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 🙂

“Real knows Real”… Bible study 1/29/18

Have you ever been in the presence of someone, a stranger, and “sensed” evil? They didn’t do anything, didn’t say anything, but something was “off”.

And then that person speaks and what (or how) they speak confirms your intuition.  What then?  I must say that personally it invariably draws me in!  I say this in the context (and it’s difficult to explain) that I start to feel hatred.  They do not create pleasant emotions.  I start to “wish” for God to strike them down.  Culturally, the leader of North Korea is a great example of this, however this “hits home” as well.  This could happen at a gas station, a store, at rehab, or yes, even at church.

I’ve thought maybe it’s just me, however, I have asked others and turns out that isn’t the case.

The reason I am writing about this today is that I often reflect back to statements made to me that are almost a revelation (or revealing – to dull it down).  In a past rehabilitation setting, a young man and current friend in his twenties looked me in the eye and told me “real knows real”.  He said this in a very matter of fact manner and it has stuck with me ever since.

During the active phase in our addictions, we probably are at most times unaware of this “evil” that I’m writing about, although when thinking back there were brief moments of clarity.  Thank God for that, amen?

When their actions, or words, don’t necessarily even involve me, I become resentful.  In the world of recovery, most know that resentment is dangerous at a minimum.

What do we do about it?  For one, we stay away from those people! Simple right?  In the 12 step world, we say to change our “people, places, and things”, but the people variable is present no matter what we do or where we go.  This video is helpful in explaining some of what I’m talking about.

1 Corinthians 15:33  Says that “bad company corrupts good character”.  Corrupts!!  How so?  By interfering, or bumping us out of our path towards righteous, or virtuous goals. In the case of addiction or disorders, it is especially important and we must not allow it.

So, “Run Forest, Run”?  The Apostle Paul says in 15:34, essentially just that!  Break off the “leg braces” that have been holding you back for so long and you will experience freedom.

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Ezekiel 3:19  But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.”

Romans 16:17“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.”

What then if it’s less sinister?  I have experienced family members and friends who don’t seem to be aware of the damage that they are causing by their words and actions.  I’m not asking for enabling conduct from them, but I don’t need to feel less than or be criticised neither.  I pray for them; along with patience, tolerance, acceptance, blah, blah, blah.   No offense God, but my alcoholic tendencies require instant gratification.  I am trying to do the best I can in my walk with the Lord, but should I run?  Not exactly.

10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)

My father has always told me to “stick with the winners”.  We know who they are (as my friend pointed out).  Our Father has given us this ability.  Let’s apply it and walk with Him today.

As always, thanks for reading and comments are welcomed.

Today’s verse to “chew on”:

Matthew 18:15-17

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Morning Bible Studies 1/18/18

 

Topic: Off the Deep End

This morning we started out our bible study kind of clueless at where to begin honestly. (Sorry, but bear with me and keep reading, I will get to a point).  I began by just flipping through the bible – not really reading, but thinking of other things.  Others did the same.  I finally tried to focus by looking back at yesterday’s “to chew on” verse;

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6: 10-13)

…and I continued reading in my bible:

 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Just press play 🙂

 

While I was deciphering exactly what the “armor” is, another told me a verse that they were struck by:     “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10).

We continued on by determining that maybe we don’t understand this, possibly fear this and seemed to question our deeds.  This led into discussing the unexplained guilt that some of us have felt since being a child. Not one could define a single reason (or deed) for feeling not good enough.  And there we went “off the deep end”.

The guilt, shame, worthlessness, feelings of not being good enough etc., that some feel by words indoctrinated into our minds repeatedly at a young age, created who we feel like we are today! Keep in mind that in our youth, we did not understand spiritual principles set forth in the gospel (the gospel of peace – see above). We had little to no armor, today we do! And we must believe it!  When we were young, we listened to them – today, we listen to Him!

God is a loving God and who He is (as He states in Jer 17:10), is one who rewards according to their conduct.  We did nothing wrong, they did!  Our job now is to pray for them to turn away from being evil to others, to exhibit love.  It is not our job to condone what they’ve done, but only to love them (and loving them from a distance is smart).  We don’t (and shouldn’t) continue to allow disparagement in any form.  We are God’s children and we answer to Him.

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure—not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing. Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name… (Jeremiah 10:23-25)

Please watch the video above.   Maybe I am wrong, but I have sat in a room of nearly 100 addicts and alcoholics who were practically strangers.  Some of those people I outwardly didn’t care to be around – however, if one of them suddenly had a heart attack – I would instantly jump into action without hesitation.  When I read others struggles on their blogs, or on social media, or I see someone crying – my heart instantly feels despondency and I want to comfort them somehow.  When I see a homeless person or a hungry person, I feel the compassion in my heart – and so on…  The bible study agreed they experience the same feelings.  This is the love and relationship that Jesus desired for us – and this is in our spirit!  He felt it too!  Take note: so did the Jews in the following verse:

John 11:25-45

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

We all have it inside of us and we are all worthy!  Take up space!  Hope this has helped someone.  Feel free to comment.  Todays “to chew on” verse is:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

What’s inside of us?

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Holiness

The state of being holy.

“A life of holiness and total devotion to God”

 

Spirituality

 

Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

 

A religious process of re-formation which “aims
to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God”

 

Recovery

Returning to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.

I truly value when someone asks for my ideology.  This topic has been presented to me by a friend who is trained, experienced and highly respected in the field of recovery – and more so in Holiness.  She is ordained, has nearly 30 years of experience, and is the leader of a large addiction treatment program in fact!

