Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Spackle Theory

So here is the main premise for my blog, web site, the name of my book and the ministry that I would eventually like to get started. It all is based on this and this only. It is what I call Spiritual Spackle, and it includes the Spackle Theory that I have come up with. It has been of vital importance in my new life and my recovery.

Before I get into the Spackle Theory, I want to relate a story from my addiction. When I was younger I was living in a house that I was buying. I was a full blown alcoholic at the time, and I did not really think things through well. That will be evident by the end of this story, probably sooner. I think that I was in a verbal disagreement with my then girlfriend, and I went outside in a huff. When I got outside, I guess that I figured throwing a tantrum and hitting an inanimate object would solve everything.

So, without thinking I punched the side of my house twice. My house was older, and it had wooden siding. When I punched the siding, I put two holes in the side of my house. Obviously, this solved nothing. In actuality, it caused what should have been a much bigger problem. Now, instead of just being in an argument with my girlfriend, I had structural damage to my house.

Luckily, since I was a thinker back then, I had an incredible idea of how to fix the holes. I instantly went inside my house and grabbed duct tape. Presto, problem solved. I no longer had two holes in my outside wall. Instead, I had the eye sore of shiny silver duct tape covering the two holes in my tan colored wall on my house. I did this, and stepped back from the wall thorougly satisfied. I thought that the problem was fixed.

I left the house that way for several years, holes covered with duct tape. The issues did not really present itself again until several years later when I moved. I took the duct tape off of the wall so that I could see what it would take to fix it. It was no longer two holes the size of my fist, but was now two places that were a foot each of soggy and cracked wood. Worse yet was the sheet rock behind the holes. The sheetrock was moldy and water stained from where it had gotten wet and then dried.

In short, the wall that I thought had been covered up and protected was damaged horribly. Just because I could no longer see the hole or the damage that was done does not mean that it was better and the problem no longer existed. Instead, it had continued to be a gaping hole and did nothing but deteriorate and get worse even though it was covered and unseen.

Now what I want you to do is imagine that the issues you have are rain. My fist in this story is trauma that you experience over the course of your life. Finally, the outside wall of my house is representative of your soul. As traumatic things happen to you, they create holes in your soul. These holes are emotional, spiritual and psychological in nature and are created by sexual, physical and emotional abuse. These are the things that hurt you. This is how the major craters that are created in our lives occur.

We get filled with this pain, and it creates emotional and psychological stress. This stress is then turned into anger, depression, anxiety, self-sabotage and guilt; all of which can turn into shame. Our self-esteem dwindles and any positivity that we once had is reduced to negativity and self-loathing. I could go on and on with this description, but I will instead break it down to two words - WE HURT!

So there I am hurt. I discover that when I hurt all I have to do is insert method of escape here. Whether I am a drinker, drug user, gambler, cutter, co-dependent, have an eating disorder or engage in retail therapy (shopping) I can escape from my past. If I like to sleep around, save others by playing superman/woman or I am the perfect candidate for anger management classes I will do the same thing. I will use those things so that I can feel better about myself or numb myself to the pain that I feel. I will use my method to not hurt. It may be fleeting, only lasting minutes or hours, but it will make the hurt go away for a while.

Unfortunately, this method of escaping hurt that we use is a lot like the duct tape in my example at the beginning of this. It may cover the damage on the surface, but what is happening underneath it all? If my best friend slept with the person that I am married to, my grandfather abused me or I was always told that I was no good do my methods of coping really fix the problem?

Of course not, at best it is a temporary solution to a problem that is sure to reoccur. And reoccur it will. The worst part of using duct tape to cover the problem is that there is the illusion that it is better. The reality is that the problem is getting worse and worse underneath. We continue to deteriorate, we continue to beat ourselves up about the past. We dwell on things that we can not change instead of working through them. We do not allow ourselves to grieve what happened to us because we try to act like it did not happen or that we are better.

The truth of the matter is that we never give ourselves the chance to work through our past hurts and hang ups because we do not face them. Every time that they come up, we use our preferred method of escape to avoid them. We cause ourselves untold amounts of depression and anxiety because of the traumas of our past and numbing and ignoring it does us no lasting good. It just mires us in the victim role and we never reach the survivor stage, let alone advance to being a thriver.

Unfortunately, perception for us is reality. Our reality believes that if we do not feel it, that it is better. Our reality eventually learns that by using, we do not have to feel ever. If I can stay self-medicated, I never have to feel hurt again. I am insulated from what others can do to me. No matter what they do, I do not have to feel it. Our reality keeps us sick and insures that our cycle of addiction is never broken.

That false sense of what is true becomes more and more distorted. It eventually reaches the point where we begin to believe that the problem is taken care of. We walk around angry, ashamed, depressed, anxiety-ridden and begin to push those who care about us away.

“But I am better,” we claim.

Just because we claim that there is no problem does not mean that the previous issues become nonexistant. If it rains and I tell you that it is not water coming down on us, does that mean we  won’t get wet. Of course not! Just because there was duct tape on my outside wall, it did not mean that the rain was not still affecting the damage that was already done and making it worse. If it is covered over that does not mean that it is fixed. In order for us to overcome our past, we need to admit it, allow for the grieving process and then heal. Only then can we learn from it and use it to make us stronger and wiser.

There are three stages we can be in due to our past trauma. The first is the victim, who is still stuck in the past and allows the past to hurt them constantly. Then we have the survivor, who has accepted that the past has happened but locks it away and does not really deal with it. Both of these people will be prone to using their preferred methods of coping.

The victim at least acknowledges the pain, but they do not feel they have any control or power to fix it. The survivor is much like the person who has the tiger by the tail and feels like they have succeeded. At any moment that lion can turn around and take a huge bite out of them. Much like the minute that our method of artificially coping goes from being occasional to the focus of our lives.

