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 🙂

Courage to change the things I can…

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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) 

 

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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.

 

Alcoholics Regrets:

Jeremiah 6:15

15 Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions?
    Not at allthey don’t even know how to blush!
Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered.
    They will be brought down when I punish them,”
    says the Lord.

The shame, remorse, guilt, sorrow, and pain of my regrets have many a time led me straight to the liquor store (or gas station)!  In the past, I have “played the tape” over and over and the result was always the same: I am a failure.

  • People don’t need me.
  • Employers don’t want me.
  • And there’s no way that God can love me.
  • Better drink.  I’ll feel better and forget about that sh*t.  That works, we all know it or we wouldn’t do it.

But wait a second…  If I read the Bible verse above, isn’t God Himself angry at these people (referring to the people of Judah who won’t listen to God’s repeated warnings) for NOT being ashamed?

In fact, they were hard headed and spent 40 years wandering around the desert instead of just listening to God in the first place.  How long am I going to “wander around in the desert” before I listen? It is important to know that their decision killed some of them, but at the end of the day (when they decided to change) God redeemed them!

The old me firmly believed that alcohol (and sometimes money) was the only solution for soothing my terrible emotions brought on by regretful actions AND this is important:  Those regrets were caused by my solution!

Hmmm…

 

Being that I am fairly new in sobriety “this time around” and that I don’t know everything there is to know about the Bible, I have two choices:

Plan A: Drink.

Plan B: Verify this new solution, and CHANGE my old ways.

I am ready to minimize my possible future regrets, so I choose B.

Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do19 For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Wow!  And…

2 Corinthians 7:10

10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

 

Even better!!  Getting excited.

Philippians 3:13-14

13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Kind of makes me regret never taking the time to surrender to change years ago.  I’m guessing some of the Judeans thought the same thing.

 

Well, here I am now and I know that I don’t want to drink again.  I’d like to respect myself.  I know that I’d like my family, friends, and employers to do the same and I need God in my life.

 

I know that it is a sin to continue to do or even entertain doing the same things that caused most of my regrets.  Also, at the root of most of my regrets is the failure to love.  The failure to love myself, my God, my family, friends, and others.

Here is an experiment that I am going to present you with to give an idea of that love:

Fill in the blank with any description or title you’d like: Alcoholic, Addict, Gay, Lesbian, Angry, etc., etc.

“When you claim you’re a(n) ________, do you mean that you embrace something good and God like?  Or, do you view that as something to resist and by participating in it you will develop future regrets?”

Just for today, I will look ahead at my alcoholism as something to resist and I will stay sober and grow in Christ.

I will not regret the time wasted on entertaining regret and instead, I will reflect and be comforted by the lessons learned.  That comfort will propel me forward instead of backwards.

Sorry, this came out so late today.  I hope it helps someone.  Comments are welcomed.

Today’s verse to “chew on”:

2 Samuel 12:13-17

13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.

The Devil’s always knocking…

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It’s Wednesday.  For most of us, the positive spin we put on Wednesday is: “It’s Hump Day”.  I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t put a spark in me.  Most just put on a half smile when someone else reminds us that we are in the middle of the week.

Recovery can be monotonous at best.  It’s almost at times like I am a robot.  The talk around the kitchen coffee pot this morning was scattered. There was little talk about God. We were running way behind.  I knew that I wanted to write this morning, however, I had no topic. No Bible study prepared…  Uhhhggg.

Once the pace quickened and I finally sat down to start writing, and upon opening the laptop, I saw that there was a comment on a previous blog post of mine on a different social media site.  As of yet, I hadn’t received anything negative, so I was excited to view the message.  It wasn’t from a follower.  Part of their username had the acronym “LGBT” and some numbers.  At first, I had little idea of what that stood for.  The comment stated simply: “This is just incoherent rambling”.  Nothing followed.

cropped-images-6 Hmmm…. (yep, had to pull out this pic)

So, I immediately went to the blog post that they were referring to and read it myself.  You can find the post here.  I found nothing wrong with it.  I even “jerked a tear” watching the video again.  I then looked at the comments at the bottom (in an effort to lick my wounds) and they seemed positive enough.

