Friday, December 30, 2005

No More Staggering

I Timothy 4:8,9
... but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.
I have relearned some lessons lately. The fact that I had to relearn them has caused me much grief. I pray that writing them here will help.
ONE: Worship God with other people.
Worshipping God while alone did not take me where I needed to be. Praising God alone does well out of me when I have invested time praising God with others. These two are noticeably different. The first is like trying to build a fire amidst too many ashes. The Holy Spirit is in the breath of other believers!
TWO: Pray for others.
It is a downward spiral. When I neglect to do this, I become more and more needy and it becomes all I can do to cry to God to help me. There is an underlying feeling that I am undeserving, especially so when I am so grateful for others prayers on my behalf.
When I am faithful to give, I believe God promises; I feel secure. When I do not, I cry when I hear the promises. When I give faithfully, I never think whether I can afford to. When I do not, I can never afford to.
FOUR: Waking Up
What I do first is important. I am undisciplined and rebel against doing the same thing over and over. When I find a way that works, I quickly grow weary. So, I am not the one to turn to for advice (unless you would like a long list of methods that work, but that I no longer do). In spite of this I will tell you of a new one I am excited about. I intend to take a pen an write out some verses the night before and leave them next to me when I go to bed. Viola`. In the morning I will not have to do the impossible (think clearly). It will already be done for me!
FIVE: Openmindness
I have always patted myself on the back as being a seeker of truth. I am zealous to know God's word. I am zealous to examine doctrinal teachings. Sounds good, has merit. My downfall is that I also become zealous for certain doctrines. As I examine these, I find that I gravitate towards those that agree with my predisposition. Even this does not sound too bad, but I do not recommend it. Also, I sometimes find myself stuck between two doctrines in opposition to each other (can you say "double minded").
James 1:8
A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
I wrote down what some of these words mean to me:
ways- means; resources
Have resources been lacking for me lately? Check.
unstable- unsure; able to plan but not carry out the plan; unable to retain value; staggering
I am familiar with staggering/ drunkenness. The image is distressing. Lately, in spite of my physical sobriety I have been figuratively staggering. I willing to change this. I repent. I will change, in Jesus name, Amen.
PS- All Bible quotes are from the King James version of the Bible, so I am not subject to lawsuits or death or whatever.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Yesterday I was presented with a verse on a web site for Chrisrian depression. The verse caused me to cry and to pray (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Now while this was great and I would not change or downplay the experience; my insanity made me look up the context. Bummer!
So today, in the midst of yet one more morning funk, I was writting in my paper journal about my mania last May. I was so sold out on the idea of God's provision for me that I left everything behind and went out to central Pennsylvania believing that God would handle all the details of my survival. The result was that I returned to Philadelphia and entered some of the darkesss episodes of depression that I have ever experienced.
Since I cannot and will not blame God; my suffering includes a guilty conscience for failing to have faith. This is a recipe for a downward spiral. Today (and many recent days) I journal about my need to hope, trust and believe the many and wonderful promises God has made to believers. I will post these two rather than just reference them:
Ephesians 3: 14-21

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
(Notice the context? Paul is praying for me! Cool!)
Philippians 4: 4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
(Meditation, hmm, I'll try it!)
PS- Both of these quotations are from a writer named Paul. He was a good writer. For more of his stuff (all in the public domain by the way ;-) see The Bible. This collection of works includes much more of Paul's writings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Every day I awake and instantly become aware that I am not in my own bed. Five years ago I experienced the trauma of separation. The direct cause of the separation was entirely my fault. The pain and shame of my insanity haunts me continuously. The depth of my love for my family has become a grief that threatens to destroy me.

I respect the power of the subconscious mind. I have witnessed the mysterious impact it can have. The result of my "freedom" was to drink more and more. I am forced to admit the possibility that my desire for drunkenness caused me to push my family far from me. The biblical principle of knowing the tree by its fruit applies. The primary result of my insanity was unrestrained drunkenness.

Alcohol, that wonderful depressant, dulled the pain for awhile. But soon, it came very close to destroying me completely. My death was not God's plan, however, and I discovered that it was not to happen by my will or at a time of my choosing.

So, instead, I have been sober for three years plus four months. Recently I feel as if I am just awaking from a nightmare, only to recognize that the nightmare is my reality. Where am I? Where is my beautiful family?

I realize that I need help for my pain. Out there somewhere are people and programs designed and dedicated to helping such problems as I have. My own intellect causes me to over think the possible choices. There are philosophies of treatment; there is scientific mumbo-jumbo; there is zeal for this or that developed method; each of these is limited in the ability to truly help. Each design at best can help only some but not all, so those are worthwhile. But my knowing that each has limitations causes me to hesitate.