Lastly we have the thriver role. This is where we want to be. This is the person who not ony accepts what happened to them, but processes it and works it out. It may have been horrific and unfair, but we realize that nothing we can take, do or say will change the fact that it happened. Instead we use what happened to make us first stronger and wiser. But, we do not stop there. We then use what happened in our lives to help others who are hurting and suffering. We give them hope by sharing our experiences and how we have grown from them.

So, what allows us to grow from our past? What do we do to fix the holes that life leaves in us? What is there that was made for that purpose? We need to find something that comforts us and fills those holes instead of just covering them up. Otherwise, we will continue to rely on our traditional methods of escape. I do not want to escape the hurt, I want to learn from it and grow. How about you? Do you want to be defeated by your past, or do you want to work through it so that you can be stronger and wiser?

The Holy Spirit is the one thing that can fix those holes. It is comparable to spackle. Spackle is a substance that is used to fix holes and cracks in walls. The Holy Spirit is the spiritual equivalant of spackle. What spackle is able to do for a wall the Holy Spirit is able to do for our lives! It can allow us to be guided towards happiness. It can give us the comfort that we have never felt from our methods of escaping and numbing. See the blog at: to read about the power the Holy Spirit possesses!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Movie Review - Grace Card

I watched the movie Grace Card last night. It was a movie with a strong Christian theme, that of grace and forgiveness. My only problem with it was that it could have had better acting. That said, the story was great and the message was amazing.

The movie begins with Mac, who is washing his car and trying to encourage his son to ride his bike without training wheels while his wife and an infant look on. In an instant, he loses his son in a tragic accident as the result of an African-American drug dealer running from the police. Then we flash forward 18 years, and you see Mac as a police officer. He is a man who is haunted by his past. The loss of his son and blaming himself for it are displayed through anger, frustration and racism. His foundation has been shaken and his faith is lost.

He and his son do not get along. He and his wife are on the verge of a divorce. To top it all off, he gets assigned an African-American partner who just got promoted who has a happy family life and pastors his own church. It could not be any worse. His newly assigned partner, Sam, is able to pick up on Mac's animosity and prejudice. This in turn makes him question himself, especially after he gives a sermon about it that is not well received.

That is where I will stop telling about the movie so that I do not spoil it for you. What I will say is that grace plays a prominent part in the movie. I guess that the title gives that away! It is a story of how us giving to others the grace that was so undeservedly and graciously given to us allows us to engage in positive relationships with people that hate us and to overcome hate.

The story gets to the hardest part of our faith. We are told that we are to love our enemies. Matthew 5:43-48 states, 
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
We are also told that we are to forgive others. In Matthew Chapter 18, Jesus says that we are to forgive  not 7 times, but 7 x 70  times. That means that our forgiveness comes not from our limitations, but by grace. I am not able to forgive easily. When I was younger I would hold grudges to the point of not remembering why I did not like somebody. I just did not like them. I would tell people that, "If you hurt me, I could forgive but never forget. If you hurt one of my friends, I could forget but never forgive." I took pride in that statement! How sad is that. I walked around angry, hurt and bitter.

That is what not forgiving somebody does. It is said that holding a resentment is like drinking poison to kill somebody else. You only hurt yourself. As Christians we are asked to show others the unconditional grace that has been shown to us. Brandon Heath in his song "I'm Not Who I Was" says, "The thing I find most amazing, in amazing grace. Is the chance to give it out, maybe that's what love is all about." How true that is.

Giving other's grace is liberating! I am no longer trapped by rage. Resentments and grudges cause a lot of anxiety and a ton of energy. It is actually healthy for us physiologically and psychologically to forgive others. It is also Biblically mandated, and the hardest part of our commission to fulfill.

Do you remember the 5 Amish girls who were shot dead in Pennsylvania in 2006? The day after the shooting the parents of the dead girls, in fact the whole Amish community that suffered the loss, came forward and embraced the family of the shooter. They told the family that they forgave him. Over half of those in attendance at the shooter's funeral were Amish. They gave a portion of the money that came from around the world to the widow and child of the shooter.

People thought that the Amish were insane at the time. They did not understand how anyone could forgive that kind of act. Do you want to know how they did it? It was simply good Christian behavior. The Amish have this "grace thing" right. It is sad that so many were surprised to see people forgiving like the Amish did in this situation. It shows that as Christians we have a long way to go to overcome the bad reputation that we have gotten. We need to take notes from both the Amish and this movie. We need to incorporate  grace into our daily lives.

Instead of being a Sunday Christian, we are to be Christians 24/7. One of my favorite things said in the movie was that Church is only the locker room. It is where we hear the pep talk. Monday - Saturday is game time. Most Christians have it backwards. Sunday is not the day to act as a Christian. It is the day to learn how to act the rest of the week. We want to rest on the laurels of faith, but that will never be enough.

I will end this blog with the words of James, as he reminds us that faith is not enough (even the demons have faith in who Christ is and that there is only one God) in James 2:17-24,

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Documentary

My wife and I will soon begin an industrious adventure that will start this year in September. It will be the shooting of our first in a series of 3 documentaries that will look at substance abuse/alcoholism. The documentary that we will begin with will contain interviews with 10 people who are now clean and sober. It will contain first person testimonials of those who have waged war with addiction and have found a better life without drugs and alcohol. Those interviewed will consist of both males and females who are in their teens and early twenties. There will be a couple of interviewees who will be older, and have suffered more dire consequences from their addiction and now have extended sobriety.

The documentary will address how the interviewees were raised in order to show the diversity of backgrounds that they came from, both financially and in regards to parenting and school activities. We will then look at the first time that alcohol or drugs were used. They will describe how they felt when they first used, and what the substance did for and to them. Then we will delve into how their use progressed and why. Next we will transition into how intense their use got to and what their rock bottom, or low point was. From there we will discuss what motivated them to get sober, and if a relapse occurred. If a relapse was present, we will discuss the mitigating circumstances as well as the force of the relapse and what got them back into sobriety. Finally, the subjects will discuss what the most important parts of their continued sobriety have been, what helped them transition into recovery and what they have gotten positive from recovery that they had either lost or never had.