“This is just incoherent rambling” 

I replied to the comment and tried my best to stay “Christian like”.  I learned what LBGT stands for and my reply probably hit the mark.  I typed:  “So is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, but I’m for ya!  Thanks for the revelation on the post.”

Now for anyone who knows me personally; this was about as Christian like as I can sometimes muster.  Work in progress, I guess.  I thank God I don’t have an acronym to describe me, however, I do care about that person and I would help that person if needed.  I will pray for that person.  I will do an inventory and at the end of this post, I will apologize to that person for being cynical towards them, But I will not be defeated!

The comment did give me a powerful reminder to watch the things that I say to others.

1 John 4:19-20

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen can not love God whom he has not seen.

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Then it dawned on me!  Why is one comment bothering me so much?  The comment almost “took the wind out of my sails” and stopped my forward progress for the day.  I realized also that my character defects were instantly shining through.  Anger, resentment, hate, etc., etc!  All over one comment.  Dangerous place to be (as some of you may be aware).

I have to remember that the devil will jump in wherever I allow it.  I opened the door and he came in.  I don’t care to start controversy.  I care to get through my day as the Lord directs and I care to do that sober.  I suppose all of my posts can’t be uplifting because we all deal with these issues daily and I want to keep it real.

The video below is very helpful to me; if any of you have time.

Have a great Wednesday and comments are welcome!

Today’s verse to “chew on”:

Leviticus 19:18

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Part of Something… (Bible study 1/30/18)

Galatians 6:2-3

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

 

 

Tough morning to write.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because I’ve got a cold and my stomach is in knots, I do know that I am struggling.  I’ve gotta do it though because there are followers out there that seem to be counting on it and I’m not going to let them down.

I had one instance yesterday that pulled at my “heart strings”.  It was an email that I received from a stranger, but a follower, and in it, she asked the following question:  “If I don’t feel like I am worthy to go to Heaven, and I don’t want to go to Hell; can’t I just stop existing altogether?”.  Great (but disheartening) question!  Of course, I can’t answer it, however, I can relate.

I have experience with those same thoughts.  I recall laying in a hospital bed in a detox facility for hours praying to God that my heart would just stop beating.  I purposely slowed my breathing as slow as I could and “meditated” on my heart rhythm wishing it would stop.  When I gave up on that plan, I changed it up to thinking “I’ll just not eat for a week or so, that will do the trick!” I thought that just maybe there is a chance that I would go to heaven, so I asked for forgiveness just in case but had no confidence that I would get my wishes.  How could I?

I think we both were lacking Hope.  Big word; and not where I am going with this post.

I’m going to suggest that acting on Empathy breeds hope and therefore a purpose to exist!  In fact, most of my previous posts touch on empathy in one way or another and the Bible touches on synonymous words throughout.  I am going to confidently say that empathy is the theme.

then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:2-4)

 

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)

A week ago, as I was selfishly chasing the goal of getting the most views and the most followers,  I accepted a follower who is also a blogger.  This particular blogger suffers from true diagnosed severe mental disorders.  Once I accepted, I started to get numerous notifications of their posts and emails as well.  Honestly – I was annoyed!  I came very close to blocking that person.  I couldn’t do it.  I had to put myself in their shoes.  So I actually read what they were writing and my heart sunk.  Reading between the lines, they are struggling (and not with just an upset stomach and a cold).  Now I read every one of their posts.  Most I can’t understand at all, but my raw sympathy is present and I wish they only had my struggles.

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John 11:35

35 Jesus wept.

My lengthy blog post can be summed up by the shortest verse in the Bible.  Two words.

Among other things, Jesus wept because He felt compassion for Lazarus’s grieving sisters (Mary and Martha) and their loss.  He knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but He was troubled by their grief.