There is one, who is perfect, that is God. But how do I appropriate the help of God in regard to my situation? I am forgiven, but the consequences of my sin remains. I have found that it is of little value to pray to feel better. I need someone to love me. I believe that God does, but I seem to need a hug. I need someone to be by my side. I believe that the Spirit is along side me, but I want to have a discussion about things from a limited perspective too. I need a smile that comes simply because I am there.

These are the things that my family was to me. But I violated their trust. My shame has attached soul-felt pain to those relationships. The wonder and beauty of those relationships has caused an unfulfilled need in me for more of what I once knew. But I broke it. I grieve for a feeling, a state of being, that I cannot imagine recovering. Every single day is one in which I miss what I have lost.

Why am I still sober? I have every excuse to drink again. I certainly am willing to do so. Yet the fact is that it does not happen. I firmly believe that it is the Spirit who rules my sobriety, the Spirit who will not allow it. I cannot think that I have the choice to drink.

So there may be hope. There must be a reason I cannot choose to drink. In crazy moments I have the idea that the reason I remain alive and sober is so that I can experience more suffering. But I must also admit that it is just possible that there is something else, some other reason. I am afraid to believe in such a possibility because of the risk of being wrong. Only time will reveal the truth and I must be patient. So be it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I often desire for "ending" and "changing" to cease.
Endings make me cry. Sometimes change makes me cry. I am an overly sensitive man. I have always refused to fight. Thankfully, I am 6' 1", 220 lbs. The mindless, cruel people never got to beat me up.
I have serious mental issues that I deal with (untreated) on a daily basis. No wonder alcohol is so attractive. No wonder I obsess on the question of God loving me.
I have trouble investing myself. When I do invest myself I do it obsessively. I experience a growing sense of ownership over people, places and things. People, places and things always change; then I grieve. My spirit gets heavy. After nearly five decades of experiencing this process I am worn out. I fear for my sanity.
Here is the solution. Pray that I will use it.
Over twenty years ago, I learned a song. It is much easier to remember the words to a song and I have always had a special place in my heart for singing scripture.
The lyrics are these:
He gives me, beauty for ashes
the oil of joy for mourning
the garments of praise for the spirit of heavyiness.
That we may be trees of righteousness
the plantings of the LORD
that He may be glorified.
This is Isaiah 61:3
Here is Isaiah 61:1-3
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
and here is Luke 4:14-21
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.
So I conclude from this that praising Jesus will be very helpful to me in alleviating my heavy spirit. This is great. It is easy.
Jesus is all these things and more:
Powerful, graceous, and majestic;
Beautiful, wonderful, and holy;
He is the perfect love that casts out fear.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Promise

In the beginning I was an atheist. Actually this is just my earliest memory of deciding about a shadowy topic. My dad died when I was only eight years old. Until then, he was a distant figure living in the same home. He was what the family termed a "weekend alcoholic". I have no personal knowledge of what he thought about God. My mother had stopped going to school in the third grade. She had developed rheumatic fever. The visiting doctor said she would not live though the night. This was in the 1920's. She once said to me when I was very young, "I am not smart enough to understand God, I feel I should let you find your own understanding."

Public schools had eliminated prayer just before I started. I have no memory of it as an issue. So onwards and upwards my education went, with nary a mention of God or the Bible.

So I found myself a proponent of atheism on a casual basis, possibly it was all I had to offer on the subject.
When this changed, I had a tendency to fear that salvation was not available to me personally. Conviction is a nasty thing to go through and I seem to be blessed with unfiltered spiritual insight into my own soul. Believing the gospel was all I needed and was what I had, but for some perverse reason I worried that God hated me. This issue still returns to torment me now and again.
This is my latest conclusion: the only reason that salvation is mine is because God made a promise and was, is and always shall be faithful to the promise He made. "Why am I a benefactor of this promise", my nagging insanity asks? Because I believe in the promise, because I say "yes". The promise is to those who believe.
PS- to find out more about the promise read the book "The Bible" available at your local bookstore or from your local library.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Semantics, Connotations, Victim

Some thoughts about yesterday's post:

Delivered is a word that may have different connotations. I am using it in the sense of the miraculous. That having been delivered, it is as if the thing delivered from had never existed, for example no longer having cancer.

The medical community has accepted the classification of alcoholism as a disease. Somewhere there is money spent on finding a "cure". The phenomenon of Alcoholics Anonymous brought attention and investigation. Without being able to find the root cause, the evidence that alcoholism was progressive, chronic and fatal showed them that the alcoholic was incapable of curing himself. Thus they classified such a sufferer as a victim.