The main function of this documentary is to hopefully be a tool to use with not only those who are in addiction in rehabilitation centers/prisons/jails/juvenile detention/outpatient treatment, but also to those who are not yet using or in trouble with the law. It will be a great documentary to show in junior high, high school and college venues as part of forums, conferences, training and drug prevention/education programs. Our hope is that this documentary will hopefully be an eye opener and encourage those who view it to engage in open discussion, question/answer sessions and maybe even encourage those who see it that are using to quit or seek help.

This documentary has several primary purposes. The first of those is to inform adolescents and young adults about the inherent risks that using drugs and alcohol pose. The second is to let those watching know that they are not alone in the problems, pressures and hurts that they feel. We want them to know that there are many people who suffer from various consequences of life ranging from sexual/physical/emotional abuse to depression and not feeling that they fit in. Finally, it is made to encourage those watching by showing that there is life after addiction and that recovery is not only possible, it is rewarding.

There has been a new page added to the Spiritual Spackle blogsite. On that page we will be keeping you updated about this project in the comments section. We are looking at several funding opportunities currently. If anyone knows of any grants or foundations that might be helpful, please let us know. We may be calling on you to help with the project, so please keep checking this page out to see how the documentary is coming as far as shooting and editing as we prepare it. Our goal is have the documentary finished by the end of next year.

We will also let you know what the future documentaries are about and how they are coming as we get to them. Right now the focus is on this one, and it will be the focus for a while. I imagine that I will be working on my book in the living room and my wife will be editing in the office next to me for many months to come. I am super excited! Any comments of encouragement, offers of support and/or feedback will be appreciated. There will also be several contests that we will have as we work on this project. STAY TUNED FOR MORE!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Come As You Are

Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

We are not called to be perfect. In fact, at first we are just called to show up, period! We are called to come to Christ as we are, weary and burdened. That means we come to Christ as sinners with our sins in their full glory. Our sin is active when we come to Christ. Romans 3:23 tells us that all sin. It is in our nature to sin, especially when we are in the world.

Mark 2:17 Christ let's the Pharisees know who He came to save when He said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The same story is also related in Matthew 9 and Luke 5. 1 Timothy 1:15 parrots this when it says that Christ came into the world to save sinners. So Christ came and He came so that the sinners could be forgiven. What does that mean for us? Does that mean that we are fine the way that we are when we first come into relationship with God and can stay the same?

In one word, NO!!! For example, I work at a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility. I tell my clients that it does not matter what reason they came into treatment for originally; whether it is to get their children back in their custody, to stay out of prison or to make someone they love happy. At least they are here. Now if when they leave that is still the same reason that they have to stay sober then we have a problem.

You see, simply walking through the door is a huge hurdle. Once we have opened the door, then a relationship with Christ can begin to happen. Christ has the ability to take the direct consequence of our sins away. Our not wanting more than that is the problem! Francis Chan says that many of us do not want to be saved from our sin (as in we will sin no more), but only from the consequences of our sin (eternity in Hell).

We need to be worried about much more than just the consequences of our sin. We need to abolish sin from our lives! In John 8:11, Jesus instruction to the woman caught committing adultery was to, "go and sin no more." He did not tell her to go and try not to sin like many churches preach. He told her not to sin at all. That is what we are to try to do. We must try to live as Christ lived. Our lives should be lived as a tribute to God.

I have said ever since I was saved that my life is a gift from God, and how I live my life is my gift back to Him! It seemed like most of my life was spent slapping God in the face. That was how I used to repay Him for my life, by embarrassing and rebelling against Him. Now I live my life to glorify Him in all that I do. It is not always by doing the easiest thing, but by doing the right thing. It is done by following Phillipians 2:12, which says that we should, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

That is what we should do with our lives. We will make mistakes, but as our relationship grows they should come less often and eventually almost disappear. Then we can be found pleasing to God, as talked about in Colossians 1:10, "so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."

I know many feel that because God loves us He is happy with us just as we are. That is true, with a caveat. He loves us as He is, but expects and wants the best for and from us. He loves us unconditionally, but even unconditional love wants the best for us and expects us to improve. If that does not make sense to you, then let me speak as a parent.

When my son was born I was just happy to get him home. I loved to watch him just lay there. That was great, but I could not wait for him to begin rolling over. Rolling over was pretty cool, but then came crawling. Crawling was amazing to watch as he figured it out. Now, I love my son with all of my heart. I have never loved anyone more unconditionally than I do him. Yet, when he began to crawl I still wanted more from him. As he matured, I wanted him to eventually learn to stand on his own.

Standing was still not good enough, because I would not have been satisfied with anything less than him walking since he had no infirmities. As he took those first steps I was proud. I got his first steps on video tape. He would take a couple of steps and then fall. I would look on proudly. As he learned how to walk better, I expected him to fall down less and less and to eventually hardly fall at all. I expected nothing less of him, and yet I love him unconditionally.

God is the same way! Come as you are. It is okay if you crawl through the door to worship. As you mature in your faith, you will find balance and eventually begin to take steps. Those steps will transform into a solid walk with God. He loves us unconditionally, and He expects nothing less from us than a firm walk (thanks to George McDonald for this example). We should expect nothing less from ourselves either. We need to stop using excuses to not do our best. 

I had a friend who was hiring at his restaurant. He was having trouble finding employees. When I asked why he was having problems he said, "I have a lot of applicants but nobody to hire. Everybody wants to get paid, but none of them want to work for it." That reminded me of so many Christians that I know. We all want to be saved, but we do not want to put in the work.