There is power in empathy.  At a minimum, it may serve us well to find out that we aren’t alone in our struggles.  At its grandest, we can take comfort in knowing that in practice it fulfills, in part, the greatest commandment!

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

We’ve got work to do: great work, great purpose – and it will keep me sober today!  I don’t want my heart to stop any longer and I don’t want my dear blog follower to suffer.

Thanks for reading.  Comments are welcome!  Have a blessed Tuesday!

Today’s verse to “chew on”:

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

“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.

Relationship vs. Authority

Topic: Authority

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC1p9v7uZRc

Being a control freak myself – which in my twelve step group is labeled a character defect, and in a church can be considered a sin, I found this mornings bible study interesting at minimum.  A key to finding sobriety in A.A. is the elusive “spiritual awakening”.  One of the greatest reasons to attend A.A. is for the fellowship.  Should this not be the case when attending church?  Don’t get me wrong, I have felt welcomed at many churches (where I seek spiritual guidance), however, I have also felt judged and almost shunned (if) when I speak my personal issues.  I once thought “I sure would love to have my Pastor’s phone number on speed dial, like I do my sponsor’s!”  Have some churches forgotten that we are all sinners?  A.A. hasn’t forgotten, but I am a devout Christian as well.

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I have recently been blessed by having the opportunity to experience and participate in church services at many varying Christian denominations facilities in multiple geographic locations.  I have taken a message from each service and in each instance, the gift that I’ve received is the relationships with people that I have formed.  This hasn’t been necessarily true in every occasion with the leaders of each establishment.  The congregations were warm, friendly and curious. On the contrary – most (not all) of the time the leaders were the opposite – cold, impersonal, and unattentive to my needs or even my presence!

I have, on more than one occasion visited churches where the sermons “blew me away”.  They were sermons that not only kept me awake and focused but filled me with empowerment and I looked at those Pastors, Priests, Clergy, Reverands, Elders, etc., with great admiration and respect.  In each experience, I put aside my personal social anxieties and made the attempt to meet them and introduce myself.  The result?  As I explained above; cold, unattentive, etc., and I also noticed a few who went into the category of arrogant and downright demeaning.

I was in attendance at a service where I distinctly noticed that not one person was holding hands or putting their arm around there husbands, or wives or children!  This was in a relatively small congregation of approximately 400.  I felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone” literally!

I purposefully reached down and grabbed my girlfriend’s hand.

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Initially, at another service (at a different denomination), the entire congregation were warm, inviting and very friendly.  When the service began I couldn’t help but notice that many in attendance uttered shoosh in almost one loud voice when the Minister walked in.  You could hear a pin drop in that building.  People (and families) were individually singled out to move their seating positions!  The worship (or lack thereof) reflected this seemingly intimidating aura.

I once thought “I sure would love to have my Pastor’s phone number on speed dial, like I do my sponsor’s!”

13 The Lord says:

“These people come near to me with their mouth
    and honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
    is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (Isaiah 29:13)

How does this all relate as far as a bible study and alcoholism (or any affliction)?  Well, we looked at what Jesus taught.  Relationship! We looked at what is God’s will for us, and how that plays a role in our lives today.  We have authority all around us (and with good cause), but is that fact supposed to scare us?  This is where we turned to the bible for answers.

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Jesus sums it up in the book of Mark:

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 9:35-45)

Our understanding or perception of this story is that some of today’s authorities seek vanity and selfish desires for their own status (such as James and John asking to be at His right and left hand) and forget their “mission” in its entirety.

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My previous 10 years of experience of leading people at a large manufacturing facility taught me many lessons.  I managed departments where, honestly, I had no idea what they really did.  I learned that to lead those people successfully – to understand those people – I needed to do what they do.  I would actually take off the “white shirt” and put on the blue; get dirty and perform their job in its entirety with no “stage” set. One of those lessons is that by serving, I not only gained knowledge but earned respect and thereby accomplished goals.  I have “sat where they sat”.

