How I Got Over?

After last night’s GKB show in Michigan a man came up asking about a comment I had made during a song intro..

I’d made quick mention of Jesus and His power bringing me out of drug and alcohol addiction, that I had been clean and sober for many, many years due to Him. In essence, recovery is possible and I know it because I’ve been blessed with it- and I’m not alone.

He told me he continues to struggle with addiction even after having an experience with Jesus some time ago that he believes was/is a matter of his salvation.

“I’m saved, I believe… but how did you get over”?

I said “Relationship to Jesus”. Again, he emphasized “I have that, but how did you get OVER”?!

He needed to leave and so did we, but I gave a couple quick answers that will follow here… no “rocket science” no “I never heard THAT before” sort of stuff, but straight-up and fruitful in my experience and thousands of others’ lives also.

It’s a bit like being an athlete in training.

In our chains we trained ourselves to go to this or that drug or drug-of-sorts for our fix, to feel we had some sense of joy, value, worth, purpose for living. As time went on we found our relationships trashed and our addiction-of-choice running the show. Been there, done that.

It is what it is, ingrained, habitual temptation we allow ourselves to act out with, eventually perhaps daily, always ultimately in destructive (self, others) ways.

Drugs, sex, shopping, booze, gambling, power-trips, whatever.

I told him I had to “keep coming back”. That “it works when you work it”. Yep, 12 Step “clichés” some of you are thinking… but guess what? YOU weren’t my Savior when I needed help. You couldn’t have been anyhow! YOU weren’t my Lord, not then and not now. YOU didn’t have in your power the ability to change my heart and mind at the deepest free-will level. Neither did I, not by myself.

My Higher Power is Jesus Christ and without the intervention of God the Holy Spirit, the sanity of continuing Bible (His Word) study and yes, the help of others who also follow Jesus and were patient but persistent with me I would have never “gotten over”. But by these, I did and do and shall. I found and have friends who loved and love me but were direct with me when I needed to do practical things to “get over”. Had I not focused and walked this out I would have been dead from drug abuse, likely before I’d reached my 25th birthday.

It’s interesting that non-addicts (very few around but there are certainly some in every society) often care more about what people think of them than they care about others caught in the destruction of addiction and what those addictions are doing to the addict.

Ignorance, lack of experience, maybe even lack of love, arrogance, perhaps no frame of reference. My reference was my trashed life and a despair that just wouldn’t quit until I surrendered to the God Who made me.

I have lost count of those I have met in prison and jail who ended up there in large part due to not “getting over”.

For many, incarceration is the first situation in years they don’t have easy access to the stuff that ran their lives to the extent they got locked up over it.

Then again, there are plenty of jails and prisons where gangs run a lot of the show and smuggle drugs in. Crazy isn’t it?

I was recently told the largest drug bust in Ohio last year took place in one of the prisons I did music in this past month

-INSIDE the prison many were serving sentences for related to drug pushing and abuse.

That is a monkey of unusual size.

But addiction is one of those “gifts that keep on giving”. Whew. God help us.

The promised land of recovery was a matter of constant prayer,  Bible study, confession of temptation BEFORE it became an acted-out sin, confession of sin when I jumped the fence and did act out. It was a matter of new friends, a new place to live and a church that didn’t simply pass out milk and cookies smiling and quoting only the sweet and kissing verses but also the rough and spiritual growth verses of scripture.

In essence, I am in recovery every day and so is anyone else who has been truly set free from their past addictions.

I got over because I MOVED OVER and quit playing “friends” with non-friends who were headed in another direction other than towards Jesus Christ, true church and honest relationships founded on Him and His truth as opposed to “me, me, me and you must agree all revolves around me” nonsense.

Over time, those long-held habits were broken and I found (and find) myself filled with good stuff, Good News, most of all a Savior I know loves and accepts me. I realized being free was a walk, not merely an idea or a creation of my own, certainly not my own efforts. Participation with the Holy Spirit. In fact, cooperation 🙂

The losses became the greatest gains of my life. Love, sanity, freedom and health far beyond anything I had known before.

Over? Well, not completely until we see His face. But that day is coming for all who follow Him, praise God!

Thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

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Deliver Us From… Pain?

A friend of mine named Bette just sent me (and many others) a blog post from one Dr. Kelly Flanagan.

It was, imho, brilliant.

I had a checkup with my medical doc yesterday, routine, and the tech. drew some blood, hence the pic here. Not too much “ouch”, but some.