There are a lot of pastors today who preach the feel good, watered down gospel. They have thousands that attend their mega-churches, and they feel that they are doing the work of God. I tell you this, if we look and act like those outside of the churches we are doing something wrong. If we do as the masses do, the Bible let's us know where we stand. Matthew 7:12-13 says, "wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

God called me to come as I was, but in His infinite wisdom He saw that I could not stay that way. I have already talked about the changes that the Holy Spirit causes, and how following the whispers of God make our lives better. I will soon be writing a blog about the feel good garbage that some of the Christian authors and pastors are laying down as dogma! Religion truly is the opiate of the masses.

I do not want you to have religion! I want you to have a relationship with Christ. Ephesians 4:1 sums up what I say to you and what I want for all of you. Paul says that "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." We have been called to represent God with our lives. We have been called to Christ, who laid down his life for us so that our lives could be eternal. Can we not lay down our sins for Him?

Friday, August 19, 2011


I have had the misfortune recently of running into a lot of Christians lately who have made me remember why I stayed an Agnostic for so long. I remember as an Agnostic looking at the Christians that I knew and thinking to myself, "If that is what those Christians are like, I want nothing to do with them!" What I saw was complete hypocrisy. I was sickened by the conduct I saw. I was sickened by my own conduct, too. But at least I knew that I was living an amoral life, I just didn't care! They thought that how they were living was fine, and justified it with Christ's forgiveness. All I knew wa that I was the same as most of the Christians that I knew.

In my past I saw people who were doing exactly what I was doing, but there was a difference. I knew that I was not a good person. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a drunk, a convict, a drug addict, a drug dealer, a thug, a whore, a thief! I could go on, but you get my point. I knew what I was. The Christians I knew had no clue what they were. They thought that they were doing great, that they were saved because they were baptized, they went to Church once or twice a week and they spoke in "tongues" once in a while. Therefore, it was okay for them to sleep around, do drugs, get drunk and pick fights, cuss every other word and look down on other people who were not Christians "like them." They were only fooling themselves. The Bible tells us differently.

We are told to be a light shining bright to the world. As it says in Matthew 5, you cannot hide a city on a hill or a candle on a stand.  We should shine our light before men that they may see our good works and then they too will glorify God! I want you to ask yourself one question right now, "Am I a light shining brightly?" The song by the Newsboys, "Shine," come to mind here. It says that we should shine to make those around us wonder what we got and make them wish that they were not on the outside looking in! How can we cause that to happen when our lives and their lives are carbon copies of each other. The only difference is that we have given ourselves a different title. We don't need to a different title. What we is a different package. We need to live our lives differently. How is that done????

It is not done by taking communion, attending church, raising your hands in worship, tithing or by speaking in tongues. It is not accomplished through baptism nor by small group attendance. Those are good habits, don't get me wrong. But more is needed. It is also not done by ignoring the sin of those around us and lessening the differences between us and those of this world. We need to stop dividing the secular and the spiritual. There are not two standards for us to live by, one at work and another at church! Our entire life should represent Christ, not just on Sundays and when among other Christians.

If our light shines, we will not conform to the urges and temptations of this world. Our actions should generally be in contrast to those in the world around us. If they are gossiping at the lunch table, do not join in. Leave the table, or change the subject. If they are cussing and carrying on, do not join in. The apostles and early Christians did not have people becoming Christian by the thousands around them because they were like everyone around them. They never wavered, even when faced with death. Be a steady and bright light, not one that is tossed about in the wind and constantly flickers.

We must not exhibit self-indulgence, but instead display self-denial. There is a moral darkness all around us. We must be a steady and pure light for those around us so they can find their way out of the darkness. This occurs when we focus on heavenly desires, not earthly ones. How can we show those who know us what a radical change occurs when we are reborn if there is no change. I can call a circle a triangle, but that does  not make it so.

How is it that we fear losing our popularity more than we fear the wrath of God. Instead of letting people know what the Bible says and what we are commanded to do, we will remain silent so as not to offend people. Inaction and silence when action and edification are warranted is wrong. It is just as much a sin to do nothing as it is to commit sin! We would not stand by and watch a women get raped but we will watch people condemn themselves and say nothing! What is wrong with us????

For starters, we believe false doctrine. Once saved always saved is a joke the way it is preached by most pastors!!! The Bible says that faith without works is dead. 2 Timothy 2:12 it states, "if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us." How can we be disowned if we are always saved? By not living our lives to be like Christ. When I see atheists and agnostics who have better principles, morals and manners than the Christians surrounding them I get a righteous anger that consumes me. It sickens me that Christians have the reputation that they do. Even worse, the reputation is warranted!

Next doctrine I am done with is that all we have to do is believe that Christ is the son of God and that He died to forgive our sins and we will go to heaven. Are you kidding me? I guarantee you that the Devil knows who Christ is and what His sacrifice meant. So, do you think that you will see Satan in heaven? Not a chance! We are dead to sin and reborn. That means that we are different from head to toe. Does that show? Do people see Christ in how we conduct our lives? I bet for most of us the answer is no!

Ghandi's quote said it all, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." We need to take this excuse away from the masses! We do this by shining the brightest when we are among non-believers. It is hard for me to see the light of a candle when the sun is radiating down. This is when we are in small groups and in church, when the light around us shines brightest. Our conviction and faith is seen best when we are in the secular world. That is when our actions should contrast the most from those around us. It is easy to praise Jesus in the midst of fellow believers, it is not so easy when we are surrounded by those who do not believe. COME ON PEOPLE, REPRESENT!!!