Many of you (if you’ve made it this far, thanks!) may not have time to watch the following video, however, I hope that you do.  Keep in mind that I am not promoting the church or Pastor in the video, nor do I work there, but the message is most definitely worth listening to.

At the end of our Bible study today, we know that we need to pray for and love our leaders and have faith that God is using them either to teach us or to learn something themselves.  Either way, He has a purpose! We are going to practice relationship, and love wins every time!

 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…(! Timothy 2:1-3)

Today’s verse “to chew on”:

Mark 9:50

50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Thank you so much for reading, Please feel free to comment and have a great day!

Getting Older

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My 45 year old girlfriend and true best friend said that she’d like to know what I thought about getting older.  I am 44 and don’t have any idea of what she thinks she will get in return as to my description, or opinion, or facts – about the topic of getting older.  Hopefully I can give her an answer, however that topic/question is deep and age old. My hopes are that we can spend some time talking about it though.  I think that we all at some point question our age and start to feel old, but I don’t initially have any answers for her and only more questions for myself.  Oddly, as I sit here at a seemingly old desk to start her answer (in fact, so old that I just looked to verify my uneducated opinion and learned that it is indeed a very old and fairly valuable mahogany desk) The authenticity sticker verifying that the desk is an genuine also looks old and faded.  Someone took the time to authenticate the age and creator of this desk, possibly in the attempt of establishing its value.

 

The desk that I am sitting at hasn’t been used in some time.  Months and possibly years have passed since anything productive has been done here, other than a place to store clothes that didn’t fit right at the time, a retro portable cassette player from the late 80’s, a “digital answering machine” with the words “voice” and “time of day” highlighted because of the advanced technology at that time, a very large pocket (and the word pocket I use lightly as I wonder how in the world did they think it would fit) “Texas Instruments” calculator that I remember wanting myself while in high school.  The keyboard, mouse and monitor, all complete with cords that drape over the desk and spill down into the spaghetti bowl twisted mess on the floor leading to the “tower” is also on this old desk.  To complete the setting, I have (of course) my coffee.  I always seem to have – or want coffee.  While I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed coffee.  I was told “it is an adult drink” and “it stunts your growth”.  This description of the desk and its items start to form a pattern in my mind – a pattern of “getting older”.

 

Psalms 71:9 And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.  Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing

 

When I sat down here to start her answer, I had no idea of where to start, however I truly wanted to give her a clear answer. I am blessed with a friend that would look to me to help her understand.  I believe I will start with this dusty old desk to explain my interpretation of “getting older”.  What better place?  My mood changes dramatically – from the melancholy or a touch of sadness at the still chaos of its current existence to the joy of what this desk may have represented from the start of its life, to the annoyance I felt about this desk when I first looked at it this morning. I imagine at its start that someone was excited as a skilled craftsman to design and build it, and yet another was maybe just as excited to buy it.  It possibly went into their study or den and was topped with a typewriter.  They polished it to a high shine and were proud to show it off.  Now, years later with 2 of the drawer handles missing and scratches mostly hidden by dust and dirt, it’s no longer shown off.  Polishing it doesn’t come to mind here awkwardly placed in the corner of the bedroom.  Nope – a sledge hammer or the burn pile comes to my mind.

 

This desk, this inanimate object, is itself “getting older”.  Has the desk seen its last days?  What determines the desks “last days”?  Is it just a brief fleeting feeling of annoyance?  Is there a new improved desk that I could replace it with and by doing so will make my life productive again? This would be expensive. Or – do I now try and polish this desk to restore its beauty – thereby restoring its purpose? That is a lot of work.  Is it truly ugly and useless now? Should I research its value, who specifically crafted it and why?  Could I ever be as proud of this old beat up desk as the original craftsman or owners were? Are we as people viewed the same as this desk?  Do we view ourselves and others the same as this old desk?  Hmmm, does anyone else see? More questions really, than an answer for her.