Hence there is a great divide on certain issues. Victims of an alcoholic's behavior(s) have a very emotional reaction to the idea that the alcoholic is/was not responsible for those actions. Recovered alcoholics need to believe that lack of will-power was not their problem. Both are right only when you view alcoholism's root cause as the true design of God, not as a design flaw.

The alcoholic's responsibility for his sins comes from missing his calling. The will to stop drinking and end the nightmare is not in them. There needs to be deliverance from the sin, but not from the design. Alcoholism is not to blame, nor is God. The individual sinned AND is an alcoholic; these two should not be merged.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


How dare anyone claim that I can be delivered from alcoholism? Who can claim to be changed and set free from this disease?

This would mean that the person delivered could drink without it becoming a waking nightmare. In cases that someone could drink comfortably after having problems with alcohol, there is no criterion for proving that they were ever an alcoholic in the first place.

Once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. By God's grace perhaps a sober alcoholic and that not by the will of man, it is the gift of God. The Spirit trumps the ever-twisted will of the individual and the choice to become intoxicated is no longer available. There is now no fear in admitting the desire to drink. It cannot happen. This is the power of God.

The God of all creation sends His Spirit to awaken the spirit of an individual and that individual becomes sober for life. The individual is what we call an alcoholic. God's perspective is better, truer and higher than ours AND it was He who crafted the individual in the first place. The alcoholic should never drink alcohol. The Biblical parallel is found in Proverbs 30.

There is an assumption made that the individual should be changed to something other than an alcoholic. There is no term for what would result because such a creature does not exist. So the concept that enough faith or the right faith can heal the individual makes the assumption that it would be a healing. Being an alcoholic is assumed to be a curse. The only curse is that the alcoholic is denied alcohol because of the consequences. So the only purpose for such a healing would be to enable an alcoholic to drink.

An alcoholic will drink, either drink obsessively or, if obsessing about quitting, drink compulsively. There is no chance that they will not drink. So sobriety is the miracle. It is the fact that death is not the result that is a testament to God's power. For the alcoholic to then drink comfortably later would be a witness to no one of God's power. It would subvert the intense witness of an alcoholic becoming sober.

There is deliverance from the eternal consequence of sin.

There is deliverance from guilt that paralyzes the mind.

There is a vast gray area that God may or may not step towards and change.

Alcoholism is not in the gray area.

Woe to any "friend" who convinces an alcoholic that alcoholism can be healed. The only way to then show forth the wonder is to provide a cup of venom. It would be far more merciful to murder them.

Some alcoholics are diagnosed by amateurs. Some alcoholics are diagnosed by professionals. The vast majority of these diagnoses are absolutely ignored by the alcoholic. Only the alcoholic's repentance on this point is of any value toward lasting sobriety. A public proclamation of this repentance needs to be made. This is the will of God; this is the work of the Spirit. The will of the individual has no power to cause sobriety. Sin causes torment and a desire for venom. Outward acts of repentance alleviate the torment. Notice that these steps form the background of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Some say let the individual NOW be fully healed. In regard to the matter, they are already fully healed, and they are still an alcoholic and must never drink.

I believe the alcoholic is special, uniquely crafted by God for a purpose- a higher purpose. The alcoholic is called to a larger responsibility in the world. Unfortunately the burden of this calling most often goes unfulfilled. There is the warping effect of sin that causes an intense desire to escape (like Jonah). But the gift of God is without repentance. What we term as alcoholism is part of (or the result of) a gift. The sober alcoholic should never desire to be delivered from the calling. It is part of God's design.


Monday, December 12, 2005


Each day begins with me at a crossroads. My flesh wants to closely examine the circumstances of my life and spiral me into the abyss. The Spirit whispers that I only need to believe. I wish I would always listen. My flesh screams that I should not be a fool; that life is not nor ever will be good for me, especially by surrendering.

I struggle with the concept of childlike faith. My unbelief tells me that I would be a fool to think I can ever be happy when the only way is to trust (and obey).

I try to confess my way to happiness and sometimes that helps. The catch is that when I find I have stumbled, my flesh screams that I am unworthy. Why should God care? I am so worthless and useless. When I remember the joy and comfort that belonging to God has brought me, I feel the pain of feeling that perhaps I am self-deluded.

I NEED to be like a child. If my Father has promised that is all I need. Who am I to doubt? Who am I to deny the Spirit's words. He is talking to me. I fail only because I am so very afraid to fail. Love casts out fear. I think I will be diligent to love some people today. I really need it!


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

God have mercy on me a sinner

In 25 plus years as a believer, I have seen, examined, or promoted many various doctrinal teachings. I have even been passionately dedicated to opposite views of the same doctrine (not at the same time :-).

So with my vast "experience" I marvel at the absolute truth of the title verse. It was absolutely true and relevant on the day of my rebirth. It is absolutely true and relevant today.