As much as we do not want to admit it, we are all called by Christ to have different roles that still are used in the same service to Him and to our fellow man. Ultimately, there is no difference between a pastor and a maid or a missionary and an electrician. We are all called to go out into the world and bring others to Christ. This is not a part-time job, but full-time employment. What we need to do is ask ourselves several questions: 
  1. Do I live Monday - Sunday all day every day as a witness to what being a Christian means?  
  2. Do I believe that how I act and what I do while I conduct myself throughout the week are as important to God as how I act and what I say on Sunday and in small groups?
  3. Do I know that the job I have is just as important to Christ and advancing His Kingdom as the job that my pastor or a missionary have?
You see, what we do every minute of every day is important. Most of us are not called to the pulpit at church to preach the sermon on Sunday, nor are we called to move and evangelize in foreign countries. Instead, we are called to the “pulpit” at work and to live the sermon every day instead of just preaching it on Sunday! To steal a slogan from the military, "Be all that you can be."

There is no one who is almost saved, you either are or aren't. There is no one who is almost a Christian, you either are or are not. You decide what and who you are. But I will tell you this, Matthew 7:21-23 tells us that many will call on the name of Christ and tell of the miracles they performed in His name and yet He will tell them to get away from Him. The only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is to do the will of the Father. His will is not to sin and make excuses to continue, but to sin and then figure out why it happened and work to insure that we do not do it again.  We were not called to be perfect, but to try our best. Instead of giving ourselves excuses to sin we should have a long list of reasons not to.

So I call you to do a few things from now on in your life. First and foremost, pray and meditate so that you can hear the voice of God and follow that instruction. Next, don’t be the reason someone has for saying Christians are hypocrites. Lastly, when it comes to being a Christian, BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE....................and SHINE!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Songs of Recovery - I'm Not Who I Was by Brandon Heath

When I first began listening to worship music, I heard a song from the singer/song writer Brandon Heath that was entitled, “I’m Not Who I Was.” As soon as I heard it, I adopted it as my recovery anthem. It was also my mantra as a new Christian who was recently saved. I was able to totally relate to this song. If you have never heard it, you will soon see why this was my anthem. The song starts off:
I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how
I'm not who I was
I could only imagine the look on the faces of the people that I used to know if they were able to see me now that I have been transformed. Much like the ugly duckling that turned into a beautiful swan, I had a very ugly life style that has been changed into what I would consider a much better way to live. I am certain that most of society would agree with me that my life is lived better now.
If people from my past could see me now, the way that I talk and live my life would be all that was needed to show them how different I am now. Even people from 3 years ago acknowledge the differences that they see in me.
I used to be mad at you
A little on the hurt side too
But I'm not who I was
One of the major changes is my anger and my attitude. I used to be mad at you is an understatement. I used to be mad at everybody. They were either preaching at me, wanting me to change or in my paranoia I thought that they were trying to take advantage of me. I was not only angry, I was hurt. Now that I have gotten sober and saved, there have been fundamental changes that have occurred.
The reason there have been fundamental changes is that my viewpoint has changed. I realize that much of what I was angry and hurt by was often people who wanted better for me. It was not that they did not like who I was, they did not like the person I had become. Looking back, I cannot really blame them. I was not a good person, no matter how much I tried to act like. I did token good things with my money, but my heart and my conscience were anything but good. Sugar coating does not change what is beneath.
I found my way around
To forgiving you
Some time ago
But I never got to tell you so
I have forgiven people that I will probably never see again. They will probably never know that I was never really mad at them, unless they read this blog (If you are one of those people, leave a comment or drop me an email so that we can talk). It is not so much forgiving people as it is realizing that I was the one at fault.
I have ended friendships out of anger when I was really angry at myself, or I was tired of seeing disappointment in their eyes that might or might not have been imagined every time that they looked at me. I was mean and hateful because I was coming down, or I had just gotten out of jail, or just got screwed over by somebody else and took it out on them. There are so many reasons......................
I found us in a photograph
I saw me and I had to laugh
You know, I'm not who I was
You were there, you were right above me
And I wonder if you ever loved me
Just for who I was
I am prone to laughter when I see the 150 pound meth addict that I used to be. When I see my old pictures it is either laugh or cry. I was a cute kid, and my addiction aged me slightly but it changed me. I have best friends now see pictures of me from high school and they ask who the pictures are of. They are not being nice, I have changed!

I see the people who were my “friends” in my addiction and I know that they did not love me for who I was. My friends were my friends when I was an addict because of several reasons: I had money, I had drugs, I would give them drugs for free or cheap so they could get a hustle on, I gave them a place to sleep, I would buy them food and cigarettes, I would let them take advantage of me, I had a vehicle, they were scared of me/intimidated by me, they wanted to sleep with me or they wanted to sleep with my girlfriend. Never for who I was, but what was in it for them. Sad, sad, sad, but oh so true.
When the pain came back again
Like a bitter friend
It was all that I could do
To keep myself from blaming you
Even though we make changes in our lives, we still have things that have happened in the past and things that happen today that will hurt us and cause us pain. In my past, everything was someone else’s fault. I would feel pain and it would make me strike out at others. This changed in my recovery, as when old situations would arise (new ones too) I would look at the part that I played in them. This was progress. My old friend was blame. Not accepting responsibility kept me sick. If I did not do it, I could not change it. When I accept responsibility, I can then make positive changes!
I reckon it's a funny thing
I figured out I can sing
Now I'm not who I was
I write about love and such
Maybe 'cause I want it so much
I'm not who I was
I was the exact opposite of this. In my addiction I thought that I could sing. I found out in my sobriety that I could not. It was kind of embarrasing when I realized that I could not sing nearly as well as I thought that I could. I had always been encouraged to sing, but those people were as out of it and as fake as I was. I can carry a tune, but it is done with a voice that cracks at all the wrong places. Sobering reality!
The second part of this verse shows the difference in some of us in our addictions. I wanted no one around me when I was an addict. I would chase people away. If someone told me that they loved me, I would break up with them. If they were sick enough to love someone like me, I wanted nothing to do with them. Now, I know that I am worth loving and I have something to offer a partner. No doubt, I am not who I was!