 

As for the items on the desk, I hastily removed the piles of clothing putting them somewhere else to sit (she won’t be happy with my laziness, but hey – this is all about helping her with her question right?) and as I was doing so, wondered if I should sort through them – possibly finding use for them.  I came across a few pairs of ladies pants that were (although dusty and wrinkled) brand new with tags.  They were different sizes, but in my mind’s eye looked to be of similar size.  I could tell that she had tried them on and for some reason didn’t want them.  I hear her complaining about her figure pretty often, but usually I just give a quick (yes, sometimes insensitive) “compliment” and forget what she was saying.  With her question of “getting older” in mind, I can see that my quick compliments about her figure is not what she was really looking for.  She isn’t what I refer to as a shallow person, nor high maintenance.  She is thinking more about her age and the changes that come with age.  She is or must be searching for something deeper.

 

Job 12:12 Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.

 

I also find a few younger boys clothing mixed in the pile.  This no doubt belonging to her son, but they are too small for him to have worn at any point in the recent past.  I start to wonder exactly how long ago this random pile of clothing was placed on this old desk.  What was she thinking and doing at the moment she abandoned the laundry? Then it suddenly dawned on me – open the drawers and discover what is in them!  As I look through all the random paperwork, books, bills, pictures and letters that have a date on it, I see that the summer of 2010 was when this desk was last used.  The current year is 2018, making this around 8 years ago.  The boys clothing makes complete sense because her son in 2010 would have been 12 years old. Much time seemed to have passed with this desk seeing little to no use – at least not the typical use.

 

 

So…  What better place to start to answer her than this old desk? Well, I think I will keep this old desk.  I will use this old desk for the same uses that it has already endured and possibly some new ones.  I am no longer annoyed with this desk or the disarray.  I love this old desk and am not going to replace it with a new one. I see its beauty, though others may not.  I may work to restore it and may have her help me, but her answer is apparent.

 

What I can ascertain in the moment to attempt to explain her request about getting older is that her answer will always be in the book of direction – the Bible.  The ultimate and clear answer to her question can always be found in the word of God.  By her asking me the question, she helped me to answer my own questions!  The power of relationship and love – with the desk, with her, with God is amazing and that is absolutely His will for us.

 

 

So here you are Denise, this is my answer:

 

  • This old desk was once brand new.

 

1 Pet 2:2

Thirst, like newly-born infants, for pure milk for the soul, that by it you may grow up to salvation.

 

  • This old desk has been used for many purposes, including some not originally intended by its creator, and some just sitting – patiently waiting to be used again

 

Job 6:11

What is my strength that I should hope? And what is mine end, that I should have patience?

 

Rom 5:4

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

 

Col 1:11

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness

 

Prov 19:21

There are many purposes in a man’s heart, but the counsel of Jehovah shall stand.

 

 

Eccles 7:29

Only see, this I found, that God made man upright; and they sought out many purposes.

 

  • This old desk originally had me pondering its monetary value and its purpose for its future. It has been “beat up” over time – scratched, broken and dusty. Did this affect its value? At the end of my search I learned the value – not in the desk, but in the question, the answer, the relationship and the experience.

 

Job 28:27

…then he looked at wisdom and assessed its value; he established it and examined it closely

 

 

Job 28:15

You can’t buy it with gold, and its value cannot be calculated in silver.

 

 

 

Gen 18:12

So Sarah laughed to herself saying, “After I am worn out and my husband is old, shall this pleasure be to me?”

 

 

Prov 3:15

She is of more value than jewels, and nothing for which you may have a desire is fair in comparison with her.

 

Job 14:7- 8

 

Even a tree has hope.  If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches.

Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the dust.

 

  • Getting Older

 

 

Psa 92:14

Growing in grace they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap of spiritual vitality and rich in the verdure of trust, love, and contentment.

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