My initial belief when I heard the word “holiness” was that it is a dangerous word – trying to explain an unattainable state of being by a lowly unholy me.  A “white glove inspection” of whom I am not, however striving to be. And why not? Well, the definition includes the word “total” and that is infinite, final and no greater.  Recovery I can do.  The word “total” isn’t included and only an action is required.  I see the word “normal” though – and there my mind wanders! My definition of normal is acting and doing the exact same thing as anyone and everyone else.  This would only be possible if there were only one other human in existence and that person did, said, thought, felt and acted identical to me.  I will never be normal and that’s okay. Recovery is a process.  Holiness is a state.

In an effort to simplify my response to my friend, I am going to explain my thoughts on holiness by mellowing the word to spirituality.  I have experience with both recovery and spirituality.  For many years I tried to solve the question of why I was not “normal” in my state of health, mind and strength.  I needed a “root cause”.

In its infancy, for example, my alcoholism obviously affected my health and my strength.  I didn’t begin to think that there was a “deeply rooted” issue and that it was a “mechanical” problem brought upon myself by repetitive drinking which evolved into habitual drinking and therefore could be solved employing mechanical actions.  I was conscientiously unaware that my spiritual condition was distorted and which was opposed to material and or physical things.  I felt numb and dumb and that was different than I had ever felt. I experienced being calm and translated that into peace and I believed that to be physical.  Looking back today, it is obvious that I was spiritually sick prior to alcohol and searching for a solution. The mechanical actions and solutions included such things as hospitalization, medication; attending meetings designed for people like me – and of course, the mechanical action of not picking up the alcohol and ingesting it.  These actions were tried and unsuccessful for years, however over time and much introspection, I did start to realize that my problem was not simply mechanical/physical but had to be something greater.

This conclusion was drawn while standing in a pasture after the chores of turning out and feeding a few beautiful horses.  One of the horses was curiously standing very close to me and at times brushing up against me.  It was early morning, cool and comfortable and the sun was just rising over the hills in the east. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I could clearly hear the many birds singing. I was completely sober, not hungry nor tired, no pressing financial issues, and the four wheeler was parked outside of the fence waiting on me to go and explore the land, woods and nature.  I had many opportunities of what I generally consider fun activities available to me that day.  But I was miserable.  I felt empty and sad, with no purpose or anything of value to add to anyone and anything.  I felt mentally exhausted and undetermined to exert the effort required to even breathe.  My heart felt physically heavy and this is where I decided that either I replace my misery with something mechanical – the distortion of alcohol – or with something spiritual – God, no distortion, or I didn’t want to continue on living.  I needed a purpose.

I called my sponsor and agreed that I would do anything it took to stop drinking.  I didn’t explain to him my spiritual condition – I didn’t need to, he could hear it and see it.  He suggested a 6 month adult rehabilitation program in Ohio and I accepted.  I left those horses and that land and began the program – and my recovery; the process of regaining possession or control of spirituality lost.

The question now was to personally define my spirituality.

The time afforded to me at the Salvation Army was just what I needed.  I had already confidently decided that the physical and mechanical action of drinking was over.

I have previously read the bible – yes, from cover to cover.  I, like many, grew up going to church.  I considered myself (for the most part) a “believer.  Scratch that, I had many questions about some of the concepts presented.  I questioned whether God could, would and did come to earth in a human form – and why would he do that?  I resolved that if it were true, He didn’t come to save me.  Maybe others, but not me.  I feared that I was going to hell and that I couldn’t be included in salvation.  I did however always believe that The Book was comforting and wished it to be all true.  I look back now and realize my mistakes in reading it.  These mistakes include a lack of faith,  not understanding metaphors (sheep: people, Sheppard: God etc.) and parables, self doubt and others, but I never gave up trying, re reading, thinking and meditating on the words. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

I periodically prayed earnestly for understanding and wisdom.  My prayers were answered by the fact that with continued reading and prayer, I started to get it.  The more I learned, the more I became excited and the more I became excited, the more I started to feel a purpose.  I wanted more and still do to this day.  I had always had it in me -something, a purpose, a pure love and compassion – almost one might say altruism.  I learned during the 6 month stay at the treatment program God’s ultimate will for us, what was always in me.  It clicked. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. John 10:3–4

As the Major told me one time in her office:  I was on fire!  The fact that she had the knowledge and excitement to point that out proves that that “something” is in her too.  She may have not realized at that moment how right she was.  That “something” in me was what Paul explained in Hebrews 13 as “…the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip us with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…”  and that His will for us, the greatest commandment: “…to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.

Today in my recovery I realize that my heart yearns for people and their peacefulness. It is my goal and His will. Some choose to ignore it, some choose not to believe it, but the good news is that it’s in all of us! In the time that has passed since graduating the treatment program, I have been presented with difficulties that I recognize are able to be surmounted by the tools that I learned from the experience.  I remain sober and I stay in the word.

I made the trip back to program center for a clients graduation and was overwhelmed by the welcome back. Shockingly, many other clients and graduates remain in contact with me daily even though I am over 5 hours away from them.  They have texted and called me and Facebook messaged me looking for advice and suggestions.  I always refer them to God’s word as the solution and amazingly they take my advice.  I had left one of my Bibles at the facility and I recently had a guy ask me for it after I had texted him one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible – Isaiah 30:15.  That was the catalyst and from the text, he located my beat up old Bible and uses it!

One of the most inspiring moments of my life – not the program – was when Nancy  – the person, not the leader of the program, looked in my eyes at graduation and had tears in her eyes.  Whatever or whomever has hurt us in the past, any challenges and difficulties that we both have faced was momentarily lost in that tear.  That was love and she feels that way for all of the guys.  No need for alcohol today, I need those guys and those tears.  That tear –  that defining split second is Holiness in Recovery.

 

 

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