Checkups are rarely fun but needed. Some can save your life or at least help with your quality of life.BloodDrawSpot

So the title of the post I read right after my appointment was “Why I Want My Kids to Be in Pain” (from DrKellyFlanagan.Com)

He is a professional psychologist and I am not- to be very clear!

Here, in my view, were two outstanding overview quotes from his blog on taking his little daughter to her first day of a new school in a new town:

“After all, isn’t it a father’s job to protect his kids from all pain and suffering?”

And- “But no, pain is inevitable. Our job isn’t to help them avoid it at all costs; our job is to help them move toward it, walk through it, and, if they invite us, to be with them in it.”

It strikes me many want sex, amazing dinners, romantic and beautiful surroundings and a cush job with a fully compliant mate- but not marriage with all it’s mundane, sometimes little irritating problems like laundry help, taking out the trash, kids vomiting and someone has to clean it up at 3 a.m., overnights at the emergency room and that junk drawer that needs to be cleaned out not to mention a spouse who sometimes drives us nuts and a job we work at because there seems nothing else is available to us at that point.

We want the freedom to do as we choose, choose as we like and God had better show up and do our bidding in (mostly) Each and Every time we toss a few verses of His Word back at Him… or we stop following Him.

It occurs to me that at times we don’t want His “right here, right now” presence, or at least not an on-going Relationship with Him. We want what He has the power to DO for us, and we want Him to Give us X, Y or Z… but we don’t particularly always want Him… just for Himself.

If that bothers you as it does me, like me you must repent from time to time along this journey.

I cannot (nor do I claim to) speak for nor fully understand all Dr. Flanagan means by what he wrote but I think get the gist of it which I agree with very much.

As I read the two bits quoted above it struck me how common it is for people who used to (or want to or recognize their NEED to) follow Jesus Christ and walk in faith with God throw their faith out like something from the bottom of a garbage can… BASED ON “Hey, GOD DIDN’T PROTECT ME FROM X, Y or Z so either He doesn’t exist, doesn’t love me or could care less what happens to me so BLANK HIM, I am OUTTA HERE!”

Understood. I mean, sure, that is one big and even to an extent, logical reaction.

I would counter that we have DECIDED that it is our heavenly Father’s job to “protect his kids from all pain and suffering” and we are both dumb and wrong. Understandably so, but both in my view.

More in a moment.

Then he writes that second statement I quoted.

Essentially, pain IS. We may doubt God or even His existence, but nobody doubts the reality of PAIN in our world, pain in our experience, and we all know very shortly after birth that it will appear off and on, sometimes very often and even continuing through a person’s life-journey on the planet. It doesn’t take faith to believe and know this is just flat-out true.

But what is God’s “job” in our life? Hmmm?!

WE want to avoid pain at all costs, but it costs to avoid pain.

At that juncture I think I just heard many Christians reading this thinking “Exactly why Jesus went to the cross… He suffered so we don’t have to”. I agree. But never? Never EVER? No suffering can, will, ought to be allowed if our loving heavenly Father exists and accepts us and we are in right relationship to Him? Oooo, I think this is where we get it wrong and get it wrong to our own (worse than suffering) peril!

The Dr. writes what I personally believe is as I think of his words, the actual way of reality in a relationship with Jesus, with God our Father, with God the Holy Spirit… which in part includes:

A. He helps us move TOWARD pain- which will come as it does in everyone’s life

B. He helps us actually walk THROUGH it- without cursing God and dying in bitterness and self-pity

C. And -as we invite Him to be- He is WITH US (Emanuel) IN IT

This is not feel-good teaching folks, and I have not personally experienced every pain every reader here has or will- but I know this- Jesus said if anyone would follow Him they MUST “deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow Me (that meaning, Jesus Himself)”. Self denial is itself often painful and a cross. Crosses = pain and following Jesus is not a fully loaded bliss-and-picnic affair though I cannot say I have experienced any greater joy.

Jesus said a disciple of His would be blessed a hundred times over with family, friends, etc.. and He then added “with persecutions”. Pain is.

So is God.

The issue is whether we will trust, cling to and walk with Him through it. It is not God’s “job” to do our repenting nor our walk of faith FOR us… but WITH us. Yes, in and when we are not in pain.

Things to ponder on this August day.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

A Conversation With Grace

A Bridge, Not a WallWell, a “conversation” in that any of us can reply whenever we choose to…

Grace is a bridge, not a wall.

Grace says “Not guilty” by way of forgiveness, compassion and ultimately,  love.

Grace says you have the space, time and opportunity to try again.

