Tough one.

Our Bible study topic this morning:  Doing the right thing when you feel that your attempt might cause unjust consequences.   But if by doing what is right fixes injustice and provides truth we would essentially be “…doers of the word and not hearers only…” (James 1:22) 

 

images (2)

 

A small mouse crept up to a sleeping lion. The mouse admired
the lion’s ears, his long whiskers and his great mane. 

“Since he’s sleeping,” thought the mouse, “he’ll never suspect I’m here!” 

With that, the little mouse climbed up onto the lion’s tail, ran across its back,
slid down its leg and jumped off of its paw. The lion awoke and quickly caught
the mouse between its claws. 

“Please,” said the mouse, “let me go and I’ll come back and help you 
 someday.” 

The lion laughed, “You are so small! How could ever help me?” 

The lion laughed so hard he had to hold his belly! The mouse jumped to freedom
and ran until she was far, far away. 

The next day, two hunters came to the jungle. They went to the lion’s lair. 
They set a huge rope snare. When the lion came home that night, he stepped into the
trap. 

He roared! He wept! But he couldn’t pull himself free. 

The mouse heard the lion’s pitiful roar and came back to help him. 

The mouse eyed the trap and noticed the one thick rope that held it together. 
She began nibbling and nibbling until the rope broke. The lion was able to shake
off the other ropes that held him tight. He stood up free again! 

The lion turned to the mouse and said, “Dear friend, I was foolish to ridicule
you for being small. You helped me by saving my life after all!” 

Moral of the story: No matter the size, everyone can help, and be just as important!

What happens if the mighty lion instead turns and eats the mouse?

 

I think inaction is out of the question, but the lion can sometimes be very intimidating.  Maybe wisdom tells us that many mice would have a better chance?  We thought that maybe by donating money that it would, in turn, help the animals.  We only needed to recall the fella in charge’s demeanor and realized that wouldn’t help. We also thought about volunteering, but the rescue was too far away.  Should we have faith that there must be a reason God is allowing this to happen?  We don’t think so.  God is love.

Today’s Bible study is more of reflection than a possible solution.  Doing the right thing takes courage, prayer, and faith.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments if you have time.

Todays verse to “chew on”:

Isaiah 1:17

17 Learn to do good.
    Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
    Defend the cause of orphans.
    Fight for the rights of widows.

 

Keywords: learn, seek, help, defend, and fight.

 

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