I was thinking maybe I
I should let you know
I am not the same
But I never did forget your name
I have a lot of people in my past that I feel I owe apologies to that I will never see again. I have not forgotten them, nor how I have wronged them. I have instead thought that living my life well and trying to help other’s live their lives well is the best way that I can make amends. I also think that they may read my blogs or my upcoming book, or see me giving my testimony and see the changes that I have made. I do not regret what I have done, because it has made me who I am. That said, I have done things that were messed up and wrong. I just have realizes that I cannot beat myself up about the past. I cannot change the past, I can only make positive changes in today. Therefore, today is where I stay.

Well the thing I find most amazing
In amazing grace
Is the chance to give it out
Maybe that's what love is all about
My favorite line of the song! Amazing grace is truly that, amazing. I have written a blog already about the song Amazing Grace, which you can find here: Grace is both unmerited favor and being given the ability to carry out the will of God. As I continued on in my recovery and in my relationship with Christ, I found that I was undeserving of the grace that I received. I surely did not deserve favor from God. At the same time, I realized that I deemed others as unworthy of getting grace. I would look at many with animosity and would not forgive them when they wronged me.
As I grew, I found that if I were given favor by God and the ability to carry out His will, then surely that would mean I needed to forgive others and give others favor that were undeserving in my eyes. As I began to give other’s the grace that I was blessed to receive, I stopped seeing others as undeserving and gained an ability to see others for who they could be. That is what love is about, giving people the compassion, hope and faith they need. This allows them to become who they were meant to be, instead of remaining who they are. God blessed me, and to thank Him I should follow what He deems important. He said that love never fails! So I share my success with others and believe that they too can make positive changes.

I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how
I'm not who I was
This is a great way to finish this blog. I do hope that this site with all it contains and my life itself allow people to see the changes that have been made thanks to the Holy Spirit working in and through me. I do not just talk about it, I am about it. If you want to see different, look at how I lived my life as recently as 3 years ago and how I live it today. Guarantee that you will see one thing: I’M NOT WHO I WAS!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is Celebrate Recovery

I was going to do a review of the lessons in Celebrate Recovery, but I was told that it is copywrited up to and including their acrostics. So I will instead do a quick review of what Celebrate Recovery is and consists of so that people who read this can have an understanding of it. First we will look at how it is different from most of the 12 step programs out there.

For starters most Celebrate Recovery groups begin 30-60 minutes before the first group for food. It tends to be really good grub for cheap. Then big group begins. Big group lasts for an hour and consists of one of two things. Rotating weeks you will have a testimony from someone of the changes that have occured in their lives (where they were to where they are), the following week is a lesson on the 12 steps. Next is small groups for an hour. We will get what small groups are later. After small groups come coffee, dessert and good conversation. That is a typical night of CR, anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on what you attend.

The biggest thing to know is that Celebrate Recovery is for life's hurts, habits and hang-ups. It is not only for substance abuse.  Here is an incomplete listing of groups:
 Adult Children of the Addicted
Eating Disorders
   Over Eating; Anorexia; Bulimia
Guilt and Shame
Legal and Illegal Substance Abuse
Loss of a Loved One
Low Self Esteem
Love & Relationship Addiction
Need to Control
Sexual Addiction
Sexual/Emotional/Physical Abuse

Another huge difference from most 12 step meetings is that Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, Biblical scripture-based group. The focus is on God and what He can do in your life. All of the 12 steps have Bible scriptures to tie them more into the commands and promises of God. The principles are also scripture-based. It makes for a much deeper meeting than most that I have been to.

Celebrate Recovery big group begins and ends with worship music. The worship music is probably my favorite part of the group. I am a big fan of worship music. I feel that worship music gets us prepared for opening up to and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us. Big group lessons have words that will help us in our recovering from whatever our hurt, habit or hang-up is. Each word is an acrostic for the steps to either achieve the word or overcome the word. The acrostic makes it easier to remember, which with my memory was a positive thing.

The small groups are split up by gender. Women and men both benefit from this. It is easier to share in a group full of people the same gender. It also allows for people to talk freely and not in front of their spouses/mates. There is more attention paid to the person speaking and not how they look. It also cuts down on people hitting on each other and more intimate things are shared this way. At least, from what I have seen and heard. I would feel a lot safer saying that I always let my partner use me and that I am highly codependent and like to focus all of my attention on my parter if I am in a group where there are not people that could be partners now knowing that about me and scheming on how they can use that tidbit of information to take advantage of me. Just saying.......

If there are enough attendees, the groups are split up by topic. You may have a substance abuse, depression, codependency, anger management, divorce/separation, grief/loss and financial groups that all meet in separate rooms. They are all gender specific. This is a great way to talk to others who are dealing with the same issues that you are so you know that you are not alone in your struggles.

We do not introduce ourselves as being addicts or alcoholics. Instead, people are encouraged to identify themselves by positives, such as being a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. I personally introduce myself as David, and then add that I have been blessed with many trials and tribulations in life that I have grown from. If you want to be successful, refer to yourself by positives not negatives. If you are in secular meetings, introduce yourself as sober or in recovery.

There is child care available at most Celebrate Recovery groups. The difference is that the people who are watching the children are generally background checked (at least if it occurs at a church they should be due to the church standards that exist). There are also several programs that are designed for children 5 and older that will give them things to discuss with their parents to help make that relationship stronger.

There are 5 basic rules to the small groups:
  1. Your sharing is focused on your own thoughts and feelings and is limited to 3-5 minutes.
  2. There is no cross talk. Cross talk is when two individuals engage in dialogue to the exclusion of others. Each person is free to express their own feelings without interruption.
  3. We are here to support one another. We will not attempt to "fix" another.
  4. Anonymity and confidentiality are essential requirements. What is shared in the group stays in the group.
  5. Offensive language has no place in a Christ-centered group.
The sharing focused on you is a good thing. It makes us focus on us instead of allowing us to take the focus off of ourselves and put our focus on helping someone else. We need to work on us. I am perfectly shattered and I need to work on fixing me before I can truly help others. The best way for me to help them is to work on myself and getting a closer relationship with Christ. The not attempting to fix each other ties into that also. It is way easier to tell others what they should do. I would recommend that you instead think of what your advice to them would have been and how it applies to you.

There are a lot of secular groups that claim to be child friendly, yet you will hear the "F" bomb and other cuss words peppered into a lot of people's sentences. For starters, that kind of language has no part in true recovery. We should care about those around us and how our language could be found offensive to them.  Secondly, do you really want your children to hear that kind of language? I know that I don't. On occasion people may slip up, but it does not permeate the sharing like at other 12 step groups.

There are also people who are asked to leave. If you are trying to get dates, you should and will be asked to leave. If you come high or drunk, you will be asked to leave. You may be talked to in a 1:1 situation, but you will not be allowed to impact the group. These are the types of things that are done for the safety of the group. I actually have known women who have stopped going to secular meetings because they were constantly having people try to pick up on them. Not a conducive atmosphere for positive growth to occur. If that is how the people who have are sober are acting and/or allowing others to act(principles before personalities in most secular groups), I will go somewhere else.

I have made changes in the first 6 months of attending Celebrate Recovery that I did not make in 7 years of secular 12 step meetings. I needed to be able to talk about God. A "door knob" seemed like a very unrealistic higher power. I could kick a door off of it's hinges. I did not need little "hp" or little "g', I needed the big "G" God to make positive changes. Knowing the forgiveness of Christ allowed me to forgive myself, which I had never been able to do before.

It is also good to be around people who have never had drug and/or alcohol problems. You see that everyone struggles and you see that you are accepted and loved by people who are not addicts. For the longest time, I thought that I could only be friends with former addicts and criminals, but CR has shown me otherwise. It has put me around positive people who live their lives in ways that I want to live my life in. If you want to have positive growth, put yourself around people who are where you want to be. I do that at CR, and so can you.

I have a life now through Christ that I never had without him and I can finally look in the mirror and love the person staring back at me. I went from a drug addicted felon with no hope and no self esteem to a Christian who can attempt to give to others the grace and hope that was given to me. I can truly do all through him who strengthens me, and so can you. I would strongly encourage anyone considering Celebrate Recovery to look into it, and remember that it is a lifelong commitment. It worked for me and it will work for you. It is not a magical cure; it needs to be actively worked on a daily basis.

You see, I still get frustrated, still get sad, still feel guilty, still feel lonely and I do not always do the right thing, but I strive to be Christ-like and try to ensure that each day I live my life will be better than the day before it. I am no longer a hypocrite; I no longer hate or harbor resentments and anger. Instead I laugh, I cry, I love, I am quick to help and even quicker to forgive. What I once saw as weakness I now often see as strength. Some of those who were once my enemies have become my heroes. It is amazing how your outlook on life changes when you are in recovery.

If you have any questions/feedback, either add them as comments or e-mail me and I would be happy to answer them! If you need to find a CR group in your area, go to and there is a group finder header that will allow you to look by state and city for active groups.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When Was the Last TIme You TRULY Relied on God?

I ran into a friend at the gym last night on my way to play racquetball. She and I talked for a few minutes about her trip next month. She is going to Georgia for 9 months. Not the state, which would still be a big step for a young adult. For most of us, moving several states away from all of our family and friends with no one that we know living there would be a huge move. She is going to the country of Georgia for almost a year. 

Her mother had a one word question for her, "Why?"

She could have given many answers, but the one that she gave put another question in her mom's mouth. "I feel led by God to do this." 

"Then why not go on a mission trip for a couple of weeks or a month, why do this for 9 months by yourself?"

"Because I want to know what it feels like to rely on God."

With that answer, there were no more questions from her mother. Why? Because it is true, if you go to another country with a group of people you know for several weeks you are doing a great thing. If you are building schools, digging wells, bringing food/water or teaching children it is a good thing that you do. But you are surrounded by people that you know, and you get to come right back home. If you go there by yourself to teach for 9 months, there is a lot more reliance on God than if you go with a group for a short while.

It brought to mind a question that I would ask you. When was the last time that you TRULY relied on God. I do not mean relying on him as in, "I have a test at the doctors tomorrow and I want you to pray for it to turn out well" or "I got laid off and I am trusting that God will help me find a job." I mean TRULY relied on him. When did you tithe when it meant that you might not be able to go to the movies and out to eat with your friends/family? When did you volunteer when it meant that you would have to miss your favorite television show?

It is easy to say that we rely on God in America, where even our poor are rich by the standards of most Third world countries. Our hungry here still generally have options, but sometimes there pride gets in the way of going to the pantry at church or applying for food stamps. When most Americans say that they have no money it does not mean that they do not have a penny. In some countries, no money means no money.  Most countries do not have unemployment, food stamps and Medicaid! When there are no jobs, it does not mean that their pride won't let them apply at McDonald's because they are too good to work there. It means that there are no jobs, period!! 

Just so you know, being prideful and following God do not belong in the same sentence. Let alone in the same life! God did not call us to be comfortable. To quote the poem at the end, He calls us to be "righteous, not right-ish" I had a friend who went to work for a state agency and in training she was told that if she was not stressed out, that she was not doing her job right. I would argue that if you are not uncomfortable, you may not be following Christ right:

John 16:33 - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

1 John 3:13 - "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you."

Acts 14:22 - "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God"

We shall not be comfortable in this sinful world, if we are following Christ. How many of us watch movies and listen to music that glorify the same conduct that God flooded the world for in Genesis? How many of us watch shows on television that glorify the lifestyles and attitudes that God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah over? How many of us make excuses to continue committing the same sins that Christ died on the cross to forgive us for? When have you had to make a choice in your faith that would make you uncomfortable? 

Global University has a student who tells a story of unimaginable faith. She lived in Iran at the time this story occurred. She was marrying a man who lied to her and told her that he was going to convert to Christianity with her. After their marriage, she got pregnant. When she had the baby, the government stepped in and gave her a choice. She could either keep her baby and renounce Christ or remain a Christian and they would take her baby. Long story short, she no longer lives in Iran but her baby still does. 

This is the faith that we are called to have. Many of us would instead renounce Christ in public to keep our baby but would justify it by worshipping Christ in private. That does not follow with the examples in the Bible. Daniel 3:13-18 tells a story about 3 men who refused to worship in private:

Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

There are also stories of Daniel himself, who was cast to the lions. Or the deaths of 10 of the 12 disciples by martyrdom! We are to follow in Jesus footsteps, and he was crucified. So I ask you, when has someone belittled Christianity in front of you and you remained silent? When has someone expressed doubt in God and you did not testify? When has a brother in Christ that you have known for years sinned and you did not hold him accountable but were instead silent? When have you excused little sins because they are in your nature? To quote the poet at the end, "You don't almost go to hell when you almost get saved!"

And these are the little things I am asking about, I hope you understand. If you cannot do the least of these, how can you follow Christ when the going gets tough. In the end we will be hated and persecuted, but you cannot even take a stand when you can worship freely! I challenge you to stop being what Francis Chan calls "Lukewarm Christians." 

You cannot be "almost" saved and you cannot pick and choose how you "almost" follow Christ. Christ led us to not be seen as part of this world. The Bible instructs us:

Mark 4:19 - "but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."

Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

1 John 2:15 - "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

We are called by Christ to live as he lived. We have been reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). We are made new in the attitudes of our minds (Ehpesians 4:23) which gives us the ability to find out what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10) and then follow His example in both true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24). What does this mean? It means that we will not almost appear to be Christians. They will know us by OUR WORKS!!!

Everything else is lip service. Do you know what I am talking about. Here is a great example in the form of a  poem by the Passion for Christ Movement (P4CM) poet Ezekiel Azonwu that tells us what can happen to us if we live as though we "Almost" have faith:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Songs of Recovery - Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin

There is a song that I know well. Even as an Agnostic, I was still seen in church on occasion. I would be there for either funerals or weddings. Without fail, at almost every funeral that I attended, I would hear the song Amazing Grace. I have always thought that it was a beautiful and haunting song. I have heard it sang in every style possible, from bluegrass to country to soul and even a cappella rhythm and blues. I have never heard the song and not thought of death before I was saved.

After I got saved the song took on new meaning. I still think of the first verse, and what it means to me now:          

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

God's grace change my life. I often give the rundown of my past, so it has been posted in several blogs. If you are new to my blog, you have probably not read it. This was the difference between me before and after I was found by God and transformed by the Holy Spirit and you can read about it in my blog Jonah and the Whale/How I Know God Exists. It is the highlighted part of the blog:

I was blind to being able to change my life. I was trapped in the certainty that either I or some other secular method could change my life for the better. I would see glimpses of sobriety, but recovery was always just out of reach. I never had extended sobriety. I could never forget who I used to be or forgive myself for what I had done. This kept me mired in my past, and all I could do to survive was stay numb. Then I was blessed with God's grace (unwarranted favor-the ability to do God's will). Since then it has all been different. 

The second verse of Amazing Grace says:

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

I do not fear God in any way, shape or form. Not in the traditional sense, at least. I do not fear his punishment, but I do fear letting Him down. It is much like I did when I was a child with my father, who was my Superman. I wanted my dad to respect me and be proud of me. So I have fear of letting God down, yet through grace I know that I cannot let Him down (and grace my fears relieved). I still do not want to displease God, but I know that his favor isn't earned by anything that I do. It was earned through Christ's sacrifice. 

I can still remember the first time that I heard the chorus. I was at Celebrate Recovery the first time that I heard this version of Amazing Grace. For a recovering addict/sinner/convict, it was like a promise that was promised to me and was being kept already. It was the knowledge that someone had put into words what I was already feeling/living:

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The chains of servitude were gone. No longer was I a slave to drugs, alcohol and the life of sin that I once lived. I could never forgive myself, but his forgiveness rained on me like a flood that cleansed me. I finally realized that I was worthwhile, that I was greater than I once was. I was also allowed to see that every thing that I had lived through had made me wiser, stronger and brought me to the place I am at now. I love where I am at now!

The third verse says:

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

Yes, the Lord has promised good to me. I have the Holy Spirit residing inside of me, to give me strength to do what is needed. This does not mean that life will be lemon drops and lollipops. God does not promise that once we are saved it will be rainbows and cotton candy. Instead, He gives us the promise of an eternity of bliss in the next life. Not 70 or 80 years, but eternity. Before, I would wake up every day depressed because I knew that right now could possibly be the best it will ever get. Knowing that I have good promised to me gives me hope to make it through today. What is 70 or 80 years in the face of eternity? It is but a blink of an eye. I can deal with what ever this old world throws at me because I know what is promised! 

The last verse of this song finishes with:

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine

Once again, we see that this world is only temporary. God gives us the promise of eternal life. So even as we see this world turn on itself and begin to sink to new depths, we know that we are not relegated to living in this world of sin forever. When this world has been destroyed, we will be with our Abba, Father! How reassuring is that? I know that no matter what happens, I will endure because my eye is set on an eternal prize. 

My chains are gone and I have been set free from more than just my addictions. I have been set free from this world. I may live IN IT, but I am no longer OF IT! The chains of sin and wanting to fit in with the people of this world no longer have me bound. They may be scrambling; thinking of how to make more money or buy more expensive toys. My heart is set on how to better help those around me. How can I exemplify Christ in my walk? How can I better serve my heavenly Father? How can I show others the amazing grace that has been shown to me? Those are the questions that I answer by living my life to benefit others and obeying the Great Commission!