Grace says there is more to learn and here is a chance and yet another chance to “get it”, grow, progress.

Grace says “Relationship in love, not only nor merely performance”.

Grace says you have value and worth because the God Who made you says you do… unlike others who either believe you have none or demand payment before they’ll believe you have any.

Grace calls for repentance and sacrifice at times through an experience of suffering -all based in a relational love that comes from the risen Christ to you and toward the one/s you truly love, THROUGH you.

Grace unshared is not the true grace of the true God.

As always, thanks for stopping by!  -Glenn

RESTing is GOOD!

Well, unless it’s just plain laziness when you need to get up and get some work done…

Then again, there are times we need to keep the Sabbath and just plain rest.

God knew what He was commanding us and why. We need it.

I am sleeping in tomorrow in that getting up early, leading Sunday worship, then doing a set at a mini-fest in the park (Berwyn GLOBEfest) with a Janesville, Wisconsin set on the Friday made for a full weekend!

All good, truly- but Lord willing I will sleep until I wake up tomorrow, late morning.

How about you? Do you, like me, find yourself working on weekends, sometimes finding it difficult to just carve out a full sleep-in day? We need ’em. Some things can wait from time to time.

I took just a moment tonight to look at what God does most every evening. This was the western sky. He does this stuff nearly all the time. Well, I bet somewhere on the planet there is an amazing sun setting even if it’s not where you and I are at the time.

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He knows what He’s doing and knows we -need- His rest, to enter into His works and rest from our own.

Indeed.

And with that, G’night! And thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

The Very Hairs On Your Head??

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Luke 12.7

Sometimes you may feel useless, worthless, of zero value. I mean, why would God love YOU the way you are? Why would you expect to get what you pray for, especially when at times it is clear He doesn’t/did not answer your prayers. You’ve lost it, you are a loser, end of story?20150818_103913

And why not be freaked out at God- that mean, wrathful, maybe even vengeful God Who may have every right to crush you like powder for your apparent lack of love, your sins?

How can we expect Him to care about us?

Great questions.

The main answer is Jesus on the cross, and walking out of that grave with YOU in His mind and for The Father and You being His purpose for all that suffering He experienced. But there is more to unpack regarding our daily life:

Jesus knows exactly what our needs are. Sometimes people follow Him as their needs or just “wants” are met… and blow Him off with ease when He doesn’t “come through for them”.

Really? So -who- is the true “God” or shall we say “god” in your life?

It is amazing how quickly we forget things like the verse quoted above.

Ever consider WHY God gives a rip about the number of hairs on your head?

The longer I live the more I laugh about this. Well, sometimes very soberly bow my less-hair-than-before head and just thank the true God for His true love.

He is FAR more than a mathematician! It isn’t about “you rotten sinner” (though it could be, we all sin and fall short) but the God Who IS Love caring about our needs who at times does not answer our prayers, doesn’t dump the “honey bucket” on our heads but rather calls us to grow in Him by trusting and following Him even IN the midst of trouble, pain and what seems “the silent treatment” by our Lord.

Our common (believe it or not, like it or not…) heavenly Father KNOWS what you need before you even ask Him.

This is all about relationship. Relationship regardless.

He isn’t going to change in His love for you or me. WE MUST CHANGE and the obvious deal is that the change He desires in us comes from both the amazing gifts, blessings, hugs, treats and what we deem “positives” in life… and equally when the clouds and rain and blow-your-house-down winds come as they do and shall in everyone’s earthly journey.

Do I always like it? Of course not! Do I NEED such trials to teach me His faithfulness and to grow (as oppose to park and stagnate) in my spiritual life? Apparently so.

Hebrews chapter 12 rocks on this very theme.

But what of the hairs on our heads?

The one true God Who loves you cares so much about you that He even pays attention to such things as that.

This very verse showed up this morning in a daily devotional I get in my inbox.

It was a core verse I believe I was led to share in prison after prison show this past week all over Ohio.

I think Someone is trying to tell me/us something 🙂

Do not live in fear, nor anger, no resentment or unforgiveness, and learn to have faith in our Father, in our Lord Jesus and God The Holy Spirit… learn to trust HIS Word above YOUR (and my) thoughts… and grow in spiritual maturity, faithFULNESS toward our God and one another.

We have the keys to the kingdom though at times we may look to some like paupers.

Jesus Christ IS the key, the best Friend and the most faithful of all.

His provision- even when it looks like there will be none- comes first in our very relationship to Him.

Things to consider on this August day!

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn