Friday, July 27, 2012

Chick-fil-A, GLAAD and Chicago......Oh My!!!

So I have been seeing all of the stuff about Chick-fil-A's owner, Dan Cathy, saying that he believes that marriage is between a man and a women and does not support gay marriage. He supports the traditional marriage of a man and a women. I am told that this is hate speech, but that puzzles me. He does not stop gay couples from eating at his restaurant. He does not stand at the door and shout slurs at gays and lesbians. He does not support what they do and he stands for something else. I do not hear hate in what he says.

Let me give you several examples from my life where I do not support something, if fact I speak out against them, and tell me if what I describe is hate:

I cannot stand drugs. I feel that there is nothing more evil than addiction. I see what it does to people's lives. I have made my life a crusade against addictions, from drugs to alcohol to cutting to eating disorders. I want to educate parents, youth, young adults, churches and communities about the dangers of addiction and the power of recovery. I am 100% against addictions. Although it has been scientifically proven that people are born genetically predisposed to it, which means they are born that way, I am still against it. I am employed fighting addiction, I am starting a non-profit to combat addiction and I spend most of my free time, money and energy in that same arena. I am anti-addiction!

I will do all that I can to fight life consuming issues and get others to join in my fight against them. Does this mean that I hate addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, bulimics, anorexics, convicts, etc.? Absolutely not!! I love them, although I don't agree with how they are living their lives. Due to this, I encourage them to live their lives differently. If they stay in addiction, I will never stop caring about and praying for them. To some people I guess that is hate. To me, it is caring and compassion.

Next thing I am against is obesity. I do not support obesity, although I am obese. I am trying to lose weight and want to see the body fat melt off. I can't stand it. That said, I don't hate obese people. I encourage them in their struggles, because I know how unhealthy it can be to live your life that way. But, I am against obesity and wish that all people had healthy body fat percentages. So now, all people who are obese should boycott my blog, right? I guess if you use the logic of Chicago, Boston, San Fransisco, the Muppets and Ed Helms.

Next you throw in Chicago trying to say no Chick-fil-A's in our city!! Chicago has one of the worst gang problems in the United States. Their homicide rate was up 40% from last year and they are worried about Chick-fil-A? Boston is in the bottom 11% of cities when it comes to the crime rate, yet they don't want Chick-fil-A? It seems that they have much bigger issues to deal with. How about doing more to combat gang violence?

Why do we have cities that are against Chick-fil-A, which has not killed anybody that I know of, yet they have head shops in their cities. Why are we allowing places that sell glass pipes, also known as bubbles, that are used for smoking methamphetamine and cocaine to be in business? These same places sell items that supposedly to help someone flush their system so that they can beat drug screens. They are promoting drug use!! How can you not have a problem with that? Were are your priorities at. I know where mine are!

I stand against addictions and other life consuming, life controlling, life robbing issues. I do not care if you are 12 or 80, black or white, straight or gay! I want to educate you on the dangers of using drugs. Through Better Life in Recovery I will use real people with real problems to share hope and recovery so that we can work on combating addiction. If you want to join, volunteer, share your story or donate to the cause let me know. If not, if you support addiction, if you are active in your addiction just know that I can't stand it. I hate it, but I love you and will try my best to help you!

The Locker Room (Sermon Outline for Youth 07/26)

Ephesians 6:10-12 - This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”

1.       TEAM
2.       COACH
3.       TEAM MATES
4.       PLAY BOOK
5.       HUDDLE
6.       PRACTICE
7.       LOCKER ROOM
C.S. LEWIS, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
Proverbs 22:6 - "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Ecclesiastes 4:9,12 - Two are better than one, Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 -  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work
Hebrews 10:25 -  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and god deeds, not giving up meeting together, but encouraging one another
Ephesians 6:18 - In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out
ROMANS 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.
Matthew 5:14-16 - You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

1. Is my life about self-fulfillment or Christ fulfillment
2. Do I live as one who is IN this world or as one who is OF this world
3. Am I ashamed of my faith, or do I profess the gospel to all who would hear it
4. Is my life a living sacrifice to Jesus

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Better Life in Recovery Update July, 2012

This is like the State of the Union, except it is the state of Better Life in Recovery (BLiR). We have a lot of things going on, both my wife, son and I as a family and with the forming of the non-profit. I just want to start off by saying that I am very blessed and above all needs I have one that is of the upmost importance. Prayer, prayer and more prayer. I feel that it is more vital to BLiR than anything else for it to be able to do what it is supposed to do and help those it is meant to help.

If you don't know what Better Life in Recovery is please go to this link and it will explain the purpose:

First I will talk about what has been accomplished to advance Better Life in Recovery so far. We have had two people that have agreed to sit on the board once we form BLiR. We have began drafting the paperwork that is required for a non-profit. We have purchased and (they need a lot of work, but I will get to that later). We have gotten our logo completed, and here it is.

Two people have agreed to be on the board once we form the non-profit. We felt that we needed to have a meeting to let everyone know what we are doing, how far we had gotten and what our needs are. Thus was born our first preliminary meeting. It was attended by 7 people. We found that we still had a lot of work to do, and scheduled to meet again at the end of summer.

We have managed to conduct 8 interviews for the documentary. They have gone really well. It is terrifying to hear how young use started and the damage that addiction did to their lives. On the flip side it is amazing to hear what they have been able to accomplish in recovery. A trailer for the first 5 people that we interviewed was put together and here it is.
We have some very specific needs to address:
  1. Prayer. Our first and foremost need is prayer as I mentioned above. 
  2. We need $1,000 to file for non-profit status so that we can start fundraising seriously. 
  3. Web designer to help us set up our web site. I know exactly how I want it to look but no ability to build it. We also need a Facebook page set up. 
  4. Attorney - We have a lot of paperwork to draft and papers to file
  5. Board member - If our dream is your passion we have a board member application for you.
  6. Grant Writer - Funding for this project will be needed
  7. Accountant - We need to budget and track things financially 
  8. Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising - We need to spread the word and get into communities to make an impact
  9. We still need volunteers between the ages of 18-25 who have struggled with addictions (drugs, alcohol, cutting, eating disorder) that are willing to share their story. We have a real need for ethnicities in this area. 
  10. Parents who have had children struggle with addictions and have either overcame their addiction, are still struggling or have passed away while in addiction who would be willing to share their knowledge and expertise are also needed. 
  11. Everyone - Word of mouth and fundraising. Talk about us on and in Facebook, Twitter, your local newspaper, local radio/television, your blog, etc and at your school, your church, your social clubs, civic events, PTA meetings, conferences, etc. Read below and if you can help in any way please do! 
Contact us and invite us to come and speak. We love to share about the affects of addiction and the power in recovery. I have already done some speaking this year. I have led chapel at both Global University and AGTS (Assembly of God Theological School). I speak on occasion at Missouri State University and College of the Ozarks. I have spoken at several Celebrate Recovery groups. I have also spoken at conferences and seminars. Several pastors have approached me to speak at their churches this summer about addiction and recovery in the next two months. Finally, I have been given an opportunity to plan an all day event that will be aimed at sharing hope and recovery with several town's youths, many who are struggling with addiction and parents in addiction. I did say that there was a lot going on in my family. We will cover that really quick. My wife and I will be gaining a daughter in the next month. Julie is due 4 weeks from now, on the 7th of August. Our daughter's name will be Addison Grace, and I am not sure which of us is more excited: Julie, DJ or me! (I would say me, but don't tell my wife I said that). In closing, let me try to over-promote myself one last time. Consider this the spoiler alert, there will be bold letters and lots of exclamation points: If you would like to donate your services to help us with our above mentioned needs, please contact us. If you would like to donate anything else: works of art, restaurant and other business gift certificates, hotel/motel/resort rooms and gift certificates, one day and season passes to shows/concerts/museums/amusement parks/zoos, tickets/season passes to athletic games, movie passes/gift certificates, autographed memorabilia (pictures, bats, gloves, balls, books, Cds, etc), gift baskets, martial arts lessons, massages, hair cuts, tanning, dance lessons, you have dinner with the highest bidder (works if you are a celebrity), etc for silent auctions and door prizes please contact us. Original music and music that you give us permission to use for the documentary, in our presentations and possibly a fundraiser CD would be great. We will be doing fundraisers, so sites to use and bands to play would both be needed if you can volunteer them. Politicians, radio media, television media, pastors, youth pastors, teachers, principals, school counselors, substance abuse counselors, administrators, bloggers, authors, actors, musicians, parents, students, professors......EVERY BODY AND ANYBODY, WE NEED YOU!! We are here to help and educate you. Help us by fundraising to bring us to your community and by word of mouth. We need you to speak to churches, student bodies, viewers, listeners, readers, parents and constituents. Contact us and we will do interviews and speak at any organization, event, college, school, business, club, small group and church. PLEASE SHARE THIS ON FACEBOOK, BLOGS, TWITTER, ETC SO THAT WE CAN BEGIN MAKING A REAL IMPACT IN THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH ADDICTIONS SO THAT THEY CAN FIND A BETTER LIFE IN RECOVERY!!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

4 People Who Found the Reason for Their Hurts

Have you ever had one of those days, or better yet one of those years that just kicks your butt. Come to think of it, some of us have one of those lives! You have the absolute worse things happen to you. You are abused as a child either physically, mentally, sexually or all three. You get abused not just by a parent (or grandparent or uncle or step-parent) but by your siblings and/or their friends as well. Your parents are addicts/alcoholics and your mother gets beat all the time. You grow up poor, and the kids at school make fun of you. Everybody you care about either leaves you or dies. Does this sound familiar?

Some of you live in constant fear of what is going to happen to you next. You can never figure out why. You sit by yourself in tears, wallowing in depression and fear, just wishing it would all go away. There are questions and thoughts that always wander into your mind: "Why does my luck always suck?" "Can God see me?" "Does God hate me?" "Maybe I should just end it all." "There can't be a God or He wouldn't let this happen." "Why does this always happen to me?"

At the end of this I am going to play a song that my wife wrote and performs called "There's A Reason" that addresses these questions, but first I would like to share a few stories. Here are stories about 4 people who most would think have been dealt a pretty unfair hand. They could have turned their back on God and just given up, but they didn't!

  1. Nick Vujicic is a pastor and motivational speaker who has traveled all over the world. His ministry is called "Life Without Limbs" because Nick was born with no arms and no legs. He has never let that stop him. He has spoken to over 3 million people on 5 continents about hope and finding meaning in their lives. He talks all over the world about how God can use anyone who is willing to do his work no matter their disability. 
  2. Ellie is 11 years old today. When she was 7 she was molested by her best friend's step-dad. She came forward a year later. She took that long because she was filled with shame and she thought that her parents would not believe her because he was a friend of the family. Her family pressed charges and other girls came forward too. He was eventually placed in prison. Ellie now goes into churches, schools and prisons to talk about the abuse. She wants children to know that if this is happening to them they should not be afraid or ashamed, because it is not their fault. Because of her conviction to help others many children who were being abused and had never told anyone had the courage to come forward after she spoke. 
  3. Harold and Betty Donaldson were hit head on by a drunk driver. He was killed and she was incapacitated for a long time. The Donaldson's children learned how to live without many of the basic necessities that  we take for granted. The local community and churches intervened and made sure that the Donaldson's had food and shelter. The generosity that they were shown not only gave the Donaldson's hope, it also instilled in them a desire to one day help those in need. In 1994 they created Convoy of Hope, which has given over $299 million worth of food and supplies to over 52 million people in more than 100 countries. 
  4. I did not have the best of life growing up. I was abused sexually when I was in the 1st grade by a baby sitter. In 5th and 6th grade I lived with a highly abusive grandfather. I went on to abuse drugs and alcohol for 25 years of my life, living a lifestyle that landed me in rehabs, jails and prison. I overdosed 3 times, have been found unconscious in a pool of blood after attempting suicide and have died several other times after a car accident. I was diagnosed Bi-Polar, Anti-Social Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, etc. My life was not alright. Since I turned 30 I have gotten an associate, 2 bachelors and a masters degree off of a GED that I got in prison. I have 3 years clean and sober and live my life working as a substance abuse counselor and sharing the message of recovery, Christ and hope in churches, colleges, youth groups and communities. I am currently forming a non-profit to take that message into groups, communities, churches, colleges, junior high and high schools. 
Why do I tell you all of this. The number one reason is to let you know that you are not alone. Life hurts many of us deeply. Second I want you to know that no matter the abuse you are living through/with or the tragedies and losses that you have suffered; there is hope. I know that you may not want to hear it now, but there is a reason these things have happened. God has a plan that is bigger than you and bigger than me. 

In my life, God has used my hurts and my habits to help others. From my addiction to my mental illnesses to my dad's suicide, everything that has ever happened in my life has been a blessing. They have all given me the passion to do what I do and the drive to do it. Me and the other 3 people that I talked about all had horrific things happen, but today we would all tell you that there was a bless in the mess. 

Life happens and life hurts, sometimes really bad. Life can either make us better or bitter, I choose to let it make me better. When I let it make me bitter it was killing me, and I want to live. I still have a lot of hope to share!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Journey of Addiction - From Fearing Death to Fearing Life to Living for Christ One Day at a Time

I can still remember the first time that I smoked marijuana. It was the summer before seventh grade. I had just moved to a new town called Highland and my dad worked overnights. I went for a walk the first night that I was there and saw a cluster of kids as I walked by the square. There were a couple that looked to be my age, but most looked older. As I walked by the square one of them called out to me.

As I walked over I pulled out a cigarette and lit it. One of the kids asked if he could bum a cigarette. I gave him one and we talked for a few minutes.  It came up almost immediately that I was new in town, and he told me what to expect when I started school. Looking back, it was typical stoner conversation, "School sucks because we don't fit in, the teachers try to fail us, the cops in this town sucks and everybody is out to get us."

Another kid came up and whispered in his ear then walked off. He turned to me and asked, "Are you cool?" Not knowing what that even meant, I said yes. He asked me if I smoked pot. I had no idea what pot was. I knew that I smoked cigarettes, so I said yes. We walked into the gazebo on the square and entered into a circle of kids passing around joints. I took my first hit of marijuana. I coughed like I had tuberculosis and everyone laughed. I continued to smoke in that circle.

By the time I left that night I was stoned and drunk. And I had friends. The two years that I had lived in Branson I had only made one friend. The entire time that I had lived in Peoria I had made one real friend. Both times, they lived right next to me and I was the only option their age. This time, it was different. I had multiple friends and most were older than I was. Suddenly, I had found my place in the world.

It felt good to be accepted. That weekend I went to a house party with the same kids. There were more kids there and some grown-ups. I smoked and drank again. That night I also used cocaine, tripped acid and had sex. Now I had a lot of friends who felt just like I did. Some of us were born to alcoholics and drug addicts, some of us were abused. Most of us were both. We were different, but we had each other.

I had found my niche, and the days of partying and fighting had began. I soon smoked every morning on the walk to school with a couple of friends. We did rush/poppers between classes and smoked again on the way home. We drank most weekends, fought a lot and took white crosses constantly. Cocaine was rare, it was only with adults at big parties. That was my 7th and 8th grade years. When I moved to Eldorado, it was just more of the same through high school.

I would never change all that I did and all that happened to me. It has all made me stronger and wiser. I do wonder what I would have done if it was someone other than my teachers and the "Just Say No" program telling me not to do drugs. Would I have done them? If someone could have told me where I would end up ten years later that I could relate to would my use of stopped, stayed the same or increased? I will never know.

All that I do know is that no intervention ever worked, and my use just increased. I ended up moving to Hollister, Missouri the summer before my senior year and hung out in Branson at the lakefront then went to keg parties most nights. I was also introduced to methamphetamine when I got to Branson.

That was were things really started to get bad, but I could always justify it. "I am only snorting and smoking it. It's not like it's going to kill me." I dropped out of high school because it got in the way of my partying. I could not place school and learning above partying and having sex. My journey from abuse to addiction landed me in jail and on house arrest. When I was 20 I graduated to prison. I got out when I was 21 and by that time I had spent about 10% of my life behind bars.

I still justified my drug use and the hustling that I did, because it was fun and I enjoyed doing it. I liked my life. You could even say that I loved my life. When I got out of prison I used meth intravenously for the first time, and my life was never the same. I still wanted to live, because shooting up felt like nothing I had ever done before. It was the most intense feeling that I had ever had. Now I know why.

Here is a quick lesson in brain chemistry. Dopamine is responsible for generating feelings of pleasure in our brain. It is the chemical that is released when we have an orgasm. When you do cocaine it releases almost twice the amount of dopamine that an orgasm does. Methamphetamine is 3 times stronger than cocaine. Our brain releases over 600% more dopamine when we do meth as when we have an orgasm. That is a level that is biologically impossible to reach without drug use. As addicts we soon find that nothing comes close to the euphoria we feel when we do meth, and we crave it. Soon that high becomes the only thing that matters, and we lose interest in everything else!

I slowly began to phase out my friends and family that did not use. I wanted nothing to do with them. I did not want to hear them preach at me. I began to miss family events like birthdays and Christmas. They were just not that important to me. I wanted to get high, and I was enjoying doing it. I could justify my drug use, because I was working full time (and hustling the rest). It got to the point that I would sleep one day a week, on Sundays. I would stay up from Sunday night through early Sunday morning.

I had a car accident a year or so after that, flying a Firebird 97 feet and 32 feet into the air. I was in the hospital for a while on opiates, and if you forward 6 months from the wreck I was addicted to opiates also. My use continued, and it got worse and worse. When I was 26 my sister found me unconscious in my bathroom with both of my wrists slit and blood every where. She called an ambulance, and they were able to save me.

My sister made me promise that I would never attempt suicide again. I promised her that I would not. I meant the promise when I made it. I even kept that promise, kind of. More on that later. I continued to party, and had gotten put back on probation just as my parole was ending. I rode out my probation for the first several years. I was always able to stop using 48-72 hours before I saw my probation officer and I would flush my system or use a Whizzenator.  I thought that I was doing okay, but I was wrong.

My addiction had gotten so bad that I shot up right before I saw my probation officer. Literally, the day before and again on my report day. When I got in, she took one look at me and said, "If I were to test you right now, what would I find?" I told her that I didn't know what she wouldn't find. Just like that, I was on my way to rehab.

I won't get too much into the details, but before I went to rehab I put everything that I had left in a spoon and used it. It should have killed me, but it didn't. Instead my sister drove me to detox. While I was in rehab, I thought that maybe they were right and I needed to quit. I completed residential, but did not do outpatient aftercare. I was doing great, or so I thought. I even started an NA meeting in my home. I was all about showing everybody how wrong they were about me, thinking that I would relapse. In the end they were all right. I made one major mistake, I kept the friends I had before I went to rehab. It is hard to stay clean when you are playing in the mud. I was bound to fail.

Finally one day I needed money, and the only way I knew how to make it was to do a burn. I made a batch of dope, and just like that I was back out there. It was actually worse this time around. The first 7 years of my life I had never overdosed. I overdosed 3 times over the next year. I always had to do more than everybody else.

I had a death wish. At one time, I would watch how much I did because I did not want to over do it. This time around, I didn't care. I had discovered something. I could not quit. I thought that I had it beat, but I discovered that methamphetamine owned me. I would do opiates, benzodiazepines, hallucinogens,  powder and rock cocaine. I would shoot up ice water and liquor just to feel the needle. It did not matter what you had, I would do it.

I soon found what my true addiction was. I was addicted to more. I wanted anything you had and would do all that you had. If it was sex, drugs, liquor, fighting or money. I wanted it and I wanted it all. The only thing that I did not want was to live. I would go to dope cooks houses that I did not even know, hoping that they would kill me. If I knew that someone was spun out and sketchy, I was there and would refuse to leave.

I had friends, but I couldn't trust them further than I could throw them. I had good dope, money and a house. They loved me for that, but they would steal from me given a chance. They were just like me, all about themselves. Sure they would have helped me hide bodies, but they would have hid mine too if the money was right. It was the drug world, and sometimes people just disappeared. Everyone thought that they had moved, but we usually knew better. Those were my running mates. I WAS NOT ALRIGHT!

I had promised my sister I would not kill myself, but I never told her that I wouldn't let someone else kill me. I have had people come at me with guns and knives. I egged them on. I WANTED TO DIE! I ended up with holes in my body that I was not born with.  I did stop breathing on several occasions, but I always came back to life. I hated my life, but it was all that I knew!

The reason that it all got so bad was that I had been running from feeling my whole life. I was abused as a child and felt like a loner. The only time that I felt like I fit in was when I was doing drugs with other people. We shared a connection. Drugs were the only stable relationship that I ever had. It never tried to take advantage of me, never lied to me and I always knew what to expect from it. Plus the rush was unlike anything that I had ever felt. But the downside was intense. I loved drugs, I loved the way they made me feel but I could not stand the people it brought into my life and I hated the person that they made me. They made me evil!

By the time I realized what it was doing to me, it was too late. I can remember seeing one of my friend's friends after he had overdosed. I walked into the bathroom and he was sagging against the wall and the toilet, dead. As I looked into his eyes I could only think one thing, "That sure looks nice. He finally looks calm and peaceful. I bet that feels great."

You see he no longer had to worry about the things that we as drug addicts have to worry about. He no longer had to fear someone sketching out and thinking he was an undercover or wearing a wire. He didn't have to play curtain patrol every 3 seconds because he knew that either the cops or the COMET (Combined Ozarks Multijurisdictional Enforcement Team) Drug Task Force was out there watching him. He no longer had to fear his friends, family and girlfriends were either turning him in or conspiring against him. His race was finished, he was done. He was at rest forever. I wanted that.  

To give you an example of where my life was at this time, if I got arrested with money in my pocket to bond out I would stay in county jail for a week or two. I could catch up on sleep, eat a bunch to gain weight and relax. I was calmer and less stressed in county jail than I was on the outside of jail in the real world. I wasn't institutionalized, but life as a drug addict is not all that it is cracked up to be. The combination of drugs and no sleep coupled with low-life friends (because I was a low-life too and we attract people just like us) sucks! It can only take you to dark places.  

I WAS A SOLDIER FOR SATAN! I can remember holding a cocked and loaded gun to my temple, contemplating pulling the trigger and hearing voices from these shapes that were darker than dark shout at me, "Do it. Pull the trigger and come home." I have seen shadow people in the corner while I was high and sometimes when I was not high watching me, always  watching. I have held a gun to someone else's head and been cheered on and encouraged by the same shadow people many think are fake. I tell you this for certain, after a while we become Satan's soldiers and do his bidding. 

Shadow people are real, and so is possession. When I was on meth and would get mad people  have seen my entire eye turn black. I have glimpsed myself out of the corner of my eye in the mirror and saw the demon that had possessed me. How can you not fear life when you are possessed by demons and they are all around you. When you see perfectly sane people doing insane things, that is not the drugs. That is the evil that pervades them. METH IS EVIL!

I know that some may think that I am crazy when I talk about this. I know that our minds can play tricks on us, especially when on drugs and not sleeping for days and weeks at a time. Imagining that you see people in the trees and seeing and hearing something in the room with you are two completely different things. I have talked to many a drug user and we have described seeing and hearing the same things. How is having the exact same experiences in different towns at different times possible. The only way is if it is real. I would see the same things in the corner daily, but in different corners. I believe that when we use we weaken our resolve and we become an easier target for the devil. If meth is evil, then when you do it demons can walk in through the door that you have already opened. I and many others have seen and heard them. 

How can you ever be happy. I feared life because I never knew what I would do next. My family thought that I was undependable but did not know half the truth. I never knew what I would do from one second to the next. I would be sitting shuffling cards one minute and go to the bathroom and come to an hour later playing Russian Roulette the next. I have months of my life that are just missing. I have no recollection of them. I sometimes still have nightmares of me doing things that I do not remember. 

Add to that all of the damage that was caused by the dope I had a part in making and the drugs I sold. How many people got high on my drugs then beat their wives or children? How many people got high off of what I created and raped or molested somebody? How much money did I get that should have been spent feeding neglected, starving children? How many people overdosed on my drugs? 

That is why towards the end of my addiction I was afraid to live. I knew all that I was responsible for, all that I had done, the things that had been done because of my drugs and that evil owned me. I WAS EVIL! Nothing good ever came of drugs, only evil! People in my life were only pawns and I had to use them before they would use me. Nothing good ever came of me, only evil. I hated myself. When I looked into the mirror all I saw was an evil person, a junkie and a convict

Don't get me wrong, I did not want to be that way. I tried everything secular to get off of drugs and away from alcohol. I was in jails, prison and rehabs. I saw psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors. I was given one mental health diagnosis after another and switched from medication to medication in order to fix me. I was beyond fixing and there was no natural cure. 

The problem wasn't that I was broken. I couldn't be fixed. The problem was that I had become evil. Friedrich Nietzsche talks about this, "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." My soul had become corrupted and I was left hopeless. Pretty nasty combination. I was devoid of all hope, and even though I wanted to die I was still here. I could not defeat drugs no matter what I tried and there is a reason for that. There is nothing worldly that can defeat spiritual corruption

There is only cure, and I have found it. I went to Christ in prayer. I was mired in drug use for 25 years, and never had more than 3 months clean the entire quarter century. I made a deal with God one night at 37, and since that night I have not used drugs, gotten drunk, or smoked a cigarette. I have devoted my life to Christ, and my life has been forever changed. When the Bible says, "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH," it means what it says! I am living proof. After all of the near death experiences; trying to die and failing and wondering why I finally had the answer. There is so much I have yet to do to bring Christ to those who struggle with life-controlling issues!

That is all I do now. My life is a 12th step! My transformation has been talked about in multiple blogs on my site Spiritual Spackle. I share about recovery and the power of Christ when ever and where ever I can. I have talked on the radio, television, at colleges, churches, recovery centers, recovery groups (Narcotic's Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, etc.), seminars, conferences and to youth groups. I am now a substance abuse counselor. It is why I am starting a non-profit to share the dangers of addiction and the power of recovery with people across the state, eventually across the country and hopefully the world. Across the world is not out of reach, my blog has been read in almost 100 countries.  

GOD HAS PLACED ON MY HEART THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARING THE EVIL OF ADDICTION AND THE WONDERS OF RECOVERY WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS I CAN. Please feel free to repost and share this blog and my site with as many people as you can. We are on facebook under Spiritual Spackle and Better Life in Recovery . Stay tuned as the non-profit BETTER LIFE IN RECOVERY begins to come together and let us know if you can help in any way with it coming to fruition. Here is a link about what we are doing and what our needs are: I also am a little over half done writing a book that should be out next year about my addiction and what I learned in overcoming it tentatively called Spiritual Spackle. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. It is probably the longest I have ever written, but it is also the most honest I have been. Methamphetamine, and addiction in general, are evil and linked to at least 80% of the evil in this world: murders, rape, child abuse, child molestation, suicide, cruelty to animals, etc. We need to bring an end to it, and I am hoping that Better Life in Recovery will help us reach youth with a more effective intervention than what is currently being done.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tactics by Gregory Koukl Chapter 10 - Taking the Roof Off

Not all points of view commit suicide such as the ones we have looked at in the past couple of chapters. Some of them work against themselves by leading to absurd conclusions if they are broken down. These will not work against themselves as those that commit suicide will, but if we use just a little bit of our brain power we can relate how these points too just do not pass the muster test.

To do this you first must take the other person's point of view. Reduce it to it's most basic assertion. Then you try the idea out and determine if you were to use that view to guide you, where would it take you. Mentally take their view for a test drive. Finally, if it takes you to a place that seems a bit unusual, you point that out to whoever is using that viewpoint.

This method is called Taking the Roof Off by Mr. Koukl. Another way this is know by is reductio ad absurdum. This is a phrase in Latin that means reducing a point to its furthest conclusion. If when doing this you see that the outcome is incoherent or absurd, then you help the person who has that point of view see the faulty logic it ends in.

Take moral relativism, for example. Most who believe in moral relativism don't mind practicing it as long as it is not practiced on them. To believe that cruelty and non cruelty are equal in Hinduism would mean that there is no difference between evil and good, ultimately. How is someone helping your wife broke down on the side of the road the same as someone killing her intentionally? Obviously, that is an extreme example, but those tend to work best to make the point.

Someone who "denies God is living on borrowed capital. He enjoys living as if the world is filled with morality, meaning, order and beauty, yet he denies that God whose existence make such things possible."

There are several different examples given in the book of ideas that are ripe for having their roof taken off. He hits on two very hot topics here, one of them being homosexuality and the other being abortion. These are two very hard topics for many to broach, and he does it well in the book by looking at the arguments given today for these two topics.

In homosexuality it is currently popular to say, "I was born this way." That is all that many feel is needed in order to stem the moral criticisms for homosexuality. The basic argument is that since homosexuality is natural it must be moral. What if scientists some day found a racism gene. Would these same people who reason that homosexuality is natural so it must be  moral feel the same way about gay bashers if that too proved to be a naturally occurring gene. Instead, they would probably argue that they should fight the influence of that gene.

Just because an impulse is natural does not mean it's moral. Substance abuse has been found to be genetic. There are many of us who are hardwired to be addicts and alcoholics. That does not give me the right to inject methamphetamine and drive drunk for the rest of my life. I know that it is morally wrong and due to that I have been clean and sober for over 3 years (by the Grace of God!).

Next Greg talked about "Trotting out the Toddler." He said that almost every argument that supports abortion could be used to justify the killing of children that are newly born as well, if taken to their conclusion. How can a 7 inch journey magically transform tissue into a living human being? If someone says that "women have the right to choose" ask if, for the same reason given, she should have the same right to kill her 1 year old? Both are human beings, so the same rule should morally apply to them.

If you should kill a fetus to save it from future abuse or neglect, should you not also kill a two year old to save them from the same thing? After all, that is the logical implication that abortion has. Modified pro-choice is even worse.This is when someone says "I think that it is wrong for me to kill my baby. I would never do that, but it is okay for other women to do what they want." All you have to do is so, "So in effect, you feel that it is okay for women to kill babies?" Just like that, the roof is off, although it can be taken even further using the toddler line of deroofing their argument.

Greg also has many other great examples of how to take the roof off of the arguments of many more arguments in this chapter. If you want to read those, I would highly recommend that you buy the book. I know for me it has been an interesting and informing read so far. I look forward to reading chapter 11 and writing about it. Til then, have a blessed week!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Independence Day Means to Me (Mine is January 31st, and again on Easter)

The 4th of July is called Independence Day. It is the day that the United States declared that it would no longer be dependent on Great Britain. The United States, in the Declaration of Independence, told Great Britain that they would no longer be under their control. Most people, when they hear Independence Day automatically think of July 4th. I do not.

There is another date that comes to my mind when I hear the words Independence Day. The date that comes to my mind is January 31st, 2009. You see, when I hear independence my mind as one who is in recovery instantly defines that word. I think of no longer being dependent upon something to be able to function or exist. When I think of independence I think of recovery.

The word recovery was never part of my vocabulary. Not unless I was in a serious car accident or had overdosed, which I did frequently. It was not part of my language because I was what most would consider a lost cause, a lifer. I had been smoking cigarettes, using drugs/alcohol for over 25 years when 2009 rolled around. I was not really expected to change my ways. Most people had given up on me.

It was the same as pretty much every other year when 2009 started, yet at the same time it was really different. I had stopped shooting up in 2001, and had traded out my addiction to drugs for an addiction to alcohol. I could justify that. It was legal, and at least I wasn't doing drugs. Soon my drinking spiraled out of control and by 2009 I would wake up some nights with shakes and have to drink to make the shakes subside so that I could go back to sleep.

My addiction in 2009 was just as bad if not worse than it had ever been. It may have been legal, but I blacked out most nights and frequently drove home when I had no business walking. I am still amazed that I never killed anyone. In all, I have totaled 4 vehicles. The worst accident I had I flew a Firebird 97 feet and got 32 into the air before crashing into trees.  Plus, I was still smoking cigarettes, getting into fights, sleeping around, cussing and I was a very outspoken Agnostic.

There were some differences, though. I was a father, which had only happened two years earlier. My father was gone, having committed suicide in February of 2008. I was also fighting with my son's mother over visitation, which was rough. Finally, I had started going to church in Fall of 2008. That was different for me as church was also not in my vocabulary.

I would still adamantly tell you that I was Agnostic, but I was going to church because a couple that were the only friends I thought I had were going there and they had a recovery meeting that I could go to and be honest without seeing clients from the facility that I worked at. I was not going weekly, but I would go there once or twice a month. Then something happened, my Independence Day.

I had left a bar and was on my way home when a police car pulled behind me and began to follow me. He followed me through multiple turns and I began to make deals with God about me not getting pulled over and the things that I would do if He made me getting home safely a reality. Needless to say, He did and I have had to keep my part of the bargain. You can read about that experience here

There is a piece of the Declaration of Independence that also applies here. The founder's of our country said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." This really applies to all of us who are consumed with life controlling issues.

In my addiction, I had no true life or liberty. I was running from pain and depression, but the truth is without facing them I would never be happy. Freedom is now what you have to do, but what you don't have to do. I had to do drugs, had to drink, had to fight,  had to sleep around to feel better about myself and not feel physically ill.

That is just not a good direction for life, but I did not know any better. I did not know any better because I had lived my life with hope in nothing and no one but myself. Well, myself and my addictions. I would have told you that I was Agnostic but that wasn't really true. I had made addiction my god. It was the focus of my every waking thought. If I was not using, I was making plans to and looking forward to it all day.

There is no independence in that life, only dependence. Over the course of my addiction, I tried everything secular that I could find to no avail. Whether it was rehab, prison, 12 step meetings, counseling or medication I always relapsed sooner than later. The longest I went without use was a 3 month stint. That is including the first 30 days that I spent in a residential drug rehabilitation center.

The outcome was always the same, me using. Then one night I was desperate and I prayed to God to help me overcome my addictions. He has kept his part, and I have not smoked a cigarette, drank, used drugs, slept around or gotten into a fight since then. Phillipians 4:13 is right when it says "I can do all things through He who strengthens me." I am living proof.

I hope that you enjoy a great 4th,filled with baseball games, fireworks and BBQ to bless your day. But while you are enjoying your day I also hope you remember that as a Christian you have true independence. Thanks to the sacrifice of Christ you have freedom from sin and by proxy from death, since the wage of sin is death. This above all we must give thanks for.

So although July 4th is the national date that Americans celebrate their country's Independence on, we are not of this world. I appreciate the sacrifices that our troops made back then just as I appreciate the sacrifices that they make today. More than all of those, I appreciate the sacrifice that Christ made 2,000 years ago that bought me independence from death and the promise of everlasting life. I also am forever grateful for the Holy Spirit that has filled, guided and enabled me to stay abstinent since February 1st of 2009.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What is A Moral Failure

I heard today that Pastor Tommy, who I think is an amazing pastor, stepped down as the lead pastor at North Point Church for what was called a "moral failure." I have never heard of a moral failure before, and I will not presume to know what he did or did not do. Everyone else can speculate about what he did. Personally, hearing the news today made me think about the affects that his stepping down could have on some of my friends and clients who go to North Point Church. So, this blog is for all of you.

First, what is a moral failure? As someone who is in recovery, I would imagine it is what I would call a relapse. If you are on parole you call it recidivism. Others might label it sin, character flaws, stumbling, sexual indiscretions or any number of other things. Bottom line, you messed up! That might be the best way to say moral failure, really. For the purpose of this blog moral failure will be referred to as relapse.

So, what is a relapse? Imagine you have sworn off something: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, premarital sex, cheesecake, cutting yourself, cussing, etc. You are off to a good start. A good start is labeled differently by different people for different transgressions. It might be 4 hours, a day, a month or 10 years without a relapse. You are kicking butt and taking names, and all of a sudden you do it again.

One day you find yourself smoking that cigarette you swore off, or having sex with someone other than your spouse and breaking your wedding vows. All that you can think is, "How could this have happened?" You want to know how? In the program they say that addiction is cunning, baffling and strong. I think that addiction and the devil are synonymous, and they are experts at what they do.

At one time Satan was in control of my life. I was his soldier, and my lifestyle carried out his bidding. I had actually made drugs my god. When I got saved, the devil was kicked out of my life. He was no longer the main focus. That said, he is still there. Remember, the biggest trick the devil can pull off is convincing us that he no longer exists. When we do that, we immediately let him back into our lives.

Even if you are aware of him, remember that he is still aware of you too. Right now the devil is in the back of your head. Satan is lifting weights, running on the treadmill and doing research on the internet. He is getting stronger and smarter with only one goal. The Devil wants to get back into your life! He wants to move from the back of your brain and into the front of your brain.

The sad thing is that Satan has a plethora of tools at his disposal. This is his world and he knows it well. He can use your friends and family. He can use the television or the radio. He can use the gas station or even church. If you stop sleeping around, he will use porn. If you stop doing drugs, he will come at you with energy drinks. If you swear off R-Rated movies, he will come at you from the television and the radio. He does not like to lose. The devil will stop at nothing to have you back. He will use any one, any thing and any place to accomplish that goal! 

He will also use the people that we put upon a pedestal. For some that may be Pastor Tommy, and that is what scares me for some of my clients. They attend North Point and they have elevated Tommy to hero status. The problem with heros is that they are still human. My experience with hero worship was my sponsor in Narcotic's Anonymous. He had 11 years clean and had been my sponsor for 7 years when he relapsed. It started harmlessly, he drank a couple of O'Douls at a bachelor party. Two weeks later he was shooting up heroin.

How could that happen? How could someone with that much clean time fall off the wagon? I'll tell you how, because we all are capable of messing up if we let our guard down for one minute. Putting someone on a pedestal is always a mistake, because we all slip sometimes. Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That means everyone, even a favorite parent or your pastor, makes mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes.

Look in the Bible. David slept with a married women then had her husband put into the front lines and abandoned so that he would die. Peter denied Christ 3 times. Paul wrote over half of the New Testament, and in Romans 7 he said that he wanted to do good things, but found himself not doing them. Instead, he found himself doing evil things that he didn't want to do.

So when someone messes up, what should we do? Should we humiliate them, or abandon them? Should we avoid them and talk poorly about them? Should we pray for them and offer our support? I would advise the latter. We should pray for them, and if it does not jeopardize us we should be there for them, also. I have told friends that I could not meet them at their house where I knew they were using, but that if they wanted to meet me at an NA meeting I would talk to them after it. Be safe, but be supportive!!

When someone has a relapse, I always remember the saying but for the grace of God, there go I. I could just as easily have suffered the same fate if not for God's mercy. I need to appreciate what I have and remember that God loves us all, even the sinner. 1 Timothy 1:15 reminds us that Christ came into the world to save sinners. We all have the ability to sin, to mess up, to relapse. So how do we protect ourselves from a relapse?

It requires a mentor/sponsor, accountability partners, working the 12 steps/living Biblically and actually applying them in our lives. We need to avoid places, people and situations that are dangerous. We need to read the Bible, truly study it and apply it. We also need to pray constantly. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says that we are to "pray without ceasing." We should always be in contact with God. Why is this important?

Phillipians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through He who strengthens me." Without Christ I was weak and a servant of Satan. With Christ I have overcame my addictions and have been able to share my faith, hope and recovery with others. That has been done, not by forgetting the Devil is there, but instead doing everything that I can to keep him at bay.

So I hope that my friends and associates who go to North Point are not shattered by the latest development there. Instead I hope that it reminds them how easy it can be to make mistakes. Hopefully they will focus more on their relationship with Christ and what they can do to make that relationship stronger.

When my sponsor relapsed, it did several things to me. First, it reminded me how strong addiction and by proxy Satan are. Second, it made me remember that my addiction doesn't take a day off, and neither should my recovery. I have to daily do things to build my sobriety and my relationship with Christ. That is because I know that Satan is using new tricks every day to get back into my life. As long as I stay prepared and vigilant, he will fail.

After my sponsor relapsed I was there for him with prayer and encouragement to help him back up. We talked daily and met at meetings several times a week. He had done so much for me, and I was blessed to be able to repay a small part of what he had done for me back to him. I am sure people feel the same way about Tommy. He has helped thousands. I hope that everyone remembers all that he and his family have  done for them and that prayer and support rains down upon Tommy, his family and the North Point Community.